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Elevator Action: How to Escape Being Trapped in an Elevator

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How many of you remember the old Nintendo game Elevator Action? In the game you play a spy, bounding to and from elevators to reach the bottom floor of a building. As you descend, you’re dodging bullets and taking out bad guys along the way to your escape in a super fast 8-bit sports car. That’s how your normal workday commute goes anyway, right?

While you might not be dodging bullets, I’m sure you’ve always wondered about what you’d do if you found yourself in a stuck elevator. Would you reenact Die Hard and climb out the top hatch and scale the cables? Probably not, considering those emergency hatches are typically locked from the outside.

I’ll get into the details of what you should do if you find yourself trapped in an elevator, but this article might also serve as a reminder to always take the stairs. Not just for the reason that electronics will inevitably fail at the least convenient times, but also due to the implication that you’re predictable in an elevator.

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As my friend Uri from the Red Teams Blog says, “never take the elevator.” Uri’s not a particularly paranoid person, but he always has a way of looking at things from a situational awareness aspect and is an advocate of never putting yourself in a position that can be compromised. He mentions that you can easily be tracked in an elevator, as you’re basically trapped in a box that always drops you onto a semi-fixed location that’s easy to monitor and observe. Worse, a trap can easily be set on any of the stops an elevator makes. Taking the stairs can help you familiarize yourself with exits and work on your escape plan. You do always have an escape plan, right?

Let’s get back to what to do in an emergency if you should ever find yourself trapped in an elevator, because you’re bound to ride another one, even after reading this article.

Get Control

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The Necessary 72 Hour Kit

by Jeff

I have been into emergency preparedness for more than 14 years.  It all started when a family member asked if we wanted her friend’s #10 cans of wheat.  It wasn’t just a few cans either.  We accepted and have since added to it again and again.

As part of our preparedness plan, we have a well stocked 72 hour kit.  This kit is not a “go bag”.  Don’t get me wrong I like go bags.  I have one at work, ready to go!  This is more than a get there from here kit.

Regardless of the disaster or calamity, we plan on sheltering in place.  This may also be the plans of most of you as well.  We can’t all afford a “doomsday bunker”.  For us, our food, supplies, animals, and garden are all at our home.  I know that in any event, we can survive there.

What happens if you have to leave?  Are you prepared to walk away from your home?  There are some incidents where we may not be able to stay and “ride out the storm.”  I think about hurricane Katrina, or the tornado that hit Joplin, Mo.  If my home is at risk of being destroyed, we’ll have to leave and leave in a hurry.  You need supplies to go, you need a 72 hour kit.

Many of us might be able to survive with the likes of Bear Grylls, but I have no plans on skinning a snake in order to urinate in it, so that I can hydrate later.   Sorry not going to happen!

The first kits that we made were not much more than your typical “go bags”.  A few MRE’s, water, first aid kit, etc.  As we have spent time working on our preparedness plan, and our supplies, we’ve added a lot more.

For most of us, during an emergency, or in survival mode, relying on the government for help really isn’t in our plans.  That’s why we became self sufficient in the first place.   If you plan on using their help, I understand. Whether you think it’s right or wrong, it’s not for anyone else to decide.  You have to decide what’s best for you and your family.  Whatever you decide, during any disaster you have to expect that the government will get involved to some degree or another, if you need their help they will arrive.  With that though, you can’t expect them to show up right away.  You have to assume that it will take a few days for any help to arrive.  This is the purpose of a good 72 hour kit.

Here is what my family has determined to be important to include in our kit:

Food – we decided to use MRE’s to accomplish this.  They have a good shelf life and are compact enough to fit into backpacks.  Some other options are canned goods, dehydrated or freeze dried food.  We also added energy/ granola bars and extra MRE sides for snacks.  Water bottles are also included; we keep these next to our kit, but leave it out so that we can rotate it.

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Seasonal Clothing – In order to make our kit low maintenance, we added winter clothing and extra shoes, in addition to or summer clothes in the kit.  That way we don’t have to scramble to gather those items in a hurry.  They can be bulky, so we used “space bags” to vacuum out the air and compress them to fit.  As a reminder, if you have kids, you will need to periodically upsize the clothing in the kit.

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Tents – depending on the situation, we may or may not have a place to stay, if we can get to a friend or relative’s home, great.  If not, we added several small, inexpensive tents, enough to fit everyone.  Depending on the size of your family or size of the tent, several may be needed.

Survival items – Some of these items go without saying, but a good first aid kit is a must.  Also fire starters, maps and compass, signal mirror, and whistle.  We included several flashlights into our kit, but a few of them are the windup flashlights, that don’t require batteries.  They also have the ability to generate power to charge a cell phone.  If you do have battery powered flashlights, extra batteries are extremely important.    An ax/hatchet and hand and feet warmers were also included to ours.  We also added chem. lights.  If by chance we are walking away from our home, and doing it at night, I have a bunch of chem. lights that I can hook to each of our kids backpacks, so that we can easily identify them in the dark.

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Personal Hygiene Items – toilet paper, toothbrushes/paste, feminine hygiene items, deodorant.

Money – we don’t know what is going to happen, or if the emergency we are in will be the end of civilization, or the collapse of our financial system.  What you have to assume is that your credit/debit card may not work.  Having cash stored in your kit, just might become one of the smartest decisions you make in your 72 hour kit preparations.

Some other items to consider adding – tools, copies of your birth certificates/ social security cards, Fishing/hunting supplies.

Because of the size of our family, our 72 hour kit is quite large.  We have opted to distribute the kit into small backpacks for each of the kids to carry, and a couple of duffle bags.  The duffle bags do have wheels, in case we have to walk away from our home.

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Whether you are a “master prepper”, or just getting started, a 72 hour kit for you and your family is a necessity.

In closing, let me just say this, I hope and pray that all my preparedness efforts are done in vain.  I hope to never have to use any of these resources that I have stockpiled.  I hope that none of us has to.  We prepare for the day we hope never comes.  I believe that one day that day will come, I pray that it doesn’t.

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NSA can resume bulk collection of Americans’ phone records, says court

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has ruled the NSA can resume the bulk collection of phone records on millions of Americans.

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The court, which oversees the government’s surveillance requests, ruled late Monday that the program was legally sound in the wake of the passing of the Freedom Act, ratified a day after key provisions in the Patriot Act expired on June 1.

The news was first reported by The New York Times on Tuesday.

In the 26-page filing, the court summed up simply: “The short answer is yes,” to the question whether or not the new law would allow the program to continue.

The new bill, however, limits any collection to six months. Lawmakers set in stone the time limit with the intention of giving the NSA grace time to move to a new system where it would request the records from the phone companies.

News of the massive bulk collection of phone records broke two years ago as the debut leak in the long line of news stories dedicated to US government surveillance, based on documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Verizon was named as one of the companies forced to hand over its entire customer base of phone records on a rolling daily basis.

Other companies were not named, but it is widely believed that other phone companies, including AT&T, are under similar orders to serve over its customers data.

Since then, a number of civil cases have been brought to court to challenge the program.

Almost two years following the first leak, an appeals court in May ruled the bulk records collection program was illegal, serving a blow to the program’s legitimacy.

However, the presiding judge Michael Mosmon said in the Monday filing that the lower court’s ruling was “not binding” and “respectfully disagrees” with the court’s findings.

That, however, was disputed by ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer, who in an emailed statement condemned the move.

“Neither the statute nor the Constitution permits the government to subject millions of innocent people to this kind of intrusive surveillance,” he said. “We intend to ask the Second Circuit to prohibit the surveillance and to order the NSA to purge the records it’s already collected.”

It’s not, however, clear if or when the NSA will begin collecting data again. However, the Obama administration applied within hours of the Freedom Act’s passing to resume the program.

We reached out to the NSA for comment, but did not immediately hear back.

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10 Remedies for Itchy Mosquito Bites

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As I have shared previously, our area has been having a lot of rain these past two months. While I am grateful for an end to the drought, the enormous amounts of rain has resulted in flooding, and one other unwelcome effect: an explosion in the mosquito population.

Everywhere I look there are puddles and other forms of standing water: breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Just taking a half hour walk in the morning, I ended up with multiple mosquito bites on my arms.  Now I apply natural repellant before I walk out the door.

If you’ve ever had a mosquito bite, you know how itchy they can get. Scratching provides momentary relief, but spread the itch even more.

Here are 10 easy remedies for itchy mosquito bites:

  1. Miracle Salve  I have found that the Miracle Healing Salve, (originally found on Backdoor Survival), works to relieve mosquito bite itching, among many other uses.  I have made several batches of this salve.
  2. Deodorant  My son’s science teacher swears by deodorant to relieve itching. I’ve tried both scented and unscented, they seem to work equally well for a short time.
  3. Adhesive bandage Mr. Apartment Prepper just places a band-aid over the bite. It prevents further irritation from brushing up against surfaces and you eventually forget that it’s there.
  4. Alcohol   Place a dab of rubbing alcohol directly on the bite – it does help.
  5. Baking soda and water   Make a paste of baking soda and water and apply directly on the itch.
  6. Ammonia and water  Mix equal parts of plain ammonia and water and apply on the itchy area with a cotton ball.
  7. Vick’s Vapor Rub  My grandmother swore by this remedy.  When we were kids, she would dab a small amount of Vick’s Vapor Rub on the itchy bite.
  8. Tea tree oil   Mix five to six drops of tea tree oil with one tablespoon of olive oil. Apply with a cotton ball directly on the bite.
  9. Apple cider vinegar   I already use apple cider vinegar to ward off colds; it works to relieve itch as well. Place apple cider vinegar on a cotton ball and rub directly on the bite.   The smell goes away after a few minutes.
  10. X marks the spot   If you find yourself without any of these home remedies, use a clean fingernail and make an “X” right on the bite. This seems to relieve the itch for a short time.

These are just some of the remedies that I have tried myself. For more ideas, check out these articles from our friends over at Prepared Bloggers:

Home Remedies for Bug Bites and Stings from Commonsense Home

How to Make Lucky Sherpa Plaintain Salve from The Survival Sherpa

Mosquitos are not only annoying, they also cause a number of diseases such as Chikungunya.  Get to the bottom of the problem:  Mom with a Prep shows how to Combat Mosquitos Naturally