Hurricane and Other Natural Disasters Tips

We have had two major hurricane that hit many places and while some were prepared many were not. Here are some tips for preparing yourself and family.

  1. Anyone who isn’t a prepper is nuts. I’ll just start off with that blanket statement. Are you prepared for a hurricane as everyone is fighting over cases of water bottles at the store. Having a mean to filter and distill water would be the long term solution.
  2. Don’t go through any medical procedure the day before a hurricane hits. If it gets infected there are no medical service available short of a trip to the ER.
  3. Get flood insurance, even if you live in an area that doesn’t traditionally flood. Homeowners insurance does not cover damage caused by water coming into your house.
  4. Charge all electronics, including solar battery chargers, in the days leading up to something like this. Afterwards, just keep them fully charged, since power outages happen regularly.
  5. Social media is an absolute necessity in times like this. Facebook groups have popped up, connecting neighbor with neighbor and allowing us to loan/borrow things like box fans, extension cords, chain saws, and the like. People are coming out of the woodwork to help out, and it’s because of Facebook.
  6. Nextdoor.com is another life saver.
  7. Heavy duty galoshes (rain boots) can be worth their weight in gold. Trudging through inches and feet of floodwater can be dangerous without boots.
  8. Always have a few filled gas cans around.
  9. If you do make a run to the grocery store in the days leading up to a big storm or something similar, go ahead and throw in some goodies you don’t normally buy.
  10. Get a few solar lights or lanterns.  When our power was out, these lights and lantern are just perfect for providing enough light for a work area or for reading.
  11. Your relatives and friends are going to worry about you, so just accept that and get used to repeating the same information again and again. How wonderful to have people who care about your safety!
  12. Call your insurance company or agent ASAP. They will respond to claims in the order received, so get in there early.
  13. If you experience damage that FEMA may help cover, register with them ASAP also. You’ll receive a registration number. Save that on your cell phone and email it to yourself so it will always be handy.
  14. If you do lose everything, or at least a LOT of what you own, go ahead and cry and ignore people who say things like, “It’s just things. You’re lucky to be alive.” It’s okay to grieve over ruined things. They were a part of your life. They represented what was once normal and now that is gone, at least for now. Cry all you want to and need to without making any excuses.
  15. If you think you may end up without power, go on that assumption and prepare. Run small loads of laundry once a day, run the dishwasher, even when it’s only half full. If the power goes out, you’ll be starting out with clean clothes and dishes.
  16. Pressure canning can be one way to preserve meat that is in the freezer in a power outage. Again, if you think your power may go out, start canning that meat right away. If you have a gas range, you can do the canning without electricity.
  17. You’ll need matches to light the burners on your gas range when the power goes out. Make sure you have plenty of matches. Buy 3 or 4 big boxes. They’re cheap.
  18. Prepare your home for guests. In the case of hundreds or thousands of people being displaced, a very simple way to help is to open up your home, even if just for a few hours. Provide a peaceful, safe haven for families who have lost everything. I think hospitality is greatly overlooked when it comes to disaster recovery.
  19. Not all phone weather apps are the same. Find one you like.
  20. Be prepared for emotional ups and downs.
  21. Get outside when you can do so safely.
  22. Bicycles can get places where vehicles cannot. On a bike you’ll be able to check out storm damage, visit neighbors, run errands, and get fresh air and exercise at the same time.
  23. Be aware of downed electrical wires.
  24. Think about all the volunteers who are going to be thirsty and hungry. Pack brown bag lunches for them and have the  kids help out.
  25. One thing we all take for granted is clean laundry. People with flooded homes will not be able to do laundry and wearing damp, dirty clothes for hours and maybe days at a time is uncomfortable and disheartening. Offer to do laundry for them as an easy way to volunteer.
  26. Buy a few respirators when you begin cleaning out flooded homes. During the Katrina clean-up, many people contracted debilitating illnesses due to inhaling mold and mildew spores.
  27. Consider how you’ll care for your pets both during and after a disaster. Stock up on pet food and kitty litter, if you have cats. If your home is damaged, how will you keep your pets from running away? Make sure you have kennels for them and they are wearing collars with ID tags and have been microchipped.
  28. If you see a stray pet, keep it safe until you can find its owner. Animal shelters are quickly overwhelmed and at capacity. Use Facebook groups for your town and community and Nextdoor.com to reunite pets and owners.
  29. Children may be the most traumatized group of all. Don’t overburden them with your every random thought about doom and gloom! Give them constructive things to do, so they feel they are contributing something important to the family’s survival.
  30. If you are going to help with flood recovery, be sure to wear protective gear, including the respirator mentioned above. Wear boots that go above your ankle a few inches to protect from snake bites and fire ants and heavy work gloves.
  31. Don’t advertise on social media or elsewhere that your home has been flooded and you’re leaving. This just gives looters information that will help them locate your home, specifically.
  32. Even if you can’t help with actual demo work inside flooded homes, you can loan tools, small generators, filled gas cans, work gloves, extension cords, and fans. Label them with your name and phone number but in the madness of storm recovery, you may not get them back.
  33. Stock up on those black, heavy duty trash bags. They’ll come in handy for storm debris, ruined food, mildewed clothes, pieces of wet sheetrock, etc.
  34. Fill your freezer with bags of ice. It will come in handy during while power is out and can be used to keep food and drinks cold for volunteers and rescue workers.
  35. When floodwater is coming in, turn off your electricity at the main breaker and keep it off.
  36. With road closures, you may not have clear passage to help out at shelters, help neighbors muck out their homes, and reach rescue workers, so be prepared to walk. A heavy duty wagon is super helpful at a time like this, as is a bike trailer, for carrying tools, food, and other supplies.
  37. Take both video and photos of your home’s belongings. Some insurance companies prefer one over the other so have both.
  38. As you replace ruined belongings, carpet, sheetrock, and the like, keep every single receipt. If you can, scan them and save them to the cloud or email the scanned images to yourself.
  39. Don’t be surprised if you are overwhelmed with kind offers of help.
  40. Take care of yourself. You’re going to need a mental break every now and then.
  41. Use some kind map app to find look for road closures, which is immensely helpful.
  42. If you don’t know your neighbors now, you soon will! Be the first one to reach out with offers of a hot cup of coffee, a couple of hours of babysitting for a stressed out mom, or heavy duty labor to help an elderly person clear out their yard.
  43. Don’t wig out every time you hear a news report, especially on social media. If it doesn’t come directly from an official channel, then take a few deep breaths and wait until it’s verified.
  44. It will take a while for life to return to a new normal.
  45. If you have skills in administration and logistics, put them to work! One neighborhood can set up their own volunteer check-in desk at the entrance to their subdivision! As volunteers arrive, they are directed to specific homes in need of help. To do this, you’ll need neighborhood maps, roving volunteers with walkie-talkies to assess damage and report to the control center, and, of course, food and water is appreciated. This is a brilliant example of micro-emergency response.

Zika Virus: 10 Things to Worry/Relax About

Zika virus has been in the news since the beginning of the year, and there’s a lot of information out there; some of it is reassuring and some, well, not so much. Here’s some things you should know that will make you worry/not worry about this infectious disease that’s been reported worldwide. 

1.

WorrisomeReported cases of Zika in the U.S. and its territories will soon hit 20,000. The number of Zika cases IN THE U.S. and its territories reported to CDC’s Arbonet (ARthropod-BOrne virus) national registry has risen to almost 19,000. With some researchers suggesting infection in one quarter of the population of Puerto Rico before the end of 2016, 20,000 cases might be a gross underestimation.

Reassuring: While the Zika epidemic rages in Puerto Rico, the continental U.S has reported a total of 2,964 cases of mostly travel-related Zika virus illness (out of a population of 320 million).  South Florida is the only area in the continental U.S. where local mosquitoes are confirmed by authorities to have spread the disease (about 50 cases).

2.

Worrisome: The actual number of Zika cases is probably close to 5 times the number of reported cases. Zika virus causes relatively mild symptoms like rashes, fevers, joint pains, and reddened eyes, and even then in only 20% of cases. 80% have no symptoms whatsoever, which means that the actual number of cases is probably 5 times greater. This doesn’t count people who wouldn’t go to the doctor for a mild fever or a rash, so it might be even more.

Reassuring: Even if case totals are, in fact, much higher than reported, the virus leaves the bloodstream after a week or so in most people. It can, however, last for months in seminal fluid or, perhaps, the eyes. Once you have recovered from the acute infection, you receive immunity from the antibodies produced by your immune system. Future pregnancies won’t be affected.

3.

Worrisome: Zika is a bona fide pandemic. A pandemic is a widespread occurrence of a disease not normally seen in a place that spreads across different regions. Zika has now been identified in close to 70 countries and has been referred to as a pandemic by the National Institute of Health since at least January 2016.

Reassuring: Despite concerns raised by many health officials, athletes and tourists returning from the Olympic Games don’t seem to have sparked significant new outbreaks in their home countries.

4.

Worrisome: Newborns with Zika infections can have multiple abnormalities, not just microcephaly. Microcephaly is a condition where a small brain leads to poor head growth. Beside this, however, other evidence of brain damage, deformed joints, and vision or hearing impairment may occur.

Reassuring: The percentage of abnormal newborns in Zika-infected mothers isn’t as high as you think. Statistics for the rate of birth abnormalities in newborns have ranged from 1% to 13% in Brazil and 1% in the previous outbreak in Polynesia in 2013-4, according to a CDC report released last May. There are no numbers that say a Zika-infected mother’s chances are very high of having a baby with microcephaly or other defects.

 5.

Worrisome: We can’t say for sure that Zika-infected babies born looking normal will be unaffected by the virus. Zika is shown in lab studies to kill brain and other nerve cells. What if the number of cells damaged is not enough to make the baby appear abnormal at birth but enough to cause delays in milestones like walking or talking? What if these infants end up having learning disabilities once they’re old enough to go to school? We won’t know for years.

Reassuring: Although our research into the effects of Zika virus is in its infancy, no hard evidence exists that a baby from an infected mother will have later developmental deficits.

6.

Worrisome: Zika virus may be passed through from human to human through seminal fluid, vaginal secretions, blood, and now, tears. Researchers are finding more and more ways that Zika might be transmissible from human to human. A study from Washington University in St. Louis reports that tears of mice carried parts of the Zika virus.

Reassuring:  The vast majority of Zika infections are still transmitted by mosquitoes. Sensible actions like the use of mosquito repellents, the wearing of long sleeves/pants, and drainage of nearby standing water are still the best way to prevent an infection.

7.

Worrisome: There is more than one strain of Zika, and there may have been mutations. Zika, like many viruses, exists in different subtypes (at least two) that could mutate from time to time. This fact might explain why a virus originally identified in 1947 only started causing community-wide outbreaks in 2007, and no reported cases of abnormal babies before 2013. A mutation that increased the severity of effect on humans (at least, newborn ones) may have occurred.

Reassuring: It’s possible that Zika just had never been exposed to such large populations without natural immunity. Researchers haven’t yet reported if the strain spreading rapidly in Singapore is the same one as that in Brazil.

8.

Worrisome: There may already be more than one locally-transmitted outbreak in the U.SDr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor’s College of Medicine, suspects that there may be more areas of local Zika transmission than just the one in Miami. The Guardian reports that he said, “…I think there’s not just Zika transmission going on in Miami, it’s going on all up and down the Gulf Coast and in Arizona, it’s just that nobody’s looking.” The CDC, although it stops short of predicting an epidemic of Zika, believes clusters of cases may still appear in warm-weather states.

Reassuring: Future local outbreaks are likely to be minor in the U.S.  A number of states, like Louisiana and other Gulf and East coast states, are recovering from floods dues to storms and Hurricane Hermine. Cases of Zika virus, however, don’t seem to be arising out of standing water there that would be excellent breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Cities, like Houston, with low-income areas that harbor abandoned buildings and trash, also provide possible sites for the next generation of mosquitoes; Zika virus doesn’t seem to have taken hold there either.

9.

Worrisome: Aerial Spraying with chemical pesticides like Naled may affect honeybees and even humans. Use of pesticides that are neurotoxic might have ill effects on important pollinators like bees, or even human beings. It might be safer to use methods that kill mosquito larvae instead.

Reassuring: Aerial spraying is an effective way to eliminate large populations of adult mosquitoes quickly and rarely affects humans. Naled is a shorter acting pesticide than some others, and when used correctly (before sunrise or after sunset), is unlikely to cause major damage to pollinators, which mostly forage during daylight hours. The recent bee die-off after spraying in Dorchester County, S.C., was due to spraying which occurred at 8 a.m.

10.

Worrisome: A new local Zika outbreak is spreading throughout Singapore in Asia. The location is important because Singapore is an important financial hub for the region. Travel-related cases already have been reported in Malaysia and the Philippines from returning travelers. Given the widespread commercial travel to Singapore, where 300 cases have been reported in 10 days, the entirety of Asia may be affected in the near future.

Reassuring: Here in the U.S., the coming fall and winter seasons will decrease mosquito populations significantly throughout most of the country. USA Today reported in July that Brazil was recording fewer cases of Zika as the Southern Hemisphere entered its “winter”.

 

So, it’s your choice: You can decide either to go look for your worry beads or, instead, cover your eyes with your hat and order another pinacolada. Just don’t forget the mosquito repellent.

Clever Gifts For Non-Prepper

Your non-prepper family members and friends think you’re nuts. Until you show them your Water Straw or cool Survival knife, and they say, “Hey, that’s a good idea!”

With the holiday season around the corner, and for every gift-giving season, perhaps you would like to get your loved ones or friend something that will leave them better prepared and motivated to think about preparedness. Where do you begin and how do you figure out what to get them? People can be hard to shop for anyway, and if they’re already skeptical, you will want to start out slow. You can increase your chances of creating a thoughtful, practical, and well-accepted gift by taking a few of things into consideration.

First, consider the location of your recipients, including weather and likely challenges. Then consider their lifestyle, perhaps including skill level, experiences, or interests. And finally, consider any unique needs they have. When I did this exercise for my family members, I discovered that survival-minded gifts would look very different for each of them!

For someone in Texas

For this region, the weather is generally above freezing, but tornadoes are frequent. They also deal with heat and floods. The loss of electricity is a real possibility with any of these events. With several major cities in this state, civil unrest is also a potential issue.

For this gift, buy flashlights and extra batteries for the power outages. Add enough canned food (with a can opener!) to last 2-3 days. Duct tape, plastic sheeting, and hammer and nails might be useful in case of storm damage. In that part of the country,most people don’t have basements, so storage is typically a garage. Packing these items in a tub for the garage or a truck might be the best bet.

Special Consideration: Children

For kids, I would suggest packing something in each these categories. (Pack something from each category in your own emergency kits!)

• Treats: Something individually packaged so their parents can bribe or distract them. For example, I keep fruit snacks in my tornado kit in our basement.
• Warmth: Making sure kids’ physical needs are met will go a long way towards meeting their emotional needs during a scary time. Pack a small fleece blanket or cozy sweatshirt (a size too big) for each child.
• Games & Books: Again, distraction is going to be key. Consider a read-aloud chapter book, like Stuart Little or one of the Chronicles of Narnia. Many board games, such as Life and Yahtzee now come in card varieties that would pack very well in an emergency kit.
• Light: Glow sticks, flashlights, headlamps and fun, colorful finger lights are kid friendly. Allowing kids the ability to control the light and what they see (especially Mom and Dad) can be a comfort to them during an emergency.
• Soft things: Even the toughest teen or pre-teen will feel better clutching something soft. A few small stuffed animals for the younger kids, or maybe some foam stress balls for the older ones.
• Sanitation: Baby wipes and more baby wipes! If your tiny relatives might still be in diapers, include a package of next-size-larger disposable diapers or training pants, too. Ziploc type bags will also be valuable for putting dirty diapers in.

Someone in Colorado

This region experiences significant weather swings in hours — 50 or 60 degree swings in the same day are common. In winter, blizzards with several feet of snow can result being stuck at home for a few days. And wildfires can mean evacuation is a real possibility. Nearly every summer somewhere in the state, there are people to need to leave at a moments notice.

The lifestyle there tends to be outdoorsy, so portable is key for this gift. Everything should fit in a backpack. Add a waterproof poncho for unexpected weather and consider a including a pair of hiking socks. A Firestarter and knife would be a great versatile tool. Some Cliff bars and powdered sports drink mix would easily fit too. And here is the perfect opportunity for a Water Straw, too!

Special consideration: someone far away

For someone who is “isolated” in another state, away from the rest of the extended family, you might consider making them a special evacuation kit. Pack a compass, and paper maps with several exit routes marked out. Make a written communication plan for them, perhaps including Solar Radio. Include a written list of family member addresses and phone numbers, too.

Housebound in Minnesota

The upper Midwest region is famous for snow and cold. It also gets its share of tornadoes in warmer weather.

Most people in the Midwest have basements, so space usually isn’t an issue. Pack everything in a brightly colored waterproof tub for storage. It will likely be stored in a basement. In the tub, add duct tape, a small collapsible shovel, and one or more fleece blankets. If you have the budget, a small household tool kit would also be a good idea. For the colder months, hand/foot warmers would be essential. Include some canned soups, a can opener, and hot drink packets. For quick heating, include some fire starters or sternos.

Special consideration: dietary restrictions or medical needs

There are a lot of emergency supplies you can provide for your loved one that will help, regardless of their unique dietary or medical needs. For a family member with dietary restrictions, your best bet may be to avoid food altogether. Instead, include a list of food items or quantities they should have on hand, and maybe they will be able to add those themselves. Add a brightly colored note to encourage your loved one to stash away some of their medications or medical supplies.

Retired in Arizona

It’s hot, and water is a real concern any time of year, but it is also dry, and the nights can get cold.
Space is an issue in many of the retirement communities. Most residents in these areas have recently downsized, so the thought of adding extra “stuff” doesn’t appeal to them in the least. A very small tub, or even a backpack might be the best bet to hold a selection of useful, compact supplies.

Water is the primary concern. This is another great opportunity to include a Water Straw or a filtering water bottle that combines the filter and a handy container. If you have the budget, you might even consider including a water system. Tarps and bungee cords would be useful both for shade and collecting water if it did rain. A rechargeable flashlight and solar charger would work well with the often sunny days. Some lip moisturizer, sun screen, as well as some hats or bandanas can help protect the face. Pack dried fruit or space bars for snacks, and a thermal blanket for each person for those unexpectedly cold nights.

Special consideration: Pets

If your loved one has pets, you might consider including some basic items for their pet. If you don’t know what the critter needs, just include a list with your tub or backpack gift.

• Water: A collapsible bowl would fit well in an emergency kit.
• Food: small packages of treats or canned food would mean at least Fido or Fluffy could eat something if their owner was stranded.
• A leash and collar: Normally, the owner probably wants something specific, but including these could mean the difference between being able to keep the animal or not if the pet owners end up in a shelter.
• Packet for documents: A simple office-meeting ID pouch would work to keep the animals paperwork. Again, this is something the owner will have to provide, but a brightly colored note inserted where the documents should go can be a great reminder.

Final thoughts

Your goal is not to make preppers out of your family members or friends overnight. Rather, show them you care by making sure they’re taken care of in the event of an emergency that is common to their area. Getting them started might make make it easy for them to take the next steps on their own.

To help them further, you might print out and include a general list from FEMA’s website of suggested items every household should have. That way, if they want to work on being prepared, it’s easy to take the next step.

Even if they don’t turn into preppers overnight, at least you can worry a little less. If something does happen, they’ll be better off next year than they were this year.

www.prepperwebsite.com

SHTF: A Process or an Event

The question “what are you prepping for” has just about been worn out. There is no shortage of threats in our world to be concerned about and to take steps to prepare for. Take your pick. It could be an economic collapse, natural disasters, might be a nationwide power grid failure or terrorists with suitcase bombs attacking several cities simultaneously. All of these are valid threats. Join the growing rank of people who have decided to not be caught by surprise, but rather to be as well prepared as possible if any such disaster should strike. Since you’re reading this, you’re probably in that camp, too.

But one question that doesn’t get asked very often is whether the thing that you’re prepping for is an event or a process. What do I mean by that? And why would it matter?

SHTF Event

An event would be a sudden occurrence, like an earthquake on the San Andreas Fault that causes a significant part of California to go bye-bye. Or an EMP (electromagnetic pulse), either solar or nuclear, that wipes out all of our electronics. Everything is fine one moment, then in an instant it’s not.

What would be the results of an SHTF event? There would be a significant loss of lives, followed by widespread shock and panic. Supplies and services would be disrupted for a long time, perhaps for a very long time. Panic buying would empty store shelves in a matter of a few days. Multitudes would be unemployed. No amount of government intervention would make a dent in the level of catastrophe affecting our world. Virtually every aspect of our lives would change from anything we had ever known before. Ready or not, everyone would be thrust into full-scale survival mode.

If an SHTF event occurs, you’re stuck with what you have. If you don’t already have it, you’re not going to be able to get it. If you’ve planned to buy a good rocket stove, you’re too late. You won’t be able to get one anywhere now. Still working towards acquiring a top-notch first aid kit? Kiss that plan goodbye. You’ve probably got a good supply of rice and beans and wheat on hand, but have you also stocked the spices and seasonings that you’ll need to make it taste good? That ship has sailed.

There are a lot of SHTF event scenarios that have a chance of occurring in our lifetime. That’s why we prep. But the bottom line for an SHTF event is that prepping time is over and implementation time has begun. If you don’t already have it when an SHTF event occurs, you’re not likely to ever get it from that point on. The key to making it through an SHTF event is to already have the things you want and need.

SHTF Process

It’s possible that the world won’t go out with a bang (event) so much as a whimper (process). A global financial collapse may have begun 15 years ago with the tech bubble and crash of 2000. While it appears that our economy plateaus or even rallies for a short time since then, it seems to me like we’ve been on a trajectory of steady economic decline ever since 2000. The years 2001 and 2008 saw the greatest losses in stock market history. Much has been written about this 7-year cycle, with warnings of a bigger crash to come in 2015.

An SHTF process wouldn’t come about suddenly like an event would. Instead, it would take years or decades to play out — a slow, steady decline. Money gets tighter gradually. There may be a series of bubbles that burst, but we ride them out. Businesses adapt by running “leaner,” squeezing more productivity out of fewer employees. Families adjust by taking fewer vacations. Many people are out of work, and those who have jobs have been cut to part-time so employers don’t have to pay for the benefits that full-time workers get. First and second-world countries start looking more and more like third-world countries. We find ourselves like a frog in a beaker of water on a bunsen burner. The heat gets turned up so gradually that the frog doesn’t react to the changes — and then he finds himself thoroughly cooked.

Unlike an event, an SHTF process could give you years and years of opportunity to stockpile the things you want and need. That’s the good news. The bad news is that if (when) you find yourself out of work, instead of adding to your supplies, you start tapping into your preps to get by until the next job comes along. But it doesn’t. And what you can’t eat you sell in order to get money to meet your family’s needs.

An SHTF process is not a pretty picture. Slow death never is. Yes, you are better equipped to deal with the problem than those who don’t prep, but it just delays the inevitable.

So what is the key to surviving an SHTF process? Sustainability. You will need self-reliance skills, the kind of mojo that the pioneers had 150 years ago. Do you know how to grow and preserve food? Raise animals? Use and repair tools? Prepping isn’t just about storing stuff. The best preppers would say that it isn’t even primarily about stuff. It’s about skills.

Which one will it be?

Of course, your guess is as good as mine. Many people lean toward process but are strongly aware that it could be an event and that event could occur tomorrow. Don’t let that worry you. Rather, do what you can while trusting you will be prepared enough to survive whatever comes along.  At the beginning of each year look at where you are, re-consider where you want to be and set priorities for the year. Yep, that’s what you’ll be doing in the coming week.

Whatever your SHTF scenario, make the most of your time by getting (right now) the top priority items that you need to ride it out, and continually work on building the skill sets that you will need to sustain yourself and your loved ones through tough times ahead.

www.prepperwebsite.com

 

DIY Mosquito Trap That Really Works

DIY Mosquito Trap That Really Works!

In summer time, one of the main things that keeps people from enjoying their outdoor spaces is mosquitoes. Nothing ruins a backyard barbeque or even just a relaxing evening outside faster than a swarm of mosquitoes attacking your skin. While there are some solutions for a mosquito problem, most of them are pricey, made from possibly toxic chemicals, and require frequent reapplication.

If you’re looking for a chemical free and cheap solution to a mosquito problem, look no further!

You can make your own mosquito trap from less than $5 worth of ingredients.

There may be a lot of traps out there, but this one uses the mosquito’s natural behavior to trap them.

Just like the pitcher plant, which lures bugs into its belly, this trap uses a bait liquid that attracts the flying pests into a plastic bottle with a funnel top that keeps them stuck inside. The best part? It only takes minimal DIY skills to make.

Materials for the trap:

  • A 2 litre plastic soda bottle
  • Scissors or craft knife
  • Duct tape
  • Black paper or other opaque materialMaterials needed DIY MosquitoTrap

How to make the mosquito trap:

To make the trap, you first wash out your plastic bottle and remove the label. You can use any type of plastic bottle, but we found that a 2 litre works best. Using your craft knife, cut around the top of the bottle just under where it starts to narrow into the neck. It can be helpful to draw a line with a permanent marker.DIY Mosquito Trap 1

Be careful with your craft knife! If you don’t have one, you can always cut a small hole with a regular knife, then cut around the bottle using scissors.DIY Mosquito Trap 2

Take off the top. Turn the top of the bottle upside down and put it inside the body of the plastic bottle so it makes a funnel, then tape in place with your duct tape.DIY Mosquito TrapThe top of the bottle funnels the mosquitoes into the body of the bottle. Once in the bottle, they aren’t equipped to turn around and fly back out.DIY Mosquito Trap

Cover your bottle with something opaque such as black or kraft paper, vinyl sheets, or even duct tape.DIY Mosquito TrapYou can wrap it after you add the liquid to check the level of the liquid in the bottle.DIY Mosquito Trap

The bottle needs to be covered because mosquitoes like dark places, and they will be more drawn to the bottle.DIY Mosquito Trap

DIY Mosquito Trap

Ingredients for the bait liquid:

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 packet “active dry yeast” (about 2 teaspoons)

How to make the mosquito bait liquid

Boil one cup of water, and then add your ¾ cup of sugar to make a simple syrup. Once the sugar is completely dissolved, pour it into a heat-safe bowl. Then add your cup of cold water and allow it to cool.

Following the directions on the package, add one packet of active dry yeast, or two teaspoons if you don’t have the premeasured packets. This is the kind of yeast used for baking, not brewer’s yeast or nutritional yeast. You add it to lukewarm water (no hotter than 90 degrees F) to encourage growth without killing off the yeast, as it will die at higher temperatures.

Pour this liquid into the container, making sure that it doesn’t reach the neck of the bottle, so the bugs have a space to fly all the way in.

Why does this mosquito trap work so well?

This trap uses the natural instincts of these airborne pests to draw them into a place they can’t escape. Mosquitoes are attracted by carbon dioxide, and the combination of yeast and sugar water releases this carbon dioxide.DIY Mosquito Trap

The carbon dioxide rises from the opening in the bottle to attract the mosquitoes. They fly into the cloud of gas and then down into the bottle to check out the sugar water as well, guided by the funnel. The black covering on the trap draws them as well, especially the female mosquitoes, who like a dark place to breed. Once inside the bottle, the mosquitoes can’t turn around and fly back out.

The key to these traps is to put more than one out and combine them with other control methods. While they will attract and trap some mosquitoes, there are just so many of the flying pests that they can’t completely clear an area. So while your DIY mosquito trap will catch some bugs for you, always remember to also pour out any standing water, plant mosquito repellent plants like lavender, or burn citronella candles. These DIY traps are a great addition to a natural mosquito control arsenal.

When the Grid Goes Down: 15 Tips to Get Safely Home Following an EMP

Jeremiah Johnson
August 8th, 2017
readynutrition.com 

Let’s just say that the unthinkable becomes the real and happening.  Let’s take this article and go over it.  This will be a segment in three parts, the next ones being immediate actions taken at work and at home.  I’m hitting on traveling first, as there are so many vacationers jaunting around happily over the landscape.  All kidding aside, traffic is congested during the summer, extending traveling time on the commutes.  Let’s game the scenario, and here it is.

Here’s the scenario:

You’re cruising down the highway in your 2013 four-door sedan, having just dropped the kids off twenty minutes ago to the swim club.  Now you’re on the open highway with a heavy traffic flow…about 5 miles from the edge of town and 7 miles from work.  You’re listening to the radio, when suddenly it crackles and goes dead, along with your engine.  You look around and pumping the brakes manage to slow down and then drive off the road onto the shoulder, just feet away from the back bumper of another vehicle.

The vehicle comes to a stop, and you try the ignition again.  You look at your watch, a Casio G-Shock, to find there is no display.  You reach for your cell phone.  Nothing.  It’s dead.  There are perhaps a dozen cars around you…half to your front and half to your rear.  All of them have stopped, and most of the drivers have gotten out.  You hear the sound of an engine, and looking up, see a ’58 Ford pickup truck weaving in and out of the stalled traffic, moving toward your rear, away from town.  The book “One Second After” has just played out in real life.  The United States has been attacked by an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) weapon.  You’re 15 miles from home, and the “S” has hit the fan.

On Friday 7/29/17, North Korea just successfully tested an ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) and experts from four different countries including the U.S. have determined that they have the capability of striking the U.S. anywhere.  That means the optimal point for an EMP strike (dead center of the continental U.S., at 300 km above ground) is not only their prime target but also attainable.

15 Tips to Get Safely Home Following an EMP

Back to our scenario.  Most will be clueless and unprepared.  Let’s do it up, down and dirty with the steps that you should take if you are “Citizen X” outlined in the scenario:

1. Have a plan already in place: That means to formulate one right now, f you haven’t already done so.

2. If there are a lot of people around, such as in the scenario, then immediately grab your gear and get out of there. What gear, you may ask?  We’ve “gamed” much of this to the point of nausea, but let’s list out those essentials:

“Go/Bug Out Bag”: This guy already needs to be packed and ready, in that vehicle that will become a 3,000-lb. paperweight. Three days’ supply of ready-to-eat food, one day’s worth of water and the means to filter more.  Compass, flashlight, knife, first aid kit, poncho, jacket/sweatshirt, extra socks, map, light sleeping bag, fire starting material, small fishing kit (hooks, line, bobber), sewing kit, MSW (Minor Surgical Wound) kit, extra cash ($20 denominations and smaller), ground pad, extra clothing (hat, OG bandana, etc.), and ammo. An EMP may be followed by radiological and nuclear consequences. Having an NBC gas mask and anti-radiation pills in your vehicle could be a lifesaver.

Weapon: Please don’t feed me “legal information,” or “I can’t do that in my state.” These are “sink or swim” rules.  If you don’t have a weapon now, you may not have one later.  If you don’t have the fortitude to take that weapon and be ready to use it when the time comes, then you probably won’t survive this or be able to help your family.  One rifle, one pistol, with ammo for each.

Grab that bag and put it on, securing your weapons. Then secure the vehicle, closing the windows and locking it up.  If nobody is around, throw it into neutral and push it off the road.  Camouflage it with branches and leaves…taking care not to cut them from the immediate area that you stash it.  Most likely it’ll be “violated,” so now is the time to take the stuff you need and get it out. If the scenario above applies, just secure the vehicle and get out of there.

3. Traveling: Do not walk on the roads. Skirt the road with about 50 meters (that’s about 150 feet) between you and the edge of the road.  Stay away from people unless you knowthem and trust them…both qualities are emboldened.

4. For metro people: If you are out in the suburbs or open road, and you must return to the city? It may be better for you and your family to arrange for a rallying point outside of the city.  If that isn’t possible, then you should exercise extreme caution.  Allow the nearest family member to secure the home and then wait for you.  Travel when it’s dark to be on the safe side.  Your visibility is cut down, and so is the visibility of those who may be hunting you.

5. Long distance to go? Forage along the way.  Refill your canteens/water bottles whenever you’re able, and take note of any freestanding water supplies or “blue” features (that’s the color of water on a military map) for use in the future.  DON’T MARK YOUR MAP!  If someone gets a hold of it, you do not want them to be able to find your home.  You must commit the route to memory and adjust your steps accordingly.

6. Dealing with the Stress of the Event: The power is not coming back on…ever…and it really has begun…the Day After Doomsday is here. Take a deep breath and concentrate on your training, your preparations.  If you don’t have any, then this piece is a wake-up call to get moving!  The best way to do it is immediately accepting what has happened without dwelling on it.  Concentrate on the tasks at hand: navigating home, scouting what is in between, and foraging for anything you need.  You have a job to do!  Reconnaissance!  We’ll go over that now.

Reconnaissance: You must see on the ground what is in between you and the happy Hallmark home you’re returning to. You should take note of any places that hold medical supplies, food, or anything you may need for yourself or your family.  You should take note of possible refuge sites to hide if you and the family hightail it out of the home instead of having a “Walton Family Homecoming.”  You must take note of water features, danger locations (cliffs or impassable terrain features), as well as dangerous individuals.  Yes, the ones who were jerks before all of this?  Wait until you see how they’ll be now, with no controls exercised over them.

7. The best advice I can give: Travel at night. This may be impossible for several reasons.  Firstly, if it’s an all-out nuke attack, there may be the problem of radiation for you, in which case you’ll have to either reach home immediately or seek shelter immediately to remain in place for several weeks.  Secondly, you may have other family members that need to be attended to and cannot wait for a long time.  The kids in the scenario are a prime example.  If it is an EMP only, there will be a “quiet period” of about 6 to 12 hours before everything breaks loose and the sequel to the movie “The Road” begins in real life.  Darkness is the best time to travel.  It hides you and helps you to cover your tracks until the morning light.

8.The rest of the family: They must KNOW THE OVERALL PLAN AND HAVE A PLAN OF THEIR OWN TO FOLLOW UNTIL YOU GET THEM OR UNTIL THEY REACH HOME. This is all going to take some preparation on your part and remember the saying: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Don’t put it off!

9. Avoid people, families, and groups of people. Your goal when traveling is to be invisible.  I wrote some articles on how to hunt and how to avoid the manhunt.  You may want to refresh yourself on those points, and follow a few basic rules I keep in my own mind and heart:

  • When a disaster occurs, everyone is your “friend” even when they are not
  • There is no interest but self-interest outside of you and your immediate family
  • Whatever you need and have, they also need and want
  • They will kill you for the barest of essentials of what you’re carrying
  • Don’t talk to anyone: don’t exchange information, pleasantries, and do not tell anyone anything about yourself, your family, your general destination, or your home…it can be used against you later…and it will be.

10. Coming home: Don’t walk right on in. Use a roundabout route, and go to a spot where you can watch your house for at least half an hour or so before making your “triumphant return.”  The S has hit the fan, and this is not the return of the Prodigal…you’re just going to tiptoe in.  But before you tiptoe through the tulips and the window, keep in mind that Tiny Tim and his gang of marauders may have done it before you.  That is why you want to watch the house closely.  Best Advice I can give: Have your kids/spouse put up a long-distance-visible sign/signal so that you know everything is either OK or that you’ll have to come in and rescue the family.  For example, if the birdhouse is still on the corner of the porch, then all is well.  If the birdhouse is gone, or if it’s sitting on top of the post that holds the mailbox…well, time to play CQB (that’s Close Quarters Battle) and clear the house of the rats.

11. Never underestimate anyone’s ability to take your family members hostage: That goes for the “friendly neighbors,” most of all…the biggest rats on the block. If that happens, guess what?  You’re now the HRT (that’s Hostage Rescue Team), or you better have a couple of guys such as this in your survival group/pod/neighborhood unit.  The hardest guy or gal in the world will “cave” when their son or daughter is being held at gunpoint by some goon.

12. You’re home…Now, it’s time to fight! That’s right!  Just when you thought it would be cozy and comfortable…just you and the family and your happy supplies…here comes a whole bagful of “Gummi Bears” down the block…only these bears are armed with baseball bats, zip guns, chains, and crowbars.  Armed also with about a week of BO (that’s Body Odor), all twelve of them combined still have an IQ of 50, tops…and here they are, at your door.  They don’t want Halloween candy, by the way.  You just walked twenty miles.          Say, remember that article I wrote about using ginseng, and drinking coffee to help you keep alert and awake?  I hope that one comes to mind because it’s about to become a “festival” at your house.  We’re going to cover more on this in the next segment.

13. Obtain that “second set” of electronic equipment. Oh yeah, the one JJ continuously warns about!  Well, now that all your electronics that were exposed are junk, I hope you made some Faraday cages and stashed an extra one of those radios…or even several, for those of you who thought long-term.  You need to find out what’s going on.  Ham radios may help if you shielded them.  So may CB’s and satellite phones.

14. Arm the whole family: by the time you reach home, every family member either accompanying you (small children and toddlers excepted) should be armed. Time to reallysee how tight and full of solidarity you are as a real family unit…one that must fight in order to survive.

15. Exit stage left: You may just find that the homecoming isn’t; that is, you must write it off as a loss and get out of there…it’s either destroyed and burning or occupied by the marauders. Unless you have the skills and the ability to deal with all of them, it is better to retreat and stay alive.  You need a plan in place in order to make this work.

We’ve covered a lot of information here.  This is all designed to stimulate those creative thought processes.  The thinking alone is not enough: you must formulate a plan and then implement it.  A plan without action is of no use.  A plan executed too late is a tragedy: a funeral dirge getting ready to play.  Don’t be too late to formulate your plan for you and your family.  If the lights go out, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the party’s over…and the party may be one that never comes to an end.  Fight that good fight each and every day!  JJ out!

 

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published August 8th, 2017

The Easiest Way to Make Your Own Yeast

The Easiest Way to Make Your Own Yeast

There are many ways to make your own yeast, but arguably the easiest way is to grow a sourdough starter. To do this, all you have to do is capture wild yeast using flour and water.

Though there are other methods that are fairly easy, I recommend this method for a couple of reasons. First, it involves basic ingredients that everyone already has on hand: flour and water. You can start your yeast today and not have to run to the store. Second, wheat for the flour can be grown on the homestead for those looking to be as self-sufficient as possible.

It’s also a proven method that has been used for thousands of years!

Sound good? Here’s what you’ll need to get started.

Supplies

Make Yeast Ingredients

Flour – Any unbleached, wheat type flour will do except self-rising as it has baking soda added to it. You can use all purpose, bread flour, whole wheat, or rye.

Water – It’s important that the water is non-chlorinated as chlorine will kill wild yeast.

A Large Jar or Container – For your jar and stirring device, use non-reactive materials like stainless steel, glass, or plastic.

A Spoon or Stirring Device – Clean cloth or coffee filter and a rubber band or string.

Instructions

 In a large glass container, mix 1/2 cup of water with 3/4 cup of any wheat type flour.

 Stir well, ensuring there’s no dry flour.

 Cover with a breathable but fly-proof lid. A small piece of clean cloth or a coffee filter and a string or rubber band should suffice.

Make Yeast Mix Ingredients

You can leave your container on your counter. It will work better if it’s kept between 70°-85°F. After 12-24 hours you should start to see bubbles.

Feeding Your Starter

You should also begin “feeding” your starter at the 24-hour mark. To feed your starter, take out half of it before adding another 1/2 cup of water and 3/4 cup of flour. Then begin repeating this feeding process every 12 hours. Don’t worry, you don’t have to waste the removed half. It can be used to make bread or given to a friend to start their own. It will store in the fridge for several days.

Make Yeast in Jar

After 5-7 days it should rise until doubled between feedings and have a distinct sourdough smell. At this point, you can start using it to make sourdough. Always feed it before using and leave at least 1 cup of starter to ensure you don’t have to repeat the process! Different recipes will require different amounts of starter.

If at any time you notice an “off” smell, mold, or pinkish color, discard your starter and try again. The starter may darken, but it shouldn’t look moldy and should only smell like sourdough.

Storing Your Starter

After your starter is established, you can also store it in the refrigerator with a tight lid. The cool temperature slows down the yeast, and therefore it won’t need as much food. If stored in the fridge, you should feed it about once a week and let it rest on the counter for about 2 hours each time you feed it.

If you know you cannot take care of your starter for an extended period, you may choose to dry it. First, feed your starter and let it sit until it’s good and bubbly. Then spread it in a thin layer on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet(s) or dehydrator rack(s). Then let it dry at room temperature. Once it’s completely dry and brittle, you can break it up and store it in an airtight container. The drying process can take up to five days.

To rehydrate your starter and begin using it again, you can soak each 1/3 cup of dried sourdough pieces with 1/4 cup of water until the pieces are fully dissolved. This may take several hours with occasional stirring. When it’s all dissolved, begin feeding it every 12 hours without discarding any until your starter has begun to bubble and rise again. Then you can resume normal feeding and usage.

This no-nonsense method of capturing wild yeast can provide you with delicious bread and increased self-sufficiency. Keep a sourdough starter in your kitchen for their flavor, practicality, and rich heritage.

A Prepper’s Friend: Ways to Use Plastic Buckets

Buckets: Cheap and Sturdy Storage

 

Most modern packaging is made of cardboard or lightweight plastics that work well for reducing shipping costs, but won’t hold up for long term storage. Specialized storage vessels that are sturdy enough to protect their contents against moisture, oxidation, or animals are harder to find, but you may already have one type of versatile storage container in your garage or basement. Plastic buckets for Preppers is a great find!

Plastic buckets arrive in our homes holding paint, cleaning solutions, and food, but with a little knowledge and planning, they can be used for so much more than just storing their original contents. A quality plastic bucket is impact-resistant, temperature resistant, and with the right lid, can create an airtight seal. If you want to find quality buckets without having to clean the original contents out of them.

Read more to find the perfect buckets for your needs and learn four unexpected ways you can use plastic buckets to protect your belongings and prepare for emergencies.

Identify food-safe buckets

 

If you’re planning a bucket storage project that doesn’t involve food or potable water, any sturdy plastic bucket will work. It’s helpful to know, however, when your bucket is food-grade. Buckets that are not food-safe can leach chemicals into the items they store, so should only be used for non-edible items.

Food-grade plastic can be identified by the recycling number on the bottom. Any item labeled with a 1, 2, 4 or 5 is technically food-grade, but you also need to check to see if they are “food-safe”. Food-grade plastics are made of high-density polyethylene that is very stable and won’t degrade in sunlight or extreme temperatures, but they may have been treated with a dye that compromises the bucket and could leach into your stored food or water. Or, it may have been originally used for materials like cleaning liquid that compromise food safety.

In addition to the numbers, look for the label “food-safe” or an image of a fork and cup, microwave lines, or a freezer-safe snowflake. Any one or combination of those indicators mean a bucket should be safe to store edible materials.

4 Versatile Ways to Use Plastic Buckets

 

1. Emergency Water Filter
In an emergency situation, access to clean water can be the difference between life and death. With four 5-gallon food-safe buckets and some easy to obtain supplies, you can build a large water filter to provide clean drinking water for your family without electricity or chemicals.

For this project, each bucket works as a filter chamber, with each chamber trapping smaller sets of impurities as gravity pulls water into the bottom bucket. The bottom bucket will catch and store
water that is safe to drink even when you don’t have access to power to boil water.

To build the filter system, drill 1″ holes in the bottom of three buckets, and 2″ holes through the lids. Cover the holes with a few layers of window screening and glue it in place with a strong epoxy, then glue a ceramic wall tile over the screening, shiny side up.

Prepare each bucket with a different grade of filter material: the top is gravel, the middle is sand, and the bottom or last filter bucket is filled with activated charcoal. Stack your buckets in a tower with the last empty bucket on the bottom to catch the clean water. When you pour water in the top, it will slowly filter through the increasingly smaller gradients, getting progressively cleaner. The first few rounds may come out cloudy as some loose dirt from your gravel drains away. Soon enough, the water will appear in the bottom bucket clean enough to drink.

2. Bucket Garden
Many people use pots to grow plants, but buckets take container planting to a new level. Bucket gardens allow you to grow food even if you don’t have a large yard, and unlike pots, big buckets are ideal for vegetables with large root systems. Keeping plants isolated in buckets even decreases pest problems and lets you control crop watering more precisely to maximize your garden’s yield. Using buckets to grow vegetables gives you more options to save money on food, and is a great way to prepare for a food shortage. Bucket planting means your garden is portable, too! You can bring plants in during harmful storms or shift them to just the right sunny spot.

Start your bucket garden with 5-gallon food-grade buckets. You don’t want any nasty chemicals leeching out of the plastic into the veggies you will eventually eat. Make small drainage holes in the bottom using a drill or hammer and nail. Layer the bottom with small rocks or gravel to help prevent root-rot and top off with organic planting soil mixed with homemade compost. Water whenever the soil feels dry or your plants look droopy.

Some plants grow better in buckets than others. Try these bucket-loving plants for a vibrant portable garden:

  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Small melons
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Peppers
  • Bush beans

3. Preserve sensitive materials
Storing delicate items in plastic buckets is ideal because food-grade plastics are designed to protect against the same conditions that damage paper. If you use a well-fitted lid to create an airtight seal and include oxygen absorber packets in your bucket, you can cheaply and effectively keep light, moisture and oxygen from damaging items like photos, electronics, newspapers and even receipts!

Prepare your items for storage by cleaning them. Wipe electronics with a microfiber cloth, and try to handle photos with gloves or tweezers. Many photo albums or storage sleeves are made of plastic that degrades in heat or with age, releasing harmful chemicals that can damage your items. Take any paper or photographs out of storage cases and remove any ordinary plastic, tape, paper clips or cardboard covering or frames, unless are labeled “acid-free”.

Before you seal your items into the storage bucket, you need to include a desiccant to maintain a stable environment inside the seal by absorbing moisture. You can buy desiccants online or collect them from food and goods like medicine or leather shoes. These tiny packets absorb moisture that normally damages paper or electronics over time. The amount of moisture in the container will determine the amount of desiccants or silica gel packs you need, so look at the size of your bucket and how much empty space you’ll leave inside.

4. Bucket shower or sprinkler
Buckets are great at holding water. Exploit this natural strength and upgrade your bucket into a water dispenser for places where you can’t use plumbing. Modify any clean 5-gallon bucket by drilling a 2” hole on the side, near the bottom. Use a hose bib attachment that screws through the hole to create a multi-purpose spigot on your bucket.

Need to bathe outside or without power? Just attach a standard shower head to the hose bib. Hang the bucket from the ceiling or a high tree branch using a rope and two pulleys to offset the weight of the water. Simply fill your bucket with a mix of cold and boiling water, then hoist the bucket and turn on the spigot for a warm, gravity-powered shower. You can also create a sprinkler system. Instead of a shower head, attach a hose. When your bucket is raised and the spigot is open, gravity will pull water from the bucket and allow you to use the hose.

prepperwebsite.com

DIY Survival Gear Class with Jim Cobb

Come out to our store and see all the exciting things Author Jim Cobb will be showing all of us. It is going to so much fun and very educational.

Saturday August 5th 2017. 10am -12pm

Store location: 940 S Pine St, Burlington, WI 53105

You can sign up online, email, phone, or stop in.

In DIY Survival Gear, Jim will show you how to craft your own gear using common household materials and even items that we might otherwise just throw away. Some of these will include:

  • Fire Starters
  • Seed Tape
  • Rocket Stove
  • Various uses for Altoids tins
  • Buddy Burner
  • And More!

Cost $10.00 includes gift.

website: www.shtfandgo.com

email: shtfandgo@gmail.com

15 Desert Survival Tips That Could Save Your Life

15 Desert Survival Tips That Could Save Your Life

15 Desert Survival Tips That Could Save Your Life

As someone who grew up in Arizona, I can assure you that survival in the desert is a very different beast. The dry air sucks the moisture out of you so quickly, it can be difficult to stay hydrated even while working in your own backyard. Without water, you won’t survive in the desert for nearly as long as you would in a humid climate.

In a place where water is scarce and even the plants and animals struggle to stay alive, getting by without modern conveniences can be a real challenge. Whether you find yourself lost in a desert or living in a desert when disaster strikes, survival is going to require some hard work and a lot of ingenuity.

To help, here are 15 desert survival tips that could save your life.

1. Don’t Eat Too Much

The more food you eat, the more water you will require to survive. If water is scarce (as it most likely will be), you’ll want to only eat as much as you need to keep your energy up. Any more than that and you risk using too much of your precious water supply. In fact, if you have little to no water available and are just holding out for rescue then it is better if you do not eat at all.

2. Prepare for the Cold

If you’ve spend any time in the desert, you know the nights are every bit as cold as the days are hot. At first, this can be a welcome relief, but as the night wears on you may find yourself freezing cold. It’s important, therefore, to prepare for both the cold and the heat by having clothes that work for both extremes as well as a good shelter and the ability to build a fire. Another option is to…

3. Move at Night

It’s better to rest during the day and move at night. Not only does moving during the heat of the day increase your chances of becoming overheated, it also causes you to sweat, hastening dehydration. Try to find a shady area and sleep during the day so that you will be rested and ready to travel when night falls.

4. Wear Sunglasses

The desert sun reflecting off the sand can be extremely hard on your eyes. Not only will it spoil your night vision for hours into the night, it can also cause severe headaches and blurry vision. To avoid this, you will want to wear sunglasses if you have them. If you don’t, do your best to make a sun shield using your hat, cardboard, or whatever else you have available.

5. Keep Your Clothes on

It may be tempting to start shedding your clothes when the temperature climbs, but it’s better if you don’t. Exposing your bare skin to the sun hastens dehydration and puts you at risk of severe sunburns.

6. Cover Your Head

This might seem counterintuitive as most people cover their head to keep it warm, but if your head and it’s possibly dark hair is exposed to the sun all day, it is going to absorb a lot of heat and make it difficult for your body to stay cool. Ideally, you’ll want to cover your head with a light-colored hat or shirt. Speaking of which…

7. Wear Light Colors

Light colors reflect sunlight while dark colors absorb it. When keeping cool is a priority, the former is far more desirable than the latter.

8. Cover Your Mouth

The body loses a lot of moisture when you exhale, especially through the mouth. Try to breathe through your nose, or better yet, cover your mouth with a bandana or another article of clothing.

9. Watch for Floods

Floods may seem like the last thing you have to worry about in a desert, and 99% of the time this is true. However, when it does rain in the desert it rains hard, and flash floods are the norm. If you see thunderheads approaching, avoid dry washes (arroyos).

10. Wear Chapstick

Time spent in the desert without chapstick is certainly not going to be enjoyable. If you have chapstick available, you will definitely want to apply it frequently. If you do not have chapstick available, avoid licking your lips. The temporary relief will not be worth the long-term misery.

11. Find Water

Being stuck in the desert without an ample water supply is an incredibly dangerous situation. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can collect water in the desert. If it’s summertime, keep your eyes peeled for cactus fruit. Eating cactus fruits will help keep you hydrated, however, you’ll want to be very careful because too much of it could make you sick, dehydrating you even faster. So even if you find some cactus fruit, keep searching for water. Some ways to find water sources in the desert include:

1. Following animals to a water source. Watch for instances where multiple trails seem to converge in the same direction, especially downhill. Also, if you see lots of bees, mosquitoes, and other flying insects, there may be water nearby.

2. Search the shady side of canyons. If you live in the Northern hemisphere, search the Northern side of canyons for areas that are shaded through most of the day. (If you’re in the Southern hemisphere, search the Southern side.) You’re far more likely to find standing water here.

3. Look just beneath the surface of dried up creek beds. Obviously, this has a much better chance of working if it has rained recently (perhaps during Monsoon season). Find the lowest point of the creek bed where plants are growing, and dig. If you don’t find water within a foot of the surface, move on.

Or you could…

12. Build a Water Still

If you are unable to find a sufficient water source, you can collect some water by building a water still. To build a water still, you will want to dig a hole, fill it with vegetation, place a container in the middle of the hole, and cover the hole with plastic sheeting. Place rocks around the perimeter of the sheeting to hold it in place and put one small rock in the center of the sheeting directly above the container. As water evaporates from the vegetation, it will condense on the plastic sheeting and drip down into your container.

However, a single solar still will only get you a little bit of water, so I would only do this if you’re staying put and waiting for rescue. If you’re on the move, there are much better ways to gather water (see the previous tip). You should also only do this during twilight or nighttime, as you might lose more water through sweat while digging than you would collect from the still.

13. Don’t Sit Down

Lying down on the rocks or in the sand may seem like an intuitive way to conserve energy. However, the rocks and the sands in the desert are often upwards of 30 degrees warmer than the air, causing you to overheat much faster than you would if you were standing. In addition to this, poisonous snakes and scorpions can hide underneath rocks and beneath the sand. If you do need to stop for a rest, try to find a shaded area and carefully make sure no dangerous critters are already using it.

14. Travel in One Direction

Common wilderness survival advice is to go downhill until you find a creek or river, and then follow that until you find a road where you can flag down someone for help. But what if you’re in a large flat desert and there is no up, down, or creek (not even a dried up one)?

In that case, your best bet is to find North and then choose whichever direction is most likely to lead to civilization and stick with that direction. Avoid straying from that one direction or you’ll likely end up going in circles. Take breaks and find North again to make sure you’re still heading in the right direction. If you are able to survive long enough, you are bound to eventually find a road, a town, or some other means of rescue.

If you’re in an area with lots of hills and valleys, on the other hand, you’re better off staying put and waiting for rescue. The last thing you want to do is slip and break your leg.

15. Drink the Dew

Mountain Dew isn’t a good drink to survive in the desert, but morning dew is. In the early morning hours before the sun has risen, you should be able to collect dew that has gathered on nearby plants. Use a cloth or your shirt to soak up dew from plants, then squeeze it into your mouth or a container.

Drinking dew won’t provide much water, and it will only be available in the early morning hours before the blazing sun evaporates it, but in a situation where every drop counts, drinking the morning dew could be the difference between survival and dehydration.

Hopefully, you won’t ever find yourself stranded in the middle of the desert, but in case you do, these desert survival tips will mean the difference between life and death.

7 Reasons to Stock Up On Canned Beans

7 Reasons to Stock Up On Canned Beans

stock up on canned beans

Beans, bullets, and band-aids. A classic combination for survival. The beans most people store are dried beans, usually stored in big buckets. I have a few of those buckets myself, but over the years, I have also stocked up on plenty of canned beans. I use them in my chili to make the recipe come together faster, but it’s a smart idea to stock up on canned beans.

  1. Long shelf life — Canned beans have a long shelf-life and can be stored at room temperature. I’ve had canned beans on the shelf for at least 5 years, and they were plenty edible when it came time to use them. You want to make sure that all your stored food is in the coolest part of the house, if you want to maximize the shelf life. Old beans won’t suddenly become poisonous, but they will lose their color, nutrients, flavor, and texture. Still edible, just not as appetizing.
  2. High nutrition level — Beans provide plenty of complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein, potassium, and various trace nutrients, such as magnesium. During the canning process, a small amount of nutrients may be lost due to the added heat, but overall canned beans remain a nutritious food for storage. Add a tablespoon or two of oil and a bean meal will stick to your ribs for several hours.
  3. Pre-cooked — This is a biggie, to me. In a crisis, I may not have time to cook a meal or even heat up water for a Mountain House dinner, but for sure, I’ll be able to open a can of beans. They’re already cooked, so I don’t have to use up my fuel and won’t have to soak them overnight and then cook them for a several hours as I do with dried beans.
  4. Eat cold or hot — I’d rather eat canned beans heated up with some chopped onion and sliced jalapeno, but if I had to, cold canned beans aren’t a bad way to get a good dose of nutrition. It would also be a way to eat a quick meal without giving away your location due to the scent of food cooking.
  5. Variety — I’ve stocked up on canned beans of almost every color and size: lima, navy, pinto, black, garbanzo, kidney, red, and if I ever see any different varieties on the grocery store shelf, I’ll buy those, too! Not all beans contain the exact same nutrients and calorie amounts, so I figure that with a variety, I’ll have all our nutritional bases covered.
  6. Inexpensive — Usually I wait until I see beans on sale, but I also look for coupons to make them even cheaper. Canning dried beans is another very inexpensive way to get canned, cooked beans, and if you have beans you’ve been storing for 5 years or so, start canning them because sometimes dried beans reach a point at which they will never fully soften when cooked — no matter how long you cook or what kind of trick you use to get them to soften up. If you think that in an emergency, one can of beans would be a “meal”, then you really are getting a bargain when you stock up. I’ve also noticed that bean-based meals tend to be very economical — Cajun beans and rice, for example, or a bean burrito.
  7. Versatile — We put canned beans in my chili (I usually use 2 or 3 different kinds of beans at a time), add them cold to taco salad, and years ago, my wife even made some cookies that called for mashed pinto beans. We use garbanzos in stew and once my son learned how to make hummus, we’ve been going through a lot of cans of those beans.

A final reminder to keep your food storage in a dark, dry, and cool location. Fortunately, with canned beans, you don’t have to worry about insects chewing their way through the metal — or, at least I’ve never seen that happen. But you do need to worry about rust if you live where it’s humid.

Basic Wilderness Navigation Skills for City Folk

If you live in an apartment in the city you’ll have limited supplies and resources will be scarce in the event of a natural disaster or civil unrest. You can do your best efforts in prepping but if you live in an apartment you’ve only got so much space that you can use. In the event that you run out of resources or things just get too dangerous in the city, you’ll most likely want to bug out. Most of you will have a bug out location and chances are that you will be getting to that bug out location, at least part of the way, on foot. If that’s the case, you’ll need some basic wilderness navigation skills because even if you’ve trekked to your bug out location many times, in the heat of the moment when you’re stressed and fatigued or it’s a bit dark or the weather is bad or for whatever reason you have to take a different route, it’s very easy to get lost so I’ve put together these basic guidelines which you can master very quickly.

It’s important to note that in the woods, anybody can get lost, even the most experienced survivalist. In such situations where you can’t be helped by anybody, you will have to find your own way. I know many stories of people doing something like picking berries and getting lost because they see a patch of berries just a bit further that they want to pick, and then there’s another batch just a little further and then all of a sudden they’re turned around and lost. Then panic can set in which can even make people with good navigation skills make silly navigational errors.

The first thing you need to know is which direction you have to go in. Sounds simple but it’s not as simple as it sounds when you’re in a forest and there’s no land marks that you can see. That’s why you have to know your bearings. Secondly, you have to ensure that you remain on the right path.

GETTING YOUR BEARINGS

Knowing your bearings (North, South, East, and West) is absolutely vital to wilderness navigation. Using a compass, you can determine your bearings easily however what if you lose your compass or you accidentally break it? In most cases when in the wilderness, you will have some clues about your current location, e.g. you might know the position of the creek or coast which might either be to the east or west. Therefore, once you determine the location of the creek or coast you can get back home. Ultimately, knowing the direction of north, east, south and west is important to survival in a situation like this.

So how do you get your bearings if you don’t have a compass?

Stick in the Ground: Get a straight stick thick enough to cast a visible shadow. Drive it into the ground and note where the shadow ends on the ground. Then, after about 15-20 minutes, mark another sport at exactly where the shadow finishes. With two points on the ground, connect them by drawing a line between them. The first point represents the west direction and the second point indicates east.

 

Branches of a tree: You can get your way around in the woods by reading trees. A tree with its branches thicker on one side simply shows that they got more sunlight. The other side of the tree with thinner and more vertical branches is because it is not facing the sun, so they have to grow tall to get enough sun light. Don’t just jump to conclusions, make sure you use several trees for confirmation.

Moss: Moss generally grows on tree sides not facing the sun or on rocks not facing the sun so you know that the sun is in the south if you live in the northern hemisphere so that way you can get some basic bearings. To reduce error and increase accuracy, you don’t rely on just one tree or rock, take an average of several.
Stars: Knowing how to find the North Star is one of the basic skills for survival.
Use a watch: On an analog watch, point the hour hand towards the sun. Note this as your first reference point. The 12 hour point on the watch is your second reference. From the middle of the two reference points, draw a straight line across the watch face, the line drawn represents your north-south line.

HOW TO STAY ON COURSE

It might sound easy, but staying on course is a big problem. Many people who get lost go round and round in circles. It sounds ridiculous that someone will continue to go around in a big circle for days but it does happen and the reason it’s so easy to get off course is because there can be obstructions in your way or the woods might just be too dense to get around. If you’re in an open, flat field it’s hard to get lost if you have a compass but if you’re in thick forest and come across an impassable cliff and have to go around it’s very easy to get lost.

Use a big stick: It’s not the most sophisticated method on the planet but it actually works very well. You can apply any of the methods above to get your bearings. Next, with a very long stick, place it in the right direction in the dense area you can’t physically pass. Locate the end of the big stick by walking around the dense area, then follow the direction the stick is pointing. The Scandinavians have been using this technique since the Viking age.

Boxing: When obstructed by an obstacle e.g. a mountain or a dense forest etc. and you are in possession of a compass, you can get around it using the boxing method.

Below are steps to follow.

Step 1: With your compass, turn 90 degrees to the right, then in that direction walk a suitable distance so that you get around the obstruction. Note the number of steps you are taking.

Step 2: Still with the compass in your hand after going far enough around the obstacle, turn left 90 degrees. Then walk far enough to clear the obstacle.

Step 3: Again holding your compass, turn 90 degree left and then walk in that direction a the same amount of distance you took in step one.

Step 4: finally you are at the exact location you intend to be, turn 90 degrees right and walk in that direction. That’s the right direction you needed to go and you’ve safely got around the obstruction.

Aiming off: Are you trying to get to a location that is on a creek or a road? Don’t set off going directly to the location, aim off in one direction. It’s a good idea to aim off because there is a possibility that you won’t exactly get to your intended location and once you reach the road or creek, then the question will be, which way should I go, left or right up the creek or road. If you aim off to the left of your desired location which is on the road or creek, once you reach the road or creek, you know that you have to go right to reach your desired location. Using this method, you might add a bit more distance to your journey, but you will definitely reach your destination.

How to Keep the Hot Sun from Harming Your Plants

How to Keep the Hot Sun from Harming Your Plants

Sometimes you need to find a balance between sun and shade, depending on the conditions in your backyard, as well as the crops that you are growing. However, even if you have plants that require full sun, they may be getting too much light, particularly in the summer months when the weather is very hot. This harmful light can bleach out leaves, and disrupt the growing process, even in plants that supposedly thrive in very hot weather. Thankfully, there are some things that you can do to prevent this from occurring.

1) Know what to look for.

White leaves that look like all of the color has been bleached out of them is the most obvious sign that your plants are being harmed. By the time that you see this, it may be too late. The sun can harm the inner structures of the leaves in ways that are undetectable to the naked eye. You may end up with stunted growth, fewer vegetables than normal, or even plants that do not grow at all. Unfortunately, there is no true way of knowing that your crops have been harmed until the bleached or discolored leaves pop up. Once they do, be sure to spring into action.

2) Cover your plants with a sunshade or other material.

There are special sunshades that you can purchase to cover your plants, and as long as they are made of organic materials, they will work nicely. You do need to steer clear of plastic and other man-made materials, as they can actually keep the heat in, causing additional damage to your plants. (This is why plastic makes a good winter cover.) If you don’t feel like purchasing a sunshade, you can use burlap or bolts of cotton that can be loosely wrapped around each plant. These will allow air in, while keeping most of the heat out. Just be sure to remove them as soon as the weather cools down.

3) Keep the soil moist.

Water is incredibly important, even more so when the weather is hot. Check your soil daily to make sure that your plants have enough moisture. If it gets too dry, the damage caused by the sun’s heat will get even worse. You also need to be careful about the time of day that you water them. If water ends up on the leaves during the hottest part of the day (usually mid-afternoon) their “sunburns” will get even worse. This is why it is recommended that you water your plants either in the early morning hours, or in the evening once the sun has begun to set.

4) Use mulch.

Place mulch around the base of your plants. This will protect the root systems and keep moisture in. The mulch will also absorb some of the heat from the sun, preventing it from harming the stems and roots. Without this mulch, the soil will get very warm and the roots might begin to “cook,” further harming the plant from the inside out. You don’t want to place too much mulch on the ground however, a layer that is around two inches thick will work nicely.

Your Food Storage Might Not Last 25 Years!

Your Food Storage Might Not Last 25 Years! Extending Food Storage Life in Hot Climates!

Everyone who buys emergency food would like to think that it would last “up to 25 years,” as it says on the side of the can. As we all know, “up to” can technically mean anytime from the moment the product is bought to, well, 25 years.

In the last few years, a number of articles have been published that have questioned the probability that food would actually stay viable and nutritious for 25 years, or 30, as some claim. Recently we’ve finally seen some packaging labels change from “up to 25 years” to “up to 25 years if stored between 50 and 70 degrees” or “if stored under ideal conditions,” whatever that means. The addition of such a phrase injects a higher degree of honesty into the food-storage picture.

Emergency Essentials used to include in its sales catalog a helpful chart that shows how long stored food would last at different temperatures. The chart showed that if food is stored in the summer in a garage in a place like Phoenix where I live, I should just walk over to the trash bin, dump the food, and wheel the bin out to the sidewalk on trash pick-up day. At such high temperatures, the shelf life of stored food is months, not years.

When stored food is kept at high temperatures, the food is damaged. Proteins break down, and some vitamins are destroyed. Color, flavor, and odor of some foods may also be affected. Therefore, food should NEVER be stored in a garage or attic in hot weather.

So, where should we keep food in hot climates? If no underground bunker is available, which is the case for most of us, inside the house is the only answer. But, are there places in the house that are better than others? If I store my food in a closet, is it safe? Is there anything I can do to ensure that the food is kept in the coolest conditions possible?

Summer electric bills in Phoenix and other places like Las Vegas, Bakersfield, El Paso, and Tucson can be nauseating. Setting the thermostat is a matter of personal choice. If you can afford to run your air conditioning at 68 degrees, that would really help to extend the life of stored food. If you can’t afford that and don’t want to replace your AC compressor every few years, even a few degrees below the usual setting to which you’ve been accustomed would be helpful. It’s a personal decision. Do I protect my stored food, worth perhaps thousands of dollars, and thereby extending its viability, or do I lower my electric bills and extend the life of the compressor? It’s a tough choice, either of which will cost money.

IDEAS TO LOWER FOOD STORAGE AREA TEMPS

There are a couple of things that will help to lower the temperature of food-storage areas by a few to several degrees. First, in the summertime, keep the closet doors open a few inches where food is stored. That will allow the refrigerated air to reach the interior of the closets. Keeping the doors closed, while it looks neater, blocks off a closet from the cooler air. Conversely, in the wintertime, keep the closet doors closed to block the heated air from reaching the interior of the closet. I was quite surprised to open one of my food storage closets last winter to find how much cooler it was inside. Every few degrees make a difference.

Second, be mindful of how high up in closets or on shelving units you place stored food. Everyone who was paying attention in 5th grade Science class knows that heat rises. Climb up on a tall ladder in the summer inside your house, stick your arm up as high as you can, and see how hot it is up there. I was painting my family room one summer and climbed the ladder to paint the tallest wall in my house, which has a 12-foot vaulted ceiling. It was unpleasantly and surprisingly hot up there. Store food in the lowest parts of your house. The floors of closets and under beds are cooler places than the top shelves of closets or shelving units. Put the toilet paper and extra camping equipment on the top shelves, and bring the food down. Toilet paper doesn’t mind being warm; dehydrated chicken does. Better yet, put the toilet paper in the garage, and save your indoor shelf space for food.

Adjusting the temperature just a few degrees, whether by lowering the thermostat, opening or closing closet doors, or preferential shelf placement, will undoubtedly help to prolong the life of your expensive stored food. Then, maybe we’ll be closer to that 25-year-shelf-life ideal.

 

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Something To Think About on this Independence Day.

There are but a few times a year that family and friends get together to both celebrate life and the great founding of our Nation. July 4th, our day of Independence, represents a profound set of actions, planning, and courage.

The founding fathers risked everything by declaring independence from England’s control.  One of my favorite quotes from one of Benjamin Franklin’s letters, during the Continental Congress. “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

From the courage the founders derived such an eloquently written and beautiful document that is universal in nature to all that are governed by its organization.  In these trying times, political discourse, the inability of our current leaders to lead, plan, organize, and commit to the common good for all americans, we are failing.

Take some time to reflect on where we came from to get to this point.  Educate yourself on what the founders originally believed, and how we should treat one another.  We are all Americans.  We all have dreams to be better and provide for our families.

 

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

 

Have a happy Independence Day.

From the SHTFandGO Team.

10 Survival Tricks You Did Not Think Of

10 Survival Tricks You Did Not Think Of

10 Survival Tricks You Did Not Think Of

#1. Hide valuables

You may want to bury valuables somewhere on your property. You obviously want to remember exactly where the spot is but of course you do not want to write it down or leave any marks or clues. You can create a reminder so that only you and your companions know the exact location easily. Take a photo of your companions standing on the spot where you’re supposed to dig. Make copies of the photo and have everyone keep it in their wallets and bug out bags. No one will ever know or be able to guess the true purpose of those photos. Unless they just read this article.

#2. Get Fit

Bad situations always bring out the worst in people. You will probably need to fight one or more attackers one on one eventually. To save your life you must be able to outperform others. You never know if you may need to carry an injured loved one to safety. All of these tasks will require strength, flexibility, speed, and stamina. It’s very easy to improve all of them. The hardest part is simply getting started. I am used to walking far distances, thanks Army, but I always try to find excuses to disappear and spend an hour or two a day in the gym. Jogging, hiking, and going to the gym will all improve your physical fitness. I suggest, if starting, that you focus on body-weight exercises such as sit-ups, push-ups, and pull-ups.

#3. Move Out Of The City

What always happens during riots is that the cities downtown area turns into a war zone. That’s why it’s the last place you want to live. You won’t be able to get in and you won’t be able to get out meaning you might get stuck inside for days, maybe even weeks. Even worse, you could get attacked and injured trying to get home.

You can find cheaper housing in the suburbs. You definitely have to be careful about the location so you can avoid high-crime neighborhoods. You want to be safe before and after a riot, not only during, when rioters who also live in the suburbs decide to take justice into their own hands. You will also want to plan a quick way out of the city if you need to go.

#4. Smart Way To Rotate Your Food Stockpile

If you stockpile some of your food under your bed, there’s an easy little trick to keep it rotating. Always deposit cans on one side of the bed and remove them from the other side. This process will push older cans through and cause you to take the oldest can when you want to use one. This way your food will most likely never go bad and end up sitting in the same spot for years. You can rearrange your shelves for this process as well.

#5. Clean Your Teeth With Baking Soda

After a disaster maintaining good personal hygiene is going to be tough. This tip is for the most basic: dental hygiene. Keeping your teeth healthy is fortunately going to be easy. The simple solution is baking soda and water. Just mix half a teaspoon of baking soda with half a teaspoon of water until they start to form a paste. That’s literally all you have to do. Now dip your toothbrush inside and get to work!

#6. Trees/Plants

Most vegetation can be useful in some way, whether it is edible or you can make something from it. Just be careful and start learning about your local plant life to be able to recognize what is safe and what is poisonous.

White birch is one example of a useful tree:

  • Drinkable sap that does not require purification
  • Bark is great at starting fires
  • Tar can be extracted from the bark which makes a excellent adhesive

American Basswood:

  • Fibers can be used to make very strong rope
  • Edible leaves and inner bark

#7. Escaping

You never know what can happen so you should learn and teach those around you some basic military SERE skills. SERE stands for survival, evasion, resistance, escape. If you are escaping or evading remember that it is best to rest and hide during the day to avoid detection and to stay out the heat. You need to save your energy! So observe, eat, hydrate, and plan your next move during the day and start moving at sunset. You can learn more by reading the Army Ranger Handbook.

#8. Security

Western nations following a collapse will be looking at a life a lot like current day third world countries. Several of these countries are crawling with armed gangs, militants, and citizens fed up with crime. Some start forming community watch groups and security forces in an effort to fight back and protect their communities and children. Purchase security items that will help protect you and your companions. Bulletproof vests are currently legal to purchase and will enhance your ability to survive if there is a gun fight. Razor wire can be very useful for protecting your bunker or compound from threats. You can’t set it up now because if someone gets hurt you will be responsible. Just have it ready for whenever SHTF.

Purchase the equipment you need to be able to refill your ammo. Practice and teach everyone around you how to be proficient at this. Eventually when everyone runs out of bullets you will still have the upper hand. Or you can trade for other supplies you may need. So, make sure to stockpile weapons, ammo, and the necessary to reload bullets. It probably will save your life.

#9. Opsec

In the military, we are regularly briefed about anything and everything, whether it is stupid or of utmost importance. Well one topic that always stuck with me is Opsec, it stands for operations security. You can look up the long definition but I will give you the basic meaning. Don’t say where, who, when, or why. Do not tell anyone anything that they do not need to know including friends or family members. You never know who will let something slip that could compromise your plans and security.

#10. Plan/Backup Plan

This maybe last on my list but it might just be the most important advice I can give you. Do all of you reading this have a plan to reach your family or companions in case disaster strikes? What if you’re at work? When SHTF it won’t wait for you; make sure everyone knows where to meet, how to get in contact, and the approximate time it will take. Don’t store all of your supplies in one location, even if you have a super secure bunker. What happens if someone finds it and you need to escape? All the years of prepping fall into someone else’s hands and you are left with nothing. You never know what might happen so come up with a backup plan to your plan. And then another backup plan to your backup plan.

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4 Keys To Keep A Newly Planted Garden Growing Strong And Healthy

newly planted garden
Newly planted tomatoes off to a good start

The first few weeks after planting is a critical time for vegetable plants. It is when tender seedlings and transplants are at their most vulnerable stage.

Up to this point, most vegetable plants have spent the majority of their life inside. They were watered regularly, and kept sheltered from wild temperature swings and the burning hot sun. And now, they have been planted outside to deal with the harsh realities of Mother Nature. Talk about tough love!

But with a few simple things in mind, you can get your newly planted garden off to a great start. And that of course, means a great harvest later!

Here’s a look at 4 of our biggest and best tips to get your garden growing into a lush, vegetable producing machine.

4 Tips To Keep A Newly Planted Garden Growing Strong

#1 Keep Foot Traffic Away From Root Zones

Whether you have a traditional garden, raised rows, or raised beds, keeping foot traffic away from your plant’s root zones is critical to their long-term success.

In the first few weeks of a newly planted garden, vegetable plants are desperately trying to establish a healthy root system underground.

newly planted garden
Mulching around each plant with compost is a great way to feed them too!

Those roots are crucial in soaking up much-needed water and nutrients all summer long. They also hold the plants strong against wind, rain, and the heavy load of veggies in mid-summer.

If the area 12″ around each plant is left undisturbed, it allows roots to more easily grow and expand. Compacted soil from heavy foot traffic in this zone can leave roots shallow and small. Be careful as you walk through the garden to stay in the walkways, and off of the root zones.

It’s one reason raised rows, raised beds and container gardens are so effective. By nature, they are designed to keep the root zones out of harms way.

#2 Mulch Those Plants!

More than anything else, be sure to apply a healthy dose of mulch around the base of each plant!

Mulching helps retain valuable moisture in the soil. That keeps young plants from drying out too quickly, and you from having to water too much. Mulch also aids in keeping the soil temperature regulated from the burning hot sun and cooler nights. Consistent soil temperature goes a long way in keeping plants growing strong.

Last but certainly not least, mulching plants helps keep weeds out. Those weeds steal valuable nutrients from the soil needed by young plants. So keeping them out is more than just keeping the garden looking pretty.

What are the best garden mulches?  Grass clippings, finished compost, straw and shredded leaves all work wonders.

#3 Watering Smart

When and how much to water a newly planted garden can be a tough chore to size up.

Too little water and plants shrivel up.  Too much water can keep them from developing a deep root structure needed to grow strong.

A good rule of thumb is that plants need about an inch, to an inch and a half of water per week. That equates to about 1/4 of a gallon of water to each plant’s root zone 3 times a week. If it’s not falling from the sky, then you need to supplement.It is best not to water every day unless you are having extremely hot weather. If you water every day, the plants will never send roots deeper. That results in less hardy and underdeveloped roots and plants.

#4 Boost With A Little Natural Fertilizer

The best time to fertilize a vegetable garden is when it first starts growing. A little boost of all-natural nutrients when plants are young can help them power up for the season.

We like to apply a little compost or worm casting tea to each plant about every 14 days, for the first 45 days after planing. After that, it’s best to stop fertilizing. Fertilizing too late in the season, or applying too much will keep plants growing leaf and root structure, and not vegetables.

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The Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

The Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar: skin tonic, digestive aid, cancer fighter, and now hangover cure? Did that last one get your attention? As a kid, I only knew apple cider vinegar was used as a cleaning agent by the neighbor kid’s hippie mom. But oh, there’s more. Much more. Research is now revealing that apple cider vinegar has dozens of uses, not only around the home but also in our bodies!

Apple cider vinegar is a great nontoxic cleaner. Let’s start there. Also known as ACV, apple cider vinegar can be used to clean counters and floors, but it is not just a surface cleaner. It is fantastic as a fabric softener, laundry whitener, and toilet bowl cleaner. Beyond cleaning, it has more uses around the home. It will keep ants away and can be used as a weed killer, jewelry cleaner, or homemade dog shampoo! I guarantee there are uses in there you have never thought of.

Apple Cider Vinegar Uses - The Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar, Plus a Recipe for Switchel

The cleaning functions of ACV are impressive. But the most powerful benefits of ACV have to do with improving and maintaining our health. Apple cider vinegar has a wealth of enzymes and helpful bacteria that can be put to multiple uses inside our bodies. But you need to be aware of a very important ACV fact. There are two types of apple cider vinegar you can buy. You might be tempted by the one that looks clear and pristine. This lovely looking refined ACV is great for cleaning, but not for health applications. The apple cider vinegar that is most beneficial to our insides is the raw, unfiltered version. This opaque version undergoes a double fermentation process that results in the production of boatloads of enzymes. So why is this fermented, unfiltered one better than the clearer filtered versions?

It is all about the mother. The “mother” is the beneficial complex structure of acids that makes the vinegar appear cloudy. Once removed, the vinegar is still a tremendous cleaning agent, but it unfortunately loses many of the highly coveted health benefits during the processing to make it clear.

What is in apple cider vinegar in addition to all those enzymes? Inside that murky maple-colored liquid are iron, potassium, magnesium, malic acid, acetic acid, calcium, pectin, and ash. All of these minerals and nutrients combine to make a deeply potent healing agent. But there are mixed reviews on the content of all these nutrients in ACV. More recent studies suggest that powerful phytonutrients – powerful plant qualities that scientists are only beginning to comprehend – may be responsible for the powerful effects of ACV. Whatever the secret ingredient, raw, unfiltered, mother-filled ACV is worth its weight in gold.

What are all the health benefits of apple cider vinegar? There are dozens and dozens in the literature, but some are more convincing as they are backed by peer-reviewed scientific research.

One of the most convincing studies involving apple cider vinegar has to do with blood sugar regulation. The research revealed that taking 1 to 2 tablespoons of ACV before bed with a small amount of fat resulted in lower morning fasting blood sugar measurements. These studies also showed that those who participated also experienced a weight loss of several pounds over the four-week study. That was a nice bonus!

Another surprising health benefit of ACV is its ability to boost immune function. Researchers have found that the antioxidants found in ACV can reduce damage done by free radicals. Apple cider vinegar is also a strong antimicrobial agent and has been shown to work in some situations where medication would not.

I can’t step away from the health benefits of this wonder elixir until I talk a little about the gut-healing powers of ACV. Having suffered digestive issues for years, and being diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, I take special interest in the fact that ACV has been shown to calm the digestive tract. Remember I mentioned above that ACV seemed to have some power over weight loss? Theorists believe that ACV, perhaps the acetic acid content, allows food to be more effectively broken down and absorbed in the intestinal tract. This proved key for the blood sugar study participants’ unexpected weight loss, but also means that ACV can reduce stress on the digestive tract.

Apple Cider Vinegar Can Improve Your Health - The Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar, Plus a Recipe for Switchel

Anything that helps you break down and absorb that piece of broccoli means less stagnation and fermentation in the tract. If apple cider vinegar aids in this process the result is a more highly functioning food processing machine. Also, because of the plethora of enzymes, ACV starts acting on your digestion the minute it hits your lips. Finally, ACV is considered a prebiotic. Prebiotics are “food” for your probiotics. This is very important in keeping your probiotic number high and robust. All of these attributes translate into easier digestion and elimination.

Recently a new benefit of apple cider vinegar has been discovered. Who knew that after one happy hour cocktail turned into three, apple cider vinegar would be a welcome friend? You see, a recently discovered benefit of apple cider vinegar is “recovery.” When we “play” too hard we suffer dehydration and mineral loss. An apple cider-based beverage called switchel has been found to be an efficient and effective replacement beverage.

Switchel Recipe - The Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar, Plus a Recipe for Switchel

Variations on switchel recipes have been around for years, but now you can find switchel bottled at natural grocers everywhere. But guess what? You don’t have to buy it. You can make it at home for pennies.

The recipe is a simple combination of apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, lemon, and a little water or seltzer to top it up. Combine these ingredients from the recipe below, and you have your very own recovery tonic.

You might know that pure maple syrup, ginger, and lemon have hundreds of benefits between them. Maple syrup is highly anti-inflammatory and loaded with antioxidants. Lemon is excellent for digestion and is rich with vitamin C. Finally, ginger adds the benefits of digestive relief, decreased inflammation, and immune support. I think this switchel tonic has superpowers.

Apple cider vinegar has a litany of uses for health and home. But now, move over kombucha – we can use apple cider vinegar to create a state of hydration and mineral balance perfect for after a night out, a heavy workout, or your workweek.

 

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How to Heat a Survival Shelter Without an Indoor Fire

How to Heat a Survival Shelter Without an Indoor Fire

Staying warm without fear of burning up

Building Fires

A fire lay is excellent at warming you up… So long as it’s not inside your survival shelter

Nothing in the backcountry gives off heat like a roaring fire. That’s why our recent ancestors built fireplaces in their log cabins – and more remote forebears burned fires in whatever structure they called home. And since it’s not wise to have a fire in a primitive hut made of sticks and dry vegetation (or a cave, for that matter), it’s good to know of other ways to heat your living and sleeping area. By digging a hot rock heating pit in the dirt floor of a shelter, you can enjoy the heat of a fire – with far less danger to yourself and your shelter. Here’s how.

Start by digging a small pit in the floor of your shelter, a little bigger than the bowling ball sized rock that you will be using to transfer heat. Dig the hole to match the rock’s size and shape, and find a flat rock to cover the pit. Make sure that you get your two rocks from a dry location (water-logged rocks tend to explode when heated, so do not use rocks pulled from rivers, streams, and ponds). Ensure that everything fits together well before you heat up the stone, since a 1200 degree F rock isn’t a fun thing to juggle. You could even recess the hole of the pit surrounding the cover, so the flat rock sits flush with the dirt floor (not a trip hazard). When it’s time to use your set-up, heat up your pit stone in a fire for about an hour (but don’t heat the lid stone), carry the stone to the pit (a shovel works well), and drop it in. Seal the pit with your flat stone lid, and bask in the radiant heat that will last for several hours.

For sustained heat, you could always have another rock of a similar shape and size to your first rock at the ready, so that when the first rock is done cooling off, the second rock can be swapped in its place to keep the heat going. This trick works best in very dry soil and with a red hot rock. Just clear all flammables out of the way as you move the near-molten stone toward the waiting pit!

Ever used hot rocks as a heat source for survival? Please let us know by leaving a comment.

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11 Toxic Plants That You Should Learn to Identify

11 Toxic Plants That You Should Learn to Identify

11 Toxic Plants That You Should Learn to Identify

Whether you’re going camping for the weekend, exploring the land around your homestead, or learning about edible plants and medicinal herbs, knowing which plants are highly toxic is essential. Never, ever, consume a plant you have not positively identified as safe, OR that is a look-alike for one of the poisonous plants. For example, wild carrot is not poisonous, but its look-alike Water Hemlock is the most toxic plant in the US – a single drop of ingested sap can kill a child or adult.

Some plants are safe to handle as long as they are not ingested. Other plants can cause severe burns, rashes, and more just by brushing against the plant or getting sap on your skin. If you suspect you have had physical contact with one of the irritating toxic plants, immediately wash the area with warm water and soap, and seek proper treatment (like calamine lotion for Poison Ivy).

If you have children, one of the best things you can do is teach them to identify and avoid poisonous plants. Even a toddler can get interested in learning plants, and remember characteristics of toxic plants (like the “leaves of three, let it be” to identify and avoid poison sumac, poison ivy, and poison oak).

Here are 11 common toxic plants to beware of.

1. Water Hemlock – Cicuta

Water Hemlock

Water hemlock is a lacy plant with broad umbrellas of white flowers. Its leaves resemble those of carrot, and also elderberry. Unlike carrot and elderberry, however, it thrives in wet and marshy areas like stream banks and lakeshores, or marshes. To avoid water hemlock, avoid all carrot-looking plants growing in or close to water.

2. Giant Hogweed – Heracleum mantegazzianum

Giant Hogweed

This large plant prefers pasture, and the sunny edges of forests. Contact with the sap causes blisters, swelling, and sever photosensitivity that can cause second and third degree burns with sun exposure. This plant should be avoided, or reported. One should not attempt to chop (or burn) it on one’s own, it would require a hazmat suit.

3. Poison Hemlock – Conium maculatum

Poison Hemlock

Not quite as poisonous as water hemlock, poison hemlock has only slightly different characteristics.  It is a showy white-flowered plant with purple-spotted hollow stems, and leaves resembling parsley or carrot in their growing habit. The danger with poison hemlock is confusing it with wild carrot, or Queen Ann’s lace, which are not toxic.

4. Poison Ivy – Toxicodendron radicans

Poison Ivy

Possibly the most common plant to cause painful irritation and rashes, poison ivy is found throughout North America. Its growing characteristics include leaves in groupings of three, pointed leaf tips, green leaves in spring, and yellow leaves in fall, with white berries. Any contact with poison ivy can cause a rash, including if it is on your clothing and you touch the contaminated spot. If you come in contact with poison ivy (or poison oak and poison sumac), do not touch any other part of your body with the contaminated part, and do not touch your clothing. Wash clothing as soon as possible, and wash any skin area the plant touched with soap and warm water before applying soothing lotions or other treatments.

5. Poison Oak – Toxicodendron diversilobum

Poison Oak

From the same family as poison ivy, poison oak also has similar characteristics. Poison oak has leaves in sets of three, is a low-growing plant that has green leaves in summer, and rich orangy red leaves in the autumn. The irritant in poison oak is the same as that in poison ivy, and the treatment would be the same.

6. Poison Sumac – Toxicodendron vernix

Poison Sumac

The foundation of the family, along with poison ivy and poison oak, this plant has very similar characteristics as well. Namely the leaves of this plant also growing in groups of three. This little group of three plants is why the “leave of three, let it be” is good to remember, then you’ll never go tramping through a growth of them accidentally.

Since the irritation from the Toxicodendron species is caused by an irritating oil, the most effective way to prevent it is washing the oil off your skin as soon as you realize you have come in contact with it.

7. Oleander – Nerium Oleander

Oleander

A showy and sweet-smelling ornamental in the dogbane family, this plant is toxic if ingested. There is no part of this plant that is not toxic. It bears a slight resemblance to an olive, and also to the also-poisonous rhododendron. The flowers grow in showy clusters, and can range from white to red with shades of pink in between, with dark green lance-shaped leaves in alternating pairs, sometimes whirls of three instead of pairs.

8. Deadly Nightshade – Atropa Belladonna

Deadly Nightshade

While nightshade has a history of cosmetic use, its foliage and fruit are all highly toxic. It bears a resemblance to the potato, with similarly shapped leaves. Its flowers are tubular with five petal-points, usually purple in tone. The fruit is dark purple black, and is the most toxic part of the plant.

9. English Yew – Taxus Baccata

English Yew

The yew is one of the few evergreens that grows flat needles. The needles appear flat, and are paired, giving the branches a flat feathered look. Unlike most conifers, the yew tree has a bright red, fleshy, berry/cone which holds the highly-toxic seed. Both the foliage and the seed of the Yew tree are poisonous, and during some European wars, there were reports of soldiers dying after drinking from yew-wood canteens. Caution should be observed when working with yew for any reason due to this toxicity.

10. Wolfsbane – Aconitum napellus

Wolfsbane

This is a very pretty purple flower which vaguely resembles a hooded monk. Traditionally, the Aconitum spp. were used for poisoning wolves, by farmers, hence it’s other common name of “wolfsbane.” All parts of Monkshood are poisonous to humans and animals.

As a quick rule of thumb, any flower that has a deep tube or trumpet shape (fox glove, petunia, lilac), is likely to be poisonous, no matter how good it smells. Also, bulb flowers that are trumpet shaped, like Easter lilies, daffodils, and narcissists, are also poisonous and should be avoided. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but if a plant has these characteristics you should only consume it after positively identifying it as safe, by 3 different people and/or sources.

11. Castor Bean – Ricinus communis

Castor Bean

The castor bean plant is from the spurge family, and is highly toxic. Even though edible castor-oil is produced from it, the oil is only safe because the process is designed to remove the water soluble toxin, ricin, from the oil. The castor bean specifically is the most poisonous part of the plant, and a single ingested bean can kill an adult. The castor plant is a common ornamental due to its showy feathery red flowers, and multi-fingered green-purple leaves.

Conclusion

As I said at the beginning of the article, you should only touch plants that you are positive are safe AND don’t look like any toxic plants. Remember, even if you’re sure a plant is safe, if it has a toxic lookalike, then you risk making a deadly mistake by handling it. Better safe than sorry.

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