If you’ve perused the Internet for websites or blogs related to prepping or survival lately you have no doubt notice that they have a tendency to be over whelming gear related. I myself love gear, but the problem is that this can be somewhat misleading. These great looking websites leave you with the impression that if you have all this cool gear you will be able to handle any survival situation, when in fact that is not the case at all.
Gear and tools are an integral part of survival, just look at a police officers duty belt or fireman’s truck or a soldier’s rucksack. The thing to remember in these examples is, all of these individuals went through a tremendous amount of training before they were ever issued any gear. Why? Because gear without training is useless.
For me personally, I can’t tell you how many times I have had what I thought was a terrific idea related to surviving, go out and buy some stuff, only to find out when I put my theory to the test it failed miserably. I didn’t have enough information to make a good decision and good decisions come through practice and training. Watching youtube and reading Internet post are great, but if you fail to practice these new found skills you will no doubt fail when you are tested.
The whole point of the article is to impress upon you that gear (while cool!) will only take you so far, ultimately your knowledge and skills is what will make you successful in a survival situation. So the next time you are about to spend a wad of money on a new bag or weapon, check out your local Community College and see what classes they offer that might increase your knowledge and skills.
Classes to increase your skills and knowledge:
First aid training
Red Cross training
Escape and Evasion
Shooting and Safety classes
I’m not afraid to admit that I keep Ramen noodles as part of my food stores. They are cheap, convenient, have a long shelf life, easily stored, are a comfort food, kids love them, and last but not least… tasty.
From a prepper standpoint they have a couple of drawbacks, one being you have to use water to reconstitute them, the second is the water needs to be hot or boiling. While not the end of the world, it could be a problem depending on your particular situation. Aside from these issues, it’s the perfect food in emergency situations. Heck, I may even decide to put a case or two in Mylar bags and then store them in my food grade buckets for the long haul!
With that said, check out this article from Serious Eats on how to upgrade your instant noodles.
What is it and why even bring up the subject? It’s milk that doesn’t need to be refrigerated until after its opened. This is accomplished by using a different process than regular pasteurized milk. Apparently, the milk is heated to 282 degrees Fahrenheit for several seconds and then cooled rapidly to 70 degrees; at this point the milk is packaged aseptically in a container called a Tetra Pak. Chances are you have already seen Tetra Pak’s in the supermarkets, but its beef broth or chicken broth in the packaging and not milk.
I came across shelf stable milk approximately 2 years ago while working in Afghanistan. I had never seen it before and to be honest I was kind of weirded out by milk that had been literally setting un-refrigerated in Afghanistan for months. Herein lies the problem why Shelf Stable Milk hasn’t really been accepted well in the States. Where as in other parts of the world it’s quite popular. I think part of the problem has been extremely poor marketing on the part of the manufacturer. Folks in the U. S. have a paradigm that milk has to be in cartons or jugs and must be kept in the refrigerator section of the grocery store…period! If you can’t break that thought process, then you won’t be successful and that’s exactly what has occurred with Shelf Stable Milk.
Personally, I think it makes a great addition to your food storage for several reasons:
1. Doesn’t require refrigeration
2. It won’t cost you any of your water like powdered milk does
3. Will last for months or years when stored at room temp
4. Taste exactly the same as milk, cause it is milk!
Finding Shelf Stable Milk can be a challenge and it’s not really cheap especially online when you factor in shipping. I did find that Alpine Food Storage out of Utah has a pretty good selection; I’m not affiliated with the company and don’t know anything about them. If you have had any dealing with the company, please leave a comment.
In closing, I find that Preppers are a unique breed of people and are probably a little more open minded than the general public. If you’re in that category and up for an adventure, I think Shelf Stable Milk is probably a product that might interest you and provide some diversity to your food stores.
You can go to any survival or preparedness website and they will have a list of tools that goes something like this: Knife, Multi-tool, Flashlight, Matches, First Aid Kit, Compass, Whistle, etc. Almost every list is the same with a few minor exceptions or variations. And, for the most part these are all great tools to have on hand all the time, not just in an emergency. But my question to you is, what happens after the so-called “standard” 72 hours is over and the situation has not improved. What do you do now? At this point, you have utilized all of your basic tools and supplies, now what? More specific to this article, what specialized tools or skills are you going to need to make it the rest of the way?
Now before anyone flames me or cries foul, I want to make clear that I’m not suggesting anyone steal, loot or other wise break the law in any form or fashion! What I am suggesting is there may come a point when thinking “outside the box” may be necessary for your survival. This may include using tools in such a way, in which they were not designed to be used. As always, circumstances and common sense should always prevail.
Most of these tools are self-exclamatory and need no explanation, however their use may require some practice. Also, most of these tools would be located in your in home or bug out vehicle and not necessarily in a bug out bag.
- Stiff rubber hose -Siphoning gas and having the tools to remove gasoline from cars may be needed. With today’s vehicles you may find this quite a challenge, older model vehicles may be the way to go.
- Bolt Cutters – Cutting chain link fences, chains, locks, wiring, you name it.
- Lock-pick set – If you have never tried picking locks by all means give it shot. Once you do, you will quickly discover how fun and easy it really is! It’s always a good skill to have, make sure and check your State laws regarding the possession of a lock picking set.
- Hacksaw – Also know as a, “redneck speed wrench”, designed for cutting through metal relatively quickly.
- JB Weld – When it comes to joining two pieces of metal together quickly, this stuff is always handy.
- Car Battery Inverter – By now your cell phone is probably dead after making far too many attempts to call your loved ones. If your like me that cell phone still contains valuable information that you will need access to. You need to recharge it, but the power to the city is off. Lucky for you there are abundance of abandoned cars, which means, car batteries. Attach the battery inverter to the car battery and you’ve got instance power.
- Hi-Lift jack – Growing up on a farm everyone I knew had a Hi-Lift jack in the back of their pick-up. Unfortunately, because of the way cars are designed now days, (horrible bumpers) you will need some special equipment to use the Hi-Lift jack with modern vehicles. Aside from that, this is probably one of the most versatile tools out there, not only can it be used to raise a vehicle, but can also be used to remove a tire from a rim, be used as wench, a manual jaws of life to extricate someone from a vehicle and placed horizontally in a door frame (even metal) can be used to gain entree to pretty much any door on the planet…ok, maybe that’s a stretch.
- Wrecking or Ripping Bar – Opening doors, breaking glass, removing a manhole cover, etc.
- Axe – Fallen trees, firewood, opening doors, getting through obstructions such as standard interior sheet-rock walls, etc.
- EMT Shears – Or trauma shears are awesome, these things can cut seat belts, clothing, flex-cuffs, leather, even thin metal. I personally own 3 pairs, if you don’t own a pair you might to check into them.
I’m reminded every now and again of how we can become so engrossed in a subject that we tend to lose sight of the overall picture. The old saying “You can’t see the forest for the trees” is probably the best example of this. I have to admit this does happen to me every now and then. To correct this I try and detach from the subject and then reevaluate the problem to gain some clarity.
While doing some research on another article I came across a graphic from the National Safety Council, which displays your “lifetime odds of dying for selected causes.” What is interesting about the information is the top three causes are all health related. Heart disease is the number one cause with a 1 in 6 chance of dying, followed by cancer and then stroke. I guess what I came away with was that I may not be able to stop any of the health issues per say, but I can surely influence them in my favor. So while you are out storing food, acquiring gear and making plans, don’t forget the greatest tool you have in any survival situation…“you”, make sure and take care of yourself.
Check out the graphic and let me know what your take is?
I’ve carried a bug-out-bag (BOB) with me for years now, so you would think that it would be an easy topic to write about, on the contrary it’s a very complicated subject. I guess that’s why you see numerous articles across the Internet from people asking what a bug-out-bag is, what the contents should be, and do I really need one. To make the subject even more complicated people use a myriad of different names for bug-out-bags, such as, Bail Out Bags, Ditch Kit, Go Bag, 72 hr kit, Get Home Bag, Every Day Carry (EDC), Get Out Of Dodge. (G.O.O.D) and the list goes on.
In its simplest form, a bug-out-bag is literally a bag of emergency supplies/gear that “you” believe would sustain you in an emergency situation or catastrophic event to get you from point A to point B. Is a bug-out-bag going to save your life, maybe, maybe not? I don’t know if I’ve read where a person stated that a bug-out-bag absolutely saved his or her life. Nonetheless, in the event of an emergency if you have a bug-out-bag I can almost guarantee you, that you will be more prepared than 99% of the other individuals in the same situation. You will also have a psychological advantage as well, so while the majority of people may be frantic because they are unprepared, you able are to move in a confident manner because you took the time to prepare.
So what’s my philosophy on bug-out-bags? When I design and build bug-out-bags I build urban bags. The reason is quite simply, I live in the suburbs and need to get from the city back to the burbs or from the burbs to my bug out location. In either event, I’m not heading off to the woods, so my bags will consist of items for that particular task. My bags will look like any other bag, I want to blend into the crowd and be just another brick in wall.
Sit down and think about your average day and where you spend the majority of your time. For me, I spend the most time in my home, driving in my vehicle and at work. In reality I spend about as much time away from my home as I do in it. So, it might make sense to have a bug-out-bag located in your vehicle, your place of work, and your home. For some that might not be practical, it may be better to carry one bag to each of your locations. This is totally up to you, but its something to consider.
So what’s inside a bug-out-bag? I promise, that no two people will agree on the contents of a bug-out-bag. Why? Because each one of us has different opinions on what’s important and each of our situations is different based on things such as location, geography, personal needs, where we are going, etc. Having said that, I do believe that most people (not all) will agree on certain “core” elements of a bug-out-bag. After you obtain your core items what you add after that is entirely up to you.
Core items should include the following:
- First Aid
*You will notice right off the bat that I did not add a weapon to the core elements. From a security and liability stand point; this bag will generally be lying around possibly unattended or in a vehicle, so it’s probably not a wise idea to keep a weapon in the bag. But, here again this is entirely up to you.
You can easily buy pre-made kits off of the Internet to get you started, but I personally prefer to build my own kits from scratch. The problem I have with pre-made kits is, how can a whole survival kit cost only $40 bucks when you can’t even purchase a good backpack for less than $100 now days. It just doesn’t add up. Plus, in the event that a disaster does strike, I don’t want to have to guess if my equipment will work or stand up to harsh conditions. A bug-out-bag should be something like an investment.
The main things that I consider when building a bug-out-bag:
You will inevitable have a number of problems related to an emergency situation and the weight of you bug-out-bag is going to top your list, not at first mind you, but later when you become exhausted. To help with this, you need to “field strip” everything in your bag including the bag itself. Remove anything that is unnecessary to your survival such as packaging surrounding your gear, as an example ITS Tactical has a great video on field striping an MRE. Don’t stop there, go through your entire bag and do the same with everything in the bag.
What’s in your urban bug-out-bag?
In times of emergencies it’s very unlikely that you will be able to remember the information you need, let alone find all of your critical data. For this reason its imperative to have all of your important papers in a safe location. Additionally, you need to make copies of all of your data and save it to some type of electronic media. Most people opt for the USB drive, they are small, easy and can hold a lot of data. But what information should you put on it? Below is a list of documents to get you started.
- Birth Certificate
- Marriage License
- Drivers License
- Education Diplomas
- Divorce Papers
- Social Security Cards
- Passport/Green Card
- Naturalization Documents
- Living Will
- Power of Attorney
- Mortgage or Real Estate Deeds of Trust
- Vehicle Registration
- Tax Returns
- Property Tax Statement
- Personal Property Tax
- Bank Statements
- Credit Card Statements
- Retirement Accounts (401K, TSP, IRA)
- Investment Accounts (Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds)
- Recent Pay Stubs
- Government Benefits
- Alimony Income
- Child Support Income
- Appraisals of Personal Property
- Rewards Accounts (Frequent Flyer Programs, Hotel Rewards)
- Mortgage Statement
- Utility Bills (Electric, Water, Gas)
- Car Payment
- Student Loan
- Alimony Payments
- Child Support Payments
- Property Insurance
- Rental Insurance
- Auto Insurance
- Life Insurance
- Health Insurance ID Card
- Record of Immunizations
- Disabilities Documentation
- Dental Records
- Current Military ID
- Military Discharge DD 214
- List of important phone numbers
- Web browsers book marks
Once you have all of your documents on the USB drive we then need to encrypt the data, which I will discuss in a follow-up article.
Of late, I keep reading more articles on the subject of Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) weapons and how devastating they are. EMP’s for some reason have become something akin to the Boogey Man. EMP’s are great as story lines in books and movies, but from both a personal and professional stand point EMP’s are at the very bottom of my list of things I need to worry about when it comes to preparing. Why? Because it doesn’t pass the common sense test! Its not that I don’t think they work or anything of that nature, its that the juice ain’t worth the squeeze!
We are talking about one of the most sophisticated weapons on the earth. Saddam Hussein spent hundreds of millions of dollars and years trying to create a nuclear device and couldn’t. Sure, some rogue nation could sell one to a bunch of bad guys, but what do you think the price tag would be for such an item? And, you wouldn’t want it traced back to you. Or, one could be stolen, right. Yep, completely plausible. On both accounts you have to have someone or a group of people, with specialize knowledge that can set this thing up. I’m assuming its not as easy as putting the red wire into the red plug and the black wire into the black plug. Then, we have to drive it to a port and ship this thing to the states by boat. Of course we will bypass any and all security measures. Now we are in the states with this thing, so which city do we go for? New York City, the city, which has become the de facto place that represents all things American. How big is this thing anyways? To get the most bang for our buck we have to detonate this thing up high, maybe the roof of a building. Unfortunately, the other buildings would reduce the effects…a plane. We have to rent a cargo plane and a couple of pilots to fly us over the city and some poor schmuck has to be on board to set it off. The more you talk through it the less and less plausible it all sounds.
Who knows what the effects would be or if it would even work! There are so many variables. It does make for a good story line, but the facts are that the bad guys are constrained by the same things that you and I are, which is money, resources, logistics, personnel, time and so on. There are much simpler, cheaper and more effective ways to create devastation and havoc than though the use of a complicated EMP.
I understand that some individuals are concerned about nuclear war, if that’s the case then an EMP would be the last of your worries. So before you go out and spend some money to build a Faraday cage, think about it.
I was reading the paper this morning and California is again getting hit with devastating forest fires. As someone who likes to be prepared, it got me thinking. What would I do in the same situation? If I had to evacuate my home in 10 minutes or less, what would I take? And, could I grab everything I wanted in such a short time? To get a better feel for this type of situation, here is snippet from the USA Today article.
Lane Butchko, a retired resident without a car, recounted desperately fleeing a half-mile down a mountain road before a motorist picked him up.
“I grabbed my dog and we ran for our lives. I forgot my teeth,” he said. “We were going at a full gallop and halfway down I fell, tripped on the dog’s leash. When I got up, I felt the heat of the fire on my back and I saw a tree burst into flames.”
Its quite obvious that Mr. Butchko had less than 10 mins to prepare, he only had time to grab the dog. So, would you be able to walk away from your home confidently in 10 mins? I’ve provided a few examples of ways to better prepare. As always, the lists are never exhaustive, they are designed to get you thinking.
- Do you have an evacuation plan? Go over it with your family and practice.
- Is your emergency kit ready and located where you need it?
- What is your communication plan? Do the kids know who to call? Do you have an out of state contact?
- Do you have a “meet up” location? You should actually have two meet up places incase the first is inaccessible.
- Do you have your important documents in a central location?
- Are all of your personal affairs in order? Home insurance, will, etc.
- Is your vehicle prepared and does it have any emergency equipment?
The whole point is to have some type of plan so you aren’t completely caught off guard if something bad does happen. If you aren’t sure where to begin or how to start an emergency plan, go check out Ready.gov. They have both online forms and down loadable forms which will help in designing your plan.
It may be the economy, the perceive increase in natural disasters or just the overall mood of the country, but there seems to be a resurgence of interest in underground shelters. USA Today has a story about one individual in California who is selling space in his “13,000-square-foot refurbished underground shelter formerly operated by the U.S. government at an undisclosed location near Barstow, Calif., that will have room for 134 people.” Click on the link to get the full story.