This Is A Sticky Situation

I have written quite a bit about the benefits of honey for the survivalist and prepper. And last year, I wrote an article for the Lamplighter Report concerning the massive die-offs of animals around the globe.

I’m not trying to scare you about what these die-offs mean. There have been hundreds, if not thousands, of accounts of a large number of animals mysteriously dying at the same time, throughout recorded human history.

But this is different.

There was recently an article in the news concerning the boom of colony collapse disorder (CCD), and this is extremely concerning to me.

And it concerns me for far more reasons that just the ever increasing price of honey.

As honeybees gather pollen and nectar for their survival, they pollinate crops such as apples, cranberries, melons and broccoli.

Some crops, including blueberries and cherries, are 90 percent dependent on honeybee pollination. One crop, almonds, depends entirely on the honeybee for pollination.

For many others, crop yield and quality would be greatly reduced without honeybee pollination.

Bees have always been the great pollinators of the world. But until European settlers began colonizing the Americas, there were none of what we consider the common honeybee on this continent.

The native bees that assisted in pollination have all but been destroyed. This leaves the honeybee as our main source of pollination, which paints a devastating picture for our future.

In fact, a 1999 Cornell University study documented that the contribution made by managed honeybees hired by U.S. crop growers to pollinate crops amounted to just more than $14.6 billion.

Each year, American farmers and growers continue to feed more people using less land.

But each year for the past seven years, one-third of the U.S. honeybee population has disappeared.

This epidemic — and that is what this is — still has absolutely no pinpoint reason.

It would be different if the beehives were littered with the bodies of dead and dying bees.

But that is the real concern: The bees are just disappearing, leaving behind empty hives.

Watch the video below to figure out exactly how this can impact you:

Considering the fact that honey is one of the few survival items that never goes bad, now is the time to stock up on it.

If you have a local beekeeper who is willing to supply you with honey, then I suggest you start there.

There are a lot of benefits to collecting, storing and using local honey.

Unfortunately many of us don’t have that ability.

If that is the case for you, check here for a few options to get bulk amounts of raw honey.

–Joe Marshall

P.S. The vanishing honeybee is one of the most overlooked threats to our food supply. If the colonies continue on this path, I don’t know how much longer our agricultural “machine” will be able to run. And it will affect a lot more than our supply of honey.

Do you know how to prepare for when the food runs out?

P.P.S. If you have the time, be sure to watch the video below. It is a much more in-depth documentary from the U.K. about its similar losses:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjef4QiKWfg

Honey: It’s The Bees’ Knees

Aside from being a tasty snack that never expires, honey can be used for a variety of home and health-related applications. Keep some on hand.

Here are 14 alternative uses for honey that you may have never thought of:

  1. Antiseptic: Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical used for cleaning wounds and helping them heal quickly, and honey can release that chemical. It’s given off by diluting the honey in water or body fluids. Applying honey to an open wound dilutes the glucose in the honey and gradually releases hydrogen peroxide. The substance facilitates your wound’s faster healing. Due to its viscosity, it also prevents wounds from sticking to dressing and alleviates scarring.
  2. Liquid allergy pill: Though not scientifically proven, the daily consumption of locally harvested honey is to work to reduce any allergies you have to plant pollen. I’ve tried it; and while I still keep Alavert on hand in the spring, I have noticed an improvement.
  3. Skin moisturizer: When mixed with eggs and some flour, honey is an effective skin moisturizer. Best of all, it is gently formulated, so it can be used by people with sensitive skin. Mix 4 tablespoons of honey with a couple of egg whites and a few tablespoons of flour, depending on your desired consistency. Stir the mixture until it thickens. When the mixture is ready, you can use it as a hand and body lotion or a moisturizing face mask, eliminating the effects of dry skin.
  4. Acne remover: Honey might be a gentle skin moisturizer, but it is certainly tough on acne. With constant exposure to honey, pimples eventually wither and fade. Apply a small amount of honey on the pimply regions of your face. Cover them with adhesive bandages. Soon, your zit attack will be nothing more than a distant memory.
  5. Energy booster: Why buy palpitation-inducing energy drinks when you already have honey? Mix honey with some water, then drink the solution. Honey’s glucose content will be absorbed by the brain and in the bloodstream, reducing fatigue in the process.
  6. Substitute honey for sugar in baking: Substitute ¾ cup of honey for every cup of sugar a recipe calls for. For best results, add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda and reduce another liquid in your recipe by 1/4 cup. Also, reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees.
  7. Relax in the tub: Add a few tablespoons of honey to your bath, for sweeter-smelling, softer-feeling water. It’s a little secret I use when running a bath for my wife.
  8. Preserve fruit: Jam is so five years ago. Show you’re truly cutting-edge by preserving your fruits in a honey sauce. All it takes is one part honey to ten parts water and then covering your berries. It’s pretty much the closest you’re ever going to get to bottled summer.
  9. Treatment for sore throat: Some people believe that honey is an even better treatment for coughs and colds than over-the-counter medicine. To create the sore throat-relieving serum, squeeze the juice from a lemon and mix it with some honey. Stir the mixture until both ingredients blend. Drink the solution. After a few moments, you will realize that your sore throat has been cured, or at least reduced. Just continue to make more rounds until you are finally free from colds.
  10. Remedy for burns: Not only is a burn painful, but the marks also last for a number of days before healing. Apply honey to your burn; the hydrogen peroxide released cleans the wound and soothes the inflammation. As a result, the burn marks will heal in a few days with less pain. Use honey as a dressing for maximum results.
  11. Antibacterial solution: Bacteria and germs won’t survive when covered in honey, given its acidic pH balance. The microorganisms will be trapped in the sticky acidic substances. Apply honey on a wound, scratches or an inflamed region, in conjunction with an antiseptic. You’ll be surprised at how fast your injury heals.
  12. Relaxant for anxiety: Anxiety is the enemy of a healthy mind and in any situation. But especially when you are in survival mode, you need to be clear-headed and calm. Honey’s nutrients produce a calming effect, especially when taken in significant amounts. No wonder some consider it a part of the breakfast of champions. Honey can also be mixed with a suitable beverage for a good night’s sleep.
  13. Condition damaged hair: Add a teaspoon of honey to your regular shampoo. This will smooth your damaged locks. You can also combine it with olive oil for a deeper conditioning. Let it soak for 20 minutes with your hair wrapped in a towel before shampooing as usual.
  14. Remove parasites: I have never had to do this. Hopefully, you’ll never have to use this trick either. I have seen many different articles stating that honey works well to remove parasites. The recipe seems simple enough: Combine equal parts honey, vinegar and water. Then drink. The combination of these three ingredients is supposedly the perfect parasite-killer.

Has anyone ever tried this or do you know of some other uses for honey that I missed? Leave a comment and let me know.

–Joe Marshall

P.S. Are bees and wasps “bugging” you?  Click here to find out how to get rid of them!

An Uncomfortable Topic In An Uncomfortable Situation

No matter how much or how little you eat, it all eventually has to come out somewhere.

Most of the time, you hold it until you get to the next available restroom. Then you do your business, and all is right with the world again.

Unfortunately, in any type of grid-down situation, no matter how much you jiggle the handle, it’s not going to flush.

So what exactly are you supposed to do?

Stay with me now.

I know this is an uncomfortable topic, but it is one that you need to hear.

When a toilet is not an option, you need to make sure that you have an alternative way to contain and get rid of any waste.

Even a small amount of exposure to human waste can turn already uncomfortable situation deadly.

Aside from digging a hole, what can you do?

Growing up, I did a lot of work with my dad as a painter over the summers. It was terrible: long hours, hot days and, most of the time, no running water.

If we were lucky, the home we were working on was near a gas station or even a patch of woods.

Most of the time, we didn’t get so lucky.

In those cases, we were forced to use a big orange bucket from Home Depot — not exactly the most graceful thing to try to use.

I wish we had known back then about toilet seats that fit on 5-gallon buckets.

If you own a home, odds are you have a few extra 5-gallon buckets siting around gathering dust.

I have two 5-gallon buckets in my garage with these little “toilet toppers,” and I have used them on camping trips in the past.

I will tell you that, being a larger guy, going about my business on one of these is much akin to trying to use a child-sized toilet.

It takes a bit to get used to it, but is a good deal better than the “squat and hover” method from my childhood.

The great thing about these is that you can make an entire self-contained bathroom kit that is ready at a moment’s notice.

If you don’t already have at least one of these hanging around in your garage, I recommend you get one as soon as possible.

A few other necessities that you need to make sure are inside your emergency toilet:

  • Toilet paper (You don’t know how important it is until you’re stuck without it.)
  • Heavy duty trash bags
  • Air freshener
  • Wet wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • You have a couple of options when it comes to absorbing moisture and odor:
    Clumping cat litter
    Sawdust
    Peat moss
    Untreated, unpainted, heated, no-dust pine shavings
    Cedar chips

Just put a layer of whatever material you choose into the bucket after every use. If you make sure you keep the lid tightly closed, smell shouldn’t be a problem.

Like I said, this is an uncomfortable topic. But a little extra preparation can make it much more bearable in the long run.

–Joe Marshall

P.S. Another option you may want to look at, and one that I actually keep in my garage, is a Honey Bucket Kit. These come with the bucket, toilet topper, a few other  basic toiletries and an entire 72-hour kit inside them.

These are a great option if you are just starting out your preps or if you want a quick, ready-made option.

 

This Keychain Could Save Your Life

When I was about 16, my friends and I all got this wild idea that we would go out to a junkyard and use these little plastic “emergency hammers” to bust the windows out of some old, broken-down cars.

Why? I don’t think I’ll ever fully be able to fully answer that question; we were just a bunch of silly kids looking to have a cheap laugh.

We learned very quickly that these hammers are not all they are cracked up to be and that a car’s windows are a lot tougher than your ordinary window.

Emergency hammers are mainly intended to be used when there is opposing pressure on the opposite side of the glass — for example, if the car ran off the road and became submerged in water.

Years later, these hammers are still a major component in most vehicles emergency kits, right next to the can of Fix-A-Flat and jumper cables.

Contrary to popular belief, a window isn’t going to shatter at the smallest touch of one of these hammers. In fact, without pressure on the opposite side, you would have better luck with a brick. Also, think about how much elbow room you need to get a good swing at the window, and then think about just how much room you have in the driver’s seat.

The more I think about it, the worse these tools seem to be.

Last week, I ran across a neat little bobble called the Resqme Car Escape Tool. After some research and purchasing one of my own, I definitely think these are worth looking into.

Features:

  • Spring-loaded head effortlessly smashes the vehicle’s side windows with only 12 pounds of force.
  • Razor-sharp blade slices through jammed seat belts and is safely surrounded by the plastic casing.
  • The included clip detaches from the body, allowing the user to quickly access the blade, and doubles as a device to hang ResQMe from a keychain or other accessible area.
  • Weighs in at just more than .5 ounces and is small enough to be carried just about anywhere.

Bottom line: At less than $10, this thing is literally a lifesaver worth having. It only takes 12 pounds’ of force to activate the spring-loaded spike; so if you can hold a small bowling ball, you can use this tool.

The razor-sharp blade slices through a seat belt like butter, as long as you follow the instructions. Make sure you cut at a 45 degree angle from the top to the bottom.

This will shatter a window regardless of whether your car is submerged. And you don’t have to worry about getting a good swing to break the window. If you can reach the glass, you can break it.

As a tip, if you ever have to use this, put the spike in a lower corner of the window to reduce the possibility of an explosive shatter.

The Resqme Car Escape Tool should replace any old emergency hammer that you already have.

Check out this short video of the tool in action:

What do you think?

My BOB Has A Secret… And It Isn’t Pretty

The secret weapon in my bug out bag is pantyhose. (Maybe I should call them man-tyhose.)

After you stop laughing, you might want to read on to see just why I keep these in my pack. You may just find yourself grabbing a few pairs afterwards.

If you are heading out for a weekend camping trip or if a disaster is on its way and you need to hoof it on foot to get out of dodge, make sure you always have a few pair of pantyhose in your gear.

It might not be a very manly thing to carry, and I get a few funny looks when I step up to the counter at CVS with a pair of pantyhose. But this is survival planning, and your looking manly is trumped by being prepared.

Not only are these cheap to buy, but there are dozens of alternative uses for them and they take up practically no space. Check out the list below for a small sampling of what these can be used for:

  • You can wear pantyhose as extra layer beneath your normal clothes to keep warm in cold weather.
  • Use pantyhose to prevent bites and stings. Wear pantyhose under your shorts or pants to protect against chiggers, ticks and other biting insects.
  • If you are going to be trekking through water, wear them to protect yourself from jellyfish stings and leeches.
  • Stretch a pair of pantyhose over a Y-shaped branch or stick and use as a skimmer or a fishing net. You won’t catch a 10-pound catfish in this, but you may be able to pick up a few smaller fish to eat or use as bait for a larger fish.
  • Use pantyhose to secure bait while fishing. Place bait in the pantyhose and secure it to a tree or anything sturdy in order to keep from losing bait while fishing.
  • Use pantyhose as a pouch or bag to carry things.
  • Use pantyhose instead of twine or bungee cords to fasten or bind things together.
  • You can use pantyhose as a belt to keep your pants hiked up.
  • In first aid, you can use pantyhose as a tourniquet or to hold and/or secure a bandage or hot and cold pack.
  • Use pantyhose as a first-round filter to strain any collected water. The water will still need to be treated or boiled, but this first line of defense will help to clear the water of any large particles.
  • Use pantyhose to prevent blisters. I saw a lot of comments in one of my previous articles about using pantyhose to keep your feet blister-free, and I just wanted to highlight it again here. Cut the feet off of a pair of pantyhose at the ankles and wear them under your socks. They will help cut down on the friction between your shoe and your foot, thus reducing the risk of blisters.

Pantyhose look terrible on men… plain and simple. But they were never designed for us. The great thing about them, though, is that they are extremely stretchy. Most of them have a sizing guide, so you can take a guess at the size you should buy.

I’m not saying that pantyhose should be worn on a regular basis. But in a survival situation, the benefits of having those in your pack outweigh any blow that your pride may take when purchasing them. And if you really can’t break down and buy a pair of them for yourself,  I’ve actually seen a few places that sell them in camouflage for the really manly man.

If you have the extra cash, you can always buy Under Armour. But you can get 10 pairs of pantyhose for the cost of one pair of Under Armour. I would rather save my money for something else.

These are just a few examples of what a little ingenuity can bring you in a survival situation. Can you think of a few more that I may have missed?

A Catalyst For Survival?

In September 2005, my father was in a real estate agents office in Houston. It was a breathtakingly humid and hot day, but he was down to the last few signatures to finalize the loan on a new house.

That was when the warnings started to blast over the radio broadcasts. As he reached the final page, he laid down the pen, politely smiled at the agent and told her that he would be back, if the house was still standing. He gathered what few items he had available: a 3-gallon water jug, a few candy bars and other snacks. Twenty minutes later, he had my stepmother and all three of our Labrador retrievers loaded between both cars, and they set out on the highway. However, it was already too late.

The States surrounding the Gulf were instantly in a panic. Hurricane Katrina was still fresh in their memories, and no one wanted to be anywhere near the coastline when Rita came ashore. The normally pleasant drive to my grandparents’ house just about an hour north of Houston spiraled into an 18-hour stint in bumper-to-bumper hell.

The stretch of U.S. 59 that rarely had more than a few cars anywhere within eyesight was littered with broken-down vehicles, and my stepmother’s car quickly became one of them. After several hours stalled in the now blistering heat, the old Buick’s radiator gave out. This forced my father and stepmother to pile everything they could from her car into my dad’s pickup. It was then that the real scares began — not from the hurricane, but from the confused and ill-prepared people who were stranded along the highway. While my father was moving items from the broken down car to his pickup, someone decided to break the back window of the Buick to steal a half-empty water bottle.

This was mere hours after the evacuation had been issued. Luckily, my father was able to siphon enough gas from the Buick to keep his F150 running just long enough to make it to Nana’s house. Unfortunately, the situation became even worse from there. The hurricane did not make landfall in Houston like it was predicted. Instead, it hit the coast and sheered quickly to the northeast, headed directly toward where my father had evacuated to: my grandparents’ home. Less than an hour after they arrived, my father had Nana and Papa in the storm cellar; he also ran to all of the neighboring homes and offered them shelter.

In all, 17 people were in a storm cellar that was built for 10. As the storm finally hit, my father made a final dash to his truck and he learned firsthand how powerful the storm was. As he reached the truck to grab the only portable radio that he had, and what would soon become the only means of outside communication for days, he was suddenly hit by a gust of wind that took him off of his feet and slammed him into the side of the house. He was able to shake it off and make it back to the storm cellar as the outer wall of the hurricane closed in on them.

Luckily, and due in no small part to the devastation from Hurricane Katrina, my father had the foresight to have a storm shelter installed in between property he owned and my Nana’s home. He had also had the shelter stocked with a pallet of MREs and about 300 gallons of water. However, he did not foresee that the hurricane would score a direct hit on the small town of Zavalla. There was no way for him to know that the town would be left to squander without power for seven days.

They went seven days without running water, air conditioning or heating. Luckily, it was only four days before cellphone signals were re-established. I had four days of no contact with my closest family.

I had my bags packed and stuffed in my car, ready to get to them, when I finally got a phone call from my cousin. The news wasn’t good.

She told me that coming down wouldn’t do much good. There was only one main road into town, and it was closed due to flooding and debris. She had tried to go down herself only to be turned back 14 miles from my grandmother’s house. We were stuck, waiting for the city to clear the roads.

Luckily for them, my dad was prepared at his final destination; he knew how important it was to make sure that our family would be safe, no matter what.

However, I can’t help but wonder how all of those folks that were not able to get off the highway in time were able to cope. Only hours into the confusion and with still hours to go before the storm hit, they had already began to steal and commit violent acts for something as small as a half-empty bottle of water.

My dad was lucky that time; but if there is one thing you can count on, it’s that luck will always run out eventually.

It was this experience that spurred me into action and made me create a plan and become aware of all possible exits and know when to be long gone before panic takes hold. And if being long gone weren’t an option, I would have everything I needed to hunker down, keep my head low and survive until things smoothed over. I would not be left on the side of the road; I would make sure that I got myself and my family out before the gridlock.

So if there is anything I could leave you with, it’s this: Don’t rely on luck.

Practice your skills; never do something the first time when you absolutely need it to save your life. Stay alert to what is going on around you. Above all else, keep calm. You will do more harm than good when acting on instinct over logic.

This was my catalyst, the reason I chose to become prepared. What is yours?

–Joe Marshall

One Year In Hell…

I have seen the story below on multiple forums and posts. I have spent some time trying to verify the source of the story, but so far I have been unable to find the original source. (Though it may be an excerpt from Selco at the SHTFschool.com)

Even though I cannot verify the facts in this story, it is still very much worth the read.

The English is rough, as this was supposedly translated from the speaker’s native language into French (by Russian translators) before being translated to English.

Some things, especially the terror of war, are never lost in translation:

I am from Bosnia. You know, between 1992 and 1995, it was hell. For one year, I lived and survived in a city with 6,000 people without water, electricity, gasoline, medical help, civil defense, distribution service, any kind of traditional service or centralized rule.

Our city was blockaded by the army; and for one year, life in the city turned into total crap. We had no army, no police. We only had armed groups; those armed protected their homes and families.

When it all started, some of us were better prepared. But most of the neighbors’ families had enough food only for a few days. Some had pistols; a few had AK-47s or shotguns.

After a month or two, gangs started operating, destroying everything. Hospitals, for example, turned into slaughterhouses. There was no more police. About 80 percent of the hospital staff were gone. I got lucky. My family at the time was fairly large (15 people in a large house, six pistols, three AKs), and we survived (most of us, at least).

The Americans dropped MREs every 10 days to help blockaded cities. This was never enough. Some — very few — had gardens. It took three months for the first rumors to spread of men dying from hunger and cold. We removed all the doors, the window frames from abandoned houses, ripped up the floors and burned the furniture for heat. Many died from diseases, especially from the water (two from my own family). We drank mostly rainwater, ate pigeons and even rats.

Money soon became worthless. We returned to an exchange. For a tin can of tushonka (think Soviet spam), you could have a woman. (It is hard to speak of it, but it is true.) Most of the women who sold themselves were desperate mothers.

Arms, ammunition, candles, lighters, antibiotics, gasoline, batteries and food. We fought for these things like animals. In these situations, it all changes. Men become monsters. It was disgusting.

Strength was in numbers. A man living alone getting killed and robbed would be just a matter of time, even if he was armed.

Today, me and my family are well-prepared, I am well-armed. I have experience.

It does not matter what will happen: an earthquake, a war, a tsunami, aliens, terrorists, economic collapse, uprising. The important part is that something will happen.

Here’s my experience: You can’t make it on your own. Don’t stay apart from your family; prepare together, choose reliable friends.

1. How to move safely in a city

The city was divided into communities along streets. Our street (15 to 20 homes) had patrols (five armed men every week) to watch for gangs and for our enemies.

All the exchanges occurred in the street. About 5 kilometers away was an entire street for trading, all well-organized; but going there was too dangerous because of the snipers. You could also get robbed by bandits. I only went there twice, when I needed something really rare (list of medicine, mainly antibiotics, of the French original of the texts).

Nobody used automobiles in the city: The streets were blocked by wreckage and by abandoned cars. Gasoline was very expensive. If one needed to go somewhere, that was done at night. Never travel alone or in groups that were too big — always two to three men. All armed, travel swift, in the shadows, cross streets through ruins, not along open streets.

There were many gangs 10 to 15 men strong, some as large as 50 men. But there were also many normal men, like you and me, fathers and grandfathers, who killed and robbed. There were no “good” and “bad” men. Most were in the middle and ready for the worst.

2. What about wood? Your home city is surrounded by woods; why did you burn doors and furniture?

There were not that many woods around the city. It was very beautiful — restaurants, cinemas, schools, even an airport. Every tree in the city and in the city park was cut down for fuel in the first two months.

Without electricity for cooking and heat, we burned anything that burned. Furniture, doors, flooring: That wood burns swiftly. We had no suburbs or suburban farms. The enemy was in the suburbs. We were surrounded. Even in the city you never knew who was the enemy at any given point.

3. What knowledge was useful to you in that period?

To imagine the situation a bit better, you should know it was practically a return to the Stone Age.

For example, I had a container of cooking gas. But I did not use it for heat. That would be too expensive! I attached a nozzle to it I made myself and used to fill lighters. Lighters were precious.

If a man brought an empty lighter, I would fill it; and he would give me a tin of food or a candle.

I was a paramedic. In these conditions, my knowledge was my wealth. Be curious and skilled. In these conditions, the ability to fix things is more valuable than gold.

Items and supplies will inevitably run out, but your skills will keep you fed.

I wish to say this: Learn to fix things, shoes or people.

My neighbor, for example, knew how to make kerosene for lamps. He never went hungry.

4. If you had three months to prepare now, what would you do?

Three months? Run away from the country? (joking)

Today, I know everything can collapse really fast. I have a stockpile of food, hygiene items, batteries — enough to last me for six months.

I live in a very secure flat and own a home with a shelter in a village 5 kilometers away. Another six-month supply there, too. That’s a small village; most people there are well-prepared. The war had taught them.

I have four weapons and 2,000 rounds for each.

I have a garden and have learned gardening. Also, I have a good instinct. You know, when everyone around you keeps telling you it’ll all be fine, but I know it will all collapse.

I have strength to do what I need to protect my family. Because when it all collapses, you must be ready to do “bad” things to keep your children alive and protect your family.

Surviving on your own is practically impossible. (That’s what I think.) Even you’re armed and ready, if you’re alone, you’ll die. I have seen that happen many times.

Families and groups, well-prepared, with skills and knowledge in various fields: That’s much better.

5. What should you stockpile?

That depends. If you plan to live by theft, all you need is weapons and ammo. Lots of ammo.

If not, more food, hygiene items, batteries, accumulators, little trading items (knives, lighters, flints, soap). Also, alcohol of a type that keeps well. The cheapest whiskey is a good trading item.

Many people died from insufficient hygiene. You’ll need simple items in great amounts. For example, garbage bags. Lots of them. And toilet papers. Non-reusable dishes and cups: You’ll need lots of them. I know that because we didn’t have any at all.

As for me, a supply of hygiene items is perhaps more important than food. You can shoot a pigeon. You can find a plant to eat. You can’t find or shoot any disinfectant.

Disinfectant, detergents, bleach, soap, gloves, masks.

First aid skills, washing wounds and burns. Perhaps you will find a doctor and will not be able to pay him.

Learn to use antibiotics. It’s good to have a stockpile of them.

You should choose the simplest weapons. I carry a Glock .45. I like it, but it’s a rare gun here. So I have two TT pistols, too. (Everyone has them and ammo is common.)

I don’t like Kalashnikov’s, but again, same story. Everyone has them; so do I.

You must own small, unnoticeable items. For example, a generator is good, but 1,000 BIC lighters are better. A generator will attract attention if there’s any trouble, but 1,000 lighters are compact, cheap and can always be traded.

We usually collected rainwater into four large barrels and then boiled it. There was a small river, but the water in it became very dirty very fast.

It’s also important to have containers for water: barrels and buckets.

6. Were gold and silver useful?

Yes. I personally traded all the gold in the house for ammunition.

Sometimes, we got our hands on money: dollars and Deutschmarks. We bought some things for them, but this was rare and prices were astronomical. For example, a can of beans cost $30 to $40. The local money quickly became worthless. Everything we needed we traded for through barter.

7. Was salt expensive?

Yes, but coffee and cigarettes were even more expensive. I had lots of alcohol and traded it without problems. Alcohol consumption grew over 10 times as compared to peacetime. Perhaps today, it’s more useful to keep a stock of cigarettes, lighters and batteries. They take up less space.

At this time, I was not a survivalist. We had no time to prepare — several days before the shit hit the fan. The politicians kept repeating over the TV that everything was going according to plan, there’s no reason to be concerned. When the sky fell on our heads, we took what we could.

8. Was it difficult to purchase firearms? What did you trade for arms and ammunition?

After the war, we had guns in every house. The police confiscated lots of guns at the beginning of the war. But most of them we hid. Now I have one legal gun that I have a license for. Under the law, that’s called a temporary collection. If there is unrest, the government will seize all the registered guns. Never forget that.

You know, there are many people who have one legal gun, but also illegal guns if that one gets seized. If you have good trade goods, you might be able to get a gun in a tough situation. But remember, the most difficult time is the first days, and perhaps you won’t have enough time to find a weapon to protect your family. To be disarmed in a time of chaos and panic is a bad idea.

In my case, there was a man who needed a car battery for his radio. He had shotguns. I traded the accumulator for both of them. Sometimes, I traded ammunition for food, and a few weeks later traded food for ammunition. Never did the trade at home, never in great amounts.

Few people knew how much and what I keep at home.

The most important thing is to keep as many things as possible in terms of space and money. Eventually, you’ll understand what is more valuable.

Correction: I’ll always value weapons and ammunition the most. Second? Maybe gas masks and filters.

9. What about security?

Our defenses were very primitive. Again, we weren’t ready, and we used what we could. The windows were shattered, and the roofs in a horrible state after the bombings. The windows were blocked — some with sandbags, others with rocks.

I blocked the fence gate with wreckage and garbage, and used a ladder to get across the wall. When I came home, I asked someone inside to pass over the ladder. We had a fellow on our street that completely barricaded himself in his house. He broke a hole in the wall, creating a passage for himself into the ruins of the neighbor’s house — a sort of secret entrance.

Maybe this would seem strange, but the most protected houses were looted and destroyed first. In my area of the city, there were beautiful houses with walls, dogs, alarms and barred windows. People attacked them first. Some held out; others didn’t. It all depended how many hands and guns they had inside.

I think defense is very important, but it must be carried out unobtrusively. If you are in a city and SHTF comes, you need a simple, non-flashy place, with lots of guns and ammo.

How much ammo? As much as possible.

Make your house as unattractive as you can.

Right now, I own a steel door, but that’s just against the first wave of chaos. After that passes, I will leave the city to rejoin a larger group of people, my friends and family.

There were some situations during the war. There’s no need for details, but we always had superior firepower and a brick wall on our side.

We also constantly kept someone watching the streets. Quality organization is paramount in case of gang attacks.

Shooting was constantly heard in the city.

Our perimeter was defended primitively. All the exits were barricaded and had little firing slits. Inside we had at least five family members ready for battle at any time and one man in the street, hidden in a shelter.

We stayed home through the day to avoid sniper fire.

At first, the weak perish. Then, the rest fight.

During the day, the streets were practically empty due to sniper fire. Defenses were oriented toward short-range combat alone. Many died if they went out to gather information, for example. It’s important to remember we had no information, no radio, no TV — only rumors and nothing else.

There was no organized army; every man fought. We had no choice. Everybody was armed, ready to defend themselves.

You should not wear quality items in the city; someone will murder you and take them. Don’t even carry a “pretty” long arm, it will attract attention.

Let me tell you something: If SHTF starts tomorrow, I’ll be humble. I’ll look like everyone else. Desperate, fearful. Maybe I’ll even shout and cry a little bit.

Pretty clothing is excluded altogether. I will not go out in my new tactical outfit to shout: “I have come! You’re doomed, bad guys!” No, I’ll stay aside, well-armed, well-prepared, waiting and evaluating my possibilities, with my best friend or brother.

Super-defenses, super-guns are meaningless. If people think they should steal your things, that you’re profitable, they will. It’s only a question of time and the amount of guns and hands.

10. How was the situation with toilets?

We used shovels and a patch of earth near the house. Does it seem dirty? It was. We washed with rainwater or in the river, but most of the time the latter was too dangerous. We had no toilet paper; and if we had any, I would have traded it away.

It was a “dirty” business.

Let me give you a piece of advice: You need guns and ammo first — and second, everything else. Literally everything! All depends on the space and money you have.

If you forget something, there will always be someone to trade with for it. But if you forget weapons and ammo, there will be no access to trading for you.

I don’t think big families are extra mouths. Big families means both more guns and strength — and from there, everyone prepares on his own.

11. How did people treat the sick and the injured?

Most injuries were from gunfire. Without a specialist and without equipment, if an injured man found a doctor somewhere, he had about a 30 percent chance of survival.

It ain’t the movie. People died. Many died from infections of superficial wounds. I had antibiotics for three to four uses — for the family, of course.

People died foolishly quite often. Simple diarrhea will kill you in a few days without medicine, with limited amounts of water.

There were many skin diseases and food poisonings… nothing to it.

Many used local plants and pure alcohol — enough for the short-term, but useless in the long term.

Hygiene is very important, as well as having as much medicine as possible — especially antibiotics.