Survivalism Goes Mainstream

The day starts just like any other.  You wake up, get dressed and make your way into work, fighting the stress of the morning commute just like everyone elsetrapped in their cars on the gridlocked highway.  You finally arrive at work and settle in to start your day.  All of a sudden you hear a loud rumbling sound. At first you think it might just be a large truck driving by or something else shaking the ground.  But then the sound gets louder and the rumbling becomes more violent.  The lights go out, the shaking continues for a minute and then everything goes silent.  The next thing you know people are running outside in a panic, the shaking has started again but this time it’s a lot worse and you can’t keep your footing.  Books start flying off the shelves in your office as you try to make your way for the door.  “Could it be an earthquake?” you think to yourself.

The day starts just like any other.  You wake up, get dressed and make your way into work, fighting the stress of the morning commute just like everyone elsetrapped in their cars on the gridlocked highway.  You finally arrive at work and settle in to start your day.  All of a sudden you hear a loud rumbling sound. At first you think it might just be a large truck driving by or something else shaking the ground.  But then the sound gets louder and the rumbling becomes more violent.  The lights go out, the shaking continues for a minute and then everything goes silent.  The next thing you know people are running outside in a panic, the shaking has started again but this time it’s a lot worse and you can’t keep your footing.  Books start flying off the shelves in your office as you try to make your way for the door.  “Could it be an earthquake?” you think to yourself.

This is the scenario that has happened in numerous towns across America and people are starting to wake up to the possibility that it actually might just happen to them.  The trend towards emergency preparedness or “survivalism” has really started to take hold in recent years due to a number of natural disasters, mass shootings and other public safety threats that have come to the forefront.  This idea has been perpetuated by television shows such as AMC’s Walking Dead and TLC’s Doomsday Bunkers.  While some think that people with the preparedness or “Prepper” mentality are just paranoid tin-hat wearing fools, others have really latched on to the idea and started to incorporate emergency preparedness tactics into their everyday lives.  Is the recent infatuation with survivalism and emergency preparedness a valid, relevant movement that deserves a further look?  Or does it simply promote a fear mentality for people in an already insecure world.  Is there a need to prepare for the unexpected in today’s world or is the whole idea being oversold?  If history repeats itself as they say it always does, then we can look at examples of disasters throughout recent years to determine if preparing is a wise and necessary venture.  Otherwise this trend would be nothing less than a marketing tactic to push products that will likely never be needed.

What is “Survivalism”?

Wikipedia defines emergency preparedness or “survivalism” as “a movement of individuals or groups (called survivalists or preppers) who are actively preparing for emergencies, including possible disruptions in social or political order, on scales from local to international. Survivalists often acquire emergency medical and self-defense training, stockpile food and water, prepare to become self-sufficient, and build structures (e.g., a survival retreat or an underground shelter) that may help them survive a catastrophe.”

The possibilities for calamity are seemingly endless in today’s world.  From nuclear threats to economic disaster, it seems as though there is always something to be worried about.  In such an uncertain environment, it would seem to be a wise choice to insure the safety of your family by stocking up on a few extra items that could possibly save your life one day.  We purchase health insurance to protect against a major injury and life insurance to protect our families in the event of an unexpected death so why not buy insurance to protect against the effects of a major disaster?  This move towards individual responsibility for your own well being is long overdue and will likely continue to expand over the next several years.

How Real is the Threat?

During Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, many families were left stranded without adequate food or water supplies.  Some were lucky enough to evacuate to higher ground before the flooding hit but others weren’t so lucky.  Circumstances in the local emergency shelters were less than adequate and sometimes even dangerous.  Only those who had taken responsibility for their own personal safety were able to weather the storm unscathed.  Just a few simple preparations such as extra food, clean water and medical supplies made all the difference when it came down to a real emergency.

Several studies have been conducted by Citizen Corps regarding emergency preparedness trends among governments, businesses and households in America. These surveys found that individuals and households are aware of the seriousness of a natural disaster, and say that they are willing to prepare for one, but relatively few households have acted to mitigate losses and reduce injury. With so much evidence pointing out the importance in being prepared in today’s society, it’s hard to understand why anyone would choose not act to protect themselves and their families in the event of a disaster.

Many people argue against preparedness citing paranoia and unrealistic expectations. This is especially true when you talk about preparing for societal collapse or doomsday. But preparedness extends far beyond zombies and bunkers. Preparedness could be as simple as knowing how to fix your car or having adequate food and lighting for your family if the power went out for days or weeks.

People may be able to argue about the various reasons to prepare, however one thing is clear; preparedness is smart, practical and useful.  Whether you are preparing for something as extreme as the apocalypse or something as simple as a power outage, being prepared mitigates trouble, saves money and could mean the difference between life and death in an emergency situation.

Someone once asked the founder of the Boy Scouts,  Robert Baden-Powell about the motto of the scouts “Be prepared”.  “Be prepared for what?” they asked. Baden-Powell responded “Why, for any old thing”. Being prepared for life and the chaotic challenges it throws at you and allows you to life happy, stress free and without regret.  If buying a few extra supplies means a happy, stress free life you can count me in!

Three Things Survivalists Can Learn From The Walking Dead

After binge watching AMC’s The Walking Dead I’ve come to the conclusion that although it is fiction this post-apocalyptic drama has a few things to teach us preppers and survivalists. I will say this now, there will be spoilers in this article so be forewarned.

walking-dead

After binge watching AMC’s The Walking Dead I’ve come to the conclusion that although it is fiction this post-apocalyptic drama has a few things to teach us preppers and survivalists. I will say this now, there will be spoilers in this article so be forewarned.

****SPOILER ALERT****

Lessons You can Learn from The Walking Dead

The first and most important lesson I’ve found is that mobility is absolutely key in any SHTF situation. This is a fact that Rick Grimes and his rag tag band of zombie slayers have found time and time again. No matter how safe, secure and sustainable the environment there will always be the possibility of either someone trying to take it from you or nature or another force will drive you away. This is where having a bug out plan in your back pocket comes into play.

Both at the farm and the prison the survivors were forced to flee quickly. In the case of the farm they did have a rally point to meet up, but with the prison the survivors found themselves split up and struggling to reunite.

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You need a bug out plan complete with rally points and caches.

Have a bug out plan complete with rally points and caches. This was something lacking in The Walking Dead. When the group fled the farm they rallied back at the traffic jam; but when leaving the prison everyone split up and in both cases there were no caches of weapons, food or supplies that they could resupply at. Notice too how no one has a Bug Out Bag. Rick and his group failed to plan for having to EVAC in a hurry especially having to do so on foot. Of course a mad scramble chaotic exit makes for better TV but does also serve as a warning to us survivalists that we need to maintain our readiness to EVAC at the drop of a hat.

Make sure that the plan is practiced and that everyone knows the locations of the rally points and caches without requiring use of a map or compass. This is important if only a few people know where the caches are or where to rally then what happens when they are separated or killed? The entire group should know every detail of the plan and all the locations. Practice is key because as the military says ‘sweat in training so you don’t bleed in combat’. Rick knew the Governor would come for him so the occupants of the prison should have rehearsed bugging out until it became second nature. Instead, only a few survived and it was due to a total lack of preparation. Again, a good bug out doesn’t make for great TV so I’ll forgive the producers on this one.

Have an alternate location to bug out to. I’m a strong believer in not bugging out unless you have somewhere to go. Just heading off into the woods is simply not adequate, unless Murphy’s Law is kicking your ass all the way out the door, then it’s time to pick a direction and leg it. Even if an alternate permanent location cannot be found having somewhere to go to re-group, re-supply, and base out of temporarily is the next best thing.

Be prepared to be able to survive “on the road” for an extended period of time if need be. Scavenging sucks and trying to find the necessities of life after most houses have been scavenged already is not very practical. This is where good Bug Out Bags come into play. Having all the necessary kit to survive on foot for long periods will make life on the road a lot easier. Having the ability to procure food through several different means would be vital to long term mobile survival. The difference between being on the road with and without a Bug Out Bag, or a I’m Never Coming Home Bag, is night and day.

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Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

Second, the saying goes ‘desperate times call for desperate measures’. We have seen Rick’s group face off against hoards of the undead and fellow survivors; they have faced many situations that us watching at home find shocking, and some of their actions morally questionable.

Survival is not a game; there is no second place, and even the best of us will have to adjust our moral compass to ensure our and our family’s survival. When Shane shot Otis in the leg leaving him for dead he did it to ensure he could get back to the farm with the medical supplies to save Carl’s life. This could be considered a barbaric and downright evil act, leaving an innocent man to be eaten by the undead. Yet if faced with the same scenario can we all say we’d take the moral high ground or would we do what is needed to save a child’s life?

When we met the ‘Governor’ we saw an example of how power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. When stripped of all the conveniences of modern civilization people will naturally seek out a leader, even if that leader is sociopathic. A look through history shows the human race has a very poor track record when it comes to choosing those we follow. When society collapses we cannot expect that suddenly we will begin to follow the ‘good guys’ for it will be those who revert to their instinctual and primitive survival mode that the average person will look up to as someone that can ensure their survival. Most people will forgive a multitude of sins in order to maintain their own safety and security. Witnessing brutality at the hands of your leader should cause people to want to leave, but if that person is keeping you safe and secure then looking the other way is nearly an act of self-preservation.

The people of Terminus turned to luring unwitting survivors and then cannibalizing them. This is not a far-fetched scenario. Throughout our history cannibalism has been practiced and resorted to in times where a person’s very survival is at stake. Some societies regularly practiced it and it is said that modern humans are only a few weeks away from resorting to eating each other when all other food is scarce. In a true end of life as we know it situation we should expect to see people begin to cannibalize just to survive.

Hunger, thirst, desperation, anger, frustration, hopelessness, and numbness to the suffering around us will cause a higher level of barbarism. We will all revert to a more primitive survival minded human who will act far more aggressively and with less restraint. In a kill or be killed world hesitation means death, therefore those who hesitate and to an extent those who show too much mercy and compassion end up being the ones at the losing end of the fight. We see this when Rick was in the bar attempting to locate Hershel, he encountered two men who stumbled upon them while scavenging. Rick was the one who shot first killing both the men when it became clear they wanted to have the farm. His willingness to act first meant he got to live.

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In Survival, There is No Such Thing as a Lone Wolf.

Last, there is no such thing as a lone wolf. Humans thrive when we are together and we have always been social beings. We need each other not only to watch each others back, but to divide duties in the collection of resources. We have never throughout history been able to go it alone. We have always formed communities that mutually help with the gathering and division of resources. Even Michonne, who was on the road alone for quite some time, joined Rick’s group because there is strength in numbers.

The Walking Dead depicts a number of scenarios that shows us there are consequences to our need to be together, and that we are going to have slim pickings of who joins our group. We will all have to live and work together with people we may not like, or even hate, but in order to survive interpersonal skills and a solid leadership will be essential.

Knowing how to simply bite ones tongue and just get along will be an invaluable asset. Avoidance of conflict within the group and quick and fair resolution of any conflicts that arise will make survival just that much easier.

In the modern world we can disengage from those we may have issues with, but when the modern world no longer exists we will all be forced to accept people who may have personality traits that cause conflict. We may have to accept these people because the skill set they bring increases the survivability of the rest of the group. The Walking Dead has shown us several people who caused issues or who’s morals clashed with those of the rest of the group. This is where having a strong leader that commands respect comes into play. Only a good strong person who has the skill and patience to resolve all the inevitable conflicts can truly hold a group together. We see this in the first two seasons where Rick has to deal with Shane’s clashing survival philosophy and conflicting personality on a regular basis.

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Leadership will be a defining factor in survival. We’ve seen Rick Grimes evolve as a leader and we’ve seen a poor example of leadership in the Governor. Dedication to his family and those in his group makes Rick a good leader but he pays the price of sacrificing his own sense of right and wrong in order to maintain the group’s survivability. He is respected by his followers and they follow him and his orders willingly. The level of trust placed by the group in Rick is a great example of how a group should be and how they should be led.

Saving Pets During Disasters

Keeping your beloved pets safe is a real duty because they are members of your family. Your pets provide comfort and companionship and they shouldn’t be left behind when disaster strikes. Saving pets during disasters is not easy and you should be prepared for the worst.

saving-pets

Keeping your beloved pets safe is a real duty because they are members of your family. Your pets provide comfort and companionship and they shouldn’t be left behind when disaster strikes. Saving pets during disasters is not easy and you should be prepared for the worst.

Many of us have one or two pets that we love and cherish as if they are members of our families with equal rights. They provide unconditional love and we should protect and threat them with respect. A pet is not just a joy of the moment, is a companion you get for life.

Regardless of what disaster may strike the area I live in, I can’t think of living my dog behind and I can honestly say, I will do everything in my powers to keep it safe. A pet is an important emotional support (especially if you have kids) and it can make your life easier when things go south. Learning about how to save your pet during a disaster will provide some peace of mind and it will make sure your family is complete and ready to face whatever the future may bring.

Saving pets during disasters – Rules to follow

Planning your evacuation

Every emergency evacuation needs a plan and every plan needs to include all your family members. Your pets should be taken into account when making your evacuation plan. You should plan the routes and the time when you will evacuate. You should have a bug out location and you should make sure it can accommodate your pets. If you plan to use shelters for humans, you must know that not all shelters will allow pets and honestly, if you go to such shelters, you are already doing something wrong. If you don’t have a bug out location of your own, it’s better to go to friends or relatives that live outside the evacuation area. These are safer possibilities and they will not say no when it comes to your pets.

Know the favorite locations of your pets

During a disaster, most pets will run and hide in their favorite “safe heaven”. Every pet has a favorite hiding place and you should know about it. If disaster strikes your area, you will know where to look for them and you will not lose precious time. Saving pets during disasters will become almost impossible if you don’t keep your pets inside and if you’re not aware where they might hide.

Bug out bag or gear to go

Most preppers owning a dog are preparing a bug out bag for their trusty companions as well. You have to make sure that you have adequate pet gear for all your pets. Proper gear that can be carried without struggling and without slowing you down. Just a few suggestions: A collar and a leash, a portable kennel, bowls and toys, first aid and waste cleaning supplies. The list may go on and it all depends on the type of pets you have. It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small, your pet should have everything it needs for the road and all the supplies should be marked with your pet’s identification.

Food for the pets

Emergency preparedness requires for you to pack food and water for your family. Since your pets are also members of your family, you shouldn’t forget about them. You should pack a three-day to three-week supply of food and water for your pet and you should learn about their habits and behavioral issues. Writing down a brief explanation of your pet’s routine will help everyone, especially if your pet may receive care from someone who isn’t familiar with their behavior.

Pets healthcare

Every pet you own should have the vaccinations and veterinary records current, especially the most recent proof of rabies vaccinations. If your pet requires medications, you should keep a few days’ worth of in your bug out bag. Making sure your pet has a good health is vital during a disaster. The last thing you need is to deal with an ill pet when your family is going through some hard times and when morale is low.

Rescue teams

A disaster might strike when you’re far away from home and chances are you might not reach your home soon. Placing a pet rescue decal on your front door or window is indicated in this case and it will give your pets a chance for survival. Such decal will alert first responders to the possible presence of a pet in your house. Information about your pet’s behavior, medical needs and veterinarian’s contact information should be left as well for the rescue teams. You should also carry a picture of your pet in case you become separated for them in an emergency. It will help first responders recognize your pet and provide info about it.

ID tags are a must

Your pets should always wear the correct and most up-to-date identification. It can be a microchip or a collar identification tag. Anything that makes the connection between you and your pet will help reunite them with your family. Identification is important when saving pets during disasters.

Saving pets during disasters might seem useless for some and there are those who say it’s not worth it. However, if you’ve ever had a pet, you will agree that pets are just like family members and they worth all the trouble. Pets provide you with unconditional love, they protect you, they make you feel better when things are rough and they shouldn’t be left behind.

22 Survival Uses For 2-Liter Bottles

Of all the things preppers shouldn’t throw away, probably the most useful is the 2-liter bottle. Some people discard these almost everyday, which is a shame considering all the things you can do with them.

If you’ve been drinking canned soda, it’s time to switch to 2-liters (it’s cheaper, anyway). And if you don’t drink soda, you probably have friends or relatives who do. Offer to take those empty bottles off their hands (just ignore the looks they give you).

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Of all the things preppers shouldn’t throw away, probably the most useful is the 2-liter bottle. Some people discard these almost everyday, which is a shame considering all the things you can do with them.

If you’ve been drinking canned soda, it’s time to switch to 2-liters (it’s cheaper, anyway). And if you don’t drink soda, you probably have friends or relatives who do. Offer to take those empty bottles off their hands (just ignore the looks they give you).

Maybe you think I’m exaggerating the usefulness of 2-liters. Well, see for yourself. Here’s a list of survival uses for 2-liter bottles.

1. Store Water – A 2-liter bottle makes a convenient water storage container that easily fits on pantry shelves or under beds. Fill it with warm soapy water, shake it up, then rinse it thoroughly. Next, fill it with drinking water and add about 4 drops of unscented bleach. Wait thirty minutes then smell the water. If there isn’t at least a hint of chlorine, repeat the process. Also remember that plastic breathes so don’t store these bottles next to gasoline, household cleaners, or any other liquid you wouldn’t want in your water. Finally, put the date on the side with a marker or label and replace them 6 months to a year later.

2. Filter Water – In addition to a 2-liter bottle, you’ll also need sand, charcoal, grass, and rocks (small, medium, and large) to make a water filter.

3. Purify Water – Fill your 2-liters with water, then place them on a hard surface in direct sunlight for an entire day (two days if it’s cloudy). The UV rays will kill any microorganisms in the water, making it safe to drink. However, the bottles must be made of clear plastic, the water must be fairly clear, and you need to be no more than 35 degrees above or below the equator. So if you live in the United States, this only works in the south.

4. Gather Food – A 2-liter bottle could be a convenient way to gather wild edibles such as herbs and berries. When you have enough, you can put the cap back on and ensure the edibles stay dry on your way back to camp.

5. Make a Funnel – To do this, simply cut off the top of the bottle where the curved part begins and you have yourself a funnel. This could be useful for filling other bottles with food or water.

6. Make a Scoop – Instead of cutting the bottle straight across, cut it at an angle just below the curved part. Leave the cap on, and you’ll have a scoop you can use for food, water, dirt, or whatever else you need to scoop.

7. Store Food – First you’ll need to wash them out thoroughly and make sure they’re 100% dry. Setting them upright with the cap off in direct sunlight for a while should do it. When they’re ready, use your funnel to pour food into the bottle. When it’s almost full, top it off with a 300cc oxygen absorber and screw the cap on really tight. And as with storing water, make sure you don’t store your food next to anything toxic.

8. Keep Food Cold – If your freezer isn’t completely full, you should fill some plastic bottles with water and use them to fill in the empty spaces. Just leave a few inches at the top of the bottle so the water has room to expand as it freezes. By doing this, you’ll make your freezer food take a lot longer to thaw if the power goes out. You could also grab a few of these ice bottles and use them in a cooler. And when the ice melts, you can open the bottle and drink it (if you plan on doing this, make sure the bottle is clean before you fill it).

9. Make a Bowl – For this, just cut off the bottom of the bottle. Where exactly you cut it depends on how deep you want the bowl to be. Since the plastic is thin, I wouldn’t recommend using it for hot soup.

10. Make a Spoon – Now that you have a bowl, you probably need a spoon. 2-liter bottles have five bumps on the bottom. What you can do is get a bottle and cut out the shape of a spoon, using one of those bumps as the bowl of the spoon.

11. Make a Capsule – Cut the tops off of two bottles, use a file to smooth down the saw marks, and super glue them together with the caps facing outward. Now you have a tiny capsule that can hold pills, seeds, jewels, and other small valuables.

12. Start Seeds – 2 liter bottles are perfect for getting seeds started. Cut the bottle in half, poke some drainage holes in the bottom, add some potting soil and water, then plant your seeds. To help the seeds germinate, you can place the top half over the bottom to create a greenhouse effect.

13. Grow Plants – There are several ways you can use 2-liter bottles for plants, but one of the most interesting is the self-watering pot. You cut the bottle in half, put some water in the bottom, turn the top upside down and fill it with soil, and place it in the bottom part. Then, several pieces of strings going through the cap act as wicks, drawing water from the basin into the soil.

14. Water Plants – You can also use 2-liter bottles to make a drip irrigation system. Cut off the bottom of the bottle and discard it, poke some holes in the cap, then turn the top of the bottle upside down and half-bury it next to your plants. Fill it with water and refill as needed.

15. Make a Hanging Planter – Here’s an idea that’s great for plants like tomatoes and peppers. You cut the bottle in half, turn it upside down, fill it with soil, and hang it up. The plant grows out the bottom where the cap was. Of course, it’s a little more complicated than that.

16. Catch Bugs – There are several ways to do this as well. If you just want to catch those annoying flies, all you need to do is fill your bottle halfway with water, drop a piece of raw meat in there, and poke a few holes near the top. The flies will crawl in after the meat and get trapped. Eventually they will drown in the water. For other mosquitoes, you’ll need a different kind of bait and a slightly more complicated trap. Try jam dissolved in water for wasps, and orange juice for fruit flies.

17. Catch Fish – Cut off the top of a 2 liter bottle, turn it over and place it in the bottom, then poke some holes and tie them together with some string. Place the trap in a stream, and minnows will swim inside and not be able to find their way back out.

18. Stay Afloat – If you need to cross a river or something don’t think you can swim that far, put a bunch of sealed bottles into a bag or tie them all together and use it as a flotation device. If you have plenty of bottles and you’re feeling ambitious, you could even build a small raft.

19. Make Sandals – You’ll probably never have to do this, but if you’re stuck outdoors with no shoes you can make a pair of sandals using two bottles, some cordage, and duct tape.

20. Make a Broom – Having a clean floor isn’t really a matter of survival, but this is too creative not to mention. Basically, you cut the bottom half of the bottle to shreds and attach it to a long stick. There’s a little more to it , though. I haven’t tried this one myself, but it looks like it would work well enough.

21. Make a Faucet – If water is in short supply but you need to rinse off your hands or something else, you can use a 2-liter full of water as a faucet. Just hang the bottle upside down over a sink or bowl, then slowly unscrew the cap until a thin stream of water pours out. Tighten the cap again when you’re done. Bonus tip: Paint the bottle black and hang it in direct sunlight so you can have warm water.

22. Make a Light – Fill a bottle with water and a few drops of bleach (to prevent algae growth) and stick it in a hole in the roof of your shelter. Sunlight will hit the top of the bottle, and the water will disperse the light throughout your shelter. It works surprisingly well (as good as a 40 watt bulb). In fact, there’s a movement  aimed at bringing this idea to communities without electricity.

Why Wearing a Paracord Bracelet Is a Good Idea…

I’m sure you’ve seen these things around…you know…those bracelets made from paracord…

These days, you can find them (or the materials to make them) just about everywhere.

But besides being an outdoor fashion statement, are they really good for anything?

Well…yes…yes they are. Here is why:

bracelets

I’m sure you’ve seen these things around…you know…those bracelets made from paracord…

These days, you can find them (or the materials to make them) just about everywhere.

But besides being an outdoor fashion statement, are they really good for anything?

Well…yes…yes they are. Here is why:

  • The number one reason why a paracord bracelet is worth having is that you would always have about ten feet (or more) of strong cordage with you. Having more cordage than that would be preferred, but let’s face it…most people are not going to have a bundle of cordage in their EDC plan. So for everyday carry, wearing one of these bracelets would make sense. Other ways to incorporate paracord into an EDC, (such as a belt, watch band, or key chain,) would also be a good plan.
  • The second reason why wearing a paracord bracelet is a good idea is that, not only will you have cordage, you will have string. In fact, 10 feet of typical 500 paracord (7 strand) will have about 70 feet of string. The string could prove really useful in a variety of situations where paracord would be too thick for the job.

As for the number of ways for which paracord could be used?

Well…I could list many for you, but in reality, it is impossible to list them all. I could easily list 100 uses right here…and it would still not be enough to cover it. The fact is, cordage and string have just so many basic uses for emergency preparedness and survival. Here are some random examples in various categories of preparedness:

Water:

  • Paracord could be used to create a catch system in which to collect water from a dripping source.
  • It could be used to hold canteens or other water containers.
  • The cordage could also be used to help construct solar stills.

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Food:

  • Paracord (and the strands inside) could be used to create traps and snares to catch game.
  • The inner strands could be used as fishing line.
  • Netting could be created from paracord.
  • One could use the cordage to hang game for storage, for processing, or for cooking.
  • String could also be used to hang herbs for drying, or to hang curds for cheese-making.

Shelter:

  • One could use paracord to construct a basic lean-to or other simple shelter.
  • Paracord could also be employed as lashing for wooden constructs.
  • Cordage, of course, could be used to tie things together.
  • It could also be used to weave a hammock for sleeping off of the ground.

Clothing:  

  • Paracord (and the inner strands) could be used for clothing repair.
  • It could also be used as shoelaces.
  • Paracord can also be woven into belts, watch bands, and, of course, bracelets.

Security:

  • Paracord could be used to help create trip perimeters.
  • It could be woven into gun slings.
  • The cordage could also be used to make a bow.

Fire and Heat:

  • Paracord could be used to make a bow-drill.
  • Certain types of paracord include a jute strand which could be used as tinder.
  • Again, paracord could always be used to tie things together…such as bundles of kindling.

First-aid:

  • Paracord could be used to create a sling, or be used to immobilize a limb in a split.
  • It could be used as a tourniquet.
  • As a final example, it could also be used to help fasten bandages in place.

These are just a few of the many uses for paracord. Honestly, because there are so many scenarios when cordage or string could be employed, that I could not possibly attempt to list them all. When it comes down to it, there really isn’t a reason why you should not have any paracord on hand. This is especially true when you could wear something as simple, light, and small as a paracord bracelet.

And that’s precisely why wearing a paracord bracelet is a good idea.

How To Make A $10 Indestructible, Pocket-Sized Survival Fishing Kit

When it comes to acquiring food in a survival scenario, I’d definitely pick fishing as one of my absolute favorites. And I say this for a few very good reasons, because quite frankly, I’d rather do less work, consume fewer calories, and spend less time in acquiring what I need in order to keep my core temperature at a happy, healthy 98.6 degrees.

When it comes to acquiring food in a survival scenario, I’d definitely pick fishing as one of my absolute favorites. And I say this for a few very good reasons, because quite frankly, I’d rather do less work, consume fewer calories, and spend less time in acquiring what I need in order to keep my core temperature at a happy, healthy 98.6 degrees.

So, how can fishing accommodate such criteria?  Well, I’m happy to divulge.

First, as opposed to hunting, trapping and foraging, fishing is easy and requires comparatively little know-how. I’ve seen 5-year-olds beat 45-year-olds in how many fish they’d caught for the day, which is not exactly something that could happen with really any other form of food procurement.

Second, you don’t need a gun, trap or guide book. In fact, you don’t even need to pack in a fishing pole, because nature has provided plenty of them (and they’re most likely scattered in and around your camp).

Third, you won’t be burning through tons of energy. Sure, you might have to wander along the shoreline for a bit before picking a spot that works, but once you’ve found a promising fishing hole, then all you’ve got to do is pop a squat, drop the line and watch the bobber. Hey, if I could reel in a groundhog with a hook and a worm, then I’d be doing that all day instead.

Since that just isn’t going to happen, I’ll just stick with dropping my line in the lake. And here’s a $10 DIY fishing kit that you can use, which won’t even take up space in your pack, since you can stash it in your cargo pants pocket.

1. Creating the Container

The first step is to purchase (or find) a section of 1.5 inch schedule-40 PVC pipe. Once acquired, then you’ll want to chop it down to about 4-6 inches in length, depending on the size of your particular pocket, of course. Next, you’ll want to grab the following 1.5 inch fittings that correspond with your schedule-40 PVC pipe…

  • Male threaded coupler
  • Female threaded cap
  • Socket cap
  • Waterproof PVC glue

After that, then you simply need to get the unit (mostly) assembled. Just follow these steps…

  1. Glue male threaded coupler to top.
  2. Glue socket cap to bottom.
  3. Add threaded female cap to top.

If you’re not all that thrilled about the PVC pipe-white with the gibberish along the side that’s reminiscent of a construction site, then simply purchase a can or two of camo or blaze orange spray paint. Then, apply desired paint job, and now we’re ready to move forward to step two.

2. Attach a ‘Reel’ Cleat

One of THE MOST annoying issues that I’ve had with these types of fishing kits is that they taught me the true reason why they invented fishing reels in the first place: keeping all that monofilament untangled and squared away, while storing it in an easy position to unwind, is a very, very “reel” pain.

So, I’ve found that using a boating cleat tends to work wonders, because it not only gives you a place to keep the fishing line in an accessible spot on the unit, but it also does an OK job at preventing bird nests. Simply select one that’s small enough to fit on the side of your container, while also big enough to support your desired yardage of monofilament. Now, here’s how we attach our cleat to the PVC fishing kit container…

  1. Pre-drill small diameter pilot holes into PVC pipe.
  2. Apply pipe dope or Teflon tape to the properly sized screws (or the ones that came with your cleat. Just make sure that they’re not too long). This retains the unit’s waterproofing.
  3. Fasten the cleat to your fishing kit by threading the screws into the pre-drilled holes.

Once that’s done, all that’s left to do is for us to get our fishing kit stocked with the essentials.

3. Stock It With Yer Fishin’ Stuff

This is one part of our DIY kit that I would have to say, there really isn’t a “right” or “wrong” list of items or quantities to put inside it. However, this list might be able to start you off with an idea on what you’ll need …

  • At least 100 yards of monofilament
  • Assorted hooks
  • Assorted weights
  • Small bobbers
  • Small “scissor-style” tweezers
  • Jigs
  • Freshwater lures
  • Safety pins

Yes, I said “safety pins,” and there’s a reason for this.  It’s because we want to make this kit “makeshift fishing pole” compatible.

4. Attach Rod. Get Fishing.

Granted, this system will NOT work nearly as well as your rod-n’-reel from Cabela’s; however, it will still work better than most other improvised, lightweight systems that I’ve tried. All you need to do is to wind your monofilament around your boating cleat, and make sure that it’s tied down and not able to suddenly unwind in your pocket. Now, here’s how we get your kit ready to fish…

  • First, you’ll want to take your 550 paracord  (or even duct tape), and lash it to a 4-5 foot long stick that you’re sure will be strong enough to support the weight of the largest fish that could possibly be swimming by your selected fishing spot.
  • Second, drive the sharp points of two safety pins into the stick, at halfway, and on the very end. Make sure that they’re sticking out on the same side of the pole as where your reel is fixed. Where the safety pin’s wire forms a circle, is where you thread your monofilament.
  • Third, attach your tackle (hook, jig, bobber, weights, lures, etc.) to the end of the line, and you’re ready to go.

Casting…

For when you want to cast, what I’d do is pinch the line at the point where you’ve got about a foot from your bobber to the end of the pole.

The tricky part (and where you gain a sudden appreciation for manufactured fishing reels) is that you’ll need to unwind the fishing line from your cleat, a bit like you would do for fly fishing.  You’ll need to be super careful in these moments, because this is going to be a very high-chance moment of getting your line into a knotted bird’s nest.  But once you have enough line, dangling below your reel, then give a cast and release the line from your pinch.

In order to reel it in, simply wind the fishing line around your cleat and repeat until you’ve hooked a beauty … say, a catfish, large mouth bass, or something small that could be bait for your traps or trot line setup.

Not bad, for something under $10 that fits in a pocket.

Prep School: Bay Area Survivalists Are Ready for the Big One

prep

 

Wednesday, May 6 2015

  • Armageddon chic: From protests to post-earthquake disasters, the gas mask is a perennial.

If you drive around the outskirts of El Dorado Hills long enough, you might chance upon the secluded 60-acre compound where Gary Miller and his friends are preparing for Armageddon. They have a water well, pallets of freeze-dried food from Costco, a Chevy alternator jerry-rigged with shovel blades that generate electricity as they spin, and a stockpile of guns and ammo.

“My motto is, be prepared and be safe,” Miller says. “If you think the government is going to help you, you’re misguided.”

Miller is a prepper, one of the estimated 3 to 4 million Americans who plan for catastrophe and the vigilantism sure to follow. The recent 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal that killed more than 6,000 is a haunting reminder that San Francisco, too, is a time bomb. San Andreas, Hayward, Calaveras — the very names of the fault lines are a kind of sinister catcall that sets Miller on edge. “There are only three ways out of the city,” he tells me, and neither of the bridges will be passable. Miller never drives into San Francisco unless his Ford Explorer is stocked with everything he and his wife will need to survive in the wilderness for a month.

In a statement released April 27, Mayor Ed Lee said, “We know disasters … can happen at any time with little or no warning. That is why it is important to take steps now so you are ready for any emergency.” Miller has been ready since 1992. Back then he worked with computers at Moffett Field — he alludes to classified Army projects and NASA — and was an early believer in Y2K armageddon. He spent $20,000 on a generator and other hardware; $6,000 on the freeze-dried food that now fills every closet in his house; and $500 on a military-style hiking backpack that accommodates food, surgical equipment, clothing, toiletries, a fishing pole, a .22 rifle with scope, and ammo — enough supplies to completely cover his California King bed.

Three months ago, Miller and his son launched Norcal-preppers.com, a prepper supply website. “Social Security doesn’t pay enough,” Miller says when I ask why, at 68, he’s venturing into online retail. A better answer might be that like many preppers who talk shop on message boards, he is eager to connect with like-minded folks. Miller says he knows 50 or 60 preppers around the Bay Area, many of them firefighters, police officers, paramedics, or ex-military. Indeed, a former Army Ranger owns the El Dorado Hills compound where Miller and his cohorts stage bugouts, carefully choreographed disaster drills that can last all weekend.

Miller isn’t alone in the Bay Area. A cursory glance at prepper forums reveals a patchwork network of survivalists bracing for the next Big One. A message recently posted to the California Preppers Group solicited volunteers for a bugout to be held on a private ranch near Livermore-Tracy. And on Meetup, at least two active Bay Area prepper groups have a combined membership of nearly 700. On Twitter, the SF QuakeBot automatically updates 105,000 followers about every seismic twitch in the area.

When I ask Bill Snitzer, the bot’s developer, about the followers’ relationship with earthquakes, he responds that he’s noticed “people who have some kind of obsession,” singling out one follower who compulsively retweets the bot. “I’ve also noticed a lot of the followers are prepper types,” Snitzer says, “but by no means a majority.” Based on demographic data Snitzer provided, it also seems many followers (64 percent of whom are male) have a healthy sense of humor. Among the other Twitter accounts they most often follow are Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon, and The Onion.

The earthquake in Nepal is no laughing matter for those like Miller, who are preparing for a similar disaster here. In March, the U.S. Geological Survey announced that the likelihood of a mega-quake — defined as 8.0 magnitude or greater — striking California in the next 30 years is seven percent. The USGS also reported that multiple faults could rupture simultaneously and that earthquakes could jump from one fault to another. On prepper forums, Nepal has inspired seriocomic debates about how such devastation would affect the Golden State.

“How big of a quake do you guys think it would take to cause california [sic] to become its on [sic] island due to the san adres [sic] fault line?” one commenter asked. Another, already envisioning marauders in the streets, declared, “In the end our only friend will be a bayonet, and the will to use it without remorse.” Some pointed to the recent unrest in Baltimore as a case study in social breakdown. “What have we learned? We need more ARs [assault rifles]. That’s for damn sure.” It’s worth noting that the subject of guns is complex and factious among preppers. It’s the one thing Miller refuses to discuss, except to say, “Everyone in my family could shoot you at 500 yards.”

It’s been a quarter-century since a major earthquake shook San Francisco. (Miller summed up the 1989 Loma Prieta quake like this: “You haven’t experienced an earthquake until you’ve been in a waterbed and felt that fucker roll you over.”) Although critical infrastructure upgrades have been made — especially on bridges and BART tunnels — and while retrofitting continues apace, much work remains. An investigation by NBC Bay Area found that a third of the region’s acute care hospitals are at risk of collapsing during a strong trembler; 55 percent of state levees are considered “high hazard”; and 474 area bridges are structurally deficient. Moreover,San Francisco Public Press reported that at least 5,000 residences in San Francisco still need to be retrofitted.

Preppers everywhere live by the credo of “not if, but when.” As one online prepper counseled his fellow doomsday watchers, “Some people don’t like being labeled as ‘survivalists,’ but I think it’s much better than being labeled ‘refugee.'”