How To Build A Simple Faraday Cage For EMP Survival

How To Build A Simple Faraday Cage For EMP Survival | emp-blast-810x446 | PreparednessSurvival Science & Technology

Of all of the reasons to prepare, one that we all need to take seriously is the possibility of a catastrophic EMP, or electromagnetic pulse. This is a frequent topic in many post-apocalyptic novels and something that most of us are aware of, even if we do not completely understand the science.

As I wrote way back when in the article Prepping for an EMP and Solar Flares:

To be blunt about it, an EMP, if large enough, would affect the entire planet.  In an instant, civilization as we know it would change as we get swept backward in time by a century or two.

Understanding the risks of an EMP goes hand in hand with threats of a cyber-attack since there is a cause and effect relationship between the two.  In this article I want to accomplish a few things:

Explain EMPs and the risks in simple, easy-to-understand language
Give you instructions to build a simple Faraday cage to protect your electronics
Provide a list of items to put inside your Faraday cage

What is an EMP?

An electromagnetic pulse or EMP, is an abrupt burst of electromagnetic radiation.

To start with, an EMP is caused by certain types of high energy explosions.  A nuclear explosion, for example, will surely cause an EMP.  Likewise, an EMP can be the result of a suddenly fluctuating magnetic field.  Or, as I have mentioned before, it can be the result of Coronal Mass Eject (CME) from solar activity.  But perhaps most sobering of all, is the possibility of a man-made EMP weapon that is purposely deployed in order to wreak devastation on our planet.  Scary stuff.

Regardless of the trigger, an EMP can be devastating to the power grid, resulting in rapidly changing electrical fields that will create fluctuating electrical currents and wild voltage surges.  Bottom line?  The electronic gizmos we have come to rely on would be toast.  The microchips would be fried or so severely damaged that they would become useless.

So what would life be like following a massive EMP event or episode?  There would be no power, no transportation systems, no communication systems, no banking, no internet, and, no surprise, no food and no water delivery systems.  This would truly be an End of The World As We Know it situation.

Ask yourself these questions:

What if the power went out and never came back on?  Could you fend for yourself?

Could you keep yourself warm in the winter and cool in the summer?

Where would you find food?

What would you use for money if credit cards and ATM’s no longer worked?

How would you get from one place to another without transportation?

How would you wash your clothes?

How would you keep yourself healthy if sanitation systems were no longer functional and medicine could no longer be manufactured.

And the biggest question of all, how would you communicate with the rest of the world?

An electromagnetic pulse could potentially fry the vast majority of all the microchips in the United States. In an instant, nearly all of our electronic devices would be rendered useless.

Back in 2004 the Wall Street Journal wrote:

“No American would necessarily die in the initial attack, but what comes next is potentially catastrophic. The pulse would wipe out most electronics and telecommunications, including the power grid. Millions could die for want of modern medical care or even of starvation since farmers wouldn’t be able to harvest crops and distributors wouldn’t be able to get food to supermarkets. Commissioner Lowell Wood calls EMP attack a “giant continental time machine” that would move us back more than a century in technology to the late 1800s.”

With that introduction, today I would like to introduce you to the Faraday cage, and further, how to build a simple Faraday cage.

The Faraday Cage

In the simplest of terms, a Faraday cage is any shielded enclosure that surrounds your electronic devices and protects them an EMP blast.  Commonly used enclosures include galvanized metal garbage cans, popcorn tins, and even tightly sealed metal filing cabinets.  In all cases, the metal container is lined with insulating material to prevent the contents from having contact with the metal.  Examples of insulating material are cardboard, Styrofoam, and even carpet scraps.

More elaborate structures can be custom built from sheet metal but for the home user, why bother?  As a matter of fact, I suspect that wrapping your devices in plain, ordinary, aluminum foil will work as well.

Factoid: Faraday cages are named after English scientist Michael Faraday, who invented them in 1836.

What About Using a Microwave Oven?

In my research I read that a microwave oven, new or used,  can be used as an effective Faraday cage.  On the surface, that seems logical since, by design, a microwave oven keeps the energy it creates confined to the interior which likewise, should prevent strong electrical pulses from getting back inside.

This was easy enough to test. I put a cell phone inside my microwave oven and tried calling it. It rang. Oops.  On the other hand, I wrapped my cell phone in aluminum foil and called it.  Nothing. Nada. No Michael Buble ringtone; the call went straight to voicemail.

How To Build A Simple Faraday Cage For EMP Survival | Faraday-Cell-Phone-Test | PreparednessSurvival Science & Technology

A foil-wrapped cell phone blocked the cell signal

Granted, cell phones operate at various radio frequencies so while one cell phone may not work, another one will.  Still, with this being so easy to test, why chance it?

Testing the Faraday Cage

Aside from calling a cell phone, you can test your homemade Faraday cage by putting a portable radio inside the shield after tuning it to a strong FM station.  If you can hear the FM station while the radio is inside your Faraday cage, then you need to go back to square one to ensure your shield is properly sealed.

Sealing your garbage can with duct tape will help tremendously.

A Second (Expert) Opinion

I asked my friend George Ure to comment and to offer his perspective on Faraday cages since EMP preparedness is something he covered in-depth on his subscriber site, Peoplenomics ($40 a year but worth it for the technical information on the many topics he covers.).

He was quick to point out several things about EMPs.  The definitive public information is contained In the 2004 Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued a report “High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) and High Power Microwave (HPM) Devices: Threat Assessments”.  The following diagram shows how an EMP causes the complex systems we rely on to provide everyday essentials for living, to fail in a cascading manner.

How To Build A Simple Faraday Cage For EMP Survival | EMP-Cascade-Effect | PreparednessSurvival Science & Technology

So, a quick inspection of the EMP failure modes, George offers, is one way to build a list of items to put in your Faraday cage.

He also told me some personal research he’s done that seems to indicate that about 90% of cars will continue to operate after an EMP event of moderate size. The problem, he points out, is that with an EMP, the grid is likely to fail, and with that, power transformers will likely fail, along with the supervisory control and data acquisition systems (SCADA) control systems for railroads, power, water, and other utility distribution.

George’s personal Faraday cage is a 33 gallon garbage can.  He considers his metal garbage effective by itself because the metal lid overlaps the can itself by an inch and radio waves don’t like to go around corners, too well. Still, the ultimate prepping device would be a metal garbage can which has the top cover sealed to the bottom of the can with aluminized duct tape such as the type found at Amazon, Lowes, Home Depot and other hardware stores.

What to Put in the Faraday Cage

The equipment you store in a Faraday cage should encompass those devices that will help you communicate with the world following a devastating loss of the grid. Short-range communications will be critical. A good starting list would include:

Multiple GMRS radios and chargers along with cables to plug in for solar charging.

Multiple 2 meter and 440 MHz ham radios (such as the portable Baofengs), again with charging cables and solar power adapters.

A laptop computer with a fresh battery, a charger, solar adapter, and all the key software on CD so if you need to bring up a fresh copy of the operating system, you’ll have the product key and then any prepping articles or references you might need.

An AM/FM/Shortwave/NOAA Weather radio that includes a solar panel charging mechanism.

High-capacity USB thumb drive holding  pertinent financial information including past year tax records, scanned copies of birth certificates, passports, marriage licenses, deeds, vehicle registrations and medical records.

George also recommends simple insulation for your electronics, so that units do not touch each other, He uses low tech insulation: a combination of cardboard and bubble-wrap works well.

Protecting Small Electronics Day to Day

This article would not be complete if I did not mention the availability of small, shielded metalized bags that can be used to provide EMP protection on a daily basis.  I am currently testing this type of bag from Mobilsec and an quite impressed.  While my phone is in the bag, it reads “no service”.

If a cell signal cannot be detected, I can only assume that an EMP would also not touch it.  Good to know and certainly an option, especially for a laptop that could be placed inside a properly sized bag when not being used.  Couple the Faraday bag with a solar charging system and if there was an EMP, you would still have a working computer.

One other thing. You may find sources online that say that when a device is turned off, it will not need EMP protection.  I reached out to Joel Ho, the developer of the Mobilesec BagsHow To Build A Simple Faraday Cage For EMP Survival | ir?t=continmoti-20&l=ur2&o=1 | PreparednessSurvival Science & Technology and asked him about that.  Here is what he said:

I’m assuming you are referring to the part about devices being off not needing protection – it’s simplified a bit – essentially, devices that are off are extremely difficult to damage because there’s no existing current to piggyback on.

Imagine that an EMP is a tidal wave.  If it approaches a full reservoir (electricity and current) it can keep going. If the reservoir is empty (no juice), the tidal wave loses energy navigating the reservoir.

There are hints of this in the article Electromagnetic Pulse Protection by Jerry Emanuelson.

The major reason [most sources] don’t say “your devices are safe if off” is because most devices are usually still connected to power lines and thus susceptible – but if devices are in EMP bags (which by definition are almost always disconnected as the filters are expensive), AND the devices are off, it is unlikely, given the relatively high FCC shielding regulations to prevent excess energy from bleeding OUT into the environment, that enough can get IN to damage those electronics.

This is NOT true for every device – more like a guideline than a hard 100% rule.  Different devices have different levels of built-in shielding – a computer has much more than a $10 Radio Shack timer, for example.

The Final Word

Should a massive EMP occur, stores won’t be open, credit cards won’t work, and the gas you have in your car may be all the gas you’ll ever have for months or even possibly years. When you think about it, an EMP will become the “Ebola virus of electronics”.

That said, you know that I am not a doom and gloomer.  Quite the contrary.  I am an optimist to the nth degree.  Yet even the optimist is sobered at the ramifications of an EMP and especially at the prospect of a weapon-based EMP. If nothing else, I would like to have a mode of communication following a massive EMP.

Will the DIY Faraday cage work?  It is speculation to say for sure.  My own research plus my limited understanding of electronics tells me it will, but this premise will remain unproven until an actual EMP event occurs.

The bottom line is that I hope a catastrophic EMP never happens.  But if it does, I want to be ready to fend for myself without electronics. Sure, having communication gear and other electronic gizmos in a working Faraday cage will be a wonderful thing.  But even if it doesn’t work, the goal of preparedness is to prevail, even if that means living in an off-grid society for weeks, months, or even years.

I would like to acknowledge my pal George Ure for his assistance with this article.  His research and first hand experience with Faraday cages, along with his perspective, is appreciated.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!


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4 Secrets to Becoming a Successful Gardener

4 Secrets to Becoming a Successful Gardener | garden | Agriculture & Farming Organics Special Interests

Gardening is a skill and anyone who tells you something different is not being totally honest.  That being said, having a successful gardening experience depends on many outside factors including, but not limited to soil conditions, available sunlight, the length of the growing season, seed quality, pest control and even a bit of luck.  Still, many of these factors can be overcome with skill, perseverance, and experience.

In this article, Dan Chiras shares his time-proven tips on what it takes to become a successful gardener.

If Dan’s name sounds familiar, it is because he is the author of two Prepper Book Festival titles, Survive in Style: The Prepper’s Guide to Living Comfortably through Disasters and Power From the Sun: A Practical Guide to Solar Electricity.  Today, however, the focus is on gardening and on acquiring a much-converted green thumb.

Growing a Green Thumb

Over the years, many people with whom I’ve discussed gardening confess to lacking a green thumb. My response is always the same: gardening is a lot easier than you’d think. With a little knowledge, anyone can graduate into that elite cadre of green-thumb gardeners.

If you’d like to be one of them, read on. I’ll let you in on the main secrets of successful gardening.

Green Thumb Gardeners are Soil Builders

Individuals with the greenest thumbs are typically those with the richest soils. Although a gardener may have purchased a home that came with a yard endowed with rich topsoil, the excellent soil in which they grow their fruits and vegetables is most likely due to the fact that they’ve spent several years building it. That is, they have enriched their soil with good old organic compost.

Great gardeners are also avid “mulchers.” Mulch is a layer of organic material like straw or bark that reduces the evaporation of water from the soil. This, in turn, helps plants meet their needs, even on blisteringly hot days. It also helps you by reducing the amount of water you need to apply to your garden. It saves energy, water, and time.

Mulch also helps hold weeds at bay. If you’ve applied a thick enough layer, mulch will prevent weeds from growing. They can’t get the sunlight they need. Those weeds that do manage to pry their way through the mulch are much easier to pull. Weeds come up more easily when yanked from moist soils.

Moist soils also increase the likelihood you will remove most, if not all, of their roots when you pull them out. If severed, roots of weeds often give rise to new plants. Whatever you do, don’t cut weeds off at the base of the stem and leave the roots in place. Some weeds (like Russian thistle) come back with a vengeance. So, be sure to pull weeds root and all.

Mulch decomposes over time, adding to your soil’s fertility. There’s no need to dig it in. Just keep adding mulch on top of old mulch that’s breaking down and becoming part of your topsoil. That’s the way Mother Nature builds soil.

Remember this green thumb aspirants: nourish and protect your soil with compost and mulch and it will return the favor many times over.

4 Secrets to Becoming a Successful Gardener | Dan-Chiras-Green-Garden-400x299 | Agriculture & Farming Organics Special Interests

Here is a photo showing Dan’s bountiful green garden.

Green Thumb Gardeners are Vigilant

Another key factor that contributes to a green thumb is vigilance. In my experience, the most successful gardeners are the most attentive. They’re in their gardens every day or two pulling weeds while they (the weeds, that is) are still young. They also keep an eye on their plants for signs of disease or insect damage. When they spot a problem, they address it quickly.

Attentive gardeners also pay close attention to weather and soil moisture and use these parameters to determine when watering should occur. They don’t necessarily follow a watering schedule. That’s because how often you need to water your garden and how much water you need to apply depends on many factors, such as the temperature, rainfall, and humidity, the organic content of your topsoil, the water requirements of plants, and how much mulch you have applied.

An accomplished gardener doesn’t water because it’s been five days since he or she last hauled out the sprinkler. He or she waters when the soil and plants say “How about a drink?”

The best way to determine when it’s time to water is to dig into the soil with your hands or a trowel. If the soil’s moist an inch or so down, and your plants have established deep root systems, you can probably hold off on watering. If the soil is dry, retrieve the hose and sprinkler from your garden shed and take care of things.

An ever-vigilant gardener pays attention to his or her plants for wilting leaves. They are a tell-tale sign that the soil is drying out. Water immediately. Better yet, pay closer attention to soil moisture content and weather so plants don’t have to cry out for emergency action.

4 Secrets to Becoming a Successful Gardener | Dan-Chiras-Tomatos-400x400 | Agriculture & Farming Organics Special Interests

Vigilance is important at harvest time, too. Overlook a zucchini for a day or two and it will transform into a log suitable for building a small log cabin or carving out a dugout canoe. If you don’t check your green beans during the harvest season very often, you’ll find those tender green beans have grown large and become leathery.

A Green-Thumb Gardener Knows Plants

Successful gardeners understand that not all plants are created equal. Some like acidic soil. Some like sandy soil. Some like lots of sunshine. Some thrive in partial sun or shade.

While that seems like a lot of information to hold in your cranium, it doesn’t take long to understand the requirements of common vegetables and flowers. Seed packets can help you learn about the requirements of fruits, vegetables, berries, and flowers you’d like to grow. Read the information that comes with seedlings you purchase at your local nursery. Books on gardening also contain a wealth of information on the topic.

Armed with this knowledge, head to your garden to plot a strategy for successfully planting sun lovers and the rest of the gang. Veggies that grow well in partial sun, are typically delegated to the less sunny locations in a garden or are planted in the shade of taller plants like tomatoes and corn.

It’s Not about the Tools

A green-thumb isn’t about owning a lot of fancy tools or the latest garden gadgets. You just have to build great soil and then continue to replenish it with compost and mulch each year until you hang up your gardening gloves one last time.

You need to be vigilant, as well, paying attention to weeds, disease, wilting, insects, and soil moisture. A two-minute stroll through your garden each day is all that it takes. It’s a great time to have that evening glass of wine.

A great gardener watches the weather and tends to her garden as dictated by temperature, rainfall, and humidity. Lest we forget, a great gardener plants according to their plants’ needs for sunshine.

There’s more to being a successful garden, but that’s it in a nutshell. If your life is too busy to start a garden, consider hiring someone to help out. Or, enroll your children and/or spouse to help with this task. Kids often love to garden alongside eager adults! If the world goes to hell in a hand basket, your garden will be up and running.

To learn more about food self-sufficiency through gardening, check out my book, Survive in Style: The Prepper’s Guide to Living Comfortably through Disasters.  It is available on my website and also at Lehman’s along with all of my other books.

Additional Resources

There are plenty of great resources available for free on the internet.  Here are a few.

For more information on composting, log on to http://www.howtocompost.org/.

For mulching, visit http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/outdoors/landscaping/mulch-your-way-to-better-landscape-design.

And for tips on irrigating a garden go to https://cals.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/mg/vegetable/irrigating.html.

The Final Word

In my younger years, I had a reputation for having a green thumb.  It came naturally, or so I thought.  Initially, I did all of my gardening in containers.  Later, as I expanded to raise beds, I realized that having a green thumb was not a natural trait. It was a skill.

Whether you have gardened successfully in the past or are just getting started, Dan’s secrets, and especially his emphasis on building up the soil, are well taken.  I don’t know about you, but I am ready to get started!

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!


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50 Mistakes Made By Preppers and What to Do About Them

50 Mistakes Made By Preppers and What to Do About Them | mistake-slip-up-banana | PreparednessSurvival

The longer you have been prepping, the more you realize how easy it is to get sidetracked and to prep for things, that in the big picture, are of a relatively low priority.  It is no wonder that articles on prepper mistakes and lessons learned are so popular.

It is has been a couple of years since I wrote about some of the mistakes and goofs we all make while prepping.  Since then, a lot of things have changed. For one, the mainstream media has caught on to “three-day kit” mania which means more and more families are now ready for short term disasters. On the other hand, threats from wacko foreign leaders have escalated to the point where terrorist-driven EMPs, pandemics, and outright wars have become more of a possibility, if not a probability.  Talk about two very different sides of the same coin!

With the wisdom gained from living as a prepper for the last seven years, here are fifty common and uncommon prepper mistakes we can learn from.

Learn from these 50 Commonly Made Prepping Mistakes

Before starting, I should point out that I struggled with the ordering of these items.  Although there is always a strong interest in supplies, gear, and food storage, it is planning coupled with a survival mindset that will see you through the prepping process  For that reason, I am starting with those particular topics.

The other thing I want to point out is that there is a bit of redundancy to the solution and resolution of some the listed prepper mistakes.  It stands to reason that a mistake doing one thing will overlap with something else, and so, for the purpose of this article, I felt it was important to maintain those small redundancies.  Now that I think about that, isn’t that the prepper way?

With all that said, let me warn you that this is a long list.  Grab a cup of your favorite something, and learn from these common or not-so-common prepper mistakes.

Planning

1.  Failure to perform a risk analysis and prepping for the most likely disruptive events first

When first getting started, it is easy to go off willy-nilly preparing for all sorts of calamities.  Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, terrorist attacks, pandemics, nuclear melt-downs, civil disobedience; you name it and the call to prepare will be out there.  I can guarantee that this will drive you crazy!

I recommend that the very first step you take when prepping is to evaluate the most likely risks specific to your geographical area and your personal domestic situation.  Most, if not all, city, county and state governments will have emergency management websites that will help you sort through the most likely disasters to occur in your area.  Take advantage of these public resources.

Don’t stop there. Take a hard look at demographics.  Are you in a city where gangs, mobs or terrorist attacks are likely?  Do you live in a remote area where the failure of transportations systems or the lack of fuel will cut you off from supplies arriving from the rest of the world?  Is your employment situation tenuous requiring that you build up some cash reserves to get you by just in case the job goes away?

Clearly, at the beginning, some choices will need to be made regarding the best use of your prepping budget.  Just remember that food, water and first aid supplies should be at the top of everyone’s list.  After that, assess the most likely risks and plan accordingly.

For ideas, take a look at 12 Months of Prepping: One Month at a Time. Here you will find links to articles that take you though the process of gathering what you need in terms of supplies, gear, tasks, and skills to set you on a positive path of preparedness.  It may not seem like a lot, but at the end of the year you will will be better prepared than 95% of your neighbors.

2. Not keeping your set of emergency documents up to date

This is probably one of the most common mistakes and is one that I am guilty of.  It takes quite a bit of work to gather the documents, scan or copy them, and store them in your designated spot.  In my case, they are stored on a flash drive on my survival key ring.

A good time to go through the process of updating documents is during be the annual switch to daylight savings or whatever date you set aside to change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

While you are at it, think about storing current pictures of family members and pets as well.  You just never know when they will be needed to help locate loved ones following a disaster or disruptive event.

3. Failure to provide instructions for those that are left behind

Over and over again, I learn of situations where hunderds if not thousands of dollars of unopened tins of freeze dried food is sold at estate sales.  The heirs did not have a clue that mom was a prepper and so they got rid of the stored food and all of the prepping gear for pennies on the dollar.

If something were to happen to you, would the remaining family members know what to do with your preps?  Would they even know what they are and why you have them?  Todd Sepulveda, the editor of Prepper Website,  has written an open letter to youyr love ones that you should read, modify as needed, and keep with your important documents.

The Survival Mindset

4. Prepping for doomsday and  ignoring the short-term

It was quite common in 2010 to plan for doomsday to the exclusion of everything else. While we all need to plan for long term catastrophic, or disruptive events, the reality is that day to day short-term calamities can and will occur so you better be ready for those as well.

A bunker or survival retreat in the middle of nowhere is nice to have but not to the exclusion of having skills and supplies you will need while hunkering down following a short term disruption caused by a natural disaster or other disruptive event.

5. Underestimating other humans as a threat

In a perfect world, we would all get along and go about our business in a mild-mannered way, not bothering anyone or causing others harm.  Alas, as humans this has never been the case.  From biblical times forward, man has opposed man.  There have been and still are warriors, armies, soldiers and dictators, enemies and foes.

As mass shootings have revealed, mental illness or drugs can make good people go bad.  Add the uncertainly and chaos created by an unstable society and the potential for human threat becomes a major cause for concern.

Whether you embrace firearms or shun them, you still need a way to defend yourself, your family and your property.  Consider pepper sprays, martial arts, and other defensive mechanisms in addition to traditional firearms.  It is foolhardy to believe that having some means of defense is not needed because “there is no one out to get you”.  Don’t be naive in this regard!

Desperate people are dangerous people.  And the lack of food, water and supplies will turn ordinary people into desperate people in a heartbeat.

6. Disregarding the role of comfort when it comes to being prepared

There is no reason you need to treat prepping as your own personal reality show.  In most cases, surviving with bare bone basics will not be necessary if you do a bit of advance planning.

As you set things aside, consider basic comfort items such as flannel sheets, grooming supplies, and chocolate.  Heck, even some M&Ms or hard candies will be unbelievably comforting following a disruptive event.

7. Believing everything you read on the Internet

Check your sources and use common sense.  If something seems off, investigate before taking what you read at face value.  That includes what your read here on this site.  I do my best to be credible but honestly?  Sometimes even I make mistakes and have to backtrack based on new research and knowledge.

Use your head and you should be fine.

8. Relying only on yourself and ignoring like-minded members of your community

When I first started prepping, I did not mention my new little “hobby” to anyone.  You know, OPSEC and all that.  But about a year into it, I realized that I could not do it all on my own.  There were things I was having trouble grasping and I needed help.  As I tip toed around the edges of my community, I found some like minded people and much to my surprise, I found that I had skills and knowledge that they lacked.

The mutual exchange of skills and knowledge ensued along with some informal agreements to team up if circumstances required us to be on our own for any period of time.  This included teaming up for shelter and food as well as defense.

The importance of having a peer group of like minded comrades in my own community was strengthened as I read R. P. Ruggiero’s Brushfire Plague and continued as I explored other truer than life survival stories,.

How you decide to expand your community contacts is up to you but be advised that when it comes to survival 1 + 1 will definitely add up to more than 2.

9. Just because someone else does something does not mean that you should do it to

There is an unspoken rule of the road in boating:  just because the other guy is doing it does not mean he is right or knows what he is doing.  Personally I have been there and done that and nearly ended up on the rocks.

The same rule applies to prepping.

As someone who reads a lot on the internet, you have likely come across many authorities with “expert” advice on one topic or another.  This is where the gray matter between your ears becomes the most important tool in your box of prepper skills.  Think it through before you unilaterally apply someone’s expertise to your own situation.  Let me repeat: this includes advice and suggestions from this website!

Go back to the beginning and do a risk analysis.  Examine your budget; can you afford it?  What are your living conditions?  What is the likelihood that a hurricane (or earthquake or wildfire) will threaten your home?  Are you physically up to the task of bugging out on foot?

Every step along the way you should be asking yourself these questions and more.  You are unique.  Recognize and embrace the fact that with preparedness, one size does not fit all.

10. Falling victim to prepper procrastination

You have read the best books out there and spent the wee hours of the night reading every website you can find that teaches and preaches preparedness.  You should be ready to embark upon your preparedness journey but remain a lurker.

There is no other way to say it but this:  just start.  Select one small task or one small project and see it through to completion.  Take some baby steps and spend an hour, perhaps two, and get something done.  The results will be worth it.

11. Obsessing about being behind the curveball

Read this carefully then read it again.  You will never be done.

There will always be stock to rotate, supplies to purchase, and skills to learn.  Being worried and obsessed about getting every thing done at once will only increase your stress during an already stressful period in life.

Get over it!

12. Feeling smug in thinking your prepping journey is over

I have been prepping for over seven years and believe me, there is still so much I want and need to do.  Let me re-phrase that a bit.  There is much that I want to refine and improve so I am better at this business of prepping.

The risks you prepared for last year may not be the same risks you would prepare for today.  You have done a personal risk assessment, right?  If not, think about doing so now.  While you are at it, be honest about your health, your finances, and your ability to get by for an extended period on your own.

Let me break it to you.  After doing a personal risk assessment, you will no longer feel smug.

13. Forgetting that there is a life beyond prepping

Of all of the prepper mistakes, this is perhaps the most difficult to overcome.

For many, the call of prepping becomes a full-time avocation.  Living and breathing preparedness becomes the norm, disrupting work and family activities as well as the personal quiet time we all need to recharge our internal batteries.  Sleep becomes elusive as you fret about being ready.  You live in a perpetual state of stress.

Hopefully, this has not and will not happen to you.  Trust me, though, it does happen and at one time this happened to me.

Above all, remember that regardless of what you think about the future, you still have one precious life to live.  You can not stop the clock of time so unless you feel an imminent danger, continue to live your life as normally and joyfully as possible.  Attend family celebrations and continue to take vacations.  Have fun and learn to play.

Isn’t life itself the reason you are prepping to survive in the first place?

Supplies and Gear

14. Creating a 3 Day Kit and ignoring the long term

Putting together a three-day kit and calling it quits is a recipe for failure and a ticket to Camp FEMA or some other shelter.

Let’s be real. The government, the media, and the Red Cross have been promoting the 3-day kit for so long that it is safe to say that the term “3 day kit” is now common vernacular.  Not surprisingly, the 3-Day Kit has also become a marketing phenomena.

The good news is that the more that people jump onto the 3 day kit bandwagon, the better for the rest of us.  That is three days we will not have to reach out and help them.

On the other hand, something as simple as a winter power outage can last far longer than three days.  And a cyber-attack, pandemic, or earthquake?  Two weeks, a month,or even a year of emergency supplies would be much better.

15. Stocking up on prepper gadgets that are cute but hardly useful during a real disaster

A lot of junk is being pitched to preppers.  I am embarrassed to say that in the early days, I pitched this stuff as well.  These days, I stay away from such things as credit-card knives, match-light fire starters, and keychain survival kits.

I do however, stock up on inexpensive, pocket-sized flashlights, mini-survival kits of varying types in compact tins, and multi-tasking tools and household products.  It is the gadgets I never heard of and didn’t think I needed until I read about them that I avoid.

16. Having the latest in survival gear but not knowing how to use it

This is more common than you might think.  How many of you have a closet that represents a survivalists dream?  Emergency radios, compasses, propane stoves and lanterns, tactical knives, firearms, cross-bows, hand tools, solar kits and more lie idle and unused and untested in more homes than you might think.

Every single one of these items needs to be put through its paces two or three times a year at a minimum.  Not only do you need to know how to use your gear, but you need to ensure that your gear is in good working order.  Blades need to be sharpened, batteries need to be charged and skills need to be refreshed.

It is human nature to acquire stuff we want simply because we want it.  Don’t let that happen with your prepping gear.  Buy it used or new, then use it not just once, but periodically throughout the year.  The very best preps are those you can incorporate into day to day life.

Similarly, do you have copies of your gear manuals tucked away in case you need them?  Storing them on a laptop or flash drive is a great idea but only if you have some way to power your devices when the grid goes down.

17. Not knowing what you have because you don’t have an inventory

You are walking around the local outdoor emporium and see a fantastic deal on tactical knives.  Great, you can never have too many knives.  Unless, of course, you are spending money on your 5th knife but do not have a portable lantern.

See what I mean?  You should keep a list of what you have and what you need so you do not accidentally spend money where you do not need to do so.

18. Blowing your budget on gear instead of on food, water, and medical supplies

Shopping for new gadgets, gizmos, and gear is both fun and addictive.  Who wouldn’t want the latest $150 tactical flashlight or that set of high tech night goggles to use in spotting bad buys before they see you.

Purchasing survival gear is a necessary part of the prepping process but it should not be done to the exclusion of food, water, and medical supplies.  The exception to this rule is water purification and fire-making tools both of which can be acquired for very little cost. For example, consider pool shock for water treatment plus a magnesium fire tool and dryer lint for fire-making.

Over and over again, I learn of families that have thousands of dollars invested in gear, including an arsenal of firearms and ammo, but have less than thirty days worth of food.  Not only that, the food they have is poorly packaged and is therefore subject to spoilage or an infestation of pests.

When developing a preparedness budget, pay close attention to the day to day needs you will incur following a disaster or disruptive event.  Doesn’t it make sense to take care of those needs first?  The gear will come in time so ensure that you are not gear rich but food poor.

Make a concerted effort to avoid impulse purchases and you will be fine.

19. Storing all of your preps in one location

This is tough for many especially if you only have one home and do not have close relatives or friends where you could stash some stuff.  Still, see if you can put together a suitcase or duffle bag with some emergency items and store them at your office or at someone else’s home.

Set up a barter: I will store yours if you will store mine.  That sort of thing.

If an alternate location is not practical, consider storing items at various locations around your home.  Not everything needs to be on shelves in the basement.  Spread things out so that if the basement gets flooded, you still have dry items in the upstairs bedroom.  Use your imagination and don’t forget to do the very best you can to package everything so it is resistant to moisture and pests.

20. Forgetting about those with special needs

Think about special situations in your household that will need to be addressed in a survival situation.  This may include children, pets, or  someone with physcal or mental challenges, and the elderly.  As you go about your daily routine in normal times, take note of the things you will need to stockpile for these special family members.

For example, have you considered the need for feminine products?  What about canes, walkers, and manually operated wheelchairs?  Pets need food, crates, and toys to keep them occupied while the rest of family members are recovering from chaos.  It will be impossible to cover every contingency but be aware of what those needs are now then prioritize those that you deem most important.

Survival Skills

21. Failure to practice self-defense

There is far more to self defense than owning a bunch of firearms and a copious supply of ammo.  Have you practiced situational awareness?  Do you know what to do if a stranger comes to your door asking for food?

And about the guns and ammo – when is the last time you visited the range for some target practice?

22. Buying gear and supplies while ignoring the need to develop skills

Buying stuff is easy.  You save your money, select your merchandise and go to your local outdoor emporium or Amazon and make a purchase.

On the other hand, learning new skills or practicing old ones takes time, patience and bit of study.  Do you know how to start a fire without matches or a butane lighter?  Do you know how to take advantage of natures bounty by knowing how to fish or hunt?  And what about growing your own food?  Could you do it if you had to?

Developing skills to become self-sufficient are every bit as important as having a closet full of the best gear money can by.  Remember that.

Survival Health and Medicine

23. Having a comprehensive first aid kit but not knowing basic first aid skills

Having a robust first aid kit (FAK) is a given as is having a supply of emergency medicines.  But what about knowing CPR?  Or cleaning and dressing an open wound that is bleeding profusely?

Many communities offer free or low cost classes on first aid.  Now might be a good time to check them out.

24. Tossing expired prescription drugs because the pharmacy tells you to do so

If the stuff hits the fan, pharmacies will be closed or, if they are open, supplies will be meager.  A three year old bottle of pain medication is going to be better than nothing as long as you use common sense when dosing.  The same thing applies to antibiotics and other medications.

Learn what you can now about alternatives to traditional medications such as herbs and essential oils, then brush up what you need to know about fish antibiotics for survival situations.  Don’t be the person who says, after the fact, “who knew?”.

25. Failure to plan for human waste

No one wants to get sick, let alone contract a disease that may go untreated due to the lack of available medical facilities or medical personnel.  One of the best ways to avoid sickness is to maintain good hygeine and to properly dispose of human waste.  This is not as easy as it sounds because traditional waste systems may be inoperable due  to the lack of water and or ruptured sewer lines.

Planning for this contengy does not have to be complicated.  Super strong hefty bags, five gallon buckets, and kitty litter can be used on a temporary basis if needed.  The point is not to omit this important prep.

Bugging Out – or Not

26. Preparing mostly to bug out rather than bugging in

We all talk about having a bug-out-bag and without question, having your most basic survival items in a pack that you can grab and go if you need to get out of dodge in a hurry is important.  But beyond that, over and over I see people acquire all sorts of gear for surviving on the run –  perhaps in the woods or bush at a remote location.

I know that in my own case and also with the majority of the readers on Backdoor Survival, hunkering down and bugging in will always be preferred to taking off into the unknown with our stuff.  For many, the choice to bug in has to do with family, health concerns or financial considerations.  That, plus the availability of stored supplies makes bugging in – or staying at home – the choice when a disaster strikes.

At the end of the day, take care of your bugging in needs first and foremost.  Plan for outdoor cooking facilities (perhaps an existing charcoal grill?), supplemental lighting  stored water, and a portable generator now.  Later, down the road, you can expand your supplies to include the essentials for truly bugging out.

Let me be clear.  You do need to have a contingency plan for evacuation purposes but do not ignore your hunker down at home bug in plan.  Unless your home is not safe, plan to shelter in place at home rather than take your chances in the wilderness or at Camp FEMA.

27. Failure to evacuate at just the right time

When the storm of the century is heading your way, know that it is time to evacuate.  Load up your vehicle and go.  As much as you feel that you are better off in your own home, if the authorities tell you to leave – and even if they do not – get out of harm’s way as a precautionary measure.  Do so while you still have the ability to load up your vehicle with supplies and fill the tank with gas.

Sticking around when there is at least a 50% chance of a disaster occurring (hurricane, flood, landslides, tsunami, wildfire) is just plain silly.  Part of your planning should be to determine the trigger point for evacuation as well as identification of an evacuation site and a route to get there.  Better yet, plan multiple alternate routes as well.

28. Not having an evacuation route planned out in advance

Right.  I just said that you should plan to hunker down at home and bug in.  That said, there is still a possibility that you will have to leave in order to ensure your safety.

Be ready with at least two routes out of dodge including one route by foot or bicycle. In addition, map these routes on paper and just in your head or on your smart phone.  Mudslides, downed trees, and even mobs of thugs may impeded your way.  Be ready.

Water and Water Storage

29. Using a Berkey day to day but never testing the filters

I consider the Berkey to be the gold standard of water filtrations systems.  A Berkey is on the expensive side as are the Black Berkey filters.  Doesn’t it make sense to keep it in tip-top shape?

You should test your filters using the red food dye test at least twice a year.  Failures do happen but oten they are easily fixed by re-priming the filters and or resetting the washers.  Don’t wait until there is a water event before testing your Berkeys.  This is important.

30. Storing pool shock but not learning how to use it

Using pool shock to clean up bad water is not difficult but you do need to be mindful of proportions to water and safety considerations.  Read this article then practice making up a batch of clean, safe, drinking water using pool shock.  And for heaven’s sake, get yourself a few pairs of safety goggles!

Food and Food Storage

31. Storing food items you don’t enjoy

Number one on the list is do not store food you don’t like and will not eat no matter what.

We have all done it:  purchased an item when it is on sale because it was a great deal.  If you won’t eat it now, what makes you think you will eat it later?  Spending money and using your precious storage space on food you will not eat is just silly.

All that being said, if desperate, you will likely eat anything.  Still, we are talking about preps you are putting in place in advance and not a scrounging effort after the fact when the pantry is bare.

32. Lacking the knowledge to properly store your food supplies

There are six enemies of food storage:  Temperature, Moisture, Oxygen, Light, Pests and Time.

Okay, some might say there is a seventh enemy: namely the two legged type that gets into the tastier items and eats them without telling anyone.  That I cannot help you with.

Seriously though, storing food for the long term, meaning five years or longer, does take some care.  Brush up on the basics of food storage and set up an active rotation program.  You don’t necessarily have to store food for 10 years or longer but what you do store, even for a year or two, should be protected to the best of your ability.

One thing to keep in mind that except for the problem with pests, most food will still be edible even if it is not stored at optimal temperatures in a moisture and oxygen-free environment.  Learn proper storage methods to ensure maximum taste and nutrition.

There are many food-storage articles on this website.  Simply yype “food storage” into the search box at the upper right hand side of the page.  In addition, consider “Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage50 Mistakes Made By Preppers and What to Do About Them | ir?t=continmoti-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B00H8DGY5M | PreparednessSurvival ” as an all in one resource available in both e-book and print form.

33. Not rotating out of date food items

Label everything with the date of purchase.  Sharpie pens were created for this purpose.  However you choose to keep track,  rotate your stored food items the best you can without getting paranoid about it.  Many of the “use by” and “best by” dates on canned and packaged goods are put there by the manufacturer but relate more to taste and texture than actual spoilage.  See the next item.

34. Throwing out packaged and canned foods because they have passed their use-by date

During my recent move, it broke my heart to throw out hundreds of cans of perfectly good, commercially canned meats, fruits and vegetables because no one would take them because they were past their “use by” date.  Read this three times out loud:  Use dates on commercially canned goods are mostly a myth!

However you keep track of your food inventory,  rotate your stored food items the best you can without getting paranoid about it.  Many of the “use by” and “best by” dates on canned and packaged goods are put there by the manufacturer but relate more to taste and texture than actual spoilage.

Let common sense plus your eyes and nose be the judge.  If the outside of a can is dented, rusted, or shows signs of leakage, toss it.  If you open it and it smells off (or even if you THINK is smells off), dump it.  Just be mindful that you will want to secure and dump bad food in such a way that children or curious pets can not get to it.

35.Storing everything in the same place

Think about it.  If everything is stored in your basement and the basement is flooded, you are going to have a problem.  I know, you are thinking that everything is packaged in moisture proof packaging, right?  If you have 3 feet of water in your basement, that will not matter since you will not be able to get to it.

Canned goods should be on a shelf off the floor, and mason jars filled with home canned items need to be secured to their shelf with a bracket or cordage.  The last thing you want is for your precious food jars to fall to the ground and shatter during in an earthquake, hurricane, or other disruptive event.

These are just a few of the scenarios that cause your food storage to be inaccessible or unusable.  Think about the disaster risks where your live and plan your storage locations accordingly.

36. You don’t know how to cook it

Remember when I wrote about wheat in Why You Should Store Wheat for Survival?  For heaven’s sake, do not purchase wheat if you do not know how to use it.  Of course, it would not hurt to learn about wheat.  Freshly ground, it makes a heavenly loaf of bread the only problem being that it is so good you may eat too much and gain 50 pounds which would be another problem entirely.

If you are new to wheat, consider reading John Hill’s book, How to Live on Wheat.  To this day, I refer to it frequently.

But wheat is not the only survival basic that may be unfamiliar.  Beans of all types, as well rice, are two food storage staples.  Learn to cook these items now, so you have an arsenal of recipes ready to go when and if the time comes.  Both beans and rice are inexpensive and work well with a variety of condiments making them ideal additions to the survival food pantry.

37. Storing a lot of basic foods but omitting comfort foods

This happens to me all the time.  In my quest to eat healthy 100% of the time, I sometimes go for weeks eating basic, blandish food. By that I mean no fresh fruit, no cookies, and no Kettle Chips.

Eat well, and eat healthy but be sure to allow for a splurge once in a while, too.

38. Failure to include freeze dried meals as part of your over food storage strategy

Yes, freeze dried food is pricey.  With some care, however, you can find pouches, tins, and buckets on sale.  The advantage of freeze dried food, and meal pouches especially, is they are lightweight and therefore transporatable.  They are quick to prepare and require no planning or thinking.  Add hot to boiling water, stir, let sit for a short time, and eat.

Freeze dried meals will get you through the initial stages of a disaster or disruptive event, giving you plenty of time to think through longer term meal planning in a survival situation.

There is one important aspect of planning your freeze dried food storage:  try some sample meals before you invest in a six month or one year supply of one particular brand.  I have my own preferences that you are welcome to use as a guideline (check out Mountain House or Legacy Foods) but there are others.  Also keep in mind that some kits are chock full of sugary drinks and other fillers. Yes, you will need some beverages but they should not comprise 40% of your daily caloric intake.

39. Improper storage temperatures

Temperature and mostly heat, is one of the enemies of food storage and yet it may be something you may not think of.

Keep in mind is that temperature fluctuations can be as bad as a sustained high temperature.  I don’t claim to know the science but what I have found is that food stored at a constant 80 degrees will hold better than food stored at 30 in the winter and 90 in the summer.  Anecdotally, this is especially true of canned goods I have stored in my home.

40. Not storing liquids to reconstitute your dried items

Have you ever tried to cook rice without water or broth?  How about pasta?  As much as I feel freeze-dried foods have their place, the liquid in canned fruits and vegetables will provide you an additional source of hydration.  In addition, the drained liquid can be used to re-hydrate freeze-dried foods.

Win win.

41. Not planning alternate fuel sources for cooking

This should be a no brainer.  When the power goes out, you will need a fire, grill or portable stove.  Rocket stoves and even propane stoves are inexpensive.  Just keep in mind that you will also need fuel for your stoves, whether it comes from sources you gather (such as biomass) or from purchases of propane, charcoal or wood.

42. No condiments or spices to wake up the taste buds

Salt, pepper, some chili powder, mustard, sugar, honey – the list is endless.  These items do not need to cost a lot nor do they need to take up an extraordinary amount of space.  When push comes to shove, however, your eating experience will be greatly enhanced by having a variety of flavor enhancers on hand to enliven the taste of your stored food stuffs.

43. Not storing a variety of items

I confess that  I can go for days eating the same meal of baked potatoes over and over again.  That said, most people need and want variety.  This is especially true for children, the elderly and the infirm who may already be picky eaters.  Plus, you need a variety of foods items in order to get a full complement of nutritional value from your meals.

44. Storing food in inappropriate or unmanageable packages

Your mileage may vary, but I prefer to package food in small, manageable sizes.  In my own household, items stored for the long term (beans, rice, lentils, cereals, dog food etc.) have been stored in 1 gallon Mylar bags and not the larger, 5 gallon size.

take four or five of these small bags and put them in a bucket or Rubbermaid bin so that I can pull them out for use one at a time.  For me this is more practical since there are only two in my family.  Plus, if there is a short term emergency, I can pull out what I need without having to repackage the whole megila.

Another best practice is to store a variety of foods in a single bucket.  So, for example, instead of creating a bucket filled with a single food type, create a bucket that include a variety of foods plus appropriate condiments.  If you are ever forced to use your food storage, you can pull a single bucket with everything you need to get by instead of riffling through a dozen or more buckets to gather what you need for meal-preparation.

As a bonus, if you are forced to evacuation, your DIY meal bucket will be ready to go.

45. Improper storage containers

This applies to a lot of things.  Here is an example:  do not store you rice in a bucket that previously held pickles without pre-packaging the rice in a Mylar bag.  Pickle-flavored rice may taste good if you are pregnant but practically no one else will appreciate this exotic dish!

Seriously, though, make sure your food storage containers did not hold toxic chemicals in a prior life and make sure your containers are moisture and pest-proof.

46. Purchasing a kit without evaluating the contents

This is another lesson I learned the hard way.  Before purchasing a kit of any type, look at the contents and decide how many of the items will be truly useful.  If there are items you don’t want, can you give them away to someone else?  Also look at the total cost.  Is the kit still a good value even though you will not use everything?

This also applies to bulk sized products at Costco, Sam’s or other warehouse type stores.  In many cases, I will purchase a giant sized package knowing that a third will not get used.  Even so, the purchase is a good value.  But do not assume this.  Sometimes it is better to pay more per ounce for a smaller size.

47. Being totally dependent on food storage for all of your meals

Regardless of how robust your food pantry, it is prudent to consider other sources of food.  If you have adequate light conditions, you can supplement your stored food with fresh vegetables from your garden.  At the very least, you can grow some herbs that will not only provide nutrition, but will also have medicinal qualities.

In addition to a garden, large or small, learn about the local resources that may be available by foraging, fishing, and hunting.  Most areas have some sort of local bounty, whether berries, trout, deer, or even the common dandelion.  Learn about them know and practice all of the ancillary skills needed to safely turn them into edible fare.

48. Worrying about a 25 or 30-year shelf life when you are 70 years old!

I am being a tad bit cynical and facetious here but really, if your lifespan is 20 years, don’t worry too much about 30 year items.  Sure, you can give them away, donate them, or use them in less than 30 years but the point is, don’t stress if the items you store away have only a 5 or 10 year shelf life.

Remember to store a variety of foods and food groups.  It is better to have a mix of items with varying shelf lives than to get hung up on extremely long storage life.

49. Relying only on home canned goods

This may shock you but did you know that most authorities put a shelf life of one to two years max on home-canned goods?  This is especially true of meats.

Now I readily admit that I am not an expert in this area but my good friend Daisy Luther is.  She has written a book on canning for preppers but beyond that, read what she has to say in the comments to the article Prepper Book Festival: The Preppers Canning Guide.

Everything Else

50. Don’t become a hoarder

As with everything in life, don’t take prepping to the excess.  Hoarding is not the same as prepping and the accumulation of useless or marginally useful items can take up every spare corner of your home or apartment.  Although it is wise to keep extra on hand for barter purposes. be realistic about your ability to prep for the long term while maintaining a clutter free home enviroment.

The Final Word

There was a time when I was a prepping newbie and even now, seven plus years later, I have more to do and more to learn.  In my heart of hearts, however, I still feel like a beginner and so I empathize with those that are just getting started.  They may be moms and dads, seniors like myself, or enlightened millennials. That said, these days I feel fortunate that I have come so far with my prepping activities.  Moving beyond obsession, the prepping way of life is now a part of my core.  It is “what I do” as well as being a hobby and a passion.

There is one thing that all preppers, whether just starting out or seasoned, have in common.  We all want to be able to take care of ourselves and our needs during the best of times and worse of times.  We want skills, knowledge, and enough food, water, and medical supplies to keep moving forward and to survive regardless of dire circumstances.

Some of us may prep a little and others may prep a lot.  Along the way, we may make some of the mistakes I have listed above, and most assuredly there will be others.  At the end of the day, however, we all want to live a life filled with growth, opportunity and the ability to take care of oneself physically, mentally and spiritually.  To me, that is what prepping is all about, mistakes and all.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!


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Medical Aspects of Camping and Other Tips You Need to Know About

Medical Aspects of Camping and Other Tips You Need to Know About | camping | Off-Grid & Independent Living PreparednessSurvival

As the weather begins to warm up, it is time to think about outdoor activities we can pursue not only for pleasure but to hone and practice our outdoor survival skills.  Speaking for myself, camping is high on my list of summer activities, including a first-time adventure using a tent.

Most of us plan to hunker down and shelter in place in the event of a disruptive event. That said, if our homes are no longer safe, either due to location or to physical destruction, we must have a plan to evacuate.  In some cases, the answer will be short term camping.

Dr. Joe Alton is here to today to weigh in on what we need to know about the medical aspect of camping plus some other tips to make the overall experience both pleasurable and educational.

Safe Camping Tips for Preppers

School will be out soon and a great way to teach your family survival basics is by taking them camping. The skills needed for successful camping are akin to those required for the activities of daily survival. Once learned, these lessons last a lifetime. There’s no greater gift that you can give young people than the ability to be self-reliant.

Camping trips create bonds and memories that will last a lifetime.  A poorly planned campout, however, can become memorable in a way you don’t want, especially if someone gets injured. Luckily, a few preparations and an evaluation of your party’s limitations will help you enjoy a terrific outing with the people you care about, and maybe impart some skills that would serve them well in dark times.

Start Small

If you haven’t been camping much, don’t start by attempting to hike the Donner Trail. Begin by taking day trips to National Parks or a nearby lake.   Set up your tent and campfire, and see how it goes when you don’t have to stay in the woods overnight.  Once you have that under your belt, start planning your overnight outings.

Whatever type of camping you do, always assess the capabilities and general health of the people in your party. Children and elderly family members will determine the limits of your activities. The more ambitious you are, the more likely the kids and oldsters won’t be able to handle it.  Disappointment and injuries are the end result.

Important Considerations

An important first step to a safe camping trip is knowledge about the weather and terrain you’ll be encountering. Talk with park rangers, consult guidebooks, and check out online sources. Some specific issues you’ll want to know about:

· Temperature Ranges
· Rain or Snowfall
· Trails and Campsite Facilities
· Plant, Insect, or Animal Issues
· Availability of Clean Water
· How to Get Help in an Emergency

Medical Aspects of Camping

A very common error campers (and survivalists) make is not bringing the right clothing and equipment for the weather and terrain. If you haven’t planned for the environment you’ll be camping in, you have made it your enemy, and believe me, it’s a formidable one.

Although Spring and Fall have the most uncertainty with regards to temperatures and weather, you could encounter storms in any season. Always take enough clothing to allow layering to deal with the unpredictability of the season.

Conditions in high elevations lead to wind chill factors that could cause hypothermia. If the temperature is 50 degrees, but the windchill factor is 30 degrees, you lose heat from your body as if it were below freezing. Be aware that temperatures at night may be surprisingly cold.

In cold weather, you’ll want your family clothed in tightly woven, water-repellent material for protection against the wind. Wool holds body heat better than cotton does. Some synthetic materials work well, also, such as Gore-Tex. Add or remove layers as needed.

If you’re at the seashore or lakefront in summer, your main problem will be heat exhaustion and burns. Have your family members wear sunscreen, as well as hats and light cotton fabrics. Plan your strenuous activities for mornings, when it’s cooler. In any type of weather, keep everyone well-hydrated.  Dehydration causes more rapid deterioration in physical condition in any type of stressful circumstance. Allow a pint of fluids an hour for strenuous activities.

The most important item of clothing is, perhaps, your shoes. If you’ve got the wrong shoes for the outing, you will most likely regret it. If you’re in the woods, high tops that you can fit your pant legs into are most appropriate. If you go with a lighter shoe in hot weather, Vibram soles are your best bet.

Special Tips: Choosing the right clothing isn’t just for weather protection.  If you have the kids wear bright colors, you’ll have an easier time keeping track of their whereabouts. Long sleeves and pants offer added protection against insect bites that can transmit disease, such as Lyme disease caused by ticks.

Location, Location, Location

A real estate agent’s motto is “location, location, location” and it’s also true when it comes to camping.   Scout prospective campsites by looking for broken glass and other garbage that can pose a hazard.  Sadly, you can’t depend on other campers to pick up after themselves.

Look for evidence of animals/insects nearby, such as large droppings or wasp nests/bee hives.    Advise the children to stay away from any animals, even the cute little fuzzy ones. If there are berry bushes nearby, you can bet it’s on the menu for bears. Despite this, things that birds and animals can eat aren’t always safe for humans.

Learn to identify the plants in your environment that should be avoided. This especially includes poison ivy, oak, and sumac.  Show your kids pictures of the plants so that they can steer clear of them. The old adage is “leaves of three, let it be”. Fels-Naptha soap is especially effective in removing toxic resin from skin and clothes if you suspect exposure.

Build your fire in established fire pits and away from dry brush. In drought conditions, consider using a portable stove instead.  Children are fascinated by fires, so watch them closely or you’ll be dealing with burn injuries. Food (especially cooked food) should be hung in trees in such a way that animals can’t access it. Animals are drawn to food odors, so use resealable plastic containers.

If you camp near a water source, realize that even the clearest mountain stream may harbor parasites that cause diarrheal disease and dehydration.  Water sterilization is basic to any outdoor outing.  There are iodine tablets that serve this purpose, and portable filters like the “Lifestraw™” which are light and effective.  Although time-consuming, boiling local water is a good idea to avoid trouble.

Get Your Bearings

Few people can look back to their childhood and not remember a time when they lost their bearings. Your kids should always be aware of landmarks near the camp or on trails.  A great skill to teach the youngsters is how to use a compass; make sure they have one on them at all times.

A great item to give each child (and adult) is a loud whistle that they can blow if you get separated.  Three blasts are the universal signal for “help!” If lost, kids should stay put in a secure spot.  Of course, if you have cell phone service where you are, consider that option as well.

Bug Bites

Even kids in protective clothing can still wind up with insect bites.  Important supplies to carry are antihistamines like Benadryl, sting relief pads, and calamine lotion to deal with allergic reactions.  Asking your doctor for a prescription “Epi-Pen” is a good idea, as they’re meant to be used by the average person. They’re effective for severe reactions to toxins from insect bites or poison ivy.

Citronella-based products are helpful to repel insects; put it on clothing instead of skin (absorbs too easily) whenever possible. Repellents containing DEET also can be used, but not on children less than 2 years old.

Don’t forget to inspect daily for ticks or the bulls-eye pattern rash you might see in Lyme disease. I mean it when I say daily: If you remove the tick in the first 24 hours, you will rarely contract the disease.

Of course, you’ll need a medical kit as part of your supplies. Consider some of the items in our compact, lightweight personal IFAK kit, specifically meant to deal with mishaps on the trail. You might have your own favorite items to bring with you; if so, feel free to post them in the comments section below.

The Final Word

Now that I live adjacent to the forest, I want to get a tent.  The plan is to get something easy to set up because, after all, I am not a young as I used to be and want to save my energy for things like hiking and doing a bit of wood chopping.  Then, as Joe suggests, I plan to camp in my own one-acre backyard before venturing further.

One thing is certain, it is a lot more fun to practice survival skills when you couple the experience with a family adventure!

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!


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When a Prepper Relocates: Finding and Moving to the Perfect Survival Retreat

When a Prepper Relocates: Finding and Moving to the Perfect Survival Retreat | mountain-home-survival-retreat | PreparednessSurvival

It is hard to believe that a little over a year ago I decided to pull up stakes and search for the perfect survival retreat.  More than a retreat, I wanted to find a forever home.  It has been quite the journey and now that I am within days of fully moving into my new home, it is time to come clean on the how-to’s of moving, prepper-style.

Before starting, let me just say this.  Planning and executing a move is going to take over every free moment for up to a year.  There are more moving pieces than you can imagine, especially if moving more than 300 miles from your home base.  At times, you will want to give up.  It is a lot of work, and it can be lonely.

Step One: Define the Criteria for Your New Home

Something I did up front was to define a punch list of items that were a priority at my new location.  Here is a summary of the list I shared last year.  I called it my survival retreat bucket list.

Minimum of 1/3 acre and preferably more.
Sunny space for a garden. Existing fruit trees a bonus.
Trees in the general vicinity to provide wood and biomass for heating and cooking.
Local source of water such as streams, ponds, or lakes.  Bonus if a well can be dug.
Abundant wildlife for hunting as a food source.
Favorable tax environment.
Sufficient storage space for a two year food supply.
Gun-friendly.
Zoning that allows for water catchment systems and auxiliary fuel/propane tanks.
History that shows area is relatively free from wild fires and floods.
Moderate climate 20F low to 90F high.
Proximity to health care within a 20 mile radius.
Very good to excellent cell phone service.
Availability of high speed internet (for as long as it lasts).
Peace, quiet, and no tourist activity.

Mind you, this list was generated before I knew exactly where I was going to relocate.  At the time, I had a good idea of the state where I was headed but nothing was cast in stone.  Because I did not want to get my hopes up for a quick sale, I did not research precise geographical locations until my existing home sold.   I did that because there were some unique characteristics to my San Juan Island home that limited its appeal to a specialized buyer. It could take a year or possibly longer to sell.

We were lucky to have a seasoned real estate agent who specialized in our type of property.  He set realistic, priced-to-sell expectations, and coached us on what we needed to do to attract a buyer.  As it happened, our home sold quickly but closing took forever.  We did not start looking for our survival retreat until the money was in the bank.

You may approach things differently but at this stage in my life, I did not want to set myself up for disappointment.  That becomes my first tip: do not set yourself up for disappointment by setting unrealistic expectations.  Much like prepping itself, when it comes to moving, prepare for the worst but hope the best.

Be Mindful of the Cost of Moving – Especially Your Food Storage

One of the more shocking parts of moving is the cost.  When planning a move, be realistic about what it is going to cost to move both your household items and prepping supplies.  This includes food storage which can be heavy!

In our case, the cost came to about one dollar a pound.  Half of that was getting our stuff back to the mainland.

Think about that.  It makes sense to pay to have furniture moved but those cases of canned foods?  Not a chance.  We gave away hundreds of pounds of food because it was too bulky or heavy to transport.  Some of it no one wanted because the canned items were out of date.  That was a shame because as we all know, the expiration on canned goods is mostly a myth.

When a Prepper Relocates: Finding and Moving to the Perfect Survival Retreat | Elvis-Left-the-Building | PreparednessSurvival

When Elvis left the building, he dragged a Uhaul full of preps.

We did rent a U-haul to transport our freeze dried foods and some of our food buckets.  I admit that the movers also transported food buckets full of cheap beans and cheap rice but after accounting for the convenience of having it packaged and ready to go at my new location, it was worth it.

A question I am frequently asked is whether I paid to have my furniture moved.  The answer is yes and here is why.  Although the buyers of our home were interested in our furniture, to start all over would have been disruptive and expensive.  While not new, our furniture was of good quality and comfortable.  I ran the numbers and by my own estimate, it would have cost over $40,000 to replace my furniture, and most likely a lot more than that.

Thank you very much but I will keep my used furniture.

Be Prepared to Compromise

Something I learned a long time ago is that life is a compromise.  And so it was with moving.  Although I had 40 years of memories invested in my stuff, much of it had not been touched in years.  Perfectly good items, no matter how precious, were donated to the local thrift store.

Chances are we could have raised a nice pile of cash by holding a garage or estate-type sale rather than giving things away.  This is where compromise stepped in.  In order to maintain my privacy, I gave things away instead.

The biggest compromise, however, had to do with seeking a new place to call home.  As much as I wanted to find the perfect prepper palace, I knew that my age and budget would restrict where I ultimately landed. Transcending our dream into reality meant we had to give up on our hope of having a flock of chickens, and enough raised beds to grow at least half of our own food.  It simply was not going to happen so I let it go.

I reminded myself that I was going to homestead in place on a property I would want to maintain for the next twenty years and until I was well into my senior years. That meant a two-story farmhouse was out, as was grass and brush that needed to be mowed weekly.

I chose instead to compromise with a beautiful and serene environment and a home I could fill with creature comforts with plenty of room to cook, can, and pursue crafts and other amusements.

Where Am I Going to Put All of that Stuff?

Something every prepper needs is space for all of their stuff.  Most of us have backup cooking facilities, backup water and water filtering devices, backup fuel, backup food and backup everything else.  This all takes space not only for storage but for organized storage!  Oh my!

While house hunting, I found a number of delightful properties that lacked storage.  There was no garage, no pantry, and no spare closets.  Where would the food storage go?  What about the manually operated tools? And what about the ammo and other items of defense that need to be hidden away, free from prying eyes?

These are factors that should be considered before you make an offer and not after.  Don’t let your judgment be clouded by clever staging.  Look for closets, attics, crawl spaces, and rooms that can be converted to meet your storage needs.  This may seem obvious, but believe me, it is easy to fall in love with a property only to find those things lacking when you look a bit closer.

Remember, sellers are going to try to tempt you with glitz and glamour.  Look beyond it.

Finding the Right Community, Or Not

How close do you want to be to your neighbors?  Do you want paved roads to your retreat or are dirt roads okay?  What about the driveway?  Will a steep hill pose a problem for you or for emergency responders, heaven forbid?

I believe the most important assessment to make when it comes to a community is to determine whether you wish to keep your prepping lifestyle private or whether you wish to join others in a like-minded community.  Regardless of your choice, I suggest attending some community or church events to get a feel for the social milieu. Visit the local hardware store and look around.  Chat up the clerks.  You will be surprised at how much information you can glean by simply observing and listening.

In our case, we visited one particular local hangout two times and were so put off we crossed that particular community off the list.

You are a prepper.  You have good instincts. Use them.

How Did I Do?

For the curious, we purchased a home in the Mogollon Rim area of Arizona.  The elevation is 5,000 feet and the climate is moderate.  We spent a lot more money than we planned but less than we realized from our Washington State home so we were happy.

I call our new home “The Cabin” and it is as close to perfect as I could get.  With just a few exceptions, all of my requirements were met.  Let me run quickly run through the list for you.

………………………

Minimum of 1/3 acre and preferably more:  We have one acre surrounded by 18 other one-acre parcels.  It is like an oasis.

Sunny space for a garden. Existing fruit trees a bonus:  The property is lightly wooded and backs to undeveloped forest.  We have had clearings made to expose more sun.  Alas, there are no fruit trees and given that the elk make frequent runs through the property, we will like need to compromise in this area.

Trees in the general vicinity to provide wood and biomass for heating and cooking:  Definitely.

Local source of water such as streams, ponds, or lakes.  Bonus if a well can be dug:  There are plenty of water sources in the area but none are within walking distance. Although that is a concern, we are planning to store extra water in multiple 160 gallon tanks, plus a series of rain barrels.

Abundant wildlife for hunting as a food source.: Elk and rabbits roam the the property and fishing is close by.

When a Prepper Relocates: Finding and Moving to the Perfect Survival Retreat | Mr-Elk-Comes-to-Visit | PreparednessSurvival

Mr. Elk comes to visit from time to time and brings his buddies with him.

Favorable tax environment:  Good enough.  Local government seems non-invasive and the taxes seem fair.

Sufficient storage space for a two year food supply:  YES YES YES!

Gun-friendly:  This is Arizona.  The previous owners had a huge gun safe and our neighbors own firearms.  That is all I will say about that.

Zoning that allows for water catchment systems and auxiliary fuel/propane tanks:  There are restrictions that we will need to take into consideration relative to above ground water catchment systems and propane tanks.  I am satisfied that we will find a suitable alternative.

History that shows area is relatively free from wild fires and floods: There is a fire risk; this is the national forest after all.  Still, we are in a Firewise community and have had our property cleared of low growing brush that would potentially put our home at risk.

Moderate climate 20F low to 90F high:  Check, although summers can reach the high 90s.

Proximity to health care within a 20 mile radius:  Although we are in the middle of the woods, there is a hospital less than 10 miles away.

Very good to excellent cell phone service:  Yes

Availability of high speed internet (for as long as it lasts): Yes!!

Peace, quiet, and no tourist activity.  Being on our own acre surrounded by forest in a community with no major industry translates into serenity,  The only noise we hear comes from the birds and the animals.  That said, it is a short drive into town for as much activity as I can handle given my interests and needs.

……………………..

All in all, I am thrilled with my survival retreat.  The home itself needed a lot of cosmetic work inside and the outside needed to be tidied but the bones are good and the property is exceptional.  The biggest challenge will be transporting water from off-site if our tap water ever stops running.  Purifying compromised water I can deal with in five or six different ways so that is not a concern.

Moving Can Be Lonely So Be Prepared to Get Social

Moving away from friends and family is pretty scary when it comes to settling in a strange location where you know no one.  For many, that will be fine and I applaud you for your ability to adapt to total isolation. I am not that person.

Although I am not particularly social, I do occasionally enjoy face to face contact with the outside world.  If this describes you, then know that you will need to put yourself out there.  Walk your neighborhood and meet the neighbors.  Chat with the lady behind the counter at the post office.  Shop the local merchants and tell them you are new to the area.

In a very short period of time, Shelly and I have a found handful of new acquaintances to share an evening BBQ and to shoot the breeze about this and that.  The goal is to establish a base of trust and to identify those that will be there to watch our backs as we watch theirs.

The Final Word

When we crossed the Columbia River last October, I announced that Elvis has left the building.  It was time for a new life and a new adventure.  Now that I am within days of moving to my survival retreat (aka The Cabin),  I have a renewed outlook when it comes to my chances to survive should the worse happen.

Yes, I gave up an abundant source of water but, on the other hand, I gained a whole lot more.  Mostly I hope to have gained the ability to grow food, fish, and hunt and enjoy the serenity that comes from living in the woods.

As you seek refuge in our own survival retreat, whether at your existing location or elsewhere, I hope you are as blessed as I have become.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!


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Agenda For Change: The American Prepper Movement

Agenda For Change: The American Prepper Movement | proverbs-27-12 | PreparednessSurvival

A while back when I posted Define the Prepper Movement With A Call Action, I did not know what to expect.  One part of me thought, okay, I am going to put this out there and be run out of town for expressing such crazy ideas.  The other part of me dictated that I post the article because I believed in it.  Not posting would be paramount to selling out to what was popular as well as profitable in the prepper blogging community.

Selling out is not in my DNA so I went ahead and shared the think piece by Richard Earl Broome, and much to my delight, it found a thoughtful and passionate audience here at Backdoor Survival.  I was pleased.

The next question, of course, is where do we go from here.

In today’s think piece, Richard kicks things up a notch and suggests that we take some time to develop a mission statement for the American Prepper Movement.

An Agenda for Change: “Power to the Preppers”

Before anyone ever thinks about starting a movement, you need to look at previous movements that were successful and truly did drive change. Two that immediately come to mind are the Civil Rights and Anti Vietnam War movements. What made them successful?

At their origins both seemed to have disparate pockets of political activism, with members that seemed to be just fringe agitators. Over time these disparate pockets integrated and became more respected. As a result, the beliefs they represented became more forceful and powerful because each managed to achieve discipline within a common agenda of fighting against true injustice.

Once more cohesive, they also became increasingly focused and articulate with arguments that created a coherent and compelling agenda for change. Eventually, both had a seat at the national table and helped drive new laws, the Voting Rights Act of 1964, and a new national policy, the elimination of the military draft in 1973.

Why is it important for Preppers of all shapes, sizes and interests to try to find a common ground and organize a movement like this?

At present, Preppers are mostly dismissed as a group outside of the mainstream. Yet as a community, we are more knowledgeable and better prepared to meet the increasing level of threatening events facing us than almost everyone else. As a disparate group, with no common agenda that Preppers agree upon, we currently have little influence or power when it is most needed.

The American Prepper Movement must have a voice at the federal, state and local level with regard to policy, planning, budgeting and legislation. To achieve a seat at the table, Preppers need to become more focused, disciplined and articulate and represent a powerful voting bloc with a clear and coherent agenda for change that elected officials will respect.

What do you think needs to be a part of the American Prepper Nation agenda?

First, let us all accept the premise that there is a new global reality. Terrorism, cyber attacks, pandemic threats, etc., have reached all nations, and as we most recently witnessed with the Boston Marathon bombing last spring and now in France, this is no longer just happening somewhere else in the world. It is a clear and present danger to all of us. A war on all citizens is underway. We have squandered the time we had to prepare for it, so like our nation after Pearl Harbor some seventy-three years ago, we need to catch up and right now.

We are only at the beginning of a discussion about what I think is the critical Prepper Agenda for Change. Here are some ideas, most of which are from the readers of Backdoor Survival in response to my December 30th, 2014 think piece on Backdoor Survival, “Do Not Go Gentle Into the Night.” We seemed to think the Prepper Agenda for Change was in four categories:

–First, develop a mission statement that we all would agree articulates what the Prepper movement is really about.

The media tends to have a cynical view of prepping, which impacts the psychology of most uninformed audiences, and gives the impression we are all slightly odd and not to be taken seriously. Yet, you can go to Ready.gov and see very similar advice for the entire nation coming from FEMA. So we are, in fact, just doing what our government asks.

We also know that we can give better advice to our fellow citizens than the bureaucrats in Washington D.C. do, and on much a wider range of topics. We need our more informed, experienced Prepper voices heard.

A starting point would be our mission statement for the American Prepper Movement. How about we start a Proverb as our inspiration, and then the readers of Backdoor Survival can add their own thoughts?

Proverbs 27:12 “A prudent person foresees the danger ahead and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.”

–Second, what can we learn from others?

We created the Department of Homeland Security twelve years ago. The State of Israel was founded sixty-seven years ago. The State of Israel has been focused on the preparedness of their citizens since the nation was founded.

What policies should our federal, state and local governments adopt from Israel, particularly around citizen preparedness? We are not yet under a direct and constant threat as Israel experiences, but the threat to the USA is steadily growing. Now is the time to step back, re-examine ourselves, and start making bold changes.

For example, Israel makes civilian preparedness and resiliency part of their education curriculum. Students learn the importance of being prepared and have both historical lessons about terrorism along with “hands on” learning experiences to develop skills with first aid, CPR, chemical and biological weapons, the use of gas masks, and so on. High school students are expected to actively support the local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), during an emergency.

Israel’s Home Front Command also uses consistent, straightforward messaging to the citizens of Israel about threats or possible events. Israel, with these policies, has achieved a genuine culture of preparedness.

So should the United States.

–Third, with all these kinds of actions we can begin to shift the psychology of Americans.

A recent article I wrote for Backdoor Survival was “Building a Culture of Preparedness.” I used the following quote in my article as a metaphor, to illustrate how our view of heath and fitness has changed over the last 50 years.

“If you have ever watched the TV show, “Mad Men,” on many levels it is both fascinating and a little horrifying. We did act that way. We drank too much, smoked, and ate whatever we pleased. Exercise was that occasional game of tennis or golf. This has all changed for the better. We pay more attention to diet, nutrition, exercise and avoid doing the things we know hurt us. Over time, as a society, we developed a culture of health and fitness. It took us years, but we made the cultural shift. What caused this was that we all raised our level of understanding about causes and effects and the ultimate impacts of poor choices about heath and fitness.

To achieve a similar kind of a societal-wide transition for better preparedness, by fostering the community discussions that I am proposing in this article, over time, could start to create and begin to build an overall culture of preparedness.”

We need to raise our level of national understanding about the importance of preparedness. If we are ever going to be truly prepared, this kind of a psychological shift by Americans is a fundamental requirement. Israel did it. So can we.

–Fourth, during future events Preppers more likely to shoulder most the burden of the threats to our safety because we, as a nation, allow others to remain less prepared.

Your federal, state and local tax dollars that go to emergency preparedness will be spent on those who are not prepared. Preppers will perhaps need, little to no help, which makes Preppers the ants paying for the grasshoppers.

If we, as a nation, will subsidize someone for putting solar panels on their roof to achieve energy efficiencies, why not advocate subsidizing Preppers for better overall preparedness? Shouldn’t Preppers get some sort of tax break for being a better-prepared citizen? Shouldn’t this be reflected in lower insurance bills for you?

A great side benefit if this actually happened would be the creation of a national standard for both individual and business preparedness. If this is ever created, the Prepper Nation definitely must have a voice in any kind of a preparedness standard.

Where do we go from here?

If we can agree on the basic tenets of a mission statement and agenda for change, we then have the fundamental pieces to begin to organize into a movement. With these we can start to address the simple; yet critical question: Where do we go from here?

Robert Kennedy one said:

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts, will be written the history of this generation.”

Each of us needs to do our small part and write the history of the beginnings of the American Prepper Movement.

Richard Earl Broome –  All Rights Reserved
February 4, 2015

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Richard Earl Broome is a contributing author and friend to Backdoor Survival. He has lived an extraordinary life rising from an Army private to an Army colonel who served on the White House staff for two Presidents of the United States as a member of their National Security Council staff.
He is considered a national expert on the subjects of crisis management, disaster recovery and survival. He is a frequent contributor of articles about the many threats facing our society, appearing frequently on radio shows to discuss issues such as pandemics, ISIS, and the cyber threat.
For more about Richard, visit my  About Richard page.  Also, note that his two books, Leaving The Trees and Good Crazy (Leaving The Trees Journey) (Volume 2)Agenda For Change: The American Prepper Movement | ir?t=continmoti-20&l=as2&o=1&a=1500505781 | PreparednessSurvival , can be found on Amazon.

The Final Word

As with all things preparedness, at first blush the task of preparing a mission statement may seem overwhelming.  After all, there is not only the effort of putting pencil to paper, but also the coordination of missives coming from various age groups, economic strata, and geographical locations. Each will have their own special needs and their own special interests.

The challenge going forward is to set aside our personal agendas and move toward a common goal for all preppers.  I know from reading your comments that there are plenty of you set to lead and an equal number set to follow with gumption and gusto.  Everyone is important.

Now it is your turn.  Let us continue brainstorm together; comments are open.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!


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Prepping In Real Life: It is Never Too Late to Change Course

Prepping In Real Life: It is Never Too Late to Change Course | escape-from-fishy-life-background-700x438 | PreparednessSurvival

There is no other way to begin this article than to simply begin.

Back in the day, meaning 2011 and 2012, survivalist preppers were a curiosity. Those of us that chose this journey ended up soldiering their way through a maze of trial and error, amassing supplies and traditional skills that would carry us through the next apocalypse.

Early on, I chose to refer to the next apocalypse as a “disruptive event” and the label stuck.  Whether a natural disaster, economic collapse, or manmade event, it was always my feeling that a broad foundation of self-sufficiency would carry us through the worst of times.

And so it has been for all these years.

Do you ever feel like a fish out of water? If so, you are not alone.

Unfortunately, so many years later, I find that prepping has become an industry filled with bad information, shoddy ethics, and fraud.  I am saddened by all of this, so much so that there are days I want to give it up lest I am caught up in a cycle where raw capitalism supersedes common sense education.

But I digress.

In this newest Backdoor Survival think piece, I would like to challenge you to take a look at yourself and your needs and judge yourself by your own standards and not those of someone else.  I ask you to walk the walk and stay true to your core belief system so that you can become as prepared as you need to be.  No more, and no less.

To help you along, I am including an excerpt from Dan Chiras’ book, Things I Learned Too Late In Life: It’s Never Too Late To Be Who You Might Have Been.  It has helped me a lot, and I hope it helps you, too.

It’s Never too Late to Be Who You Might Have Been

Most of us live two lives: a secret inner life decorated with high ideals and moral principles, and an outer real life in which we often abandon or compromise our morals and ideals, sometimes our most cherished ideals, for the sake of expediency, fitting in, getting by, or hundreds of other flimsy excuses.

In essence, each of us is a complex mixture of who we are and who we’d like to be. No wonder that we’re each a conflicting maze of emotions and ideas and actions.

At a keynote address at a conference at the University of Colorado in the 1990s, a prominent health-food advocate told her audience, “Don’t judge me by my cupboards.” She went on to explain that her children insisted on her buying all kinds of less-than-healthy goodies – cereals loaded with food dyes and, of course, dripping with sugar. All these products violated her beliefs – and teachings — about sound nutrition.

I fully understand and sympathize with her and don’t stand in judgment. All parents know how difficult it is to get our children to eat right. I offer this anecdote, however, as an example of one of many often powerful forces that steer us off the path of being – or becoming — who we really want to be – in this case, our children’s unrelenting and plaintive whining.

This speaker’s proclamation was just one example of how we all live lives nagged by many niggling little white lies – believing in one thing, acting in ways that contradict our beliefs.

Bottom line, however, when all is said and done, we have to judge ourselves by what’s in our cupboards, not by the slogans on the bumper stickers on our cars or the T shirts we wear on weekends.

What we do is who we are. We are not what we believe in but fail to do or be.

The Final Word

When it comes to prepping, talk is cheap. It is the doing that is expensive.  As I learned from Dan’s book, “walking your talk” takes time, energy, money, and commitment.

My wish for all of you is that you continue to walk your talk. Do it your way.  And when in doubt, ask a lot of questions.  If something smells wrong, most likely it is wrong. Go with your gut instincts, instead.

Prepping, and being a survivalist prepper, is hard work so define your needs, and go from there.  Be true to yourself and your moral compass and you can not and will not go astray.

And that, as I like to say, is all I am going to say about that.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!


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25 Ways to Use Flour Sack Dishtowels Around the Home

25 Ways to Use Flour Sack Dishtowels Around the Home | Flour-Sack-Dishtowels | Off-Grid & Independent Living PreparednessSurvival

One of the cornerstones of being prepared is to identify items that multitask and to embrace their use during normal times.  Doing so not only saves money but also saves storage space and eliminates having to choose which product or item to use for what.

A good example is the common Mason jar.  Another is the flour sack dishtowel.

I was chatting with Backdoor Survival reader, Susan Perry, about this very same thing when she offered to share her top twenty-five uses for flour sack towels.  How cool is that?

I grew up around flour sack dishtowels.  I remember how my grandmother used them for everything including cleaning rags, aprons, and tidy little bundles holding dry goods. I had forgotten about them until ten years ago when I saw a package at Wal-Mart.  There was no looking back and I still use those same towels today.  I even embroidered them myself with colorful little cabins.

What the Heck are Flour Sack Dishtowels?

As a homesteader, I’m all about quality when it comes to basic supplies, and as an herbalist who also loves cooking from scratch, that goes double in the kitchen. I discovered years ago that when it comes to kitchen towels, flour sacks are the only way to go.

Although the term might provoke an image of rough, dusty, oversized rags, they are quite the opposite. They’re super absorbent, lint free, and vastly superior to the decorative towels you might find at a department store.

A Short History of Flour Sack Towels

It all started back in the 1850’s. Those old wooden barrels were heavy and bulky. Cotton had become inexpensive, so grain mills began shipping flour in large, thick cotton bags strong enough to hold fifty pounds.

Before long, cotton bags were being used not only for flour, but also for sugar, seeds, animal feed, fertilizer, and more. These goods were sent out to general stores and carried home by horse and wagon. Resourceful housewives soon realized that the bags’ sturdy fabric was way too useful to be tossed out. Rural families typically had limited income, and soon this packaging material was finding new life not only as towels, but also as aprons, diapers, coverlets, and even clothing.

Of course, no one wanted to wear a shirt or dress with the name of a flour company printed across the front for all the world to see. Housewives learned how to remove the labels with several rounds of soaking and washing with lye soap and bleach.

25 Ways to Use Flour Sack Dishtowels Around the Home | Flour-Sack-Dress-Great-Depression | Off-Grid & Independent Living PreparednessSurvival

During the Great Depression, women fashioned clothing out of flour sacks.

Over time, manufacturers decided they could increase their profits by upgrading the bags. They began using removable paper labels and started printing embroidery patterns onto the fabric. But the real excitement began in the mid-1920s when cotton mills started producing sacks using colorful flower prints, border designs for pillowcases and curtains, and patterns for children’s clothing, dolls and teddy bears.

The clever use of cotton sacks only increased during the depression years, and as clothing wore out, every scrap was put to use in beautiful, carefully designed quilts.

I’d been on my farm only a few months when I discovered today’s version of flour sack cloths. A neighbor showed me the Lehman’s Catalogue, and there they were, more than thirty inches long and almost as wide. With every week that went by, I found more ways to use them. That was twenty years ago, and I still find a new use for one every now and then.

Two Kinds of Flour Sack Towels

For homestead use, the best towels measure at least 30 by 30 inches and are thick and durable, made of pristine, high-quality cotton cloth with hemmed edges and a high thread count. With their quality and size, these are the most useful and longest lasting kind, giving good service for many years.

They are perfect for dealing with large batches of herbs and produce. I’ve used them to carry two gallons or more of blueberries from the counter to the sink.

The one thing I don’t use them for is straining herbs, yogurt, or jellies, as the thick fabric usually holds back too much of the liquid. I’ve even had the liquid squirt out the top and onto the counter when I tried to hurry things along by squeezing.

Some may think the smaller, lesser quality towels are not worth having, but I disagree. Their thinner fabric makes them the best choice for straining. They are much less expensive and readily available at discount stores such as Wal-Mart. I keep a kitchen drawer full for daily dish drying and counter wiping, and for small batches of herbs or produce.

There are other sizes and fabric choices, so hopefully the above will help you decide what you need.

Twenty-Five Ways to Use Flour Sack Dishtowels

In the Kitchen:

1. Cover bread dough and baked goods to keep them warm while rising.

2. Wrap and cover dinner rolls and breads to keep them warm at the table and contain crumbs.

3. Spread towels out on the counter to drain produce after rinsing.

4. Fold a towel in half and sew a seam on the edge of the long side, and on one of the short edges. This makes a bag you can use for storing produce in the refrigerator.

5. Line a refrigerator drawer with a slightly damp towel to keep greens, lettuce, and salad items moist and fresh. The produce won’t be harmed as it would be by plastic wrap, which can quickly cause deterioration.

6. Sort blueberries on white towels to easily see and remove damaged berries, loose stems and bits of leaf; clean the berries by holding up one end of the cloth and rolling them from one cloth to another. Any remaining debris or tiny insects cling to the cloths. This eliminates the need to rinse the berries, which causes the skin to toughen when frozen.

7. Use thinner cloths to strain homemade jellies, yogurt cheese, and anything else that needs straining. For large amounts, line a metal strainer with the cloth.

8. Dry dishes, wipe counters and do general kitchen clean-up. Save trees by using fewer paper towels.

9. Set canning jars on a towel to drain after washing; spread out a new, dry cloth to keep jars clean, avoid slips, and catch drips when filling jars with soup or other liquids for the freezer, or when filling jars with beans, grains, or other items for storage.

In the Garden and Around the Homestead:

10. Line a peach basket with a large towel for picking small or delicate produce such as berries, beans, lettuce, and tomatoes. This keeps berries from falling through the gaps and protects produce from the rough edges.

11. Hold the corners to carry a few handfuls of produce from garden to kitchen.

12. Use a cloth to line a wicker basket to cushion fresh eggs as you gather and carry them from the hen house.

In the Home:

13. When a cloth is stained and worn, relegate it to the box of cleaning rags. Snip off a small piece of one corner to identify it as a rag, so it doesn’t end up back in the kitchen. Use for cleaning windows, appliances, wood furniture, and cars; for blotting up carpet stains; and for general cleaning, polishing, and dusting.

14. Fold a towel in half and sew along two edges to make a bag for protecting delicate clothing in a washing machine. These bags can also be used for storing or organizing like items, such as small toys, travel items, candy and snack bars, things to keep in the car, first aid and cosmetics. Add a button or snap to keep it closed if needed.

15. Make a broom cover for collecting spider webs and dust in the high corners of a room, on ceiling fans, and behind furniture. Just fold the cloth in half, place the ends of broom bristles in the fold, then tie the corners together: tie the two corners on the right side, then the two corners on the left side. When finished cleaning, just shake the cloth outside and throw it in the wash.

For First Aid:

To use flour sack towels for first aid, wash and fold new, never-used cloths, then store them in plastic zip-close bags and keep them with other first aid supplies.

16. Use a towel to make a castor oil pack for healing serious injuries.

17. Make a sling to support an injured arm, hand, elbow, wrist or shoulder. Just fold the towel into a triangle, then tie the ends together.

18. Cut a towel to the right size for use as a bandage for covering wounds or wrapping injuries.

19. Stop serious bleeding by applying pressure with a clean towel or wrapping the towel to serve as a tourniquet.

20. Arrange one or more towels to cushion and protect painful areas.

For Working with Herbs:

Prepare towels as for first aid above, and store separately.

21. Use a towel to gather and carry fresh-cut herbs.

22. Spread towels out on the counter to air-dry large quantities of herbs after rinsing. To dehydrate, change to a dry towel as often as needed.

23. Crush and add hot water to healing herbs like comfrey or plantain to make a poultice; place the herbs and liquid on a towel and apply where needed.

24. Use a thin towel to strain herbal oils, alcohol extracts, and teas.

25. Cut a towel into pieces measuring about five by ten inches. Sew together two sides, fill with dried herbs, then sew the third side to make an herbal bath bag or aromatic sachet. These make nice gifts or a luxurious treat for yourself.

Resources

For premium flour sack towels, check these out:  Aunt Martha’s 33-Inch by 38-Inch Flour Sack Dish Towels.  These standard flour sack towels are also good:  Utopia Kitchen 12 Pack Flour-Sack-Towels

For fun craft ideas using flour sack towels check out this Pinterest Board.

To learn about the history of flour sack towels, read this article from the Floursacktowels’s Blog.

And finally, check out these 1930’s flour sack dresses.  It will make you wish flour was still packaged in cloth rather than paper!

The Final Word

Learning how to do things in the resourceful and creative ways of earlier generations can both save the budget and be deeply satisfying. And for me and most other preppers, it’s also great fun. What additional ways have you found for using flour sack dish cloths?

Please leave a comment and share your good ideas!

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!


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Patient Advocacy For Good Times and Bad

Patient Advocacy For Good Times and Bad | holding-hands | General Health Medical & Health PreparednessSurvival

Becoming medically prepared can be one of the most difficult aspects of prepping.  First, there is the unpredictable nature of medical emergencies themselves.  Then there is the prospect of inadequate medical training coupled with the lack of supplies and medicine.

Even during normal times, doing the right thing medically can have dire consequences.  Something you may not have considered is the need for patient advocacy, both now and in the future when the prospect of getting good proper medical care is not likely.

Dr. Joe Alton is back again with an all-new and all-important article of medical preparedness.

Advocating for the Patient in Good or Bad Times

We spend a lot of time talking about medical issues in natural and man-made disasters. However, a calamity can also be very personal, such as when you or a loved one suffers a major medical emergency, whether in good or bad times.

In many instances, it is easy for someone like this to “fall through the cracks” of a huge medical establishment. I know this happens, as I saw the results of it as a resident in a large inner-city hospital. The lack of having an advocate, for example, in an epidemic setting can be very hazardous to your health.

A similar scenario that could have been fatal also happened to one of our sons, Daniel. Daniel is a 32-year-old who has had severe diabetes since he was nine years old. Due to his disease, he had developed kidney failure, partial blindness, circulatory problems, and had been on dialysis for more than a year. He had been on a transplant waiting list as well.

After a number of false alarms, a kidney and pancreas became available as a result of a drunk driver taking the life of a young father of two as he was riding his bicycle. Daniel underwent transplant surgery at a large city hospital, one of the few in the state that performed this type of procedure.

The good news is that the new organs functioned well from the very start, producing urine and lowering his blood sugars to almost normal levels within 24 hours. Several days after the operation, he was deemed fit enough to leave the Intensive Care Unit and go to a regular floor. This meant that, instead of having a nurse specifically for him, he shared a nurse with several other patients. This is standard operating procedure and usually, has no ominous implications.

However, when we went to see him the day of his transfer, he wasn’t looking well. He seemed pale and his abdomen seemed more distended that it did before. There was a drain coming out of his belly, and it was full of bright red blood.

As a surgeon, seeing a drain with some bloody fluid isn’t that unusual. But the sheer volume of blood draining out of his abdomen was concerning. Nurse Amy and I took it upon ourselves to check Daniel’s vital signs earlier than scheduled and found him to have a racing pulse and a dropping blood pressure. As we were unable to find medical staff, we emptied the bloody drain and watched it rapidly fill up again (and again) in short order. It was clear that he was bleeding internally.

This occurred in the wee hours of the morning after most visitors had left. Staffing was light, and it took some time to find his nurse, who was attending another patient. Our hackles were raised, and we’re not ashamed to admit that we raised a racket. An overworked resident came in to take a look at him. To her credit, she realized that something was wrong, and he returned to the operating room. They wound up removing 3 or 4 liters of free blood from his abdomen before the hemorrhage came under control.

Daniel recovered from this ordeal and, thankfully, his transplanted kidney and pancreas are still functioning. However, thinking about this episode, it was clear to us that it could have ended very badly. If not identified in time, it’s very likely that we would have received a call in the morning notifying us that Daniel had passed away during the night.

We tell you this story not to gain sympathy or a pat on the back, but to convince you of the importance of being a patient advocate. Our advice is not just for family members. If you are working to become a better medical asset to your people in hard times, then you must take patient advocacy as serious as learning first aid. You must walk a mile in the shoes of your patient.

You may already see yourself as an advocate for your patient. Indeed, most doctors today feel they know what’s best for their patients. I certainly hope it is this that guides them; that they would do for their patients as they would for a member of their family. As a medic in a disaster, however, you may be overworked and under stress.

This may make it difficult for you to see things from your patient’s perspective. Your patient may “fall through the cracks” if you’re not careful, simply due to the amount of pressure on you to care for a large survival community.

Consider appointing a family member or other individual to follow a sick patient with you, not necessarily to provide care but to provide support as an advocate. Allow your patient to participate in medical decisions regarding their health and never resent their questions. If they are too weak to do so, communicate your plan of action with their appointed advocate.

Three A’s of Patient Advocacy

Here are Alton’s Three A’s of Advocacy

1)   Accept the importance of a patient’s right to be informed and, if possible, participate in medical decision-making.

2)   Advise the patient so that they understand the medical issue in question and can be a full partner in the therapeutic process.

3)   Allow an advocate to be an intermediary if the patient is too weak to actively participate in their care.

Hard realities may make it difficult to provide quality, informed care in times of trouble. Unfortunately, medic, that is your duty; it’s a responsibility that’s as imperative in bad times as it is in good.

The Final Word

It is not difficult to imagine a time or a place when medical help may not be readily available.  The scenarios are many.  Following a catastrophic natural or manmade disaster, during a pandemic, or even a during a vacation to a remote location.  In each of these cases, you may have to take patient care under your own wing and do the best you can to ensure a good outcome.

In those circumstances, do the best you can, keeping in mind the Alton’s three A’s: Accept, Advice, and Allow.  As a matter of fact, start practicing them now.  They could be a game-changer.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!


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The Emergency Preparedness Test

The Emergency Preparedness Test | test-chalk-board | PreparednessSurvival

In January 2011, I did a walk-around-the-house inventory to assess my state of my preparedness.  At the time, I was living offshore on San Juan Island in Washington State.  Terrorism was an escalating threat, the economy was in shambles, and I was living in earthquake country.  On that day, I officially became a prepper.

There has been no looking back.  I have made it my mission to educate myself and the world as I put into place long-term survival tactics to ensure both safety and comfort in the event a major incident or disaster. Eventually, I began using the term “disruptive event” to describe such events, be they acts of Mother Nature or man-made.

Something I did annually during those early days was to take a Preparedness Test.  I had forgotten about it until recently but decided with my recent move, it was time to bring it to the forefront and take it again.

Are you interested in taking or re-taking the preparedness test? If so, keep reading.

The Preparedness Test

1.   Has your family rehearsed fire escape routes from your home?

2.   Does your family know what to do before, during, and after an earthquake or other emergency situation?

3.   Do you have heavy objects hanging over beds that can fall during an earthquake?

4.   Do you have access to an operational flashlight in every occupied bedroom?  (use of candles is not recommended unless you are sure there is no leaking gas)

5.   Do you keep shoes near your bed to protect your feet against broken glass?

6.    If a water line was ruptured during an earthquake, do you know how to shut off the main water line to your house?

7.   Can this water valve be turned off by hand without the use of a tool? Do you have a tool if one is needed?

8.    Do you know where the main gas shut-off valve to your house is located?

9.    If you smell gas, do you know how and would you be able to shut off this valve?

10.  Gas valves usually cannot be turned off by hand. Is there a tool near your valve?

11.  Would you be able to safely restart your furnace when gas is safely available?

12.  Do you have working smoke alarms in the proper places to warn you of fire?

13.  In case of a minor fire, do you have a fire extinguisher that you know how to use?

14.  Do you have duplicate keys and copies of important insurance and other papers stored outside your home?

15.  Do you have a functional emergency radio to receive emergency information?

16.  If your family had to evacuate your home, have you identified a meeting place?

IF AN EMERGENCY LASTED FOR THREE DAYS ( 72 HOURS) BEFORE HELP WAS AVAILABLE TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY:

17.  Would you have sufficient food?

18.  Would you have the means to cook food without gas and electricity?

19.  Would you have sufficient water for drinking, cooking, and sanitary needs?

20.  Do you have access to a 72 hour evacuation kit?

21. Would you be able to carry or transport these kits?

22. Have you established an out-of-state contact?

23. Do you have a first aid kit in your home and in each car?

24. Do you have work gloves and some tools for minor rescue and clean up?

25. Do you have emergency cash on hand? (During emergencies banks and ATMs are closed)

26. Without electricity and gas do you have a way to heat at least part of your house?

27. If you need medications, do you have a month’s supply on hand?

28. Do you have a plan for toilet facilities if there is an extended water shortage?

29. Do you have a supply of food, clothing, and fuel where appropriate: For 6 months? For a year?

How did you do?  I was personally surprised to find I had a few items pending which tells me that taking the test annually is important, regardless of your perceived state of preparedness.

The Walk-Around Inventory

What is a walk-around inventory?  In the simplest of terms, a walk-around inventory involves scoping out your home, garage, basement. and yard with an eye peeled to deficiencies that need to be corrected to ensure your safety in the event of a disruptive event.  Clipboard in hand, the inventory should include the good, the bad, and the in-between.

Here where I live, that primarily means a windstorm sandstorm, but in fact, it could mean anything that disrupts my normal way of life, including a pandemic, EMP, or nuclear event.

Coupled with the walk-around inventory should be a fresh look at the organization of your manuals, eBooks, and preparedness checklists which, over time, can become a big mess.

Credit Where Credit is Due

I was not clever enough to come up with this test on my own.  I found this great Preparedness Test buried in an LDS Preparedness Manual which is a 100% free download, although you do have to provide your email first.

You can also download a printable copy of the Preparedness Test here.

The Final Word

No matter how prepared you think you are, it seems as though there is always something new to do.  Whether a new skill, some updated gear, or simply an update to your survival mindset, it is good to stay fresh and stay current.

Whether you are a seasoned prepper, a newbie, or just a concerned citizen, I encourage you to take the Preparedness Test to see just how ready, or not. you are for a major disruptive event.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!


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The post The Emergency Preparedness Test appeared first on The Sleuth Journal.


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