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Imagine being in the middle of a crowded festival, enjoying your time with your family.  All of a sudden, you find yourself near some drunks who start a fight, and you can’t help but separate from your family, and get pulled into the fray. You’re a prepper, and like most preppers, you’re carrying a small firearm, in this case a small pistol.  Do you use it?

Some would say yes – it’s time to defend the family, and that’s what a weapon is for, right?  Others hold off – bringing deadly force into a relatively small conflict is a certain legal issue and is probably not necessary considering that these people are drunk.  That said, this is clearly a self-defense situation.  Considering that a gunshot in a crowded public space is one of the fastest ways to start a riot, potentially getting you or your family even more harmed, the balance point for many tends to tip towards leaving your weapon holstered.

Imagine again.  This time, you and your family return home, and see the basement window broken.  Alarm bells are going off in your head, and you draw your weapon, instructing the kids to wait in the car.  Upon entering, you are able to see that the dangerous infiltrator is actually a 14-year-old boy who lives down the road.  Is he dangerous, or just a neighborhood nuisance?  You have less than seconds to decide.

Maybe you are one to draw in these circumstances, however, I believe that these are two examples of situations where yes, a gun could be advantageous to you, but it would be better left holstered.

Of all the four major prep areas – food, water, shelter and defense – it is defense that is most often overlooked.  I know preppers who think that all they need is a pistol and some ammunition, while others stock an armory, but the fact remains that for most, defense is simply just about the weapons you choose to keep.  In reality, self-defense is so much more.

Personal Defense                

The fact remains that for most, defense is simply just about the weapons you choose to keep. In reality, self defense is so much more.

The first line of defense to prepare is your last line of defense – your ability to defend your own person.  Guns are fantastic, but are not always the best solution to a conflict.  The best way to start that process is to take a martial arts class regularly.

Martial arts classes are incredibly varied, and depending on where you live, you should find a broad spectrum of different styles.  You could opt for a striking art like TaeKwon Do, Karate or Kung Fu, or you could focus on a martial art that emphasizes grappling such as Judo.  There are many arts that are combinations by nature (any MMA style or Krav Maga), and there are many schools of striking or grappling arts that borrow from outside of the strict boundaries of their chosen style to incorporate a broad range of self-defense elements.

Striking arts are probably what everyone thinks of when they imagine martial arts, as they are based on using your hands and feet to punch, chop and kick your way to safety.  These arts value speed and quickness over size and power, and often incorporate a large variety of cardio exercise practices that will double as your workout for the day.  The major advantage to learning a striking art is clear – these arts are focused on disabling an opponent quickly from a (relative) distance, and allow you at least a small chance of fighting multiple opponents.  A typical class will involve practicing kata or patterns of movements, practice kicks and punches against air, striking heavy bags or padded opponents, and jumping techniques.

Grappling arts are going to be more similar to wrestling than what you’d likely think of as a “martial arts” technique.  Instead of punches and kicks, you’ll learn disabling holds, pressure points, and throws.  A certain amount of size and strength is not necessarily essential, but will definitely help.  Classes for grappling arts tend to emphasize one-on-one, back-and-forth style of practice (I’ll throw you, then you throw me), and may not be as exercise-heavy as a striking art.  The advantages of studying a grappling art are the fact that they focus on defending yourself from abductions and mugging-style grabs and unarmed defense against an armed opponent, which are highly practical scenarios.  In addition, many people who have studied street fights have noted that over 80% of these encounters end up on the ground, where grapplers have a distinct advantage.

Both styles give you opportunities to practice against your classmates in simulated fighting scenarios.  Striking courses usually incorporate sparring practice where you use heavy pads and light contact to simulate a fight and test your reflexes and skills.  This allows you to safely practice your skills so that you’ll know you can function in times when you need to defend yourself. Grappling arts use amateur wrestling, or kneeling wrestling known as rendori as sport-practice.  In rendori, you maneuver your opponent on the mat in an attempt to make them submit from a painful or inescapable hold.

Finding a style is a good choice, but it may be better to find a school first and a style second.  Not all martial arts courses are created equally.  Many are black belt factories, where you pay a certain fee and are guaranteed a black belt after a certain amount of time.  Other schools are going to emphasize tournament performance or flashy-but-not-realistic jumping and leaping attacks.  Good schools are hard to come by, but they’ll offer a variety of different types of skills and performance elements, have a wide variety of people at varying levels of abilities and ages, and have experienced instructors.  Park districts are an excellent place to begin, but there are some valuable strip mall dojos that offer different types of instruction.  Ask for a free trial class, or at least to watch a class before signing up.

Non-Gun Weapons

Some models of tactical flashlights have stun guns or preprogrammed SOS signals that can add to its functionality.

In addition to a basic level of skill in hand-to-hand combat, I think it’s also important to find a hand-to-hand weapon to supplement your firearm and EDC kit.  My personal choice is a tactical flashlight that functions as a striking weapon, a strobe light to distract and disorient my attackers, and a tool that I can use in my everyday life.  Some models of tactical flashlights have stun guns or preprogrammed SOS signals that can add to its functionality, and since it’s a small flashlight it is a very inconspicuous weapon that is never taken away from me at sporting events or theme parks.  If you don’t like that suggestion, consider some of these other hand-to-hand weapons that are easy to carry:

Remember that no matter what weapon you choose to carry that you are well equipped and ready to use it.  A knife may not be the best weapon for every encounter, but if that’s what you choose, that’s what you might be stuck with.  If you pull pepper spray from your pocket or purse, know how to use it, or it will be taken away and used against you.

Dogs

Best Prepper Dog for SHTF

My final suggestion for personal defense is to get yourself a dog.

Dogs are fantastic companion animals that are also overlooked but highly practical pieces of a prepper’s armory.  They require much more regular upkeep than what you’re storing in your gun cabinet currently, but are also useful for a wide variety of situations.

Dogs are not a fail-safe mechanism for security.  Just check YouTube and you’ll find hundreds of home security videos of dogs peacefully approaching burglars and not making a peep if that burglar thought ahead to bringing some dog treats with them.  That said, training and mentally stimulating your dog will certainly help in developing his senses enough to make him a versatile tool and defense mechanism as well as a companion.

Training your dog to be a more aggressive “guard dog” is certainly an option, but one that I would strongly discourage.  It is important for your dog to be socialized among other animals and be extremely selective about whom he attacks.  An “attack dog” is not a good choice, and will likely do you more harm than good, both in terms of legal trouble and difficulty in raising and training him.

If you don’t want a traditional guard dog, and if your dog is more likely to lick your home invader than attack him or warn you, then why bother?  It’s easy – prepper dogs are a highly effective deterrent for would-be attackers.

There is an old adage that states “When you’re running from a bear, you don’t need to be the fastest, you just need to not be the slowest.”  Choosing a large breed of dog, such as a Rottweiler, or an American or Olde English bulldog will definitely make your home significantly less appealing for any home invaders or burglars. More intelligent breeds, such as German Shepherds can act as an early warning system for people approaching your home, and may be able to be put to work around your home for basic tasks if you keep livestock.  These kinds of dogs are also those that have a reputation of being aggressive (even though they’re not), and their reputation alone can be a deterrent.  Keep in mind that many of our modern breeds, even those poorly designed for defense like bloodhounds or greyhounds, were originally bred to be hunters or highly specialized seekers, and have many practical applications in SHTF or survival situations

Taking dogs with you when you go outside for exercise or a walk is a good way for urban preppers to discourage muggers and attackers.  Even rural and suburban preppers can benefit from having a dog along on walks or runs in case of twisted ankles, or in the event that you are involved in some sort of accident.  My mother-in-law was riding her horse that she’d ridden thousands of times in the past, along a trail that she had ridden hundreds of times before, and when her horse was inexplicably spooked she fell off.  It was her golden lab that ran back to the farm alone to find help while she was knocked out.

All told, the advantages of having an animal companion are significant, specifically in terms of defense.  For those with allergies, there are some hypoallergenic dogs that are available, and depending on the breed you choose, you may find yourself unaffected by short-haired breeds.

A dog is not the highest priority on the list, but can certainly be a helpful addition to a home or personal defense system.  I certainly feel better about leaving my teenage daughter home alone for runs to the store or when I’m out to dinner with my wife when Arthur (my 90-pound monster of an American Bulldog) is home with her, even those he’s secretly a big softie.

  Imagine being in the middle of a crowded festival, enjoying your time with your family.  All of a sudden, you find yourself near some drunks who start a fight, and

The plan seems simple doesn’t it?

All you need for the best chance of survival for your family is a well-stocked bug out bag, a keen attention to your surroundings and careful monitoring of what is happening in the news. With these bases covered you will be a very informed prepper and will be able to get the jump on all of the clueless sheeple if something bad happens. You will load your family up with your bags and hike off into the sunset way ahead of the approaching death and destruction. You have a plan to bug out.

It sounds perfect, but in this article I am going to try and convince you how that might not be the best and first option you should consider. There are many reasons and situations I can think of why you do not want to bug out from your home. You may be asking yourself, how can I even say those words on a prepper blog such as this without getting struck by lightning? It’s true that hunkering down is not the option that gets the most press, but in my opinion during most (but not all) scenarios, it is the better choice. That is unless you are a combat trained Navy Seal. If you are like me, just an average guy with a family and a giant subterranean monster unleashed by nuclear experiments is not headed your way, you might want to stay put. Here are a few reasons why:

You live where your stuff is.

I’ll be the first to admit that a lot of these reasons are going to seem incredibly simple and obvious, but I think sometimes that is the best way to approach a problem. As a prepper you have probably started collecting some supplies to help you get through short and long term emergencies. Some of you have stored a TON of supplies because you have been doing this for a long time or else you are independently wealthy and you just blew up the Black Friday sales.

Even if you only have a week’s worth of food and water, that is nothing to sneeze at. Everything you have is stored probably in nicely organized bins for easy retrieval. You don’t have to carry it and the supplies aren’t subject to the elements. Leaving your home will make you potentially have to leave most, or all of your survival supplies at home. You could put them all in your best bug out vehicle, the diesel Ford F-250 with the trailer, right? Sure you could, but are you sure that truck will always be in your possession? It’s just better to stay at your home base because there are tons of advantages like…

Even your kitchen floor is more comfortable than sleeping in the woods

Some parts of Mother Nature are best appreciated when you can leave.

Yes, I know that some people sleep perfectly well in the woods and I can too, once I am exhausted from hiking all day. Honestly, you would have to agree that your old lumpy Serta Posturpedic mattress would be preferable to sleeping in the woods or an abandoned building or even a hammock. Why is that important?

Getting plenty of good sleep has a huge impact on our health. It not only affects your moods, but alertness and even immune system. In a disaster you will be stressed in ways you haven’t even considered. You may be working like a dog and having a comfortable and relatively safe place to rest your head, even if that is the living room floor will be an advantage that the people who think they can just bug out into the woods won’t have.

Built in Community whether you know it or not

In times of crisis, you can almost guarantee that communities will band together in some ways. You probably don’t consider your small neighborhood or dead end street a community but let some disaster happen and you will see humans come together for support, safety and to help each-other out. Being around even just a few neighbors who know you can give you advantages if you need assistance for things like a neighborhood security plan.

Even neighbors you don’t get along with will probably overcome grudges if the disaster is severe enough. Of course there is the potential that your neighbors could turn on you for being the lone prepper but I think in most cases, things won’t go Mad Max for a little while. If it does you will have to adjust, but I believe that most people would benefit by banding with their neighbors for support. You could have an opportunity for leadership here or compassion by helping out others who haven’t prepared. It is much better to strive for this kind of relationship with people than head out the door and face the world with only what is on your back.

Being Cold Sucks and it can kill you

I bet that most of you like to keep the thermostat somewhere in the upper 60’s to low 70’s during the winter. There might be some play in that range, but there are no thermostats outside. Whatever the temperature is outdoors is what you are going to be living with. Can you start a fire or wear warm layers to regulate your body temperature? Of course, but the last place I want to be on a cold winter night is huddled up in my sleeping bag under a tarp even if I did have a nice roasting fire beside me.

There are some situations where you wouldn’t be able to start a fire. Maybe if it was raining and you couldn’t find any dry wood or tinder, or there were people that didn’t look so friendly following you. Staying in your home, even without power can give you advantages of shelter that you won’t easily find outdoors. You can seal off rooms and even your body heat will generate a little warmth. You can black out your curtains with heavy gauge plastic sheeting and even the heat from a lantern or a couple of candles can put out an amazing amount of heat.

You may put yourself in a worse situation

The problem with most bug out plans are that you don’t have a destination. Where are you bugging out to? Do you think the National Forest is going to be reserved solely for you and your family? Do you think you will just set up a tent and start hunting for small game? In a large regional disaster, there could be millions of people leaving the cities. The concept is called the Golden Horde and they will be competing with you for natural resources. With even a few dozen hunters in the same area game will be depleted in days if not sooner. Then you will be stuck near a bunch of other hungry people who blame you for catching the last squirrel.

Being on the road makes you an easier target

One of the advantages of staying put at home is the home field or defenders advantage. When you go out, you do not know what you are walking or driving into. The best you can do is recon very deliberately which will only slow you down more. By staying put in your home, you can set up a neighborhood watch with your fellow neighbors and monitor who is coming in. This gives you the opportunity to set up defensive positions and plans that anyone walking in with thoughts of taking advantage of you, won’t be aware of.

If nobody knows you, you are a stranger

If the people in the town do not know you, they will treat you as suspicious, maybe even hostile.

Have you ever been walking your dog and seen someone strange walking through your neighborhood? This was someone you didn’t know so obviously they fell under suspicion. Had they been one of your neighbors kids you would have recognized them, but this new person stuck out. That is what you will be faced with if you leave your home and go wandering through other towns and cities. In your home neighborhood you will be dealing with known people that you can grow a deeper relationship with. There is a built-in level of trust because they have lived near you for years. If you start walking into a strange town with your bug out bags and AR-15 slung over your bulletproof vest, you may not like the attention you receive.

Gear is heavy and a lot of gear is heavier.

Speaking of walking around in your bulletproof vest and gear, how many of you have walked for 3 days with your bug out bag? OK, now add a full complement of bullets and anything else you think you might need to defend yourself. It adds up quickly even when you try to reduce the weight of your bug out bag as much as possible. These weren’t meant to live for a long time out of. Your food will run out, possibly your ammo and that will help you with the weight, but in a disaster where you are walking out the door in full combat gear, do you think Walmart will be open when you run out of something?

In a grid down you won’t get to call AAA

Maybe you are one of the lucky ones that have a place to go up in the mountains. If you don’t get out before everyone else starts leaving, you could be stuck on the road. What if your old bug out vehicle breaks down? All those supplies you stored in the back of that trailer are either going to feed a lot of other people on the highway or you will most likely die defending them. If you aren’t already living at your retreat before the disaster happens, you will have to be incredibly fast to avoid getting stranded. Let’s say you are ready to go, do you know when you would actually leave? Do you know when the S has actually HTF and it’s time to leave or will you debate leaving with your wife and mother for two days because they think it will all blow over soon?

Leaving home may put you in a worst situation than staying put.

If you get hurt you want to be near a secure shelter not under a tarp

I have a decent first aid supply kit. I don’t have IV’s and a ton of medicine but I can take care of garden variety injuries pretty well. Imagine you somehow break your leg after the grid is down. Would you rather drag yourself into the house, or be stuck in the woods for weeks unable to move? Most hospitals don’t stick their patients out in the back yard for a reason so you will convalesce better with a good roof over your head that is hopefully providing some climate protections. If nothing else, it will be a relatively clean and safe place to get better that beats lying under a log.

So what does staying home mean?

I will write a post about reasons why you may have to bug out later, but staying home doesn’t guarantee you will be safe and secure either. I think each situation has to be taken into consideration as to what is the better option for you and your family. Naturally if there is a fire heading your way staying at home is stupid. It is something to think about that and that may help you begin to form different plans for different scenarios. What are your plans?

The plan seems simple doesn’t it? All you need for the best chance of survival for your family is a well-stocked bug out bag, a keen attention to your surroundings

Even though my fascination with the natural world didn’t start until I was in my late 20’s and stressed out from work and responsibilities, I still remember vividly all of the camping adventures I had with my parents. I have about 20 years of experience in camping, and I’ve gone through all of the weather conditions and all sorts of other tricky situations.

And one of the most common and annoying problems that can dampen your camping trip in no time is if you didn’t come prepared to deal with rain. That’s why I decided to give you a few tips on how to get ready for camping on rainy days or survive them as safely and comfortably as possible.

Make a Wise Choice on Campsite Location

When I was a child, my family had a beautiful tradition. Every year, for my birthday we would go out in the woods and turn the celebration into three-day camping. As I was born during summer, the weather was ideal for this kind of activity. However, on my eighth birthday, the sky just broke. As rain poured, our tent, pitched at the base of a north facing peak, became soaking wet. My sleeping bag, unlike everything else in the tent, did not float. That’s when I learned the first and by far the most valuable lesson – choose your campsite location wisely.

In general, you should look for high, flat ground upon which to pitch your tent. Additionally it is important that the area is well-drained, so you don’t end up swimming in your sleeping bag.  Also, if you can, choose a campsite that is hidden by big trees, which will provide you with natural shelter from both winds and overexposure to the sun.

On the other hand, avoid campsites that are located too near bodies of water or under overhanging branches which will catch water at first and then channel it right to you. Sloping and depressed areas are a bad choice because water tends to flow through and accumulate here. And remember to avoid camping under that one lone tree, because this significantly increases your chances of getting struck by lightning.

Waterproof Your Tent

Your tent will usually be able to prevent water from pouring in when the rain is light.  However, as tens are regularly cleaned, exposed to heat, wind, and all sorts of weather conditions, they wear down bit by bit, which affects their waterproof features. Even the packing and unpacking of tents will produce wear over time.

If you want to stay dry and comfortable waterproofing is an absolute necessity. You’ll need to take care of tent’s walls, floor, seals, and seams and maybe even install a rain fly.

Plastic Bags are a Must-Have

When it comes to rainy days, plastic bags are life savers. They are waterproof, and they will keep the majority of your stuff safe and dry. Make sure to bring plastic bags of all sizes and shapes.

You should use them to segregate clothes and everything else in your backpack, line your bags to protect your belongings and most importantly keep your food dry and protected.

Cheaper plastic bags are usually not reusable, but even those can serve the purpose for a single outing if you don’t have any other choice. However, don’t forget to dispose of them properly after use.

Take the Tarp Inside

If you are a passionate camper, you probably already have a tarp. (You need one in your survival gear even if you don’t plan on camping). They should be placed directly on the ground, beneath your tent. They create an extra layer of protection and barrier against water and when there is no rain, morning dew. You can get a classic woven polyurethane style tarps for not more than fifty dollars.
If you place a tarp inside your tent rather than outside, as you probably do in most of the cases; you’ll find it offers a much better protection from the water this way. As most modern tents come with a built-in floor, this gives you both extra moisture and heat-loss protection.

Insulate the Ground

Except for placing the tarp, you should take care of other types of insulation. Add a bivvy bag will protect your sleeping bag from moisture, and retain a little heat. Doubling up on the sleeping pads is also a good idea. A lot of body heat can be lost to sleeping on the ground, even in a warm desert, where there are real creepy-crawlies seeking warm thing to cuddle up with.

Once you get in your bag and decide to go to sleep, make sure to keep your face exposed. Breathing into the bag may cause down insulation to get wet, which will affect its performance.

Mind the Signs of Hypothermia

Staying wet from the rain for a long time can put you at an increased risk of hypothermia, which often happens when rain or snow surprises you on while off the grid.

The most obvious signs are following: shivering, slurred speech or mumbling, slow and shallow breathing, weak pulse, drowsiness and low energy, clumsiness or lack of coordination, confusion, and loss of consciousness.

If this happens to you, or someone you know, rush them to the hospital. However, before you get there, you should start helping the person by removing all the wet clothing and covering them with dry blankets, clothes, and sleeping bags. Keep them as warm and as calm as you can and monitor their temperature.

Dry Out Your Wet Camping Equipment

All of your wet equipment, from clothing to shoes to sleeping bags to tarps to tents, and everything else, needs to be vented. As soon as you have a chance, unpack your bags and let your stuff thoroughly dry. Otherwise, molds, mildew, and other unpleasant scents will develop, ruin the fabric, and corrode metal items.

Even though my fascination with the natural world didn’t start until I was in my late 20’s and stressed out from work and responsibilities, I still remember vividly all of

Smart preparation means to think in advance and to make strategies for all possible scenarios. Having a good plan for any situation is the wisest thing to do whether we’re getting ready for an outdoor adventure or the ultimate survival experience. One essential part of the plan that we need to conceive involves sleeping arrangements. I can’t underline enough how important is to get a good rest when we are in a critical situation. Sleep deprivation is one of the worst enemies we could have, especially when we are not in the familiar comfort of our daily life.

Whether you have a shelter prepared for a severe crisis or you’re just going camping in a tent or under the clear sky, you need a satisfying bed. Since you can’t take an actual bed with you, an air mattress is the next best choice. I always have one packed in my survival gear, and it has proven to be extremely valuable in various contexts. Let me tell you why:

Comfort

Air mattresses came into our lives as beach props meant to help us have fun and get tanned while floating. It didn’t take too long for these items to find their way into our houses as permanent beds. One of the main reasons for this is that you can choose the level of firmness for an air mattress. This option comes in handy outdoors as well. But there’s another big plus for airbeds: the modern models have air chambers to imitate the springs of a regular mattress. This feature addresses an older issue of air mattresses – the lack of support. But nowadays, due to leading-edge design and technology, this matter is no longer a problem. My advice is to look for a bigger number of chambers when choosing your air mattress: the higher the number, the better the support. Any 30+ chambers will do just fine. And since you may sleep for extended periods of time on this type of bed, consider the fact that they are not only comfortable but also resistant and reliable.

Power source

You should ponder the fact that out there you may not have an electric power source at your disposal or, even if you do have one, it might get cut off at some point. That’s why the best option is to have a versatile air mattress, the kind that can be inflated by using electric power, batteries or a manual leg pump. Such a self-sufficient product will undoubtedly serve its purpose even if the power is out. So when shopping for the perfect air mattress for survival, check the features “battery” or “manually operated.”

Size and space

It’s a no-brainer: air mattresses pack small. And this is what you need: a light item which is easy to carry and will not take a lot of space in your backpack. Also, you can move this kind of airbed quickly in a shelter, for instance; and if it’s a twin size, it can accommodate more people, when necessary.

 

Multiple functions 

What’s great about an air mattress is that it can be used in several situations. The primary function is to provide support for sleeping (in a shelter, a tent or on the ground) and I’ve already explained the advantages for this one. But you can find yourself wanting (or having to) cross over a water spread. The air mattress may be a suitable floating device in such circumstances. You could improvise wooden pads and steer it into the desired direction. I should point out, though, that this isn’t recommended in the case of a fast running river or very deep waters. Another way to profit from such an item is to use it as a cover if somehow it gets perforated and you can’t inflate it anymore. You can fill it with natural elements, like grass, moss, dry leaves or straw and still have a warm bed to sleep on it.

Safety

The manufacturers use fumes-free materials nowadays for making air mattresses, and studies have shown that these products have the lowest off-gassing of all. Why is this important? Well, think that you might be in a place which is not well ventilated: you don’t want harmful chemicals in your mattress. Check if the description of the product says BPS-free or phthalates-free. Or to look for a completely PVC-free, entirely textile-made mattress: some buyers have indicated them as more durable and less predisposed to punctures. The downside is that there aren’t many models like that on the market, so finding the one to meet all the other criteria might be a tough challenge.

I want to emphasize that choosing smart is essential when it comes to airbeds because this item can make a difference in a survival situation. Proper sleep is vital in critical times: sleep deprivation increases our irritability and decreases our cognitive functions. We wouldn’t be as vigilant as usual, our energy level will diminish drastically, and our physical and mental health will suffer. Thus, we need a reliable air mattress to use as our bed so we could enjoy a stimulating rest.

Smart preparation means to think in advance and to make strategies for all possible scenarios. Having a good plan for any situation is the wisest thing to do whether we’re

Thanks to the media, prepping gets a bad reputation. Those who prep — collecting food, water and equipment to prepare for the inevitable — are portrayed as paranoid at best and crazy at worst. When it comes down to it, though, prepping isn’t such a bad idea — it’s better to have it and not need it, as the old saying goes. You don’t even need a barn or a shed to start prepping. If you’ve got a garage, you’ve got everything you need. How can you turn your garage into the ultimate prepper storage unit?

What Do You Need?

Before you start setting up your garage for storage, how much food, water and other supplies do you really need?

  • Food — Start with at least 72 hours worth of shelf-stable food for each person in your household. Once you’ve got this established, you can start adding to your food storage
  • Water — The average adult needs a gallon of water per day, half for drinking and half for washing and other sanitation needs. Again, start with 72 hours, and then plan for long-term needs, with water filtration, sanitation and storage
  • Fire building — Even if you’re not storing firewood, make sure you have everything you need to start a fire
  • First aid — Include medicine, first aid supplies, antibiotics — where available — and iodine tablets. The latter only becomes necessary in the event of a nuclear strike
  • Sanitation — Toilet paper, bleach, peroxide and items for sanitation and waste disposal are necessary, especially in the event of infrastructure collapse
  • Other supplies — In the event of a pandemic, for example, you will need masks, respirators and other personal protection equipment
  • Equipment — Gather generators and fuel, air compressors for powering tools and other equipment that you might need to survive until the crisis is over and normality restored.

Now that you have a basic idea of what you need, where are you going to put it all? If you’re limited on space, storage can be tricky. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

First, Declutter

If you’re using your garage to store all the stuff you don’t have room for, your first step is decluttering. Go through your garage and separate everything into three piles: keep, sell and trash. Only keep things that are necessary, that will serve you in the future or that you can’t bear to part with. Anything you can sell, set aside for a yard sale. Anything you’re just hanging onto because you haven’t bothered to get rid of it can go in the trash.

This step has two purposes. First, it gives you more room to store your supplies. Second, you can use the money you make from your yard sale to purchase storage and supplies.

Buy and Prep Equipment

Heavy equipment can take up a lot of space, so it’s a good idea to purchase any equipment first and plan your storage around it.

Generators can help keep your equipment powered, as long as you have fuel. Look for a generator that can easily be stored when not in use but provides all your power requirements.

Air compressors can be useful as well — they can be used to power tools, refill tires and even clean, depending on the adapters you have for them. Make sure you’ve also got everything you need to maintain the compressor — tools, oil and even repair manuals can be useful to keep your equipment running.

Use All Your Available Space

A decent supply of food, water and other items will take up quite a bit of space, so the first thing you should do is look at your garage and see what kind of available space you actually have. Don’t just look at the garage itself — look under stairwells, in attics and even in closets.

In the garage itself, you’ve got walls and even your ceiling that can be altered to use as storage — all while still allowing you to use your garage for its originally intended purpose, parking your car!

Areas that already have equipment in them can still be used for storage — put shelves and storage containers above your washer and dryer and under your sinks for your growing prepper supply without filling your house from floor to ceiling.

You can even store supplies, cash and important papers in plain sight, if you’re clever with how you store them.

Don’t Forget Your Bug-Out Bag

Having a supply of food and water at home is great, but if you’re not able to stay in your home, you might not be able to take all of it with you. Creating a bug-out kit can give you a few days of supplies if you have to pick up and bug out. It should contain everything you’ve collected in your prepping — food, water, medical supplies, communication equipment — in addition to cash, important papers and anything else you can’t bear to leave behind.

Again you should have at least 72 hours of food and water for each person in your party. If carrying that much water is restrictive due to the weight, include water sterilization tablets or filter straws to protect you from any water contaminants in the water supply or in any natural water that you might find.

Give your bug-out bag its own special storage place in your garage. That way it’s on hand if you should ever need it. All you have to do is grab it, hop in your car and go.

Hopefully, you’ll never need your prepping supplies, but in the event that you do need them, it’s better to be prepared for any and all eventualities. It doesn’t matter if we’re facing a little hiccup or a full infrastructure collapse — having enough supplies could mean the difference between life and death. Even if you don’t opt for all the extra equipment, just having enough food and water and the ability to cook it can make all the difference.

Thanks to the media, prepping gets a bad reputation. Those who prep — collecting food, water and equipment to prepare for the inevitable — are portrayed as paranoid at best

Having read hundreds if not thousands of articles on preparedness, one of the common themes that I see consistently among all authors on all platforms is the focus on skills. Certainly, the advantages are obvious; if you know how to make a fire, then you’re able to do it in the moment without having to break out your boy scout manual and fail multiple times in the moment. You can practice on your own time during a non-emergency, and learn everything there is to know about knots, cooking, preserving, growing. In the moment, you can’t ask an attacker to pause so you can quickly study up on your Tae Kwon Do, or ask the oncoming floods if they could recede for long enough for you to build an adequate barricade for your home.

That said, as a budding young prepper a few years ago, I found it completely overwhelming having to not only purchase so many supplies, but also find the time to learn how to garden, how to start fires, how to build shelters, make home repairs and fire a gun all at the same time. That said, here are some buy-it and forget-it supplies that require nothing more than a few dollars in your pocket and a place to store this potentially life-saving equipment.

  1. Weather Radio

A weather radio, particularly one that includes a hand crank and options for lighting or charging, such as solar, is an essential supply for anyone who has to deal with the wrath of nature from time to time. In case of a power outage, this can charge your phone, light your way through the night, or provide the information you need to make quick decisions for your own welfare. We love this one!

Any good weather radio should be small, and offer multiple charging options. It should be easy to program, and you should probably store it with it’s instruction booklet. Since these devices are so incredibly easy to use, there is almost nothing that you’ll have to do in order to make it work for you, although those who don’t have experience working a radio dial may find it a little difficult to use the old-fashioned technology.

  1. Emergency Cell Phone Batteries

An emergency cell phone battery is exactly what you’d think it is – a portable power source that you can use to charge any device in a pinch. Most of these devices come pre-charged at local stores, although you may have to charge the ones you purchase online. I have one of these at my house for every family member with a device, and we use them so often it’s become second nature for every family member to grab one on their way out the door. In fact, one of our home’s phone charging stations is entirely dedicated to recharging just these battery packs.

What makes these chargers so great is that they function so well on the go. It may look awkward at first to be holding your device with the charger attached, but it works.

It’s also possible to purchase these for your bug out bags, or to keep one in a vehicle, but keep in mind that the battery’s charge will wear off over time. This provides a good opportunity to review your bug out bag every six months or so as you remove the battery packs for charging.

If you do decide to grab some of these, I’d highly recommend getting the highest mAh capacity you can get (this is the measure of how much of a charge a battery can hold). While this will increase price, and while you may never use the full capacity to charge a device, if you’re storing these for emergency use as I described above, then you want to keep the charge for the longest possible time.

  1. Mylar Blankets

It’s an emergency blanket. Not much more needs to be said other than the fact that these make an excellent, lightweight addition to a bug out or get home bag.

  1. Lifestraw (or other portable water filter) and Water Storage tanks

Outside of unwrapping a Lifestraw, there is not much to using it. You simply find some water, and suck in on the correct end of the filter.

Other portable water filters are, admittedly, slightly more difficult, but nothing so complicated that you can’t figure it out in the moment. When taking a group of 8th grade students on a camping trip a few years ago, they were all able to use a filter to strain out some clean drinking water without spilling much, and let’s face it, if an 8th grader can do it, so can almost any adult.

Water is a top-3 item that you’ll need to consider when prepping, and having a few portable filters in your home and in your bug-out equipment will help alleviate one of the largest concerns with water. The other concern is equally easy to handle – water storage can be very easily handled by simply purchasing some water bricks or some other convenient storage solution and filling it. No skill required there.

  1. Long-Term Food Storage

When purchasing supplies for just yourself, I could see the argument behind trying all of the long-term food options before committing to purchasing a huge quantity of flavors you might not enjoy. That said, for a family, any variety pack will likely include enough variety to keep everyone happy. Like the Water Storage equipment, this is as easy as buy, store and forget.

  1. Car Jumper System

A great buy-and-stash item that you’ll use rather frequently if you drive an old clunky car like I do is a car jumper system to jump your car. This is essentially a high-powered lithium battery that you can charge and store in your trunk. If you need to jump your car, pull out the instructions and follow along with getting your car started. I own three different models (one each for myself, my teenage daughter, and my wife), and each of them has the same three step approach to getting them set up. When you need it, you no longer need to rely on some good Samaritans to stop to help you jump your car.

All of these will bring you some peace of mind so you can sweat the harder stuff.

That said, as a budding young prepper a few years ago, I found it completely overwhelming having to not only purchase so many supplies, but also find the

There are only three items that I grab every single day when I walk out the front door. My keys get me in and out of my house and car, my phone is a do-all communication device, and my wallet, which is my secondary tool belt. There are, of course, other items that I often carry. Any time I go for walk very early in the morning, I take my tactical flashlight. If I’m not going into work, I’ll take my pocket knife (I work in a school, where knives are frowned on). I have a multi-tool, but I find that I don’t need it often enough to justify carrying it all over, although it does live in my car or briefcase, and again, I can’t bring it to work with me.

I don’t have any of the highly expensive, woven paracord belts that double as knives, compasses and fishing line, but I do have another tool that most don’t have in their arsenal, and that’s a wallet designed for anything. Here are my four favorite wallet accessories.

Credit Card Multi-Tool

There are dozens of models of Credit Card sized multi-tools, and choosing one is as simple as comparing what you have in your other EDC (Every Day Carry) items to what you’d like to have, but don’t. There are credit card tools that have wrenches, bottle openers, screwdrivers, mini-crowbars, rulers, saws, blades, and more. Some are even designed to be one-time use items that would allow you to break off pieces like fishing hooks and needles in emergencies.

Personally, I went cheap and bought one of these, which is durable stainless steel, but more expensive, higher quality tools exist out there as well.

I use my multitool about two times per month, but probably only because I don’t regularly carry a more functional multitool. This space-saving design makes it worthwhile, however. I used it to tighten the nuts and bolts on my classroom cart, open difficult packaging in a situation where a full-blown knife would get me into trouble, and tighten some screws in an aging bookshelf, all without having to get more complex tools.

The Go Comb

My Go Comb is my favorite of the wallet tools that I carry on a daily basis. I use this item daily.

There’s no true survival purpose to the Go Comb – it’s really nothing more than a credit card sized comb, although some models do have a very flimsy bottle opener attached. That said, there are enough times during my day where I find that my hair looks just a bit out of place, or when I need to look just a little bit more presentable, like when I have an impromptu classroom observation by the superintendent, or when a parent shows up at my office door to complain about their child’s grade. It’s also great for taking to the gym and using after a workout. Taking the two seconds, it takes to run the comb through my hair does a good amount to improve my professional appearance, and has helped me more than once in making a good first impression.

The Credit Card Knife

A lot of preppers love the Credit Card Knife. I think this tool is too light duty for any practical use, as it is designed to be lightweight plastic that folds up to create the handle. Check out a Swiss Card instead.

Swiss Card

Most people know about the Swiss Army Knife and it’s bevvy of features, but fewer are familiar with the concept of a “Swiss Card”. This device is a plastic shell that is, once again, credit card sized, and contains a few basic tools – a small knife, tweezers, a toothpick, scissors, and a nail file. They are often the perfect size to attach a camping mirror, which I did with the use of some Krazy Glue, so I now have a signaling device and a small mirror to use with my Go Comb. The Swiss Card has passed through many security checkpoints undiscovered, and has just enough of a blade that it’s useful. If you, like me, cannot carry a knife with you at work or in certain jurisdictions, then the Swiss Card may be a reliable secondary blade, and as they are usually one piece blades, they are higher quality than the aforementioned Credit Card Knife.

There are multiple styles and brands of a “swiss card”, so shop around for the one you like best.

Wallet Power Bank

There are some versions of power banks, like this one, which can fit inside your wallet. This one is pretty thick, but roughly credit card sized, and comes with all the cords you’ll need built-in. If you don’t mind carrying a thicker wallet, or if you just want the reliability of carrying an almost full charge of your phone in your pockets with no need of a wire, then this may just be a good choice for you. Like the Credit Card Knife, I bought it and tried it, and found that it just wasn’t quite there yet, at a point where I could carry it comfortably and use it enough to justify carrying it. I do not believe that a better (slimmer) option yet exists, but when it does, I’ll be signing up immediately. Extra battery life is something that I prize greatly.

The Katana

The Katana is a kick starter project that is currently in the process of fulfillment, so I cannot speak for it’s quality. I do think it justifies listing here because of the season. It’s winter here in Illinois, and when my family came to visit recently, they found themselves in a rental car that, for some reason, was not equipped with an ice scraper. Fortunately, I was there to get them out, but without help, they wouldn’t be going anywhere.

The Katana is a piece of credit card sized carbon fiber that functions as an ice scraper for your windshields. While I don’t imagine that it will work nearly as well as a plastic scraper, those can break, and this doesn’t seem like it will. Never be caught unprepared in an ice or snowstorm.

There are only three items that I grab every single day when I walk out the front door. My keys get me in and out of my house and car,

When I was growing up, nuclear war was a “real thing”.  We practiced getting under our little school desks, because they apparently had built in blast and radiation shields.  🙂  Then the Soviet Union threat “evaporated” and suddenly nuclear war was no longer a serious threat.  But now we have that lunatic in tiny North Korea making serious (nuclear) threats against the still somewhat significant United States.  And if he can’t do what he threatens today, he is working his people slavishly to be able to do it “next week”.  Hopefully the threats are a way to keep his people under control and/or extort stuff out of us, and he is not insane enough to think he could survive an attack on us (and hopefully we are willing and able to ensure he does not survive an attack on us).  And hopefully he is not insane enough to not care if he dies (we know he doesn’t care if many of his subjects die).  But that level of insanity does exist, so there is always a chance he would send nuclear bombs our way.

What if he does?  How do we survive?

If we are near enough to a blast, we won’t survive or will be in serious trouble.  How near is that?  That depends on a number of factors.  Perhaps the three most important factors are weather, the size of the bomb, and how far above ground it detonates.  “Size” is actually the explosive force, and it is measured in “kilotons”.  One kiloton is the equivalent power of 1000 tons of dynamite.  North Korea just tested a “hydrogen” bomb (“thermonuclear”, a fusion reaction instead of the fission reaction used by nuclear weapons) and claimed it was “150kt”.  For a 150kt ground burst, there will be a fireball which would tend to incinerate things within a third of a mile.  Then there will be the blast which would tend to shred or flatten things; at a mile and a half away, most common construction residential houses would still be flattened, which could injure or kill those inside.  Heat from the explosion could still cause first degree burns (think “sunburn”) five and a quarter miles away; closer, of course, there would likely be second and even third degree burns.  Then there is the light; looking at the flash of the explosion can blind you temporarily and if you are actually focused on it, perhaps permanently.  It is not that fire, blast, light and heat are missing from a non-nuclear explosion; it is that they are so much less intense.  Remember, nuclear weapons are rated in 1000’s of TONs of dynamite.  And then there is the special gift of nuclear explosions – a buffet of radiation emitted and radioactivity imposed on matter.  Fatal (for 50% of those exposed, without medical attention) radiation emitted by the blast would reach out 1.2 miles as well and dangerous amounts of radioactive particles could surf the winds much further for a period of time after the blast.  A bigger bomb would have further reaching effects of course.  China has 5mt (megaton, 1,000,000 tons of dynamite) warheads and Russia has tested a 50mt bomb, but it is to be hoped that North Korea can not achieve that level in the near future.

The military often prefers to set for an air burst, as the immediate effects have a greater range.  If high enough that the fireball does not touch the ground, there is much less fallout, since pretty much any particulates would have to come from the device itself.  The naturally radioactive isotopes would tend to get into the stratosphere rather than “falling” locally, resulting in a low intensity, long lived, worldwide problem.

Note that a nuclear explosion will produce an “EMP” (Electro Magnetic Pulse) which will bring down the electrical system and fry some electrical and electronic devices.  The higher above ground the explosion is, the wider the area affected by the EMP.

Radiation

There is a difference between “radiation” and “radioactive”.  Radiation is ENERGY which is radiated (as “rays”).  X-Rays are radiation, and for that matter, so is light.  Radioactive refers to something which is emitting radiation, such as a naturally radioactive substance, or material which has had radioactivity imposed on it, such as fallout.  Much of the radiation from fallout is a combination of “alpha” and “beta” particles, and “gamma” radiation.  Alpha particles are very dangerous if the particle (an ejected helium nucleus) is breathed or eaten or gets in an open wound, but the effects from this particle can be blocked by a sheet of paper and often cannot even penetrate intact skin.  Beta particles are moderately dangerous if the particle (an ejected electron) gets inside the body, and its effects can penetrate and damage the skin if the particles are in contact with the skin for any length of time, but normal clothing will provide decent protection from beta as well as alpha particles for a while.  Gamma radiation is equally as harmful as beta, but very much more penetrating.  “Good” protection from gamma radiation is provided by 4 inches of lead, 10 inches of steel, 24 inches of concrete, 36 inches of dirt, 72 inches of water, 110 inches of wood, 5000 feet of air or some combination of materials.  This “safe” protection is computed by using the “halving thickness” of each material (how thick it has to be to cut the radiation intensity in half) between you and the radiation source, with a goal of having 10 halving thicknesses total, reducing the gamma ray intensity to a 1024th (2 to the 10th power) of its original strength.

A little radiation is considered “normal” and won’t hurt you much; typical background radiation and normal medical/dental uses on average takes 18 days off a person’s life.  Whereas a lot of radiation is bad news and the effects are short term.  We need to know how radiation levels are specified in order to understand which levels are of concern short term and which have only “minor” long term effects (increased risk of cancer).  Annoyingly, there are several different but inter-related measurements, which can be remembered by the mnemonic “READ”.  The most basic measure of Radiation is the “intensity” (number of atoms which decay in a given period of time) specified in curies (Ci, English) or becquerel (Bq, metric).  Bigger values are of more concern than smaller values, but this measurement is primarily of interest to those working with radioactive materials.  Exposure describes the amount of radiation traveling through the air, which many radiation meters are capable of measuring.  The units for exposure are the English measure roentgen (R) and the coulomb/kilogram (C/kg).  This is an instantaneous measurement; more useful is roentgen per hour.  Absorbed dose describes the amount of radiation absorbed by an object or person, with units “radiation absorbed dose” (rad) and gray (Gy).  And then there is the Dose equivalent (or effective dose) which combines the amount of radiation absorbed with the medical effects of that type of radiation. Units for dose equivalent are the “roentgen equivalent man” (rem) and sievert (Sv).  Smaller measurements are commonly displayed with a 1/1000th prefix (milli, for instance mR/h) or a 1/1,000,000th prefix (micro, for instance uSv).

When looking into radiation measurements, you are likely to run into R, rad, rem, Gy and Sv as well as /h (per hour) measurements of each of these, which can get confusing.  The ones which are displayed by your meter or dosimeter are the ones of most importance to you, of course.  The three brands of meters I have tried all have mR/h and uSv/h, which are both handy measurements and seemingly the most commonly used.  R/h is good to see how much radiation is present around you and Sv for how much you or others around you have been exposed to (your radiation exposure risk).  Here is how these measurements are related:

– rad and Gy are directly related; 1 rad = .01 Gy and 1 Gy = 100 rad

– rem and Sv are directly related; 1 rem = .01 Sv and 1 Sv = 100 rem

Beta, gamma and X-Ray radiations all do the same “base” level of damage to the human body, while neutron radiation does 10 times the damage and alpha radiation does 20 times the damage.

– For beta, gamma and X-Ray radiations, 1 rem = 1 rad and 1 Sv = 1 Gy

– For neutron radiation, 1 rem = .1 rad and 1 rad = 10 rem and 1 Sv = .1 Gy and 1 Gy = 10 Sv

– For alpha radiation, 1 rem = .05 rad and 1 rad = 20 rem and 1 Sv = .05 Gy and 1 Gy = 20 Sv

R is a measurement of radiation radiating through the air, such as gamma or X-Ray.  The other units are a measurement of absorption of radiation.  Each material absorbs radiation at a different rate, so there is not a standard conversion factor.

– In air, 1 R = .877 rad and 1 rad = 1.14 R

– In soft tissue, 1 R = usually between .92 and .96 rad

My meters also have CPM (Counts Per Minute) and CPS (Counts Per Second), which is an indication of the number of ionization events from alpha and beta particles.  A few counts per time period is better than many counts during the same time period, but there is no universal conversion to a “useful” measurement as these measurements vary based on how the instrument is calibrated.  As an example, calibrated to the commonly used Cesium 137, 120 CPM is equivalent to 1 uSv/hr.

Radiation can cause effects from unnoticeable (increased chance of cancer) through illness, severe damage to the body, and death.  A single (short term) dose of 1000 mSv (1 Sv, 100 rem) will cause radiation sickness but does not (directly) cause death (although 5% of people so exposed will develop fatal cancer later).  5 Sv or 500 rem will tend to be fatal within a month without medical care for 50% of the people so exposed, and 10 Sv or 1000 rem will often be fatal within weeks.

Surviving the explosion

Let’s face it, if you are “close” to a nuclear explosion, you are going to be dead, or probably wishing you were dead.  The only way to minimize the chances of this is to build or have built your own “bomb shelter” or have access to one.  And know far enough in advance that the blast may be coming so you can be in the shelter when the blast occurs. This is not a trivial prep, either in cost or in the amount of trouble you have to go through to get it installed.  On the plus side, even if there is never a nuclear explosion or nuclear incident, it can also protect you from violent weather, and make you and your supplies harder to find by looters, and be a bit easier to defend than the typical house.  A good “bomb shelter” is buried deep, air tight, structurally sound, has an angled entry to prevent radiation (which travels in straight lines) getting in, and a filter system to remove radioactive particles (also any chemical or biological agents) from the air.  A better bomb shelter also has a hidden second way out.

Let us say you can’t afford a bomb shelter or don’t have the ability to install a true shelter or even a hardened structure or room.  Or worse, you have a perfectly suitable bomb shelter but can’t get to it in time.  Try to put something between you and the blast and heat, preferably something which won’t collapse on you.   Since one of the best (or at least most practical things) to protect you from radiation is three feet of dirt, a nice ditch is good to dive into, or even better would be a buried culvert to keep the local fallout off of you.  If you don’t get disintegrated by the fireball or crushed by the blast or a building collapsing on you, or get a lethal dose of radiation or burned by the radiated heat, what can you to do to extend that short term survival for a useful span of time?  Advance planning will make all the difference in your chances.

Since fireball, blast and heat are fairly obvious, and you are still alive, they are no longer of primary concern (unless there are fires burning nearby or “down wind”).  Radiation and fallout are your primary concerns.  Fallout can “fall” on you, so get under cover ASAP, and remove your clothes and put them into sealed containers which are removed from living areas, then wash yourself thoroughly to get any fallout off your skin and out of your hair.  Do NOT use a conditioner on your hair, as this can bind the radioactive particles to your hair.  Treat the wash water as contaminated.  Once you have removed any fallout, check the radiation levels around you using a personal radiation detector.

One of the better choices is the NukAlert-ER, but it is pricy ($750) and has been listed as only being available for government sales since March of 2017.  If interested, contact them anyway and see if you can get on their list; occasionally they may have an extra one available.  They do have a stripped down keychain version which “chirps” to indicate the level of radiation, but the price is more affordable and it is still available for individual sales.  The company, KI4U.com has some good reference materials, some “old fashioned” analog radiation detection equipment, and can calibrate your radiation equipment.  Alternatively, GQ Electronics has some decent digital detectors for very nice prices.  I’ve tried the GMC-320 Plus and it is adequate and the customer service was excellent.  You can get modern meters from China well under $100, but do you really want to gamble that they will be reliable and accurate enough to help protect your life?

Remember, nuclear explosions produce EMPs, so keep your electronic meter in an EMP shielded container when not in use.  There are non-electronic radiation monitoring options as well, mostly “dosimeters” using badges or cards which show cumulative exposure.  These are not optimal, but they are fairly inexpensive and show the more important “cumulative” exposure.  Plus, they don’t need batteries and will laugh at EMPs.  Even with a good meter, having these for backup and long term monitoring is a good idea.  They don’t “turn off”, so keep them shielded (in a sealed bag in the freezer is best) until you want to start accumulating exposure.

Radiation is mindless, you can’t reason with it or trick it or bribe it.  All you can do is block it or get away from it.

Fallout Protection

Local fallout is a fairly short term problem.  The intensity goes down 90% for each time period 7 times the last one.  That is, after 7 hours, the intensity is down to 1/10 of the original intensity.  After 2 days (49 hours), the intensity will be down to 1/100th, and after 2 weeks (14 days), it will be down to 1/1000th, which would be fairly safe.

It is best to stay inside (or at least under cover) while fallout is a danger, although after 2 days, you can make brief forays if necessary.  You will want covering which will prevent any fallout from getting on your skin and block the effects of alpha and beta particles.  Coveralls might be adequate, but vinyl rain suits might be better since they can be easily washed off and cover the head.  Use duct tape to seal any gaps.  Nothing you can wear will protect you from gamma radiation, so keep your exposure time to the minimum possible and monitor the radiation levels you are being exposed to.

It is bad to get fallout on your skin, but it is really, really bad to get it in you.  A CBRN (Chemical, Biological, RADIOLOGICAL and NUCLEAR) rated gas mask would seem to be just the ticket, but there are problems.  Sure, there are a lot of surplus ones out there at quite reasonable prices.  But they are surplus for a reason.  Either they are obsolete, or defective or just so old that effectiveness is uncertain.  A good, modern mask will cost you well over $100.  Best is a mask with two (or even three) filter ports, so you can screw on a new filter before removing the old one.  Plus it will allow the greatest flexibility for use with a rifle.

But wait, the mask itself is only part of the system.  You need the CBRN filters as well; it is best get a mask which uses the NATO standard, 40mm canisters for the best variety and ease of installation.  These are not terribly expensive compared to the cost of the mask, but they do usually cost $40 and up, and you need several.  Under severe conditions, each will only last a few hours, and even “normally clean” air will use up a filter in twenty four hours.  The canisters often have an expiration date; some people claim they are good as long as they are sealed, others say toss them when expired.  I would get new filters when the old ones expired, and use the unexpired ones first (when it was most important), saving the expired ones for when I ran out of the “good” ones.

On the other hand, I would be tempted to not bother with the gas mask at all.  They are expensive, short lived, uncomfortable, difficult to use correctly (particularly under stress), limit your vision, make it difficult to communicate, prevent you from eating, and most prevent you from drinking (some have drinking tubes, and a few have drinking tubes which work well and don’t allow in contamination).  If you wear glasses, you need to make sure they fit under the mask or get a prescription insert.  The purpose of the gas mask is to keep out radioactive particles, and although nothing will do that as well as the CBRN gas mask, a standard filter mask may serve.  There are 95% masks readily available cheap (N95), but I would spend the extra time and money to get the 99% filtration masks (N99).  There are N100 (99.97% filtration) masks which might be even better, but I have not tried them.  The N ratings, as well as R and P for oil resistant versions, are the American system.  The European system is Px for filters which attach to a mask and FFPx for “one piece” masks.   P2 is rated for 94% filtration and P3 for 99.95% filtration.  As for one piece masks, FFP2 is 94% and FFP3 is 99%.  I get my FFP3 masks, made by 3M, from Israel, and they are comfortable, compact and reasonably priced.  A pair of goggles to keep the particles out of your eyes as well is a good idea.

Keep in mind that the particles filtered out are still dangerous, so the used filters should be treated appropriately.

No face mask will work with facial hair other than a mustache without dangerous leaks, so be prepared to get and maintain a close shave.

Breathing in radioactive particles is not the only way to get them into the body to wreck havoc.  If your food or water is contaminated, so are you, so keep anything you plan to eat or drink in sealed containers so no particulates can get in.  And keep it shielded from radiation at least as well as you are yourself.

Treatment of Radiation Poisoning

Too large a dose of radiation and you will be sick, suffer bodily damage or die without medical treatment, which may not be available.  What can you do to reduce the effects of the radiation dose you received?

Potassium Iodide (KI) Tablets

You’ve probably heard of these as a “cure” or “protection” for radiation.  This claim is, to be charitable, inaccurate.  This substance does serve one particular (and important) function after a nuclear explosion.

One of the byproducts of nuclear fission in an explosion are isotopes of iodine.  The thyroid gland gobbles up any iodine it can get, and having radioactive iodine in your thyroid gland is bad news.  The KI tablets, taken before the radioactive iodine can get to you, “fills up” the thyroid gland so little or no radioactive iodine can get in.  That is it.  It does not offer any protection against any other radiation or for any other organ in the body.  And there are risks involved in taking it.  But since any help is better than no help; check with your doctor to make sure your risk in taking KI is relatively low, and have it on hand.  It is available in 65mg and 130mg pills; 130mg is the daily dose for an adult and generally has a score so it can be split into two 65mg doses (for children).  It can also be taken upon notification of a nuclear accident involving fission such as the one at Chernobyl.

Water

Tritium can be “washed” out of your system by drinking lots of water.

Baking Soda

This stuff is dirt cheap, available everywhere, and surprisingly useful for combating radiation.  To start with, it is really good to have it in the water you use to wash fallout from your skin (or your pets), as well as washing clothing and anything else which might have radioactive particles on it.  It is useful internally as well.  The kidneys are particularly susceptible to damage from uranium exposure.  Old military manuals recommended doses of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to alkalinize the urine, chemically resulting in a less toxic uranyl ion and more easily excreted uranium-carbonate complex.

Other Possibilities

There are all kinds of claims about other things to use internally or in soak baths to treat radiation poisoning.  From a medical viewpoint, here are recommended treatments for various radioactive contaminates.  Many foods and other materials show up in individual research with claimed benefits against radiation exposure, and there are even historical indications of successful treatments.  For instance, Japanese patients from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs that daily ate wakame miso soup before the explosions did not suffer the radiation effects that people who did not eat it regularly suffered.

Antibiotics and Medical Supplies

Radiation plays havoc with your immune system.  Having a stock of antibiotics on hand would be useful in combating diseases which attempt to take advantage of your reduced immune system paired with a much less hygienic environment than you are used to.  If you have a good relation with your doctor, you may be able to get prescriptions from him, or there are doctors on the internet that will consult with you and sell you a large supply appropriate for your situation.   If nothing else, many of the good general antibiotics are available from a pet fish store.  Make sure you get the pure antibiotic, not one which includes ingredients to make your fins shinier. Most antibiotics will last much longer than their expiration date if properly stored (dark, cool, without air allowed into the container).  Military studies show that most are still usable after eleven years or more; the exception is the “cyclines” (i.e. Doxycycline) class which some sources say can turn toxic.

Of course you want to have a real good first aid kit with over the counter medications, or even an advanced medical kit.

Supplies for Nuclear Explosion Survival

Other than the stuff already discussed, normal survival supplies are in order.  After all, you will need to survive everything else a disaster can bring as well as radiation and other bomb effects.  Remember, you will want to avoid going outside (except possibly briefly) for at least two weeks, so plan for supplies accordingly.

When I was growing up, nuclear war was a “real thing”.  We practiced getting under our little school desks, because they apparently had built in blast and radiation shields.  🙂 

Surviving in cold geographical areas can be challenging even to plants. No season is as harsh to both indoor and outdoor plants and flowers as winter. The biting cold temperatures and extreme weather conditions can take toll on our once healthy garden plants. Without taking care of your plants during winter, you could risk losing all your favorite blooms.
I bet no gardener would appreciate starting anew each year. Fortunately, you can do a few simple things to help your lovely plants make it through the winter and maintain their best health. Let us learn about a few tips that can help save your plants in the harsh winter weather.

Caring For Indoor Plants During Winter

Winter conditions are never better for indoor plants. Even with the protection from certain environmental elements, the cold weather and relatively shorter days during winter months can interfere a lot with the life of indoor plants. Here a few things you can do to care for your in-house plants during winter

Provide Light

The amount of daytime light during the middle months of winter may be too little for plants to survive healthily. The problem is compounded if your house is not situated to receive the most light. Move your plants close to windows and areas that get adequate sunlight during winter. To promote the entry of more light, ensure you clean the windows thoroughly. Clean off any dust that might have settled on the leaves of the plants to maximize their light absorption.

Change Watering Routine

People make a mistake of soaking their indoor plants with water during winter. This can damage your plants during the cold months. This is because water loss due to evaporation is nearly nonexistent. Besides, plants tend to grow slower during winter. Combined, these factors demand that you reduce the watering routine of your plants. A golden rule to determine when to water the plants involves sticking your finger about two inches into the soil. If it results in a dry finger then you need to water.

Mist Your Plants

If yours are indoor tropical plants, it would be wise to spray them with a light mist a couple of times a day – preferably twice or thrice a day. This is because tropical plants thrive in humid conditions. Alternatively, you can place the plants in a humid environment such as the bathroom or where there is a water feature.

Dilute or Avoid Fertilizer

As we mentioned previously, all plants have reduced growth rate during winter. This means their nutritional need will also reduce. In case your plants are healthy, there is no need to fertilize them. If you really need to then you can dilute the fertilizer by at least 50 percent before applying. A better time to fertilize is during the fall.

 

Caring For Outdoor Plants During Winter

For obvious reasons, outdoor plants need much more attention during winter. Also the cold temperatures and extreme weather conditions can rein terror on these plants. Here are the most important things you can do to care for your outdoor plants during winter:

Remove Any Debris from the Plants

Summer plants are usually vegetative and bushy in response to the higher temperatures. As the temperatures start to plummet, they begin to die in preparation for what we call floral hibernation. You cannot prevent this process from happening. However, you can help the plants by clearing away any debris. You must also shield the delicate parts of the plant to protect them from biting cold.

Spread a New Layer of Mulch

The extreme winter temperatures can take a toll on your garden soil causing it to crack. The frost caused by cold temperatures can harden the ground especially the soil type in your garden. Such cracks are bad news, especially for bulb beds. This is because the cracks in the soil can cause the bulbs to rise to the surface. The result will be catastrophic to your plants. A good tip is to spread new mulch (I’d preferably evergreen boughs) on the garden to protect the soil and the plants. The mulch will also prove help in the coming spring.

Trim Your Plants Back

Trimming is an important practice when it comes to taking care of your plants during winter. This is especially true with annual flowers, vegetables, and plants. While trimming, remove blackened stems and withering foliage completely. Such dying stems and foliage provide hiding grounds for pest and diseases that could compromise the health of your plants.

Do Not Fertilize Outdoor Plants During Winter

As with all plants, growth rate reduces considerably during the cold temperatures of winter. Overgrowth will predispose them to frost vulnerability. An important tip in taking care of your outdoor plants during winter is to avoid applying fertilizer completely in order to minimize foliage growth. In fact, you should stop fertilizing them from midsummer. However, you can water them regularly but ensure you do not over water them. Test the amount of water in the soil with your finger.

General Tip

Transfer outdoor plants indoors to mitigate the effects of winter whenever possible. Indoors, the plants will be closer to you and therefore you can take better care of them. Besides, the conditions indoors are much better and your plants will most likely survive.

If you have tender plants then you will do well by moving them to a frost-free location such as a garage, a shed, indoors or in a greenhouse prior to the first frost. This is especially true for outdoor potted plants since frost can pierce the exposed sides of the pot thus damaging plant roots. Temper this with regular and extended exposure to sunlight.

Final Verdict

That’s all we have for you today. If you love your plants then you will deal with the burden of taking care of them. If you care well for them, you will not have to start anew when spring finally comes. It does not matter whether your plants are outdoor or indoor. We believe these are the most valuable tips you can ever find online on how to care for your plants during winter.

Surviving in cold geographical areas can be challenging even to plants. No season is as harsh to both indoor and outdoor plants and flowers as winter. The biting cold temperatures

It would be wise to say that there comes a time when it’s tough to hold that fiery rage which burns inside of us when someone bullies us or hampers our self-esteem. It doesn’t matter how hard we try to control that rage, as, in an array of situations, before we could really control our tongue, we generally end up regretting the blunt snide remarks. We all regret it afterwards, don’t we? Well mostly. Anger is that emotion which has the potential to bring out the real us.

What comes as an uncanny fact is that anger is socially frowned upon. When we talk about anger management, it’s different from that of stress or even anxiety. In most of the cases when you fight with somebody, anger is the reason behind all the embarrassment. Always remember that your temper can bring out the worst side of you. It can be said that you make the worst speech when you’re angry and you might regret the same forever. It is one of the most common regrets sited at funerals.

That said, let’s dig deeper and know more about the ways to cope with temper for the purpose of attaining a happy life:

Controlling the Reaction:

Consider a heated moment and you’re burning with rage, an array of people would end up immediately responding to the situation, right? Well, let’s flip the coin, showing any reaction acts as a catalyst, rather than stopping the argument, it only ignites the rage further. We can say, the best possible approach to deal with the situation is to stay quiet. Always remember that rage is only temporary and you shouldn’t feed the same. Just try to control yourself for a minute or two, and you’ll not only save the embarrassment but staying quiet can be your best face forward to maintain your self-esteem.

Scribble The Unwanted:

According to various scientific publications, writing down the thoughts or simply scribbling them on a piece of paper can help your temper in significant ways, can act as the release needed. When it comes to expressing our emotions in a constructive way, writing them down can be your state of the art pick. In simple terms, when you tend to write what you feel on paper, you grasp your anger in the best possible way. Not only will you cope coup with the depression, but you will attain some measured control over the pain/pressure caused by this linguistic trauma. When you start writing, think about the prime reasons that made you angry, select the quietest place in the vicinity and take your time to get normal, to again gain control of your emotions.

Jogging:

Do you know, exercises like Jogging can help your temper management endeavors in a great way?  Well, we all know that exercise can create an ever-lasting array of positive benefits for both the mind and the body. Jogging can help you control those racing emotions, giving you time to fully process your emotions and analyze your possible next steps. Exercise is like a low-dose aspirin for a heart patient. When you exercise, you not only burn the excess energy, but you really get a chance to think about the reasons as to why the event annoyed you.  When we take the time and think about the aspects that hamper our happiness we can usually work out temper management by ourselves.

Meditation:

Meditation is an excellent way to get back to center, to let other thoughts push this singular-issue to where it should be as opposed to it being omnipresent. And you don’t need to assume the lotus position or hum to do this. When one meditates, they just need a peaceful image, real or remembered. Have you ever walked on a beach anywhere and NOT seen someone sitting their staring at the ocean, watching and listening to the waves or other people there. Realized or not they are meditating and processing images and thoughts and experiences. It is a much needed-break or time to themselves. Benefit are pretty obvious.  Replenishing and refocusing the human brain, calming that rage, meditation is available at your tips. Some people, mostly happy people, look forward to pulling themselves from reality for some time. Doing yoga is a personal choice and may work for you. The bottom line is this helps to acknowledge what you really feel and let it go. Swap the rage with constructive thoughts and see the magic. This would only make your present pleasant and tomorrow easier. Drifting away and escaping the temper void is our best possible pick.

Rage and Efficiency?

Ever heard about reshaping your rage into motivation to achieve something? What comes as a lucid fact is that, you can turn your rage into motivation and, through this, you can improve your efficiency. It doesn’t matter if it’s for your professional life or personal. You can use your temper as a fuel to accomplish the array of the task in a splendid way. Having a tough time with your family? Well, go out and help the community. Rage and Efficiency are highly related, the endeavors capitalize when you have physical tasks in hand to be done. Always remember that you can volunteer for hard work and get rid of the temper by literally burning the rage. When we’re angry, our mind can compile a mountain of a workload in no time.

Just Breathe:

Breathing and our emotions are closely related. Breathing controls emotions like sadness, happiness, fear and most importantly, anger in various ways. When you’re angry, you tend to breathe quickly. The science behind this is simple; you’re raising the blood pressure with abrupt breathing patterns and hence further fueling the rage (like Ferdinand the Bull when it finally dawns on him that he is NOT a sheep). When you’re angry, it’s always advised to breathe in a calming manner and maintain a constant rhythm. After effects? Well, in most of the cases, you end up with negligible to no anger inside of you. Do you know, when you breathe from the right nostril, it oxygenates the left part of the brain and vice-versa? Forcing an alternating breathing habit for few minutes can induce a balancing as well as a calming effect on your brain.

Verdict:

Life is a grand journey when you hold on to anger; you’re simply grasping a piece of burning coal with the intention of throwing it on somebody. If you don’t throw it, you’re the one who gets burned. Letting it go is a symbol of superiority, always remember that you can’t just afford to lose precious moments of your life just because you were angry.

What comes as an uncanny fact is that anger is socially frowned upon. When we talk about anger management, it’s different from that of stress or even anxiety. In most

Almost all preppers love their guns.  It has been my experience, though, that most non-prepper family members do not love guns quite so well perhaps, as some of their counterparts,  Let’s face it – without proper education, care, storage and maintenance, guns are absolutely one of the most dangerous things you can bring into your home, especially if you have children.

That said, guns are one of the most useful items you can have.  They are an absolute essential piece of home defense, self-defense, and they can be used to hunt game for food as well.  Outside of a knife or a cell phone, very few items that you can prepare with have dual purposes that can equal a gun.

If firearms are causing a fight in your family, if you have a legal record, or if you live in an area that disallows firearms, then it’s time to start thinking of an alternative.  There are plenty of alternatives out there, and while none of them are quite so effective as a rifle or a pistol, they can work in a pinch.

Bows or Crossbows

The best alternative to a true firearm is surely a bow or a crossbow.  The former is quieter, cheaper, faster to reload, easier to maintain, and more versatile, but requires significantly more practice, while the latter is much easier to use, and much more accessible for those with poor arm strength.

If, for whatever reason, you are unwilling or unable to own a gun, then owning a bow is something that should top your list.  While either weapon requires practice, it shouldn’t be very long before you are able to at least develop a minimum level of arm strength, aim and tactical knowledge for using these items. Your local park district, nature preserve or school may even offer courses for all age ranges as well as any archery range in your area.

As far as uses go, a bow is quite similar to a firearm.  You could conceivably use it for defense, although you’d certainly look a little strange doing so, and bow hunting is a very popular sport among hunting enthusiasts.  The major disadvantages to bows are obvious – they are less portable than handguns, and less powerful than any gun, so you need to be accurate in your shooting to cause damage to larger game while hunting.  That said, they are significantly quieter than guns, and you can reuse the ammunition quite easily or make new arrows from materials in the forest.

A simple recurve or compound bow set with arrows and a target will run you about $300 for an adequate starter set, and is often enough to get you started without worrying about accessories or professional-level equipment.

Slingshots

There are many slingshot truthers out there who believe strongly in this weapon.  In my opinion, while a slingshot is another alternative to guns or bows, it is a far distant third or even fourth-place option among ranged weapons, almost to the point of irrelevance.   It is far less powerful, using small metal balls to do damage, but has minimal ability to do damage, a short range, and wide variations in accuracy.  It is far cheaper than other options, running less than $50 for most models, including ammunition.
For self-defense purposes, a slingshot is nearly useless, as it won’t stop attackers without a perfectly targeted strike, and it’s not useful for hunting most animals larger than rabbits, but in a pinch, I’d rather have a slingshot than my bare hands.

Bolas

Yes, seriously, bolas are a ancient South American weapon that consist of a par of small weights connected by a length of strong cord.  By whipping the bolas at a high speed, then throwing the bolas at a targets’ legs, you can trip them up and immobilize the target for long enough to hopefully approach and strike before they can free themselves.  Heavier weights on the ends of the ropes will do some damage as well, but a bolas should be looked at largely as a capture tool first and foremost. Bolas are not a particularly effective weapon for all animals, as it may be difficult to fully ensure a nimble four-legged creature, but for hunting birds or smaller quarry, they can be quite useful. The native people who use this weapon are often able to take down birds in flight, or use these as a surprise capture tool for birds on the ground.  This is another weapon whose effectiveness will depend largely on the amount of effort you put into practicing with the device, but it could be a useful alternative.  Unlike an effective gun, bow or slingshot, a bolas is a weapon you could create with materials you already own, so it’s possible to start practicing with a homemade weapon quite quickly.

Clubs

A club is a good self-defense weapon for close-quarters combat.  You could use a baseball bat you purchase at a garage sale, or a tactical option like a telescoping weighted club, and each would be at least somewhat effective for keeping attackers at bay.  If you happen to be a larger person, a club also offers a strong intimidation factor, but it is very ineffective if thrown or used as a ranged weapon, where it would have no practicality in a fight.  It’s certainly a low-level option.  Of course, unless used in combination with a bolas or similar trapping/ensnaring weapon, a club is not a useful hunting weapon.

Knives

I’m a person who believes that you should carry a knife with you at all times, so it does fit with being a EDC device that you could use for self-defense.  Knives share many similar features with clubs, as close-quarters self-defense tools that are certainly more effective than hand-to-hand combat.

I included knives specifically because I consistently see advertisements for tactical throwing knives that I think need to be addressed.  The idea behind throwing knives as a weapon baffles me.  Anyone who has experience using these items knows that they are iffy at best.  Hitting a moving target with a knife that is flipping end-over-end and having that knife not only strike, but also damage, is nearly impossible.  It’s perhaps the coolest option to show off as a parlor trick, but it cannot be used with any effectiveness outside of sheer blind luck as a hunting or self-defense tool.  Don’t be a movie star, get a real weapon, or at the very least, when you’re in a fight, don’t throw your knife at your attacker.

If firearms are causing a fight in your family, if you have a legal record, or if you live in an area that disallows firearms, then it’s time to start

No, I’m not talking about the television networks; they can’t kill you, just dim your intelligence and contaminate you with incorrect information.  In the 50’s, the risk was from what were called Atomic, Biological and Chemical weapons, thus ABC.  During the cold war, the term changed to NBC, or Nuclear, Biological and Chemical.  This was to include “hydrogen” (“thermonuclear”, including fusion) and “neutron” (designed for maximum radiation and minimum blast) bombs with the original “atomic” (using fission only) bombs.  Nowadays, the term has been expanded to CBRNe.  This refers to “all” the current “weapons of mass destruction”, Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and sometimes “enhanced (improvised) explosive”.  I don’t know why an “improvised” explosive device is considered any worse than a military or other “dedicated” explosive device.

The “Nuclear” concept has the short term (fireball, blast and heat) aspects and the longer term (radiation and fallout) aspects.  “Radiological” is a relatively new concept dealing with the concept of a “dirty bomb“.  This is a standard explosive which is surrounded with radioactive material.  It does not have the destructive power or radiation of a nuclear explosion, but does spread radioactive material around, potentially exposing victims to the radiation, and making the area unsafe until it is cleaned up or the radioactive material decays to a safe level.

Biological weapons attempt to use disease as a weapon against a population; the agent is bacterial or viral or spores (including fungal).  The key to these is that usually there is a period of time between exposure and symptoms, and transmission across a target area is accomplished by “infection” – people with the disease unknowingly (or uncaringly) infecting other people.

Chemical weapons are another anti-personnel weapon which attempts to poison, disable or disorient a population.  This can be a single, basic chemical or a complex mix such as a nerve agent; the chemical can have been developed for non-weapon uses and just be adapted for weapon use, or it could have been developed strictly as a weapon.

Biological Weapons

As mentioned, the long term transmission of biological weapons is via infection.  An area may be contaminated by filling the air with an aerosol form, or covering it with a liquid form, but often it is more effective (and technically easier) to send infectious people into the target population.  The design of these weapons focus on the resistance of the disease agent outside of a host (to make it difficult to sanitize an affected area and infect as many “primary” hosts as possible), the lethality of the disease (maximize the percentage of victims who are disabled or die), the susceptibility to treatment or inoculation (to minimize victims being easily cured or made resistant to infection), and the length of the incubation period (a long time between exposure and symptoms to maximize the period each carrier is infectious and mobile, or a short time to make it harder to combat).

Thus, the trick is to avoid becoming infected.  This generally occurs when the disease agent (bacteria, virus or spore) enters the body, most commonly via the mouth, nose, eyes or a break in the skin.  The disease agent can be in an aerosol form which is breathed or a liquid which gets on the hands and is transferred to an opening or into a wound.  It can also be in what is eaten or drunk.  If you can prevent these common sources of infection, then it would be unlikely that you will be infected, unless someone injects you or you are in long term close contact with a carrier or their environment.  To reduce the odds of infection, use a mask over your mouth and nose which can filter out and/or kill the disease agent, goggles which seal around your eyes, and clothing which will keep the disease agent away from your skin, or at least any breaks in your skin.  Decontamination; that is safe removal and containment of the clothing upon return to a “safe” location, and cleaning any possibly exposed parts of the body, will be of great importance.

Since it is difficult to keep up avoidance of infection long term, a secondary focus is to kill the disease agent not yet (or any more) in a victim, and to quarantine those who are infected.  There are a number of ways to kill disease agents: heat, ultraviolet and disinfectants are the most common.  Victims of bacterial weapons may respond to antibiotics, but often viruses don’t have effective anti-virals.

Note that a biological product, such as Botulism toxin is NOT a Biological weapon, but a Chemical one.  A Biological weapon is one which is “alive” or at least becomes alive in the victim, and works by multiplying to the point where the victim’s system is overwhelmed.  The diseases used tend to be naturally occurring, although the weaponized ones may have been “tweaked”.

Perhaps the most noted modern biological weapon is Anthrax (Bacillus Anthracis).  Others include Smallpox (Variola major), Tularemia (Francisella tularensis), Plague (Yersinia pestis), Bunyavirus (Bunyaviridae family – Nairovirus, Phlebovirus and Hantavirus), Ebola Virus and Marburg Virus (another Hemorrhagic Fever similar to Ebola).  Some people think that influenza has potential to be “improved” into a useful weapon.

Anthrax has not only the bacteriological effects, but the bacterium is one of those which also produce toxins.  Treatment varies depending on how you were infected.  If the infection was through a wound or injection, often a long course of Ciprofloxican or a Doxycycline antibiotic will do the trick.  If spores were inhaled, that is a medical emergency which antibiotics alone may not suffice for.  There are anti-toxins being developed for cases where the toxin has been produced in the victim in quantity, but at this time these are still experimental.  Those at risk (veterinarians and other professionals who deal with animals, and the military) can get a vaccine against Anthrax.  They are also working to develop an oral vaccine which might be available more widely.  Anthrax is not as infectious as many diseases, so the optimal way of introducing it into a population is dispersing an aerosol to encourage inhalation of the agent.

Chemical Weapons

Any weaponized material which is not “alive” (or potentially alive), including substances produced by or from biological elements, is considered Chemical.  This material is finite in quantity; it does not reproduce, and works by affecting the body directly.  It can be a gas, liquid, powder or other solid form.  It can be distributed by explosion or other mechanical distribution, or it can be concealed in food or water or many other products.  Effects can be physical damage, death, incapacitation or disorientation; effects can occur ‘instantaneously’ or after a while, and can be permanent or temporary.

When developing a chemical weapon, one tends to focus not only in producing the desired effect, but the “volatility” or how stable it is.  Chemicals which are volatile (unstable) tend to “go away” or become inactive quickly, thus exhibiting low “persistence”.  This might be of interest if you plan to send personnel in shortly after the weapon.  On the other hand, if the goal is to cause as much damage as possible, high persistence would be preferable.

Harassing agents

These are substances that are not intended to kill or injure. Casualty effects are not anticipated to exceed 24 hours, nor do they often require medical attention.  These include tear agents (pain to eyes and irritation to mucous membranes), vomiting agents (produce congestion, coughing, sneezing, and eventually nausea), and malodorants (strong, unpleasant smell with powerful averse effects, such as a skunk uses.)

Incapacitating agents

These are substances that produce debilitating effects with limited probability of permanent injury or loss of life. The casualty effects typically last over 24 hours, and though medical evacuation and isolation is recommended, it is usually not required for complete recovery.  Most are psychological agents which cause mental disturbances such as delirium or hallucination.  A common example is LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide).  Tranquilizers would also be incapacitating agents, but would be other than psychological in nature.

Vomiting. Adamsite (DM) Diphenylchloroarsine (DA) Diphenylcyanoarsine (DC) Other. Agent 15. BZ. Canniboids. Fentanyls. LSD. Phenothiazines. Riot Control/Tear. Bromobenzylcyanide Chloroacetophenone. Chloropicrin. CNB – (CN in Benzene and Carbon Tetrachloride) CNC – (CN in Chloroform) CNS – (CN and Chloropicrin in Chloroform)

Harassing agents and incapacitating agents are considered NON-LETHAL weapons which are temporary in nature.  Note that they can result in the death of a small percentage of people affected due to sensitivity, other health issues or unintended consequence (a LSD victim thinking he can fly and jumping off a building).  All other chemical weapons are considered LETHAL weapons, as they are intended to produce casualties without regard to long-term consequences or loss of life; the injuries they cause require medical treatment.

Blister agents

These irritate and cause injury to the skin, as well as the eyes, or any other tissue they contact (including internal tissues if breathed).

Vesicants – These are substances that produce large fluid-filled blisters on the skin, for example, various formulas of mustard gas.

Urticants – These are substances that produce a painful weal on the skin.  Sometimes they are called skin necrotizers.  The most common is Phosgene oxime.

Blood agents

These substances are metabolic poisons that interfere with the life-sustaining processes of the blood, such as Hydrogen cyanide or Arsine (a compound of arsenic).

Choking agents

These substances are sometime referred to as pulmonary agent or lung irritants and cause injury to the lung-blood barrier, preventing oxygen from getting into the blood.  This results in coma or death from Asphyxia (severely deficient supply of oxygen to the body).  These are commonly gasses, such as Chlorine or Phosgene.

Nerve agents

Nerve agents are substances that disrupt the chemical communications through the nervous system.  The most common method of doing this is by preventing the normal control (destruction) of unintended acetylcholine in the nerve fiber, leading to a perpetual state of excitement in the nerve.  This causes constant muscle contraction and the eventual exhaustion of the muscles leading to respiratory failure and death.  The other method is a neurotoxin, Tetrodotoxin, which blocks nerve cells from firing, preventing muscles from contracting, and again resulting in respiratory failure.

There are a number of “series” of nerve agents.  G series are high volatility agents that are typically used for a nonpersistent to semipersistent effect.  Sarin is an example of this series.  V series (VE, VG, VM, VX) have low volatility and are typically used for a persistent effect or liquid contact hazard.  GV series (GV, Novichok) have volatility between the V and G agents and are typically used for a semi-persistent to persistent effect.  These all affect acetylcholine control.  The remaining class is called T series and is related to the Tetrodotoxin in puffer fish and some other marine creatures.

For those exposed to a nerve agent which prevents acetylcholine control, the military has (or had) the NAAK (Mark 1 Nerve Agent Antidote Kit) consisting of an auto-injector of Atropine and one of pralidoxime chloride.  Each soldier had three kits, one which could be self administered, and the other two which could be buddy administered if convulsions start.  The NAAK seems to have been replaced by the ATNAA (Antidote Treatment — Nerve Agent Auto-Injector) with the same two drugs in a single injector; it appears to not be available to civilians.  However the FDA has recently approved Duodote, a similar single injector system for civilian use.  It appears to go for about $60 each at regular pharmacies, but will require a prescription.

For someone convulsing, the military is (or at least was) issued an additional injector of Diazepam known as CANA (Convulsant Antidote for Nerve Agent) to be applied after the three NAAK kits.

There is currently no (known) antidote for T series nerve agents, which means that someone who would use one of these is probably insane (since it could affect them just as badly as the enemy).

Other agents

Pretty much anything which is toxic or harmful can be used as a chemical weapon.  Consider the “acid attacks” occurring in the UK and other places.  If you ever mix bleach and another product with acid or ammonia, you will regret it (poisonous vapors will be produced).  A large dose of insulin or nicotine can be deadly.  There are plants which are poisonous, such as some species of mushroom and Nightshade (Belladonna).  And so on for a very long list.

One interesting weapon is Botulinum toxin produced by botulism bacteria.  There are several types of this; types A and B are often used medically to treat muscle spasms (or thin lips and wrinkles).  Think Botox.  Type H is the deadliest substance in the world – an injection of only 2-billionths of a gram (2 ng) can cause death to an adult. Fifty grams is enough to kill the population of planet Earth, 50 grams is 1.7 ounces is less than 4 tablespoons.  Another interesting weapon is Ricin, produced from the remains of the castor bean after producing the castor oil.  This weapon acts by preventing protein synthesis at the cellular level. This means cells slowly grind to a halt and essential operations cease, leading to cellular death.

There are various detectors for the presence of some chemical weapons.  The most reasonable tend to be badges or booklets of test papers; more extensive test kits mostly are quite expensive and have a relatively short shelf life.

How to Survive Chemical or Biological Attacks

A guaranteed way it is actually very simple in concept.  Select the people you need or want to have with you, isolate them for a month to make sure they have no diseases, and then move into an air-tight residence with a chemical/biological air filter to bring in safe air, a stock of safe food, and water purification capability.  And never open the door again.  Of course, you might see some problems with this methodology.  First of all, getting that air-tight residence will be impractical for most people due to the cost and bureaucratic impediments.  Besides, even if nobody ever has to leave, which is pretty unlikely, eventually you will run out of something critical and have to go out for supplies.  There is equipment to keep you safe “out there” and you could have an air lock and decontamination setup at the entrance to keep the residence sterile.  But let’s face it, full protection gear is not only fallible, but likely to not go over well with the rest of the public.

Practically, you want to keep your infection risks down by staying away from other people as much as you can.  And remember your PPG (personal protection gear) of mask, and if you can get away with it, goggles.  Plus, have a bunch of exam gloves for whenever you need to touch something which might be infected by the previous person who was near it (which is usually EVERYTHING).  Have hand sanitizer available in case you accidentally touch anything when not wearing gloves.  Having a decontamination system at your entrance, for you AND anything you are bringing in is a critical idea.  Keep a close ear on any unusual medical news, and at the first sign of anything potentially biological weapon related, go to your highest level of infection prevention (essentially, isolation).  And remember, insects can carry disease, so be prepared to keep them out as much as practical, and take care of any which do get in.

Biological safety can be fairly long term; you have to wait for the disease to “burn itself out”; that is, reach a condition where nobody else is contagious and every existing source of the disease is quarantined or destroyed.  Chemical safety is much shorter term, but rather more complicated.  It would be a challenge for a biological weapon to get inside your house unless you bring it in or let it in.  Chemical weapons can get inside rather more easily.  If your residence is not air tight (and the odds are that it is not), you need to have the means at hand to make it more so upon demand.  This often can be done with plastic sheeting and duct tape.  Know what needs to be sealed and have the tools and supplies right there.  A way of filtering what air does come in would be quite useful because otherwise either the weapon can get in, or you will die when all the oxygen is used up.  When you have to go out, you’ll need full protection, and your need for protection is more important than what other people think.  Be alert for violence from those who don’t have protection or are just plain nut jobs.

Basically, this level of protection consists of a CBRN rated gas mask and a suit which keeps the chemicals off your entire body, since some chemical weapons affect the skin, and others can be absorbed through the skin.  Unfortunately, some chemical weapons are designed to defeat the protections against them, so masks and suits need to be continuously improved.  Thus your CBRN mask should be new and a recent model to ensure it has the latest technology and is in a condition which is reliable and effective (that is, not “expired”).  Surplus masks may be cheap, but the odds they will protect you are not favorable.  It will probably cost you at least $200 for a good mask.  You’ll need a supply of CBRN filter canisters as well, at about $45 each and up.  How long a filter is good for is difficult to know in advance, but as an estimate, plan on getting about eight hours out of a filter.  It is best to go for a mask which uses standard 40mm NATO filter attachment; they are quick to install, easier to find, and harder to screw up.  Sometimes you can get “6-packs” at a discount.  Be aware of the expiration date of your filters.  Some people claim that they are “useless” after this date; some people claim they are still useful “for a while” if sealed, and a few filters (which use asbestos, Chromium or other harmful chemicals) might be toxic when expired.

As for the suit, Lawrence Livermore labs are working on “smart” protective clothing which protects against biological weapons and senses chemical agents and increases the protection for them.  This may or may not be available now, but I’ll bet even if you could find it for sale, you would not be able to afford it.  What you might be able to get is military MOPP (Mission Oriented Protective Posture) at least level four gear (lower level gear may be cheaper, but won’t provide as much protection).  This outfit is thick and does not breathe well, which can cause you to overheat, but it does pretty much protect from chemical weapons.  I was not able to find any currently available which guaranteed to be level four or higher, so cannot comment on price or availability.  The ones I did find were in the $50 to $100 range, which seemed suspiciously low.

Furthermore, many stated they were “surplus”, and these garments seem to have a shelf life of ten years or so when sealed in a package, and only a year or two if the package seal is broken.  Even it you did find a high level outfit surplus, it might not be any good by the time you needed it.  There appears to be a better consumer option, generically known as CPO and/or CPU (Chemical Protective Outergarments or Undergarments), which seem to be of a similar level of protection to MOPP level four, and available in the $200 to $350 range for Rampart offerings.  Gore-Tex appears to have an interesting version as well, but I could not find any for sale to civilians.  These garments often don’t include gloves or foot coverings, and some don’t include head covering, so make sure you have the parts to cover these areas as well, and the appropriate materials to seal between them and the suit and the mask.  This might add $50 to $100 to your cost.  If this just won’t fit the budget, simple “impervious” chemical resistant suits, often of Tyvek, may be better than nothing and much more affordable.

There are “full encapsulation” suits which would be excellent against biological agents, but might be “eaten” by some chemical agents.  These run from under $150 (I sure would be leery of the ones in this price range) to well over $1000, plus you would need an air supply, either SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) which would be safe but very expensive and short lived (about an hour max before the tank needs to be refilled), or PAPR (Powered Air Purifying Respirator) which would still probably add another $600 to $1000 or more to the cost of this solution.

Other Preparations for Chemical or Biological Events

Besides the stuff already mentioned specifically to deal with a chemical or biological emergency, you will want to have all the standard survival stuff.  This is because you want to be sure that your food and water is not contaminated with the weapon agent, and you want to minimize how often you have to go out among potentially infected people or areas to get necessities.  There is a high probability of random violence and looting.  Access to radio broadcasts is critical so you can find out what the status is of the attack and the response to it.  Medical supplies will likely be in short supply.  Personal hygiene supplies will be important; it would be embarrassing to defeat an enemy’s chemical or biological attack only to succumb to your own lack of hygiene.

No, I’m not talking about the television networks; they can’t kill you, just dim your intelligence and contaminate you with incorrect information.  In the 50’s, the risk was from what