Survival Skills you should know or learn

Disasters and emergency situations are an inevitable part of our life. It is how we respond to such situations that plays a major factor on our survival. You may have all the knowledge about prepping but as we all know a disaster can change everything in an instant and you may be forced to survive without your emergency survival kits. Without the right skills for survival your chances of surviving a disaster or emergency situation will be greatly affected. It is important to understand that because of modern commodities our knowledge for basic survival has greatly diminished.  This will basically have a negative effect to us in an extended disaster survival situation and can mean the difference between life and death. Here are the basic survival skills that you need to know or learn in order to ensure you and your family’s chances of survival:

Learn how to grow food and or find it.

Disasters can change everything in an instant. You may be well prepared to survive indoors but what if you are forced to survive outdoors without any supplies? This is where self sufficiency with acquiring food becomes a necessity. Growing food for your family as well as the hunting and gathering approach are the best skills to learn to keep you and your family from starving when surviving outdoors.

  • Grow your own survival food.
  • Know what wild plants and insects are edible.
  • Ways to fish without the tradition equipment.
  • Hunting with trap and snares.

How to find water and purify it.

This is the most important skill everyone should learn in order to survive. As we all know it is impossible for us to survive without water so it is important to understand the importance of knowing how to get and purify water. You need to realize that unless your water source is a spring chances are your water supply will run out and you need to find an alternative source. Knowing how to purify your drinking water is also very important to ensure that it is clean and potable.

Learn about clothing repair.

You need to master this skill as clothing is one of the most important elements when surviving. From basic sewing to making clothes from bolts of cloths or leather it is important to master this skill to help ensure your chances of survival.

Learn basic grooming skills.

Basic grooming skills are very important to learn to keep your family clean and healthy in a survival situation. Keep in mind that being healthy is one of the most important factors in ensuring you and your family’s survival.

Learn first aid.

During a disaster situation you cannot expect to get medical professional help so it is important to know how to treat yourself and others as it will be your only chance in a emergency situation. Every household or group should have a good first aid manual and kit before and during a disaster situation.

How to start and maintain a fire.

This is one of the most essential skills you need to learn in order to ensure your survival either indoors or outdoors. Learning how to start a fire and have it going when you need it can mean the difference between life and death in a survival situation. Fire can be used to cook food and purify water not to mention keep you and your family warm ensuring your chances of survival.

Learn how to defend yourself and be willing to do it.

Owning a firearm and knowing how to use it is one of the most basic things to learn to ensure that you are able to protect yourself and your family in a emergency situation. It is important to understand that during a disaster or emergency situation there will be a lot of desperate people who will not think twice in harming you and your family just to get to your supplies. Defending yourselves with clubs, knives, and basic hand to hand combat are also necessary skills to learn.

Learn and train your mind to expect the totally unexpected.

Disaster situations can change everything in an instant, but no matter how much we know this actual disaster and survival events will surely freak us out. Training ourselves to prepare and practice all sorts of drills for various horrors is great way to prepare us for such situations. You also have to keep in mind that there will always be a big possibility of something strange, weird, and frightening things to happen when in a survival situation. By doing this you will eventually condition your mind to accept such scenarios.

Understand the world and potential disasters that await.

Keep in mind that timing is everything and knowing how to react and respond properly to disaster or pending disasters can mean the difference between life and death. This can be done by monitoring world and local news and be informed and aware to see a situation developing and act on it before it actually occurs. It is important to understand that knowledge plays a vital part in ensuring your survival.

Learn and condition yourself into a survival mentality.

Everyone has to learn the skill of scrounging around and finding what they need. You must learn to see in your mind that certain items can be very useful for your survival. Having a survival mentality will greatly increase your chances in finding solutions to problems that will surely occur in a survival situation.

Can you Survive a Critical Situation with a Negative Attitude?

A wilderness emergency could possibly happen to anyone, anywhere. When confronted with an unexpected survival situation man has the potential to overcome many challenges, beat incredible odds, and come out a survivor. But just what is survival anyway? Survival is the art of surviving beyond any event. To survive means to remain alive; to live. Survival is taking any given circumstance, accepting it, and trying to improve it, while sustaining your life until you can get out of the situation. Most important thing to remember is survival is a state of mind.

Survival depends a great deal on a person’s ability to withstand stress in emergency situations. Your brain is without doubt your best survival tool. It is your most valuable asset in a survival situation. It isn’t always the physically strong who are the most effective or better at handling fear in emergency situations. Survival more often depends on the individual’s reactions to stress than upon the danger, terrain, or nature of the emergency. To adapt is to live. Mental skills are much more important than physical skills in survival situations. A person’s psychological reactions to the stress of survival can often make them unable to utilize their available resources. You most likely won’t use your physical skills if you don’t have a positive mental attitude.

One definitely must be in the proper frame of mind to survive an unplanned survival situation. Attitude or psychological state is most certainly number one. It is undoubtedly the most important ingredient of survival. With the proper attitude almost anything is possible. To make it through the worst a strong will or determination to live is needed. A powerful desire to continue living is a must. The mind has the power to will the body to extraordinary feats. Records have shown that will alone has often been the major factor for surviving wilderness emergencies. Without the will to live survival is impossible. Survival is possible in most situations but it demands a lot of a person. Humans can be very brave and resourceful when in emergency situations. The mind is a very powerful force. It has control of the body, its actions, and its reasoning. What affects you mentally affects you physically. If you think that you can’t survive, then you won’t try to survive. A commitment or goal to live, refusal to give up, and positive mental attitude greatly increase chances for survival.

Set goals give motivation and attitude necessary to survive pressures. When placed in an unexpected survival situation you will be forced to rely upon your own resources; improvising needs and solving problems for yourself. If you want to survive then you must ultimately decide to take care of yourself and to not count on others to help you. You must continually strive towards a goal of survival. Picture your goal in your mind and visualize yourself reaching it. A person with a stubborn strong will power can conquer many obstacles. Never give up your goal to live, because without any will to live those lost in the wilderness will likely despair and die.

While in your survival situation you will be confronted with many problems that you will need to overcome. Your brain will be your best asset but it could also be your most dangerous enemy. You will have to defeat negative thoughts and imaginations, and also control and master your fears. You will need to shift mental processes and adopt that positive and optimistic “can do attitude”. You will need to be creative and use your ability to improvise to adapt to the situation. Work with nature instead of against it. You will have the crucial task of solving the problems of staying alive. Your problem solving must be based on recognizing threats to your life, knowing their priority of influence, knowing their severity of threat to your life, and taking actions that will keep you alive. It is important to consider your safety at all times. If you sum up and analyze what you need to combat it will be easier to fight known enemies than if you were fighting something unknown. Loneliness, fatigue, pain, cold/heat, hunger, thirst, and fear are your major enemies in emergency survival situations.

To keep your body alive you must react to your body’s problem indicators and defend yourself against the major enemies of survival. Always remember to keep your positive mental attitude. Don’t add any extra burden to yourself by falling into a destructive mental state like feeling self-pity or hopelessness. Remember the important aspects of your life and don’t let the image fade. Think of being lost as an opportunity to explore a new area. With the proper attitude your experience could be interesting. Enjoy the challenge. You might as well enjoy the outdoors while you’re there and grow stronger as an individual as a product of your survival experience. Your positive mental attitude will help you combat your survival enemies. Most people have more than likely experienced loneliness, fatigue, pain, cold/heat, hunger, thirst, and fear before, but have not had to combat them all at once, and to the extent that they have been a threat to their lives. Any one or a combination of them can diminish your self-confidence or reduce your desire to struggle for life. All of these feelings are perfectly normal but are more severe and dangerous in wilderness survival situations. By learning to identify them you will be able to control them instead of letting them control you.

Loneliness is a survival enemy that can hit you without warning. It will strike you when you realize you are the only person around who you can depend on while in your situation. Nowadays modern society barely gives us a chance to test our ability to adapt to silence, loss of support, and separation from others. Don’t let loneliness gnaw at your positive attitude. Fight it by keeping busy by singing, whistling, daydreaming, gathering food, or doing anything else that will take your mind off the fact that you are alone. Also while in your survival situation, boredom or lack of interest might strike you. It must be cured to maintain a healthy survival attitude. Once again keep busy to keep your mind occupied.

Fatigue is the overuse of the muscles and the mind and is a serious threat. It can cause you to lower your defenses and become less aware and alert to danger. It causes inattention, carelessness, and loss of judgment and reasoning. Take time to refresh and rest your brain and body. Conserve your energy. Rest, sleep, and calmness are essential. Pain is natures signal that something is wrong. When in moments of excitement you may not feel any pain. Don’t let it get the best of you; it can weaken your desire to go on.

Fear is a completely normal reaction for anyone faced with an out of ordinary situation that threatens his important needs. People fear a lot of things. People have fear of death, getting lost, animals, suffering, ridicule, and of their own weaknesses. The thing most feared by people going into the wilderness is getting lost. There is no way to tell how someone will react to fear. Fear usually depends entirely on the individual rather than on the situation at hand. Fear could lead a person to panic or stimulate a greater effort to survive. Fear negatively influences a man’s behavior and reduces his chances for successful survival. The worst feelings that magnify fear are hopelessness and helplessness. Don’t let the idea of a complete disaster cross your mind. There is no benefit in trying to avoid fear by denying the existence of a dangerous survival situation. You need to accept that fear is a natural reaction to a hazardous situation and try to make the best of your predicament.

A more dangerous enemy than fear is panic. Panic is an uncontrolled urge to run or hurry from the situation. Panic is triggered by the mind and imagination under stress. It results from fear of the unknown, lack of confidence, not knowing what to do next, and a vivid imagination. Fear can build up to panic and cause a person to make a bad situation worse. In a panic a person’s rational thinking disappears and can produce a situation that results in tragedy. A panic state could lead to exhaustion, injury, or death. A positive mental attitude is still the best remedy. To combat fear and panic keep your cool, relax, see the brighter side of things, and stay in control. Keep up your positive self-talk and remember your goal of survival.

While in a survival situation you will practice self-reliance. You will only be able to depend on yourself and your abilities. You will have to overcome many challenges that you are not accustomed to. Modern society is conditioned to instant relief from discomforts such as darkness, hunger, pain, thirst, boredom, cold, and heat. Adapt yourself and tolerate it, it’s only temporary. When you first realize that you’re in a survival situation stop and regain your composure. Control your fears. Recognize dangers to your life. Relax and think; don’t make any hasty judgments. Observe the resources around you. Analyze your situation and plan a course of action only after considering all of the aspects of your predicament. Be sure to keep cool and collected. It is important to make the right decision at all times. Set your goal of survival and always keep it fresh in your mind. Never give up. Prepare for the worst but hope for the best.

http://www.backcountryattitude.com/

Wild Edible And Medicinal Plants in Wisconsin and Surrounding Areas

We get a lot of questions about what wild plants are there in Wisconsin that are edible to eat or use for medical uses. I did some research and found that are many out there in the wild. I am going to list a few and there uses.

1. Purslane

Also called pigweed. Grows everywhere. Very commonly seen in cracks in the sidewalk. Also grows among woodchips. Comes out in June. Best to harvest in the fall. This is when the plants are large. Has small dark seeds that fall out. Harvest in the morning. Nutritional content varies, depending on what time of the day it was harvested. Cultivated and eaten in Greece. Good in tabbouleh, on gyros and eaten with feta. Tastes like green beans. Very important – purslane is reported to be the highest plant source of Omega 3.

2. Chamomile

Also known as pineapple weed, wild chamomile grows in rocky soil and is seen commonly in driveways. It’s very aromatic. I can smell it when the wind picks up and follow the smell to the chamomile. It’s commonly made into tea and it’s good for digestion, nervousness, anxiety, irritability; it helps to calm and soothe you and it helps you sleep. Chamomile is so safe and mild it is used on children and babies.

3. Mint (Catnip)

Emerges in spring. By June the plants are quite large. If there is an extended growing season, (warm weather into the fall and winter) there can be a second resurgence. This plant is more of a medicinal herb than food, although it can be used in place of traditional mint in any recipe. It’s very aromatic. The smell is dissimilar to mint found in grocery stores and distinctive. Use its smell to identify it. It grows in shady areas, under trees and other large plant growth. In cats, catnip is a stimulant and in humans it’s a sedative. Catnip tea can be good for allergies and the respiratory system. Some studies say catnip repels fleas and ticks better than DEET. This plant can help induce menstruation. Pregnant women should be cautious. In large quantities catnip can be an abortifacient.

4. Woodsorrel

Woodsorrel has a sour and lemonly flavor. It can make a good substitute for lemon in dishes. Looks like clover but is brighter and has small, yellow flowers. I see it growing a lot among woodchips, but I don’t think it’s particularly picky about where it grows. A naturopath once told me it was good for the liver, but only when fresh. Not when dried.

5.  Plantain (Plantago Major)

As common as it comes. Brought here by Europeans. Edible and medicinal. The most nutritious thing I have ever heard of. Fights inflammation in the intestine – from carrageenan for example. Detoxifies. Purifies blood. If you have a bee sting, take a piece of plantain, chew it and then place it on your wound. Good for blisters. Speeds healing. Natural Awakenings named them (and dandelion) in a piece about herbs that fight cancer. It can also help with psoriasis.

6. Watercress

Similar to a radish. Spicy and clean flavor. Grows near streams, creeks, pure running water and can grow in mud. Watercress is only as clean as the water it grows in. Boil or sanitize if at all questionable. High in vitamin C. Good for soups, salads, you name it. The wild variety is the same as the kind you can buy at the grocery store, except it is free.

7. Ginkgo Biloba

There are male and female trees. Only the female trees make the fruit and the ginkgo nut, which can be eaten. The fruit is not eaten. The popular ginkgo biloba supplement is made out of the leaves. When harvesting ginkgo nuts, gather the fruit. Remove the fruit using gloves (some people get a rash when touching the fruit, some do not) Wash and then cook the nut. Boil, fry, saute. Whatever you like. When cooked, the shell will remove easily. The cooked ginkgo nut looks an awful lot like a pistachio and you can put it in your mouth and between your teeth to crack then remove the shell, just as you would with a pistachio. The inside is green and reminiscent of a jelly bean. Ginkgo biloba is very nutritious, but also has toxin. They must be eaten in moderation. Taking vitamin B6 with ginkgo cancels out the toxin. (Still – eat in moderation!!!) Do not eat ginkgo nuts raw. Eating the nuts raw is unheard of. It is hoped the cooking process will eliminate toxins, but there is little evidence to suggest it does. In spite of this, cooking them is still your safest bet.

8. Chicory

Young leaves and roots are edible. Found very often on roadsides and in open fields. Comes out in the height of summer, along with echinacea. The root can be made into a coffee substitute and leaves can be enjoyed as a salad green. (There is a variety of chicory grown for its leaves.) The small blue flowers are beautiful, delicate and rare.

9. Sweet Pea

Usually toxic and inedible. The toxin makes you starve to death / waste away. One you’ll want to avoid. Some kinds are edible and can be enjoyed but it’s hard to distinguish the edible from inedible varieties. It’s just as hard to distinguish edible from inedible sweet peas as when foraging for mushrooms. So this is one that should only be undertaken if you’re an absolutely amazing forager and you really love peas and want free ones. Vetch is a look alike.

10. Creeping Charlie

Related to mint. Can be eaten in salads and used to make tea. Abundant. Creeping charlie can be bad for other plants because it can wrap around the plants and choke them. Has purple flowers. Contains a toxin. Nutritious, but eat in moderation. Very commonly seen as wild ground cover.

11. Garlic Mustard

One of the first plants to come out in the spring. Frost, snow and cold weather doesn’t seem to bother it. Invasive, originally from Eurasia. Bad for the environment (in Wisconsin). Grows everywhere. There are volunteers devoted to destroying and pulling this plant up. Take as much as you want. Edible raw but if you boil and change the water several times / eat garlic mustard this way, it will have a milder flavor. Also good when dried. It smells and tastes very strong. Reminiscent of garlic.

12. Stinging Nettle

Emerges in spring. By June the plants are quite large. If there is an extended growing season, (warm weather into the fall and winter) there can be a second resurgence. Used for food as well as herbal medicine. Very stingy. Harvest with gloves, or you may get welts. Some say these are good for your immune system but many things are. No need to get stung in my opinion. Boil stinging nettle then serve. Nettles are nutritious and a good source of calcium as well as many other vitamins and minerals. There is a contest in the UK where contestants eat as much stinging nettle as they can. Whoever survives is the winner and the toughest / manliest. It’s very entertaining to watch.

13. Cattail

Edible shoots and pollen. The pollen can be used to make pancakes. Very good in survival situations. The brown top can be used to carry an ember. The white, inner spear tastes faintly of watermelon and is the most fibrous food I have ever eaten. The fiber content makes them very good at cleaning teeth.

14. Lambsquarters

Used as food and as medicine by Native Americans. Very mild and tasty. Almost buttery. Wonderful taste for a green vegetable. Not bitter at all. Called wild spinach and by many other names. Contains oxalates, as do spinach. A nutritional powerhouse, but the nutritional content depends on where you harvest it from. It can soak up nitrates from the soil it grows in. Quinoa is closely related to the seed of lambsquarters. The seed of lambsquarters is edible, but hard to harvest. Many people say it’s not worth the trouble. Don’t let that deter you from trying the seed at least once.

15. Rose

There is the wild rose and the cultivated variety. Rose hips are an easy find for the urban forager. There is scarcely a park or garden without rose bushes. The fruit of the rose, the rose hip, ripens in October. The rose hip is edible throughout the winter. This is intentional. Some plants are edible throughout the winter so hungry animals have something to eat. Rose hips are high in vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants. They boost the immune system and fight off colds. The outer hull of the rose hip is what is eaten. Some guides say the seeds are edible, some say they are not. I eat the entire rose hip, seeds and all. I grind and chew it very well, but they are prickly and hairy. They can cause irritation. I think it’s too much work to remove the seed, but the best / tastiest experience is to remove the seeds and eat only the outer hull. Miranda Kerr uses rose hip seed oil for beautiful skin. Rose petals are also edible, but strong tasting and for lack of a better word, bitter. Rose petals are often used to make rose water.

16. Violet

Comes out in spring, usually in March but can be April or May if there is an extended cold period / winter. Violets can be violet, magenta, white and yellow colored. The leaves, stems and flowers are all edible. Use in place of spinach in your favorite creamed spinach recipe. Delicious! The roots are used to induce vomiting. Violets are commonly topped with sugar. Candied violets are used in baking sweets, treats, and to top pastries. Violets are common, beautiful and grow low to the ground. They grow along with grass, dandelion and garlic mustard, which also grow close to the ground.

17. Echinacea

It is found in prairie and grassland. It flowers in July along with chicory, during the height of summer. If you look for it late, you can find the cones without flower petals. These should be left because they contain the seeds, which create the next generation of echinacea. This is more of a medicinal herb than food. It is good for the immune system. The leaves, flower petals and root are used for herbal tea and tincture. A mild tingling feeling is experienced when drinking echinacea tea. It is unique and reminds me of being electrocuted.

18. Milkweed

Milkweed is of immense importance to monarch butterflies. Many plant it to attract butterflies to their garden. The shoots, flowers, green, unopened pods can all be eaten, but they must be boiled first. Milkweed is poisonous in its natural state. Discard the cooking water. The silk inside the young pods has a texture reminiscent of cheese. Once the growing season has passed, the dead stalks and seed pods still remain. These can be used to identify where new milkweed will appear. Note: The pods must be harvested when they are less than 1.5 inches long. If you harvest them late, they are too fibrous to be eaten.

19. Chickweed

Chickweed is edible and medicinal. It is found all over the world, even in the Article Circle. Its blossoms open in the late morning. Its leaves fold up at night and before rain. Chickweed’s stems, leaves, flowers and seeds are all edible. Mouse-ear chickweed must be cooked. Other kinds can be eaten raw. It contains nitrates. Do not ingest any kind of chickweed preparation if pregnant or nursing. This could potentially harm an unborn or nursing child due to the nitrates it contains. One should consider the nitrate levels in the leaves. Upon consuming chickweed, if one feels dizzy, weak, or faint, if you have a headache, see a doctor immediately. You may have nitrate poisoning from consuming too many nitrates. Avoid chickweed if allergic to daises. Good when young as a salad green. Rumored to taste like corn silk raw. Tastes like spinach when cooked. Can be added to soups or stews. Do this in the last five minutes to prevent overcooking. Chickweed contains ascorbic-acid, beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium, niacin, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, thiamin, zinc, copper, and gamma-Linoleic acid. In addition, chickens love to eat chickweed. This is where chickweed got its name. Chickweed can be used in topical form to calm rashes and eczema, too. It alleviates irritation and swelling from insect bites. Chickweed is not recommended for children in oral form. It can be used to treat an insect bite on a child so long as they do not put chickweed in their mouth.

Some of the fruit plants are Elderflower & Elderberry. Flowers and berries are the only parts edible. Boil or cook them first. Good for the immune system. Grape – fruit, leaves, seeds, young vines shoots are all edible.In fall it has bright red leaves and similar looking berries, they are not edible and very spicy. Black raspberry – leaves can be made into herbal tea, spring time makes the best tea. Mulberry- comes in black, purple,red, pink and white. Black/Purple are rip, Red are unrip, Pink/White are the sweetest.

SIGNALING FOR HELP

There are many ways in how you can signal for help in a survival situation…

GOT A WHISTLE, HORN or GUN?

Three short whistle tweets, three blasts from a horn or three shots fired from a gun and a pause means…HELP! And two short tweets. two horn blasts or two gunshot blasts back means “Hold on Buddy, I Hear Ya and I’m a Coming For You!”

GOT A MIRROR?

A small pocket or vehicle mirror? A flashlight or vehicle light mirror reflector? Some broken pieced of mirror, glass, a shiny tin can lid, aluminum foil, a CD, emergency thermal space blanket? If it’s a sunny day you can use all these items for signaling.

GOT SOME FIRE?

Something to ignite and start a fire with like a lighter, matches or some other type of fire starter? If you build three separate fires (100 feet or 30 meters apart) either in a perfect triangle or a straight line, internationally this means HELP! But if you can’t build them in a triangle or straight line because of the terrain, one signal fire is better than no signal fire at all. But try to build your fire(s) somewhere in an open area and as high up as possible so it can be seen better from the air and ground search parties too.

DID YOU KNOW…during daylight hours a signal fire can be seen a lot further away if you can produce the right color smoke? For example, if you’re in a green environment like a jungle or forest you should try to produce a “white smoke” which can be done by adding some green vegetation to your burning fire. And if you’re in snow white or desert environment you should try to produce “black smoke,” which won’t be easy unless you have some type of petrol like diesel, oil, plastic or rubber tire. 

GOT A STROBE or CAMERA w/FLASH?

You can use’em at night for signaling a long ways off. Ain’t got no strobe or camera but a flint & steel fire starter? Great! If you strike the flint once every 3 seconds the bright white flash from a distance will look like a small battery operated strobe light.

GOT A CELLULAR or TWO-WAY RADIO?

Never use it unless you have a good signal, keep it always turned off to conserve battery power. Turn it on only when you come to any high ground, but if there’s still no signal, again keep it turned off and put it on only when you arrive at some new high ground. If there’s no high ground in sight and it’s all flat, try climbing the tallest tree to pick up a signal. Repeat and keep trying.

GOT SOME BRIGHT COLOR CLOTH?

Though you can attach any piece of cloth to a stick and wave it, but the brighter the color the more visible it is.  It’s best to pack & carry something more compact & lighter like some bright orange duct tape, property marking tape or one of our emergency orange sleeping bag.

SIGNAL KITE

Now think about it, if you were in a remote desert, jungle or forest and you saw one of these flying in the sky what’s the first thing you would say to yourself? Like me you would probably say “..who in the hell would be flying a freakin kite way out here?” Get my drift, so to speak? Yep, I’ll bet you do, and I’ll bet that’s what you would say too, wouldn’t you? Makes finding a needle in a haystack a lot easier to find, don’t it? You can also make these signal kites out of those pocket aluminum thermal space blanket too. Which if the sun’s out it’ll be seen a lot further away than a regular old kite due to the reflection of the sun bouncing off of it like a giant signal mirror in the sky. And if you don’t know how to make a simple kite, no problem, just google “how to make a kite” and dozen websites will pop up. Now it’s entirely up to you if you want to write SOS or HELP on your kite, obviously if your kite is flown way too high up in the air no one is going to be able to read what it says on it. But should it come crashing down and lands in some trees and you can’t get it down, someone from the air or on the ground just might see it and it could still lead to your rescue. But make sure you use a magic marker and NO SPRAY PAINT or it will add too much weight to your kite and it won’t fly. IMPORTANT: Make sure you test fly your kit before packing it away, don’t assume it will fly without testing it first or you just might be carrying “dead weight.” Get it?

Don’t have any of these items with you?

But don’t worry you’re not screwed yet. What you can do to get a low flying aircraft/pilot’s attention is to use the letters S O S or H E L P. How? By constructing these letters out of some rocks, logs, tree branches, stomped down weeds, snow or sketched out in the sand. Preferably in a open areas or along a water shore, the bigger the letters the easier they will be seen from the air.Not enough room for all these letters? No problem, a large “X” is better than no letters at all and will still get a pilot’s attention and indicate someone down below might be needing some help.

When “lost” or “stranded” should you decide to try to find your way out or home, always leave some type of markings along your route of travel. Why? So in the event someone finally does realizes you’re missing and or someone comes across your markings, they will know which way you’re going. Or should you have to back track, it will be easier to find your last known position. Make sense?

 

How to Preserve Tomatoes and Apples With a Homemade Solar Food Dryer

I saw dried tomatoes selling for $10/pound at a food coop and thought that price was outrageous. Now that I make and eat my own dried tomatoes, I think they’re priceless.

You can pretty much eat year-round from our small Ohio homestead. Preserving the summer harvest is an important part of doing this, but when I can find a new way of processing food that results in more variety for winter meals, I’mdrying tomatoes especially pleased. Drying apples and preserving tomatoes with a homemade solar food dryer condenses their flavor into incredible winter treats.

We learned to both make and use the food dryer by following Eben Fodor’s excellent directions in his book, The Solar Food Dryer. The body is made from recycled cortec and the hardware bought locally. We ordered the polypropylene screen that the food sits on from the reference given in the book. We didn’t want to risk galvanized metal or aluminum screens interacting with the food.

One thinks of summertime as having long days and the sun high in the sky—perfect for a solar dryer. In reality, the days are getting shorter and the arc of the sun lower by August and September when most fruits ripen. Fortunately, the plans include a built-in light bulb that provides backup electric heat if the day becomes overcast or if the food needs drying into the evening.electric cord and themometer

The one design detail I would change for our latitude is to tilt the dryer a bit more to face the lower arc of the late summer sun. The original angle was calculated by taking our latitude and subtracting 15 degrees. So far, we’ve only use ours in late summer, and have increased the angle by elevating the back legs on two-by-fours. We may soon commit to that angle by shortening the front legs.

A thermometer tells us the internal temperature of the dryer as we rotate it during the day to face the sun. Our goal is to keep the temperature in the 120 to 150 degree range. If it gets too warm, an additional screened vent can be opened as much as necessary.

I make it sound as if we’re standing by the dryer monitoring and adjusting its progress throughout the day. In reality, the homestead’s too busy for that, but the dryer does well with two or three adjustments during the day as we’re walking through the backyard doing other projects. It wouldn’t work, however, to put it out in the morning and leave for work until late in the day. It needs help in following the sun.

Preparation of the food for drying is pretty fast and easy. I prepare the tomatoes by giving them a minute or two in boiling water so they’ll peel easily, and then slicing them as uniformly as possible. I’ve even dried paste tomatoes by just halving them. It’s amazing how small and intensely flavored they become when most of their water is gone.

Preparing the apples for drying is easy and fun if you have a manual apple peeler-slicer-corer. This even gives you slices of equal thickness. The apple slices require no treatment to keep them from discoloring—the drying results in a slightly darker color anyway.apple peeler-slicer-corer

I judge when it’s time to take the food out of the dryer by making sure it’s beyond the sticky stage, still a bit leathery (a good excuse to taste-test!) but not brittle. Then I put it immediately in a container where it won’t re-hydrate in the humid summer air. Glass jars with tight lids are a nice option, but need to be kept in a cool place. I sometimes freeze the fruit indried apples labeled plastic bags, though I’m trying to wean off plastics.

There are books that give recipes for making “fruit leathers” when drying, but I really dislike adding sugar to food that tastes so great with just its own fructose. I dry the apples and tomatoes plain, and I often savor them as “plain” winter treats. However, these dried tomatoes are great in pasta or soups, and the apples add incredible flavor to even vegetable dishes.

No Excuse for Starving

A Colorful History

There is no excuse for starving, especially in Florida. They have citrus of all kinds (orange, tangerine, grapefruit, lemon, lime, cumquat, and loquat), mango, grape, guava, bamboo, banana, plantain, sugarcane, avocado, acorn, dandelion, purslane, podocarpus, papaya, lychee, lemon grass, garlic grass, hickory, chestnut, coconut, cattail, coontie, cactus, cassava, Jimaca, and cabbage palm. They are all edible, all delicious, and each can be found growing throughout much of the Sunshine State, if you just know where to look. Nope, there’s no excuse for starving in Florida.

Florida has been home to many colorful characters throughout its history, from the pre-Columbian Chatot, Timucua, Tocobaga, Tequesta, Ocali, Apalachee, Asi-Jeaga, and fierce Calusa tribes to formidable Spanish Conquistadores like Hernando de Soto and Ponce de León to blood thirsty pirates like Jose Gaspar and Caesaro Negro to the wily Seminole and Miccosukee warriors like Osceola and Holatta Micco to Confederate blockade runners like Captain Archibald McNeill.

For me, the most interesting aspect of Florida’s history has always been the Seminole Indian Wars, partly because the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes are the only Native American tribes to never lay down their arms in abject surrender to over whelming Federal forces. Even the indomitable Comanche and Apache ultimately surrendered, but not so the Florida tribes who melted into the Everglades where Federal troops dare not follow. These two tribes were part of the Civilized Nations; they wore spun calico shirts, smoked clay pipes and were fond of their smooth bore muskets. They survived forty years of warfare (1817-1819, 1835-1842, 1855-1858)1 against a modern and well equipped army, not because of any technological superiority—although the Seminole and Miccosukee were excellent marksmen with bow and musket—but because they were adaptable and were able to live off the land in the wilds of Florida’s untamed swamps, wetlands, mangroves, and hammocks. As it was for the Seminole and Miccosukee, living off-grid in a SHTF scenario means having to live off the land.

Long-Term Scenario

We all pray that SHTF events never happens in our lifetime, but we prepare for them anyway. The Seminole and Miccosukee survived their own SHTF; will we survive ours? Our SHTF, when it comes, may come upon us slowly or suddenly. Regardless of the cause, we owe it to our children to survive, so we pray for the best and prepare for the worst.
I don’t have a cabin in the mountains. I don’t own a cattle ranch. I don’t have a fortified bunker with motion sensors and early warning systems. I am forbidden by our home owners association from installing claymores in my yard. Heck, I don’t even own any night vision optics. I just a private citizen who wants to see his family to survive. Faced with a SHTF event, I know that the acquisition of Water, Food, Shelter, and Security will be imperative to ensuring my family’s survival.

Most coastal Floridians have already faced SHTF scenarios—we call them hurricanes, and we take our hurricane preparedness seriously. Since Hurricane Andrew destroyed the southern tip of Florida in 1992, many households have maintained a family sized “hurricane box” containing enough gear and supplies for the home team to survive for at least a few of days. That may not seem like a lot by Prepper standards, but the hurricane box is not part of our Prepper provisions. It’s just a seasonal precaution. We stock the hurricane box in spring, watch the Weather Channel from May (Caribbean hurricane season) through October (Atlantic hurricane season), consume our hurricane supplies through winter, and restock the following spring. This rotation keeps stock fresh and it beats having to run to Publix for a last-minute can of green beans so my wife can whip up one of her tasty casseroles.
Preparing for the future requires forethought; the more you accomplish before an emergency event, the less you’ll need to accomplish during or after one. Stockpiling alone, however, can only carry you so far. You must be able to find renewable food sources. Once the SHTF, it will be too late to harvest Ramen at Walmart. Even if you could get your hands on that last brick of tasty noodles, fighting a gang of thugs for looting privileges is not sound tactical advice. If the gangs control your local Walmart, what then? Wouldn’t you rather be able to safely feed you’re your family from home than having to wander the means streets of some post-apocalyptic city scavenging for a nice clean dumpster? So, let’s assume you’ve already taken care of your short-term physical needs. You’ve got plenty of Evian and MRE’s on hand, your storm shutters are up, and everyone on your team who’s tall enough to ride the bog roller-coaster is strapped. No gun fight at the OK Walmart for you, but what about long-term survival? What about replenishment provisions? Have you considered that once your MRE’s run out, you will need to restock your larder with what you can hunt, fish, or grow?

Florida waters are teeming with fish, crabs, shrimp, crawdads, and turtles, not to mention the abundant squirrels, and various fowl that populate our area—with the notable exceptions of birds of prey and carrion eaters, pretty much most fowl are edible. For deer and hogs, we would need to go further afield. Barring a catastrophic decimation of wildlife, protein will most likely not be a problem for Floridians, especially for those of us living along the Coast. Carbs, however, will be much harder to come by.

The average healthy adult requires approximately 200-300 grams of carbohydrates daily.1 My favorite carb is rice, but what we’ve stored won’t last forever. We could try growing our own, but growing rice is a complete mystery involving paddies and some kind of water buffalo. We could try going native by harvesting acorns—a good source of carbs: 1 oz dried acorn (2-3 acorns) contains 14.6 gr. of carbs—but the acorns in South Florida tend to be rather small, and harvesting them is labor intensive, requiring patience and lots of water for blanching out the tannic acid. Acorns are a great supplement—make acorn-raisin cookie—but they are not a staple food.

The Lowly Sweet Potato

To resolve to the how-to-get-enough-carbs-so-I-don’t-starve dilemma, I would recommend the same carbohydrate-rich staple that was grown by the Seminole and Miccosukee and helped them survive as a people while they waged a forty-year long guerilla war.
Even if you’re able to fight off the first wave of spam-starved zombies, a single-family dwelling can suffer an extensive amount of damage from a break-in, let alone a firefight. During a SHTF event, we must be able to survive off-grid inconspicuously. This means living under-the-radar. It’s your choice; you can hang a “Welcome” sign over your green house door, or you can hide your food source in plain sight. Because they are so well camouflaged, the only true enemies of these delicious uber tubers are mice, floods, and weed whackers. It grows wild in many parts of the South, not just in Florida. The sweet potato is not a magical cure-all food, but it does have many dietary and strategic qualities that American Preppers may find advantageous. A store-bought sweet potato weighing approximately 7 oz. contains about 3 gr. of carbs while the same amount of rice has almost three times as many carbs (11 gr.), rice is labor intensive. Have you ever tried hitching a water buffalo to a rice plow? Though it lacks the carbs of rice, an average-sized sweet potato does possess many other essential nutrients including: potassium (48 gr), Vitamin A (2,026 IU), and Beta-carotene (1,215 mcg).3

The Growing Process

When germinating sweet potatoes, I employ the “science project” method. It is the skin that produces the buds or “eyes” that become roots, so all you will need is the outer portion of the potato. Slice out one-inch wide slips of skin from the potato. Make them about as half as thick as a pencil (1/8 inch) to lend support to the skin. Suspend—do not submerge—the inch-wide slips of skin in cool tap water by using string to form a “hammock” or tooth picks spears to hold the slips at water level, skin side down. Each slip should have its own container; too many slips in a confined space can cause the delicate sprouting roots to tangle. Direct sunlight can quickly bake young sprouts, so store them in indirect sunlight.

In about two weeks, you should see several healthy root tendrils sprouting downward from the slips into the water. When the tendrils grow to about six inches in length, it’s time for planting. Gently remove the sprouted slips from their containers and plant them about 4-6 inches deep and about 12 inches apart.4 Much of the soil in South Florida tends to be sandy and poor, so you may need to prep your soil before planting. My property is sandy and wonderful for growing sandspurs—they are the reason Floridians don’t walk around bare-footed. I do not prepare my soil before planting sweet potatoes. The whole point of the exercise is to establish a renewable food source that will grow well without any help from me. After about three to four months—depending on the variety of sweet potato, rainfall, soil, soil prep, pests, etc.—the crop will be ready to harvest. You’ll know it’s time to harvest when the leaves turn yellow on the vine, and the growing tubers cause the ground to bulge as though there were moles tunneling beneath the soil. I live in Hardiness Zone 10 (South Florida); your results will definitely vary.

Sweet potato vines can cover ground almost as quickly as kudzu and drop roots at the nodes their entire length. The potatoes grow close to the surface and can be harvested easily with bare hands. I don’t use my bare hands because Florida is home to the dreaded Brazilian Fire Ant, six different venomous serpents, and an ever-growing population of pythons. This is a genuine concern when weeding or harvesting because sweet potatoes attract rodents which in turn attract snakes, and the ground cover from the leaves can be so dense that you would never notice a coiled pygmy rattler until too late. All the prepping in the world won’t save you from a coral snake bite either—they are part of cobra family—with no way to refrigerate rare anti-venom serum during a SHTF scenario. “Don’t stick your hand in there!” is a good rule to live by in Florida, so use a little common sense and employ a small cultivator rake carefully to avoid damaging your crop.

For my first attempt at sweet potato gardening, I cut eight slips, but two failed to germinate. I planted the remaining six slips in a three-foot by five-foot patch of well-drained sandy soil. My little garden yielded 14 medium-to-large sweet taters. These were germinated from one store-bought potato. Not too bad for a first attempt considering the small size of the plot and the fact that I did not water at all. The Florida August monsoons did the watering for me. The rains come so regularly in late summer, between 3:00PM and 5:00PM, that you can practically set your watch by them. That particular crop of even survived a record-breaking three-day freeze just prior to harvest. A three-day freeze might not impress most Northerners, but it is big news in South Florida.

After my first crop, I let the vines continue to grow on their own, hoping for a second picking from the same planting. Unfortunately, the potatoes did not survive my wife’s attempt to clean up the back yard with the weed whacker. The best sweet potatoes are the large ones near the original slip planting. The further away from the original plant that the nodes take root and become potatoes, the smaller the tuber will be. The stunted golf ball-sized sweet potatoes, though still technically edible, are rough and not very tasty. These became seed crop for the next planting.

Another nice thing about the sweet potato is that it can be grown almost anywhere: apartment window boxes, small backyard gardens, empty lots downtown, power line easements, around the edges of county parks, or the woods behind your house. With their dramatic purple blossoms, the attractive broad-leafed vines are used as an ornamental plant. They make such great ground cover that they are regularly incorporated into landscaping around buildings, mailboxes, lakes, canals, trees, and other shrubbery.

There is a storm canal easement behind our property. Like Johnny Apple Seed, I’ve started planting germinated slips on this property. Several plantings have taken root and are growing well. When the summer rains begin, they should really take off. The early success of this off-property experiment has encouraged me to try other locations. I’ve germinated and planted sweet potatoes at my mom’s house, my brother’s house, and at a friend’s house. They’re going to enjoy the attractive ground cover around their shrubs, and I will enjoy helping them establish a prolific and renewable emergency food source.

I’ve started scouting other areas as well for strategic planting locations that will be self-sustaining. Anticipating future fuel shortages, I’ve kept my scouting to within bicycling distance from my property. There is a long tract of scrub woods along the river near our home which will make a good planting zone as the average non-agricultural zombie wouldn’t know the difference between potato vines and kudzu. My plan is to hide a strategic and productive potato pantry in plain sight. Nope, there’s no excuse for starving in Florida.

Do Friends and Family Put Your Prepping Efforts at Risk?

Friends at the door
Friends at the door

We entertain friends and family at our home often.  They will at times comment on our family’s prepping efforts, equipment, food storage and other projects we are working on, and the following statement always seems to come up.  “Well, I know where we are coming if something ever happens.”

How many of you have heard this before?  This has got me thinking about the possibility that if and when our preparations are called upon, that I may not be as worried about strangers trying to hijack our food, water and equipment, as friends using guilt and the fact that we know them, to allow them access to a safe zone.

You have to ask yourself, what would you do in that situation?  Could you turn away a good friend in need?  Would you defend your property and supplies against a neighbor or perhaps even extended family?  I would hate to make a decision like that, but the simple answer has to be, yes.

Although I would have a heavy heart, and would definitely do what I could, depending on the overall situation, but the fact that we try to prepare for known and unknown situations, that may present, I and our family, have discussed the possibility of defending our home and family against the same people that know us.

Making a difficult decision.

I’m afraid that when SHTF, our door will be the first everyone is knocking on.  I doubt, hiding and acting like your not home like your avoiding a door-to-door salesman, is really going to work in this situation.  Making a plan before hand, would make the most sense, and allow you and your family to know well ahead of a rash decision during a disaster situation, what and who we would accept and who we would turn away.  “If grandma makes it to our home during a disaster, we let her in.” and If deadbeat Uncle Bob shows up, shoot him before he makes it up the driveway. (just kidding)

If you need to bug out, then gathering your family members and heading to your safe zone, or meeting area wouldn’t apply, but most people would be bugging in, at least for the short term, depending on the disaster or need. Either option, you’re going to encounter people in need or just simply want to stick with a family that has their stuff in order.  We’ve seen this over and over in television shows that bring in a new person, only to be betrayed at some point.

Others may genuinely need food, medical assistance, supplies, security from serious threats, and you know resources are not infinite. What to do?

You are now thinking, I have spent years and my family has worked hard to prepare for potential SHTF events. You have stocked up on canned food, water, filters, medication, guns, ammo, and many other items you thought necessary. You have planned on how you would defend your home and secured your family.

You may not have though, thought about all the people that you would have either knocking on, or down your door.  I suggest that you consult your close friends to at least make minimal preparations or supplies you don’t currently have, to form a small coop.  This would make sense to pool resources, but those that don’t heed your advice and recommendations are on then their own.

Short situations such as tornado, floods and hurricanes, are a different situation, than long term disasters.  You’re fellow man(woman) would definitely help out on these temporary catastrophes just as we have always done.  If a nationwide grid failure, EMP, pandemic, financial collapse, then all bets are off.  When and If food supplies end, McDonalds is closed forever, water, gasoline, and other necessities become scarce and nobody knows for how long, you will need to hunker down and take care of you and yours.

These are going to be some tough decisions for us to make. The decisions you make can and will be very difficult, and you will have to live with how you handle the situation.

100-Year-Old Way to Filter Rainwater in a Barrel

During our boiling, broiling, blistering summer, water was a topic of conversation wherever we went. Creeks and ponds dried up (some never recovered) and the water table dropped, forcing a few neighbors to have their well pumps lowered or to even have deeper wells drilled.

Many folks shared memories of rain barrels, cisterns, hand pumps and drawing water with a well bucket as a child, usually on grandpa and grandma’s farm. Some said they’d never want to rely again on those old-time methods of getting water. But, at least they knew how it was done.

It seems we have lost much practical knowledge in the last 50 or so years because we thought we’d never need it again. Now we are scrambling to relearn those simple know-hows.

A tattered, 4-inch thick, 1909 book I happily secured for $8 in a thrift store reveals, among umpteen-thousand other every-day skills, how to make homemade water filters. The instructions in “Household Discoveries and Mrs. Curtis’s Cookbook” are quite basic as everyone had a rain barrel back then and presumably knew how to filter rainwater. Now, 104 years later, I am thankful the authors had the foresight to preserve their knowledge for us, and pointed out that rainwater collected in barrels from a roof is a necessity in some locations, but also is best for laundry and “often more wholesome for drinking purposes than hard water.”

The “wholesome” observation applies to plants, too. I noticed during our 6-week dry spell (not a drop of rain) that I was only able to keep my vegetables alive with the garden hose – until our well, too, began sucking air. The pitiful potato, tomato and bean plants actually seemed petrified, like faded plastic decorations. Then, after a 2-hour rain shower, the plants miraculously leapt to life – vibrant, green and THRIVING. I did, too.

In early June last year, my husband surprised me with a 425-gallon water tank so I could water with nutritious rainwater, although it was August before any measure of water was in the tank. When the elusive rains finally paused briefly overhead, I was out in it with my 2-gallon watering can, running and sloshing the water like a crazy woman onto our neglected trees far up the hill.

100-year-old instructions

For gardening, rainwater is, naturally, best unfiltered. But, for household use, the vintage book says the following instructions yield a cheap and easy way to make a filter just as good as a patent filter costing 10 times as much:

“Take a new vinegar barrel or an oak tub that has never been used, either a full cask or half size. Stand it on end raised on brick or stone from the ground. Insert a faucet near the bottom. Make a tight false bottom 3 or 4 inches from the bottom of the cask. Perforate this with small gimlet holes, and cover it with a piece of clean white canvas.


“Place on this false bottom a layer of clean pebbles 3 or 4 inches in thickness; next, a layer of clean washed sand and gravel; then coarsely granulated charcoal about the size of small peas. Charcoal made from hard maple is the best.

“After putting in a half bushel or so, pound it down firmly. Then put in more until the tub is filled within 1 foot of the top. Add a 3-inch layer of pebbles; and throw over the top a piece of canvas as a strainer. This canvas strainer can be removed and washed occasionally and the cask can be dumped out, pebbles cleansed and charcoal renewed every spring and fall, or once a year may be sufficient.

“This filter may be set in the cellar and used only for drinking water. Or it may be used in time of drought for filtering stagnant water, which would otherwise be unpalatable, for the use of stock. This also makes a good cider filter for the purpose of making vinegar. The cider should first be passed through cheese cloth to remove all coarser particles.

“Or a small cheap filter may be made from a flower pot. A fine sponge may be inserted in the hole and the pot filled about as directed for the above filter. It may be placed in the top of a jar, which will receive the filtered water.”

How to Create Your Own Personal Survival Seed Bank

You have probably heard of seed saving, where you save a plant’s seeds or tubers at the end of a growing season to serve as the seed source for the following year. This is great because choosing the proper plants and practicing proper seed-saving methods gives you to a free, self-perpetuating garden year after year. Saving seed also means you can share seeds with friends and neighbors, so everyone can start growing their own.

Many people, however, are not as familiar with the concept of a personal seed bank. A personal seed bank is like seed saving on steroids. You save seed for the coming season’s planting, but you also bank seed for longer storage, just in case.

What that “just in case” might be varies. Some people have created a personal seed bank as insurance against crop failures. Others believe a personal seed bank is necessary in the event of a partial (or total) societal collapse. Many people just like the idea of being sustainable and self sufficient. And, of course, seed saving can be a fun hobby.

PLANNING YOUR SEEDBANK

The most important thing to remember when planning your personal seed bank is that you can only save and store open-pollinated, non-hybridized, non-GMO seeds. Why? Because genetically modified and hybridized seeds have been dinked with by large corporations such as Monsanto, which doesn’t want you to be able to save your own seeds. Why? Because they want you to have to buy seeds from them year after year. Hybridized or GMO seeds frequently have sterile first generation offspring (F1 is a designation you might have seen). This means that while you’ll get viable plants from the seeds you buy, the seeds you save from those plants will likely be sterile. If they’re not sterile, they’ll produce offspring that are so unlike the parents with such a wide variety of characteristics that they will be a disappointment and not useful. Only buy heirloom, open-pollinated seeds from trusted sources.

The second thing to decide when planning a seed bank is what kinds of seed you want to save. The best seeds to save are from fruits and vegetables you enjoy eating the most, but experience comes into play, too. If you’re a beginning seed saver, to start it’s best to bank seeds that require the lowest skill set. This way you can focus your first growing season on learning seed saving techniques and still have viable, usable seed banked in preparation for the following growing season, at which time you’ll expand your skill. The easiest seeds to save and bank are self-pollinated seeds (see below for more info on this).

The third thing to decide when planning a seed bank is what seeds would be best to save. This can vary greatly depending upon the reason why you are choosing to create a personal seed bank. If you’re banking seed as insurance against a crop failure in your garden or to be more self-sufficient, then banking what you like is the best option. If you’re banking seed as insurance against a societal collapse, then you’ll need to bank a wider variety of seeds and include many types that you may not have ever grown before, including grains like wheat or barley. Be advised, though, that in these cases it is a good idea to get some experience growing these seeds before a collapse occurs; your seed bank will be useless if you don’t know how to grow the seeds you have.

SEED SOURCES

If you’ve never saved seed before, you’ll have to buy your first seeds from a commercial grower or be lucky enough to have seed-saving friends who are willing to help you with your first crop. Excellent commercial sources for heirloom, open-pollinated seeds include Seed Savers Exchange, Native Seed Search, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Sustainable Seed Company, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and Abundant Life Seeds, among others.

Another alternative is to buy a pre-made seed bank that is already packaged and set for storage. This is a great idea for those who want a head start on their seed bank and have some insurance on-hand until a self-made seed bank has been created (which can take several years). A good source for a seed bank such as this is sold by Camping Survival. They sell a 6-can set that is organized by use type. For instance, the “Culinary Herb” can includes a variety of common herbs from basil to thyme, and the “Ancient Grains” can includes barley, flax, amaranth, and others. The ‘Medicinal Herbs” can is especially beneficial to have and is often overlooked in seed banks.

SELF-POLLINATED SEEDS

The best and easiest seeds to save (and therefore bank) are self-pollinated seeds, which include tomatoes, beans, lettuce, peas, chicory, and endive. These plants have reliable seed set the same year they are planted, and they are self-pollinating. Self-pollinated seeds fertilize themselves, meaning the pollen from a plant’s flower fertilizes the stigma on that same flower. No muss, no fuss. There are few worries about cross-pollination or accidental hybridization. You get the same variety of tomato or bean year after year, though it is recommended to separate varieties by a row, just in case.

Self pollination is one way seeds of concern to home growers reproduce; the other two modes of reproduction are insects and wind pollination. This is where things can get tricky, because in these cases pollen from a plant up to a mile away can fertilize a plant in your garden. This increases the chance of hybridized plants, whose seeds will not breed true when planted. Because of this, insect and wind-pollinated plants such as corn or onions have to be manipulated by the grower to ensure that pollination is limited to same varieties.

WIND AND INSECT-POLLINATED SEEDS

More experienced seed savers can take on plants that require more intervention to insure that saved seed breeds true.  Crops such as corn, cucumber, radish, spinach, and squashes (among others) produce seed the same year they are planted, but require the grower to intervene to prevent unwanted hybridization. This intervention can come in the form of hand-pollinating the plants to prevent cross-pollination, or making sure there is considerable distance between the variety you are growing and other varieties (this distance can vary between 100 feet and a mile, depending upon the plant).

Biennial vegetable seeds set seed the year after they are planted, and as a result expert seed savers can take on the two-year commitment needed to save these seeds. Biennial vegetables include onions, carrots, cabbages, beets, swiss chard, turnips, celery, leeks, and others. Instead of harvesting at the end of the first growing season, the plants need to be successfully overwintered the same year they are planted (this can vary depending upon if you live in the north or south). The second growing season is when the plants will flower and set seed. These plants also need to be separated from other varieties to avoid cross-pollination.

ORTHODOX SEEDS

No, this has nothing to do with religion. What it does have to do with is how well a seed withstands the freezing and drying conditions that are necessary to maintain a seed bank. Orthodox seeds can be dried and frozen for storage and remain viable for a period of time, but some seeds take to this better than others. Some seeds can be stored up to 10 years or more, others begin to lose viability after one year. For most common vegetable plants, three to five years is about as long as they can be stored, though some plants (like parsnips) really need to be used within a year or two.

Ideally, seeds need to be dried to less than 7% moisture and, for maximum storage length, frozen to no warmer than zero degrees Farenheit (a home freezer may reach this temperature). The lower the temperature, however, the longer seeds will remain viable. Most vegetables known to the home gardener are orthodox seeds, such as peas, corn, and tomatoes. In fact, about 80% of plant species are orthodox seeds.

Recalcitrant seeds can’t be dried for storage and must be planted immediately. Tropical plants such as mangoes, coconuts, and tea are recalcitrant. Intermediate seeds can take some drying for short-term storage, but they are not viable options for a personal seed bank. Examples of intermediate seeds include coffee, papaya, and others.

SEED SAVING SPECIFICS

The best free online resource for learning how to save specific vegetable seeds can be found at the International Seed Saving Institute. They have a complete seed-saving guide, which includes how to address the pollination needs of individual plants and harvest the seeds to best advantage.

Do you have water if the grid goes down?

On National Geographic’s American Blackout we got to see a lot of common problems presented as the result of a power grid collapse that lasted 10 days. One problem that everyone faced, but didn’t receive a lot of air time was the lack of drinking water. National Geographic did not demonstrate any methods for obtaining water other than going to the store, or as in the case of the people trapped in the elevator and eventually the roof of a building, collecting some from a bucket that had been left in the rain. Since water is one of the most important elements for our survival I wanted to go over some methods of storing water and treating water that could help you in a disaster situation. You must have water if the grid goes down and you expect to live.

If you find yourself without power as they did in American Blackout, food and water were their priorities. Safety and security weren’t big issues until people started living without food and water. The nice veneer of society will vanish in a few days max even if we are only living through a power outage. Can you imagine if there was sickness or a disease pandemic? Can you envision how chaotic a hurricane knocking your town into the ocean would be? The situation presented in American Blackout gave us a lot to learn I think, but as far as disaster goes, a power grid failure would not be anywhere near as severe as a lot of other possibilities.

Now, I am not try to trivialize the scenario at all. A national power grid failure would be catastrophic but only because people aren’t prepared. I think it’s very telling when you consider how many lives might be altered forever just by not having some electricity. I think it is sad that our world is so dependent upon electricity that millions potentially would starve, riot and die because they were forced to live like our not too distant relatives did. Can you imagine the pioneers if you presented this situation to them? OK, just imagine how horrible it would be if there was no electricity… No what?

Where to find water

Water is everywhere normally unless you live in the desert. That is one reason why not too many people recommend living in Phoenix if the grid goes down. For the rest of us that live in closer proximity to lakes, rivers, ponds and streams we have a lot of options for finding water if we are faced with the task of collecting enough to drink. In American Blackout, the people who lived in the city had no water in the pipes because the electricity needed to pump water up into tall buildings was nonexistent. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any water in the city though.

I was surprised they did not have someone manning a hydrant letting people fill up jugs of water. The sheer volume of water contained in the fire hydrant systems of large cities if used properly could have probably lasted a week. Could you have taken showers and washed your car? No, but it is a source of water that could have been tapped into if you pardon the pun.

You could make a solar still or collecting the condensation off the leaves of plants with a bag or getting water from a tree even, but that is for another post. I want to talk to the majority of us that have water all around us and we simply need to get it and make it safe for drinking. In that I’ll start with the obvious and that is you should have water for everyone in your family on hand at all times. Water is cheap (relatively) and it is easy to find. You drink it every day now and there is no reason to be without a minimum of one week worth of water no matter who you are or where you live. Don’t wait until the power goes out to run to the store and try to find a gallon or two.

Water in a suburban setting is most easily collected from rain. Once you have rain barrels set up you don’t have to do anything. When it rains, your barrels will fill up and all you would have to do is make sure it is filtered or disinfected. Water can be used from any stream or creek or lake. What about the golf course down the street? You can drain your water heater in a pinch just by opening the drain valve at the bottom. The trick is to look around you for locations that have water in your neighborhood that you might need to access in a grid down scenario, but don’t neglect stocking up on your own. The stream down the road might be dry.

How to carry water

Let’s say you live near a body of water (lake, stream, well, fish pond) and the power is out. How are you going to get water to drink? You could just walk down there and fill up your bucket or bottle and walk back, but that is going to take a lot of time and energy for something that won’t last long. You need a way to carry a considerable amount of water at one time to reduce your trips and cut down on your risk of being caught out. Humans on average need a gallon of water per day to stay hydrated and provide cooking and hygiene. I think that amount is slightly off because it can’t be the same amount for small children, but who cares. We will use it for a guideline and obviously that guideline has to be adjusted for the scenario you find yourself in. If it’s the middle of summer, temperatures are soaring and you are doing a lot of manual work that amount could easily double. What if you are sick and are throwing up? It’s best to always have more than the average amount of water on hand and you need to have a plan for getting water and bringing it back to your location.

You need to plan now for containers that will hold several gallons of water at a minimum, but carrying these will be difficult without a wagon, cart or improvised method of weight distribution. One of my readers commented that they were planning on using a deer cart to tote their bug out gear and I think that makes a great option for carrying water too. Like the woman in the picture above, running out for a drink of water might not be as simple as it used to be. You have to plan to carry enough back so that you won’t need to go out for another couple of days hopefully.

How to treat water

There are many ways of filtering water and making it safe to drink and I have listed several down below.

Filters – Hands down my favorite method of treating water. Why? Because it is the simplest and takes the least amount of energy for the return on investment. I recommend two types of filters to be part of your preps. For my home, I use a H20 2.0 water filter bucket. I simply dump a couple of gallons in the top and clean water comes out the bottom. Obviously, you want to ensure you are filtering as much gunk out of your water before you bring it into your filter so as to keep your filter elements clean for as long as possible.

For portable alternatives, I have a pair of H20 1.0 water straw filters and canteens. These work great and have kept us in plenty of cool clean water on several backpacking trips with our family. You just pump the water through the pump and clean fresh water is delivered to your water bottle.

Boiling Water – Boiling is probably the oldest method of disinfecting water but it works! All you need is a container (preferably not plastic) and heat. Bring your water to a boil and let the water boil for a couple of minutes and that’s it. The boiling will kill any bacteria and you can drink the water. Let it cool off first.

Ultra violet light – there are UV pens that they sell for camping that are supposed to kill any bacteria in water. I have never used these so my assumption is that it may kill the bacteria, it won’t help the taste or make the water technically cleaner. Saving your life is what is most important though so if you have to drink some water that has stuff floating in it…as long as you don’t die from a water borne illness you can live to fight another day.

Chlorination – Chlorine Bleach is probably the most common household item that you will have that can be used to disinfect your drinking water but it is a little tricky. Chlorine is affected by the temperature of the water you are treating. Always try to filter any water that may be cloudy with contaminants such as lake water first. You can use paint filters or a bandana if necessary. If the water is room temperature (meaning not cold or hot) you would add two to four drops of chlorine bleach per quart. Shake well and let the container sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, smell the water. It should smell like chlorine and this is normal. If it doesn’t smell like chlorine add another drop or two and let it sit for 30 additional minutes. By drops we are talking about an eye-dropper size drop, not a dollop.

DistillationDistillation is another option but requires more equipment than the average person will be able to acquire much less put together in an emergency. There is a lot of information about this method online.

We have videos and information about all our water products and systems.

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

 

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?