Can you really store enough food?

There are many things that are nice to have. My car is nice to have. Would life be difficult without it? Yes. Would the lack of having a car keep me from ever going anywhere? No. If I didn’t have a car, I would still get places via bus, covered wagon, walking or however I needed to in order to get where I needed to go. It’s also nice to have a big TV. But if I didn’t have one, I would have to learn to have a conversation again.

With all that said, there are those things that are not optional. Among other things, we need to have oxygen to breathe, water to drink and food to eat. If my ability to get food were suddenly taken away, I would be in a tough spot. I guess I would not have to worry about being alone in my tough times, though. My wife and kids would be right there with me, which would make things even worse than being alone in my difficulty.

I recently ran across the following account on an online forum:

My girlfriend asked me something last night…what if the grid did go down and we were unable to fix it for a long time (couple years)? Or what if SHTF and we were forced to bug out.

  1. Where would we go?
  2. What about the rest of society?

The main question she asked; say SHTF or the grid goes down… How long would the food in this country last? Yes we are stocked up for a while, but what about when the other millions of people run out? Where will they turn to when food can’t be found?

I honestly told her that they would become extremely irritable and hostile. People will do whatever it takes to get food for family.

Obviously we wouldn’t be safe in our own home for long since we’re basically right on the outskirts of town. Then she asked what if we had to bug out? It would be extremely hard with three kids. Especially since one has autism. What happens when you’re at your bug out location and someone is nearby and will kill for food? How do you get the kids to stay quiet when life depends on it?

These are some legitimate concerns, and the questions really got me thinking. My initial thought is that I would not want to go anywhere unless I had to. If a catastrophic event were to happen and I was not already at a bug-out location, my guess is that trying to get there would be extremely dangerous and maybe not even possible. Even if people still had food, there would be bands of those who would look to take advantage of others and capitalize on their weaknesses.

I think that the rest of society would quickly see that things were not going well and either hunker down alongside me or make a run for it. Where are they all going to go? I couldn’t tell you. There are many theories floating around that revolve around the idea of fleeing to the state and national forests to take advantage of water supplies and the amount of readily available food. Is this going to be a great idea if everyone else is thinking the same thing? Probably not. I’ll be staying put unless I absolutely can’t for some reason.

There is probably not a single person who knows how long the food supply would actually last following a complete collapse. I know one thing for sure; it will not be long enough. I think the gentleman who posted the account above was right. People without food will turn toward others, hoping for some sort of help. And if that doesn’t happen, the animal nature that we have inside of us will rapidly appear.

To me, this highlights the importance of working hard now to set aside food. In the case of food for survival, it should probably be as much food as possible because food is a finite resource. When it is gone, it is gone. I know that we all have limitations, so it is important to try to achieve a balance in your food stores. You should also have a strategic plan that not only provides a way to eat now and eat over the course of the next few months but a way to produce food down the road as well. A balanced, strategic plan might look something like the following plan:

Present: Food supply to last at least three to six months

  • Meats: A combination of frozen and canned meats to include a variety of beef, pork, poultry and fish.
  • Fruits: A mix of rotated fresh and canned fruit varieties.
  • Vegetables: A mix of rotated fresh and canned fruit varieties.
  • Starches, grains and nuts: These could be instant potatoes, pastas, rice, steel cut oats, almonds, peanuts, etc.
  • Proteins: In addition to meat, have some protein sources on hand like nut butters, beans, peas and eggs.
  • Baking and cooking: This will be all of the basics like flour, sugar, spices and seasonings, and oils.
  • Dairy: It can be a challenge to keep fresh dairy for long periods of time; so look to things like powdered milk, eggs and cheese for long-term solutions (these will also fit into the future category).

Future: Food supply to extend past six months and, if properly managed, could last for as long as the food source continues to produce

  • Dehydrated and freeze-dried foods: Long-term varieties last for up to 25 years when stored properly. It is hard to have too much on hand.
  • Fruit and vegetable seeds: Gardening will be vital for long-term production of fruits and vegetables. One of my favorite sources of seeds for storage is the Survival Seed Vault, which has more than 5,000 heirloom variety seeds that will last for at least five years, all in a compact storage container.
  • Animals for meat and dairy: To provide a complete diet, protein and dairy will be needed. Cows, pigs, chickens, fish, etc. can all be raised on a farm. But even in confined urban areas, birds like pigeons, rabbits and fish in an aquaculture setup can be raised as meat sources. Dairy can be tricky in smaller areas, but one practical solution may be goats.
  • Tools: While not a food, all of the sources of renewable long-term foods require tools to ensure to ensure proper cultivation, maintenance and harvesting.

There is more to ensuring your future food supply than what I mentioned already. When looking to the future and the possibility of having to supply and secure your own food, community will be vital. You will have to work with others to maintain and guard your food supply. This makes it important to build relationships with those around the area where you most likely will have to ride out a catastrophe. If you can find others in your community that you can trust to assist in food production and security, you are better off than most.

You must also consider the amount of water that will also be needed to accompany the efforts you will have to endure to prepare and raise the food required to survive long term. Water will be needed to prepare food, wash dishes and utensils, water a garden, water animals, and clean butchered meat animals. This makes food a greater challenge because in addition to needing everything above, you need water to go with it on top of water for drinking and hygiene.

In the end, a little planning now on not only how to secure your food supply over the first few months of a disaster but also during the years to follow will go a long, long way. Ultimately, making a plan now can greatly secure your future. A little bit of planning and networking is all that it takes. Although, having the financial resources to buy food and having a place to put it are helpful as well. If you have any questions or recommendations, shoot me an email at tom@thepreparedninja.com. Good luck!

–Tom Miller

Start a business to finance your survival

There are many barriers that keep people from being prepared for a disaster. Regardless of whether it is what others may think of you, the fact your spouse doesn’t like the idea of your “hoarding” or you feel like you will never be prepared enough so why start, there will always be a reason to avoid the hard work it takes to protect yourself from being part of the status quo. Of all the challenges, probably the single greatest barrier to securing your preparedness are the associated costs and what it takes to have the money on hand to finance your survival.

While there is always the possibility that you have a good-paying job that affords you the opportunity to obtain everything you need for long-term survival following a disaster or emergency, most of us do not have that problem. This means making some tough decisions with our money or finding a secondary source of income to make up the difference. Depending on where you live, it could be fairly easy to get a job delivering pizzas part time to make extra money. But the money would be minimal, and you would have to answer to someone else. The single best method that I can think of to make the money needed to finance your survival is building your own source of income.

Sitting around and waiting for someone to offer you a second job or to build a business for you is just not going to happen. If you want it, you are going to have to put it together yourself. Consider these steps when deciding what might be a good source of income for you.

Skills/knowledge inventory

Take an inventory of the skills and/or knowledge that you possess to give you a strong starting point to build your business around. It will be best to work in an area where you are knowledgeable and not doing something that you hope to figure out as you go.

Evaluate the market

The first thing I would say is to look at the business being done in your area. If your business is not similar to one that already exists, you may want to rethink your idea. This sounds counterintuitive, right? Think about it though: If someone is already successful at your idea, that means people are spending money on it. If there is not a business like yours, it probably means that no one is interested in spending any money on it.

Also consider what you can do better than others that would make someone want to do business with you instead of someone else. You should be better in one area or another if you want to do well. Ask yourself what problem you are going to solve and how you will meet the needs of your customers. What opportunities are available to you that will make your business successful? What risks or potential problems lie in wait for you along your journey?

Lastly, see if there is a business or niche that is essentially “recession-proof” that will match up with your knowledge and skills.

Formulate a plan

Decide how you are going to structure your business, where you will have your business and what requirements there will be to get your business up and running. This might include:

  • Structure: Based on the type of business you start, you may need to structure it a certain way to ensure that you are protected from a legal standpoint. This often means deciding if you will operate a sole proprietorship, a limited liability corporation (LLC), etc. You may want to consult an attorney for this step.
  • Zoning: Are there restrictions in your local area that prohibit you from operating a business, or certain types of businesses, from your home? These could be government regulations or even the rules of your homeowner’s association. Either way, make sure that you clearly understand if you can run your business where you want.
  • Business requirements: Almost every business requires a license of some type. Once you secure the required licenses for your business, make sure that you register your business name, get your federal tax identification number and secure any insurance that you will need.
  • Space and equipment: If your business will require special space or equipment, make sure to compile a complete list of what you will need before you get started. This will eliminate the possibility of running into too many surprises as you go.

Minimize costs

The idea for your business is to make money, not lose it. One of the ways to set yourself up for success is to minimize your up-front expenses. Yes, sometimes it is true that you have to spend money to make money. But before you know whether your business will be successful, don’t spend money that you don’t have to spend. Often, money can be saved by actively sourcing the best prices on equipment and supplies. Purchase used items in good condition if that is a possibility.

Promote and market

Now that your business is pretty well put together, make sure to share your idea with your future customers. Make sure that you put together a website, reserve your business name as an account for all social media outlets and list your business with business organizations in and around your niche. You may also need uniforms, business cards and other printed materials. Don’t forget to list your services online!

Maximize profits

Once the word is out, get a feel for your business model and find the practices that work best for maximizing not only your income, but also your profits.

Consider additional income streams

The more financial freedom you have, the more you can do to live your life on purpose and doing what you want to do. This includes ensuring that your loved ones and you are best prepared to deal with any sort of disaster or emergency. Don’t look at building a second income stream until your first venture is successfully off the ground. But once you are successful, consider starting the process to build another stream of income to further secure your financial freedom and further facilitate your preparedness efforts.

While the best business for you may not be the same for your neighbor, here is a list of potential businesses that you could build to finance your survival:

  • Event/party planning: Many people want to have events or parties but are either unwilling or too busy to put them together. If you are organized and capable and a personable individual, planning special events or parties may be for you.
  • Event/party rentals: When people have parties, they often need additional or special equipment and tend to want some sort of entertainment. But it is not practical to buy a dunk tank for a onetime event, so a rental is the perfect answer. If you have storage space and the means to deliver rental equipment, you may have a good start to being in the rentals business. This can be costly, so start slow and build it from there.
  • Food truck/cart: Food trucks and portable food carts are super popular right now. If you are a good cook, consider having others pay you to eat your food. Look at the possibility of renting a truck or cart to see if this business is a good fit for you.
  • Farmer’s market booth: There is a lot of interest in local and organic foods. Setting up a booth at the local farmer’s market is low-cost and may provide you the opportunity to network with like-minded individuals. Some of the items that you could sell at a farmer’s market include vegetables, breads, pastries, flowers, soap, crafts and other handmade items.
  • Cleaning: Not everyone wants to clean up after himself. Opportunities are always available to clean residential and commercial properties as well as when tenants move in or move out of rental property. It is even possible to network with real estate professionals and arrange to clean properties prior to being placed on the market for sale.
  • Property clean-up/hauling service: The inside of the house is not all that needs cleaning. If you have a truck and/or trailer, consider offering to clean up properties and haul off the debris. This can be relatively low-cost.
  • Landscaping: Only a few tools are needed to maintain the average lawn. Chances are you probably have most of these already anyway.
  • Courier/errand service: This is an especially good business for assisting the elderly, those without transportation, small businesses or the handicapped.
  • Virtual assistance: The Internet provides a lot of opportunities. And as more businesses establish their online presence, there is more need for assistance in posting to social media, responding to emails, etc. If you have these skills, market your services as a virtual assistant and make money without even leaving the house.
  • Tutoring: Tutors are always in demand. This is especially true as students or parents look for assistance with troubling subjects. If you are good in a specific academic area, tutoring could provide additional income.
  • Teaching: People always want to learn new things. You could teach classes on anything you are passionate about. Set up classes with the local community college, community center, senior center, or even take your class online and instruct virtually.
  • Reseller: Buy items at thrift stores or yard sales and resell through online classifieds or auction sites.
  • Moving assistance: Offer your assistance as an extra set of hands when it comes time to move those heavy items around the house or across town.
  • Repair services: If you are good at fixing things, offer your services with repairing specific items. People are always looking for a good alternative to the overpriced dealer.
  • Pet services: Picking up poop, walking the dog and pet sitting are all things that people don’t want to do or need help with from time to time. There are several stories of ambitious entrepreneurs who made a good income doing nothing more than scooping poop out of people’s yards.
  • Sewing/clothing repair: It took me forever — and it took an actual desperate situation — before I broke down and learned how to sew a button onto a dress shirt. I am not the only one like this either. If you can sew, you can help those of us who are helpless with basic repairs.
  • Technology training: There is a learning curve with every new piece of technology that comes out. If you are technically inclined, help teach others how to operate that new cellphone (you know, the one that has a screen that is the same size as your first TV?).
  • Property maintenance: If you are good around the house, help others around their house. You don’t have to be a carpenter either. People will pay to have their gutters cleaned out, the toilet unclogged and the batteries changed out in the smoke detectors.
  • Firewood: In cold areas of the country, there are still a good number of homes that are heated by fireplaces or wood-burning stoves that require a supply of firewood every year. If you are really good, you can get someone to pay you to haul off a tree and then turn around and sell it as firewood.

One of the keys to your success in building a business to fund your preparedness efforts is to find the right niche. It should be something that you are knowledgeable about and in demand in your area. It is always good to look for a skill that people don’t know how to do or even something that people don’t want to do. The key takeaway is that if you are willing, there is always something that you can do to make extra money to ensure your preparedness. Who knows? You may end up finding a new career.

–Tom Miller

If I started prepping all over again

I thought it might be interesting to take an introspective look at how my preparedness efforts have been and, if I were to start over again, what I would do the same and what I might do differently. It is interesting to look back and see some of the decisions that I have made, both with preparedness and life in general. Had I looked into things a little more, it would have definitely made a difference. My hope is that by sharing my reflections on my own preparedness efforts, it might help you with yours.

As a child/teenager, I got interested in camping and wilderness survival. This led to continuous treks into the woods and down to the river to hone my survival skills, shoot BB guns and catch fish. I even managed to catch myself with a hook right through the hand once! My recommendation is that you definitely avoid hooking yourself if you are going to go fishing. This interest in the outdoors and survival definitely served as a primer for my interest in prepping that would surface in adulthood.

Not everything has always been sunshine and roses. When I got into prepping as an adult, I fell prey to what I will call “Survival Fantasy Fog.” My definition of Survival Fantasy Fog is getting so wrapped up in the fantasy of the scenarios that occur in the survival fiction books that I read that these scenarios became a driving force in how I prepared. I don’t mention this to say that these scenarios could not happen; I just failed to objectively look at the likelihood of them actually happening. Given the chance to start prepping from the beginning again, I would certainly take a different approach.

Start with a plan

My start to prepping really began with just buying some random items that I thought I should have. While they were all items that did have a purpose in preparedness, there was not necessarily a rhyme or reason for how I was putting these items together. Instead of obscurely piecing together the components that would assist in my family’s survival, I should have started with a plan.

As I put together my preparedness plan, I should have looked at where I spend most of my time and the most probable threats that I face there. Along with where I am and what happens there, I should have looked at who would be with me, any special considerations with transportation, ways that I would get out of a scenario and what I would need, rally points, decision-making criteria, etc.

Only you can determine what the best plan is for you and your loved ones. There are many potential resources online that could be used as a standalone solution, or you could take bits and pieces of several plans to customize a plan that works for you. I took the components of several plans that I looked at and a few that I came up with on my own to make the plan that seemed best for me.

Water

I did not think enough about water when I first started out. I just took for granted the fact that water would always be there. After all, even if the power goes out, the power still works. While this is true in most cases, there are always exceptions to the norm. One scenario my family and I once faced was an imminent threat from flooding that seemed like it would most certainly cause sewage to contaminate the drinking water source for our city. Luckily, that didn’t happen but it came really close.

If I were to start over today, I would secure safe drinking water by taking the following steps:

  1. Get a case of bottled water for each person in my family.
  2. Get a WaterBOB.
  3. Get a good home water filter or at least one individual filter per person.

After completing these steps, I would look at getting food-grade barrels to store large quantities of water for the long term.

Food

Food is a relatively easy area because we all know what we like to eat, but it seems to become more challenging when we are talking about survival food. This is often because of that survival fog I mentioned earlier. When we read about or see ads for survival foods, it almost becomes inevitable that we think about dehydrated or freeze-dried foods. It is almost like we can’t survive a disaster with the food we eat every other day of our lives.

Starting over, I would not worry about anything dehydrated or freeze-dried. This is a great area to expand into once a few months of everyday foods have been stockpiled. To get started, I would establish a two-week menu that consisted of only canned goods and packaged foods that store well for at least 12 months. Of course, ensure that your menu includes an appropriate number of calories to provide fuel for your body. Once I had my menu in place, I would focus on buying all of the items for my two-week menu. Once I did that, I would add two more weeks as it fits into my goal timeline. If two weeks is too much to do at once, add one day of food at a time.

Shelter

This is not an area that requires too much work if you have a place to call home already. But depending on where you live, there may be some steps required to be ready in the event that climate-control systems go out or if you are forced to leave. Starting over, I would ensure that I had plenty of blankets and an indoor-safe propane heater (along with enough propane to run it for a while). I would also ensure that I had a tent large enough for my entire family and a sleeping bag for each person in the event I had to go.

Security

I was already a gun owner when I started prepping as an adult. With a couple of guns in the inventory, I should have put more emphasis on ensuring that all of my guns served as many purposes as possible and that I had a good stock of ammunition for each gun. It is important to also consider non-lethal options. I would have purchased pepper spray and a collapsible baton early on if I could do it all over again. I would have also looked at low-tech security solutions like doorknob security sensors.

Bug out bag

My early days of prepping did not yield much concern for having a bug out bag. I did not realize, or maybe just respect, the number of things that could happen that would make a bug out bag the best immediate solution. Going back to the beginning, as soon as my foundation preparations for the house were in place, I would immediately put together a bug out bag. Once I had one bug out bag together, I would put together one additional bag for each family member, as I am able to. Don’t forget to tailor each bag to the family member to whom it will belong.

Medical

This is one of the few areas with preparedness that when I first started out, I had a pretty good grasp on what I needed to do, especially trauma medicine. The single greatest area that I could have worked on earlier is some of the non-trauma areas of medicine like over-the-counter medications for routine illnesses. I would also have made sure to have more knowledge and equipment to ensure proper sanitation in a collapse scenario. Sanitation problems account for tens of thousands of deaths across the globe every year, having the tools to provide safe and sanitary conditions is a vital function for a prepper. Also, don’t forget any special considerations for family members with special or chronic medical conditions that require prescription medications, medical equipment or special accommodations.

Car kit

Even if it is as simple as running out of gas or getting a flat tire, having a kit for your car is something that should not be overlooked. I started by keeping only a blanket and some extra water in my car. This is not enough. I would have started with a plastic tote and made sure that I at least had:

  • Blanket
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Basic set of tools
  • Tarp
  • Flashlight
  • Small gas can or jug of emergency fuel
  • Jumper cables
  • Folding shovel
  • Toilet paper
  • Road flares
  • Small first-aid kit
  • Emergency air compressor
  • Fixed-blade knife, parang or machete

These items do not have to cost a lot of money but will go a long way in ensuring your security, safety and survival in plenty of everyday scenarios. As an example, once I finally put my kit together, I have used my emergency air compressor many times to re-inflate a leaky tire to allow myself the opportunity to get to a repair shop or at least somewhere safer than the side of the interstate highway to change a tire.

Office kit

I never gave much consideration to having any type of survival kit for work or at the office. This always just seemed like a crazy idea to me. If I have my bug out bag in the car along with a separate kit for the car itself, why would I need something more for the office?

As it turns out, you never know what circumstances you may find yourself in on a particular day. What if your car is in the shop and you don’t have access to your car kit or bug out bag? What if you work in a multiple-story building that loses power and the emergency lights don’t come on? What would you do if there were an active shooter incident in your office? These are three of the numerous and mostly unpredictable scenarios (or those we choose not to think about) that reinforce the idea of an office preparedness kit.

Some of the things that I have included in my office preparedness kit are a flashlight, space blanket, 1-liter bottle of water, tourniquet, trauma dressing, work gloves, bandana or dust mask, whistle, battery-operated radio with batteries, multi-tool, and a small bag of snacks (nuts, granola bars, jerky, etc.).

Barter

As I built the layers of my preparedness plan, I started to think that it would be a good idea to have some items on hand that could be used for barter. This is another one of those areas that came about in the midst of my Survival Fiction Fog. It is not that having items that could be bartered with is a bad idea. It is more the fact that barter items should be toward the tail end of your preparedness plan. Only once you have everything in place for you and your loved ones does it become practical to look at items that you could barter with others in the event of a collapse or disaster. If I started over today, I would not worry about barter until far along into my efforts.

While there are many approaches that could be taken to prepping, I think two of the things that any approach should share in common with the rest are planning and balance. If you have a good plan and benchmarks or goals that coincide, then you will be off to a good start. Tying balance in with your plan means achieving equal progress in each of the areas of preparedness like those listed above over marked periods of time. These time periods will likely coincide with the benchmarks or goals you set. When this plan is joined together with balance, you will have a strong start to getting prepared for almost any disaster.

–Tom Miller

The writing is on the wall; be prepared

There are many television shows like “Doomsday Preppers” and “Doomsday Castle” that tend to display examples of people preparing for extreme scenarios. Scenarios that are often so extreme that even most preppers think they are extreme. The typical response to these scenarios by the average person is that preppers are crazy and that there is no practical application for preparedness. I can tell you this is not the case, but I guess the news would be boring if the stories of preparedness were logical and reinforced the need to be prepared. Regardless of how you feel, there are many signs that indicate the practicality of being prepared for a variety of scenarios from natural disaster to job loss to government collapse. Some of these signs we are seeing today. It is almost as if the writing on the wall is telling us that we are in store for some tough times.

Last year, there was great controversy around the shooting of a black teen by a white police officer that led to rioting and protests that lasted for weeks. Then, after a few months of hearing almost nothing, two police officers were shot amid a protest in Ferguson, Missouri, last week while another racially charged situation developed as the result of another police shooting in Wisconsin. Who knows if things will get better or worse, but I am almost willing to guarantee that there were many residents who wish they had been better prepared to deal with the dangers of such protests and the inherent risk of leaving home in the middle of this. I can’t tell you if these events led anyone to stock up on food and water, but there was a great increase in the purchase of firearms.

There are other recent incidents that have happened and lend credibility to the practice of prepping in one form or another:

  • Reports out of Venezuela outline a plan by the Venezuelan government to install fingerprint scanners in grocery stores to prevent the stockpiling of food. This has become a concern because of the plummeting value of their currency and the low prices of oil.
  • The recent attempt by the federal government to ban the popular M855 ammunition for the AR-15 series of rifles, a move that was aimed at ensuring the safety of law enforcement officers. Ironically, M855 ammunition has never been used in the murder of a law enforcement officer.
  • Our power grid has been deemed susceptible enough to going down that Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) proposed legislation to provide better security for our fragile infrastructure. This threat is real enough that NASA is scheduled to launch a two-year study of the magnetosphere to assess the nature of its threat to the power grid.
  • Our European friends (whom we are following closely but are about 20 years behind) have expressed an interest in having a closed-circuit television camera in each and every home in the United Kingdom.

All of these events that are happening seem to justify the effort and expense of prepping and support the aforementioned writing on the wall. Looking at what is happening all around us, there is definitely greater risk associated with not being prepared for a disaster than there is being prepared for one. Some of the steps that you should seriously consider implementing at the soonest opportunity include establishing food and water stores, implementing a security plan, being prepared for a medical emergency, and having a plan to get out.

Establish food and water stores

The most basic action that can be taken by anyone wishing to be better prepared for a disaster, storing food and water is the most logical place to start prepping. Without food and water, a person will not survive anything for very long. It is no secret that wars have been fought over food and water. Having a stockpile of these goods will also help prevent any need to scan your fingerprint at the grocery store in Venezuela!

When establishing your food and water storage, there are a couple of key things to keep in mind:

  • Try to have at least seven days’ worth of food and water stored and build it up from there. The more, the merrier.
  • A day’s supply of food should be 2,000 calories for the average adult.
  • A day’s supply of water should be at least one gallon of water for drinking and cooking. If water for hygiene is a concern, storing another gallon of water for each person will allow bare minimum hygiene practices to be followed.
  • Track appropriate expiration dates and have a plan to rotate and replace items as needed.

When getting started with storing food, focus on shelf-stable items that are canned and will not expire for at least a year. As your storage supply is expanded, look at diversifying your stores into dehydrated or freeze-dried foods.

Implement a security plan

Disasters often bring chaos and fear with them. Because these can be such scary times, they will often lead people to do things that they might not ordinarily consider doing. This makes security a vital function of preparedness. Security considerations should include:

  • What weapons do you have that can be used to ensure your security?
  • Are you trained to use these weapons proficiently?
  • Do you know how to clean and maintain these weapons?
  • Can you perform basic repairs on your weapons, and do you have the parts and tools needed to make these repairs?
  • How much ammunition do you have?
  • Are your weapons of a common caliber that make it easier to find more ammunition for them?
  • Be familiar with who your neighbors are and what skills they may have that could be useful in securing your neighborhood.
  • Knowing who and what are around you. Are there key targets around you that someone may wish to strike in a moment of vulnerability? Are these targets something that you may need to take advantage of to help ensure your own security or to prevent a greater risk to your security?

Regardless of the real or perceived risks to your security, it is imperative to have the weapons, training and planning in place to ensure that security is maintained and that your property and loved ones are protected.

Be prepared for a medical emergency

When disaster strikes, medical emergencies are bound to happen. Injury can result from a deliberate attack, a stray bullet, being hit by a falling object or getting cut by broken glass; having a medical kit and training is a must.

Here are some basic considerations for being ready for a medical emergency:

  • Is your medical kit geared toward illness, injury or both? (Your medical kit will ideally be capable of treating both injuries and illnesses.)
  • How close is your nearest medical treatment facility?
  • If your closest medical treatment facility is not available, where will you go or what will you do?
  • Prescription medicines are relied on to sustain life more and more these days; do you have all of the medication that you need?

Each person’s health will dictate some of the preparations that need to be made from a medical aspect, but even the healthiest person should be ready to treat the basics. You may not need medical treatment; but you may have a friend, neighbor or loved one who does.

Have a plan to get out

Sometimes, things get so bad that the best decision is the decision to leave and go somewhere away from the madness. There are even times when you may not have a choice in the matter. This dictates the need to have a plan to get out. Typical evacuation considerations include:

  • Determine primary, secondary and tertiary routes that can be taken. These should offer options that can be taken in three different directions as a way to circumnavigate threats.
  • Do you have a load plan for your vehicle?
  • What is included in your load plan?
  • If you can’t make it home or load your gear, do you at least have a car kit that can sustain life for two or three days?
  • Do you have cash available to cover expenses along the way? This is especially important if the power is out and credit card machines are not working.

In most cases, the option of leaving the safety and security of home should be a last resort. Even if you do feel like you will stay no matter what, the need to leave may come. Look at historical experiences like Hurricane Katrina. Remember what happened to those who chose not to evacuate? It was a bad deal!

There is never a guarantee that things will go bad, but it does seem like it is more likely to happen in today’s world than a sudden outbreak of world peace. Whether you consider these possibilities happening to you or not, you will likely not have the chance to put anything together once it is already too late. Take a look at the writing on the wall and take the steps necessary to ensure your future survival today while it is still both practical and easy to do.

–Tom Miller

Secure communication for preppers

Have you ever considered how you would communicate covertly and/or securely if the need were to arise? It could be for a number of reasons; maybe you simply don’t want someone to know what you are talking about or maybe it is more serious and electronic communications are not functioning because of an EMP. The modern technology that the United States, as well as foreign, governments possesses allows the easy electronic surveillance of almost anyone. This could be a good reason by itself to have a way to communicate in a nontraditional, but secure way. One of the longest-standing ways of communicating in a secure and covert manner is through written code, also known as cryptography.

While seemingly only something you would see in a movie, from a historical perspective, cryptography has played a huge role in wars, diplomacy and, of course, espionage. Meaning hidden or secret writing in Greek, cryptography is the practice of taking clearly understood text and converting it into a state that is not understood except for the person who holds the key needed to decrypt the code. This could be a valuable tool to use within a prepper group or in an extreme case such as a future conflict within our own borders. Realistically speaking, cryptography can be useful in any situation where two parties wish to communicate with one another without anyone else being able to decipher what they are saying. In addition to being a more secure manner of communicating, cryptography can be used with any means of communication — verbal or written.

Whether verbal or written, a prepper can use encrypted messages in a variety of ways to avoid information compromise. A radio that is unsecure like a family band radio or CB can be dangerous if sensitive or personal information is being shared. Also, email or online communications are at risk of being captured or intercepted by law enforcement or intelligence agencies. Leaving a message in a meeting location (especially in public) or dead drop is not secure. All of these methods carry risk; and with so many opportunities for your information to be compromised, you should communicate securely with encrypted messages.

There are several types of codes or ciphers that can be utilized in cryptography and while it can be a personal decision to decide which type to use, there are specific benefits to using one over the other. With that being said, there are a variety of methods in which messages can be encrypted but the most basic of these methods is to use a cipher. The difference between a code and a cipher is that a code is the process of substituting a word or set of words for another, where a cipher plainly changes each letter in a word into another letter or number. The decision to pick one over the other typically comes down to how secure you would like your message to be.

Types of cryptography

Code: The simple process of changing one word for another complete word or set of letters. An example of a code could be taking the words “breakfast cereal” and substituting them with the words “flat tire” or a specific set of letters that are unique to “breakfast cereal.”

Transposition cipher: Rearranging the order of the letters in a message. An example of a transposition cipher would be taking the words “medical kit” and converting them to “lcaiedm tki.” This is typically the most basic and simple cipher.

Substitution cipher: Systemically replacing specific letters or groups of letters in a message. An example of using a substitution cipher would be taking the words “gun range” and by shifting each letter back two letters (-2) in the alphabet, changing them to “esl pylec.” As you can see, this is different than just shuffling the letters in a word or phrase around but also can produce a pattern that can more easily be decrypted.

When looking at your options, also remember that with either a code or cipher you will have to have some sort of record or idea of how you will decode your message. Either way, having such a record could be a potential risk and increase the chances of compromise. Because a code is fairly simple, I will leave that up to you and only describe how to develop a cipher.

Developing a cipher

It is not the most difficult thing in the world to develop a cipher. In my opinion, the transposition cipher is not as secure as the substitution cipher for I will allow you to develop your own transposition cipher should you choose to. I prefer to take a two-pronged approach to the substitution cipher where a separate encryption is used for consonants and vowels. This might look something like this:

  • Consonants: The set of letters in the alphabet that are not vowels are consonants. To keep things simple, use the encryption of +5 letters and count without excluding the vowels from your count. You can make it your own but I will include the vowels in this scenario for ease of use. Using +5, a letter C will become the letter H and the letter Z will become the letter E, etc.
  • Vowels: Take the vowels A, E, I, O, and U and determine what interval you would like to use. If you were to choose a +1 interval, move ahead one vowel from the actual vowel in the word. With this being the case, an A becomes an E, an E would be an I, and so on and so on. If you chose a +3 interval, the A becomes an O and the E becomes a U.

You might notice that in these examples if you have a letter toward the end of the alphabet, it may become necessary to move to the beginning of the set of letters and keep counting. It is also important to keep in mind that a cipher does not have to always move to letters to the right (or plus letters), you can also move to the left (or minus letters).

Let’s look at the example below for a better understanding using the same variations listed above (+5 for consonants and +1 for vowels):

Using the phrase, “My favorite soda is Mountain Dew” as the sentence to be encrypted and applying the cipher, the phrase now becomes “Rd keauwoyi xuie ox Ruasyeos Iib.”

It is prudent to shift or change the cipher so that security is best maintained. A different day should have different encryption to avoid demonstrating a clear pattern and getting your cipher cracked. What will read one way on a certain day will likely look completely different on another day. Monday could be a +1 shift for consonants and a -1 shift for vowels. It is totally up to you and your imagination. Don’t forget about numbers either. You may need to include numbers in your communications and should select a specific variable for numbers just like you did with the vowels and consonants.

I personally like the idea of a four-week rotating cipher that uses two prongs: one for the consonants and one for the vowels, as outlined in the demonstration above. The thing to be careful about is making sure that your rotation does not become routine or predictable. You can do this by continuing to shift the variables back and forth using both negative and positive intervals. The table below will provide you an idea of what this might look like:

graphic1021315

There technically is probably a limit to the combinations that you can use, but there are enough combinations that I was not worried about trying to count them all. My point is that you can pretty much do whatever you want when designing your cipher. To make things even easier, a quick reference card or chart can be made to facilitate quick decoding and coding of messages. Obviously, you must be careful to never allow the key to the cipher and your reference to be kept together if you have both because it will completely defeat the purpose.

Here is an example of a reference key:

graphic2021315

There are a few other methods of cryptography that can be used to make a message secure but they are not all probably as secure as a cipher. They can be simpler though. If we use our example sentence from before and placing each word as the fifth word in the sentence, you can encode your message in a paragraph. I would look something like this:

How do you like MY new scarf? I can’t believe your FAVORITE is green! I think that a SODA will quench my thirst. There’s a chance I IS going to flunk English class when I talk like this. I saw a huge MOUNTAIN off in the distance. Grass is covered in DEW early in the morning.

While I chose to place my message as the fifth word in each sentence, you can just as easily vary the options by making the operative word variable in each sentence. Such a sentence might be something like the operative word in the first word in the first sentence, the second word in the second on so on. This could also be reversed. Once again, imagination is the only limiting factor.

A book can be another method used to code and decode messages. The key is just that the book has to be common to the parties involved. Really, any book that all parties have can be used by simply recording the page number, the line number on the page and the specific word on the corresponding line. An example might be the words “food storage,” which might be listed on page 42 on line 12 with word 5 being the word you need. This would be recorded as 42 12 5 and then a space is inserted before the next word. Imagination can have full reign here as well. You could use any number and type of book.

It is easy to see how dealing with cryptography can be a little difficult. And while communication can become more difficult through the use of cryptography, you run less risk of revealing sensitive information and putting life and/or property at risk.

When it comes to cryptography, the older and less technical codes and ciphers seem to be the most compatible for use within a prepper group or circle of trusted friends and family. The more modern ciphers typically rely on advanced mathematics, algorithms and computers, making them less practical for preppers in most scenarios. Could you imagine trying to decode a message that required a computer without an electricity source? It is just for reasons like this that a basic but well thought out cipher can be the best selection for the prepper.

–Thomas Miller

Getting prepared for the budget-conscious

With the arrival of the new year, there are plenty of us who have chosen to make resolutions or set goals for ourselves that we hope to accomplish over the next 12 months. Some people make promises to lose weight, make more money, get a new job or learn a new hobby. Some even go so far as to vow to actu In all reality, the preppers of the world are not always concerned with more. Sometimes it is better to be focused on less. Almost all of us are interested in getting more for less.

One of the many challenges of prepping is affording everything necessary to ride out a rough time regardless of whether it is a personal or large-scale disaster. This can make it intimidating or hard to get started with preparedness. Taking a baby-steps approach and putting your emergency stockpile together one piece at a time — and doing it with affordable items — can be a great way to meet your preparedness goals in the new year.

A list of budget preps

With some of the most desirable items to preppers costing thousands and thousands of dollars, I thought that a list of valuable prepping items that cost less than an average of $10 or less might be a valuable thought primer in developing a good starting point for getting prepared on a budget. While the actual cost of some of these items may be a little more or less than 10 bucks depending on where you live, low-cost items can be a great way to get started or build on your established preparations. After all, at $10 it would be hard for the average person to claim that they cannot afford something.

The items listed are in no particular order.

Consumables:

  • 7 gallons of drinking water
  • 2 cases of bottled drinking water
  • 2 cases of ramen or Cup Noodles
  • 10 boxes of macaroni and cheese
  • 4 cans of chicken
  • 5 pounds of dried beans
  • 10 pounds of rice
  • 7 boxes of pasta
  • 4 jars of pasta sauce
  • 10 cans of chili
  • 10 cans of soup
  • 10 packages of instant mashed potatoes
  • 10 cans of vegetables
  • 6 cans of fruit
  • 10 pounds of salt
  • 10 pounds of sugar
  • 5 cans of baked beans
  • 2 large cans of beef stew
  • 5 cans of ravioli
  • 1 large canned ham
  • 4 cans of fish (tuna or salmon)
  • 2 jars of peanut butter
  • 4 boxes of cereal
  • 1 box of powdered milk
  • 40 packs of drink mix
  • 5 boxes of cake mix
  • 3 jars of frosting
  • 3 bags of potato chips or pretzels
  • 2 bottles of fruit juice
  • 1 pound of coffee
  • 2 bottles of ketchup, mustard, etc.
  • 2 bottles of cooking oil
  • 1 package of beef jerky
  • 5 boxes of cornbread mix
  • 6 cans of refried beans
  • 4 packages of microwaveable rice
  • 3 bottles of seasoning
  • 6 packs of gravy, soup or sauce mix
  • 2 cans of rolled oats
  • 1 freeze dried entrée
  • 4 boxes of fruit snacks
  • 4 boxes of granola bars
  • 7 protein bars
  • 5 boxes of hot chocolate mix
  • 3 cans of nuts
  • 3 boxes of crackers

Non-consumable items

  • 2 boxes of 12-gauge shotgun shells
  • 1 pocket knife
  • 2 manual can openers
  • Several different hand tools (quantity and type varies)
  • 2 large emergency candles
  • 1 slingshot
  • 2 packages of steel slingshot ammo
  • 1 small fishing kit (hooks, sinkers and 2 lures)
  • 1 spool of fishing line
  • 1 AA Maglite
  • 1 package of batteries (AAA, AA, C or D cell)
  • 5 Bic lighters
  • 5 boxes of matches
  • 100 feet of parachute cord
  • 2 rolls of duct tape
  • 10 rolls of electrical tape
  • 1 gallon of white gas (cook stove)
  • 4 gallons of unleaded fuel
  • 1 plastic gas can
  • 4 cans of Sterno fuel
  • 5 survival blankets
  • Assorted personal hygiene items
    • 4 tubes of toothpaste
    • 5 toothbrushes
    • 5 spools of dental floss
    • 1 package of razors
    • 4 cans of shaving cream
    • 8 bars of soap
    • 1 box of pads or tampons
  • 2 boxes of nails or screws
  • 2 spools of wire
  • 1 sewing kit
  • 200 rounds of .22 long rifle ammo
  • 1 hurricane lantern
  • 2 bottles of lamp oil
  • 1 bottle of laundry soap
  • 2 bottles of bleach
  • 4 solar landscape lights
  • 1 bottle of Tylenol or ibuprofen
  • 1 emergency trauma dressing
  • 2 bottles of Benadryl
  • 4 bottles of rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide
  • 2 boxes of alcohol pads
  • 1 box of medical gloves
  • 1 box of gauze pads
  • 1 board game
  • 4 decks of cards
  • 2 boxes of Band-Aids
  • 4 tubes of antibiotic ointment
  • 2 boxes of cold and cough medicine
  • 1 bottle of multivitamins or supplements
  • 2 electronic thermometers
  • 1 bag of dog or cat food
  • 1 package of diapers
  • 1 can of baby formula
  • 4 packs of baby wipes
  • 1 package of toilet paper
  • 2 packs of paper plates
  • 2 packs of plastic cups
  • 4 packages of plastic utensils
  • 1 package paper towels
  • 2 boxes of Ziploc bags
  • 1 box of garbage bags
  • 1 emergency poncho
  • 1 set of jumper cables
  • 2 plastic buckets
  • 1 box of plastic sheeting
  • 2 puzzles

Think outside the box

Prepping for a disaster does not have to be limited to buying brand new items at low cost. By thinking outside of the box — as in not brand new in the box — great savings can be realized. There are tons of great items that I have purchased over the years from garage sales, estate sales and secondhand stores. I would also like to add that just because an item is being sold in a secondhand store or garage sale does not mean that it is used. It is not at all uncommon to find brand-new or barely used items at deep discounts by shopping this way. Another advantage to shopping secondhand is the opportunity to acquire expensive items that typically have very long lives and are still in great shape but at a fraction of the usual cost.

Technology has been a great help in making the option of secondhand prepping more widely available. Sites like eBay, Craigslist and FreeCycle offer used and new items at low prices — another useful tool. Often, the items are also located in your area, making them very accessible.

Trim the fat

There are many other areas where we spend a good amount of money in an average month. As an example, I think the average cable bill has reached a cost of about $100 a month. Budget-friendly options can be used in place of an expensive cable bill. Look at options like Hulu, Netflix or the local Redbox to free up some extra money for survival and preparedness acquisitions. If you have the Internet, YouTube is another entertainment option that also happens to offer thousands of videos that will allow you to add skills to your inventory in the survival arena.

The practice of making your money behave can be another way to cut excess spending out of your regular activities. Making a written budget and assigning a purpose to every dollar on pay day will help you focus and prioritize the places that your money is sent. After all, wouldn’t it be better to have five gallons of extra water sitting in the closet instead of another pack of baseball cards? On the opposite side of the spectrum is the opportunity to increase your income by finding a way to monetize a hobby, sell your extra stuff, work extra hours or get an extra part-time job.

While there are many ways to prepare for an emergency, not all of them are easily afforded. Shopping for specific items that are prioritized by need and purchasing them one item at a time can yield big results in a short period of time. Don’t write off the off-label and store-brand products as a way to get the items that you need at a discounted price point. Also look for sales and seasonal items that are marked down toward the end of the season. Coupons are free and always decrease the purchase price of an item. Don’t forget that skills can be more valuable than stuff. If you have the stuff but not the knowledge to use it, you are as good as dead.

As a parting note, be purposeful with your money and buy the best that you can. One high-quality item is often better than two or three cheaply made items.

–Tom Miller

How to exercise for the apocalypse when you hate exercising

There are many concerns that accompany trying to be prepared for a disaster and physical fitness are one of those concerns. The common theory is that if there is some sort of collapse, manual labor will be the norm and transportation will be human- or animal-powered. This makes physical conditioning important if you want to be best suited for such work and even have the best chance of surviving illness or disease. But there is one problem.

I hate exercise! I shouldn’t say that I outright hate all exercise, just most of it. My guess is that I am not alone on this issue. The ironic thing is that I love how I feel after I exercise and the endorphins are flowing, but I hate the process that it takes to get to that point. In reality, it is just the type of exercise that bothers me. There are plenty of things I do enjoy doing to that also have exercise value, it is just a matter of finding something that you enjoy. Don’t forget, it is always important to remember to check with your healthcare provider before starting or changing your exercise routine.

Here are a few minimally torturous ways to exercise and get fit before the onset of a disaster.

Walking

The most basic of all forms of exercise, walking, is a great way to not only burn some calories but also get out and see things. It is also nice to get some fresh air. As simple as walking is, it is the activity that most people can participate in and, as long as the distance is not excessive, most people don’t mind participating. It is a great place to get started with an exercise routine.

The very popular video below highlights the preventive-health benefits of walking. The video states that overall, walking only 30 minutes a day can reduce dementia and Alzheimer’s by 50 percent, diabetes by 58 percent, anxiety by 30 percent and depression by 47 percent.

In a survival situation, the added benefit of being in better shape can only be improved by the fact that healthcare will be minimally available, and the preventive measure of exercise will pay huge dividends.

Hiking

If you are interested in taking your walking to the next level, hiking is a great way to not only get some exercise but also get used to carrying around your bug out bag (BOB). This provides an opportunity to get a good feel for if you have too much weight in your BOB or maybe if you even have the ability to add another couple of items. The other thing that I really enjoy about hiking is the ability to get out in nature, see something new and cover different types of terrain. Hiking is also a great family or social activity for groups.

Biking

I find that riding a bike can be a great way to get some exercise without the constant monotony of jarring my feet into the pavement repeatedly (running). It also seems like I am actually getting somewhere because I can cover a lot more ground on my bike. The distance that I can cover also makes a bicycle a more practical selection for an alternate means of transportation. In addition to riding a bike for fun and fitness, a bike can be a great way to commute to work or get some of your errands done on the weekend. Bikes are also a natural selection for the family that wants to do something fitness-related together but has varying abilities within the family.

Sports

I don’t know what it is, but it there is something that makes sports a lot more fun and somewhat less like exercise. Even though I will run until I sweat and my asthma flares up, I still enjoy exercise when it is part of an organized sporting event. Even if your best days are behind you, there are still some ways to get involved in sports. If you have kids that are in sports, consider either practicing with your child or volunteering as a coach to get some exercise. There are many community and recreational sports leagues that are run through local government, civic organizations or churches. If you can’t find something that meets your needs, start a sports league of your own.

Geocaching

Geocaching is an activity that can serve more than one purpose if you are preparing to survive a difficult time. Not only is it a way to get exercise, but it also provides a chance to hone your navigation skills. For those who are not familiar, geocaching is the practice of outdoor orienteering while searching for a hidden cache that contains small trinkets and a logbook. Once a geocache is found, the finder will log their find in the logbook and then exchange a trinket or toy before caching the geocache again.

Take the stairs

It sounds simple, but that’s because it is! Taking the stairs instead of riding the elevator can burn more calories than you may think. According to scientists from the University of Roehampton in London, climbing 25 flights of stairs will burn up to 300 calories if the stairs are climbed one at a time. This is nothing to quickly dismiss as most of us who work or live in a multi-story building or home can easily accomplish this over the course of a week. Of course, there is always the opportunity for you to go to the mall and get your steps in.

Mow the grass

Not only can mowing the grass keep your yard from looking like crap, it can be considered aerobic activity if you choose to use a push mower. This is something to consider the next time you are looking for a new lawn mower. If you currently have someone else cut your grass, consider making the move to maintain your own lawn and get the added benefit of exercise to go along with your sense of accomplishment.

How much exercise is enough?

There is rarely ever any conversation about exercising too much. The point that is usually made is people not exercising enough. It is possible, though, to participate in too much exercise. Perhaps it would be best to start with what a good minimum amount of exercise is. On a weekly basis, the average adult should complete one of the three options below:

  • 5 hours per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and two or more days per week of muscle-strengthening activities.
  • 25 hours per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise and two or more days per week of muscle-strengthening activities.
  • A combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise and two or more days per week of muscle-strengthening activities.

This is the minimum level of exercise recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is also notable that the aerobic exercise does not need to be in large chunks of time and that exercising for 10 minutes at a time when added together can be sufficient.

Exercising too much can be just as, if not more, dangerous than not exercising at all. Some of the reasons to be mindful of not exercising too much include:

  • The risk of injury.
  • Not providing your body adequate time to recover.
  • Skipping other obligations or missing other opportunities.
  • You exercise so much to make up for eating too much.

One of the greatest additional benefits to the select forms of exercise above is the fact that no gym membership is required. For me this means two things: money saved and not feeling like I need to compete with anyone or look a particular way. After all, isn’t it about being in better shape if times get tough?

The most important thing to remember is that no matter what, those who are prepared for tough times will be much more likely to survive. This goes for physical readiness just as much as it does for mental readiness or the actual stockpiling of food, water and other equipment.

–Thomas Miller

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