Saturday, April 30, 2011

Why Do I Prep?

non- electric sewing machine and lamp
My husband passed old family acquaintances in the hardware store yesterday.  “There are always problems!” was their Eeyoristic greeting.  

No! My husband thought.  There are always solutions!  After all, they were standing in a store full of them.  The store owner made his living selling solutions!  He had raised his family on them; and he gives to the community from them - a ball team...playground equipment...a hockey team.  So much abundance!
last season's garlic
When I think a certain way about prepping I find myself feeling like the friends my husband met – there are so many problems!  One could become paralyzed by them. I don’t like that feeling, and it doesn’t help with preps.   What I do like, and what moves things in our home forward, is searching for solutions to our prepping challenges.   
Oh, I’m well aware that powerful problems abound politically -- religiously -- naturally.  Start reading world history and it will soon become clear that there has always been corruption in politics and religion, and there have always been natural disasters.  This isn’t the first generation to be taken advantage of by the powers-that-be.  However, isn’t it comforting to know that we can take care of ourselves if things come unhinged?  This is why I prep.
emptying pantry shelves

It is for the comfort of having 72 hour kits for each person in the house, waiting in a closet by the door; the satisfaction that comes from preserving and storing food; the peacefulness that working in the garden brings; the pleasure felt while preparing a meal with ingredients raised by one’s self; the sense of wellbeing when one is in good shape and can perform a full day’s labour; the reassurance that there is a flashlight by each bed, that the oil lamps are filled with fresh oil, and firewood wood is piled in the woodshed.
These are my reasons for prepping.  What are yours?

from a local farmers market
I’ll be writing for Canada Preppers Network (CPN) on the first of every month.  I speak from the heart about how my household prepares to be self-reliant.  Sometimes our methods may be controversial, sometimes we haven’t a clue what we are doing and the learning curve is steep, but the way we prep is of our own choosing, and therefore, right for us - just as your prepping style is for you.
If you like what you see here, come back regularly and add a productive comment or two.  I believe I speak for the whole of CPN when I say we would like to build community, and a place to share information and solutions with like minded people.

A Few Ideas For Prepping With Kids

Having a few rugrats of my own in various stages of growth from infant to teenager (and a couple in between), I have begrudgingly realized that these little (especially the not so little) ones have an inclination to electronics addiction.  Never a day goes by without television, internet, x-box, game boy, and other electronic stimulus doesn`t get used.  So what happens when the power goes out for a week or more at  time?  Well the older ones can occupy some of their time with the household chores that will in most cases take more time to accomplish that normal.  However, this won`t keep them satisfied for long.  Every prepping parent has to take their kids into account.  Keeping them occupied can be a challenge.  Granted, I have no question that my 11 month old can live without television, that simply won`t go over very well with the older ones.  Keep a supply of non electronic toys & games on hand.  You will be surprised how receptive they may be to an afternoon of Battleship and Connect Four when you mention that you did this when you were young.  Many board games are available for computers now such as Monopoly, Risk, and many others.  If you get them into these electronic versions now, then the transformation to the actual board game will be a breeze.  Arts & crafts also keep kids occupied and therefor out of trouble.  Keep plenty of plain paper (a 500 pack for 5$ - $6 at Walmart should last a while) and crayons on hand.  Visit your local dollar store every few weeks and plunk down $5 - $10 on craft supplies like construction paper, glue, colorful string & yarn, costume jewelry kits, coloring books, water paints & other craft supplies will stock up quickly here.  Whenever you catch a glimpse of your kids having fun with non electronic toys & games, try to make note of it and pickup a few extra items when you can.  For occasional use, many electronics are available in rechargeable versions or can be powered using rechargeable batteries.  Solar powered battery chargers that can recharge 4 AA sized cells can be found under $20.00.  For a bit more money, say $40 - $50, one can find 15 minute quick chargers that can be powered in the car accessory outlet(formerly known as the cigarette lighter).  Remember that younger children have a short attention span, so try to find lots of different item at low cost.  One can ususally find a to of different games & toys at garage sales & thrift stores.  Keep in mind that sometimes kids will have just as much fun with a cardboard box rather than  the toy that came in it.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Cooking Options Post SHTF

So here it is...the time has come that power will be off for a week or more, the water supply is questionable at best and the grocery stores are either closed or empty.  You have a good supply of food on hand to feed you and your loved ones.  Now, how do you cook without that electric stove & oven?  There are many options available to you and they are all better suited to one of two situations.

Situation 1 - You own your own home or have outdoor space available to you.
Fire is the number one option here.  Either a wood stove in the house or a small campfire outside will easily do the trick.  Either way, have all the utensils and cookware you need.  For wood stoves, cast iron pans & a dutch oven will suit you well.  For open fire cooking, a grill and long handled utensils will be needed.  In either case, keep pot holders, oven mitts, a fire extinguisher and plenty of wood & fire starter on hand.

There seems to be a trend towards a product called a rocket stove lately.  These stoves are designed to use a minimum of fuel, usually wood, to produce a high heat for cooking.  I have never used one of these myself, but have read great reviews about them and they seem like a great product if you can't store cords of wood for a traditional fire.  I am not convinced of their ability to cook slow simmering foods and I would immagine that baking bread in a dutch oven on one of these could prove difficult at best.

Charcoal or Propane BBQ's are also a good option.  They are great for grilling and can also be used with pots for boiling.  Many models of gas grills come with a side burner that seem handy, but beware of how much weight you put on these as there is a tipping danger.  Keep plenty of charcoal on hand and for a gas grill, a spare tank kept full would be a great idea.

Situation 2 - You live in an appartment and simply cannot have an open fire or BBQ.

Ccamp stoves are my personal favorite for this type of scenario.  Available for propane or liquid naptha, both will provide great cooking possibilities.  Be sure to use them on a non flamable surface such as your now useless kitchen stove top.  Ventilation is important, so when  using them, crack a window to provide fresh air to the room.  Propane models are designed to work with 1lb disposable canisters, but you can also get a regulator for the 25lb BBQ tanks for longer capacity.  Naptha models provide good heat, but require storage of liquid fuel which may not be a great idea for indoor spaces, not to mention spills can turn into a disaster all of it's own.

Compact sterno stoves are easy to find and the fuel is cheap and stores safely.  However, sterno, or canned gelled alcohol fuel does not produce great amounts of heat.  This type of stove is best suited to heat N serve foods that require short cooking times.

Tea candles, solid tablet fuels, & other such "emergency" cooking sources are really only used for heat n serve types of food.  If you stocked up mostly on canned soup & ravioli, then a good choice.  Solid fuels like this are safe to store, but when used, are open flames so keep safety in mind at all times.

Whatever your situation and cooking method, remember to keep safety in mind at all times.  Store the types of foods that you can cook or get the appliances you need to cook the kinds of foods you want to store.

New Contributing Author - Sue

I would like to take a moment to announce that the Canadian Preppers Network has a new contributing author.  Sue has been posting on the Nova Scotia blog for some time now and has plenty of practical prepping experience to share.  She will be posting on a monthly basis on the 1st of every month.  Please take a moment on May 1st to stop by and welcome her by posting a reply to her 1st post on the Canadian Preppers Network.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Few Tips On Food Storage

By now you should realize that some quantity of food storage is essential to surviving a disaster.  So just how does one go about getting this stored food supply started?  Well there are a few things you must keep in mind.  First off, store what you eat. If you are thinking about MRE's then I would suggest buying one at a local surplus store before going out and buying a few cases.  The easiest way to get your food storage started is to buy what you normally do, just one or two extras each time you buy it.  Keep diversity in mind.  Concentrating on one type of food, then the next, then the next, etc can lead to being caught in a situation where you have a year's worth of pasta and no sauce to put on it.  Canned foods are great to have on hand.  Most need only heating and can actually be eaten at room temperature right out of the can.  Dehydrated foods are great when it comes to storage space.  Dried veggies & beans make great soup & stew ingredients.  The disadvantages to dried foods are that you will need to store extra water and you will have to have a way to cook them, as most will need longer cooking time than heat n serve types of food.  Remember FIFO...First In First Out.  When you buy what you would normally eat, then rotation becomes easy.  There is nothing worse than having piles of food you don't like than having piles of stale food that you don't like even when fresh.  Review your food groups.  You can stock pile canned tuna and spam, but beans and nuts are a great substitute for meat.  If you know any vegetarians, ask them about substitute proteins.  Don't forget your non this I mean food products that are used for cooking and not eaten by themselves.  Cooking oils or lard will be needed and a good supply of spices & herbs will greatly improve the flavor of your supplies and increase your morale.  Accessories cannot be forgotten either.  Get a manual can opener, or better yet, two or more.  If you store coffee beans or wheat berries, have a way to grind them without electricity.  Keep your food stored in tight fitting containers.  Dry goods stored in baggies or cereals in their original cardboard boxes are an invitation to rodents and spoilage from moisture.  Keep preparation abilities in mind.  If you can't light a fire and only have a sterno stove to cook with, then don't store ingredients for long simmering stews.  All in all, if you store your food properly, and stick with buying what you eat, and rotating it through day to day cooking, before you know it, you will be able to go shopping and buy only what is on sale and never run out of anything.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Funny Looks I Get

Whenever I can fit prepping into a conversation, I find a way to wiggle the topic in.  With all the news networks spewing about worldwide disasters, this has become easier every day.  You know, around the office water cooler conversations about the Japan crisis or some other horrible event.  Well, I'm the guy who always jumps in to say "that's why I keep extra food & water on hand".  Most of the time you can actually see that someone is trying to size you up for a tin foil hat.  Geez, what would they think if they knew what was in the trunk of my car outside in the parking lot?  The saddest part of all of this is that being prepared still seems to be something that whack jobs do out in the know, the unibomber types living off the land with an arsenal of weapons and cammo gear.  By the way, it surprises me that I haven't seen cammo tin foil for hat making yet.  I would really love to jump up on a soap box in the middle of the town square and yell out to people asking them why they don't have a clue!  But then again, I would probably be run out of town or taken to a rubber room somewhere.  The fact is that preppers are still being considered extremists...paranoid survivalists eager to meet TEOTWAWKI.  The fact of the matter is, we are just as sane as our grand parents were, and their ancestors before them.  Why, my own mother can remember her father returning from a hunting trip with a dear on the hood of the truck and her mother getting out the knives and canning jars to put it up for the long winter ahead.  That is what she grew up eating, and that, not so long ago if you think about it.  Too many people have turned to the purchase on demand option of shopping for dinner on the way home from work every evening.  Ask the average Joe how much water they have on hand at home and more times than not, the answer will be "I turn on the tap and it's there".   Why do so many people assume that that will always be the case?   What does it take to convince people that having a few basic supplies to last you through even a few days is a smart idea?  Maybe they don't want to be seen as the tin foil hat wearing types.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What Are You Growing?

OK, so you have all heard how we should all be growing some amount of food.  Wheather in a huge outdoor garden or in a couple of flower pots in the window...let's hear what YOU are growing and why.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Earthquakes 101

As a follow up to the series on disaster mitigation, here is a link to a post by itsadisaster caled Earthquakes 101.  Lots of great info from a real disaster pro.

End of the world as we know it?

And yet I feel fine....

Again this week, the predictions of doom and gloom abound. Financial collapse, government control, The End Of The World As We Know It is being proclaimed as being at hand. Preppers are urged to ramp up their programs as the need for your bullets, beans and band-aids is right around the corner. Or is it?

Something to remember about the whole prepper/survivalist movement is that by and large, it was and is a movement largely centered in the United States. Somewhat fuelled by the myth of rugged American individuality, it is also partly driven by Cold War sensibilities (few other countries felt as at risk of an apocalyptic war as did the USA) and is mixed in with the unique American fear of their own government. Topped with a sprinkling of homesteader/ self - sufficiency wistfulness, it remains on the whole something of a navel gazing exercise that rarely looks outside the borders of the continental USA.

Most of the major commentators in the field are American, and if you read many of the blogs, it appears that the end of civilization is at hand. This of course is an American-centric view, and most of the bloggers seem to think that the rest of the world will disappear, wait on hold, or collapse right along with the USA. I’m interested to think that a small unstable country of 111 million will go on ‘hold’ and not have an effect on American events in a collapse. Likewise, I find it interesting to think a large, inherently stable country like Canada would necessarily collapse if the US did.

As the events that have occurred since 2008 have proved, we are not necessarily bound to follow the US down the tubes. We have largely weathered the economic storm of the last few years, and in fact have one of the healthier economies around. That doesn’t mean that events south of the border don’t or won’t affect us, as they have and will. Heck, events in Japan are having an effect here.

But remember that the US, Japanese, European situations are not your situation. Your preparations need to be driven by three factors:

1. Your immediate personal situation: By this I mean what risks you face locally, whatever form that those risks may take. Almost all the bad news you see in a day will never have an effect on your life, but an event that is a mere footnote in the news could be a world ending experience for you.

2. Provincial/ Country situation: Here you are looking medium to longer term. Look at the economy, taxes, political scene, energy supply, food and water situations. How are they likely to play out and affect you in the coming months or the next year or two? What are the possible likely consequences?

3. Long view/world view: Finally, you need to try to see long term trends. This is far more difficult, but should inform your decisions on short and medium term matters. Global energy crisis? Political instability? Crop failures? How will these things affect Canada? And how will they affect you?

Remember that in prepping every situation is unique. While world events or events next door are often worrying, they may or may not affect you. Observe, analyze and then make the decisions you need to make based on your situation, not some one else’s. Keep in mind, prepping should reduce your anxiety, and while there are some possible 'black swans ' that we all face (Carrington event, anyone?), every person needs to find the unique solution to fit their situation.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

How Far Should You Go With Your Preps?

There are several degrees of prepper out there.  From the guy with a flashlight in a drawer and some batteries "around somewhere" to the hardcore survivalist type with a compound in the wilderness protected by explosive boobytraps.  So just how far should we go with our preps?  Well, that of course is up to you.

Any government website will tell you to be able to support yourself for 3 days.  That would mean 3 days worth of food, water, medical supplies, and a shelter to cover the absolute minimums.  However, this plan of prepping would presume that you intend to be taken care of by disaster relief agencies as soon as they arrive, a scenario that I am personally not fond of.  Remember Hurricane Katrina?  Reports from the public shelters were not all that wonderful.

As a step further, many people keep food & water for about 2 weeks.  These people usually also prepare with alternate heating & cooking, backup generators and plenty of lighting options.  Not a bad idea, as this kind of prepping will last most people through most of what we have seen in recent history with a minimum of discomfort.

Further to that, there are the preppers who aim for a year of self sufficiency.  These guys will usually have property of some sort with an extensive garden, and possibly a few small animals for production of much of their own food.  The advantages to this is that you control much of what goes into your diet.  Home canning, dehydrating, and stockpiling of staples,  as well as alternative energy sources can be found in regular use.  These are the people that, if you're not a prepper, wouldn't even know exist.  They keep their supplies out of the eyes of everyone, don't tell you about how well stocked they really are and for good reason.  If there should be a major event that would require such extensive supplies, wouldn't you head to them for help if you had no preps?

Then there is the stereotypical survivalist.  Found throughout Canada and the US dawning camoflage everything, stocked up with more guns & ammunition than toilet paper and bragging about how they can't wait for the end of the world to come.  Tin foil hats will be an option for them as they aren't really sure where those voices in their heads are coming from.  You will see them around town in massive trucks picking up supplies at the town seed & feed, but never really know where they live.  They will have several years of basic food such as rice & beans, but not much in the way of comfort food.  The compound will be surrounded by chickens, goats, rabbits and possibly even a cow & pig or three.  These guys are the ultimate in their own minds and are not to be toyed with even a little.

So where do you fit in?  Well, if you're like me, then scenario #3 is your target.  Ready for whatever mother nature should toss your way and at least getting ready for something worse.  Just what is something worse?  Well there are many out there that will tell you that the world economy is about to collapse making currency useless.  Still others will have you believe that an asteroid is headed towards us and will wipe out 90% of the earth's population.  Well folks, let's try to keep things in perspective.  If you want my advice, look at history in your area of the country.  What kinds of things have happened in the past 100 years or so.  Do you live in a hurricane or tornado prone area?  Is there a major fault line under your feet?  Does the winter bring frequent & extended power outages or does the spring raise the waterline in the river nearby.  Find out and get ready to deal with these things.  Then ask yourself what if?  Toronto is not exactly in tornado alley, but they have had them.  Then take a look at what the more extreme preppers have to say and balance your beliefs against your common sense.  Will the economy degrade to the point where only gold and silver are acceptable payments for basic necessities?  Well maybe not, but given the current financial status, you might well lose your job and have a very hard time finding a new one and even then will you be making the salary you have now?  How about the loss of the major bread winner of the family?  Life insurance policies can take several months to pay out.  If an earthquake were to devastate you and your neighbors, how long would it take for things to get back to normal?  If you ask yourself simple questions like these, you may well realize that being self reliant for a year or even more may not be such a bad idea, but be sure to cover the most likely situations first and foremost.

Then again, if you do believe that an event with such consequences not outdone by anything less than the apocalypse itself is imminent, then by all means go get that secluded compound stocked and armed to the gills.  Just don't forget plenty of tin foil for head gear.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Disaster Mitigation - Eartquakes

Earthquakes are more common in certain areas of the country such as the west coast, however many of us have experienced earthquakes in other parts of the country.  Canadian earthquakes have, in recent history, been notoriously mild in comparison to what we have recently seen on the news in Japan, Chile, and The big San Francisco Quake of 1989.  However, most damage and injuries are caused by relatively light damage such as objects falling from shelves or bookcases and cabinets tipping over.  To help reduce damage, there is one golden rule...if it's not tied down, tie it down.  Use material straps to secure bookcases and cabinets to the wall.  These traps can be made from old jeans or other sturdy cloth and is easily installed out of site. Keep heavy objects off the upper shelves and secure figurines and other family heirlooms to shelve by using earthquake or florist putty.  Water heaters and other heavy appliances can be secured with perforated, flexible metal strapping known as plumber's tape.  You can also have your home retrofitted by having foundations and framing secured by a reputable contractor.  If you have natural gas or propane appliances in the home, use flexible connector pipes when having them installed.  Also, flexible plumbing such as PVC or PEX can be used.  This will flex with the movement of the earth and is less likely to break during an earthquake.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Disaster Mitigation - Storm Related

This is a multi-part post that will cover storm related issues including lightning, wind & power loss mitigation.  All of these scenarios are likely during a thunderstorm and there are several things we can do to lessen the effects.

Let's take a look at lightning.  There are things you can do to protect your property such as installing a lightning protection system.  Basically this would consist of lightning rods on the roof of your house, barn or other structures connected to heavy guage cables that provide the current a path to ground, therefore reducing or even eliminating the devastation of a lightning strike.  Also, you can install surge protectors for the whole home at the electric panel, or smaller plug in units at the outlets where sensitive devices are located.  For computers, a UPS (uninterrupted power supply) with surge protection built in.  This will allow you to shut down computers safely.

Wind is a common problem that occurs with hurricanes, tornadoes, microbursts, thunderstorms and winter storms.  It accounts for about 70% of insured losses reported worldwide.  Here are some suggestions to help reduce the impact of strong winds.  First, inspect and strengthen weak spots on your home.  Repair loose siding and roofing.  Roofs can be secured by installing anchors, braces or truss straps.  Get storm shutters for windows including patio and french doors.  Keep plywood on hand if your area is prone to high wind conditions such as hurricanes.  Anchor out buildings securely with long braces driven into the ground, this goes double for motor homes.  Don't leave loose items around the yard.  Make sure that gardening tools, building materials, and patio furniture & accessories are stored away in secured buildings, or at least tied down securely.  Consider a safe room inside your house.  Most injuries are caused by flying debris which can break trough windows easily.  Look for a room in or near the center of the home and with no windows.  Such a room can be easily constructed in a basement, but for many, the bathroom fits the bill nicely.  If you do use a basement room, be aware that many storms that provide high wind will also produce heavy rain and flooding could become an issue.

High winds are almost always accompanied by power loss as trees are uprooted, knocking out transmission lines.  Emergency lighting can be easily taken care of...see my earlier post on emergency lighting options here...
Many people, including myself, opt to keep a backup generator on hand.  You should know how to use it safely and keep fuel stored outside the house.  I have two refidgeraters, one chest freezer, and a deep well pump I run for 2 - 3 hours twice a day during extended outages.When the generator is running to keep the fridges cool and get water to the house, I plug in any rechargeables I need to boost up.  Ask about sizing a generator before making a purchase.  A 3000W unit simply would not do what I need it to.  Mine is in the range of 8000W with a surge of 9500W.  Here are some safety tips for running your genset.  Some people will suggest that you can plug your generator into a dryer outlet to "backfeed" your entire home.  There are two problems with this type of hookup.  First, you risk electrocuting linesmen that may be working to restore your power.  Second, Your homes electrical panel was not designed to have power fed backwards through the breakers and could easily set your home on fire.  Never use a generator inside your home, garage, basement or near windows or doors.  The fumes from the exhaust can kill you and they have no smell ar indication of their presence before it is too late.  Shut down your generator and allow it to cool before refueling.  If you store extra fuel for it, treat it with a fuel stabilizer to extend gas life.  Keep extra oil, sparkplugs and filters on hand and test it often.  A poorly maintained generator is prone to failure just when you need it most.  Read the manual and follow the maintenance guides and suggestions. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Disater Mitigation - Wild Fires

As the population grows, more & more people are building their homes in what was once virgin forest area.  Homeowners who build in wooded areas must take certain precautions to protect their homes as much as possible.
Build using fire retardant materials, or have flammable materials sprayed with fire retardant chemicals.  Keep your roof and gutters clear of pine needles, leaves, and other debris.  Clear any trees and other flammable vegetation at least 30' from your house.  Limb trees 10' - 15' from the ground.  Keep fuels stored well away from the house in non flammable structures such as a metal shed or box.  Stack firewood at least 30' from the home and clear a 10' area around propane tanks and other fuel storage.  Keep debris such as leaves, sticks and pine needles cleaned from the ground around the house and mow grass regularly.  Have dead trees & shrubs removed promptly.

Finally, keep a hose connected to a faucet at all times and keep fire fighting tools such as as axe, ladder, shovels etc. on hand.  Install smoke detectors in the house and change (NOT CHECK) the batteries twice a year, when you change the time on the clocks.  If you have a chimney for a furnace, fireplace or wood stove, have it cleaned before every heating season and keep fire extinguishers close by.  Make sure that wood ashes are cooled for several days in a metal bucket outdoors before disposing.  Have spark arresting screens installed in chimneys.  Avoid open outdoor fires, especially during dry spells.  If you enjoy a campfire or need to burn debris outdoors, do so in a well constructed fireplace and keep fire smothering materials such as sand or water on hand.  Make sure fires are dead out before leaving the area.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Disaster Mitigation - Floods

Floods are widely considered the second most common disaster related expense on insured property.  There are several scenarios that can lead to flooding such as severe rain storms, hurricanes, melting snow, and damaged dams or levees.  If you live in a flood zone, there are several things you can do to help prevent damage from flood waters.
First, have your electrical entrance moved from the basement to the first floor.  Install GFCI circuits on lower levels, these will protect themselves at the first sign of water by tripping the breaker.  There are two ways to install GFCI protection.  The first is to install GFCI outlets, these will cut power to themselves when a ground fault is detected, however, power will remain live in the wires leading to them.  The second is to have GFCI breakers installed in the main panel.  They will trip the same way as the outlets, but will cut power to the entire circuit from the panel.
Move any appliances out of your basement, have washers & dryers installed on upper floors.  HVAC units can also be installed in attics.  If you have a furnace that must be left in the basement, try having it raised off the floor, and above the normal flood line.
Build barriers and landscape your property so as to help hold back flood waters.  Waterproof foundation walls and install a sump pump that will evacuate water well away from the house.  You can also have check valves installed in drains to prevent water from backing up from the sewer system.
Above all, keep valuables out of the basement.  Family heirlooms and precious possessions are best stored in the attic or upper floors.  Be aware of typical flood seasons for your area and double check your property before the season begins.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Disaster Mitigation

This is an introductory post to a series on disaster mitigation.  Mitigation can be simply described as efforts made to minimize the impact of a disaster SHOULD one occur.  There are many ways we can take steps to reduce the damage and impact that occurs during and continues after a disaster.  The first step in disaster mitigation is to educate yourself.  Learn the risks that equate to your particular geographic area and take responsibility to protect yourself and your loved ones from the unexpected.  For instance, residents of the plains provinces will not need to prepare for a hurricane, where eastern coastal residents should.  In any case, no matter which region you live in, a basic supply of food, water, medical supplies as well as cash should be kept on hand, and should be sufficient to last 2 weeks.  A 2 week supply is only a personal suggested minimum, as government agencies will suggest only a 72 hour supply.  It has been my observation in recent history, that government aid may easily take more than 3 days to arrive and be properly distributed.  Here is an overview of the types of disasters I will be covering...

Tuesday, April 19...Floods

Wednesday, April 20...Wild Fires

Thursday, April 21...Storm Related (lightning, wind, power loss)

Friday, April 22...Earthquakes

I will spare you the post on winter storms & extreme cold until the weather would suggest.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The sky is falling!

I’ve had an interesting week perusing the various survivalist/preparedness websites this week. The overall tone of many of the forums and blogs that I’ve read his week verge on the panic stricken, with the exception of the feudal lord wanna-bes, who are relishing the thought of breaking out the hardware to shoot down the ‘Golden Horde’. There doesn’t seem to be one single reason for this, but I’ve got some ideas on a few of the factors involved.

One of them is the recent pronouncement by a guy named Michael Ruppert that financial and societal collapse will occur in July of this year. His reasoning is that the Japan earthquake has completely messed up the global supply chain, and once the companies that depended on Japan for parts announce their quarterly earnings, all is lost. AHHHH! The sky is falling!

Maybe, but maybe not. While it is obvious that many manufacturers will face part scarcity, it is not necessarily the end of the world. I have no doubt that at this very moment, dozens of companies are racing to capitalize on Japan’s situation and fill the gap. Can they do it? Not completely, but bet on those companies doing their best to steal market share. And bet on Japan working its hardest to retain it. So supply scarcity? Sure. End of the world, not so much.

Another trigger seems to be the Fukushima situation. With TEPCO announcing it will have the radiation leaks dealt with in six to nine months, it’s not a great scenario. But realistically, for most of the planet, it means a teeny bit higher risk of some cancers. I personally feel you’re doing more harm if you breathe in some car exhaust, but radiation is a huge, over-blown boogey-man that scares people beyond rationality.

Of course, there is also the economic situation. The USA, the world’s biggest economy, still seems unable to put its house in order financially. China, in second place, has economic issues as well. Either of these countries suffering a major economic implosion is not going to leave the rest of the world untouched.
What’s it all mean? It means that like most of history, there are potential physical, political, and economic disasters waiting to happen. It also means that there are lots of people out there prophesying doom and trying to make a name or money from it. Likely, they are NO BETTER INFORMED THAN YOU.

I’m not telling you all is well, but I am saying don’t let the doomers spook you either. Keep your head and make an honest assessment of your local, national, and the world situations. Remember that newspapers and TV don’t get your attention by telling you the good news, so keep things in perspective.

If you do that, you will be better informed as to what to prepare for and how, and your preps will grow in a manner that will let you weather whatever comes your way. Stay on course with a sensible program of preps. Keep working away at getting your food, water, medical and financial preps to where you believe they should be for your peace of mind.

And ignore the Chicken Littles…

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Emergency Lighting Options

When the power goes out thee are many things we will miss.  Computers, television, refrigerators & stoves will all be useless.  We can do without the electronic stuff and camping stoves will fit the bill for cooking.  Your fridge will keep things cool for a short time, but eventually the contents will have to be eaten or wasted.  Now what do you do when the sun goes down?  Well, either go to bed of find another way to light up the way without flicking the switch.  There are several options for emergency light and some are much better than others.  What you want to look for is something that is safe, renewable, and bright enough to show the way.

Candles offer a decent amount of light and contribute to the heat too, but knock one over and there could be bigger problems than you are prepared to deal with.  Candle lanterns help prevent this, but most of these use the tiny tea light candles that give off a limited amount of light.  Not to mention that you either have to keep them burning, or light them every time you need it.  Oil lamps & kerosene lamps are another open flame option.  Here too though, if you knock one over, you will be in bigger trouble than with an overturned candle.  Also, some lamps tend to smoke a little and have an unpleasant odor.  Lastly for the open flame option are propane and naptha lanterns.  These will give you a decent amount of light, are adjustable in intensity, and also contribute to heat.  However, the 1 lb cans of propane are costly to stock up on in quantity, and the naptha versions need pumping to gasify the fuel.

There are a multitude of battery powered flashlights & lanterns available.  These will almost all give off really good light and are safe to use.  For the lantern types, larger C or D size batteries will need to be stored.  These can get expensive for quality cells(for reliability and durability, I suggest Duracell).  One way to help save on the costs is to get rechargeable batteries.  However, I have yet to find a quick charger for these larger type cells.  There is a product on the market that is essentially a C or D sized case that you put AA batteries into.  The AA batteries come with 15 minute chargers that plug into the accessory outlet of your car.  A great idea if you can get them.  Smaller, hand held flashlights are great for walking around with.  They take smaller sized batteries that are easy to find in quick recharge versions.  As a side note, I have a solar recharger for up to 4 AA cells that will charge up batteries in the time of an average sunny day, making it possible to have 4 completely charges batteries for the night time.

My favorite items are the self renewable type lights.  Solar powered garden lights work well to light up a room enough to get around.  Simply put them back into the sun during the day, and bring them in at dusk.  A perfect option for bathrooms, and bedrooms where you only need enough light to get around without stubbing your toes.  If you want, you can remove the rechargeable batteries inside and put them in a standard charger, most of these garden lights have 1 AA sized rechargeable battery that can be easily removed.  Next on my favorite list is the hand crank flashlight.  Many models can be charges by solar, crank or plugged into a laptop usb port.  I have two that will also charge a cell phone from the hand crank and also have a radio built in.  I use these all the time during short power outages and I can get about a half hour of radio with only a couple of minutes of cranking.  If the light is dim when you turn it on, simply crank and go!  They also sell crank powered lanterns, but I have yet to try them out.  I have read many reviews that claim low light levels and/or short run time compared to crank time.

All in all, as you can tell, I always try to go with self renewable lighting for my emergency needs.  However, I also store candles, oil lamps & oil, propane lantern & propane cans, regular flashlight & Duracell batteries as well as my hand crank & rechargeable batteries.  I hope this article helps you find the option that is right for you, but just remember, diversity is's better to have a few candles in case you can't get those rechargeables charged than to have to sit in the dark.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Emergency kit for the car

There are a few essentials that everyone should keep in their car.  Having a minimum of supplies can mean the difference between getting off the freeway at the next exit to get to a service station and sitting for hours by the roadside waiting for the tow truck to get to you through all the traffic. Keep a bottle of all your car's fluids on hand.  Engine oil, transmission fluid, Premix Prestone, power steering fluid and brake fluid.  1 liter of everything, except the Prestone, get the 4l jug.  On top of that, if they make a stop leak for it...get it.  If you have a power steering leak, for instance, you can pour in the recommended amount of stop leak then top it off with PS fluid to keep you going.  Stop leak is a temporary repair and should not be used instead of an actual mechanical repair job, but you may be surprised how far this stuff can get you.  A can of self inflating tire sealant is a great addition to your supplies.  This will get you going faster than getting out the spare & jack, and if you are on a long road trip, you won't have to unpack everything to get to it either.  Just remember, like the stop leak, this is a temporary patch.  I also recommend a spare fan belt & radiator hose repair kit.  If need be, find a mechanic that can teach you how to install these.  Along with that, keep a set of basic tools with you.  I know a lot of people will tell you that cheap is good enough, but get something that will hold up to automotive repairs at least once.  An all in one screwdriver from the dollar store just won't cut it and will likely break before you get the screw undone.  Lastly, look in your fuse box and find out what tpes of fuses your car uses.  Get a few of each type as this can help keep the power widows rolling down, or your headlights lit.  All in all, this kit really shouldn't cost a whole lot.  Get a few things at a tome from Canadian Tire or other automotive stores as they go on sale.  For the tools, I suggest a basic kit with it's own case, and expect to pay at least $25.00 on it.  Oh yeah, don't forget the windshield washer fluid too!

You should also do a quick check on your car before leaving on a road trip.  Check & top off ALL fluids, verify that lights & turn signals work, check under the car for leaking fluid stains on the garage floor.  And folks, always, always top off the gas tank before you leave...even if you only nee 1/4 tank or less.

Drive safe Canada

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Disaster You Can't Avoid

I have spent the better part of the last two months trying to help you all understand the importance of preparing for the "what if".  Well, today, let's take a look at prepping for the "when". Ben Franklin once said that in life, there were only two things that were certain, death & taxes.  Death is inevitable.  Weather you believe in a spiritual, all powerful creator or not, the only question surrounding death is when.  Hopefully for us all it will be after a long and fulfilling life surrounded by loved ones and good memories.  Unfortunately, this is not always the case.  An untold number of people die every day, leaving behind loved ones that depended on them to provide shelter, food, and all the other necessities of life.  There are two perspectives to use to look at this scenario. 

On the one hand, there is the family provider.  If your time were to come tomorrow or next week even, does your family have enough food to keep them going for the short term impact?  How about the longer term?  How long will it take for your loved ones to replace the lost income?  Even a plentiful life insurance policy may take months to pay out.  Wouldn't you rest better knowing that your family would have food to eat for a few months or even a year or more?  Would you feel better knowing that there is a stash of cash somewhere so that the bills could be paid at least for a while?  How about the work around the house? Do your loved ones know how to take care of the garden?  Collect seeds for the next year's planting?  How about caring for the livestock or general repairs?

On the other hand, there is the point of view of the spouse.  Ask yourself what would happen if you lost that provider tomorrow.  Do you have food put away?  Cash for bills that need to be paid?  Could you take care of the household chores if needed?

Some people disregard preparedness by saying "this would never happen to me".  Well, hopefully none of us will ever experience a disaster such as a tornado, nuclear accident or attack, hurricane, or any other natural or mane made disaster, but then again, isn't losing a loved one a disaster in itself?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Warning Signs of a Tornado

As summer approaches, so does the risk of tornadoes.  There is no sure fire way to predict when and where a tornado may strike, but there are some signs that can warn us that they are possible.  First off, keep an eye out during a thunderstorm, especially one that brews up quickly.  Thunderstorms can quickly produce conditions favorable to tornadoes.

The first thing to watch out for is hail.  A thunderstorm is considered severe if it produces hail stones 3/4" in diameter.  Many Tornadic thunderstorms can produce softball sized hailstones.

Wind is also a factor.  Gusts of 58 MPH is all that is needed to produce a tornado.  Remember, that's GUSTS, not SUSTAINED!

Frequent and intense lightning is an indication that a tornado is imminent.  The severity of lightning increases with the intensity of a thunderstorm.

Watch the clouds...if you can see a bulge at the base of an approaching storm, this could mean a tornado is coming, especially if the bulge has a rotating motion.

Finally, if you hear a loud rumbling, like a freight train in your kitchen, you should prepare to take cover right away.

No one can say for sure if a thunderstorm will turn into a tornado, but if you keep a watchful eye on a storm, you may see some signs that something bigger is on the way.

Stay safe Canada!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Entertainment For The Kids

How many of us think that when the lights go out, our kids will be deprived of television, video games & the internet?  Not a bad thing you might say.  But let's face it, when the kids get a bit older, say onto the tweens, they need something more than a deck of cards & Monopoly to keep them entertained.  Here are a few options for electronic devices when there is no power.

Get the personal versions of video games like a PSP or Game Boy.  Portable dvd players are great too.  And for a computer, consider a laptop.  All of these options are either rechargeable, or run off 12 volt supplies.  Batteries can be recharged from solar chargers or if you run a generator for a couple hours a day, they won't add much load if simply left off and in charge mode.  A simple 12 volt battery pack should run a portable dvd player long enough to watch 2 movies.  Great for evening entertainment.  Personal video games will keep them occupied for a few hours while the grownups go about their business.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Milk Storage Options

I have found that milk is one of the toughest food items to store long term.  Yhere are a few options, but let's face it, the taste is, well, shall we say aquiered. 

First , and probably the easiest to store long term is instant powder.  If repackaged in an opaque, airtight container and protected from moisture, it will last about a year and a half before starting to lose nutritive value.  The price is reasonable and this would most resemble "real" milk.

Next we have actual milk in a UHT carton.  Usually found in skim & 2%, this product needs no refrigeration if unopened but will only last about 3-6 months(check best before dates in carton)  If you use it on a regular basis and keep your rotation going, it's not a bad product although the taste can be slightly off.

Canned milk comes in 2 forms.  First there is evaporated.  Small cans are mixed with equal parts of water to reconstitute.  Shelf lives are quite good as with all canned items.  However, for drinking, especially with children, this is a pricey option.  Second is sweet condensed.  Not for drinking, but used in many recipes for cooking. Again shelf life is pretty god, but this is not for daily consumption.

If you have young children, say 2 and under, check out the baby formula.  There are several types intended for all age groups up to toddlers.  Simply reconstitute following the directions and serve.

If you don't have land for a cow or a couple of goats, your options are limited.  I store powder & evaporated for drinking, and condensed for cooking.  These seem to be the most stable for storage and I also have formula for the little ones.  Oh, and get some coffee whitener to help save on milk for the grownups.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Two Main Bug Out Scenarios

When a disaster strikes that forces you from your home, you will have only two real options.  Some disasters like hurricanes & earthquakes will likely have you ending up in a local public shelter.  On the other hand, such disasters as nuclear attack, wild fires etc. could have you running out of state to friends or relatives. 

Shelter life is usually short lived, but a favorable situation.  Imagine being crammed into a school gymnasium with hundreds of others with only a thin mat and a few square feet of personal space.  The food served will be a choice of two...take it or leave it, not to mention rationed and scheduled.  There are some provisions you are going to want to make sure you have when you have to hunker down in a shelter.  Have some extra water and something to flavor it.  Single serving stuff is best as it can be hidden much easier in a pack or duffel bag.  You will also want some snacks to supplement the food that is served.  Again, big economy sized potato chips is not what you are looking for here.  Look instead for cereal bars, fruit cups, things like that.  A hand crank radio will help keep you informed when shelter officials don't have the answers.  By the way, I will ALWAYS recommend hand crank flashlights & radios because batteries wear down and are expensive to stock up on.  Canadian tire sells a great flashlight/radio combo unit that also charges cell phones forr about $15.00...I own a few and always have one in my briefcase.  Keep entertainment in mind...have a book or two in the BOB to keep time running at a normal pace.  Doesn't it always seem that time slows down when all you have to do is stare at walls or count ceiling tiles?  Keep some travel sized toiletries in the BOB as well as TP, which may be scarce at a shelter.  Don't forget a change of cloths or two, keep in mind you will likely be sleeping fully dressed...I know I would!  Above all, keep food & water supplies out of site and NEVER leave your belongings unattended.

Your other option will be to travel some distance to shelter with friends or relatives.  For this, you want to have a vehicle in good working order.  Have some extra fuel on hand for tanking up before you hit the road and a 5 gallon or two to take with you.  Water & food will be easier to carry in the car so larger containers will fit the bill here.  Remember to keep them in a handy location and ready to go.  Yes, once you get to where you're going, you will be out of range of the panic and supplies will be available, but given that you will not be the only one getting the heck outta Dodge, and roads could be a nightmare.  Couple that with the fact that you may be taking a round about route and you need to consider a way to heat/cook your food.  An inexpensive propane camp stove works well for this and two 1lb cans of gas should last you a few days.  For the most part, your supplies will be the same as in a shelter scenario, just more of it.  Your biggest concern is the ability to get where you're going.  A tent & sleeping bags wouldn't be overkill if you may have to travel over a couple of days.  Don't forget cash...gas stations along the early part of the route may not have working credit/debit card machines even if a generator gets the gas out of the pumps.  All this is made easier if you go camping.  Simply have all your camping gear neatly stored in the garage or in a garden shed so it is easy to grab.  If you need to go long distances, everyone simply grabs the BOB's out of the front hall closet while Dad Or Mom get the camping gear and a food supply into the trunk.

In short, I would prepare for both scenarios...Have a BOB with the basics for shelter life, then a handy kit for long road trips near the car and ready to go.  Don't forget to check over your kits on a regular basis to make sure food is not spoiled and that everything still works.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Start Your Garden Journal

Now would be a great time to get a journal going to track all those variables for your garden.  There are several ways to do this, hand written notes, spreadsheets, or my favorite, a Microsoft Access Database.  Whatever method you choose, you will want to record certain data.  Some of the details I record are:

Weather - daily high/low temperatures, weather conditions(cloudy, sunny, rainy) as well as precipitation amounts.

Planting records - crop planted, number of rows, row length, seeds per hill etc.

Harvest records - crop harvested, harvest weight, etc.

With these records, I can track how much I planted of what, on what day, and how much produce I got from it.  This way I will know the next year how much more or less of a certain crop I will need to plant as well as when to expect harvests so that I can plan my storage materials.  I also included a notes section to record such things as insect problems and solutions.

Which ever way you decide to record your data, you will find this a very useful tool in the years to come.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Growing Food Indoors

I think it would be safe to assume that many preppers would prefer to have a nice sized plot of land to be able to raise a good sized garden capable of supporting a family all year long.  Unfortunately, most of us will never have that, being that we are tied to our jobs in the urban environment.  For those that are destined to be city dwellers, we can still grow some of our own food, even in an apartment.

In order to do this, we need to go with the container gardening method.  Container gardening is really not that hard, nor expensive to do and the results can be fun, nutritious, and satisfying.  There are only a few basic items you need.

First of course would be containers.  You can use pretty much anything that will hold soil and water.  Many people use buckets, trash cans, and all sorts of containers for their indoor garden, but let's face it, actual flower pots of decent size can be found at your local dollar store.  Yes, they are made of thin plastic of mediocre quality, but consider that they don't have to stand up to a harsh outdoor environment that a rural outdoor yard would present.  Just be sure you get something fairly large, as tomato plants won't grow very well in a six inch pot.  Aim for about a foot around and about a foot deep.  Also, they usually come with drip pans or the pans can be bought seperatly.  This will keep your landlord and downstairs neighbor happy should you over water your veggies.  If you do decide to go with a recycled container, make sure yu have something under it that can catch enough overflow to prevent floor damage, or even worse, downstairs neighbor ceiling damage.

Next, you will need a growing medium.  This is where you can get a real advantage over the rural gardener.  Your local home center will have a great selection of organic, weed free, soils & composts to choose from.  These mediums will be of optimal quality and provide a perfect environment to grow your produce.  Outdoor gardeners can spend years amending their soil and still not have a mix as well suited to growing as what you can get for not much money at Home Depot.

If you have a balcony, then you are at an advantage if you get at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.  If you are limited to indoor growing, then try to fill a large window space to get that precious sunlight.  Some of us however, are unlucky enough to get little to no direct sun in the windows at all.  To help with this, you can get plug in fluorescent light fixtures from your local home center for under thirty bucks.  Add a grow bulb to this and voila...instant sunlight.  A timer can help regulate exposure while you ride a desk at that nasty day job.

One very important advantage to indoor container gardening is that your growing season never ends.  You will be amazed how long you can keep bush beans producing if you constantly harvest what comes ready.  The trick here might be to supplement the slowly disappearing sunlight with the grow light option to fool your plants into thinking it's still summertime in mid January.

Although you won't be able to grow enough hard red wheat to bake a loaf of bread per day, you can have fresh veggies & greens all year long for next to no money out of pocket.  And your body will thank you for it too.

Bugging Out as A Group

Here is a repost of an article on the American Preppers Network...very informative & worth a read.
Bugging Out as A Group
From: Sibi Totique
The Bug Out Bag (BOB) is a tool focused on providing an individual with the tools and equipment to Survive a shorter trip to a safe location in case of a sudden threat or disaster. The BOB can also be referred to as a Get Out Of Dodge (GOOD) bag, 72 Hour Kit, Grab Bag or I’m Never Coming Home (INCH) bag. In my view it’s far more likely that an individual would evacuate, or be bugging out together with family members and friends than doing so alone. This is the subject that this post will address: Tactics for bugging out as a larger or smaller group.

The size of groups can vary but ideally groups should have four to six members. The reason why this is an ideal number is that such a group can share the basic equipment needed: Shelter in form of for example a tent and stove for preparing food just name a few items. If a party consists of more than 6 people I would suggest that the group is split into smaller sub-groups that share tent and stoves. Carrying a fully equipped BOB is hard for a single individual; a single individual can’t carry all forms of specialized equipment. A larger group allows for more specialized tools and equipment too be brought than what a single individual can carry.

Individual Kits and the Group Kit
If an individual has to carry all the equipment need on he’s or her own the weight of the pack will be heavier compared to if a person could share the weight of items among a Group. The suggested step of individuals can also be reduced: It’s not necessary that every member carry multiple tools for starting a fire and several knives if every member has one. If an alone individual would carry a single knife or fire starter the consequences would be worse if this equipment would be lost compared to if this happened to a single individual. Multi functions shelters like the Fjellduk and Bivanorak functions both as a poncho and bivi-bag and can provide shelter for an individual if they would get separated from a Group.

During a real life emergency there is no telling what might happen, group members could be separated or unable to meet up so it is still important the individual packs can sustain the individuals. One of the most common forms of Groups is Families. If you are packing for a Family make sure that every member can carry their own bag. For children and young people how can walk by themselves prioritize that they carry their own clothing, water, sleeping bag and sleeping pads.
Individual Bug Out Bag
[ ] Long sleeve base layer shirt (I recommend Merino Wool)
[ ] Short sleeve base layer shirt
[ ] Change of underwear
[ ] Hat or Watch cap
[ ] Gloves
[ ] Buff or Shemag
[ ] Shell Jacket (Waterproof and wind proof)
[ ] Warm Long Sleeve Shirt
[ ] Heavy Duty Pants
[ ] Poncho, Rain Clothing, Fjellduk or Bivanorak
[ ] Hiking Boots
[ ] 2 pair of Extra socks
[ ] Watch

Choose a backpack with a steel or aluminum frame. If you’re going to carry a heavy load over some distance you’re going to need a good backpack. If the frame is internal or external is a question of what you prefer, both have advantages and disadvantages. Backpacks with external frames are generally stronger and can be used to carry other things than your bag like a wounded person or a heavy tank of water. Pack your items in waterproof bags; use different colors so that you know what’s inside the different bags. I also recommend that you get a waterproof bag or container for your cell phone. I suggest that you put certain equipment like your first aid kit in locations that are easily accessible if you would need them. Always put the same items in the same location in your bag so you don’t have to spend much time looking for your items, this also makes easier to see if something would be missing from your pack. Always carry at least one knife and your Pocket Survival Kit on your person in case you would lose your backpack.

[ ] Sleeping Bag (Sleeping bag liners helps to extend the lifetime of your sleeping bag)
[ ] Sleeping Pad, Hammock or Hennessy Hammock.

[ ] Flashlight or/and Headlamp (LED)
[ ] Extra Batteries (Lithium)

[ ] Matches in waterproof container
[ ] Lighter
[ ] Fire Steel
[ ] Tinder

Survival Knives
[ ] Fixed Blade Knife
[ ] Back Up Knife: Folding Knife, Multi Tool or Swiss Army Knife for example
[ ] Sharpener

Pocket Survival Kit
[ ] Matches
[ ] Fire Steel
[ ] Snare Wire
[ ] Wire Saw
[ ] Sewing Kit
[ ] Button Compass
[ ] Safety Pins
[ ] Whistle
[ ] Candle
[ ] Small LED lamp
[ ] Small Knife or Razor blade
[ ] Fishing kit
[ ] Pencil
[ ] Water Purification Tablets
[ ] Painkillers
[ ] Anti Diarrhea Tablets
[ ] Antihistamines
[ ] Antibiotics
[ ] Condom or Alok Sak

[ ] One or Two Water bottles (Nalgene, Klean Kanteen, Camelback or SIGG)
[ ] Water Bladder for your backpack; Camelback, Nalgene or similar system.
[ ] Water Purification Tablets

[ ] Freeze Dried Rations or Meals Ready to Eat (MRE:s). Pack minimum 6 meals for 72 hours
[ ] Powerbars, Flapjack, Beef jerkey, Trailmix or other snacks
[ ] Tea, Coffee, Sugar and Powdered milk
[ ] Salt and Pepper
[ ] Spork (Or Knife, Fork and Spoon)
[ ] Plate and Cup

[ ] Compass
[ ] Cash or Gold/Silver
[ ] Notebook
[ ] Pen

[ ] Roll of toilet paper (in waterproof bag)
[ ] Soap
[ ] Toothbrush, Toothpaste and Dental Floss
[ ] Razor
[ ] Hand Disinfection
[ ] Insect Repellant
[ ] Sun Block or Skin Care Lotion

[ ] 550 Paracord
[ ] Small First Aid Kit and Blister Kit
[ ] Sunglasses
[ ] Special personal needs (extra prescription glasses, medication etc)

Equipment shared by the Group
Every individual should have a personal Bug Out Bag but some of the equipment should be divided among the members most importantly:
[ ] Tent
[ ] Tent Repair Kit and Multi Tool
[ ] Stove and spare parts. Example of Stove could be a Trangia Stove, Kelly Kettle, Esbit, Multi Fuel Stoves or Jetboil.
[ ] Cooking Vessels
[ ] P-38 Can Opener
[ ] Steel wool, Mop and Washing Up Liquid
[ ] Fuel for the stove
[ ] Water Purification Filter
[ ] Map, Waterproof container for map, GPS, Extra Batteries, Compass
[ ] Large First Aid Kit with basic medication.

Examples of other items that can be divided among members of the group are:
[ ] Compact Radio with spare batteries
[ ] Axe, Machete, Parang or Folding Saw
[ ] Binoculars
[ ] Signal Flares, Emergency Strobe, Signal Mirror, Chemical Lightsticks or Spot (Satellite GPS Messenger)

At what point should one Bug Out?
The hardest questions for a Bug Out scenario is when one should be bugging out. What kind of circumstances should trigger such a response? Here Risk Assessments can help to identify potential threats but in a real crisis situation one will always have to make decisions based upon incomplete and often contradicting information. This will also have to be done under time pressure. It’s hard to manage and understand a crisis even for government agencies with enormous resources and a large staff. Knowledge and research about potential threats can help one understand how previous events have unfolded and what consequences they have had. Researching different risks in form of Man-Made and Natural Disasters that is likely to manifest in your local area can help you make better decisions based on limited information.

It’s also important that groups create routines for establishing contact if electronic communications goes down or are interrupted. Meeting points and alternative meeting points and possible routes should also be addressed. If one group decides to evacuate, where does this group leave messages to other concerning the route taken and the people how have evacuated.

The March
A briefing before the March is important so that all members know what intended route that the party intends to travel. Where should the members rally if the group members get separated? If the group is large walkie-talkies can be a useful tool for communicating between the different members of a large group especially if it’s stretched out during a March or travelling in different vehicles.

If the party travels by foot the party should stop after 15-30 min and regulate clothing so that people don’t sweat or are getting cold. If the members sweat too much dehydration may soon become a serious problem. When the group stops take time to adjust the packs so that they are comfortable to carry. Make a habit of often checking that your vital equipment like your knife rests in its sheath. When a group makes a stop also make sure that all the members are present. Never let any individual stray away alone without the group stopping, if something must be done members should always try to stay together with another individual. The pace of the party must be governed by the weakest members in the party, if members get to tired the risk of accidents and injury increases so make sure to make a short stop once per hour or after passing through rough terrain. Checking up on the members and taking care of each other is also critical. Everything from blisters, back problems, dehydration and other problems are much easier to deal with in an early stage. It’s also important for how the social dimension of the group is working.

The party members should regularly be checking the terrain behind them; especially those how walk in the rear of the party. This is very important because it can be very hard to find the way back since the terrain looks very different going back the other way. In high risk areas it can also important to see if anyone is following the party.

The rest of the members should also keep an eye open and be aware of the surrounding environment; it can be a good idea that different members keep attention to designated directions. By being alert the party can spot dangers, find water, shelter, eatable plants and sometimes other equipment that can be useful.

Setting Up and Breaking Camp
When a Group makes camp for the night it’s important that every member of the party helps out with the different tasks that must be done. Some of the tasks that should be done are
• Raising the tent or arranging shelter.
• Collecting fire wood and get a fire going in a secure location. Whenever there is fire wood available this should be used to save fuel for the stoves.
• Prepare an evening meal.
• Collecting and purifying water.

From the time that a party wakes up in the morning until the party has eaten breakfast, cleaned up and attended hygiene, packed tents and are ready to leave normally takes 1-2 hours.

• A Group are likely to have more areas of expertise than a single individual.
• In case that an individual get injured the others can give care or in a worst case scenario carry this individual on a stretcher.
• More specialized equipment can be brought helping the group to cope with more situations.
• The carrying load for each individual will be lower if a Group shares tents and stoves.

• Moving with a large group often takes longer time.
• The Group can have members with a poor physical fitness, children and elderly or even injured people that slow the phase of the Group.
• Some members are likely to have low quality equipment/clothing or be lacking some equipment.

Another important aspect is getting to know the other members of your group. Engaging in activities like hiking is an excellent way both to test equipment, routes, clothing, increase fitness, getting experience and getting to know the other members of a possible group. What are the strength and weaknesses of the members? What skills do they possess and what skills do they lack? What skills can the different members help each other obtain? Working out differences within the group before a real crisis is also important; a real crisis will be extremely hard both physically and emotionally for a group evacuating an area. Latent conflict within the group may then become a big problem. Learning how to deal with conflict within a group is something that should be dealt with before an emergency. It’s hard to know how people will react under extreme pressure, but hiking, camping and hunting trips before a real emergency will provide some opportunities to deal with these issues before.

Bug Out Vehicles (BOV)
Vehicles can make it possible to travel over distances that would take weeks to travel in a matter of hours if the conditions are excellent. A vehicle intended to be used when bugging out is often referred to as a Bug Out Vehicle or BOV. Vehicles also allow heavier equipment to be brought along. However, during an large scale evacuation from a city or urban area roads can turn into to traffic jams that can stretch for miles where the traffic bacilli comes to stand still. This problem may be reduced in some cases by taking roads that normally aren’t trafficked but is still not a guarantee. In addition to cars and trucks other alternatives can be used depending on terrain like boats, mountain bikes, snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles or even air planes depending on your situation and budget.

One tactic that is often discusses is the option to stash heavy equipment along possible Bug Out routes or at alternative locations like the homes of family members or friends. Some equipment can be outstanding for wilderness life and survival, however these items are often too heavy or bulky too be carried over long distances witch make caching them a possible alternative solution. There are of course risks involved in stashing equipment, it can be stolen or destroyed by weather just to name a few. If you have to evacuate by another route than the intended one you will be unable to take advantage of the equipment. If you are planning on using this tactic you must consider the pros and cons of different locations and methods.

Example of items that can be considered
[ ] Dutch Ovens
[ ] Murrikka
[ ] Larger Tents with Woodstoves
[ ] Large Tarps
[ ] Heavy Duty Wool Blankets
[ ] Large Water Containers
[ ] Tools like Axes, Shovels, Hammers, Rope, Pick axe etc
[ ] Fire wood and fuel for vehicles and stoves

Equipment vs Skill and Experience
Equipment can help individuals cope with different kinds of crisis and survival situations by providing tools that makes it easier to find solutions for different kinds of problems. Clothing and shelter provides protection from the elements; compass, map and GPS can makes navigation in un-known territories much easier; a headlamp, chemical lightstick or flashlight can provide light during nights, knives and tools like axes makes it possible to handle a number of different tasks that almost impossible to do my hand; fire steel, matches and lighter makes it much easier to start a fire and so on. However, no matter how much gear you carry your physical and mental endurance, skills, knowing your local area, the will to survive, knowledge and most of all the persons next you will most likely be the crucial factors that determine if you survive or not.

So is this the Ultimate Guide?
In this post you have gotten some suggestions for you can put together a setup for a Group during an evacuation or for a regular hike or camping trip. This Guide is intended to provide some basic ideas and Suggestion for possible setups. However – This is not a Guide that is perfect for every climate and setting.

Every situation, climate and setting is unique and requires specific skills and equipment to be dealt with. There is no One Size fits all when it comes to Bug Out Bags. There is a huge difference if you are putting together a kit for a desert climate, jungle, winter, arctic, wilderness or urban setting. In most regions there are people how spend time outside as wilderness guides, military, hunter, hikers and many more. Find a local expert and take advice from the people how know your local situation best – the people how live and spend time there.

Also see
Bug Out Bag and Checklist
Bug Out Bag - Example of Setups
Light Weight Bug Out Bag
Get Home Bag (GHB)

This article is a part of The Free Online Survival Guide that can be found on the site Sibi Totique.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Book Review...It's a Disaster and what are YOU gonna do about it?

I was very happy to get my copy of this book in the mail on Friday and spent much of the weekend reading it, some sections more than once.  Will this book teach you every survival skill known to man?  Will it teach you how to find rural land and farm it self sufficiently?  Will it teach you the best ways to build a year's worth of emergency supplies? Well, no, but it just might save your life.  This book WILL teach you how to prepare for different kinds of disasters, how to deal with these disasters as they are happening, and how to cope with the aftermath.   Here is a brief overview of the book section by section.

Section 1 deals with family emergency planning, disaster kit supplies for home, car, and office/classroom.  Reminders about special needs for infants, elderly & pets.  Detailed suggestions for  clothing, food/water, first aid supplies, sanitation, etc.

Section 2 is all about mitigation.  That's right, a case by case listing of what to do before, during & after about every kind of disaster you can think of.  From how to protect yourself during a thunderstorm to how to prepare and deal with nuclear attack.  Also tips for shelter living, sanitation for human waste, dealing with death & loss and helping others in a time of need.

Section 3 is an extensive overview of first aid tips, again on a case by case basis.  From heart attack to infectious diseases, to burns & broken bones.  You will want a copy of this book in your bug out kit just as a first aid reference.

Section 4 is an incredibly valuable part of the book with a listing of emergency resources all over the US and....get this.....Canada!  Yes, finally a publication that hasn't left the great white north outside to freeze.

All in all this is an incredible resource for your household.  In my opinion, if you don't get a copy, then you are doing yourself a great disservice.  The book is available in paperback or convenient e-book. Get your copy here...