Stay Safe When Order Breaks Down

So far, the Occupy events around the country have been relatively benign. Don’t get me wrong: They’ve been horrible for local businesses, a pain in the butt for sanitation workers, irritating for law enforcement and expensive for cities, but they haven’t been anything like what we saw in the Mideast earlier this year.

The people organizing the Occupy events are using advanced psychology and manipulation practices.

People might be dying in their cars in random accidents on their way to or from the protests or dying of drug overdoses after leaving the protests, but none have died at the protests that I know of so far. (Lest you think that the overdose comment is an unfounded low blow, there are about 100 Occupy events across the country, and cases of overdose have been reported at Occupy Wall Street.)

This week, things got a little more interesting. Until this week, for the most part, the worst “violence” has been when sanitation workers have tried to clean up the places where the protesters have been squatting.

Protesters in Oakland upped the ante this week, mostly vandalizing and throwing rocks, glass and paint cans at law enforcement — all the while blaming the police for their actions. The end result is that one protester — whose status I won’t mention out of respect to his 203,000 “brothers” — got a skull fracture because he was hit in the head with what the protesters claim was a tear gas canister but that could have just as easily been something thrown by the protesters.

After more than a month of putting up with the smells, sounds and expense of the Occupy events around the country, cities are getting tired of it and starting to be more active in arresting protesters who are breaking the law. This is causing an increase in arrests, but very little real violence.

Even so, the media love this. They are throwing around words like “riots,” “mobs,” “clash with police” and “violence erupts.” In Atlanta, news crews couldn’t get enough of one protester who walked around with a loaded AK-47. He thought it was his duty to be ready to protect the protesters from police.

But this brings to mind a serious question: How do you protect yourself in a true riot or mob situation? Mob mentality has been causing riotous behavior for thousands of years. Although it’s chaotic, there are things about mob mentality that we can recognize and use in order to keep ourselves safe. One of the most direct ways to do so is to look at and dissect mob behavior. Here’s a quick example that I shared last Christmas and want to share again:

 

You might have to click on the video twice, depending on your browser

 

 

In this video, we have some great examples of mob behavior. I wouldn’t really call this a “riot,” but it is a good example of a minor breakdown in civil order. I’ve set the video to start 40 seconds in… it’s 44 seconds of “boring and peaceful.” But a few seconds after that, you see someone reach in from the left hand side and take a box before he is supposed to. What happens next is that everyone starts grabbing at boxes. And this is important.

In a riot/mob/breakdown in civil order, there are some key components:

An agitator: Someone who’s increasing the intensity of emotions in the crowd. In this case, both the Wal-Mart employee is agitating the crowd and the crowd is agitating itself with pushing, facial expressions and talking. With the Occupy crowds, it’s usually some of the more intense participants.

An instigator: This is the person who takes the first non-civil action. It could be breaking a window, knocking over a barricade, damaging police property, hitting police, throwing something at police, shooting a weapon, picking out an “outsider” to attack or any other “kinetic” action that affects visual/physical antisocial change on the environment around him.

A trigger: If the crowd isn’t sufficiently worked up, the instigator will be a loner and looked at as an oddball by the crowd. If the crowd is sufficiently worked up, the actions of the instigator will trigger a common response by the parts of the crowd that are most worked up. It’s important to note that the trigger won’t do much unless it’s attached to a bomb. In the case of mobs, that bomb is primal tension, pain and/or rage. In Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria this past spring, people were worked up because of a lack of affordable food. We don’t have that with the Occupy movement at this time.

Aggressive follower: These are the people who won’t start the trouble, but are looking for any opportunity to cause trouble once they think they have immunity for their actions by being part of a mass of people who are breaking the law. This is the antisocial version of several cars speeding together on the interstate in the hopes of not getting stopped. Another example is when a group of pedestrians refuses to cross an empty street when the light is red; yet when a single person starts walking, the crowd quickly follows.

Sheep/Lemmings: These are the people who, once they see the instigator and aggressive followers breaking the rules/laws, will jump in because “everyone else was doing it.” This is when the unacceptable quickly becomes seen as acceptable, and people get caught up in the moment. People who normally obey authority figures suddenly ignore them with reckless abandon.

One example of this occurred at an intense outdoor concert I attended. There was lots of alcohol, a couple of mosh pits, stage diving and crowd surfing, fights, loud bass, screaming guitars, intense singing, etc. It was fun in the way that being on the edge of a little danger can be fun; it gets the adrenaline going. Two aspects of this concert weren’t so fun and are applicable to this conversation.

First, a girl was crowd surfing, having fun, and the crowd was being respectful with how they were passing her around. Then, when she was about 10 feet away from me, a turd-punk who might have been 18 started violating her. Some other people saw it, but nobody did anything. I pushed through the crowd, grabbed his arm and twisted it violently and was getting ready to strike him. At that minute, one of the biggest humans I’ve ever seen grabbed my hand, shook his head at me, grabbed the punk and threw him through the air like a kid’s rag doll. The kid never would have done something like that in a crowd at a mall or a football game. It was only because he thought he had cover for his actions that he acted so antisocially. The other point to note is that I was lucky that the big guy agreed with my actions and wasn’t a friend of the punk, coming to his aid. The fact is that you never know who’s alone and who’s got friends in a mob.

Second, a while later, I was at the front of the concert with the crowd behind me and a 4-foot-tall wooden “fence” in front of me. As the main band came on stage, the crowd started surging forward, but there wasn’t anywhere to go and people on the front row were getting crushed — screaming and passing out crushed. I had my arms outstretched against the fence to give my body some room, and the force of the crowd broke the wood in my hands and slammed me against the fence. People were getting pulled over the fence by security, and I eventually went over the fence to get some air, too.

The thing to keep in mind about these two instances is that they were from a fun event. People paid to go to dance, hear bands they liked and get a little crazy. It wasn’t a “protest,” “occupation” or “riot.” It was a concert. The punk-turd-kid was an anomaly and the surging crowd wasn’t malicious, but the results are the same if you happen to be on the wrong end of mob behavior, regardless of what the general intent of the crowd is. A crowd of friends trying to escape a fire in a church can trample you just as quickly as a mob gone crazy.

This next video gets a little more ridiculous, with a headbutt 20 seconds in by a guy in a striped shirt and pushing/pulling that escalates to punching after 30 more seconds:

 

 

So, we’ve seen how Americans treat each other when luxury items are up for grabs. How does it look when survival is really on the line?

 

 

This next video is a perfect example of why decentralized solutions, in the form of individual preparedness, are the only effective ways to survive disasters.

 

 

And one more food riot. This one occurred in Somalia when merchants suddenly stopped taking the country’s official currency. Residents holding Somali shilins that had value the day before were just stuck not being able to buy food for their families. Could this be what things look like here if the dollar collapses?

 

 

How do you avoid getting caught up in riots and mobs of people trying to get food after a disaster? One of the core fundamentals is to do everything you can now to make sure that you never have to become a refugee and depend on governments or aid organizations to provide food, water, shelter and protection. In short, you want to have the ability to hunker down wherever you happen to be and Survive In Place when disaster strikes. This will give you the luxury of being able to choose to time your escape to a retreat location, or ride out the disaster right where you are when it happens.

And if you do get caught up on the wrong side of a mob/riot?

First, breathe. Take a series of three to five or more deep breaths, belly breaths where your gut extends and your diaphragm gets to expand fully to get as much oxygen in your body as possible. It will calm you down, keep your vision wide and help you make better decisions.

Second, to the extent that you can, join the crowd. I’m not saying to hurt people, but join in their yelling and pumping your fist in the air as you move out of the crowd. It’s similar to what you’d do if you got thrown from a boat in a rapid river: swim with and perpendicular to the current, because a single person going against it doesn’t have a chance.

Third, look for natural seams in the crowd that you can slip through. If you have to push, push with the back of your hand/arm rather than the palm of your hand (it’s seen as being less offensive). If you’ve got someone with you, grab onto them tightly and say something like “We’ve got a bathroom emergency” or “We need to find medical!” to buy some grace as you’re pushing through the crowd.

Fourth, stay on your feet and keep moving. Don’t roll up in a ball on the ground or try to stop. Again, it’s like fighting a raging river. If you’re with other people from whom you don’t want to get separated, hold on hard and tight. If possible, have both people hold onto each other.

The biggest thing to remember is to keep your cool, keep moving and to make a safe exit as quickly as possible.

Do you have any experiences with mobs, riots, etc.? How about with the Occupy events? If you’ve been to them, what different groups did you see represented? (I’ve been to a few, and it’s amazing how drastically the makeup of the crowd changes from city to city, hour to hour and day to day.) If you have, please share your thoughts by commenting below:

–David Morris

 

Large Solar Flares Among Threats To Power Grid

Two major threats have the ability to partially or completely destroy the power grid: electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) and coronal mass ejections (CMEs).

You might remember Saddam Hussein threatening to use chemical weapons against both the United States and Israel during the first and second Gulf wars.

You might also remember that we responded to the threat by promising to “respond with overwhelming force and extract a very high price should he be foolish enough to use chemical weapons on United States forces.”

Many people thought that this meant dropping a nuke on Iraq. While that was definitely a possibility, it’s much more likely that our response would have been for us to use an EMP caused by detonating a nuclear bomb 100 miles to 300 miles above the Earth’s surface.

Buildings wouldn’t fall down, Geiger counters wouldn’t go off and people wouldn’t die of radiation poisoning, but the EMP would completely destroy the electrical grid and most unshielded electronic items in Iraq. In essence, a wave of energy would emanate out from the blast in the upper atmosphere and cause power-line transformers and integrated circuits in electronic devices to burn out, or “fry.” The damage would be permanent in some cases and temporary in others.

An EMP attack is subject of several fictional accounts: the book One Second After, the TV series “Jericho,” an episode of the TV series “24,” etc.

China and Russia have the ability to attack the United States with an EMP, as do North Korea, Iran and any terrorist organization with deep pockets.

In its simplest form, an EMP attack could be done by placing one of the many small nukes missing from the former Soviet Union on a SCUD rocket and launching it 12 miles off the East Coast from a container ship. There’s even a Russian arms dealer who sells missile silos that look, from the outside, just like a shipping container that can go on cargo ships, trains or semis.

It probably wouldn’t get up to the optimal altitude and wouldn’t knock out the entire country, but it wouldn’t need to. Our economy is so fragile right now that any hiccup, let alone a major attack, would most likely bring down the whole credit default swap scam, as well as be the final blow to many of our country’s insolvent banks.

How long would it take to recover? Well, it depends on how you define recovery. One of the casualties of an EMP attack would be the transformers that step up and step down voltage along power transmission lines. The power grid as we know it may never recover if several large transformers in the same region failed simultaneously. The transformers used in high-voltage transmission weigh from 100 tons up to 300 tons for one particular transformer manufactured by Siemens. They take a long time to manufacture, they’re expensive, there’s global demand, and they’re very difficult to transport.

It’s somewhat easy for some people to dismiss EMPs. On the one hand, there’s a tendency to discount threats that are so huge that you don’t have any control over them. On the other hand, many people simply don’t appreciate how much some people hate the United States, our freedoms, our wealth and our support of Israel. They don’t know us, but they want to kill us. They want us to live the same miserable lives that they live rather than to have individual liberty.

We’ve had several recent events that make the threat of EMPs very difficult to ignore.

You see, besides nuclear blasts, EMPs can be caused when solar flares happen on the sun that are big enough to cause CMEs. These are a big deal, which is why I reference solar flares and their potential to wreak havoc on our way of life every few weeks over at my blog at SecretsOfUrbanSurvival.com.

Recently, we’ve had a series of harmless wake up calls reminding us that solar flares/CMEs do happen. The recent ones that hit the Earth were tiny; the biggest effects most people saw were an interruption of satellite TV and pretty Northern Lights.

If or when the sun has a large solar flare that causes a large CME to come our way, it could be like a series of hundreds of EMPs going off every few minutes for days at a time.

Has it happened? Yes. In 1859, we experienced a CME so strong that telegraph wires shorted out and fires started from coast to coast.

Whereas an EMP would damage only electronics over a region, a powerful CME would affect the entire planet.

Farfetched? Not really. Unlikely? Four hundred years of data say an increase in CMEs is very likely. Below is the chart of solar activity since 1610 from NASA. There’s a peak every 11 years or so. We were at the bottom of the current cycle in 2008 and are now on the upswing. The red arrow points to what some experts believe our next upswing will look like: fairly weak in comparison, but strong enough considering our dependence on electronics.

Chart: Sunspot NumberSo, while the worst-case scenario may not be likely, it is likely that we will experience several solar flares of varying sizes within the next five years.

The solar flares could simply cause pretty Northern Lights and bad shortwave propagation. They could cause regional blackouts like what happened in Canada in 1989. They could knock out satellites. Or a major CME like the 1859 CME could knock out electronics and our electrical grid.

Our infrastructure is much more interdependent and fragile than it was in 1859. Most of the world wasn’t affected by telegraph lines going down, but most of the world will be affected by air conditioning, cars, refrigeration, heating systems, communication and banking simultaneously going down.

How do you prepare for such a scenario? It depends on where you are in your process of preparedness. One of the simple things that you can do is to make sure that your house has at least one solid ground. In most areas, this means driving a 1/2″ copper stake 10 feet into the ground, but it could mean burying/driving copper as far as 40 feet into the ground, continually watering your ground rods or periodically adding minerals to the soil near your ground rod.

If you have a metal shed, you can ground it. If you have a metal safe, you can ground it. You can also create mini poor-man’s Faraday cages out of aluminum foil or Mylar®.

It’s very important to note that these improvised methods may or may not work. The strength of a pulse will depend on several factors concerning the blast, the construction of your house, how much dirt/concrete/metal the pulse has to go through to reach your items, whether they’re plugged in and the random nature of a large-scale event.

What I mean by “random nature of a large-scale event” is to think about the effects of a forest fire going through a developed area. It’s not uncommon to have three houses of identical construction in close proximity where two burn down to a pile of ash on the slab and the third one have no damage whatsoever. On April 27, a multiple-vortex tornado just missed the Personal Liberty office. In other words, you just can’t discount or account for random outcomes in large scale events.

On aluminum foil, most Faraday cages are made of copper, sometimes simply copper mesh. Aluminum has 60 percent of the conductivity of copper, so it’s still a very good conductor. The electrical engineers I’ve talked with about this have had two major reasons why they think that aluminum foil makes a good field expedient Faraday cage.

1. The amount of shielding needed for an EMP blast depends on the size of the EMP, the efficiency of the EMP (whether it was purpose built to be an EMP or a “normal” nuclear weapon detonated at high altitude), your distance from the EMP and atmospheric conditions. In other words, aluminum foil probably wouldn’t work if a purpose built EMP went off directly overhead, but it might work great if you were 1,000 miles away from it, if it wasn’t a purpose built EMP, or if it was a small blast.

2. It’s a guess as to whether aluminum foil will work as a Faraday cage in an EMP attack. We are fortunate in that we haven’t experienced enough EMPs to have a large enough dataset to make definitive statements on what will work and what won’t work in the real world. That being said, aluminum foil doesn’t cost much compared to full-on Faraday cages and still gives people a lot of potential bang for the buck. It’s a case where everyone can keep aluminum foil and wire on hand, but most people have more pressing things to spend money on than certified Faraday enclosures.

With an EMP, it’s unlikely that the general public will have any warning of an attack. We’re getting better and better at identifying CMEs. That means we’ll have between 17 hours’ (as in 1859) and three to four days’ (as in August 2010) warning to unplug, shield and possibly even bury sensitive equipment.

Hold On A Second!

Before you go off and spend a bunch of time and money preparing for one specific potential event, make sure you have all of your fundamentals in order. What I mean is that instead of preparing specifically for an EMP/CME, you’re much better off taking steps that will help you prepare for all causes of breakdowns in civil order.

I’m talking about having a store of food on hand and a way to supply yourself and your family with water, shelter, fire, security and medical skills.

With a well-thought-out preparedness plan, you can be ready for disasters ranging from unexpected short-term unemployment to short-term natural disasters to catastrophic events like a collapse of the dollar to EMPs and CMEs, so focus on the fundamentals and you’ll be ready for whatever disaster happens.

Stay Safe & God Bless!

–David Morris
UrbanSurvivalPlayingCards.com

 

 

Develop Situational Awareness

With time being limited and the economy being the way that it is, it’s important to identify as many preparedness and survival skills as possible that you can learn and practice quickly and inexpensively. One of the most important survival and preparedness skills that you can learn, fortunately, happens to be free to practice: situational awareness.

People tend to throw a lot of jargon around when they talk about situational awareness. One of the most common phrases is talking about always being in “condition yellow.” Oftentimes, people have heard the term so much that they simply nod their head in agreement without really understanding what it means or where the term came from.

Condition yellow comes from famed firearms instructor Jeff Cooper, who wrote the book Principles of Self Defense in 1989. More than two decades later, it’s still a great book.

You may know Cooper as the founder of the famous Gunsite Firearms Training Academy. Although the book is quoted often, few people have actually read it. It’s less than 30 pages, and it’s only $10. I’ll warn you now, if you judge the value of a book by its weight, skip this one. If, on the other hand, you’re like me and appreciate quality over quantity and fluff, it’s one you should buy and read soon.

Let me briefly tell you about Cooper’s color codes. He maintained that people walk around in one of four states, or conditions:

Condition White: This is the baseline in America. Unaware. “Tuned out” listening to music, texting, talking on a cellphone or just daydreaming. The belief in condition white is that everyone around you will look out for you and that nobody would have any reason to do you harm. People who walk into fixed objects like light poles, walls, etc. are generally in condition white. They don’t see danger coming and are surprised and confused when bad things happen.

Condition Yellow: This is the condition in which you are relaxed and aware of your surroundings. You observe people around you and look for exits, possible improvised weapons and environmental threats (like icicles hanging from a roof or a young child playing by a railing with 1-foot gaps in the slats). In this state, you’re also more likely to see opportunities, recognize friends and identify situations where you can help with information or by taking action. Being in condition yellow allows you to be proactive and avoid problems or create favorable outcomes that other people don’t see as possibilities.

Condition yellow is not necessarily being on edge, irritable, having a hair trigger and thinking that everyone is out to get you. In fact, simply “people watching” is a form of condition yellow. It’s simply about proactively observing what is going on around you. If you observe good things, that’s great. If you observe bad things, you’ll usually do it early on and have more time to plan and execute your escape or reaction.

More often than not, once you’ve trained your mind to observe your surroundings, you’ll start picking up things without even consciously looking for them. You will recognize bulges, know knife brands when you’re only able to see the clip from across the room and be able to identify someone who’s angry out of the corner of your eye by his clenched jaw, tense body and the way he walks.

These observations will pay off every day as you’re just going about your life. You will see dog mess sooner, recognize doors that open out toward the sidewalk, see people getting ready to open their car door in your path and recognize the potential for people to come flying around blind corners.

Condition Orange is the next stage. It happens when something has made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

It could be something that you consciously identified, or it could be something that your subconscious mind has picked up that your conscious mind hasn’t.

A radical example of this would be looking at a sociopath in the face who is showing a genuine smile, but who is also pulling his hand out of his pocket where there is the slight outline of a knife. Your conscious mind will want to focus on the genuine smile, and your unconscious mind will be screaming to focus on the knife.

In any case, when you’re in condition orange, it’s time to set concrete triggers for fighting, fleeing or capitulating. “If he comes toward me and asks for my money, I’m going to throw my money on the ground. If he tells me to lie down, I’ll eliminate the threat.”

A more ordinary example of condition orange would be spotting a concealed weapon holder whose firearm has become exposed. It’s probably nothing, but it’s worth watching.

An everyday example is when you’re around young children in a new environment where you haven’t had a chance to look for dangers. Or when you are introducing dogs when one or more are sometimes aggressive. Or when you are approaching an aggressive panhandler or see someone who looks like he just got released from 10 years in the penitentiary.

It’s important to set your triggers or have pre-determined triggers that you will use in condition orange. With introducing dogs, it could be: “If my dog growls, I’ll pull sharply on the leash. If the other dog growls, I’ll pick up my dog and walk away.”

With the robber, it could be: “When he leans down to pick up the money, I’m going to kick his head with my shin.”

In a holdup situation, it could be: “If he turns his back to me, I’ll draw my firearm, drop to one knee so I’ve got a safe backstop and order him to drop his weapon. If he points his firearm at me, I’ll shoot him to stop the threat.”

Most times, when you’re in condition orange, the stimulus will leave, you will downgrade your assessment or you will remove yourself from the situation.

If you find yourself in condition orange on a continual basis, it’s called “hypervigilance.”  It’s not healthy, and it’s something you need to seriously address before your body literally eats itself up by releasing too many stress hormones and chemicals.

Condition Red: When something triggers condition orange and running or giving in are not options, sometimes you will move into condition red, which is the fight.

This is simply the execution of the trigger that you decided on in condition orange. It’s actually running away. It’s actually giving in. It’s actually eliminating the threat because things have escalated to the point where the benefits of acting outweigh the risks.

How do you get better at seeing things around you?

It’s a skill. You’ll want to start simple and build on the basics. I’m going to give you some tips you can start using immediately to help you be more aware of the people around you. Simply put, it’s comparing people around you to yourself or someone you know well. When someone comes in a door, ask the following questions. They’re a fairly common set of questions that police detectives ask witnesses after a crime to help them to recall details.

Is the person:

  • Male or female and what is the person’s skin color?
  • Older than, the same age or younger than I am?
  • Smaller, the same size or larger than I am?
  • Thin, fit, fat or obese?
  • Taller, the same height or shorter than I am?
  • Less aware, as aware or more aware than I am?
  • Dressed casually, formally or for a purpose?

You can add dozens of additional questions and observations, but this is a great place to start. As you answer the questions, you will naturally start to see other things that help you start to form a picture of the person.

One easy thing to identify is clothes. People usually don’t wear clothes to show people what they don’t like; rather, they wear clothes that show their favorite teams, activities or causes.

Accessories such as watches, sunglasses and jewelry are also identifiers. Sometimes, they are just thrown on; but, often, they help tell the story of the wearer.

Tattoos are another storyteller. Are they a reminder? A tribute? A message to others? Some people want to look tough because they were victimized when they were kids. Some people want to look tough as a defense tool to prevent actual physical conflict from happening. Some people just want tough-looking tattoos so they can feel tough. Others want to look tough because they live a violent lifestyle, and they use the tattoos as a form of psychological warfare when they get into verbal and physical altercations.

Like I said, there are dozens of other questions you can ask and things you can observe. As you increase the number of things that you observe about others, remember to add on slowly. If you go immediately from being unobservant to trying to observe 20 different factors and profile people like a Secret Service agent, you’ll just get frustrated.

On the other hand, if you start by observing a few things until it becomes natural and then add on a few more, you will soon be able to make fairly accurate observations and judge whether someone is a threat quickly and almost subconsciously.

If you have other tips, tricks and shortcuts for being situationally aware, please share them by commenting below:

Until next week, God Bless and stay safe!

David Morris
SurviveInPlace.com
UrbanSurvivalPlayingCards.com
Facebook.com/SurvivalDave
Twitter.com/SurvivalDave

Efficient Food For Survival

Just like with a car, if you run your body on the fuel that it’s designed to burn, it will have more power, run more efficiently and have less waste.

Even more importantly from a preparedness perspective, if you eat foods that your body can burn and use efficiently, you don’t need to eat as much. In the case of storing food for emergency situations, it also means you don’t need to buy or store as much.

What makes food efficient? How do you absorb as much benefit as possible from the food you eat? There are a few factors, and they are different from person to person. This topic gets really complex in a hurry, but the following factors will address the majority of the issue:

  • Complexity of the food.
  • Glycemic index.
  • Enzymes.
  • Allergies.
  • Bacteria.
  • Bioavailability.

Complexity Of The Food

Foods that have more complex structures require more digestive energy to break down into usable components. From a pure calorie/energy perspective, some foods take more calories to digest than they provide. In general, protein requires more calories to digest than fats, which require more calories to digest than sugars. Protein has other benefits besides calories, so the fact that it is more complex doesn’t mean that you should avoid it.

Glycemic Index And Insulin Response

The glycemic index is a measure of how rapidly carbohydrates break down into glucose. Foods with a high glycemic index break down rapidly, and foods with a low glycemic index break down more slowly.

This is important because if your blood glucose levels get too high or rise too quickly, your pancreas will release insulin to regulate your blood sugar levels. The problem with this is that the pancreas usually overreacts, releases too much insulin and causes blood sugar levels to drop lower than they were to start with.

Most people understand this intuitively and know that when they eat high fructose corn sweetener or refined sugarcane they get quick energy that quickly drops off. But if they have fruits and whole wheat bread, their energy levels go up nice and slow and stay level for hours.

Enzymes

Enzymes are very complex and amazing structures that can cause chemical reactions to happen more or less quickly. In relation to food, enzymes break complex food particles down so that the intestines can extract as many nutrients as possible from them.

If you can figure out which foods your body is efficient at digesting, your eating becomes much more efficient. Also, many raw foods contain some of the natural enzymes required to digest them. When you cook them, you kill some or all of the enzymes and put more of the stress of digestion on your gut, causing you to get fewer net calories.

Enzymes are temperature sensitive and are killed off by cooking. Many people, to avoid this, have switched to a “raw” food diet. Personally, we cook a lot of our food, but we supplement with enzymes to take some of the strain of digestion off our bodies. This, in turn, causes the food to “burn” more efficiently, taking some of the load off of our livers.

I talk more about this in a presentation I recently recorded on how to get three to 10 TIMES more nutrients from your food. You can see it by clicking here.

Allergies

If your body identifies a particular food as a threat, you won’t be able to digest it as efficiently as someone whose body doesn’t identify it as a threat. In fact, the reaction could cause your body to rapidly expel the contents of your gut, cause general inflammation or even kill you.

Bacteria In The Gut

With the help of enzymes, bacteria in your gut break down the food that you eat into forms that your body can use for building, repair, energy and other chemical reactions. Your gut has both good bacteria and bad bacteria in it. It’s good to minimize bad bacteria and maximize good bacteria to get the most benefit from your food. A couple of things that will kill the bacteria in your gut are antibiotics and Sucralose (Splenda.) This lack of good bacteria will cause you to extract less from your food and have more waste.

In addition to avoiding things that kill good bacteria in our guts, we also take probiotics to keep our good bacteria levels high.

Bioavailability

This has more to do with supplements than it does with food, but it’s still important. One of the best explanations of this is in Dr. Michael Colgan’s book, Optimum Sports Nutrition. Colgan became relatively famous in the late 80s and early 90s by showing Olympic athletes how to achieve steroid-like performance gains without destroying their bodies. My copy is 16 years old and well worn. In the book, Colgan talks about the various forms of calcium, how much calcium is in each form and how well the body absorbs the calcium.

As an example, calcium carbonate is 40 percent calcium (60 percent carbon and oxygen) and only 39 percent of that calcium gets absorbed. Calcium citrate is 21 percent calcium and 30 percent is absorbed. Calcium lactate is 14 percent calcium and 27 percent gets absorbed. This issue of bioavailability is present with every vitamin and mineral you take.

What happens to the rest of the pill? Your body has to process it which puts stress on your liver, kidney and other organs — all of which takes energy.

This is why I tell people to buy food that they already eat for their food storage. And, if you want to buy packaged food for long-term storage, be darn sure the food is compatible with your digestive system before you buy hundreds of meals.

This would be a great time for any nutritionists, biologists or even chemists to chime in with either more technical explanations, expanded explanations of the factors mentioned or other factors that I didn’t address by commenting below.

–David Morris

 

Preparedness While Traveling

We’re going to a football game on the weekend of the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. One side of my brain says there’s no extra danger. The other side of my brain says terrorists love anniversaries. In any case, we’re going to go see some football. Am I going to have some stuff in the car in case something happens? Of course I will; I always do.

Some people get to a point in their preparations where they never want to leave the comfort and safety of home. There’s nothing wrong with this if it works for you, but my wife and I are adventurers. We made a conscious decision that we wouldn’t become prisoners of our preparations. As a result, we travel together whenever we can. That, combined with business travel, means we spend a lot of time with only the items we have on our backs or in our vehicle.

I have traveled a few times a month for business for several years and make four to eight trips a year to Washington, D.C. My list of equipment has constantly evolved.

Due to new airline luggage restrictions, I have pared down my travel gear considerably. I now have the challenge of fitting everything I check into one bag that weighs less than 50 pounds, including my sidearm (when not in Washington), clothes, toiletries, work items and preparedness items.

Here’s what I carry, broken down into the four major survival categories:

Food: It depends on the trip, but I usually carry a few packages of jerky, five to 10 CLIF bars, Hammer Gel, instant oatmeal, breakfast-shake powder, meal-replacement bars or whatever is decently healthy that I can buy in bulk at Costco.

I also carry fiber capsules and meal-replacement capsules. The combination will allow me to function at about 85 percent to 90 percent capacity for a few days without food and without feeling hungry. Best of all, they take up almost no space and weigh very little.

When I combine a little bit of food with the fiber/meal replacement combo, it’s possible for me to carry a week or more of food in a very compact form.

Fire: I keep a few fire-starting tricks with me, including two from the Adventure Medical Kits (AMK) mini survival kit, which fits into my cargo-pocket sized REI first aid kit. (You can get both from REI.)

The two fire starters that are included in this kit are a Fresnel lens and a tiny orange stick with a “spark wheel” like you’d find on a lighter. Most importantly, they include three pieces of braided cotton to use as tinder.

I also carry a BlastMatch. The BlastMatch is a one-handed fire starter that uses a combination of 4 metals to create 1,400 degree sparks. From a pure survival standpoint, it’s not necessary. The little orange “spark wheel” does just as well with the proper tinder, but I honestly just enjoy using the BlastMatch.

Two items I carry that double as accelerants for making fires are ChapStick® and fish oil capsules. Adding either to tinder makes starting fire so much easier that it is almost like cheating.

The laws on matches and lighters in checked and carry-on baggage seem to change so often that I don’t even bother with them.

Water: I carry a Sawyer 2-liter water purifier. It is guaranteed to purify 1 million gallons and is one of the very few mechanical filters that will filter out viruses. It’s truly an impressive purifier. I also carry the Katadyn carbon cartridge to filter the chlorine out of hotel water.

If needed, I can use my bandana or a cotton shirt as a pre-filter.

I also carry a Nalgene bottle so I have something to put the water into besides a tiny hotel glass.

Shelter: My shelter options are very limited due to size and weight restrictions. I carry a Mylar® blanket from the AMK kit, a poncho and a couple of contractor garbage bags. My primary strategy is to pack layered clothes and acquire or create shelter if necessary.

Medical: I carry a simple REI day pack first aid kit along with Super Glue®, electrolyte replenisher, an extra triangle bandage and some beefed up blister gear. I don’t carry any CPR gear and, frankly, I don’t intend to do CPR on anyone other than immediate family while traveling. This kit is to fix myself. If I have to fix anyone else, I’ll use their supplies or supplies that I acquire.

That last point is very important. If I find myself in a mass casualty incident, I’m not going to be using my little pocket first aid and trauma kit on strangers. I would use it on family; but if I’m working on strangers, I’ll use what they have and/or cut and rip off parts of their clothing rather than use the limited supplies I have.

I also carry a bottle of prescription pain medications. I’ve learned the hard way that I have to jam-pack the bottle with cotton balls to keep the pills from dissolving from vibration. (Because I don’t take them and I carry the exact same pills for months and even years at a time, the vibration of airline travel adds up.)

Security/Tools: Some of the other items that I have with me are:

  • A fixed-blade knife. I carry a 4.8-inch partially serrated Gerber LMF II that I have abused enough in the woods and around the house to know I can trust it.
  • A few zip ties of various lengths.
  • A multi-tool.
  • Two lights: a Surefire Backup and a Petzl Zipka.
  • Backup batteries
  • Two pepper sprays: a traditional “jogger” Saber spray and a Kimber Guardian Angel.
  • Pocket/neck knives to the extent that they’re legal where I’m traveling.
  • A belt, boots, a bandana and a few cotton T-shirts.
  • A roll of black electrical tape.
  • Lots of paracord.
  • Magnetic intrusion alarms.
  • A lock pick set.
  • Urban Survival Playing Cards from http://www.UrbanSurvivalPlayingCards.com.

I’ll usually throw in a couple of new things to test out each trip, but that’s the core of it. The best part about this setup is that, other than my knife, it’s all small, light and very usable.

I normally fly with a firearm a few times a month and have never had a problem with the Transportation Security Administration. I’ve read about several incidents in which people did have problems with TSA, but my personal experience has been different.

There are times for me, though, when carrying a firearm is not an option: on a plane, on Amtrak, in Washington, D.C., California and other locales that don’t allow concealed or open carry, even at amusement parks. During those times, I’m quite happy that I have solid empty-hands fighting skills. It’s what makes me comfortable and confident in situations where I can’t carry effective self-defense tools and may have to fight to be able to acquire an improvised weapon.

Let me know what preparedness items you carry with you when you travel. How do you deal with the fact that you’re basically choosing to be unprepared hours or days away from your home, family and supplies? What systems do you have in place should a disaster hit your family while you’re gone? As you get more and more prepared, do you tend to spend more time at home or have you figured out how to feel comfortable leaving everything behind?

Tell me by commenting below.

Building Walls

Following an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenario or even a severe economic collapse, one of the most practical security measures that homeowners, neighborhoods and small towns can take is to find ways to increase security with minimal manpower.

One of the simplest ways to do this is to use physical barriers. The type of barrier depends on your resources, budget, time-frame and the threat that you are defending against. As an example, chain-link fence topped with barbed wire will keep most two- and four-legged predators out of your garden, but won’t stop a truck, tank or helicopter.

What I will address is one of the ways I see good people responding to long-term breakdowns in civil order — not defending against tanks and helicopters, but defending against robbery, home invasions and other violent attacks. In particular, I will explain how to create small safe zones within cities.

Of course, there’s a precedent for this. From the time that people started creating population centers to expand commerce and to join together for common defense, people have used physical barriers to keep hostile invaders out.

Some historical physical barriers were purely functional. Others are beautiful after the fact, like Old West forts, castles and the Great Wall of China.

Fast forward to today. Walls are used in countries around the globe to protect individual houses and neighborhoods from outsiders. My friends from Mexico City weren’t upper class, but they still lived in walled neighborhoods with guards armed with Uzis. One of them ran a home-based daycare for wealthy families, and several of the preschoolers had their own armed guards who stayed outside the house during the day. Interestingly enough, the guns the armed guards carried were illegal.

Regardless of what towns and cities will officially do in an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it situation, people with the means to do so will protect themselves. One of the best ways to ensure that you live to a ripe old age is to make sure you never look like the easiest target. Physical barriers go a long way toward helping criminals decide to go after someone else’s stuff instead of yours.

Almost all houses in the United States are vulnerable to attack. Flimsy interior doors, sliding glass doors, multiple big windows, insecure entry doors and non-rock/brick/cement construction all add up to big vulnerability from determined attackers.

One thing in particular that I see happening is that wealthy, urban U.S. homeowners follow the example of wealthy homeowners from around the world and wall themselves in — with walls around both their individual properties and bigger walls around their neighborhoods.

Walls can be made with HESCO barriers, prestressed concrete, silage, conex boxes (shipping containers), brick, stone, lumber or whatever happens to work best in a particular area used alone or in conjunction with trenches and/or barbed wire.

HESCO barriers are large, stackable “boxes” of dirt. They come in several sizes, but are basically collapsible weaved fabric boxes measuring 1 meter tall, 1 meter deep and 10 meters long that you fill with sand or dirt using a front end loader. They are effective against firearms, small bombs and vehicle assaults. You can set them up single or double thick and stack them several layers high. Our troops have used them extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have saved countless lives and are much more efficient than sandbags if you have the equipment necessary to load them.

If you’ve ever seen a cement commercial building go from nothing to all four walls being up in a few hours, you’ve seen prestressed concrete in action. Silage walls are also prestressed concrete, but they are generally made with wider bases so they are self-supporting — like highway barriers, only taller.

I bring this up because I see opportunity here, and you can take advantage of it. First, if you are in a neighborhood, apartment or condominium where it might be practical to pool money to build a common defensive wall, you might want to start looking for resources as you’re going about your daily life. Identify people who use heavy equipment, companies that own heavy equipment, concrete companies, independent truckers, etc. Also, start thinking about where you would place the walls and openings/checkpoints. How would you alter it if you can’t raise enough money?

I would love to say that the need to build improvised walls around your neighborhood has little to no chance of happening, but we just don’t know. People probably thought protective walls weren’t necessary at some point in most of the places in the world where they are in use today.

In any case, the sheer volume of low probability threats that we currently face adds up to a significant risk. Even so, this is an idea to consider and start identifying solutions for, but I wouldn’t dedicate money or a significant amount of time to it at this point unless it makes sense in light of your current level of preparedness. You’re much more likely to benefit from taking the steps necessary to have 40 days of food on hand than you would be to benefit from spending the same amount of time and money on physical barriers. Even so, just introducing the concept will help you start identifying opportunities around you.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve seen and talked with officials from cities in the U.S. where they either have concrete barriers pre-positioned near where they’re needed or have heavy equipment operators on standby to close off access to the town by outsiders in the event of a disaster.

Second, if you happen to have skills or assets that could be used to help secure semi-wealthy or wealthy neighborhoods, start thinking about how you would sell your services after a disaster. Would you sell your services for money? For a place to live within the wall? For a share of water? Maybe you don’t currently live somewhere where it would be practical to put up physical barriers, but you might be able to figure out how to provide enough value to people who do live in areas that can afford to erect physical barriers to be able to move in.

Third, think about what skills you have that would be of value to people inside of communities that might put up walls. Are you a master hydroponic, aeroponic or conventional gardener, and do you want to expand your operation? Are you skilled and experienced at raising animals, but don’t have the secure space to do it? The answer to both of these questions may lead you to growing food or raising animals on someone else’s property within a walled neighborhood or property — especially if it’s more secure. Heck, I even see opportunities for armed house sitters to watch over people’s houses while the owners are on vacation or at other (rural) properties.

This brings to mind a conversation that I had last fall when I was visiting with a friend of mine 2,000 miles away from home. He asked me what I would do if a fictional “Jericho” type event happened that day and my family and home got wiped out by a nuclear bomb, shortly followed by an EMP that knocked out power across the country. My answer was that I’d find the wealthiest neighborhood I could find and figure out what their particular needs were and how I could make myself so valuable that they’d be eager to give me food, fire, water, shelter and medication — even though I was a complete stranger visiting from out of town.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on walled neighborhoods after a breakdown in civil order. I’m particularly interested in hearing from people who have lived overseas in walled “compounds,” whether they were U.S. enclaves or simple civilian neighborhoods. I know many of you have been Department of Defense or Department of State dependents stationed overseas, and I would appreciate any insights you have to share.

–David Morris

 

Convince Reluctant Loved Ones To Prepare

Once you realize how important and urgent it is to prepare your family for disasters, getting loved ones on board can be one of the most frustrating and heartrending parts of the process. Whether it is getting someone in your own house to “see the light” or getting a friend or loved one to take threats seriously, this can cause almost as much stress as the disasters you’re trying to prepare for.

I’ve got a couple of approaches that I want to share with you today that will help you with people who have investments or see the wisdom in saving.

I was listening to Dave Ramsey’s financial radio show on the way home earlier this week, as I often do. He was suggesting, as usual, that someone needed to follow his steps to financial peace.

The first step that he suggests is to get a $1,000 emergency fund. Interestingly enough, the reason for doing this is “for those unexpected events in life that you can’t plan for… It’s not a matter of if these events will happen; it’s simply a matter of when they will happen.”

The second step is to pay off all debts except the house.

And the third step is to build up three to six months of savings to serve as an emergency fund.

I can’t remember ever talking to anyone who thought that having an emergency fund was a bad idea. Even people who are dead set against preparedness or even simple food storage will agree that having a rainy day fund is a smart idea.

I’d venture to say that every adult has either benefited from having an emergency fund or wished that they had one at some point in his life. I’ve experienced both of those situations, and I can tell you that when you find yourself in “emergency” mode, you will always wish you had more in your emergency fund than you do.

Most people stop with the thought that an emergency fund is a good thing. But if you peel this onion back a little bit, it opens up a whole new way of looking at emergency funds/rainy day funds and preparedness and will give you a solid foundation for talking about preparedness with someone who believes in having an emergency fund.

Let’s start by looking at the kinds of expenses that people think they’ll use their emergency funds for. In many cases, it’s for a car repair or medical expenses. But in today’s environment of high unemployment, people generally accept the fact that they might be using their emergency fund to pay for basic necessities like food, shelter, fire, water and possibly fuel for transportation after losing their job(s).

Forget about the fact that there may be a regional disaster; people lose jobs every day and experience their own personal emergencies. Unemployment rates are on the news almost every day. And if you know more than 10 people, chances are very high that you know someone who’s lost his job in the past year or two. The loss of a job is much more realistic and easier for the general public to accept than the possibility of a failure of the electrical grid, rioting, fuel or food shortages, or any other major disaster that could cause a breakdown in civil order.

So, if you’re talking with someone who has an emergency fund set aside for a rainy day, ask him if he found himself in a situation in which he needed to use it, if some of that money would go to buy food.

This makes sense for a few reasons, namely:

  1. If he simply buys larger quantities of the items he currently eats, there’s a good chance he will save money. If he has three to six months of expenses set aside, then he is already planning on spending a portion of that money on food. There is no additional expense to holding some of his emergency fund in food rather than dollars.
  2. If the disaster that causes him to tap into his emergency fund causes a breakdown in the supply chain for stores, he will be able to eat his emergency fund if some of it is in food rather than dollars.
  3. If he is keeping his emergency fund in the bank and there is an emergency that affects the banking system, he is stuck. If he converts some of his emergency fund from dollars to food, then he will still be able to feed himself.
  4. This is one of the most important points: food inflation. If you convert some of your emergency funds to food right now, you could get significantly more for your money than if you wait until an emergency happens. Food prices might go down; but droughts in China, bad U.S. money policies causing a weaker dollar and wasting farmland and corn to produce ethanol will all serve to keep food prices high and possibly push them higher.

You might need to actually pull out a pad of paper and write out some numbers on this. Let’s say that the person you’re talking with has $3,000 in his emergency fund. Ask him how much of that he would be willing to spend on food in an emergency. Let’s say it’s 20 percent, or $600. It may be more or less, but let’s use $600.

Whatever number he comes up with, ask him if there’s any reason why he wouldn’t want to go ahead and buy $600 of nonperishable foods before the prices go up.

If the light clicks with food, you can use the same line of reasoning to get him to keep extra fuel for his car, grill and heating system on hand, as well as any other necessities. This isn’t a complete survival plan, but it is a good, solid baby step.

Preparedness as Asset Allocation and Diversification

Asset allocation and portfolio diversification are strategies financial planners have been pushing for years to try to protect their clients from market risk. One oversimplified way of looking at it is that someone in his 20s who’s saving for retirement can stick all of his money in high-risk investments that have the potential for high rewards. As you get older and have less time to recover from any losses in your retirement account, you allocate a bigger and bigger percentage of your retirement money to conservative investments.

I recently talked with a gentleman who sells ranches and ranchettes who uses this exact strategy to sell properties. He’ll ask people how much of their retirement they have in very conservative investments that aren’t making them any money. When they give him a number, he figures out how big of a ranch or ranchette they could buy and stock with the same money in case TSHTF. Normally, they are people who have car insurance, homeowners insurance, health insurance, life insurance and sometimes long-term care insurance. This is simply a way of converting money that isn’t doing anything for them into SHTF insurance.

If you or a loved one has a big nest egg, this may be an approach you can take to talk with them about preparedness that will ring true with them.

If you aren’t at the stage in life at which you have money to go out and buy land, but you are saving for retirement and some of your money is going into very conservative investments, you might want to take some time and look at food storage and preparedness items as a great way to diversify your savings.

Are you a financial planner or stock broker and a prepper? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this approach. Have you used this approach to get to where you are today? Have you used this approach to get loved ones to buy into preparedness? Please share your experiences below. Do you have other strategies that you’ve used successfully to get loved ones on board with preparedness? Please share them below.

Are You A Paranoid Prepper?

It’s amazing how many emails I get that start with either “I might be paranoid” or “My family thinks I’m paranoid.” The simple fact is, if you think that it’s smart to prepare for likely disasters, some people will call you prudent and others will call you paranoid.

In reality, the passage of time is all that will shed light on whether someone is being paranoid. For example, Joel Rosenberg wrote about terrorists flying planes into a skyscraper before 9/11. (It was after al-Qaida had started preparing, so he didn’t give them the idea.)

Many thought that idea was the creation of a fiction writer with an overactive imagination. And those who thought it was possible were considered merely paranoid — until it actually happened.

That’s the way it is with many threats. Some in New Orleans thought that preparing for a levee break was being paranoid — until it actually happened. For a while after Hurricane Katrina, there was only one operational hospital in the entire city. Ochsner Medical Center had been taking practical steps to prepare for a levee break since the 1950s.

Other threats never pan out… like Y2K. People who were myopic and focused on Y2K ended up looking paranoid after the dust settled. But those who kept their supplies and training up to speed look pretty smart right about now. They may have been paranoid about Y2K, but their understanding of the need to be prepared was practical and timeless.

“Paranoia,” if you want to call it that, isn’t necessarily a bad thing… unless it starts affecting your sleep, your relationships with others and your mood. Fortunately, there are some simple things that you can do to look at the threats we’re facing in a way that will allow you to keep balance in your life.

Here are some truisms about being paranoid/prepared:

  1. There will always be a “new threat” to worry about. They are kind of like waves in the surf zone. If you focus all of your energy on one, there’s always another one coming. Your best bet is to power through, keep moving and keep your eyes on the big picture.
  2. General preparedness will help keep you from the emotional roller coaster of going from one probable disaster to the next. EMPs, bio attacks, economic collapse and infrastructure attacks all share common elements. Focusing on these common elements will give you a broad preparedness base.
  3. TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) may or may not happen during your lifetime, so don’t waste all your time on Earth focusing on it. Someday, you’re going to look back on how you spent your life. Spend your time today in a way that you’ll be happy about tomorrow.
  4. If things do collapse, life will get really stressful, so don’t forget to stop and smell the roses while things are relatively stable.
  5. If you’re losing sleep now because of what might happen, you should learn how to get your mind under control for when things actually do happen.
  6. Spending time making forward progress on your preparations will always beat spending time reading about every possible disaster that could happen.
  7. Unless your plan is to live in a cave, completely isolated and alone, make sure to spend time on relationships with family and friends. They will make your life richer if disaster never happens, and they will make life livable if disaster does happen.
  8. Many of the things you worry about will never happen. Some might. But, as Matthew 6:27 says: “Who by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Try to convert worry into action and/or prayer.

Calm Down

The first thing you need to do is take a deep breath. In a survival situation, panic can kill you more quickly than a lack of oxygen. One of the best ways to prepare for the stress of a survival situation is to learn how to handle stressful situations in everyday life as efficiently as possible. This isn’t a switch you can flip… it’s a skill that’s developed over time — and a skill you can start developing today.

Practice calming down while driving, while talking with customer support that doesn’t speak English, and while spending time with friends and relatives. There are some situations where escalating conflict helps, but in most cases it doesn’t.

If you’re frantically preparing, you might also want to calm down a little. I believe preparedness is both urgent and a way of life. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s easy to prepare at such a frantic pace that you quickly burn out or make expensive mistakes. But when you make it a part of your life, it becomes quite fun and enriches every day in addition to preparing you for disasters.

Make A Plan

The next thing you need to do is make a plan. What threats are you most concerned about? What preparations can you do that will help you no matter what kind of disaster you face? What skills and supplies do you currently have? Which skills do you need to develop and what supplies do you need to start getting? What if you have to bug out? What if you can’t bug out and you have to survive in place?

You will continually be modifying your plan based on opportunities and your unique situation, so don’t feel like the plan you make today will be set in stone.

Control Your Time, Control Your Mind

It’s easy to spend hours and hours reading, watching or listening about the next worst thing that’s going to happen. It’s also intoxicating to read about other people’s survival plans and about other people’s survival skills instead of actually doing stuff yourself.

I encourage you to control what you watch, listen and read. There’s no shortage of information out there about all of the threats we face. And it’s not a bad thing to be aware of them. But think about every potential disaster you hear about as encouraging your decision to be prepared rather than as something new to worry about.

One of the best illustrations of this is helicopter pilots. Helicopter pilots are a unique breed. Airplane pilots know that if their engines go out, their plane will naturally glide some distance and they have a good shot at being able to land safely.

Helicopter pilots, on the other hand, are basically flying a rock through the air. If the engine goes out, autorotation will buy some grace, but landing a dead helicopter becomes more like landing a rock than landing an airplane.

As a result, helicopter pilots are very aware of all of the threats they face and everything that could go wrong at any given moment and cause a series of cascading disasters. The ability to accept and deal with all of these potential threats, embrace them and enjoy finding solutions to them is what makes for great helicopter pilots. They learn that at some point you have to stop overthinking what might happen and just start flying.

Similarly, the more aware you are about the political, natural and terrorist threats that we face, the more you’ll want to develop the mind of a helicopter pilot… always aware of what could happen, but never dwelling on any one thing and letting it paralyze you.

Along this same line of thought, we used to watch Glenn Beck’s show every night. It was solid information, but it was overwhelming. I still listen to Glenn’s radio show and really appreciate his waking people up. But at the same time, I have to limit myself to how much I listen to his show. It’s the same with many blogs, forums and books. Every day, I would read about the end results of somebody’s lifetime of prepping. But I wouldn’t have time to do anything about it, and I found myself just as unprepared the next time I watched or read.

Fortunately, there’s a balance.

What I encourage you to do is watch and read just enough to spur you to action. Then, actually spend time doing things to get prepared.

That’s a big reason why I am so focused on not only writing about vulnerabilities that we face and big-picture preparedness, but also simple, fundamental things that people can do on a daily basis to get themselves prepared. I want every article I write to have actionable steps you can take immediately so that you become more prepared every day.

Take Action!

Once you’re aware of the threats we face, both in the U.S. and globally, the best thing you can do to get prepared and stay sane is to take action.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” “Slow and steady wins the race.” These are all good sayings to remind you to pace yourself. If you have to sprint, then look at your preparedness as interval training and plan for time to catch your breath and regroup.

Do something on a daily basis to get more prepared. Don’t just read about skills, practice them. Do things that will earn you the right to sleep soundly because you’ve made forward progress.

Don’t kick yourself for waiting to get prepared. It’ll only waste mental energy. Learn the lesson and get moving.

Don’t think you’re going to go from newbie to expert in every facet of survival overnight. It’s a process — and any progress that you make will give you that much more of an advantage over the general public.

Pray

For my wife and me, prayer is the biggest thing that gives us peace and strength. We’re facing some pretty huge threats to our way of life, and talking with God is the biggest thing that helps keep our heads from spinning around in frustration with what’s going on in the world. We’re living in crazy times, and we’re thankful to have a rock that we can hold onto.

What To Do Next?

Still don’t know what to do next? That’s a big reason why I wrote the SurviveInPlace.com Urban Survival Course. It’s a step-by-step guide to get you and your family ready for breakdowns in civil order after disasters. To read more about it and see if it’s right for you, please go to SurviveInPlace.com.

Do you have any stories about how you went from being paralyzed or panicked by what is going on in the world to feeling more at peace? How about how you won over relatives who once thought you were paranoid? Please share your thoughts and experiences by commenting below.

Top 10 Reasons America Depends On Survivalists And Preppers

There has been a lot of derogatory talk lately about “preppers” and “survivalists.” Here are 10 reasons why preppers and survivalists have always been vital to the United States and why it is essential that we have as many as possible to survive future disasters.

To start with, the titles “survivalist” and “prepper” would have seemed redundant a couple of generations ago. When the Greatest Generation was growing up, preparedness was simply a way of life. Before the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other Federal aid programs were around, people knew that they had to be able to take care of themselves in the event of natural and manmade disasters.

At the core, that’s what survivalists and preppers are. They are people who are aware that life is full of uncertainty and who have decided to put things into place for when bad times happen.

With that, here is the top 10 list of why America depends on survivalists and preppers:

1. FEMA: The cost for local, state and Federal agencies to plan, equip and staff for every disaster that might happen is cost-prohibitive. When disasters strike, government is quick to talk and quick to “ramp up,” but government help is slow to come and inefficient when it arrives. The irony is how often highly qualified and motivated front-line first responders are prevented from doing as much as they could by top-heavy bureaucracies.

Survivalists and preppers, on the other hand, are able to act quickly and efficiently to take care of their own houses and provide stability, structure and assistance for their streets, neighborhoods and beyond. Because they know the terrain and the players in the areas where they live and operate, they can quickly establish stable micro-environments for recovery to grow from.

2. Stable base: An organization (or nation) of people with narrowly focused, specialized skills may accomplish great things when everything is going smoothly, but it quickly falls apart when trouble comes and key people are knocked out.

The survivalist and prepper mind-set of jack-of-all-trades makes for a stable organization (or nation). If the specialist falls or needs help, others can help pick up the slack — even if it means they’re doing it at a slower speed or lower level of proficiency.

3. Joseph in the Bible: Preppers and survivalists have been around saving the day since the beginning of time. In Genesis 37-50, Joseph sees trouble coming and prepares for seven years. At the end of seven years, a severe drought and famine hit that last for the next seven years. Because of Joseph’s preparations, Egypt survived the drought and famine and was able to help the surrounding nations.

4. Founding Fathers: With the Constitution and Bill of Rights, our Founding Fathers pushed responsibility from the Federal government down to the individual citizen and promoted a survivalist/prepper mentality. They did it with the 2nd and 4th Amendments, they did it by example (Washington leading a mostly barefoot army across the Delaware), and they did it throughout their writing.

5. Siege warfare: Many of the things that happened after Hurricane Katrina are textbook examples of why siege warfare is so effective. The normal city has a three-day supply of food. The normal prepper has a six- to 24-month supply of food.

Which do you think is more stable in the event of a siege that is due to disasters or war?

If you focus only on food and water supplies, a city, county, region or country with many preppers will be much more resilient to being cut off from outside help than one with few preppers.

6. Independent from the government: How much leverage does an energy tax (or most other taxes) have on a family that’s living partially or completely off the grid? The more self-reliant you are, the less control the government can exert over your life through taxes.

7. Criminals fear the aware and prepared: This is fairly straightforward. Preppers and survivalists gradually become more aware and prepared than the average person. This will show itself in your walk, in your eyes and how you carry yourself. In short, you stop looking like a wounded gazelle and more like a badger… cute and cuddly, but ready to do anything necessary to stop a threat to himself or his loved ones.

8. Tyrants fear survivalists and preppers: In addition to living a lifestyle that insulates them from siege, some taxes and being nannied, survivalists and preppers are usually well-armed and seek advanced training. Good men have nothing to fear from an armed populace, but tyrants who seek to control the lives of others will always try to disarm them first through confiscation, taxation or pressure through media and the education system.

It worked for Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong and many more narcissistic, mass murders throughout the ages. It worked so far back, in fact, that Aristotle spoke extensively about how, in any society, those who control the arms control the state.

9. More preppers means fewer refugees and faster recovery from disasters: After a local, regional or national disaster, the number of refugees will be inversely proportional to the number of preppers and survivalists in the area. In other words, the more preppers you have in an area, the less strain the hospitals, volunteer organizations and government-run refugee centers will have.

10. More able to help their fellow man: After a disaster, you’re not going to see very many refugees donating their food, supplies or time. It’s not that they don’t want to, but rather it’s because they are in a fight for their lives and may be dehydrated, hungry and tired.

Preppers and survivalists who have food storage, water or water-treatment tools and who have prepared themselves psychologically for disasters will be able to help in several ways. First, they are less likely to become refugees or use the time and resources of first responders. Second, since they are prepared for disasters, they can help the people in their immediate area, which will lessen the load on first responders and reduce the number of refugees. Third, by helping themselves and their neighbors, preppers will increase the quality of care for people who do need first responder care or who need to relocate to a refugee center.

In short, the more survivalists and preppers we have, the more stable our families, cities and the country as a whole are.

Please let me know what you think about this by commenting below. Love it? Hate it? Do you have additional points to add? Let me know.

What Kind Of Seeds To Store?

Lots of people email and ask about what the best seeds are to store for long-term survival situations. With all of the deceptive and fear-based seed marketing in the preparedness market, it’s become confusing to try to figure out what kind of seeds to plant now and store for the future.

Here’s an example of an email I get fairly regularly:
David,
Thanks for the info. Question: Dehydrated food lasts only so long. What is the best source for seeds, etc. to grow food? Online? Farmers’ markets? Country stores?
–Bob

Here’s part of what I wrote back… plus some more:

Ideally, you want to have seeds from a few sources that are heirloom, hybrid, short season and long season, so that if any of the batches are bad, you won’t be wiped out. This will also protect you from early season hail storms, floods, late frosts and other environmental factors like volcanoes that might cause a short growing season.

Don’t confuse “hybrid” with GMO (genetically modified). Personally, I am a hybrid. I’m a mix of German, Russian, American Indian and French. Put another way, I’m a typical American mutt… and I like it.

Back to seeds… many hybrids occur naturally when the plants from one strain of seed pollinate the plants of another strain. Usually, hybrids occur in a controlled setting when scientists cross-pollinate plants. In any case, most hybrids are made to have more output or be more resilient to drought, flooding, heat, cold, disease and/or pests, but the trade-off is that most have seeds that won’t produce the following year.

GMO seeds are sold primarily to large farming operations, and you usually won’t need to worry about looking out for them when you buy seeds. Many seed companies advertise that their seeds are “NON-GMO” to a public that knows GMO is bad, but they don’t advertise that no other seeds in the store are GMO seeds. I won’t say that they don’t exist for the home gardener, but I have yet to see GMO seeds available anywhere in pouches for home gardens.

I don’t like GMO, and I do like hybrid and heirloom. But what’s the difference between hybrid and heirloom?

In simplest terms, hybrid plants are generally more resilient and forgiving. Heirlooms are generally more flavorful, and you can harvest the seeds to plant the following year. These are generalizations. Some hybrid plants have stabilized and produce viable seeds for the following year. Not all heirlooms are more flavorful than their hybrid alternative.

Again, I suggest having both hybrid and heirloom and planting some of both, so that if everything goes well and your heirlooms survive the growing season, you get the benefits of heirloom produce. But if things don’t go so well, the hybrid seeds may be more resilient to whatever knocked out your heirlooms and give you a partial harvest.

But that kind of misses the fundamental issue with storing seeds for survival.

In short, you should store seeds that you have experience growing successfully. If you don’t have experience growing seeds successfully, then there are other questions that need to be answered before worrying about which seeds to buy.

You’ve got to remember that, while there is a lot of crossover, “survival” skills are different than “primitive-living” skills.

Here’s what I mean.

Survival skills are designed to help you “survive” a fixed situation of known or unknown length. Food storage is a good example of this. So is traditional camping.

Primitive-living skills are designed to help you be more independent from other people and, in a pure sense, able to survive indefinitely separated from others. Gardening is a good example of this.

Both are valuable skill sets, especially for preppers who are aware of all of the short- and long-term risks we’re currently facing; but it’s helpful not to confuse the two. Primitive living skills, like gardening, also have the advantage of helping you grow your own food during “normal” times.

Back to the issue of storing seeds for survival. Think through the scenarios that you’re planning for. Are you planning for multiple-year primitive-living scenarios or one- to six-month survival scenarios that you can simply stock up supplies for?

I have both survival supplies and primitive-living supplies that I know how to use and work with regularly, but I use modern conveniences for most of my day-to-day living. In a total breakdown situation, I view my survival supplies as a buffer that will buy me time to get my primitive-living skills to the point where I can depend on them for living and/or a barter or trade economy to develop and stabilize.

Again, there will be overlap, but you need to be clear on which one you’re currently preparing for. By focusing on one or another, you will make faster progress overall. I normally suggest that people focus on survival and preparedness before they spend too much time focusing on primitive living.

Why? Because in the event of a disaster like a hurricane, tornado, flood or wildfire, survival and preparedness skills (in general) are much easier to use and benefit from. You don’t necessarily have to transition to primitive-living skills like grinding wheat to bake bread and using a loom to make your own clothes. You can simply eat what’s in your food storage and wear extra clothes that you had in your go bag.

Another question you want to ask yourself is whether you are planning for a partial breakdown in services or a complete breakdown? To clarify, a partial breakdown could be due to a natural disaster or a local terrorist attack after which supply chains are repaired quickly. A complete breakdown could be due to an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), infrastructure attack, earthquakes on the level of the New Madrid Earthquakes or other large-scale incident after which supply chains may be damaged for months or years.

You need to answer these questions to see just how much seeds will fit into the scenarios you’re currently planning for.

As an example, you won’t need seeds for a short-term survival scenario. (You might be amazed how many people have seeds in their 72-hour kits.) And if a long-term survival scenario starts right before your planting season, it’s likely you will have other concerns more pressing than tilling, planting, watering and weeding. It may be a year before you get a chance to plant your seeds. This is one reason why it’s important for everyone to have food storage — even if you’re a master gardener.

You also have to consider environmental issues. If you’re contending with acid rain, excessively polluted rain or a water shortage, a greenhouse may not only be a convenience, but a necessity to allow you to protect your plants from unfiltered water they might get in an open garden.

If you’re planning for an attack on the cyber and/or electrical infrastructure, it means municipal water will probably be hard to find. You should look for seeds that will grow naturally with the soil and water you will have available.

A great first step is to talk with local gardening stores to find out which plants and varieties of plants will work best with your soil type and start with those. If you live in an area where Indians lived, you may want to consider finding out what they planted and ate. In many cases, Indians simply took plants that grew naturally in their areas, harvested seeds and nurtured them in subsequent seasons to increase their yield.

As a note, for the first few years of gardening, I suggest either buying young plants from a nursery and replanting them or doing a combination of planting seeds and replanting plants. Why? There’s a lot to learn with a garden. The more variables you remove and the more early success you have, the more likely you are to continue your garden for years to come.

Keep in mind that if you want to start developing your skill at gardening, it’s not too late to start this weekend. You can still buy tomatoes, berries, herbs and salad fixings at local nurseries. If you can find them, they will probably already have fruit on them and be more expensive than early season plants, but they will give you a chance to practice the mysterious arts of watering, weeding and soil management.

One other thought… if you’re just starting out in your preparations, don’t have gardening experience and have a few hundred bucks available, go out and buy a few hundred dollars’ worth of nonperishable food and a couple tomato or strawberry plants to practice on.

This will let you dip your toes into gardening and also give you a good food supply in case you experience a survival situation between now and when you have developed the skills to grow your own food.

No matter where you are with gardening, keep taking small steps to improve your skills, knowledge and gardening area. This is a skill-set that will allow you to keep learning and improving for your entire life. Once you get soil gardening figured out, you can progress to hydroponics/aeroponics, controlling light cycles and changing up nutrient mixes to get five to 20 times more produce from the same amount of space.

What are your thoughts? How does gardening fit into your preparedness plan? How about hydroponics and aeroponics? And hybrids vs. heirlooms… which do you plant? Would that change in a survival situation? Let me know by commenting below.