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One of the most diverse prepper considerations from the standpoint of a long-term disaster is health. By health I am not specifically referring to the risks to your health from the disaster itself. If you are living through a hurricane or earthquake, there are natural risks to your health that you need to mitigate in the moment. Prior planning helps you with identifying the risks in this type of scenario and developing a course of action to take. If there are violent mobs approaching your city, that is another risk and those subjects are just one piece of the health equation that preppers need to plan for. Prepping is all about staying alive and alive usually assumes healthy. If your health deteriorates too far, you won’t be alive for very long.

Physical safety from harm has one dimension. Then you have nutritional health and that brings in the considerations of adequate food, sanitation and hygiene and treatment of illness, and the subject of clean water. These things could have a far greater impact on your life after some disaster than the actual disaster itself, assuming you did have a plan and were able to take steps to get yourself out of harm’s way. Yes you could be affected by that natural disaster, but with minor preparations and some action, that is largely avoidable.

During the clean up in the days, months and possibly years after the event, your daily nutritional health will likely play a bigger factor into your survival. Assuming you have the food storage covered and you are stocked with water filtration methods and all the toilet paper you can handle, there are many other considerations our body needs to run as efficiently as possible. And like a lot of other prepping supplies, some are harder to find if the grocery stores aren’t open. After the beans, bullets and Band-Aids, do you have plenty of salt stored away?

Why is salt important to nutrition?

Your body needs salt in order to function. In fact, Salt is essential to life and you simply can’t live without it. Salt isn’t something the food companies made up either and its importance was very evident far back in history. The world Salary comes from the Latin root word for salt, “sal” because Romans were paid in salt. Salt is so important that we need to include that in our daily diet and even more so if we are depleting salt as in the case of heavy perspiration.

What is salt used for in the body? According to Mercola:

  • Salt is a major component of your blood plasma, lymphatic fluid, extracellular fluid and even amniotic fluid.
  • Salt helps your body properly carry nutrients into and out of your cells.
  • Salt helps you maintain and regulate blood pressure
  • Salt increases the glial cells in your brain, which are responsible for creative thinking and long-term planning. Something you are sure to need if the grid goes down for very long.
  • It helps your brain communicate with your muscles via sodium-potassium ion exchange.

When our bodies don’t have enough salt to provide for optimal health you can develop a condition known as hyponatremia. In hyponatremia, your body’s water levels rise, and your cells begin to swell. This swelling can cause many health problems, from mild to life-threatening.

Hyponatremia signs and symptoms may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Loss of energy and fatigue
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Muscle weakness, spasms or cramps
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Living near the oceans provides a limitless source of salt but are you close enough to take advantage of this?

How much salt should you stock up on?

So it’s clear we need to plan for salt as part of our overall health if we want to maintain optimal levels, but how much should we stock up on and is any salt better than another? Most of our diet now provides the salt we need in abundance. Over 80 percent of the salt most of us consume comes from processed foods. The freeze-dried camping meals I love as a bug out bag option give you plenty of salt so you might think you already have everything you need.

When I first started prepping and began my food storage, I went to Sam’s and bought a whole case of Morton Iodized Salt. Each box is 4 pounds and they cost a little over $1 each. I figured I was set for quite a while, but I didn’t learn about the differences in “salt” until much later. Regular table salt has added ingredients (Calcium silicate, dextrose and of course Potassium Iodide) so strictly speaking this isn’t the best all-natural salt you can get. However, I believe that in a disaster or crisis, this will be perfectly fine and it is a cheap way to store a lot of salt. So now, I have at least 48 pounds of salt which I calculate lasting my family three years minimum.

A more pure source of daily salt is Himalayan Salt.

There are healthier sources of salt. Himalayan Salt for instance seems to be the most pure retail source now but it is more expensive as you would expect. Himalayan salt is only 85 percent sodium chloride; the remaining 15 percent contains 84 trace minerals from prehistoric seas. Table salt by example is not pure sodium chloride but is 97.5 percent sodium chloride and anti-caking and flow agents are added to compromise about 2.5 percent. These can be dangerous chemicals like ferrocyanide and aluminosilicate. You should research the health benefits of each and make your own decisions. For my family, we have the Morton salt stored in bulk for what-if and use Himalayan on the dinner table.

How to find sources of salt in the wild

Stocking up on dozens of pounds of salt from your closest big box store is simple enough. Maybe you have a convenient salt mine in your town like the residents of Jericho, but what if you don’t have a home and all of your supplies anymore? What can you do to provide the needed salt for optimal health? Is there a source of salt naturally near you?

Well, you can find active salt mines near you by going to the internet. This site has a simple listing of salt mines by location that you might use to scope out opportunities ahead of time.

Sea Water – Yes, this is a no-brainer I understand, but some people might not have considered that all the salt we could ever need is in the oceans. Just collect seawater and let it evaporate in a container. You might have to wait a while for that to occur, heating over a fire is another option but the evaporated water will leave behind sea salt.

Meats and Seafood – The blood from animals can be harvested for recipes and the meat naturally contains sodium. Salt water Fish are naturally going to have sodium but again, if you are living close to the oceans, you already have a source. Kelp and seaweed are also excellent sources.

Eggs and Dairy – Eggs, large eggs contain 62 milligrams of sodium and while this isn’t all you need, it is a source and provides another reason for raising your own chickens.

Vegetables and roots – Right out in your garden, One cup of cooked spinach contains 184 milligrams of sodium per serving. One cup of raw Swiss chard contains even more, with 313 milligrams of sodium. Other vegetables like artichokes, sweet potatoes, radishes, celery, carrots, broccoli and bell peppers have lower amounts but they are still a source. One cup of raw celery contains 96 milligrams of sodium.

Hickory Tree Roots – Apparently, the roots of a hickory tree can be chopped into small pieces, boiled in water for a long time, but not so long there is not any water left. Remove the hickory root pieces and then boil the rest of the water down and you will be left with a black substance that is supposed to be salt. This one is not one of the better known sources and I can’t find a lot of literature on the subject. That coupled with the higher chance of error seems to rule this out.

What about salt blocks? –This seems like a great idea. Just buy a few blocks of salt, intended for livestock or luring animals like deer into the stand and you are all set. Unfortunately, there are a lot of other chemicals added to those salt blocks to keep them in that nice pretty block so this approach isn’t recommended for salt you can consume later. The salt blocks would be good for their intended purpose though and that is providing a lure for animals. Bring them in close and you can harvest a big deer hopefully. Sure beats licking that block…

What other overlooked prepping supplies have you thought of?

One of the most diverse prepper considerations from the standpoint of a long-term disaster is health. By health I am not specifically referring to the risks to your health from

During the difficult days of World War II, victory gardens became popular symbols of frugal living and self-reliance. As the nation’s resources became focused on the war effort, families did their part to economize by growing their own vegetables, herbs, and fruit. The victory garden has enjoyed a new lease on life in our own day. In tough economic times, it is more appealing than ever to grow your own food. It can also be an important part of a modern healthy lifestyle. Even if you’re on a tight budget, these seven tips can help you get started with a successful victory garden. You’ll be on your way to delicious home-grown food before you know it!

1. Start Small

There are many helpful and inspiring books about growing your own vegetables. The Internet is also full of useful information on gardening. It’s easy to get too enthusiastic and take on a huge garden project in your very first year. Remember to start small! You can always expand your garden gradually as you become more familiar with the details of growing your own food. Even if you only produce a few rows of potatoes or a handful of tomato plants in the first growing season, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’re a real gardener. You’ll also be saving money and enjoying better nutritional value every time you eat your own home-grown produce.

2. Make the Most of the Available Space

Are you an apartment dweller? Do you live in a condominium or a small townhouse in the city? You might not have a huge backyard to devote to your victory garden. There’s no need to worry. A victory garden can be grown in a very small space. Consider getting a small plot in a shared community garden or finding a rooftop garden you can participate in. If you’re in a tiny apartment, you can still grow edibles in window boxes or similar containers. Even if you only have a small strip of outside space, you can put food plants in among the existing trees and bushes. You can go online for inspiration in designing your small urban garden.

3. Think About What You Love to Eat

A victory garden may look beautiful and be a fulfilling hobby, but the main point of these gardens is food production! When you plan your garden, think about what sort of foods you like to cook and eat. Once you’ve started growing them, they will take center stage in your kitchen during the appropriate season each year. If you don’t enjoy eating squash, then think twice about planting a whole row of it. The same goes for zucchini, which is notoriously productive in late summer. If you do a lot of creative cooking, think about adding herbs and aromatics to your victory garden to spice up your recipes. The possibilities are almost endless. Take some time to review your favorite recipes and think about what foods you’d most like to grow.

4. Work With the Weather

When you grow local food, you need to pay attention to the local climate. Try looking up your town’s USDA hardiness zone and finding out which plants are likely to thrive in your victory garden. As a gardener, you’ll be working closely with the different seasons of the year and becoming more sensitive to small changes in weather. If you live in a colder climate, you might want to boost the growing season by starting plants indoors. With the proper lights and warming areas, you can create an early spring inside your own house or shed. By the time spring has sprung outside, you’ll have healthy young plants ready to take root in the ground, providing you and your family with delicious food.

5. Take Care of the Soil

If you just dig up a patch of soil in your backyard and put in a handful of seedlings, you may end up with some vegetables in a few months, but you’re not going to get the great results you want. Every bit of time and money you invest in preparing the soil will pay back many times during the harvest season. Visit your local garden store for a full selection of compost, mulch, and organic fertilizers. Make sure the ground is thoroughly tilled and aerated. If you’re short on time or muscle power, you can rent a mechanical tiller for a weekend and get your victory garden in great shape. Be sure to pay attention to weeds and remove them promptly from your vegetable beds. When the soil is in good condition, your fruits, vegetables, and herbs will be happier and more productive.

6. Think About the Long Run

Gardening can be an exercise in patience. In our modern age, when we’re accustomed to getting instant gratification with the click of a mouse or a few words on the phone, it can be hard to wait for months to see the results of our victory garden experiments. Sometimes there are difficulties with pests, sunlight, irrigation, or other variables of outdoor life. Yields can be disappointingly tiny or overwhelmingly large. (Have you ever tried to can a hundred pounds of tomatoes in a small kitchen on a sweltering summer afternoon? At moments like those, a garden that yields just a few puny tomatoes may seem appealing!) Don’t get discouraged, and remember that gardening success happens in the long run. Your first year as a victory gardener is just the prelude to a long and happy career of growing your own food.

 

7. Enjoy the Benefits

There are many benefits of growing your own vegetables at home. You’ll start to enjoy some of them almost immediately: plenty of fresh air and exercise, an increased sensitivity to the changing seasons, and the chance to think about where your food really comes from. As soon as the crops start coming in, you’ll save money on your grocery bills each week. The best reward of all — as experienced gardeners know — is the unforgettable taste of home-grown vegetables. Once you’ve tasted a tomato picked fresh off the vine, you’ll never want to go back to grocery store tomatoes. Start a victory garden this year and enjoy the delights of the freshest food you can get!

 

During the difficult days of World War II, victory gardens became popular symbols of frugal living and self-reliance. As the nation’s resources became focused on the war effort, families did

As recently as 100 years ago, the most important site consideration for homesteaders and villages was whether plenty of good water was within easy reach. When electric power lines and drilled water wells reached rural areas, however, close proximity to clean water became immaterial – or so we assumed.

Our nonchalant attitude regarding water is rapidly changing, according to well pump installers I spoke with recently. Many are seeing an upsurge in interest by homeowners wanting to learn about and fit hand pumps to their water wells. There are now numerous manually-operated water pumps to choose from, depending on factors such as static (resting) water level and output needed.

Emergency Backup, General Use and New High-Volume Hand Pumps  

An increase in powerful storms with longer power outages is one factor inciting people to think about manual pumps, says Albert Brandt, general manager of Radiant Water Company in Tulsa, Okla. A 2007 ice storm that disrupted electric service for 14 days prompted many to contemplate their water-preparedness, he said.

“A lot of our customers remember using a hand pump on Grandma’s farm, and now want one as a backup,” Brandt told me when I called to ask about hand pump popularity. Radiant Water Company installs Bison, Hitzer and Baker-Monitor hand pumps.

Brandt, who took over Radiant Water in 1998, remembers a swell in hand pump sales as Y2K neared. Now, after a decade-long calm, people are again preparing for potentially troubling times by making sure their families will have fresh, clean drinking water, even if the grid goes down. Recent advances in hand pump design have made them even easier to use and less expensive, he said.

Richard Stothoff, president of Samuel Stothoff Company of Flemington, N.J., said manufacturers, such as Bison Pump Company of Maine, used modern technology to adapt their pumps to function with existing electric submersible pumps.


Stothoff, whose great-grandfather founded the company in 1885, said the company used to install many hand pumps in the then-rural area. Some households still use hand pumps exclusively for water, he said, although such use is rare. Stothoff said he has seen a slight increase in hand pump interest this year, mostly among the self-reliant.

Weather disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy that darkened much of the East Coast for extended periods, spurred more sales for fuel-powered electric generators than for hand pumps, Stothoff said.

“We’re too advanced,” Stothoff said. “We’ve got electricity.”

In neighboring New Hampshire, however, a representative of Northeast Water Wells said hand pump interest over the past five years has steadily climbed as more people build off-grid or geothermal homes. Northeast Water installs Simple Pump brand pumps.

Many types of human-powered pumps have been introduced through the years to accommodate the variety of situations and applications encountered when bringing water to the surface. Until now, however, the discharge capacity has been too low for large communities.

In January 2013, Mother Earth News blogger Ed Essex introduced a homemade hand pump machine, now the WaterBuck Pump, to readers. Since then, the pump has been greatly improved, presently exceeding the peak capacity of a 12-foot diameter windmill by 25 percent, making it ideal for remote communities that need more water from deeper water tables or need an irrigation pump with shallow wells.

In a recent WaterBuck Pump test, a 50-something man of average fitness pumped 17.5 gallons in 1 minute from a static level of 80 feet. These results are minimal compared to what can be done with this machine with one or two stronger men or two to four operators and twin cylinders for irrigation, according to the inventor, Darren Holliday. Now because of the design of this high-volume pump, large communities, small farms and developing countries can have the water they need, he said.

Kresten Jensen, III, general manager of Cook Pump Company, who calculated the WaterBuck’s performance recently, said, “Considering how important the commodity produced by the WaterBuck Pump is to sustaining life on this planet, you have created a very powerful piece of equipment.”

Why Hand Pumps Went to Scrapyards

Because most Americans abandoned hand water pumps more than a generation ago, few today understand how they work or what their limitations are. The pump principle has changed little since its inception, whether for the piston pump invented in 275 BC by Ctesibius, or the rope pump invented in China during the 1st century BC.

Hand pumps were still commonly used in the countryside of the United States and Europe in the 19th century. One pump was usually sufficient to supply water for a family and its livestock. Communities generally took shape around a central well. The people of tiny La Russell, Mo., were so reluctant to give up their community hand pump when progress arrived that they had the new highway paved around it. Residents continue to adorn the old pump with seasonal decorations.

Although hand pumps were scrapped when mechanization and electrification reached rural America, they are still broadly used in Third World countries. Especially where economic resources and fuel sources are sparse, human-powered pumps can significantly improve a water supply system and, consequently, a community’s livelihood.

Hand pump use in the United States is largely for emergency backup, intentionally going off-grid, or even novelty and nostalgia. Meanwhile, in developing nations, human-or animal-powered pumps are vital to survival. Having a manual pump, for instance, significantly increases agricultural yields, provides fast access to drinking water, improves sanitation and empowers women, children and small farmers.

Types of Pumps and Hand Pump Operation

The majority of hand pumps fall into one of two categories: suction pumps (having a cylinder above ground) and lift pumps (having a cylinder below ground).

A suction pump, or pitcher pump, is the type we envision on an old homestead. Repeated strokes of the pump handle gradually “suck” water up the riser main and into the cylinder and out the spout. A suction pump’s operational depth is limited to about 26 feet, according to “Water Lifting Devices” by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

Piston pumps have their pump cylinder below ground and the water table. Instead of sucking well water out, they lift a column of water upward through the riser main. Each consecutive stroke of the pump handle causes the piston to displace more water up the riser until it flows out the spout.

Theoretically, the depth from which a piston pump can remove water is unlimited. In practice, however, the limit is determined by the power a human can exert on the pump handle and the fabrication and materials of the pump cylinder and rod and piston valves and seals.

There is a hand pump for nearly every need. When selecting a hand pump for your home, consider your average daily household use, static (resting) water level, size of well casing (and liner) and whether the pump will be used only in emergencies or every day.

As recently as 100 years ago, the most important site consideration for homesteaders and villages was whether plenty of good water was within easy reach. When electric power lines and

Have you read the latest article or seen the latest video about why this tool or that item should be included in your bug out bag or have in your home if you decide you are going to stay put and dig in? For many of us, hesitating to make adjustments to our basic items we pack for shelter, fire, food, water, hunting, fishing, tools, first aid and firearms once we are comfortable with our selection-is normal, yet, we still might have doubts.

One adjustment we may consider would be the benefit of using drones as a necessary piece of equipment for preppers in a true TEOTWAWKI scenario.

Drone technology has been changing rapidly. They have become an important tool for our military, the government, law enforcement, and commercial businesses and perhaps even for your neighbor down the street. The uses for these UAV vehicles and the government’s dependency on them should –if they haven’t already –raised a red warning sign in front of all of us who are concerned about government interference or being able to bug out or keep a low profile in a SHTF situation. Stop and consider your bug out plan! Is it drone proof? Have you considered ways of detecting, hiding, or if necessary destroying drones that might cross your path as you move towards your bug out location?

Perhaps one thing to consider is using drones for offensive and defensive security.

Using Drones for Offensive Security

Reconnaissance and Surveillance:

The primary reason for adding drones to your list of bug out items is Reconnaissance and Surveillance. In a bug out situation, you will need to reconnoiter your planed escape route or routes. Being able to get a ‘bird’s eye view” via a live feed on your smart phone-even after an EMP attack (if your phone and drone was protected) could provide you with instant intelligence to determine if it is safe for proceed. Currently, to have that same level of information you would had to commit you and perhaps your group into an area that may no longer be safe.

Drones could also be placed in strategic areas along your bug out route as a static observation positions. Its camera could record video

SYMA X5C Explorers 2.4G 4CH 6-Axis Gyro RC Quadcopter With HD Camera

footage to alert you to increased activity or threats which you could access well before you reach the area. These monitoring drones could also use Drone tracker applications to defend or detect drones approaching you or your group early enough to provide you time to hide and remain undetected.

Aerial attack

It is not outside the realm of possibility that drones could be equipped with explosives and then flown into an attacking force to inflict physical harm or even loss of life. They could also be used to deliver tear gas or pepper spray to spearhead an attack on a position or to cover a retreat. As drones become more advanced, the capabilities to carry a heavier payload will provide even a larger threat of attack.

Delivery of supplies:

If your bug out plans or the current tactical situation requires your group to travel in small numbers at various intervals and radios cannot be used, drones can be used to send or deliver messages (encrypted) or supplies.

Electronic Surveillance:

Using Drones as electronic bugs to listen in or collect signal intelligence or even to hack into WIFI and steal data from networks is not limited to movie fiction. Having the training to use or detect this surveillance might make the difference between survival and capture.

Physical/ Defensive security:

The addition of drones as part of your physical and defensive security plan should be pretty clear by now. As stated earlier in a SHTF situation and you are physically unable to bug out, then placing drones in strategic areas in your neighborhood could be used for observation purposes, collecting intelligence of activity near and perhaps far away from your location while being able to keep a low profile.

The camera systems on drones have video and audio capabilities. Some even have the ability of using night vision cameras with infrared detecting systems which could detect threats in low light or night conditions much better than the human eye.

Consideration of drones as part of your security plan can help in protection against gangs, thieves and even other drones that are being used against you I’m sure you can think of the various benefits especially if you’re getting up in years and are not as agile as you may need to be if such a SHTF event happen

Second thoughts – are they worth the risks

Yet, the use of drones during a bug out could be a risk that you might cause you not to consider these tools. Many of them make a lot of noise and could attract the very threats that you are trying to discover and evade. There size and the possibility of being damage during a bug out must be taken into consideration along with costs prior to being purchased. This industry is growing rapidly as the demand for smaller, faster, more rugged systems are flying off the design boards and hitting the market.

One should also consider that the government and law enforcement agencies are also busy designing counter measures to combat the likelihood of them being used for criminal or terrorist activities. So one needs to consider what ECM (electronic counter measures) might be used against them.

Still with proper training and experience, drones could be great surveillance tools. What do you think? Do drones make sense for preppers?

Have you read the latest article or seen the latest video about why this tool or that item should be included in your bug out bag or have in your

 

Some 10 years back, I left the city and set out to build a cabin in the Alaskan wilderness. It was late September before I could actually begin construction of the dwelling, and the rivers were already freezing, so I had to work hard and quick!

Yet — despite the rigorous physical labor — I’d go for days without a bath. At the time I told myself I couldn’t wash because of the cold weather and primitive camp conditions, but now I know that I simply hadn’t yet adjusted to “new” means of keeping clean.

Since then, I’ve spent as much as 26 months at a stretch without even seeing running water, and I’ve very rarely missed my daily bath. I’d like to pass on what I’ve learned about taking a sponge bath to any of you who may be about to quit the city and its conveniences, whether on a permanent or a temporary basis.

Clean With Seven Cups

For those of us who like soap, it makes sense to have the know-how and materials if you need to do this yourself.

I once doubted the word of a friend who told me that he’d been taught to take a complete bath with an army helmet full of water. Now I know he was telling the truth, because I’ve done it myself using a hard hat while fighting forest fires. The fact is, it’s possible to clean every part of your body but your hair — using an ordinary metal wash basin — with only seven cups of water … which is just under half a gallon!

A complete bush-country bathing outfit should include a 15-inch metal basin, washcloth, towel, soap, baking soda, and fingernail brush. It’s best to stay away from enamel basins (they’ll eventually crack, and you’ll ram an enamel chip under your fingernail sooner or later), and steel tubs will rust … in spite of their shiny appearance when new. Aluminum basins, on the other hand, have never failed me. Whatever type of basin you use, however, keep a fingernail brush handy for scrubbing out the dirt film after you bathe.

The real secret of this water-conserving wash method is the elimination of soap from most of the bath. If you really lather up, you face the problem of getting rid of the suds, and — when you’re washing from a small tub — this can be such a chore that you may start to skip baths altogether.

You’ll be better off if you take a bath — without soap — every single day. Simply rub down well with a hot, wet washrag, rinsing the cloth frequently. (You may want to use soap on the hairy parts of the body, but this small amount of suds can usually be rinsed off with a damp rag.)

A Soap-less Shampoo

Hair washing presents a special problem, again because it’s very difficult to rinse off the suds. Leftover soap or shampoo is bound to make your scalp itch, but you can get your “crowning glory” clean — and avoid the “itches” — by using baking soda!

You see, all soaps are made by combining a fat and an alkali (usually lye). Baking soda — itself a mild alkali — seems to react with hair oils to produce its own natural, mild washing product. Under the proper conditions, soda will even create a copious lather.

To wash your hair, put two or three cups of soft water into the basin … (make sure the liquid is as hot as your scalp can stand!). Add two or three tablespoons of baking soda (NOT baking powder), then bend over the basin and soak your scalp. Comb the soda solution through your hair … backward, forward, and sideways. Any dirt will immediately begin to wash out, and — in a short time — will neutralize most of the soda. So after you’ve combed the solution through your hair several times, throw out the first batch of “soda water” and prepare another. Repeat the combing process, then pile your wet hair on top of your head to let the “bicarb shampoo” work while you take your bath, and brush your teeth.

When you “draw” your bath water, add a heaping teaspoon of soda to that liquid, too. Baking soda is a good cleaning and deodorizing agent, and I believe it has a beneficial effect on any kind of skin. (Pregnant women sometimes use it to relieve the itching sensation caused by their bellies’ stretching.) My guess is that the mild alkali combines with skin oil — just as it does with hair oils — to form a natural soap. One thing’s for sure: a soda wash leaves you feeling clean and refreshed.

After your bath, put a new supply of warm water in the basin, dunk your head again, massage your scalp with your finger tips, then comb out the soda water along with the remaining dirt. You’ll have a sweet-smelling, clean head of hair, and there’ll be no leftover soap to make your scalp itch.

The key to a successful baking soda shampoo is soft water, and I’ve found that I get the best results with melted snow. (Rainwater ought to be equally soft, but I think it may be affected by the containers — galvanized metal, especially — that you catch it in.) However, if you want to break away from soaps and shampoos, just try mixing up a baking soda solution using the softest water you’re able to obtain. I can practically guarantee that you’ll be pleased with the results!

Nice, but Unnecessary

There was a time when I felt that a “sponge bath” was something you got in the hospital when you were too sick to make it to the shower. Now that I’ve bathed out of a basin for 10 years, I realize that showers and bathtubs are nothing more than very nice — but also very unnecessary — luxuries.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Whenever you use a new substance on your skin or scalp, make a small patch test to check for any possible allergic reactions.

  Some 10 years back, I left the city and set out to build a cabin in the Alaskan wilderness. It was late September before I could actually begin construction of

Body armor can protect you against a multitude of threats preppers will face, and is well-known for its versatility. Vests are increasingly accessible, and their size and weight are being reduced all the time. This means that protection can be worn comfortably in a variety of situations for extended periods. However, it can be difficult to know exactly how a vest can help you. It is all very well to explain the different levels of protection and the sizes of bullets, but what does this all actually mean? What exactly can a bullet proof vest protect you against?

Guns

The first and most obvious threat a bullet proof vest can protect you against. Of course, bullets come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and vests are available at different levels to correspond to this. This is something that all Preppers need to consider, as firearms are so easily accessible and so deadly. However, after civilization has broken down, firearms will become less and less of a threat as ammunition gets scarcer and the parts begin to deteriorate. While it is important for the short-term to be protected against guns, there are other weapons that you should consider for the long-term.

Makeshift weapons like this were created in the violent protests in Ukraine recently.

Sharp Objects

Anything with a sharp or spiked edge is potentially deadly, but specific weapons like knives and needles are important to consider. These weapons are already very easy to access, and in an environment where a weapon is needed and guns are no longer a viable option, edged blades will become more and more popular. Bullet proof vests cannot protect you against these weapons; while the materials used are very strong, they will be cut by an edged blade, potentially injuring you. Similarly, spiked weapons can pass through the minute gaps between the fibers. Therefore, it is worth considering a stab and/or spike proof vest, which often comes with ballistic protection as standard.

Crossbows and Bows & Arrows

As an extension of spiked weapons, crossbows and bows & arrows are an exciting weapon that many may try to get their hands on. These have been made more popular thanks to post-apocalyptic media, but are far harder to use than many realize. Nevertheless, it is important to consider a spike proof vest if only for these weapons, which can otherwise cause a great deal of damage.

Rocks

It may sound ridiculous, but these can certainly be used to great effect; consider David and Goliath! In all seriousness however, any projectiles can cause damage, and in a post-societal landscape any injury could prove to be a deadly one, even if it only slows you down and makes you less effective at defending yourself. Fortunately, a bullet proof vest is capable of stopping large amounts of blunt force, keeping you safe against the vast majority of impacts. This means that whether you’re hit by a rock or a car, a bullet proof vest can save your life.

Other People

The most dangerous threat of all, as anyone will tell you. Attacks from people, even without weapons, can cause you great injury and even death. As resources and weapons dwindle, attacks may not decrease, and desperate survivors may attack you with the only thing they have left- their bare hands. Traditional body armor would not serve you well in this situation, as its bulk and weight would make you slow and vulnerable. However, modern bullet proof vests can absorb the energy from impacts, and are light, thin, and flexible enough to keep you on your feet and fighting back.

It is hard to know exactly what threats you will be facing, and therefore what you need your body armor to protect you against. Some of the above examples may seem ridiculous or far-fetched, but explaining them serves two purposes; firstly, it shows the versatility of body armor and just how useful it is to a Prepper. Secondly, it outlines just how many dangers there are out there, even before you factor in the end of the world. Being prepared against a wide range of threats is a little easier with body armor, and is something all Preppers should consider.

Body armor can protect you against a multitude of threats preppers will face, and is well-known for its versatility. Vests are increasingly accessible, and their size and weight are being

If you watch Doomsday Preppers like me you probably saw this episode that showcased two Preppers. The difference for me it was that I have actually heard of two of the preppers on the show. Rick Austin is the author of the Secret Garden of Survival: How to Grow a Camouflaged Food Forest which is an excellent introduction and thought starter on the concepts of Permaculture guilds and how they can be incorporated into the Prepper garden plan. He frequently speaks at conferences and self-reliance expos. Along with Rick was his wife (and this was news to me) Survivor Jane who has her own survival blog, started the #preppertalk hashtag on Twitter and speaks at Prepper Conferences also.

The show spent the first part of their episode focused on Rick’s camouflaged food forest that he has grown on his secluded property in the Appalachian mountains. I was already familiar with the concepts but seeing his home and surrounding lush permaculture garden was interesting and got me thinking about this subject all over again.

The brilliant aspect of this from the standpoint of preppers is that unlike a garden, the camouflaged food forest requires less maintenance, less water, no chemicals and best of all, doesn’t look like a garden. This could be especially helpful if we have some EMP event like Rick and Jane were prepping for. One fear of a massive EMP strike is that there is no longer any power for long periods of time. With this is the potential for vehicles to no longer work, gas pumps and pretty much any other electronic devices unless they are heavily shielded. If this happens, trucks won’t be rolling to deliver food.  Food shortages lead to food riots which lead to people scouring yards looking for food. Gardens will make an easy target in the right season. If your main food source is hidden in what looks like an overgrown patch of plants, you will be more likely to have your secret garden overlooked.

What are Permaculture Guilds?

I found this great article below on the Never Ending Food website that describes the process and concepts nicely. I also recommend getting Rick’s book the Secret Garden of Survival for some great photographs and practical application advice. It is much cheaper on Kindle now. You can also visit Rick’s site and read the first chapter online for free.

Diagram of a permaculture guild.

Permaculture is based on natural systems like those that we see in forests.  In a forest system, there are multiple layers of vegetation growing together in a very diverse setting.  We see many types of trees, shrubs, plants, insects, animals, and various other things all living together in a system that continually strengthens itself.  All of these components of a natural ecosystem serve a function (or several functions) that support each other like the strands of a web.  One strand on its own may be weak, but the combination of all the strands together add to the overall strength and usefulness of the web.In order to mimic these natural systems and to provide for human needs (i.e. food, building supplies, fuel, fibers, etc.) we must learn to identify and work with the various functions of our natural resources.  This is where the concept of the “Permaculture Guild” comes from.  A guild is usually defined as an association of people working toward a common goal.  In Permaculture, a guild is a grouping a plants, animals, insects, and other natural components that also work together to help ensure their survival.  Instead of planting gardens, Permaculture teaches us how to “build guilds”.  Instead of teaching about specific plants, we teach about the plant’s functions.  This is why Permaculture can work throughout the whole world.  It is a guide for design rather than a “how-to” type of agriculture.  (For more information on Permaculture Design, click here.)A good Permaculture guild generally has seven components:

Food for us

When building a guild we need to think about maximizing the health and nutritional benefits that we will be getting from our systems.  In order to eat a diversity of foods we need to plant a diversity of foods.  In Malawi this should be based on our 6 food groups. This means including fruits, vegetables, staples, legumes & nuts, fats, and even animals.  With good planning, we should be able to receive foods from all of the 6 food groups throughout the entire year.

Food for the soil

All plants need nutrients to grow, just like we do.  One of the main nutrients that plants use for growth is call nitrogen.  An easy way to get nitrogen into the soil is by planting legumes (i.e. beans, peas, groundnuts, leguminous trees, etc).  All legumes are considered “nitrogen-fixers” and are able to take nitrogen from the air and convert it to a usable form in the soil.  Using legumes actually helps to ”feed” the plants that they are growing near.  The leaves and other organic matter from legumes may also be added to compost to increase the nitrogen content.   Any organic matter that is added back to the soil will eventually help to act as food for the soil  This includes: leaves, kitchen scraps, market resources, decaying matter, compost, compost tea, mulch, manure, etc.

Diggers/Miners

Deep rooted plants, such as trees, will reach deep into the earth’s soil (like a miner) and bring minerals up to the surface.  These deep rooted plants also act as diggers to break open the soil, make it soft, and allow for air & water to be easily absorbed.  Some diggers also take the form of root crops that can be used as staple foods. Examples of diggers include: cassava, sweet potatoes, yams, Irish potatoes, trees and other deep rooted plants, etc.  Diggers can even be insects and animals that burrow through the soil such as: ants, termites, worms, beetles, mice, etc.

Groundcover

These protect the soil from the sun, help to hold moisture, and help to keep “weeds” (good plants in the wrong place) down. There are many types of groundcovers available in Malawi.  These include: sweet potato vines, pumpkin, cucumbers (minkaka, zinkhananga, fwifwi, etc), and anything else that will vine or spread across the soil.  Mulch is also a form of groundcover.

Climbers

Climbers help to maximize food production, especially in areas where land resources may be scarce or limited.  In most forest sytems you will generally see examples of climbers, because nature uses all of its layers to their fullest potential.  Examples of climbers that you can use in Malawi include: beans, passion fruit (magalagadeya), loofa (chinkupule), air potatoes, cucumbers (zipwete, minkhaka), etc.

Supporters

These are stronger items that support the climbers and make the most of our space.  Supporters can be living things like trees, bushes, stalks such as a maize or sunflower, or they can be non-living things like houses, bathing areas, outdoor toilets,  walls, fences, etc.  The main thing to be careful of is choosing the right supporter for the right climber.  Some climbers are very aggressive and can bring down a fence, or take over a tree.  If you put a passion fruit vine into a mango tree, you may not end up with any mangoes.  This is where thinking ahead and planning become very important.

Protectors

Any thing that helps to protect your guild is a protector.  In terms of protecting your guild from damaging insects, strong smelling plants can be very useful.  Things like onions, chives, spices, lemon grass, and pungent flowers can help to repel insects and even confuse them making it difficult for them to find their food.  Natural predators can also be very helpful in controling the insect problems in a guild.  Beneficial animals and insects such as frogs, birds, lizards, praying mantis, ladybugs, etc should be attracted to the garden with various types of habitat and plants that they prefer.  You can even protect from larger animals like goats and people by using things with thorns or sharp ends.  Some living fences that we have seen are even more effective than the razor wire that many people put along their fences.

If you watch Doomsday Preppers like me you probably saw this episode that showcased two Preppers. The difference for me it was that I have actually heard of two of the

 

One of the most important aspects of preparedness is the process of establishing a group of people who you can count on when the chips are down.  But what does that mean when the situation comes down to really basic survival, when there will be no power, accessible fuel, food or medicines for the foreseeable future?  What if every stranger you encounter represents a potential or real threat to the safety of your family and/or to your community, whether large or small? What if the tasks of achieving and sustaining security become the collective responsibility of individuals rather than local government?  If that happens, who can you trust?

I have not chosen the word “trust” lightly.  Trust is performance based.  For the most part, it is objective and, therefore, measurable.  Even where it may become subjective in nature (such as an assessment of someone’s character), it will be based upon standards that you have developed over a lifetime.  I may have faith in an individual, but even that term owes its existence to a steady build-up of confidence, like building blocks, which ideally leads to rock-solid trust.  Is such a thing possible?  I think it is, but it requires you to assess individuals in a way that you may have never thought about – at least in the context of survival.  Importantly, it is a process that must begin long before you are confronted with a life threatening crisis.

If you’ve raised any children you already know that every degree of trust that you give to them is based upon the demonstration of prior, as well as continuing, progress in every aspect of their growth, training and development, character and conduct.  So it is with individuals that you choose to stake your survival on.  Stated differently, if desperate circumstances forced you to throw in with a group that you had no prior knowledge of, you would be casting your fate to a far lower standard called “hope;” which can alternately be defined as desperation.

I want to emphasize that effective assessment of survival group participants is really a long-term process.  You have the benefit of knowing your immediate and extended family over a relatively long period, and it affords many opportunities to observe.  In urban settings, neighbors may come and go.  Some may not be very sociable, or you may only get opportunities to learn more about them at infrequent intervals.  That can make it difficult to assess their strengths and weaknesses as potential survival partners.  Don’t rush the process, but don’t neglect the need and value of building a survival support network, either.  The larger your support group is, the better off it will be for you and them.  It should go without saying that you can quietly assess people without disclosing your prepper orientation and objectives.  Final Prepper and its contributing writers have touched on this issue numerous times over the past few years.

If desperate circumstances forced you to throw in with a group that you had no prior knowledge of, you would be casting your fate to a far lower standard called “hope;” which can alternately be defined as desperation.

If you are married, your spouse must take an active role in helping select individuals or other families that will become part of your survival group.    Trust your instincts.  If, after assessing their prospects, either of you has a gut feeling that says “no” it’s best to pass on that individual, even if they demonstrate some aspects of prepping skill.  Your reasoning for accepting someone into your group has to be as rigorous as your rationale for declining someone.

Sources of Support

There are four sources of mutual support that you can potentially draw upon during a temporary or sustained crisis:

  1. Family (nuclear and extended)
  2. Neighbors
  3. Friends
  4. Your local community

You may think that your family members, by virtue of a blood relationship, automatically fit into the “trusted” category for survival purposes.  That could be a fatal assumption (more on that, later).  In similar fashion, just because you enjoy the company of a neighbor for his or her friendliness at a Friday night poker game does not mean that they possess the qualities needed to enhance your survival prospects, or even their own family.

The context that I use for friends is confined to individuals that share long-term common interests and skills as they pertain to survival.  For example, a hunting, fishing or backpacking partner.  In my experience these tend to be deep relationships that stretch over many years.  You may have known that person since childhood or developed a deep friendship and common interests with someone at work.

The concept of “community” might be a bit vague, depending on whether you live in densely populated urban areas or less populated rural settings.  That distinction is important however, and your prospects for developing a successful support system may diverge in very dramatic ways between those two settings.

I’ll come back to these mutual support sources later, but first, let’s examine what I believe are the essential building blocks of trust.  Your list might be longer or shorter, but here are my top five “starter” categories that should get you thinking.

You may think that your family members, by virtue of a blood relationship, automatically fit into the “trusted” category for survival purposes. That could be a fatal assumption.

The Foundations of Trust

  1. Character: The moral and ethical nature of an individual or group. I’m not trying to be moralistic with this category – your principal objective should be centered around avoiding individuals with a demonstrated history of behavior that could endanger your survival.  For example, you might know a neighbor that borrows but never returns, someone with an addiction or other serious behavioral issue. If so, you may justifiably view them as persons who might steal your food, other essential survival supplies, or place you in direct physical danger.  Once you are cooped up with a predator, it’s too late to hear your wife or daughter say that she doesn’t feel safe around him or her.
  1. Conduct: The manner in which a person carries out their activities, assignments, duties or obligations.  Whether at work, in your neighborhood or at family gatherings, you undoubtedly come to know people who are industrious and passionate about their chosen role in life.  It may be a neighboring family that enthusiastically invests countless hours in gardening, an associate that is always trying to find a better way to perform a task, or a relative who overcomes difficulties with dignity and poise.  In contrast, you probably also know people who make a career out of taking shortcuts, exhibit unsafe practices, take unnecessary risks, or never quit seem to complete a task without intervention.  The question is, do you want to surround yourself with achievers, slackers or reckless people when you are in a survival situation?
  1. Judgment: The ability to accurately assess risks, needs and courses of action.  That is, people who demonstrate good analytical skills and sound judgment in the course of their work, a specialized activity or daily living.  In a protracted survival situation, you will be confronted with innumerable challenges, many of which you will have never encountered before.  You will need people around you that are able to think well, both inside and outside of the box and provide good counsel, rather than people who simply react to fear.  Remember this:  Real survival situations mean that your margin for error is far smaller than in ordinary, day-to-day living.  You don’t get to take a Mulligan if your risk analysis is faulty.
  1. Knowledge and Experience: The knowledge and skills that provide someone with the ability to effectively and consistently perform a task. This is an issue of training, experience and, to a degree, physical capability.  It requires that you objectively determine what types of expertise a person possesses.  There is a huge difference between “exposure” and experience.  Assigning the wrong tasks to an individual may bring harm to them or to the entire group.  Since we are talking about trust in the context of survival, this necessarily means that several members of your group should have demonstrable skills in field craft and the effective use of firearms.  Failure to select individuals with vital survival skills will put your group at risk in the long run.  By contrast, selecting only individuals that are skilled in the use of firearms – and nothing else – means that your group is only fit to be a raiding party.  Give me an accountant that was a combat medic and I’ll be happy.  Give me an accountant and a combat medic who each possess additional survival skills, and I’ll be four times as happy.
  1. Capacity: This includes physical ability, stamina, age and health as it pertains to certain tasks. For example, you may have a high trust level in someone’s ability (young or old) to stand watch, even though they are not physically able to dig a well.  He or she may be able to patrol a one-mile security perimeter, but not have the stamina to perform a 20 mile foraging hike in rough terrain.  In other words, someone may have perfectly adequate capacity for certain tasks, while being limited in other areas of need.  A person’s physical limitations should not be an automatic disqualifier, particularly if they can contribute in other important ways to group survival as described in the preceding categories.  In essence, “capacity” is a function of matching knowledge and experience with physical durability under specific circumstances.

These five criteria, and others that you may wish to add, provide the basis for establishing a level of trust about individuals that you may wish to include in your survival group; whether they be family, friends, neighbors or the community at large.  My list comprises more than these five, and includes a shared religious faith in God.  Your list may include other diverse requirements that are perfectly valid for the circumstances that you envision.

I think it is important to say that trust is something that you confer to an individual, rather than to a group.  In other words, the trust that you develop with one person should not automatically extend to his or her associates, particularly if you don’t know them.  Simply stated, you are ultimately responsible for assessing the trustworthiness of every member of a group that you may choose to form an alliance with.

  One of the most important aspects of preparedness is the process of establishing a group of people who you can count on when the chips are down.  But what does

 

I live in Chicago, the most dangerous city in America.

Not only is it the most dangerous city in America, but it is obnoxiously difficult to get out of even in the best of times. Geographically, it is three-sided (lake Michigan prevents egress to the east) and the only high-speed avenues of approach run North/South. Dismounted movement in any direction is not a viable option, as you would most likely become prey even in a situation where society has not collapsed. Most of the antagonists (see: gang members) in the city are already well armed, and if not well-trained they are nonetheless combat-hardened and more than audacious enough to be a serious threat. To make matters more complicated, I have two children under the age of 7.

I know… why on earth would any preparedness-minded individual choose to live in such an indefensible position? There are many reasons why a family might find themselves in such a survival nightmare, ours is very simple and, unfortunately, equally inexorable: I am in the United States Military and I am stationed here. I won’t go in to what I do here other than it is very routine and far from glamorous, and I am here for a three-year tour.

So hopefully that should put to rest all of the obvious questions. Suffice to say I now understand that there are reasons why NOT living in the city isn’t necessarily a viable option, at least not in the short-term. Not everyone can just uproot to the rural redoubt property, plant some corn and put up a solar array.

I have several combat tours as an Infantryman in the middle east. Through these experiences and the balance of my 20 some odd years in the military, I can easily make the mental leap between what a metropolis like Chicago is today and what it could be after a societal collapse, in fact I have experienced it firsthand in Baghdad circa 2005 or so. In central Iraq, we were not the primary danger to the average Iraqi citizen. Most dangerous to them were the rape gangs, terrorist cells that used murder and extortion to raise funds to fight coalition forces, and regular members of the criminal element present in every place in the world. AQI (Al-Qaeda in Iraq) was the dominant terrorist network that rose out of the ashes of Baghdad in the years following the invasion. They were notorious for their strong-arm tactics to wring funds out of the indigenous population. They kidnapped young girls from families with means to pay ransoms. These girls were subjected to the most unspeakable captivity, raped many times a day, and had little chance of being returned to their families alive, no matter how much those families paid. Citizens were tortured and maimed in order to instill in them enough fear that the terrorists would reliably be provided materiel support and the victims would be far too afraid to speak to us or tell us who they were. Our patrols lasted 12 hours…. The terrorists lived among them and controlled them through fear and intimidation.

I don’t think most preppers realize how hellish the collapse of our society would be. I don’t think most reasonable people can imagine the magnitude of violence that people will readily visit on their neighbor when propelled by ideology, hunger, or sometimes simple profit. Can you imagine living in a place where your wife and your daughters were commodities? Where your sons are either killed or kidnapped or forced to fight for and perform suicidal tasks for evil men? Preppers talk about bugging out, and getting their families to safety… but I’m not sure most realize that the concept of safety is an illusion if you are alone. Much like the United States, Iraq is a large country, and most people lived in cities, but rural areas of Iraq were terrorized just as much as the urban areas. In many places it was more so due to proximity to resources and opportunities for the terrorist networks to conceal their own activities.

A family alone was prey. Nothing more.

I would like to dispel some myths about the way preppers in America think about how we will survive the coming collapse. Here are my top three:

1. I will bug out with my family to our cabin in the woods and we will grow a garden, raise chickens, and wait out the worst effects of the collapse.

Maybe, if you’re lucky…. but if you are alone in the woods you will most likely be found and be raped, killed, and looted. We know that the 240,000,000 plus people who live in our American cities will run out of resources and begin the process of starvation after about 72 hours or so. They are going to go somewhere. The strongest will have already preyed on the weak, sick, and stupid. The ones who find you will be strong, they will be motivated, and they will be ruthless. If they weren’t they would never have survived the urban exodus. They aren’t going to knock on your cabin door in broad daylight. Your chances as a family alone are very low.

Contact! A Tactical Manual for Post Collapse Survival

2. I am safe because I have the 5 best SHTF guns that I saw in a cool online survivalist forum and a zillion rounds.

Congratulations. If you have no or very little training, you’ll be lucky to make it to your first magazine change. Smart bad guys will back off after you shoot at them and simply wait for the opportunity to kill you and take your awesome weapons and free fodder. And they will be smart… or they would be one of the dead dumb ones who didn’t make it out of the city

3. I have enough food and resources to survive indefinitely, and I have a foolproof plan of egress and evasion, and I have thought through all the variables.

I hope you do. Have you done several complete rehearsals of every aspect of your plan? A wise old NCO once told me “don’t expect what you don’t inspect”. You don’t know what you don’t know unless you have run through the plan on the ground to shake out the bugs. It is very likely that there are fatal flaws that could be easily corrected given an honest rehearsal. This rehearsal must include your entire family or group, it must include all the physical movement and labor that the real thing would include. You must use the gear and resources that you would be using were the worst to occur. If you do not regularly train on your plan, then what you have is not a plan… it’s called a theory.

Pulling yourself and your family through is far more about physical conditioning and mental toughness, confidence in your training and in your plan, and good old-fashioned luck. I survived over 500 combat patrols with a single weapon, my issued M4 with a good weapon light, and the seven loaded steel magazines I kept with me on my body armor. I didn’t carry huge knives or tomahawks or pounds and pounds of the newest and coolest “tacticool” useless crap… just a multitool and an expandable baton. Sometimes we were out for 12 hours, sometimes up to 36 hours. The point is that it’s way more about the gear between your ears than the gear hanging off of every molle loop or picatinny rail.

Along with my training and a solid plan, I had my brothers on my left and right. They were my survival community. The truth of the matter is that in order to survive a collapse, we must build communities. In a community we have sentinels on guard 24 hours a day. We have a person on duty monitoring communications equipment to stay in contact with neighboring communities 24 hours a day. Our community has guards that patrol for resources and interdict incursions. In a community there is a division of labor where we can teach our children, grow our food, mend our shoes, and stand watch over our fences simultaneously. In a community we are strong enough to live in peace. Whether that community is our extended family, or a network of like-minded citizens who prepare and TRAIN together, it is precisely hanging together that will keep us from hanging separately.

That’s how the people survived after we destroyed Iraq. They relied on the members of their communities and their tribe, and they rebuilt. If the worst happens, we can learn much from them.

  I live in Chicago, the most dangerous city in America. Not only is it the most dangerous city in America, but it is obnoxiously difficult to get out of even in

Why do you need protection?

If you’re going to prepare for the worst case scenario, a bullet proof vest needs to be part of your plan. When SHTF, personal protection is really your number one priority– even food and water can wait if you’re not safe from the danger of other people.

Aside from getting a weapon to defend yourself, you’ll need something to defend yourself from other weapons. Since smart shooters will be aiming for your torso above all else, this is the first area you want to protect, and the best way to do so is with a body proof vest.

Of course no vest will protect against absolutely every weapon, so you will have some decisions to make. There are tradeoffs between level of ballistic protection and comfort/conceal-ability that need to be considered when choosing a bullet resistant vest. Generally, vests that protect from high caliber rounds are bulky, cumbersome and their presence is obvious. Covert bullet proof vests are far more concealable and comfortable to wear, but don’t provide optimal protection.

What’s the best choice?

So what’s best for a survivalist? In almost all cases, you will want to procure covert, wearable body armor. Wearability and concealability are supremely important. You have no idea how long you’ll need to wear it, so preparing for long periods of time is wisest– there’s no telling when you’ll be safe enough to take it off.

Covert bullet proof vests are worn under clothing and have comfortable linings. Many are made with CoolMAX lining, which is designed to regulate your core temperature by letting excess heat out of the vest. For those who are irritated by synthetic fiber, cotton-based alternatives are also available.

Soft body armor won’t stop rifle rounds but could be useful in many other scenarios.

Concealability is equally important. OPSEC for preppers is a must-know, and avoiding “indicators” — things that signal to people that you’re well prepared — is very important. If people know how well prepared you are, this makes you a clear target. If you’re seen parading around in an overt body proof vest, people will know that you have your act together, and likely have some other useful stuff to take.

For this reason, it’s recommended that you don’t get anything higher than level IIIa– upwards of that level, you’re getting into ceramic plates which can’t be concealed. One thing to consider is that the lower the level, the easier it is to conceal. Level IIIa soft armor may still “print”, or show its outline underneath clothing.

Of course sacrificing bulk also sacrifices protection. Level IIIa will protect against most common weapons and also minimize blunt force trauma, an often overlooked benefit. If you go lower than that, you’ll have some vulnerabilities, but on the other hand you’ll be more stealthy.

Heavy Weapons and Blades

The only other thing to consider is the possibility of heavy weaponry. As you may already know, getting to know your neighborhood is a very important factor in planning. If it looks like you might actually be threatened by heavy weapons, get some small arms protective insert (SAPI) plates and store them in a safe place. Only put them on when you need them– no need to go traipsing around with an extra 15 pounds of weight for no reason.

Also consider getting vests rated for stab and spike protection. Blades and points are different than bullets, and bullet proof only vests will not protect against them. Overall, it’s key to know that no body armor will protect against everything. The best defense is preparation and staying calm in the face of danger. Even then, having the right bullet proof vest may save your life.

Why do you need protection? If you’re going to prepare for the worst case scenario, a bullet proof vest needs to be part of your plan. When SHTF, personal protection is

If you are reading this article, I would imagine that you have never eaten an MRE before. Why do I say that? Well, for anyone who has eaten MREs you probably already have a strong opinion about them or at the very least, your experience might be based upon military service years ago. I had eaten more than my fair share of MREs when I was in the Army, but things have changed as you would expect with the passage of more years than I want to think about so I decided to take them up on the offer and while I was at it, share my opinion on what if any place MREs have in the food storage plan for preppers.

My military experience was let’s just say in the last century and MREs have gone through some pretty decent changes and updates since the time I was chowing down. For those who don’t know what an MRE is, the Acronym stands for Meal Ready to Eat and this is what is given to our soldiers when they aren’t near a mess hall. When I was in the field we would usually get an MRE for lunch. Breakfast and dinners would be a hot meal, or it started out as hot when we crowded around the mess tent or the insulated containers they drove out to us on the back of a jeep. By the time you got somewhere to eat your meal it was usually cold. We would only go to the field in the winter time naturally.

MREs at the time were pretty much like they are now, but the menus have improved and some minor details have made this meal in a bag much more palatable if you can believe that. I served before they had things like M&M’s or skittles for dessert and hot sauce to flavor your food. We also didn’t have a built-in heater like they do now. If you wanted your MRE warm you were limited only by your creativity. MRE food packets are foil so they are both waterproof and allow you to heat them on almost anything. We would use the heater vents in our trucks, lay them on our stoves in the tent or on the block of our engines.

MREs come in boxes of 12 and each MRE is a different meal. You quickly learn which meals you like and which ones you don’t. If you were unfortunate enough to be the last one to the box you got what everyone else passed over. When I was in the service I think the worst meal was the beef patty. There are some similarities between the meals. They all come with an entrée, some side and a dessert. You get crackers and peanut butter or cheese, a condiment packet and usually a drink mix. We would even come up with our own names for meals that displayed our disdain for the contents. One meal, Meatballs with barbecue sauce was affectionately called ‘Meat nuts with Barf A Shoe’ sauce by myself and the guys in my unit. I am sure there are millions of other creative renames. I actually liked that MRE and I think it was pretty much my go-to meal as long as I could beat everyone to the box.

I opened up a box looking for some differences in the contents on the bag and searching for my old favorites because I was definitely getting the best MRE and I wouldn’t be stuck with the Beef patty. I was surprised at the options. For starters we didn’t have anything vegetarian when I was in the service, but this box had Vegetarian Ratatouille, Vegetarian Lasagna and Apple Maple Rolled Oats. Breakfast?? They also had the old standbys of Pork Sausage Patty and it looked like my Meatballs with Barbecue sauce was changed to Meatballs in Marinara sauce. That is what I decided to taste first.

What do MREs taste like?

Before I get into what the MREs from Meal Kit Supply tasted like, I wanted to set expectations here. When you tear open a bag like this, you aren’t getting fresh ingredients from the garden prepared by a classically trained French chef. You are getting food that was designed for the military to pack enough calories in there to keep them alive, be waterproof, tolerate being mistreated and last for 5 years sitting in a warehouse most likely. If you are expecting Ruth’s Chris here or maybe even Golden Corral, you might be in for a surprise.

Everything in the bag.

I opened my MRE and noticed that everything was still pretty much the same. You have food in foil packets although my packets weren’t in separate boxes. They did include the nutritional insert though and I never understood why they had the extra boxes anyway. Another thing we didn’t have when I was in was the handy ration heater. The ration heater is activated by placing a little water in a bag. The water mixes with an element and causes a chemical reaction that generates heat. You wrap your entrée in the bag,  and in 10 minutes you are supposed to have a hot meal. It didn’t work that way for me.

Everything you need plus a big long spoon to reach the bottom of the bag.

I followed the instructions or so I thought but my heater didn’t warm up. I waited the 10 minutes but finally decided to eat my meatballs cold. They weren’t bad at all, but I know they would have been so much better warm. My survival dog certainly loved the taste too when I gave her one of the small meatballs to taste. When I finished eating, I noticed that the warmer was finally getting warm so I placed my Au gratin potatoes in there. Yes, they had Au gratin potatoes and although they didn’t have the slightly burnt edges from being in the oven but they were cheesy and filling. They only needed a little salt and pepper to doctor them up. The heater worked just fine after-all.

The Ration Heater instructions say that it works best if you place a heavy object on the packet.

So far so good. I broke out the crackers; literally because they came apart in my hands. This wasn’t the fault of the manufacturer I don’t think. I was just clumsy. Regardless, once I had my peanut butter on them they were great. I finished up with the dessert, Vanilla pudding which to prepare you needed to mix a little water in the bag and shake the bag for 60 seconds before it was ready. This was definitely good!

How do MRE’s fit into a Prepper Plan?

Any prepper plan has to take into consideration what food options will be best in various situations. Usually we recommend different types of food for different scenarios. If the power goes out you look for food that doesn’t need to be cooked. Canned tuna, MRE’s and snack bars fall into this category of course so do a lot of other foods. You want to store foods that your family will eat but there is also a need to have long-term storable food that you can take with you in a bug out bag. Frequently I will recommend freeze-dried foods for bug out bags, but those do require some preparation. For starters they need hot water or else you are eating rocks. MREs do not need water (except the pudding) and you don’t even need to heat them up.

My dog was a big fan of the Meatballs.

There are some weight considerations in that MREs weigh more than freeze dried food but they do have their advantages. I have a few boxes stored as part of my food storage plan because they are an easy way to get the calories you need for survival. I also have food stored in buckets, canned food and freeze-dried food. I am an equal opportunity food storage person and there is something to be said for having variety. Are MREs the the best prepper food? I don’t think there is ever a single best food for all prepper situations, but MREs are proven reliable. If our military uses them you can bet that you could find reasons to use them too. They are more expensive than other options but you don’t have to prepare anything, they even throw in the salt, pepper and a little moist towelette to wipe your face and hands when you are done. They used to come with toilet paper and chewing gum but apparently that is not part of these MREs.

You can get a box of 12 MRE’s yourself and try them out or just place them aside for an emergency. MRE’s are another good food option that will store for a long time and could save your life.

If you are reading this article, I would imagine that you have never eaten an MRE before. Why do I say that? Well, for anyone who has eaten MREs you

When our society collapses, so too will unlimited access to clean water, quality food, and medical care. Most diseases that have long been eradicated in the developed world will once again rear their ugly heads, and many will die. Preparing now will ensure that we and our loved ones have a better chance of surviving.

WATER

One of the first things to go, regardless of the cause of collapse, may be access to clean water. Bacterial infections (such as cholera, dysentery, and typhoid), protozoan infections (such as giardia and cryptosporidiosis), parasitic infections (such as schistosomiasis), and viral infections (such as polio and hepatitis A) will arise primarily due to fecal matter in the water, and even water from the most pristine high-altitude streams will not be safe to drink without treatment. In the emergency preparedness classes that I taught, I collected water from a scummy pond. With an abundance of algae, it was very green and contained a lot of solid matter. I made for samples for demonstration purposes: 1) passed only through a coffee filter; 2) boiled; 3) distilled; 4) treated with bleach. Without revealing the treatment methods used, I asked the class which water looked best and safest to drink. Hands down, everyone chose the clearest, cleanest, purest looking sample—the water that was only passed through a coffee filter. The boiled, distilled, and bleach-treated samples were all off in color. It was at that point I realized that once the collapse begins, we need to be prepared to purify all of our water ourselves, and not rely on anyone else.

Platypus GravityWorks 4.0L Filter System can make 4 liters of water safe to drink in minutes.

FOOD

While illnesses arising from impure water will start quickly after collapse beings, increases in cases of food poisoning won’t be far behind. There is a wide variety of bacteria that cause food-borne illnesses. Some will only cause vomiting and/or diarrhea; others can be fatal. Of course, that is the case even now, when all is apparently well in our world. However, when people become desperate due to dwindling food supplies, they will also start eating food they normally would have tossed out. And they may become less cautious about the hygiene standards for those preparing the food. The pathways for potential contamination are numerous:

  • contaminated water used for washing or cooking;
  • under-cooked meat;
  • infected people handling food;
  • food held too long at improper temperatures;
  • botulism, not only from improperly canned foods—commercial or home canned, but also from baked potatoes baked in aluminum foil and then left at room temperature;
  • poor hygiene among food handlers.


To prevent illness, use only purified water for food preparation, cooking, and washing dishes. Carefully wash all produce. Cook all foods thoroughly. Enforce rigid hygiene practices for all food handlers. Practice strict observance of all guidelines for home canning. Don’t permit strangers to prepare your food. And don’t save leftovers—practice cooking what will be eaten in one meal.

MOSQUITOES

The incidence of malaria and yellow fever will definitely surge, as also will in all likelihood cases of zika, chikungunya, and dengue

Mosquitoes can carry bacteria, viruses, and parasites, making them an efficient vector for the transmission of dozens of diseases. While they pose a much greater threat in tropic and subtropical climates, mosquitoes range throughout North America. The most serious diseases spread by mosquitoes in North America at this time are western equine encephalitis and eastern equine encephalitis. However, in a grid-down situation, where municipalities are no longer actively combating mosquitoes and when filters and chemicals for backyard swimming pools are no longer being used, the mosquito population will increase astronomically—as will the number of diseases and cases. The incidence of malaria and yellow fever will definitely surge, as also will in all likelihood cases of zika, chikungunya, and dengue. To reduce chances for mosquito bites, wear clothing that fully covers the skin, eliminate open sources of water, utilize window screens and mosquito netting where possible, and apply mosquito repellents to exposed skin.

ACCIDENTAL INJURIES

As the society we have been raised in regresses to the 1800’s, as access to unlimited amounts of clean water and quality food decreases, and as people start working more physically, the number of accidental wounds and injuries will increase. As good nutrition decreases, the ability of the body to fight minor infections will also decrease. Simple scratches, even hangnails, will have the potential to become life-threatening. The first line of defense is to maintain strict personal hygiene—keep your skin clean. Second, make sure your tetanus vaccine is current.

Third, wear protective clothing always. This includes sturdy shoes and socks and gloves appropriate to whatever task you are performing. Fourth, whenever there is even the most minor of scratches, cuts, or wounds, practice thorough cleansing of the affected area, apply antibiotic ointment, bandage carefully, and change the dressing frequently. And get into these habits now.

COMMUNICABLE DISEASES

Careful hand-washing and avoiding crowds will go a long ways towards avoiding infection, as will keeping current on vaccinations. For those illnesses that breach your defenses, make sure you have an area that can be used for quarantine. Have a generous supply of plastic sheeting for sealing windows and doors, as well as medical gloves and N-95 masks. In addition, store antibiotics commonly used for treating strep throat, scarlet fever, and pneumonia, in addition to others routinely used for conditions to which you are susceptible.

VERMIN

While lice and bedbugs don’t necessarily transmit disease (they may), they do make people uncomfortable with either the itching or the mere thought of their possible presence. Don’t share personal items such as combs, brushes, sheets, or towels. As with most diseases, prevention is easier than treatment. However, consider adding some lice treatment supplies to your storeroom, just in case.

As society collapses, so does the government’s ability to provide services such as garbage collection. Mice and rats will be living the high life. So that they do not enjoy their newfound prosperity at your expense, have plenty of bait and traps for them.

MALNUTRITION

As the new normal lingers, malnutrition will become increasingly common. As a group, we have a reputation for having gathered and stored food to see us through to the other side. However, we can’t store food for everyone and we need to be prepared to improvise if for whatever reason our supplies run out.

Most nutritionists agree that a ratio of 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 30% fats is healthy. However, what we actually consume varies widely, with women more likely to consume more carbohydrates and less protein, and the opposite for men. When the grid goes down, we’re going to be spending more time in physical labor, and our caloric and nutritional demands will change, sometimes drastically. And sometimes, people will have to make do with what they can find for food. So here we’ll address what various deficiencies in the diet look like and what can be done to remedy them.

The symptoms of protein deficiency are varied and non-specific and include weakness, fatigue, and reduced immune system function. Symptoms of carbohydrate deficiency are similar to those for protein deficiency but also include depression and mood swings. Symptoms of fat deficiency (which can occur even on overweight individuals) are similar to those of carbohydrate deficiency but also include reduced brain function and an increase in skin problems. And fats are essential for the body to be able to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and E.
In the developed world we have been blessed for so long to have ready access to a widely varied diet that we have not seen manifest the effects of vitamin deficiencies for the most part, or at least those deficiencies due entirely to diet alone. Even when things fall apart, it will be a long time before we see problems with vitamin A and B deficiencies. When we run out of fresh or preserved fruits, problems with vitamin C deficiencies will likely arise. Teas can be made from pine needles or rose hips, or juice can be made from wheat grass to provide this essential vitamin. Vitamin D occurs naturally in only a few foods—generally fish and eggs. Most vitamin D in a North American diet comes from fortified milk and grains. When these dietary options become limited, just make sure to get at least a few minutes of sun each day, exposing as much of the skin as reasonably possible, and without sunscreen.

As variety in the diet and as food in general become restricted, conditions caused by dietary mineral deficiencies will present themselves. The best prevention will be raising your own vegetables and fruits and including whole grains and beans in your diet. Add in some eggs from your flock of chickens and use iodized salt and you’ll be well covered. For times when growing vegetables due to the season or due to having to leave your home is not possible, stock a generous supply of vitamin and mineral supplements for everyone in your family.

MEDICATIONS AND MEDICAL SUPPLIES

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The aforementioned diseases will be making a comeback. That’s just what happens when societies collapse. While we are pretty powerless to stop that collapse, we can dramatically increase our chances of making it to the other side by ensuring a clean water supply and ready access to good food, and by observing strict personal hygiene and sanitation.

However, some illnesses and injuries are still bound to occur. It is important to stock a variety of OTC pain relievers including ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, and naproxen sodium. These will effectively help with most of our minor ailments. For those killer headaches that come on hard and strong, have some children’s chewable versions of these pain relievers. They are more expensive, but they begin acting in about half the time. Benadryl is useful not only for allergies, but more importantly for insect bites or stings.

Despite medical and governmental counsel to the contrary, don’t throw out unused prescriptions. Of course, they can only legally be used by the person for whom they are prescribed, but you never know when they may come in handy again. Long-term studies have shown that most medications, providing that they are stored in a cool, dark place, retain their efficacy long past the posted “best by” date. The most notable exception to this is the tetracycline antibiotics, which should never be used past the date given on the package.

As people experience changes in their normal diet, stomach and intestinal upsets are bound to occur. Peppermint tea has been used for centuries to calm upset stomachs. Anti-diarrhea remedies should be available for mild cases of intestinal upset, but in severe cases of diarrhea, as will happen with cholera and dysentery, more will be needed. Electrolyte replacement solutions like Gatorade or Pedialyte take a lot of shelf space and storing an adequate supply gets expensive. Make your own using the following recipe:

  • 1 quart water
  • 1-1.5 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon of salt substitute (potassium salt)
  • 1 pack of sugar-free drink flavoring (Kool-Aid packet, or something similar—it’s not necessary, but especially helpful when trying to get someone to drink as much as possible)

In addition to the masks and gloves already mentioned, also stockpile a generous supply of:

  • Bandages in all types and sizes;
  • Topical creams such as triple antibiotic, hydrocortisone, Benadryl, and silver nitrate;
  • Betadine or iodine;
  • Mineral oil;
  • Epsom salts;
  • A wide variety of medical tapes;
  • Alcohol wipes;
  • Cotton balls;
  • Your favorite cold, cough, and flu remedies;
  • Essential oils you have found useful.

Also obtain a few medical books such as Physician’s Desk Reference and The Ship’s Medicine Chest and Medical Aid at Sea (get an older copy from the 1980’s or earlier—with the advent of satellite and cell phones, a lot of advice in later editions has been to “call the mainland” for help).

Cleaning supplies will be critical in maintaining safe environments post-collapse. Unfortunately, bleach doesn’t have a long shelf life, and neither does peroxide. If you are among those thinking you’ll be able to make “one last run,” include these items on that list. Rubbing alcohol, soap, and vinegar last forever. What many people don’t realize is that white vinegar is a great disinfectant for almost all hard surfaces, and true apple cider vinegar (with the mother) has numerous medicinal uses. Storing several gallons of each (depending on the size of your group or family) would not be excessive.

The Survival Medicine Handbook: A Guide for When Help is Not on the Way

And finally, antibiotics. While sanitation and clean water were rated number one in a survey concerning the greatest medical advances in history, the discovery and development of antibiotics were a close second. When the collapse is in full swing, it may well be easier to find a doctor who knows how to prescribe antibiotics than it will be to find the antibiotics themselves. They may become worth their weight in gold.

However, it is very difficult to find a physician who will prescribe antibiotics for you “just in case.” Federal regulations make this a very risky activity for the doctor. Fortunately, there are two ways to work around this problem. There are several companies online that sell a wide variety of fish antibiotics. While there is some debate about whether “fish” antibiotics are safe for humans, it is generally acknowledged that the “fish” antibiotics and “human” antibiotics are coming from the same manufacturer. They look the same because they are the same. Unfortunately, the “fish” antibiotics can be a little pricey.

The other option is ordering “human” antibiotics from an overseas pharmacy. These are much less expensive than the “fish” antibiotics available in the United States, even after you factor in the shipping. I can’t compare companies, as I have only used alldaychemist.com. I have ordered from them several times and have always been pleased with the service. However, they have a nasty habit of calling you frequently to remind you to place another order. So when you have to provide a phone number, make sure you give them a number for a phone you rarely use. (FYI: When you are asked if you have a prescription for the medication you are ordering, just say “yes.”)

Based on my family’s history and recommendations online for what to store, the list of antibiotics in our storeroom includes the following:

  • Amoxicillin (strep throat, pneumonia)
  • Erythromycin (same uses as amoxicillin, but safer for pregnant women and children, and safe for those allergic to penicillin)
  • Doxycycline (same uses as amoxicillin, but for those allergic to penicillin/amoxicillin, cholera)
  • Ciprofloxacin (anthrax, urinary tract and prostate infections, pneumonia, bronchitis, diverticulitis, dysentery, typhoid)
  • Metronidazole (diverticulitis—when combined with ciprofloxacin, some STDs, giardia)
  • Cephalexin (strep throat, pneumonia, staph infections—but not MRSA)
  • Azithromycin (respiratory infections, skin infections, ear infections, STDs, cholera, cryptosporidiosis)
  • SMZ-TMP (some respiratory and urinary tract infections, especially useful for MRSA)

Again, these antibiotics should not be acquired with the intent of self-diagnosing and self-treating our illnesses. They really should only be utilized with a licensed physician’s recommendations.

We all know a collapse is coming. History teaches us that all these diseases will be making a comeback. Being prepared won’t guarantee survival, but it will greatly improve our chances.

When our society collapses, so too will unlimited access to clean water, quality food, and medical care. Most diseases that have long been eradicated in the developed world will once