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You can’t live without food and water. If you store them, you can’t use them if someone puts a bullet in you and you bleed out, so you have to learn to use weapons and practice first aid. And you need a shelter to keep supplies in, away from rain, sun, and vermin of all shapes and leg-counts. These things are what the “Prepper” community often focuses on. And they’re right to do so. Food, water, guns, ammunition, medical supplies, and shelter are all essential. But there’s one thing that, while not completely ignored, is I believe sorely neglected among the Survivalist segment of the population. And that is morale. Maintaining your group’s morale in crisis will be vital to ensuring your survival.

History is replete with examples of armies that had the best equipment but nonetheless lost their wars. The Vietnam War is one of the best case studies. The United States Armed Forces totally outclassed their Vietnamese enemies. American weapons, aircraft, supply lines, and medical facilities were superior. But American morale was, by war’s end, non-existent. To this day veterans and their families are rightfully bitter about the mismanagement, corruption, and the political obfuscation that turned the most powerful military on earth into a hogtied police force.

Now when—not if—the organic material strikes the ventilator, we as preppers will likely not be engaged in a large-scale war with multiple campaigns and the associated logistical requirements, chains of command, and so on. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it is very unlikely. We will, however, probably find ourselves in some kind of defensive armed conflict against elements of chaos and disorder from time to time. Whether they be an actual invading army, an organized and disciplined (to varying degrees) gang who have decided that what’s yours is theirs, or just a mob of desperate citizens who, having failed to prepare, have decided to liberate “their fair share” from you.

But even if none of us ever draw a blade or fire a gun in anger, after something collapses (and it will, sooner or later), life will become much harder. The old pressures of getting reports submitted on time or making it to that meeting will pale in comparison with the possibility that, if your garden fails, you and your family may starve. That is just one out of the scores of possibilities plaguing the future of a post-collapse society.

Amid this grim backdrop we find the subject of morale. Morale, for those few unfamiliar with the term, is the state of the spirits and confidence of a group and its willingness to perform its tasks. So if your morale is high, your people in your group will be more likely to perform their tasks cheerfully and to bolster one another’s spirits. If it is low, they will perform their duties grudgingly if at all, and will either actively or passively drag each other down.

Why is maintaining morale in crisis important to your group?

This is poison for any post-collapse situation. You need your people with their heads in the game, pulling together and doing everything they can to ensure their own and other’s survival. This is what, from my experience, is neglected in the preparedness community: means of maintaining morale. Ways to keep all the days from blending together into a depressing fog. Some people toss in the token “non-electric entertainments like cards or board games” and leave it at that, but I believe there is more to it.

Now before I go any further, let me address what I believe will be the greatest objection to this idea of making morale a priority. People will likely say “But, it’s going to be a constant grind! There’s no time for fun and games! Everything you do, every waking minute, must produce or preserve a survival essential!” To which I respectfully reply: Make time.

Again, I draw on history. Throughout the past 6,000 years of human existence on this planet, up until the last eighty or hundred years, the large majority of humanity has had to struggle for its survival. Food was unpredictable, politics and war were largely out of their control, and clean water was doubtful. Yet they still created beautiful things, sang songs, played instruments, danced together, and gathered to listen to the village storyteller or wandering troubadour weave tales of fantasy, history, and heroism. Why? Because they understood the importance of morale. They needed these things—in their proper place as supplements to work—to fortify their spirits for the hard labor and suffering in the days ahead.

So, with that background, I have two broad categories of morale-boosters that I think will become far more important post-collapse than they are now. These are: Music and Storytelling.

Music:

Music is everywhere around us today. It’s actually really hard to get away from it. Most of us have some kind of radio playing at work, whether we want it or not. There is music piped in to the gas station, the grocery store, the insurance agent, wherever you go it’s there. And most people walk around with earbuds crammed into their ears, listening to music off iPod and MP3 players.

I’m not against having music readily available. As someone who has no skill in playing it but still enjoys a good tune, I like having easy access to music. But something to bear in mind is that all these forms of easily accessible music rely on electricity to function properly. And post-collapse, electricity will likely (not certainly, but likely) be in very short supply. If you can get it at all. So musical-playback devices won’t be a high priority in that situation. This is where my recommendation comes in: Learn to actually play music.

guitarist-407212_640

I’m not saying everyone should do this. Not everyone has the time, the money for instruments and lessons, and more importantly not everyone has the desire and innate skill needed to play an instrument. I am an example of this. I can keep a pretty good rhythm on a Celtic drum, and go along that way with someone else, but outside of that, I can’t play. I’ve tried at various points in my life to play guitar and recorder, and never made the time to stick to either of them. My sister, on the other hand, is a natural with anything stringed. She can play fiddle and guitar, and is learning banjo, mandolin, and ukulele. So she is an asset to us that way. We may not be able to play, but she can, and that will help to lift our spirits.

Another suggestion would be to try to learn to sing. I don’t mean take voice lessons or opera classes per se. I mean try to do something besides wail out the words to your favorite song like a dying cat. It helps if you have sheet music to learn the words from. Even if you can’t read music, you can follow the notes up and down to see where your voice should go, and you can use the spaces between notes to gauge how long to hold a note as you sing. It won’t be perfect, but hopefully it will prevent people running away with their hands over their ears.
There is one more thing I have to say on the subject of music: learn to like music that can be made without electricity. Most music today relies on electricity. Pop, rock, hip-hop, rap, country, blues, jazz, everything. Once there is no more juice to power electric instruments, amplifiers, and microphones, people will be left with nothing but the instruments available about a hundred years ago. This means we’ll be back to things like classical, bluegrass, folk (which includes ethnic music from Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America), some forms of jazz, and similar genres. I’m not saying you have to like all of these. Personally, I like Celtic, classical, and bluegrass music, but am not a big fan of Asian folk music. Whatever your preferences, try to learn one of the instruments associated with your choice or to surround yourself with people who play what you like. This may sound like I’m making a big deal out of nothing, but I’m serious. I’m not that old and I’ve already known plenty of people who would be lost during their workday if they didn’t have their heavy metal, rock, modern country, or pop music blasting away from a speaker plugged into the grid. Music, especially aggressive, highly electronic forms, can be addictive. And once it’s gone these people are going to be looking for it or a replacement the same way they would look for a physical drug. So break yourself of the addiction before it’s too late. I’m not saying never listen to a rock or country song again. I happen to like several songs from those genres and listen to them often. But I won’t go into musical withdrawals if tomorrow I could never hear them again.

Storytelling:

So, those were my thoughts on music. What about storytelling? You’re probably thinking, “Why did he even include this? Stories aren’t essential to survival.” That’s true, they’re not. But they are important to morale. Think about it: how satisfying is it to come home from your job or whatever you do all day and sit down to a good book or your favorite television show? Pretty enjoyable, right? There you go. That’s why I bring it up. Reading or watching a good story helps pull you out of whatever rut you managed to dig for yourself that day, and transports you to another world where, if things go wrong, they get put right. Or at least, they go wrong for someone else.

storytelling

One of the most popular people in villages and cities of any size was the minstrel, bard, or troubadour.

Once more, I will reference history. While there is dispute about just how dark the so-called “Dark Ages” really were, and the popular image of the medieval era as a miserable time to be alive is exaggerated, there is no doubt that it was orders of magnitude harder than our own. During this time, one of the most popular people in villages and cities of any size was the minstrel, bard, or troubadour. These men—and they were nearly always men, but that isn’t a stereotype that needs to carry over—were sometimes locals, sometimes wanderers. They brought news from afar, and told stories of the past exploits of people both from the countryside and from distant lands. Crowds would gather to hear them speak, and even if they were looked down upon officially, they were highly admired in general society.

Why? Because they helped lighten people’s loads after or during a hard day in a hard life. One reason fantastical adventures of knights and heroes were so popular was because, in a world often out of the control of the average peasant, hearing a story about a man who kills a monster, saves a town, and gets to marry the beautiful woman reminds them that there is hope in the world, that justice still exists, and that true love is still possible. These things helped them relate to their world and allowed them to bear the trials they encountered more easily.

So how does this apply to preppers? Two ways. First, if you have a natural storyteller in your group, don’t belittle them for their gift. Good stories don’t just appear out of the air: it takes a lot of mental energy and creativity to make up a compelling story. The most obvious way a storyteller like this can be a benefit is to calm restless, frightened children. If you’ve had to bug out or evacuate, and couldn’t take your home library with you, then having someone in your group who has the skill to make up stories will go a long way towards keeping children calm.

Second, depending on how long any post-collapse situation lasts, having an oral/written method of transmitting will help people connect with the past, with the pre-collapse world. Even though these methods are notorious for allowing inaccuracies to creep in quickly, they still allow a level of continuity with those who came before.

For anyone reading this who fancies themselves a storyteller, I have one word for you: paper. In a post-collapse world, with electricity scarce or non-existent, paper will be your best friend. But in our digital age, we don’t want to deal with something as time-consuming and laborious to compose as a longhand manuscript. I have been an editor and columnist for an online magazine, and I know firsthand how much easier it is to write on a computer than on paper. But I can do it, if necessary. If you’re wanting to write a longer work, don’t try to do it all at once. Write chapters or scenes one at a time, and share them that way. In this manner, you’ll save your hands, and your audience will be kept in suspense about what happens next. This will give them something enjoyable to think about as they go about their days. And if you don’t end up writing anything down for your group or if you’re not the best storyteller in the group, don’t worry. All those dollar-store tablets or bundles of lined filler paper you stocked up on have a baker’s dozen other uses!

Also, before I close, I just want to return to my earlier brief mention of art. Art has been, for most of human history, a fairly exclusive domain, inhabited by a very few people. But that doesn’t mean their products were reserved for only the very wealthy. The Hollywood image of the bare peasant hovel with nothing in it to liven the gaze is not correct. Especially in highly developed societies like those of the Celts and the Dark-Age Norse, art imbued even everyday, mundane objects with a sense of power and purpose beyond their original intent, which must surely have helped their owners weather their tough existence. So while I have mainly focused on music and storytelling here, much of what I have said can apply to carving, sculpting, painting, or other arts.

Conclusion:

None of what I have said should be taken to mean that morale-boosters should take primacy over things like canned food, weapons and ammunition, water, and medical supplies. Nor do I condone people who are artists and musicians and storytellers ignoring other elements of preparedness. Everyone should prepare the essentials to whatever degree their circumstances allow. These supplementals are nonetheless an important aspect to consider as you make your preparations. And if you can think of something else I haven’t listed that would fit your group, please, do that instead! This article was by no means meant to be exhaustive or to be a checklist. Just to get your wheels turning.. Godspeed to you and yours.


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You can’t live without food and water. If you store them, you can’t use them if someone puts a bullet in you and you bleed out, so you have to

A Final Prepper reader, Andrew asked the following question on our Contact form the other day:

I’m wondering if you guys could do a write up of the pros and cons of a fenced property as well as a gated driveway. It is something I have considered for some time but would be very much interested in what people more in the know think of these security options.

If anyone else has any questions, please send them in, or comment on any post. Your conversations help everyone in the Prepper community learn and if anyone has additional feedback to what I write here, please add that below.

A fence for home protection

When it comes to keeping people out or keeping them in, a fence is one of the first things considered. Naturally any secure area or building has a fence around it –  sometimes several fences. The most secure fences would additionally have a roll of razor wire at the top to detract would-be climbers from making it over unscathed or be electrified; possibly both.

In residential areas you are usually more limited in what you would even consider putting around your property. In my case, I wouldn’t be able to add that big prison fence to the sides of my yard because my wife wouldn’t allow it. Now before I get comments like I need to grow a pair, I will add that I wouldn’t want a large fence either. It isn’t like a large fence would help my falling property value and unless I am in a fortress it just doesn’t go with my landscaping.

When we first brought our survival dog home we talked about a fence to keep her enclosed in our yard. We priced out a traditional chain-link fence for our yard that would have given us some peace of mind if we ever wanted to let her go unattended. The over $5000 price list made me throw that idea out the window. I know that I could have installed a chain link fence myself, but I didn’t want to tackle that project on my own. Assuming money was no object, the question was, is a fence a good idea when the grid goes down? Will a fence protect you or keep the bad guys away? Are there any yard security measures you could take that would make a difference in a grid down world?

The Pros and Cons

Items like a chain link fence can improve your property’s value if done in a way that doesn’t detract from the appearance of your yard in most cases. Fences can keep children and pets in while keeping smaller children and pets out of your yard. There is usually a state law to have a fence if you have a pool to prevent anyone from stumbling into the water and drowning. Fences create a nice boundary line and frame your property in a way that for some is more pleasing than the openness of yards without borders. Aside from the aesthetic reasons and the property value implications (of which I really am not qualified to speak to) are fences good at realistic protection?

Assuming we are talking about traditional residential fences here, I don’t believe they offer anything on their own in the way of serious protection. Could they slow someone down? Yes, but for how long? Even the White House fence proved no match for a determined man. Fences can easily be cut with a plain pair of bolt cutters (which I recommend everyone have as part of a complete prepper supply list of items), or run over with just about any car and then the illusion of protection would be shattered pretty quickly. If you are planning on buying and installing a fence, I wouldn’t expect this alone would keep you safe from anything more than those small children and pets. They might be a better deterrent while there is no crisis going on, but if the grid goes down, do you really expect a fence to keep anyone out for long?

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Security gates may slow down vehicles, but what about people on foot?

What about a big security gate on your driveway? These are frequently more substantial than a fence, but they have their weaknesses too. Even with a gate, you are probably only going to slow down vehicles, but people can walk in or around those gates. I look at these like expensive locks on my shed. They are there to keep honest people out, not the criminals who will find a way to get around these basic security measures in a truly violent reality if they are motivated.

So should you do nothing?

I think in some situations, fences and gates can slow people down but they won’t stop anyone who is really determined for long. You can use these as your early warning system though and deploy perimeter alarms at the gates and on the fences to alert you when these obstacles have been breached. In a home invasion scenario this could give you precious seconds of advance warning to either make it to your home defense weapon or safe room and possibly call 911.

Those are my thoughts, what do you think?

A Final Prepper reader, Andrew asked the following question on our Contact form the other day: I’m wondering if you guys could do a write up of the pros and cons of

 

In a SHTF situation, proper sanitation is of utmost importance if you want to keep your family from getting seriously sick. When you add to that a lack of medical facilities due to grid-down issues, staying healthy becomes even more crucial.

When the grid goes down it doesn’t take long for serious sanitation problems to erupt. Take Auckland New Zealand for example:

In 1998, Auckland suffered a 5-week long power outage that halted water supplies, causing a large part of the city’s apartment dwellers and office workers to lose the ability to flush. Since the average person did not know how to properly deal with human waste, after only three days the resulting lack of waste-water services quickly escalated into a sanitation nightmare.

Here are two accounts of that time (please see footnotes for full articles):

Since water and sewage rely on electrically-driven pumps to get them into office blocks and towers, these services often aren’t available either. What little power is available is being used by emergency and civil services as far as possible, with other services like traffic lights being run if there’s anything to spare. Many office blocks have no power, water, or sewage services available. Combine the lack of sanitation with absence of air conditioning and you can imagine what conditions are like in parts of these buildings.

And here is an account from someone who was tasked in writing up a white paper for the New Zealand government on the effects caused by no running water:

People in general are not smart. Rather than try and conserve or make a plan once the water stopped flowing, they would flush their toilets. Without power from the force of water pressure the tank doesn’t refill. The domino effect is not only gross but staggering, what human beings that have never lived beyond modern conveniences will do is unimaginable.

What I researched and wrote about blew my own mind…when people were actually confronted with such a situation, they went where ever they could – they filled the toilet, the toilet tank, the tub, the shower, the sink – when the bathrooms became uninhabitable, they went in corners, boxes, bags, closets…most however left by the time they were using the tub. Guess how long that took? That’s right, three days!.[2]

How to Dispose of Human Waste in a Grid-Down Situation

If you’re in a situation where the grid goes down and the water stops flowing, you’ll want to be sure you’re correctly dealing with human waste.

Here’s how:

If You Have a Septic System

First off, if you have your own septic system, you’re in a better spot over others connected to a town/city sewer line. With a septic system, as long as you have availability to water (from storage or any grey water source), you’ll still be able to flush.

How to Flush without Running Water

toilet-tank-filltoilet-bowl-fill
If you are on Town/City Sewer LinesIf you’re short on water, then I recommend you follow the same procedures as those who are connected to town/city sewer lines:

If you’re connected to a town or city sewer line then the the absolute first step is:

Make sure the sewer main is not down!

If the sewer main is down, don’t flush the toilet. Not flushing will prevent your lines from mixing with neighborhood crap and backing up into your plumbing (not just the toilets but the sink and tub too).

If you’re absolutely sure there is no issue with the sewer lines, then you can follow the same method as someone on a septic system. Just be sure you have enough water for drinking, cleaning and cooking.

Non-Water Dependant Methods of Waste Disposal

Before I get into some of the non-water dependent methods of waste removal, there are three things you need to be mindful of: flies, pests and pets.
flies-poopThese guys would like nothing more than to chow down on your business and in some way come into contact with you or your living space.

Flies especially are notorious for landing on your food and plates while eating, and wouldn’t think twice about doing that after having just enjoyed a fecal feast at your expense. And what will soon follow is a fecal-borne pathogen’s ultimate fantasy — amounting to a health nightmare for you and your loved ones.

Given that, you want to do everything in your power to prevent them from coming into contact with your excrement by keeping it covered and clean (more details to follow).

Waste Disposal in a Rural Area

If you live in the boonies or a semi-rural area but are still connected to the grid, consider yourself lucky. For you guys, it’s just a matter of doing your business outside.

The Cat Hole

cat-holeIn a short-term emergency, a few cat holes is all you need. Just take a garden trowel, a small shovel, or a post digger and make a hole about 6-8 inches deep and 4-6 inches in diameter. Do your business in the hole, wipe, throw the toilet paper (or leaves  🙂 ) in there too, and cover it up with the dirt you took out.

Although this is an easy method, here are a few rules you’ll want to abide by:

  • Place your cat-hole site is at least 200 feet from any source of water
  • Don’t dig in an area where water visibly flows (rain water run-off etc)
  • Disperse the cat holes over a wide area if possible
  • If possible, setup your cat hole in an area that gets a lot of sunlight (this will aid decomposition)
  • Again, remember water runoff. Your every thought should be on preventing feces from reaching any water source — be it underground well water, your water table, rivers, lakes, springs, and creeks.

The Trench Latrine


trenchlatrineFor a longer-term sanitation solution, you’ll want to build yourself a trench latrine.

A trench latrine is basically an over sized cat hole that is used multiple times. With the exception of dispersing it over a wide area, the same rules above apply to trench latrines as well.

The minimal recommended dimensions are around 1.5 feet (.45 m) wide x 1 foot (.3 m) deep and 2 feet (.6 m) long.

It’s also recommended that you build some type of privacy partition. An emergency situation is stressful enough. You don’t need to give anyone the added pressures of becoming a peep show. For example, a simple partition can be built with a few stakes in the ground with blankets, sheets or tarps stretched between them.

Since it is a multi-use station, you’ll also want to prevent any flies and pests from coming into contact with the exposed excrement. To do this, after each use cover your business with some wood ash, quick lime, or a few inches of the dirt that came out of the ground when making the pit.

Waste Disposal in a City

The average person produces around 2-3 pints of urine and 1 pound of poop a day. Multiply that by the number of people in your family and in a short time you can only imagine the amount of crap that would pile up in an extended grid-down situation in the city.

In most cases, city dwellers (and many suburbanites) do not have access to land where they can safely dig a trench latrine or cat holes. If you are one of these unlucky folk you’ll need to consider other options. Here are two possibilities that you could use:

Use Your Existing Toilet

Even if the sewage lines are down or if you’re short on water, it’s still possible to use your existing toilet:

toilet-remove-water1

First remove as much water from the bowl as possible.

toilet-tape-bag

Second, tape a doubled-up trash bag to the underside of the toilet seat and let the bag fill the cavity of the bowl.

toilet-ash-bag

Have a pail of wood ash, quicklime, kitty litter or sawdust available so that after each duty is done, the offender can sprinkle a liberal amount over it. This will keep the stench down.

toilet-remove-bag

Finally, when the bag is filled up 2/3 the volume of the bowl, add a good amount of quicklime, wood ash or other disinfectant. If you do not have any of these things, you can use dirt with a little bit of a chlorine solution sprayed in it.
After the addition of the disinfectant, securely tie up the bag and place it in a temporary, seal-able container (like a 5-gallon bucket or trash container). Keep it in there until you can find a good time and place to dispose of it.

Use a 5-Gallon Bucket

A 5-gallon bucket can be used in a similar way to the toilet as explained above.

Like the toilet-method above, you’ll want to line it with a double-bagged layer of trash bags (heavy duty are highly recommended). For a seat, you can either sit on the rim of the bucket directly (it’s actually not as uncomfortable as you’d think), place your existing toilet seat on it, or place a couple of 2x4s or other similar objects on the rim to fabricate a makeshift seat:

sanitation-toilet-bucket

If you feel like spending a little money you can pick up a toilet seat cover made for a 5-gallon bucket.

I’ve also seen them sell bags that are made for these 5-gallon expedient toilets as well as toilet deodorants that control the smell and are made for these types of portable toilets. I don’t have any experience with these but they seem to get good reviews in Amazon (click on an image to see the product and reviews):

toilet-cover toilet-bag toilet-deodorant

composting-toiletFor those of you with a bit more money in your pockets, they sell non-electric composting toilets that are completely off-grid, require no water, and supposedly convert human waste into usable compost without odor.

If any of you have these types of toilets, I’d love to hear from your experiences. That may be something that an apartment/city dweller could use in a SHTF situation.

Conclusion

I hope you come out of this post realizing how important the safe disposal of human waste is and how you can properly take care of you and your families waste if times get bad.

In the next and final article in this series I’ll be covering how you can properly dispose of garbage in a grid-down scenario.

  In a SHTF situation, proper sanitation is of utmost importance if you want to keep your family from getting seriously sick. When you add to that a lack of medical

The news offers two more examples of how trained civilians with firearms could have prevented bad things from happening. In Woolwich, London yesterday two insane individuals ran over a man and crushed him between their car and a sign. After that they jumped out of the car and started hacking and chopping him with meat cleavers and knives. This resulted in death and near decapitation for the wounded soldier.

I am struck by the thought that this could have been prevented if someone had been able to engage these two wackos before they were able to finish the job they started. It is also incredibly fortunate that these two psychopaths did not injure anyone else because the police did not appear for 20 minutes. Instead of doing anything about it a crowd of people gathered to watch these killers rant about Allah and record video on their cell phones. Pathetic.

The two were stopped when finally a police officer with a firearm appeared on the scene. The two men had an old “rusty” firearm of their own which they did shoot at the police officer which malfunctioned and blew the thumb off one of their hands.

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Image courtesy of Daily Mail

What would you have done had this unfolded in the US where we can still carry firearms? Even though the potential of us loosing that right guaranteed by our Second Amendment is under threat everyday, good guys can and do prevent crimes like this all of the time. Had there been someone near these two men when the crime initially occurred that would have been able and willing to step up to the moment, this soldier may still be alive right now. Obviously, the wouldn’t have stopped a car, but the ensuing carnage that happened next may have been prevented.

The second reason comes from somewhere closer to home, but never the less still in an area where firearms are not allowed freely for the average citizen. In Queens, New York last month a man was apparently kidnapped right off the street by three men who pretended to be police officers. They flashed a badge and threw him into a van and drove him to a warehouse where they kept him for over a month. During this month, he was burned with acid, beaten, threatened with mutilation and death. For this month he was bound at the hands and masked.

This one is more complicated because the assailants were acting like police officers so your average person on the street would be less likely to step into that situation; however it is telling that we as society have become so accustomed to police driving up and throwing someone into the back of a car and speeding away, that nobody cares.

In an earlier post I established my belief that law abiding citizens have a duty to carry concealed weapons if they have any desire to stop bad things like this from happening. If more good people carried guns I believe incidents like this would decline. Statistics from the FBI show that violent crime rates have dropped for at least 5 years which runs counter to the argument that more guns equals more murders. The sales of firearm purchases have exploded in recent years so there may be some link that may be drawn between these two facts. The more people it seems to me that have guns, the less violent crime we see.

I do feel sorry for the families of these two tragedies and we hope for their peace and healing in the case of the soldier in London. We should use these two examples as yet another illustration where

  1. The police can’t protect you from bad things.
  2. Taking guns away from people doesn’t prevent murder.
  3. There are still plenty of evil people in the world.
  4. There is something that we can all do about it.

The police took twenty minutes to get to the scene with firearms to stop these two men. How horrific would it have needed to get for the crowd to attack them and bring them down? What if they had gone into a school heaven forbid?

These two didn’t have assault weapons or pressure cookers, yet they were able to kill a man and hold a crowd of sheep at bay for twenty minutes.

If you have been considering carrying a concealed weapon or even purchasing your own firearm for the first time here is my advice. First, consider if this is a responsibility that you will accept. Taking another’s life is not something that can be erased. You should weigh these options with a significant gravity. Carrying a gun isn’t like Jack Bauer on 24 and if you have to use it, you could die in the process or accidentally kill an innocent. If you believe you need a weapon for self-protection and are willing to use it then I would suggest you get trained, become very proficient with your firearm choice and carry concealed. You could be the person standing between a killer and an innocent life.

If you are already a concealed carry permit holder I hope this reinforces your resolve and determination to not only carry every where you can legally but mentally prepares you for a situation like this. I personally hope I am never faced with a choice like this but I do believe that if I were, I would do what I could to save a life. I hope if I were on the receiving end of an attack like this, one of you would too.


Other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

Healthy Soil + Healthy Plants = Healthy You

The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us

Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation

Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns

Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need

4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis

Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps

The news offers two more examples of how trained civilians with firearms could have prevented bad things from happening. In Woolwich, London yesterday two insane individuals ran over a man

If you are working in the center of a large city, like London or New York, or are working in the emerging markets, where bomb scares are not unusual, it is possible that you may get caught up in an Improvised Explosive Device incident. Whether your venue, office or residence is targeted directly or it just happens to be on the same street as an IED, you will need to know how to react. Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are a threat to everyone and are used frequently and with great affect by criminals, cranks and terrorists the world over. If you follow international events, then you will see that there is a lethal bombing somewhere in the world almost every day.

The basic IED can be made from commercially available materials that are sold over the counter in most places. Information on how to construct IEDs is available from military or survival bookstores, the Internet and former military personnel. The size of an IED can range from as small as a cigarette packet to as large as a large container lorry. IEDs can be disguised as virtually anything; this gives the bomber the advantage of being able to kill their targets without alerting them to the threat, giving the bomber a large degree of anonymity. IEDs can be used to kill selected targets or to kill indiscriminately. These facts are why the IED is often the favored weapon of criminal, cranks and terrorists the world over and is the most dangerous threat to security, law enforcement, military and the general public.

Here I have listed some basic information and some basic guidelines for dealing with an IED incident and in part 3 I will dissect a law enforcement response you a recent incident in NYC, after reading this you should be a lot more competent than those members of the NYPD who were running that circus!

Bomb and Improvised Explosive Device Identification

Bombs and IED’s can be disguised as virtually anything. You need to be suspicions of any objects, cars or activity in or around your locations. An unattended bag, an unknown car that has been parked next to your building to long, unknown people acting nervously… You and your employees must be aware and suspicious; everyone also needs to be trained on how to deal with a suspicious object or in the worst case scenario the aftermath of a bomb/IED incident!

The Secondary Device

Bomb Royal Avenue

A bomb explodes in a stationary shop in Royal Avenue,Belfast

The IED can be used on its own or in conjunction with other IEDs or weapons. Good bombers will always place a second device near the first device, in a likely control point for security forces or on an evacuation route from the area of the first device. The second device is to catch the personnel or emergency services coming to the aid of anyone hurt in the first blast, or security forces dealing with the incident or personnel escaping from the first blast. Sometimes the first device is designed to go off for no other reason than to draw in emergency or security services or drive people into the larger main device. You must always consider if an explosive device has been found, gone off or that there could be a second or third device somewhere.

Here are some basic examples of how IEDs would be employed by Irish terrorists; these are taken from when I was a teenager serving in the British Army in Northern Ireland in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s.

  • A man is murdered in the shoe shop that he runs, he was shot at close quarters. The murders left behind an explosive device in a shoe box set to detonate 30 minutes after the shooting, by which time security forces and emergency services were in the immediate area. Think about how many shoe boxes there are in a shoe shop! The device detonated but no-one else was hurt due to the fact that secondary devices were expected to be left at crime scenes.
  • A car bomb is detonated in a small village and wounds several people. The security forces and emergency services are limited to number of routes that they can use to get to the village. It would be expected for an IED to be placed along one of the routes into the village to catch the security forces entering or leaving the area. If time was available the routes would need to be searched and cleared, if time and helicopters were not available this would consist of the responding patrol in driving in at top speed.
  • A car is parked a short distance from a security force base with what appears to be mortar tubes inside. A security force cordon is placed around the car to secure the area and. When the security force teams are conducting their clearance searches around their cordon points, a team finds an IED attached to a trip wire. Further searches of the cordon positions turn up other IED’s. The mortar tube in the car turned out to be a piece of drain pipe, it was a hoax that was used to draw security forces into the IED’s that the terrorists placed in likely security force cordon positions.
  • A car is parked on the side of a country lane in an area regularly patrolled by security forces. When a security force patrol spots the car, they check with their control room to see if the car is registered as stolen. It’s not. The patrols have been on the ground for four days and are rushing to make it to their pick up point on time. The patrol can see nothing suspicious with the car, so they send two members of the patrol forward to check out the car. One of the team who goes forward to check the car is carrying electronic counter-measure equipment that can identify and block radio signal for remote-controlled bombs. The bomb was not remote-controlled or in the car. It was in a ditch a few meters from the car and detonated with a command wire.

You should take nothing at face value and always remember the secondary device. Always be suspicious of anything that looks out-of-place, if you are in an area where there is an active IED threat you need to draw up pans and procedure of how you will respond if you are caught up in an incident.

Types of device

Letter & parcel bomb

letterbomb

Damage from a letter bomb.

The letter and parcel bomb is the most widely used of all IEDs. The bombers who use this type of device range from stalkers through to hard-core terrorists. The letter bomb gives the bomber a direct line of access to the target and affords the bomber virtual anonymity for themselves, as the device can be sent from anywhere in the world. As the name suggests, the device is placed into an envelope or parcel and posted to the target. Upon opening the device explodes.

Defense against letter and parcel bombs

Below is a list of things that should be checked for on any package that you suspect as being an IED. If you or your client is under a threat, all mail should be checked. If some of the following criteria are evident on a suspect package, it should be put through an x-ray machine to confirm or ally your suspicions. If you don’t have an x-ray machine, then the suspect package should be placed in a safe area and specialist assistance sought. The package would have been knocked around whilst in the postal system, so it will be safe to move-just don’t open it.

Letter and parcel bomb recognition check list:

  • Were you expecting the letter or package?
  • Was it delivered by hand (to avoid the postal system)?
  • Is it uneven or lopsided?
  • Is the envelope rigid?
  • Is there excessive securing material such as cello-tape, string, etc.?
  • Are there any visual distractions on the envelope such as company, official stamps?
  • Are there any protruding wires or tin foil?
  • Was there excessive postage paid?
  • Was the address poorly written/typed?
  • Any excessive weight?
  • No return address?
  • Any oil stains, discoloration, fingerprints?
  • Any incorrect titles?
  • Any titles but no names?
  • Any misspellings of common words?
  • Any restrictive markings such as Confidential or Private?
  • Any suspicious postmarks such as Belfast or Baghdad, etc.?
  • Is the address stenciled?
  • Any holes or pinpricks, which could be to let out explosive fumes?
  • Any smell of almonds, marzipan or perfume used to mask the smell of explosive fumes?
  • Any mechanical sounds?

Incendiary devices

A simple form of this device can be made as small as a cigarette packet and be made from condoms and commercially available chemicals. When properly ignited, they will burn at high temperatures and are primarily designed to destroy property. Incendiaries require an initiator (flame or chemical action), delay mechanism, igniter and main incendiary charge. Incendiary bombs are usually used against shops and businesses. They can easily be placed between the cushions of furniture or among flammable objects, in the case of thermite, on or above machinery or vehicles, and timed to go off when the business is empty of staff, causing the maximum fire damage. This can also help to give the bomber anonymity.

Defense against incendiary devices If either your client or his business is under the threat of incendiary attack, the following precautions should be taken. A deterrent would be to install overt CCTV and employ high-profile 24-hour security guards. The CCTV could, in the event of an incident, be used to identify the bomber. Keep videos in a fireproof container. If the client’s workplace is an office suite, then access needs to be restricted as much as possible. Visitors should not be left unsupervised. Cameras should be placed in high-risk areas entrances/exits and outside toilets. All personnel entering the suite should be searched.

Blast bombs

This device can be made very small. A device can easily be placed in a take away food container or bag and placed in a bin or pile of rubbish. In the UK, Irish terrorists have been known to put and detonate IEDs inside of bicycle frames. This type of device is used to cause disruption and confusion. In the city of London, UK, in the early 90s, a spate of such devices placed in rubbish bins resulted in all bins being removed from the streets and the London Underground. These devices can cause great disruption and kill indiscriminately.

Defense against blast bombs Realistically, there is very little that can be done to stop a bomber planting these devices in city areas. The device can be easily disguised and moved during rush hour. It would be impossible to watch everyone, let alone search them. Security cameras on buildings and in shops would be useful when trying to identify the bomber after the device has detonated. If your client is attending a function where there is a threat from IEDs, precautions need to be taken. The empty venue should be searched by experienced personnel with, if possible, sniffer dogs. After the search, strict access control needs to be put in place with every entrance/exit covered and everyone entering the venue searched. Special attention should be paid to casual staff hired just for that function.

iedtruck

Photo by courtesy of C-52 of 3/2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team
see: http://www.army.mil/-news/2008/06/06/9708-general-lee-rides-again/

Undercar Booby-trap (UVB)

This device is a favorite weapon of Irish terrorist’s groups. The device is placed in a container such as an empty video case or a Tupperware container and attached to the vehicle using magnets. The usual method for triggering the device is by using a tilt or vibration sensitive switch. The UVB enables the terrorists to attack selective targets. There is a risk of discovery involved when placing this device as access to the targets vehicle is needed. If the bomber manages to plant the device, it will kill and maim the occupants of the car if it is not discovered.

Defense against UVB The best defense against the UVB is to deny the bomber access to the vehicle. If the vehicle is secured in a garage, the entrance and driveway to the garage need to be physically checked before the vehicle is moved. There could be a device attached to the door of the garage or a mine in the driveway. If the vehicle has to be left unattended, then on return the vehicle and the surrounding area needs to be searched. Searching a vehicle for IEDs is an important skill and needs to be practiced regularly.

Car and lorry bombs

Car and lorry bombs enable the terrorist to conceal and move large devices. The car bomb can be used against individual or indiscriminate area targets. The use of the car bomb is very common and over the past few years, this type of device has been used in London, New York and Paris. All it takes is for someone to drive the vehicle to the target and leave it to explode. Against an individual this device could be placed along a route or near an entrance to a building that is frequented by the target. The device can be triggered by remote control, command wire or, if the target is setting a pattern, by a timer. A method of delivering a device to a high security area is to use a suicide bomber or force someone to drive the vehicle with the device in it. The latter is a common tactic of Irish terrorists. It starts with the intended driver being kidnapped or having his home taken over. The driver is then informed that if they don’t drive to the device or to the target they and their family will be killed. If they drive the device, at least he has a chance of survival. The driver is then chained and locked into the vehicle with the device and he is told how long they have got to get to the target before the device explodes. The driver has little choice but to drive the device to the target and hope the security personnel has some bolt cutter on hand with which to cut him out of the car, before the device explodes.

carbomb

The car bomb can be used against individual or indiscriminate area targets.

Improvised mines

These devices can vary in size and be disguised as virtually as anything. Their triggering methods are only limited to the imagination and ability of the bomber. In Northern Ireland, large devices are usually placed in rural areas in culvert, under roads, or perhaps disguised as milk churns or in bales of hay. In urban areas, they can be placed in lampposts, rubbish bins or in vertical drain piping on the side of a building. To place a bomb into a drainpipe, the terrorist lowers the device into the drainpipe from the top and a command wire detonates the device. The command wire can go over the building or be laid in the guttering connected to a firing point out of the line of sight of the killing zone. In all such operations in Northern Ireland, the terrorists use youths as watchers. The child playing at the end of the street shouting to his friends could be telling the bomber you are in the kill zone.

Sleeper bombs

An IED can be placed in a position a month before it explodes. If it is known that at a certain time in the future you or your client will be attending an event, a function or staying in a hotel at a certain time, precautions need to be taken. In 1984 in Brighton, England, such a device killed five people in an IRA attempt to kill the then British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.

Defense against car bombs & mines

To beat the area car bomber, one has to vigilant and suspicious. If a vehicle looks suspicious, then get it checked out. Security forces have an advantage over private security personnel in being able to check out the background (whether it is stolen or rented) of a vehicle very quickly. So, if you are suspicious of a vehicle, call the authorities and let them check it out; if you are unwilling or unable to contact the authorities, then just avoid the vehicle. For private security personnel: when the car bomb or mine threat is directed at your client, then precautions need to be taken. If there are limited routes in and out of the client’s residence or office, then these routes need to be regularly physically checked. Any suspicious cars, recent digging or wires leading away from the road need to be checked out. When the client is traveling to and from work, the routes must be varied as much as possible. All trips should be kept secret until the last-minute and then be preceded by an advanced security team, which needs to arrive at the client destination with enough time to check out the area before the client arrives. When entering or exiting a building, different entrances/exits need to be used. If possible, use fire escapes and staff entrances. If the client is to stay in a hotel their room will need to be searched along with the adjoining rooms, if possible, and a check kept on anyone using the rooms. If the rooms are booked a while in advance, a check will need to be done on all building work and maintenance carried out in between the time of booking and the time of stay, as this work may have been used to cover the planting of a device.

HOW TO DEAL WITH AN IED INCIDENT

POLICE OR SECURITY FORCES SHOULD BE INFORMED AS SOON AS AN IED IS FOUND OR IF YOU HAVE GOOD REASON FOR EXPECTING AN OBJECT OR VEHICLE OF BEING AN IED. DISPOSAL AND DIFFUSION OF IEDS IS TO BE LEFT TO TRAINED PROFESSIONALS. DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS YOURSELF.

Everyone should know the basics for dealing with an IED incident. If you have a business in an area where there could possibly be and IED threat you will need to draw contingency plans for an IED incident. If you are traveling to a city where IED incidents occur, you need to know how things can develop and whether security forces know what they are doing or putting you and others at risk.

There are four steps when dealing with an IED:

  • Confirmation: Confirm, to the best of your ability, whether the object/vehicle is an IED, taking into account the following considerations: Are you under a threat from IEDs? Are the objects seemingly out-of-place? Are you in an area where terrorists are operational? Is there a funny smell around the object such as almonds, marzipan or petrol? This is where your threat assessment comes in. An unattended bag in an airport will arouse more suspicion then an unattended bag in a bar or restaurant but both could be just as dangerous or just as harmless. If all unattended bags in bars or other public places were reported as IEDs, there would be hundreds of false incidents every day but one just might be an IED. If you have good reason to suspect an object or vehicle, then check it. The police and security forces should be willing to help you, if you give them good reasons for your suspicions.
  • Cordon: Once a device has been confirmed, the area around it and roads leading to it needs to be cordoned off so no-one can access. It depends on the size and location of the device, as to how far away the cordon will be but a basic rule is that you should be out of line of sight of the device. This is because if you can see the device you can be hit by shrapnel or debris if it detonates. In the private security world, cordon preparations and duties would fall on the static/residential security teams etc. If an IED turns up at your residence, the RST, if you have security personnel, would have to deal with the initial cordon and clearing of the area. Cordon equipment needs to be on hand, such as cordon tape, torches, and maps of the area and communications equipment. Plans need to be made for the evacuation procedures and cordon points for the different types of device. All cordon and control point location need to be physically searched for booby traps before being set up, the basic search would be 10 meters around the position.
  • Clearing the area: People should be moved out of the blast area of the device; the blast area depends on the size and location of the device. In some cases, depending on the size of the device, it may be safer to leave people in buildings and under cover, rather than moving them into the open. It would make sense to assign a location in your building that could be used for this purpose, and internal room with no windows would be ideal. When evacuating people, a route should be taken that is out of line of sight of the device; if the device explodes when evacuating personnel, flying and falling glass is a big danger and needs to be considered when planning the evacuation route, as is the threat of secondary devices.
  • Controlling the incident: Control of all IED incidents should be handed over to authorities, as soon as possible. You need to brief the responding personnel as to where the device is, when it arrived, how it arrived, where your cordon positions are, whether there is anyone still within the cordoned area and where they are. You also need to pass on any relevant information of threats that have been made or suspicious incidents or people who have been in the area. Not only is this professional, but it could help apprehend the terrorists.

When a threat assessment reveals a threat from IEDs, a great deal of planning is needed. Whether you are a business owner, lone international traveler or a close protection team member, procedures need to be made for dealing with IEDs. Everyone in law enforcement, homeland security and the private security industry must have a basic knowledge of how IEDs work and the effects of an explosion but they don’t. These days basic search techniques and IED recognition is a necessity for all everyone, as IEDs are the most widely used terrorist weapon and will be for a long time to come.

TIMES SQUARE CAR BOMB, NEW YORK CITY, MAY 1ST 2010

suspecttimessquarebombplotinset-1

After reading what has already been written in this article you should be able to pick out quite a few mistakes in the New York Police Department (NYPD) handling of the 2010 car bomb incident in Times Square in the City of New York.

The vehicle that contained the explosives was a dark blue 1993 Nissan Pathfinder sport utility vehicle with dark tinted windows, it had been parked on a busy tourist-crowded street. People in the area noticed smoke drifting from vents near the back seat of the unoccupied vehicle, which was parked with its engine running and its hazard lights on. They also heard firecrackers going off inside.

A police officer approached the car and observed the smoke, canisters inside, and the smell of gunpowder. The vehicle was set ablaze, but did not detonate. Upon arrival, the bomb disposal team used a remote-controlled robotic device to break out a window of the vehicle, and explore its contents. The device’s ignition source malfunctioned and failed to detonate the main explosives. Had it detonated NYPD officials said the bomb would have cut the car in half, and “would have caused casualties, a significant fireball and would have sprayed shrapnel, and killed or wounded many people.

OK, the U.S. had been engaged in the war on terror for 9 years, so do the NYPD and other agencies not know how to deal properly with a car bomb incident? It amazed me when I saw the incident on the TV; they showed the bomb squad defusing the device with crowds nearby watching. Basic rule, you and your cordon positions must be out of line of site of the device, if you can see the device you can be hit by shrapnel etc. If the device had detonated there would have been many un-necessary casualties from the stupid cordon positions alone. The car bomb was described as a crude device, so was it not taken seriously? My first thought if I came across a crude and amateur explosive device would be, where is the real one, and that the crude device was nothing but bait to draw security forces into a trap. I strongly doubt the area and cordon positions were checked for secondary devices. In the TV coverage you could see that roads at either end of the road where the device was located were still open and cops were milling and sitting around relaxing, a suicide bomber could have driven right through the cordon and blown up the bomb squad, you can’t protect others if you can protect yourself! The NYPD’s handling of this incident can be classed as very negligent and how you should not deal with an IED incident!

If you are in an urban area and there is a car bomb incident you should initially find cover, get into a building and away from windows. If a device goes off the shock wave can break windows for few blocks around it. You don’t want to be on an open city street will glass falling on you from 50 stories up. When safe to evacuate the area use back allies and non-obvious routes and do not hang around to watch how things develop. This is because of the threat from secondary devices and because the first device may only be there to draw in crowds of onlookers or channel people into the main device.

If you are working in the center of a large city, like London or New York, or are working in the emerging markets, where bomb scares are not unusual, it

I have confidence that Americans can deal with short-term or regional/localized disasters. However, I stand with many of the Governments chosen experts who are for the large part gravely concerned about America’s current inability when it comes to dealing with large-scale, long-term disaster scenarios. As far as I can tell in my own research, about 5-million Americans have some form of disaster preparedness plans and provisions in place. Of course, this leaves more than 98% of the population unprepared, and therein is the vulnerability and problem.

One of the more important questions

How do we take care of our first-aid and health needs during and after a long-term disaster when doctors will be scattered and largely inaccessible and hospitals and clinics are no longer operating? Clearly, as individuals, we may need to shoulder most of the burden ourselves, and it will be a new experience for most people. It seems logical that most prudent Preppers will have some basic first aid training and supplies, including various medications to deal with a host of health issues in the near-term. But what about the long-term?

Additionally, some Preppers (along with many others) are catching on to the adverse side effects of many ‘big-pharma’ drugs and medical preparations; in a disaster, who can you call when you have a side-effect? And coupled with that, the limited supplies and shelf-life of many of the ‘big-pharma’ drugs and preparations during a long-term event, should give any thinking person some cause for concern. Should a prudent person be learning about alternative solutions now, as opposed to later, possibly when it may be too late?

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Acupuncture has been practiced for centuries.

So to avoid being caught in a medical-care vacuum, many people today are considering and learning about using ‘alternative’ or naturopathic medicine. This gives rise to certain important questions:

Are naturopathic methods and medicines effective and safe? Are there alternative substitutes for some (all?) of the drugs and medicines that under normal circumstances could be bought at a pharmacy? And; even in good times, should I be using ‘big pharma’ drugs and preparations?

I am not a medical doctor or a pharmacist so I cannot advise anyone as to what they should do; I can only recount what I have seen or know from personal experience. And probably like you, I have to rely on other qualified experts in these important health considerations. And from my research, it seems that there is a growing trend towards naturopathic cures and medicines among informed consumers around the world.

Naturopathic Medicine

It is a scientific fact that; ‘Naturopaths’ have been safely and effectively treating and curing people’s medical and health problems for hundreds of years. As in any profession, including that of modern western medicine and certified medical doctors, there are a few bad practitioners among the good ones. And so it is illogical to paint everyone with the same brush. ‘Big-pharma’ drives the medical industry in the U.S. and in some other countries. And since they essentially control the very profitable centers of western medicine and drugs, they are quick to denounce any curative paradigm that takes any profit from them, regardless of the efficacy of any paradigm.

We saw examples of this behavior in the early days of acupuncture and naturopathic medicine here in the U.S., both of which disciplines have finally won acceptance within western medicine. In order words; it’s plain economic logic that dictates as follows: If a large corporation is in the multi-billion dollar business of making and selling a treatment for cancer, for instance, then why would they embrace a cure or treatment for cancer that is nearly free, and which would eliminate the need for their product? Clearly, in this example, any such company would want to run a stake through the heart of any person or company that had any such cure or treatment.

As it is said, never get between a dog and its bone unless you want to get bit!

In reality, there are many low cost (or nearly free) cures and treatments for a host of medical and health issues.

Acupuncture

The practice of acupuncture as a healing art is at least 2,000 years old. Generally speaking many naturopaths today employ a ‘holistic’ approach to treating their patients and utilize a range of therapies. Acupuncture has proven valuable to the holistic approach to treating patients with a host of conditions. I am personally aware of the benefits that are provided by acupuncture, which among many, includes measurable pain-relief among other benefits. Acupuncture is painless contrary to what some people may believe (I have had acupuncture myself, and you cannot feel the needles when they are inserted or removed). Acupuncture has been so successful that the Air Force began teaching “Battlefield Acupuncture” to physicians deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan in early 2009. “Battlefield Acupuncture” can relieve severe pain lasting several days. More about ‘Battlefield Acupuncture’ here and more about Acupuncture here

Essential Oils

Even though the healing powers of essential oils have been well known among healers for thousands of years, they have nonetheless sprung unto the medical scene here in America as if they were just discovered. Many of us recall that two of the ‘wise men’ who visited the birthplace of Christ brought as gifts; the oils Myrrh and Frankincense (aka: ‘Boswellia’), which were considered more valuable than gold in those days due to their healing properties. Today we now see a resurgence of the use of the essential oils, including in the treatment of cancer and other diseases at prominent hospitals around the country.

Related: Doomsday Book Of Medicine

Here are just a few of many examples:

Cancer:

  1. Boswellia
  2. Frankincense oil derived from Boswellia carteri induces bladder tumor cell specific cytotoxicity – ecancernews
  3. Frankincense & Cancer – Livestrong
  4. Frankincense Oil Kills Bladder Cancer Cells – Natural News

Other Conditions & Illnesses:

  1. The efficacy of the application of essential oils for the prevention of acute respiratory diseases in organized groups of children
  2. Aromatherapy Science– Tambela
  3. Efficacy of plant products against herpetic infections
  4. Aromatherapy and Diabetes – American Diabetes Association
  5. Renaissance of antimicrobial essential oils as a promising force to fight hospital-acquired infections.

Here is the PubMed Abstract (from link #5 above) regarding the efficacy of some essential oils against various infections in hospital tests:

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“Hospital-acquired infections and antibiotic-resistant bacteria continue to be major health concerns worldwide. Particularly problematic is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and its ability to cause severe soft tissue, bone or implant infections. First used by the Australian Aborigines, Tea tree oil and Eucalyptus oil (and several other essential oils) have each demonstrated promising efficacy against several bacteria and have been used clinically against multi-resistant strains. Several common and hospital-acquired bacterial and yeast isolates (6 Staphylococcus strains including MRSA, 4 Streptococcus strains and 3 Candida strains including Candida krusei) were tested for their susceptibility for Eucalyptus, Tea tree, Thyme white, Lavender, Lemon, Lemongrass, Cinnamon, Grapefruit, Clove Bud, Sandalwood, Peppermint, Kunzea and Sage oil with the agar diffusion test. Olive oil, Paraffin oil, Ethanol (70%), Povidone iodine, Chlorhexidine and hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)) served as controls. Large prevailing effective zones of inhibition were observed for Thyme white, Lemon, Lemongrass and Cinnamon oil. The other oils also showed considerable efficacy. Remarkably, almost all tested oils demonstrated efficacy against hospital-acquired isolates and reference strains, whereas Olive and Paraffin oil from the control group produced no inhibition. As proven in vitro, essential oils represent a cheap and effective antiseptic topical treatment option even for antibiotic-resistant strains as MRSA and antimycotic-resistant Candida species.”- PubMed Abstract

how-to-use-essential-oils

Essential Oils

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Pure essential oils are concentrated and compact, and can be easily stored (long term, with care) and are very reasonably priced compared to some of their ‘Big-Pharma’ counter-parts, some of which may require the additional cost of a doctor’s visit to obtain a prescription.

Given the benefits and value proposition that essential oils present for preppers and those living ‘off-grid’, I recommend that everyone keep a small kit of essential oils as a backup to a traditional medical/first aid kit.

I have to confess that I am biased when it comes to essential oils since I have been using doTerra brand oils in my own life, as does my wife, who was introduced to doTerra essential oils by a family member who is a critical care RN. Not all essential oils are created equal; many oils have varying levels of contaminants or impurities that can affect how well an essential oil will work, and in worst cases, the contaminants may render the oil toxic.

As some of my readers are aware, I have a background in science (chemistry and physics). This background allows me to critically consider the methods that doTerra uses to purify and then test their essential oils in order to provide consumers with 100% pure ‘certified pure therapeutic grade’ essential oils. doTerra is the worldwide leader in this field.

There are many ways to learn more about the various essential oils and how they can be used to treat and cure a host of conditions, ranging from treating a child’s fever using peppermint oil, to treating an ear infection using lavender and melaleuca oils.

I have confidence that Americans can deal with short-term or regional/localized disasters. However, I stand with many of the Governments chosen experts who are for the large part gravely concerned

When you are assembling your Bug Out bag, most people begin with scouring the internet looking for ideas. If you are like me, this will invariably lead to a long list of supplies for your bug out bag that sound great, but weigh a ton and have very specific uses that you may not encounter. What I wanted to do was create a simple bug out bag checklist you can use to get a jump-start at building your own bug out bag that has taken into consideration a few of the lessons I already learned when I did this myself.  This bug out bag checklist is also available as a downloadable PDF so that you can print this out and keep it with you as you build your own bag.

What is a Bug Out Bag?

Let’s start out with the obvious and cover what a bug out bag is. Actually, it might be easier to say what a Bug Out Bag is not before we get too deep. A bug out bag is not an RV. This is not your luggage for a two-week vacation in Cancun. Your bug out bag is not something to replace your tool shed and you will not be able to carry everything you want on your back. If you plan to walk to some remote retreat location with everything you need to live for two years on your bag, you are sadly mistaken.

A bug out bag contains the essentials you need to live if you are forced to leave your location. This bag will have everything you need plus some additional supplies, but careful thought and consideration should be given to what you are putting in this bag. Why? Because you will have to carry all of this stuff and the more you add, the heavier it gets. I wrote a post a while back about weight considerations called “Is Your Bug Out Bag Going to Get you Killed?” and if you need more convincing about weight, maybe you should read that article first. For the rest of you I will assume that you want to carefully consider the supplies you need in this situation. For people like you I have created this simple list of Bug Out bag contents, a downloadable PDF and a little explanation for each.

The properly loaded Bug Out Bag should give you everything you need to live for 3 days at a minimum so that is the framework of this list. I won’t be packing two weeks’ worth of food in here and most of this list might be considered the bare necessities by some.

What do you need to know before you pack your bug out bag?

First of all, I like to ask the question of why I am bugging out in the first place. This helps me frame the purpose of use of my bug out bag a little, but not drastically. Like I said above, the Bug Out Bag or BOB is for saving your life. It will not and should not be thought of as the magic box with all you will ever need. The list of supplies we could put in here is enormous if you start from the perspective of thinking of everything you could possibly need in an SHTF scenario.

I believe that the items below should go in virtually every bug out bag that is assembled regardless of the reason you are Bugging Out in the first place. Will you pack different items if the economy has collapsed as opposed to a Hurricane? Probably, but the essential Bug out bag items will stay the same; you will just add to what we have contained here.

What Items do you need to put in your bug out bag?

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A good bug out bag will hold all of your gear and be tough enough to stand up to abuse. Comfort helps too…

Water

Water is essential to anyone’s survival so you must have a plan for carrying it, obtaining fresh water along the way and treating is so that you can drink it without catching a disease that will knock you on your butt at the worst possible time. If you don’t believe me, just think about the last time you were away from home and you got sick.

Water Bottle – I like Nalgene bottles because they carry a lot, but are very lightweight when empty and the opening fits at least one of the water filters I recommend, the MSR Miniworks EX Microfilter. You can’t boil water in a Nalgene Bottle though so you need options for that which we discuss in the Tools section.

Water Filter – There are two that I like. The first is the MSR Miniworks Microfilter that I mentioned above. The second filter that is great for your bug out bag is the Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System. Both will do an excellent job of converting water that you collect into drinkable water. What about UV pens or Water treatment tablets or chlorine? I don’t like the taste with treatment tablets or chlorine and I don’t want to depend on anything that needs batteries for my drinking water. Do you run the same risks with mechanical systems? Sure, but I am betting the filters above will last me long enough to keep me alive for a few days.

Extra Capacity – I like the regular Nalgene bottles, but to save trips to the creek, I also pack a backup water container in the Nalgene Wide Mouth Cantene (32-ounce). This allows me to fill up two bottles and that normally lasts me all day unless I am in extreme heat environments. This Nalgene canteen collapses down to virtually nothing so space or weight when it is empty isn’t an issue.

Food

OK, water is covered for the most part, now we move to the next most important survival item and that is food. This topic is simple, but everyone has their own idea of what surviving is. I have seem some people recommend cans of tuna, pop tarts and ramen noodles in your bug out bag. This will certainly work. You can also add dehydrated meals designed for camping too. I am focusing on two things when it comes to food in your bug out bag. The first is how long you can store it and the second is how simple is it to prepare/vs. nutritional value.

Tuna fish and Pop Tarts are simple, and don’t require any heating so they are a plus, but I don’t want tuna in a hot car all summer. I also don’t want to have to worry if they have gone bad but I think the biggest thing is that if you are running for your life with everything you need to survive strapped to your back you are going to need some serious calories.

For my bug out bag I like two options depending on where I have my bag stored. For warmer conditions like in the trunk of my car, I like Mainstay Emergency Food Rations. These really are emergency food bars and withstands Temperatures of -40° F to 300°F (-40°C to 149°C). It isn’t gourmet dining, but it will take the extremes of summer (unless you live on Mars) and give you a ton of calories.

The second (and preferred) option if I have my choice would be Mountain House Freeze Dried meals designed for camping. I get the pouches that feed two just in case and grab the highest calorie packs you can get. The Breakfast Skillet is excellent and at 680 calories will fill you up and give you much-needed energy for hiking with that pack. I think the Chilli Mac is even higher and also tastes great. You don’t need anything for these but a spoon and hot water. Just fill the bag up with the recommended amount, let it sit and dig in. You can pack 9 of these in your pack or 6 and those pop tarts.

Clothing & Shelter

Food and water, check. OK the last leg of the survival pyramid is shelter and in this we will count clothing as well as something to keep the elements off you.

Clothes – This is simple, or it should be. You want a good pair of long pants, long sleeve shirt, change of underwear and a spare pair of socks. What if it is hot? Shorts are nice, but not necessary because you are already living without the convenience of air conditioning most likely so you will already be sweating. Why long pants? Because they will provide more protection for your legs. Same with the shirt and in the warm weather, you don’t need to get a sunburn.  What if it is cold? You will be wearing warmer clothes anyway so this should already be on your person and not in a pack. Layers is the best way to go about clothing but remember, this is just to save your life. You don’t need to be pretty and you won’t die if you have to wear the same pants for two days in a row. It’s the same with underwear.

I would also add some rain protection in either a rain coat or poncho.

I wouldn’t leave the house without sturdy shoes I can walk for a long time in and you should pack appropriate headgear for the season too. In the winter I like a beanie to keep my head warm, but again I will most likely be wearing this and won’t have it in the pack. Gloves are also a nice addition and I have something that will keep my hands warm in the winter, but something designed for work regardless.  A good pair of leather gloves should be added as well to protect your hands.

Rain fly’s are lightweight options to a full size tent.

Shelter – This is just to keep the elements off you and won’t replace a warm and toasty house. Shelter can go from the extremes of a tent to the simple tarp. Not that a tent is extreme, but tents add a good bit of weight, take time to set up and tear down and are really noticeable from a distance normally. For camping I take a tent, but for Bugging out I would consider a tarp like the ENO Pro Fly Rain Tarp instead of a full tent. Tarps are much lighter and give you protection from the elements much like a tent. You won’t be able to keep out bugs though – again, this is about life saving, not the ultimate in comfort.

Sleeping bags are another weight consideration that take up a good bit of space. My tent and sleeping bag are easily the heaviest and largest items in my regular backpack for camping. You can buy very lightweight and compact sleeping bags, but expect to pay at least $400 to save the weight and room in your pack for all the other goodies you need. In the theme of survival again, I would recommend a Adventure Medical Kits SOL Emergency Bivvy instead of a sleeping bag. These are cheaper than a regular bag at around $15, fit in the palm of your hand and only weigh 4 ounces.

Fire & Light

For fire you can get tricky or keep it safe. For me, I recommend several good Bic disposable lighters stored in a waterproof bag. Easy and virtually foolproof. Additionally, I carry a Swedish Firesteel as a back up. You can also pack all sorts of other implements but chances are that if you can’t start a fire with a lighter or a firesteel you won’t be able to start a fire anyway.

For lighting I recommend headlamps for everyone. This is a perfect hands free option to light your way that is great even for kids. I personally have Petzl E91 Tikkina 2 Headlamps for every member of my family. They are bright enough for any task, sit on your head and are adjustable. Plus, they take regular AAA batteries and not some weird off nomenclature or rechargeable batteries that some of the higher end headlamps do. Rechargeable is a great idea as long as it is in a common size that has multiple uses.

Self Defense

Baofeng – Excellent starter Ham Radio for disaster communications.

The items above should be able to keep you alive if you are out in the elements by yourself. If you are out in the elements with other people, you should consider something for self-defense. The choice of implements for protection vary by the situation you are in and what you could be faced with. I have guns so that is my go-to option for self-defense. If the reason I was bugging out was total bedlam, anarchy I would take a rifle and a pistol. If this was a temporary bug out due to a weather event or something that I thought was temporary I might only take a concealed pistol. Regardless of what the situation is, you will need something for your self-defense. I’ll leave the choice up to you.

Communications

The communications options are limited to the scenario you are in. If we have a minor event where you can reasonably expect life to return to normal sometime, a spare cell phone battery might be all you need or a way to charge the phone you have. If cell service is down your only real option would be walkie talkies which have a very limited range or HAM radios. I recommend carrying a hand-held HAM radio capable of broadcasting and receiving on UHF and VHF and a dual band antenna that can give you more range.

For the radio I recommend the Baofeng UV-5RA because they are solidly built, offer any feature you can reasonably need for grid down communications and only cost around $35. You just can’t beat that! Pair this radio up with a Slim Jim antenna and 50 feet of coax cable and lastly an adapter connector and you can easily talk or listen to anyone broadcasting 50 to 100 miles depending on where you are. Just loop some paracord around the antenna, throw that up into a tree and you are all set. You have to learn how to use this equipment, but it is in my opinion the single best Bug Out Bag option for communicating if the grid goes down.

Tools

The tools I consider bringing taking into account weight is a multi-tool like a Leatherman, a good pocket knife like a Tenacious G10 from Spyderco and a larger multi purpose knife like a Gerber LMF II. What about bolt cutters, pry bars and chain saws? I don’t think those are good for a bug out bag. Should you have them at home? Sure, but the chances you will need something like that are slim. What if the SHTF you ask and I have to break into a warehouse for shelter? I hear you, but I simply don’t think it is worth the weight.

The Multi-tool will meet most of your needs for fine tools with pliers, small saw and a wrench. If you plan on rebuilding an engine with it though…

Other tools are something to cook/boil water with a good first aid kit and some paracord.

For boiling water and cooking I recommend a JetBoil Flash. The whole kit and fuel fits nicely in one small, relatively lightweight container. With this you can boil water for your freeze-dried food or to disinfect it. It’s also really good for coffee too.

Adventure Medical Kits make a really decent ultralight first aid kit. This won’t allow you to perform surgery in the woods or remove a bullet but cover most of the bases. I would augment one of these per bag with a bag of Quick Clot and some larger pressure dressing bandages. Tampons and Maxi pads are also great blood stoppers… obviously.

Hygiene

I know some people throw the entire medicine cabinet in their bug out bags, but again I am only thinking about survival not going to the prom so the basics –  bar of soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, chap-stick, floss, hand sanitizer. What about women? I have added a couple of extra niceties to my wife’s BOB only because I know that will improve her outlook should we be forced to bug out. Your mileage may vary.

Miscellaneous

For miscellaneous I would add some duct tape which you can wrap around your water bottles, lighters or just about anything else, bandannas which have a thousand uses and spare batteries for any gear that requires them. What about important documents? I am still on the fence about that but I plan on writing about that later. I just don’t see an Ellis Island type of situation happening where you need to show your birth certificate, but anything is possible. I can see having ID with your current address to prove where you live.

I know some of you will ask, what about the bag? Great question, but the bag is going to depend on what you carry. I would gather your bag’s contents first and then select the bag based upon what you plan on carrying.

When you are assembling your Bug Out bag, most people begin with scouring the internet looking for ideas. If you are like me, this will invariably lead to a long

 

Once you have selected and purchased a handgun you then need to learn how to shoot it accurately. If you have never used a handgun before, go and get some training in defensive shooting techniques. Some people, usually men, who have limited firearms experience but believe they, know everything about firearms will not undergo training. This is an ego problem and a sign of insecurity, which can end with innocent people getting hurt. Many people do not realize that the handgun techniques you see on the TV and at the movies do not work in the real world. You cannot learn how to use firearms by reading a manual or sitting down watching DVD’s or videos on YouTube, you have to go and practice. Many former and serving law enforcement and military personnel continuously seek and undergo further firearms training, because they are professional enough to know they can always learn something new and improve their skills. Firearms skills must be learned properly and then regularly practiced.

There are just as many people in the firearms training business that claim that their system is the best, just as there are self-proclaimed experts in the world of the martial arts or other fields. You can argue tactics all day and you will still get nowhere. You must find a system that works for you and learn it from an instructor who has both a good reputation and verifiable real world experience. The best systems are simple and not overly technical. If you are ever unfortunate enough to have to use your handgun in self-defense you want to be concerned about getting rounds into the bad guy, not having to thinking if you grip is correct and if your feet are in the right place.

There are many people confusing competition shooting techniques that are developed for sports and hobbies as realistic tactical training. Big difference number one, on the streets the bad guys don’t care about the rules and will be shooting back. I have had students come through my courses that have been taught and trust techniques that look cool and work in an air-conditioned shooting range with no stress but have completely no relevance in the real world. On the street, fancy techniques that overly stress safety will get you killed and hopefully only you and not those you’re possibly protecting.

You need to realistically think about how you would handle being in a hostile situation, not on a comfortable shooting range, but being attacked by criminals in some dark parking lot or your home in the early hours of the morning when there will be no one to help you. The police, if you’re lucky, maybe, there in 15 minutes if you are able to contact them; think about what the criminals can do to you and your family in those 15 minutes. Visualize this situation and determine how you would genuinely feel and determine how you would react in the seconds you may be lucky to have to reverse the situation on the criminals. There was a saying I picked up in South Africa in 94 and agree with to this day “The police are just there to pick up the bodies”. Most police like to tell you they are your protectors but the reality is, if you’re involved in a hostile situation they will not be rushing into save you, they will be thinking about their own skin. They are happy to do the after incident paperwork and to arrest you, if you live, if it means brownie points for them or, in a lot of places, an opportunity to extort money from you.

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Firearms skills must be learned properly and then regularly practiced.

The Fundamentals of Defensive Shooting

The subjects that should be included in your tactical training are defensive shooting both left and right-handed, drawing from concealed carry, using different fire positions and use of cover. If you are going to work with or carry a firearm, you should undertake stress scenario training. This should include dry and live fire contact drills, in different environments, i.e. in a vehicle, in a street, in a restaurant and so forth. Proper training, handgun maintenance, carry technique/firearm access, aiming, grip/trigger pull and shot placement are the basic factors in defensive shooting.

  • Training/firearms competence: You must be able to use your weapons safely and competently before you consider using it for defensive purposes. If you do not know how to use your weapon properly you are more of a danger to yourself and your love ones than the bad guys. Take the time to learn your weapon and how to use it!
  • Handgun maintenance: Your handgun needs to be functional and in a good clean condition. You should have good ammunition that is in a good condition. Modern ammunition can function reliably for several years being regularly carried as long as it does not get excessively damp. But I tell my students to change their carry ammo for new rounds every six months or so, just to minimize the risks of a misfire. You need to keep your handgun clean, oiled and check it regularly. If your handgun or ammunition does not work, then everything else is a waste of time.
  • Carry technique/firearm access: You need to be able to get to your handgun when you need it. You may have the cleanest $1500.00 .45 caliber handgun and be an excellent shot but this is no good if you cannot get to your handgun when you need it. I have dealt with several clients who have had handguns close to them during incidents but were unable to get to them. You must be able to get to and deploy your weapons weak and strong handed, if you can’t, again everything else is a waste of time!
  • Grip: You must have a good grip on the weapon, as I have said before, having a good grip is one of the fundamentals of pistol shooting. This is where you must practice drawing your weapon and instinctively getting the right grip, the only way to you can achieve this is by repeatedly drawing and holstering your weapon; dry training. Please ensure your weapon is unloaded before you practice any dry drills.
  • Aim: Once the weapon is deployed you need to stabilize and get it on target as quickly as possible. The chances are in a hostile situation you won’t be able to get into a formal shooting stance but you still need to deliver accurate fire on your target whatever position you are in. These three aiming techniques all have a place in tactical shooting.
  • Slow, aimed fire. This is the most accurate and is where you apply the marksmanship principles. It involves getting a steady, properly aligned sight picture and slowly squeezing accurate shots. It is normally used for shots over 20 yards/meter or when you need precise accuracy. In tactical situations you should be behind cover or in a prone position when taking slow aimed shots, support the handgun where possible. With this technique you should be able to deliver accurate shots out to 100 + yards/meters with practice.
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If you do not know how to use your weapon properly you are more of a danger to yourself and your love ones than the bad guys.

  • Rapid aimed fire. For this technique you look down the top of the handgun and get a quick sight picture and shoot. This can be used against targets out to 20 yards/meters or further with practice, it’s accurate and fast. As I have previously stated whenever I use the sights I close the opposite eye to the hand the pistol is in, the same applies with this technique. Again in a tactical situation it would be best to use this technique from behind cover.
  • Instinctive fire. This technique is can be used out to 10 yards/meter or more where there is no time to use the weapons sights. Forget about the sights, focuses on the target and point the handgun directly where you want the bullets to go and squeeze the trigger. This technique is simple and fast but needs practice, will talk about it more in the next chapter. At distances up to 10 yards/meters you want to be able to fire five quick shots accurately into a person, forget double tapping. At distances up to 5 yards/meters with say a 9mm handgun, most people should be able to rapid fire multiple rounds accurately into a target with a little practice using proper techniques. It all depends on them having a good grip on the weapon and a good trigger pull.
  • Trigger Pull: You should practice pulling the trigger on your handgun until you can do so smoothly. One trick (make sure your handgun is unloaded) is to balance an empty bullet case on the top of your handgun, near the front sight and practice dry firing, the aim is you to keep the case there for as many trigger pulls as possible. If that is too easy try a coin balanced on your front sight.  You want to fire a minimum of five quick shots into a person when in hostile situations at close quarters. You should keep putting rounds into the criminal or terrorist until they no longer pose a threat.
  • Shot Placement:  In a hostile shooting incident, the criminal or terrorist must be incapacitated immediately, a wounded the criminal or terrorist can still be very dangerous. Shot placement is everything and takes priority over caliber. A shot to the brain with a .22 will drop someone where as a .45 hollow point to the stomach may kill someone in the long run but short-term the bad guy you just shot can still fight and shoot you. You need to train as you intend to fight, that’s old knowledge but it makes me laugh on most gun ranges to see people, civilians and law enforcement shooting center of mass on silhouette targets. What vital organs or bones are at your center of mass? None! The only reason I see for people being told to shoot center of mass is so they can pass qualifications with minimum effort and training. You need to be training to hit vital organs or bones, if not then you are going to be surprised when the bad guy you have just shot keeps shooting back at you.
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You need to be training to hit vital organs or bones, if not then you are going to be surprised when the bad guy you have just shot keeps shooting back at you.

  • The best shot placement that guarantees nearly 100% immediate incapacitation of the target is to the brain. Shots should be below the middle of the forehead, and above the upper lip or to the side of the head above the center of ear from the cheekbones back. I have heard many people say the head is too small of a target area; well it is if you’re trying to get poorly trained personnel to pass security or law enforcement shooting qualifications. But for people who want to take the time and train properly head shots can be achieved instinctively at close quarters in a short period of time. One thing that annoys me with society in general is that these days all standards are being set to the lowest level, just because one person is incompetent it does not mean everyone is, but we can’t hurt the feelings of the incompetent ones can we… I live in a different world and understand that as far as violent situations are concerned you need to be at the highest standard and end the situation as quickly as possible. Five rapid rounds from a trained shooter towards the head of a bad guy at conversational range will end the conversation very quickly. Also, these days with body armor being freely available and the fact the criminals or terrorists may be on narcotics head-shots should be your first target area of choice.
  • The center of the upper chest, just below the neck is also a good target area. Shots that hit the lungs can be fatal but may take time to drop a target, shots the heart will kill a target instantly. I tell my students that aiming just below the neck ensures that if their shots are low or high they are still hitting vital areas on the target. Another reason for mixing my ammunition between HP’s and FMJ rounds is because I want penetration; if a bullet hits a target’s spine they are instantly paralyzed. As I’ve said shots to the lungs can be fatal but can take time to drop a target. During this time, the criminal or terrorist can still return effective fire, this is again why I tell people fire a minimum of five rounds and you need to be aggressive. If a criminal is returning fire the chances are their arms and weapon will be in front of their chest, so we need the multiple shots and ammunition that will penetrate to ensure hits on the vital areas. This area of the body may also be covered by heavy clothing, objects such as cell phones that may deflect or prevent a bullets penetration. Also, if the criminal is wearing a bullet-proof vest this can prevent rounds hitting the vital areas, be aggressive and keep shooting until the target is down. If shooting at moving targets or targets at distances over 10 yards/meters or if you know you cannot get the head shot, you should shoot for upper chest.
  • Shots to the stomach or lower can kill someone but are rarely effective in dropping a target immediately, this is again where I would say FMJ ammo could be effective for penetrating to the spine or breaking the pelvis.

Remember!

  • Speed and accuracy are your main concern. Get your weapon out and get multiple and accurate rounds into the target as quickly as possible
  • Always fully load your weapon; magazine to be fully loaded and put a round in the chamber where legal to do so. I am currently writing this in Nigeria and in one incident here recently, three police officers were killed in what we believe to be an attempted hit on someone they were escorting. They approached a car that was blocking the road and their client’s vehicle, as they got close a criminal opened up on them with an AK-47, all 3 died at the scene. They were carrying AK’s also but with the safety catches on and no rounds in the chambers, they did not stand a chance.
  • Always know what is beyond your target. A dead bystander means manslaughter if not murder charge.  Go for headshots at close quarters; otherwise go for the upper chest area/base of the neck.
  • In the US, the majority of police officers killed in shooting incidents are shot at conversational range, at distances of up to 10 feet. Over 50% are shot at distances under 5 feet. At these distances there is no need to use the weapons sights, be aggressive point and shoot!
  • Two out of every three police officers killed in the US are shot at night or in low-light areas. If you can point shoot these is no need to worry about night sights and lasers etc. as you are not using the sights anyway. We will talk later about the use of flashlights/torches.
  • The most common handgun calibers used against American police officers are 9-millimeter and .38. These two calibers accounted for 50 percent of the handgun deaths. In most places in the world you will find 9mm and .38 caliber weapons, they have been around for nearly 100 years and I expect will be around for a long time to come.
  • Shooting incidents are over in seconds, you will not have time to chamber a round, get into a range stance, check breathing and use the sights on your weapon.  You should keep a round in the chamber, have access to the handgun, be aggressive and get rounds into the targets vital areas of the target as quickly as possible.
  • Criminals or terrorists usually operate in gangs so, in time train for engaging multiple targets.
  • Terrorists and criminals like guns, they train in police and military techniques using manuals and videos that are freely available on the commercial market. It’s up to you to train harder and be at a more professional level than they are.
  • Always be aware of your environment, you want spot any potential problems and avoid them or at least be ready. If it gets to the point where the criminal has set you up and has a weapon on you, you’re going to have problems. Best to always try to avoid the problems and confrontations!

  Once you have selected and purchased a handgun you then need to learn how to shoot it accurately. If you have never used a handgun before, go and get some

Disaster may strike

What do climate change, an asteroid attack, and a pathogenic pandemic have in common? Aside from each having it’s place within at least one dooms day movie, they are also the first three on a list of nine ways the world could actually end provided by CBN. The list goes on to include fatal fungus, an engineered disease, nuclear war, a robot takeover, and overpopulation. While all of these events are possibilities, many scientists believe that number nine on the list, a snowball effect, is most plausible. If two or three of these things happen in accordance with each other, the effects would be devastating. And that is why being prepared is of the utmost importance.

A Basic Bug Out Bag

In the event of any of these situations perhaps the most important item you will want to have with you is a Bug Out Bag. In case you don’t know what this is, think of it as a large backpack full of everything you might possibly need in a survival situation. While what you pack depends entirely on your own personal needs, there are some essentials that should be in every bag.

  • food and water
  • shelter
  • bedding
  • a heat source
  • personal hygiene essentials
  • survival and self defense tools
  • a communication devise
  • multiple light sources
  • traveling essentials
  • a first aid kit

Bug Out Bag Academy provides a list of 75 items fitting into these categories that can help in building a basic bag; however there is one area where this list is lacking, and that is in medicinal supplies. Having weapons, shelter and food won’t do you much good if you get sick and have no way to treat illness. While there are many modern medicines that can be of aid, there are also ancient Chinese Herbal remedies that can come in handy.

A Brief History of Chinese Medicine

The Chinese began studying natural remedies, as early as the 2 century B.C.E. and by the 12th century A.D. they were experts in everything from acupuncture to herbology. As the years have gone by Chinese scholars have continued to improve upon these ancient methods, bringing us what is today known as Chinese Medicine. This time-tested practice is perfect for a dooms day situation because it focuses on using natural ingredients that can be more easily obtained than western medicine should disaster strike. According to Final Prepper there are seven essential Chinese remedies you should include in your doomsday first aid kit.

Seven Chinese Remedies

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Giant Hyssop

Giant Hyssop – Commonly found in pill form, this herb is a fantastic remedy for any stomach ailment. It can help relieve diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In some cases it has also been used to treat headaches and heat stroke.

White and Red Flower Oils – These two herbal concoctions are useful in soothing a wide range of aches and pains. White flower oil is traditional seen in a balm form, made up of wintergreen, eucalyptus, menthol, peppermint, camphor, and lavender. Its soothing smell helps relieve headache pain and clear the sinuses. Red flower oil consists of menthol and camphor oils and can help ease the pain of arthritis, sore muscles, and seasonal aches and pains.

Jujube Seeds – These seeds come from the delectable jujube fruit, a historically valuable medicinal source as well as a loved part of traditional Chinese cuisine. They can be purchased at any store that specializes in traditional Chinese remedies. When ground into a fine powder over a heat source they are a fantastic cure for insomnia. Already prepared powder can be purchased as well.

Loquat Syrup – This herbal remedy comes in the form of a thick ointment made up of an array of ingredients including apricot seed extract, loquat leaf, licorice root, honey, and white olives. It is commonly used to sooth a sore throat resulting from a cough, cold, or bronchitis. This remedy is especially valuable because it is considered to be safe for children.

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Yunnan Baiyao

Ching Wan Hung – This red ointment is made of a variety of herbs, including myrrh, lobelia, frankincense, dong quai, quince fruit, beeswax, and sesame oil. It is commonly used to treat skin irritation resulting from first, second, and third degree burns, rashes, bedsores, poison ivy, poison oak, and sunburns. Its distinctive color can stain clothing, so it is important to keep the treated area covered with gauze or some other barrier that is changed daily.

Yunnan Baiyao – Sometimes known as Yunnan paiyao, this powdered herbal combination is fantastic to help stop bleeding and encourage immediate healing. It can also be combined with a small amount of alcohol to treat bruises. The various companies that make this remedy guard their recipes faithfully, however this concoction is known to contain Chinese yam and ginseng.

These seven basic herbal remedies store longer than modern medicine, and are often easier to come by than their western counterparts. They can all be ordered through Solstice Medicine Company along with many other traditional Chinese supplements, remedies and medicines. By including them in your But Out Bag you will ensure that you are prepared for most any first aid situations that may arise.

Disaster may strike What do climate change, an asteroid attack, and a pathogenic pandemic have in common? Aside from each having it’s place within at least one dooms day movie, they

To be truly prepared for any type of disaster requires a good bit more effort than simply reading blogs, watching videos and accumulating supplies although I don’t discount at all those methods or preparation. The background investigation you do doesn’t all have to correlate specifically to your plan and in my experience so much of what I have researched, while not something I proactively work on, I feel it gives me perspective and as such contributes in some way to my overall prepping efforts. But at some point it helps to put your emergency response plan down on paper. When you start looking at the different aspects that could affect your life, it helps to give this process a little more structure and that is what I want to discuss today.

Many people come to the Final Prepper after a crisis has hit the news. Some have been prompted by an inner urging that motivates them to research preparedness as a way to mitigate tragedy. The reasons for wanting to prepare are different for each person, but there are a lot of common situations we can find ourselves in that require action. Action is better with training and training is born out of a plan for success. What could an emergency response plan for your family look like and where would you start prepping?

Emergency Response Plan First Step

Conduct a risk assessment

If you don’t know where to start, I would suggest you sit down and write down the risks you feel could impact your family in some way. Many of the next steps will fall in line after you know what you are prepping for.

  • Hazard Identification – Do you live in a high-rise in a major metropolitan city or at the edge of a natural forest? Each of us has hazards that perhaps other people don’t need to worry about. What specific hazards could impact you directly where you live? Some common hazards you could be concerned about could be Fire, Hazardous spills from railroad or chemical plants nearby, Terrorism, pandemic, utility outages, cyber-attack. Write down any situation you feel you should be prepared for.
  • Vulnerability Assessment – Understanding the risks above, who or what could be at risk if one or more of those hazards actually happened to you. There are people usually, maybe your own property, the larger hazards will/could impact infrastructure and supply chains. Some hazards can pollute the environment to the point where moving either temporarily or permanently may be necessary.
  • Impact Analysis – Looking at the vulnerabilities above in light of the hazards, you start drilling into what prepping needs you should focus on. There could be injuries, property damage, loss of business income or other financial loss, environmental contamination or worse.

I find that it helps some people to write down specific lists for each of the items above because that should start directing your efforts. You can almost look at the impacts and work backwards. I know that injuries are very possible in almost any hazard I identified above so medical preparation is a given. I also know that some of the risks above highlight other security needs so I can begin planning for what we need to take care of before any emergency.

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Having your risk assessment done should help you build your own preparedness plan. In my case this illuminated needs for many areas:

The list above is large categories and each can be split into multiple sub-categories beneath those levels but it is a start. In many cases I was able to inventory the prepping supplies identified above that already existed in some capacity and use that to determine what was left to take care of/acquire/learn.

So that gets you to a point where you are thinking about a broad spectrum of things that could need addressing by you and what your plan of action may be. It is a start.

But then an actual emergency does happen.

Putting your emergency response plan into action

This could be after you have been prepping for years or before you have bought the first bag of beans or case of bottled water. Once the emergency has occurred, you have to put your emergency response plan into action. Hopefully you have considered the following areas below before you are forced to act.

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The minutes directly before or after a disaster will afford you with a few choices and the time you have to decide can vary greatly. For the immediate safety of your group, you are going to need to figure out quickly which path to safety you need to follow.

  • EvacuationGetting the heck out of dodge may be the best thing you can do but that is easier said than done because there are so many variables. What methods do you have for evacuation? Are you able to use vehicles or are you forced to walk? Which direction are you heading and do you have a destination that you have already planned? How long will the evacuation take and do you have the rest of the city to contend with? Many of us plan to bug out but that isn’t always the best or most appropriate thing to do in all situations.
  • Sheltering – Violent storms like tornadoes or hurricanes could force you to community shelters. Do you know where these are located in your city? Do you have go bags prepared and are ready to go in a moment’s notice to make it to the shelter? Do you have family members that may be on another side of town and will need to meet you at the shelter?
  • Shelter-In-Place – In a widespread pandemic, it may be necessary to shelter in place and avoid contact with contagious individuals until the virus has run it’s course. Do you have the supplies to lock your home down and prevent contamination? Do you have the tools needed to make your own quarantine room if someone comes down with the infection? Do you have enough food and water to last the duration of the quarantine assuming that many utilities could go down as they are run by humans too who get sick or refuse to leave their homes.
  • Lockdown – Temporarily you may need to barricade yourself as in the case of an active shooter. I usually don’t recommend this approach unless you have the means to really secure the room you are in, but if you can prevent entry and need to wait out a violent situation, that may be called for. If you have no locks or no really good way to prevent someone intent on doing harm from entering, I prefer either Fight or Flight approaches as opposed to sitting and waiting to be shot, but each person must identify their own risk tolerance with the situation.

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What to do after the emergency has passed

In most disaster situations, there is a period when the disaster or crisis has passed. Storm waters recede, the wind stops blowing, the earth calms and the shooting stops. This is when your emergency response plan actually focuses on a different aspect of survival, but the entire process could repeat over and over again if circumstances change or the emergency event is protracted. Later, rinse, repeat.

  • Check on people and assess damage – Do you have everyone accounted for and are there any injuries? Triage the most critical injuries:
    • Those who are likely to live, regardless of what care they receive;
    • Those who are likely to die, regardless of what care they receive;
    • Those for whom immediate care might make a positive difference in outcome.
  • Ensure safety – Assuming no one requires medical care, analyze your present location and situation. Do you need to move to another location for safety, either from the elements or bad people.
  • Gather Intelligence – Do you know what has happened and what the situation is with other people in your group? Is communication still possible by phone or radio? Do you have communication alternatives like an emergency weather radio or Ham radios?

Determine next steps based upon understanding of your people’s current state and needs for security. It may be that you just roll out the barbecue, fire it up and start cooking those steaks you had that will go bad without power. It could be that you need to evacuate to another city or prepare to defend your home. Any emergency response plan is just a framework for helping you critically analyze, plan for and prevent threats, but it isn’t a solution. Your emergency response plan should enable you to act, but you will be on your own at some point. All the planning in the world can only prepare you. Reality gets a vote and you may find the situation completely different from what you planned for.

The exercise is still valid I think and perhaps this will help those who don’t know where to start prepping with a little direction. There is much to think about but doing so now will help you later if you are forced to live through your own emergency.

To be truly prepared for any type of disaster requires a good bit more effort than simply reading blogs, watching videos and accumulating supplies although I don’t discount at all

 

Introduction to Intelligence

Tornadoes, flooding, and wildfires are just three examples of localized and very personal SHTF events that we’ve seen in the past month, and they illustrate the devastation of an event for which there is immediate early warning. We can be alerted to a tornado warning and seek cover. We can vacate our homes in case of flooding or an approaching wildfire. As we deal in the likelihood of SHTF scenarios, Mother Nature is 100%.

But on a regional or national scale, we’re looking at more unpredictable events for which there is little to no early warning: an electromagnetic pulse, or perhaps a cyber attack on critical infrastructure, or a financial or monetary breakdown that plunges millions into a very real SHTF scenario. The cyber attack on the New York Stock Exchange will have no direct effect on you, but the second- and third-order effects will be felt on every level and generate threats to your community. So what we should be preparing for is not the cyber attack itself, but for the follow-on effects of that cyber attack that will affect your community.

Regardless of the event, we need to be able to collect information to support decision making so we can keep our families safe. Should we bug in or bug out? If bugging out, which route should we take? If bugging in, how can we get early warning of approaching threats?

I’m going to break down a few ways that we can reduce the uncertainty in a SHTF situation. I spent three years in Iraq and Afghanistan, and both of those countries were real life or death, 24/7 SHTF situations. As an intelligence analyst, my job was to keep the commander informed on the security situation and threat environment. His responsibility was to make decisions based on the intelligence we provided. If we had no incoming information, then we couldn’t produce intelligence. And this is why information is the basic building block of community security. If we want security in an SHTF scenario, then we need to know more about the threats. What we need is real-time intelligence gathering.

In 2014, a small group of volunteers and I battle tracked the Ferguson riots. The first step of battle tracking began with a process I call Intelligence Preparation of the Community. (You can watch the entire webinar here.) We analyzed the strength, disposition, and capabilities of local security forces. Knowing what equipment they had enabled us to better understand how they would react to unrest. We similarly analyzed the protest groups and identified associated individuals.

What both of these groups had in common is that they were both producing information of intelligence value. Through something as simple as listening to the police scanner, our team was able to plot out the current reported locations of law enforcement and the National Guard. Meanwhile on Twitter, we scanned the accounts of known protestors for real-time information.

In the image below, we took information reported on local emergency frequencies and potted those locations on the map using Google Earth.’Warfighter 33′ was the callsign for the National Guard Tactical Operations Center, which was set up in the Target parking lot. We also pinned several National Guard posts as they reported their locations. It wasn’t rocket science, but it started to help us understand the security situation. This is a very rudimentary form of signals intelligence, or SIGINT.

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Through the night, we continued to use photographs uploaded into social media and news articles in order to identify the photos’ locations. Then we plotted them on a map. Pretty soon, we have a very good idea of which areas were generally safe and which areas had the most activity as the riots progressed and eventually burnt out. Had we lived in Ferguson, we could have used this intelligence to navigate our way to friends and family, or to help friends and family navigate away from the threats. All this information was publicly available, so we call it Open Source Intelligence, or OSINT.

 

So what do I do if there’s a grid-down situation?

That certainly complicates things. Before I answer that question, I want to ask you one: on a scale of 1 to 10, how important is intelligence in a SHTF situation? (I would say 10, but I am admittedly a bit biased.)

First understand that there may still be electricity in a grid-down environment. As long as there are generators, and given that there’s not been an EMP, then someone somewhere will have electricity. My local law enforcement agency claims to have enough fuel for two weeks of backup power were things were to go sideways. That’s good to know, and is the benefit of intelligence collection before an SHTF event, as opposed to a post-SHTF scramble. If they’re powered up and communicating in a SHTF situation, or perhaps some ham radio operators are, then we still need the capabilities to listen in. Otherwise, we’re going to be at a severe disadvantage.

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Evidence gathering equipment used globally by military, law enforcement, governments, and intelligence agencies to interrogate mobile phones, GPS & portable digital devices, providing real-time capture of intelligence and evidence.

If there’s no power, then we’ll have to rely on Human Intelligence, called HUMINT. That means getting out and talking to people. It could mean a reconnaissance patrol. The horse-mounted cavalry were the eyes and ears of the commander before collection technology. Snipers and forward observers sitting in hide sides, whose responsibility it is to observe and report enemy activity, are often excellent intelligence collectors. An observation post equipped with a field phone, sending back intelligence information is another example.

While these are all military examples, there are similar community equivalents. Consider this: technology is a force multiplier. With SIGINT or OSINT, we can be very wide and very deep in our intelligence gathering. That’s a 1:n ratio. We have one collection platform, in this case a radio receiver, and we can scan a very wide band to collect information from anyone who’s transmitting. But when we deal with human intelligence, we’re often on a 1:1 ratio; that is, one collector speaking to one source at any given time. That’s a very slow and difficult way to do business.

So instead of 1:1, I want you to consider the scalability of that ratio. If one person is limited to gathering intelligence information from one person at at time, wouldn’t it makes sense to scale that ratio to 10:10 or 100:100? It absolutely would. Every set of eyes and ears is a sensor, so we as an intelligence element tasked with providing intelligence for community security should absolutely be interested in encouraging community members to passively collect lots of information. All that information is reported back to us, and then we’re engaged in the arduous task of compiling and evaluating that information in order to create intelligence.

Intelligence doesn’t produce itself, so it’s incumbent on us to build that capability. The more accurate information we have, the more wellinformed we can be. Without first being well-informed, making high-risk, time-sensitive decisions just got a whole lot more complicated.

  Introduction to Intelligence Tornadoes, flooding, and wildfires are just three examples of localized and very personal SHTF events that we’ve seen in the past month, and they illustrate the devastation of

 

You wake from a deep sleep to a screeching sound in the hallway. The smoke alarm is going off. You have just seconds to mentally understand what is happening, crawl out of bed, gather your family and head out the door to safety.

Once outside you perform a head-check, everyone is here. But your family is dressed in PJ’s and is not prepared for the cold December weather. Your cell phone was left charging so you have no way to call 911, and your car keys and wallet remain in the drawer you left them in. Your only option is to make a dash for the neighbor’s house to call the fire department. It takes the emergency services 30 minutes to respond, and by the time the fire is under control your house is destroyed and will never be inhabited again.

Where do you go? What do you do?

While house fires, flooding and other emergencies are things we hope never happen to us, there is a chance that it could occur. In 2012 there were 374,000 house fires resulting in over 7 billion dollars worth of damage and 2,385 deaths.

Once you realize that there is a risk of this scenario happening, you can either hope for the best and plan on figuring it out in the moment, or you can take just a few hours and prepare yourself mentally and physically so that you will not be forced to make life altering decisions without any forethought.

The purpose of a Household Emergency Bug out Bag is to have a small bag ready with supplies and resources you may need if you were forced to temporarily abandon your house due to an extremely localized emergency (just you). This bag will not contain any sort of camping, food preparation or “survival” type supplies that you would find in a Bug Out Bag. The assumption is that in the event of a house fire or similar emergency you would have resources like hotels, friends houses, insurance and restaurants to fall back on. If those outside support structures were not there, you would want the more comprehensive supplies found in one of the other Bug Out Bag varieties.

What to pack in a Household Emergency Bug out Bag

The rule of three is a pretty good place to start. The rule of three is a common idea that can be summed up as follows.

You can survive for:

  • Three minutes without air
  • Three hours without shelter in an extreme weather condition.
  • Three days without water.
  • Three weeks without food.

Lets look at how each of these relate to a Household Emergency Bug Out Bag

Three minutes without air

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Have a small bag ready with supplies and resources you may need if you were forced to temporarily abandon your house.

If you are preparing to leave your home in the event of a fire, it is critical to have some sort of filtration for breathing. Many deaths in fires are related to smoke inhalation, and having a proper mask can be the difference between an inconvenience and death.

A standard n95 mask will help filter out soot particles, but will not help for carbon monoxide.

Just having a mask though is not good enough.

You should have early warning systems set in your home to detect when the air is becoming poisonous. Smoke and Carbon monoxide detectors should be in every room and hallway. You should also think about different ways to escape from upper floors if the route is blocked. Having an Emergency Ladder could help reduce the chance of injury if you are forced to leave your home from a second or third floor window. In addition, arm yourself to clear a path through your home by having a Fire Extinguisher in your bedroom and scattered strategically on every floor.

Once in college I was living on the third floor of a three level apartment building. The fire alarm had a habit of going off at odd times due to people smoking in the hallways so I wasn’t particularly worried when it went off at 11pm. I went down the stairwell to the first floor to turn it off at the breaker when I saw the first floor residents making a beeline for the door. They informed me that there was an actual fire in the kitchen of their apartment. I should have just evacuated then and waited for the fire department, but being young and stupid I ran back to my apartment to grab my laptop. On the way out I noticed the fire extinguisher in our living room. I dropped my laptop and grabbed the fire extinguisher instead. I ran down to the first floor, opened the apartment door and was immediately hit by a wall of smoke. Holding my breath, I raced into the kitchen and emptied the fire extinguisher onto the stove which was fully engulfed in flames and spreading to the wall. With the last bit of energy from the extinguisher the fire went out and I ran back outside to get fresh air.

It felt great saving the day and without the fire extinguisher there would have been much more significant damage to the house since it took the fire department another 5 minutes to arrive. But at the end of the day I think it probably would have been better to just get out since everything in my apartment could have been replaced if it was lost. So your first priority in a fire should be getting you and your family out safely. Your family photos, collections and stuff can be replaced or rebuilt, but loved ones cannot. Even pets can be replaced, don’t risk your life trying to save a cat.

However, if you live in a rural area or don’t trust the emergency services to respond promptly, it would be irresponsible to not have the means to stop small fires in their tracks. A handy fire extinguisher can be the difference between some damage to a room or the total loss of your home.

Three Hours Without Shelter

Emergencies never happen when we expect, that is why it is good to prepare ahead of time.

If you are leaving your house because of a fire or pipe breaking, there is a chance you will not be back for several days or weeks. If you house is destroyed, it could be months before you have another permanent residence.

Are you prepared for this possibility?

In case you need to leave home in the middle of the night when you were sleeping, pack a set of seasonally appropriate clothes in your bag. This will mean if you run outside in the winter to escape a fire you will have some long clothing to keep you warm until emergency services arrive. A change of clothes will also help if you need to go stay at a hotel overnight and are not allowed to enter your home due to an investigation or unsafe condition. Additional clothes can be bought at a later date if you can’t get home for a few days.

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Apart from just clothes, you need to think about a roof for your head. Hotels are a great short-term solution. Some insurances will even reimburse you for your temporary lodging if you are displaced, but you need to have the money to front for the stay. Either keep $1000 cash for immediate expenses or an extra credit card in your bag that can be used for emergencies.

For long-term, make sure your home insurance is enough to cover the full replacement cost of your home, and if you have an option to get your temporary lodging paid for while you wait for your home to be rebuilt this could be extremely valuable coverage to have.

Most insurance information is online, but print out a copy of your policy and key phone numbers that you will keep in the bag so you can call them as soon as possible to get a claim processing.

Three Days Without Water

Water is definitely not as critical here, since you will be leaving to a safer place with normal services. However it is recommended that you have one water bottle per family member in the bag so you have something to drink between leaving your home and your destination.

Three Weeks Without Food

You are not going to be stranded for weeks without food in this scenario. A granola bar for each family member should be sufficient.

Outside of the normal rule of three considerations, there are additional items you should keep on hand.

Copies of essential paperwork – You should store your originals in a fireproof safe, but in your emergency bag keep copies of:

  • Homeowners/renters insurance.
  • Car insurance.
  • Titles and deeds.
  • Drivers/firearms licenses, passports.
  • Your inventory of valuables (for insurance replacement policies).
  • Flash Drive of precious family photos and videos.

Tools

Stanley FatMax Xtreme – For serious destruction.

There aren’t many tools that you should need, but there are a few that could be invaluable.

  1. A Large Flashlight – This can be used for light and breaking windows for escape, you should have one for each adult in case you need to split up to search for family members. I recommend the Maglite 3D cell LED flashlights for this application. Once one of my relatives was responsible for checking in on a friend’s house while they were away. She asked to borrow this flashlight and took it with her for her stop. Unfortunately, a pipe had burst and the entire house was flooded. When the fire department arrived to shut off the power and do an investigation, they asked to borrow this flashlight because it was brighter than the ones they had!
  2. A Crowbar (for breaking into a locked child’s door).
  3. Cell phone charger.

Conclusion

No one ever hopes to leave their home in an emergency. But if you had to leave on a moments notice, preparing a Household Emergency Bag could help reduce the stress of an already unimaginable situation and reduce your risk of personal injury.

  You wake from a deep sleep to a screeching sound in the hallway. The smoke alarm is going off. You have just seconds to mentally understand what is happening, crawl