Cash Could Be King After A Crisis

Have you ever seen the television commercials in which lines at a store’s checkout counters move briskly when customers are using the sponsor’s credit and debit cards, but slow down considerably when someone has the audacity to use cash? The implication is that if you don’t use the sponsor’s cards for your purchases, you’re an out-of-touch dweeb who inconveniences all those around you.

Those advertisements always rub me the wrong way because there are a number of reasons why cash can be preferable — including for budgeting purposes. But I’m guessing those commercials are even more offensive to victims of disasters such as Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Katrina and the tornado that devastated Moore, Okla., last year.

Storms such as those have caused long-lasting power outages and left millions of people in the dark and the cold (or the heat), and they’ve also rendered many ATMs temporarily useless. Even some of the machines that were still working following the disasters saw lengthy lines before they ran out of cash.

People with cash in their wallets were not holding up any store lines during the days and weeks after those types of disasters. In fact, in some cases they were the only ones able to purchase items that they needed. With many electronic store terminals down, usage of credit and debit cards was very limited.

The fact is it makes sense to always have cash on hand. If you don’t, you might find yourself in the position of not being able to purchase the items you need when you need them the most. Cash could end up being the only acceptable form of payment when the electrical grid goes down.

So if you’ve decided it’s a good idea to keep some cash available for yourself at all times, the next step is figuring out the best way to keep it safe in your home. The key is to select places where a thief would not think to look. Hide it so well that an intruder might be looking directly at the container in which it’s hidden and not even consider trying to find it there.

Following are some suggestions:

  • In a can of soup. Open the can from the bottom, enjoy the soup, rinse out the can thoroughly, put your items in the can, replace the can bottom and place the can at the bottom of a stack of other canned goods.
  • In a zip-top baggie. Put two pieces of Styrofoam around it and then wrap the whole thing in aluminum foil and place it in your freezer.
  • In the soil of a fake plant, within a zip-top baggie.
  • Between two pieces of cardboard backing within a difficult-to-reach picture frame.
  • In an envelope under a heavy object such as an entertainment center.
  • Inside a never-used toy relegated to the back of a closet or in a toy box.
  • Inside a hollowed-out candle.
  • Inside a laundry detergent box.
  • Inside ironing board padding or within the hollow legs of an ironing board.
  • Inside a clearly marked Christmas decorations box.
  • Inside an otherwise empty shampoo or hairspray bottle.
  • Inside a water-tight plastic bottle in a toilet tank.
  • Inside an envelope taped to the bottom of a cat litter box.

The last place you want to hide your cash is the first place that burglars look, so avoid:

  • Sock drawers. Very possibly the dumbest place to hide something. You might as well mail money in advance to the burglar.
  • The back of a wardrobe closet. Unless you live in Narnia, not a good idea.
  • Inside a shoebox. Seriously?
  • Inside a soup can that’s sitting on a bedroom dresser. Right item, wrong location.
  • Inside a laptop. Any pride you feel at successfully opening up a laptop and hiding cash in it will dissipate quickly when you realize the laptop was stolen.
  • Medicine cabinet, clothes pockets, briefcase and underneath a mattress. All bad ideas.

Finally, make sure you remember where you hid your cash, and that family members don’t throw away any items in which you’ve hidden cash.

Note from the Editor: Round two of the financial meltdown is predicted to reach global proportions, already adversely affecting Greece, Spain and most of Europe. It appears less severe in the states because our banks are printing useless fiat currency. I’ve arranged for readers to get two free books—Surviving a Global financial Crisis and Currency Collapse, plus How to Survive the Collapse of Civilization—to help you prepare for the worst. Click here for your free copies.

–Frank Bates

Anything Can Be A Weapon If You Need It To Be

I love those lists of people’s greatest fears. Dying is usually up there near the top, as are public speaking, being trapped in a small place and being exposed to germs. Then there are the fears of flying and falling, heights and depths, being alone and being in a crowd. And there’s my personal favorite: a fear of clowns.

Those of us who have been victims of a home invasion probably agree that it’s a lot more frightening than speaking to a group of people, suffering from claustrophobia or looking at a guy with a big red nose and paint on his face. There’s almost nothing more terrifying than suddenly realizing there’s an intruder in your home.

If someone breaks into your home while you’re there, your window of opportunity for reacting effectively to protect yourself and your family will probably be very small. You have to make every second count in this situation, and you will be able to accomplish this only if you are fully prepared.

If you have a gun and can access it quickly, that’s obviously the best response to discovering a home intruder. If you don’t own a gun or are unable to get to it swiftly enough, you will need an improvised weapon. You may be thinking of several items that could double as a weapon if necessary. By the time you finish reading this article, your list will have grown considerably.

Get Out Of Dodge

Even if you had 50 improvised weapons at your disposal when you realized someone who didn’t belong in your home was there, it’s possible that your four best self-defense weapons would be your legs and hands.

If there is an escape route, take it. Don’t stop to think about it or hesitate for any reason. Just get out. Use your legs to run toward the nearest exit, and use your hands to knock things over behind you to slow down the intruder.

Of course, if you have people in your home you need to protect, you’re not going to run away. But if you’re alone, escaping might be the most prudent thing to do. That’s not being a coward; it’s being smart.

Stay Alive In Your Living Room

If you’re sitting in a living room or dining area when an intruder enters, there should be a number of items you can grab and use as a club or spear, including tall vases, candleholders, statuettes, large bowls or ashtrays or fireplace pokers.

With a dining room chair in your hands, you can go on the offensive by charging your attacker. Make sure to hold the chair so that the legs are facing him in a diamond shape rather than a square. A wine bottle could be used to strike him, or you might want to throw it toward his face.

If you’re alone in the house when an intruder enters, immediately yell something toward the upstairs such as, “Honey, call 911! Now!” It’s unlikely that the intruder will know for sure whether you are alone; and if you’re lucky, he may respond by quickly leaving the house.

If He Can’t Take the Heat, Stay In The Kitchen

Nobody wants to face a home invader, but if it had to happen, the kitchen would probably be the best room in which to defend yourself. Talk about an arsenal! Your first choice would be to grab two sharp knives and start swinging them in the direction of your assailant.

Aim for the spots that will debilitate him quickly, including the face and groin. If you can jab an object such as a knife into the underside of his chin in an upward motion, you might be able to floor him. Remember to hang on tightly to knives as you’re swinging them.

Other options while in the kitchen are frying pans or rolling pins for bashing, a butcher’s block for smashing, scissors or broken glassware for gouging, a meat cleaver for chopping, and an ice pick for stabbing.

Doing your best Nolan Ryan imitation, throw items at an intruder such as canned goods, plates, coffee cups, a cordless phone or a nice, thick tumbler. A mop or broom handle could also do the job, especially a broken one with a jagged edge.

Bathroom Brawling

The bathroom would seem like a bad place to be confronted by an intruder, especially if you’re “occupied” or he’s bigger than you are. But at least you’ll have a locked door to slow him down while you’re getting ready to defend yourself.

Among your options for self-defense here are a shower curtain rod, a towel rack or a toilet plunger, which you can use as spears. Or grab some hairspray and spray it in his eyes. If he’s screaming and holding his eyes, this would be a good time to grab your ceramic toilet tank lid and bash him over the head with it. Even something small like a nail file could be a good puncture weapon.

Other Weapons

There are probably plenty of other items in various rooms of your house that could be used as weapons, including:

  • Fire extinguisher: Spray him with the white stuff and clunk him with the red thing.
  • Flashlight: This makes for a nice bully club-type of weapon. If you incapacitate him with it, you can shine the light on his head to see what kind of damage you inflicted.
  • Golf club: Pretend like you’re trying to drive the green on a par 4.
  • Baseball bat: We’re looking for the long ball here, not a bunt. Your first shot should be to a kneecap. If you land a solid blow there, he may be unable to run toward you.
  • Tools: The sharp edge of a hammer, the point of a screwdriver or a heavy wrench might be enough to make this tool think twice about breaking into your house again.
  • Belt: If you have nothing else to grab, quickly remove your belt and try to catch him in the face with the buckle as you whip it toward him. And whip it good.


In a confrontation with a home invader, you may have to go on the defensive first. Among the items you could use to fend off attacks until you’re able to take an offensive position are a metal cookie sheet, chopping board, backpack, trashcan lid or briefcase.

If you’re able to at least temporarily stop an attack with a shield but don’t yet have an opportunity to grab an offensive weapon, you may be able to charge the assailant with your shield and push him back.

No. 1 Weapon

If I had only one household item that I could use as a weapon, it would be a high-powered can of wasp spray with a range of 20 to 30 feet. And I’d keep one in every room of the house, after having made absolutely certain that everyone in my family knows how dangerous they are.

If you spray this stuff into the face of an assailant, I guarantee you that he will need to be hospitalized. In fact, the worst thing he’ll be able to do to you at this point is to damage your eardrums with his screams.

I wouldn’t get any pleasure out of blinding someone, but when it comes to someone entering my home with evil intentions, I am not going to hold back on my efforts to bring that person down before he ruins the lives of my family members. And I’m not going to apologize for it. I’m going to do whatever it takes to stop him.

–Frank Bates

Hydroponics Can Provide You With A Secret Survival Garden

With gardening season rapidly approaching, we’re soon going to hear a lot about the importance of soil and how much of a difference the quality of soil can make in a plant’s growth. And it’s true; soil is important. But it’s not crucial for a plant’s growth like water is.

During the 1900s, scientists learned that the important mineral nutrients that are absorbed by plants come from water. Soil does act like a mineral nutrient reservoir in nature, but it is not required for plant growth. If we bring those essential mineral nutrients into a plant’s water supply through an artificial method, soil is not really needed for the plant’s growth at all! That’s what hydroponic gardening is all about.

Hydroponics can be quite challenging, especially when you first give it a shot; but it’s also very rewarding after you learn the basics. Once you choose your indoor grow lights, understand the different types of hydroponic systems and learn the skills of indoor gardening, this method can be just as or even more enjoyable than outdoor gardening for many people. And it’s especially beneficial for folks who don’t have the room for a typical soil-based garden.

One of the biggest advantages of hydroponics, especially for people who aren’t particularly patient, is the unusually fast growth rates. This happens because the plants don’t have to grow roots down into soil to mine for food. Just about any type of plant, vegetable or fruit can be effectively grown through hydroponics, assuming that the appropriate blend of nutrients is used.

Among the different hydroponic growing systems are hand watering, the reservoir method, the flood and drain method, the drip system, the nutrient film technique, the wick system, and aeroponics. Instead of soil, plants can be grown in an inert medium such as rockwool, expanded clay pellets, perlite, perlite/vermiculite mix, perlite/coconut coir mix or volcanic rock chips. When you’re thinking about trying this comprehensive system of gardening, you’ll need to consider the nutritional and lighting requirements of the specific plants being grown. You’ll also want to develop a feeding plan prior to planting.

While there are some upfront costs to setting up a hydroponics system, over the long haul your expenses are significantly reduced. Other advantages include having more control over pests and disease, which makes for healthier plants, the simplicity of maintaining proper nutrition levels, your ability to reuse the water and the fact that your plants do not release any gases.

Yet another advantage to hydroponics is that you can do it indoors and keep it a secret. Why would you want to keep it a secret? Well, for one thing, that’s a good way to protect it. If you spread the word about the fact that you’re growing some of your own food in an indoor garden, you’re inviting problems should an emergency arise. People who are desperate enough during a crisis may become your unwanted visitors if the neighborhood knows you grow food.

So go ahead and keep your indoor garden a secret. You will have established it for the purpose of keeping yourself and your family fed during a crisis. When the time comes, you may opt to share some of your bounty with family members, neighbors and friends. But that will be your choice, and they’ll be happy that you were prepared. In the meantime, you will have control over your survival food if you limit the number of people who know about it.

–Frank Bates

Heirloom Seeds Can Give You Food Independence… Forever

We all know by now that having stockpiles of food and water for an emergency is a great idea. The combination of food shortages and rising food prices is a deadly one-two punch that nobody wants to take on the chin; and at any time, a weather disaster could provide the knockout blow.

But people who are serious about preparedness and self-reliance are interested in more than a three-month or even a one-year supply of food and water. They want food independence in the form of heirloom seeds that they can both plant and store.

The food that they grow in their gardens from those seeds will be less expensive, more nutritious and better tasting than the food they’re getting from grocery stores — not to mention the convenience of having it a few steps away in their own backyard.

If you think about it, seeds are amazing things. In addition to containing the DNA that a plant requires to grow, they possess a store of food that helps the plant when it’s ready to grow. The fact that a 3-foot tall tomato plant weighed down by large, juicy tomatoes developed from small seedlings helps us appreciate the power and potential of seeds.

The key to saving seeds is open-pollination. When a plant reproduces through its own natural means, without artificial interference from humans, it will adapt to local conditions and evolve to survive and thrive in that location. Open-pollinated plants are free from pesticides, chemicals and other forms of genetic modification by humans.

When you’re gathering seeds from the plants in your garden, make sure you do it properly. Time your harvest based on the individual plant’s method of seed dispersal, cleaning the seeds and spreading them out to dry, storing them in packets or in glass jars or other containers, labeling the packets and containers by variety and date, and storing them in a cool or cold, dark and dry place.

Some vegetables are easier than others when it comes to collecting their seeds. The larger seeds, such as those from beans, corn, peas and squash, are easier to handle than the tiny ones that come from some other vegetables. Here’s some advice to note about the seeds of 13 annual vegetable plants:

  • The seeds of different types of beans should be planted well away from each other to avoid any chance of cross-pollination.
  • If you live in a colder climate, broccoli growth should be started indoors in the spring because the outdoor growing season might not last long enough.
  • When selecting the seeds of corn, closely examine both the plant and the ears of corn. Choose the best ears from the earliest-bearing plants.
  • When you’re preparing cucumber seeds for storage, cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and scrape out the seedy pulp. Put the pulp and the seeds in a bowl of water to ferment. The heavy seeds will sink to the bottom, making it easy to drain and rinse them.
  • With eggplant, when the fruit turns from firm and glossy to dull and somewhat puckered, the seed is ready to harvest.
  • A cool-weather crop, lettuce can be eaten early but has a long season for seed saving. Lettuce seeds don’t all ripen at once.
  • Melon seeds are ripe enough to collect and store when melons are ripe enough to eat.
  • Don’t harvest the strongest pea plants for food. Instead, allow pods to hang on the plants until the seeds are ripe and then harvest them.
  • Let peppers ripen beyond the eating stage before collecting their seeds, which will be ready when the fruit is no longer green.
  • The pods of radishes won’t split open when they mature. When the pods turn brown, remove the seeds, which can be sown as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring.
  • When spinach leaves begin to turn yellow, the seeds are nearly mature. The leafiest plants should be chosen for seed saving.
  • Squash seed is usually collected around the same time of the first fall frost. Allow the good seeds to dry for two weeks.
  • Harvest tomato seeds when the fruits are fully ripe. Save the seeds from the fruits of several plants.

Following are notes about the seeds of nine biennial and perennial vegetable plants:

  • When berries turn red and ferny top leaves flop over in the fall, asparagus seeds are ready to harvest.
  • You’ll get plenty of seeds from beets. In fact, what may look like a single seed is probably several seeds in a ball. When they turn brown, you’ll know they are mature.
  • Cabbage produces a tall stalk with yellow flowers in the second year. Seeds will be ready to harvest when the seedpods turn from brown to yellow.
  • The seeds of carrots should be harvested when they turn brown in the early fall. Seeds in the top branches will ripen before those of the lower branches.
  • Cauliflower seeds should be planted in the late spring or early summer. In the second year, seeds in pods will be produced on tall stalks, and they should be harvested when the pods turn brown.
  • When tiny black seeds appear, chives are ripe to harvest. Those seeds will ripen only gradually.
  • You’ll know that the seeds from leeks are ready to harvest when you can see them. Those seeds form inside the capsules of a ball of flowers.
  • The black seeds from onion plants are harvested by cutting off seed heads and then drying for several weeks.
  • Parsley plants produce an abundance of seeds. You can harvest them as you observe them maturing in the fall.

For seeds that you don’t plan to touch for a while, freezing might be a good option because their DNA will stay intact for a long time. It’s important that seeds are dried first, however, so that they don’t expand and crack. Just think, by harvesting and storing seeds from your garden, you’re insuring access to hundreds of pounds of fresh food every year.

–Frank Bates

Armor For The Body And Windows Could Save Lives

It’s a common ploy directors have been using for years to surprise audiences. A character gets shot. You think he’s dead. But then, he gets up off the ground, revealing that he was wearing a bulletproof vest.

Hopefully, you are not in a situation in which getting shot is a distinct possibility. But if you have to travel through dangerous neighborhoods or if someone in your life is out to get you, it’s possible that body armor could save your life.

Once you decide to go that route, there are a variety of choices you can make, depending on your circumstances. These involve the thickness of the vest and the materials used to construct it, how much movement it allows you, how concealable it is and what the price is.

Nothing is 100 percent guaranteed, but you can increase your odds of survival based on your choice of which vest to wear and when to wear it. Here are six factors to consider when buying body armor:

  • Heat: No vest is going to be comfortable in the heat, but some are less uncomfortable than others.
  • Comfort: This becomes more of a factor the more you feel you need to wear your vest.
  • Freedom of movement: A vest could become as much of a liability as a help if it limits your ability to move. The thicker and bulkier it is, the more it will hinder your movements.
  • Weight: Depending on how long you’ll need to wear your vest at a time and how much movement you’ll require, this will affect your fatigue level.
  • Concealability: The advantage of wearing a vest could disappear if your assailant sees that you’re wearing it.
  • Cost: You have to determine how grave the threat is. It could be worth it to you to pay a little more for a vest if the end result is bruises rather than broken ribs. A stronger and more expensive vest may also enable you to return fire if you need to.

Now, if someone really wants to shoot you, they may not wait for you to go outside where you might be wearing your body armor. They may just take a shot at you through a window in your home. Fortunately, there is armor for windows as well.

People break into homes through doors far more often than through windows, which home invaders may view as too small or inconvenient to bother with. But if you’ve upgraded your doors and locks, your windows might become the next option for a would-be thief or assailant. Your windows may also be susceptible to wind, hail, golf balls, baseballs and a wide variety of other natural elements or man-made objects.

It might be time to start thinking about a cost-effective way to bolster your window security. Glass windows are brittle and can be dangerous when broken. But window film provides armor for these vulnerable spots in your house, with the ability to do everything from serving as shields against UV rays to protecting against projectiles and even bullets and explosives.

There are a number of different window film options with varying abilities to defend against winds, bullets and explosives, but Standard Safety window film is probably the best option for most people. It’s a sound investment in your home and could offer increased safety for you and your family.

–Frank Bates

22 Non-Food Items To Hoard For A Crisis

Stockpiling non-perishable food and water for an emergency is pretty much Job No. 1 when it comes to prepping. Following a disaster, you won’t last very long without water; and it won’t take long until you and your family get very hungry. But if food and water are all you have, you’re going to find surviving very challenging, especially if you’re forced to bug out when you thought you were going to be able to hunker down.

You could put together an endless list of non-food items to hoard for a crisis, but it’s best to be realistic about what you and other family members have room to store and/or possibly transport. While not comprehensive, this list probably contains more items than you’d want to collect, but it will provide you with a number of choices:

  • A crank-operated radio could end up being your only link to announcements, including where aid is available, which areas to avoid and local weather alerts. Some radios can even charge your electronic devices.
  • A fixed-blade knife is an important item to store. Your single-edge hunting knife with a 6- to 8-inch steel blade should include a comfortable handle and sturdy sheath. Add a folding lock blade knife and pocket knife to the mix.
  • A strong, LED flashlight should be stored for each member of your family or party. Those flashlights might just be what gets you spotted by rescuers. At home, they’ll be a big help if the power goes out. Don’t forget extra batteries.
  • Parachute cord (also called ParaCord or P-Cord) is a lightweight, yet strong, cord with multiple uses, including binding logs and any other materials you may need to gather to start a fire. It can also be used to pull heavy objects.
  • Guns and ammunition are also essential. Having a large bore handgun and a shotgun should be enough. Make sure you have some cotton patches and cleaning solvent to keep your guns clean. Store at least 500 rounds of ammo.
  • Several fire starters should be among your stash, including disposable cigarette lighters. Magnesium sticks are very reliable. Also, stockpile waterproof matches, charcoal and lighter fluid. A fire could save your life.
  • A first-aid kit is essential. Include gauze, bandages, medical tape, burn salve, aspirin, ibuprofen, antibacterial ointment, cough syrup, finger splint, ankle wrap, wrist brace, anti-diarrhea medicine, suture packs and cotton balls.
  • A quality compass from a sporting goods outlet will prove very important if you end up having to bug out. A military-style lensatic compass would certainly do the trick. In addition, store maps of the area among your gear.
  • If you can’t find shelter during an emergency, you’ll want a military pup tent or a backpacker’s tent. A lightweight tent will provide you with temporary shelter from the elements until you can find something more permanent.
  • A poncho serves multiple purposes. It’s good protection against rain and sun; and you can use it to keep other items dry, such as wood. And because they fold flat and don’t weigh much, they’re easy to pack among your gear.
  • A backpack is a great way to carry gear while keeping your arms and hands free. Make sure the straps are wide so that they don’t cut into your shoulders and that the bottom is reinforced. It should also be water-resistant.
  • Duct tape will serve you well in a variety of ways. Among its uses are repairing tears in a poncho or tent, making shoes waterproof, holding gauze on a wound, fashioning a cup to collect water and holding fishing hooks in place.
  • A bandana has many practical uses in a survival situation. It’s good for sun shade, a dust mask, a head wrap, a pot holder, a hand or dish towel, a pillow, an evaporation cooler, a medical sling and a signaling device.
  • Super Glue also has many uses, so pack several tubes. You can use it to repair a crack in a water bottle or canteen, protect finger blisters from infection, fix a broken knife grip, secure two pieces of wood or suture wounds.
  • Sunglasses are a convenience on summer days, but they’re an absolute necessity in the winter to avoid snow blindness. UVA or UVB polarized sunglasses could save your eyes. Also, store a pair of safety goggles.
  • Another item with multiple uses is lip balm. Use it to heal chapped lips and when you feel a hand or foot blister coming on, and spread it on your face in the cold to avoid heat loss. It can also help to prevent rust on knife blades.
  • Vicks VapoRub not only relieves head, throat and chest congestion, but it soothes aching muscles, increases circulation, prevents infections from cuts and relieves headaches when rubbed on your temples. The odor wards off bugs.
  • Thick garbage bags will also come in handy in a survival situation. They can be used for holding gear, or as a rain poncho, sleeping bag, sun shade or emergency buoyancy device when filled with air and tied tightly.
  • Make sure you have plenty of water purification tablets, as a crisis could contaminate the local water supply. Drop one tab in a water bottle, shake it vigorously, wait 15 minutes, then shake it once more before drinking.
  • Coffee filters can be used as paper towels, emergency toilet paper or disposable plates or bowls; and they can form a cold compress, bandage or funnel. They can also serve as covers for food to keep insects off.
  • Aluminum foil is good for wrapping and preserving food that you’ve already cooked, as well as for wrapping vegetables, meat and fish that you’re cooking over a campfire. It can also be used as a wrap to keep bandages clean.
  • Baking soda aids in extinguishing fires without wasting water and will deter ants and other annoying critters. It can neutralize garbage and sanitation odors, and you can sprinkle it in your shoes as a foot deodorant.

–Frank Bates

5 Steps To Surviving A Chemical Attack

It’s difficult to imagine an emergency situation more potentially horrendous than a chemical attack on U.S. soil. This horrifying possibility — undoubtedly being discussed by America’s enemies on a regular basis — could be an act of war such as we have not seen in this country since Sept. 11, 2001.

But prior to those terrorist attacks that resulted in deaths and carnage in New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Pennsylvania — and forever changed the way Americans live — a chemical attack occurred in Japan that was a wake-up call for the rest of the world.

On the morning of March 20, 1995, domestic terrorists released sarin gas on several lines of the Tokyo metro system, killing 13 people, severely injuring 50 and causing some 6,000 other injuries, including temporary vision problems for nearly 1,000 people.

We would like to think that “it can’t happen here,” but most of us know better. In fact, some people are surprised that it hasn’t happened here yet on a large scale. Every day, the U.S. government spends man hours both trying to prevent and preparing for what some consider an inevitable biological or chemical terrorist attack on our soil.

It might seem as if effectively preparing for such an attack would be virtually impossible for individual citizens, but there are some things you can do following such an incident to minimize the risk of being injured or killed.

Knowing these steps — in advance of a potential chemical or biological attack — and being prepared to take them quickly could mean the difference between death and survival for you and anyone you are with at the time.

Those in close proximity to the release of a deadly nerve gas probably have little, if any, chance of survival; but others in the general area may have an opportunity to survive if they are prepared and if they act quickly.

Following are five steps to surviving a chemical attack:

  • Get away from the area as quickly as possible. You’re probably not going to be able to help anyone who has been immediately overcome by the gas, but you will risk inhaling the gas if you get too close to where it was released. There will be a very natural inclination to flee the area quickly, so this step should be easy to follow, assuming you are physically capable of executing it.
  • Remove your clothes as soon as you are in a position to do so. If you can possibly rip them off rather than pulling them over your head, that would be much preferable so that you don’t expose your face to any gas that might have already infiltrated your clothing.
  • As soon as you can find your way to a place with soap and water, wash yourself thoroughly, from head to toes. Pay special attention to your hair and armpits, and interlock your fingers as you’re washing your hands. This is a very important step to take, even if you are not sure whether you were exposed to the gas.
  • Seek medical attention immediately. Depending on the severity of the event and how many people have been exposed to the gas, this might be challenging, because there could be many other people who are in need of more urgent care than you are. But try to get yourself to a hospital emergency room as fast as possible, so that you can be treated by healthcare professionals who will determine if and how badly you’ve been exposed to the gas.
  • Call family members and friends to let them know what happened to you and where you are. Warn them to stay away from the area where the biological or chemical attack occurred.

–Frank Bates

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