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Smoke Grenades – Any Utility?, by T. in Virginia

I’ve participated in a few discussions recently about the utility, if any, of smoke grenades and similar devices to an average person, or even a reasonably trained and equipped prepper, in a SHTF situation. There are certainly some valid points to both sides of the arguments. So, this short article is intended to share a few thoughts to help SurvivalBlog readers make up their own minds. Smoke grenade use generally falls into two areas— signaling or obscuration. Large scale smoke, such as from vehicle-mounted or stationary military-style generators, can also have other applications that are beyond the intended scope of …

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Staying Hidden Online, by Z.M.

We’re being monitored, online. That’s nothing new though. We all know that. In a world that increasingly grows to rely upon technology, and where your individual data points can mean big money for some advertiser somewhere, it should come as no surprise that just about everything that we do online has been recorded and stored on some server somewhere. I’ve grown quite alarmed over this the past few years, but I have never really known where to even start. I just thought “Incognito” mode on Chrome was enough to hide me from all that was happening. I was wrong. After …

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Preparing for Chaos, Theory and Application- Part 2, by DF

In part 1 of this two-part article, I wrote about the theory behind the reason for preparing for chaos and provided and overview of the laws of supply and demand. Then, I moved from theory into practical matters. I began with alternative feed for chickens, as chickens are a means for sustaining us when the SHTF and our transportation system is not delivering feed, chicks, or supplies to our stores. We have looked at crabapples and how to provide them with various insects. Now, let’s look at sunflowers to use as chicken feed. Sunflowers/Sunflower Seeds One of my neighbors grew …

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Preparing for Chaos, Theory and Application- Part 1, by DF

Many people view the possibility of economic/societal disruption and collapse as science fiction, suitable as entertainment in dystopian novels or movies. I view it as actual science, not fiction and am preparing for the ensuing chaos and necessities to get past it. Well-proven theories in the areas of nonlinear systems and economics can help us partially understand what can happen, how we can prepare and respond, and even what is not possible to predict. My first section on “theory” is quite abstract. It looks at some of the basic principles of chaos theory to describe the mechanisms of economic/societal collapse. …

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Birth- Part 2, by A.E.

According to the CDC, about 11,000 babies are born in the U.S. every day. If anyone in your family or group is of childbearing age, you might want to think about preparing for an out-of-hospital birth. Most people have never witnessed a “natural” or med-free birth. Therefore, they have no idea what natural birth looks like or how to prepare for it. In Part 1, I spoke about the importance of the mother’s psyche in childbirth and also about the sphincter law that applies to childbirth. We began the topic of Preparing for Birth with suggestion for books, such as …

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How Many Acres Do You Need for Your Retreat – Defense Considerations

So you’re about to buy yourself a rural retreat?  Congratulations.  We hope you’ll never need it, but how wonderful it is to know it is there and available if things should go severely wrong.

In among all the other things you need to consider when choosing a retreat is its lot size.  There are a number of different factors affecting how large a lot you need, including the soil type, what sorts of crops you plan to cultivate, the animals you might also raise, and, oh yes, some defensive considerations too.

Some of these considerations vary enormously (ie, the number of people each acre of farmed land can support), but the defensive factors are fairly constant.  So let’s make this an easy read for you, and an easy write for us, and talk about them.

We’ve written at length, in past articles, about the need to design your retreat to be sturdy and able to withstand rifle fire, that’s not actually the risk that keeps us awake at night worrying the most about.  Ideally you wanteverywhere you’re likely to be on your retreat to be safe and not at risk of enemy attack.  Most notably, you not only want to be safe inside the strong walls of your retreat, but also while outside, exposed, and vulnerable, working in your fields, too.

The Biggest Risk of Violent Takeover/Takeout You’ll Face

We see the greatest risk as being picked off, one or two at a time, while we’re working in the fields.  It is conceivable that we might be some distance from our retreat, and we could be bent over, planting or picking some crop, when all of a sudden, a sniper’s bullet slams into our back, even before the sound of the shot reached us.  Talk about literally no warning – it doesn’t get any more sudden than that.

By the time the people around us heard the shot and started to react, a second round might already be meeting the second target.  And then, all of a sudden, nothing.  Well, nothing except a thoroughly panicked remainder of the people we were out in the fields with, all exposed in the middle of the crop, and one or two dead or nearly-dead bodies.

Even if everyone always carried weapons with them – and even if they were rifles rather than short-range pistols which would be useless at these sorts of ranges – by the time anyone had responded, grabbed their rifle (try doing some type of ongoing manual labor with a rifle slung over your shoulders – chances are everyone in the group will have their rifles set to one side rather than slung over their shoulders), chambered a round, and hunched over their sights, where would they look and what would they see?  Possibly nothing at all.  The sniper would retreat, as stealthily as he arrived, his job well done for the day.

Rinse and repeat.  Have the same event occur again a day or two later, and you’re not only now down four people (and any sniper worthy of the name will be carefully choosing the most valuable of the people in the field each time), but you’ve got a panicked group of fellow community members demanding ‘protection’.  Except that – what sort of protection can you give against a faceless guerilla enemy – someone who picks and chooses the time and location of their attacks?  Furthermore, you’re now four people down, and you have to choose what to do with your able-bodied group members – are they to be tasked for defensive patrolling duties or working your crops.  You don’t have enough people to do both!

No smart adversary will attack your retreat in a full frontal assault.  That would be a crazy thing to do.  Instead, they’ll act as we just described, picking you off, one or two at a time, taking as long as is necessary to do so.  Your retreat is no longer your refuge.  It has become the bulls-eye on the attacker’s target map, and all they have to do is observe and bide their time, taking advantage of the opportunities and situations they prepare for and select, rather than being taken advantage of by you and your tactical preparations.

Don’t think that defensive patrols will do you a great deal of good, either.  How many men would you have on each patrol?  One?  Two?  Five?  Ten?  Whatever the number, you’d need to be willing to accept casualties in any contact with the adversary, and unless your people are uniquely skilled and able to use some aspect of tactical advantage, all your enemy needs to do is observe your front and rear doors and wait/watch for patrols to sally forth from your retreat.

This scenario is similar to how the Allies ringed the German U-boat bases with anti-submarine planes and ships (and how we and our adversaries monitor each other’s subs these days too).  While a U-boat might be very hard to find and detect in the middle of the North Atlantic, they all had to leave and return to their bases through obvious unavoidable routes.  Why hunt for a U-boat in thousands of square miles of ocean when you know to within a few hundred feet where they’ll be departing from.

If you do deploy a patrol, they are at the disadvantage.  The enemy will be in a prepared position while your team will now be exposed on open ground.  The enemy will have set an ambush, and your team will find themselves in it.  Depending on the size of the enemy team, and on the respective skill levels, you just know you’re going to lose some team members (and, more likely, all of them) when the ambush slams shut around them.

One more sobering thought.  Call us cynical if you like, but we suspect an attacking force will be both more willing to risk/accept casualties among its members than you are, and will also find it easier to recruit replacement manpower.  The leader of the attackers probably has no close personal relationship with his men, whereas you’re with your friends and family.  The attackers can promise new recruits a chance at plundering stores and supplies and ensuring their own comfortable survival, and if recruits don’t join, they are probably facing extreme hardship or starvation as an alternative.

From their point of view, if things go well for them, they get something they didn’t have before, and if things go badly, they suffer the same fate they are likely to suffer anyway.  But from your point of view, the best that can happen is that you keep what you currently have (at least until the next such encounter) and the worst that can happen doesn’t bear thinking about.

Or, to put it another way, for the attackers, heads they win and tails they don’t lose.  For you, heads you don’t win and tails you do lose.

So, what does this all have to do with the size of your retreat lot?

The most effective tool you have to defend against attack is open space.  If you have a quarter-mile of open space in all directions around you, wherever you are on your lot, then it will be difficult for a sniper to sneak up on you, while being easy for you to keep a watch on the open space all about.  If the sniper does open fire from a quarter-mile away, you’re facing better odds that he might miss on the all important first shot, and much better odds that the subsequent shots will also be off-target.

Compare that to working in, say, a forest, where the bad guys might be lurking behind the tree immediately ahead of you.  At that range, they couldn’t miss and could quickly take over your entire group before you had a chance to respond.

You need to consider two things when deciding how much land you need for your retreat lot.

Topographic Challenges

The first issue is specific to the land you’re looking at.  What is the topography of the land?  Is it all flat, or are their rises and falls, a hill or valley or something else?

If there are natural sight barriers, you need to decide how to respond to them.  Some might be alterable (such as moving a barn, cutting down some trees), and others you’re stuck with (the hill rising up and cresting, not far from your retreat).  Depending on the types of sight barriers you have, you can determine how close adversaries can come to your property boundaries – and, indeed, some types of sight barriers will allow them to get into your property and potentially close to you, while probably remaining entirely undetected.

Don’t go all fanciful here and start fantasizing about patrols and observation posts and electronic monitoring.  The chances are you don’t have sufficient manpower to create an efficient effective system of patrols and OPs, and if you don’t have sufficient manpower to create a secure network of patrolling and OPs, you have to sort of wonder what value there is in a partial network.  Won’t the bad guys be clever enough to plan their movements and actions to exploit your weaknesses?

As for the electronic stuff, this is typically overrated, and provides a less comprehensive set of information than can be gathered by ‘boots on the ground’, and of course, only works until it stops working, at which point it is useless.

Our first point therefore is that some lots are just not well laid out for defending, and while everything else about them might be appealing, if you feel that you’ll need to be able to defend not just your retreat building itself, but the land around it – the land on which your crops are farmed and your animals raised – then you should walk away from the deal and not buy the lot.

What is the point of buying an ‘insurance policy’ to protect you against worst case scenarios, if your policy (your retreat and lot) only works with moderately bad rather than truly worst case scenarios?  That’s an exercise in futility and wishful thinking, and as a prepper, you’re not keen on either of these indulgences!

Lines of Sight – How Much is Enough?

Okay, so you’ve found a lot with no obvious topographic challenges, and unobstructed lines of sight out a long way in every direction.

Let’s now try to pin a value on the phrase ‘a long way’.  How far do you need to be able to see, in order to maintain a safe and secure environment all around you?

Some people might say ‘100 yards’.  Others might say ‘1000 yards’.  And so on, through pretty much any imaginable range of distances.  There’s probably no right answer, but there are some obviously wrong answers.

Let’s look at the minimum safe range first.

Is 100 yards a good safe distance?  We say no, for two reasons.  The first reason is obvious – a bullet round can travel those 100 yards in almost exactly 0.1 seconds, and even a person with limited skills can place a carefully aimed shot onto a slow-moving man-sized target at that range.  You are a sitting duck at 100 yards.

But wait – there’s more.  A bad guy can probably sprint over that 100 yards in 10 seconds.  Even if he has nothing more than a machete, he can be on top of you in ten seconds.  Consider also that he’ll wait until you’re not looking in his direction before he starts his run, and add 0.75 seconds reaction time and maybe another second of ‘what is that?’ and ‘oh no, what should I do!’ time, and by the time you’ve identified him as a threat, reached your rifle, and got it ready to fire, he is probably now at arm’s length, with his machete slashing viciously down toward you.

A 200 yard range is very much nicer.  You’ve become a smaller target, and the bullet aimed at you takes over twice as long to reach you; more important than the extra tenth of a second or so in travel time however is that it is now more like three times as affected by wind, temperature, humidity, manufacturing imperfections, and so on.  A skilled adversary can still have a high chance of first shot bulls-eyes, but regular shooters will not do so well.  The bad guy with the machete will take closer to 25 seconds to reach you, and will be out of breath when he gets there.

We’re not saying you’re completely safe if you maintain a 200 yard security zone around yourself.  But we are saying you’re very much safer than if you had ‘only’ a 100 yard security zone.

So, if 200 yards is good, 300 yards is obviously better, right?  Yes, no disagreement with that.  But at what distance does the cost of buying more land outweigh the increase in security?  Most of us will be forced to accept a smaller buffer zone than we’d ideally like, and perhaps the main point in this case is for you to be aware of how unsafe a small buffer zone truly is, and to maintain some type of sustainably increased defensive posture whenever you’re outdoors.

In the real world, you’ll be compromising between lot size/cost and security right from the get-go, and few of us can afford to add a 200 yard buffer around our lot, let alone a 300 or 400 yard buffer.  To demonstrate the amount of land required, here are two tables.  Both assume an impractically ‘efficient’ use of land – we are making these calculations on the basis of perfect circles, with the inner circle being your protected area and the outer circle being the total area with the added buffer zone space.  But you can never buy circular lots, so the actual real world lot sizes would be bigger than we have calculated here.

For example, where we show, below, the five acre lot with a 200 yard buffer zone as requiring a total of 54 acres if in perfect circles, if the five acre lot was rectangular, and the buffer zone also rectangular but with rounded corners, the total lot would grow to 57 acres, and when we allow for the impossibility of rounded corners, the total lot size then grows to 64 acres.

So keep in mind these are best case numbers shown primarily to simply illustrate the implications of adding a buffer zone to a base lot size, and showing how quickly any sort of buffer zone causes the total land area to balloon in size to ridiculous numbers.

If you had a one acre area in the middle of your lot, and wanted to keep a buffer zone around it, the absolute minimum lot size would be

Buffer zone in yards   Minimum total lot size in acres   Minimum perimeter in yards
100 yards   13 acres 875
150 yards   24 acres 1190
200 yards   37 acres 1505
250 yards   55 acres 1820 (1 mile)
300 yards   75 acres 2135 (1.2 miles)
350 yards    99 acres 2445 (1.4 miles)
400 yards   126 acres 2760 (1.6 miles)

 

If you have a core area of 5 acres, the numbers become

Buffer zone in yards   Minimum total lot size in acres   Minimum perimeter in yards
100 yards    23 acres 1180
150 yards    37 acres 1495
200 yards    54 acres 1810 (1 mile)
250 yards    74 acres 2120 (1.2 miles)
300 yards    98 acres 2435 (1.4 miles)
350 yards  125 acres 2750 (1.55 miles)
400 yards  155 acres 3065 (1.7 miles)

 

Clearly, it quickly becomes wildly impractical to establish the type of clear zone that you’d ideally like.

On the other hand, there’s one possible interpretation of these figures that would be wrong.  You can see that with a 1 acre core lot, you need a minimum of 37 acres in total to establish a 200 yard zone around your one acre.  If you grow your lot to 5 acres, your total lot size grows by a great deal more than five acres.  It goes from 37 acres up to 54 acres.

But – here’s the thing you should not misunderstand.  The bigger your core lot, the more efficient the ratio between protected space and total space becomes.  In the example just looked at, you had ratios of 1:37 and 5:54, with 5:54 being the same as 1:11.  This is a much better overall efficiency, even though adding the extra four acres required you to add 17 extra acres in total.

If you had ten acres of core land, then your 200 yard safety zone would require 68 acres in total, and your ratio now becomes 10:68 or 1:7.  Still extremely wasteful, but 1:7 is massively better than 1:37!

This improving efficiency for larger lot sizes hints at two strategies to improve your land utilization.

Two Strategies to Manage Your Clear Zone Risk and Requirement

Our two tables showing the amount of space you need as a safety/buffer/clear zone around your land embody a subtle assumption that perhaps can be reviewed and revised.

We are assuming that if you don’t own the land, it will be uncontrolled and uncontrollable, and will be exploited by adversaries to mount surprise attacks on you from positions of concealment and/or cover.

That is a possibility, yes.  But there’s another possibility, too.  If the land contiguous with your land is owned by friendly like-minded folk, and if they have cleared their land for cultivation too, plus have at least some awareness of risk issues and keep some degree of access restrictions to their land, then you probably don’t need as much buffer zone on the property line between you and them.

If you and your neighbor had five acre blocks adjacent to each other, then (depending on lot sizes and shapes), you would each require about 57 acres in total to have a 200 yard safety zone, but with your lots next to each other, the two of you together need only 73 acres instead of 114 acres.  You each now have a 37 acre lot instead of a 57 acre lot, and that’s a much better value.

On the other hand, call us paranoid, if you like, but we would always want some controlled space around our main retreat structure, no matter who is currently living next to us.  Neighbors can sell up or in other ways change.

This concern – that today’s ‘good’ neighbors might become tomorrow’s bad neighbors, points to the second strategy.  Why not rent out some of your land to other people.  That way you have more control over the people around you.

You could either do this by extending your core protected land and maintaining a buffer zone around both the land you farm directly and the land you rent out, or by renting out some of the buffer zone land to tenant farmers.

If you had five acres of your own core land, and if you then added another five acres to it, and also rented out the first 50 yards of your 200 yard buffer zone, then that would mean of the total 68 acre holding, there would be ten acres with 200 yards of buffer zone, and up to another 9.6 acres around it that still had a 150 yard buffer zone.  In round figures, you could use 20 of the 68 acres, with 10 offering prime security and another 10 almost as good security.  You’re now getting a reasonably efficient land utilization (20:68 or 1:3.5) and you’ve also added some adjacent friendly tenant farmers, giving your own retreat community a boost by having some like-minded folks around you.

Lines of Sight vs Crops – a Problem and a Solution

We’ve been making much about the benefit of having lines of sight stretching out a relatively safe distance so that adversaries can’t creep up on you, unawares.  The importance of this is obvious.

But, how practical is it to have unobscured lines of sight when you’re growing crops?  As an extreme example, think of a field of corn or wheat, and to a lesser extent, think of many other crops which of course have an above ground presence.  These types of crops will reduce or completely negate your line of sight visibility.

The solution is that you need to have an observation post that can look down onto the crops from a sufficient height so as to see if people are passing through them.  The higher this is, the better the visibility and ability to see down into the fields from above.

Depending on the layout of your land, the most convenient place for this would be to build it into your retreat.  You already have a (hopefully) multi-level retreat structure, why not simply add an observation post at the top of the retreat.

If that isn’t possible, another approach might be to have a tower structure somewhere that has a wind turbine generator or at least a windmill mounted on the top, giving you two benefits from the structure.

Summary

Your biggest vulnerability, in a future Level 3 type situation where you are living at your retreat and need to grow your own crops and manage your own livestock so as to maintain a viable lifestyle for some years, will be when you are out in the fields and focused on your farming duties.

Maintaining any type of effective security of your retreat would require more manpower than you could afford to spare, and even then, would remain vulnerable to a skilled and determined adversary.  A better strategy is to create a buffer zone between the land you work and the uncontrolled land adjacent to you.  This buffer zone reduces the lethality of any surprise assault and gives you time to shelter, regroup and defend.

Because a sufficient sized buffer zone requires an enormous amount of additional land, we suggest you either rent out some of your buffer zone or settle next to other like-minded folk, giving you relatively safe and more secure boundaries on at least some sides of your retreat lot.

Original posted on http://codegreenprep.com/2014/08/many-acres-need-retreat-defense-considerations/

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15 Uncommon Items for Your Bug Out Bag

We all know what our bug-out bag essentials are, right? 90% of the items we packed are pretty much the same for all of us… but what about the other 10%?

In this article I want to give you a list of “uncommon” survival items that some people have in their backpacks. Not just because it’s fun but because I want to give you some fresh ideas on what to pack. If, by the end of this article, I get you to say “Yeah, that sounds like a great idea, I’m gonna add item number 7!”… then the article is useful and I haven’t written it for nothing. If I fail, feel free to share your own weird survival items in a comment below so you can improve on this list.

Caveat: I’m not saying you need to start packing all these items. These are just a few ideas that may or may not make sense to your particular situation. Your bug-out bag essentials should have priority and you should always keep your backpack as light as possible by only packing what you need.

#1. Floss

Floss is lightweight, takes very little space and hard to find post-collapse. But the really cool thing about is that it has a bunch of other uses, such as tying things up, to use it as fishing rod and so on.

#2. A hand-crank chainsaw

Hand crank chainsaws are ultralight, compact and can be used in both rural and urban scenarios. You never know when you come across a tree that your car is helpless against.

#3. Fishing net

Do you have rivers near your location? A net might bring you much needed food besides the little you’ve already packed.

#4. A hand fan

If high temperatures are a concern, a hand fan might be a lifesaver. Small, compact, lightweight and cheap – perfect for a BOB.

#5. A razor

A razor has many more uses besides shaving (which won’t be a priority when disaster strikes, anyway).

#6. A foldable skateboard

Skateboards allow you to travel at speeds of over 10 miles per hour while walking is usually done at about 3mph. The fact that you can also fold it means you can put it in your bug out bag (though I have a feeling you’ll take it for a spin every once in a while).

#7. Tweezers

Cutting your nails without tweezers is hard. They take little space, they’re dirt cheap and might be unavailable when the brown stuff hits the fan. You might want to consider putting them in a Ziploc bag to avoid water getting to it and getting it all rusty.

#8. Condoms

Condoms have many uses besides the obvious one: they allow you to carry water, they can be used as a flotation device or even as a lens to start a fire (by filling them with water).

#9. Swim goggles

I’m not trying to scare you by telling you you’re gonna end up in a river somewhere, fighting for your life but, if you do have to cross one, wouldn’t it be better if you were equipped?

Besides, you can use these goggles in other situations, such as when there’s tear gas or when you give your kid the important task of trying to spark a fire.

#10. An alarm clock

I know a bug-out bag is supposed to be as light as possible but some people think an alarm clock could be useful. This is NOT something I personally pack (or intend to) but maybe you want to…

#11. A Frisbee

Frisbees have more uses than just for playing. You can use them to sit on or to prepare food on them for example.

#12. Fly fishing lures

You’re gonna want to fish, at least that’s what most bug-out scenarios suggest…

#13. Pipe cutter

This could be really useful in urban scenarios where you’ll encounter a lot of pipes. Let’s not forget that PVC pipes have a lot of uses pre and post-disaster as long as you can cut them to the desired length.

#14. Paper clips

There are dozens of uses for paper clips, from lock picking to using them as a worm hook, zipper pulls or even to make a small chain. You may also want to keep them in your edc kit, your car’s BOB, your get home bag and so on.

#15. An extra pair of underwear

Needless to say, you may not have the luxury of having your wardrobe with your when it hits the fan. But an even bigger question is, what will you do if the only pair of underwear when bugging out is the one you’re already wearing?

Put an extra pair of underwear in your bug-out bag. In fact, make that two, and you can thank me after SHTF.

 

Ok, those were it. I realize I could have added a lot more of these unusual items but I tried to stick to the ones that you will actually need. Take this article with a grain of salt and, if you feel the need to add some of these items, how about you build a second BOB with non-essentials that you may or may not be able to take with you as you evacuate?

Original posting on http://www.myfamilysurvivalplan.com

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Surviving in an Urban Environment- Part 2, by J.M.

I am sharing experience and ideas about surviving in an urban environment in the event of short-term or major, long-term emergency situation. We’re currently talking about getting home, whether from work or campus, since home is where our supplies are most likely stored. Get Home Bag On the subject of equipment and supplies, you’ve probably heard the term “Get Home Bag” (GHB). A lot of the discussion you can find regarding GHBs deals with handling a multi-day trek through the wilderness. Most of the time, the recommended content focuses on things like starting fires, building shelter, finding water, et cetera. …

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Surviving in an Urban Environment- Part 1, by J.M.

Let’s talk about surviving in an urban environment. In my younger days, one of my first jobs was in a mid-sized city in the Midwest. Being young, I wanted to enjoy all of the virtues and vices that the city had to offer. So, I got an apartment that was close to the city center. I had camping gear, and I always made sure to have a decent stock of food, water and medical supplies. However, with the knowledge and experience I’ve picked up in the ensuing decades, I look back and realize how unprepared I really was to survive …

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Health and Hygiene Tips for the Homestead- Part 2, by J.M.

On our homesteads when dealing with health and hygiene, we try to prepare for gunshot wounds or severe lacerations/cuts. But in so doing, let us not overlook the more mundane killers of mankind while specializing on medical conditions that would prove very difficult to deal with in a grid down situation without medical professionals. I am talking through what is necessary, particularly as we face some of the challenges that confront third world countries now. Let’s move forward.

Hygiene

Yes, Grandma was mostly right in her words about hygiene– “cleanliness is next to Godliness”. Keeping one’s body and home clean and pest free preserves health! Do you remember the big porcelain pitchers and bowls found in the bedrooms of old farm houses? A daily “sponge bath” is much more practical in a grid down situation then lugging heated buckets of water to pour in a tub for bathing. If warm … Continue reading

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Health and Hygiene Tips for the Homestead- Part 1, by J.M.

Health and hygiene as a subject is not nearly as glamorous as the “shoot and scoot” topics often discussed. However, these practices have saved untold millions of lives in a very uneventful way, year after year. Prevention beats cure every time!

Most prepper’s medical kits now include such items as Quik Clot or Celox Bandages, suture or staple kits, Israeli gauzes, and tourniquets. We try to prepare for gunshot wounds or severe lacerations/cuts, but in so doing let us not overlook the more mundane killers of mankind while specializing on medical conditions that would prove very difficult to deal with in a grid down situation without medical professionals.

Biggest Killers in the Third World

History shows us that the three biggest killers of mankind in the third world are:

Continue reading

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Taking the Past and Use it To Prepare for the Future

As preppers we are always trying to figure out the perfect combination of living simply, while taking advantage of today’s technology. There is quite a bit we can learn from how people lived a century ago. If an EMP, CME or something else took down the power grid, we could easily find ourselves in that type of situation.

In the early 1900’s, unless you lived in the big city, or had big money, you probably didn’t have refrigeration (1930’s), electricity, running water, automobiles, or grocery stores. While we try to become more self-reliant just in case, back then it wasn’t a choice…it was a necessity.

Life was simpler in the early 1900’s. The population was smaller, there was less technology, and nearly half the population were farmers. The typical family size (or household) was bigger out of necessity, their diets were different, and transportation was walking, horses and a few cars.

Because of all this, most people were a lot less dependent on others for their survival. In today’s society, people have become dependent on technology, and others for their survival. This is why if the power grid went down, 90% of the population would not exist.

 Preparing For the Future By Learning From the Past

In order to give ourselves the best chance possible to live through a larger grid down event, or even just get through a smaller power outage, we need to learn how they did it 100 years ago. We don’t necessarily need to live like they did 100 years ago, or go back to the old west, but we need to learn how they did.

Lessons We Can Learn

Preparedness is about marrying the new with the old. We have the technology to harness solar power and communicate (ham radio) so why not use it. What we don’t want to do is be dependent on water coming from the faucet, food being at the grocery store, and the light coming on at the flip of a switch.

The basics of preparedness are pretty simple. The gadgets and trinkets are great, but won’t save your life. When it comes to any sort of disaster or SHTF scenario, life will be different, like it or not. We all try to do things today that will make life easier then, but we need to learn to live differently, and learning from the past is a good way to do that.

The 6 areas of preparedness

The 6 areas of preparedness, and how we can prepare in each of those categories. By taking the knowledge and supplies we have today, and coupling them with how they lived in the past, we can make life much easier when and if something goes down.

Were are a few topics we covered in the show…

Food

Liberty Gardens: Most people in the early 1900’s gardened to one extent or the other. During WW1 people began to plant Liberty Gardens. This was to help feed the soldiers, and also because most of the farmers were sent off to war.

Cooking From Scratch: Cooking from scratch was a necessity. There was no pancake mix, hamburger helper or Campbell’s soup. If people wanted beef stew, they had to make it from scratch.

Ranching: Just like gardening, a lot of people owned livestock in the 1900’s. This may not been a full fledged “Ranch”, but quite a few people had cows, chickens and goats.

Hunting/Trapping: Hunting was a little easier back then because there were more animals, but just about everyone who didn’t live in the big city knew how to hunt at an early age.

Food Preservation: Because you had to grow your own crops, and hunt your own meat, preserving your food was also important. canning, smoking, dehydrating and root cellars were widely used.

Water

Water Safety: Cholera and Typhoid are nearly non existent in the United States today, but that wasn’t the case 100 years ago. Today we have much more knowledge about clean drinking water, and this is one of the most important parts of preparedness.

Wells: If you lived in the city you might have indoor plumbing, but in the outskirts you were on your own. This meant people needed to dig wells, live close to a water source, and bring it into the house manually.

No Indoor Plumbing: If you lived in an Urban area, you might have had indoor plumbing. If you didn’t, you would have used used chamber pots or outhouses. This would be a huge culture shock to most people if the indoor plumbing didn’t work.

Shelter

No Handymen: While everything back then was a lot simpler (easier to fix), DIY projects weren’t projects…they were necessity. There was no “Angie’s List” back then, and if you wanted something done, you did it yourself.

Clothing: We think of shelter as a roof over our head, but clothing is also shelter. Most people back then didn’t have a closet full of clothes like we do. A lot of people has Sunday Clothes, and Work Cloths. There were no clothing stores like we think of them, so if you wanted something new, you made it, or waited for it.

Houses: If you drive through an older town you will notice that the houses are much smaller, even the “Mansions” back then are smaller than some suburban homes these days. Smaller homes are easier to heat, easier to build, and the average household occupancy was larger back then.

Security

Police: They didn’t have the police force that we have today, and the police couldn’t communicate like they do today. This meant that is something were to happen, you were probably on your own.

Culture: People had a different mentality back then. People we more self reliant, and didn’t like to depend on someone else for their livelihood or survival. These days it’s almost the exact opposite, most people expect (and feel entitled to) help from others.

Crime: The population was about a third of what it is today, and less population meant less crime. Because the society and culture were so different than it is today, you didn’t see some of the things we see today. Everyone pretty much knew everyone in smaller town, and sometimes criminals didn’t “get their day in court” if you know what I mean.

Sanitation

Supplies: Back then people didn’t have vacuums (or even carpet), air filters, or Swiffer Sweepers. The mops and brooms they used were very basic, and sometimes homemade.

Cleaning: Today it seems like we have never ending choices about what cleaning supplies we can buy, back than that was not the case. Cleaning supplies are a sometimes overlooked prepping supply, but are very important in preventing sickness and infection.

Indoor Plumbing: As I mentioned earlier, a lot of people did not have indoor plumbing, and this is what lead to many of the common diseases back then. It’s important that we learn about how they did things back then, and not make the same mistakes.

Trash Removal: People back then didn’t generate the amount of trash that we do today, but trash can also lead to health issues. In a SHTF scenario I doubt that the trash man will be coming around, so we need to figure out a solution.

First Aid (Medical)

Technology: The advancements we have made in science and technology would seem like magic to people in the 1900’s. If you’ve ever seen some of the equipment they used back then, you know what I mean. Medical professionals not only have better equipment, but better knowledge as well.

Medicine: Advancements is medicine have also come a long way in the last 100 years. With the advent of antibiotics, diseases and infections that would be fatal then, can be treated today. We have written a few articles about antibiotics for preppers.

Medical Help: Back then there weren’t hospitals like we think of then today, no flight for life, and no ambulances. Most towns had a town doctor with his doctor bag, and which probably had some Opium, snake oil and Heroin in it.

Incorporating Today’s Tools With Yesterday’s Skills

If we learn how people lived 100 years ago we can better prepare for any sort of grid down event, or SHTF event. We have much more knowledge and technology today than they had back then, but some of that technology may not be available.

By looking at all the topics covered above, and trying to figure out a solution for each, we can give ourselves a little better chance for survival, or at the very least, a little normalcy in a tough situation.

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What Will Be Valuable in an Economic Collapse

What Will Be Valuable in an Economic Collapse

what will be valuable in an economic collapse

 

The value or price of something is always determined by the supply vs. demand.  In an economic collapse, the supply of many items will be greatly reduced which in turn will increase the price.  So in this post, we are going to discuss what will be valuable in an economic collapse.

An economic collapse will slow down the flow of commerce and trade.  We will see importing and exporting from and to countries will drop rapidly.  The busy highways of semi-trucks hauling goods will come to a screeching halt.

So the demand for those items will increase as they become harder to get during a collapse.  Along with that, the demand for other goods which was relatively low before the collapse will then skyrocket.  For an example, gardening tools will be highly demanded in an economic collapse because many will turn to growing their own food during this time.As a prepper, we not only want to survive during an economic collapse but more importantly thrive.  To thrive means to flourish or prosper.  I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be barely getting by day to day after an economic collapse.  This is will already be a stressful situation.  In order to prevent that then we need to start preparing now.  This is why it is important to get an understanding of what will be valuable in an economic collapse.

What will be valuable in an economic collapse?

Water and purification systems

Oil will no longer be the liquid gold during an economic collapse.  Instead, the demand for oil will probably decrease as many are laid off or lose jobs.  People will stop traveling for leisure or business.

Instead, water, especially drinking water, will be highly sought after.  Many grocery and convenience stores will go out of business during an economic collapse.  The stores that remain open will become bare of goods.

American’s specifically, have become mostly urbanized in the last hundred years.  We are no longer taught to be self-sufficient with our own sources of water.  Instead, we mostly rely on city water.  This isn’t always safe to drink and tastes horrible.

In a collapse, I believe that many water systems across the country will shut down.  As a result, many city slickers will be searching and scavenging looking for water.  Along with that, the need for purification systems will increase.  Collecting city water has a lot of health risks with it.  This risk is much higher than rural water collection.

Therefore, many will be turning to natural sources of water and seeking to become self-sufficient.  As a prepper, it is important to have our own sources of water in order to multiply our survivability.

As I mention in the book, if you don’t currently have your own source of water then there needs to be a strategic plan to one day attain it.  In meantime, if you are in a collapse without your own source of water then you will be forced to collect from other sources.  So having a collapsible water bag can be super helpful.  It is lightweight and easy to carry.

You will also need ways to purify your water with water filters and purification tablets.  At the time of this writing, you find some for a reasonable price.  After a collapse, the price will skyrocket.  I would recommend purchasing some of these items to barter or sell during the collapse.  You can make a decent profit and thrive during such an event.

Food

Food is another important item of survival.  You can only survive 3 weeks without food.  However, during a collapse, I wouldn’t recommend bartering or selling your emergency food storage.

Our society is so used to having food quickly.  There are fast food restaurants on almost every corner.  Then we have microwaves to provide us with a dinner in only a few minutes.

During a collapse, this convenience will hardly exist.  This is along with many grocery and convenience stores shutting down.  Food will become scarce.

Since you are not able to plant and reap a garden overnight there will be a lot of looting for survival items such as food.  So you will need to have your emergency food stored securely.

In order to really thrive, I recommend growing and raising your own food now.  Now, this can be used to barter or sell during a collapse.  Not only that but it will increase your survivability by becoming more self-sufficient.

Land

Piggybacking off of the previous point is that you will need land in order to grow a garden.  Trying to find private land for a reasonable price during an economic collapse will be challenging.  This is especially true if you are jobless and can’t afford it.

This is why it is important to find private land now.  It is easier said than done, I know.  Most preppers are on a very low budget.  However, it’s not impossible.  There are many websites like Landwatch where you can find owner financed land.  So if you can’t afford to get a loan through a bank then this can be a reasonable option for you.

Shelter

Having a fortified shelter on the land that you own will increase your survivability a ton.  Having a shelter helps you to survive rough weather conditions.  It also protects you from other outside threats like looters.

If you don’t own a home during an economic collapse then there is a high chance that you can be forced out.  Many property owners will fall behind on mortgage payments.  This could force them to sell the property to pay off the loan.  The other option is that they can jack your rent sky high forcing you to become homeless.

This is why it is important for preppers to get out of debt and purchase their own land and property.  In order to do so, we must prepare on a strict budget.  We must also put together a strategic plan now so that you are not forced to bug out.  Again, I talk about how to put together a bugout proof plan on a budget in The Strategic Prepper eBook.

Another option to have are tents or shelter systems.  A low-cost way of having a shelter is to learn how to bushcraft a shelter.  Such survival skills are one of the many prepper skills that will be imperative to have during a collapse.

Not only are they important for you to have but they will be valuable bartering items during a collapse.  So you could stock up on shelters or you could produce your own to barter.  You can typically find tarps for about $10 that can be used for shelter.

Warm Clothing

Yes, a shelter does provide protection from weather elements.  However, you can’t be cooped up in your shelter all the time.  You will need to go out to gather, hunt or work your garden.

So if you live up north then you will be facing extreme weather conditions.  Therefore you will need to have 3 specific layers to stay warm.  Those three layers include the base layer, insulation layer, and shell layer.

The base layer is designed to wick moisture from your sweating body to prevent hypothermia.  The insulation layer is designed to trap your body heat to keep you warm.  The shell layer is designed to block the outside cold from penetrating your body.

 

Hand tools

Hand tools at this moment are already a wise investment to have.  So in an economic collapse, they will be so much more valuable.  This is because you most likely won’t be able to call on maintenance to come fix things at your location.  Instead, you will be forced to become self-sufficient and fix items yourself.

Ammunition and firearms

In order to keep your shelter fortified you will need some security systems in place.  One of the few security layers that you should have include ammunition and firearms.  This will be more important than ever to have since violent crime will skyrocket.  People will be willing to kill others just for some canned food.

On top of that, there will probably be government takeovers or foreign invasions.  Either way, they could do some serious harm with the amount of firepower that they have.  Now, I’m not saying that you should stock up on AR 15s to fight off the government.

Because they have tanks and drones that can demolish you.  You don’t stand a chance.  So you will need to choose your battles wisely.

With that being said, many other people will be looking to defend themselves during this time.  People will be willing to pay high prices in order to protect themselves.  The price for ammunition will at least quadruple during a collapse.

Emergency items and medication

With so much violence going on during an economic collapse it will be important to have emergency items like first aid kits.  Along with that antibiotics will be in high demand to fight off infections.  Most likely hospitals will run through or be taken over.  Therefore it is important to have your own medical emergency supply.  You could also stock up on these items to barter or sell.

Addictive items

In an economic collapse, it will be a hard struggle for those that are addicted to things like alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco.  It will be especially hard for those that are addicted to illegal drugs.  Many will go to great lengths and pay higher prices to attain those items.

I don’t know about you but I need my coffee.  Without my morning coffee, you wouldn’t want to speak with me.

During a collapse, I know that it is going to be especially challenging.  There are many people just like me that will need or want their caffeine fix.

Now I’m not saying that you should stockpile on illegal items.  Instead, focus on those that won’t land you behind bars.  You can find cheap alcohol, coffee, and cigarettes.  These will be highly valued during a collapse.

Precious metals

During past economic collapses and financial crisis, we have seen inflation skyrocket.  This means the value of the paper dollar will become worthless.  Stores and other traders will begin rejecting the dollar.

Coincidentally the value of precious metals stays consistent with the rise of inflation.  Precious metals hold tangible value compared to the fiat currency.  There are many uses of silver that keeps the demand for silver so high.  This is one of the many reasons preppers should have silver.

On top of that, silver has always been recognized as a symbol of currency across thousands of years.  When the dollar collapses then many will return to using silver as currency.

Now those that are struggling for survival during a collapse would probably care less about purchasing precious metals.  They will be focused mainly on survival items such as food and water.  However, in order to purchase those items at the store, you will need to provide something of value.

Junk silver will most likely be the most recognized form of currency during a collapse.  Most stores and those that deal with money on a daily basis understand the real value of junk coins.  These coins contain 90% silver.  Therefore it represents value.

There are a few ways to collect junk silver. First, you should look through your change drawer to find quarters and dimes that were produced before 1965.  You could also exchange dollars at a local change machine to see if you can find some.  If those options don’t work then I would recommend checking out SD Bullion where I get most of my silver.

The great thing about SD Bullion is that they don’t require a $100 minimum order.  Most bullion companies require a $100 minimum order.  Instead, I take about $20 to $30 of each paycheck to buy silver bullion.  You don’t have to go broke trying to prepare for such a situation.

Altogether these would be my suggestions on what will be valuable in an economic collapse.  If you have suggestions or feedback then please leave it in the comment section below.  Your feedback helps the community prepare the smart way now so that we can thrive later.

 

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Survival Caches: What to Put in Them and Where to Hide Them

Survival Caches: What to Put in Them and Where to Hide Them

There’s an old proverb that says not to put all your eggs in one basket. When it comes to storing survival supplies, this proverb rings true. By keeping all of your supplies inside your home (or at any one location) you are setting yourself up for disaster.

This is where survival caches come in. Coming from the French word for “hide”, a cache is a setup that allows you to hide some supplies in a separate location. There’s a lot of strategy that goes into choosing where to put a survival cache and what to put in it. On the one hand, you want your survival cache to be difficult to find so it’s not discovered and stolen. On the other hand, your survival cache needs to be easily accessible, especially if you plan on accessing it during a bug out scenario.

Since most people can’t afford to fully stock multiple locations with duplicate supplies (although you should if you can afford to), the question of what goes into a survival cache becomes relevant as well. To help you decide what to put in it, what container to use, and where to hide it, consider some of the following ideas.

What to Put in Your Survival Cache

Before you decide what container to use, decide what items you’re going to put in it so you’ll know what size you need. So what survival items should you put in it? Basically, the same things you’d put any survival kit. While the contents of your survival cache will vary depending on your location and specific needs, here are a selection of items to consider:

  • Guns & Ammo – In a situation that requires you to uncover your survival cache, chances are protection is going to be a priority. Also, since firearm confiscation is a concern, having a few guns and a supply of ammo tucked away that no one knows about is a good idea. As for which types of firearms you should store, AR-15 style rifles are ideal since they can be easily disassembled for storage and quickly reassembled if the need arises. In addition to this, the AR-15 is arguably the most effective combat weapon that is (as of now) legal for civilians to own. If you prefer a more discrete option, handguns are an ideal choice.
  • Food – A generous supply of food is an obvious choice for a survival cache. In the unfortunate event that your main food supply is stolen or inaccessible, you will want to have enough food put away in your survival cache to get by until you can secure another food source.
  • Water and/or a Water Filter Bottle – Even more important than food is water. If you live near a water supply such as a stream or lake, a water filter bottle is a very space-friendly solution. Otherwise, you’ll want to pack away some bottled water.
  • First Aid Kit – Purchase or build a first-aid kit that, at the minimum, includes bandages, a suture kit, wound-closure strips, a disinfectant, and a pain-killer.
  • Firestarter – The ability to start a fire may prove essential if you are required to spend the day (or multiple days) on the run away from your home.

Of course, this is just the bare minimum. The rest is up to you.

What to Use as a Survival Cache

You can use any container you want, as long as it’s water proof (nothing made of wood, which will rot) and very durable (nothing made of cheap plastic, which will crack). It needs to withstand high heat, freezing temperatures, insects, and rodents.

  • 5 Gallon Buckets – A high-quality bucket is both waterproof and airproof and should hold up for a long time.
  • Ammo Cans – Yes, a metal ammo can will rust, but it should still take years before it has any holes in it.
  • Pelican Cases – These are designed to be weather proof and very durable, but they’re a bit pricey.
  • Dry Box – This is a buch cheaper option, which makes me a little wary. All the reviews say it is sturdy and waterproof, but I don’t know how well it would last after being outdoor for months or years.
  • PVC Tube – PVC is designed to be durable and waterproof so it’s an excellent option. Just make sure you use a very good sealant.

Of course, there are many other options. Whatever you decided to use, consider sealing it inside one or more contractor bags just for good measure. One advantage of doing this is you make it look like nothing more than a bag of garbage to anyone who discovers it. Add lots of crumpled up newspapers to the bag so it looks even more like garbage.

Where to Hide a Survival Cache

Once you’ve put together a survival cache, the next step is deciding where to put it. As I already mentioned, you’ll want to find a place that is both accessible and hard for unwanted snoops to find. Of course, the hiding spots you have available will depend largely on where you live, but here are a few ideas:

  • Underground – Hiding your survival cache under a few feet of dirt is probably the most common means of keeping it safe. Of course, burial isn’t an option for everyone. Those who live in a city will find that most of the ground nearby is covered in concrete while the areas that aren’t (such as in a public park) aren’t a really good spot to grab a shovel and start digging. Still, if burying your survival cache is an option then it is one of the best ways to keep it hidden.
  • Along Your Bug Out Route – Hiding your survival cache somewhere along your bug out route is an obvious choice since the scenario where you are most likely to need your survival cache is a bug out situation. The options you have available will depend on the route itself, but so long as you can find a functional hiding spot at some point in the route, storing away a survival cache there is a good idea.
  • Abandoned Buildings – For urban preppers, abandoned buildings make for a great spot to hide a survival cache. Most abandoned buildings don’t see a lot of traffic outside of a few unruly teenagers, so you don’t have to worry too much about your cache being discovered as long as you hide it well. Abandoned buildings also come with the advantage that, if there is a lot of scrap metal lying around, you won’t have to worry about someone with a metal detector being able to find your survival cache. Just make sure you keep an eye on the building. The last thing you would want is to find that the building has been leveled and replaced by a Starbucks.
  • Disguised in Plain Sight – Locations for hiding a survival cache don’t necessarily have to be off the beaten path so long as they are well disguised. For example, you could hide your survival cache at the bottom of a garbage can that you never empty. Another excellent option for urban preppers is to hide their survival cache in a storage unit. Since you will have keys to the lock, you won’t be reliant on anyone else to help you access it. Just make sure you grab it quickly when SHTF before thieves get around to cutting the locks off. If storage units and garbage cans aren’t ideal to you, there are still plenty of other places that you can disguise a survival cache in plain sight, and locations such as this are typically great for keeping your survival cache relatively close by.

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Sun Drying Fruits and Other Foods

The ability to preserve your own food without refrigeration is an important preparedness skill, it’s also something that’s fun to do and can help cut down on your grocery bills.

Sun Drying Foods

Sun drying is one of mankind’s oldest and most reliable ways to preserve food. Archeological sites in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia show this method of food preservation has been used since 4,000 B.C.

Sun drying is actually pretty simple; it relies on the sun and airflow – that’s pretty much it. While newer methods like electronic dehydrators speed up the process, sun drying is a slow gentle process that can really bring out the flavor of your food. It’s also a reliable method of preserving food during an emergency.

What can you Sun Dry?

You can actually sun dry just about any type of food; that being said, fruits are the safest thing to start with and are preferable because of their high sugar and acid content – something that helps prevent spoilage during the drying process. During an emergency you could use this method to dry meats and vegetables, but during normal conditions I would advise using indoor methods unless you really know what you’re doing.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Hot, dry, breezy days are best. A humidity level below 60 percent is best.
  • A minimum temperature of 85ºF is required, but the higher the temperature goes the easier it will be to dry the food.
  • It takes several days to dry foods out-of-doors, so before undertaking this method make sure you keep an eye on weather reports.
  • At night, fruits must be covered or brought inside to prevent moisture from seeping back into the food.

How to Preserve Fruit by Sun Drying

The first things you’re going to need are some good drying racks.

Small wood slats, bamboo, grill grates, and stainless steel screen mesh are all good material to use for the racks. You can also use cake racks or build small wooden frames covered with cheesecloth. Just remember that your racks cannot be solid, as you need air to circulate around the drying food.

Avoid any grates coated with cadmium or zinc. These metals can oxidize, leaving dangerous residues on the food.

Pretreating Fruit: Most fruits need some type of preparation before the drying process can begin.

  • Fruits with pits should be halved and pitted
  • Light-colored fruit like apples, pears and apricots should be soaked in lemon juice or an ascorbic acid wash to prevent browning. Soak the fruit in the solution for 3-5 minutes
  • Cutting your fruit into uniform pieces will help them dry more evenly, and at the same speed.

It’s time to start drying some food.

Place the pretreated fruit in a single layer on the drying racks. Then place your racks in an area that receives direct sunlight, and a good breeze. Try to pick an area away from animals, traffic exhaust, insects and dust. Once the food is placed on the racks in direct sunlight, place cheesecloth or netting around the racks to keep off dust and keep out insects.

  • At night, make sure you bring your food indoors or cover it to prevent moisture from seeping back into the food.
  • Turn food once a day, or flip the racks if you have dual layer racks.
  • If possible, place a small fan near the drying tray to promote air circulation.

Fruits and vegetables take anywhere from 3 to 7 days to dry in the sun, depending on your local conditions. When the food is just about two-thirds dry, move it into a semi-shady but airy area to prevent the food from getting scorched by the sun.

Pasteurization & Conditioning

Before storing Sun dried foods, you should condition and pasteurize the food.

Conditioning Dried Fruits

To improve storage times and to ensure the safety of your food dried fruits should be conditioned before storage. Conditioning evenly distributes moisture present in the dried fruit to prevent mold growth.

  • Cool the foods on the trays.
  • Place cooled dried fruit in a plastic or glass container two-thirds full; seal and store for 7 days to 10 days.
  • Shake the containers daily to distribute moisture. If condensation occurs, place the fruit in the oven for more drying and then repeat the conditioning process.
  • Check for any signs of spoilage.

Pasteurizing Sun-Dried Fruits

Pasteurization is especially important because it will destroy any insects and their eggs. It can be done using either a freezer, or an oven.

  • To pasteurize using an oven, place the food in a single layer on a tray and then place in an oven preheated to 160°F for 30 minutes.
  • Maybe consider a solar oven to dry and to pasteurize product for long term storage. It would be off the grid sustainable and adjustable for low heat and ventilation to dry.
  • To pasteurize using a freezer, simply seal the dried food in freezer plastic bags and place them in a freezer set at 0°F for 48 hours.

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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.

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