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Do You Feel Safe Yet?

Our world is ever changing and at a quicker and quicker pace. Very few of these changes  are of positive nature. Among these less positive changes; rising crime rates in our cities, bullying, shootings, and road rage. And although a bit further away, the political hotspots sprouting all over the globe are affecting us as well. In their wake is the mounting fear of terrorist attacks. If that isn’t enough to get you on your toes, just think about the increase of natural disasters over the past decades. Today we are driven to prepare for worst case scenarios our grandparents had never heard of. That’s why the better prepared we are, the safer we feel.  Here’s a checklist for a few obstacles we may have to face :

  • Home Security – our first line of defense. Home is our safe haven, where we want to feel at peace and protected from the outside world. That’s not always easy. If you live in an area boasting high crime rates, such as the city of lights, you already have something in place to protect your family against burglary like a home security system offered by ADT Security Las Vegas, Nevada. Especially when you aren’t at home, it’s good to know someone is watching out for you, alerting the authorities and informing you in case of a break in or fire.

The Burglar



  • Food, Water and Medication – are things everyone needs on a daily basis to survive. In case of a disaster, manmade or natural, you have to assume the shops won’t be open and you’ll need to have enough supplies on hand to survive for as long as possible. Your long term storage area should be cool and dark, to avoid spoiling. The other thing to keep in mind is that it’s best to store these items in bins, which will be easy to move in case you have to bug out. Medication should not be stored long term but always in reach and ready to pack. Make sure you have a waterproof pouch or baggie ready to put your medication in. If things get wet, you’ll be sure your pills won’t be subjected to humidity and deteriorate. Dry foods, dehydrated meals, and protein bars are all light weight, compact items with a long shelf life and are ideal for the storage bin. If you want to store cans and such, it should be to bug in on account of their weight and bulkiness.




  • Clothing – is the last thing we think of when bugging out, that’s why it should be in your bug out bag. Knowing what and what not to pack can make all the difference in an emergency. Two to three changes of underwear, socks and t-shirts, a sweater, a jacket, gloves, sunglasses, a spare pair of pants. These are things you’ll be grateful for if you have to hit the road unexpectedly.



  • Flashlights– should always be at hand at home, in a bug out bag and in the car. You never know when you’ll need them. Being in the dark can turn a scary situation into a terrifying one.


  • Battery operated radios – Knowing what is going on is very important. Hearing how the situation is evolving will help you with planning your next move. That’s why a battery operated radio is vital in any emergency situation.

These are just a few things to keep close and ready. It’s important not to rely on others to prepare for you, but to know exactly where everything is and how to get to it. Testing escape routes, looking for alternate dwellings and having a plan B can make all the difference between life and death in an emergency situation. Being prepared gives you piece of mind and the knowledge that you and your family are as safe as you can be. Safety doesn’t happen by accident, it’s reached through preparation.



What would you do if you were away from home WTSHTF?

It's the thing that novels are made of; you're on the road for business or visiting a relative when there's an EMP or Carrington Event, and you're stuck far away from home without any way to get back except to walk. This blogger is about to leave the country for a few weeks, and one thought that I've always had is “What the hell would I do if I were overseas when something bad happened?”

In Ray Gorham's excellent post-EMP novel “77 Days in September” (be sure to use this link if you're buying the book to help run, the protagonist is in Houston, TX on business when an EMP occurs and he finds that he needs to rely on his wits and his feet to get back to Western Montana. Along the way he encounters gangs, food poisoning, a blizzard and other calamities, while his wife and children back at home try their best to survive a similarly bad situation. As with any good novel, the subject of the story makes it back home alive to a reunion with his family. But the book has always got me thinking about how I'd react if I was overseas in a SHTF situation.

The most sane thing to do, particularly if the situation was localized to the USA, would be to stay in the foreign country and ask for sanctuary until things got back to normal — if they ever did. Likewise, in a global event staying in one place would probably be forced upon you, as airplanes would probably be inoperable.

Think of it. You're a prepper, but all of your preparations are thousands of miles away. You're most likely unarmed (unless you're military and deployed), and it could be difficult — or impossible — for an American used to some semblance of gun rights to get armed.

It's the type of situation where you'd really either have to be dependent on the kindness of strangers, or take matters into your own hands to stay alive and get back to your home. How would you handle it? Leave your comments below.


Are you prepared to bug out?

Spouse and I were doing a lot of talking about the Colorado wildfires this week, mainly because we're within sniffing distance of the smoke. The continuing drought in Colorado and other states has turned the entire place into a big pile of dry tinder, and the fire nearest to us — the Black Forest fire — has already taken out 473 structures as of this morning.

Our discussions weren't looking at things like leaving our house for good, as one might in a major catastrophe, but what we'd take with us if forced to evacuate due to a fire (most likely here) or other temporary calamity.

To begin with, I'd grab our preps. They're in a secure location, well boxed-up and ready to move, and could not only provide us with shelter, food, and security, but also let us help others who are moved from their homes. After all, we have medical supplies and some training, which would let us tend to those who might have been injured in the rush to leave.

Next, I'd grab our important personal papers. Once again, these are in one place, easy to grab. Lately I have been doing a lot of scanning of these papers, so I also have a copy “in the cloud” for safekeeping (and for NSA snooping), but things like proof of land ownership, citizenship, and insurance are good to have at hand in printed form.

I make a living through my computer, but it's just too big to pick up and take with me in the case of a disaster. I'd grab my company laptop and my iPad, both of which would be enough to let me continue my work anywhere there's an Internet connection.

I'm sure we'd need to grab some clothes at some point. Oddly enough (and this needs to be rectified) we have not placed any clothing into our preps, assuming that we'd have enough time to grab clothes while packing. I'm of the opinion that it would be very worthwhile to at least place a minimal amount of clothing (a dozen pairs of underwear, a dozen pairs of socks, a couple of pairs of jeans and some shirts) into our regular prep bins. In the worst-case scenario, those could be trade or charity items.

Now we get to the “luxury items”, things like cherished books and artwork. We have quite the art collection that has been accumulating over the years, with pieces by well-known Southwestern artists. If our house was in danger of burning up and we had some time to grab some of the art, we would — these items are irreplaceable.

Much of this discussion was started not only by this year's fires, but last year's as well. A very good friend of ours had retired to a large house in the mountains, only to have it burned down to the foundation last year. He was out of town during the fire; his wife only had time to grab their pets, put horses into the horse trailer, and drive away before the house was utterly destroyed.

That got us talking about purchasing a small trailer into which we could place a lot of our preps, storing it in our garage so that we could leave quickly after grabbing the art off of the walls. We're still working on that idea, and it may come to fruition this fall.

So, readers, what plans do you have for bugging out, whether permanently or just temporarily during a local catastrophe? Leave your comments below.


Trade goods for WTSHTF

One of the regular topics I see over in the Emergency-Preps forums is about what you can use for trade goods when things go to hell in a handbasket. There are the usual ideas — .22 LR ammo, toilet paper, canned food — but I'm interested in hearing what you are stocking in case you need to trade for medicine, different ammo, or a deer carcass.

Toilet paper would be a luxury item that I'm sure a lot of people would love when to trade for when they run out, but there's an issue — it's a low density item that takes up an amazing amount of space. .22 LR ammo is a great idea, but right now it's in short supply like just about every other form of ammo. Canned food? Well, unless you get items that are designed for long term storage and keep those cans cool and dry, they may not be around when it comes time to barter.

So, what are your top items for trade goods? AA batteries? Cans of motor oil? Blankets? Let us know in the comments!

Gardening in the ‘burbs – Status 05/28/2013

In this regular series you'll follow a lapsed gardener's attempt at a prep garden in a small suburban yard.

When I last updated you on how my suburban garden was doing, I had planted three crops in starter pots. Well, they've all poked their heads above the soil surface now, some more than others. For example, the tomato seedlings are looking good, as are the basil plants. For some reason, only about half of the bell peppers decided to come up. Whether that was due to placing the seeds too deep in the soil (I doubt it), a bird got the seeds (not likely, since I used a clear plastic cover over the starter pots), the seeds were overwatered (doubt it, since half of them came up OK), or something completely different that I can't figure out (most likely), I don't know.

Over the last week I've removed the clear plastic lid, choosing to keep in nearby in case one of our patented spring hailstorms decides to come through. The plants have responded well to that change, more than tripling in size. That means it's probably time to go in and thin the seedlings now.

You're probably wondering why I haven't planted the rest of my seeds. Well, remember the raised planter I had ordered? It's still not here. The company I ordered it from,, ended up getting hit with more orders than they expected, so it's still backordered. They assured me last week that it should show up some time the first week of June — if it doesn't I'll have to figure out somewhere else to plant my seeds. Lesson Learned — if you want a planter by mid-May, don't order it in the beginning of May. In fact, it would have been a pretty good idea to have made my order in February.

We have a group of playful and not-too-bright squirrels who frequent our backyard, and one of them has sniffed the seedlings but fortunately hasn't decided to dig in. I've watched him a few days in a row now, so I'm feeling confident that he and his buddies won't eat the tasty greens. If one of them does, it's time for target practice!

So at this point my crops are on hold until the raised bed garden shows up or I cancel the order. Those seedlings will not go to waste — I have some flower pots I can raise the tomatoes and basil in should the goods not arrive soon.


Alt Weapons: The Slingshot Channel

Earlier this month I posted a short blurb about possible defensive weapons choices when TSHTF or your friendly neighborhood government decides that your usual choice of weapons is … illegal. Well, there's one place to get a great education in slingshot-based weaponry, and that's The Slingshot Channel on YouTube.

This is the brainstorm of one Joerg Sprave, who not only has a great sense of humor and an ability to build AWESOME weapons of local destruction out of wood and rubber bands, but who also loves to document those devices in slow-mo high definition video.

It's definitely a place to get an education in elastics and penetration of metallic objects in ballistic gelatin, not to mention a hell of a lot of fun. Sprave's Gatling Slingshot Crossbow is just the thing to build in your spare time, and it could make you the king of your state when things go south. Enjoy the videos!


Is the ammo shortage letting up?

This post is entirely based on my personal experiences in the last week, so if you're seeing something different in your neck of the woods, feel free to speak up in the comments.

It's almost beginning to look like the Great Ammo Shortage of 2012-2013 may be seeing signs of letting up a bit.

I haven't made it to my favorite shooting range in quite a few months, since there's been a bit of a shortage of ammo and I don't want to use up any of my personal stores. But over the past week, several online outlets that I frequent have suddenly let me know that they have ammo in stock.

One site in particular, which I'm not going to name because I simply don't want them to be hammered by every reader going out to try to buy some ammo, had been the recipient of my email address numerous times, all in attempting to buy 9 mm and 22 LR rounds. For months, there was nothing. Last week, I received notifications several times that items were now in stock and that I should make haste to their website to get my order in.

In most of the cases, they were sold out by the time I was able to read the email and point my browser to the site. But in one lucky case, I happened to see an email the moment it arrived, clicked the appropriate link, and now have one box — sigh — of 9 mm ammo heading my way.

Yeah, it's not what I would like to see — unlimited supplies of every caliber — but it's good to see that at least some ammo is starting to leak out. What's the supply like in your area? And have you begun to see a bit of relief in the ammo situation? Let us know!

Build Your Own AK-47: The World’s Most Popular Firearm

I Built This AK-47. It’s Legal and Totally Untraceable. | Mother Jones

The wooden and steel parts I need to build my untraceable AK-47 fit within a slender, 15-by-12-inch cardboard box. I first lay eyes on them one Saturday morning in the garage of an eggshell-white industrial complex near Los Angeles. Foldout tables ring the edges of the room, surrounding two orange shop presses. The walls, dusty and stained, are lined with shelves of tools. I’m with a dozen other guys, some sipping coffee, others making introductions over the buzz of an air compressor. Most of us are strangers, but we share a common bond: We are just eight hours away from having our very own AK-47—one the government will never know about.

I checked around a bit. Yes, these kits are readily available, though fairly spendy.

I’m not sure how you would go about finding a “build party,” though.

UPDATE: Sure, I believe his story about cutting up the finished product – after firing it – and tossing it in the trash.  Sure I do.

I’d probably say the same thing myself.

Another Entry In the BOV Sweepstakes

Cool vehicle – Maggie’s Farm

Seen in a Holiday Inn Express parking lot in Ohio. I chatted with the Californian owner. It’s a Ford F450 van, heavily customized. The extra-large gas tank is bomb-proof, and tons of other specials including the suspension. The inside is a camper. His wife likes to camp off road in the Sierras and they drive up mountains, through rivers, and over boulders.
He claims 12-15 mpg. He has driven it cross-country twice, just for fun. He refused to tell me whether he had a firearm somewhere in there. It would be stupid not to.

On the other hand, it might not be the height of wisdom to tell passing strangers what you’ve got in the way of firearms, either.

That said, the subject of BOVs (Bug Out Vehicles) is always of lively interest among those who prepare to meet emergencies. My own tastes run in the direction of high-capability, low-visibility vehicles. That is, I want to be able to do lots of necessary things with one, but I don’t what them to look weird or abnormal. I mean, why advertise?

This one looks like the sort of thing I’d be interested in. I wonder how big that gas tank is? No, actually, I wonder what the total range of that van is. That’s the important number.

The Oklahoma tornadoes

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those affected by the horrendous tornadoes that have been rolling through the state of Oklahoma today.

Be sure to pay serious attention to storm warnings and take appropriate action if you are in Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, and Illinois over the next few days, as the storm action is expected to continue. If you do not currently have a radio that can receive National Weather Service emergency notifications, it's not too late to consider getting one.

Log into Amazon from this affiliate link, then take a look at the Eton FRX-3. It's a personal favorite of mine as an emergency radio since it includes both solar and hand crank alternative power and can be used to charge up a cell phone when the power is out.

In the meantime, stay safe out there, OK?

A convenient place to build a town: it’s under stone!

I thought this was an amazing photo collection. The town of Setenil de las Bodegas is in Spain, and about 3,000 people live in this town protected by rock. According to the post on the improbably-named Messy Nessy Chic blog, “Believe it or not, people chose to settle here for practical reasons. The natural caves of Setenil turned out to be ideal living quarters because rather than needing to build entire houses to keep out the heat in the summer and the cold in the winter, all they needed to build was a facade. It is believed people have been living here since pre-historic times.”

Sentenil has a lot in common with the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde and Canyon de Chelly in the US — built into the canyon walls for protection and the amazing thermal properties of rock. Any of our readers thinking about building a shelter with a canyon wall as part of the structure? No need to compromise your OPSec; we'd just like to hear if you're taking advantage of Mom Nature's structural engineering. Leave your comments below.

Tip of the source hat to Ace of Spades.


The clean water straw that should be in your bag

One of the biggest concerns of anyone who is interested in preparing for emergency situations should be the availability of clean drinking and cooking water. A friend of mine pointed out a handy device that can be thrown into a GOOD (Get Out Of Dodge) bag and works just fine if you want to drink water out of that disgusting looking mud puddle.

The LifeStraw ($20.95, affiliate link) is made by Vestergaard Frandsen, a company that specializes in disease prevention textiles. As you can see from the image at the top of this post, the LifeStraw looks a lot like a fat drinking straw and that's exactly how it is intended to be used. You basically put it into dirty water and suck away (it's going to be a bit hard, since there's a lot of filter to go through), and clean water ends up in your mouth.

LifeStraw was originally developed as a way to provide low-cost clean drinking water to people in third-world countries, and the company is actually involved with several programs to provide millions of the devices to people around the world. There's absolutely no reason for those who are interested in prepping not to take advantage of this technology, particularly since a Carrington Event or EMP could turn our civilized society into a third-world country overnight.

If you need more than just a one-person / one-straw solution, Vestergaard Frandsen is working on LifeStraw Family, which will treat up to 18,000 liters of water. There are certainly a lot of other filtering solutions out there — hell, I've had a Katadyn Filter for over 20 years — but this is an inexpensive, easy to use, and portable solution.

Readers of this blog with any other favorite portable water filtering solutions are invited to leave your suggestions in the comments below.

Ham Radio – Communications for Preppers, Part III

This post is the third in a series I’ll be writing about what it takes to become an amateur radio operator, why it’s a great idea for preppers to have these communications skills, and how and where to get training or get involved.

In my last post, I talked about how to get the knowledge necessary to take — and pass — the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) Technician class Amateur Radio exam. Trust me, it's not that hard! Back in the days where the FCC required a Morse Code test, I couldn't pass, but I think anyone who can spend a little time learning the basics and taking test exams can now get their license. Once you have that “ticket”, what do you do to get on the air?

Well, you're going to need a radio. I highly recommend that you “learn the ropes” in the UHF/VHF world, specifically in the 2m/70cm world. Don't think that you're going to be limited in what you can do — early on in my days with a 2m handheld transceiver I was actually able to work (communicate with) a space shuttle mission that was working on building the International Space Station. It was done using a digital mode: APRS (Automated Packet Reporting System). This system is used by a lot of amateurs to pass along position information, short messages, and even weather station data.

My first radio was a Kenwood HT (handheld transceiver) that is no longer sold. The most recent version that is similar to the one I owned is the TH-D72A (about $450), which is a dual band (2m, 70cm) HT that has a built-in capability for APRS. It includes a GPS receiver so you can broadcast your location along with messages and other info over APRS.

You don't need to go with something as sophisticated as the TH-D72A, though. There are plenty of dual-band HTs that don't have the bells and whistles but work just fine for talking. An inexpensive Chinese HT is made by Wouxan — the KG-UVD3-2/UHF — and can be purchased for as little as $120.

When you get your HT or a mobile unit made to fit in your car, it's time to get on the air. Well, read the manual first. Unlike most modern smartphones, ham radio transceivers have horrible user interfaces and are seriously a pain in the ass to understand. I also suggest going through the excellent information on the ARRL website's “Get On The Air” pages. If you're in an area with an active repeater community, find one of the repeaters, set up your radio to communicate with it, and then start off with a request for a “radio check”. That's simple — just say your FCC call sign and the words “radio check”. Chances are very good that someone will reply instantly and give you an idea of how your signal sounds on the receiving end. After that, you can do something as simple as mention your first name and then get into a discussion about radios, the weather, or anything else — as long as it's permitted on the air (that's something you'll learn in your Technician class license training).

In this post I've made a point of mentioning handheld transceivers, mainly because they usually cost less than more expensive and powerful units. But they have many limitations — you can usually operate only on UHF frequencies, you're limited to line of sight communications (although repeaters widen the area over which you can operate), and much lower power. The average HT, which operates on battery power, is limited to 5 watts of transmitting power.

A mobile transceiver is usually set up to operate off of your car battery and can operate at higher power, like 50 – 100 watts. That doesn't sound like much, but it adds to both the range and the clarity of your signal. But remember that you're usually going to be limited to the UHF and VHF bands. In order to start talking to those people in Lithuania or Uruguay, you need to get out of these bands and into something that's going to bounce around the ionosphere. That also means that you're going to have to get away from the little “rubber duck” antenna and start stringing cable or building towers… which is beyond the scope of this series of posts. Later in this series I'll talk about some of the HF (high frequency) bands, when they're most useful, and how you can start getting ready to talk to people around the globe.

I'll also be talking about some of the digital modes that are available, the reason Morse Code is still popular amongst hard core hams, and emergency power for your radios. Remember that this series is just an introduction to ham radio; there's a huge amount of reading, studying, and practicing to do if you want to be a well-rounded radio amateur.

And one more thing you may be asking yourself at this point: why should I get an amateur radio license when I have a smartphone that can do a bazillion more things than even the most expensive ham radio? Just remember that when the power goes out, those cell sites are going to go down as soon as their backup power is gone. With an amateur radio, you can keep in touch even when the grid is down, provided that you've done some work with emergency power sources yourself.


A Tablet Designed for Preppers


Would You Give This Company $250 For A Survivalist’s E-Ink Android Tablet? | Popular Science

Android tablets are mostly dull; Asus, Samsung, Sony, and the rest are typically just pumping out versions of the same platform. Earl, from a startup called Sqigle (sic), is quite a bit different: it’s designed top to bottom for use in the wild.

To that end, it starts off with an electrophoretic display, an exceedingly low-power technology that’s used in the black-and-white ebook readers like the Kindle and Nook. A tablet’s screen drains the most battery, by far, so using a low-power screen like this is a great way to extend the battery life. Of course, that means you also get extremely low refresh rates and no color, so you can pretty much forget about watching video on this thing, but as a wilderness guide? That’s not nearly as important as battery life.

Touchscreens also work differently with electrophoretic displays; a regular LCD touchscreen uses capacitive technology, which senses the minute electrical charge your finger gives off. Touchscreen electrophoretic displays use infrared sensors, so any contact that breaks the infrared beam triggers a reaction. It’s less precise, but it means you can use gloves.

It’s solar powered, with a panel on its back. The maker says you can recharge the battery in five hours of bright sunlight.

I’d very much like to see the ability to add storage with a micro SD card, so that you could carry your prepper library on it as well. The tablet is being funded by pre-orders, so if you’re interested, go to Meet Earl and sign up.

Gardening in the ‘burbs – Status 05/11/2013

In this regular series you'll follow a lapsed gardener's attempt at a prep garden in a small suburban yard.

When I last told you about my gardening plans just five short days ago, I had purchased seeds (primarily heirloom seeds) and had a 16 square foot raised garden on the way. The raised garden isn't here yet, but some planting started earlier today.

Three of the plants I'm growing can be started indoors. In this case, since we had such a late winter and chilly temperatures, I decided not to even start these plants until today. There are heirloom tomatoes, sweet peppers, and basil seeds all sitting in their soil beds, hopefully getting the urge to grow.

To start 'em up, I bought a locally produced biodegradable starter tray set for 72 seedlings that looks something like this. It comes with a clear plastic “greenhouse” dome to put over the top. I'll most likely get more seedling plants than I need, so I will probably grab the ones that seem to be doing the best to transfer into the garden bed and then see if a neighbor wants the rest.

So that's it for today. No big news, I'm still waiting for the raised garden to make its way from Vermont to Colorado on a very slow truck, and I'm anxious to get the rest of the seeds in the ground. How are your gardens going? Or do you have enough land that you actually have a farm? Your comments are welcome.


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