Top 10 Ways to Turn Your Home Into A Fortress

One of the scariest things that can happen to a homeowner is a home invasion. When it occurs, it’s frighteningly sudden. Often, there is little or no time to react. By the time a home invader is in the house, it could be too late to effectively keep him at bay. He may be there to rob you and quickly escape, or he could have other intentions, including kidnapping or rape.

The absolute best way to deal with a home invader (or a burglar if no one is home) is to make him decide — while he’s still outside — that your home is not one that he should try to invade. If you can convince that burglar as he’s scoping out your neighborhood that he will have a very difficult time accomplishing his goal in your house, you might actually save your life and that of your family members.

Some people believe that their home will never be the target of a home invader because there are more expensive houses in the immediate area that contain more expensive items to steal. The problem with that kind of thinking is that fact might not matter to a burglar. A burglar is equally interested in determining which houses he can get in and out of quickly without being detected as he is in what kind of loot with which he can escape. And a more expensive house is more likely to have a more elaborate security system that the burglar doesn’t want to mess around with.

Your choice — before something like this happens — is whether to make it easy for the burglar or very difficult for him.

Before we discuss what you can do to make a burglar decide to bypass your home, including locks, lights and landscaping, there’s something everyone should know. The weakest link in your home defense could be you or another person living in your home.

Yes, some home invasions begin when a burglar busts through a front door or breaks a window and crawls through it. But many others start with a seemingly innocent ringing of a doorbell. The burglar might pretend that he’s making a delivery or that he’s collecting money for a charity or informing you about a power outage or gas leak, or is just a person in distress who needs to use a telephone or bathroom.

When these deceivers find someone who buys their story, even for just a moment, they can either push their way into the house after the front door has been opened, or perhaps be invited in by a kind-hearted but naïve homeowner. Once they’re on the inside, you’re pretty much at their mercy because they will probably have a weapon and there will be no telltale sign of a forced entry that a neighbor or passer-by might spot.

So, you and your family members should have a plan in place for every time someone rings your doorbell or knocks on your front door. And that strategy should include not opening the door until you are absolutely sure you know who that person is. Make sure that a delivery person shows you an ID, and call the company if you have any doubts about that person.

Let’s move on to the top 10 ways that you can turn your home into a fortress. Remember, these are crucial for convincing a burglar that your home will be too much trouble for his treachery:

  • Always keep your doors locked, whether you are home or away. Install solid wood or metal-clad doors, as these are the most likely entry points for an intruder. In addition, upgrade your locks. Grade 1 or Grade 2 deadbolts, accompanied by heavy-duty brass strike plates, should keep doors from being kicked in.
  • Keep your windows locked. You don’t want windows that can be manipulated from the outside, so keep them from opening more than six inches. Consider installing mounting brackets now so that you could quickly install window bars later if necessary.
  • Install a security system with a loud alarm and advertise that system with signs on your property. Even before your security system is in place, a loud alarm could scare away an intruder. Post a sign regarding your alarm near the entrances. Make sure everyone living in the house knows how important it is to keep alarm codes confidential.
  • Make sure your front door has a peephole that gives you a good view of anyone on your porch. Your porch light should be bright enough to enable you to recognize the person before you open the door.
  • Keep the inside of your house well lit at night. Put your inside lights on a timer when you are away. Make sure newspapers aren’t delivered while you’re gone, and try to keep a car in the driveway.
  • Take a walk around your home — inside and out — and look for areas where someone could enter without a great deal of trouble. Assess these potential breach points and secure them. If there is a seldom-used door to the outside, install a 2 x 4 barricade on the inside.
  • Safeguard the perimeter of your home by installing motion-sensor lights on your property. A fence can be climbed, but having one might be enough to make an intruder choose a different home. Keep your shrubbery trimmed in order to reduce the number of hiding places on your property.
  • Whether or not you own a barking dog, plant a “Beware of Dog” sign near your house’s entrances. Dogs can be trained in defense, or at least to bark when they hear a noise outside.
  • Keep tools that could be used to break into a home (ladders, crowbars, etc.) away from open view.
  • Have a family emergency plan. Every family member should know exactly what to do, in advance, if an intruder enters the house. Getting out of the house quickly is best, but if that’s not possible, a previously designated “safe room” is where they should head. Always keep a pair of tennis shoes, a flashlight and a cellphone by your bed.

–Frank Bates

Include Coffee In Your Survival Stash

In the 1982 comedy film “Airplane II: The Sequel,” Peter Graves plays a flight captain who very calmly takes the news that two of his crew have perished after being sucked out of an airlock. But when a flight attendant tells him that they’ve run out of coffee, he goes ballistic, loudly reminding everyone how many times he’s asked for extra coffee to be stored onboard.

While humorous, that movie scene brings up a valid point. Do you really want to live in a world without coffee? If a disaster strikes, coffee will be one of the things many people will wish they had stockpiled — not just for the enjoyment of the taste, but also to help them stay alert in night watch situations and to use as a bartering tool.

A crisis in which supermarkets run out of food and other items quickly will make coffee a hot commodity, because it rarely is included in personal stockpiles of food and water. Coffee may be considered a luxury item by some people, but others are convinced they need it to survive the day. Regardless, making it a part of your food stockpile is a great idea that will pay dividends.

Here are my top five reasons for including coffee in a survival stash:

  1. Coffee will disappear quickly from store shelves in an emergency. Those who stockpile food and water for emergencies are in the minority, and even many of them do not include coffee in their stashes. So it’s likely to be swept up right away by people who thought of stockpiling everything else except a good cup of joe.
  2. Coffee will help you stay alert in night-watch situations. A disaster that causes power outages will also cause people to behave in ways they would not otherwise. Some families and groups may be forced to have one person stay awake at all times. Coffee not only keeps you awake, but also more alert and able to concentrate.
  3. Coffee can be used as a bartering tool. During the Civil War, Southern soldiers had plenty of tobacco but little coffee, while soldiers in the North had a lot of coffee but little tobacco, making for a perfect bartering situation. When stores run out of the necessities, there will be plenty of trading going on. Coffee will once again be a valuable bartering item following a disaster.
  4. Coffee is good for you. Once considered harmful, coffee is now known to be rich in flavonoids, a group of antioxidant compounds. Some studies show that coffee can actually protect the heart, lower the risk of several forms of cancer and reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease. And it puts most people in a better mood, which can be helpful in a stressful situation.
  5. Coffee provides enjoyment. Smiles and laughs in a post-disaster society will be few and far between, so people will want to occasionally savor something simply for its taste. Coffee lovers will argue that their beverage choice is delicious. And if coffee is as addictive as they jokingly say it is, they’re going to need it as much as want it.

–Frank Bates

When It Comes To Survival, Urban Has Advantages Over Rural

Will an urban environment be the worst possible place to find yourself following a major disaster? There are many people who think so. They believe that millions of people will try to flee large metropolitan areas for the country after a crisis occurs, but that many people won’t be able to escape due to unreliable transportation, downed power lines in the streets, large amounts of rubble from collapsed buildings and marauding gangs of thugs.

In addition, city survivors can expect a significant amount of competition for available resources in the wake of a catastrophe. But it’s very possible that a city might be the best bet for survival for many people. In fact, an inability to relocate to a rural area might just end up being what saves some lives.

Regardless of whether the emergency is caused by a weather-related disaster, terrorist attack or electromagnetic pulse, there is very likely to be at least some form of normalcy. You’re still going to need food, water and basic supplies, and you’ll continue to require a way to earn money or goods that you can use to barter for other resources.

In rural areas, opportunities to earn money and goods could be very scarce during a crisis. But in the city, it’s very likely that at least some businesses will continue to operate following a disaster. And there should be chances to work, even if payment comes only through resources other than money for a while.

Another advantage to being in an urban environment when a crisis occurs is that people in the city are going to have better access to emergency services. Many people are likely to need these services, and they should be much more available than they would be in rural areas.

No matter what causes the disaster, it’s a near certainty that the electrical grid will not function properly for a while. This antiquated and vulnerable grid malfunctions on a regular basis now, so it’s unlikely to hold steady when a crisis occurs. However, when the grid does come back on, it will undoubtedly be restored in urban areas prior to the country.

Yet another advantage to being in the city when a disaster strikes is that you’ll be able to form partnerships with other people more easily than you would in rural areas. This will be a huge help when it comes to gathering needed resources and being protected from those who will take advantage of the inevitable lack of law and order.

If you are in a rural area when a disaster strikes, your nearest neighbor could be a mile away. In the city, many people are going to leave as soon as they can during a crisis. So, if necessary, you might be able to forage or seek shelter in their abandoned dwellings until your environment stabilizes.

Therefore, if you live in a city and are convinced that remaining there following a disaster might be the best way to provide for and protect your family, the next step is to plan ahead. How well you prepare for this type of scenario could be an enormous factor in whether you and your family survive.

First, figure out what your needs are going to be in an urban survival situation. The most basic ones will be water, food, shelter, security and medical needs. Then, determine how you can best prepare to meet those needs if you’re ever thrown into survival mode.

For example, you’ll need at least 72 hours’ worth of food and water, but you don’t have to give a lot of thought to nutrition yet. The most important thing you’ll need from your food is calories for strength during those first three days. However, it is essential that your long-term food stockpile contains plenty of nutrients. I created Food4Patriots emergency meals to address these challenges and to provide a simple done-for-you solution.

Water is even more crucial than food in a survival situation, but due to its weight and storage space needs, knowing how to harvest water from rainfall and understanding how to purify the water you find from various sources is just as important as what you can carry in bottles. Of course, you’ll also want to make sure that you have medicines packed in a bug-out bag in case you have to leave quickly.

Regarding shelter, if you’re in a rural environment, it’s probably enough to be protected from the wind, rain and snow. But in the city, you will also probably need to make sure that your shelter offers some concealment and is protected against those who might want to steal your stuff or do you harm.

Here’s something else that you may not have given a lot of thought to yet. It’s great to be prepared with food, water and medicine — plus other supplies, including those you’ll want purely for bartering — and you’ll want to give plenty of consideration to security and shelter as well. But in the city, you may also need to have some human “reinforcements.”

The recommendation here is to gather a team together — prior to an emergency, not afterward. This can be tricky because you don’t want to come off as a “The End Is Near” fanatic, but you do want to find some like-minded people who could contribute to efforts that would be needed post-emergency.

Some other actions you could take between now and the time that a disaster strikes include getting (and staying) physically fit, learning some self-defense disciplines and even reading up on subjects such as how to avoid a fight and dealing with mobs.

As with pretty much everything else connected to survival, preparation is the key. You will have the best chance for survival — should you find yourself in the city following a catastrophic event — if you’ve done your homework and prepared the best you could. The other option, which is being among the 95 percent of people who never took the time to prepare, will not be pretty.

–Frank Bates

Keep Your Emergency Stockpiles In Multiple Locations

At this point, everybody knows how important it is to stockpile food, water and other necessities for an emergency. I can’t imagine anyone saying, following a disaster, “If only someone had told me that I should prepare for something like this.” A few people are well-prepared, many people are somewhat prepared and most people aren’t prepared at all; but nobody can say they weren’t warned that they could be without these crucial items should a crisis occur.

On the other hand, there seems to be much less awareness of the need to have stockpiles of food, water and other items in at least two different places, preferably three. Even many preppers who have amassed serious amounts of bottled water, canned food, toiletries and a host of can openers, flashlights, batteries, radios, blankets, clothing, first-aid kits and weapons are putting all of their eggs in one basket if they keep everything at the same location.

A home is a great place to stockpile food, water and other essentials. That’s where I keep my largest supplies, because that’s the place my family and I are most likely to be when the stuff hits the fan. And even if I’m not home at that exact moment, I will probably be in a position to return there shortly.

My home is not only where I keep the majority of my emergency supplies, it’s also the place that I’ve spent time and money to secure. If a breakdown in society occurs following a disaster, I want to be as prepared as possible to protect my family and belongings.

But what if my home is destroyed or severely damaged by whatever crisis occurs? If that’s the only place where I have my emergency goods stockpiled (and either I can’t get to them or they’ve been destroyed by the disaster), I will have wasted a huge amount of time and money preparing for the exact scenario in which I find myself.

If you think people who have failed to prepare are going to feel stupid for not heeding all the warnings, just think how dumb we’ll feel if all our efforts to prepare are wiped out because we put everything in the same place. It is absolutely essential that you keep supplies in multiple locations. If you have a year’s supply of goods at home, keep six months’ worth in at least one other place. If you have six months’ worth of goods at home, store at least three months’ worth at a secondary location.

Now the question becomes: Exactly where should my second and perhaps third locations be? There are several important factors to consider. For one, these other locations need to be close enough to get to, yet far enough away that they’re unlikely to be affected by the same disaster that just did a number on your home. Just as important, these locations have to offer the same features that your home does — a cool, dry place where food and water won’t be negatively affected by sunlight, moisture and extreme temperatures.

Of course, it’s up to you to decide where those second and possibly third locations will be, but among the possibilities are a storage unit that you can rent, a root cellar or storage bunker on your property but away from your house, inside a separate building that you own in town, within a building that a trusted friend owns, or buried in a remote area where only you would think to look.

Finally, as all good preppers know, don’t advertise the fact that you have stockpiled food and water for an emergency in your home and at other locations. People will remember that, and you could have some unwelcome visitors following a disaster.

–Frank Bates

3 Crucial EMP Survival Strategies

There has been much speculation regarding what the next major terrorist attack in the United States might look like and when it might occur.

Will it be a vehicle used as a weapon, à la 9/11, or perhaps a series of bomb blasts in highly populated areas such as what we’ve seen in the Mideast? Or might it be a cyberattack such as what has been aimed at Iran’s nuclear development facilities?

Fortunately, the United States is devoting significant resources to thwarting potential attacks by our enemies, and we’ve been successful at stopping a number of them before they’ve reached fruition. But we all know that an attack is likely to happen at some point, and we should be prepared to protect ourselves and our families as best we can when the inevitable occurs.

One potential concern that has not gained as much attention as some others is an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack. As much as the United States has moved to secure airports since Sept. 11, 2001, we’re woefully behind on protecting our electrical infrastructure against an EMP.

The fact that this potential weapon is so easy and inexpensive to construct — and so potentially devastating to our society — means that its attempted usage is a distinct possibility. If a terrorist were able to approach a U.S. shore in a seemingly innocent boat and launch a short-range missile containing a nuclear payload into the atmosphere, it could cause an EMP that could wreak considerable havoc on our society.

Now, that’s a lot of “potentials,” “possibles,” ‘ifs,” “coulds” and “mights.” But we know that an EMP could seriously damage communication systems, computers and electrical appliances within more than 1,000 miles of a high-altitude nuclear detonation, and it might also mess with automobile and aircraft ignition systems. An E-bomb, which can be built for less than $500, could throw civilization back by 200 years, at least temporarily.

Why do I think a powerful EMP attack would be devastating? In 1859, a solar flare crashed into Earth’s magnetic field, causing the global bubble of magnetism that surrounds our planet to shake and quiver. Turning skies all over Earth red green and purple, it disrupted telegraph systems, shocked telegraph operators and set telegraph paper on fire.

A deliberately created EMP could produce similar power. But in a society dependent upon electronics, the effects would be much greater than they were in the 19th century. Hundreds of satellites in orbit would be at risk, not to mention power grids on Earth. Plus, if terrorists were to go to the trouble of creating an EMP, they would probably have specific plans for hitting us where it hurts during the immediate aftermath when we’d be vulnerable.

As with most disaster preparation, food and water would be crucial for survival following an EMP attack, but below are three tips that might not come to mind quite as quickly:

  • Currency will be crucial after an EMP attack because people will probably not have access to their funds that are currently cataloged in electronic databases. Keep a good supply on hand, as well as some silver and gold coins.
  • Information will also be key. You’ll need to stay tuned in to emergency announcements that could include where aid is available and where to stay away from. Have a radio stored away in a Faraday box (read more about an EMP-proof Faraday box here) that you can access quickly.
  • Fiber optic networks (AT&T U-verse, Verizon FiOs, etc.) are likely to return to service sooner than copper line systems. Copper wires draw in electromagnetic energy, so they would multiply the effects of the electromagnetic waves.

–Frank Bates

Don’t Make These 10 Food Storage Mistakes

There has been much written and said about the importance of storing food and water for emergencies. I think it would be difficult to find anyone who disagrees with this idea. Many victims of hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, as well as tornado victims in Oklahoma, Alabama and elsewhere, certainly wish they’d had food and water immediately available in the aftermath of those tragedies.

There is considerably less knowledge and agreement, on the other hand, when it comes to what types of food to stockpile and how to store it in a way that will maximize its use once it becomes necessary to access it. Unfortunately, many people make mistakes in this area. Sometimes, their hard work goes to waste; because just when they need it most, their stored food has gone bad or they’ve made other errors in judgment.

For example, you could have tons of wheat stored, but too much of any one thing is not good. Variety and balance are essential for your digestive system. Having variety and balance in your food stockpile will also help you and your family psychologically if you find yourself in an emergency situation that goes on for days, weeks or months.

The type of container in which you store your food is very important, because exposure to air and moisture can ruin your food storage plans. Where you keep those containers is also a major factor, because higher temperatures and light can negatively influence vitamins, proteins and fats. The storage temperature should be between 40 degrees and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Other factors include how nutritious your food is and how often you rotate it. You also want to make sure that the majority of food you store does not require refrigeration, because a power outage would spoil those foods quickly. (We’ll get into the topic of freeze-dried food in a moment.) Finally, keeping some food at a secondary location is important, should your home be destroyed in a disaster.

Following is my top 10 list of common food storage mistakes:

  1. Ignoring the importance of nutrition in the foods that are stored. This happens more often than you might think. Sometimes, people are so concerned about the volume of food they store that they forget about vitamin and mineral content.
  2. Using sacks or other containers that are not airtight. This is wrong for a variety of reasons. Air and moisture will greatly decrease the shelf life of your stored food. In addition, containers that are not airtight increase the odds of insects or a critter getting into your food.
  3. Failing to keep food containers in a cool, dry place. Heat and moisture are two of the chief enemies of stored food.
  4. Failing to keep food containers out of the light. You definitely want to go to the dark side when it comes to storing food. Light can deplete the vitamin content of food.
  5. Storing too many items that need refrigeration. As mentioned, it’s very likely that a crisis will include the loss of power, which could mean your refrigerated items will spoil quickly.
  6. Failing to include enough of a variety of different foods. After a couple of days of eating the exact same thing, you and your family are going to want some variety.
  7. Failing to maintain a good balance in the foods that are stored. Make sure that your various food items provide a variety of different vitamins and minerals.
  8. Failing to include at least a small percentage of “comfort” foods. In addition to satisfying your sweet tooth, comfort foods will be a big help psychologically for you and your family in a crisis.
  9. Failing to check expiration dates and rotate stored foods. In each container, organize food by expiration date. When an item’s expiration date is approaching, eat that food — or donate it to a shelter — and replace it with newer food.
  10. Storing all of the food in only one location. This is the classic case of putting all your eggs in one basket. If your home is destroyed in a disaster, you’ll be glad you kept food and water at a secondary location.

I’ve learned a lot about food storage over the past few months while developing a new line of emergency survival food called Food4Patriots. Freeze-drying, while definitely effective, is very expensive and strips the food of some of its vital nutrients. Another common technique in the industry is the cheaper “rapid dehydration” method that sucks all the water out quickly, but also pulls flavor and nutrients. We ended up going with a “low-heat dehydration” technique for our food so the flavor and nutrition stays locked in, yet it lasts every bit as long as freeze drying without costing an arm and a leg.

Another critical thing to look for when shopping for off-the-shelf emergency food is the packaging. It’s vital to keep air and moisture out and to have a durable package that can take a few bumps over the years without bursting. Look for sealed Mylar pouches with less than 2 percent oxygen content rather than cans or buckets.

Whether you build your own food stockpile or purchase a ready-made solution, the bottom line is that just believing that storing food and water for a crisis is a good idea isn’t enough. You actually have to do it. And when you do, make sure that it’s stored in a manner that will ensure its value and longevity. Then and only then can you rest easy, knowing that you’ve done what you could to be prepared for whatever comes our way.

–Frank Bates

8 Emergency-Preparation Steps For Children

Some truly sincere parents are so overly protective of their kids that they will do just about anything to maintain their children’s innocence for as long as possible. Unfortunately, this sometimes involves shielding children from things they should know and failing to realize that they are capable of handling more than they are given credit for.

In reality, many children — even young ones — understand what’s going on in the world around them and realize that not all news is good news. More than anything, they want to be kept honestly informed about family situations.

Even if our intentions are good, keeping children in the dark about emergency preparations may put them at risk if and when an emergency situation arises. On the other hand, making them feel like they are important members of the family when it comes to preparing for a disaster will go a long way toward their responding in the appropriate fashion once a crisis strikes.

What you say about preparing for a disaster and how you say it to a child will depend on the child’s age and maturity level, of course. But these basic steps will apply to children of almost all ages:

  1. Have children memorize basic information, including their names, their parents’ names, their addresses, their home phone numbers (if applicable) and the cellphone numbers of their family members.
  2. Teach children to use 911. Have them practice what they would say to a dispatcher under a variety of different circumstances. Make sure they understand to use 911 only in a real emergency, not when they can’t find the ketchup.
  3. Select two or three places where the family will meet if returning home during a crisis is impossible. Make sure that your kids know how to get to each of the locations and/or explain to a trusted neighbor or friend how to get there.
  4. Learn your child’s school and/or daycare center disaster-response policies. Because you may not be in a position to pick up your child, have a back-up plan in place for someone else to do so.
  5. Prepare a bug-out bag for each child, including items such as a family photo, toy, game, book or puzzle, plus nonperishable treats. Just knowing that you’ve thought about their needs ahead of time will help them better deal with an emergency.
  6. Keep in your own bug-out bag copies of important documents pertaining to each child, including their birth certificates. Also include recent photos of your child and various snacks he likes.
  7. Teach your children to stay away from downed power lines, utility poles and trees. They might not fully understand the terrible consequences of contact with these items.
  8. Teach your children basic responses: drop, cover and hold; stop, drop and roll; and the like. This is something you and they can have a lot of fun with while they learn something valuable.

Young children might not fully understand about the chaos that could ensue following a disaster, but they will be able to read your tone of voice and body language as you explain to them the importance of being prepared. Make sure you do it in a calm manner that will alleviate any fears those youngsters might have.

–Frank Bates

Prepping For Pets

While I was walking my 8-month-old golden retriever the other day, I stopped to chat with a neighbor. Both of our families had gone through the trauma of the death of a pet recently, and one of my neighbor’s comments really stuck with me.

“They say that a pet can be just like a member of the family, but forget the ‘just like’ part,” he said. “A pet is a member of the family.”

Being a longtime animal lover and pet owner, I couldn’t agree more. How about you?

One of the ways that we can care for our pets — and this is something that, for some reason, gets overlooked often in talk about being ready for a crisis — is to make sure we have everything necessary, in advance, to meet their needs should an emergency arise.

I’ve had people tell me I’m crazy for putting so much time and effort into making sure that my pets will be taken care of during a crisis. They’ll say something like, “Shouldn’t you be totally focused on your family if a disaster strikes?” To that well-meaning but ignorant question, I respond, “Yes, I am totally focused on my family. And my pets are part of my family.”

Of course, my spouse and kids come first. But if you have pets, there’s no reason why you can’t make emergency preparations for them as well. If you’re a pet owner, it’s something that you will want to do.

So without further ado, here are my top 10 “prepping for pets” dos and don’ts:

  • Do store enough dry pet food in airtight containers and/or canned pet food to sustain all of your pets for at least 72 hours. If you’re able, add to this supply in case the emergency lasts longer.
  • Don’t forget to periodically rotate your pet food containers and cans and your pet water bottles, so that the contents don’t go bad before you need them.
  • Do prepare a pet bug-out bag containing everything your pets will need in case you have to evacuate your home and take them with you. Remember, if it’s too dangerous for you to stay, it’s too dangerous for them as well.
  • Don’t leave a pet outside — loose or tied up — during a storm or other emergency. Tying up a pet outside during a disaster is pretty much a death sentence.
  • Do keep cats and dogs separated in your home during a crisis. Even if they normally get along fine, the stress could cause them to act more aggressively toward each other than normal.
  • Do ask your vet if you can stay a couple of months ahead on your pets’ medicines so that you can keep some in a pet bug-out bag. Rotate the medications when they are approaching expiration.
  • Do keep a current list of the hotels and boarding facilities outside of your immediate area — including phone numbers — where you might wish to temporarily stay during an emergency that forces you to leave your home. Place your list in your bug-out bag.
  • Don’t neglect getting all of your pets microchipped. If one goes missing, you’ll never forgive yourself for not having done this.
  • Do make sure that your cell phone number is on a tag that’s attached to your pets’ collars, even if those pets are micro-chipped.
  • Do put a rescue alert sticker near your front door in case your house is affected by a disaster when you’re not home. That way, rescue workers will know how many pets you have and what types they are.

–Frank Bates

What It Means to Be Self-Reliant… And Why We’re Hated for It

What does it mean to be self-reliant?

It means different things to different people. Some homeowners have taken the huge step of freeing themselves from a very vulnerable U.S. electrical grid and are now generating their own electricity with solar panels and wind turbines. They feel empowered by this independence because not only does it allow them to save money, but they can also keep their homes lit and either warm or cool when power outages occur.

Other people have achieved a level of self-reliance by growing their own vegetables and fruits using open-pollinated, non-genetically modified, heirloom seeds. Growing food in the warmer months, storing some of it for colder months and re-using seeds they’ve harvested from last year’s crops make them feel confident that even when food prices soar or food shortages occur, they and their families will be able to enjoy good-tasting, nutritious and inexpensive food.

For others, independence comes in the form of privacy. They’ve taken a number of important steps to keep their identities safe from thieves, their Internet browsing free from observation and their email accounts safe from hacking. They’ve also done their best to maintain privacy in their consumer, medical and financial affairs. They feel confident that they are unlikely to become victims of many of the privacy intrusions that have plagued those who are less careful.

To some, self-reliance takes the form of gun ownership. These people follow the local laws regarding their weapons and gain the necessary training. They learn how to load, use and clean their guns; and they store them properly and safely, out of the reach of children and hidden from potential intruders. They choose appropriate places to keep their guns out of sight yet easily accessible in case they ever need them in a hurry.

Of course, some people generate their own electricity and grow their own food and secure their family’s privacy and own guns to protect themselves and their families. They’re probably the most self-reliant people of all.

Think for just a moment how much self-reliant people contribute to our society. They take pressure off the overtaxed and unreliable electrical grid. They free up more food for people who can’t or don’t wish to grow their own. They reduce identity theft. They protect law-abiding citizens from lawbreakers. If the Founding Fathers were alive today, they would be handing out medals to self-reliant people because that’s the spirit that made this country great.

But what’s happening instead? Self-reliant people are scorned and held up to ridicule. They’re portrayed as dangerous wackos. They’re mistrusted. They’re watched closely by various government agencies. Why? What possible reason could anyone have to persecute people who consistently pull themselves up by their bootstraps and take care of their own needs and the needs of their families instead of sponging off society?

There’s only one explanation for why law-abiding citizens who contribute so much to society are the subjects of harassment. And that reason is control. Some people just aren’t happy unless they can control those who want nothing more than to live in peace. Unfortunately, those obsessed with controlling others often wind up in positions of authority, where they frequently choose to make life miserable for others, just because they can. They can’t stand it when they see people who are happily making it on their own.

Consider this. When people are dependent on the electrical grid, they can be controlled by an on/off switch. When people don’t grow their own food, they can be controlled by those who produce and sell food to them. When people don’t protect their privacy, they can be controlled by those who spy on them. And when people don’t own guns, they can be controlled by those who do, including criminals.

Self-reliant people, on the other hand, are much more difficult to control. They don’t need or ask for government handouts. They don’t flock to Federal Emergency Management Agency centers when their power goes out. They don’t need food stamps when food prices soar. They don’t back down from defending their families and property, meekly handing over their guns to criminals and those who wish to rob them of their 2nd Amendment rights.

There are a growing number of patriots in North America who understand that we are headed in the wrong direction as a country. We sigh in disgust as our society teaches people to rely on everyone but themselves. We cringe when we see how ill-prepared most people are to handle even the slightest of emergencies. We shake our heads in disbelief as we hear politicians claim that stricter gun control laws will save lives when we know that the exact opposite is true.

American patriots realize that the time is eventually going to come when only those who have learned to be self-reliant will survive. But that’s assuming we’re able to maintain our independence in the face of a society and a government that is increasingly hostile toward us. If you’re not self-reliant, start working on getting there. If you’re halfway there, get all the way there. If you’re all the way there, help others get there.

Here’s my advice. Get off the electrical grid as much as possible by generating your own power. Grow your own food if you can, and stockpile food and water for emergencies. Do whatever you can to maintain your privacy. And figure out a way to protect what is yours from those that want to take it from you. That’s self-reliance, and that’s what will carry us through when times are tough.

–Frank Bates

25 Surprising Places To Hide Your Guns

The key to properly hiding a gun is choosing a spot that is both easily accessible and easy to overlook.

As we have become painfully aware, there is a significant movement afoot to erase the 2nd Amendment from the U.S. Constitution.

Gun-control advocates have jumped on recent tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and elsewhere to claim that stronger laws are needed to limit gun ownership.

The U.S. Senate recently voted against extending background checks for gun owners, but this is a fluid situation and we don’t know how successful gun control legislation will be. Some States have acted independently and toughened their gun-control laws over the past few months.

In addition to being blatantly unConstitutional, these efforts are based on “logic” that is inherently flawed. These well-meaning but deluded activists and politicians never acknowledge that in virtually every case of mass shootings, good guys with guns could have stopped bad guys with guns, and at the very least minimized the carnage and saved precious lives.

The U.N. Human Rights Council may declare that there’s no human right to self-defense, but we know better, as did the writers of the Constitution. If you own a gun, you are probably a law-abiding citizen who would never use it for anything other than target practice, hunting or protecting yourself and your family from someone seeking to harm you.

And because you are a responsible citizen, the three groups of people who you would not want to have access to your guns are children, home invaders and authority figures determined to take away your 2nd Amendment rights.

The key to properly hiding a gun that you may require at a moment’s notice to deal with an intruder is choosing a spot that is simultaneously easily accessible and would not be looked at twice by someone trying to find it. The item in which the gun is contained might be in plain sight, but it’s so commonplace that someone would not think to look within it for a weapon.

Top 25 Places To Hide Your Guns

Following are my top 25 places to hide a gun that will give you easy access in an emergency. Some of these may not be appropriate if there are children in the house.

  • Inside an empty cereal box or a large empty ravioli can in the pantry.
  • Inside a hollowed-out book on a bookshelf or a cookbook in the kitchen.
  • Inside a seldom-used couch cushion.
  • Inside a hollowed-out radio clock on the nightstand.
  • Inside a toilet tank lid, wrapped in waterproof plastic.
  • Inside a freezer, wrapped in waterproof plastic and then in aluminum foil.
  • Inside a false-bottom end table or nightstand drawer.
  • Behind a fake electrical outlet.
  • Inside a fake pipe near the water heater.
  • Inside a hollowed-out scanner or printer.
  • On the underside of a sump pump lid in a waterproof bag.
  • Inside a garbage bag of dirty clothes.
  • Inside a large pizza box wedged between the trash bin and the wall.
  • In a closet on an easily broken plastic hanger, covered by a button-down shirt.
  • Inside a folded grocery bag lodged between a cabinet and the refrigerator.
  • Hanging on a hook on the back of a bedroom door, underneath a robe.
  • Inside a large, hollow trophy.
  • Behind an easily removed vent in the wall.
  • Inside a bowling ball bag.
  • Inside a hollowed-out water heater with pipes that disappear into the wall.
  • Inside a diaper pail.
  • Inside a product that looks like it hasn’t been opened yet.
  • Inside cheap-looking stereo speakers.
  • Inside one of several stuffed animals.
  • Inside an empty paint can in the garage.

What are your suggestions for places to hide your guns? Leave a comment below.

– Frank Bates

The Top 3 Multipurpose Survival Items

Stockpiling food, water and other items is a great idea. In an emergency situation, having those crucial items could mean the difference between you and your family surviving on your own or having to become dependent on a Federal Emergency Management Agency center, assuming you can get to it on time.

But what if you’re traveling when a crisis occurs? It’s unlikely that you’ll have much of your food and water supply in your car when something like that happens. Or you may find yourself in a situation where you are really on your own and have to deal with the elements that Mother Nature can throw at you.

With a very limited number of items that you can carry in a survival situation, you need to make sure that some of those items have multiple purposes. Space and weight will suddenly become very important, because you may be limited by the size of your dwelling or by the amount of items you can carry or transport.

Two multipurpose items come to mind immediately: a Swiss Army knife and duct tape. There’s almost no limit to what you can do with those versatile tools. But as far as protecting yourself from the environment and gaining the water you need to survive, following are three multipurpose items that you should try to never be without:

  • Thick garbage bags. Uses include a rain poncho, a sleeping bag, shade from the sun, an additional bag for holding gear and other items, an emergency buoyancy device, tying off a wound to lessen bleeding, an emergency shelter (with the help of cord), liner for shoes and boots, a water collector or carrier, a solar still, and keeping wet clothes or gear separate.
  • Bandanas. Uses include sun shade, an evaporation cooler, a medical sling, a pillow, a pot holder, a signaling device, a filter for smoke and dust, protection against breathing fumes, pressure on a wound, a weapon when “loaded” with a rock, a pre-filter for water, a headband to catch sweat, and identification of people in your group.
  • Strong cord, such as paracord or parachute cord. Uses include shoelaces, a fishing line, lashing sticks for shelters, restraining a human or animal, towing branches for fires, wrapping handles for easier carrying, a weapon when tied to a heavy object, strapping various items to a load-bearing object, and securing doors.

If you want to put yourself in the best possible position to survive when stuck in the worst conditions, these three items will help you. Try not to ever be without them.

Frank Bates

7 Reasons To Store Canned Foods

Stockpiling food is a no-brainer when you are prepping.

Most grocery stores stock less than two days of food, which will quickly get gobbled up when a panic hits. Smart folks who have food and water stored are going to be able to deal with the crisis a lot better than those who don’t.

But what I sometimes hear from people is that while they know it’s a good idea to stockpile food, they can’t really swing it because they’re living paycheck to paycheck. They feel like if they can’t afford to store freeze-dried and dehydrated survival food, they’ll just cross their fingers and hope that they won’t be hit by a disaster.

Don’t get me wrong; buying and storing freeze-dried and dehydrated survival food is a great idea if you can afford to do it. But many budgets are very tight these days, and that’s why I keep a good stock of canned foods in my basement and in another location.

Here are my top seven reasons why you should include canned foods in your survival stash:

  1. Price. When you purchase items in bulk, you can save up to 75 percent by acquiring mostly canned foods rather than freeze-dried or dehydrated foods. Even if you’re not able to buy in bulk, you will still save money with canned foods.
  2. Long-lasting. Many canned foods have a shelf life of between one and several years. You should still rotate your supply occasionally and eat the contents if the expiration date is getting close, but there’s peace of mind knowing that most canned foods last a long time.
  3. Variety. People will eat the same thing over and over again if they’re hungry enough, but everyone appreciates having choices. You can acquire a wide variety of canned foods that should keep pretty much everybody in the family happy for a while.
  4. Nutrition. Canned foods can be nutritious and rich in protein, which you and your family will need for keeping up strength. Don’t worry about calories. You’ll need those extra calories when you’re in survival mode.
  5. Water. There’s very little water in freeze-dried and dehydrated foods (although there is usually a small amount), but most canned foods contain the water that will make preparation easier. Yes, that also makes them heavier; but that shouldn’t matter if you’re able to stay put to ride out a crisis situation.
  6. Familiarity. Most families normally eat foods such as chicken, beef, ham, fish, vegetables, stews, beans and pasta, all of which are available in canned form. In a time of crisis, familiarity will go a long way to “normalizing” what you and your fellow family members are going through.
  7. Safe storage. Bugs and rodents can sometimes infiltrate boxes and bags, but seldom do they break through a can. If you find a little creature that’s strong enough to do that, hire it for your prepper team.

A surprising number of foods that you eat on a regular basis are available in canned form. Nutritious and rich in protein, they include vegetables, soups, meats, fish, stews, beans, pasta and a lot more. If the time comes when you need to rely on the canned food that you have wisely stored, you’ll be glad if you provided your family and yourself with a nice variety.

To discover which foods will be impossible to get after a disaster, download my free report “The Top 10 Items Sold Out After Crisis” from my blog. You’ll learn the 10 items you absolutely need to hoard as well as what foods not to stockpile and why.

–Frank Bates

How Would You Handle A Home Intruder: With Lethal Force Or With Non-Lethal Ammo?

To kill or not to kill. That is the question. You may be perfectly within your legal and ethical rights to end the life of a home intruder, but is that what you want to do? That’s what you have to ask yourself, and I’d recommend that you do it before it happens, not afterward.

If I wake up to an uninvited person in my home at 3 in the morning, there is only one assumption that I can make: that he is there to rob me and very possibly to rape, kill or kidnap my wife and/or my children. If I assume anything less than that, I’m a fool.

So I already feel that I have the right to protect myself in any fashion that I choose, including shooting to kill if that’s the option that seems best in order to accomplish my goal of keeping my family members safe. By breaking into my home, this intruder has forfeited his rights to a friendly, sit-down chat; and if he ends up dying under my roof, well, better him than one of us who lives there.

But let’s look at the other side of the coin for a moment, because there are repercussions to everything that we do in life. If I end the life of a home intruder, there’s no bringing him back. Regardless of how he got in and what his intentions were, he’s gone forever.

What if I find out after the fact that I shot a mentally handicapped person who was too confused to know where he was and didn’t even have a weapon? Or what if he was an unarmed teenager who was trying to “prove himself” to his friends? I’m not saying that I would not be within my rights to use lethal force; I’m just saying that if I ever ended up regretting my decision to shoot the intruder dead, those regrets would go unresolved.

And, of course, there is also the possibility that I could harm my wife or one of my children if I use live ammo to try to kill a home intruder. One or more of my family members could be near the intruder when I shoot without me seeing them in the dark. Or what if one of my bullets passes through a wall and strikes my child or wife?

I strongly believe that I am within my rights to shoot and kill a home intruder. But that doesn’t mean that doing it is necessarily the right response for everyone. Another option for possibly taking down a home intruder without ending his life is non-lethal ammo. If you choose this route, here are five types you may want to consider:

  • Rubber bullets: They won’t penetrate the skin, but will leave serious welts that will require medical attention.
  • Wax bullets: These could penetrate the skin at close range or if they strike a sensitive body part.
  • Plastic bullets: These are used by police for riot control. They’re also used for target practice.
  • Electric bullets: These are metal or rubber bullets that release an electrical charge when they hit a target, much like a Taser or other shock weapon.
  • Bean bag rounds: These are designed to incapacitate the target and leave large welts, but not penetrate the skin.

The biggest concern that some people have with non-lethal ammo is that it might result in only slowing down some intruders — including particularly large men — and not stopping them. They say that non-lethal ammo could end up infuriating the home intruder and making the situation even worse for you and your family. And if you end up in a gun fight with a home intruder, it’s very likely that he will be using live ammo.

So, if you use live ammo to try to stop a home intruder, you’re within your rights to do so. But if you can’t bring yourself to do that for whatever reason, there are alternatives, including non-lethal ammo. Only you can make the decision that’s right for you and your family. The most important thing is to make this decision in advance and then be as prepared as possible should that nightmare situation ever present itself.

To learn more about how to protect yourself from a home intruder, check out my blog post on 40 homemade weapons you already own and join in the discussion.

–Frank Bates