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What can be composted?

  • Leaves
  • Grass clippings
  • Brush trimmings
  • Manure (preferably organic)
  • Any non-animal food scraps: fruits, vegetables, peelings, bread, cereal, coffee grounds and filters, tea leaves and tea bags (preferably minus the staples)
  • Old wine
  • Pet bedding from herbivores ONLY — rabbits, hamsters, etc.
  • Dry cat or dog food
  • Dust from sweeping and vacuuming
  • Dryer lint
  • Old herbs and spices

Today, we’re talking dry leaves. Ready? Let’s!

 

A gardening enthusiast, whether it be for commercial or personal use, often incorporates compost in hopes for the best results possible for their crops. Compost is created through a natural process when recycling organic material turns into a rich supplement for the soil. It’s so good for gardening that it’s been nicknamed by some as “black gold”.

However, compost can be rather costly to purchase, averaging in most areas about $25 to $35 per cubic foot. And, if you have a large garden area, that can add up very quickly.

So, many people turn to making their own compost. In fact, there are several tools available to help make your own. But, what if you want a lot of it for spring planting, and you are entering the cold winter months?

Fortunately, you can make compost even in the winter…and lots of it. And, it’s easy and it only requires 2 ingredients! One is fallen leaves, which are abundant heading into winter. If you don’t have your own, a trip down the road you might spot several brown bags stuffed with leaves, just waiting to be picked up. If you ask, they probably won’t mind if you pick them up, rather than the garbage truck.

The other ingredient is used coffee grounds.

Composting Leaves with Coffee Grounds

You should first determine how many leaves and coffee grounds you will need. So, plan out what you will be planting in the spring to gauge how big of an area you will need. I will be doing a very small area for the purpose of demonstration in this article. But, even for a relatively small garden, start collecting leaves ahead of time.

Now, on to the coffee grounds. I doubt too many of you drink enough coffee to gather up the amount of coffee grounds you will need for this project…unless you start collecting months prior to composting.

I called our local Starbucks to see if they would collect a couple days worth of used coffee grounds for me. I fully expected them to be confused. But apparently, they save used coffee grounds for gardeners. If your local Starbucks does not save these, call another one nearby, or any coffee house. You can stop in there a few times a week to collect their grounds, if you are hoping for a large garden. So, not only is this composting easy, but it’s free!

The Basics of the Composting

Composting takes a little bit of “brown” and a little bit of “green” to create a rich supplement for gardening. Dried, or fallen leaves fall into the “brown” category, while the coffee grounds play the role of “green”. Yes, even though coffee grounds are actually brown, and leaves are often green.

The “brown” in composting is producing carbon, and the “green” brings the nitrogen. And, both are necessary components for the compost to thrive. Organic matter will eventually compost down without help in time…lots of time. However, not everyone wants to wait that long.

The Process of Composting with Leaves and Coffee Grounds

It’s a very simple process. The hardest part just might be deciding where you want to put it. But, a good option would be right where you plan on planting in the spring. The leaves and coffee ratio is 4 to 1 parts. So, if you have a lot of material, use a shovel to make it easy.

 

Make a layer (remember 4:1 ratio) of leaves on the ground, or in a shallow and long bin or a raised garden bed. Sprinkle, or use a shovel to make a layer of used coffee grounds over the leaves. Lightly sprinkle the pile with water, unless you are starting with a wet pile. Repeat each step until you run out of material, or think you have enough. Make sure that each layer is damp as you go. Just remember, as it goes through the process, the pile will appear to shrink. Once you have your pile all set, turn the pile every few days. Check to make sure it looks and smells fine, and isn’t drying out too much. If it is, dampen it again. You could also start with mulched leaves, which will significantly speed up the composting process. However, if you are going to use mulched leaves, change the ratio from 4:1 part, to 1:1 part.

Extra Tips in Composting

There are other “browns” you could use in place of or in addition to leaves, such as:

  • Shredded paper/cardboard
  • Hay
  • Mulch
  • Wood chips

And other “greens” that could be used in place or in addition to used coffee grounds include:

  • Vegetable
  • Vegetable or fruit peels and skins
  • Used coffee filters
  • Manure
  • Tea bags
  • Grass clippings

 

However, using any of the following is NOT recommended:

  • Pet fecal matter or waste
  • Meats or bones
  • Fats or oils
  • Dairy
  • Diseased plants
  • Anything with pesticides

Pay attention to the smell of the pile. It should have an earthy aroma. If it starts smelling bad, add more nitrogen, or “green”. Also, pay attention to the texture. If it’s slimy, add more carbon, or “brown”. Don’t confuse slimy with dampness. You want it to be damp, just not slimy.

Winter Composting

Even though the process will slow down in really cold regions, that’s OK. You should continue to add some “brown” and “green” to the pile every occasionally throughout the winter, even if it freezes. It will thaw eventually, and the thawing and freezing ebb and flow will contribute to the compost breaking down faster come springtime.

In the spring, throw some hay over the pile to help protect it until you are ready to use it, because it will let off an aroma when thawing, attracting critters.

Use it within the soil when you plant your spring crop.


Other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

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

Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation

Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns

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

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

Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps

What can be composted? Leaves Grass clippings Brush trimmings Manure (preferably organic) Any non-animal food scraps: fruits, vegetables, peelings, bread, cereal, coffee grounds and filters, tea leaves and tea bags

Kit, gear, or whatever you like to call it. The equipment we buy to survive, protect, get home, bug out etc. Some of us that have served in the military and had to use all kinds of gear for our jobs, we realized some of it was excellent and some just didn’t work for us. So we either bought or improvised our gear or kit to ensure we had what worked for us. This article will discuss more about organizing your survival kit into levels more so than the specific contents. I will discuss each level in more detail in further articles.

When it comes to buying your kit, look at what works for you. Do not go and buy the latest and greatest because of a slick marketing campaign or trend. Always find the biggest bang for your buck. A word of caution, do research and read reviews of those who used and/or tested the gear. You do not want to buy cheap gear that won’t last, but you don’t also have to buy expensive gear that does not work for you. So it is a personal choice. I don’t buy just from a single brand, I own items from various manufacturers like:

  • HSGI taco pouches
  • TAG battle belt
  • 5:11 backpacks
  • Duluth pants
  • Solomon hiking boots
  • Boker knives
  • SOG multi tools, etc.

I research the items for the specific need I will use it and in most cases look at the multipurpose use of the item. I also look for the compatibility of the brands with other brands for modularity. One note to make; be sure to check the fastex buckles on the items, not all brands use the same type of buckle and make sure they are good for the weight/tension that will be placed on them. You don’t want to be moving through the Appalachians to your bug out location and have your chest rig fail and fall apart at the wrong moment. You will need to be ready to make some field repairs once you establish security. So always have some 550 cord, heavy-duty sewing needles, 100 MPH tape and/or sturdy safety pins on hand.

 

When I plan out my survival kit or gear, I think of it in levels. Each level has a purpose and compliments the others. One level of kit has duplicate items as the others so you can resupply your lower level kits or it has more robust items that may weigh heavier and require more logistics. In each kit you need the basic sustainment items to build a fire, gather, carry and purify water, build a shelter, signal for help or link up, hunt or trap for food, fix things and basic medical needs like trauma to colds. The higher the level of kit, the more you have at your disposal.

Level 1 Kit – Think of Every Day Carry (EDC)

Level 1 should be items that you will have on your person no matter what you are doing. Some items are a good knife (folder or fixed), Flashlight, Watch, Wrist compass, Lighter, 550-cord bracelet, Multi-tool, and/or Concealed carry firearm. So imagine walking around the mall with your family, what do you have on your person that can help in a crisis? Medical items can be a CAT tourniquet on your belt or in a pocket to a bandana for an improvised tourniquet. It would be hard to always have that IFAK level of TCCC gear on your person. There are some decent “Patrol” IFAK’s out there that are slim in design.

Level 2 Kit

Should be some kind of load bearing equipment. Like a chest rig, old style LBE, or battle belt (w or w/o suspenders). It is also your get home bag, since this bag is smaller than a bug out bag and only set up to “get you home” it will have supplemental items that are similar to your chest rig. So depending on your scenario, you might only have the GHB and not your chest rig. I will discuss more on the GHB in another article.

 

On this level you can have items that will augment your level 1 kit. Enable you to carry ammunition for your rifle and/or pistol to be readily available. You will have your Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) attached. You can also add more items for redundancy (2 is 1 and 1 is none). This kit can be kept in your vehicle, place of work or at your residence.

Level 3 Kit

This kit should be a back pack of some type, about 4,000 to 6,000 cubic inches or 65 to 95 liters. This would be considered a week-long bag. A bug out bag should not only be “72 hrs.” you should have enough gear to last you 5-7 days depending on your skill sets, AOR, and proximity of your other levels of kit. This level 3 Kit is also used as your Bug out Bag, which will be discussed further in another article. Remember, Bugging Out refers to leaving your homestead to another location for an undetermined amount of time. Hopefully you have planned out your scenarios to ensure you have the mindset, skill sets, tactics and kit to make it to where you are going. This kit should be kept in your home, unless you plan on bugging out from your work location etc.

Level 4 Kit

This Kit should be several durable containers or bags that you can load into your vehicle. The containers could be pelican cases, action packers, military kit bags or other type of durable containers. They should not be too large to move by oneself. Your vehicle should be part of this level of kit. Since you can load more fuel, water and gear in and on your vehicle. Your GHB bag, that you take with you to work and trips will become a “bail out bag” if you have to retreat from your vehicle under duress. Level 4 should contain items that will aid you in moving longer distances to get to your destination. Ideally, it is located at your house to aid you if you need to bug out and move to your cabin in the Appalachians.

 

If you are departing from your house, load up your Level 3 Backpack and your level 2 GHB (now bail out bag) and/or Chest rig for additional augmentation depending on the situation. If you have to move on foot due to vehicle breakdown, then you have your Level 3 backpack, level 2 chest rig and GHB is you designed it to attach to your Level 3 BOB. But one thing to remember always make every attempt to stay with and repair your vehicle during a crisis. Your vehicle provides a lot of advantages but also has several disadvantages. It may give you a sense of security, noise, harder to hide, and mobility is restricted to where a vehicle can go.

As you can see, the levels of kit you have, augment and complement each other. Don’t forget your homestead should also have plenty of supplies. You could use this TTP and make your house your level 5. So depending on your scenario, you may not have all levels of kit with you. I normally have my Level 1 (EDC), Level 2 (GHB), and Level 4 (modified) with me whenever I drive my vehicle anywhere within my AOR. If I have to drive further like to another state or across the country, I add more items to my Level 4.

How to use your levels of kit

You should always use your kit from the highest to the lowest, Level 4 to Level 1. So you always have the critical gear on your person if you need to abandon the vehicle or your backpack. If you do use items form your level 1 or 2 use the higher levels to resupply those items. For example while I was in the military it was SOP that we drink out of our 2 QT canteens attached to our rucksacks before we drink out of our 1 QT canteens on our LBE/Chest rig. This way if we did a recon patrol without our rucksack we had full canteens or if we made contact and had to ditch/destroy our rucks we had full canteens.


Other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

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

Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation

Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns

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

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

Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps

Kit, gear, or whatever you like to call it. The equipment we buy to survive, protect, get home, bug out etc. Some of us that have served in the military

Ever wonder how you will live if the SHTF? Ever try to answer all the questions that you ask yourself about how you will survive as a single, senior woman living alone with no family, no spouse, no other support other than yourself? I ask myself everyday as I grow older and a little weaker in body and strength. I used to be able to lift fifty pounds of feed or move a bale of hay easily but now it gets to be a real trial. But, since I am alone, I have to do it anyway I can and I usually do. It is the same in prepping for just myself, my livestock, and the homestead.

I live on seven and a half acres in a rural southern California area which is like a mountain/high desert mix when it comes to weather and vegetation. My well is a good one and does the job of watering the livestock which consists of chickens, turkeys, goats, sheep, a llama, horses, and assorted dogs and cats. So, I have a good start on being self-sufficient. I decided to not bug out but to bug in if SHTF ever happens. So, I have devoted my time and meager income to this place.

When you are older and alone there are a lot of things that go thru your mind when the subject of prepping comes up. A lot of the questions such as what happens if I can’t get to town, how will I get my medications, what happens if the grid goes down, how do I function as an older woman alone in a non-functioning world, etc., etc., etc. Yes, there are hundreds of questions and sometimes the answers are easy and sometimes they elude us. Being older and alone does pose many unique problems for the one facing this uncertain world. When faced with these problems, I decided to sit down and access my situation and made a lot of decisions and lists. The first one was to bug out or not. Being that I have some disabilities such as arthritis and a bad back, there is no way I could walk out of here or ride my horse great distances to get to…Where? I don’t have a bug out place and if I did I would never make it there alive. I found that most of what I needed to survive was right here in my home.

I used to be able to lift fifty pounds of feed or move a bale of hay easily but now it gets to be a real trial. But, since I am alone, I have to do it anyway I can and I usually do.

So, I took inventory and started my first list of what I had in the way of survival gear, food, water, clothing, medications, tools, and a second list of what I needed to get. If I did bug out, I could not begin to carry what I would need to travel to an unknown destination. I would be a moving target for those who would like to take what I had. And, what would happen to all my animals? I have a pretty good start on being self-sufficient here with chickens and turkeys for meat and eggs, dairy goats for milk, butter, cheese and, a horse for transportation, a llama for packing, sheep for meat, wool and milk and in the spring I will be starting to raise rabbits, one or two cows for meat and milk and guineas for an alarm system. I have all I need here. Why leave it? I am comfortable here and feel a modicum of safety and I know some of the people and the area. That is a big thing to consider in deciding whether to stay or go and how you will get there. It is not very safe for older women to go out alone now so just think of how it will be if things get rough?

I made a third list of things I needed in the way of tools for survival, building supplies and weapons for protection. I bought a few power tools and two small gas-powered generators to run them and a little chest freezer. I bought that so I can freeze meats, cheese, and butter and make gallon-sized ice cubes to use in the antique icebox that was used by the previous owner for a liquor cabinet. I have tried it out and it works like a dream. I have also made a list of things I want to learn to do and can now scratch off such as learning how to can with a pressure canner, use a chainsaw for cutting firewood, and I turned my front porch into a greenhouse so I will have tomatoes and lettuce in the winter. I had to learn how to butcher the chickens and will have to learn how to do the cute fuzzy rabbits. But, if it means I will eat then so be it. We all have to do things that are distasteful but will do them to survive. I do believe that the older generation is better at getting it done than the younger and we don’t need a cell phone for that.

As for protection? I believe that in the future people will revert to old-time weapons for protection such as bows and arrows and spears and such. If the grid goes down there are only going to be so many bullets and no one to keep production up and not everyone is adept at reloading. So, my weapons of choice is the longbow, a cross-bow, and several pistol bows. I practiced a lot to become proficient in archery and can hit what I aim at. Even being 65 I can pull 40 lbs. And, it is a silent weapon. Pretty good for an old lady! But, I also have shotguns and pellet rifles. I learned almost all that when I turned 60. I made me a practice range on my place between the silage corn I planted and the wheat where I could and still do shoot regularly.

I have also made a list of things I want to learn to do and can now scratch off such as learning how to can with a pressure canner, use a chainsaw for cutting firewood, and I turned my front porch into a greenhouse so I will have tomatoes and lettuce in the winter.

I believe that if there is a will there is a way. Just because you are older and maybe not so strong physically does not mean you just lay down and die. I think that because I am older and alone it drives me to want to survive anything that is thrown at me. The instincts to survive are there and all you have to do is use your head, do the research, organize, learn, learn, learn, …and maybe, join a self-sufficiency /prepper group for moral support. When I needed gutters put up on the eaves of the house to catch rainwater for the livestock, I looked on the internet for DIY instructions and got it done. When I needed raised garden beds for my gardening, I designed one and got it built. Now I have many of them. It wasn’t too hard but still, there are things I wish I had help with but with a little ingenuity, I usually get it done.

After my dad died, I had to decide where to move my 84-year-old mother and myself. I have always wanted to move back to the country and live out my life in a rural setting, so that is where I landed. That was four years ago and since then the outside world has grown more violent, unpredictable, and totally dangerous with rumors of war, terrorists and possible financial collapse and EMPs. I have not been able to ignore it any longer. Something big is going to happen and soon. I feel it in my bones and not being prepared made me start making lists, reading about emergency preparations and being more aware of what has been going on around me. Then my mother was diagnosed with third stage dementia and since early this last year has had to make the transfer from here to a nursing home. I found myself turning 65, needing back surgery and losing income from taking care of my mom. I kept making lists of foods, household goods, clothes, weapons for self-defense, first aid and medical stuff, tools, livestock, and a lot of other things including what I already knew and what I wanted to learn about. I read, searched the internet, read blogs and always ask questions. As time has passed I felt overwhelmed with the stuff I needed to get done and for the first time in a while felt completely alone. It took a good talking to myself to set me right on the prepper path and now I find myself making great strides in becoming totally self-sufficient and ready for anything. And, I don’t feel my age is a hurdle anymore but actually has been a blessing.

I know that living in the country is very different from living in the city. I have lived in both and when the time comes and the grid goes down, preparing oneself with food, water, and the tools you need to have to survive are almost the same. You still need warmth, a roof over your head, a way to cook, and protection. You still need to be ready to hunker down where you are and have survival items unique to your circumstances. I know that it can be a bit overwhelming and lonely when having to make decisions concerning your safety and comfort especially when you are by yourself. But, if you have studied, learned and listened to the rumblings you will be prepared and will survive. After all, you have made it this far so you can be called a senior citizen.

Something big is going to happen and soon. I feel it in my bones and not being prepared made me start making lists, reading about emergency preparations and being more aware of what has been going on around me.

Not everything in prepping for one is dreary. One thing I realized while making my shopping list the other day for my food storage was that it contained foods I really liked and I got to pick and choose what to purchase. No one else had a say in what I bought. That was a bonus since I lean towards comfort foods and not gourmet stuff. The pros definitely outweighed the cons like not having to share my favorite candy bar with anyone. Do take an inventory of all the items you have now and build on that. Don’t forget to prep for your pets and do splurge on some good books, puzzles and crafts supplies to keep busy if you ever have any free time. Make sure to store up batteries so you can play your cd player and listen to music. It is a treat for yourself after a long day of working to keep yourself alive. This can be true today before the SHTF. And, don’t feel sorry for yourself for being older and alone. I don’t believe Karma gives us more than we can handle and hard work and challenge build character even in seniors.

As for being a senior, you should be able to draw on that vast supply of experience on keeping yourself healthy, active, sharp and for learning new things. Just remember, it is not how old you are or how infirm you might be, don’t think you cannot do it. You can if you believe you can. You will find a way. Even not having a lot of funds for purchasing items for your survival shouldn’t deter you. Get creative and go to garage sales, second-hand shops, Good Will and Salvation Army. I shop a lot at the dollar store and have saved tons of money on paper goods, canned goods, and other household items. Personal items are a good buy there as well.

I found out a long time ago, when my kids grew up and all moved away, and I divorced my husband that you only have yourself to rely on. No one is going to look out for you and it will be really true when the SHTF comes around. I found out there were things I didn’t think I could do but found out that I can. Being alone lets one really get to know yourself. Being older doesn’t mean that your world has come to an end. I believe I have every right to survive as the next person. Maybe more. That I have worked harder, learned more, done more and have earned the right to live with my own two hands by being more creative, smart, knowledgeable and resilient than the younger generation who can’t get the cell phone out of their face. Sit back at the end of the day and think of all you’ve accomplished all by yourself and be proud of it.

So, let’s get busy and quit thinking about how old we are and how much those joints hurt and start getting ready for that uncertain future and let’s survive. After all, we’ve lived this long, I’m game for twenty more years…are you?

Ever wonder how you will live if the SHTF? Ever try to answer all the questions that you ask yourself about how you will survive as a single, senior woman

Prepping in some cases is about taking proactive steps to avoid or mitigate the risk of danger. Usually when we think of prepping nirvana the vision is a remote location, far away from the hustle and bustle of any city. Something like the Walton’s home that is far away from any neighbors and a trip into town isn’t something you make for a single carton of milk like we currently do. The ideal location provides safety from the threats we routinely discuss on Final Prepper, but there are a lot of factors to consider if you are looking for your own survival retreat.

Some of you may be thinking that the hour is at hand and any chance of finding a survival retreat for your family has passed. That train has left the station and if you aren’t already in your off-grid sustainable home, it’s too late. I don’t know if that is the case for everyone. I do believe that even if SHTF happened right now there would be ideal (as possible) locations that people could move to. Now, this movement might be a long and tortuous process. You may be moving not because you have stuck that For Sale sign in your yard, but you might be moving cross-country as part of a bug out after a collapse has happened.

Assuming for a minute that you have the resources, desire and time to move to a new survival retreat, your safe place from the rest of the world, what types of features should you be looking for to make your new home most suited for long-term survival and self-sufficiency? The items below are not in priority order, but I think they cover a few of the bases.

 

Water Sources

You know that you must have water. There is plenty of good property for sale in the desert that is pretty affordable, but without water how long can you live there? The perfect survival retreat property has at least two sources of water year round. A well is one desirable feature but if you are buying land outright with no improvements you may have to have someone come out and so an assessment on your property. Assuming you have a good source of ground water you could drill your own well or have someone take care of that for you. Rain barrels are a great alternative, but what if it doesn’t rain enough to replenish the supplies you need?

In addition to a well, running water in the form of a spring, river, stream or even stationary water from a pond will greatly extend your ability to provide water for your family, livestock and crops. It should go without saying that all water on the surface will need to be disinfected prior to drinking. Well water will need to be tested also to make sure it doesn’t contain toxins from farm runoff or pesticides aren’t present. The USGS has a good page explaining different sources of water for the rural homeowner and important considerations.

You need to have great soil conditions to grow food to feed your family and livestock.

Soil Quality

So you have a great piece of land nestled back in the forest and water flows freely from a creek on the property. You still have to eat don’t you? For most people that includes some form of crop production that will likely account for most of the food you consume. You can have thousands of chickens but you will need to grow crops to feed them as well as yourself. Man cannot live on chicken nuggets alone contrary to what millions of children across the world think.

Testing the soil quality on a piece of land is an important consideration before you purchase any property. There are soil testing kits you can purchase online that will quickly tell you the soil conditions. Once you know the type of soil you have, you can work to amend it if necessary. There are a few common issues:

  • Soil is too acidic – Adding lime, poultry manure or wood ash to your soil can make it more alkaline and raise the pH to a healthier level.
  • Soil is too alkaline – Many gardeners swear by coffee grounds as an inexpensive, safe and readily available way to lower pH levels.
  • Soil is lacking nutrients – Organic matter can include anything from compost to bone meal to lawn clippings, depending on your specific needs.
  • Soil is too sandy or dense – Adding peat moss is an inexpensive and effective way to loosen up clay soil, while compost can build up and enrich sandy soil.

If you don’t have the ability to purchase a soil testing kit, you can go the DIY route as well. The video below shows you how.

 

Growing Season

Along with soil quality, you will need a long growing season to maximize the amount of produce and crops you can grow. Each part of the world is different and most sustain some form of plant growing, but there are differences. You can read more about growing zones on the USDA website or view the map below to see where your survival retreat property falls.

How long will you have each year to grow crops?

Location

Strategic Relocation has a myriad of data points and analysis on the best locations to move for survival.

This is usually the first criteria that people consider when they are looking for a new home and you might say some of the items above fall into the location aspect. The location of your retreat does matter greatly from a couple of standpoints. Ideally you want to be further away from high concentrations of people. The golden horde affect will be a very real risk I believe in the face of large disasters, wars or economic issues. Look at the migrants fleeing Syria right now landing in Hungary to see a real-live example of the migration of people away from troubled areas. The further away you are from large centers of people the better off you will be from the risk of a swell of people on foot in a tragedy.

Do you have plenty of timber on your property? How far away are you from neighbors? Will there be any developments that put a big neighborhood or shopping complex in your back yard? Who owns the property near you?

Location also matters when you are considering paying for this new survival homestead. Are you able to find work that will pay the bills? Even if you buy your piece of land and pay cash for it, there will always be taxes. You will likely need to purchase some supplies and that requires money. Perhaps you have a source of income that isn’t dependent upon location and that might be the best. What about schools, access to healthcare? All of these are considerations you will need to make. Strategic Relocation is a great resource that takes a lot of the finer points and makes them easy to search. We also have access to a free download that allows you to use Google Maps to mine data on threats as well. Read more about that here.

 

 

Moving is never easy, but if you are planning to move primarily for the security of a survival retreat, the decisions are harder than simply moving to a better neighborhood across town.

What other factors would you consider before you moved?

Prepping in some cases is about taking proactive steps to avoid or mitigate the risk of danger. Usually when we think of prepping nirvana the vision is a remote location,

To start today’s discussion of EMP shielding, we are going to go back to 1755.

As you may know,
our polymath founding father Benjamin Franklin conducted many experiments with electricity in the mid-18th century.

Franklin’s kite experiment is perhaps the most iconic, but in 1755, he discovered a way to shield objects from electrical charges. He did this by lowering an uncharged cork ball suspended on a silk thread through an opening in an electrically charged metal can. In his words:
The cork was not attracted to the inside of the can as it would have been to the outside, and though it touched the bottom, yet when drawn out it was not found to be electrified (charged) by that touch, as it would have been by touching the outside. The fact is singular.

Franklin had discovered the behavior of what we now refer to as a Faraday cage or shield. Faraday, a British scientist, is given credit for inventing the shield in 1836. To do so, Faraday duplicated Franklin’s original experiments.It gives me pride knowing that one of our nation’s forefathers discovered something that may protect us from threats today – without even knowing it. That’s certainly the spirit this nation was founded upon.

What is a Faraday Cage or Shield?

In the simplest terms, a Faraday Cage or shield is an enclosure that blocks electromagnetic fields. They can be tiny, or large enough to hold people and even larger for massive equipment.

They are formed by a continuous covering of conductive material (typically metal), or using a mesh of conductive material. A shield uses a continuous covering while a shield created with mesh is typically called a cage. This is mostly semantics, with many calling all such units cages. Potato, potato.

Besides being of interest to those of us in the preparedness community, Faraday cages are used in many fields. They are used in certain medical procedures to keep from interfering with equipment outside of the cage. Law enforcement uses them to protect recovered wireless devices from being wiped or altered during investigations. These are just a couple of examples.

In addition, Faraday cages help many of us along in our preparedness journeys.

We know that a powerful EMP, especially one produced by a high-altitude nuclear weapon could mean our grid and electronics could all go down.If this happens, having electronics shielded beforehand could be a life-saver.However, we also know that our government has not heeded calls from the EMP Commission and others to harden our grid and critical infrastructures. Countries like China, Russia and even North Korea have all taken measures to do this while our government focuses on more important threats.

What this means is that without a grid, many of our electronics (especially ones that make communication easy in our modern world) will be useless. That means no cell phone calls, no texting, no email, no social media. An old smart phone used for storage of survival knowledge might be a good idea to shield though. Just don’t expect any service. GPS also will not work on any phone, as they don’t actually use satellites for positioning, but cell phone towers.

 

 

What should you shield in a Faraday Cage?

This will vary depending on your own personal situation, but I advise you to shield only the most critical items first. You can always add to your cage or add more cages as you go. Here is a list to get you thinking about your own needs:

  • Flashlight (especially LEDs; batteries do not need protection)
  • A small transistor radio (CB, digital scanner and ham radios too, if you have them)
  • A device you can store and access digital files on
  • Walkie-talkies and two-way communication devices
  • Night-vision and laser optics (binoculars, rifle scopes, spotting scopes)
  • Electronic medical equipment
  • Spare critical electronics for vehicles

This by no means an exhaustive list.

How to build your own Faraday cage?

It is quite easy to build your own Faraday cage. Many common items can be used or repurposed for EMP shielding.

Most ad-hoc cages are built with conductive metals. Two common items used are metal ammo cans and galvanized trash cans.

While all-metal items like these are great at protecting items inside from electro-magnetic fields, they still will conduct electrostatic charges. This means that any electronics directly in contact with the metal could be fried if electrical charges are present. So it’s a good idea to insulate these containers to prevent this situation, with something like corrugated cardboard.

I’ve even seen a few Faraday boxes built out of storage containers and crates for housing large electronics or even entire vehicles. Many of these are made of steel, which is okay, but you need to make sure it has no openings. So, knowing how to weld (and insulate) on a commercial scale will be critical there.

Pro-tip: aluminum foil is your friend. Get the heavy-duty foil. You can use foil to make any container – like a shoe box – into a Faraday cage. You can even wrap a few layers of foil directly around a device for a quick, impromptu shield (be sure to insulate the device first, and be careful to tightly seal with no gaps). They even make aluminum foil tape that can be useful in sealing up a cage made from an ammo or garbage can.

Which reminds me:
the opening to your cage is your weakest link. Be sure to make sure the opening has no gaps – airtight if you can. You can do this by using gasketing material or extra foil. If you can avoid opening the cage until you absolutely need what’s inside, that’s the best course of action.

Final tip: consider “nesting” for extra protection. The more layers of conductive material we put between our electronics and any outside electromagnetic fields, the better protected they are. This is a good idea for particularly sensitive instruments and electronics with a lot of components.

An example of a nested Faraday Cage would be an ammo can inside an insulated trash can. The devices inside the ammo can would have two layers of nested protection.

How to test your Faraday Cage?

Now that we’ve gone through the trouble of building a Faraday Cage, we want to be sure that it will effectively protect the devices inside.

However, there is a lot of contention about the best way to test our cages for their shielding effectiveness. Obviously, we can’t test it under the actual conditions we are preparing for, so we make an approximation.

The most scientifically legitimate way of testing a Faraday cage that I’ve seen involved using an RF meter and placing it inside the cage to be tested. A good one can cost a few hundred dollars. Unless you’re a radio operator, this may be an unnecessary expense.

The simplest and easiest way to test your EMP shielding at home is to use a quality radio. Simply turn it on, tune it to a station with a strong, clear signal, then place it in the cage and seal it up. If you can still hear the station, your cage fails the test. But if it goes quiet or static, it passes this at-home test.

If my cage passes the test, is it EMP Proof?

The answer to this one is tricky. We’ll refer to a resource a reader like you sent in. It comes from a three-part series on EMPs and their effect on professional and amateur radio broadcasters.

Will a model ABC123 smart phone survive an EMP at a given location?

Maybe.

Every MegaHertz of spectrum will have some energy in it from an EMP. Predicting the total energy arriving at a distant location requires modeling the propagation efficiency for every frequency. Then the modeler will add up all of the voltages from all of the frequencies to obtain the peak Voltage applied to the victim device.

Due to this infinitely large number of parameters which determine the strength of the Voltage imposed on any distant electronic device, it is computationally prohibitive to predict, with precision greater than the nearest order of magnitudethe level of stress which any particular piece of equipment will be forced to endure.

Thus, the answer to so many questions is “maybe.”

While we might not be able to accurately model an EMPs effects on our particular cages and shields, I believe that some protection is better than nothing.

 

Government Doing Testing Of Its Own

While we’ve been busy testing our Faraday cages for this article, the federal government has been doing some more EMP testing itself.

From November 4-6, the Department of Defense, along with the Army Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) and amateur radio operators, conducted a
simulated “very bad day” scenario. This kind of scenario is defined by those involved as any event in which the national power grid fails along critical forms of communication.

This simulated exercise also included a simulation for a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) event, also known as a solar storm (which we know can produce EMPs).

According to a MARS operator, this simulation is a routine training event they conduct 4 times annually. This info surprised me, because I believe that the government is ramping down measures related to the EMP threat. We saw the EMP commission close its doors less than two months ago, along with other disappointing developments. But this makes me feel
slightly better – knowing that routine exercises like these still exist.

That about wraps up our primer on Faraday cages. I hope you’ve found this to be inspiring and helps you along in your preparedness journey.

To start today’s discussion of EMP shielding, we are going to go back to 1755. As you may know, our polymath founding father Benjamin Franklin conducted many experiments with electricity in the

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”, were the wise words once uttered by one of our Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, and they are the words that have helped prepare me for a countless number of scenarios. Preparing for D-day, or Doomsday, might sound funny to some, but there is nothing funny about good planning and tact. There are so many people who go about living their day-to-day lives without any concern as to what may happen tomorrow. They are casually living in the moment and basking in all of its glory. The act of preparing for the worst possible scenario does not make you a naysayer, instead, it makes you a visionary. You choose to look past the present and plan for the future. This is the principle that many, if not all, preppers operate on.
Doomsday could arise due to a different number of factors, however, the commonality between these numerous outcomes is the fact that you will have to keep yourself, your family, and those you love, safe and secure.

Adequately preparing for doomsday before it happens is the key to surviving whatever calamity the world throws at you. This could be in the form of a natural disaster, nuclear fallout, or even a zombie apocalypse. In any case, when the day comes, you want to make sure that you are secure enough to live to see tomorrow. Let’s take a look at five security measures that you can implement to help you stay alive during doomsday.

Strengthen Your Doors

The importance of your doors can never be overstated. Aside from the fact that they have symbolic value as the entryway into people’s homes, your doors are also meant to keep intruders out. There will never be a point in time where this will be more necessary than when Doomsday hits. The door to your home (home is relative in this situation) is an integral part of your defense, and it should be the most secure part of your “fortress of solitude”. This will deter any unwanted guests, and make sure your security stands strong against any attempts at forced entry.

In order to strengthen your door you should first evaluate the material that your door is made of. Most residential doors are made of wood, steel, or fiberglass. In most cases homeowners will not have to replace the doors they already have, unless the door is made from an extremely low-grade material or if it is not a solid core wood door. This is an important step that should not be overlooked, because the rest of the tips that will follow will mean very little if your door can easily be kicked in. Have you ever read “The Three Little Pigs”? That story will probably sum up the aforementioned point much better.  After evaluating your doors you need to focus on the locking mechanism and additional features that you can employ to make sure it makes it harder for intruders (and zombies) to gain access to your home.

Doors in most commercial homes lack basic strength to withstand brute forced entry.

It is advisable to make use of ANSI grade 1 deadbolt locks for your doors. Grade 1 deadbolts are made to withstand 10 strikes of 75 pounds of force, and they are effective at keeping doors secure. In preparation for a doomsday event, it will be best to make use of multiple deadbolts within your door to increase the security that they give you. In addition to using these deadbolts, you can also improve your door by using reinforced steel or wooden bars and rods (Zombie Bars). In order for this to work properly, you will have to install additional pieces onto the wall on either sides of the door so that your security bar can be held in place across the door. Implementing security bars and multiple grade 1 deadbolts will make your door extremely hard to get into, and that is what you want. In addition to these methods, you can also increase the security of your locking mechanism, to cater to any zombies that prefer to pick the lock rather than kick the door down. This can be done by using additional security pins, changing the materials of the spring in the lock, by using anti-pick locks, etc. In addition to this being a good opportunity to prepare for the worst-case scenario, it also gives you the chance to re-evaluate your home security.

Strong Chains And Padlocks

Another security measure that will help keep you alive involves making use of strong chains and padlocks. Chains and padlocks can be used in conjunction with the measures outlined above to make your door even more secure, but they can also be used on the go or to bar access to storage units. Not many things are certain about Doomsday, but you can be sure that people will be on edge, and that everyone will be looking to grab whatever they can, however they can. As such, it is of extreme importance that people utilize chains and padlocks to keep their valuables secure when they are on the go. It is also important to take into account the fact that people will need to stay mobile, depending on the state of things in their neighborhood. As a prepper, it is best not to wait until it’s too late, so invest in some good chains and padlocks today.

Chains and padlocks can be used in conjunction with the measures outlined above to make your door even more secure, but they can also be used on the go or to bar access to storage units.

When you set out to buy chains and padlocks, you want to make sure that these are strong and resistant to cutting attacks. It is best to employ the use of hardened steel chains with hexagonal links. These kinds of chains are highly resistant to bolt cutters and they help keep your items more secure. When you are choosing a padlock, you want to make sure that you pick a padlock that is made of boron carbide alloy (extremely strong and long lasting). Make sure that the padlock uses ball bearings to hold the shackle in place rather than a levered mechanism. And finally, make sure that the padlock has a hard and thick shackle.

Padlocks and chains can prove to be quite handy in varying situations. They give you the opportunity to secure your belongings when you are on the go and they can also give you added security when you settle down in a bunker somewhere.

Secure The Perimeter

Securing the perimeter of your property, or wherever you are camped out, is crucial to your survival. It helps warn you of impending danger as well as ward off the danger. There are several ways to secure the perimeter, but it is important that you keep some key factors in mind. It is imperative that your perimeter is kept well lit so that you can see any threat from a mile away and so that you can adequately prepare for it. In addition to this, you should make sure that your perimeter is either walled or fenced off. When walling off your property/space, make sure that you account for length. There will be no point to putting up a wall to protect yourself if that wall is easily scalable. However, sometimes it is not about the length of the wall, but about the material of the wall. Some walls can be retrofitted with spikes, cables etc. that make it a more arduous task to attempt to scale it. This will undoubtedly deter anyone (zombie or human) that thinks it would be a good idea to try and get over your wall.

The act of securing your perimeter also applies when you are on the go. It is important to have a security structure in place that warns you when danger is approaching and one that also helps you keep danger at bay. This can be accomplished by rigging booby traps or setting up makeshift fences with varying materials to keep your immediate vicinity secure while you are mobile.

Sustainable Defense

Now, this security measure is among the most important. This is because all the steps that are listed above will mean very little if you cannot sustain them. It is crucial that you have a sustainable defense plan. This is to ensure that you can continue to take care of yourself and those around you. A good chunk of the preparation process is learning. Yes, as mundane as it sounds, learning as much as you can is one of the best security measures to help keep you alive. It is important to learn as much as you can about the things around you and the components that go into making bullets, medicine, how to manage electricity, etc. It is essential that you learn how to properly obtain and store these items for long periods of time, since they are bound to come in handy. These are crucial security measures that will help keep you alive. One half of this equation is aimed at making sure that you are not caught with your pants down. The other half of the equation makes sure that if you are caught with your pants down, you can still get out of it alive.

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It is important to realize that when Doomsday hits, in all its gruesome glory, there will be any unknown variables that the majority of people will be struggling with. There will be lingering questions about power, water, food, and shelter. It will be imperative that you have measures in place so that you are taken care of for the long haul.

Get A Dog

Yes, you read that right. One of the best ways to keep yourself secure in a doomsday scenario is to have a dog. If you dispute this fact, make sure you watch “I Am Legend” and you will see why dogs come in handy in all manners of situations. Dogs are reliable and they are good traveling and hunting companions, as well as being an additional method of securing your belongings since they will alert you to the presence of anything. Also, should the need ever arise, dogs are capable of holding their own in a fight and they make for amazing combat partners. Dogs have a heightened sense of awareness and having one around in a dystopian doomsday world will most likely increase your chances of survival and keep you around much longer.

One of the best ways to keep yourself secure in a doomsday scenario is to have a dog.

Conclusion

There is no prepper out there eagerly waiting for the world to crumble just so that they can yell out “I told you so”. That is not the reason why this is done. Prepping is done to make sure that everyone is prepared for the worst-case scenario, should it ever happen. Adhering to these 5 security measures will undoubtedly prolong your life during doomsday. However, do not be fooled into thinking that these are the only things that will help you stay alive. If this time ever comes, survival, safety, and security should be at the top of your list of priorities. This mindset will see you through a great many ordeals.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”, were the wise words once uttered by one of our Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, and they are the words that have

As preppers we stock up on supplies that we think we will need in an emergency. The order of priority for these items is usually tied to what our bodies need to survive. We can only live for 3 days (on average) without water so we make plans to purchase storage containers and water filtration systems to cover that base. We next need food, so we stock our pantries full of store-bought and freeze-dried food for a situation where the grocery store is either unreachable or out of food. Security and shelter round out the list of initial survival concepts you want to take care of but what else is there?

There are so many aspects to preparedness, but one of the more important ones to consider is medicine. If the grid goes down, the pharmacy will be in the same boat as that grocery store. If you are still able to purchase items (grid up), they may be sold out with no reasonable hope of resupply. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you need simply medical supplies to treat illness or injury and aren’t able to procure them for your family. Thinking about your families’ health from an injury standpoint isn’t as sexy as buying a good SHTF weapon, but knowing which medicine to stock up on for an emergency will allow you to plan for disruptions and possibly keep your family more healthy when they need it the most.

 

What are important types of medicine to stock up on?

This list certainly won’t take the place of a hospital pharmacy and it surely won’t give you the skills you need to treat every injury, but even the most basic of medical supplies and a little knowledge could help you out. When shopping for medicines or thinking about first aid, I consider what types of injuries you could encounter in a disaster.

Disasters both natural and man-made bring death, disease and injuries. The medicines you need to stock up on should take some of these into consideration while not addressing every conceivable ailment under the sun. To achieve a basic level of preparedness I would recommend having the following items on hand.

Pain Medication / Fever Reducer

By pain medication I am referring to over the counter pain relievers. This can help with anything from headaches, sore muscles from too much exercise after SHTF or injuries. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is good for relieving pain and fever. It is generally less irritating to the stomach and is safer for children but can be toxic to the liver if you take too much of it.

Make sure you have the basics for wound care covered also in a good emergency first aid kit. This is what I have in my vehicle.

Aspirin, Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) are examples of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These reduce inflammation caused by injury, arthritis or fever. They can also assist with pain associated with menstruation.

Children shouldn’t be given aspirin as it has been shown to cause Reye’s syndrome and can cause other bad effects. For pain medication I would have at least a bottle or two of your favorite pain reliever. For smaller children who might take liquid or chewable tablets I would stock up on that also. You don’t want your child to experience a fever without having medicine to bring that fever down if needed. The medicines above can be useful for both reducing inflammation, relieving pain and reducing fevers. I personally like aspirin for headaches but we do have large bottles of the other two on hand as well.

Anti-diarrheal

One of our readers put this as his top 4 or 5 items to have in his bug out bag and I can understand the rationale. The last thing you need to worry about in a bug out scenario is pulling over every twenty minutes or trying to find a safe place to let it all out. Diarrhea besides being messy as all get out can dehydrate a person quickly. Dehydration leads to weakness, irritability and confusion. Not the state you want to find yourself in an emergency.

 

There are two main types of medicines that help stop diarrhea, thickening mixtures (psyllium) absorb water and gives number 2 a little more volume. Antispasmodic products slow the spasms of your lower intestine. Loperamide is the active ingredient in products like Imodium and Pepto Diarrheal control. I have also seen loperamide hydrochloride in pill form in dozens of first aid kits. Fortunately, I have never had to use them but have them just in case. Better safe than sorry.

Antibiotics

Sooner or later someone you know will need something a little stronger than a clean bandage. Antibiotics are used in the treatment of bacterial infections. A cut from a rusty piece of metal when the grid is up isn’t life threatening. Without something to fight the infection in a grid down world, a bacterial infection could spell death. Antibiotics do not work on viruses though, so they won’t help you out with every illness.

How do you know when to use antibiotics?

The answer depends on what is causing your infection. The following are some basic guidelines from Familydoctor.org:

  • Colds and flu. Viruses cause these illnesses. They can’t be cured with antibiotics.
  • Cough or bronchitis. Viruses almost always cause these. However, if you have a problem with your lungs or an illness that lasts a long time, bacteria may actually be the cause. Your doctor may decide to try using an antibiotic.
  • Sore throat. Most sore throats are caused by viruses and don’t need antibiotics. However, strep throat is caused by bacteria. Your doctor can determine if you have strep throat and can prescribe an antibiotic.
  • Ear infections. There are several types of ear infections. Antibiotics are used for some (but not all) ear infections.
  • Sinus infections. Antibiotics are often used to treat sinus infections. However, a runny nose and yellow or green mucus do not necessarily mean you need an antibiotic.  Read more about treating sinusitis.

 

 

Obtaining extra antibiotics could be difficult without a willing doctor or an active prescription. A common alternative to pharmacy antibiotics is fish antibiotics. Largely made with the same compounds, fish antibiotics are available without a prescription.

Colloidal Silver

Colloidal silver isn’t loved by the medical or scientific establishment, but that doesn’t mean it does not work. Colloidal Silver or CS as it is referred to by some is said to be an excellent antibiotic with the side benefit of being able to be made with simple materials by anyone. You should research for yourself whether or not this is a prepper supply you want to store and there are well documented cases of people who have abused this. I have some in my medicine cabinet.

Additional medical supplies

  • Oral re-hydration solution – To offset the effects of dehydration caused by illness or diarrhea, make your own by adding 6-8 teaspoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt to 1 liter of water. Best to boil the water, add the sugar and salt while it is still warm to dissolve completely and let cool.
  • Multi-vitamins – I know the experts say that vitamins don’t do anything for you, but I believe if your body is deprived of vitamins supplementing with a good multi vitamin is a good idea.
  • Bandages – Probably more than you would ever expect to need. Bandages on wounds need to be routinely changed and the wound cleaned (based upon injury of course, consult a medical resource book for frequency) and you can easily go through dozens with one injury.
  • Rubbing Alcohol and Hydrogen Peroxide – Both alcohol and hydrogen peroxide are useful for cleaning wounds but each have many other benefits in the prepper’s first aid kit.

 

  • Cough Drops – Sure there are natural alternatives to cough drops, but you can buy a few hundred for less than $10
  • Anti-itch creme – Itching sucks.
  • Honey – Natural honey can be used to treat wounds and never goes bad if you have it stored properly. Plus it tastes great on that oatmeal you have stored in your pantry too.
  • Knee Braces and Ace Bandages – A lot of injuries will simply take time to heal. A good knee brace can make getting around possible for someone with mild injuries. Ace bandages can help with sprains.
  • Any prescriptions you take regularly – An entire post could be written about obtaining supplies of life-saving medical prescriptions. The sad fact is that in a grid down world, many people who can no longer access prescriptive medicine may die. There are alternative treatments, homeopathic remedies and natural substitutes for some specific medicines, but these should all be researched thoroughly on your own. At a minimum you should have at least a one month supply of any medicine you must take. If the disaster allows you to make it to another medical provider you have some time.
  • Thermometer – Get the old-fashioned kind if you are worried about EMP, although the newer digital thermometers are really nice too.
  • Blood Pressure Cuff – Helpful in situations although requires some training on how to use one properly. Don’t forget the Stethoscope to hear the heartbeat. – Hat tip to Ty for these last three great recommendations.

When does medicine go bad?

Yes, medicine does go bad, but it may not be bad in the way you think or as quickly as you might believe. For one thing the expiration date on medicine does not mean that the medicine is bad after that date. Medicine does start to lose its effectiveness over time though so keeping your medicine up to date is the best approach to having a good supply of medicine in your home.

How quickly a particular medicine loses its potency will vary by the medicine and the conditions where it is kept. Moisture and heat are not friends to medicine so a cool dry place out of sunlight is the best location. Medicine that has changed color, texture or smell even if it has not expired shouldn’t be taken. If pills stick together or are harder or softer, show cracks or chips they likely need to be replaced.

This is really just a start at some of the most obvious medicine to stock up on but each person has their own needs. What is your plan if you can’t get to the doctor?


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As preppers we stock up on supplies that we think we will need in an emergency. The order of priority for these items is usually tied to what our bodies

When non-preppers think about how to survive the end of the world, they usually think about hoarding supplies, finding a secure place to store them and hunkering down to wait it out. It’s a nice fairy-tale, but in the real world, when SHTF, true survivors have to know how to hit back.

While it is important to stock up on supplies that you might need to survive TEOTWAWKI, having all the supplies in the world won’t help you if you can’t get to them when an apocalypse event strikes. What about defending all your supplies from desperate people trying to get them? What about protecting yourself and the people you care about? What if a flood or fire break out and you end up stranded with nothing? Even if you do manage to make it back to your supplies and feel safe, what happens when the inevitable occurs and your supplies run out?

Fitness is the First Step to Survival

The truth is, prepping is about skill and knowledge, first and foremost. Knowing what matters most is the true key to apocalypse survival, and having the skills to do whatever it takes to keep going isn’t about buying stuff; it’s about building your skill-set. That’s why the first step in learning how to prepare for the end of the world is always getting your body ready to handle whatever might come your way. In reality, every moment is an opportunity to train for the end of the world.

The Elements of Physical Fitness

Diversify your training to see the greatest results.

Endurance. Strength. Flexibility. Creativity. These are the essential elements of apocalypse survival and training. The good news is that there are plenty of opportunities in your everyday life to increase your overall capacity to execute these skills – if you make the time for it. Here’s a quick guide on how to physically prepare for SHTF:

  • Endurance. There’s just no way to build your stamina without getting after it, every day. Endurance is quite literally a marathon sport. Even if it starts with a simple walk, find a way to get moving and keep moving every day. Aim to continually increase the amount of physical activity you do, the kinds of activities you try and their level of difficulty.
  • Strength. Bodyweight exercises are a great way to strengthen and tone without a ton of equipment, while there are a range of targeted activities like CrossFit and Krav Maga that can help you home in on and improve your weakest skills.
  • Flexibility. It may not seem very tough, but staying limber is essential to staying alive. Stretch while you strengthen, and you’ll be able to do more and recover faster after intense physical activity.
  • Creativity. Diversify your training to see the greatest results. Try different combat methods and improvise with the environment around you to identify your strengths and weaknesses while making it easier to respond effectively, whatever your situation or surroundings.

Apocalypse Training Techniques

Learn how to defend yourself in a lethal situation without a weapon.

Ultimately, fitness training for SHTF situations is about applied knowledge, not book learning or simulations. The people you’re fighting against when SHTF won’t follow the rules of sparing or good sportsmanship. At TEOTWAWKI, you’ll be fighting for your life with whatever you have available. That means you need to be prepared to fight on all fronts.

Train in three ways for maximum effect:

  • Functional Training. Use what’s around you to build practical strength, like tires, ropes and more. This idea is the cornerstone of CrossFit and parkour training.
  • Combat Training. Learn how to defend yourself in a lethal situation without a weapon. Mastering a martial art that’s specifically designed for tactical fighting like Krav Maga can be your greatest protection in an apocalypse situation.
  • Tactical Training. Firearm training is a no-brainer. Having a gun won’t help you if you don’t know how to properly use it or don’t consistently practice and improve your shooting skills.

When deciding how to build your skills in each of these three areas, think about the ultimate goal of any technique you learn. Your primary objective is to survive, not simply one-up your assailant. Find tactics that will help you stay one step ahead of an opponent both mentally and physically. Approaching your training this way is how to survive the end of the world. Survival isn’t about winning a trophy or a championship belt. It’s about making it out alive.

Tactical Survival Training for TEOTWAWKI

Focus on developing the kind of skills that will serve you under pressure when preparing for the end of the world. PHOTOGRAPHER: Lauren Harnett

If you really think about it, it makes sense to focus on developing the kind of skills that will serve you under pressure when preparing for the end of the world. You won’t be facing rainbows and words of encouragement in the end of days. When training with firearms, spend the majority of your time building and practicing fundamental skills so they become natural reflexes when you’re fighting for your life, rather than focusing on tricks and complicated techniques that will take time to recall.

The tactics you have to think about are the ones that will do the most damage when it’s time to make a split-second decision in a fight or flight situation. It’s better to stick with tactical techniques that complement what naturally happens in your body and brain when adrenaline spikes. This means sticking with methods that retain your accuracy and control, even when you’re under serious stress.

Practice the Basics. Then Practice Differently.

The tactics you have to think about are the ones that will do the most damage when it’s time to make a split-second decision in a fight or flight situation.

The first key to effective firearm use is mastering the basics, including your stance, grip, target acquisition, sights, trigger control, follow-through and ability to disarm an opponent. Here’s a quick breakdown of each and what you should focus on to improve your fundamentals.

  • Power Stance. Improving your overall fitness level will help you find a stable, mobile and balanced stance when shooting your gun, but it takes practice to find the power stance that will protect you from recoil, while letting you stay agile, aggressive and in control.
  • Grip. Make your grip firm, tight and with your thumbs curled down. Firearm expert and master trainer Massad Ayoob calls this the “crush grip,” and it’s one of the five elements he considers most crucial to have in your arsenal before firing a gun (Ayoob, 2012).
  • Target Acquisition. This skill covers the rapid vision transition that must occur after you’ve spotted a target and before you shoot. Practice adjusting the focus of your eyesight from a natural target to your sights quickly so you program the movement into your eyes’ muscle memory.
  • Sight Alignment and Picture. Two essential yet separate elements of proper shooting, sight alignment requires that your front sight be centered between the rear sights with your rear sights horizontally aligned, while sight picture is the relationship of your sight alignment to your target for accurate execution. Understanding the relationship between sight alignment and picture takes practice and depends on your individual gun.
  • Trigger Control. Your grip will go a long way toward improving trigger control, which is the act of pulling the trigger without pushing the nose of the gun up or down, jerking the trigger or otherwise disturbing your aim. Smooth and consistent squeezing is key.
  • Follow-Through and Reset. Follow-through is about squeezing the trigger until it stops moving, while reset is about getting the trigger ready to fire again. After your follow-through, practice releasing the trigger to the point of reset and firing again. Sometimes, the trigger break and follow-through positions are the same, sometimes not. Your trigger reset is rarely the same position where the trigger rests when untouched. Practice to determine both the follow-through and reset positions of your specific guns.
  • Disarmament. Whether you’re facing a knife, gun or concealed weapon that you can’t identify, you have to know how to disarm an assailant coming at you with a weapon – not only to protect yourself from other people, but also to anticipate how someone else might try to disarm you and prevent it.

There are a few simple drills that can help you get the basics ingrained in your brain, round out your shooting skills, and give you the confidence and versatility you need to shoot well when SHTF. Remember to practice shooting both moving and still targets, work with both two-handed and one-handed grips, and incorporate movement into your tactical training. If you aren’t shooting, move.

You should test out different kinds of firearms, including rifles, shotguns and handguns, and practice drawing and shooting them all until you find the weapons that work best for you. Your gun will do you no good if you can’t draw it fast enough and shoot it accurately. Practice in low light environments, try shooting multiple targets to improve your agility, and practice safely shooting from behind cover and concealment. All of these techniques can give you a huge tactical advantage in a lethal confrontation.

Mental Readiness: The Real Key to Apocalypse Survival

Having a strong mind and body and the right functional, combat and tactical training will go a long way to getting your ready for TEOTWAWKI – much more than stockpiling supplies can ever do.

Mental preparation is about conditioning yourself to handle the inevitable emotions during an apocalypse. Fear, concern, hopelessness, helplessness, defeat. Being better prepared than most can itself be a liability, since you can’t save everyone and trying to could ultimately end your own life. How will you determine when to stand firm, when to offer help and when to move on?

Mental preparedness doesn’t mean being weak. In fact, working on assessing, identifying and controlling your emotions will improve your ability to stay assertive, aggressive and in control instead of breaking down in the face of disaster. Often, appearing aggressive is enough to keep weaker would-be threats at bay, without the risks of direct engagement.

 

 

 

 

Having a strong mind and body and the right functional, combat and tactical training will go a long way to getting your ready for TEOTWAWKI – much more than stockpiling supplies can ever do. I hope this article gave you a good understanding of where to put your focus to really prepare for SHTF. If you get after it and train to improve a little each day, you’ll be better prepared than most when the end of the world arrives. Good luck.

When non-preppers think about how to survive the end of the world, they usually think about hoarding supplies, finding a secure place to store them and hunkering down to wait

Are you afraid of the dark? Me either, but darkness brings about a whole new set of challenges you don’t need. When the power goes out and it happens at night-time, I can still get around my house just like most of you could as well, but not as quickly as I do with light. I can still make it out of my bedroom and down the hall to the kitchen, but navigating familiar paths isn’t really crucial. Light is needed for a lot of things more important than walking down the hall and having a plan for light if you lose power is another important step in becoming prepared for any emergency.

Since the dawn of time, man has been looking for new ways to shed light into the darkness. Light dispels our fears, helps us search for things and gives us better visibility for certain tasks. If you don’t already, you need to have back-up lighting for your home, bug out vehicle and person so that you won’t be hampered in a low or no light situation. There are several low-cost options that we will be discussing that can allow you to see through the darkness when you need it most.

Candles

Romantic isn’t it?

Candles are probably one of the oldest forms of light. They are simple to use, require no electricity, and I know there is something special about eating by candlelight, but they do have drawbacks as well. Candles do not put off much light, so you will normally need more candles in a room to have any decent light output. A single candle can light things up enough for walking around and simple tasks, but even reading a book with a single candle could strain most people’s eyes.

Candles also have a nasty habit of catching things on fire. Obviously, we are talking about an open flame here and candles can catch anything that falls into their path on fire. If you have curtains for example that blow and touch the flame, you could be in for a rude awakening. For this reason, candles should be carefully considered for your primary lighting needs and great care should be taken in their use and position in relation to everything else. In our house, we have candles, but they are not something we allow the girls to walk around with. Candles also put off smoke and soot so they aren’t the cleanest form of light

You can also cook or warm up food with candles and they do put off a good bit of heat so in a colder situation this can have a double benefit. Candles can also be made from beeswax so if you keep bees you can be set for life in your own candle making materials. I wouldn’t plan on this unless you are already making candles, so have a supply of your own before you need them, unless you are planning on taking up beekeeping soon.

In our house we have a few different options for candles. When I started prepping, I was out at the grocery store and saw the big candles with the saints printed on the outside of glass containers. I am sure someone will illuminate me as to what these are for; I think it is a Catholic religion practice, but to me, these were survival candles! I quickly bought a few of these for back-up light. Then I went to Wal-Mart and bought about a half-dozen decorative candles about the size of a coke can. Lastly, I found a site online that sells candles in bulk. I believe it may have been Candles 4 less and I got a whole box of 15 hour candles. These fit nicely in a box along with the rest of my supplies.

Lanterns

Hurricane Lanterns

For me lanterns make the most sense for a heavy-duty light, but they are not without issues either. There are a few different types of lanterns that I have or have considered for light if the power goes out. The first type is the old style oil lamps and you can get these from a lot of places like Lehmans. Actually, now that I look at the prices again, they have come down and there are a lot of good options for oil lamps  . Oil lamps can put off much more light than a candle and have a sturdier base. If you have a reflector, the light is magnified slightly and makes a better choice for a whole room light. Also, with oil lamps, you can walk around a little easier with them since most have a guard over the flame to prevent wind from blowing directly on the light.

Oil lamps too are dangerous potentially if they are dropped or the flame touches something else. I would recommend these maybe in situations where children aren’t involved or ensure great care is taken using them. I know they have been used for years, but they have also started fires for years, so just a simple word of caution.

Kerosene lanterns are another good option, but they like propane need to be vented. One good thing about propane is that you can use the same fuel you have stored already for your Kerosene heater.

Propane lanterns are incredible and I have one that I use for camping and as a backup for power outages. The light these things put out is incredible and you can even cook on them they get so hot. Propane needs to be vented though so you don’t want to use one of these in your house without proper ventilation. I have purchased a good amount of additional propane cylinders and mantle wicks so that I can use these for a good long time if needed. This lamp is my ideal dual-purpose light that is safe enough (with those exceptions I mentioned) if your power goes out or if you are out in the woods.

With any time of flame based lighting it is important to have proper fire extinguishing equipment close by in case of any accidents and I would never recommend leaving these lit when you are sleeping.

Flashlights

If you haven’t yet read our post on tactical flashlights, we cover a lot of ground in there, but the safest light you can have is a good old trusty flashlight. Flashlights come in all flavors and sizes and we have a couple of different options for the different uses each one needs to fill.

Hands free lighting with headlamps.

For hands free operation, if you are going to be moving around I have to recommend a headlight. Headlights have been around for years in various configurations. You might have the image of a coal-coated miner walking around with the big light strapped to his head with the big square battery strapped to a black hard hat. They have come a very long way.

Headlights now are extremely light and much more powerful thanks to LED light bulbs. I have Petzyl headlamps for everyone in my family and they were perfect for camping or hunting. Most use 3 triple AAA batteries so you aren’t stuck with hard to find battery needs. The ones I have adjust the tilt so you can easily shine the light on your lap if you want to see what you are eating or out ahead to light up the trail as you walk. They also have three modes (low, high and strobe) for different lighting situations. They are held on your head by a comfortable elastic type of band that isn’t too tight and is easily adjustable. I take mine with me whenever I am camping like I said and also on long car trips, because if I have to change a tire in the middle of the night, I need both hands free. You can wear these around the house to do anything and when you aren’t using them, just pull them down around your neck. You can also take them off and shine them at the ceiling if needed for a really nice ambient light.

Regular hand-held flashlights certainly have their place as well and we have several different types and styles of these. I recently ordered some incredibly cheap led lights that are less than $7 and have an output of 300 lumens! I am testing them now and will write-up my review after I put them through some more paces, but you can’t beat a light like this at that price. Is it waterproof and shock-proof and able to be driven over by a truck? I don’t know but at $4 I can buy a whole bunch of these lights and still have money left over for a box of MRE’s.

Batteries are an important consideration I’ll admit with flashlights, but you can purchase rechargeable batteries and a handy solar recharger to keep you supplied with plenty of light for a long time.

Solar Powered

Solar powered lights are great alternatives, but you need the sun obviously. These lights are going to need charging and put out much less light than you would expect. I have heard of people who plan on using their sidewalk lights if needed and I think that is a creative use, but I wouldn’t count on that for the best alternative lighting you can have for your family. Great in a pinch, but not the best option in my opinion.

Hand crank

I am sure most of you have seen the hand cranked flashlights for sale. These have a small motor that is activated when you either crank a handle like a fishing rod or squeeze a lever like a stress ball for a long time. This sounded great to me when I first heard about it, but after trying to use these a couple of times, I decided that they aren’t going to work for me. I am all for exercise, but not when I need light. When it counts, I want bright light that can help me see what I am looking for, or illuminate what I am trying to do. The hand-crank lights are novelties for me that just aren’t the best solution.

Hopefully, this gives you some ideas on lighting options for emergency situations and how you can be prepared to keep the lights on even when the power is out.

Are you afraid of the dark? Me either, but darkness brings about a whole new set of challenges you don’t need. When the power goes out and it happens at

From buying it to burning it, knowing a few things about firewood can greatly help the productivity of your wood stove or fireplace this winter. Here are tips culled from the nonprofit Wood Heat Organization to help you prepare by knowing what type of firewood is best.

What makes for good firewood?

When determining which types of firewood burn better, it’s important to remember some high school chemistry and the fact that all trees, no matter their species, are made of pretty much the same chemicals. What makes for good firewood, though, is density and moisture content.

Woods that are harder or denser, like oak, hickory and ash, typically burn longer and produce hotter coals. And, a low moisture count (using wood that’s dried properly, or “seasoned”) means you’ll burn your fuel with better efficiency and avoid overly smoky fires or excessive creosote buildup in your chimney.

Of course, many hardwoods are rare, protected or difficult to come by in certain regions. When comparing available types of firewood to purchase, just keep in mind that hickory, oak and maple burn longer and hotter, making them great choices for winter’s coldest months. In contrast, poplar, pine and spruce burn more quickly and make for better fall and spring woods because, according to the Wood Heat Organization, they make heat control easier and don’t overheat the house.

Talk to neighbors with similar stoves and homes to find out how much wood they burn over a season. And ask for recommendations on reliable suppliers of wood.

What is a cord?

Officially, the measurement for wood is called a “cord.” A “full” cord is an 8-foot-long stack that’s 4 feet tall and 4 feet wide, but since 4-foot pieces aren’t typically what people use in the fireplace or wood stove, firewood is rarely sold in that size, which can make purchasing firewood confusing.

Adding to the confusion are the various terms like “face” cord and “furnace” cord that are sometimes used to describe a variation of a full cord (where the piece lengths are shorter than four feet).

Of course, stocking up on firewood is an investment, so you want to understand exactly how much wood you’re getting and how to compare various pricing. The Wood Heat Organization offers a formula to help you do that, and suggests avoiding wood that’s not a variation of a full cord (that means, no buying a load from the back of a pickup truck).

Stacking firewood the Holz Hausen way.
Stacking firewood the Holz Hausen way.

How to stack and dry wood

When your wood is delivered, have pallets, railroad ties or other stable material ready to stack the wood on and get it off the ground. Wood left on the ground in a disorganized pile won’t get enough air-flow to dry sufficiently. To properly dry your wood out — what’s called “seasoning” — the Wood Heat Organization says to select a place where the sun can warm the wood and wind can blow through it.

Cross the wood in alternating patterns per level as you stack it. Take your time to pick good, level pieces as you approach a corner or endpoint. This crisscrossing technique allows for both more stable woodpiles and free movement of air.

By leaving the wood to dry for at least one summer season, for a total of at least six months, you can likely achieve the 15 to 20 percent desired moisture level that the Wood Heat Organization says is ideal for firewood. (That may vary depending on your specific conditions and the species of wood you’ve chosen.) A good sight check is to look for crack marks at the ends of seasoned logs. Of course, all this might mean buying wood now for use next fall.

Take wood from shed to stove

Typically, most people don’t like tramping through the snow late at night for firewood. Nor do they like bugs or mold spores in their homes from wood left piled up indoors. That’s why the woodshed was invented.

Today, it’s any covered space that’s close enough to a basement or kitchen door where a wood-stove is typically located. While it’s fine to have some wood in the house ready to burn, it’s more advisable to keep your seasoned firewood in a woodshed. There are even building plans available for woodsheds that are as creative and stylish as they are solid and dry.

We wish you a winter’s worth of warmth, and hope you follow best burn practices. Just remember to keep a well-maintained stove and chimney to maximize savings, safety and efficiency.

Woods that are harder or denser, like oak, hickory and ash, typically burn longer and produce hotter coals. And, a low moisture count (using wood that’s dried properly, or “seasoned”)

Let me start by saying this: I am not a fan of hanging fifty-million things and a coffee maker from my AR or upgrading a $200 10/22 with $1K worth of furniture. It’s just not my style and I’m of the mentality that the more things any item has, the more things there are to snag and break. Especially when I’m looking at firearms for home- or self-defense or hunting, I want to eliminate potential disasters.

That said, there are a few things on the market that I and some of my partners and buddies now have, but we don’t really see often on the ranges, blogs, or forums. I consider some of them game changers. So today, I’m going to point out offset sights, optics with integrated sights, and a specific type of single-point sling adaptor that could change some minds about the best gadgets for your guns.

*The links are only examples. There are others available. Please shop around and find additional reviews and pricing options.

Offset Sights

Offset sights like these are intended to be used in conjunction with an optic or scope.

Quickie refresher: Scope – dedicated crosshair aiming aid, adjustable or fixed magnification using lens refraction (no battery for many/most); Optics – either all lens-based aiming assistants; or battery-powered light-up aiming aids, regularly with multiple types and-or colors of dots and open- or closed-ring reticules to choose from and additional choices like red dot versus holographic. I’ll use the more disparate definitions this go-round.

In some cases, offset sights allow a shooter to switch between a longer-range target appropriate for a medium- to high-magnification optic or scope, and a close-quarters target by simply tilting the firearm a bit. In other cases, they allow a shooter to have a backup sighting option in case their optic has a really bad day at a really bad time (dead batteries, solid smack, cracked lens, blowing snow, sprayed mud).

They’re also useful as a way to avoid switching between optic types or colors that perform better in varying light and background conditions, although that crops up more  regularly with competition and smaller game shooting.

Co-witnessing standard iron sights and optics or scopes is certainly an option. There’s a little fiddling at times to get height right, but an MBUS rear sight is hardy and fast to pop up even in freezing weather and gloves or sweltering summers with slippery hands, and you learn to let the front sight blur in front of your crosshairs or optics just like you learn to switch between a front sight focus and target focus when you hunt with a pistol and a bead-sight shotgun. Still, I really like the ease of just tilting a firearm.

Up to a .223/5.56, anyway.

AR-10’s, SOCOM .308’s, and the other 7.– platforms are a little more than I can comfortably handle for more than a couple of shots tilted, even being 6’ in heels and 200# in winter gear. It’s also harder for me to keep the firearm under control when it’s angled with larger calibers. That’s where the second nugget comes in.

Optics with Integrated Iron Sights

Manufacturers of optics with integrated iron sights like the Bushnell AR Optics 1x MP Illuminated Red/Green T-Dot Reticle Riflescope or the Aim Sports 4X32 Tri III. Scope with Fiber Optic Sight seem like they have missed a really, really big advertising and searchable description point to me. I had never heard of having more than a blade front sight centered on an optic or scope until fairly recently. The ability to actually adjust an iron sight as a backup to a scope is huge for me, and having it all be in one single piece without the need for extended or additional rails or attachments totally blew me away. You’d think they’d be singing from the hilltops about what they did. Instead, our groups see them very rarely and they tend to be unknown when people notice us using them at ranges.

I have the Bushnell for several guns, but its irons aren’t adjustable. Aim Sport apparently started manufacturing some of its models in the U.S. and fixing some of the import and manufactured-for-domestic-assembly products recently, so we jumped on a couple because they do allow us to adjust both the optic and the irons.

Bushnell AR Optics 1x MP Illuminated Red/Green T-Dot Reticle Riflescope, 1x32mm

We’re pretty happy with the Aim Sports in the households that went there, but nobody’s had them much more than a year and I tend to want a little more history or a standing reputation for quality before I’m willing to give an unqualified recommendation. Mine holds both optic and iron-sights settings well in hard-times practice, banging around in a pickup bed in transit, and at 3-Gun and 100-yard Modern Sporter competitions. It’s not so hot as a shoulder-holstered or chest-carrier handgun optic. The Bushnell is a reasonable hunting handgun optic, although finding a holster for it is funtastic and I still have point-of-aim adjustments for certain rounds.

The joy with these is that while you do loose cheekweld, it’s not a tremendous adjustment, and you can still keep a firearm shouldered squarely. Too, with little to no movement of the gun, it gains a bit of speed. There are times when fractions of heartbeats matter, a lot.

As with the offset irons, the AimSport with adjustable iron sights can also be set up with one for <10-25 yards and one for 100-200+ yards. Another bonus is allowing me to shoot ammunition that performs very differently due to powder loads or specific projectile weight or shape easier. Instead of painter’s tape marked with point of aim differences on the firearm, I can set up a single optic for the two most common sets.

Buying fancy optics & irons

It’s not a totally inexpensive investment, but considering what we seem willing to pay for optics as a general shooting crowd, they’re not unreasonable. There is at least one other dual-sight optic manufacturer out there – possibly more, since they seem to be totally dropping the ball on marketing these puppies as a be-all solution for backups, lighting, evil match designer, or variable distances. Again, research is our friend.

Aim Sports 4X32 Tri III. Scope with Fiber Optic Sight

Single-Point Sling Adaptor

I found a single-point sling adaptor with the intention of using it just for 10/22’s and airguns for practice. Then I decided it was fan-tab as a lanyard adaptor for a couple of my hunting or creak in the night handguns. And then we started testing some buckle varieties (which we mostly like better than the Velcro).

 

We’re pretty pleased.

I now have these or similar on a fair number of firearms. Don’t run them through a trigger guard or anything crazy like that, but most guns have somewhere they can get snugged. *We have yet to find one that works with M16A1 or A2 stocks; they block the charging handles. Skeleton or adjustable stocks only.

The straps do loosen up here and there as you go along, but a loaded Benelli Nova has been hanging from an unused belt (ahem, “sling”) with extra rounds in an attached purse (ahem, “ready bag”) behind a closet door for a couple of years. It’s been tightened maybe 4-8 times in its life now, and we’re talking about the gun that gets to go to the range and practice being a master key and LTL to lethal crowd and varmint control, then get dropped for a handgun for clearing and precision work. I use the same adapter on my 3-Gun shotgun and rifle.

It rolls around some, but I don’t consider the rolling to really be a bad thing, either. I live with and practice with a couple of lefties. It’s not a big deal in gloves, but for the ones who don’t practice “adaptably” as much as some of us, the buckle can be distracting and having to clip a sling to their shooting hand side is sometimes problematic. In a situation where they need to transition, a stock hanging up in the sling because it’s on a dedicated ring to one side can cost some precious heartbeats. The universal bands slip enough to eliminate that problem for us.

The other joy is that these things are $5-10, and require no tools or skill to install. Zero – an otter could do it. That means that while some do live with a sling attached, I can afford to put them on absolutely anything that might ever be grabbed in a hurry or needed in a defensive situation.

Now, instead of having dedicated rigs to account for various chest and height measurements from 24” and 5’6” up to 52” and 6’4”, everybody has a sling with their grab gear. They can then exchange firearms or grab whichever firearm is most appropriate for a situation, clip it, and roll. With person-specific slings instead of slings dedicated to firearms, a big, tall shooter doesn’t end up with a necklace or snagged as they “swim” into a sling, and a shorty doesn’t end up dragging even an 18.5” barrel’s front sight over the gravel and through the grass (both make it harder to shoot accurately; the latter may cause shouting from the gun owner during practice).

Slings (and sling clips) are one of those things I don’t see on firearms as often as I really should at the range. Being able to sling a firearm can be pretty invaluable. My household and partners like single-point slings best for defense (single-point slings are not really ideal for hunting – just saying). There are worlds’ worth of slings and adaptors out there, and they merit some research and a decent investment. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with picking up a sturdy 48” or 52” belt at Goodwill for $2 and a $2 clip at ACE to go with a $7 adaptor until you’re ready for that investment.

As mentioned, the really nice thing about those buckle-on single-point sling adaptors is that they’re so inexpensive, and adaptable to so many different types of firearms. Saving money on a sling and clip may let us get in some practice that makes us more effective or – over a household – might save enough money to invest in some solar-powered motion-activated lights that let us immediately locate an intruder of either the coyote or human type. That’s pretty invaluable, too.

How much should you spend on gadgets?

There are lots of tools and gadgets that make our lives easier or drastically increase our effectiveness and efficiency, but as with anything else, prioritize purchases. Make a list of goals, needs, the things that are most likely to strike personally and locally or regionally, and what’s already in the toolbox and junk drawer. Be creative as you look around, and visualize things that are already in-house as blank slates that can be adapted to other uses. A $15 lunch bag or laptop bag works just as well as a $25-75 range bag.

If something else works for now, until you’re better set, use that.

Do buy quality products when it’s something like a defensive firearm or its furniture (or smoke detector). That doesn’t mean you have to pay more for a manufacturer’s label and advertising costs. When it’s a $1K-$2800 HK versus a $500-700 S&W AR, get a S&W. It does mean that if something’s built for airsoft or paintball or costumes, you might want to consider the weights and abuse limitations. It’s usually worth it to spend more on something sturdier.

 

With the reminder that I’m just not big on hanging fifty million things from my firearm, there are a few choice gadgets that make a big difference and are worth some investment. A universal sling adaptor and the ability to engage targets accurately at multiple distances or if an optic craps out are two of the things that make my list. Hopefully even if they don’t make yours, something in this article gave you something to think about.

Let me start by saying this: I am not a fan of hanging fifty-million things and a coffee maker from my AR or upgrading a $200 10/22 with $1K worth

I was taught all the values of saving money but it wasn’t exactly modeled for me. Consequently, I had to overcome some hurdles as I grew up learning to budget, and more importantly, to stick to it (I still trip from time to time). My wife and I are now teaching our children about the value of their dollars and I am proud to say they are more miserly than I at their age. When they ask for a toy or a special treat and we feel it is appropriate we tell them they can have it if they pay with their own money. Our daughter is better at this than our son, but they look at their piggy banks, count the money, and more often than not are reluctant to part with their treasure for something fleeting. Financial expert Dave Ramsey says,

“There’s something psychological about spending cash that hurts more than swiping a piece of plastic. If spending cash whenever possible can become a habit, you’ll be less likely to over-spend or buy on impulse.”

So when was the last time you counted a wad of cash and had to make some decisions as to how much went where? You might do this regularly if you own a small business, but if you’re like the majority of debit card-swiping, electronic bits and bytes-spending, you probably haven’t in a very long time.

The benefits of liquidity

As it applies to you and me, liquidity is the amount of spendable cash on-hand such as in a piggy bank or hidden stash or cash that is readily accessible through ATM/bank withdrawal, or the quick sale of belongings. To most preppers cash on-hand is obviously the better choice for your money because you physically have it. Does the adage “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” sound familiar? The preppers who are involved in collecting precious metals (I am not one of them) will tell you quite correctly “if you don’t hold it, you don’t own it” (link includes good warning on dangers of holding valuables). Liquidity doesn’t have to be money as we know it. In a SHTF grid down scenario money will be whatever gets you something you want or need à la bartering. But for now, greenbacks and coins are the money we use and they’re still legal tender everywhere so having some on-hand mitigates your risk of being unable to buy what you need. It’s the same idea behind why we store any supply – we know we will need it later.

So why don’t we keep money accessible?

Despite the common sense and relative ease of having accessible supplies of needed items millions of Americans do not prepare in even the slightest way. We have discussed the concept of normalcy bias as a large reason behind failing to prep. When it comes to money, our society revolves around instant gratification and “efficiency” so we use credit and debit cards, electronic fund transfers, and online shopping – all made possible by a digital fiat currency system not backed by anything, which further removes us from cash as the marketplace ceases to resemble anything from even 15 years ago. In 2015, for many Americans, liquidity is limited to what sits in the bank account between bi-weekly direct deposits that isn’t automatically withdrawn due to electronic bill payments.

Three examples of why cash (use and acceptance) is still a necessity

The following examples are from my own life. They only involve human error by one or two people yet significantly impacted my family negatively. Imagine a scenario where the grid goes down or the government seizes digital wealth and you have a problem hundreds of millions of times worse.

  • Example 1: My wife ordered new checks and paid a bunch of bills. We shortly thereafter discovered the account number was incorrectly printed and were hit with late fees due to the delay in us having to run out and get cash from the bank which was closed. After going in to our water utility and advising them of this problem the clerk assured me there was no problem on our account. I offered to pay cash anyway as a safeguard but she refused due to a policy about the dangers (robbery and money laundering) of cash payments. Several days later I came home from work at 3pm to hop in the shower for my next job at 4pm only to discover our water had been shut off for “non-payment”. I showered with a gallon jug of water I had left over from a road trip, rushed to the utility office, and had to pay extra fees – in cash, mind you – because I was a deadbeat and didn’t pay my bills on time. The next day I started prepping (water storage) thanks to Final Prepper I discovered a few weeks prior.

Moral: Cash payment would have eliminated use of checks and this problem. Acceptance of cash would have resolved this problem before it escalated.

Do you have a back-up supply of cash if electronic methods aren’t working?

  • Example 2: Our mortgage bank mailed a check from our escrow account to our home insurance provider. This check was never received and our home insurance was dropped for non-payment. I went to the insurance office to rectify this and was told because the policy had been cancelled we needed to buy a new one. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth later mixed with a couple phone calls to the bank, I purchased a new policy. Next stop on this crazy train was our insurance company billing our mortgage bank for this new policy as well as collecting money from us. The bank paid this one as well and debited our escrow account a second time, putting us in the negative. A lot more anger, many more phone calls, and a few steps closer to a heart attack, the bank and insurance company “fixed” the problem by giving us our original policy back and not refunding any money. Just to make things interesting the bank made a third payment to the insurance company for the renewed original policy, putting us further into the negative. We found this out because they kindly sent a statement increasing our mortgage payment by about a hundred dollars a month. More phone calls and many bad words later the bank credited us with the first faulty payment but refused to eliminate the rest of the debt that was not our fault because they “can’t just type numbers in the computer and make money appear.” Funny, I thought that’s what happens whenever we mail a check or have an automatic payment? I was unaware that money teleported or got zapped through the cable modem. This situation was resolved yesterday, just before the next example happened.

Moral: People are morons and corporations don’t give a damn about you. Cash payments by us instead of electronic payments or checks in the snail mail by third parties would have eliminated this problem from happening. Emergency fund money in the bank is a good safety net.

  • Example 3: When I woke up this (Friday) morning and checked my work email before taking my children to school I was greeted with this message:

We are aware that the automatic deposits for payday have not transferred to individual banks. The Finance Department is working on it and as soon as it is resolved we will let you know. We apologize for any inconvenience.

In 2013 Cyprus banks were closed to their depositors and money was confiscated to pay off National Debt.

I got in touch with my wife at her job and we exchanged some choice words. An hour or two later I checked my email again and saw this gem:

Dear co-workers,

Due to my error, the direct deposit file was not sent to the bank in time to transfer funds into your accounts today. I apologize greatly for this error and hope you understand.

The file has been submitted for transfer by Monday. If you have any questions or concerns about this delay in payment, please feel free to contact me and I will work with our bank to try and get your funds to you sooner.

Thank you.

Fortunately, my wife works and works for a different company. We were spared the troubles so many of my co-workers faced, especially those who are single or whose spouses also worked for the city.

Moral: Having a system where one employee is capable of affecting over a thousand families to the tune of over $750,000.00 is insane. Payment in cash would have eliminated this problem. Emergency fund money in the bank is a good safety net.

Preppers should not only have padding in their bank accounts but should keep emergency cash in a safe location. As long as it’s the legal tender being accepted it is valuable. How will you pay when the ATMs shut down, or your card is stolen/compromised, or the banks are closed? Cash is king, make it part of your prepping plan.

I was taught all the values of saving money but it wasn’t exactly modeled for me. Consequently, I had to overcome some hurdles as I grew up learning to budget,