Camouflage and Concealment: The Art of Staying Hidden

Urban Camouflage and Concealment

It makes me laugh when I see a lot of SWAT Teams and PSD guys wearing Tactical Black and other colors that look cool but do nothing but make them stand out. In reality black is one of the worst colors to wear. Ask yourself, what is black in nature? Look around you and what in your surrounding’s are black? I expect very little… In urban areas most walls are white, gray or cream… Light colors! The colors you wear should blend in with your background whether its day or night.

At night dark colors stand out, especially when moving past light backgrounds and in urban areas most backgrounds are light colors. Even in rural dry areas when moving through low bush and fields the silhouettes of people in dark colors are easy to see at a distance.

You do not have to have expensive patterns to give you good camouflage and concealment, a gray dress shirt and a pair of light khaki pants is way more effective than tactical Tim dressed in SWAT black!

Movement and Rural Camouflage

Modern humans are positively disadvantaged when surviving in and moving on foot in rural and wilderness areas. Most people these days have never spent a night outside without any cover, let alone in bad weather. When you’re in the woods or bush you need to get comfortable in the environment. I remember one of my military instructors telling me that to be able to fight in an environment, you must first be able to live comfortably in that environment, and this is true. If you’re having difficulty living day-to-day how can you operate?


You should always consider camouflage and wear clothes that blend in with your environment, in urban areas wear light blues and grays in rural areas browns and greens. As I have said before there is no need for military camouflage clothing as this will just draw attention to yourself.You need to start using all your senses as the animals do, learn to identify sounds, smells, movements and what they mean. You need to especially be able to identify things associated with people, like foot prints, cigarette stumps, broken twigs or foliage, fences, straight lines, domestic animals, aircraft, vehicles, talking etc. Think about human smells like fires, food, fuel, human waste and tobacco; if your senses are sharp in bush or wooded areas you should be able to smell or hear people before you see them.  When moving you must do so quietly and regularly stop to look, listen and smell for any indication of people. If you identify people in your proximity are you going to take cover, evade or ambush?

Basic field craft, things are seen because of these reasons: Shape, Shadow, Silhouette, Shine, Spacing & Movement.

  • Shape: Disguise your shape; use foliage or rags to break up your outline.
  • Shadow: Keep in the shadows and always be aware that you are not casting a shadow that could be seen by your opposition.
  • Silhouette: Don’t stand out against skylines, lights, white walls, etc.
  • Shine: No chrome, shiny watches, mirrored glasses, sparkly jewelry and the like.
  • Spacing: If moving with others, remain spread out, but not too regularly and do not bunch together.
  • Movement: Move carefully, as sudden movement draws attention and is the main reason camouflaged personnel and animals are seen.

The basic guidelines for camouflage are

  • Learn to blend in with your surroundings.
  • If you are using foliage to conceal yourself or your position don’t use too much or too little.
  • If you are in a long-term hide remember to keep your camouflage fresh, dead foliage will alert people to your position.
  • When moving avoid skylines.
  • Don’t use isolated or obvious cover; it’s the first place others will look. Consider hiding in thorny bushes or nettles as most people will not expect anyone to hide there.
  • Camouflage your face, neck and any areas of the exposed flesh with mud, ash or charcoal from fires. Or use a balaclava or scarf to cover your face and wear gloves.
  • Take all noisy objects from your pockets, such as keys and coins and make sure nothing on your person rattles.
  • Make sure there are no shiny surfaces on your person, equipment or clothing.

Guidelines for Movement

You should always move quietly and cautiously and avoid stepping on dry twigs or breaking through foliage and undergrowth as this will make noise and leave an easy trail to follow. If you know you’re going to a rural area or possibly going to be in an escape and evasion situation avoid smelly foods, strong soaps and after shaves, as these will be easy to smell by those used to being in the bush. Always be careful not to leave signs you were in an area such as foot prints, broken foliage, human waste or trash.  Trash and human waste should be carried out of a hostile area and disposed of when safe to do so.

You should always move in “bounds” from one piece of cover to another. Your bounds should never be more than, say 50 yards, especially at night. When you stop at the end of each bound you should use your senses to try to detect any human presents then plan your next bound. Moving in short bounds is the safest way to move through populated areas or places there are unfriendly forces. Remember, always be prepared to take evasive action or defend yourself.

There are no set time periods for halts but you should try to take ten minutes in every hour on long journeys. Tracks, paths and roads make for fast, easy travel and can aid navigation but can also be very dangerous as your opponents will watch them closely. To be cautious walk a few meters off to the side of any roads or tracks.  Places to expect sentries are at the entrances to urban areas, on bridges, cross roads and on high prominent terrain.The speed at which you travel will depend on whether it’s day or night, the type of terrain you’re in, people or police patrols in the area. Never push yourself to your limit, you always need to have energy in reserve so you can run in an emergency; tired people are also rarely mentally alert. If you must run from your opposition try to do so only for a maximum of a few hundred yards, then slow down and move quietly, cautiously and cover your any signs of your direction of travel. Do not use obvious routes, which tend to be the easiest routes to use; head up hills and into thorny areas etc.

Avoid being silhouetted when crossing skylines and hills, go around them rather than over them where possible. If you need to cross an obstacle or skyline then keep low and crawl, if it’s a fence, crawl through it or under it. If you have to cut through a fence, cut through the lower strands and then disguise the hole with undergrowth or tie the wire strands back together, never cut through the top strands as this will be easily noticed.

Moving at night

You need to learn to treat the night and darkness as your friend, darkness affords you cover. Many people are afraid of being in the dark especially in rural areas or derelict buildings; you should use this to your advantage. If you are moving you should always try to stay in the shadows, if you get caught in a beam of light or car headlights you should freeze, the chances are that you will remain unnoticed. You must have your immediate reaction drills for encountering a person, being caught in light or hostile fire at the forefront of your mind. Being caught off guard will get you captured or killed.

There are both natural and man-made noises that are useful to you because they can cover up or disguise the sounds that you make when moving. The best time for moving covertly is during bad weather; rain will cover the noise of your movement and any ground sign you leave. Bad weather also keeps people under cover, lowers the moral of those standing guard, learn to love bad weather.

General guidelines for rural movement

  • Wear clothing that blends in with local people and the terrain.
  • Do everything possible to disguise evidence of your passage; cover foot prints, never break twigs or undergrowth and repair broken foliage.
  • Avoid contact with all people unless absolutely necessary.
  • Litter, food and human waste must be buried or carried with you.
  • Learn about tracking, then you’ll be aware of what anyone following you will be looking for.
  • If moving with others spread out and when crossing obstacles such as a rivers or roads etc. take up positions to be able to give warnings of any threats that might be approaching. Also stay low move fast and cross one by one.
  • Always be ready to take cover from gunfire or people you may encounter by surprise.
  • Remember certain smells indicate human activity; odors float downhill in cool air and rise on warm air.
  • Watch for stones, leaves or logs that have been moved, the undersides of these will be darker in color and damp environments, this can be an indicator of human activity or the location of hides.
  • Always look for straight lines as they are rare in nature and are usually man-made.
  • Learn to identify unnatural vegetation, such as green leaves among dead branches or areas of too much foliage as this could indicate human activity such as hides or ambushes.

These are some basic guidelines to get you thinking, these skills can’t be learn sat in a comfy chair, you need to get out and learn and practice them. Everything I have written about here is simple and the main thing required is situational awareness and common sense!

Back to Basics: How to Stockpile Food for Emergencies

Today I wanted to share tips for how to stockpile food for emergencies that anyone can use. I will focus on preppers who are just starting out, but I think some ideas in the topics below could be useful to anyone looking to ensure their family has food and does not go hungry. This article will also have dozens of links to other content on the subject for additional reading.

I believe there are 5 main components to survival that everyone needs to consider. They are simply Water, Food, Shelter, Security and Hygiene.  The need for water and how you can easily store water for emergencies that render your traditional methods of obtaining water impossible. Water is more important to life than food or at least you can live longer without food than you can water, but they are both important.

Why do you need to stockpile food for emergencies?

If you are new to prepping, you may have something that triggered your awareness of the subject. Preppers have many reasons for doing what they do and no two preppers are alike. Some are preparing for the end of the world, but most see situations in our daily lives that give a perfect reason to stock up supplies. You have only to look at the recent winter storm that affected large swaths of the Eastern Seaboard to have a perfect example of why you don’t want to be left without a means to feed your family.

It seems almost cliché at this point, but invariably it always happens when a winter storm is forecast. Everyone rushes out to the store and certain food supplies are wiped out. Images of empty shelves are shown on practically every newscast and eventually prepper websites. Food shortages during simple storms are common if not expected. We don’t really even blink anymore because we are so used to this practice of waiting until the last-minute and then hitting the local grocery store on the way home from work to grab some basic necessities or comfort food.

If you can’t live for more than 3 days without going to the store, it’s time to reevaluate your family’s readiness. The statistic we hear most of the time is that the average home has only 3 days’ worth of food in it. If this is true, where would you be on day three if you had not been able to make it to the grocery store before the storm? What if instead of a snow storm, a virus outbreak had occurred and everyone was told to stay indoors to prevent infection? Each of us should have more food on hand that our families and friends will eat than is absolutely necessary to prevent surprises from leaving you hungry.

How much food do you need to store?

In the example above I used a virus outbreak as the condition that would prevent you from getting to the store. There are others though and weather could certainly be one of them. Some storms where I live have left roads impassable for upwards of a week. Could we walk to the store? Sure, but what if the stores having already been cleared of just about all of the food were closed? What if power outages prevented them from conducting any transactions? These are things you should consider.

Prepping is not something I ever consider you can accomplish. By that I mean, you are never going to be fully prepared. You may be much better prepared than some or all of the people around you, but you will never be 100% self-sufficient. Prepping should be done incrementally even if you have more money than you know what to do with because as you start to stock up food you learn lessons.

A good rule of thumb for me is to start small when you are beginning to stockpile food for emergencies. You don’t need a year of freeze-dried foods to start with. Try just having a week or two of extra groceries that your family already eats. This is accomplished without any exotic storage needs usually or 5 gallon buckets of grains you have to figure out how to prepare.

What are the best types of food to stockpile?

My wife purchases the groceries and I started out by giving her extra money to simply buy more food. I did this in the beginning because she is a much better shopper than I am and will always save more money than me. This worked great because she was easily able to fill our pantry and had plenty of meals planned to last us well over 30 days. Sure, at the end of that 30 days of food we would be getting into more exotic cans of mushrooms and soups that are better left as part of a recipe as opposed to your entire meal, but we wouldn’t starve.

Once we had a month worth of food and water stored up, I started looking at other options. I think each person should have a layered approach to food storage. This gives you flexibility and more importantly variety that as you go out to 6 months or 1 year or 2 will be important. My own personal goal is 2 years’ worth of food stockpiled for my family but that isn’t made up of only food from our grocery store. That can certainly be done though with a very good rotation plan.

Food storage should ideally cover the following:

Short Term Food Storage – The best and simplest foods are like I said above, what your family eats every day. One thing to consider is that the bulk of this food should be non-perishable in case you lose power. Canned foods are great as well as pastas, drink mixes and staples. These usually last at least a year.

Medium Term Food Storage – For the 5 – 10 year range MRE’s are a great option although they are heavier and their convenience comes at a higher price. I have several boxes of these and I like MRE’s because they are self-contained and don’t really need any water. Freeze dried camping foods like Mountain House are another great option to just add hot water to. Rice and beans make great additions to this category because you don’t really have to do anything crazy to store them as long as they are kept cool and dry.

Long Term Food Storage – When you start to look at foods that will keep for many years you get into stored grains like Hard Red Winter Wheat that you store in sealed 5 gallon buckets. Freeze dried food from any one of many suppliers out there keep for 20 years usually and are individually wrapped Mylar packets. They require water to re-hydrate but the taste can be surprisingly good. Make sure you have seasonings though….

Renewable Food Storage – This is when you have to get your inner farmer working. Renewable foods are an intensive garden, small livestock like chickens or rabbits and the occasional wild game caught either through hunting or snares. In the worst disasters, your food will run out so having a plan for that ahead of time will help you prepare.

How do you plan for your food eventually running out?

I have a mix of the food storage options above. We eat on our grocery store items every day, but I also have MRE’s and a pretty large amount of freeze-dried foods stored. We also have the grains I mentioned and the all-important grain mill to grind them into flour. Several hundred pounds of rice and beans round out the equation.

Stockpiling food is only the start. We have a garden and small flock of chickens. The stored food is just to get us through the worst of the disaster. Hopefully before our food runs out whatever disaster has happened will be mitigated and life will have returned to some sense of normality. If not, we have a huge leg up that will allow us to further harvest our garden to put away food like the pioneers had to do. It is an approach that gives us some sense of security and prepares us to come out on the other side still alive.

What is your plan to stockpile food for emergencies?

Winter SHTF Planning and Preparation

Currently enjoying the first real Winter storm of the season up here in Canada and I must say I really like it. Got me thinking about those things relating to Winter survival that are either not really talked about or, worse yet, ignored. I am assuming you do not have a massive solar array and geothermal power. I am also assuming you live in the snow belt meaning two to five months of Winter and arctic temperatures.

It is Snowing. A lot!

Here at work I just opened our Storm accommodation plan so staff can sleep overnight rather than risk life, limb, and fenders trying to get home as 20cm of snow falls (8 inches). They have the option to sleep in warm, dry, secure location and get a free meal voucher. Awesome deal but in SHTF when it snows hard it gets complex. Stay or go? I’d stay put until the obvious storm front has passed me by as I really will have no idea if the snow is stopping in an hour or going to keep dropping the next three days.

This means in the Winter season you always need to have a Winter bug in kit on you at all times you know you cannot easily get back to home base. You should always have a compass on you in SHTF as fog, rain, and snow can easily get you lost real fast even close to home base. This is my minimum gear I’d have on me if venturing any distance in the Winter season in Southern Ontario away from the home base.

  • Emergency bivvy bag. Many makes of these are available. Get an expensive one you can reuse. In SHTF you cannot reorder from Amazon easily.
  • Emergency stove and fuel. The goal here is to boil water for hot drinks and food and to get a bit of heat. I’d use my BioLite but a basic rocket stove made from an old number 10 tin can would work great. Carry fuel and ignition. Snow means getting a new supply might be impossible. The BioLite Wood Burning Campstove is expensive and heavy but really awesome on fuel usage and heat. It also charges a good light source (get the orange one not the blue version)
  • The clothes I’d be wearing would be Winter proofed. Look up and learn how to dress for Arctic temperatures. I’d have extra gloves, hat, socks, and leg/arm thermal wrapped in the pack as well.
  • Metal water container that can be used to boil water. Some emergency filters won’t work so well in minus temperatures however hard you suck on the ice!
  • Emergency shovel. Dig a hole and then a ditch around the base so water will run away from you. Consider covering it to make a snow cave. Know how to do this safely.
  • Those high calorie life boat rations, MREs, and wise food would also be great in this situation. I’d want 5000 Cal minimum but 10000 Cal would be safer. Candies and a couple of boil in the bag meals will help with variety.
  • A couple of Mylar survival blankets and a 6 by 10 piece of transparent plastic sheet. The better the survival shelter, the warmer you will be.
  • 50 feet of paracord.
  • Decent amount of duct tape
  • Folding saw and a knife in case fuel is available
  • Flash light that works without solar or batteries. Hand crank or squeeze (I use the BioLite for this one).
  • Sun glasses
  • Sun screen. I never use it except in the Winter. So easy to burn your face

At this point you are probably rolling your eyes but this kit is for my local conditions not for yours! Deep snow is a killer up here and will be much worse in SHTF. Mostly I won’t venture more than 2 miles from home base and this is my minimum carry is for extend trips beyond 10 miles in December through March. It would be a lot smaller for local sojourns. If you can safely get back to home base then get back to it. If unsure bug in and make camp until it is safe to walk home. What did I miss? What should I not carry? Let me know in the comments and why of course.  I excluded snow shoes as I’d have them on if it had already snowed but would not carry them if it had not. I can make a pair using the folding saw, knife, and paracord if I had to.

Winter Storm in SHTF from your cozy bug in or bug out location

If you have prepped right and have been lucky then you should have adequate calories and comfort to survive the storm. If not then you are SOL. However these are some of my ideas that might be overlooked by some in SHTF.

Toilet Paper

I have loads of it but it will run out. The supply I have will be withdrawn from circulation after the first four weeks of SHTF. I will tell my girlfriend she has to let go of the past and embrace the now. Likely she will leave me at this point and I will have doubled my supply of white rice! The paper toilet paper will be strictly only for use if sick or in deep Winter (and her birthday. I’m not heartless). I have pre-cut a large supply of linen toilet ‘paper’ from old jeans and shirts. In the warmer months that is what is used to wipe and polish. In deep Winter the ability not to have to wash the toilet rags will be an awesome asset (pun intended) and avoid a real problem in arctic temperatures.

Fuel

For me this will be wood. I plan worse case and SHTF forever. You need about 5 cords of wood to get through the Winter here but around my bug in home I can collect wood for sure 10 months of the year so this can be reduced. At my bug out cottage that drops to about 8-9 months of the year. Sure I can hack down standing dead trees but realistically how many of them will be close to me abode after a few months? Wood gathering and storing will be a continual endeavor all year-long. Collect birch and ignition materials will also be a yearlong activity. However if I can avoid chopping and processing wood when it is below minus 10C then I absolutely will. Sure that makes for great looking prepper videos but to me it means they did not prep smart.

Exercise in SHTF should be avoided and exercise in arctic temperatures should only be done in a life or death situation. Like the bears your plan should be to basically sleep through the worst of the Winter. Using wood from one or two years ago that has been stacked properly is a great idea but think for a moment. In SHTF you will probably use your entire stock of wood in the first year if you neglect to add to the supply each and every day. Like toilet paper you never, ever can store enough wood but try.

Fuel Storage

Fuel for me means wood. I do not expect gasoline or propane to be widely available in SHTF and do not construct my preps around anything that cannot be found or used 5 years down from the SHTF event(s). Wet wood needs to dry before use. Cold wood needs to be warmed before use as does kindling. You can, with effort, work around this but why even try? Your bug in or bug out place needs to be able to accommodate a large supply of wood and ignition material inside the place. Going outside in a storm is the last thing you will want to do and having an ample inside store means not opening the door and pre-warmed and dry wood. Have lots of mouse and rat traps as the critters love wood piles. In the Spring store wood at least 30 feet from your shelter. Have a wheelbarrow to help move wood and water around when there is no snow.

Water

If safe to drink then snow can easily be melted provided you have lots of wood available. Remember to add unfrozen water to the pan and add snow slowly in small amounts and stir. If can and will burn if you just dump it into the hot pan. You need to use a window or an additional chimney to direct the steam outside your shelter. Water vapor gets everywhere and moisture can kill you in SHTF. Bang a few empty cans together and use aluminum foil to funnel the rising steam into the cans. Have it open through a window and use bubble wrap and duct tape to seal. Block the inside end with cloth when not creating steam.

You should have a lot of treated water stored year round but remember to move it inside the warm room before freezing starts to occur.

Home is where the hearth is

One room is your home in the deep Winter. Heat that one room and use plastic sheets and Mylar to reflect heat back into the room and trap heat in the room. Bubble wrap should have been hoarded for all the windows before SHTF. Hand plastic sheets on both sides of all the doors and avoid using them as much as possible. Stack soil and wood around the outsides of that inner room to add insulation but make sure it is in trash bags and is dry.

Set up a tent inside this room to sleep in but, as with the plastic sheets make sure there is zero risk of a fire or a melting happening. Have several fire extinguishers and a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm inside this room as well. If you cannot set up adequate ventilation do not use anything other than the fireplace to cook in. I’m using the BioLite as well as the fireplace but with the additional ventilation system for steam described above.

Plan how to gather more fuel and food in the warmer months. Figure out how to preserve that food for the next Winter. Keep mentally busy as Winter is not a great time to wander around outside when snow is on the ground. It takes far too much energy to do so and has a lot of risks.

The Roof

Have a suitably angled roof for your worst case snow fall activity. Sure you can go up a ladder and sweep it off but I can tell you a lot of elderly males get spinal injuries each and every year in Ontario from doing that. Have your roof renewed more frequently than you need as roofers will be in short supply in SHTF.

Winter SHTF is not all suffering, eh?

Can you skate and do you have frozen rivers and lakes near you? For most of Ontario’s history travel in the Winter was easier than in the Summer and this will happen again a few years into SHTF as the bridges fall and the roads fail. Good time to go out and meet the neighbors. Winter is a wonderland and a great time to think about ice fishing.

Keep a supply of pre SHTF goodies hidden away and some tinsel. December 25th or as near as you guess the date to be wrap up some presents using newspaper and eat some decent food. Sing carols and make merry. This birthday and special day celebration is what makes suffering through SHTF worth while. Never neglect to think about how to make yourself happy in SHTF even if most days it will be as awful as the weather is right now.

By Huples

 

Introduction to Building a Storage Shed – Part 2

In this part, we will look at some other things to consider before you install your storage shed.  And some general lessons learned to keep in mind through the process.

Storage Shed Kit Sources

Doing an online search seems to be an effective method.  Doing a search for “shed kit” on eBay gave me an idea of what was available.  Searching for the top brands found companies specializing in shed kits such as ShedsForLess.com.  Once I found the make and model I was looking for, more specific searches found the best price.  Prices seem fairly universal, although I did happen to find a sale on my choice.  A local source may be cheaper since delivery can be handled in house, but will be increased by sales tax, so the total price should be compared with companies which have to include freight in the cost but don’t have to charge tax.  It seems that shipping is usually “free” (more accurately, included in the cost) on some of the major brands.

Keep in mind that the floor is usually not part of the kit, although often can be ordered with the kit.  Often it is delivered first, from a local source, which means the quality might not be optimal.  On mine, most of the joists could be forced into place, but I had one beam which was warped at a knot, and attempting to force it straight caused the beam to snap.  Replacing it was not trivial, since the only receipt I had was the shipping order, and it took a long time for the local store to find it in their system, since it did not have my name on it or even the name of the company I ordered from.  It was under the name of the kit manufacturer.

There are kits which are material only, and those which are pre-cut.  The latter is easier to assemble and requires less equipment.

Also, when pricing a (wood) kit, keep in mind that hardware is often included, but paint and roofing are usually not, and these products are not cheap.  I could not believe they get over $30 a gallon for paint these days; fortunately Ace had a buy one gallon, get one gallon free sale.  For most (wood) sheds, the specified roofing is shingles, and those run about $1 a square foot.    Flooring, roofing and paint was about 1/4 of the total cost of my kit, and that did not include the roofing gun and scaffolding which will be used for other projects as well.

Options

Often a kit company will offer “options” such as additional or different doors, windows, a ramp, shelving/cabinets and various ventilation methods.  If offered by the kit company you pretty much have to order it with the kit.  Ventilation is good to prevent heat build-up; a “ridge vent” methodology is probably the best, but usually not available with the kit.  If you are going to use the shed strictly for storage, then windows would seem to be pretty silly since you lose wall space and reduce the security.  However, if you are going to be spending much time in there, a window or two will be quite helpful for light, ventilation and to reduce claustrophobia.

What to Have on Hand

The first thing to attempt to arrange is other people.  There are a couple of aspects of building the shed which will be very difficult for a single person to accomplish, without using “tricks” which need to be purchased or constructed.  More people not only allow completing these aspects in a “normal” manner, but will make things quicker and perhaps even “more fun”.  After all, if a single person needs to drive 1000 nails, two people only need to drive 500 each, and so on.  Plus, don’t discount the motivation having others involved provides.  If you can arrange for a person or group to help, that should be great.  If you don’t have people available or that you trust, it does not mean you are out of luck, just that you will need to approach the project differently.

There are certain basic tools you will need.  For a pre-cut wood building, that will be a hammer, drill (primarily for driving screws), tape measure (25′ may be adequate for medium sized buildings), level, framing square, carpenter’s pencil and a circular saw.  Having a cut-off saw was nice (more ergonomic and precise), but is not really needed by the pre-cut kit; the square and circular saw will suffice since there are not that many cuts left to be made.  A panel saw would have been handy, but for the one cut needed for the floor of my kit, a long straight edge, a pair of clamps, and the circular saw did just fine.  And you will need a ladder or two.  And, of course, don’t forget safety glasses and work gloves.  Plus arrange for the equipment for your preferred painting methodology.

Remember those 1000 nails?  I’ve used a nail gun for construction and it is very helpful indeed.  However, since the kit came with all the correct nails, I did not bother getting the pneumatic equivalents.  However, roofing nails were NOT included, and roofing is enough of a pain; I got a roofing nail gun and the nails for it.  Some kits say that “felt” under the shingles is “optional”.  I disagree.  Not only does it provide protection from a small leak in the shingles, but it protects the shingles from the roof panels and vice versa.  For the felt, you will need a hammer stapler and staples (no, a pneumatic stapler won’t do; it goes right through the felt, and your hands will hate you if you try using a standard squeeze stapler).  For the shingles, a utility knife and a bunch of hook blades for it, and a pair of tin snips (for the edging).  Be sure the hook blades fit your utility knife; my knife had a couple of extra pins which match up holes only in the same brand’s (much more expensive) blades.

This list assumes that everything goes perfectly, which it sometimes does not.  For instance, if there is a warped or twisted board, it can often be forced into position using a pipe wrench.  Or a twisted beam can be encouraged to stay in place with a long bolt and nut, tightened with a wrench and socket wrench.  Some places get rain, and getting raw wood wet is not wise.  A tarp big enough to completely cover the roof (and bungee cords to fasten it down with) can be a great help.  Things sometimes don’t fit quite right; I found a package of composite (not wood) shims (from Timberwolf) to be of great help in these cases.  If you end up with a crack or hole that insects can get through, some spray foam like “Great Stuff” can help.  Although roofing CAN be done with ladders, it is a tedious, slightly more dangerous process.  Buying or renting scaffolding can make it go quicker and is a bit safer to boot.  Of course, it might be easier and not much more expensive just to hire someone to do the roofing.

I used several other tools which I had on hand, to overcome problems and make “enhancements” to the shed.  These should not be normally needed.

Caveats

It is tempting to just order the kit and work on the site when the floor kit arrives.  This can be problematical; it took me over a month to get the floor flat and level (since the ground was very much neither).  Yet, the shed kit arrived only a few days after the floor kit.  Be aware of what the relative weather is between the source and your location.  My kit came from Pennsylvania when it was cold and wet, and arrived in Arizona where it was warm and dry, and sat in that wildly different environment for over a month.  It is not surprising that I had more warping and twisting than expected.  Two lessons learned.  Prepare site before ordering, and be aware of relative weather between source and destination.

The floor kit is often delivered by a local lumber outfit, who may have a trailer and fork-lift, and can put the pile in a relatively out of the way location.  The shed kit may be shipped by a standard shipper who has nothing other than pallet jacks to move things around with.  Pallet jacks require a smooth, solid surface, so they had to leave my kit in the road and I had to quickly and manually move it into my pickup.  The total kit weight is a bit over a ton, so to move it from curb to site will take more than one trip with a “1/2 ton” pickup.  When you get to the site, have something for the materials to sit on to keep them off the ground, sort the parts by size, and then stack them with the last needed pieces on the bottom and the first needed pieces on top.  I had two stacks, one of boards and one of sheets.  Cover with tarps if precipitation is expected.

Find the inventory list before you start unpacking and use it to verify the contents as you unpack.  I did a manual inventory, and matching it with the official one I found later was a bit of a challenge, since my descriptions did not match theirs.  There were a couple of pieces missing and a couple which were unusable; a call to the company got replacements sent right out.  Read the manual from cover to cover before you start, then follow it “exactly” (except for any typos) unless you are doing the build by yourself.

It was annoying that the 16′ shed floor kit came with 8′ runners; it was a challenge to keep them together and straight; I eventually gave up and used “StrongTie” connectors to hold them together end-to-end.

Standard felt is very easily torn.  It usually takes two people to install, and after we got one side up and took a break; the wind, more accurately a gentle breeze, ripped most of it off.  I finally had success with double thickness felt which is somewhat stronger, a “tool” I built which allowed me to put it up by myself, and putting on the edging as quickly as possible to prevent  wind from getting under the felt edges.  Yes, you need more rolls (being thicker, there is less length in each roll), but in climates such as ours, you generally put on two layers of standard felt anyway.

How to start

The first step is to figure out everything you want to accomplish with your shed, then find out any limitations on what you are “allowed” to put up and where you want to put it.  This includes finding out what is required by building codes.  Make sure you have plans for any alterations to be made to the shed; find the materials and figure out when in the build process you will need to diverge from the standard instructions.  Next, find the model or models of kits which you like, and get an idea of the pricing.  Arrange financing (cash or credit), prepare the site (marking and leveling for wood, forms. rebar and pouring for concrete), then order the kit.  Find out when it will be delivered and arrange to be available, with a truck or two to move the parts from where they deposit them to the construction site, and preferably people to help to load and unload.

 

John Hertig

Introduction to Building a Storage Shed – Part 1

Why would you want to do this?  Look at the name:  STORAGE Shed.  Most everybody “needs” more storage because they can’t bear to have less stuff.  And someone preparing for bad times probably has more stuff than a person who doesn’t believe anything bad can happen and expects their parents and/or government to take care of them no matter what.  Some of that extra stuff you really don’t have room for in your house, and some of your prepping supplies you REALLY don’t want to have IN your house.  Such as a generator and fuel, oil and vehicle parts, battery banks and so on so building a storage shed makes a lot of sense in some situations.  You can, of course, rent storage space; there is a large industry devoted to just that.

There are a few problems with that solution though.  One, you have to go there to get your stuff, and that assumes that you have a working transport AND that they can or will let you have access if they have no power or their computers don’t work or the people in charge are honesty challenged.  Two, you have signed your stuff over to them if they don’t receive payment for any reason (such as banks being closed).  Three, you are usually contractually obligated NOT to store some of the things you don’t want in your house.  And four, they can raise their rates whenever they please unless you have a long-term lease.  The place I am at currently is charging me TWICE what someone walking in off the street pays, and won’t reduce it.  I could rent another unit, move my stuff over, and cancel the first place, or move to another location, but I know the new price will just start moving up again.  The cost of a storage shed may seem large, but I did the math, and it will be paid off by two years of storage fees, and that is assuming they don’t raise the rate again, which is a very poor assumption.

Look at the other part of the name:  Storage SHED.  Do you have a “post Apocalypse” trade planned or set up; blacksmith, gunsmith, leather worker, seamstress/tailor, weaver, or the like?  This could be used for your business or the tools and supplies.  Plus, a shed looks like a shed, but it does not mean it must be ONLY a shed.  It could provide camouflage for an entrance or exit from an underground area.  It can be built with concealed areas.  Some sheds are designed as, or can be converted to, a green house, if you are interested in growing your own food and/or medicinal plants or setting up an aquaponics system.

Ok, let us assume you have decided you want a storage shed.   But can you have one?  Like it or not, there are a number of people or organizations who have control over what you put up.  Do you own the property?  If not, the owner has complete discretion over what you put up, if anything.  And if you don’t own the property, do you really want to make improvements to it?  An option in this case might be “portable” storage, like a trailer, or one of those transoceanic shipping containers.

Do you belong to a “Home Owners Association”?  If so, you have contractually agreed to give them complete control of the exterior of your property.  Read the bylaws to see what is currently allowed.  Figure out what you can do which abides by any restrictions.   And once you come to agreement on what they will accept “today”, get documentation which grandfathers your shed against any future changes to the bylaws.

How close are the neighbors, and are they reasonable?  If you follow all the legal requirements, they may not be able to prevent you from doing what you want, but if they get annoyed enough, they can still cause you plenty of grief.

Dealing with Governments

And then there is the city, town, township, parish and/or county.  Each level of government will have restrictions on what can be done, based on the “zoning” of the property in question.  The less remote the property is, the more stringent the restrictions are likely to be.  These include things like the percentage of the property which can be “covered”, height restrictions, required distances from property lines and other buildings, and many other things, collectively known as “Building Codes”.  Your safest bet is to get a “building permit”, but this has some downsides.  First of all, as a survivalist, you should attempt to stay “under the radar”.  You would be hard pressed to be more obvious than having your plans on public accessible file with the government, and having inspectors checking you out each step of the way.  Second of all, it will cost.  The building permit has a fee, often based on type of building and square feet.  I once wanted to put up a carport, and they told me I would have to pay $5 per square foot just for the permit.  For posts and an aluminum roof; the building permit would have cost more than the carport.  Not only that, but it is likely they will factor this “improvement” into your property value when computing future property taxes.

By all means, find out all the restrictions on what you can put up; violating restrictions has potential for serious annoyances if the government wants to raise a fuss (and they usually do if violations are brought to their attention).  However, if you can avoid getting a building permit, that might be a good path.  For instance, here, if the shed is less than 200 square feet, you don’t need a permit.  That means a 12′ by 16′ shed (192 square feet) can be put up without a permit being required.  Just because a permit is not required, does not mean the restrictions can be ignored; you just won’t have the public records and government monitoring.

Ways to Get a Storage Shed

The “easiest” way is to have someone build it for you.  This will not be the cheapest option, and a competent builder will likely insist on a building permit, meaning not only public records and government monitoring, but the builder and perhaps others will know all about your shed.  The incompetent builder will refuse the permit and perhaps build something which violates code, with potential for eventual legal challenges or structural problems.  For smaller sheds, you might be able to have it pre-built and delivered.  You could build it yourself, which means you have to come up with a viable design (not that hard) and get the materials, which may be a challenge.  I don’t know about your location, but the lumber here is crap; warped, twisted, split, insufficiently dried.  As my dad said when we were trying to get lumber to replace a rotted porch, “I wouldn’t use this stuff for firewood”.  The remaining option is a “kit”.  This has the advantage that the design, acquisition of materials and much of the cutting are already done for you.  A good kit will have better quality material than you may find locally and instructions which most everyone should be able to follow.

Types of Storage Sheds

There are a number of architectural shed types.  Chose what you like, and what fits your landscape and restrictions.  I’m partial to the “barn” style, because it gives you more height, and even “lofts” in some models.  Possible materials include wood, steel, aluminum and various “plastics”.  Plastic and aluminum tend to be the hallmark of cheap “department store” sheds, great for lawnmowers and garden tools, but not what you would call “durable” or “secure”, and usually limited in size.  For a substantial shed, wood or steel is usually the way to go.  I’m more comfortable working with wood, so that is the path I chose, although steel seems like it might have some advantages.

Modifications

Depending on what you will use the shed for, you may want to make modifications or additions.  For instance, wiring it for electricity may be useful.  But since there is no guarantee electricity will always be available, make sure you have the ability to plug-in a generator (via a transfer switch), or add solar or wind generation capability.  In some cases, you may want to add plumbing.  Note that no matter how much of the electrical or plumbing work you are willing and able to do yourself, you should consider getting a permit for this work and having it inspected.  Unlike the structure, which is hard to mess up (especially if professionally designed), a mistake in the design OR execution of electric or plumbing can cause fire, electrocution, leaks, odors or rot/rust.  And if not up to code, an insurance company may refuse to pay off on a claim.  Wherever practical, have the shed “completed” so it looks like you are “adding” the electrical or plumbing and follow all requirements for what must be visible to the inspector(s).  Of course, if you got the permit for the shed in the first place, follow their instructions on when in the process the various inspections should be scheduled.  If temperature control is a concern, you may want to add insulation, cooling or heating.

Flooring

This foundation (literally) of a shed is an important decision.  The common choices are concrete, or joists with flooring panels.  Concrete may be “better” and in some cases easier; pick your location, set up forms and rebar, and have it poured.  It may be more expensive, and less versatile (it is kind of hard to dig through concrete if you decide a partial “basement” would be handy), and “impossible” to move.  Joists are likely to be less expensive and more versatile, and if the ground is not even, may even be more practical.  There will be beams running the length of the building, with the joists running across the building between the beams.  Flooring panels are laid across the joists and fastened in place.  Note that the beams and joists are in contact with the ground and so are at risk for rotting and/or insects.  Thus pressure treated lumber or corrosion resistant metal is critical here.

Site preparation is highly important, since in order for the floor to be flat and level, and stay that way, the ground must be flat, level and stable.  If it is not, you may be able to compensate by having a variable thickness concrete floor, or building a foundation or partial foundation for your beams out of blocks and concrete.  A “better” floor system is to have runners the length of the building, on which the beams and joists sit.  As long as the runners are flat and level (and adequately supported), it does not matter if the ground is, plus it also allows ventilation below the shed, which can help with cooling and reduction of condensation inside.  It also puts the flooring higher, which may make entry more difficult, but on the other hand, gives more protection against minor flooding.  The runners, of course, must also be pressure treated wood, corrosion resistant metal, or even concrete and/or blocks, and a ramp can compensate for the step up.

 

John Hertig

Survival Skill: Unarmed Combat

In an ideal world when a SHTF scenario takes place you’d be wearing your bullet proof vest and have immediate access to your hand gun and assault rifle. Unfortunately this may not be the case because of several factors. The laws in your country might prohibit you from carrying any weapons or the place you are attending might not allow you to carry weapons, such as universities and hospitals. So how do you defend yourself using unarmed combat skills if you get stuck in such an unpleasant situation? This article will go through the steps involved in defending yourself from the initial assessment of the threat, how to avoid or eliminate the threat with your bare hands or with any improvised weapon that you’re likely to come across in everyday life.

Assess the threat

As with everything else, the first step is to assess the situation. The extent of your assessment will obviously depend on the prevailing circumstances. You can’t take out pen and paper and start drafting an action plan if there’s a hyped up guy slashing with a machete right in front of your face. Each situation warrants a different level of assessment. An imminent threat requires split second decisions that are mostly based on muscle memory acquired through hours of training whilst a hostage situation requires careful planning. Whatever the situation, the aim of your assessment is to identify any weaknesses of your opponent, availability of improvised weapons and escape routes. We’ll cover all these aspects in the sections below.

Basics of Self Defense

When faced with a threat you have two opposing options; fight or flight. Backing off from a confrontation might make you feel like a pussy but it’s better to feel that way for a few days rather than being killed or injured because of your pride. If you decide to run away from a confrontation/threat you have to be sure that you can run faster than your opponent, avoid any weapons he may attack you with whilst you are running (mostly applicable to firearms), and find adequate shelter before he catches up with you. If this is not possible then you’d better stand your ground and fight because once you turn your back on your opponent you’ll become much more vulnerable.

Once you’ve decided to fight, or are forced to fight your way out, there are some basics you have to keep in mind. The fundamental principle of self-defense is to reduce to the least extent possible the damage your body receives in the attack. Key areas to protect are your entire head and face and vital organs in your torso. However do not underestimate the importance of your limbs. You won’t be able to attack with enough force if your arm/s gets injured and you’ll have problems standing and moving about if your leg/s gets injured. How you protect yourself will depend on how you’re being attacked. We’ll go through these in the coming sections.

The next principle is to stop your assailant from what he is doing. This is achieved by hitting a delicate part of your opponent’s body with a tough part of your own body (or any hard object that comes to hand). Your attack should be vicious and aggressive. This is not the time to have sympathy. You want to cause intense pain and damage in as little time as possible in order to neutralize the assailant.

Tough Parts of the Body

  • Knuckles
  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Sole of the foot
  • Forehead

Delicate Parts of the Body

  • Temple
  • Eyes
  • Nose
  • Jaw
  • Neck/throat
  • Solar plexus
  • Ribs
  • Kidneys
  • Groin
  • Knees (when hit from the sides)

Unarmed Assailant

When your assailant is unarmed it’s a fight on equal par and the outcome will depend on strength, stamina, technique, aggressiveness and as always a bit of luck. Although it’s important to be aggressive don’t forget about defending yourself and protecting your vitals. If you get injured, you drastically reduce your chance of winning that fight. Once into the fight do your utmost to knockout (make unconscious) your opponent or cause an injury that makes him harmless. Do not start throwing useless punches and kicks in the air like a drunkard. Instead aim all your shots and focus on making contact with most if not all your attacks. Hit with all your strength but make sure not to lose your balance. Do not opt for fancy spinning kicks and that stuff unless you’re a professional kick boxer. Aim your kicks to his knees to knock him off-balance and aim your punches to his face and ribs if you get the opportunity. Do not unnecessarily expose yourself whilst attacking and always be ready to block his attacks. Follow these basics and you’re likely to be the one standing next to an unconscious body.

Armed with a Knife

When faced with an opponent with a bladed weapon you must concentrate on that weapon and move in such a way that it never contacts your body. Keep at a distance and let your opponent slash and trust in vain. You have to wait for your opportunity to move in swiftly and grab hold of the hand holding the weapon. Do not grab the weapon from the blade. Your best chance of moving in is when he has swung the blade and is about to slash back. Once you gain hold of his weapon bearing hand hit him with all you’ve got but never let go off the hand. When you feel that he’s become weak enough, grab the weapon bearing hand with both your arms and twist it ferociously to break as many bones as possible. At this point he should drop the weapon or loosen enough his grip such that you can safely take it away from him. Once the weapon is in your hand, it’s up to you how to proceed but keep in mind there might be repercussions, both legal and psychological, if you decide to end his life.

Armed with a Firearm

An assailant with a firearm is much more difficult to disarm due to the extended range and deadliness of the weapon. Here your initial approach will be drastically different in that you want to come in physical contact with your assailant. You’ll have to do this gradually whilst distracting your assailant with conversation or a decoy. Once close enough your objective will be to grab the gun by the barrel and hold the gun pointing away from you and ideally away from other people. Movies and some martial arts experts demonstrate techniques to disarm an assailant with a gun pointing towards your head/torso. I am not judging the capabilities of these individuals but I strongly suggest you do not try this technique. All the assailant has to do is squeeze the trigger. This only takes a split second and your attempt to twist the gun might actually be what causes the trigger pull. The approach I suggest is much safer. Wait for a moment when your assailant points the gun in another direction. This is likely to happen whilst he is shouting instructions and uses the armed hand to point towards what he’s talking about. As soon as the gun is pointing in a safe direction, grab the gun by the barrel (obviously without any part of your hand obstructing the barrel’s end) and hit the assailant with all you’ve got. It’s interesting to note that if the firearm is a pistol it will shoot the loaded round when the trigger is pulled but it will not cycle another round since you will be hindering the slide’s motion. Be careful in the case of a revolver due to the hot gases escaping from around the cylinder. If it is a long firearm, grab the barrel with both hands so that you can exert more leverage. Obviously in the latter case you’ll have to attack with your lower limbs.

Arm Yourself – Improvised Weapons

This article is about unarmed combat in view of situations where you’re not carrying any weapons. This however doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to arm yourself with whatever might come handy. The following are a few ideas of easily obtainable weapons in everyday life.

Sticks such as a broom, billiard or long umbrella-You can swing such sticks to keep your assailant at bay but usually such sticks are fragile and immediately break upon impact dealing very little damage to the target. Instead use ‘weak’ sticks like you would use a lance. They will be less likely to break and will deal a lot of damage due to the low surface area which results in a lot of pressure.

Metal pen-This has a very short reach but you could easily incapacitate someone by stabbing him in the eyes or neck. You can also use a metal pen for pressure points techniques to subdue an assailant. This however requires training.

Stones or any other hard object such as a soda can (full)-These can be used as projectiles especially when you have an ample supply of them. If you’ve got only one it might be better to hold on to it and use it for battering your opponent.

Chair or stool-These can be used as a shield and to keep your assailant at bay as well as for striking. Obviously they can be thrown in the typical western movie style.

Fire extinguisher-You can direct the escaping gas (CO2 will be extremely cold), water, foam or powder in your assailants face. You can also use the cylinder as a battering device or throw it at him. You could even approach the assailant from above and simply drop the fire extinguisher on him.

Stiletto Shoes-If you or anyone accompanying you is wearing stiletto shoes, take them off. You’ll be able to move with more agility (be careful if there is glass or other sharp or hot objects on the ground) and you can use it for stabbing just like you would with a metal pen.

Conclusion

You never know when things are going to turn sour. We do our best to always be prepared to defend ourselves but we might end up in a threatening situation whilst we’re officially unarmed. That doesn’t mean we’re all gonna die. It means that we have to prepare for that scenario like we would for any other. Always be alert of your surroundings and book yourself for a few self-defense classes and keep practicing those techniques. You’ll be glad you have if the need ever arises.

Survival Strategies for the Woman Living Alone

Most preparedness information out there seems to assume that everyone is part of a family with a mom, a dad, three kids, and a dog. Or, if not that, an extended family that includes brothers, uncles, and a grand-pappy.  Somehow, the picture presented always includes a man.

The truth is, that is not always the case; there are a lot of women alone out there who are also preparing, and it often seems like they are left out of the equations.

There are all sorts of reasons that a woman might be living alone. She may have just left the nest and is out there joining the adult world with her first job and apartment. She may be divorced or widowed. She may not have children, or those children may be off raising families of their own. Whatever the case, family-based preparedness suggestions don’t always apply to the woman living alone.  Not that these tips are only for women.  Many of them are important for any person who wishes to be prepared, and especially for the female prepper that is living alone.

Be extra vigilant with home security.  As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Make sure that you have motion-sensor lights at all of the entrances to your home and property. Get a dog.  It does not have to be a big dog; a little dog is a great early warning system!. Install high quality locks and be sure you have a fortified door frame.

Learn to use a weapon. If you decide to purchase a firearm, get some instruction and go to the range frequently to optimize your skills. If you aren’t comfortable with guns, your weapon of choice can be something else; just make sure you have a way to defend yourself. Consider pepper spray or a stun gun such as this one that doubles as a flashlight. Heck, even a can of wasp spray has a long range and can do some very painful damage.

Take a self-defense class. Classes geared specifically towards women are the best if you need a crash course. Of course, if you’re already a black belt in martial arts, all the better!  If you can find a recurring class that lets you spar with a bigger “attacker” this will help the moves become more natural for you.

Learn to use tools. Being able to repair things yourself is a big part of being self-reliant. Practice makes perfect. Find workshops that teach you how to make something. It is a great way to get your feet wet. Also, if something in your home breaks and is in need of repair, search YouTube for some related repair videos and give it a shot yourself. If you do have to call a repair person, hang out and watch, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Be careful what you say.  Obviously your closest neighbors will be aware that you live alone. But when you’re out and about, don’t broadcast it. Many stalkers first became interested in a victim in the most innocuous of settings. Court records have shown that some stalkers were repairmen, pizza delivery guys, and mechanics who realized that the woman they became obsessed with lived alone. As well, in the event of an emergency, you do not want people to remember that you mentioned having a year’s supply of food in the basement. You don’t want to be a target.

Don’t make it obvious your house belongs to a woman alone. While you shouldn’t need to be afraid to be feminine, you might want to tone down the pink girlie stuff in the front yard. You can also purchase a large pair of used men’s work boots, get them dirty, and leave them beside the door as though someone just took them off to go inside.  And for heaven’s sakes, don’t get those stick figure families for the back window of your vehicle to represent you and several pets. Be discreet.

Learn to change a tire. If you don’t already know how to do this, be sure that you know how to change your own tire. A flat is one of the most common vehicular issues that will leave you stranded.

Do not be discouraged if you aren’t part of a large family or group. For you, it is still very important to prepare and perhaps even more so.  Go ahead and adapt the preparedness information that’s out there to fit your personal situation, and be the hero of your story, not the damsel who needs to be rescued!

 

Tips to Prepare For Emergency Situations

Whenever some crisis happens, there is no time heft for pre paration. However, if you are prepared to meet crisis before time, you will feel more comfortable to meet the emergency situations. Being prepared for emergencies or disasters is extremely important in this ever changing world. It is even more crucial for disable persons or people with special needs. The ability to successfully meet emergency situations is mainly dependent on preparedness before occurrence of any disaster. Though, being prepared doesn’t mean you are ready but it greatly enhances chances of your survival from any kind of tragedy. However, you need to have essential items with you to cope with disaster situations. Here is the survival tips to help you in some emergency situation.

Availability of Water

Water is the most essential ingredient to survive for a human being. Humans need water not just for preparing food but also for cooking and staying hydrated and for hygiene. A person requires 1 gallon of water per day to survive and one need to be prepared enough to arrange for water in crisis situations. Every person must have a reserve for at least 3 days for evacuation and a 2 week supply at home. It is of no doubt that a human can live many days without food, but not without water. Even a thirst for few hours can make someone feel terrible.

Availability of Food

Everybody knew importance of food in his life. It is of great importance to have a stock of food for at least 2 weeks to meet some crisis.  However, a person can survive for more than one week without food. Though, at same time, nobody wants to be hungry.  It is recommended that every time we go shopping buy some extra stock of food items. However, it is also essential to check for their expire dates and try to buy items that can last for longer period. Make sure to rotate it to preserve freshness.

Arrange for Shelter

Shelter is a basic necessity of life. Especially, in disaster conditions, everyone needs a safe location. The ideal condition however is to stay at home. But if someone thinks that hisor her home is not a safe place, than he/she might need to find some relative or a place that can provide them shelter in emergency condition. Also, if anybody doesn’t have any relative where he can stay, government or Red Cross usually provides places for shelter. However, in any case, everyone needs to be prepared enough to meet such circumstances. Being prepared to survive in any disaster is best not for you but also for your family.

Emergency Equipment

Along with the food, water and shelter, everybody needs to have some essential items like first aid kit and medicine for at least more than a week. Along with medical equipment, you also need to have some sanitation tools, a camping stove, warm clothing, LED lights and lanterns with extra batteries. Lastly, one must have some kind of self-defense. Anyone can simply figure out what he need with a little online surfing and see what he need for such circumstances.  For self-defense, you need to buy weapons like handgun or rifle with ammunition. Also, do some practice on regular basis to get at least some basic skills.

Time Killing Items

Even if anyone is facing emergency only for a 48 or 72 hour, kids will need to have some books, playing cards, and board games available to help them kill their time. It might even contain some crayons and coloring books. Remember, we can face emergency for longer periods and there is nothing to do in such situations. So, it is very much crucial to have such things that can help them kill their time. However, it could take some extra effort and time to stock up such things, but in the end this will be helpful for your survival.

Life is priceless, provisions saves life. Always be prepared with survival skills to cope with all situations that can happen in your life. Also, it is recommended to keep it simple and go for necessities only. Educate your family and yourself for probable incidents and disasters that can occur in community. Realize the importance of being prepared in advance, make a plan and start working on it.

Winter Camping and Backpacking Hacks

Winter camping and backpacking have a much steeper learning curve than three season hiking and camping because you have to carry a lot more gear and learn so many new skills. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve discovered or learned over the years that have improved the safety and comfort of my winter trips.

Dig a Pit under your Tent’s Front Vestibule

Dig a pit about 3 feet deep under the front vestibule of your winter tent so you can sit down in the front door when you take off or put on your winter boots. This also increases the amount of gear you can store under the vestibule fly.

Bring at Least Two Stoves in Case one Fails

Stoves can fail in winter. White Gas stoves can get gunked up and stop functioning if they’re not cleaned properly or use dirty fuel. Canister stoves can also fail when it gets too cold for their fuel to vaporize. You best bet is to bring multiple stoves when you go winter camping or backpacking in a group, preferably ones that share the same kind of fuel, so you have some redundancy in case a stove fails.

Wear Oven Bags Over Your Feet to Keep Your Socks Dry

If you wear gaiters for winter hiking, your socks will get wet from foot and leg sweat. This is a problem when winter camping because wet socks will freeze at night unless you sleep with them in your sleeping bag. However, you can keep your socks dry if you wear oven roasting bags under your socks. Your feet will sweat less and stay warmer and your socks will stay dry because the oven bags contain all that sweat close to your skin.

Wrap Fuel Bottles with Duct Tape to Prevent Frostbite

In cold weather, the temperature of white gas, or liquid fuel as it is also known, can dip below freezing but still remain in liquid form. If it touches your skin, it will evaporate immediately, causing frostnip or a more severe frostbite. In fact, simply touching an uninsulated fuel bottle with the bare skin of your hand in sub-zero temperatures can cause a cold injury. You can prevent this by wrapping the bottle with duct tape to insulate it.

Sleep with your Boots or Boot Liners in your Sleeping Bag at Night

If your winter boots or bootlines have become damp during the day, you need to sleep with them in your sleeping bag to keep them from freezing at night. If your boots do freeze, you may not be able to use them again until they are thawed out.

Carry your Water Bottles in Insulated Pockets

When hiking in winter, it’s best to use wide mouth bottles that you can pour boiling water into each morning. These should be stored upside down so the tops don’t freeze shut. Store the water bottles in insulated water bottle pockets on the outside of your pack or inside your pack, surrounded by insulating garments.

Wear Nitrile Exam Gloves as Glove Liners

If your hands sweat when you hike and you have to carry extra gloves or mittens, you can cut down on the number of gloves you need to pack by wearing nitrile or latex gloves as glove liners. They prevent hand sweat from being absorbed by your gloves and will keep your hands warmer too. It’s the same principle as wearning oven roasting bags over your feet to keep your socks dry.

Use Lithium Batteries instead of Alkaline Batteries in Winter

Alkaline batteries perform very poorly below freezing and in cold weather because they are made with a water-based electrolyte solution. Lithum batteries on the other hand are much more powerful than alkaline batteries and function very well in cold weather, making them ideal for headlamps and other must-have electronics.

 

BUG OUT: 60+ Preparedness Resources for Bugging Out

Bugging out can mean many things to different people; but in general, when we talk about bugging out we are talking about having to make a quick getaway during times of crisis. The reasons for having to make this getaway can be anything from manmade or natural disaster that causes you to leave your immediate area to long-term emergency situations which could make returning home dangerous or impossible.

While the reasons for bugging out are many, it’s an action that should never be taken lightly, as it could carry significant risks to your safety and security. Becuase this topic is so deadly serious, we have compiled our top bug out bag checklists and evacuation planning guides to help you formulate a plan of action.

Man with Bug Out Bag

Some Important things you need to keep in mind:

  • Bugging out without a place to go is a recipe for disaster. You need to know exactly where you’re going and exactly how you are going to get there, including alternate routes in case your plans go bad.
  • Planning to live off the land without ever having done it before is not going to work. Don’t be one of those people who thinks he’s going to be some wilderness nomad wandering the countryside.
  • Evacuating increases your risk of being attacked during an extreme crisis, such as a disaster where people may be targeting those with supplies. You need to weigh the options carefully, and always keep self-defense in mind.

Topics Covered in this Bugout Guide: The links below will jump you right to the specific section.

  • Disasters that Might Cause you to Evacuate
  • How to Develop your Bugout Plans
  • Bug Out Bags and Emergency Survival Gear
  • Bug Out Locations (BOL): Where to Head when Things Go Bad
  • Bug Out Vehicles (BOV): Your Ticket out of Dodge
  • Self-Defense Considerations when Evacuating
  • Critical Considerations and Preparedness Resources
  • Recommended Preparedness Books on Bugging Out

Disasters Scenarios that Could Call for Immediate Evacuation.

Disasters and Threats to Safety

Having a well thought out evacuation strategy is an essential part of any emergency preparedness plan; equally important is understanding what threats are out there and what types of disasters and crisis situations could cause you to put your bugout plan into place.

While everyone’s reasons for evacuating will be different, largely based on their unique needs and circumstances, the following threats are all things that you need to consider when putting together your family’s bug out plan.

  • Large-scale Cyber Attacks that Take Down the Entire Grid: The Coming Cyber Wars that could change the world as we know it.
  • Pandemic Outbreaks and Localized Disease Epidemics: Throughout history, millions upon millions of people have died as the result of pandemic outbreaks; based on how poorly this country’s emergency planners reacted during the 2015 Ebola scare, pandemics and disease outbreaks are on the top of the list of considerations.
  • EMPs, Terror Attacks, and Grid Failures: What was once considered something out of a science fiction novel is now a very real possibility — the complete shutdown of our entire electrical grid.
  • An attack on your local Water Supply: From terror attacks targeting the water supply, to industrial accidents like the recent release of millions of gallons of Toxic Materials into the Colorado River, threats to the water supply are a serious cause for concern.
  • Disasters that cause breakdowns in Food Distribution Systems.  Modern grocery stores have about a 3-day supply of food on hand at all times. Even small-scale disasters can bring food delivery systems to their knees.
  • A Large-Scale Economic Collapse: Economies around the world are crashing, countries are drowning in record amounts of debt, and governments continue to pile on new debt like there’s no tomorrow. At some point, the house of cards will come crashing down.
  • Social Unrest & Riots: The social unrest in this country has reached a boiling point, and it’s not going to take much for this chaos to spread to other areas of the country.
  • Declaration of Martial Law: From widespread social unrest, crime, and violence to a growing national debt that threatens to sink the country, the writing’s on the wall: Trouble is coming.
  • Earthquakes: From the initial damage which could make your home unlivable, to the chaos that will follow as people take advantage of an already bad situation, earthquakes top the list of disasters that could cause you to evacuate.
  • Wildfires: Wildfires are a growing threat, especially in drought ridden areas of the Southwestern United States.
  • Hurricanes & Storm Surge Flooding: For those who live in hurricane zones, this is probably one of the top threats that would cause you to at the very least temporarily leave your home.

Evacuation Planning: Developing your Bug Out Plans

Planning evacuation Routes

Now that you have considered the most likely threats that would cause you to evacuate, it’s time to start putting plans in place to deal with each of the identified threats. The only way to truly be able to survive a threat is to have a plan in place to deal with it; a crisis is not a time to start winging things.

  • Stay or Go? You need to plan for both: While having a bug out plan is important, you need to consider the pros and cons of leaving or sheltering in place.
  • How to plan a bug out route for emergency evacuation: You don’t want to start thinking about how you’re going to evacuate as you’re grabbing your go bag during a disaster. You need to have a documented plan in place that will help ensure you’re able to make it safely out of Dodge.
  • Conducting routine emergency drills & disaster training: When it comes to real-world preparedness, your ability to survive a crisis comes down to two things: Your Planning and your Training. If you don’t practice your plans, then your plans are useless.
  • Making time for preparedness related training: To really be prepared to deal with disasters, you need to bring training into your daily routine.
  • You need a Communication Plan: During a catastrophe, it’s very likely that most communication channels will go down. You need to have a plan in place to gather information and connect with your loved ones during times of crisis.
  • National Trail System Map: There are thousands of hiking trails throughout the United States, these trails are something that should be kept in mind during disasters where you may have to evacuate by foot.
  • U.S. Railroad Traffic Atlas: Railroad tracks are another possible evacuation route that you need to be aware of.

Bug Out Bags and Selecting the Right Emergency Gear

Bugout Gear

The type of gear you select can go a long way in determining the outcome of your situation. When picking any type of survival gear, make sure you do your research; once you have the gear, make sure you test, train with, and thoroughly understand how to use all of your supplies.

  • The Ultimate Guide to building the Perfect Bug out Bag: When it comes to packing your Bug out Bag, a number of things need to be considered.
  • Bugout Bags for Children: Giving your child their own backpack filled with familiar items, essential survival gear, and comfort foods can be a real life saver during an emergency.
  • What type of Bag Should you buy? Military, hiking or hunting backpacks; which one is going to hold up when you need it, and which pack is right for your unique situation?
  • How to Pack Your Backpack for Easy Carrying: Believe it or not, there is a correct way to load a bag; something most hikers find out the hard way while suffering from all sorts of uncomfortable backpack related pains out on the trail.
  • The Best Portable Solar Panel Chargers for Disasters: These small portable solar panels make a great addition to any bug out bag; when disaster strikes they can help keep devices like cell phones, small tablets, flashlights, emergency radios, ham radios, and GPS devices up and running.
  • How much water should you be carrying in your bug out bag? Water is one of the most critical resources you need to survive any situation, but just how much should you carry with you?
  • Top Survival Knives for your Bag: In a survival situation one of the most useful tools you can have is a good fixed-blade knife.
  • 7 Tools Designed for Urban Survival: Urban Survival & Wilderness Survival are two very different things. Make sure you know the difference before buying a bunch of wilderness survival gear that you may never use.
  • Build the Ultimate School Bug Out Kit for your Kids: If you have a child in public school, it’s important to prepare them for the possibility of disasters that hit while they’re at school.

Bug Out Locations (BOL): Where to Head when Things Go Bad

Bugout cabin

When things go bad, having a dedicated bug out location can help ensure your survival. Not only will you have a place to go, far from the chaos and dangers associated with urban survival, but you’ll also have a place to store backup supplies and equipment.

  • How to Find the Perfect Bugout Survival Property: Bugging out without a place to go is not a plan; find out what you should look for in a survival retreat or bug out location.
  • How to defend your bug out location: Preparing your battlespace: During a complete meltdown scenario, the ability to protect your property from attackers may be a skill that comes in very handy.
  • 10 Tips For Bugging Out to the Country: How the average farmer or homesteader feels about urban folks bugging out to the country.
  • Safety Considerations When Buying Rural Land for Bugouts: While most people think escaping the city is the safest thing to do, there are some safety considerations you need to keep in mind when purchasing rural land.
  • What If You Don’t Have A Bug Out Location? Bugging out without having a place to go is not a plan; it’s called being a refugee. That being said, I do believe in having contingency plans, and not everyone can afford a dedicated bug out location.

Bug Out Vehicles (BOV): Your Ticket out of Dodge

off-road vehicle bugging out

Having a plan is great, but you need to account for how you’re going to get out during times of crisis. From bugout vehicles to walking out when things really go bad, here are some tips for getting out of Dodge in one piece.

  • Tips to Prepare your Vehicle for Bugout Disasters: Not everyone can afford a dedicated Four-Wheel Drive BOV, but everyone can make sure their vehicle is setup for survival.
  • BOV Chronicles: Creek Stewart’s Bug Out Truck: I’m not a big fan of most survival T.V. shows, but I do like Creek Stewart and his show on the Weather Channel. When it comes to survival experts, he knows what he’s talking about and seems to genuinely care about helping other people. His Bug Out Chronicles are a great look at what it takes to transform an ordinary truck into a top notch vehicle for survival.
  • Consider building a Mobile Bugout Shelter: When things go bad, having a dedicated bug out location or survival shelter can help protect you from the chaos and dangers associated with urban living.
  • 8 Considerations when Choosing a Bug Out Vehicle: Some considerations you need to think about when selecting a bug out vehicle.
  • This is how you make a vehicle unstoppable Off-Road: Here are fourteen basic off-road vehicle attributes that can be the difference between getting stuck in the woods and making a successful escape.
  • Driving Tips For A Safe Bug Out: Not many people think about what it will take to evacuate during a major crisis; in order to survive the mayhem associated with significant civil unrest, you need to learn these basic driving tactics.
  • Building a Bugout Bike: Scott Williams’ advice on why you should consider building an evacuation bike.

Self Defense Considerations when Evacuating

Self-Defense Training

There is one thing you can almost count on during times of crisis: There are going to be people looking to take advantage of the situation. Self-defense is something that you need to take seriously, and it needs to be part of any good survival plan.

  • Should you buy a firearm? The Pros & Cons of Gun Ownership: Firearms in the hands of a law-abiding citizen can save lives, and the numbers show it. During a collapse type scenario, the ability to defend yourself is going to be a top concern.
  • Bugout Guns: When disaster strikes, you may have all the supplies you need, but without proper firearms in your bugout bag, some thug could easily take all your gear.
  • Preparing for Riots: When disaster strikes, there is a pretty good chance you may see widespread looting and rioting; make sure you know how to deal with these types of events.
  • 5 Handguns for Bugging Out: If you have room for only one handgun and some ammo. What do you take?
  • Defending yourself from multiple attackers: I hate to break it to you; carrying a firearm does not guarantee your safety, and carrying a firearm without training is a recipe for disaster. You need to study the art of self-defense thoroughly and know how to defend yourself without a firearm.

Important Bugout Considerations and Preparedness Resources:

Images of Natural Disasters

The key to survival is knowledge; without it, you don’t stand a chance. Here are some other important factors that you should keep in mind when considering your evacuation plans.

  • You must plan for breakdowns in Infrastructure: Our nation’s highways have become so congested that from a preparedness perspective, they have left us completely vulnerable to both natural and man-made disasters.
  • Stay Away from Large Cities: No matter what disaster hits, facing it in a large city is going to be a whole lot harder than facing it in a rural area.
  • List of Emergency Communication Frequencies, Channels, and Networks: A detailed list of communication devices and emergency frequencies to monitor during a disaster.
  • Always carry an EDC with you at all times: Since most accidents happen when you least expect them, carrying an everyday carry kit is a good way to make sure you always have basic supplies on hand should disaster strike when your away from your primary gear.
  • How Much Money Do You Have in Your Bugout Bag? Having cash on hand is an important part of being able to Bugout. From paying for last minute supplies to being able to bribe your way out of sticky situations, there are a number of reasons to consider carrying cash in your emergency bags.
  • How Far can You Walk in a Day When Bugging Out? This is an issue that you must take into account, especially if you’re out of shape.
  • 7 Tips for Long-Term Survival After You Bug: You’ve bugged out; now what? Any good plan should account for long-term disasters and what you would do when the dust starts to settle.
  • 32 Resources & Preparedness Skills that Everyone Should Know: Skills that were once part of our everyday lives, ones that helped our ancestors thrive, have been largely forgotten; these skills can help you survive during a long-term crisis.
  • 27 Essential Preparedness Tips, Skills and Resources: The knowledge you need to survive in the face of danger.

Beyond the Bugout

When some people talk about bugging out, they’re speaking of much more than just planning for disasters. Some are looking for a way to drop off the grid and leave the trappings of modern-day society.

  • How to Disappear Completely and Start a New Life: Somewhere along the line, you may find yourself looking for a way to escape. In today’s modern world, the ability to completely drop off the grid is something that is getting harder and harder by the day; but there are some things you can do if you want to disappear and live off the radar.
  • Getting Out of Babylon: A lot of people believe a major collapse is coming; if that’s the case, one way to protect yourself may be completely dropping out of the system that’s responsible for this mess.
  • The Partial Bugout; Going Off the Grid: A real-life example of how one family successfully made the transition into off-grid living.

Recommended Books on Bugging Out:

Survival Books

  • The Ultimate Situational Survival Guide: Self-Reliance Strategies for a Dangerous World: Robert Richardson, founder of offgridsurvival.com, gives you real-world advice on how to survive the very real dangers present in today’s society. The book covers everything from natural disasters, man-made disasters and disease outbreaks, to essential tactics and step-by-step instructions for surviving urban disasters, crime, social unrest, and criminal/terrorist attacks.
  • Strategic Relocation: North American Guide to Safe Places: Author Joel M. Skousen gives you great advice on selecting bugout locations and long-term survival properties. The book examines in detail, various regions in the United States where you may be thinking of buying a home or bugging out to when things go bad.
  • Build the Perfect Bug Out Vehicle: The Disaster Survival Vehicle Guide: Creek Stewart, Survival Expert and Host of the T.V. Show Fat Guys in the Woods, details from start to finish everything you need to equip an everyday vehicle for a drive through and away from disaster-stricken areas—from survival supplies and storage solutions to off-road travel, communication, navigation, and security considerations.
  • Bug Out: The Complete Plan for Escaping a Catastrophic Disaster Before It’s Too Late: Author Scott B. Williams’ book is an excellent resource for Bugout planning. The book looks at evacuation strategies and details the best escape locations in the U.S.
  • Peterson’s Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Knowing what you can and can’t eat during a long-term survival situation is something a lot of people overlook; Peterson’s Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants gives you details on what plants you can eat, and which ones you should avoid during an emergency.

Doctors Explain How Hiking Actually Changes Our Brains

hiiking

While it may seem obvious that a good hike through a forest or up a mountain can cleanse your mind, body, and soul, science is now discovering that hiking can actually change your brain… for the better!

Hiking In Nature Can Stop Negative, Obsessive Thoughts

Aside from the almost instant feeling of calm and contentment that accompanies time outdoors, hiking in nature can reduce rumination. Many of us often find ourselves consumed by negative thoughts, which takes us out of the enjoyment of the moment at best and leads us down a path to depression and anxiety at worst. But a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that spending time in nature decreases these obsessive, negative thoughts by a significant margin.

To conduct this study, researchers compared the reported rumination of participants who hiked through either an urban or a natural environment. They found those who walked for 90 minutes in a natural environment reported lower levels of rumination and they also had reduced neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain related to mental illness. Those who walked through the urban environment, however, did not report decreased rumination.

The researchers noted that increased urbanization closely correlates with increased instances of depression and other mental illness. Taking the time to regularly remove ourselves from urban settings and spend more time in nature can greatly benefit our psychological (and physical) well-being.

Hiking While Disconnected From Technology Boosts Creative Problem Solving

A study conducted by psychologists Ruth Ann Atchley and David L. Strayer found that creative problem solving can be drastically improved by both disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with nature. Participants in this study went backpacking through nature for about 4 days, during which time they were not allowed to use any technology whatsoever. They were asked to perform tasks which required creative thinking and complex problem solving, and researchers found that performance on problem solving tasks improved by 50% for those who took part in this tech-free hiking excursion.

The researchers of this study noted that both technology and urban noise are incredibly disruptive, constantly demanding our attention and preventing us from focusing, all of which can be taxing to our cognitive functions. A nice long hike, sans technology, can reduce mental fatigue, soothe the mind, and boost creative thinking.

Hiking Outdoors Can Improve ADHD In Children

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is becoming more and more common among children. Children who have ADHD have a difficult time with impulse control and staying focused, they get distracted easily, and exhibit excessive hyperactivity.

Hiking In Nature Is Great Exercise And Therefore Boosts Brainpower

We already know that exercising is fantastic for our overall well-being. Hiking is an excellent way to burn between 400 – 700 calories per hour, depending on your size and the hike difficulty, and it is easier on the joints than other activities like running. It has also been proven that people who exercise outside are more likely to keep at it and stick to their programs, making hiking an excellent choice for those wishing to become more active on a regular basis.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia found that aerobic exercise increases hippocampal volume — the part of the brain associated with spatial and episodic memory — in women over the age of 70. Such exercise not only improves memory loss, but helps prevent it as well. Researchers also found that it can also reduce stress and anxiety, boost self esteem, and release endorphins. Many people take medication to solve each and every one of these issues, but the solution to these ills may be a lot simpler than you think!

How Can You Begin To Start Hiking?

Luckily, hiking is one of the easiest and least expensive sports to get involved in, and it can have great benefits for the whole family, including grandma! Start out small and test your abilities. Do what works for you — if that means just walking through trails in a park, that’s fine. Any exercise outdoors is better than none. You can easily find maps of trails around your home online, and there are plenty of smartphone apps to map them out, too. I recommend turning off your signal and your phone while hiking though, so you can reap the most benefits of the hike (though it may be wise to at least carry it with you in case of emergency).

Make sure you have some good sturdy hiking shoes, a hat, and a water bottle, and be sure to layer your clothing so you can take things on or off easily as you warm up and cool down. You may want to consider using trekking poles as well, which can increase your speed and take some of the pressure off your knees. Now, can you just do one thing for me?

Go take a hike!

Linked from: http://www.cosmicscientist.com/doctors-explain-how-hiking-actually-changes-our-brains/

Outdoor Ice Cache for Frozen Food Storage in Winter

The cold winter air has a remarkable power–the power to freeze things. This can be our nemesis if we are stuck out in the cold, but it can also be used to our advantage. Winter is nature’s fridge and freezer, and if you get caught without power, you can allow the cold to preserve your food through freezing. A simple way to do this is to place your frozen food in a cooler full of ice and set the cooler outside in a shady area or an unheated shed.

Or you can do what our ancestors did to store their food by freezing it in an outdoor ice cache. Here’s how.

1. Pick the Best Spot
The ideal spot for an ice cache is someplace near your dwelling, on the north side of a large structure. This northern orientation will keep the southerly sun from warming up that spot during the day, and in the shade. As a result, your ice will last much longer. The paleo Indians made their ice caches in pits dug on the north side of boulder outcroppings. This provided both shade to preserve the ice and a marker to find the spot again, even in a snow covered landscape.

2. Build Your Box
Once your site is picked, lay out some ice blocks to create a small ice platform. Your food will sit on top of this, rather than the bare ground. Then, using blocks of uniform thickness, build a wall around the foundation. Carve or saw the ice to make each block fit tightly. If you need something to act as “chinking” to fill any gaps, apply slush while the air is sub-freezing. The slush will freeze and fill the gap. Finally, make a slab of ice that will cover the entire structure like a lid. Check the lid for fit, load in your food, and seal the lid on there like some kind of frosty sarcophagus.

3. Have A Security Plan
The hungry scavengers of winter will be very interested in the “abandoned” food they’ve found. Yes, some critters can smell it through the ice. And while most creatures won’t be able to scratch or bite through your icy storage locker, it’s still a possibility. For extra security, bury the ice box in slushy snow and allow it to freeze into one solid block. Then, only humans with tools can break the ice and retrieve the food. If you find that certain creatures keep visiting the box, you could also set up traps to take advantage to the draw.

How you ever tried anything like this?

6 Questions you Should Ask About Prepping

Every once in a while, it is important to take a back seat to the process of prepping and do a little planning.  I say this because things change and life evolves, requiring a re-examination of the who, what, and why of prepping.  Let’s face it. You probably remember why you started to set food, water, and supplies aside, and why you began to bone up on off-grid skills.  But in the flurry of preparedness activities, have you ever taken a look at your original plan and made circumstantial changes?

If you are saying “what plan”,  join the crowd!

An Introduction to the Who, What, and Why of Prepping

We all know about the successful reporter’s rule of thumb:  determine the who what where and how for every story.  Let us take the “where” out of the equation and begin with the who, what and why of prepping.

1.  Who Should Prep?

There is only one right answer:  Everyone!

The differentiator is the extent of one person’s preps over those of another person.  Person A may define being prepared as having a three day plan to soldier through a winter storm when the power is out.  (Of course I will try to encourage that person to prep for a week or two at a minimum, but ultimately, three days is considered a decent starting point.)

On the other hand, Person B may not consider himself adequately prepped until he has the supplies, tools, and skills to manage for a year or more on his own.

It all gets down to a matter of perspective.  Like a broken record I will say it again; there is no right and no wrong when it comes to preparedness.  If you prepare enough to ally your fear of a disruptive event, you will have done enough.

Six Questions Every Prepper Needs to Ask and Answer | Backdoor Survival

2.  What is Prepping?

Let us get this one out of the way quickly as well.  Prepping is being able to survive a disruptive event if not in comfort, then at least with a minimum amount of stress.

3.  Who Are You Prepping For?

Now we start to get into the nitty-gritty of your plan.  It is important to understand who you are prepping for.  Is it just yourself and your partner (if you have one), or an extended family?  Are there infants or toddlers involved?  What about physically challenged, or elderly members of your family.  Don’t forget about the family dog or cat, and your farm animals.

As you prepare a strategy to meet your prepping goals, things can get out of hand quickly.  It takes money to prep so even though you may want to take care of everyone, doing so can put a huge strain on the family budget. If you are lucky enough to have family members who are on board with prepping, you can ask them to participate, even if all that means is they clean and repurpose soda bottles so they can be filled with tap water and stored for an emergency.

At the end of the day, though, you must be realistic and remember that having the time and resources to live your life in the here and now is important too.  Go slowly as you expand your preps to include others.  Do not cannibalize your own life for the sake of something that may or may not happen.

4.  What Are You Preparing For?

Are periodic power outages your concern, or is it the the big earthquake that is past due along the Cascadia Fault?  Is it a hurricane or is it global economic collapse?  If you are a prepper newbie, I tend to recommend that you initially focus on disruptive events that are geographically specific to where you live.

If you are new to an area and even if you are not, your county will have an emergency services department with plenty of information describing the types of disasters and freaks of mother nature that can occur in your community.  Take advantage of this information.

5.  Where Do I Start?

Getting started when you are at prepping ground zero can be overwhelming.  I get that. That being said, the fact you are reading this article is a good start.

Beyond that, get your water, food and first aid supplies in order, as well as a stash of cash for those times when the ATM is not working.

6.  How Long Do You Want Your Preps to Last?

This is another reality check.  Although it would be nice to say “forever”, unless you have a self-sufficient farm and everything that goes along with it, a forever goal is not realistic.

Why not start with a week, then expand to a month?  After you have met that goal,, decide whether you would prefer to prep for more people, or perhaps to extend the period to three months or a year.  Have a discussion with yourself and decide what is right for you, your temperament, and your feelings about the likelihood of a major disruptive event. occurring in the near future.

The Final Word

It is easy to say “plan first, prepare second”, but even planning can be overwhelming.  I know that when I first started to prep, I armed myself with a 20 page checklist to use to begin the planning process.  After an hour, I set it aside and chartered my own course.  Thus was the beginning of Backdoor Survival and my own common sense approach to preparedness.

As a call to action, it is time to revisit the basics.  The moment is now.

How to Prepare for a Life or Death Situation

I have no idea why, but fear seems to be a subject that is rarely discussed or addressed when it comes to self-defense training. In a real situation you are probably going to be absolutely scared witless. When it comes to addressing fear, you avoid the subject like the plague. Yet it plays a vital part in our survival.

When it comes to self-defense, the failure to acknowledge fear and its part in survival is preparing for failure. You must understand how fear works, how you react to it, and how you can make it work for you.

Fear is not only natural, but you can guarantee in the emotional pressure cooker of a real situation that you will experience it. Accepting that you will experience fear is an important step to trying to overcome it. The adrenal dump we experience in the fight-or-flight mode of our sympathetic nervous system is a natural part of the process of fear. While the experience of fear and the adrenal dump aren’t one and the same, they certainly show up hand in hand when things go south.

If your body is a loaded gun, then your mind is the trigger. If you can’t pull the trigger, you are in trouble. Teaching the mind to pull the trigger rather than to hit the power switch is a difficult skill to develop and especially hard to implement with a window of opportunity that lasts only a few seconds. Overcoming that fear and having the confidence to act decisively is the name of the game if we want to survive an assault.
Learning to confront fears in day-to-day life and learning to be comfortable being uncomfortable can help us develop our inner strength. Learning to work past your power switch. We are all creatures of convenience and comfort, but gravitating toward doing things that make us uncomfortable and facing other fears rather than putting them in the too hard basket can help us become more confident. It can highlight how we respond to and act in the presence of fear and what we can do about it.
Confidence is often defined as believing in yourself. I think this is absolute dribble. If confidence is a belief, then you could believe (without any swimming lessons) that you can swim, but when you jump in the pool and sink to the bottom, you may find believing in yourself doesn’t work. But if confidence is your actual capacity to employ some tactical, psychological, and physical skills even when you are scared, then I think confidence is one the most important attributes you can develop.
Remember the mind comes first. Techniques are useless unless they can be applied tactically and with intent. People survive deadly assaults every day with no physical self-defense training whatsoever. This is because of instincts, luck, and having some of the tactical, physical, and psychological skills necessary to survive. This indicates to me very much of survival is determined by mindset.

3 Steps in How to Use a Compass

 

Compass

Despite the fact that a compass is a basic tool for getting around, it can be an intimidating piece of equipment for those who’ve never held one before, much less used it to safely navigate an unfamiliar bit of wilderness.

The first step in figuring it all out is familiarizing yourself with the various parts of a compass. Once you’ve got at least a rough understanding of what the lines mean, of which part turns and why, you’re ready to get some basic training under your belt.

A starter compass is a good place to start. The simple instrument can serve as an excellent introduction to orienteering as a hobby, sport, and overall enjoyable activity. The best beginner’s tool comes with only the essentials, so new users from children experiencing their first taste of outdoor exploration to adults rekindling an appreciation for nature can confidently build a foundation on which to build a growing knowledge of navigation.

The Silva System is a straightforward method for learning how to properly combine a compass and topographic map. The system can be boiled down into three easy steps:

Step 1

You may not be able to get from where you are to your ultimate destination in one go. In that case, you should break the journey down into more manageable steps. Set the compass on the map so the edge of the base plate (remember what that is?) serves as a line connecting your current position to where you want to go. You should be able to draw a line along the edge, as if it were a ruler—which it basically is.

Step 2

Set the compass heading by rotating the dial until the letter “N”—for north—lines up with magnetic north indicated on the map. You should be able to find a compass rose indicating which way is which.

Step 3

Pick up the compass and hold it flat in front of you. Be sure that the direction of travel arrow points straight ahead. Then, rotate yourself, keeping an eye on the magnetic needle. When the red end lines up exactly with the orienting arrow, stop. The direction of travel arrow (it’s easy to keep the distinct arrows straight when you actually see them in action) will be pointing in precisely the direction you want to go. Look in the direction of the arrow and find a particular landmark that stands out. Hike to that landmark, at which point you can stop, regroup, and start steps one through three over again.

Even though this is a simplified navigation system, there is one other detail that should be noted: The magnetic needle will always point north, but north itself isn’t a fixed, immovable point. Well, magnetic north isn’t, anyway.

True north is a fixed point that never changes. Magnetic north wanders, due to the ever-shifting nature of the Earth’s magnetic field. The two different norths sit about 800 miles apart.

Mapmakers typically consider true north when creating their maps. Many topographic maps will, however, also include information on “declination,” which is the difference between true north and magnetic north from a given point.

The difference between true north and magnetic north can be so minimal as to not really matter, or it can be significant enough to prevent an unaware hiker from ever arriving at the intended destination.

Frostbite and Hypotermia Be Prepare

With extreme winter weather chilling much of the country, take a few extra steps to avoid frostbite and hypothermia.  Whether participating in outdoor winter activities or traveling, it is important to be prepared and know what to do should something go wrong.
  “A little extra thought can make the difference between a safe, enjoyable experience or severe discomfort that may result in injury.”
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Prevent frostbite and hypothermia
  • Wear a hat and clothing made of tightly woven fibers, such as wool, which trap warm air against your body. A few lighter layers protect better than one heavy garment.
  • Protect vulnerable areas such as fingers, toes, ears and nose.
  • Drink plenty of warm fluids to help the body maintain its temperature.
  • If hot drinks are not available, drink plenty of plain water. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which hinder the body´s heat-producing mechanisms and will actually cause the body´s core temperature to drop.
  • Take frequent breaks from the cold to let your body warm up.
Signs & symptoms of frostbite
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Pain and swelling

As the condition worsens…

  • Total loss of sensation
  • Pale waxy skin will become dark bluish
  • In severe cases, the skin will look burnt and charred.
Do you know what to do for frostbite?
  • Cover the affected area.
  • Never rub the skin as this may cause further damage.
  • Warm the area gently by immersing the affected part in water that is warm and comfortable to the touch.  Continue until affected area is warm and looks red.
  • Bandage the affected area with a dry sterile dressing.
  • Ensure that the affected part does not become frozen again.
  • Get the person to a doctor as soon as possible.
Signs & symptoms of hypothermia
  • Feeling cold
  • Shivering (which will stop as the condition worsens)
  • Slurred speech
  • Pale skin, bluish lips
  • Slow pulse
  • Lethargic
  • Mood swings
  • Unable to think clearly
  • Unconsciousness
What should you do for hypothermia?
  • Remove wet or cold clothing and replace with warm dry clothing.
  • Keep the person warm by wrapping him or her in blankets and moving them to a warm place.  Remember to be very gentle in handling the person.
  • Never rub the surface of the person´s body, this could cause further damage if they are also suffering from frostbite.
  • If the person is dry use hot water bottles or heating pads to warm them.  Make sure there is a blanket, clothing or towel between the heat source and the person´s skin.
  • If the person is awake, give warm liquids to drink. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as they can hinder the body´s heat-producing mechanisms.

Cold Weather – Basic Survival Tips

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It is more difficult for you to satisfy your basic water, food, and shelter needs in a cold environment than in a warm environment. Even if you have the basic requirements, you must also have adequate protective clothing and the will to survive. The will to survive is as important as the basic needs. There have been incidents when trained and well-equipped individuals have not survived cold weather situations because they lacked the will to live. Conversely, this will has sustained individuals less well-trained and equipped.

There are many different items of cold weather equipment and clothing issued by the US Army today. Specialized units may have access to newer, lightweight gear such as polypropylene underwear, GORE-TEX outerwear and boots, and other special equipment. Remember, however, the older gear will keep you warm as long as you apply a few cold weather principles. If the newer types of clothing are available, use them. If not, then your clothing should be entirely wool, with the possible exception of a windbreaker. You must not only have enough clothing to protect you from the cold, you must also know how to maximize the warmth you get from it. For example, always keep your head covered. You can lose 40 to 45 percent of body heat from an unprotected head and even more from the unprotected neck, wrist, and ankles. These areas of the body are good radiators of heat and have very little insulating fat. The brain is very susceptible to cold and can stand the least amount of cooling. Because there is much blood circulation in the head, most of which is on the surface, you can lose heat quickly if you do not cover your head.

There are four basic principles to follow to keep warm. An easy way to remember these basic principles is to use the word COLD–

C – Keep clothing clean.
O – Avoid overheating.
L – Wear clothes loose and in layers.
D – Keep clothing dry.

C – Keep clothing clean. This principle is always important for sanitation and comfort. In winter, it is also important from the standpoint of warmth. Clothes matted with dirt and grease lose much of their insulation value. Heat can escape more easily from the body through the clothing’s crushed or filled up air pockets.

O – Avoid overheating. When you get too hot, you sweat and your clothing absorbs the moisture. This affects your warmth in two ways: dampness decreases the insulation quality of clothing, and as sweat evaporates, your body cools. Adjust your clothing so that you do not sweat. Do this by partially opening your parka or jacket, by removing an inner layer of clothing, by removing heavy outer mittens, or by throwing back your parka hood or changing to lighter headgear. The head and hands act as efficient heat dissipates when overheated.

L – Wear your clothing loose and in layers. Wearing tight clothing and footgear restricts blood circulation and invites cold injury. It also decreases the volume of air trapped between the layers, reducing its insulating value. Several layers of lightweight clothing are better than one equally thick layer of clothing, because the layers have dead-air space between them. The dead-air space provides extra insulation. Also, layers of clothing allow you to take off or add clothing layers to prevent excessive sweating or to increase warmth.

D – Keep clothing dry. In cold temperatures, your inner layers of clothing can become wet from sweat and your outer layer, if not water repellent, can become wet from snow and frost melted by body heat. Wear water repellent outer clothing, if available. It will shed most of the water collected from melting snow and frost. Before entering a heated shelter, brush off the snow and frost. Despite the precautions you take, there will be times when you cannot keep from getting wet. At such times, drying your clothing may become a major problem. On the march, hang your damp mittens and socks on your rucksack. Sometimes in freezing temperatures, the wind and sun will dry this clothing. You can also place damp socks or mittens, unfolded, near your body so that your body heat can dry them. In a campsite, hang damp clothing inside the shelter near the top, using drying lines or improvised racks. You may even be able to dry each item by holding it before an open fire. Dry leather items slowly. If no other means are available for drying your boots, put them between your sleeping bag shell and liner. Your body
heat will help to dry the leather.

A heavy, down-lined sleeping bag is a valuable piece of survival gear in cold weather. Ensure the down remains dry. If wet, it loses a lot of its insulation value. If you do not have a sleeping bag, you can make one out of parachute cloth or similar material and natural dry material, such as leaves, pine needles, or moss. Place the dry material between two layers of the material.

Other important survival items are a knife; waterproof matches in a waterproof container, preferably one with a flint attached; a durable compass; map; watch; waterproof ground cloth and cover; flashlight; binoculars; dark glasses; fatty emergency foods; food gathering gear; and signaling items.

Remember, a cold weather environment can be very harsh. Give a good deal of thought to selecting the right equipment for survival in the cold. If unsure of an item you have never used, test it in an “overnight backyard” environment before venturing further. Once you have selected items that are essential for your survival, do not lose them after you enter a cold weather environment.

Sourced from http://army.com

A Simple Hatchet can Save your Life

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The hatchet is a small axe that is one heck of a survival tool, and it lends itself to numerous applications that help you not die. Let’s go over some of the way it can be helpful in a survival situation.

Fire Starter

You should have at least two to three different ways to start a fire, like waterproof matches, magnesium fire starter, and a lighter.  A hatchet is another very helpful item to have when needing to start a fire. It not only makes it much easier to cut large pieces of wood, but also functions as a striking tool to create sparks. Use as a striker only in an emergency situation to avoid premature dulling.

Defense

Finding yourself face to face with a large predator in the wild such as a cougar or bear is never ideal, and there’s no running away, as it sends a clear message that you’re food rather than a potential threat. Granted, you’d probably rather have a gun or an airbow to keep the predators at longer distances, but if things become too close, you can count on your hatchet. The hatchet works best when used in a hacking motion to maintain your defense.

Ice Cutter

Cutting ice and hard snow for water is much easier when you have a hatchet, as is digging out a snow shelter.  Ice cutting will come in handy if you need to dig a hole to protect a small fire from the wind.

Splint Assistance

Should you need to create a splint, a hatchet again comes in super handy. It makes it easy to cut and fashion a splint, whether for you or an injured party member.

Light Reflector

The metal section of a hatchet works as a light reflector, which sure is helpful if you’re alone in the wilderness and need to be rescued!

Hammer

The hatchet’s back end works as a very nice hammer.

Some would argue that you only need a fixed blade knife in your pack, while others would argue that the hatchet is the more important of the two. The reality is that you should have both. If you don’t have a hatchet in your survival bag, consider purchasing one. Chances are that you’ll be very glad you have it down the road.

Camping and Don’t have Soap…..Try Wood Ashes

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Have you ever found yourself in the wilderness or camping and realized you were without soap, don’t panic. It’s still entirely possible to clean your gear with…wait for it…wood ash. Wood ash actually makes a fantastic alternative when suds aren’t available or you decided to skip bringing bars of the stuff entirely to make room for other things. Wood ashes have been used as a source of lye in soap making for years upon years.

Here are a few tips for making the most of your wood ashes:

Hardwoods Vs. Softwoods

When choosing between hardwood and softwood, go for hardwood tree ash over their softwood counterparts, as hardwood trees are better for making soap.

No Residue

First and foremost, it’s essential that your wood ash be free from assorted residues. These include food, plastic, or any other trash, as they could easily make the ashes toxic. Use pure wood ash instead, which may require building a new fire at a different location and letting it burn uninterrupted until you can extract the ashes without issue.

Super-Greasy Pots

Use the greasiest pot you have to make your ash-tastic soap. Add a little olive oil or fat to ease the soap-making process, then add a few cups of ashes. If some of your ashes contain charcoal, fear not, as it will only aid the scouring process.

Hot Water

Add hot water to your concoction–enough to make a nice paste. This results in potassium salts, which will mix with the fat or oil to create your soap. It may not be the prettiest soap ever, but darn if it won’t clean the heck out of your pots and pans.

Let the mixture to cool before slathering your pots with it, and allow the soap to stand for a few minutes before scrubbing. Rinse pots with water to complete the process.