Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be an article about how ‘bad’ or tough I am. This is an article about surviving ‘unexpected events’.

Unexpected events are things in life that range from inconveniences such as a flat tire, to serious disasters, such as a tornado, hurricane or tsunami, where loss of life is the unfortunate norm. Most people are Preppers at some level and don’t even realize it. Even the person who makes certain to have a good spare tire, jack and lug wrench in the trunk of the car is a Prepper to a minimal extent. There are others who have either witnessed or who have been affected by large or small events (sometimes both) and who have through their experiences, made preparations so that ‘the next time’ won’t be as bad. Still, many others prepare for unexpected events as a result of hearing or reading about certain relevant risks and then taking those potential risks into measured and proportionate consideration with regard to preserving their lifestyles. Automobile and life insurance are forms of prepping, designed to preserve a lifestyle after an unexpected event. One thing we learn in life as we look around is that we need all kinds of ‘insurance’… martial arts training is a kind of insurance.

Today the study of martial arts is quite popular. Many movies and TV shows depict people who are saved from demise as a result of heroes who are endowed with various martial arts skills, mostly beyond the realm of reality. Mixed martial arts (MMA) are also very popular and have transcended many others sports as of late in popularity.

When I was very young, I was small for my age and the school I attended had more than its fair allocation of bullies. Finally after taking one too many beatings at the hands of these little villains, my father said enough was enough and he enrolled me in a Jujitsu school, where I learned much more than just how to ‘bring the pain’. I learned many things that don’t seem to be taught in many schools these days; respect, honor, balance (of mind and body), breathing (amazingly, most people don’t use the full capacity of their lungs), meditation (leads to clear focus), and of course how to inflict the opposite of all those things upon any would-be attackers (imbalance, confusion, choke holds, joint locks, throws, punches and kicks). Two of the most important lessons were; ‘never give up’ and ‘combat is the absolute last resort’. Over the years I had continued in the tradition of my Sensei’s training and philosophy, which have served me well.
TruckIt was a black night in late July 2002 when I was heading southbound at about 75 mph on the I-5 freeway, just north of Sacramento, CA. Unknown to me, a drunk driver was heading in the opposite northbound lane traveling at a speed nearing 100 mph (according to the California highway patrol) when he crossed over into the path of my vehicle. The highway patrol on scene estimated that the impact speed (the combined vectors) was about 160 mph in a collision that bent the drunk’s Chevy pickup truck into an almost unrecognizable shape. The impact was so intense that parts broke free from his truck and penetrated my van (his drive-line and alternator) like bullets shot from a gun. The van I was driving was old and didn’t have airbags. The accident closed all the southbound lanes of I-5 and traffic was backed-up for miles, as the MediVac helicopter landed on the freeway. Having survived the accident, I later learned from several doctors that my survival was nothing short of a miracle.

Amazingly I didn’t break a single bone in the accident, and about a month later I was healed enough to visit the wreckage of my van and the drunk’s pickup truck in the wrecking yard where they had been stored. As I examined the two wrecked vehicles, it was clear to me that I was more than lucky to have survived the wreck; there was something more.

As I learned from several trauma physicians, who saw me after the wreck, there were two things that should have killed me right-off:

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Grandmaster Robert Trias

First, was the fact that I had no airbag to slow my forward progression into my shoulder harness at the moment of impact. And normally at impact speeds in excess 100 mph, your chest is suddenly compressed by a single-strap shoulder harness as your body weight shoots forward and then instantly stops; that sudden and powerful compression is equivalent to being hit in the chest by a sledge-hammer. As the doctors explained, it will normally rupture one of the large arteries at the heart, causing massive internal bleeding. At least this is what they have seen in most autopsies from these kinds of high impact collisions. The other thing that also occurs at the moment you reach the end of the slack in your shoulder harness, absent an airbag, is that your head, which weighs about eleven pounds continues forward at the impact velocity (in my case 160 mph) as your body is stopped by the shoulder harness, which results in the equivalent of being hanged; it simply snaps your neck.

As I relived the second or two up to the moment of the impact in my mind, I realized that it was the way I reacted just before the impact that saved me. At the moment of impact, I instinctively let-out a ‘kiai’, which is a learned instinctive response in martial arts combat.  An explanation is surely needed for those readers who are not serious martial arts students.

As the Grandmaster Robert Trias explains:

“The kiai must be recognized as the ultimate unifying force that brings the body, mind and the opponent into a focused, controlled alignment, with harmony between self and the opponent. The actualization of this potentiality of time and space at one point, physically, and while releasing spiritual potentials, determines the way of development and brings to consciousness an inexpressible awareness of life itself.”

As the doctors would look upon me, even to this day, in disbelief as to my survival, I know without any doubt that the instruction and training I received from my teachers over the years served the providence that saved my life that day.

Do not overlook the value that can be gained from a quality martial arts experience.

 

Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be an article about how ‘bad’ or tough I am. This is an article about surviving ‘unexpected events’. Unexpected events are things in life that

A term you will hear frequently on Prepping and Survival websites is a Get Home Bag. You could also hear this called by other names (Get Me Home, Get Back) and they are all pretty much the same thing. Today we are going to discuss why a Get Home Bag is so important and something you should consider having if you are like most people and have to commute away from home every day for work. A Get Home Bag is similar to your Bug Out Bag but they have different purposes and what you need to put into your Get Home Bag will be different.

What is a Get Home Bag?

A get home bag is simply a bag of supplies you can use if you are forced to walk back home after some disaster or crisis. The assumption is that for whatever reason you are away from home, possibly far away and you can’t simply call AAA or a cab to come and get you. There could be several levels of Get Home Bag and I will discuss those below depending on how far away from home you are which could determine how long it will take you to get back home.

I used to have a job for a short time that had an 86 mile (one way!) commute. It was an opportunity that was too good to pass up but thankfully I found another position much closer to home. Every day I would jump in my car and set out on the highway for an hour and a half drive. Naturally, I never really imagined anything would prevent me from driving back home at the end of the day, but if some disaster struck while I was away, 86 miles would be a pretty long haul on foot.

When I worked that job I didn’t have any supplies with me except an iPod probably. I don’t even think I had water in my car. If something had happened, I would have been in trouble if I had to rely on what I had on hand and a Get Home Bag is the answer to that problem. You don’t have to work 86 miles away from home to need a Get Home Bag because the important supplies you have in there could save your life even much closer to home.

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Maxpedition makes excellent bags.

Is a Get Home Bag even necessary?

You may be thinking ‘Hey, I don’t work 86 miles away from home’ so why would I need a Get Home Bag and I will concede that in some cases, the distance you are traveling away from home will dictate what you might need to make it home in the first place. Let’s say there is a disaster and you are only 5 miles away or closer from home. You could probably crawl home if you needed in a day. Assuming you didn’t live in an insect infected swamp, the dessert or in a war zone, you might not need a get home bag.

But there doesn’t really have to be a disaster for a get home bag to help you out. Winter storms are a natural occurrence. Last year, there was a huge traffic snarl in Atlanta when a relatively minor amount of snow and ice shut the city down over night. Your Get home bag could give you the supplies you needed to make it home or just as easily make your overnight stay more comfortable.

Get Home bags don’t have to see the end of the world as we know it. There could be earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, landslides, winter storms and on and on. Just having this backup could come in handy.

Your Get Home Bag packing list

So enough about the purpose of a get home bag, what do you pack in there? I think that we could logically break this down into different tiers or levels for how long the get home bag would need to be called into service to get you home. There will be seasonally adjusted items but I will call those out on the list below.

Assuming the average uninjured adult walks approximately 3 miles per hour we will have three tiers below for distances of 3 to 90 miles. As with everything else in prepping your needs and situation as well as the actual disaster will have an effect on what you will need to use and how your preps would be different. This is just a general guideline but should be enough for the average person in average conditions.

Tier 1 – 1 – 3 Hours away

If you had to walk back home for 3 hours that could mean that you work approximately 9 miles away from home. This is very similar to my commute now and unless meteors hit the ground or we were bombed by someone, I think all things being equal I would be home in a relatively short time. Anything I pack is going to help me along my journey but does not anticipate an overnight stay. I would add some items just in case because I like to be prepared for surprises.

  • A good folding knife – This should be common sense. A knife and actually the first 6 items on this list are part of my Every Day Carry (EDC) so technically I have them wherever I go. I carry the Spyderco Tenacious.
  • Multi-Tool – From pliers to a small saw, there are a surprising number of things you can do with a good multi-tool.
  • Bandanna – Bandanas make a great filter for the first stage of water, a dust mask, bandage, and sling or if you plan on robbing a bank you will be in style. Just kidding on that last part.
  • Flashlight/headlight – I have a flashlight on my belt and a headlamp in my Get Home Bag. You can’t beat a headlamp at night when you need to have both hands free.
  • Water bottle – Ideally a stainless steel water bottle which can be used over a fire to boil water. Even if you don’t have a stainless steel version, something to carry water in.
  • Concealed Carry Weapon – Never leave home without it.
  • Comfortable/Sturdy footwear – I have written about the importance of good footwear before. You don’t want the S to hit the fan and you are in flip flops.
  • Rain gear – Always plan for rain because you do not want to be soaking wet without a chance of drying off. Hypothermia will sap your energy and could kill you at even moderately warm temperatures. An umbrella isn’t a good option because it will require you to hold it and you will just look like a dork if you have to run.
  • Gloves – Sturdy gloves will be a huge advantage if you have to do work you aren’t accustomed to. They can prevent cuts, burns and blisters.
  • Simple First Aid Kit with Blood Stopper – I am not talking about the cheap kind with Band-Aids and some Neosporin. If you have to walk home you can tough minor cuts out, but a blood stopper or Israeli bandage can be used for large bleeds. If things are bad enough you are walking home, you probably don’t want to go to the hospital if you can avoid it.
  • Dust Mask – I have regular dust masks that are really only good for dust and N95 masks which should be used in certain situations.
  • Hat – Good at keeping the rain, sun or snow off your head.
  • Sunglasses – The ideal pair of sunglasses are also safety glasses to protect your eyes from debris.
  • Snack/Energy Bars – Let’s face it you will not die if you have to walk home for a few hours but a little snack bar can lift your spirits and occupy your mind for a while. A little shot of energy never hurt anyone either.
  • Spare Ammo – Make sure you can refill that magazine if it empties out.
  • Lighter – I have a couple of lighters because they are just simpler than using a fire steel.
  • Spare Cash – In a power outage or worse, you may not be able to access the ATM. Credit cards may not be accepted either but cash usually is.
  • Paracord – A million and one uses.
  • Duct Tape – Two million and two uses.
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A Stainless Steel water bottle like this Nalgene will allow you to boil water if needed.

Tier 2 – 4- 8 hours away

To walk for 8 hours at the average pace of 3 miles an hour that would put you approximately 24 miles away from home. I would have everything in the Tier 1 Get Home Bag plus the following items.

  • Spare batteries for flashlights
  • Bivvy sack or Wool Blanket – SOL makes a great emergency bivvy sack that will keep you alive in pretty cold temperatures. This or a wool blanket if you have to spend the night outdoors.
  • Tarp or Poncho – Either can be used to keep the rain off of you. A camouflage poncho can also help keep you hidden.
  • Garbage Bags – You can lay or sit on these to keep water off your backside.
  • Spare Medications (if needed)
  • Spare socks – If you are walking for over 4 hours or are sweating a lot you will want to change your socks. Hang the old ones off your Get Home Bag to dry out. As a bonus you may want foot powder and moleskin for blisters.
  • Additional Layer for warmth – Simple base layers are lightweight and take up little space.
  • Wool or fleece cap – Nights get cool even in the summer.
  • Radio
  • Tinder materials for fire – I have seen some people add dryer lint and some WetFire tabs and place them inside their roll of toilet paper.
  • Water purification tablets – Simpler than bleach, cheaper than a LifeStraw and take up less room than most filters. Of course if I was going to carry a water filter I would carry the Sawyer Mini water filter because it takes up minimal room and weighs ounces.
  • Toilet Paper – Hey, when the SHTF you might need to take a… well you know what I mean. Also useful for cleaning glasses, blowing your nose or as tinder for a fire.

Tier 3 – Overnight Distance 80 + miles.

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Rush 24 by 5.11 Tactical

If you are like me and the commute was extra-long or the traveling conditions were hazardous it may take you 24 hours to make it home. This will involve sleeping somewhere overnight unless you just have to plug on and make it all in one shot. For a Tier 3 Get Home bag, I would add to the contents of the first two tiers, the following:

  • Sleeping bag – Size and temperature appropriate to your climate and season.
  • Large fixed blade knife – This could be used for larger chores like chopping firewood for your fire or making larger holes in people. I carry the Gerber LMF II.
  • Spare magazine for pistol – Can’t be too safe.
  • Walking Sticks – If you are walking 80 miles you would probably need a walking stick before it’s all over with. Walking sticks relieve pressure on your knees and can also be used with your poncho to make a shelter.
  • Advanced First Aid – Blood Stoppers, Celox and Ace Bandage
  • Additional Energy Bars or Survival Rations

What is the best bag to use for a Get Home Bag?

That is the million dollar question isn’t it? Well, first it helps to assemble all of your items to see how much space you need. For my Tier 1 Get Home Bag I use a Maxpedition Jumbo Versipack which fits everything I have, minus the shoes very nicely. I haven’t used them personally but am interested in the 5.11 Rush bags that come in three sizes to coincide with the duration of your stay (12, 24 and 72). I know the 5.11 brand and have several of their products, just not any bags and they have been of the highest quality. You do pay for that quality, but I think it is worth it and I want to get my hands on one of these bags for a review.

I have also been interested in looking at the Paratus 3 Day Operator’s Pack from 3VGear. The price is certainly reasonable so I am considering getting one of those to review also. At less than half the price of a 5.11 bag, it’s worth considering. There are so many options out there and you don’t have to spend a fortune on a bag to hold your gear. Most likely you aren’t being dropped into hostile territory in Afghanistan so most regular backpacks will do the job for you but your own needs and tastes will decide what works best.

In conclusion, you might be wondering what the difference between a Bug Out Bag and a Get Home Bag is and if you count all of the tiers together, throw in some more food and maybe cooking utensils you are pretty much looking at the same thing. It might be a good indicator that you have too much if you can’t tell the difference. Either that or you work a long way from home.

Hopefully this helped with some information. Any items I missed?

A term you will hear frequently on Prepping and Survival websites is a Get Home Bag. You could also hear this called by other names (Get Me Home, Get Back)

Urban Camouflage and Concealment

It makes me laugh when I see a lot of SWAT Teams and PSD guys wearing Tactical Black and other colors that look cool but do nothing but make them stand out. In reality, black is one of the worst colors to wear. Ask yourself, what is black in nature? Look around you and what in your surroundings are black? I expect very little… In urban areas, most walls are white, gray or cream… Light colors! The colors you wear should blend in with your background whether its day or night.

At night dark colors stand out, especially when moving past light backgrounds and in urban areas most backgrounds are light colors. Even in rural dry areas when moving through low bush and fields the silhouettes of people in dark colors are easy to see at a distance.

You do not have to have expensive patterns to give you good camouflage and concealment, a gray dress shirt and a pair of light khaki pants is way more effective than tactical Tim dressed in SWAT black!

Movement and Rural Camouflage

Modern humans are positively disadvantaged when surviving in and moving one foot in rural and wilderness areas. Most people these days have never spent a night outside without any cover, let alone in bad weather. When you’re in the woods or bush you need to get comfortable in the environment. I remember one of my military instructors telling me that to be able to fight in an environment, you must first be able to live comfortably in that environment, and this is true. If you’re having difficulty living day-to-day how can you operate?

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Camouflage your face, neck and any areas of the exposed flesh with mud, ash or charcoal from fires. Or use a balaclava or scarf to cover your face and wear gloves.

You need to start using all your senses as the animals do, learn to identify sounds, smells, movements and what they mean. You need to especially be able to identify things associated with people, like footprints, cigarette stumps, broken twigs or foliage, fences, straight lines, domestic animals, aircraft, vehicles, talking, etc. Think about human smells like fires, food, fuel, human waste, and tobacco; if your senses are sharp in bush or wooded areas you should be able to smell or hear people before you see them.  When moving you must do so quietly and regularly stop to look, listen and smell for any indication of people. If you identify people in your proximity are you going to take cover, evade or ambush?

You should always consider camouflage and wear clothes that blend in with your environment, in urban areas wear light blues and grays in rural areas browns and greens. As I have said before there is no need for military camouflage clothing as this will just draw attention to yourself.

Basic fieldcraft, things are seen because of these reasons: Shape, Shadow, Silhouette, Shine, Spacing & Movement.

  • Shape: Disguise your shape; use foliage or rags to break up your outline.
  • Shadow: Keep in the shadows and always be aware that you are not casting a shadow that could be seen by your opposition.
  • Silhouette: Don’t stand out against skylines, lights, white walls, etc.
  • Shine: No chrome, shiny watches, mirrored glasses, sparkly jewelry and the like.
  • Spacing: If moving with others, remain spread out, but not too regularly and do not bunch together.
  • Movement: Move carefully, as the sudden movement draws attention and is the main reason camouflaged personnel and animals are seen.

The basic guidelines for camouflage are

  • Learn to blend in with your surroundings.
  • If you are using foliage to conceal yourself or your position don’t use too much or too little.
  • If you are in a long-term hide remember to keep your camouflage fresh, dead foliage will alert people to your position.
  • When moving avoid skylines.
  • Don’t use isolated or obvious cover; it’s the first place others will look. Consider hiding in thorny bushes or nettles as most people will not expect anyone to hide there.
  • Camouflage your face, neck and any areas of the exposed flesh with mud, ash or charcoal from fires. Or use a balaclava or scarf to cover your face and wear gloves.
  • Take all noisy objects from your pockets, such as keys and coins and make sure nothing on your person rattles.
  • Make sure there are no shiny surfaces on your person, equipment or clothing.

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Guidelines for Movement

You should always move quietly and cautiously and avoid stepping on dry twigs or breaking through foliage and undergrowth as this will make noise and leave an easy trail to follow. If you know you’re going to a rural area or possibly going to be in an escape and evasion situation avoid smelly foods, strong soaps and aftershaves, as these will be easy to smell by those used to being in the bush. Always be careful not to leave signs you were in an area such as footprints, broken foliage, human waste or trash.  Trash and human waste should be carried out of a hostile area and disposed of when safe to do so.

You should always move in “bounds” from one piece of cover to another. Your bounds should never be more than, say 50 yards, especially at night. When you stop at the end of each bound you should use your senses to try to detect any human presence then plan your next bound. Moving in short bounds is the safest way to move through populated areas or places there are unfriendly forces. Remember, always be prepared to take evasive action or defend yourself.

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Camo Face Paint Sticks – 3 Pack – 6 Colors

The speed at which you travel will depend on whether it’s day or night, the type of terrain you’re in, people or police patrols in the area. Never push yourself to your limit, you always need to have energy in reserve so you can run in an emergency; tired people are also rarely mentally alert. If you must run from your opposition try to do so only for a maximum of a few hundred yards, then slow down and move quietly, cautiously and cover any signs of your direction of travel. Do not use obvious routes, which tend to be the easiest routes to use; head up hills and into thorny areas, etc.

There are no set time periods for halts but you should try to take ten minutes in every hour on long journeys. Tracks, paths, and roads make for fast, easy travel and can aid navigation but can also be very dangerous as your opponents will watch them closely. To be cautious walk a few meters off to the side of any roads or tracks.  Places to expect sentries are at the entrances to urban areas, on bridges, crossroads and on high prominent terrain.

Avoid being silhouetted when crossing skylines and hills, go around them rather than over them where possible. If you need to cross an obstacle or skyline then keep low and crawl, if it’s a fence, crawl through it or under it. If you have to cut through a fence, cut through the lower strands and then disguise the hole with undergrowth or tie the wire strands back together, never cut through the top strands as this will be easily noticed.

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Moving at night

You need to learn to treat the night and darkness as your friend, darkness affords you cover. Many people are afraid of being in the dark especially in rural areas or derelict buildings; you should use this to your advantage. If you are moving you should always try to stay in the shadows, if you get caught in a beam of light or car headlights you should freeze, the chances are that you will remain unnoticed. You must have your immediate reaction drills for encountering a person, being caught in the light of the hostile fire at the forefront of your mind. Being caught off guard will get you captured or killed.

There are both natural and man-made noises that are useful to you because they can cover up or disguise the sounds that you make when moving. The best time for moving covertly is during bad weather; rain will cover the noise of your movement and any ground sign you leave. Bad weather also keeps people undercover, lowers the morale of those standing guard, learn to love bad weather.

General guidelines for rural movement

  • Wear clothing that blends in with local people and the terrain.
  • Do everything possible to disguise evidence of your passage; cover footprints, never break twigs or undergrowth and repair broken foliage.
  • Avoid contact with all people unless absolutely necessary.
  • Litter, food and human waste must be buried or carried with you.
  • Learn about tracking, then you’ll be aware of what anyone following you will be looking for.
  • If moving with others spread out and when crossing obstacles such as rivers or roads etc. take up positions to be able to give warnings of any threats that might be approaching. Also, stay low move fast and cross one by one.
  • Always be ready to take cover from gunfire or people you may encounter by surprise.
  • Remember certain smells indicate human activity; odors float downhill in cool air and rise in warm air.
  • Watch for stones, leaves or logs that have been moved, the undersides of these will be darker in color and damp environments, this can be an indicator of human activity or the location of hides.
  • Always look for straight lines as they are rare in nature and are usually man-made.
  • Learn to identify unnatural vegetation, such as green leaves among dead branches or areas of too much foliage as this could indicate human activity such as hides or ambushes.

These are some basic guidelines to get you thinking, these skills can’t be learn sat in a comfy chair, you need to get out and learn and practice them. Everything I have written about here is simple and the main thing required is situational awareness and common sense!

Urban Camouflage and Concealment It makes me laugh when I see a lot of SWAT Teams and PSD guys wearing Tactical Black and other colors that look cool but do nothing

Having a plan in place for Communication in a disaster or survival situation is important to your preparations. This may be a plan for communicating with your family if you are away. It could entail group communications at a retreat or neighborhood watch scenario or it could be as simple as letting family members know where you are if you are forced to separate? Taking the time to plan your communications now can save someone’s life and make any other plans you have function more smoothly.

Communications also encompass staying aware of news and information. If you are in the middle of a natural weather event and you need to know what if anything else is coming your way or which parts of town are the most impacted, you will want to stay in touch with the outside world. If there are traffic snarls that are blocking your retreat route or rioters or vigilantes have cordoned off a section of town you need to go through, you need to know this well in advance of trying to lead your family through there and adjust your plans accordingly.

Know your neighbors

This has certainly been discussed at great length but it bears repeating. The simplest and closest forms of communication you have are the people who live right next to you. During hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, neighborhoods banded together quickly after both of these tragedies for support and protection. This is another reason to stay focused on your surroundings and practice good Situational Awareness. You as well as your neighbors should know who lives in the houses around you. They may know if one of your neighbors is on vacation and someone strange is lurking around their house. Neighbors can check on people who may be older or need special assistance when regular service isn’t possible.

It is highly likely that after a disaster you may not have the ability to call the police or paramedics to assist people who are injured. Your job in this case would be to join up with your neighbors to take care of the injured and help anyone who needed assistance. The power of the group will make you all much more successful at staying alive, fed and sheltered as much as possible.

Special Family Signals

If you are forced to leave your home for whatever reason and a member of your group isn’t able to leave with you a predetermined symbol comes in handy to pass the unspoken message of where you have gone.

Having a similar signal like this could be beneficial for you. I would caution that the secret signal should be a little harder to accidentally trigger. In my case, it would be easy for one of the neighborhood kids to knock the fish over and I would come home and think everyone had left me. Less obvious signals can be devised that can alert family members to your status and what is to be done next.

Another aspect of this type of survival communication is simply leaving a detailed record or note for someone. If you are a backpacker and plan to go into the woods on a multi-day hike, it is always a good idea to leave a note with your plans and expected arrival date with two people. I would leave one note with a close friend or family member who would contact the police if you didn’t show up at the appointed time. I would also leave another note face down on the dash of my car. The information should let anyone who is looking for you, have a really strong idea of where to start looking.

Solar Powered/Hand Crank Radio

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Ambient Weather WR-111B Emergency Solar Hand Crank AM/FM/NOAA Digital Radio

In any emergency situation, staying informed not only gives you information but it can be reassuring or even motivating to you and your family. I would recommend that everyone have at least one emergency or weather radio at any of your locations. I keep one stored with my emergency supplies and only have to walk into the other room to grab it out of its box. You do want a radio that is powered by batteries in case the power is out and a nice option is to have either a solar panel or hand crank to power the radio in case you don’t have batteries.

There are tons of options on radios but The Adventurer is currently the highest rated according to Amazon. It runs off batteries, crank or solar and has an optional USB port to plug your phones in when they run down. Additionally it has a light to shine around while you are listening to either weather/AM/FM or NOAA broadcasts.

Cell Phones

Cell phones are the first thing you would think to grab in an emergency scenario and actually, having a fully charged phone and spare battery are great contents of any Bug Out or Get Home Bag, but they might not be in use in a major catastrophe. If you remember 9/11 cell phone traffic was knocked offline. Even during the relatively minor earthquake in Virgina in 2011, cell phone service was interrupted. Imagine if a real catastrophe or earthquake happened.

This problem isn’t limited to cities either. If you are too far off the map, your cell reception may not be sufficient to make a call. For example, you can look at just AT&Ts coverage map and see that there are giant portions of the western US that are completely uncovered by AT&T’s towers. You don’t want to depend on your cell phone in an emergency.

Internet

Can the internet be useful for communications? Of course it can, but like cell phones I wouldn’t rely on that for my disaster plan. In most emergency situations there isn’t power. You could take another route and say that the communications on the internet may compromise you. There are ways to stay anonymous on the internet, but they do require some level of work and every day more systems are designed to snoop on you regardless of the safeguards you have in place. Now if your entire family is a bunch of hackers with backup power generators, have at it! The common person shouldn’t rely on this method in most disasters.

CB Radios

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Cobra® 29 LTD BT CB Radio with Bluetooth

CB or Citizens Band radios have been around for a long time. I remember my father had one in his old Mercury Capri and we would turn it on every once in a while and listen to the truckers talk while we were on a drive. I would try to come up with a clever handle, but it usually just revolved around whoever my favorite TV show hero was at the time.

CB Radios generally have a range of 5-20 miles depending on the terrain. Each channel is a different frequency and channel 9 is the emergency channel. You can listen to channel 9 for news updates and stay in touch with friends or family well away from your home. Some models like the Cobra® 29 LTD BT even have Bluetooth now so you can take calls on your CB. You just need a CB and an antenna and you are in business. Installation is simple and you can talk to anyone who is within your range.

Scanners

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PRO-164 1000-Channel Handheld Scanner

A great companion to a CB Radio is a scanner, sometimes called a Police scanner that randomly scans all of the radio frequency channels. It surfs for you and when it finds traffic, it will stay on that channel during the broadcast. Some scanners hold thousands of frequencies and you can use this to hear what emergency service personnel are saying. You can also hear news before it makes it to the TV. If the scanners are still working and your police department isn’t blocking the frequency somehow you can hear what is happening in other parts of your town and make plans to bugout if necessary.

Two-Way FRS radios

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FRS Band Radios

Everyone who has ever been to WalMart has seen the FRS radios or walkie talkies. These are great on car trips when you want to stay in contact with another driver in a different vehicle. They are also good for camping trips when one group wants to separate from another group. They do have a much smaller range and this is highly impacted by line of sight. I think on the pair I bought, the range says “up to 23 miles”. Yeah, right! Maybe if you are standing the in middle of the desert and you can see the person 10 miles away. And you have a tail wind…

These radios are better than nothing, but the communication (as with CB’s) isn’t secure so don’t think you can purchase two of these and set up a foolproof command center at your bugout location. They would be great if your communication didn’t need to be secure though and most models now have sub channels so you can set your main frequency to channel 12 and your sub or “privacy” code to 110. This way, without a scanner someone would have to be dialed into the exact same frequency to hear you.

Military Surplus

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TA-312/PT Military Telephone

Once again, one of my favorite options (for certain scenarios) is a good old field telephone (TA-312/PT). These are pretty simple. You have two phones and they are connected by a line. Communication line, it’s really just a two strand line. When you want to talk to someone you crank the arm and the other phone rings. I think you need two D batteries also to power them, but since this is really low voltage, they will last a long time. This is as secure as the phone line and may work at a retreat area with one phone out in an OP and the other inside the house as long as the line is buried.

Regardless of the method you choose (we have several) it is wise to think about different scenarios and the communication plan you would use to keep in contact with your family. What other ideas do you have for communicating with your group?

What about Short Wave or Ham Radio? Good question. I think Ham Radio is an excellent option, but it is a complicated topic with a higher entry cost, learning curve and commitment which means its worthy of its own post. I will be discussing Ham radio in the future.

On a different note, here’s some other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

The Lost Ways (The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us)
Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation)
Backyard Liberty (Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns…)
Alive After the Fall (Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need)
The Lost ways II (4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis)
The Patriot Privacy Kit (Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps)

Having a plan in place for Communication in a disaster or survival situation is important to your preparations. This may be a plan for communicating with your family if you

For some preppers, a common motivation to become prepared is the risk of a biological outbreak of some disease with a high mortality rate and aggressive transmission vector. They fear, and with good reason, that if a disease gets out into the open, society will quickly fall and the grid will collapse under the weight of so much death and suffering. This fear certainly seems plausible with events over the past decade of aggressive strains of virus’s but so far we have been relatively protected from any major outbreak. This could be due to the hard work of scientists and disease specialists who are trying everything in their power to create cures and quickly eradicate sources of Pandemic style threats like this. Or at least that is what I assumed until recently.

Tuesday in the Independent we learned the following:

A group of leading scientists has urged President Obama’s advisers to investigate the ethical issues raised by a decision to create a highly infectious strain of bird-flu virus that could be transmitted easily between people.

The scientists, who include a former UK Government chief scientist and a Nobel laureate, said that it is “morally and ethically wrong” to create a new type of influenza virus in the laboratory that is more lethal and transmissible than what actually exists in nature.

This is important because of the high mortality of the H5N1 virus. If infected, the rate of death is 60%, but to date there has been such low transmission from infected birds to humans we have been spared a significant outbreak. Not intent to leave well enough alone, scientists from Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam and the University of Wisconsin-Madison succeeded in 2011 of mutating the H5N1 avian virus so that it could in theory be transmitted through the air between people.  This theoretically makes it much easier to contract, more deadly and much more likely to cause death. Why is this research being allowed?

“But these are high security labs”, you say and “they are very safe about how they handle these virus’s”. Really? It was just last week that a Bio-terror lab in Galveston Texas lost five small plastic vials of an obscure virus called Guanarito.

“They did not consider this a public health threat or a potential theft,” Weaver said, adding that the lab voluntarily made the incident public because of a long-standing pact to be transparent with the Galveston community

They didn’t consider a killer virus getting out in who knows whose hands a ‘health threat’? Without going too far into the realm of conspiracy theory (which in cases like this looks like conspiracy fact) what can you do to prepare yourself and your family for the event of a biological outbreak like the H5N1 virus?

Plan for personal protection

Most biological viruses pass through air, direct contact or bodily fluids so protective gear that will minimize the potential of coming in contact with these pathogens is an important consideration. At a minimum, you should consider a respirator or mask, protective clothing to include eye protection, gloves and footwear and potentially decontamination options. In our article explaining our rationale on why everyone should consider a gas mask as part of your preps, we mentioned some options but you can obtain protection from a less confining option.

Tyvek Suits or coveralls are really cheap considering their use. You need to shop around, but you can find Tyvek coveralls for around $8 each or if you want to be really prepared and save on the per suit cost, you can buy in bulk.  You can find these online or even at your local hardware store. Respirators are available in all shapes and sizes from the lower end N95 masks to full face protection masks with interchangeable filters.

Plan to protect your home

In the event of a biological outbreak, we may be required to stay in our homes or “shelter in place”. The simple act of removing yourself from contact with society may reduce your risk of exposure to the virus so planning to stay in your home for an extended time should be a consideration.

Some items to consider:
  • Make sure you have an adequate food storage supply to last you through the outbreak
  • Make sure you have water and adequate methods of disinfecting water you and your family will need to drink
  • Purchase large rolls of heavy plastic and duct tape to seal windows, doors and vents if necessary.
  • Consider pets and how they will go to the bathroom.
  • Plan for entertainment during any situation where you will be confined for long periods of time.
  • Ensure you have at least a month’s extra medication for anyone who requires medicine for their daily use.
  • Plan for Sanitation and make sure you have plenty of hygiene and sanitation items on hand.

These are just a few items to consider, but for each person there are numerous other options. The goal is to start thinking about the potential for this type of threat and how to plan for your family’s safety. It seems obvious that the people we thought were looking out for us simply ‘didn’t consider it’.

For some preppers, a common motivation to become prepared is the risk of a biological outbreak of some disease with a high mortality rate and aggressive transmission vector. They fear,

INTRODUCTION

While we all want to do our best to prepare for a coming crisis, and many of us realize the city is perhaps the worst place to live, very few people are really prepared to pack up the old Winnebago and head for the hills. Most Americans, whether they’re aware or not, are going to stay in the cities.

This is not a hasty decision for most people. Most of us depend on the city for our livelihood, and we can be better prepared by continuing to live in the city, earn a good income, and make preparations for exiting the city at the appropriate time or by staying in the city and living off existing supplies.

This special report explains some of the most critical dangers of living in a city and presents some solutions to surviving them. If you are one of the people who has decided to stay in the city, you’ll benefit greatly from this information.

CITIES ARE ARTIFICIAL

 

Every city is an artificial construct. Cities formed as people came together to conduct business, participate in social interaction, and benefit from efficiencies in public services (such as schools, sewers, water, etc.) and a common defense. Yet cities cannot survive alone. They need resources from the country; most notably, food, water and electricity. While electricity and water can sometimes be created or found within city limits, the acreage requirements of food dictate that no city could possibly feed its own people.

Read that last phrase carefully: No city can feed its own people. Not one. Cities are, by their very nature, dependent on the importation of food. The advent of just-in-time delivery systems to our grocery stores means that most cities would run out of food within a week if supplies were for some reason disrupted.

Remember, cities are not self-sufficient. Although they may seem to be in 2013, they have for a long time been entirely dependent on the American farmer for their support, something almost all Americans take for granted (except the farmer, of course.)

RISKS IN THE CITY

The city presents some serious risks during a crisis. The four most serious ones are:

  1. The collapse of social order (riots).
  2. The failure of the water treatment and delivery systems.
  3. The depletion of food supplies.
  4. The failure of the power grid.

While not every situation will appear in every city, every situation will most certainly appear in some cities. Will that include yours? We’ll tackle these one at a time:

1. THE COLLAPSE OF SOCIAL ORDER

“Social order” is a delicate thing, and it exists as a psychological barrier that could easily collapse under the right conditions. We all saw this during the L. A. Riots following the Rodney King trial verdict as citizens of L. A. set fire to their own town, yanked people from vehicles and beat them literally to death, and even fired guns at firemen attempting to save their buildings! More recently we were all witness to the looting, violence and total breakdown of society following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

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Riots can spring up quickly.

What allowed this to happen? Simple: the simultaneous melting away of the psychological barrier of “order.” Once people realized 911 couldn’t handle the load, or was offline, that the local police were helpless or had simply abandoned their posts, “Law and Order” ceased to exist in their minds. They then conducted their lives in the way they always wanted to, but couldn’t because of the police. That is, they ran out to the local stores and just took whatever they wanted (looting). They took out their racial frustration on innocent victims who happened to be driving through the area, and they let loose on a path of destruction that only stopped when men with rifles (the National Guard) were called in to settle things down. In other words, only the threat of immediate death stopped the looting and violence. Rifles work wonders.

Imagine store owners lying prone on the roofs of their stores with AK-47’s, firing at anyone who approached. This is exactly what happened in Los Angeles. But worse, imagine the lawless horde firing at the rescue copters trying to bring in supplies to the desperate masses.

The National Guard eventually got things under control. This event was isolated, however, to one city. Imagine a hundred cities experiencing the same thing. Will the National Guard be able to handle the load? Not likely. What about local police? They aren’t fools; if things look bad enough, they’ll grab their families and head for the hills, just like they did in New Orleans. No pension is worth getting killed for. A few U. S. cities could be transformed into literal war zones overnight. It would require all-out martial law and military force to have any chance whatsoever of bringing order to these streets. And the reality is that there are not enough military in the USA to secure all of the cities if this happens.

This collapse of social order is perhaps the greatest risk of staying in the city during a crisis. What, exactly, would cause this collapse of social order? Lack of three things: food, water, and money. When people run out of food, some will begin ransacking their neighborhood, searching for something to eat. (Remember that in a city, a “neighbor” does not mean the same thing as a “neighbor” in the country. They are not necessarily your friends.) It won’t take long, then, for violence to take over in some cities. While certain regions will certainly manage to keep things under control and people will form lines at the local (depleted) Red Cross shelter, other cities will see an explosion of violence. Imagine the gang-infested regions of L. A., Chicago, New York, St. Louis & New Orleans. Do you think those people are going to stand in line and wait? They already have guns; now they finally get to use them. Pent-up racial tensions & hostilities will simply serve as justification for shooting people of the same or other color in order to get their food.

Even if the food somehow gets into the cities, lack of money (due to the government not sending out checks) could cause the same thing. Eventually, lack of money results in looting and mass theft. As the stealing balloons, it also results in a collapse of social order. Water; the same thing (but faster). The collapse of social order is also very dangerous because it doesn’t require any “actual” collapse of the power grid, telecommunications, transportation or banking. Social order is a psychological artifact. It is a frame of mind, and any global panic can quickly remove the mental barrier that right now keeps people basically “lawful.”

2. THE FAILURE OF WATER TREATMENT AND DELIVERY SYSTEMS

Will the water treatment facilities fail during a crisis? Many will. Some won’t. The problem lies in figuring out whether yours will. Certainly, they depend on electricity, and testing conducted on some plants has already revealed weaknesses in the system.

In one such test, the water treatment plant released a fatal dose of fluoride into the water system when tested. The computers thought they were 99 years behind in releasing minute doses of fluoride, so they made up the difference. If you happened to be downstream, drinking that water, you were dead. Fluoride, no matter what misinformed dentists tell you, is actually a fatal poison. A major crisis likely to demonstrate this fact in more than one city.

The most important question here, though, is about what will happen when the water stops flowing (or if it is flowing, but it’s not drinkable). As you are probably aware, while people can live without food for long periods of time (2-3 weeks), water is needed on a daily basis. You can go 2-3 days without it, at most, but beyond that, you’ll quickly turn to dust.

That means people will do anything to get water, because to not have it means death. And guess where it’s going to be the most difficult to actually get water? You guessed it: in the cities. During the first day of the water crisis, many people still won’t figure out what’s going on. They’ll figure it’s a temporary breakage of a water main and the government will get it fixed within hours. As those hours stretch into the next day, these people will get very worried.

By the second day, more and more people will realize the water isn’t coming. At that point, you could easily see a breakdown of social order, as described in the previous section (as you can see, these things all tend to cause each other.). People will begin their “search for water,” and the first place they’re likely to go is where they always go for liquids: the grocery store, the local Wal-Mart, the 7-11. The shelves will be cleaned out rather quickly.

Beyond that (because those liquids aren’t going to last long), you’re going to see people engaged in a mass-exodus from the cities. They’ll take the gas they have left in their tanks and they’ll leave the city in search of water. Some will go to “Grandma’s house” out in the country where they might at least find a pond or stream to drink from. Others will simply go on an expanded looting mission, stopping at any house they see and asking the residents (with a gun in their face, likely) if they have any water to “donate.”

As a result of all this, if water stops flowing, here are the events you can expect to see in some of the worse-off cities:

  • Looting of all the grocery stores by the second or third day (remember New Orleans?).
  • Minor outbreaks of violence during the looting. Shop owners, for example, may attempt to defend their shops with firearms (ala L. A. Riots).
  • Mass exodus of residents from the city in search of water.
  • Ransacking of any houses or farms within a gas-tank radius of the city.
  • Mass traffic jams on the outbound highways as people run out of gas and abandon their vehicles (if bad enough, this could actually block the highways and trap people in the cities) (Remember Hurricane Rita?).
  • Mass outbreak of water-borne diseases as people use streams and rivers as both a water fountain and a bathroom. People crapping upstream are going to infect the people drinking downstream. Very few have any kind of water filtration device. That last point is really critical. Once the water flow stops, disease is going to strike.

3. THE DEPLETION OF FOOD SUPPLIES

The food supplies will likely dwindle quickly as we approach a possible crisis due to people stocking up just in case. Once the crisis actually hits, expect to see breakdowns in the transportation sector that will result in major delays in food delivery. This means food may arrive in sporadic fashion in some cities (if at all).

Once this happens, food suddenly becomes really valuable to people (even though they take it for granted today). And that means any small shipment of food that arrives will be quickly grabbed and eaten or stored. It only takes one week without food to remind people how much they actually need it, so expect the atmosphere to be that of a “near panic” if food is delayed by as little as three days. The level of panic will vary from city to city. Some cities or towns may experience very little difficulty receiving food. Others may face near-starvation circumstances.

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The shelves will be emptied quicker than you can say EBT.

Remember, the cities depend entirely on food shipped in from the farms and food processing companies. Also, note that if there’s a water problem as mentioned in the previous section, and the mass exodus begins, the highways may be jammed up at critical locations, causing gridlock for the trucking industry. If we’re lucky, some trucks will continue to roll. If we’re not, assume that nothing gets through.

A shortage of food ultimately results in the same behavior as a shortage of water. First, people eat what’s in the pantry, then they loot the grocery stores. After that, with all local supplies depleted and no hope on the horizon, they leave the city and start ransacking nearby homes. Some will hunt in nearby forests, but most city-dwellers don’t know how to hunt. In any case, anyone with the means to leave the city will likely do so soon after their food shortage begins.

4. THE FAILURE OF THE POWER GRID

Nothing is as suddenly obvious nor has such a gigantic psychological impact as the failure of the power grid. When the electricity stops, almost everybody knows it at the same instant (unless it happens at night).

Naturally, during the first few hours of the power failure, if it occurs, people will assume it’s a temporary situation. Maybe a tree fell on some power lines, or perhaps a transformer blew up somewhere nearby. They’ll sit tight and wait for the power to come back on.

What if it doesn’t? Then the city faces a severe problem. Without power, obviously, everything shuts down. Within hours, the looting begins in the more crime-ridden cities (we saw this in New York a few decades ago.). The longer the power stays off, the worse the social disorder.

The loss of power will bring the entire city to a halt. While vehicles may get around for a few more days (using whatever fuel they have left), businesses obviously won’t be operating. Houses that depend on electricity for heat will quickly reach Winter temperatures, freezing many occupants to death. While those that depend on electricity for Air Conditioning will just as quickly reach Summer temperatures, resulting in death from heat stroke. Hospitals and police stations may have generators on hand, with a few days worth of fuel, but in short order, that will be depleted, too.

But the water treatment plant will almost certainly be off-line without power, causing all the events mentioned in the water section, above. Let’s face it, the power is the worst thing to be without in the city. If you have power, you can survive a food shortage, perhaps even a short water shortage. But without power, all bets are off. If you have a “bug-out” vehicle stocked and ready to go (see below), this might be the time to bail.

SOLUTIONS IN THE CITY

Okay, so you’re stuck in the city. You’ve made the decision to stay. You’ve read the problems above, you believe they make sense, and you’re intelligently frightened. What now? You really have two strategies. You can:

  • Stay and defend your house
  • Bug out (leave the city and head for the hills)

Important! This is not an either/or situation. You can begin by staying in your house and assessing the situation. You’ll want to have a “bug-out” vehicle stocked and ready, just in case, if you can afford one, but you may never actually choose to bug out. You’ll have to be the ultimate judge of this. Just remember that when you bug out, you face major risks and disadvantages. Among these:

  1. You’re severely limited in how much you can carry
  2. You have limited range due to fuel
  3. You expose yourself to social chaos, roadblocks, random violence, etc.
  4. Your house will certainly be looted while you’re gone
  5. You run the risk of mechanical breakdowns of your vehicle
  6. You must have a place to go that you know is in better shape than where you currently are.

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Being prepared to defend yourself is necessary.

In general, unless you have a specific, known safe place as your final destination, I don’t advise people to bug out. Just “heading for the hills” is a very poor plan. You might not make it. But heading for Grandma’s house or some known, safe place could be a very good plan indeed, depending on whether Grandma is ready, willing and able to accept you!

For these reasons (and more), staying and defending your house is sometimes the only reasonable course of action, even if it seems dangerous. For the most part, looters and people looking for food are going to have plenty of easy victims, so if you show a little willingness to use force to defend your property, you’ll likely send people on to the next house.

That is, until the next house is already empty and you appear to be the last house on the block with any food and water left. If you’re in a bad enough area, your neighbors may “gang up” on you and demand your supplies or your life. This is truly a worst-case scenario, and unless you literally have a house full of battle rifles and people trained to use them (and the willingness to shoot your neighbors), you’re sunk. This is why the best situation by far is to keep your neighbors informed and help them get prepared. Then you (both your member and non-member neighbors) can act as a group, defending your neighborhood and sharing the supplies you have with anyone willing to help defend you.

When you have this kind of situation going, your neighbors realize you are their lifeline. You supply them with food and water, and they will help support you because they are, in effect, supporting their own lives. The best situation is when your neighbors and other ward members have their own food and water supplies. That way, they aren’t depleting yours, and they have a strong motivation for getting together with you defend your neighborhood. (More on this below.)

STORING (AND HIDING) YOUR FOOD

Storing food is just as important in the city as in the country, but hiding it is far more important. That’s because in the worst areas, marauders will be going from house to house, demanding your food or your life. If you’re dumb enough to put everything you own in the obvious places, you might as well not buy it in the first place. They will find it. To count on having any amount of food left over after the marauders break in, you’ll need to hide your food.

One alternative is to plan on defending your home with force. If you have enough gun-wise people in the house, and enough firearms and ammo, you can probably pull this off. But most of us aren’t nearly as experience with firearms as the gang members. A better alternative might be to plan on bringing you supplies to your ward/stake building where all of the Saints can both pool and defend their resources. This of course will depend greatly on your local Bishop and Stake President.

Back to hiding: the best way to hide your food is to bury it. You’ll need airtight containers, long-term food that won’t rot and you’ll need to plan ahead. Bury your food at night so nobody will notice, and make sure you don’t leave the map on the refrigerator door! (Better to memorize it!) Try to get the ground to look normal after you’re all finished. You’ll want to bury your food as early as possible because it gives the grass time to regroup over the spot. If you’re in an area that snows, you’ll have a great concealment blanket! Most food marauders won’t go to the trouble to dig up food, especially if you insist you don’t have any.

Best plan: Have some smaller amount of food stashed around the house, letting them find something. Better to give them something and send them on their way. The art of hiding your food is an ancient one. You’ve got to get creative. Use the walls, the floors, and the structure of the house.

If hiding your food is simply not an available alternative, then try not to advertise it. Keep it put away in your house or garage in as discreet a manner as possible. Don’t make a point of telling people that you have a years supply (or more). Word gets around fast that Bro. Jones has a ton of food in his garage. Boxes of food fit nicely under beds, behind furniture, in the attic, etc.. Be Creative!!

To sum up the food storage, you really have three strategies here:

  • Store it all in your house and plan on defending it by force.
  • Bury it in your yard in case you get overrun by looters.
  • Store part of it in your house, and hide the bulk of it.
  • Relocate all of it as soon as you recognize a major disaster is in progress.

One of the best ways to store food for burying, although it will only last 2-3 years in high-humidity areas, is to purchase 55-gallon good-grade steel drums. Once you obtain the drums, dump in your grains or other food items. If you purchase bags of food from Walton Feed, this is the perfect way to store it. Don’t leave it in the bags unless you’re actively eating it. [Note: Plastic barrels do not rust.]

Then sprinkle some diatomaceous earth into the drum. You’ll need about two cups to treat a 55-gallon drum, and it must be mixed in well. Diatomaceous earth is made from ground up sea shells, and it kills bugs by getting into their joints.

You want diatomaceous earth that is food grade, and on the bag it says, “Fossil Shell Flour.”

Once you get these drums filled and sealed, you can then bury them in your yard. This is actually a HUGE UNDERTAKING and is a LOT more difficult than it sounds, since you’ll need to dig to a depth of around 5 or 6 feet in order to sufficiently bury these drums. You’re likely to attract a lot of attention unless you do it at night, and you’ll definitely be removing a lot of dirt that you’ll need to find some use for. Because the drums are steel, they will also deteriorate unless you line the outside with plastic (a good idea) and treat the drums with some kind of protectant or oil. (Don’t use WD-40.) Even Vaseline would work well, although you would definitely need a lot to coat a 55-gallon drum.

When you’re all done, you should have your protected grains in 55-gallon drums, buried in your yard and protected against the humidity of the surrounding earth. It’s a big effort, but then again, the food inside may save your life. You’ll find it much more efficient to bury several barrels at once; side by side.

In reality it would be faster and easier to simply build a false wall in your garage and seal up your food behind the false wall. Sure, you might loose 2-3 feet of useable space in your garage, but the tradeoff is knowing everything is safe and sound.

STORING EXTRA WATER

Water can be stored in exactly the same way, although you might want to bury the barrel before you actually fill it with water. Make sure you treat your storage water, rotate it or have filters on hand when you get ready to use it.
WaterIf you don’t have a yard, or it’s not practical to bury your water, you’ll have to store water inside your house. This can get very tricky because water takes up a lot of space and it’s very difficult to conceal. It’s best to get containers made for long-term storage, but in a pinch, you can use almost any container: soda bottles, milk jugs (although it’s very difficult to rinse the milk out), and even rinsed bleach bottles (in that case, you won’t need to add bleach). But a lot of these containers will deteriorate quickly, and they may break easily. Also, consider what happens if your water may be subjected to freezing. Will your containers survive? Be sure to leave enough air space to handle the expansion.

In order to prepare yourself for the water shortage, assuming you’re going to stay in the city, stock at least six months of water at a minimum two gallons a day per person. That’s nearly 400 gallons of water if you have two people.

Of course, even with the best in-house preparations, you may find yourself depleted of water supplies. In this situation, one of your best defenses is to have a really good water filter that can remove parasites and bacteria from the water. You can also treat your water in other ways (iodine, distillation, silver solution, bleach, etc.). Armed with these items, you can safely use stream or river water (or even pond water) for drinking.

WATER WELLS

By far, the best solution for obtaining long-term water supplies is to drill a well. Buy the best-quality hand-pump available (cast-iron pumps available from Lehman’s) and a good cylinder. They will last a lifetime if installed properly. With this setup, you’ll have a near-unlimited supply of water.

The total cost of doing this, depending on where you live, ranges from about $4000 – $6000. Is it worth it? If you’ve got the money, I think so. However, many cities simply don’t allow the drilling of wells, so you may not be able to get one drilled even if you want to.

The deeper your well, the more expensive it gets. Most well drilling companies charge by the foot. When water is deeper, you also need a bigger pump and a more powerful cylinder, so the costs tend to really grow the deeper you go. If you can find water at 20′, you’re very lucky and it might not cost you even $2000. If you have to go down to 200′, it might cost you $7500, and you’re at the depth limit of hand-powered pumps anyway.

DEFENDING YOUR LIFE AND PROPERTY

Let’s talk about force. No doubt, there are plenty of nice people in this country, and I think that in small towns and rural areas, people are going to find ways to cooperate and get along. I also think, however, that some cities will suffer complete social breakdown and violence will rule. If you happen to be stuck in one of these cities, you’re going to need to use force to defend your house. The section that follows discusses what I consider to be extreme responses to violence in the most dire situations. Hopefully, you won’t find yourself in these circumstances, but if you do, the information below may be valuable.

Important: Do not use your lights at night. If you are stocking propane-powered lanterns, solar-powered flashlights, or other unusual supplies, using them at night will announce to everyone within line of sight that you have more than the “usual” supplies. Expect them to come knocking in your door. At most, let a fire burn in the fireplace, but in general, avoid drawing attention to your house.

Defending your house is a crucial element on your stay-in-the-city plan. Make your house your fortress, and hold drills to help other family members practice some of the more common activities such as hiding, defending, evacuating, etc.

Some useful items for home defense include:

  • A guard dog.
  • Pepper spray.
  • Firearms.
  • Smoke bombs (military-grade).
  • Trip wires

Let’s go over these: The guard dog is certainly a welcome addition to any family trying to defend their house. Although he probably eats a lot of food, the investment is worth if. Dogs also tend to sleep light, so let them sleep right next to the food storage areas, and make sure you sleep within earshot. If the dog barks, don’t consider it an annoyance, consider it an INTRUSION.

Pepper spray is a great alternative to the firearm. It will incapacitate people and certainly give them a painful experience to remember. On the downside (potentially), it might just remind them that next time they come back for food, they better kill you first. So understand the limitations of pepper spray.

Firearms are useful for obvious reasons. In the worst-case scenario, when looting is rampant, you may have to actually shoot someone to protect yourself or your family. If you’re squeamish about pulling the trigger under these circumstances, don’t plan to stay in the city. Use the “bug out” plan instead.

Smoke bombs can be useful for covering a planned escape from your house. You can purchase high-volume smoke bombs that will quickly fill up any house with an unbreathable cloud of military-grade white smoke.

Trip wires are great perimeter defenses. You can buy them from Cheaper Than Dirt (they run a few hundred dollars). They will give you early warning if someone is approaching. You can connect the tripwires to flares, shotgun shells, light sticks or other warning devices. This way, you can have an audible or visible alert, your choice.

In addition to these devices, you can make significant fortification-style improvements to your home. While none of these are very affordable, they certainly help defend your home:

  • Replace glass windows with non-breakable Plexiglas.
  • Add steel bars to the windows.
  • Replace all outside door locks with heavy-duty deadbolts.
  • Replace all outside doors with steel doors, preferably without windows.
  • Remove bushes and other shrubs where people might hide.
  • Black out the windows entirely to avoid light escaping at night (similar to what residents of London did during the WWII bombing raids).
  • Build secret hiding places for food, coins, or even people.
  • Create escape hatches or passageways.
  • Rig pepper-spray booby traps.

These aren’t as absurd as they might at first sound. Many people living in rough cities already have steel bars covering their windows, and removing extra bushes and shrubs is a well-known tactic for making your home a safer place.

LIGHT

To light your home when there’s no electricity, try the following:

  • Use LED flashlights and rechargeable solar-charged batteries. You can buy all these items from the Real Goods catalog.
  • Use propane-powered lanterns. You can find these in the camping section of your local Wal-Mart. Be sure to purchase extra mantles and store lots of propane.
  • Purchase quality oil lamps from Lehman’s and stock up on oil. You can also purchase cheap kerosene lamps from the Sportsman’s Guide or Wal-Mart, then simply purchase and store extra kerosene.
  • Buy extra candles.
  • Purchase lots of olive oil. Not only can you cook with it (and besides, it’s a lot healthier than corn or vegetable oil), olive oil also burns as a clean candle fuel. You can float a wick in a jar half-full of olive oil and light the wick. Viola, a home-made candle. Olive oil is a fantastic item for your storage anyway because even if you purchase all the grains in the world, you’ll still need cooking oil, and you obviously can’t buy powdered cooking oil. Well-stored olive oil can last for thousands of years.

STAYING WARM

Did you know that people won’t steal giant logs? Although they may easily steal wood you’ve already chopped, most people won’t have any way of stealing logs. They’re too heavy, and the vehicles won’t have any gas left. For this reason, your best bet in regards to stocking fuel for your house is to stock up on UNCUT wood logs.

It takes a lot of extra research to find out how to get them (took me a few weeks of asking around), but you can find a source if you look hard enough. Or you can usually get a permit to go out and cut your own. The effort is worth it, because this will give you a ready-to-go source of heat and fuel that cannot be easily stolen.

The catch, of course, is that you’ll need equipment to cut and chop the wood. A chainsaw is REALLY nice in this way, but it requires fuel. Fortunately, chain saws don’t use much fuel, so if you have a way to store as little as 50 gallons or so, you’ve got enough to power your chainsaw for a few years (at least!). You’ll need fuel stabilizers, too, which you can buy at your local Wal-Mart. (Be sure to buy extra chains for your chainsaw, too.)

You’ll also need splitting hardware. You can buy log splitters or just buy an axe, a wedge, and a sledgehammer. Better yet, buy all four so you have a choice of what to use. And remember, wood splits much better when it’s frozen, too, so you might just wait until the cold hits in Winter to start splitting your wood. Only split a little at a time, because you don’t want to end up with a big pile of nicely-split wood sitting out in your yard. It will invite theft from people who don’t have any. If you already have trees on your property, you’re all set. Cut down about 4-5 cords right now, so they can start drying out, then chop them as you need them.

A “cord” of wood, by the way, is a volume measurement. It’s 8′ x 4′ x 4′, or 128 cubic feet of wood (stacked). Some people that sell wood will try to rip you off, so make sure you know what you’re buying. If you purchase logs, it’s better to get a price per linear foot, based on the diameter of the log. For example, you might ask for logs that are an average of 10″ in diameter, and you’ll ask how much the charge per linear foot would be. Something in the range of $1 – $2 would be great.

RELATIONS WITH NEIGHBORS

I’ve already mentioned the importance of getting along with your neighbors. It really is crucial to your city-based survival plan. The best situation to be in, as mentioned before, is to have neighbors who are aware of the issue and who are getting ready for it by stocking their own food, water, and other supplies. Every neighbor that becomes self-reliant is one less neighbor or member you’ll have to support.

The range of neighbor situations, from best to worst, is as follows:

  • Best case: your neighbor is aware of and both temporally & Spiritually prepared for an emergency with their own supplies and training.
  • Good case: your neighbor is aware of a potential crisis, and even though they don’t have their own supplies, they’re willing to help defend yours as long as you share.
  • Bad case: your neighbor didn’t prepare for it, figuring they would just steal from you if things got bad. They are aware of YOUR supplies but don’t have their own.
  • Worst case: your neighbor isn’t aware of anything, and he’s a violent, angry neighbor just released from prison. He is going to be caught off guard by the ensuing events and will likely attempt to use violence to get what he needs or wants.

Your decision on whether to stay in the city may depend greatly on the quality and quantity of your neighbors. If you do live in a bad neighborhood, do what you can to relocate. If you live in a good neighborhood, do the best you can to educate and inform your neighbors.

GUN CONTROL IN THE CITIES

No matter how you felt or thought about gun control in the past, it’s time to face disaster-induced reality. The gun-control politicians (and the people who supported them) have placed Americans in a situation where not only can the police not protect us in a timely manner, but we cannot lawfully defend ourselves. Criminals unlawfully have firearms; citizens lawfully don’t. Intentionally or otherwise, gun-control supporters have created a situation where an unfortunate number of innocent men, women and children are going to be in danger during a crisis simply because they could not obtain the tools of self-defense.

It also happens that the cities where the rioting will likely be the worst are precisely the cities where firearms are most likely to be banned from lawful ownership (and where criminals may wield near-absolute power for a while.). Perhaps when society recovers from it, we can review the fallacy in the cause / effect logic that keeps people voting for gun-control laws, but in the mean time, millions of people are going to have to resort to breaking the law in order to protect their families. And yes, you too will have to resort to breaking the law if you are to acquire a firearm in an area where guns are entirely banned from private citizens (like New York, Los Angeles, etc.).

After the disaster hits, if the rioting gets really bad, we’re going to see local police begging law-abiding citizens for help. Your firearm will be a welcome addition to the force of law and order, believe me. No local cop is going to mind you having a handgun if you’re manning a roadblock protecting a neighborhood of families with children. Act responsibly, tell them what you’re doing, and they’ll probably give you a big thanks. But if you’re carrying a gun while you smash a window of the Wal-Mart and walk off with a stereo; well that’s a different story. Be prepared to get shot.

See, cops don’t mind private ownership nearly as much as we’ve all been led to believe. I know, I work with law enforcement officers in a small town, and I ask them about topics like this. When the crisis hits, they’ll be more than happy to have your cooperation. We’re all going to need as many law-abiding gun-toting citizens as possible in order to fend off the criminals and establish some degree of order.

ONE MORE REASON TO MOVE OUT

If you really feel you need a firearm to protect yourself and your family, your best bet may be to move to a city or state where people are a lot more accepting of firearms. You’d be surprised what a difference the locale makes. Check the gun laws in any state you’re considering moving to. Obviously, “cowboy” states like Arizona, Texas and Wyoming will have fewer restrictions on firearms (and, interestingly, they have less of a problem with gun violence). States where the population is more dense (like California & New York) tend to have much greater restrictions on private ownership of firearms.

BUGGING OUT

Suppose it’s July 19, 2017, and you’ve changed your mind about this city thing. You happened to be right smack in the middle of one of the worst-hit cities in the country. The looting is getting worse, the power has been out for two weeks, and your water supplies are running low. You still have enough gas in your truck to make it out of town if you can get past the gangs, that is. You’ve decided to BUG OUT!

SOME BASIC POINTERS:

  • Don’t try to bug out in a Chevy Geo. You will likely need a big heavy 4×4 truck in order to go off-road and around stalled vehicles.
  • Get something that can carry at least 1000 pounds of supplies. A big 4×4 pickup will do nicely! Yes, it requires more fuel, but you can carry the fuel as cargo.
  • Don’t bug out unless you can have someone ride shotgun, literally. You will need an armed passenger in case you run into not-so-nice people.

WHAT TO TAKE

Ahh, the bug-out supply list. All this will fit in your truck. Here’s what you should take if you’re preparing to bug out with two people:

  • Your 96 hour kits for each person in the vehicle
  • 20 gallons of water
  • 40 gallons of extra fuel or more (and a full gas tank)

WHERE TO GO

As mentioned earlier, if you have a designated place of refuge (Grandma’s house, a cabin in the woods, etc.), head straight for it. If not, you’re basically driving anywhere you can go, so try to head for an area that forested and near a creek or river where you can get some water.

CONCLUSION

Choosing to remain in the city is a rational choice for many people in many situations. However, as you have seen from the dangers described here, the further away you can get from the population centers in general, the better your chances of surviving.

Most people, perhaps yourself included, have a difficult time actually accepting that a major disaster is going to be as bad as described in this report. And after all, if you leave the city, sell out, quit your job, move to the country, and then nothing bad happens? You will have disrupted your life, and you may find yourself broke, jobless, and homeless. You COULD assume it will be a mild event, which I suppose is also a credible possibility. In that case, surviving in the city will be quite feasible, especially if you have neighbors that can support your efforts and you don’t live in a dangerous city with high racial tensions. However, the very nature of a major disaster means that if only one or two major infrastructure components goes down, the ripple effect will quickly create a much worse scenario. It seems there is very little room for “mild” effects unless they are miniscule. The most likely scenario at this point clearly points to massive disruptions, severe shortages in food and water, loss of power in some areas, and a breakdown of social order in certain areas where the population density is high.

But you can survive anything with good planning, an open mind, and plenty of practice. Why not start now?

INTRODUCTION While we all want to do our best to prepare for a coming crisis, and many of us realize the city is perhaps the worst place to live, very few

Last week on National Geographic’s American Blackout we got to see a lot of common problems presented as the result of a power grid collapse that lasted 10 days. One problem that everyone faced, but didn’t receive a lot of air time was the lack of drinking water. National Geographic did not demonstrate any methods for obtaining water other than going to the store, or as in the case of the people trapped in the elevator and eventually the roof of a building, collecting some from a bucket that had been left in the rain. Since water is one of the most important elements for our survival I wanted to go over some methods of storing water and treating water that could help you in a disaster situation. You must have water if the grid goes down and you expect to live.

 

If you find yourself without power as they did in American Blackout, food and water were their priorities. Safety and security weren’t big issues until people started living without food and water. The nice veneer of society will vanish in a few days max even if we are only living through a power outage. Can you imagine if there was sickness or a disease pandemic? Can you envision how chaotic a hurricane knocking your town into the ocean would be? The situation presented in American Blackout gave us a lot to learn I think, but as far as disaster goes, a power grid failure would not be anywhere near as severe as a lot of other possibilities.

Now, I am not try to trivialize the scenario at all. A national power grid failure would be catastrophic but only because people aren’t prepared. I think it’s very telling when you consider how many lives might be altered forever just by not having some electricity. I think it is sad that our world is so dependent upon electricity that millions potentially would starve, riot and die because they were forced to live like our not too distant relatives did. Can you imagine the pioneers if you presented this situation to them? OK, just imagine how horrible it would be if there was no electricity… No what?

Where to find water

Water is everywhere normally unless you live in the desert. That is one reason why not too many people I know recommend living in Phoenix if the grid goes down. For the rest of us that live in closer proximity to lakes, rivers, ponds and streams we have a lot of options for finding water if we are faced with the task of collecting enough to drink. In American Blackout, the people who lived in the city had no water in the pipes because the electricity needed to pump water up into tall buildings was nonexistent. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any water in the city though.

I was surprised they did not have someone manning a hydrant letting people fill up jugs of water. The sheer volume of water contained in the fire hydrant systems of large cities if used properly could have probably lasted a week. Could you have taken showers and washed your car? No, but it is a source of water that could have been tapped into if you pardon the pun.

WaterfromHydrant

Water Hydrants are a source of water in an emergency

I could go into making a solar still or collecting the condensation off the leaves of plants with a bag or getting water from a tree even, but that is for another post. I want to talk to the majority of us that have water all around us and we simply need to get it and make it safe for drinking. In that I’ll start with the obvious and that is you should have water for everyone in your family on hand at all times. Water is cheap (relatively) and it is easy to find. You drink it every day now and there is no reason to be without a minimum of one week worth of water no matter who you are or where you live.

Water in a suburban setting is most easily collected from rain. Once you have rain barrels set up you don’t have to do anything. When it rains, your barrels will fill up and all you would have to do is make sure it is filtered or disinfected. Water can be used from any stream or creek or lake. What about the golf course down the street? You can drain your water heater in a pinch just by opening the drain valve at the bottom. The trick is to look around you for locations that have water in your neighborhood that you might need to access in a grid down scenario, but don’t neglect stocking up on your own. The stream down the road might be dry.

How to carry water

DeerCart

A cart like this with some modification is an excellent option for carrying heavy water with ease.

Humans on average need a gallon of water per day to stay hydrated and provide cooking and hygiene. I think that amount is slightly off because it can’t be the same amount for small children, but who cares. We will use it for a guideline and obviously that guideline has to be adjusted for the scenario you find yourself in. If it’s the middle of summer, temperatures are soaring and you are doing a lot of manual work that amount could easily double. What if you are sick and are throwing up? It’s best to always have more than the average amount of water on hand and you need to have a plan for getting water and bringing it back to your location.

Let’s say you live near a body of water (lake, stream, well, fish pond) and the power is out. How are you going to get water to drink? You could just walk down there and fill up your Nalgene bottle and walk back, but that is going to take a lot of time and energy for something that won’t last long. You need a way to carry a considerable amount of water at one time to reduce your trips and cut down on your risk of being caught out.

You need to plan now for containers that will hold several gallons of water at a minimum, but carrying these will be difficult without a wagon, cart or improvised method of weight distribution. One of my readers commented that they were planning on using a deer cart to tote their bug out gear and I think that makes a great option for carrying water too. Like the woman in the picture above, running out for a drink of water might not be as simple as it used to be. You have to plan to carry enough back so that you won’t need to go out for another couple of days hopefully.

How to treat water

There are many ways of filtering water and making it safe to drink and I have listed several down below.

BerkeyFilter

Berkey Filters are excellent Prepper resources.

Filters – Hands down my favorite method of treating water. Why? Because it is the simplest and takes the least amount of energy for the return on investment. I recommend two types of filters to be part of your preps. For my home, I use a Berkey Light water filter. I simply dump a couple of gallons in the top and clean water comes out the bottom. Obviously, you want to ensure you are filtering as much gunk out of your water before you bring it into your filter so as to keep your filter elements clean for as long as possible.

For portable alternatives, I have a pair of MSR water filters. These work great and have kept us in plenty of cool clean water on several backpacking trips with our family. You just pump the water through the pump and clean fresh water is delivered to your water bottle.

Boiling Water – Boiling is probably the oldest method of disinfecting water but it works! All you need is a container (preferably not plastic) and heat. Bring your water to a boil and let the water boil for a couple of minutes and that’s it. The boiling will kill any bacteria and you can drink the water. Let it cool off first

Ultra violet light – there are UV pens that they sell for camping that are supposed to kill any bacteria in water. I have never used these so my assumption is that it may kill the bacteria, it won’t help the taste or make the water technically cleaner. Saving your life is what is most important though so if you have to drink some water that has stuff floating in it…as long as you don’t die from a water borne illness you can live to fight another day.

Chlorination – Chlorine Bleach is probably the most common household item that you will have that can be used to disinfect your drinking water but it is a little tricky. Chlorine is affected by the temperature of the water you are treating. Always try to filter any water that may be cloudy with contaminants such as lake water first. You can use paint filters or a bandana if necessary. If the water is room temperature (meaning not cold or hot) you would add two to four drops of chlorine bleach per quart. Shake well and let the container sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, smell the water. It should smell like chlorine and this is normal. If it doesn’t smell like chlorine add another drop or two and let it sit for 30 additional minutes. By drops we are talking about an eye-dropper size drop, not a dollop.

Distillation – Distillation is another option but requires more equipment than the average person will be able to acquire much less put together in an emergency. Another option is the SODIS method which uses UV light (sunlight) to treat water stored in clear containers. There is a lot of information about this method online and here.

Last week on National Geographic’s American Blackout we got to see a lot of common problems presented as the result of a power grid collapse that lasted 10 days. One

If you’ve been intending to become a gardener but aren’t quite sure yet how to get started, this how-to guide is for you.

It chronicles the steps that I successfully followed to put in my own garden this year, in my spare time, all while working hard as well as traveling frequently for work. From start to finish, it was a 1-manpower project – showing that if I could get this done on my own given my crazy work schedule, most anyone can do this, too.

Hopefully, this guide will give you the direction, inspiration, and confidence that you, too, can be tending your own well-constructed garden beds soon.

Plan Your Work

Site Selection

To thrive, garden plants need sun, water, and good soil. Taking the (short) time to identify a site that offers the best combination of all three will dramatically increase your odds of successfully growing food.

During the prime growing months (May-Sept in the Northern Hemisphere), inspect your property for sites that offer the most sun exposure throughout the day. From those options, look then at the sites with the best drainage.

Worry less about the soil conditions at first, because you can control that easier than the prior two variables by using raised garden beds. But by all means, if you have sites of equal sun/drainage rating but different soil quality, pick the one with the better soil (most vegetables like a sandy loam consistency).

If you have more than 0.25 acre of land on your property, then another factor to consider is proximity. You’ll be making a lot of trips to your garden over time, so picking a convenient spot relative to your house (your kitchen and tool storage area, in particular) will result in reduced schlepping, which your future self will be awfully appreciative of.

In my case, I selected a spot tucked into the corner of my yard nearest the kitchen door and tool shed. It’s not the sunniest section of the property, but it still gets about 80% of the day’s sunlight while being easy to access. Months later, I remain very happy that I made this trade-off.

Here’s a picture of what the plot looked like before I started working on it:

garden-plot-before

Make Your Measurements

Measure twice, cut once, the wise carpenter advises. This applies just as well to gardeners.

Once you’ve determined where your garden is going to go, then it’s time to start visualizing the specifics about what it’s going to look like.

If you’re going to be taking this on as a one-manpower job, as I did, it’s better to start small. You can always expand upon your initial plot in future years.

In my case, the spot I selected provided enough space for a 22′ x 17′ garden footprint. In my opinion, that’s plenty of room for a first-time gardener to handle.

With your footprint perimeter in mind, start brainstorming how to best use that space. How many beds can it accommodate? Do you want a few large beds or many small ones? What do you want to grow? Where in the garden do you want to grow them?

Get some paper. Or use a whiteboard. Diagram it out.

Once you have something visualized, show it to other gardeners. Bring it down to your local nursery. Ask experienced folks for their opinion. You’re sure to get some good feedback that will improve your plans.

Here’s the rough sketch I made for my garden:

garden-sketch

With your visual plans now in hand, head out to your plot with measuring tape, a ball of twine, and a handful of stakes. Begin by marking the perimeter of your garden, then progress inwards to mark exactly where the raised beds (and any other physical components) will be.

Below is a photo of where I decided two of my 6’x4′ beds would go:

twine-bed-outlines

When you’ve outlined your garden, take a walk around it. Is there enough clearance? Squat down between the beds. Do you have enough room to maneuver comfortably?  Will you be able to reach across them from all angles? If not, move the stakes around until you’re content with the results. This is by far the best time to make design changes. (It’s a heck of a lot easier to move twine around than a box filled with 30 cubic feet of dirt!)

If you’re going to be putting in an irrigation system, now is the time to give thought to where the hoses will run. Map out how the main hose will bring water from your main spigot to the garden, as well as where the daughter hoses will run to each raised bed.

For a garden this size, you don’t need an irrigation system you’ll be able to water by hand with a standard garden hose if that’s your choice. But I highly recommend laying the piping for one, if you can, when you initially build out your garden. It’s a lot easier to activate an installed system than it is to dig through a mature garden later to put one in.

Work Your Plan

Constructing Raised Beds

Now that you know where your raised beds will go, it’s time to build them. Fortunately, this requires only the most basic of skills. So you carpentry novices (like me) can handle this just fine.

Get yourself enough 2″x4″ boards to build the beds you’ll need. Cut the wood to the length you’ll need for each side of your bed frames, depending on how big you want your beds to be. I went with 4’x6′ dimensions; most people prefer 4’x8′.

I highly recommend building double-height sides. That essentially means building two box frames and placing one on top of the other. In my first gardening foray a few years back, I only used single-height sides and found myself constantly weeding. With double-height sides this year, I’ve barely had to weed at all.

Use 1″x”1″ stakes in the corners to add stability to your double-sided frames.

1x1

After your frames are built, you should cover the bottom with mesh wire to prevent burrowing rodents from attacking your plants from below. Out where I live, this is an absolute must; the gophers here are so bad that they drove away the initial Russian settlers back in the 1800s (and those Russians had a pretty high tolerance for hardship!).

I recommend using finer wire mesh (i.e., smaller holes) than standard chicken wire. The smaller the holes, the smaller the odds are that a critter can squeeze through them. Simply use a staple gun to attach the mesh to the frame and voila! Your raised bed is ready for installation.

finished-mesh-bed

Installing Your Raised Beds

Carry your raised beds over to your garden site. (While I was able to do this myself, you’ll find an extra pair of arms is very welcome for this quick task).

Before you lay the beds within the twine outlines you measured out earlier, remove the ground vegetation within the footprint first. A hoe or the flat end of a pick works well for this (I used the latter):

bed-cleared-footprint

With the vegetation gone, work with your shovel, etc., to make the ground within the footprint is as flat and level as possible on both the length and width axes. Use a carpenters level (the ruler with the little air bubble within it) to help you with this, if you have one. If your garden is on a slope, one wall of the rectangular clearing you’re making will likely be higher than the other. That’s okay.

Now that you’ve stripped the ground vegetation and leveled the base, place your bed into the footprint you’ve created (again, a few minutes’ assistance from a friend would really help here). Make sure it fits snugly within the footprint in the alignment you want, and use your pick or hoe to trim the side banks if need be to make the fit perfect. Confirm (with your carpenters level, if you have it) that the sides of the bed frame are indeed level. You may need to lift the frame up to add or remove dirt from underneath it to correct the pitch.

A successfully installed bed should look something like this:

completed-bed

Setting Up Drip Irrigation

As mentioned earlier, if you can lay in an irrigation system now, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and heartache compared to installing one in the future.

I must admit, I was a little daunted before tackling this task, as I’d never worked much before with water systems. The basics are so simple, though, that in almost no time I felt like an expert.

The key things to figure out at this time are:

  • How water will get from your spigot to the garden
  • How water will get from the garden entry point to each of the beds (and anywhere else you may want it to go)
  • How water will flow within each of your beds

Here’s a shot of how I laid things out for my garden:

garden-supply-hose

irrigation-system

They’re not the best photos, but you’ll see how I was laying down the hoses that would bring water to the beds, as well as a main hose for each bed, from which smaller drip lines will eventually extend (pictures of the finished system are further down in this article).

You’ll find that working with the components of a drip irrigation system is sort of like working with Tinker Toys. You build it, decide you want to make some changes, quickly disassemble parts of it, and rebuild the way you want. Really, anyone can do it.

Filling Your Beds

Okay, now we get to start talking about dirt.

A principal benefit of raised beds is that they allow you to optimize your soil conditions. What makes great soil is a topic that requires a full What Should I Do? article all on its own. But the easy guidance I can provide here is just to head off to your local nursery, tell them what plants you want to grow, and let them guide you to the best soil options.

In my case, it was an artisan mix produced by a local soil and mulch producer.

Be warned: Raised beds require a surprising amount of soil! My four 4’x6′ beds needed 2 cubic yards of dirt. That may not sound like much, but it is.

I was able to save a TON on the cost of the soil by bagging it myself. It’s a good thing for my wallet that I made that decision before realizing how much work it would be. On my first trip for soil, I was astounded by how much dirt I was going to have to bag when the front-end loader dumped its full bucket-load at my feet. But that astonishment quickly turned to disbelief when it returned to dump a second load.

For perspective, here’s what the back of my Toyota Highlander looked like when I arrived home (and yes, the middle section and passenger seat were piled to the ceiling as well):

car-bags

And that was just for 1 cubic yard…

Anyways, once you’ve got your soil home, start filling up your raised beds with it. One important thing to know is that your soil will settle over time, so add more than it looks like you need. Mound the excess dirt in the center of the beds.

Before planting anything, you’ll want to wait 2 weeks for the soil level within the bed to lower as it settles. You can then spread the mound out evenly across the bed to raise the dirt line back up.

bed-mound

Congratulations, your raised beds are ready to go!

Fencing In Your Garden

After all this work, you definitely want to protect your investment.

Putting in a fence is highly recommended if you live in a location where deer, rabbits, chickens, dogs, or other garden menaces are a factor.

Again, if that sounds a little daunting, don’t worry. The mechanics here are extremely simple.

Corner Posts

Your fence needs the greatest stability at its four corners, so this is where your effort will be most concentrated.

First, obtain your corner posts. For my garden, I went with four 8-foot redwood 4″x4″s, which I bought at the hardware store.

The twine you previously laid down for your garden borders should make it easy to see where the corners are. At each corner, dig a hole at least 12″ deep; enough to hold the 4″x4″ vertically upright with stability. If you have one, a post hole digger makes this job much easier and more efficient. You can usually pick up a used one for $10 or less at a good flea market or garage sale. (I did).

If your garden is on a slant, dig the holes on the higher end deeper so that the tops of all of your corner posts are at the same elevation. Once they are, you’re ready for the concrete.

You can buy quick-setting fence post concrete for a few dollars a sack at your local hardware store. It usually is a just-add-water mix and is simple to prepare — just be ready to use it quickly, as it begins hardening fast.

But there’s one last thing you should do before mixing your concrete: Near the top of each fence post, on two adjacent sides, hammer a nail halfway in on each side. From each nail, hang several feet of string with a weight tied to the end (like a large washer). These weighted strings will be your plumb lines, which you will use to ensure that the post is in perfect vertical alignment. If the plumb lines are touching the post or are angled away, gently move the top of the post until they both hang parallel to the post.

Okay, back to the concrete. Add your water and stir to prepare. Starting at one corner, remove the post, pour some concrete into the bottom of the hole, put the post back in, and then fill up the remaining space around the pole with concrete. Use your plumb lines to ensure that the pole is perfectly vertical. Stand there for several minutes while the concrete sets you can leave once the pole doesn’t shift at all when you let go of it.

standing-pole

Repeat for the other 3 corners.

The next step is to put up your fence wire between the poles. Before doing so, though, it’s wise to create a trench several inches deep along the line where the wire will run, so your fence wire will ultimately extended into the ground to discourage hungry critters from digging under it. A miners pick, again, proves useful here.

fence-trench

With the trench completed, attach one end of your fence wire to a post with U-nails, which hammer into the wood pretty easily (this should be done at least one day after pouring the concrete, to make sure that the post is solidly fixed in place). Run the fence wire along the trench over to the next pole. Pull the wire as taut as possible (a friend’s assistance comes in handy here) and affix to the new pole with U-nails, as before.

You probably will not be able to remove 100% of the slack in your fence wire line no matter how hard you tried. Not to worry. You’ll shore up any slack with T-Posts.

Most hardware stores carry these, but you can usually find older ones on Craigslist that will fill the bill just fine. Place them at regular intervals (I used 2 per side in my 22’x17′ garden), hammering them in to the ground by 12″ or so. A post driver is perfect for driving them deep, if you have access to one.

Then tie the fence wire to the T-posts at several points using baling wire. Once done, your fence wall should be pretty straight and well-supported.

Here are some pictures of the fencing going up around my garden. Note that the further the fence extended, the more the chickens wanted to be inside the area I was enclosing to keep them out of!

fencincg-with-chickens

fencing-with-chickens

At this point, your garden beds should be “boxed in” by your fence. Just be sure you’re on the outside!

Determine where you want the main door to your garden to be, and cut a temporary (or not) access entrance there in your fence wire. This worked so well for me that it’s still the entrance I use now that my garden is finished: I just went on to create a “door” from additional fence wire, using carabiners as “hinges.” Simple, yet very utilitarian.

Congratulations your garden is now securely fenced! At this point, you’re pretty much ready to start growing food.

I know, it seems like a lot of work to have done before a single seed has been planted. That’s because farming, even backyard gardening, requires real effort! But it’s some of the most rewarding effort you’ll ever put in. When your first harvest arrives, the vegetables will taste incredibly wonderful, in no small part because you’ll appreciate what it took to grow them.

Also, remember that this sweat work you’re doing is an up-front investment. You’ll be able to use these beds for years and years. Your future self will be very grateful for the effort your current self is putting in now.

Finishing Touches

If you planned for them, now is the time to put in any special features you want in your garden. For example, in mine, I installed:

  • a potato tower
  • a rain gutter for growing above-ground strawberries
  • a skinny 1’x15′ raised bed for sunflowers and corn
  • 5 Concord grapevines

You may want to try some of these, too, or you may have other ideas to explore. Be creative and inventive. My only advice is to keep it manageable. Remember that your main time and attention will be spent on the raised beds, so don’t add too many distractions.

One other finishing touch I definitely recommend is to remove the rest of the ground vegetation between the beds in your garden. You don’t want weeds and unwanted seeds finding their way into your beautiful beds.

Here’s how my garden looked at this stage. Note the 4 drip lines extending down each bed.

completed-garden

completed-garden

Last, you should strongly consider laying mulch between your beds now that you’ve removed the ground cover. If you don’t, you’ll find that the weeds and grass grow back in faster than your vegetables. A good 3″ layer of mulch made of weed-suppressing woods (your nursery can help you pick out the best options) will save you a lot of weeding, plus it makes the garden look substantially better, aesthetically. I was able to purchase all the mulch I needed for under $17 an investment I’m so glad to have made.

The Payoff

With your garden beds in place, you’re now able to grow a multitude of vegetables, herbs, and flowers throughout the year. Plus, you can help nurture local pollinators, make your property more visually pleasing, and provide yourself with healthy outdoor activity (exercise, emotionally-centering contemplative time, Vitamin D the list is long…)

In my garden alone this year, I’m growing:

  • strawberries (2 varieties)
  • potatoes (5 varieties)
  • tomatoes (3 varieties)
  • onions (2 varieties)
  • peppers (4 varieties)
  • carrots (2 varieties)
  • cucumbers
  • bush beans
  • butternut squash
  • rainbow chard
  • watermelon
  • broccoli
  • kale
  • basil
  • cantaloupe melon
  • arugula
  • lettuce (5 varieties)
  • corn (3 varieties)
  • pumpkin
  • sunflowers
  • Concord grapes

And I’m certain a more creative gardener could squeeze even more diversity into this space.

Now in full bloom, the garden is looking great:

todays-garden

And I must admit, I experience no small satisfaction every time I look at it, knowing that this abundance came from my vision and sweat (though I also feel very humbled, too, knowing that this is a pretty small garden compared to those managed by many of Peak Prosperity’s more seasoned gardeners!)

Hopefully, this article has provided you with the clarity, confidence, and inspiration to do the same. If you decide to undertake putting in a garden, you won’t regret it. But watch out you might become more addicted than you intended!

And if you do create your own raised bed garden, be sure to share photos of it in the Comments section below.

Good luck!

If you’ve been intending to become a gardener but aren’t quite sure yet how to get started, this how-to guide is for you. It chronicles the steps that I successfully followed

Air conditioning is a pretty modern convenience. There are still lots of countries where A/C is a luxury found only in hotels, restaurants, and the homes of the rich. Little beats retreating to a lake, basement or cellar for the afternoon, but we can look at them and back in history to the 1950s and earlier to figure out how we can make our lives a little bit more comfortable when we have outages or grid-down situations. There are a ton of ways we can help cool our bodies and little changes to activity and habits that can be incorporated for beating the heat in our homes, too, but for this article, I’m going to concentrate on the dwelling space itself.

Generate Shade

The more of our buildings that we can ring with shade of some kind, the cooler the building will stay. Even so, just shading the entrances and windows of homes, cellars, and workshops can help reduce the heat inside. Shading entrances is especially good in air-conditioned or cooled spaces. It helps reduce the sudden inversion that happens when the doors open. That can be huge for a cellar being filled with harvest.

There are three ways we can generate shade around our homes: window awnings, porches, and trees.

house

Shading windows with a short but deep awning and sheer tier curtains to reduce heating from sunlight.

 

Shading with window awnings helps reduce the amount of sunlight that enters the home. Old-style window awnings are deep. They’re designed to protect starting fairly early in the morning, all the way through midday into afternoon.

However, they were typically placed so they don’t actually cover much of the window. That protects from the brutal summer sun when it’s taking a high arc, while allowing for natural light early in the morning and late in the evening as the sun is setting, and for more natural light during winter when the sun’s path is at a lower angle.

Covered porches have the same effect – creating a buffer around doors if not the whole side or house. The deeper the porch, the less light will get through. There are programs available online that can help people at various latitudes figure out exactly what depth is most ideal by the compass directions, but generally 6-8’ will reduce summertime heat while still allowing for decent winter light to enter.

Deciduous trees are ideal for the southern face of a building and are regularly used on the east and west sides as well. They shade in the summer and then allow light to pass through their empty limbs in winter.

summer-house-veranda-villa

Image: The more shade we can generate, the cooler our interiors will stay.

Air conditioning is a pretty modern convenience. There are still lots of countries where A/C is a luxury found only in hotels, restaurants, and the homes of the rich. Little

What if tomorrow you wake up to a world torn apart by a nuclear war? What if the governments fall and the society you knew goes crazy with neighbors attacking neighbors, looting local stores, etc.? What if a deadly virus was leaked as a bio-weapon and turns the people that were surrounding you for many years into mindless, flesh eating zombies? What if you will need to survive in at least one of these worst case scenarios?

Probably, the very first thing you should take care of during survival is the protection of your body. Living in a progressive world, where most everyone is allowed to own and use fire arms, defines the nature of body armor you should have (or be looking for). Whatever the case is, you will make the most benefit from using a bullet proof vest, because you never know, who will be walking behind your back and that person (or persons) can carry a gun and have no good intentions towards passersby.

A Bullet proof vests is a very useful thing to have in your arsenal, when surviving in extreme conditions. This little vest that covers about 15-19 inches of your back and front can save your life on multiple occasions. You may think that it’s better to wear tactical body armor, because you will have most of your body parts protected. But, even here you will have a weakness – the enemy will see the protected parts of your body and will intentionally attack the unprotected ones. Moreover, if you are in conditions that require you to constantly move, tactical body armor may cause a severe disadvantage and slow you down. Regular bullet proof vests are much more effective in this case.

If you need to survive, you don’t want to spend your time looking for stuff you could have prepared ahead of time. Since it’s not the end of the world right now and you have the time to read this, you should think about getting a bullet proof vest, before anything actually happens. Online you can get them shipped in a day, companies like SafeGuard Clothing offer this type of quick protection service, so you can be protected by tomorrow! Even if you will never get a chance to wear and use it, you will at least not regret that you weren’t prepared for an extreme situation.

Bullet proof vests can offer two types of protection – ballistic protection and combined ballistic and stab protection. The latter is more effective, of course. Moreover, there are two types of protection rankings for ballistic and stab attacks provided by the NIJ and HOSDB, respectively. While there are 6 NIJ protection levels, there are only 2 HOSDB protection levels. Obviously, the higher the protection level, the heavier the vest. Heavier vest means it’s bulkier and less comfortable. These facts have to be considered, when choosing the vest.

You can purchase a bullet proof vest in an online store. Make sure it’s of the right size and will suit you well. In order to make sure about this, you can talk to the online support and find out everything you need. However, it is best to visit an actual body armor store and get all the required assistance, because an online support worker can’t see you and can skip something important. It’s always better to be prepared, rather than being caught napping.

 

What if tomorrow you wake up to a world torn apart by a nuclear war? What if the governments fall and the society you knew goes crazy with neighbors attacking

Access to clean water means the difference between life and death in any part of the world. In order to disinfect water preppers usually recommend bleach as part of a broader strategy of stored water, filtration and boiling. Household bleach as long as it isn’t scented is a great method to disinfect water to make is safe for drinking so some people stock up on bleach for just this reason. There is a problem with bleach though in that it has a relatively short shelf life. Bleach will start to lose its potency before a year and that amount of time can be hastened in high heat or freezing conditions.

When asked the question if bleach has a shelf life of one year, the Clorox website states:

The overall answer is yes, but there are a couple of possible caveats. The active ingredient in liquid bleach, sodium hypochlorite, is very sensitive to high heat and freezing, but under normal home storage conditions, it should still perform well for nine to twelve months. So if your storage conditions were either of these, then you will have irreversibly created salt and water.

Calcium Hypochlorite can be used to make your own bleach. When mixed together though you have this shelf life and that is never good when we are thinking of long term prepping plans. There is a simple alternative though and that it to purchase Calcium Hypochlorite and make bleach as you need it. Calcium Hypochlorite has a shelf life of 10 years if stored in a cool dry place.

Calcium Hypochlorite comes as a stand-alone powder or you can purchase bags of pool shock. One thing to be aware of is the main ingredient. Some pool shock says Chlorine-free and uses other chemicals. You don’t want that. Also, you don’t want any other ingredients like antifungals or algaecide so read the label carefully. Alternately, you could just purchase the Calcium Hypochlorite powder and eliminate this possibility. A one-pound bag of pool shock that is 68% Calcium Hypochlorite can make 10,000 gallons of disinfected water.

Along with the capacity to create bleach that can be used as a long term stable source of treating your water,  bleach is also very effective at killing viruses. We use this to kill viruses in our water and it is just as effective at killing Ebola so a plan for storing Calcium Hypochlorite is wise on two counts.

Ebola and Bleach

A reader Matt sent this link to a Public Health Agency of Canada article on Ebola and in the section under Section IV Stability and Viability it mentions the following:

SUSCEPTIBILITY TO DISINFECTANTS: Ebolavirus is susceptible to 3% acetic acid, 1% glutaraldehyde, alcohol-based products, and dilutions (1:10-1:100 for ≥10 minutes) of 5.25% household bleach (sodium hypochlorite), and calcium hypochlorite (bleach powder). The WHO recommendations for cleaning up spills of blood or body fluids suggest flooding the area with a 1:10 dilutions of 5.25% household bleach for 10 minutes for surfaces that can tolerate stronger bleach solutions (e.g., cement, metal) . For surfaces that may corrode or discolor, they recommend careful cleaning to remove visible stains followed by contact with a 1:100 dilution of 5.25% household bleach for more than 10 minutes.”

Essentially bleach kills Ebola and if you need to clean up any spills or body fluids a higher concentration of bleach should be used. Prepping for virus outbreaks might have seemed crazy just a few weeks ago but now the information in the news makes this more possible and if you are already prepared to make your own bleach by having a stable supply of Calcium Hypochlorite, you will additionally be prepared to disinfect Ebola and potentially save lives. I am not going to suggest having bleach will save anyone, but it can help.

pic

A worker disinfects a deceased Ebola patient.

How to make bleach

The Calcium Hypochlorite powder is used in two strengths according to what you need to disinfect. The 1:10 bleach solution is a strong solution used to disinfect bodies and fluids. A lighter mixture of 1 to 100 is used to disinfect water or to clean surfaces, medical equipment, bedding, protective equipment like gloves and clothing.

You use the 1:10 solution to make the 1:100 solutions. The 1:10 bleach is very caustic so you want to be very careful about handling this.

In terms of Ebola disinfection, a publication from the World Health Organization says that Bleach solutions must be prepared daily because they lose their strength after 24 hours.

To prepare the bleach solution you would use one heaping tablespoon of Calcium Hypochlorite for every two gallons of water. This will give you bleach essentially and would be your 1:10 mixture for hardcore disinfection. DO NOT DRINK THIS

To dilute this to your 1:100 mixture you could add your gallon of bleach (1:10) above to 100 gallons of water, but this isn’t practical usually.

To disinfect water you would add eight drops of your 1:10 bleach solution to one gallon of water. Let this sit for 30 minutes. If the water is still cloudy you can run this through a coffee filter (should have done this first) or add more bleach a couple of drops at a time and let it sit for 30 more minutes.

Access to clean water means the difference between life and death in any part of the world. In order to disinfect water preppers usually recommend bleach as part of a

Yesterday I read about hundreds of armed vigilantes in a small Mexico town . This was preceded earlier by reports of townspeople capturing and murdering several men, displaying their bodies propped up in lawn chairs for the world to see. Their captors had written signs on some of the dead men as a warning to those who came to loot and kill. On the surface, with so much violence associated with the drug wars in Mexico, this seemed like a positive development purely from the aspect of people taking justice back into their own hands. Their corrupt officials not caring to protect them anymore were ignored and the town was saying “we aren’t going to take it anymore”.

Now, however things appear to be evolving and so are my thoughts on this subject. The “Vigilantes” are setting up road blocks, arresting police officers, conducting searches of homes for weapons and increasing their presence everywhere. I fear that the vigilantes could wind up being just as dangerous to the citizens of that town as the gangs and corrupt police. I also wonder if that type of scenario isn’t what we have in store for us here.

An article in the Global Post states the simple motivation for the vigilantes:

“The federal and state governments haven’t been able to do anything,” said Evert Castro, an Ayutla municipal councilman. “And we don’t have the capacity to fight these criminals. So the people got tired and decided to act on their own. We see this as a good thing.”

We are supposed to be a society of laws. For this to work people have to obey the laws and those who don’t are supposed to be dealt with fairly and in a just manner. When this happens, you have an equilibrium that is maintained and for the most part people live together in a civilized manner.

When you take the laws, justice and fairness away as we have seen for years in Mexico and one could argue that this is happening here to a different level as well, society becomes unbalanced. Injustice rules and people can be taken advantage of.

What if the rule of law no longer applied to your community? This is something we discuss in prepper circles daily, but usually in theory. Hypothetical scenarios that we use to either bolster our argument or use as rationale to make decisions. WROL (Without Rule of Law) is nothing that any of us should want to live through. I know that some may say (as I initially did) “Great! These people will clean up their own streets.” Really?

What is the difference between police searching through your house without cause or warrant and a gang of vigilantes? What makes getting stopped on the side of the road by a gang of armed vigilantes and having your car searched any better than going through some random checkpoint setup by the government? Are they really better off now in Mexico?

Source Daily Mail:

In January, hundreds of armed vigilantes made a series of arrests and imposed curfews in Ayutla de los Libres and Teconoap. They also manned checkpoints and claimed they had arrested at least 30 suspected criminals. One of the masked vigilantes said: ‘They kill, extort, rape. You do know if they are drugs dealers, thugs, who want to grab everything. ‘We want to return peace and tranquility to the entire population. Only the people can restore order.

If society devolves to the point where “only the people can restore order” do you trust that all of the other “people” will be fairer, less prone to corruption than anyone else? I am not for one second stating that only government or the police can protect you. What I am saying is that the people who are entrusted by our society to ensure justice must be just themselves. If the gang of people who are trying to protect your town are no better than the ones they ran off, killed or arrested, where does that put you? What can you do now to put yourself on a level footing in your neighborhood or community?

Know your neighbors

This is a simple one. Knowing your neighbors and how they will react, what their thoughts and philosophies are will help you deal with them if a situation arises where some form of resistance or vigilantism is planned. You want the people around you to know you, be able to vouch for your character and hopefully protect you from any lawlessness that is caused. If you are part of the team responsible for “restoring order” you will have a supreme advantage if you know the people you are working with and supposedly protecting. It should also go without saying that you have a supreme responsibility also to your fellow man.

Practice OPSEC

As much as possible, you want to be prudent in what you say, how you say it and to whom you say it to. OPSEC is keeping essential information about you or your family as quiet as possible. You don’t want to brag about supplies, preps you have or someone could easily say: “Hey, Joe has a whole bunch of ammo. We could take it from him.” This is just one example, but could carry over into a lot of other aspects of survival.

Ensure you have the right stuff

When and if chaos ensues, the last thing you want is to be without the essentials. You need a decent store of food. You need water and I would recommend a means of defending yourself. I am not trying to be an alarmist, but I do believe the writing is on the wall for our society and I am preparing. You should evaluate your life, your situation and make sure you have plans to take care of your family if it all goes sideways. Make sure you have this taken care of now and you are not trying to make it to the sporting goods store after the riots have started.

Prepare to Get Out of Dodge if necessary

It may be wise for you to leave. If we are back to a wild west, Mad Max type of world, you may want to get out of town. Prepare yourself now by clearly thinking and analyzing your decision to bug out or bug in. Knowing what you want to do, preparing for that eventuality is a start, but situations are dynamic. Think through your options well in advance of needing to employ them. If you have to get out of dodge, make sure you have a plan, a great vehicle and options. If you intend to hunker down, make sure you know your neighborhood or town. Intelligence like this could help you make decisions on the fly.

Never let your principles be compromised

I was going to say “Above all else” before never let your morals be compromised. It is easy to say what you would “never” do when you are sitting in front of a computer. I can easily say I would never do anything bad to another unless my life or my family’s lives depended on it, but that isn’t completely honest. We are all human and are subject to weakness for a million reasons. What I try to do is live like I should and act as God leads me. I know I will make mistakes, but I try to think about situations I may be faced with. Imagining how you will act is no substitute for the real moment, but it does give your brain some practice thinking through the ramifications of your actions. Even developing a personal threat escalation plan, while just an exercise, can be beneficial. State out loud what you will or will not abide as your conscience leads you. Try to maintain that moral compass as straight as possible. You may fall, but having a direction in the first place will point you back to the right path much quicker.

I fear for our civilization but I will not sit idly by and watch it crumble and consume us. I will make plans, prepare my family as best as I can and try to be a force for good. Besides praying, I don’t think any of us can do much more than that.

Yesterday I read about hundreds of armed vigilantes in a small Mexico town . This was preceded earlier by reports of townspeople capturing and murdering several men, displaying their bodies