6 survival items to buy immediately

I don’t like hype. There are a ton of ads, especially in the preparedness niche, that try to sell people on the idea that there is only one solution, process or book to solve their problems. Sometimes the ads are for something that is not even really a problem or, worse, is a problem that won’t really be fixed by the solution being marketed. Or sometimes the ads are selling a product that should be purchased only long after the foundational components of a preparedness plan have been addressed. Your survival purchases should be relevant to your goals and prioritized based on need. Regardless of what you are preparing for, here are six survival items that you should buy immediately if you do not have them already.

Water filter

There is only one kind of water that you want to have in a survival situation: clean water. If there ends up being some sort of disaster, whether it is a flood or algae outbreak, water supplies can be interrupted. When these events are even forecast to occur, stores usually run out of bottled water in a matter of hours, often before anything even happens. This leaves a couple of options, filter your own water supply or wait for someone else to take care of you. I am guessing that most of you are not the type to wait for the government to come along and assist, so you are more inclined to take your survival into your own hands.

A small water filter for personal use can cost as little as $20, fits easily into a jacket pocket and removes almost all health threats from any water source. Two of the most popular personal-use water filters on the market today are the LifeStraw and Sawyer Mini Filter. If you are looking for a home-use water filter, there are several models of countertop filters that are great for filtering water for several people. The Berkey water filter is probably the most popular. As a gravity-fed ceramic filter, it will not only produce water that is safe to drink but it will do so in a passive manner. All you have to do is fill it up and let the filter make clean water while you are free to perform other tasks.

Quality knife

There may not be a more useful tool overall for survival than a knife. A high-quality knife can be used to hunt and gather food, make a shelter, start a fire, dig a hole, and even defend yourself if you had to. The best type of knife for survival is a full tang, fixed blade knife that is made of quality steel. One of the most important things to remember is that a knife could be a tool that literally could save your life. Get the best knife that you can afford.

Good flashlight

A light source can be invaluable, especially while there is not any power. Whether there is power or not, a good flashlight can be useful for working in remote locations, outdoors and in confined spaces. It can even be used as a defensive tool. Technological advances in flashlight technology have resulted in lights that are not only brighter but last longer and are lighter. This is especially true of LED flashlights.

Not all tasks can be completed without the use of both hands. If you find yourself in this situation, consider getting a headlamp, which allows the user to use both of his hands. Because the light is mounted to your head, everywhere you look the light will follow, meaning that the light will always be focused on the work area. Whether you opt for a flashlight, headlamp or both, you will often get what you pay for.

First-aid kit

It is absolutely true that accidents happen, often when we are not expecting them. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be an accident, right? In order to be prepared to deal with a medical emergency, a high-quality first-aid kit is a must-have survival item. Survival scenarios often involve completing tasks that we would not ordinarily do or carry greater levels of risk because of the way they must be performed. This solidifies the need for a medical kit.

There are many medical kits that are commercially produced for families or sports teams. They can be found on shelves of your local big box stores and are basically a plastic box with about 500 different sizes of bandages. While this is great for the various sizes of paper cut you might get, these are not the most well-rounded kits for a true emergency. When looking for a first aid kit for survival, look beyond the bandages and ensure that your kit of choice also includes advanced treatment capabilities like trauma dressings, over-the-counter medications and splinting materials.

Back-up power source

Power is vital for our current lifestyles in most cases. This is especially true with all of the modern conveniences, electronics and gadgets that are a part of our everyday lives and require some sort of energy. During normal circumstances, this power can just come from a wall outlet but during a disaster that may not be an option. This makes having a back-up source of energy not only useful, but necessary — especially if there are existing conditions like medical diagnoses that require refrigeration for medications or air conditioning.

There are two basic back-up power sources that can be obtained relatively affordably: a gas-powered generator and a small solar system. Each option has advantages and disadvantages and should be chosen based on the amount of energy required. A gas-powered generator can typically provide a steady stream of power over long periods of time but makes a lot of noise and requires a supply of fuel which is volatile and difficult to store for long periods of time. A solar set up often requires batteries to be charged from the sun instead of directly hooking up a device to a solar panel. The process of charging batteries is quiet but requires the sun and can take a long period of time to fully charge.

Regardless of the option that is best for you, these systems can both be obtained for less than $500 and will supply enough power to overcome the challenges of an emergency or systems outage.

Set of basic tools

Survival often requires not only skills, but tools as well. Without a basic set of tools, basic tasks can become difficult and complex tasks can become impossible. While no one has every tool for every job, a basic set of mechanic’s and carpentry tools will be sufficient to complete most repairs and improvements. Something to consider when deciding on a set of tools is whether or not to include power or battery-operated tools. Both sets of tools should be composed of hand tools exclusively. And if power tools are added, ensure that your backup power supply is capable of charging the tool batteries. Also consider any specialty tools that may be needed based on other pieces of gear that you own or plan on using.

While these are not the only items that are needed to survive the end of the world, they are basic items that should be front loaded on the list of items to acquire. Without a solid foundation, other efforts will often be in vain. As an example, all the food in the world will be of no use if you don’t have the clean water required to sustain life. A good plan is to determine what the most common threats you face are and match these up with the basic items needed to survive these threats. For the most part, it doesn’t matter what you face, these six survival items will put you far ahead of the sheeple. Buy yours today!

Merry Christmas!

–Tom Miller

Choosing a survival firearm

It is no secret that a complete survival plan has many facets to it. There are areas that tend to require more emphasis. The deprivation of food, water and shelter, for example, for a significant period of time will cause death, whether it is natural or, most unfortunate, self-inflicted. Those areas of a survival plan are an absolute requirement. No one argues that point. Security is an area where things start to get foggy.

The idea of owning firearms or having them in one’s house is something that not everyone is supportive of. There is always the risk that the gun might climb out of storage and shoot someone, right? I choose to take the perspective that nothing else matters if you do not have the ability to defend yourself and the goods that you have worked hard to procure against theft, raiders, looters, etc. This makes a firearm a necessity for the complete survival plan.

What makes a firearm a necessity?

There is no one magic justification that will outline why each and every person needs to own a gun. We all have our individual reasons for gun ownership. It could be for security (personal or property), hunting or even just for their future value and potential. Either way, I think the saying, “Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it,” applies here.

Keep in mind that if things ever go really bad, the opportunity for (or even likelihood of) law enforcement being available to protect you and your loved ones from those who wish to do you harm may not exist. The 911 system may be either overwhelmed or just plain not functioning. This is especially a concern based on the fact that we are not experiencing what most would consider the end of times, yet there were several reports last year of an average police response time of 58 minutes to high-priority calls in Detroit. Or what about the situation around Ferguson, Missouri, where things seem to be heating up again and city officials are warning residents to prepare for the worst? Can you imagine what it might be like if there were a disaster or collapse of some variety?

These situations, along with the general volatility of humans even during non-disaster times, really highlight the need for a survival firearm.

Things to look for in a survival firearm

The first and main point to consider is what you are planning on using your survival gun for. Will it be strictly for defensive purposes? Do you need something that will not only be good for security but for food procurement as well? Does this firearm need to be easily concealed? At the end of the day, your needs may dictate that you require more than one gun.

Secondly, look at who will be using the firearm. Is this going to be a family gun or is it for just you? The user(s) will dictate what is practical in terms of caliber and may even limit the size of firearm that you get. Smaller-framed shooters will need a smaller gun that will best suit their size; larger-framed shooters may want a larger gun. If your survival firearm is going to need to be carried long distances or for long periods of time, consider looking at a lightweight option or a pistol that can be carried in a holster for maximum comfort.

Ease of use, reliability and maintenance are other important considerations for a survival firearm. A survival gun should be easy to use and maintain in almost any imaginable circumstance. Ideally, your selected firearm will also have readily available parts and not require a gunsmith for even simple repairs. It never hurts to select a firearm that has a reputation for being reliable.

The overall cost of not only the gun itself but the ammunition is something to consider when selecting a survival firearm. In fact, the .22 long rifle is not the most stout round for a firearm; but it is a very popular option for the prepper because the cost of obtaining the gun and the ammunition can be easily afforded, if not downright cheap when compared to most calibers.

Training and safety

It is important that whatever firearm you select to be your survival gun is something you are trained to use. You must know how to properly fire it. You also must know how to clean and maintain the firearm and how to perform all its functions. I don’t subscribe to the thought process that you can be overtrained. Look at the elite military forces of the world for a prime example of how constantly training and shooting will result in not only accuracy but the muscle memory that allows for the “automatic” response needed in life or death situations.

Safety comes not from only proper training, but from proper storage as well. A gun safe provides a safe place to store firearms as well as a place to secure valuables and paperwork from theft and disaster. If you choose to forgo a gun safe, look at using a trigger lock or at least storing the ammunition separately from the firearm. These are especially important safety concerns when children are in the home. Of course, educating children about the safe and proper use of firearms is one of the best ways to prevent the “curiosity” that often results in firearms mishaps.

Recommendations

When it comes to you final decision on which firearm to make your survival gun, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. But there are what I would consider one-size-fits-most answers. A common brand and caliber of firearm is definitely the best way to go, due to the availability of parts and ammunition. Don’t gloss over the fact that we are talking about a piece of equipment that may save your life. It very well could be worth the extra money to buy a quality firearm.

Here are some of the most recommended firearms for survival.

.22 long rifle

While primarily a rifle cartridge, pistols are also chambered in .22LR which makes it a very versatile caliber for survival.

Pros:

  • The firearm itself is usually very affordable. And ammunition can be considered cheap, especially in comparison to other calibers.
  • The compact size and light weight of the gun and ammunition make this firearm perfect for survival situations, especially when considering it as an addition to your survival kit.
  • A quiet round, .22 LR will attract minimal attention.

Cons:

  • The .22LR cartridge has almost no knockdown power, which limits its practical uses.
  • It’s a poor selection for security purposes because the small size of the round makes a lethal shot far less likely in comparison to other calibers.

9mm

The 9mm is a caliber that is available for most models of handgun and even some pistol caliber carbines. It is extremely common and makes the supply of ammunition fairly easy to come by (at least during regular market conditions).

Pros:

  • Manageable recoil.
  • Higher capacity.
  • Very concealable as a handgun.
  • Easily handled.

Cons:

  • Limited range and accuracy.
  • Ammunition can be expensive.
  • Extensive practice required to be accurate.

12 Gauge Shotgun

The sound of a pump shotgun is unmistakable. This makes it the premier choice for home defense weaponry and a top choice of preppers.

Pros:

  • Intimidating sound.
  • Pinpoint aim is not required to hit a target.
  • Huge variety of ammunition that is available makes it a versatile weapon system.
  • Target overpenetration is usually not a concern.
  • Excellent for hunting birds and waterfowl.

Cons:

  • Ammunition is heavy and takes up a good amount of space.
  • Limited range results in less effectiveness for distance.

.270 Winchester rifle

This is a great selection for taking medium-sized wild game to eat. It could also be used as a defensive rifle in a sniper role as part of an overall security plan.

Pros:

  • Good stopping power for a variety of game.
  • The accuracy and range are excellent and can even be improved with proper ammunition selection.
  • Bolt action rifles are easy to maintain.

Cons:

  • Many models are bulky and heavy.
  • Large game may require a larger caliber.

5.56mm NATO (AR-15) rifle

The caliber of choice for all of the military branches in the United States, the 5.56mm NATO round is a high-velocity round that is capable of eliminating threats in a big way. In addition to its capabilities, the signature black color has caused many a politician to be frightened of the AR-15 style of rifle.

Pros:

  • Easy to train with and become proficient with/accurate.
  • Excellent availability of parts.
  • Consistent threats of gun control legislation make the AR-15 a rifle that is in demand and grows in future value in many cases.
  • The advanced materials used in making the firearm and components lead to a lighter weight.
  • Easily customized to accomplish almost any mission.

Cons:

  • Expensive to purchase the gun.
  • Ammunition can be scarce to come by and consistently increases in cost.
  • Complex design makes repairs more complicated and requires more parts.

While these are some of the most popular firearm selections made by preppers for survival, don’t limit yourself unnecessarily. Examine your situation, needs and budget to pick the best fit for you. One thing to consider is finding a range where you can rent the gun you are considering buying and test it out before you make the financial commitment.

What if I don’t want to have a gun?

If after reading this you decide that having a firearm is not right for you, that is OK. My only warning to you is to not leave yourself defenseless. There is a reason that the wolf will attack sheep; they are easy prey. The best thing you can do is avoid being a sheep and have something to protect yourself, your loved ones and your cache of preparedness items. If you are against having a firearm, consider one of the following options:

  • Pepper spray.
  • Baseball bat.
  • Expandable baton.
  • Stun gun.

These options are not lethal and give you the best chance of deterring an attack if you do not have a gun. It may also be a good idea to have one of these options available so that the lethal option is not the only one that you have.

With all that being said, keep in mind that there are advantages besides self-defense when it comes to owning a survival gun. A firearm will afford you the opportunity to hunt for food is a survival situation, scare off predators or even signal for help. These are things that you cannot do to achieve the same result as you will with a stun gun or pepper spray.

At the end of the day, it does not matter if you get a rifle or handgun, large caliber or small caliber, it just matters that you take charge of your survival. A firearm can provide security and peace of mind during times of peace, but especially during a disaster. This has been proven time and again and will not likely change. While everyone should be taking care of the basics and stocking up on food, water, medical supplies, etc., it very well could be in vain if it can all be taken from you at the first sign of trouble.

–Tom Miller

The prepper’s library

There are a number of useful and necessary items that concerned citizens should stock for any emergency. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, old or young; we all have similar needs for survival, including food, water, shelter and security. But even if you store all of the essentials, there may come a point in time where it is not enough. There could even be an event that causes you to have to start over.

But what would you do if you were starting from scratch and there were no more box stores? Or what if you needed to do something to survive with which you were not completely familiar? Ideally, this would never happen; but there are no guarantees. If one of these scenarios were to come to fruition, there are some valuable tools to overcome these challenges: books. In addition to being useful in starting over, books can be a great way to get started with preparedness. They can also provide direction if you get lost or confused.

While there are what seem like a million books about preparedness, survival and self-sufficiency, some that are far superior to others for addition to survival kits, bags and especially the home library. Below I have compiled a list of some of the best and most influential books available for preparedness-minded individuals by those who walk the walk themselves.

Getting started

  • “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat: One Man’s Solution” by M.D. Creekmore
  • “How To Survive The End Of The World As We Know It” by James Wesley Rawles
  • “The Prepper’s Pocket Guide: 101 Easy Things You Can Do to Ready Your Home for a Disaster” by Bernie Carr
  • “Be Prepared For Anything: Build Your Foundation For Survival” by Dale Goodwin

Survival

  • “Tools For Survival” by James Wesley Rawles
  • “The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Prepare For Any Disaster” by Daisy Luther and Tess Pennington
  • “Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide” by Jim Cobb
  • “SAS Survival Handbook” by John “Lofty” Wiseman
  • “Build The Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit” by Creek Stewart
  • “Dr. Prepper’s Making the Best of Basics” by James Talmage Stevens

Homesteading

  • “The Encyclopedia of Country Living” by Carla Emery
  • “Recipes And Tips For Sustainable Living” by Stacy Lyn Harris
  • “The Homesteading Handbook: A Back to Basics Guide to Growing Your Own Food, Canning, Keeping Chickens, Generating Your Own Energy, Crafting, Herbal Medicine, and More” by Abigail R. Gehring
  • “The Backyard Homestead: Produce All The Food You Need On Just A Quarter Acre” by Carleen Madigan

Medicine

  • “Wilderness Medicine” by Paul S. Auerbach
  • “Ditch Medicine” by Hugh Coffee
  • “Where There Is No Doctor” by David Werner
  • “Where There Is No Dentist” by Murray Dickson
  • “Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook” by Department of Defense
  • “The Essential Survival Guide To Medical Preparedness” by Julie Behling-Hovdal (Holisitic Medicine)

Outdoor skills

  • “Bush Craft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival” by Dave Canterbury
  • “Bushcraft: The Ultimate Guide to Survival in the Wilderness” by Richard Graves
  • “Survival Wisdom & Know How: Everything You Need to Know to Subsist in the Wilderness” by The Editors of Stackpole Books

Security

  • “Prepper’s Home Defense: Security Strategies To Protect Your Family By Any Means Necessary” by Jim Cobb
  • “Retreat Security and Small Unit Tactics” by David Kobler and Mark Goodwin

Food

  • “Food Storage For Self-Sufficiency And Survival” by Angela Paskett
  • “The Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months” by Daisy Luther
  • “The Prepper’s Guide To Food Storage” by Gaye Levy (Kindle Only)
  • “The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals” by Tess Pennington

Entertainment

  • “Hoyle’s Rules of Games” by Albert H. Morehead

Don’t forget about having something to keep you entertained!

Money

  • “The Alpha Strategy” by John Pugsley

This is a revolutionary book about investing in things besides traditional investments. It is a great primer for those who are interested in saving for the future and/or difficult times outside of the usual strategies.

Children’s

  • “Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure: A Prepper’s Book For Kids” by Bernie Carr
  • “Prepper Pete Prepares” by Kermit Jones Jr.
  • “Prepper Pete’s Gun of a Son” by Kermit Jones Jr.
  • “Prepper Pete’s Twelve Days of Prepper Christmas” by Kermit Jones Jr.

Survival fiction

  • “Going Home” (Book 1 of The Survivalist Series) by A. American
  • “Surviving Home” (Book 2 of the Survivalist Series) by A. American
  • “Escaping Home” (Book 3 of the Survivalist Series) by A. American
  • “Forsaking Home” (Book 4 of the Survivalist Series) by A. American
  • The Survivalist Series is a great series of books that follows the life and times of some very interesting characters that fight long and hard to survive in a tough new world.
  • “The End” (Book 1 of the New World Series) by G. Michael Hopf
  • “The Long Road” (Book 2 of the New World Series) by G. Michael Hopf
  • “Sanctuary” (Book 3 of the New World Series) by G. Michael Hopf

Just like the Survivalist Series by A. American, G. Michael Hopf’s New World Series is an excellent series for those who enjoy good fiction with a survival based plot.

  • “Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse” by James Wesley Rawles
  • “Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse” by James Wesley Rawles
  • “Founders: A Novel of the Coming Collapse” by James Wesley Rawles
  • “Expatriates: A Novel of the Coming Collapse” by James Wesley Rawles

For those who are unfamiliar with Rawles (commonly referred to as JWR), he is the founder of SurvivalBlog and an authority in the survival realm. His books are fiction stories that are intertwined with some of the best survival tips and tricks that can be found.

  • “One Second After” by William R. Forstchen

While most of us associate the bookstore as the place to get books, it is not the only place in society today where a book can be found. With that being said, it is still the most readily available place to get a physical copy of a book. In addition to local book stores (both new and used), consider checking the local library for these titles. If finding books online is your cup of tea, there are a number of online stores where books are sold but also check the author’s website. The other place online that I have been able to get a lot of books (including some of these titles) is through book bundles that are usually sold through blogs and niche websites.

Something else to consider when building your library is whether to get a hard copy or electronic copy of the book. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. Physical books are heavy, bulky and susceptible to be lost in a fire, flood or other disaster. Because of these facts, it also makes hard copy books very difficult to take along in a survival kit or when being forced to evacuate somewhere. At the same time, they are very easy to reference and work whether there is power running to the house. On the opposite end of the spectrum, electronic books are extremely compact and lightweight and can easily be transported in a kit or when fleeing a disaster. Some digital books are printable, which provides a hard copy of a book that is usually cheaper to buy electronically. While this is all true, electronic books must usually be read on an electronic device, making electricity a necessity. No electricity, no survival reference.

At the end of the day, books can be a very valuable aspect of a complete preparedness plan. Whether they provide you a method to learn more and get established as a prepper or to start over after a reset, books are something that are a onetime expense and can provide a return on your investment that pays you back with your life.

Don’t Get Caught Empty-Handed: 4 Tips For Staying Ahead With Prepping

There is a common thread in preparedness. It doesn’t matter if you personally are preparing for yourself, your family, a specific event or just anything that may come your way, the point of being prepared is to maintain some quality of life when it would not normally be possible. In order for this to happen, preparations need to be made prior to potential tough times. This sounds simple, but is it really? There are a number of challenges that instantly change the environment of preparedness and what can, or can’t, be done to ensure that you are prepared.

Disaster Or Threat Of Disaster

As soon as people get wind of a disaster (pun intended), the chances of getting those last-minute items dramatically decreases. These chances decrease even more when consideration is given to the fact that most, if not all, retailers currently practice just-in-time inventory, a system of inventory that is designed to minimize the amount of goods on store shelves. This system is intended to meet only the current demand of consumers, decreasing the financial outlay of the retailer, but not taking into consideration potential stressors (like emergencies) on the inventory. As a result of this approach to stocking stores, it is incredibly likely that any useful supplies and equipment will be decimated in short time upon notification of any emergency or disaster, real or perceived.

In addition to the limited amount of stock kept on store shelves, the supply system is not going to be capable of delivering additional stock in the middle of a disaster. Depending on the severity of the same disaster, delivery of additional supplies could be delayed even further based on the damage caused to infrastructure. Following a typical disaster, any aid that comes early is from the government and/or charitable organizations that depend on the availability of the equipment and personnel required to make the delivery as well as other variables like the security of the area and how it plays into the situation. This is the exact opposite of what you want as a prepper.

Government Regulation

Government, while trying to “help” us (because we are helpless citizens who cannot make decisions for ourselves, of course), will try to push its agenda and regulate what we can or cannot own, possess or participate in. Because of the ever-changing limits of our personal liberty, it is vital as a prepper to obtain things now while they are approved for our ownership, possession and use by the government. A perfect example is the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act (commonly known as the Federal Assault Weapons Ban) passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994 that made it illegal for manufacturers to make weapons with certain features or manufacture magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds.

Fortunately, the ban on “assault” weapons lasted for only 10 years, but who or what is saying that it can’t happen again? In fact, since the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, there have been several attempts by politicians to outlaw several types of weapons and weapon accessories and even to impose limitations on ammunition. Some of this legislation has passed in certain states and cities; but it took only the threat of such legislation to put a strain on the marketplace and almost completely wipe out the inventory of several firearms, accessories and almost all ammunition. This threat has mostly passed, making now the perfect time to add to your arsenal or even start one. In order to stay ahead as a prepper, timing the purchase of items can be key.

Weapons are not the only thing on the government’s chopping block. Recently, U.S. Rep. Michael Honda (D-Calif.) introduced the Responsible Body Armor Possession Act, legislation that would make it unlawful to purchase, own or possess body armor by civilians with the exception of the “purchase, ownership, or possession by or under the authority of — the United States or any department or agency of the United States; or a State, or a department, agency, or political subdivision of a State; or enhanced body armor that was lawfully possessed by any person at any time before the date this section takes effect.”

This obviously means that any survival-minded person interested in adding body armor to their inventory of gear should consider making this acquisition soon. Even if this legislation goes nowhere, it is likely that attempts to outlaw body armor will put a strain on the available supply in a similar manner that attempts to outlaw some firearms did.

Act Now

While there are obvious challenges for someone who wants to get prepared for difficult times, it is not impossible. For the person who wants to get started prepping or improve upon their start, it is important to act while the desired equipment, supplies and opportunities are available. Here are a few steps that should be considered for completion as soon as possible to ensure your greatest chances of staying ahead with prepping:

  1. Determine threat probability: Being prepared for one type of event or emergency does not make a person prepared for every event or emergency. The single greatest way to ensure you stay ahead in prepping is to determine the greatest threats that you and your loved ones are most likely to face. Once you have a good handle on the threats you face, you can determine what steps must be taken to best face these threats.
  2. Outline goals and priorities: Don’t blindly go about getting prepared for difficult times. Determine at what point it is that you consider yourself prepared and make a list of goals that will get you there. After this list is completed, make a second list of what it is that you feel the need to get prepared for, be it natural or man-made disaster. Lastly, make a list of equipment, supplies and training that you need to obtain your goals.
  3. Prioritize purchases: Once you have a clear plan of what you want to do, take your list of desired purchases and training and prioritize them in order of importance and pertinence to achieving your goals. One thing to consider is not front-loading your list with expensive equipment or difficult-to-complete training. This serves two purposes: It makes progress through your list more achievable, and it minimizes frustration with slow progress in achieving these goals.
  4. Get training: Often, having equipment or supplies is useless without the knowledge to properly use them. This makes it imperative to obtain skills and training now while they are readily available.

While there is no way to tell what the future holds, it is clear that there is no time like the present to ensure safety and security for the future. It is also clear that there is no more reliable of a source for this safety and security than yourself. There are threats everywhere that occur naturally, and the list of threats from other humans and the government is constantly growing. The technology available today is great, but it is also scarier than it has ever been before. Tomorrow the government could shut off the Internet or determine that it is now illegal for manufacturers to make parts for all cars built before the year 2000 because they are not compliant with new environmental regulations. These two events may never happen; but if they did, it would already be too late. Stay ahead of threats with prepping and experience a level of safety and security that you have never felt before!

–Thomas Miller

A Military Approach To Survival Security

It may seem antiquated, but the primary function of a U.S. Army soldier has not changed since the inception of the Continental Army. A soldier always has, and likely always will be, tasked with performing guard duty in one capacity or another. Perhaps you are wondering what this has to do with survival security. If a method for securing a variety of locations as well as various-sized elements has worked so well for centuries, doesn’t it seem like it would serve a group well during a survival scenario, regardless of the cause?

Obviously, the amount of technology that is currently available could provide a great advantage in securing your stronghold. Things like ground sensors, remotely controlled and monitored security cameras, and automatically triggered obstacles are outstanding tools. But in most cases, they are prohibitively expensive. And they also rely on systems of support like electricity and telecommunications equipment to operate. Because of these requirements, the guard will, for the foreseeable future, remain the foundation of a survival security system, whether it is mobile or stationary.

Army Field Manual 3-21.8 identifies the term guard as having two different meanings based on the size of the unit. The guard as an individual is defined as, “the individual responsible to keep watch over, protect, shield, defend, warn… also referred to as sentinels, sentries, or lookouts.” A guard, when referencing a unit that is tasked as a guard force, serves to protect a larger body while “fighting to gain time while observing and preventing the enemy’s observation and direct fire against the main body.” It is clear that both of these definitions could apply to a group that is trying to stay alive and independent during a difficult scenario.

For the sake of simplicity, we will assume that today we are talking about maintaining the security of a large group by a shift of guards. When trying to gain time through observation and simultaneously preventing enemy observation or action, two approaches are necessary: stationary guard posts and patrols.

Stationary guard posts can be established almost anywhere. They serve to identify potential threats and discourage outside forces from attempting to breach the area which you are protecting. There is not a requirement to have a guard tower, a bunker or any structure in which to post the guard. While these locations can provide cover and concealment for the guard, stationary posts can be located in trees or in a car or even be a chair on the side of a house.

The important thing to remember is that when securing a sizable area, it is vital to layer security and have intersecting areas of observation so as to minimize the possibility of something being missed. Stationary posts will primarily be observation posts, battle positions, roadblocks, checkpoints or entry control points.

While it is ideal to have a constant security presence, it may not be practical for your group. If that is the case, a conscious decision will have to be made as to when it is possible to have guards posted and how many there will be. It is probably smarter to maintain a constant presence of lower numbers of guards than an intermittent presence of higher numbers. Your situation will dictate. Conduct an assessment of your needs as well as the highest-risk time frame and develop your plan from there.

Another factor to consider when determining guard positions is what will be guarded. If your retreat location includes not just a house but a barn or other outbuildings, it is likely that multiple structures will need to be guarded. This could mean additional stationary guards or implementation of security patrols to encompass the expanded area(s). During a situation where clean drinking water is difficult to come by, a guard may need to be posted at your drinking water source to ensure the security of the site as well as the safety of the water. These are only a few of the considerations that should be made when setting up your survival security plan.

Make sure to also include the element of the unknown, if possible, when making your plan. If the enemy can clearly see how many guards you have, where they are, when they switch out, etc., it will be much easier to plan an attack or way around your system of security. Consider the possibility of varying the number of visible guards and the times when guards switch out. If you also rotate the locations where each individual performs his guard duty, it can result in less complacency and an increased awareness of what is going on around the area.

Don’t rule out the possibility of making some fake guards, using mannequins that can be placed in windows or other locations to make it appear as though there are more guards than there actually are. This is especially practical at night when fewer people may be available anyway.

Security patrols can be conducted on foot, bicycle, boat or truck and most often serve as an additional layer of security, farther removed from the primary area being secured. (This is likely practical only during extreme circumstances and primarily when a crisis is ongoing for a long period of time.) Patrols can also be used to investigate an area or probe the enemy to identify strengths and weaknesses.

Do not send a group out on patrol without first identifying each person’s role in the patrol and conducting rehearsals. A security patrol can be difficult to conduct and could just lead to people getting lost, hurt or even killed if proper precautions are not taken.

An effective communications plan should also be in place. And no patrol should ever leave without an established objective, time of departure and estimated time of return. Establish specific intervals and/or locations where the patrol will check in to report their progress and any issues or concerns. These plans will make it possible to track the patrol and make it possible to help in the event that additional resources or assistance are needed.

One of the components of a guard force that has led to the long-running success of military guard duty is the sergeant of the guard, a person tasked with making sure that the guards are at their appointed place(s) of duty, performing their duties. The sergeant of the guard also ensures that the guards are appropriately relieved when the time arrives. If the capacity is available in the group, make sure to identify at least one person per shift who has the leadership capability and knowledge of guard duties to act as the supervisor for the shift.

Do not overlook the equipment necessary to conduct security operations, especially the ability to communicate between guards. In an ideal scenario, each guard would have a radio with extra batteries to facilitate communication; but this may not be what happens. If radios and/or batteries are not available, work out a system of animal calls, hand signals or other means of communication that will allow everyone to know when things are OK, when there is a problem or even just if someone needs a break. Other equipment that can be very useful to stationary guards and patrols include:

  • A map of the area.
  • A compass and/or GPS.
  • Binoculars, spotting scope or night vision goggles.
  • Weapons.
  • Protective obstacles such as a solid wall.
  • Early warning devices like trip-wires.

As a way to augment a human security force during a survival situation, physical barriers can be placed or developed around the area to help decrease the number of eyes that may be needed to secure an area. Fences, ditches, pits, rocks, walls and the natural terrain are all examples of physical barriers that can prevent infiltration into an area. Animals, especially dogs, can also be useful in augmenting a human security force. The military currently uses canines as the animal element to a security force. But historically, chickens, goats and even horses have helped serve as an early warning system to alert when a possible threat is present.

While there is more to a solid security plan than just placing a few people around the area you are trying to secure, the human element cannot be beaten when it comes to reliability, performance and the ability to adapt to and overcome challenges. The military has been relying on this model for centuries and has experienced success with it around the clock and around the world. When it comes to your survival security, are you willing to take a chance on the unknown? Or would you rather use something that you know will work, even in the most difficult of times and circumstances?

–Tom Miller

Investing In Survival

“The Alpha Strategy: The Ultimate Plan of Financial Self-Defense,” a book that was written in 1980 by John Pugsley, outlines how the economy really works and provides an investing strategy that could be a very viable solution for the prepper as well as those who are hesitant to invest in traditional paper investments. While some may consider a book written in 1980 to be irrelevant to today’s situation, I would beg to differ. What the country was going through in 1980 is not unlike the situation that the United States has seen over the last five or six years.

My favorite aspect of this particular strategy is that it revolves around the principle of holding physical assets, with specific emphasis placed on holding future consumables, or property to build or maintain wealth. This results in a situation where the goods invested in are protected from inflation, taxes on future inflation are avoided, the investment risk is mitigated, and the storage of these goods serves as a hedge against a recession or depression. Physical property cannot disappear in a matter of seconds through a computer system. This is a huge advantage for me. I will be honest in that I am not a huge fan of paper investments. I fear that I will work hard and save money, only to find out that it is not there when I need it or even worse, it is available to me but worthless. It seems that either one of these scenarios could play out before I am reach my planned retirement age.

In addition to the obvious advantages of investing in property that is physically held from an investment standpoint, it is also an ideal way to accumulate the beans, bullets, and bandages that are paramount to being prepared for an uncertain future. It is also conceivable that if there were to be a disaster (regardless of whether it is natural or man-made) that the traditional system of three classes; the upper, middle, and lower, could easily become a two class system of the haves and have-nots. If this were to become the case, having invested in physical holding that will support survival will turn you into the wealthy for all intents and purposes.

The Alpha Strategy breaks investments down into four levels. This is the real take away for the prepper. Level one is investment in production which is essentially education, a second trade, and tools with which to produce (emphasis can be placed on skills which are especially useful in a post collapse society). Level two is to save consumables such as items to maintain your home or shelter, foods, beverages, first aid supplies, hygiene items, cleaning supplies, clothing, etc. The third level of The Alpha Strategy is to save real money, this includes manufactured goods for the purpose of resale or barter, raw commodities, and precious metals to name a few (once again, emphasis should be placed on a post collapse society). The fourth and final level is to protect against theft.

With these four levels of investing in mind, I am going to outline the practical applications for the survival and preparedness minded. Something to consider is that many of the mentioned items could fall into more than one category such as food products which could classify as a consumable and a barter item. Examples of investments in survival using the Alpha Strategy include:

LEVEL ONE (Education and Tools)

  • Gunsmithing
  • Blacksmithing
  • Medicine (Human or Veterinary)
  • Solar or Alternative Energy Systems
  • Construction (Building, Electrical, Plumbing, etc.)
  • Engine Repair
  • Welding
  • Farming and Agriculture
  • Engineering
  • Communications
  • Baking and Cooking

LEVEL TWO (Consumables)

  • Energy (Batteries, Fuel, etc.)
  • Water & Water Filtration Equipment
  • Long Term Food Stores
  • Tools (Construction and Gardening)
  • Medical Supplies and Medicines
  • Hygiene Items and Toiletries
  • Clothing (All Seasons)

LEVEL THREE (Real Money, Barter Goods, Precious Metals)

  • Junk Silver
  • Gold & Silver Bullion
  • Seeds
  • Alcohol
  • Fishing, Hunting, and Trapping Supplies & Equipment
  • Knives
  • Light Sources
  • Fire Sources (Matches, Lighters, Firesteel, etc.)

LEVEL FOUR (Security & Protection Against Theft)

  • Firearms
  • Ammunition
  • Body Armor
  • Non-Lethal Defensive Options
  • Security Infrastructure (Barriers, Security Systems, Trip Wires, Lighting, etc.)
  • Tactical Gear (Individual Harnesses, Pouches, etc.)
  • Night Vision Goggles
  • Binoculars and/or Spotting Scope
  • Fire Safe

I would even go so far as to introduce the idea of a fifth level that would include protection against loss from natural and man made disasters and networking/community building. This level would incorporate the idea of diversifying the locations of where preparedness stores are located using things like remote caches. In addition to protecting against loss, the practice of networking/building your survival community will allow for a community to capitalize on the learned skills and goods that were invested in by others to further the life and development of the community.

The Alpha Strategy is a great book for the prepper, but is also helpful for the person that just wishes to better understand how the economy works.  The bonus is that it contains a written plan for how to invest in tangible assets as a means of securing your future.  If you are interested in reading The Alpha Strategy, it can be located online from book retailers. Even if you decide that taking the time to read the book is not for you, consider the idea of putting the basic strategy into play as part of a long term survival plan. It is not only beneficial for those that have a lot of money to invest but it is a practice that can be implemented by even those will very little disposable income.

Moving As A Prepper

Over the past few months, I have been making preparations for a major life event that has posed several unique challenges to me as a prepper. At the end of the month, I will be moving. It is the type of move that is not across town where I can simply load up into a rented truck and make several trips to get everything where it needs to go. To assist me, and to further complicate things (in my opinion), my employer hired a moving company that came to pack up my worldly possessions into boxes that were loaded up and are making the trip across the country as I sit here and type this. As a result of this arrangement, I am faced with several unique challenges that would impact any family, but especially impacted mine because of the fact that I have several preparations that I have made to see us through in the event that there is ever a difficult time in our lives.

Here are some of the challenges that I encountered:

Weight limitations: An initial challenge with completing a move is with the amount of weight that you are trying to transport. In my case, my employer is paying for a specific amount. I can move as much as I would like, but I would have to cover the difference in the cost. And to be truthful, why would I want to part with any of my cash? Even if you are making a move on your own accord, the more you have to move, the more effort, space, etc. that is required. A weight limitation can also be a blessing in disguise because it can require that you get rid of all those unnecessary collections of things that have been hanging around in the cupboards.

Hazardous materials: There are numerous regulations and policies that significantly limit the type and/or quantity of hazardous materials that can be transported by a moving company. Unfortunately, many of the items that are stockpiled for survival purposes are considered to be hazardous and cannot be shipped, including:

  • Gasoline
  • Kerosene
  • Fuels (Sterno, fuel tabs, etc.)
  • Oils
  • Propane
  • Ammunition
  • Batteries
  • Lighters
  • Lighter Fluid
  • Matches
  • Charcoal

To avoid having to get rid of everything, consider moving these items yourself or looking into the possibility of shipping these items on your own. This can be an expense but could be cheaper overall, or some items like ammunition just plain can’t be replaced in some areas.

Water: There is no lightweight option when it comes to water. On top of this, water is wet, which can cause issues for the other items that you are moving. The best option, if possible, is to empty and dry your water-storage containers prior to moving and refill them at your final destination. In the meantime, make sure that you have access to a water source and a way to filter and store additional water in a pinch. One of the storage tanks that goes in the bathtub might be a really good option and will not take up much space in a suitcase during your travels.

Food: There are certain foods that cannot be moved. Neither produce nor any frozen, perishable, open, partially used or refrigerated foods can be moved by a commercial moving company. And they can be difficult to move, even if you do it yourself. Plan on using these items up prior to your move. In addition to these restrictions, we are without any stockpile of food for the duration of our move. The best way that I can overcome this challenge is to network with our close friends and neighbors who are willing to help us out if things were to fall apart before we get all of our stuff back in our possession.

Separation from possessions: Just like the food situation, I am apart from all the rest of my safety net. If it is possible, keep at least your bug-out bag or basic survival kit with you. This can be tricky, though, depending on how you are traveling and where you have to travel. Check the local laws for every State that you have to travel through to ensure compliance with laws that govern weapons or any other item that may be restricted.

Operational security (OpSec): There is typically a reasonable level of concern with inviting strangers into your home to help with a move – or with anything, for that matter. It can be difficult especially in the case of movers because they will have a good idea of what you have and where its new location is going to be. One option might be to camouflage preparedness-related items. Another option would be to rent a mobile storage container to pack everything into and then arrange for its shipment. The best overall option might be to move everything yourself if it is possible and you are that concerned.

I will say that with the challenges of relocating as a prepper also come some opportunities that can be taken advantage of as well. During the process of going through your stockpiles, packing, moving and unpacking everything, consider using this process as your chance to:

  • Take inventory: Completing an inventory of the items that you have is important for getting an accurate picture of what you actually have on hand as compared to what you think you have. In addition to this, a good inventory is the single best way to make sure that you have appropriate insurance coverage and can recover your losses if you ever need to file a claim. Recording important information like make, model and serial numbers can also be useful for accountability and insurance purposes. Pictures are the best form of proof.
  • Identify: Review the completed inventory to identify shortfalls or gaps with the items that have been set aside for an emergency or difficult time. This list can be the outline for future purchases or highlight new skills that should be learned.
  • Organize: Take advantage of being displaced by getting organized. As part of the organization process, consider placing caches of your preps in various locations throughout the house and/or property.
  • Update: It is pretty easy to miss out on staying current with best practices or the latest technology. As you look over your preparations, see if there are things that need to be updated. Don’t fall prey to buying the latest and greatest if what you have still works and does the job just as well. Update only items that will result in better/safer function or increased chances of survival. Think of upgrading from a black powder rifle to a semi-automatic, magazine-fed rifle, as an example.
  • Discard: If there are items that are broken, expired, unserviceable or not needed, make sure to get rid of them. Unless the item can be used for training or parts, they don’t really serve a purpose in being kept around.
  • Replace: Don’t forget to replace items that are discarded to keep an appropriate level of stock on hand.

Just like anything in life, moving can be challenging, especially for a prepper. With a little planning and a lot of patience, your move can go smoothly. But always remember to cover your bases and, if possible, never leave yourself or your loved ones protected against a tough time.

–Tom Miller

8 Rules For Preparing On A Budget

There are probably hundreds of reasons that could be thought of as to why a person should prepare for difficult times. And while finding a reason to prepare is not difficult, finding the financial resources to do so can be a challenge. Many items that are considered necessities for long-term survival are prohibitively expensive, which has a tendency to lead to discouragement and sometimes complete abandonment of any efforts to protect self and loved ones against emergencies and disasters. A majority of this frustration and inability to prepare because of financial shortcomings can be overcome by using a budget and finding frugal ways to obtain the goods necessary to survive a disaster.

I have seen plenty of blog posts and articles around the Web about prepping on X number of dollars a month or 100 survival items for $5 or less. This is great information, and I have to admit that I have done my share of passing this type of information along. While these tips are great, the greatest way to prepare with limited resources is to make the best decisions with your money and ultimately explore methods to obtain goods and services without having to spend money.

Consider these eight rules for preparing to survive difficult and/or becoming more self-reliant:

No. 1: Determine Threats, Probability Of Threats And Needed Skills/Goods

The primary steps that must be taken in order to prepare effectively and avoid falling victim to wasting money on excess or unneeded things are to determine threats, the probability of experiencing these threats, and what skills and goods will be required to survive these threats. Determining what to prepare for and what will be needed is a great way to ensure that finite resources are not misdirected or wasted.

No. 2: Create And Have A Budget

A major component to preparing on a budget is to create and have a budget. Each dollar that comes in should have a purpose assigned to it, and needs should always be prioritized over wants and desires. With that being said, as income is added to the bank account, assign it a specific purpose regardless of whether it is for housing, groceries, education or preparedness and long-term planning. While the concept of a budget is fairly basic, there are plenty of people who choose to “wing it” as opposed to spending with a purpose. Short of possessing significant amounts of luck, this is an inferior method.

No. 3: Don’t Buy Survival Preparations On Credit

Having to pay more in the long run is rarely helpful and only contributes to being less self-reliant. Living within the confines of actual monetary holdings is perhaps the best way to become self-sufficient and control one’s own destiny. Owing a debt to someone else can merely turn an independent person into a slave.

No. 4: Start With Small And Easily Achievable Goals

The best way to build momentum and avoid becoming discouraged is to take small steps and set goals that can be easily achieved. This can mean doing things like taking a complete inventory of the pantry and identifying holes or weaknesses in food stores. This can be completed in a single afternoon in most cases. Making a list of new skills to learn or existing skills to improve on is another example of an easily achieved goal. Once the basics are taken care of, move onto the more long-term and difficult tasks that are part of your prepping plan.

No. 5: Use Frugal Avenues To Obtain Survival Goods And Equipment

There are very few products or services that are so rare or protected that they are only offered by a single vendor. This makes it possible to look around for the best deal on what you desire. In addition to the typical retail outlets, consider searching for preparedness-related items on websites such as Craigslist or eBay, looking in the classified section of the local newspaper, or even scouring yard sales throughout the spring and summer for someone’s surplus treasure. In addition to new products at bargain prices, it is possible to find lightly used items at pennies on the dollar in comparison to the price of the same thing new.

No. 6: Find Lower-Cost Alternatives If Available

There is always something to be said about name-brand products. Often, the item that carries the name brand also carries a higher level of quality or craftsmanship. With that being said, not all products have a significant gap in the level of quality between brands and price points. As an example, when it comes to things like pasta, there is very little difference in things like the flavor and storage life between the fancy box and the generic box; but the difference between the cost of the two can be significant.

No. 7: Choose Quality Over Quantity

When evaluating products and services, consider higher-quality options over lower-quality, inexpensive options. I say this because there is a difference between being frugal and being cheap. In many cases, you’ll ultimately save money by purchasing a higher-cost, high-quality item. Lower-cost, low-quality items may need to be replaced several times during the life span of higher-quality versions of the same product. Aside from the useable life of such a product, many times the materials used to make a product cost less are far inferior compared to the more expensive product.

One example would be that of a multi-tool. A good multi-tool can cost about $50 and will last several years, even with regular use. An off-brand, cheaply manufactured multi-tool will cost about $10 and is usually not made with tool-grade materials. With regular use, the cheap multi-tool will likely need to be replaced a couple of times a year because of damage or not being capable of withstanding regular use and failing to perform the desired functions. This concept is also valuable concept when it comes to seasonal use items that may not only experience heavy use in season but may be stored, even in the elements, for the other times of the year.

No. 8: Barter For Goods When Possible And Save Cash For Other Expenditures

There is the old saying, “Nothing in life is free.” It is possible that there is quite a bit of truth in that statement, but that does not mean that everything costs money. Money or currency is simply a way of turning one thing of value (labor usually) and turning it into something that can be traded for another item of value (goods and services). The act of bartering for goods simply takes currency out of the equation and allows one person to trade his item or service of value directly for another person’s item or service of value.

Bartering can be done in a variety of ways but starts by identifying things that you possess of value that can be traded for things you need. Most of us have items lying around that we don’t need or use. These are prime items to trade. It is also possible that you have the ability to do something that another person cannot or chooses not to do. These services can be bartered with as well.

If you have items or abilities that you can trade, consider using these things to obtain survival and self-sufficiency items that you need without having to part ways with your cash.

While certainly not the only aspect of survival and self-reliance that matters, working on a budget and making rational decisions on what to do and when to do it can ensure there are fewer missteps in getting prepared for difficult times. In addition to being useful for prepping, working within your limits is a valuable life skill that can impact all areas of your life, in good times and during the bad times.

–Tom Miller

Note from the Editor: Hyperinflation is becoming more visible every day—just notice the next time you shop for groceries. All signs say America’s economic recovery is expected to take a nose dive and before it gets any worse you should read The Uncensored Survivalist. This book contains sensible advice on how to avoid total financial devastation and how to survive on your own if necessary. Click here for your free copy.

Getting Fired Up About Survival

If emergency preparedness were looked at as if it were a building, there would be a few vital “bricks” like food and water that would make up the foundation of the building, while items like tactical sporks with built-in frequency-hopping radios could be looked at like decorative shutters. Decorative items like the shutters are not necessarily vital to survival and serve to enhance basic preparedness measures. But if a foundation brick were removed or missing, it would jeopardize the structural integrity of the survival structure.

One of these key elements to a solid survival foundation is fire — and not just because it is useful to make s’mores. During an emergency or disaster situation, fire will be a requirement to complete tasks that will be necessary to sustain life. This is especially true if there were to be a catastrophic failure of civil infrastructure systems. There are almost endless uses for fire, it seems; but some of the most important uses that aid in survival are:

  • Heat: Depending on location, heat can be vital to maintain a core body temperature, even in the summer. Of course, the dead of winter requires heat to prevent injury, as well as provide comfort. Heat is also very important when looking at certain age groups, like young children and older adults.
  • Light: Fire can provide light from candles and lanterns. Even a fire in the fireplace provides light. This is an important aspect of fire, especially in the event of a power outage.
  • Cooking: Rice and beans are a staple of long-term food storage and also happen to taste much better if they are cooked. Access to a fire to prepare foods will go a long way in ensuring that nutrition is maintained during a disaster and in maintaining morale during difficult times.
  • Purifying water: One of the time-tested methods of purifying dirty or contaminated water is boiling it. Boiling water ensures that it is safe for consumption and prevents the illnesses and diseases that are common following a disaster, when dirty water is often consumed out of desperation. This is also instrumental in minimizing preventable deaths.
  • Forming tools: When tools like saws and chisels are not available, fire can be used to form pieces of wood into things like arrows and even canoes like the ones Native Americans made using fire to hollow out the center of logs. Metal tools like knives can also be formed using fire to shape and strengthen the material.
  • Drying: Use fire to dry foods like fruits and vegetables for preservation and future use. Also use it to dry wet clothes.
  • Smoke: Smoke is a great tool for preserving foods, especially in a survival situation, because smoked food products can be stored without refrigeration. While smoke is great for preserving food products, it can also be used as a way to repel insects or even signal others.

Take These Steps Now To Ensure That Fire Will Always Be At Your Disposal

Ensure that adequate supplies are available to start a fire in every emergency/survival kit that you have. Adequate supplies should include at least a primary way of starting a fire and a backup. This is a minimum requirement and the old survival adage “two is one, and one is none” applies here.

Stock up on fire-making provisions now while they are readily available.

The supplies that should be in your kits and stockpiled include:

  • Ignition source: Pack something that will flame or spark. There are several ways to produce a flame or spark to start a fire, but the best methods are using a lighter or waterproof strike-anywhere matches (see editor’s note) and are followed up by FireSteel (ferrocerium bar), magnesium bars, a 9-volt battery and steel wool, and a magnifying glass or Fresnel lens. This list is not all-inclusive, but it eliminates the more labor-intensive methods of fire-starting, like bow drills.
  • Accelerant: The key to getting a fire started in inclement circumstances (wet weather, wind, etc.) is to have a good accelerant to push through until the main fuel source can catch. While many accelerants that come to mind are liquid fuels, these are not practical for survival kits and lack the stability necessary to transport. There are many products available in the sporting goods or camping section of the local big box store that are built specifically for this purpose. Examples of an accelerant include trioxane or hexamine tablets that are often marketed as fuel tablets for hiking stoves as well as WetFire cubes and other products. A great improvised accelerant is hand sanitizer, which burns easily as a result of the high alcohol content.
  • Tinder: While similar to accelerants in some ways, tinder is typically more susceptible to outside interference from environmental factors. Basic forms of tinder can be shaved wood, wax-soaked gauze pads, shreds of cloth, char cloth or even toilet paper. It is typically a good idea to have both tinder and accelerants as part of a fire-making kit and then use accelerants only when necessary. You would not want to use all of your accelerants during good weather and be stuck with wet toilet paper to start a fire outside in the middle of a storm.

An example of a basic fire kit would be a weatherproof container, Bic style of lighter, waterproof strike-anywhere matches, FireSteel, small emergency candle, petroleum-soaked cotton balls, wood shavings, char cloth and a couple of hexamine tablets.

Another important item worth mentioning is the container in which these fire-making supplies are stored. I previously made mention of an ammo can or weatherproof container to store strike-anywhere matches in; but this principle applies to all fire-making materials, regardless if they are in a bug-out bag or car kit, etc. It is imperative to protect these supplies from the elements — even if the container is as simple as a resealable bag inside of another one for extra protection. This could be the difference between being able to survive or not.

Finally, make a plan for where to have a fire if it becomes necessary to start one. While a fireplace is ideal, not all homes are equipped with one. This makes it necessary to plan for a way to have a fire, regardless of the circumstances. The first and most important thing to keep in mind is that fire, while useful, is dangerous. Don’t have a fire inside unless there is a proper location with a heat-tolerant surround and an exhaust system. If these two items are not both present, build a location outside that will prevent fire from spreading on the ground and or to surrounding buildings or vegetation. A great back-up fire plan is to clear a 6-foot-diameter space on the ground all the way down to bare earth. Ensure that the spot is not under any trees and not within 100 feet of a building. Once the spot is clear, build a fire ring from rocks or landscape blocks where the fire can be built. This will ensure that your fire will not be a threat, while still serving its purpose. While many of the methods for starting a fire that were listed here seem like they may be aimed toward the adventurer or outdoorsman, it seems to me that if you can start a fire in the outdoors it should be even easier to start a fire in a fireplace.

Regardless of the season or location, fire is a necessary tool. A hot summer night may still require a fire to keep away insects or other wildlife, just like the street corner in New York City may have a burn barrel on it to stay warm by if things hit the fan. Since fire has been with us, man has continuously used it to survive. There is no way to escape the need for fire. And the only useful survival kit is one that includes at least two ways to do everything, including the ability to start a fire.

–Tom Miller

Editor’s note: Strike-anywhere matches are getting very hard to find, and many rumors are circulating about companies ceasing production of them. Because of that, it is vital to stock up strike-anywhere matches now, if you can find them. They are not expensive, and they will keep well in an ammo can or other weatherproof container. These will be worth their weight in gold if things ever fall apart.

Military Medical Kits: A Follow Up

Last month, in my column, Don’t Reinvent The Wheel: Modeling Medical Kits After The Military, I shared the idea of modeling a medical kit for survival purposes off of the existing medical kits that are in use today by medical professionals in the different branches of the U.S. Military. This is a great way to put together a functional medical kit for the prepper or survivalist that has been proven effective in a variety of situations, including combat operations. This information was well received but spawned a great reader response of questions via emails. There were a few common questions that I received and thought should be addressed:

Where can I get this kit and how much does it cost?

This kit is not available for sale in its entirety. A primary reason for this is the fact that many of the items (medications and specialty equipment) are not available without a prescription. There are a number of medical kits with plenty of gear that can be purchased already assembled, just not this one. In order to obtain the particular kit that I mentioned, you can either assemble it one piece at a time (if you can get all the pieces) or join the military. Even if a person were able to piece the kit together, it would likely cost around $3,000 and making it prohibitively expensive for most of us. With all that being said, the average person does not need such a kit. The most important factor is to have a medical kit that will address major life threats and that the user is comfortable with along with being competent in the use of the contents.

Aren’t there dangers with having so much equipment without training to use it?

Yes. There is no simpler way to answer this question. At the same time this does not mean that at least a few dangers cannot be mitigated. Obviously, there is no substitute for training to properly use every piece of equipment in your kit. This is true for all survival equipment and not just the items in a medical kit.  Here are a few ways to minimize risk when providing medical care:

  • Never attempt to use something that is unfamiliar to you in the way that it is used and/or what it is used for.
  • If the situation presents more risk to the parties involved, including both the patient and caretaker, than the medical procedure or treatment will offer relief, it is best to postpone that treatment.
  • As a rescuer, never feel the need to do something that you are not comfortable with, even if you have the training and equipment necessary to do it.
  • Probably the best way to mitigate risk is to network with others who have this knowledge or go through medical training together as a family or group. This will ensure that one person is not left with all the responsibility for providing medical care

Where can I get this medical training?

Without signing up for specialty training to become a paramedic, nurse or other health professional, there are a few ways to get medical training. It is worth noting that it is unlikely that a person will get the advanced training to perform procedures like an emergency cricothyrotomy without attending school, but there are several options to learn the basic concepts to save a life.

  • Preparedness expos and conferences typically feature speakers and breakout sessions that provide both lectures and hands-on demonstrations of medical subjects and skills.
  • Becoming a volunteer firefighter is not only a way to contribute to the welfare of the local community, but also a viable means to obtain emergency medical training. While there is a time commitment required to serve as a volunteer firefighter, there are many valuable skills that can be learned in such a position and nothing can be as rewarding as saving a person’s life.
  • The American Red Cross has offered basic first aid training courses for years. While most people consider the Red Cross training courses to be very basic, these basic skills like how to stop major bleeding are the first areas in emergency medicine that should be mastered.
  • Firearms and tactical training programs/schools typically offer at least one course in managing medical emergencies, especially those that revolve around what might be seen from an accident on the range or the intentional wounding of, or by, a criminal.
  • Wilderness survival schools and outdoor training programs often provide a medical training path.

The best way to locate training in the local area is to perform an Internet search for opportunities like those previously mentioned.

What if I wanted a medical kit that everyone in my family could use? What would it look like?

There are several components that combine to make the foundation of a sound overall preparedness strategy. One of these components is medical preparedness. A basic first aid kit that can be purchased from the local big box store is not good for much more than looking good on the wall and bandaging up paper cuts. It takes a concentrated effort to put together a useful and purposeful medical kit.

A variety of injuries and conditions should be able to be treated with a medical kit and this is what makes many off the shelf kits inadequate. The basic medical kit that every individual and family should have might include the following items as a guideline:

Breathing

  • 2 Each – Hyfin Chest Seal

 Circulation/Bleeding

  • 1 Each – Tourniquet (Either Combat Applications or Special Operations Forces Tactical)
  • 2 Each – Emergency Trauma Dressing (6”)
  • 1 Package – QuikClot (50 Gram or 2 – 25 Gram)
  • 1 Each – Kerlix Gauze Dressing
  • 10 Each – Band-Aids (Various Sizes)
  • 10 Each – 2 x 2 Gauze Pads
  • 5 Each – 4 x 4 Gauze Pads
  • 2 Each – Butterfly Closure or Steri-Strips

Disability/Immobilization

  • 1 Each – ACE Wrap (6”)
  • 1 Each – SAM Splint
  • 1 Each – Cravat (Triangular Bandage)

Wound Care/Miscellaneous

  • 1 Each – Syringe (10 cc)
  • 5 Pair – Exam Gloves
  • 1 Each – Waterproof Medical Tape (1” or Larger)
  • 1 Tube – Antibiotic Ointment
  • 10 Each – Alcohol Pads
  • 1 Each – Trauma Shears
  • 1 Square – Moleskin (6” x 6” or Equivalent)
  • 1 Each – Headlamp
  • 1 Each – Space Blanket
  • Medications – Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, Antacid, Antidiarrheal, Hydrocortisone, Etc. (Quantities As Needed)

These are all items that can be used by anyone with a minimal amount of research or training. It is also possible to reduce the cost of a basic kit by utilizing creative substitutes for certain items. One example of a possible substitution would be to replace the Hyfin chest seals with two freezer grade, quart size resealable bags and a roll of waterproof medical tape. These can both be used as occlusive dressings to seal chest wounds.

While there is no perfect solution for every problem, there is nothing worse than having a problem and not having the means to provide a solution. There will always be a need for medical treatment. Make sure you have a kit and know how to use what is inside of it.

On a final note, one of the primary ways to obtain preparedness materials at a reduced cost is through bulk or group buys. If there are enough people interested, I would happily compile a list of items for a basic emergency medical kit similar to the one above, source the items, and coordinate assembly and shipping of the kits. If this is something that you are interested in, please send an email to tom@thepreparedninja.com. Once interest has been established, I will send out a final list and price for those who request the information.

-Thomas Miller

Don’t Reinvent The Wheel: Modeling Medical Kits After The Military

There are almost as many varieties of premade medical kits on the market as there are opinions on what the best type of pizza is. In other words, there are a lot. But just because it was put together and marketed by a company does not make it the best product for the job. Despite what the product is designed to do, at the end of the day, these companies are in it for a profit.

In terms of treating injuries following a disaster, there is not a better model for a medical kit than those developed and used by the military. These medical kits are designed to save lives in the most difficult of circumstances and in the most austere environments. Every day, they are carried into, and used in, battle. They are some of the best-thought-out kits because they are created by warriors. They cut out the bulk and nonsense while maintaining the necessary items to treat myriad life-threatening injuries and ailments. Depending on the branch of service and the mission, these kits can vary in composition. But they all have the following categories and items in common:

Airway

  • Cricothyroidotomy Kit (U.S. Army Rangers)
    • 1 EA — Scalpel, #10
    • 2 EA — Gloves, Exam (Black Talon)
    • 1 EA — Syringe, 10cc Luer-Lok Tip
    • 1 EA — Tracheal Hook (North American Rescue Products)
    • 1 EA — Alcohol Prep Pad
    • 1 EA — Povidone-Iodine Pad
    • 1 EA — Tube, 6mm Bore-Cuffed Cricothyroidotomy
  • Nasopharyngeal Airway w/ Water Soluble Lubricant
  • Oropharyngeal Airway
  • King-LT Supralaryngeal Airway
  • Hand Held Suction
  • Laryngoscope Handle
  • Laryngoscope Blade, Miller #2 or #3
  • Laryngoscope Blade, Macintosh #3 or #4
  • Endotracheal Tube — 7 Fr., 7.5 Fr., 8 Fr.
  • Stylet, Endotracheal Tube

Breathing

  • 14 Gauge, 3.5″ Needle & Catheter
  • Hyfin Chest Seal
  • Bag Valve Mask
  • Pocket Mask

Circulation/Bleeding

  • Combat Applications Tourniquet (CAT)
  • Emergency Trauma Dressing, 6″
  • Hemostatic Dressing (Chitosan and/or Chitoflex)
  • QuikClot Sponge
  • Kerlix Gauze Dressing
  • Emergency Trauma Dressing, Abdominal
  • Tactical Compression Wrap
  • Band-Aids
  • Eye Dressing
  • 4X4 Post-Op Sponge
  • Special Operations Forces Tactical Tourniquet (SOFT — T)
  • 2X2 Surgical Sponge
  • Celox
  • Dyna-Flex Bandage
  • Telfa Non-Adherant Pads

Disability/Immobilization

  • Cravat Bandage, Muslin (Triangular Bandage)
  • ACE Wrap
  • Traction Splint
  • SAM Splint
  • SAM Pelvic Sling
  • Cervical Collar

Fluids/IV Access

  • Saline Lock Kit (U.S. Army Rangers)
    • 2 EA — 18G X 1.5″ Catheter/Needle
    • 2 EA — Alcohol Pad
    • 1 EA — Constricting Band, Penrose
    • 1 EA — 2X2 Sponge, Sterile
    • 1 EA — Saline Plug, Locking
    • 1 EA — Syringe, 10cc Luer-Lok Tip
    • 1 EA — 18G X 1.5″ Needle, Hypodermic
    • 1 EA — Raptor IV Securing Band
    • 1 EA — Tega-Derm, 1 EA — Pill Bag
  • Sharps Shuttle Container w/ Locking Mechanism
  • Hextend IV, 500 cc
  • Sodium Chloride Flush, 50 cc
  • IV Kit (U.S. Army Rangers)
    • 1 EA — IV Solution Set, 10 Drops/ml
    • 1 EA — Saline Lock Kit
    • 1 EA — Tegaderm 4.75″ X 4″
  • FAST-1 Sternal Intraosseous
  • BOA Constricting Band
  • Raptor IV Securing Device
  • IV Infusor Kit (U.S. Air Force Pararescue)
    • 1 EA — Sodium Chloride 1000ML
    • 1 EA — Infusor Cuff
    • 1 EA — IV Admin Set
    • 3 EA — Alcohol Pad
    • 1 EA — 80lb Test Line, 36″
    • 1 EA — Penrose Drain
    • 1 EA — 18 Ga Cath
    • 1 EA — 20 Ga Cath
    • 1 EA — 14 Ga Cath
    • 1 EA — 8×8 Ziplock Bag

Monitoring & Diagnostic

  • Pulseoximeter, Finger
  • Stethoscope
  • Otoscope/Opthalmoscope Set
  • Glucometer
  • Thermometer, Oral
  • Thermometer, Rectal
  • Blood Pressure Cuff
  • Diagnostic Kit (U.S. Air Force Pararescue)
    • 1 EA — BP cuff
    • 1 EA — Stethoscope
    • 2 EA — Penlight
    • 1 EA — Subnormal Thermometer
    • 1 EA — Foley Catheter
    • 3 EA — Surgilube Packets
    • 1 EA — Rectal Thermometer
    • 1 EA — 12×12 Ziplock Bag

Medications

  • Drug Case (Otter Box)
  • Combat Wound Pill Pack
    • 2 EA — Acetaminophen Tabs, 500mg (Tylenol)
    • 1 EA — Moxifloxacin HCL Tab, 400mg (Avelox)
    • 1 EA — Meloxicam, 15mg Tab (Mobic)
  • Diphenhydramine HCL INJ, 50mg (Benadryl)
  • Dexamethasone Inj, 4mg/ml (5ml) (Decadron)
  • Epi-Pen Anaphylaxis Auto-Injector
  • Fentanyl Transmuccosal Lozenge, 800 mcg
  • Ertapenem Inj, 1gm (Invanz)
  • Morphine Sulfate Inj, 5mg
  • Nalaxone Inj, 0.4mg (Narcan)
  • Promethazine Inj, 25mg (Phenergan)
  • Ketorolac Inj, 30mg (Toradol)
  • Acetaminophen Tabs, 500mg (Tylenol)
  • Diazepam Inj, 5mg (Valium)
  • Tubex Injector, Cartridge Unit
  • Syringe, 10cc Luer-Lok Tip
  • Needle, Hypothermic 18G/1.5″
  • Chapstick
  • Bacitracin
  • Lidocaine 1% 50 mL
  • Cefazolin Sodium INJ 1 gm
  • Marcaine 0.5%, 50 mL
  • Betadine Swabsticks
  • Naproxen, 500mg Tablets
  • Phenergan, 25 mL Vial
  • Augmentin 875mg Tablets
  • Nitroglycerin 0.4 mg Tablets
  • Erythromycin 500mg Tablets
  • Fluconazole, 150 mg Tablets
  • Levaquin, 500mg Tablets
  • Metronidazole 500mg Tablets
  • Unasyn, 3 gm, Powder Pack
  • Bags, Drug Dispensing
  • Imodium, 2mg Capsules
  • Mupirocin Ointment, 15gm Tube
  • Phenergan, 25 mg Tablets
  • Psuedo-Gest, 60mg Tablets
  • Triamcinolone Cream, 15 gm Tube
  • Valium, Tablets
  • Vicodin, Tablets
  • Zantac, 150mg Tablets
  • Zyrtec, 10mg Tablets
  • Nalbuphine (Nubain) 20mg/ml, 2ml Injectable
  • Water for Injection, 5ml
  • Ceftriaxone (Rocephine) 1g Vial
  • Clindamycin 150mg/ml, 6ml Vial
  • Cefoxitin (Mefoxin) 1g Vial
  • Lactated Ringers INJ
  • Normal Saline INJ

Surgical

  • Chest Tube Kit (U.S. Army Rangers)
    • 1 EA — Forceps, 9″ Peans
    • 1 EA — Scalpel, #10
    • 1 EA — 36FR Chest Tube
    • 1 EA — Heimlich Valve
    • 4 EA — Sponge, Sterile 4X4
    • 1 EA — Asherman Chest Seal
    • 1 EA — Chux
    • 1 EA — Lidocaine Inj, 1%
    • 1 EA — Syringe, 10cc Luer-Lok Tip
    • 1 RO — Tape, 2″
    • 1 PR — Sterile Gloves
    • 2 EA — 1-0 Armed Suture
    • 2 EA — Petrolatum Gauze
    • 1 EA — Betadine Solution 0.5 oz.
  • Minor Wound Care Kit (U.S. Army Rangers)
    • 4 EA — Pad, Non-Adherent (Telfa)
    • 2 EA — Betadine 0.5 oz.
    • 1 EA — Moleskin, 12″
    • 10 EA — Band-Aids 3″ X .75″
    • 5 EA — Steri-Strips
    • 5 EA — Sponge, 4X4 Sterile
    • 2 EA — Scalpel, #10
    • 5 EA — Pad, Povidone
    • 5 EA — Pad, Alcohol
    • 5 EA — Compeed Dressing
    • 5 EA — Tincture of Benzoin Ampule 0.6ml
    • 2 EA — Applicator, Povidone-Iodine
  • Bandage Scissors
  • Surgical Kit (U.S. Air Force Pararescue)
    • 1 EA — Case, Minor Surgery, Surgical Instrument Set
    • 2 PG — Blade, Surgial Knife, Detachable, CS no. 10, 6S
    • 2 PG — Blade, Surgial Knife, Detachable, CS no. 11, 6S
    • 1 EA — Holder, Suture, Needle, Hegar-Mayo, 6 inch
    • 1 EA — Forceps, Dressing, Straight, 5 1⁄2 inch
    • 2 EA — Forceps, Hemostatic, Straight, Kelly 5 1/3 inch
    • 1 EA — Handle, Surgical Knife, Detachable Blade
    • 1 PG — Needle, Suture, Surg, Reg, Size 12 3/8 Circle 6S
    • 1 PG — Needle, Suture, Surg, Reg, Size 16 3/8 Circle 6S
    • 1 EA — Probe, General Operating, Straight, 5inch
    • 12 PG — Suture, Nonab, Surg, Silk, Braided, Size 0 12S 6
    • 12 PG — Suture, Nonab, Surg, Silk, Braided, Size 00 12S 6
    • 1 EA — Scissors, Straight 5-1/2 inch
    • 2 EA — Steri-Strip 1/8 inch
  • Surgical Blade, #10 or #11

Miscellaneous

  • Exam Light
  • Headlamp
  • Exam Gloves
  • Trauma Shears
  • Scissor Leash/Gear Keeper
  • Surgical Tape, 2″
  • Space Blanket
  • Surgical Tape, 1″ Waterproof
  • Battle Pack (U.S. Air Force Pararescue)
    • 1 EA — Tourniquet
    • 1 EA — Battle Dressing Small
    • 1 EA — Ace Wrap
    • 2 EA — Petrolatum Gauze And/Or Sodium Chloride Gauze
    • 1 EA — Muslin Bandage
    • 1 EA — Kerlix (In Mfg Wrapper)
    • 1 EA — 4×4 Gauze Sponges
    • 1 EA — 8×8 Ziplock Bag
    • 1 PR — Gloves, High Risk Large
  • Ice Pack
  • Heat Pack
  • Medication & Procedure Handbook
  • Carabiner
  • Chemilluminescent Lights (Red, Blue, Green, Infrared)
  • Surgical Tape, 3″
  • Ring Saw
  • Snake Bite Kit
  • Petrolatum Gauze
  • Tongue Blade
  • Field Medical Cards
  • Moleskin

Evacuation

  • Poleless Litter

These items are compiled from the packing lists for the U.S. Army Ranger, Special Forces (Green Berets), Navy SEALs and U.S. Air Force Pararescue. This is by no means the end-all and be-all list of items to put in a medical kit, but a significant value can be placed on putting together your own medical kit. At least when assembling a kit specific to you and your needs, you will be compiling items that you need and will use. This is a far cry from the commercially produced first aid kits that include about a thousand band-aids of various sizes and nothing that can actually be used to save a life.

If you have questions about this list or packing a medical kit for tough times, feel free to email me at tom@thepreparedninja.com.

–Thomas Miller

Surviving An Evacuation Order

An evacuation order may be issued for a number of reasons. With rare exception, there is typically minimal notice that it is coming. From a natural to a man-made disaster, the knock on the door could come at any time. This makes having a plan for how to deal with, and survive, the call to evacuate absolutely paramount. Most importantly, the time to make this plan is not as the local sheriff’s deputy is standing on your doorstep letting you know that you have 10 minutes to leave… or else. In an effort to avoid unnecessary stress later, consider implementing a plan and proper preparations now. Don’t forget to make a plan for the family pet when making plans for an emergency evacuation.

Things To Do Now

  • Build a car kit: The worst thing that could happen during a disaster is to be caught completely unprepared and without any supplies to sustain life during a difficult time. In an ideal world, you would never be caught without your bug out bag and plenty of notice that a disaster was going to occur. But in an ideal world, disasters wouldn’t even happen, right? A good car kit might not contain a change of clothes; but it will address the areas of food, water, shelter/warmth, security and shelter at a minimum. Other items to consider including would be car maintenance and emergency repair items. The main focus of a car kit should be to overcome life threats if you become stranded in your vehicle.
  • Assemble a bug out bag: A bug out bag is something that each member of the family should have. This is an area that will build on what is contained in your car kit and should be designed to sustain a life for at least 72 hours. There is a ton of information available on how to assemble and what to pack in a bug out bag, but something to keep in mind is that each person’s bag should be built for him. If travel on foot becomes necessary, it is vital that the weight is manageable for the individual that will carry it. Another factor to consider is that when traveling as a family, some items may be cross-leveled across the bug out bags to minimize the load that each person carries. This is the most effective approach to take. Once these bags are put together, put them in a common location that is easily accessible on the way out of the house. A coat closet is a very popular location for a bug out bag.
  • Create an evacuation plan: Wherever you go, try to go together as a family unit; or plan to evacuate with friends, if possible. There is safety in numbers. In order to make sure this can be accomplished, plan on a location(s) where you will meet, if it is possible, before evacuating. This location should be centrally located to home, work, school, etc. Also, don’t blindly set off to a random location if an evacuation order is issued. Plan ahead of time not only where you will go, but how you will get there. Because a disaster can obstruct roads, having multiple routes in different directions, will usually leave at least one feasible option. The important this is to find a successful path out of the area.
  • Make a checklist of tasks: An evacuation will most likely be a chaotic time. To avoid missing key elements of your evacuation plan, it is helpful to create a checklist of the tasks that must be completed and who is responsible for each task. Because the time available to evacuate can vary, tasks should be prioritized from most to least important, based on the time available. It can also be useful to determine how items will be packed into a vehicle. Determining this prior to a disaster can mitigate the amount of grief that may come with realizing you don’t have enough room in the heat of the moment.

What To Do During An Evacuation

  • Monitor local news: Information is a valuable commodity during a disaster, especially when having to evacuate. If not already following the situation, as soon as the notification comes, turn on the television or radio and get up to speed on the five Ws and one H (Who, What, When, Where, Why and How). This will be useful in deciding where to go.
  • Fill up the gas tank: If time allows and there are the resources to do so, fill up the gas tank in your vehicle(s) as soon as possible. During a disaster, fuel can be the make-or-break factor. Not only will fuel be in demand, leading to long lines and even longer waits, but running out of fuel en route to your destination can put you in danger. A good practice is to keep every vehicles gas tank at least half full at all times so that you can be clear of immediate danger even if you are not able to stop and fill up before you leave.
  • Choose the best route: Since you will have been following the news, it is likely that you will have an idea of the best direction to leave on your way out of the area. Important things to keep in mind include not only what routes are open but the nature of the disaster and how you may be impacted by things like environmental conditions. A key example would be if there were a chlorine gas leak in the local area and there are also high winds that are pushing the gas to the west. In this case, you would not want to choose to go west out of town. You may have to drive east to get clear of the threat before heading to your final destination, even if it is in a western direction.
  • Load up: Pack up the bug out bags and any additional gear, according to the established plan. If the time and space are available, consider taking important documents and sentimental items that cannot be replaced should the disaster cause damage to your property.
  • Lock up: At a minimum, lock up the house before you leave. Looters and thieves are always looking for an easy target. Remembering to secure your residence will make it at least a bit more difficult for lawbreakers to victimize you while you are displaced.
  • Contact pertinent persons: There are a few people that should be contacted in the event that you are forced to leave your home. The most important contact that should be made is with a family member or close friend that is not in the affected area. This is important so that someone is aware of your status and knows where you are headed and how you are planning on getting there. Secondly, if you are able to, notify your employer of your situation and how it will impact your ability to complete your scheduled work and find out if there is a way to accomplish your work from a different location. Lastly, once you and your family are in a safe place, contact the kid’s schools, etc., to let them know if you have been displaced from the area and that your children will be absent.

A very important thing to note is that evacuation decisions should not be made lightly, and there is always good reason for making this determination. If the government is ordering or suggesting an evacuation, it is most likely in the best interest of the general public. Many of the casualties from recent disasters came as a result of people choosing to ignore the recommendation to evacuate. It is always best to avoid being a statistic so make a plan for how you and your loved ones will deal with having to evacuate if the time were to come.

–Tom Miller

What’s A BOB And Do I Need One?

The evening commute is in full swing. Traffic is bumper to bumper. Suddenly, there is a bright flash in the sky and your car dies. You try to start the car, but it is not working — not even making a sound. Around you, every driver starts stepping out of his vehicle. There has been a coronal mass ejection from the sun that has fried the electrical components in your car’s engine and subsequently knocked out the power grid. More than 10 miles from home, you find yourself with no way to get there other than the two feet below you. No problem! Just pop the trunk, grab your BOB and start heading home. You do have a BOB, right?

What Is A BOB?

BOB stands for “bug out bag.” A BOB is a bag (usually a backpack) that is strategically packed with life-sustaining and/or lifesaving equipment that contains a minimum of a couple of days’ worth of supplies. These bags are also known as a GHB (Get Home Bag or Go To Hell Bag), INCH (I’m Not Coming Home) Bag or GOOD (Get Out Of Dodge) Bag. It is not expected that a BOB will provide a solution to every problem and it will not last forever, but it should help get you from point A to point B in an emergency.

Do You Need A Bug Out Bag?

Yes! There is really no other way to put it. Think of it as a form of insurance. Not only can a BOB provide the necessary supplies to make it home or leave a location quickly, but a BOB can provide a means to be comfortable if you get stuck somewhere longer than expected. Most of the components of a BOB can be procured from home or cheaply purchased from the store, making it hard to justify not having one. There is not a vehicle, closet or cubicle that I can think of that does not have room for a small backpack with a few supplies inside.

What Should I Put In My BOB?

Ultimately, what each person needs in their bag will depend on daily activities, local environmental conditions, etc. Consider the areas in which you live, work and travel, along with the type of clothing that you typically wear and how far or how long you may have to travel. These are all factors that can, and should, impact the items that are packed in your kit. One good example is footwear. If a person typically wears heels or dress shoes to work every day, a BOB should have a pair of walking shoes included. The last thing a person wants to do in a difficult situation is walk several miles in footwear that will tear up his feet.

Here are some items to consider including in your BOB:

  • Emergency contact card: A card that is laminated or water-resistant that contains the name and contact methods for at least one emergency contact, along with the names of any medications you take and any allergies and/or medical conditions from which you suffer.
  • Water: In addition to bottled water, consider including water purification tablets or a filter and drink mix to treat additional water and well as potentially overcome poor-tasting water.
  • Food: Include only foods that don’t require special storage or handling and that stay good for extended periods of time. Items like meal-replacement bars, beef jerky, hard candies and MREs are all good examples.
  • Fire: The ability to start a fire can provide a way to stay warm, cook food, signal or even discourage visits from wildlife. Keep at least two fire-starting methods in a BOB. My favorite fire-starting tools include lighters, waterproof matches, fire steels and magnifying glasses. It can also be helpful to include a form of tinder, fire starter or fuel tab.
  • Light: Don’t get caught in the dark! Include a flashlight, LED light or chemical light sticks.
  • Knife and/or multi-tool: A good knife is hard to beat but make sure you follow local laws. Even in some places where knives are less than welcome, a multi-tool is acceptable to possess. A multi-tool also offers additional functions and features that a knife does not.
  • Survival blanket: Include at least one Mylar survival blanket or bivvy sack to help maintain body heat.
  • Garbage bag or poncho: Pack something to keep you dry when it rains.
  • Socks: If you might have to walk anywhere, pack a change of socks. The great thing about socks is that they can be used to clean the junk out of water before filtering it. A pair of socks can even be used as a set of improvised mittens in the cold.
  • Gloves: Keep your hands warm and prevent them from getting torn up with a pair of work gloves.
  • Watch cap or ski cap: Even during the warmer months of the year temperatures can drop during the hours of darkness. One way to help maintain body heat is by wearing a stocking or fleece cap.
  • Whistle: A whistle is a great way to signal for help and can also be used to scare off wildlife.
  • First-aid kit: Stuff happens. Keep a basic first-aid kit on hand to deal with cuts and scrapes at a minimum.
  • Medications: If you take maintenance medications or suffer from a condition that may require intervention with medication, ensure that at least a week’s worth of meds are kept in your kit.
  • Bandana: A bandana can serve many purposes, including serving as a dust mask, bandage or even a tourniquet.
  • Toilet paper: Nature will call eventually, and there are not many high-quality alternatives to toilet paper.
  • Tape: Waterproof duct tape can be of great assistance when it comes time to fix a piece of broken gear, build a shelter or improvise a solution to a problem. It is easy to carry several feet of duct tape by wrapping it flat on an empty gift card.
  • Sewing kit: Make sure that your bag and clothing is always able to be repaired by including a sewing kit.
  • Nylon line: Any type of nylon line can be useful for making a shelter or repairing equipment or for use as means of trapping small animals and fish. It can even be used as a replacement shoe lace if one of yours breaks.
  • Cash: In the event of a disaster, cash is king. When systems of support are down, most businesses will be unable to accept credit cards or checks as forms of payment. Possessing cash in the form of small bills is a great solution for making purchases during times where other payment methods may not be taken.

This is by no means a complete list, but should be able to serve as a primer for putting together a BOB or emergency kit. While it is not typical to expect that you will find yourself in need of such a kit, there is no worse situation than to be in need and to find yourself lacking these basic items. The best course of action that everyone can take is to assemble a simple BOB and keep it with you in your vehicle, at the office or in the hall closet. This will go a long way in decreasing the chances of finding yourself in the middle of a nightmare and having no means of dealing with the situation.

–Tom Miller

 

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.

The 9 Habits Of Highly Effective Preppers

The focus of prepping is to be a problem-solver. Whether it be to survive economic collapse or live more comfortably during a short-term power outage, prepping is about having solutions. These solutions are geared toward thriving during periods of adversity and being able to adapt to change and capitalize on opportunities that are a result of change. This is best accomplished by those who are effective in their preparedness habits. Author Stephen Covey is known for his series of books that started with The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and outlined what effective people have in common that make them that way. The book revolutionized the way that many people looked at their lives and managed their decisions. Preparedness-minded individuals should approach prepping in a highly effective way to avoid pitfalls, bad decisions or apathy and maintain the ability to solve problems for themselves and their loved ones. These are nine habits that can make you a highly effective prepper.

1. Balance Expectation With Reality: It is easy to get excited and start looking at what would be needed to prepare for the Mayan Apocalypse or what you might do if there was a global nuclear war. The reality of life must be balanced with our expectations. It is far more likely that disaster will come in the form of a job loss, loss of a loved one or even a car wreck than many of the end-of-the-world scenarios. Take this realistic approach when making preparations and plans. This will keep you on the right track and will result in having what you need when the time comes.

2. Be Organized: Chaos during times of disaster is inevitable on some scale. Having a system of organization can increase chances of survival. This can be especially true in times where a situation dictates that there may be only a few minutes to grab items and leave.

In addition to having well-organized plans in place, it is important to maintain organization of preparedness items. It will makes things easier to find and can save money by avoiding waste. Rotate stored foods and water. Keep items where they will be needed. Don’t store all of you eggs in one basket. Insure against risk and diversely store your preps.

3. Maintain Fitness: There are three integral areas of fitness that must be maintained by the prepper: physical, spiritual and mental.

Physical fitness is paramount to being able to complete tasks and assist others during difficult times. Regularly participate in activities that will maintain and/or improve your physical fitness. Not only is this important for fitness, individual health will most likely be maintained by an exercise program.

Spiritual fitness is important to helping get through a difficult time or survival situation. The belief in a higher power has pulled many through trying and impossible times. This can be said especially about those who make it through combat experiences. Maintain spiritual fitness by practicing your faith and finding others to share in your practice. We gain strength from one another.

Mental fitness can mean the difference between life and death. Don’t keep things bottled up. Find someone to talk to. Share things that are bothersome to you and become resilient by growing from difficult experiences. It will make things less difficult to work through in the future.

4. Continually Assess Risk: Being an effective prepper involves preparing for the risks that are relevant to you, your loved ones and the area(s) that you live and spend your time in. It might go without saying, but a person who lives in Montana is not likely in a position where he needs to prepare for a hurricane. Conduct an assessment to determine what weather-related risks are native to the area of residence. Look at risks to income such as working seasonally or in a profession where income is not predictable. Determine if there are security concerns that could impact your life. Never stop thinking about what dangers you may face.

5. Steady Wins The Race: If I were to win the lottery, I could safely say that I may be able to be fairly well-prepared in a short amount of time. Even in that scenario, however, it is feasible that I could miss out on some important details. Effective preppers are the ones who dedicate a portion of their time, income or both to ensure that all their bases are covered and that each day, week, month and year that goes by leaves them in a better spot than before.

Make a plan to steadily become more prepared. This could mean focusing on a different area of preparedness every month, or even preparing a list of needed items prioritized by importance or urgency. The top item on the list can be obtained as the means or opportunity becomes available. Pay off debt to get out of the trap of owing others money. If finances are tight, try to barter services or trade for needed preparedness items.

6. Keep Your Head Out Of The Sand: This point somewhat ties into habit No. 4. Assessing risk will make you aware of your surroundings. Don’t be the person who knows bad things might happen and perhaps even has a good idea of what those things are, but chooses to not be aware of when those things are actually happening. Stay up with the news and current events to maintain an awareness of local, regional and national news. This can provide early warning to a bad or avoidable situation.

Not all situations are predictable, though. Keep a weather-alert radio in your home and consider installing a weather-alert app on your smart phone so that you will not be blindsided by dangerous weather. Avoid putting yourself in dangerous situations such as bad neighborhoods or being alone in a dark, empty parking lot using an ATM. If you do find yourself in an unfavorable situation, maintain your awareness of the situation and keep tabs on what other people are doing around you.

7. Always Continue To Learn And Improve: No person is ever done learning, and preppers are no exception. Those who strive to be self-reliant or survive difficult situations are always trying to learn skills to support our lifestyle. Particular focus should be given to skills that increase chances of survival, provide clean water to drink and food to eat, and further remove reliance on systems of support, creation of energy and so on. Look for classes online, at a community college or co-op, or network with others that you share commonalities with and learn from each other. Don’t stop improving your chances of successful survival.

8. Loose Lips Sink Ships: OPSEC, or operational security, is a buzzword in the survival community, but for a good reason. While it is admirable to spread the message of preparedness, it can be counterproductive to share information about specific preparations that are being made, where items are stored or what plans are in place to react to a certain threat. Veteran preppers will avoid showing their hand to avoid a dangerous situation down the road.

9. Take Action: The ninth and final habit of the highly effective prepper is to take action. This is, in my opinion, the most important habit of all. It is easy to become overwhelmed or be unsure and scare ourselves into inaction. Once we arrive in the land of inaction, it is even easier to stay there. It is a comfortable place where I can tell myself that I am not gaining anything but I am not losing anything either. This is great! I am no better but no worse for the wear. Wrong! The old saying “he who hesitates is lost” applies here. It is better to be a prepper of action and have some of what you need, than to be a prepper of inaction and have none of what you need. In fact, I don’t believe the latter can even classify as a prepper. Take action while the opportunity is still available.

The key to making yourself an effective prepper is to put these habits to use, but how will you do that? Most of these habits will have to be developed over time. There are a few steps that can be taken to serve as a catalyst down this path. Make checklists. Schedule routine and ongoing drills or inspections of equipment. Use a budget to pay off debt, spend with purpose and provide for your future, whether it be through the purchase of preparedness items or establishing a lifestyle, savings or investments. Develop the right habits and you can make yourself a highly effective prepper.

–Tom Miller

Predicting Weather Through Unconventional Means

A key driver of activity in life is weather. A baseball game, a military mission, the space shuttle launch and school days throughout the country are all things that are impacted both negatively and positively every year by different weather factors. If there were to be a breakdown in communications from an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) or some other catastrophic event that prevented weather forecasts from being disseminated to the general public, weather-prediction skills would be invaluable. So what are some of the things to look for when trying to predict what the weather has in store? Clouds, geographical features, barometric pressure, animal behaviors and folklore can all be reliable guidelines to use to predict the weather in the absence of professional forecasts.

Clouds

Clouds can be a good indicator of what the weather may be doing. If you can learn to identify the different types of clouds, you may be able to accurately predict specific types of weather that may be rolling your way soon.

Low clouds (below 6,500 feet of altitude):

  • Cumulus: Meaning heap in Latin, these clouds are typically the easiest to identify and are usually associated with fair weather, but cumulus clouds are known to produce precipitation if they are very tall. If these clouds get bunched and large, that can result in heavy showers, particularly when the weather is warm.
  • Stratus: The Latin word for blanket or layer, stratus clouds are low-hanging clouds that are known for covering the entire sky like a blanket. Stratus clouds often produce rain and drizzle. Usually, if they lift quickly in the morning, it indicates that a decent day of weather is ahead.
  • Nimbostratus: These clouds are classified by the dark sheets that blot out the sun and are usually followed by extended precipitation (several hours) within a couple of hours.
  • Stratocumulus: Clouds that may produce light precipitation but usually dissipate by the end of the day and are identified by the low, rolling mass of thin, lumpy white to gray clouds that may cover the entire sky. 

Middle clouds (6,500 to 20,000 feet of altitude):

  • Altocumulus: These clouds are patterned, white to gray clouds that often appear in waves or are rippled and are larger than cirrocumulus clouds. Altocumulus clouds are considered to be fair-weather clouds and usually occur after storms.
  • Altostratus: Formless gray to bluish clouds, they will form a thin veil over the sun and moon. If they gradually darken and blot out the sun or moon, it is a sign that precipitation is on the way.

High clouds (More than 20,000 feet of altitude):

  • Cirrus: Meaning curl in Latin, cirrus clouds reside high in the atmosphere in the very cold air because these clouds are made of ice crystals. Cirrus clouds are usually associated with fair weather but occasionally may also be an indicator that storms may be on their way.
  • Cirrocumulus: Clouds that appear in layers that look like either fish scales or rippled sand. Sometimes, cirrocumulus clouds also appear to look like rippled surface water on a pond or lake. These clouds are considered a sign of good weather and often clear out to blue sky.
  • Cirrostratus: These clouds are composed of ice particles and form a halo around the sun. When a sky filled with cirrus clouds darkens and the clouds turn to cirrostratus, it is likely a sign of rain or snow to come, depending on the temperature.

Towering clouds (up to 60,000 feet of altitude):

  • Swelling cumulus: These flat-bottomed clouds with growing, cauliflower-like towers often form in the middle of the day and precede cumulonimbus clouds.
  • Cumulonimbus: Towering storm clouds that produce hail, thunder, strong winds, sleet, rain, lightning and tornadoes. These clouds are usually characterized by a top that is often similar in shape to an anvil. If these clouds form early in the day, it can mean that there are greater chances of severe weather.

Geographical Impact On Weather

The geography of a particular area can influence the weather in the following manners:

  • Coastal regions typically have more moderate temperatures than inland regions, meaning that they generally are warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
  • The air above urban areas is often warmer than in less developed/lower population dense areas. This can sometimes result in an artificial low-pressure system.
  • Hilly regions generally have temperature shifts where warm air will move uphill during the day and downhill at night.

Barometric Pressure

Changes in barometric pressure can be determined in a variety of ways, including:

  • The nose knows. The strengths of scents often increase or decrease along with changes in barometric pressure. Plants will release their waste products in a low-pressure atmosphere. This generates a compost-like smell, indicating upcoming precipitation. Swamp gasses (marked by their unpleasant smells) are also released just before a storm as a result of low pressure in the atmosphere. The scents of some flowers are also very strong just before a rain.
  • The air bubbles in your coffee cup will ring to the outside of your cup when a low-pressure system sets in. This is an indicator that rain is on the way.
  • Smoke from a campfire indicates approximate barometric pressure. If the smoke from a campfire hangs low to the ground (an indicator of low barometric pressure), then rain is likely to fall soon. If smoke from a campfire rises high (an indicator of high barometric pressure), then good weather is in the future.
  • While there is no scientific reasoning that I could find, it has been shown through various studies that people who suffer from joint and muscle pain can sense (usually through pain) when the barometric pressure is dropping. This is a sign of precipitation.

Animal Behaviors

Animals are a helpful indicator in determining the weather. Consider these points:

  • Crickets can help you determine the temperature. Count the number of cricket chirps you hear in 14 seconds and then add 40 to get the temperature in Fahrenheit. For example: 40 chirps + 40 = 80 degrees F. To determine the temperature in Celsius, count the number of chirps in 25 seconds, divide by three, then add four to get the temperature.
  • Many animals’ ears are sensitive to low-pressure systems. Wolves and dogs will become nervous before a storm and emit whines or howl-like sounds.
  • Seagulls and geese rarely fly just prior to a storm. The thinner air associated with low-pressure systems makes it harder for these birds to get airborne. Seagulls also will not typically fly at the coast if a storm is coming.
  • Birds flying high in the sky indicate fair weather (high-pressure system).
  • Cows tend to group together when poor weather is on the way, and they will typically lie down before a thunderstorm.
  • Ants will steepen the sides of their hills just before it rains.

Folklore

Folklore has been fairly reliable over the years in helping predict the weather. Of course, the time of year can be just as much a factor. It seems unlikely that a cloudless night in July will lead to frost in many areas.

  • “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.” A red sky at night during sunset (when looking toward the west) indicates a high-pressure system with dry air that has stirred dust particles into the air, causing the sky to appear red. Typically, the jet stream and prevailing front movements go from west to east, meaning that the dry weather is headed toward you. A red sky in the morning (in the east with the rising sun) means that the dry air has already moved past you and that a low-pressure system is behind it (moving your way), bringing moisture with it.
  • “Short notice, soon to pass. Long notice, long will last. If clouds take several days to build, extended rain is likely in the cards. If a storm system builds quickly, it is likely to dissipate quickly as well.
  • “Clear moon, frost soon.” If the night sky is clear enough to see the moon as a result of no cloud cover, heat will be allowed to escape and the temperature could drop enough for frost to form in the morning.

Other Indicators

There are several other indicators that can assist in determining temperature, precipitation, humidity and inclement weather:

  • Lightning strike distance can be estimated by counting the number of seconds between the sight of the lightning and the sound of the thunder and then divide this number by five. This will give you the distance in miles that you are from the lightning strike. To determine the distance in kilometers, the process is the same except you divide the number of seconds by three instead of five.
  • Check the grass at sunrise. Dry grass at sunrise indicates clouds and/or strong breezes, which can mean rain. Dew on the grass means that it probably won’t rain that day. (If it rained the night before, this method will not be reliable.)
  • Cloud cover on a winter night translates to warmer weather, because the cloud cover prevents heat radiation that would ordinarily occur and lower the temperature on a clear night.
  • The low cloud cover that is typically present right before rainfall also results in louder and more vibrant sounds as they are reflected and amplified off of the low clouds.
  • Winds blowing from the east indicate an approaching storm front. Winds out of the west generally indicate good weather. Strong winds from any direction indicate a high-pressure difference, which can mean a possible storm front approaching.
  • If the sharp points on a half-moon are not clear, rain may be on the way. (Haze and low clouds distort images.)
  • Humidity is most often felt when it is high. But indicators of high humidity include frizzy hair, curled leaves on oak and maple trees, swollen wood doors, and salt in the shaker that is clumped together.

There is no substitution for professional meteorological predictions; but in the absence of trained professionals, having the tools to predict the weather can be extremely helpful. This is especially true during survival situations.

–Tom Miller

Sources include: The United States Search and Rescue Task Force, The Happy Camper by Kevin Callan, Camping’s Top Secrets (2nd Ed.) by Cliff Jacobsen, and the University of Hawaii

Scooters For Survival

To escape mayhem or disaster, you will need transportation. Many survivalists have grand visions of a bulletproof, tracked vehicle that mimics the functions of a tank while matching the size and comfort of a luxury RV. I am no exception from that crowd. However, like most people, my reality is something on a much lesser scale — assuming that someday I will even be able to have a dedicated survival vehicle.

If you have a limited budget and because there are no special qualifications required to operate one in most areas, a feasible solution for a survival vehicle could be a scooter. Yes, a scooter. I am not a student, a hipster or European; but it seems that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages and support the philosophy that a scooter could be a viable option as a survival vehicle.

Advantages

The cost of a scooter can vary greatly, depending on the manufacturer, model and specifications. While a new scooter can cost well more than $10,000 for a top-of-the-line, highway-ready model, some of the imported models can be as cheap as $600. It is also not uncommon to find an old, used, name-brand scooter that is still running and listed for sale for $200 or more. In addition to a low purchase price, the cost of operation and maintenance are minimal. Most States do not require any endorsement to operate a scooter, and registration and insurance fees are minimal.

Most small scooters weigh less than 300 pounds. The heaviest models weigh about 600 pounds. Because they are lightweight, scooters are easy to get around on. Also, they can be moved and even lifted over obstacles with minimal or no assistance.

A scooter can easily be navigated through the tightest of areas. In the event of societal collapse, a scooter may be the only motorized form of transportation that can be maneuvered through an urban environment. The size advantage will allow a scooter to pass through roadblocks that a car or truck could not. If your survival vehicle of choice is not a scooter, you could put a scooter in the back of a truck, van or SUV. This will allow the use of the scooter if an impassable area is reached or if your first choice of vehicle becomes incapacitated.

Scooters are very efficient in the amount of fuel that they consume. Many of the 50 cubic centimeter models can get more than 100 miles per gallon. Because of the fuel-consumption advantage, a scooter can be a good survival vehicle. For example, a scooter with a full tank of gas and a 2-gallon gas can in reserve can travel nearly 400 miles. This should be a plentiful distance to reach safety in many survival scenarios.

The range of a scooter on a single tank of gas is not all that impressive on its own. But many scooters have additional luggage or cargo racks available that will easily facilitate the carrying of additional fuel.

Many preppers are concerned about the possibility of electromagnetic pulses (EMP) or coronal mass ejections (CME) from the sun that could potentially wipe out the electrical grid and destroy any machinery or equipment that operates on an electric system. As a result of a scooter’s size, it is possible to design and build a faraday cage that will protect the scooter and keep it operational after an EMP or CME. Having a source of transportation following such an event will offer significant advantages versus not having a mode of transportation.

Scooters are quiet by design. Their small engines do not produce a large amount of noise or emissions which make them great vehicles for keeping a low profile.

A scooter can be easily concealed. They are small and easily hidden, and they are typically covered in plastic panels that can easily be painted with basic spray paint. This allows for a custom paint job to blend in with a variety of environments. Additionally, cheaper models of scooter don’t usually have any chrome or bright metal components. That means less risk of light sources reflecting on the scooter and giving away its location.

Scooters are not inherently designed to carry large amounts of cargo, but they do offer the opportunity to carry cargo in several different configurations. In addition to cargo racks, saddle bags and various other bags can be strapped to the scooter’s frame, handlebars and panels. It is even feasible that a bicycle or motorcycle trailer could be pulled by a scooter to allow additional cargo capacity.

Disadvantages

The small size of a scooter makes the payload that can be carried extremely limited. This includes limitations on the number or weight of passengers carried, the weight of cargo and the space available to carry both. In addition to cargo restrictions, the scooter’s small wheels make it susceptible to falling into potholes, which can ruin your mode of transportation. Because of this possible complication, it may be advisable to maintain an inventory or extra parts for your scooter. This is especially true if you are depending on a scooter for survival purposes. Some of the spare parts that should be stocked include wheels, tires, spark plugs, oil, engine lubricants and electrical components (bulbs, fuses and wires).

The average size of a scooter engine is somewhere between 50-150 cubic centimeters. This is great because it means that a scooter will only sip fuel as opposed to guzzling it, but it also means that the maximum speed of a scooter is very limited. Typically topping out at a speed of 45 mph (on a good day), a scooter will not allow for quick transportation. The speed of a scooter will be decreased even more when attempting to ascend a hill or traversing rough terrain.

Disaster Applications

There are many potential applications to use a scooter in the event of a disaster. Besides point to point transportation, scooters could be used for:

  • Scouting and reconnaissance: Because of the potential to get around in a quiet and stealth manner, a scooter could be a great recon vehicle.
  • Evasion: In the event of a confrontation, a scooter could offer a quick means of evading a threat. They also offer the potential in assisting in an effective getaway by traveling on sidewalks, through alleyways, etc.
  • Hunting and gathering: During difficult times, hunting and gathering food and water sources may be the main method of survival. In this case, a scooter could greatly increase the effectiveness of these efforts. It is also possible that some resources could be used because of the additional capabilities offered by having a scooter.
  • Assisting others: Rebuilding after a disaster often revolves around the efforts of an entire community. If there is limited transportation available or if environmental conditions limit the use of conventional vehicles, a scooter could offer an opportunity to assist your neighbors and help rebuild the community.

Is a scooter a viable option to get out of dodge? I don’t know. But what I do know is that I would rather ride a scooter out of chaos than strap on my hiking boots and walk an unending number of miles to safety.

–Thomas Miller

10 Survival Lessons Learned In Combat

GWOT Iraq Deployment

My time in the Army taught me many things, from the “proper” way to make a bed all the way to how to correctly assault an enemy stronghold; and while every lesson is a valuable lesson, some seem to rank higher on the importance scale. Perhaps the most valuable lessons that I ever learned were the ones that peppered the 30 months of combat that I served in the Mideast. Most of these lessons pertain to sustainment of life and survival.

Lesson No. 1: Train As You Fight

Everyone fights differently. Some people, when faced with a fight, will go to extreme measures to avoid conflict; others will flare up with minimal coercion. Taking the time to train and to train realistically (training how you will fight) will maximize chances of surviving a conflict or time of difficulty. This can be any type of training, from the use of firearms to loading out and leaving home prior to a major natural disaster. Training will also develop muscle memory, the state in which your body and muscles will react from memory when performing tasks. This is essential when the time your brain has to process actions is limited.

Lesson No. 2: Invest In Equipment That Will Endure And Sustain Life

The last thing that anyone wants to have happen is for a piece of gear to fail in the middle of using it. This is particularly true in combat, the ultimate survival situation. Any piece of gear that is good enough to go into your kit should be good enough to have your life rely on it. Preparedness gear should be sturdy. Ask yourself if it can be dragged through the mud, dropped or used as a hammer and still function as intended. It should also be able to serve multiple purposes if possible. Survival scenarios will push equipment to its limits, so make sure to keep redundancy in mind or be able to make on-the-spot corrections and repairs on the equipment you choose to carry.

Lesson No. 3: What You Have Is What You Get

Sometimes, you end up alone and with what is in your pockets. When you end up in such a situation, the equipment or items that you left in the vehicle or back at the base are useless to you. If there are items that you need, keep them on you. The simple solution to making sure that you have all the items you need is to make a habit of carrying these items every day and everywhere you go. Many in the survival community refer to these items as an everyday carry or EDC kit.

Lesson No. 4: Plan For What You Will Face

Take the time to determine the inevitable, likely, possible and improbable threats you may come across. This applies to prepping and planning to survive. If you live in Central Canada for example, it is somewhat pointless to make preparations to survive a hurricane that will, with most certainty, never happen. While on the other hand, if you live in Miami, you would need to be a fool to not make such preparations. Determine what the threats are and appropriate reactions to each threat. This can include evacuation plans, equipment to obtain, remote caches to place or even who a good strategic survival partner could be.

Lesson No. 5: Mindset Is Everything

The mind of a champion is very similar to the mind of a survivor. Those who think to themselves that they will survive no matter what are often the ones who will survive. This can be accomplished through perseverance, difficult decisions and hard rights over easy wrongs. The common thread is to be smart and maintain a positive outlook. Maintaining a survival mindset also involves knowing individual and group limits and sometimes means having to push even harder, even when you think you have no fight left.

Lesson No. 6: Only Take What You Know How To Use

I have seen this lesson learned the hard way, over and over again. There is never a good outcome when a person — or group of people — places his life or well-being on a piece of equipment that he is not familiar with. If you are lucky enough, you will escape unscathed; but I doubt you will make this mistake twice. With that being said, you can avoid making this mistake altogether by putting in survival bags and kits only equipment that you are familiar with and know how to use. If you want to integrate new gear into preparedness kits, make sure to take it out of the packaging, read the directions and test it out to make sure it works.

Lesson No. 7: Maintain Situational Awareness

The modern era conflicts that have occurred in the Mideast are not conventional wars and have not occurred on a linear battlefield. As a result of this dynamic, there are no secure areas other than what you and your fellow soldiers ensure is secure. There is not a specific area that can always be counted on to be secure. With this in mind, it is imperative to always be aware of what is going on around you. I would be willing to bet that some of the patrons in the theater the night of the Aurora, Colo., shootings were so distracted that they figured the excessive and realistic shooting was part of another movie that was playing. With practice and vigilance, you can stay on top of your surroundings and extract yourself and those you care about from a potentially dangerous situation.

Lesson No. 8: Know Your Enemy

Much like modern warfare was outlined for situational awareness, the modern battle is not fought against a conventional enemy. Insurgents have infiltrated the military, police forces and governments of Iraq and Afghanistan while not wearing uniforms and hiding among women and children. Guerilla warfare is the enemy’s fighting style of choice, and who can blame them? Keeping a close group of friends and family members will result in an always reliable and trustworthy pool of people to lean on in difficult times. It is always important to stay alert and know who can be trusted and worked with.

Lesson No. 9: Know When To Flee And Know When To Fight

Some may say that only a coward will run away from a fight. But there is a big difference between staying to get killed and leaving a situation to regroup and come back a smarter and stronger fighter. If you find yourself in the middle of a disaster, it is also smart to make the safe move and survive rather than put on the tough act and never live to tell your story. This scenario has played out in recent disasters when citizens have ignored voluntary evacuation orders and lost their lives to stay and safeguard worldly possessions that can be replaced. Once a life is gone, it is not coming back.

Lesson No. 10: Never Fight Alone

There is a similarity between Rambo, Jason Bourne and Jack Bauer: They are all fictional characters, and none of them would ever be able to take on an army alone. There are historical accounts of service members who have completed heroic acts by themselves, but those are the exceptions and typically occur during small-scale skirmishes. When the going gets tough, put together a group of people you can rely on. This can be family members, friends, neighbors, or co-workers who can rely on you and, in turn, you can rely on them to help you survive. In the end, the lone wolf scenario is almost never going to be a successful scenario.

My experiences and time in military service have been invaluable to me, and I would not trade them for anything. But at the same time, it is not reasonable to expect everyone to have to endure the same challenges in life.

–Tom Miller

Surviving Dehydration

In the survival and preparedness world, there is often a heavy emphasis on “cool stuff”: guns, bug out vehicles, hardening a structure, tactical response to scenarios, etc. What often get left out are the basic things that threaten lives every day, whether there is a crisis or not. The No. 5 cause of death in the world is diarrhea and diarrheal disease, which account for about 2.5 million deaths every year. Often, these deaths are a result of a continual downward spiral that starts with dehydration and could potentially be prevented with the use of an oral rehydration solution.

*I will apologize for the heavy use of quotes, but I feel that it is of the utmost importance that factual and authoritative sources are used for this subject. There is no better way to word some of these points than to quote them directly from the source.

Background: What Is Oral Rehydration?

Oral rehydration is not as basic as just drinking water and everything will go away. The chemistry of the body requires a delicate balance, referred to as homeostasis, that cannot be achieved solely by drinking water. True rehydration to maintain homeostasis requires the addition of glucose and electrolytes to water.

The World Health Organization (WHO) specifically states that oral rehydration therapy should begin at home with the use of a home-prepared sugar-and-salt solution that is given early during any episode of diarrhea to prevent dehydration. If the point of dehydration is reached, a pharmaceutically produced oral rehydration solution with a balance of sodium and glucose should be used. The WHO further states:

Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) is the non-proprietary name for a balanced glucose-electrolyte mixture, first used in 1969 and approved, recommended, and distributed by UNICEF and WHO as a drug for the treatment of clinical dehydration throughout the world. In 1984, another mixture containing trisodium citrate instead of sodium hydrogen carbonate (sodium bicarbonate) was developed with the aim of improving the stability of ORS in hot and humid climates. For more than 20 years, WHO and UNICEF have recommended this single formulation of ORS to prevent or treat dehydration from diarrhoea irrespective of the cause or age group affected. This product, which provides a solution containing 90 mEq/l of sodium with a total osmolarity of 311 mOsm/l, has proven effective and without apparent adverse effects in worldwide use. It has contributed substantially to the dramatic global reduction in mortality from diarrhoeal disease during the period.

Dehydration can be prevented through the practice of giving extra fluids or through the use by mouth of an ORS that is simple, effective and cheap in treating all but the most severe cases. The practice of using an ORS to treat or prevent dehydration is called oral rehydration therapy, or ORT, which is considered the primary strategy in reducing diarrheal- and dehydration-related deaths by the WHO Department of Child and Adolescent Health and Development.

In fact, oral rehydration solution has been determined to be so effective that, according to the WHO, up to 80 percent of cholera cases can be treated simply through the use of ORS.

The following chart from the WHO breaks down the specific composition of the latest ORS formula with a further explanation of what the individual components do to assist the body in treating dehydration.

whochart0614

This ORS composition has passed extensive clinical evaluations and stability tests. The pharmacokinetics and therapeutic values of the substances are as follows:

  • glucose facilitates the absorption of sodium (and hence water) on a 1:1 molar basis in the small intestine;
  • sodium and potassium are needed to replace the body losses of these essential ions during diarrhoea (and vomiting);
  • citrate corrects the acidosis that occurs as a result of diarrhoea and dehydration.

Solution: Oral Rehydration Solution

Now that the need has been established, how does one obtain an ORS for personal, family or group use? That is perhaps the easiest part of this entire concept. An ORS can easily be made in the home or on the road with precisely measured ingredients. It is important to note that failure to properly measure these ingredients could result in a dehydrated casualty not improving or perhaps even getting worse.

If you are not inclined to self-manufacture an ORS or question the effectiveness of doing such, there are several commercially produced products that can be purchased rather cheaply from your local pharmacy or sporting goods/outdoors store.

The most widely used recipe for ORS is:

Oral Rehydration Solution

6 teaspoons of sugar
½ teaspoon of salt
1 liter of clean drinking water

Pour the measured amounts of sugar and salt in the water and shake or stir until the ingredients are well mixed.

Oral Rehydration Solution II
(Recipe provided by The Washington Manual: Outpatient Medicine Survival Guide.)

½ teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
8 teaspoons of sugar
8 ounces of orange juice
About 24 ounces of clean drinking water

  1. Into a 1-liter container, pour in salt.
  2. Add baking soda.
  3. Add sugar.
  4. Measure in orange juice.
  5. Add water until the 1-liter mark is reached.
  6. Stir or shake until all ingredients are well combined.

The consumption of ORS should be according to the age of the dehydrated person. The following amounts are good guidelines for rehydrating a patient:

  • Children younger than 2: 75 milliliters after each watery stool (up to ½ liter per day)
  • Children ages 2-12: 150 milliliters after each watery stool (up to 1 liter per day)
  • Adolescents and adults: 250 milliliters after each watery stool (up to 3 liters per day)

Other Considerations: Zinc

Another consideration to keep in mind is that dehydration caused by diarrhea can lead to a deficiency in the body of zinc. Long-term preparations should include zinc supplements to overcome this deficiency. With readily available food supplies, extra zinc can be taken into the body through increases of lean red meats, seafood, peas and beans. It is recommended that the guidance of a physician is sought before adding any supplements to your daily intake. In the absence of a doctor, supplements can be purchased at the local pharmacy for less than $5 in most circumstances.

If the decision is made to add zinc to your diet, determine dosages by following daily values of zinc that are recommended in the United States, according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Infants and children, birth to 3 years of age: 5-10 mg
  • Children, 4 to 6 years of age: 10 mg
  • Children, 7 to 10 years of age: 10 mg
  • Adolescent and adult males: 15 mg
  • Adolescent and adult females: 12 mg
  • Pregnant females: 15 mg
  • Breast-feeding females: 16-19 mg

Several studies have shown that zinc supplementation has reduced diarrhea-related hospital admissions by about 25 percent.

Being able to make ORS depends on having the necessary supplies. Stock plentiful quantities of salt, sugar, baking soda, orange juice and clean drinking water if you plan on making your own ORS. It is also important to keep in mind that the information contained here is no substitution for the treatment that can be provided by a physician. Having the knowledge of how to properly rehydrate a person who is in poor health can make the difference between life and death, especially during difficult times.

–Thomas Miller

Sources: World Health Organization, National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control, The Mayo Clinic, The Washington Manual: Outpatient Medicine Survival Guide (2003) and Rehydrate.org

All Bleeding Eventually Stops

The universal truth when dealing with traumatic injuries is that whether from effective treatment or loss of supply, all bleeding eventually stops. Having the knowledge to treat major bleeding can be the difference between life and death at any time, but especially during a disaster when emergency responders may be delayed or not available at all.

The two major components of stopping blood loss are knowledge and equipment. While the principles outlined here are not new by any means, it is important to point out that over the past 10 years of active combat overseas, the technological advances made in the practices and equipment used to stop bleeding have been remarkable. None of the information provided below is a substitute for formal training. It is encouraged to seek professional training and only operate within the scope of your expertise.

Types Of Bleeding And Classes Of Hemorrhage

There are three types of bleeding (hemorrhage): arterial, venous and capillary. Arterial bleeding is caused when there is damage to an artery that is carrying blood directly from the heart. It can be summed up as bright red bleeding that spurts with every heartbeat. Venous bleeding is from a damaged blood vessel that is carrying blood back to the heart and is usually a darker red with a steady flow. Capillary bleeding comes from the smallest vessels in the body and is characterized as oozing.

The severity of hemorrhage is divided into classes to define the amount of blood loss and serve as a guide in treating shock caused by the loss.

  • Class I Hemorrhage: less than 750 mL (<15 percent)
  • Class II Hemorrhage: 750-1500 mL (15-30 percent)
  • Class III Hemorrhage: 1500-2000 mL (30-40 percent)
  • Class IV Hemorrhage: greater than 2000 mL (>40 percent)

When conducting medical training, a good way to obtain a grasp on the severity of bleeding and the classes of hemorrhage is to mix water, red food coloring and cornstarch to make fake blood. This mix can then be measured into the desired amount (i.e., 500 mL to represent Class I Hemorrhage) and poured onto various surfaces to gain an idea of what it looks like when a casualty is injured and is bleeding onto the pavement, dirt, floor, etc.

Hemorrhage Control Methodology

Tourniquet: A tourniquet is composed of three basic components; the strap portion, windlass (crank) and a retention system. The critical aspects of treatment with a tourniquet include appropriate size, proper placement and effective pressure. A commercially manufactured tourniquet will meet appropriate size requirements. Improvised tourniquet standards are outlined below. Proper placement of a tourniquet mandates that the tourniquet be on the injured limb, above the wound at least 2 inches and preferably over a long bone (the thigh or the arm above the elbow). Effective pressure will be achieved when the windlass has been turned until the bleeding stops. If the situation allows, dress the wound with bandages after the tourniquet is in place.

It is recommended that once a tourniquet is in place that it not be removed. It is also possible that if one tourniquet is not effective, another one can be placed above the first. The goal should be to do what it takes to stop the bleeding and minimize blood loss.

Note that a tourniquet should be used only in the event that there is bright red bleeding. This is bleeding that is continuous and from an artery, usually indicated by a spurting action from the wound. If the bleeding can be controlled by any other available means, a tourniquet should not be used.

Wound packing: Packing a wound can be done with many different materials, but the principle remains the same: Place a dressing into the wound to completely fill the wound cavity and initiate clotting of the blood. After a wound has been packed, a bandage should be placed over the wound packing to help apply pressure and hold the packing in place.

Direct pressure: There are many dressings that are specifically made to work as a pressure dressing. The ideal scenario would be to employ one of these dressings, but a pile of napkins held firmly in place with pressure from your hand can be effective in stopping bleeding if no other resources are available.

Combination: In the most severe circumstances, a combination of the methods outlined above should be used. An example would be an amputation, where a tourniquet must be used but additional wound packing or pressure dressings will be effective in assisting with controlling the hemorrhage.

Equipment

Common equipment items used to treat and control hemorrhage include:

Tourniquet: There are a variety of commercially produced tourniquets, including:

  • SOF-T (Special Operations Forces-Tourniquet)*
  • CAT (Combat Application Tourniquet)*
  • Pneumatic Tourniquets
  • E-MAT Emergency Tourniquet
  • MET (Military Emergency Tourniquet)

*Tourniquets of choice for the military.

Effective tourniquets are not limited to the commercially produced variety, however. Improvised tourniquets have saved countless lives on the battlefield, during disasters and from injuries caused by accidents. Improvised tourniquets can be constructed from several materials and can be a cheap alternative to commercially manufactured products. Materials that can be used for improvised tourniquets include:

Tourniquet strap (should be at least 1 inch wide): bandana, T-shirt, belt, bag strap, cravat (triangular bandage), etc.

Windlass: sticks, wrench, stapler, ski pole, pipe, dimensional lumber, etc.

Retention system: To retain the windlass after it has been tightened, there must be something to hold it. This can be as simple as a piece of rope or can be something like the plastic ring off of a Gatorade bottle. The key here is to remember that if the tourniquet is not kept tight, it is not effective.

Trauma dressing: Trauma dressings have evolved greatly over the last decade. Many of them consist of a gauze pad that is attached to an elastic wrap of some variety. Some of the more popular bandages include:

  • Emergency Trauma Dressing (Israeli Bandage)
  • Bloodstopper Trauma Dressing
  • Dyna-Stopper
  • H-Bandage

Gauze and elastic bandage: For wounds that may not be severe enough for a tourniquet or when hemostatic agents are not available, using gauze packed into the wound and then wrapped tightly with an elastic bandage can be extremely effective. The most popular combination is 4-inch Kerlix packed into the wound and wrapped with a 6-inch ACE wrap.

Hemostatic agents: These agents are typically the product of choice to place into wounds before they are packed to increase the chances of clotting and stopping major bleeding. The list includes gauze, sponges, pads and pouches.

  • QuikClot*
  • Chitosan Dressing*
  • Celox*
  • ActCel

*Products of choice for most law enforcement agencies and the military.

It is important to note that tourniquets are not currently viewed as a last resort piece of equipment. Current practices make use of a tourniquet a first step in the treatment of severe extremity hemorrhage. They are also very applicable in civilian medicine. The victims of recent mass shootings as well as the Boston bombing victims have had their lives saved by the quick application of a tourniquet.

Previous schools of thought determined that placement of a tourniquet would certainly lead to damage or death to the tissue in the area, but extensive research has shown that tourniquets can be in place up to eight hours in some circumstances without definitive damage occurring. Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TC3) guidelines that are used by the military, law enforcement and government agencies clearly state that if life-threatening bleeding is identified from an arm or leg, the immediate action to take is to place a tourniquet on the injured extremity to stop the bleeding.

At the end of the day, there is no replacement for definitive trauma care at a medical treatment facility. We do not have the luxury of always choosing where injuries occur, though, and oftentimes it is the hunting, skiing, hiking, camping and other accidents that happen in remote locations that can have the highest risk for loss of life. Having the knowledge and equipment necessary to stop the bleeding can save a life.

–Thomas Miller

Take A Tip From Noah: Get A Boat

“It pays to plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.” — Anonymous

Floods, hurricanes, heavy rains, massive snow and ice thaws, dam releases, ice dams, levees, storm seasons, and even new real estate development can all lead to increased water levels and, ultimately, a disaster. When the waters rise, there is no better a place than dry land. If dry land is not available, then a boat is the next best option. That being the case, it seems to reason that a boat would be a good thing to own as part of a preparedness plan, if there is a possibility of needing one.

Consider the following points when deciding on a survival boat.

Assess Risk

The area a residence is in will be the primary factor in whether there is a significant risk of flooding or high waters to the residents. At the risk of stating the obvious, a person living on the side of a mountain is not nearly as vulnerable as the person who lives below sea level a half mile from the coastline. Flood plains and risk areas are located across the world. For those residing in the United States, the website www.floodsmart.gov offers a wide array of information about floods and the risk of flooding in America. The website www.floodmap.net offers users the ability to check individual areas for the effects of flooding through their interactive mapping system.

Find A Boat

There are about as many types of boats as there are models of cars, it seems. What the best boat for the job is depends on: where you will take it, whom you will put in it, what you will put in it and what it will get used for. For the purposes of survival, aluminum boats that are flat or V-bottomed are likely to be the ideal choice. In flooding conditions where trees, buildings and just about anything else can be hiding under the water, a fiberglass boat could be subject to significant damage. A canoe or kayak is an option, but they have less space and capacity on board. A pontoon boat with aluminum pontoons may be a good option because of the space available as well as clearance off the water.

If a boat is less likely to be needed, a rubber raft could be a great substitute for a more expensive option. In the event that a raft is your boat of choice, keep an air pump and patch kit readily accessible.

Regardless of the type of boat you decide on, there are a multitude of suitable places to obtain your boat. Boat dealers, Craigslist, eBay and Boat Trader are all good places to search for the perfect solution to your waterborne survival needs.

Accessorize

I am not talking about shoes that match your purse here. A boat is a good start; but without a way to move the boat and survive until being rescued, it might not do much good. Consider adding the following “bling” to the boat:

  • Anchor: An anchor seems like a fairly obvious choice of something to pair with a boat, because it is. Put an anchor in any boat, but especially if it’s a boat used for survival purposes. This facilitates putting the boat in a stationary position when there is nothing to tie up to. This can be especially beneficial if calm water is found or if the need to “hole up” for a period of time arises. This could be especially helpful in avoiding the need to drift aimlessly through the night.
  • Tie Line: A tie line can be used to tie up the boat as well as for towing, if needed. This same line can be used to toss to someone that is floating in the water or a passenger who falls out of the boat. Any line that is used for marine application should be chosen for it resistance to water and tensile strength that at a minimum meets, if not exceeds, the strength required for tying up or towing the boat and its load.
  • Lighting: Setting out in a boat in an emergency could mean ending up in the dark or inclement weather. This makes a light source particularly useful. A high-powered, handheld spotlight, waterproof flashlight or chemical light sticks could be good options for meeting this need. Something that does not require batteries is a definite plus.
  • Propulsion: A gas-powered motor is the ideal solution, but it comes at a great expense and requires regular maintenance. There are small motors that run on a deep cycle battery but would not necessarily provide the power needed. Oars are an option but probably sit further down on the list of power generated, while being the most affordable option for most. If a gas-powered motor is your chosen method of getting around, ensure that an adequate supply of stabilized fuel is on board, as well as any required oil and lubricants.
  • Seating: Any extended period of time spent in a boat can be made significantly more comfortable through the availability of a seat with a back on it for every passenger. While this is certainly not a requirement, it could make a difference.
  • Life jackets: For every person who is expected to be on the boat, there should be an appropriate-sized life jacket. In an emergency, there is no better idea than to wear this life-saving piece of equipment at all times. Some boats offer the option of stowing life jackets under the seats, where a basic open design aluminum boat might be best served by using a plastic tote for keeping life jackets at the ready.
  • Fire extinguisher: A boat that is motorized runs the risk of catching fire regardless of whether the motor is battery- or fuel-powered. Only the foolish man builds his house upon the sand or has a motorized boat without a fire extinguisher. This is all aside from the fact that to be on the “right side” of the law in most areas, this is a required piece of equipment.
  • First aid kit: Make sure that your kit is in a waterproof container and tailor any first aid kit for the most likely injuries or illnesses that will be encountered. In the case of a survival boat, basic bandages and over-the-counter medications are a good idea. Some other useful items could include: CPR mask, motion sickness medication, antiseptic and waterproof tape.
  • Signal: A reliable method of signaling is a must. Ideally, each boat should have at least two methods to signal with one method being suitable for daylight like a brightly colored flag or panel and the second method best suited for darkness such at signal flares or chemical light sticks. A very cost-effective method of signaling that can be cheap to obtain and attached to every life preserver is an all-weather whistle.
  • Survival equipment: A few basic survival items can decrease the chances of injury or death. Emergency blankets, hand warmers and ponchos are essentials.
  • Bailing bucket: A boat in the water should not be full of water. If your boat springs a leak or starts to fill with rain, a bucket or scoop to remove this water is invaluable. Simple solutions for a bailing tool could be a small bucket or a 1-gallon jug with the bottom cut out. To ensure that this bucket does not get lost, tie it to the boat with a length of water resistant cord.

Many of these items could potentially be packed easily into a backpack or duffel bag that, in the event of a disaster or emergency, could just be grabbed and tossed into the boat. In addition to the boat-specific items, if the boat will withstand the weight and space required, every person should take a bug out bag with them that contains a basic three-day supply of food and water along with a change of clothes, basic hygiene supplies and perhaps even some comfort items like candy or a radio.

A boat might not be a necessity for every prepper; but when the waters are rising, it is not a good time to learn to swim.

–Tom Miller

Teamwork In Prepping

There is a great fallacy in some circles that the lone wolf is the person who will have the greatest chance of survival if things ever go downhill. Being prepared for any level of disaster or emergency is definitely something that should be a family, group or team effort. One way to look at this is to equate the survival of a group versus individual survival as a baseball game in which one team is complete and the other team has a pitcher that has to cover the outfield, too. This is not only impractical but would completely exhaust the pitcher in a short amount of time. So what does this mean from a preparedness perspective for you?

Get Your Team On Board

In many families or groups, a small percentage of the group can be considered dedicated preppers. There may be only one person who fits the bill. Others could be either half-hearted in their efforts or even all-out resistant to the idea of preparing for disaster. As it was once relayed to me, “If everyone else is unprepared, too, we will fit right in.” It seems that it has become clearer in recent years that if individuals do not prepare themselves, no one else is going to come take care of them, at least for a period of time. So what can be done about this? How do you get others on board with preparedness planning?

There is certainly no single answer to this question; but from my experience, the best approach to take is to be open and honest and help those who are important to you see how preparedness matters so much to you, your family and your inner circle. If you are truly important to your family, friends and community members, they will seriously consider what you have to say.

If you are a lone wolf type, take into consideration finding some like-minded people who are in close proximity to you so that if there is an emergency or disaster situation, you are not forced to go at it alone.

Select A Group Of Skills Everyone Will Master

In almost any organization there are core skills that every member of the team must know. In an office it might be how to use the copier. Every mechanic knows how to change the oil in a car. There are also universal skills that every member of a team that is preparing for survival should know. The only exception would be those who are not of an appropriate age, lack the capability or do not possess the maturity for certain tasks. Examples of these mandatory skills could be:

  • Marksmanship: How to properly fire, clean and maintain a gun.
  • Cooking: How to prepare a meal for an individual or the group.
  • Communication: Using a CB or walkabout radio to communicate.
  • Animal husbandry: How to milk a cow or collect the eggs from the hens every day.
  • First aid: How to care for an injured or sick person.
  • Gardening: How to properly water and harvest fruits and vegetables.
  • Firefighting: How to properly use a fire extinguisher.

While this concept may seem far-fetched to some, there are many things that can reasonably be expected from almost anyone. Even a 3-year-old can be taught to throw sawdust on top of the pile in the composting toilet, for example.

Determine Roles And Responsibilities

Each person in the group should have a primary and secondary responsibility or specialized skill when possible. If your group has two people, the situation may dictate otherwise. But in a normal family-size unit of two adults and at least two children, this should be feasible. And if you are part of a larger group of families, this is definitely doable. In fact, once primary and secondary roles have been mastered in a larger group, then the group should work on cross-training in each other’s roles as well as taking on the responsibility of learning new skills.

Examples of potential individual roles/responsibilities include:

  • Security.
  • Power.
  • Water.
  • Food.
  • Medical.
  • Communications.
  • Maintenance.
  • Logistics.
  • Sanitation.
  • Gardening.

Of course, this is not an all-inclusive list. It does cover some of the major areas and systems of support that are an area of concern in a survival situation. The roles that must be assumed will depend on the capabilities and systems that are available to your group. To avoid burnout among the group in performing routine chores and tasks, a “duty roster” or rotational schedule of these tasks could be established to assign different ongoing responsibilities to team members.

In addition to determining who will do what, it is valuable to select a leader to oversee the command and control of a group. For a family this leader will likely be the dominant parent. A group that is not a family should likely look to who the most natural leader is, who is the most experienced in managing tasks and people, or perhaps even who is the most liked person in the group.

Discuss What To Do If Something Does Go Wrong

If one person’s role within the group is to be in charge of the generator and emergency power systems and that person is ill, then what will the group do? These types of situations need to be discussed and alternate plans need to be made to address such problems. This is where secondary responsibilities and cross-training come into play. The subject matter expert in each area will assist the group by teaching his craft to an apprentice.

If the size of your family or group dictates one person taking on every responsibility, this is where strategic partnerships and community building comes into play.  No one person can do everything. Sometimes, it is better to rely on a trustworthy member of your community or inner circle than to try to be the jack-of-all-trades. A prime example where networking is invaluable would be dealing with a downed tree. It is great to know how to cut up a tree with a chain saw. This is a valuable skill to have, but it is not on the same level as trying to remove a tree that has fallen on top of your garage. Taking on this task without the specialized skill necessary could easily wind up getting someone seriously injured or even killed.

Document, Document, Document

As roles are determined, individuals should update the group documentation or create this collection of documentation. This is a great way to get your survival documentation updated and not put the burden all on one person. Each person takes a folder, binder, journal, etc. and compiles all the information he can about his responsibilities and how they fit into the group. This binder should include manuals/operator guides for any pertinent equipment, standard operating procedures, decision points for bugging out or other key events, expansion plans and ways to deal with changes in group size or locations, etc.

There is certainly much more that goes into making sure that your family or group is prepared to appropriately react to an emergency or disaster, but hopefully this serves as grease to help get the wheels turning. The team approach is necessary, and it certainly eases the burden of preparing that is on the group leader or head of household. Lastly, keep in mind that in order to remain effective, a team should always play to its strengths, maintain balance, operate under common goals or a vision, and communicate openly and honestly.

–Tom Miller