Prepping for Beginners – plan, checklist, tips

low budget prepping - Prepping for Beginners

Preppers Survive gets quite a few emails each month.  My favorite emails are from newbie Preppers because they have an intensity and an urgency in their comments and questions.  This intense urgency is how I felt when I first started prepping.  I laboriously looked for articles on prepping for beginners.  It felt like it haunted my every waking thought for months.  I have been prepping for eight years and have learned many lessons over the years.  Perhaps the most universal lesson I’ve learned is that there is no magic formula!

Why There is No Magic Formula for Prepping 

  • Each person and/or family’s eating and living habits vary widely.
  • We live in different locations with varying environmental hazards, climate concerns, and population density.
  •  We each have different skills and areas that we are both strong and weak in. Our lack of talent or skill in a particular area plays a factor on what preps are important to us.

Although there is no magic formula for prepping there are still many ways we can learn from each other.  I may not be able to tell you what’s the fastest and cheapest way to get every prep you’ll need but I can tell you how I started and the things I learned along the way.

The Story of a Newbie Prepper

I had one of those terrifying END OF THE WORLD dreams, three months in a row, each a different dream.  After the first I started getting really serious about prepping.  After the third I had an intense urgency to get my preps in order.  My prepping began by stocking up on the things we frequently used.  We had five meals that we regularly ate so we stocked up on those food items when I first started prepping which was a couple of years before the dreams.  After the dreams, I realized that having some food wasn’t enough.  I needed at least a year supply of food, water, light/heat, first aid/hygiene supplies, protection supplies, communication supplies, and a financial plan.  I also wanted to become self reliant in all of these categories.

Prepping for Beginners – Food Storage Cheap

  1. Decide what preps are important and create a checklist of essential preps.  Here is a link to a 17 page PDF Preppers Supply Checklist that helps me to stay organized, set goals, and see areas in which I need to improve.  ScreenHunter_254 Jan. 12 23.59
  2. Set a budget.  I was able to scrape together $500 with the help of a tax return.  We also turned off our cell phones and got a Vonage home phone which saved us $70 a month to spend on preps.
  3. Find a place to store your preps.  My husband and I lived in a two bedroom apartment and space was limited.  As you can see in the featured picture we used one of the walk in closets to store our preps.  Having a designated space for your preps is very important.  I know some preppers that store preps randomly all over their house.  In many cases they forget where they stored it or even that they have it so they keep buying the same preps over and over again.  I know this is hard to believe but I have seen it numerous times.  Keep your preps in one place so that inventory and bugging out are easy.
  4. Food Storage Cheap – Shop around.  Since I had a meager budget, I wanted to maximize every dollar that I spent.  This is where urgency can get you into trouble.  The more patient you can be the better the deals you can find.  First, investigate the stores in your area.  I was amazed the stores that I had shopped at for years had bulk items I never noticed before.  Second, check local store prices against online prices.  Third, get creative.  If you are working on getting cheese and powdered milk for your food storage see where the closest cheese factory or dairy is and how their prices compare.  I lived 35 mins away from a ConAgra Food Company (they make my favorite spaghetti sauce) and didn’t even know it.  I learned about it after moving to Idaho.  The more you research food storage items you want the better the price you will get for it.

I spent most of the $500 on food storage items:  brown rice, white rice, pasta noodles, pinto beans, black beans, potato flakes, popcorn, buckwheat hot cereal, oats, cornmeal, flour, salt, and sugar.  The rest of the money I used on freeze dried meat & veggies.  I also used some of the money to buy 5 gallon buckets to store the food in and 5 gallon water containers.

Prepper How To – Helpful Tips 

  1. Prepping is not a sprint (or even a marathon) it is a continuous journey.  Even after spending $500 on food I only had a four month supply of food.  So enjoy the journey, as you continue to use and add to your preps you will go through a learning curve and develop prepping skills.  Prepping for Beginners
  2. Use mylar bags when storing bulk items.  After about four years the pinto beans started growing mold.  It was hard to get the stink out of the bucket even after using bleach.  I didn’t have a mold  problem with my black beans or other food just the pinto beans.  I trashed them and bought more storing them in the same bucket.  After two years they became moldy again.  I now use one gallon mylar bags to help:
    1. protect the buckets from lingering smells.food storage cheap - Preppers Survive
    2. protect the food – by separating the food into sealed smaller bags it protects them from the air and contaminates each time I open the bucket to get food out.  I’ve noticed that the bulk popcorn gets less fluffy and a little crunchier over the years as there is more air in the bucket as the popcorn gets lower.  When I buy new popcorn I will seal it in smaller bags to keep it fresher longer.
    3. convenience – I label each mylar bag with how many cups are in it, I can fit 10 cups of flour in a one gallon mylar bag which is the exact amount that fits in the Tupperware container I keep in my kitchen for easy access to flour for recipes.Prepping for Beginners - Preppers Survive
  3. Don’t store food in containers that are not food grade containers. Plastic buckets and plastic bags that are not food grade are made with different plastics which contaminates the food.  My mother threw out flour and beans because they tasted like plastic.  It not only tastes bad but some plastics have health hazard warnings.
  4. Only buy preps that you use on a regular basis.  I have heard of people throwing away their old out-dated food storage because they can’t give it away to the food bank since it has expired.  There is a psychological factor if it looks old and not as appetizing as the new stuff then most of us won’t eat it.  I have a friend that was diagnosed with a terminal illness.  After the diagnosis, she was very particular about what she would put in her body.  All expired foods were given away and who can blame her.  Rotating your short-term food storage and not buying extras of the things you don’t eat regularly can keep you from wasting money.
  5. Don’t put oxygen absorbers in with sugar or salt!  It clumps together and gets hard as a rock.
  6. Get started today.  The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago, the second best time…today.  It is easy to get overwhelmed and get paralyzed because there is so much to do.  There is a peace that comes from just getting started and once you get some momentum you will find better and easier ways to continue this journey.

Have You Trained Your Kids To Work? What Will They Do When A SHTF Happens?

Kids are natural helpers. Especially when they are younger and they want to “help” with everything. Many parents take advantage of that help and let the kids help them. That is the start of training your kids to be good helpers and workers around the house and the yard.

Doing chores and being expected to help inside and outside the house helps develop skills. Kids become contributing members of the household which helps lighten the load for the parents. Kids who are expected to help and do chores learn a better work ethic and become valuable members of the workforce and society after they leave home. They also learn responsibility and manage their home and work lives better.

However, there are parents who believe “that kids should be kids”. They have no chores, no responsibilities beyond school, and no expectations besides getting good grades and being a good person. They are coddled and spoiled. They do not learn responsibility beyond school. They do not learn skills or accountability. The parents do everything for them.

What is going to happen to those households when the SHTF happens?

They are going to self-implode. The parents will be doing everything they can to survive and their dependent children will not know what to do. Instead of pitching in and helping to clean the mess or secure food and water, they will want to know why they can’t eat right now! Instead of working to make the situation better or at least tolerable, they will be in a tizzy because their cellphones and smart devices are not entertaining them!

We would all like to believe that kids will naturally just step in and help because the need has arose. We would like to believe that they will just instinctively know that they are needed and will rise to the occasion. Some kids will do this, I am sure. However, in this day and age, I do not believe that most will do anything. That would be work and they know nothing of work.

We are seeing a rise in an entitled, selfish culture that is being fostered by parents who believe that their precious darlings should have and do whatever they want. They are overly involved at school, not involved at all, or they are considered special because they are really smart. They go to college and think they are special because they are enlightened with their college education. They get degrees in areas that will not really transfer into a career that will actually support them. And, for some reason, they get some really crazy ideas about life while they are in college.

Can you imagine what will happen when a SHTF happens to them?

I am not saying all kids and young adults are like this, but I am seeing a really disturbing trend. This trend that says this kids do not know any life skills, were taught very little responsibility, and would not survive at all when a SHTF happens. They will expect and demand that someone else takes care of them and this situation. They will be crazy when they find out no help may be coming.

That is why kids need to be trained to work. This training starts early when they want to “help”. You are teaching them early that their help is a valuable contribution to the household. When they get a little older, daily and weekly chores teaches them responsibility and accountability. When they are preteens, they should be expected to help whenever asked in addition to their regular chores. By the time they are teenagers, they know what needs to be done inside and outside the home.

You are teaching your kids to work. You are teaching them to be valuable, contributing members of the family. Kids are not perfect. They may need reminders and lists about what needs to be done. You will have to teach them what to do and how to do it. There is always going to be a right way and a wrong way to do things. You will have to teach them safety. You will have to teach them the skills they need to know like cooking, gardening, keeping a home, and taking care of animals.

However, when a SHTF happens, the kids will know that they are expected to help you. They may not know exactly what to do, but they know to listen to you and to take your direction. When you ask them to grab a broom or shovel to clean up the mess, they will do it. When you tell them to cook supper, they will do it.

Should kids still have fun? You bet, but you are teaching them that life is about getting the necessary things done so they can have fun. Parents should not be shouldering the burden by themselves. Kids need to learn that they are living under the roof provided by the parents and can help to take care of the house. Sometimes they will argue and whine, but you as parents need to be firm, insist on the chore being done right, and not to be afraid to give consequences if not done.

You are raising adults. They may be kids now, but they will be adults that the rest of the world will have to deal with later. Just like they need to be trained to work now, they will be ready to work later as an adult because they know that is expected of them. So whether they are living at home or on their own, when a SHTF hits, they will be ready to help in anyway they can and they can take care of themselves.

Medical Aspects of Camping and Other Tips You Need to Know About

As the weather begins to warm up, it is time to think about outdoor activities we can pursue not only for pleasure but to hone and practice our outdoor survival skills.  Speaking for myself, camping is high on my list of summer activities, including a first-time adventure using a tent.

Most of us plan to hunker down and shelter in place in the event of a disruptive event. That said, if our homes are no longer safe, either due to location or to physical destruction, we must have a plan to evacuate.  In some cases, the answer will be short term camping.

Dr. Joe Alton is here to today to weigh in on what we need to know about the medical aspect of camping plus some other tips to make the overall experience both pleasurable and educational.

Medical Aspects of Camping | Backdoor Survival

Safe Camping Tips for Preppers

School will be out soon and a great way to teach your family survival basics is by taking them camping. The skills needed for successful camping are akin to those required for the activities of daily survival. Once learned, these lessons last a lifetime. There’s no greater gift that you can give young people than the ability to be self-reliant.

Camping trips create bonds and memories that will last a lifetime.  A poorly planned campout, however, can become memorable in a way you don’t want, especially if someone gets injured. Luckily, a few preparations and an evaluation of your party’s limitations will help you enjoy a terrific outing with the people you care about, and maybe impart some skills that would serve them well in dark times.

Start Small

If you haven’t been camping much, don’t start by attempting to hike the Donner Trail. Begin by taking day trips to National Parks or a nearby lake.   Set up your tent and campfire, and see how it goes when you don’t have to stay in the woods overnight.  Once you have that under your belt, start planning your overnight outings.

Whatever type of camping you do, always assess the capabilities and general health of the people in your party. Children and elderly family members will determine the limits of your activities. The more ambitious you are, the more likely the kids and oldsters won’t be able to handle it.  Disappointment and injuries are the end result.

Important Considerations

An important first step to a safe camping trip is knowledge about the weather and terrain you’ll be encountering. Talk with park rangers, consult guidebooks, and check out online sources. Some specific issues you’ll want to know about:

· Temperature Ranges
· Rain or Snowfall
· Trails and Campsite Facilities
· Plant, Insect, or Animal Issues
· Availability of Clean Water
· How to Get Help in an Emergency

Medical Aspects of Camping

A very common error campers (and survivalists) make is not bringing the right clothing and equipment for the weather and terrain. If you haven’t planned for the environment you’ll be camping in, you have made it your enemy, and believe me, it’s a formidable one.

Although Spring and Fall have the most uncertainty with regards to temperatures and weather, you could encounter storms in any season. Always take enough clothing to allow layering to deal with the unpredictability of the season.

Conditions in high elevations lead to wind chill factors that could cause hypothermia. If the temperature is 50 degrees, but the windchill factor is 30 degrees, you lose heat from your body as if it were below freezing. Be aware that temperatures at night may be surprisingly cold.

In cold weather, you’ll want your family clothed in tightly woven, water-repellent material for protection against the wind. Wool holds body heat better than cotton does. Some synthetic materials work well, also, such as Gore-Tex. Add or remove layers as needed.

If you’re at the seashore or lakefront in summer, your main problem will be heat exhaustion and burns. Have your family members wear sunscreen, as well as hats and light cotton fabrics. Plan your strenuous activities for mornings, when it’s cooler. In any type of weather, keep everyone well-hydrated.  Dehydration causes more rapid deterioration in physical condition in any type of stressful circumstance. Allow a pint of fluids an hour for strenuous activities.

The most important item of clothing is, perhaps, your shoes. If you’ve got the wrong shoes for the outing, you will most likely regret it. If you’re in the woods, high tops that you can fit your pant legs into are most appropriate. If you go with a lighter shoe in hot weather, Vibram soles are your best bet.

Special Tips: Choosing the right clothing isn’t just for weather protection.  If you have the kids wear bright colors, you’ll have an easier time keeping track of their whereabouts. Long sleeves and pants offer added protection against insect bites that can transmit disease, such as Lyme disease caused by ticks.

Location, Location, Location

A real estate agent’s motto is “location, location, location” and it’s also true when it comes to camping.   Scout prospective campsites by looking for broken glass and other garbage that can pose a hazard.  Sadly, you can’t depend on other campers to pick up after themselves.

Look for evidence of animals/insects nearby, such as large droppings or wasp nests/bee hives.    Advise the children to stay away from any animals, even the cute little fuzzy ones. If there are berry bushes nearby, you can bet it’s on the menu for bears. Despite this, things that birds and animals can eat aren’t always safe for humans.

Learn to identify the plants in your environment that should be avoided. This especially includes poison ivy, oak, and sumac.  Show your kids pictures of the plants so that they can steer clear of them. The old adage is “leaves of three, let it be”. Fels-Naptha soap is especially effective in removing toxic resin from skin and clothes if you suspect exposure.

Build your fire in established fire pits and away from dry brush. In drought conditions, consider using a portable stove instead.  Children are fascinated by fires, so watch them closely or you’ll be dealing with burn injuries. Food (especially cooked food) should be hung in trees in such a way that animals can’t access it. Animals are drawn to food odors, so use resealable plastic containers.

If you camp near a water source, realize that even the clearest mountain stream may harbor parasites that cause diarrheal disease and dehydration.  Water sterilization is basic to any outdoor outing.  There are iodine tablets that serve this purpose, and portable filters like the “Lifestraw™” which are light and effective.  Although time-consuming, boiling local water is a good idea to avoid trouble.

Get Your Bearings

Few people can look back to their childhood and not remember a time when they lost their bearings. Your kids should always be aware of landmarks near the camp or on trails.  A great skill to teach the youngsters is how to use a compass; make sure they have one on them at all times.

A great item to give each child (and adult) is a loud whistle that they can blow if you get separated.  Three blasts are the universal signal for “help!” If lost, kids should stay put in a secure spot.  Of course, if you have cell phone service where you are, consider that option as well.

Bug Bites

Even kids in protective clothing can still wind up with insect bites.  Important supplies to carry are antihistamines like Benadryl, sting relief pads, and calamine lotion to deal with allergic reactions.  Asking your doctor for a prescription “Epi-Pen” is a good idea, as they’re meant to be used by the average person. They’re effective for severe reactions to toxins from insect bites or poison ivy.

Citronella-based products are helpful to repel insects; put it on clothing instead of skin (absorbs too easily) whenever possible. Repellents containing DEET also can be used, but not on children less than 2 years old.

Don’t forget to inspect daily for ticks or the bulls-eye pattern rash you might see in Lyme disease. I mean it when I say daily: If you remove the tick in the first 24 hours, you will rarely contract the disease.

Of course, you’ll need a medical kit as part of your supplies. Consider some of the items in our compact, lightweight personal IFAK kit, specifically meant to deal with mishaps on the trail. You might have your own favorite items to bring with you; if so, feel free to post them in the comments section below.

The Final Word

Now that I live adjacent to the forest, I want to get a tent.  The plan is to get something easy to set up because, after all, I am not a young as I used to be and want to save my energy for things like hiking and doing a bit of wood chopping.  Then, as Joe suggests, I plan to camp in my own one-acre backyard before venturing further.

One thing is certain, it is a lot more fun to practice survival skills when you couple the experience with a family adventure!

 

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Are You Ready For The Next Influenza Epidemic? How Will You Survive The Next Pandemic?

In doing some research about influenza, I came across the great Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919. This happened during World War I and affected everyone on both sides of the ocean as well as across the world. It affected soldiers as well as citizens. It is estimated that 50 million people died during this epidemic. That is compared to the 16 million people who died during World War I.

One of the things that was missing from this epidemic was antibiotics. They simply did not exist as a medicine during this time. Antibiotics in an usable form was discovered in 1928 by Sir Alexander Fleming. However, antibiotics are rarely used for any influenza viruses. We do have some medications now that will treat influenza.

It is unlikely though that antibiotics would have been effective anyway during the epidemic of 1918. The influenza epidemic came in two phases. The first phase was less severe and most people recovered from it. It came in back a few months later and killed people within hours to a few days. Most people died from the fever and fluid filling their lungs which suffocated them. The disease affected people ages 20-40 the most.

Doctors and scientists were at a loss at how to treat this influenza. They could not control or stop the disease. Remember, there was no Center for Disease Control at the time. That was not established until 1946.

Don’t remember learning this in history class? I didn’t remember learning it either. However, what can we take away from this?

1. It was not treatable. They believe the strain during this epidemic was the H1N1. Influenza strains can be mild or develop a variant that can make them deadly. Since very little was known about influenza then, it was almost impossible to treat. Today’s influenza strains are proving harder to treat. Flu shots do not cover all strains of influenza. A strain or a variant in the strain of influenza could be strong enough to not be treatable or controllable.

2. It affected strong, healthy adults the most. The age group that was affected the most was 20-40 years old. This is a group of people who are at the peak of life in terms of health and vitality. The problem with that is this is also the group of people who would be the most social group especially in 1918. Even today, people in that age range rarely stay home. The disease would be able to spread very quickly because people are constantly going. They go to work, kids’ activities, social gatherings, and college.

3. It was not controllable. This influenza strain spread very, very quickly. People were given poor advice on how to not catch the disease and how to treat the disease. We now have the Center for Disease Control who would hopefully be on top of the disease. We also now know the best way to treat the symptoms of influenza. We also know that we need rest and to stay home to keep influenza from other people.

Do you think this could happen again? Many people do. Are you ready for the next influenza epidemic? An influenza epidemic of the proportions that occurred in 1918 would be considered a pandemic now.  We hear threats of pandemics now that could happen. How would you survive the next pandemic? What do you need to do to get ready?

1. Get a sick room ready. You should have a room, preferably a bedroom, ready to be a sick room. You should have some medical supplies ready in that room like a thermometer, ibuprofen, hot water bottle, instant cold packs, face tissues, disinfectant spray cleaner, trash bags, face masks, and disposable gloves. You may also want a pandemic flu kit in that room for the people treating the sick.

2. Have white towels, wash cloths, and white bedding ready to use. You want linens you can wash in very hot water or even put in boiling water to disinfect. You can also use bleach on white linens without issues. You want to have extra linens so you can change the sick beds quickly and wash the infected bodies without worry.

3. Have rolls of heavy plastic to cover surfaces like the bed, the floor, the windows,and the doorways. You have to think about disease control going in and out of the house. You are trying just as hard to keep the disease out as well as keeping it controlled in your home.

4. Keep some chem suits on hand. You may want to completely cover up to deal with a sick patient or having to go into infected areas. A chem suit with boots and gloves would be the ideal solution. You will also want a face mask and eye protection to keep safe.

5. Have one person who would be dedicated to taking care of the sick. The less people exposed to the sick person, the better the chances for everyone to stay healthy. Having one person designated to taking of the sick will keep everyone healthier. Having a designated respite person for the caretaker would be a good idea too.

6. Have a plan in place for death. In a pandemic, death is inevitable. What will you do if someone dies? As morbid as it seems, you may want to have a body bag on hand. You also want to have a plan for disposal of the body. Where will it be buried? Will you bury the body? Those are your decisions alone, but having a plan will make those decisions easier.

7. Do not go anywhere if you don’t have to. During a pandemic, being a homebody is your best bet for not catching the disease. Having a good food storage, water storage, and a disinfected home will be wise.

No one wants to think about getting sick much less think about a lot of people getting sick. We like to think with all the technological and medical advances we have now, another influenza pandemic will not happen again. However, new strains of diseases are being developed all the time in nature and in labs. We can not be sure this will not happen again. In fact, it is likely to happen again.

What will you do to protect yourself during a pandemic? Do you think we could have another influenza pandemic?

 

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Garden Hacks – Repurpose Everyday Items

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When it comes to preparedness – or life in general – there’s a ton to buy. When we can reuse something, it helps. One, there’s the direct cost application. Two, looking at something and seeing its ability to be something completely different has enormous benefits in opening the mind in general.

If we’re preparing for a crisis, gardening and the ability to provide fresh foods in the gulf of winter and spring take on a far greater importance than just a hobby or a passion. Happily, there are some things that can be salvaged for free or found at very low-cost that make a world’s worth of difference. Channel your inner Julie Andrews with me as we look at a few of my favorite things. There’s some non-gardening uses for each listed as well.

DVD Racks

Years ago I picked up a free DVD rack to be a bean trellis for a Rubbermaid tote garden. I have since been in love, and it’s one of the things I consistently watch for at yard sales, curbside pickup listings, and foreclosure cleanup sites.

I got lucky, and mine have a rounded top at the sides. If you find some that don’t, just glue on a milk jug cap for some of its applications.

They go way beyond trellising.

They work for the far ends and sometimes central support “poles” of low poly tunnels or low hoops for garden beds and rows. A little free bamboo or PVC to span distances, some binder clips (Dollar Tree) to clamp the plastic on, and you’re in business.

They can also be set up long-wise down the middle of a bed to form an A-frame style “camping tent” poly cover if desired, which works really well for peas, with roots and salads to the outer verges, and converts well to later tomato beds.

They also form plant racks for inside near windows, against pale walls, or outdoors to keep salads conveniently close or make use of vertical height.

Mine all hold square plastic coffee tubs (they need a length of string along the front unless it’s a really well-protected area), #2.5 cans (the large tomato or peaches can), and V8 bottles without any modification at all. They’ll hold 2L bottles on their sides for longer, shallow containers, or Lipton and Arizona tea jugs of both types and sizes either cut off vertically or horizontally.

I can do square juice jugs as well, but they overhang enough to make the dog tails an issue on their sides, and I’m more comfortable with some twine or wire looping them to the back bar.

I prefer the open-dowel construction type, just because it leaves me options. I can add thin saplings, bamboo or thin sheathing to convert them if needed, but the open frame allows more light and nestles the rounded-bottom containers well.

Outside Gardening the DVD racks have the ability to hold larger canned goods and bottles of water, be used to dry clothes as-is or be half of a frame of dowels or saplings to create a larger drying space, and the poor kid used to have a pair that were hung with a curtain, topped with a chunk of (free) plywood, and outfitted with $2 in hooks to hang her uniform shirts and pants, like a mini closet that was also the mirror and vanity.

Storm Doors & Windows

These guys don’t multipurpose to the same degree as the DVD racks. They’re really handy to run across, though. One, having a backup is never a bad thing. Two, they are ready-made cold frames and pest exclusion frames.

I like a 3’ width for garden beds, permanent or bounded, and they fit pretty perfectly as-is. I can tighten up and use straw bales to create a different kind of cold frame with them laid across the top. I can run them in series or as individual structures.

An A-frame can be pretty quickly mocked up and is one of the easiest builds for getting your feet wet. It’s also handy in that it sluices ice and snow build-up and is more resistant to winds. The doors and windows get hinged at the tops, any stick or tool props them so they don’t flip the frame or ka-bong off your noggin, and cats, dogs and goats are less likely to stand on them.

Just the mesh from storm doors and windows is useful. So is mesh that comes off when you repair those.

It’s going in the garden, so some stitching or a little duct tape on both sides to repair a rip isn’t an issue. All it’s doing is protecting seed-stock squash from cross-pollination or keeping creepy-crawlies from eating the brassicas, lettuce, and beans before you can.

The advantage to taking out the mesh is that it’s an even easier build yet. There’s no hinges (unless you hinge the whole frame) and there’s less weight. That means more materials become potentials for the frame itself. You can tie some loops to go around a brick or post, or add some eye hooks to keep it in place.

Do keep the builds small enough that you can lift or flip by yourself once plants are in there. Some posts to the inside of the bed or rows can create a pivot point for flipping.

Painter’s/Construction Drop Cloth

My first set of drop cloth came from a part-time job in high school. I have been in love ever since.

It’s not super expensive, and it’s a toss-up whether the construction poly or the garden poly is cheaper to buy new, but it’s usually the totally clear construction drop cloth in our area. The 5+ mil I use is fairly durable in Southern wind storms, sun rot, ice and freezing rain, and Mid-Atlantic snow.

Contact handyman type businesses and painting businesses – for these as well as the windows and storm doors, and the mesh from those. Usually they’ll only use them for so long and as with the mesh, a few duct tape patches and the paint stains won’t impede too much structurally or light-wise.

Should you see them pop up cheap or free somewhere, don’t neglect those fancy-people outdoor grill, furniture and sofa covers, or any clear, thick, translucent vehicle covers.

Like the totally clear and colorless painter’s plastic, they all make for great garden hoop houses. Some of them can also be outfitted with sturdier construction to form a more permanent greenhouse.

Outside Gardening drop “cloth” or storm doors and windows can also be assembled into wind and snow-blocking shields around exposed doors at the home, or can enclose part or all of a porch to turn into a mudroom in an emergency or during snowy weather. Doing so creates a buffer chamber so there will be less polar vortex entering the house with every human and pet.

Plastic can also be used to cover windows and doors inside or out to decrease drafts and increase insulation value.

The painter’s plastic has the same value for livestock in extreme environments, especially if a normally warm climate is experiencing sudden return-to-winter weather after flocks or rabbits have adjusted to 60s-70s-80s, or if it’s so rare to have severe weather, coops and hutches were never built for extreme cold.

Drop cloths and poly covers can also be used to line bedding for the young, ill and elderly, so that every sneeze and cough or “mommy, I feel- blech” does not lead to disinfecting a mattress as well as changing bedding.

Wire Shelving

Really, do you ever have enough shelving? I particularly like seeing the simple-frame, open-weave, metal-wire shelving for bathrooms, laundry rooms and closets pop up in junk piles, yard sales, and Craigslist, because it’s super handy, super versatile stuff.

Like the DVD racks, it’s indoor-outdoor tiered plant stands, either year-round or during seed-starting and transplant season(s).

It can also be wrapped in our reclaimed plastic sheets or form part or all of the structure for salvaged windows or poly covers to make a mini greenhouse on a porch, beside a house or garage, for growing later and earlier in the season.

Then it gets even more useful.

Even if the whole is a little rickety, the shelves themselves can be removed and then turned into trellises. They can be rearranged around their original legs-stand or affixed to bamboo or the legs from old tables or chairs to form short garden fences to discourage turtles and rabbits, and limit dogs running through beds.

As an added bonus, if you have a senior gardener or an injury, sinking some of those sturdy table legs or a bundle of 3-4 larger bamboo canes 18” deep and up to hip or rib level can be a major aid in keeping them gardening.

The sturdy supports can then be covered with netting or sections of storm door mesh to act as a further bird and pest exclusions.

Outside Gardening there are endless uses for shelving, from water collection to organizing anything at all. Wire shelves also offer a lot of airflow for drying clothes.

The shelf “planks” of wire units can be used to patch and shore up fences and coops, especially somewhere something dug. They can be used to cover vehicle and house windows to limit damage from thrown bricks or if a storm window is damaged during a crisis.

They can also be reconfigured into a cage or crate for rabbits or small birds, to expand flocks or because they happened to be stacked from Craigslist and Freecycle runs ahead of time and now there’s a puppy to crate train or weather has shifted and we’re worried about the next generation of layers.

The shelves can be used to sift the largest chunks out of compost or soil in some cases, help form a gabion to slow water and keep it from increasing erosion, or can be lined with mesh or cloth for drying foods or seeds.

The shelves can usually be easily reconfigured with larger or smaller gaps than originally intended to facilitate buckets, larger boxes, or drying seeds and grains.

They don’t pop up as much as they used to, but some can still be found on the freebie sites as curbside pickup, or for <$15-20. They also sometimes pop up at Salvation Army/Goodwill, and if you cultivate contacts, sometimes you get your hands on just the shelf parts because the rest of the racks have been lost during multiple transfers or all the pieces weren’t donated.

Garden Reuse-its – My Favorite Things

These are just a few of my favorite things to re-purpose for growing veggies. The world is full of things like laundry bags we can use to prevent caterpillars and squash bugs on our cabbage and beans and zucchini, and old carpeting we can layer deep in garden walkways to cut down on maintenance time.

Any time we can reuse something, it cuts down on waste, making for a better world – not just the world around us. If we’re saving time and money, and if we’re developing some creativity and a new way of looking at things, we increase our preparedness and better our own world directly.

http://www.theprepperjournal.com

Homemade Substitutes for Toilet Paper

Survivopedia_toilet paper

A big part of being self-reliant is learning to make the most out of every resource. When the crisis strikes, you have absolutely no way of knowing when you will get another chance to stock up on supplies, whatever those might be.

Many people focus solely on food, water and medicine. While these are, indeed, the most important supplies, there are plenty of others to consider. What would you do if you ran out of toilet paper?

This is not something that many people give a lot of consideration to. But think about it. It is a product that everyone needs all the time. In that regard, it is placed in a pretty special category with other essentials which you simply cannot go without. This means that toilet paper is a pretty important resource, but it is also a finite one.

No matter how many supplies of toilet paper you buy, it is a single use item, one which literally gets flushed down the toilet after being used. This not only represents a waste of money, but also an actual waste which you might have to deal with if your plumbing is damaged when SHTF. Therefore, it would make sense to look at homemade alternatives for toilet paper.

Using Cloth Toilet Paper

The most common alternative to regular toilet paper is cloth toilet paper which is also referred to as family cloth. Due to the sensitive nature of the product in question, some people might be reticent to change their habits and find a substitute for toilet paper. However, something to remember is that people used a lot of different other items before toilet paper even existed.

Those who accept this concept will see that family cloth does have several advantages over regular toilet paper.

  • For starters, it is completely homemade. Family cloth is simply squares of fabric which can be made from anything around the house including old clothes which you do not wear anymore.
  • The product is recyclable, a big plus when talking about maximizing our resources.
  • These cloths are simply kept in a basket in the bedroom and thrown in a bin after being used. Afterwards they are thrown in the washing machine and then left to dry.
  • They are reusable. While this might be the notion that upsets most people, it is also the one which constitutes the biggest advantage of family cloth.

Disregarding the specific product in question, whenever we are talking about two solutions, one reusable and one finite, the reusable one is always the most efficient choice.

If you are looking for a way to maximize your resources, then using family cloth is the way to go. Many people who use family cloth regularly claim that it is more comfortable. After all, it would be made from the same material as underwear so the sensation will be very familiar.

These reasons have convinced many people to switch off toilet paper in their everyday life. For them, there is also a financial motivation to consider. Reusing the same family cloth over and over again means not having to spend any more money on toilet paper.

And lastly, you need to consider that you might not have a choice. If SHTF and you become isolated from the community and you run out of toilet paper, this becomes a viable substitute whether you want to or not.

Making Your Own Toilet Paper

For many people, the best substitute for toiler paper is simply… toilet paper. It is possible to make your own as you do not need complicated tools, as you will be recycling all of your old paper which you have no use for anymore. You can use newspaper, general paper and even magazines as long as they do not have a shiny gloss. You will also want to add ingredients such as baby oil, lotions or aloe in order to keep the paper from hardening.

1. The first step would be to remove as much ink as possible from the paper, by soaking it in a tub or a bucket. Afterwards take the paper and place it in a pot with leaves and grass which will help the fibers remain together. The pot should be filled with water so that it completely covers the paper and then left to simmer. It is important not to boil the water from the beginning so that the dry materials have a chance to absorb the water.

2. After an hour of simmering comes about half an hour of boiling at high temperatures. It’s ok to add more water if necessary. You will also need to remove the foam which begins to rise to the top, as this is mostly ink, glue and other materials you don’t want.

3. Eventually, the paper turns into a pulp. At this time you will have to remove the water but without disturbing the pulp. Try to remove as much as possible and then simply wait for it to cool before removing the rest of the water. The pulp also needs to be taken out in order to remove the water, but it should not be done so that the pulp becomes completely dry. Once this is done the pulp is put back in the pot and it is mixed with the softening oils. If you have it, you can also add Witch Hazel which will act as an anti-bacterial.

4. Once this step is complete, it is time to scoop out the pulp. Do it in chunks and place them on a towel or a cloth on a flat surface. Afterwards you will use a rolling pin in order to spread out the pulp in a thin layer. Try to make it as thin as possible. A mallet can be used to gently deal with any lumps that might appear.

5. Now another towel or cloth should be placed on top of the layer as to create a sandwich. On top of this place something flat and rigid and then something heavy. You can even walk on it if you want. The goal here is to remove all the excess water.

6. If this is done you can remove the items placed on top. Be careful with the second towel as you do not want it to stick to the pulp. In order to remove the towel on the bottom, you will have to flip it all upside down. Do not try to remove the pulp off the towel.

Then you are left with a big layer of thin paper which needs to dry in the sun. Afterwards all you have to do is cut it into pieces and you’ll have your DIY toilet paper.

Shared from Source

How to Track and Avoid Dangerous Animals

how to avoid dangerous animals
By Jonathan Kilburn-April 16, 2017

One thing that puts a lot of people off from hiking is the unknown. Sometimes, that unknown becomes very commonplace. Most people, across the Continental United States, have seen a skunk, deer, moose, bear, or other animals in the wild.

In the Northeastern United States, seeing a deer on the side of the road is almost as common as the white lines themselves. When humans venture off into an animal’s territory, these commonplace sightings can become much more dangerous.

When I was a child, I would visit my grandparents in Wisconsin nearlyhand next to a grizzly bear footprint every summer. My cousins and I would go into the woods, hike, find new plants, bird watch, or even shoot guns. My grandmother used to always tell us to, ‘stay in sight of the cabin. I never understood why I needed to stay close to the cabin until I was about 12 years old. There were two girls, down the road from my grandparent’s cabin, that were attacked by a bear. Luckily, both of them survived with minor injuries, thanks to a passing motorist.

While walking through the woods, or walking down the road in a rural area, is not inherently dangerous it can become dangerous if we do not know how to read the signs of nature. Animals are great at marking their territories. While humans have marked their own territories with fences, buildings, and cut grass humans have forgotten how to recognize the subtleties of animal markings and occasionally walk into situations that they do not know how to get themselves out of.

While this guide may be helpful to some readers, we wish to express that the tools may differ from one geographical location to another. It may also differ from state to state, even if these states do border each other. The United States has such a wide range of diverse ecosystems, and the animal markings in these ecosystems may vary from location to location.

However, the same rule applies, no matter what area you find yourself. We wish to share information closely associated with what can be considered dangerous animals, such as Moose, Bear, Mountain Lions, Coyotes, Etc.

Identifying the Animal:

Droppings:

Knowing what wildlife is local may help to determine what kind of animal would readily be present. Don’t expect to find a polar bear in Arizona or an armadillo in Maine. Knowing the local wildlife is the first step necessary to avoiding them.

deer pellets on the groundOne of the best ways to track animals is not to actually follow the animal itself, but follow what they leave behind. That’s right, dung. Dung, scat, or droppings, can tell us what kind of animal has recently been in that area.

Once a dropping is located, the size is going to tell you how large of an animal it came from. As an example, deer tend to leave very small, round droppings. While they are small, they leave a lot of them. A bear will leave a fairly large dropping, similar to a human. On the opposite end, a mouse may leave a dropping roughly the size of a grain of rice.

Once we have an idea of how large the animal is noticing what it may contain also helps a tracker to understand what kind of animal left the dropping. A large dropping, containing bits of fur, would be a good indicator of a predator. Perhaps a Mountain Lion or Coyote is nearby. Bear and coyote dropping also commonly contain nuts and berries.

If an animal eats something, evidence of their diet will be in their droppings.

After size, and contents, we want to look at moisture. If a dropping is moist, wet, and looks fresh it probably is fresh. Dry, white (with some exceptions), and brittle droppings are the sign of an older dropping.

Recent weather plays a large role in determining the age of a dropping. Wet weather can make a dropping appear to be fresh, when it may be old. Additionally, as the weather starts to warm, a dropping that is thawing may also appear fresher than it may be.

The last thing we want to notice is location. Fox will leave their droppings on prominent objects to mark their territories. Deer will leave their dropping wherever they are walking. Feline species will try to cover their droppings. Dangerous animals will either leave their droppings in a very obvious place or try to hide it. Anything in the middle is relatively safe. The only

The only exception is when it looks similar to human droppings or has no real shape at all. These are generally a sign of bear droppings or a sick animal. Bear droppings hold little shape near the end of the summer to early fall, when they feed heavily on berries.

Tracks:

pocket guide to animal tracks
*source – http://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/dfg/dfw/wildlife/wildlife-facts-pubs/tracks-guide.pdf

Everyone has watched some kind of movie where there is an amazing tracker that looks down at the ground and says something like, “a cat came through here 13 minutes ago” and everyone around them gasps in awe of their skills. While Hollywood has made tracking an exaggeration, the fundamentals are the same. The more practice you have, the more likely you will be to spot tracks.

Dangerous animal tracks will be easier to spot than other animals. They are generally larger, deeper, and farther apart. Feline (cat) species do not show claw marks while ursine (bear), canine (dog), lupine (wolf), and vulpine (fox) track show a clear outline of their claws. Hoofed animals will have between 2 to 4 indentations in the soil, depending on the species. In general, hoofed animals are to be avoided but not considered as dangerous as other species.

Aging tracks is a bit more difficult than aging droppings. Tracks, depending on the soil, will exhibit different aging patterns. Tracks in the soft soil will be well defined, while in the hard soil they may be difficult to spot. All animals need water to drink, so it is very common to see many well-defined tracks near a stream or pond.

As the water starts to dry up, during the end of spring, the tracks will also dry and crack. When the entire outline of a track is brittle it is generally an older track. When the majority of the outline is well defined, the track can be assumed to be fresher. Lastly, as the wind blows, anything that falls into a track may stay there. The more debris inside a track, or footprint, the easier it is to assume the track is older.

Markings:

Every animal will mark territory in its own way. Beavers obviously

black bear marking territory on a tree
*source – https://www.bear.org/website/bear-pages/black-bear/black-bear-sign/56-marking-trees-and-poles.html

need to chew wood to build their homes and will make it obvious their home is nearby. Bear and animals with antlers will also rub against trees, especially near a water source. The markings on trees may look the same, for someone unfamiliar with the different patterns between beaver, bear, moose, and deer. It is always better to be safe and avoid a questionable area altogether. If avoiding a questionable area is not an option, try to imagine an animal rubbing against a tree. A beaver poses little threat to humans and will chew a tree. A bear uses a tree as a back scratcher and may rub the bark off of a tree in one, or more, areas.

Generally, bear marks on a tree are superficial unless the tree was starting to degrade. Deer and moose rub their antlers on trees, especially during molting/shedding season. They use this as a way to put their scent on the tree and rub their antlers off. While some antlered animals don’t shed their antlers they do molt. Elk, especially, have a thin layer over their antlers that peels off. Try to imagine an antlered animal rubbing against a tree. If an animal was rubbing antlers against a tree you will notice hoof marks near the base of the tree, if not an antler itself!

Deer have a natural way of marking where they have been through their resting periods. They lay down on leaves or grass, making the ground, and anything on top of it, flat. They also will urinate nearby, killing much of the surrounding grass. Moose, elk, etc are not much different. If it looks out of place, it probably is.

It’s best to avoid these animal bed, not just because of the animal but the parasites that may be close by. If you see dry, flat, dead grass it was probably a deer, elk, or moose.

Any time an animal walks it will naturally move the soil or vegetation surrounding them. Broken sticks, scattered leaves, holes in the ground, all of these are common indicators an animal has been nearby. While a deer bed will leave the area flat when deer and moose search for food they tend to turn the soil over to find bugs to eat.

Omnivores may also disrupt vegetation when they eat by remove berries, nuts, or leaves from the plant. Most animals are opportunistic eaters. The easier a food is to obtain the more likely a dangerous animal is nearby.

Avoidance:

Now that we know what we are looking for, to spot an animal, we now know how to avoid certain areas. Common sense is at play here. If someone sees any of these signs of a dangerous animal, though droppings, rubbings, overturned ground, and tracks they know to avoid those areas. Seeing each of those once is not necessarily bad. Animals move, they come and go.

The likelihood of being in an area with a dangerous animal is very slim. They will try to avoid human contact first. If a hiker sees similar droppings more than once they should change direction for a while. If they see

If they see three different signs of a dangerous animal (eg. Droppings, tracks, disrupted vegetation) they should quickly change direction. When someone is hiking and oblivious to these signs they are much more likely to encounter a dangerous animal.

Staying alert will always help someone avoid dangerous animals. Exhaustion, in survival situations, allows out mind to not see common signs of danger.

Practicing the skill of spotting indicators of animal activity will help hikers to train themselves to notice even the smallest changes. When a hiker can spot small indicators they are more likely to notice larger indicators, even when exhausted.

Keep your eyes moving. Watch the ground as you walk, but take some time to stop and scan your environment. Just because you haven’t seen any indicators of animal activity doesn’t mean they are not there.

It’s a good practice to stop every hundred steps, or so, just to look around. Not only does this allow you to see the beauty of nature, it will give you a chance to spot marked trees, animal presence, and indicators of animal activity farther away.

When you can stop and scan the area you may notice that you find indicators of animal activity may be parallel to you.

Conclusion:

While animal attacks may be rare they do happen. Thankfully, we have been given all the tools we need to avoid some of these most dangerous animals. Recognizing, and avoiding, animals may not be a natural skill but it is a necessary one for every hiker, hunter, and survivalist.

The only way to learn these skills is to practice them. So, get out there and enjoy nature!

Original Article Here

Retail Store Closings and the Impending Shopping Disaster

Many retail stores have closed due to competition from online stores. People are buying an ever larger percentage of their goods from the internet. So brick-and-mortar stores, from Mom and Pops to large chains, are shutting down. And this development is setting the stage for a shopping disaster.

We have become overly-dependent on the internet for many goods and services. What would happen if there is an internet collapse, and online shopping is no longer an option?

First of all, the number of retail stores has fallen to a level too low to support all our shopping needs. Physical stores would quickly be flooded with buyers. The shelves would be stripped bare in a matter of days (or hours, if people are panic-buying). And resupply from wholesalers and manufacturers would not be able to keep up with demand, not for a number of weeks or months.

Reopening closed stores and hiring new workers might not be practical, at least in the short term. And the small number of physical stores, despite vigorous resupply, would still be over-crowded and understaffed. There would be long lines at the checkout, or even long lines waiting to enter the store.

I recall a store I worked at, many years ago, in Worcester, Mass., called Spag’s. The store was so popular, that on some high-traffic days, they had to post guards at the entrances, to keep too many persons from entering the store. Once in a while, there were literally so many persons in each aisle that it was difficult to move. I’m sure they were violating fire regulations by the over-crowding. I’m not exaggerating. So the idea of too many customers to be serviced by a brick-and-mortar store is entirely possible.

Another problem, if internet collapses, is that payment approvals via internet might not be available. Today, when you swipe a credit or debit card in a card reader, it is verified over the internet. Gone are the days when the device dialed a phone number, waited to connect, and then obtained an approval number. No internet, means no credit or debit card payments. And most persons do not have enough cash in their homes for their shopping needs.

Runs on banks will deplete the cash supply. And using checks to pay for good might not be an option, because check approvals work via the internet as well. In addition, there is literally not enough cash in the country to meet the shopping needs of the nation. The vast majority of buying transactions are non-cash today. So the existing physical stores might not be able to accept payment.

Could this internet-slash-shopping disaster really happen? Absolutely.

One way, is if a foreign nation executes a cyber attack on the U.S. internet. But it doesn’t have to be a hostile nation. Terrorist groups and anonymous hacker groups, with varying motivations, might also be capable of such an attack.

And if you think that taking down the internet would be too difficult, think again. Recently, a large number of internet sites went down because the U.S. internet has become overly dependent on the cloud services of Amazon. And at Amazon, a low-level tech worker entered a command with a small typo, which accidentally shut down the servers running those services. You don’t realize how very small events can avalanche to cause a major shit-storm when computers and networks are at issue.

Another entirely different way that a shopping disaster could occur concerns shipping companies. The vast majority of online shopping products are delivered via a few major carriers: FedEx, UPS, DHL, and the U.S. Postal Service. If some disruption in society shuts down or interferes with shipping, online shopping will be obstructed. This disruption could take the form of a strike, due to disputes over wages and benefit, or due to some stupid new government law or policy. Or it could be caused by general civil unrest, which disrupts all transportation.

Our excessive dependence on the internet for shopping is going to come back around and bite us in the ass, sooner or later. Mark my words.

Preppers Forget, So Many Haven’t​ A Clue.

Here’s a article posted today in Lifehacker.  We that live a prepper’s life, or should I even say, Professional Preppers, sometimes forget  that most of our neighbors, family and friends haven’t a clue.  We read, understand the fragility of our modern world, doubt government’s true intentions, and lastly, try to be self reliant.  This has enabled we that prep to gather items and supplies to wary the storm, what ever that may be.  Most people live life with blinders, travelling from home, to McDonald’s, to work, to Starbucks, to Taco Bell, to Home never to think about the conviences they take for granted on a daily basis.  Never second guessing that the light switch turns on the light, or the stove just clicks and works, or when hungry just go through the drive-through.  Well, here’s an article of someone that seems to have had an “Awakening” of sorts.  It’s definitely not easy for someone in a large city apartment to be prepared, but she definitely starts thinking.  Give it a read and see what you think.

lifehacker Doomsday Prep for Non-Paranoid People.

Hydrogen Peroxide Uses In Garden

How & Why Hydrogen Peroxide is So Useful

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) has an extra oxygen atom than Water (H2O), this extra oxygen atom breaks down and the molecule of water releases from this separately. It is this extra oxygen atom that makes the hydrogen peroxide so useful. The Hydrogen peroxide is used in cleaning, bleaching, sterilizing, as a disinfectant etc. but it can also be used in horticulture. In simple words, Hydrogen Peroxide acts as an oxygen supplement for plants (beneficial if used in low strength). It works by releasing oxygen and also aerates the soil.

1. Hydrogen Peroxide Uses Against Root Rot

Overwatering causes the shortage of Oxygen at the root zone. If you overwater the plant, the water fills the air spaces in soil and the plant’s roots suffocate due to the lack of air and they begin to die after 24 hours. To save such a plant from this problem, water it thoroughly with 3% hydrogen peroxide mixed in 1 quart of water. The extra oxygen in the hydrogen peroxide provides the roots their much-needed oxygen to survive. After this, don’t water the plant until top 1 or 2 inches of soil dries out well.

2. Using Hydrogen for Faster Seed Germination

You can use hydrogen peroxide to help seeds germinate more quickly. Hydrogen peroxide softens the coat of seeds and kills any pathogen present on seed coat thus increase the germination rate and help the seed germinate faster. Soak your seeds in a 3% hydrogen peroxide for 30 minutes. Rinse the seeds several times with water before planting and plant them as usual.

3. Hydrogen Peroxide for Mold and Mildew

Hydrogen peroxide has an oxidizing property that is fatal for mold and mildew. Mix a liter of water with 10 tablespoons of 3 to 6% hydrogen peroxide depending on the level of infection. Spray this solution on plants daily until the fungus disappears.

4. Hydrogen Peroxide as a Fertilizer

Use hydrogen peroxide to help strengthen the root system of your plants. Hydrogen peroxide has one extra oxygen molecule (than water) that helps plant’s roots to absorb nutrients from soil more effectively, you can use this formula occasionally to boost the growth– Mix about 1 teaspoon of 3% Hydrogen peroxide with 1 gallon of water.

5. To Keep Pests Away

The hydrogen peroxide can be used as a pesticide. Spraying the plant thoroughly with 3% hydrogen peroxide mixed in the equal amount of water kills the pests and their eggs. The hydrogen peroxide also kills the bacteria that develop on fruits and vegetables.

Tips For Floods

TYPES OF FLOODING

 

A flood is defined as an overflow of water that submerges land which is normally dry. In the United States, there are various causes for flooding, including:
Flash Floods: Flash floods usually develop shortly after a nearby heavy rain. I say nearby because it doesn’t have to be raining at your location for rising water to endanger you. These floods create a rapid rise of water, especially in low-lying areas like floodplains. Causes of flash flooding include heavy rain, ice jams, and levee or dam failures. This is especially common in the western United States where normally dry areas next to steep terrain might fill with rushing water.

River Flooding: River flooding can be caused by heavy rainfall, dam failures, rapid snowmelt and ice jams. Normally flow can become turbulent rapidly as in a flash flood. In other cases, water levels may rise slowly but steadily. Either way, the result threatens structures and populations along its course.

Storm Surges: Tropical (or even non-tropical) storm systems can bring heavy winds, but most damage occurs as a result of flooding due to the storm surge. Storm surge is the rise in water generated by the storm above normal tide levels. When the storm approaches the coast, high winds cause large waves that can inundate structures, damage foundations, and cause significant loss of life.

Burn Scars: The Western U.S. has had significant wildfire activity, most recently in California. After a fire, the bare ground can become so hardened that water can’t be absorbed into the ground. This is known as a “burn scar”. Burn scars are less able to absorb moisture, leading heavy rains to accumulate water wherever gravity takes it.

Ice Jams: Northern areas of the continental U.S. and Alaska may have flooding as a result of ice jams. When moving ice and debris are blocked by an obstruction, water is held back. This causes flooding upstream. When the obstruction is finally breached, flash flooding occurs downstream. Many ice jams occur at bends in a river.

Snowmelt: Snowmelt flooding is common in mountainous Northern U.S. states. Snow is, until temperatures rise above freezing, just stored water. When it gets warmer, the snowmelt acts as if it were rain and flooding can occur.

Barrier Failures: When a dam or levee breaks, it can be due to excessive rainfall, erosion, landslides, earthquakes, and many other natural causes. Some dams fail as a result of man-made issues, such as negligence, improper maintenance, and even sabotage. As a result, water level can overflow the barrier or water can seep through the ground.

 

FLOOD PREPAREDNESS
Most people have heard of hurricane or tornado watches and warnings, but the U.S. weather services also tries to warn the populace of flooding. A “flash flood watch” means that flash flooding is possible in the near future; a “flash flood warning” means that flooding is imminent in the area.
If you live in a low-lying area, especially near a dam or river, then you should heed warnings when they are given and be prepared to evacuate quickly. Rising flood waters could easily trap you in your home and you don’t want to have to perch on your roof waiting for help.

FLOOD SAFETY TIPS

To make it safely through a flood, consider the following recommendations:
Hit The Road Early
Make the decision to leave for higher ground before flooding occurs and roads are blocked. Having a NOAA weather radio will keep you up to date on the latest advisories. When the authorities tell you to leave, don’t hesitate to get out of Dodge.
Be Careful Walking Through Flood Waters
Drowning is the most common cause of death during a flood, especially a flash flood. Rapidly moving water can knock you off your feet even if less than a foot deep. Even calm flood waters are often murky and hide debris that can cause injuries if you walk through them.
Don’t Drive Through a Flooded Area
In a flood, many people drown in their cars as they stall out in moving water. Most vehicles can be carried away by water just two foot deep.Road and bridges could easily be washed out if you waited too long to leave the area. Plan before a flood occurs to see if there is a “high road” to safety.

Beware Of Downed Power Lines
Watch for downed power lines; electrical current is easily conducted through water. You don’t have to touch the downed line to be electrocuted, only step in the water nearby. There are numerous instances of electrocutions occurring as a result of rescuers jumping into the water to try to save victims of a shock.
Don’t Drink The Water
Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink: Flood water is not clean water. It is contaminated by debris and water treatment plants may even have been compromised by the disaster. Have a reliable way to purify water and a good supply of clean water stored away. 12-16 drops of household bleach will sterilize a gallon of water (a teaspoon for 5 gallons), but a filter might also be needed to eliminate debris. Wait 30 minutes after sterilization to drink.

Have Supplies Handy
Flood waters may not recede quickly. Besides water as mentioned above, have non-perishable food, bottled water, heat and light sources, batteries, tools, extra clothing, a medical kit, a cell phone, and a NOAA weather radio among your supplies.
Turn Off The Power

If you have reason to believe that water will get into your home, turn off the electricity. If you don’t and the water reaches the level of the electric outlets, you could easily get electrocuted. Some warning signs might be sparks or strange sounds like crackling, popping, or buzzing.

Beware of Intruders
Critters that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in yours. Snakes, raccoons, insects, and other refugees may decide your residence is now their territory. Human intruders may also be interested to see what valuables you left behind.
Watch Your Step
After a flood, watch where you step when you enter your home; there will, likely, be debris everywhere. The floors may also be covered in mud, causing a slip-and-fall hazard.
Check for Gas Leaks
Don’t use candles, lanterns, stoves, or lighters unless you are sure that the gas has been turned off and the area is well-ventilated.
Avoid Exhaust Fumes
Only use generators, camping stoves, or charcoal grills outside. Their fumes can be deadly.
Clean Out Saturated Items Completely

If cans of food got wet in the flood, their surfaces may be covered with mud or otherwise contaminated. Thoroughly wash food containers, utensils, and personal items before using.

Don’t use appliances or motors that have gotten wet unless they have completely dried. You might have to take some apart to clean debris out of them.

Use Waterproof Containers for Important Stuff

Waterproof containers can protect food, personal items, documents, and more.  If your area is at risk for flooding, have the important stuff protected by storing them correctly.
Floods are just one of the many natural disasters that can endanger your family and turn your home into a ruin. With planning and some supplies, however, you’ll be able to keep your loved ones safe and healthy.

 

Booby Traps – A Historically Proven Component of Psychological Warfare

Booby traps are devices set up with the intent to surprise, harm, or even kill a unknowing victim. They are triggered by the presence or unwitting actions of another.

Booby traps have been used since ancient times. Cave drawings indicate even prehistoric humans used them as a means of capturing prey, such as in “pit falls” where a large hole is dug and spikes placed inside. The hole is then covered.

Historically speaking, booby traps do not win wars. They are, however, considered a key element in psychological warfare. Also known as PSYWAR, psychological warfare is by definition, something that is done to either deceive, manipulate or otherwise influence an opponent and to incite hopelessness, fear, despair and loss of morale. Used extensively in WWII and Vietnam, booby trap effects have caused many surviving soldiers long-term pain and trauma.They can also be an effective early warning system. However, they can also cause civilian casualties, be inadvertently set off by friendlies or neutral people within the vicinity, and sometimes even by animals or natural events. They are also dangerous to set up if using any explosive materials. Caution should be used. One way to hopefully limit unnecessary injury would be to secure the perimeter with non lethal alert devices. Hopefully once someone has realized they are approaching traps, they will turn around. If they continue, then chances are they are either hostile or being driven that direction by hostile forces.

Booby traps come in two main categories: anti tank, and anti personnel. We will start with the former.

Automatic road blocks work much in the same way as a regular trip wire except that they designed in ways that impede traffic and damage vehicles. The end of a strong wire is attached to a secure point on one side of the road. Perhaps looped around a large tree. On the other side it is attached to something to be pulled into the road. A common option is to attach an anchor to another tree and chop it almost to the point of falling. The cord must be taut and high enough that a vehicle will pull it in the correct direction and not run over it. The cut tree is pulled down into the road, damaging the vehicle and effectively creating a road block. This method was employed by the Japanese when fighting the Allied Forces in the Philippines. It can be effective as a standalone device to slow the opposition, or as onset of an ambush.

Another trip wire mechanism that can be adjusted to block a road, is a simple explosive charge set next to a makeshift retaining wall on a hill or cliff. Rocks, stones, branches and debris are piled behind the obstruction. It may be necessary to route the wire through small anchors to adjust for the angle of the hill. Once armed and triggered, a small avalanche plummets onto the road, injuring and blocking enemy forces.

Caltrops have been used since Medieval times, possibly earlier, as a way to impede incoming troops and damage cavalry and have since evolved into an effective way to combat automobiles. A metal worker can create them quite easily out of small hollow pipes that are bent and welded together. This option allows for more rapid air escape and therefore faster deflation and blowout of the tire; theoretically any metal strong enough and sharp enough to withstand the weight of the vehicle can be used as long as it is fashioned in such a way that one blade is always pointing up.

Even vehicles themselves have been used as booby traps. A charge can be detonated by opening the door, or turning on the ignition (which seems to be popular in the movies). Bombs can also be detonated by impact, where the cars themselves were used as roadblocks. If an armored vehicle attempts to simply pummel through and push the vehicles aside, they explode.

Now we get to the category where most preppers are focusing their efforts. Home invasion protection and anti personnel defensive booby traps.

The most common booby trap as far as prepping is concerned is probably the trip wire. Easy to set up with nothing more than a piece of string and a personal panic alarm. It is easily improvised and can detonate explosives, fire weapons, or activate spotlights for early detection.

Pressure plates can be simple DIY projects, or can be purchased prefabricated. Again, these can be improvised to either turn on lights, sound an air-horn, or detonate explosives. I personally would not attach explosives to these as they are usually placed quite close to your residence as a final warning someone has made it to your door. Some can be quite sensitive and can easily be activated by a dog or other fair-sized animal. If you are placing them further away from your home, or do not care about potential house fire, explosives could be used. One additional and interesting use for these is their ability to be an automatic door opener, if you want a secret entrance and hide it well.

Mobility Denial System (MDS) is a deterring slime that can come in handy (if you can get your hands on any) It is a last line of defense as it will create an impassable surface directly around your home for 6-12 hours. It was invented for the Marine Corps and police riot protection. It is not readily available, however if you were to put your mind to it, you could up with something along the same lines. You want to deter any hostile party, by any means necessary, before they ever get that close to you, and preferably either drive them back or keep them at bay until you can retaliate.

Spikes. They can be as simple as large nails in boards turned upwards around your yard in the tall grass. They could be placed over a hole so that when stepped on with any force, the person’s foot snaps the board, goes into the hole and the nails impale their ankles. In times of war they were often coated with toxic material or feces to promote infection. Some people attach them to stones or logs to create pendulum contraptions that are triggered by a trip wire. Personally I find this a foolish waste of time. A well-trained individual can evade such a device. It would probably take less time to dig small trenches, which might at least sprain some ankles, but to each their own. Spikes on boards can also be weighted and submerged into creek beds and ponds.

Razor wire and barbed wire is another option for underwater depending on how long it stays there. It can also be used similarly to trip wire in heavily vegetative areas where it can be concealed. I’d recommend a matte finish, camouflaged to blend in. In can be used along top fencing, around windows etc… Anywhere you would want to deter someone, perhaps diverting them into even more unfavorable habitat where you have a greater advantage.

Bullets can be set inside a small section of bamboo, atop a firing pin, and buried until just the tip is exposed. If stepped on with any amount of force the bullet explodes.

Hand Grenades. If you can acquire them, all you need is a tin can and a piece of string and duct time and you can secure any door. This is dangerous for the person loading them, but were widely used in WWII and Vietnam. Tie a string around the grenade under the handle. Depress the trigger handle and pull the pin. Quickly and carefully slide it into the tin can. Secure the can somewhere with tape or wedge it tightly. Attach the string to a door handle or use as a trip wire. When the door is open or trap is triggered, the grenade dislodges from the can and detonates.

Remember that booby traps are just one element in the line of defense. Their primary purpose is to slow down the enemy, instill fear, reduce moral, and possibly to injure, maim, or kill. The time these traps may buy you can be greatly varied. Use it wisely and remember, offense and defense are opposite sides of the same coin. You need both or you are broke.

Recognizing the extreme injustice of recent liability suits awarding home invaders large sums for getting injured while burglarizing a house, it could be considered foolish to construct booby traps unnecessarily, regardless of intention or the degree of danger. That being said, I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t use them, or wish they had them to use, when put into a potentially deadly situation.

Stay safe, and happy prepping!

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How to Get Your Chicken to Lay More Eggs

Does it seem that your egg collection is decreased or that your hens aren’t laying as they once did? Or the yolks are pale and lackluster, lacking the nutrients they should provide? When the chickens are part of a plan for independent living or as a structured food supply, this can put a damper on things and thwart being able to rely on them as a nutritional resource. It can be a catastrophic event in a survival situation to have your chickens stop producing a crucial food source.

Eggs come from happy and healthy chickens, so a few tweaks here and there in your program can improve egg yields immensely. In an emergency situation it may be already too late to solve the problem, so here are the top tips and tried methods for getting your chickens to lay more eggs for a bountiful future.

Remember They Are Birds

The first thing to remember is that they are living creatures with their own hierarchy and social order, literally a “pecking order.” Although they have been domesticated ever since someone discovered how tasty they were, along with their ability to be good little producers of versatile daily nuggets high in protein, the most important thing to keep in mind is that chickens still retain their wild bird instincts.

These instincts include foraging, pretending to fly, the desire to roam and scratch for their food, and the mental need to hunt their food. If you do not have the luxury of a large area for roaming, you can still build a nice comfortable coop that suits their everyday needs while providing a good diet. Meeting these needs will be rewarded with the nice steady production of quality eggs.

Put the Egg First

Before we start adding things that go into the chicken, let’s talk about output, the egg. The egg is an amazing little structure. A porous shell offers external protection, this shell mainly consists of calcium carbonate with an invisible barrier made of protein. This protective protein barrier is called the cuticle and it acts as a shield to prevent contamination from bacteria. The nutrient dense yolk is suspended in a liquid composed of protein and water called the albumen that acts as a shock absorber and cushion.

A chicken egg provides 6-7 grams of protein and 6 grams of fat, fatty acids, essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals. To achieve the highest nutritional output in an egg, it’s important a laying hen is provided a well-balanced diet that is nutrient rich with a diverse diet and fresh, clean water daily.

Top Reasons Chickens Stop Laying Eggs

If you have already had your chickens stop producing, don’t worry it’s fixable with just a few simple modifications!

To understand how to get your chickens to lay more eggs, we need a quick overview of the main reasons chickens stop laying eggs.

Temperature

Having chickens on the ground where it’s drafty or damp, or if they are housed in a poorly sealed coop will affect your egg production as chickens do not fare well in anything but a warm, dry environment.

Light

Chickens lay eggs as a means to reproduce. In winter when a chick has the odds against him for survival, the chicken’s body goes into shut down mode by way of its endocrine system. The endocrine system is signaled to slow production when the daylight hours get shorter.

Molt

About once a year chickens molt and that process can last 3-6 weeks. Having several ages can help negate any lags in production.

Protein needs

When the temperature turns cooler the chickens need more protein to burn as calories. If this higher calorie need goes unmet, the chicken’s body produces fewer eggs to save on expenditure.

Stress

Being prey to most animals makes a chicken nervous about anything it can’t control. Loud noises, excessive noise in its surroundings, or the scent of strange animals can almost guarantee the chicken will stop production.

The Best Ways to Get Your Chicken to Lay More Eggs

We have covered the basics in chicken husbandry and what things can affect egg production. So now for the good news! A productive flock is as important to hobbyists as well as the off the grid lifestylists. Some people keep chickens as pets of course, but for those that are primarily raising a flock for the nutrition packed eggs production can be increased with some simple finessing and system tweaks.

Here are some of the best ways to get your chicken to lay more eggs, or how to get more bang for your “cluck”!

Basic Nutrition

No matter how happy or stress free your hen is, you must provide the basic requirements in her feed in order to have your hens lay. Good quality feed supplemented with oyster shells (or leftover egg shells) need to be available for her to peck at. Clean water is a must and should be readily available 24 hours a day.

How to Feed a Balanced Diet to a Laying Hen

Supplements

Oyster shell is the most common supplement for chickens, especially laying hens as the calcium provided by the shell is needed to make a healthy and strong egg. Many, as we do, use a portion of their leftover egg shells to add to the oyster shells. Without calcium supplements, the laying hen will pull it from her bones and it is similar to osteoporosis.

Kiss my grits

Good food and quality supplements are only half the battle, you need grit and oyster shell to supply the best possible foods for your chickens so you can get the best quality eggs. When chickens roamed free they consumed small pieces of stone and gravel as they foraged naturally, this also can happen when they free-range. Chickens in an enclosure need that grit to be supplied to them as it acts as their “teeth” by grinding food in their gizzard. Without this grit, food cannot be broken down or absorbed properly.

No junk food

Much like with humans, low nutritional value foods that are high in carbs are a no-no for your chicken. Breads, white pasta, potatoes, dairy and white rice are not good for your laying hen. Of course, the comfort foods we love are dangerous for your feathered friends. No salty, sweet, or fried foods and especially no alcohol!

This is a list of foods that can be toxic for your flock:

  • No spinach
  • No asparagus
  • No citrus
  • No onions
  • No raw beans that have been dried
  • No apple seeds
  • No eggplant
  • No avocado

Health conscious chicken treats

There are many things you CAN feed your chicken to promote more eggs and give them a healthy boost.

  • Oatmeal
  • Cottage cheese
  • Pumpkin
  • Melons
  • Sweet corn
  • Ginger
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Cucumbers
  • All grain pancakes
  • Mealworms

Hot tip: spicy. I had many people tell me that adding some red or green peppers boosted vitamin C and the chickens loved them.

Shed Light on the Subject

A hen needs 12-15 hours of light a day to provide the best production numbers in eggs. Installing a light can help keep the production even during winter, or on cool nights. Lights infused with red can prevent cannibalism and keep the coop soothed and calm.Most chickens lay their eggs by 10 am, so after egg collection it’s time for your hens to go out and get some fresh air and light.

Build a Proper Coop with These Tips

There is no one specific design that is best for a chicken coop. But there are a few basics to consider when making a coop.

Personal space

Allow 2-3 square feet of space per laying hen and it is easier to build out later on if your flock increases in size.

Flooring

Dirt is not a deterrent to predators as they can easily dig under the edges. Wood can rot and house parasites. Concrete is expensive and can crack over time. The most current materials used for chicken coop flooring are vinyl over plywood. Plywood also can be easily replaced as needed.

Roosts

Each hen should have at least 8 inches of roost space.  The most common way is to use a 2×4’ with the wider side facing upwards for the roosting bar. This protects those delicate feet in winter from biting cold and frostbite.

Make nest boxes a priority

A good way to make egg collecting easy is to use nesting boxes. A nesting box also protects the egg and helps keep it clean. One rule of thumb is to have one nesting box for every 3-4 birds, and install them about 2 feet off the floor. A layer of soft litter like wood shavings or hay can provide cushion for the egg while absorbing droppings.

Coop ventilation

Year round air ventilation is a must for a healthy coop. A good measure of thumb is 1/5th of your wall space should be vented. We used hardware cloth to cover the vents to keep off the little varmints and creepy crawlies. Be sure to use washers and screws to secure it down and check it regularly for any rips or holes.

Keep a Clean Coop

No matter what system you employ, the main thing is to provide a nice place to live, avoid overcrowding your chickens, and keep them in a clean and dry environment. A regular schedule of laying fresh litter in their houses and removing droppings will help the hens from tracking feces and dirt into nesting boxes and the eggs within. Hens flourish in hygienic conditions and it is advisable to have a quarantine period for any new stock before they are introduced into the flock.

Disinfection

There is a lot of controversy on this. Many swear by bleach, but I do not like it around my animals or eating stock. After some trial and error, I use vinegar to disinfect my chicken coop and lots of elbow grease. I like to disinfect at least every few months by cleaning out everything and then giving it a good hosing. A liberal spray down with vinegar is next and then time drying in the sunlight, which also helps kill bacteria. I soak any bowls or feeding dishes in it, then leave them to dry in the sun also.

If you have your chickens on a dirt floor, you may want to use hay over barn lime to keep things dry and hay is dust free, unlike straw. It does need to be changed every week, but it can be added to the compost.

For smaller flocks, use a tarp. You can lay it out and then cover it in hay. It is easy clean up, as when cleaning time rolls around just fold that sucker up and drag it to the compost pile. Disinfect with vinegar before adding more hay and rebedding.

Rodent Control 101

Rodents can be devastating to a coop and any community they move too. Unfortunately chicken coops are a magnet for mice and rats. The main timeframe is the harvest in fall. Its then that rats will try to invade as their main food supply source is depleted. Colonies of mice will spring up by buildings and they tend to stay inside.

The biggest indicator that you have a problem is droppings. A rat has 40 droppings daily versus a mouse’s 80! This contaminates feed and exposes you, your livestock and your flock to diseases which can include salmonellosis, toxoplasmosis, cryptosporidiosis, and brucellosis.

Rodents are also responsible for more than 25% of all farm fires classified as “unknown origin.” These nocturnal dwellers can easily be underestimated, and can wreak havoc on your flock. They are predators and will seek out chicks. Rat infestations can consume hundreds of chicks a day.

The best steps to take to eliminate a rodent infestation around your chickens can be summed up in these 5 methods.

Tidy the coop

Deter the vermin by taking away all places they could set up shelter. Brush, woodpiles, or scrap piles should be well away from your coop.

Lock the feed up tight

Metal trash cans or drums are the best at deterring the little disease carriers, make sure the lid locks tight.

Build a wall or barrier

A mouse can squeeze into openings the size of your little finger, so sheet metal is the best bet to line your coop. Make sure your doors are in good repair with no entry points.

Trapping the pests

Physically removing the rats and mice is the best remedy. Place traps around the perimeter. Colony traps that hold many mice at once may be a good option.

Rodenticides

A last resort of course, and rodents can become immune, so switching it up is needed. Keep it away from other livestock and only in extreme circumstances do I use this. But if it’s between my flock and the mice, I do what I have to.

Thoughts on Confinement Vs. Free Range

Confinement and free-range options for keeping your flock have their advantages and disadvantages. Birds that can free-range will have more room and more opportunity to fulfill their need to be “free” to forage and hunt. But risks are abundant with threats by disease and predators. Being able to identify and find eggs quickly, as well eliminate problems in a timely manner is a plus to being in an enclosed environment.

Access to the Outdoors can help provide variety in their diet as well as plenty of time to take sunbathing and dust bathing seriously. But to me it’s not worth the risk to have them outside and unprotected 24 hours a day so we use a chicken tractor in summer and poultry netting in spring.

What Is a Chicken Tractor?

A chicken tractor is an attachable mobile coop with a trailer hitch that can be moved around so the chickens can have fresh grass and foraging area. It helps spread their fertilizer around the fields as well as keep bugs down as they have fun “exploring” their new surroundings. A happy, healthy hen is your most productive hen.

Exercise

Hens with more belly fat are impeded when it comes to producing eggs, so basic exercise is a must for physiological and mental health. Letting them scratch for their food gives them an activity that boosts base metabolic rates and keeps them warm and limber in winter. Throwing the girls leftover veggie table scraps or fresh cut grass and weeds straight from the garden will keep them happy little ladies.

Cabbage heads (the ends) and older lettuce pieces are fun to peck and I use the compost provided as they turn their food into the dirt and manure for my melon and survival gardens. Other ways to boost compost value would be to add corn cobs, carrot greens, melon rinds, kale, corn silks, or any other veggie leavin’s you may have. My girls love the after dinner treats and are lined up at the chicken yard’s gate waiting for them every evening!

Give Them Things to Do

Nothing is as fun to watch or as sweet as observing hens taking a dirt bath. Chickens like being clean and dirt baths are a way to do this and they promote healthy feathers by whisking away oils, sweat and parasites. If you do not offer a dirt bath, most flock owners come to find their chickens in the flower garden or in the crops.

A few sources claim wood ash is good for a bath or diatomaceous earth, but I believe if I need a mask to be around it then it will get into my flock’s lungs also. I much prefer building my own dirt bath with a simple container that’s 24 x24” and at least a foot deep, or dig a hole and fill it. I use sand and dirt. This type of bath promotes sweet smelling ladies that are lice free, and it’s chemical free so you can’t beat that.

Stress Reduction

Stress is one of the top reasons why chickens stop egg production. A big stressor is also the cold on the body, as well as parasites irritating your chickens. Irritants such as pets, children, and loud music can affect production also. Chickens need a quiet, safe area to relax and claim as their own.

When bringing in new chickens, keep in mind that is a big stressor and production may stop for a few days to weeks as they adjust to their new surroundings. This is normal and soon they will pick back up where they left off when the transition is over.

Do you need a rooster to get your chicken to lay more eggs?

A rooster adds commotion and not much value to your flock unless you plan on raising hatchlings. For egg production, a rooster can make things worse. Plus half of your hatchlings will be roosters so be prepared to find new homes or cull the male chicks.

Culling for Optimum Production

Many people do not like the thought of culling their flock. For optimum production taking out the older laying hens and replacing them with young pullets not only keeps a chicken rotation going, but will release the need for the care of the older hens into retirement.

It is much more humane to find a loving home if you are attached. In situations where every resource has to not only produce, but be a functional part of a homesteaders life, it is better to butcher the older hens than let feed than can go to younger ones in their prime laying years be wasted on them. Soup stocks and frozen meat can last quite a while.

Final Thoughts

Life with chickens is a rewarding experience in any homesteader or food self-sufficient lifestylists program as there are so many ways chickens can help in a garden and around the homestead.

Integrating a chicken flock can benefit a homestead with a constant supply of nutritional eggs, quality compost, and meat when needed. Starting a flock is inexpensive and with just a few tips and tricks you can have those chickens laying more eggs and start to stockpile your bounty. In the old days, every yard had a few chickens pecking around as the eggs were a means of survival. Now it is becoming more and more popular to raise your chickens as the nutritional value and taste of fresh eggs are so much better than anything you can buy in a store.

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Three Often Forgotten but Necessary Survival Essentials

With everything that has been going on in the world around us lately I’ve noticed the always popular trend of survival prepping surge to unparalleled heights. The need to hoard and to stock survival essentials and keep our families safe from danger and starvation is a very strong and an almost urgent need for most of us.

Even though we hope there is never a need for the prepping to be of actual use, it is important to at the very least have a few things handy for that “just in case” scenario that we all fear.

There are many articles already written on what the average family needs to be prepped and ready. However, I find most of those lists lacking three specific things that I believe are necessary for any long term survival situation.

Your Three Must Have Survival Essentials

Seeds:

If something were to happen and all the stores shelf’s were bare then we’d need to grow our own vegetable and fruits once again. Seeds are important because they insure that one will never have to go hungry. Might take some work but it’ll be worth it in the long run. Even more, seeds will become an important barter item. You could trade them for the items you lack or the items you want. Considering that you can find various seed vaults available for sale online, stockpiling seeds becomes an easy practice.

You could also harvest and store your own seeds, but that takes a little practice. It also requires a good knowledge of how long seeds can be stored and which are the proper conditions for storing them. Seeds are one of the survival essentials that should be at the top of your list. You should stockpile only what grows in your region because it’s unlikely that you will go to farm too far away from home.

Honey:

Long shelf life, honey lasts forever and once it has hardened (crystallized) all you have to do is reheat it to get it soft again. This is one of the survival essentials that are a must. You should understand that this food will even outlast you, therefore it is recommended to have it in every survival pantry.

Honey can be used as a secondary calorie source. It packs 64 calories per tablespoon which comes in handy in an emergency where calories are hard to come by.

Not only is it a significant calorie source. It’s nutritious for you too with many vitamins in it that your body needs to function properly like b6, A,C,D, thiamin, riboflavin, potassium, and calcium too.

Honey can be used as a topical antibiotic. Because of its high sugar content it keeps bacteria from growing while killing the rest. It can be warmed (not hot, just warm) and applied to wounds, burns or skin infections. Honey will become a valuable alternative healing method when there will be no doctors to help you.

Honey also calms coughs and has many other healing uses that people have been relying on it for generations.

Even more, honey can be used to preserve food and in some parts of Africa they use honey to preserve raw meat. I’ve once eaten smoked meat that was preserved in honey for two years and there was nothing wrong with it. Except that it tasted a little sweet, which is normal if you consider that the meat has been submerged in honey for two years.

Important:

Remember that even though honey is great for adults and older children it is not recommended that any child under one year be given honey. Smaller children don’t have the working digestive tracts that older children and adults have and can unfortunately get botulism from honey.

Vodka:

Taking into account its obvious use as comfort liqueur, Vodka is necessary to have in case of an emergency. If a bad case scenario happened, eventually you would start to run out of supplies. You would have to start trading and bartering with others. One thing that will be in short supply by then and wanted by many is vodka. You just might be able to trade it for something your family could use: batteries, seeds, food, medical supplies etc.

Vodka can be used as an antiseptic. Put some on a cloth and clean your wounds and cuts with it. It can also be used to disinfect items you will use on your body for various healing procedures. You can soak the instrument in vodka for about 10 minutes to have a sterile tool.

Vodka can be used for pain relief. If you get hurt and are in need of quick pain relief while awaiting the healing process to begin, a shot or two of vodka will help numb the pain. Back in the day people used it to alleviate mouth pain. Some people use it even today since it’s cheaper than medicine. Survival essentials like alcohol and other vice items are frowned upon by many survivalists. They consider bartering with addicted people a dangerous scenario. To be fair, it’s all about having the upper hand and being in control. Addicts will become desperate to procure their vices and you will tip the scale in your favor as long as you take precautionary measures.

Remember!

These three survival essentials alone won’t make you survival ready. I do believe that if added to your survival gear your family could have much more of a chance in the case of an emergency that requires families to fend for themselves.

Effective Family Survival

They say that every survival scenario defines a case of survival of the fittest. You might think you can make it, regardless of what the world throws at you, but what if you’re not alone? If you have loved ones depending on you, family survival becomes your main priority.

That being said, sometimes a group has better odds of surviving under the right leadership. Regardless if you prepare for or with your family, there are some principles you need to implement. Groups with great leaders can pretty much accomplish anything. Being a survival leader and the head of the family isn’t easy. You already struggled to build a family, now is the time to develop them into a survival group.

No matter how you look at things, being part of a dysfunctional team, can lead to disaster during an emergency situation. They may not all agree with your rules and plans for the future, but you can’t distance yourself from them. You should never see those close to you as expendables and you should always value them.

Just like you put a lot of effort into your prepping plans, human relationships need nurturing to survive. There is a natural tendency for families to get along since blood is thicker than water, but never take this for granted. As days turn into weeks and months, bad feelings can start to fester and frustration can pile up. Exposing your family members to an austerity scenario with no electricity, no water and no food can cause alienation.

To make family survival work, it takes an empathetic leader who can keep an eye on both the mission and his or her family.

Always show them love

Your family knows when you care about them and also when you don’t. Put your family first, regardless how busy you are. Be dedicated and loyal to them, even if it seems that you don’t have enough time for your prepping chores. Love in a family, loyalty and trust should never be taken for granted. Learn about their hobbies and preoccupations and show genuine interest in their lives. You shouldn’t assume that they will later understand and thank you for your effort. They might not stick around long enough to appreciate all you’re doing for them right now.

Keep a healthy and fit family

Becoming a couch potato and letting your kids spend hours on the computer or game console is a toxic habit. If your family is out of shape or ill, you will tire more quickly and lack the stamina to survive. Tired people have less patience and quickly lose focus of what they are supposed to do. Family survival is impossible without a good health and physical shape of all its members. Is hard to care about anything else if you are exhausted or suffering.

Keep everyone informed

Many people new to prepping have the tendency of keeping their kids in the dark. They are reluctant to share information about their prepping plans. It seems just too much for the kids or relatives to handle. As a family leader, you should learn how to talk to your kids about emergency preparedness. There is no safety net out in the real worlds and there are no prizes for trying when it comes to survival. When you’re confronted by relatives and friends, don’t argue and don’t impose your point of view. Briefly explain your course of action and the reasons behind your prepping plans. It they care about you, they will understand and respect your decision.

Set an example

I come from a family line of hard working people that lived life with modesty and dignity. In all my life, I have never heard the words “it’s not possible” or “it can’t be done”. The way you guide your family in life reflects in everything you do. You should always be an example for them. Work hard and avoid being viewed as lazy. My grandfather used to say that ambition, good attitude and kindness are infectious. If you want your kids to learn about the world, you need to show them what’s out there. Spend time with them in the nature and allow them to figure things out on their own.

Turn your family into a team

Set goals for your family members, inspire vision and establish responsibilities for each of them. Listen to their feedback and reward their patience when it comes to your prepping plans. Family survival is not possible if only one person struggles for all the others. If you want to maximize results, you need to make it a common effort. Even small children can accomplish big tasks by what it seems like playing for them.

Be truthful

Credibility is a fragile thing inside a divided family. Do not lie to your family, because sooner or later they will figure it out. If the situation is critical, there is no need to sugar coat it, unless some of them can’t cope with the reality. If they have the proper age and mindset, it’s better to lay your cards on the table. Don’t lose your temper when comforted with bad news. It will make people around you lose confidence and they will lie as a self-defense mechanism.

Take responsibility

Understand that you’re not superman and that nobody’s perfect. Don’t pretend to be more than you are and be accountable for your mistakes. Rather than covering something up and see how things develop. Make the corrections in time and apologize as needed.  Family survival requires you to be bold. Taking unnecessary risk means making mistakes. Not taking risks when situation requires it and playing it safe can have a diminishing return.

Be tolerant

Zero tolerance is required if someone undermines your authority when leading a survival group.  However, this is not a group of random people, they are your family! You should provide adequate support for all your family members and take time to explain your actions. The “do as I say” mentality can backfire. You need to keep everyone united and you can’t do that if you push them around.

Don’t forget to keep a good attitude

Things may seem grim, but remember that relaxed and funny people are a natural antidepressant. Even if you have no power, and the weather outside is turning bad, you can still keep a good attitude. Humor is essential for family survival, especially if you have young ones. It is an important trait to deal with stress and can significantly boost the mood of your family.

Communicate with and encourage your family members

I see a lot of parents criticize their children in public and they don’t realize how much harm they are causing. Praise in public and criticize in private is what my grandmother used to say. Tell your family members what you want them to accomplish and not how to do it. Keep instructions simple and concise and always ask for feedback. Trust the knowledge of your family members, but be ready to take charge when things get rough. After any crisis that affects your family you should discuss about the following:

  • What did we do wrong this time?
  • What did we do right?
  • How can we improve our preparations?

Family survival requires good leadership and involves much more than telling them what to do. Family survival is about being a better person for them. Encouraging them to learn new things and keeping them informed is what makes a good team. Leading your loved ones is the hardest job during a crisis scenario, but you should never give up on them.

Best Bow Hunting Tips

In order to be a great bow hunter, you’ll have to go through years of training and experience. It’s just like playing a musical instrument; at first, you don’t know what you’re doing, but with a lot of practice and determination, you’ll find yourself playing sonatas. It’s just the same with archery and bow hunting, but sometimes, you can’t improve by yourself. Thus, I’ve put together this article on bow hunting tips for all beginner hunters. Enjoy!

Weigh between speed and accuracy

Sometimes, you have to choose between the two. And as a beginner bow hunter, you’re bound to have trouble accomplishing a shot with both. Personally, I recommend practicing accuracy first. You’ll need to be more experienced with hitting a target dead on that hitting it at a fast rate.

On the other hand, speed is something that comes naturally (at least for me). I’d say speed will come when accuracy is improved. In other words, once you start hitting those bulls-eyes dead on, your speed is bound to improve as your confidence increases as well. Vice versa, speed will help your accuracy, as faster arrows bound to fly straight at the target.

For beginners, it’s important to master both. But not necessarily at the same time. When you’re out hunting, however, accuracy is more important, but speed weighs in a good amount, as well.

Pick a bow and stick with it

When it comes to archery and bow hunting, mastering your weapon is the best way towards experience. Choosing the right bow is a little bit of trial and error, so I don’t blame you for switching between bows. However, keep this in mind: the right bow will just feel right in your hands, and you’ll know when you have it. Under this, we consider weight of the bow, style, design, length, and these factors relative to your own dimensions and preferences.

If you do, however, find a bow that you can stick with, I highly suggest that you do so. Mastering your weapon will make your bow more of an invaluable friend than a hunting tool, and shooting an arrow will feel like a second instinct.

Generally, the more you master your bow and practice with it, I’d say that your accuracy and precision will improve as well. This is especially important if your target is to go bow hunting soon.

Work tirelessly on your form

The better the form, the higher the accuracy, speed, and precision of your shots. Find and practice the right form, with the proper stance, torso position, and grip relative to the target.

On this matter, I recommend asking an experienced bow hunter or bow hunting expert to assess your form. Ask for an evaluation afterward, which you can use to point out the things you need to do right/better. It also helps to watch Youtube videos wherein you can see bow hunters demonstrating a proper form.

Tip: practice in front of a mirror and compare your stance, torso position, and grip to a standard.

Practice in different settings

Actual bow hunting entails practice shooting in different situations and settings. For instance, you need to know how to keep your bow straight on a windy day, as much as you need to know how to shoot in low light.

It’s best if you practice when the weather is not that good, maybe a little windy. That way, you get to practice your aim in the wind. Another example is practicing near sunset, which will allow you to train with your bow sight in low light settings.

The trick here is to set yourself in a little diversity. After all, you never know what you’re going to expect in the wilderness.

Study, study, study

Reading goes a long way. When you’re a beginner bow hunter, it immensely helps if you read on your niche. Deer hunting tips, bow sight usage, accuracy and precision tips—all of these stored in your mind can help you apply them on the field and in practice.

Also, I emphasize the importance on reading about survival tips. These are the bits of information that you need stored at the back of your head at all times, especially in risky hunting situations and seasons.

Invest in high-quality equipment

When I was a beginner hunter, I wore all the wrong things and hated myself while freezing on the field. So, take it from me and choose the right equipment and clothing to take with you on your hunting trips.

My major recommendation is to splurge a bit—on your first pair of hunting boots or hunting knife, for example, because these are practical investments. When you choose the right products, you will get the quality that you paid for.

Choosing the right equipment also goes for hunting backpacks, kits, knives, clothes, and other gear that you take on a hunting trip. As a beginner, you tend to be not used to the wilderness and discomfort can come creeping up on you unexpectedly. So, choosing the right type of equipment can get you a long way.

Practice being stealthy

When you’re a bow hunter, you have the advantage of silence unlike gun users. When hunting skittish animals like deer, most especially, it helps a great deal if you know how to carry yourself, stalk, and shoot the target in a stealthy mode altogether.

For beginners, it may be a little hard controlling your footsteps and movement in order to make the noise as minimal as possible. It’s also a bit challenging to master the way on how to carry yourself and stalk your prey effectively. However, this skill can be learned just like any other.

The key is to practice in the field. You may not succeed on the first tries, but experience is the best teacher when it comes to stealth. Just make sure to take note of your mistakes and think of ways on how you can improve them afterward.

Under stealth, you also need to learn how to be unseen. This includes masking your scent against the sensitive noses of deer and bears, as well as wearing the right color of clothing. On this matter, you can read up on tips on how to do that and apply it the next time you go buck or bear hunting.

Conclusion:

We all start somewhere, and in bow hunting, it takes more than just a little bit of practice to master your weapon and shred in the field. This article is meant to open you up to the basics of bow hunting, which are useful if you want to learn fast in this area. To conclude, I give you this quick rundown of our tips to remember:

  • Practice both your accuracy and your speed, with accuracy as your priority. Speed will follow soon after
  • Stick with one weapon if it feels right, then master it
  • Work on your form tirelessly
  • Practice shooting in different situations and settings (e.g. low light, windy, high up on a tree stand)
  • Study on the field of bow hunting to find all the best tips and basic information you need to know
  • Invest in high-quality weapons and equipment
  • Acquire and practice the skill of stealth

9 Military Poncho Survival Shelter Confirguations: How To Set Up A Military Poncho Shelter

An essential item for ANY outdoor outing and certainly in every Survival Kit and Bug Out Bag is a good quality Poncho.  If you don’t have one and need one go to the NOT IF BUT WHEN STORE HERE. There is nothing more miserable (and dangerous) than getting soaked by rain. There are 100’s of different ponchos to choose from. I prefer a Military Style Poncho with grommeted corners and snap closure sides. These are typically constructed of a nice quality rip-stop nylon material that not only makes them water proof but very durable.

I like for items in my pack to be multi-use items – meaning they can be used for more than 1 purpose. My Poncho is no exception.  Besides protecting me from rain, I can also use my Poncho as a Ground Tarp to act as a moisture barrier.  I can also use it as a tarp to protect my gear or to keep a wood pile dry.  It can also be used as a make-shift shelter, which is the subject of this post.  I’ve slept in a make-shift poncho shelter many times and if set up properly it will keep you as dry and comfortable as any tent on the market.

Below I have detailed 9 Different Military Poncho Set-Ups that can be used for multiple scenarios.  I’ve listed when each one works best and when it doesn’t.  I’ve listed the supplies needed for each one and also the knots I use to set them up.  Hopefully you find this useful.  Let me know if you have any questions.

Military Poncho Shelter # 1:  Basic Lean-To (HORIZONTAL)

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, 3 Stakes
  • Uses: Sleeping, Rain-Shed, Sun-Shed
  • Ideal Environment: No to Moderate Wind, No to Moderate Rain
  • Fire Friendly: YES
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Military Poncho Shelter # 2:  Basic Lean-To (VERTICAL)

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, 2 Stakes
  • Uses: Sleeping, Rain-Shed, Sun-Shed
  • Ideal Environment:  Low Wind, No Rain
  • Fire Friendly: YES
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Military Poncho Shelter # 3: Ridge Line Lean-To

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, 5 Stakes
  • Uses: Sleeping, Rain-Shed, Sun-Shed
  • Ideal Environment: No to Heavy Wind, No to Heavy Rain
  • Fire Friendly: YES
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Military Poncho Shelter # 4:  Flat Roof Lean-To

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, 3 Stakes, Center Pole (optional)
  • Uses: Sleeping, Sun-Shed
  • Ideal Environment: No to Moderate Wind, No Rain
  • Fire Friendly: YES
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Military Poncho Shelter # 5:  Ghost Man

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, 4 Stakes, Center Pole
  • Uses: Rain-Shed, Sun-Shed, Hunting Blind
  • Ideal Environment: No to Moderate Wind, No to Moderate Rain
  • Fire Friendly: YES (small)
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Military Poncho Shelter # 6:  Hood Hoist

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, 4 Stakes,  2 Poles (Optional)
  • Uses: Rain-Shed, Sun-Shed, Hunting Blind, Sleeping (When set-up low and long)
  • Ideal Environment: No to Moderate Wind, No to Moderate Rain, High Wind & High Rain (Low & Long)
  • Fire Friendly: YES (small – when set-up high), NO when set up low
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Military Poncho Shelter # 7:  Poncho Tent

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, 4 Stakes
  • Uses: Rain-Shed, Sun-Shed, Sleeping
  • Ideal Environment: No to High Wind, No to High Rain, Works well in COLD temps
  • Fire Friendly: YES (small out front)
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Military Poncho Shelter # 8 & 9: Connecting 2 Ponchos By Snapping Them Together – using 1 as a ground tarp

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, Stakes
  • Uses: Rain-Shed, Sun-Shed,Sleeping
  • Ideal Environment: No to High Wind, No to High Rain
  • Fire Friendly: YES
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Below is a Basic Lean-To Set-Up that I use quite often in fair weather.  I use a tarp to keep ground moisture at bay and a wool blanket for warmth.  The Poncho Shelter acts as an excellent heat shield to deflect heat right on the sleeping area from a fire out front .

Below is a 10th Poncho Shelter Option I call the DIAGONAL.  It involved tying off one corner to a tree and staking the opposite corner to the ground.  The 2 remaining corners can either be staked or guy-lined out for added room.  This is a great shelter set as well.

If you are using any of these shelters and are expecting rain you will want to tie a knot with paracord around the hood to prevent water from leaking inside.

Are You Mentally Prepared?

Do you want the real secret to surviving a disaster? You can’t keep it in your bug out bag. It’s not something you stash away at your home.

Here’s a hint: it’s all in your head.

The mind is a very powerful tool and having the right frame of mind to handle the stress of a disaster is a key component to surviving the event.

Unfortunately, mental preparation is usually pushed far back on the list of priorities.  But without mental preparedness, many succumb to a traumatic event, due to distress, shock, indecision, panic or just giving up because the situation is too difficult.  When it comes to survival techniques, there are many who feel confident with their knowledge and skills, but without the without a determined state of mind, panic will set in and mistakes will be made.

The Mental Game

When fear strikes, it causes stress and anxiety, which can lead to poor decision-making, paralysis, and hopelessness. Mental preparation creates resilience and keeps a person moving on. Maintaining a positive, hopeful attitude in the wake of a disaster can literally keep a person alive; giving them the will to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  When a person begins to doubt they will see tomorrow, they need to cling to hope and optimism. On the other hand, there are far too many possible scenarios that can present themselves to us in the aftermath of any national or global disaster for us to assume we will be able to deal simply and easily with the choices we have to make. Maintaining our normal levels of honesty, integrity and decency will not always be possible and acknowledging this is critical if we are to make it out the other side.

Maintaining the right frame of mind can keep you head in the game.  For many, this can help them to survive a disaster.  For others, they will need to use other methods.

  • Maintain the will to live, no matter what
  • Adapt to the situation and use ingenuity to overcome challenges
  • Be proactive and find solutions
  • Be willing to move on to the next solution if the first one doesn’t work
  • Have a goal ( seeing loved ones again, revenge )
  • Find the positives – it could always be worse
  • Refuse to give in to negative core beliefs ( not smart enough, not good enough, unlovable, defective, powerless, not safe, etc. )

    Conquering Fear

If you’re caught in a situation in which you feel powerless, there are two scenarios that could play out: 1.) You can imagine yourself as a hero, figuring a way out, or 2.) You can imagine yourself as a victim, suffering and waiting for rescue. Which would you choose? (The answer is that you are going to figure a way out and survive!) Remember, it’s all in your attitude!

When playing stories out in your head, your mind does not know if the story is real or not real, it just plays the story out as it unfolds.  If you imagine yourself being decisive, controlling your fears, and behaving rationally, then the mind will only know to act this way in the future.  If you imagine yourself hiding, terrified and meek, then you will train your mind to act in this manner.

Fear can break a person’s resolve, causing indecision. Failing to anticipate the stresses that you may be under can cause panic, indecision, and possibly death.

Focus on What Can Be Controlled

Focusing on things way beyond your control allows negative core beliefs to come into the mind.  Finding ways to stay busy and focused on the task at hand can help you return to the right frame of mind.

For example, if you found yourself alone in the wilderness and began to feel helpless, you might regain some confidence by physically pulling all of the items out of your 72 hour bag to inventory what’s there.  During this process, you would be able to create a decisive plan with these survival items.  The survival plan is the goal, and it’s the seed of hope that will get you out of danger and on the journey back to your family.

Reactions to a Crisis

People have many different reactions to the disruption caused by a disaster.

When the unexpected occurs, it can create trauma and distress.  Some go into shock, and simply shut down. Others are unable to adapt to the scenario and do not know how to interact with their current environment.

While it’s important to be functional, remember that these emotions are present for a very important reason: to keep the person alive.  Use these feelings to your advantage.

Using fear to our advantage

Stress, fear and anxiety are all considered to be negative and destructive emotions.  However, they can be channeled to your advantage.

For example, fear could make a person more alert. It can motivate a person to perform at their very highest levels.  Strong emotions will not only help a person take advantage of strengths, but will also help to overcome weaknesses.

Using these emotions as an advantage requires great concentration and control. While they can be used, they can also take over and cause extreme distress or paralyzing fear. In a crisis scenario, you must confront and manage these emotions head on in order to use the momentum they provide instead of going into panic mode.

Use emotion to motivate yourself

Focus on what is important in your life. Cling to that thought with all your might. This will help keep your spirits high and motivate you to find a way out of danger.

A disaster can be a cruel and unforgiving situation, particularly if you are facing it on your own.  Depression and loneliness can set in, and hope can be lost.  The focus can shift from surviving and getting out alive, to being convinced there is no way out.

There are always a multitude of solutions that can be found. There is always a way out.

Sit and Think is Your First Preparedness Task

Cover the basic needs first. What good is 12,000 rounds of ammo, two battle rifles, BDUs, one flashlight, and one case of MREs after the first week?

You must have a full plan to survive. Providing for just one year takes some serious dedication to reach that level. A couple of decks of cards, pens, papers, small note books, the list can go on and on and on. You have to be well rounded.

Can you skin a buck, run a trapline, drop a tree with a chainsaw, plant a garden, protect your garden, preserve your food? Do you have dogs? Do you have enough stored food for them?

How about pest control, mice traps, squirrels, rabbits, coons, ground hogs, can sure tear up a garden do you have traps for them? Think it through: Chipmunks, gophers, garden pest, and bug control. Mosquito netting is the best thing you can buy if you plan on being outdoors.

Sit down and try to put a list together for one year of supplies. You know just the basics like where are you going to get water every day. How are you going to cook? How do you heat in the winter? Have you ever tried to chop a year’s supply of wood?

Do you have children? What kind of medicine will you need for them in 1 year? What kind of non power games do you have for them to do? Does you wife sew or crochet? Do you have some supplies like that put away. A knitted wool hat or mittens sure would be nice if you didn’t have them when you left. How about washing clothes?

You did put away enough toilet paper for a year, right? You also protected this toilet paper with traps or poison so the mice and chipmunks didn’t chew it all, up right? How about feminine products for a year.

What about yeast infections? I know it’s not the most pleasant thing to talk about but a must if you are seriously planning to survive. I talked to an old timer once that grew up in the Depression and I asked him what did you use for toilet paper his words “Last year Sears and Roebuck catalog, oh and by the way I sold all my furs to them too.” What would be a good catalog today? How about some thick old city telephone books, might be a good choice to store away for back up toilet paper.

These are some thing you must consider. Walk your land, think about every tree you have, how much open space you have, how much water, wildlife, and shelter you have. A plan cannot be made until one knows what he needs!

Situational Awareness

I have spent a fair amount of time over the past several years trying to define and refine my understanding of the term “Situational Awareness.”

Most of the written material deals with very technical definitions, that for me hold little real world application. As I tried to make them fit my own experience with awareness, I realized that the academic approach was impractical.

So here’s how I defined “situational awareness.” It is: “paying attention to what is going on around you.” How’s that for practical? It’s more than that, but the basic definition is the ability to scan the environment and sense danger, challenges and opportunities, while maintaining the ability to conduct normal activities. In other words, to pay attention to your surroundings while not appearing to be paying attention.

Understanding the Baseline

Awareness is a choice. One has to choose to pay attention. But once that choice is made, the part of the brain responsible for monitoring the senses, known as the Reticular Activating System (RAS) takes over. It switches filters on and off that will fulfill your subconscious desire to pay attention. By simply telling yourself to pay attention to certain things, the RAS will scan for and acknowledge those things when it encounters them.

I have found three main obstacles to developing awareness. To understand the obstacles with awareness, lets define the most basic tenant of awareness: BASELINE. The concept of baseline states that our environment has a baseline, a homeostatic state of what things look like, sound like and feel like when nothing much is going on.

In the woods, this is reflective of the noise and activity level of the area when nothing much is happening. The normal state. For example, in the late afternoon, things are normally pretty quiet. The baseline is pretty flat. As we move into evening, the baseline changes a bit. Night feeding animals are coming out, day feeders are going in.

The increase in noise and activity is still the norm. It is louder and yet still within the realm of normal. Suddenly a predator appears. All the prey animals react. Alarm calls go out and the noise level suddenly spikes. This is referred to as a concentric ring of disturbance because it radiates out from the source.

In the city, each neighborhood has its own baseline. In one area, people move at a certain pace, talk at a certain volume, stand at a certain socially acceptable distance from one another, gesture in a certain way. This combination of noise and activity constitutes that area’s baseline. Depending on cultural or ethnic norms, it will be different in various neighborhoods.

Being able to develop awareness is dependent upon first knowing the baseline for the area you are in and recognizing any variations to the baseline. These changes in baseline are learned from observation. One must know the baseline. One must recognize disturbances to the baseline and one must recognize if those disturbances represent a specific threat or opportunity.

This requires knowledge of the environment, knowledge of terrain. It requires that one recognizes predator behavior. It requires one to see well beyond normal sight. For example, an aware person will notice things others may miss: a youth in a hoodie across the street whose movements mimic yours. Or a dumpster set in such a way that requires you to pass close to it. It can be threats or potential threats. You must constantly monitor and assess. Over time, this becomes almost a background activity, requiring little conscious thought.

The key to great situational awareness is the ability to monitor the baseline and recognize changes.

Three Obstacles in Situational Awareness

1. Not Monitoring the Baseline. If you are not monitoring the baseline, you will not recognize the presence of predators that cause a disturbance. Other events can cause concentric rings as well. Any unusual occurrence from a car accident to a street fight can create a concentric ring. One of the keys to personal security is learning to look for and recognize these disturbances. Some disturbances are dangerous, some are just entertaining.

2. Normalcy Bias. Even though we may sense a concentric ring that could be alerting us of danger, many times we will ignore the alert due to the desire for it NOT to be a danger. We want things to be OK, so we don’t accept that the stimulus we’re receiving represents a threat. We have a bias towards the status quo. Nothing has ever happened when I do this, so nothing is likely to happen.

3. The third interrupter of awareness is what we define as a Focus Lock. This is some form of distraction that is so engaging, that it focuses all of our awareness on one thing and by default, blocks all the other stimulus in our environment. This is when someone is texting and walks into a fountain. The smartphone is the single most effective focus lock ever invented. It robs us of our awareness in times and places where it’s needed most.

Three Effective Techniques to Stay Aware

1. Monitor the Baseline. At first, this will require conscious effort. But after a while, I find that I can monitor the baseline subconsciously.

2. Fight Normalcy Bias. This requires you to be paranoid for a while as you develop your ability. Look at every disturbance to the baseline as a potential threat. This will allow you to stop ignoring or discounting concentric rings and begin making assessments of the actual risk. But as you learn, people will think you are jumpy or paranoid. That is OK. It’s a skill that will save your life.

3. Avoid using the obvious focus locks in transition areas. It is ok to text while you are sitting at your desk or laying in bed. But it’s NOT ok to text as you walk from your office to the parking garage.

Any time you’re drawn to a concentric ring event, do a quick assessment of that ring, then stop looking at it (the event) and scan the rest of your environment to see what you’re missing.

Developing awareness is a skill. At first it will seem very awkward and self-conscious, but with practice, it will become seamless and subconscious. You will start to pick up on more and more subtle rings of disturbance and more complex stimuli. Eventually, people may think you are psychic as they notice how you seem to sense events before they unfold.