How To Survive When Lost In The Wilderness

As a middle school kid, I spent one of the scariest hours of my life lost in the woods. I wandered away from our family’s campsite and didn’t see another human being for the next 60 minutes. The only people more terrified than me were my parents, who split up and went in different directions calling my name until I heard them.

As my friend, Orrin M. Knutson, points out in his book, Survival 101: How to Bug Out and Survive the First 72 Hours, 150,000 people on average get lost in the woods and wilds overnight or longer annually in America. Even more are stranded or caught in natural disasters. Few are prepared and some of them don’t make it out alive.

Outdoor specialists have developed an acronym to help us remember how to react when lost. It’s “STOP,” and it stands for “sit, think, observe and plan.” The idea is that as soon as you feel that you may be lost, you probably are. You just don’t know yet how lost you might be. When that happens, stop in your tracks and do the following:

  • Sit: Take a break, cool down or warm up. Relax your body and your mind. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, gather your wits and control your emotions before fear and panic set in.
  • Think: Those who live in urban areas think with their watches. They have schedules to keep. But once you’re lost in the wilds, none of that stuff matters. Never chase the clock or try to beat sundown, because you’ll lose every time. After calming down, think about where you are now compared to where you started. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to get your bearings and determine the general direction back to safety. However, if the sun is going down, think about how you are going to get through a long, cold, dark night and “defend in place” (DIP). With no survival tools, you must immediately begin to improvise an adequate shelter, find safe drinking water and possibly start a fire.
  • Observe: Carefully observe by taking a serious look around. Even with no map or compass, you should have some recollection of landmarks in the distance in relationship to where you began your journey. Observe details as far out as you can. If that doesn’t help, refocus and observe your nearby surroundings. You are looking for a good place to hunker down and wait for help to come to you. Look for a ready-made shelter or shelter and fire building materials not far from a water source.
  • Plan: After sitting, thinking and observing, try to find your own tracks so you can plan to retrace your steps tomorrow. Once you’re certain of your return direction, make some kind of marker (a stone or log arrow) pointing back the way you came. Plan to DIP for the night and backtrack on yourself come morning, hoping that the weather doesn’t obliterate your tracks. Immediately plan for a fire and a shelter, and plan to find water. Plan to let experienced searchers find you. If you plan to bug out, be sure to leave obvious signs and markers for rescue trackers to follow.

Defend In Place

If you have to DIP, stay where you are, hunker down and wait for help to come to you. Whenever you’re lost, stranded or forced into survival mode, it is wisest to DIP whenever possible. Although this isn’t always practical due to mandatory evacuation orders, changing environments or other conditions beyond your control, it is generally your best and easiest defense for most common survival events.

The need to DIP becomes almost mandatory if someone is incapacitated with broken bones or internal injuries. The best advice here is to stay within a safe line of sight of the crash. Render first aid the best you can to yourself or others. Even if you are alone and injured, “bite the bullet” and do whatever it takes to make shelter and fire and to find water. Then, wait for help to come to you. Here is where your “will to live” and savvy are imperative.

The DIP rule also applies to weather catastrophes when you are at home, as long as your living quarters remain structurally safe. If a companion, neighbor or family member is injured, avoid the temptation to take off and go get help, leaving the injured party behind all alone, unless you determine it is absolutely necessary.

Finally, if you know in advance that you’re going to be in a situation in which getting lost in the wilderness is a possibility, take steps to protect yourself from hardship by being proactive, learning a few primitive skills and carrying basic survival gear at all times on every outdoor adventure.

–Frank Bates

Here’s How To Prepare For The On-Your-Own Experience Most Of Us Will Have

Ever since I started working my first full-time job, there’s something I’ve been looking forward to: retirement.

It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed some of my jobs through the years, because I have. And it’s not that I haven’t enjoyed many of the people I’ve worked with, because I have. It’s just that my ultimate goal in working has always been to earn enough money so that I could retire comfortably and spend my retirement years doing things that I never had time to do before.

But for many American adults, the concept of retirement is scary. Some of us don’t know when or if we’ll ever be able to retire, thanks to a struggling economy, an iffy Social Security situation and a new healthcare system that is being called an accident waiting to happen by many people. Those of us who are nearing retirement age or who have already retired are facing some serious challenges.

We’re certainly not alone. According to a study conducted in 2013 by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 57 percent of Americans say they have total household savings and investments of less than $25,000 (excluding their homes and benefit plans), 28 percent say they do not believe they will have enough money to retire comfortably when the time comes, 54 percent say they have not yet tried to calculate how much money they will need for retirement, and 39 percent of retirees (and more than 50 percent of workers) say they have a problem with their level of debt.

Fortunately, there are some steps that you can take — right now — to help weather the storm and live as comfortably as possible during your retirement years. It’s a very basic, three-step plan:

  1. Earn as much money now as you can.
  2. Secure what you’ve saved.
  3. Cut your expenses.

If you can successfully accomplish those three tasks, you’ll be in better retirement shape than most Americans.

Earning Money

The more money you have heading into retirement, the more likely that you will have enough to live on through your retirement years. Some suggestions for generating cash now are below.

  • Sell stuff: Hold a garage sale or put items up for sale on eBay or Craigslist that you no longer need, including books, clothes, furniture, records, glassware, china, etc.
  • Market your skills: Depending on what talents you have, you may be able to earn cash by making clothes or quilts, restoring furniture, fixing broken appliances, pet sitting, etc.
  • Turn hobbies into cash: Your favorite hobby may be creating things that other people are willing to purchase.
  • Rent your space: If you have room in a basement or garage, you might be able to rent that space to someone looking to store some of their items. Or perhaps you could rent out a room in your home to someone looking for a place to live.
  • Maximize Social Security: By waiting as long as possible to receive Social Security checks, you can increase the amount you will receive.
  • Tutor: Many parents have children who are struggling in one or more subjects in school. If you have expertise in a subject such as math, you could be a tutor to some of those children.
  • Baby-sit: Many parents would rather have a middle-aged or older person they trust babysit their kids than a teenager.
  • Pet-sit: People who love their pets are willing to pay to have them cared for in their homes while they are at work or on vacation.

Securing Money

It can be argued that the U.S. economy is improving, although very slowly. But some economists say that this “improvement” is an illusion and that the real evidence points to a coming recession far worse than what we experienced starting in 2008. Regardless of who is right, it’s important to secure your money for retirement.

One Forbes magazine economist strongly recommends short-term Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) if you’re concerned about a financial meltdown in the U.S. It’s a safety net you should be ready to use if necessary.

Otherwise, one formula for diversifying your portfolio now is 50 percent stocks and 50 percent bonds. A safe portfolio is 20 percent stocks and 80 percent bonds, while a risky portfolio is 80 percent stocks and 20 percent bonds. A more detailed recommendation is 30 percent U.S. stocks, 30 percent foreign stocks, 10 percent high-grade bonds, 10 percent high-yield bonds, 10 percent Inflation Adjusted Treasuries, 5 percent Precious Metals and 5 percent Real Estate Investment Trusts.

It’s important to have a plan that factors in how much you’ve saved so far, how much more you’ll need, your spending habits, inflation, expenses that will go away with retirement and others that will arise, the cost of your health insurance, and all of your income sources, including Social Security.

Cutting Expenses

Limiting what you spend is just as important as earning money. Following are a few things you can do now to cut back on spending:

  • Downsize your home: If it’s just you and your spouse living in the house, a smaller house or condo might save you money each month.
  • Sell a car: If you have two cars and don’t drive as much anymore, selling one of them would give you cash now and save on maintenance, repairs, insurance and registration fees.
  • Travel smarter: Check into savings you can gain by traveling on certain days of the week. Look for deals.
  • Get senior discounts: Many restaurants, hotels and other businesses offer discounts for seniors, so take advantage of them.
  • Avoid impulse buys: These break budgets more effectively than just about anything else.

–Frank Bates

Bartering In A Post-Collapse Society

One of the reasons that some people don’t bother thinking about or preparing for a disaster is because they believe they have enough money to get through it, no matter how bad it becomes. They’re used to drawing upon their wealth to take care of problems, so they assume that their finances will come to the rescue again if necessary.

But if we ever experience a total financial collapse — and some people believe the signs are pointing in that direction — no amount of money in the world will help. Any number of events could thrust North America into that horrific situation, including an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack that could keep funds locked inside banks for weeks, months or, possibly, years.

Regardless of your financial status, it’s important to remember that we may find ourselves in a scenario wherein money is meaningless. In a post-collapse society, it’s entirely possible that the only things of value will be the goods we have stockpiled and the skills we possess, both of which we’ll probably use for bartering.

Backtracking for a moment, the most essential items that you can store now are food and water for yourself and your family. Start with a 72-hour supply and then, as you’re able, graduate to supplies representing one month, three months, six months, a year and longer. In addition, stockpile as many non-food items as you can, including flashlights, batteries, blankets, clothing, etc. (See my 22 Non-Food Items To Hoard For A Crisis article for a starter list.)

Once you have those emergency items stockpiled in at least two locations, it’s time to start thinking about which items you can hoard and which skills you can acquire that will be useful in a society that has reverted to the bartering system for everyday personal commerce.

There are a countless number of items you could decide to hoard for bartering, but you’ll never be able to stockpile everything. The key is to choose items that will give you the biggest return on your investment. In other words, the items for which there is the largest difference between what they cost you now and what they will bring in trade later. Another important consideration is shelf life.

Food and water will probably be the two most sought after items in a post-collapse society. But trading your “extra” vital sustenance could be a little risky, as we probably won’t know how long it will be before things return to normal and we’ll be able to obtain those items in stores again.

For your bartering supply, you may be better off choosing items that many others don’t think to stockpile, but which will be in high demand, including alcohol, cigarettes, coffee and candy. Other items include (in no particular order):

  • Water filters and water purification tablets.
  • Fire-starting devices.
  • Flashlights.
  • Batteries.
  • Paracord.
  • Non-genetically modified (non-GMO) seeds.
  • Gasoline and oil.
  • Precious metals.
  • Clothing.
  • Medicines.
  • Bug repellent.
  • Soap.
  • Candles.
  • Toilet paper and other paper products.
  • Tools, nails, screws, work gloves, etc.
  • Manual can opener.
  • Reading glasses.
  • Baby products.
  • Hygiene products.

Now, think about the types of skills you may wish to learn or hone that will have at least as much value and maybe more in a post-collapse society than they do today. Among them could be:

  • Small-engine repair.
  • Gun repair/cleaning.
  • Appliance repair.
  • Medical services.
  • Construction/building.
  • Welding.
  • Farming.
  • Hunting.
  • Blacksmithing.
  • Sewing/mending.
  • Protection/defense.
  • Psychology/counseling.

Two final things to consider. Don’t let those with whom you barter know the extent of your supplies. If they learn that you possess many more supplies in which they’re interested, they may just use that ammo they acquired from you to come back and try to relieve you of them. And because there will probably be a significant amount of lawlessness in a post-collapse society, don’t forget to store the weapons you’ll need to protect what you’ve stockpiled.

–Frank Bates

35 Effective Ways To Slash Your Power Bill

Many people are looking for ways to slash their power bills, especially after this past winter, which in certain areas of the country was the coldest on record. The amount of money that many of us shelled out to our local utilities last winter in order to keep the heat going was enough to sabotage any budget.

One of the best ways to cut utility bills is by getting off the vulnerable electrical grid as much as possible. Four ways to do that are by installing solar panels, a wind turbine, a solar water heater and a solar cooker at your home. Regardless of whether you are able to do that, there are many additional steps you can take in order to reduce your power costs. Following are 35 of them:

  1. Use natural lighting as often as possible by keeping shades, curtains and window treatments above the windows open during the day.
  2. Regardless of whether you’re using standard light bulbs or energy-efficient bulbs, keep in mind that using one high-wattage bulb is less expensive than several low-wattage bulbs.
  3. Turn off lights when they’re not being used, even if it’s just for a short time.
  4. Adjust light levels to what is needed. Lights frequently don’t need to be as bright as they are in a room.
  5. Incandescent light bulbs have lower price tags compared to other bulbs, but they are actually more expensive to use. LEDs use 10 times less energy and last 50 times longer than incandescent lights.
  6. Laptop computers use less energy than desktop models. Turn them off overnight, as well as your printers and monitors.
  7. Unplug your battery chargers when your devices are fully charged. Chargers continue to draw power when they’re plugged in, even if they’re not connected to a device.
  8. Installing aerating, low-flow faucets and showerheads is a great way to reduce water consumption. The shower is the biggest user of hot water in a household.
  9. Shortening your shower times will cut hot water usage and use up less energy from your hot water heater.
  10. Cover bare floors with carpeting or throw rugs, which will aid with heat retention. Wear layers at home in winter so you can keep the thermostat lower.
  11. Conduct a room-by-room vent inventory and make sure that each one is clean and not covered by furniture, drapes, articles of clothing or other objects.
  12. Replace air filters regularly, including ones for furnaces, exhaust hoods, humidifiers and vacuums. Sometimes, less expensive filters are better for airflow than more expensive brands.
  13. Whenever possible, run full loads of laundry rather than partial loads. An average family can save 3,400 gallons of water per year by running full loads.
  14. Wash your clothes in cold water, which will allow the hot water heater to take a break and will save on energy and money. Nearly 90 percent of the energy consumed by a washing machine goes to heating water.
  15. Next time a new dryer is needed, purchase one that includes an electronic sensor that shuts off the dryer when clothes are dry.
  16. Clean the lint filter in the dryer after every load. A clean filter allows the dryer to work more efficiently.
  17. Use your dishwasher’s air-dry setting. If it doesn’t have one, you can turn the dishwasher off after the rinse cycle, open the unit’s door and allow the dishes to air dry.
  18. Set the refrigerator temperature to between 36 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep meats and fish lower in the refrigerator, and fruits and vegetables higher. The freezer should be set between -10 and 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
  19. Clean the refrigerator and freezer units once or twice a year, including removing dust from condenser coils, fins, evaporator pans and motors.
  20. When it comes time to replace a refrigerator, freezer, dishwasher, clothes washer or dryer, and other electrical appliances, choose energy-efficient models.
  21. As much as possible, use small appliances, including toaster ovens, slow cookers and electric skillets, which use less energy than larger appliances.
  22. Use cold water when operating the garbage disposal. Grease can be solidified much easier in cold water than in hot water, moving it efficiently through the disposal and pipes.
  23. Use portable electrical space heaters when the entire house does not need to be heated.
  24. Limit the use of fireplaces, which can let more heat out of a house than they produce within the house.
  25. Set the home thermostat to 68 to 70 degrees during cold days and 65 to 68 at night. In the summer, set it to 78 degrees.
  26. In the winter, leave drapes, blinds and window shades open during the day to enable the sun to heat the home. During the summer, close them to keep the heat out.
  27. Get a tune-up for your heating, ventilating and air conditioning system once a year. Never stack anything against it or drape anything over it.
  28. Ceiling fans, which use no more electricity than a standard light bulb, can be used in various rooms instead of an air conditioner. They should turn in a counter-clockwise direction in the summer and clockwise in the winter.
  29. Make sure that all ductwork is properly sealed. Even a small leak can be a big energy waster.
  30. Plant trees on the sunny side of your house to keep it shaded during the hotter months. They can also help block winds during the winter.
  31. Put outdoor dusk-to-dawn lights on an automatic timer. Or consider using motion sensor lighting only.
  32. Grill meat and other food outside whenever possible in order to avoid using the oven.
  33. Insulate your attic, which will allow for less energy usage to keep the house warm.
  34. Insulate around windows and doors by weather stripping and caulking areas where there are air leaks.
  35. Conduct an energy audit on your home to determine where the house is losing energy.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to incorporate a significant number of these tips in order to save on your power bill. But even if you only start with a few of them, it will be worth it.

–Frank Bates

How To Build A Solar Electric Garden Fence

Gaining food independence is a big step in our overall effort to become self-reliant. Maintaining a good food supply is crucial to being able to both survive and thrive in a post-disaster society.

Growing your own food is one of the best ways to reach your goal in this area, but sometimes little critters can pose a big problem. A standard fence may keep rabbits, deer and other animals out of your garden; but an electric fence will probably be much more effective.

Of course, an electric fence is going to be more expensive than a standard fence, but there’s a way to solve that issue. An easy fix that uses that great big power plant in the sky — the sun — is a low-maintenance solar electric fence. And it’s even less expensive if you build it yourself.

Your cost for a solar electric fence should be about $200, assuming your home garden is roughly 50 feet by 50 feet. And this system should last for at least 10 years, so the cost of protecting your food source is very low.

Here’s what you’ll need to build your solar electric fence, and nearly everything is available at ranch supply stores, or

  • 200 feet of polytape or electric wire
  • 24 fiberglass support rods and plastic insulators
  • 4000+ volt fence charger with 12VDC input
  • Copper rod for grounding the system
  • Deep cycle battery from a boat or marine store
  • 5w-10w 12VDC solar panel for charging the battery
  • Deer repellent and cloth strips.

Installation is relatively easy. Start off by driving the corner posts around the outside perimeter of the garden. Then, space the remaining poles 8 to 12 feet between the corner posts to keep the charged wire tight. Next, string the wire between the posts about 3 feet off the ground, or higher depending on your critter problem. You can also run several lines around the posts at varying levels if you are concerned about rodents and rabbits.

Before connecting the wires to the fence charger, attach repellent-soaked rags about every 4 feet along the wire. This will ensure that deer won’t try to jump your wire setup and will stay clear. You may also want to set up a “gate” where you can enter the garden without turning off the fence. Then, attach the fence wire and grounding rods per the instructions on your fence charger.

Finally, connect the fence charger input to the 12 VDC battery and attach the appropriate leads from the solar panel to the same terminals on the battery. With a simple setup like this and a fence that is presumably on most of the time, you shouldn’t need a charge controller. If you take the fence down for the winter, then also disconnect your battery and solar panel, and store them in a safe place.

It’s a good idea to test your fence occasionally to make sure it’s still running. I shouldn’t have to tell you, but don’t do this with your hand! Use a simple $5 voltage meter. If you notice that your wires are often dead, you may need an additional solar panel and battery. This is common for longer fences and fences that are often touched by animals.

Now you can enjoy your garden and its bounty without worrying about your furry friends ruining dinner.

–Frank Bates

Everybody Should Be Prepared For Flooding

Before the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 that resulted in the deaths of more than 230,000 people in 14 bordering countries, many people didn’t know much about this phenomenon, especially in the Western Hemisphere. But tsunamis have been around for a long time and can cause a huge amount of damage.

High Water Sign in Flooded Neighborhood

A tsunami is a series of waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of water. The impact is usually limited to coastal areas, but the resulting flooding can have enormous destructive power. Although they have nothing to do with tides, tsunamis are more likely to look like a rising tide than a typical wave as they roll toward shore. Scientists still have much to learn about tsunamis, including why some smaller ocean earthquakes can cause larger tsunamis than some larger ocean earthquakes.

We in North America rarely encounter tsunamis, but most of us are familiar with flooding problems. Included in U.S. flooding history have been the Johnstown Flood of 1889 that killed 2,200 in Pennsylvania, the Mississippi River Flood of 1927 that resulted in 246 deaths across 10 States and the Ohio River Flood in 1937 that killed 385 in six States.

Fortunately, more recent flooding in the U.S. has resulted in far fewer deaths, but it has still caused significant damage to homes, businesses, sewage systems, roadways, bridges and crops, and has produced widespread power outages. All 50 States have experienced some flooding or flash floods in the past five years, so no one is immune.

How serious is the threat? Flash floods can bring walls of water from 10 to 20 feet high, a car can be carried away by just two feet of flood water and just a few inches of water from a flood can cause thousands of dollars in damages.

And while flooding doesn’t cause as many deaths in the U.S. as it used to, from 1983 to 2012 flooding resulted in more fatalities than tornados, hurricanes or lightning, according to the U.S. Natural Hazard Statistics.

A big problem – which many people don’t discover until it’s too late – is that most homeowners insurance policies don’t cover flood damage. From 2003 to 2012, total flood insurance claims averaged nearly $4 billion per year. Also, Federal disaster assistance is not a gift… it’s a loan with interest.

Having an emergency response plan in place in the event of flooding is important. Your 72-hour survival kit and bug-out bags should be prepared in advance, and your important documents should be organized.

Preparation is the key. Following are four action steps you can take before flooding occurs in order to be better prepared:

  • Visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood map site to discover whether you are in a flood plain and where the nearest high ground is located.
  • If you are a property owner, especially in an area prone to flooding, make sure you have sufficient flood insurance.
  • Be sure to have an emergency radio that tunes into reports from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.
  • Practice your escape plan with your family. Going through the motions now will help when the time comes for the real thing.

If flooding has already started or seems to be on the way, here are four steps you can take to protect yourself and your family:

  • Because you may need to move to higher ground on short notice, tune into emergency radio and be ready to move quickly.
  • If you’re driving and you see standing water ahead, stop. Six inches of water is enough to stall out most cars, and it may be deeper than it appears. Same thing if you’re on foot. Fast moving water can carry people off. Stay away from streams, sewer drains and drainage canals.
  • Know the difference between a flood warning and a flood watch. If the situation appears to be worsening, stop what you’re doing and get to higher ground right away.
  • If there is time to evacuate your home, turn off all of your valves, unplug appliances and move your most expensive items to the highest possible point of your home.

Following the flood threat, take the following four action steps, keeping in mind that the threat may only seem to be over:

  • Don’t walk into any standing water. There could be objects in the water that you can’t see, including electrical wires.
  • Continue to listen to emergency radio. You may be informed of a secondary threat of which you were not aware.
  • Keep your eyes focused on potential hazards, including broken glass, downed power lines, ruptured gas lines and damaged structures. And keep in mind that standing floodwater could be contaminated by gas, oil, sewage or chemicals.
  • Remain away from the area until city authorities declare that it is safe to return.

-Frank Bates

Cash Could Be King After A Crisis

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

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

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

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

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

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

Following are some suggestions:

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

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

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

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

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

–Frank Bates

Anything Can Be A Weapon If You Need It To Be

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

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

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

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

Get Out Of Dodge

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

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

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

Stay Alive In Your Living Room

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bathroom Brawling

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

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

Other Weapons

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

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


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

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

No. 1 Weapon

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

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

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

–Frank Bates

Hydroponics Can Provide You With A Secret Survival Garden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Frank Bates

Heirloom Seeds Can Give You Food Independence… Forever

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Frank Bates

Armor For The Body And Windows Could Save Lives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Frank Bates

22 Non-Food Items To Hoard For A Crisis

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

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

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

–Frank Bates

5 Steps To Surviving A Chemical Attack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Following are five steps to surviving a chemical attack:

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

–Frank Bates

Top 10 Ways to Turn Your Home Into A Fortress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Frank Bates

Include Coffee In Your Survival Stash

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

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

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

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

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

–Frank Bates

When It Comes To Survival, Urban Has Advantages Over Rural

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Frank Bates

Keep Your Emergency Stockpiles In Multiple Locations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Frank Bates

3 Crucial EMP Survival Strategies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Frank Bates

Don’t Make These 10 Food Storage Mistakes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Frank Bates

8 Emergency-Preparation Steps For Children

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Frank Bates

Prepping For Pets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Frank Bates

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

What does it mean to be self-reliant?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Frank Bates

25 Surprising Places To Hide Your Guns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top 25 Places To Hide Your Guns

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

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

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

— Frank Bates