Home2020 (Page 9)

Most of you have heard the news now of the devastating floods in Wimberley Texas. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families who are suffering there now and can only offer our hope for their peace and healing. From what I have heard, this flood was fast moving after 6 inches of rain fell North of Wimberley last Sunday. The region is also known as Flash Flood Alley because of its reputation as the most flood prone area in the country. Even with that nick-name, this flood was severe and worse than all-time water levels since the 20’s.

Floods are common in many areas around the world though and even if you live far away from “Flood Alley” you could find yourself impacted by walls of water that at a minimum can cause some minor inconvenience to a huge loss of life and property. As preppers, we want to make sure we aren’t forgetting about Mother Nature when we make our plans to keep our family safe so I wanted to write down some steps you can take to prepare for a flood that might protect your family or allow you to help someone who has been affected by a flood.

Preparing for a flood

WimberleyFloodPlain

Map of the flood plain in an area near Wimberley, TX as see from the FEMA flood map service center.

Before you build your home

Since Katrina there has been a greater focus on the risks of flood damage in our country. Some people are even advocating that everyone, regardless of where they live obtain a flood insurance policy. I think that is a little ridiculous, but we can take some fairly reasonable steps to avoid the most likely places for a flood in the first place.

A flood plain is an area of land that is at risk for flooding. This is usually because it has flooded at some point in the past due to a river or some other body of water like a river or a stream overflowing its banks. Katrina had the levees that were breached and all of the water they were holding back ran into New Orleans. River banks can be overrun just as easily if the water level rises above their height. Anyone caught in the area surrounding that over run of water is in the path of the flood.

A weather alert radio can send you audible alarms to alert you to approaching floods or tornados.

You can easily check if your property is located in a flood plain before you build by going to FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center. On this site you can put your address in and click on the View Map icon to the left of the page once you find your grid to see if the property you want to build on is in a flood plain. I ran this for some land in Wimberley and you can see the historical flood paths to avoid (image above).

When there is a threat of a flood

Not being in a place where there is even the remotest chance of flood would be the best way to avoid getting in this situation  but  sometimes you have to deal with the disaster you get offered up. If you hear of the possibility of a flood there are some steps you need to take.

Stay up to date with the local forecast conditions – By this I mean keep your news on or purchase a battery powered radio with weather band. Some models like the Midland WR120EZ NOAA Weather Alert will automatically receive weather related alerts and sound an alarm in case you weren’t paying attention. These are also useful for Tornado alerts where time is of the essence.

Have a plan to bug out – This doesn’t have to be walking away from doomsday but it could be a quick exit to higher ground or a safer location. If you are in an area prone to flooding or if your local news is anticipating flooding you need to be prepared to leave quickly. This means having bags packed with your prepping supplies that you need to live on for the duration of the event and possibly longer. Make sure you have a few alternate routes out of your neighborhood and that your vehicle is equipped for the conditions on the roads.

Have a plan to bug in after a disaster – Flood waters might not reach your location but that doesn’t mean you will come out of the flood unaffected. Even people who didn’t see any water during Katrina were forced to live without water, electricity and the benefits of the local police for weeks. Your prepping plans don’t have to always end with you riding towards the sunset in your bug out vehicle, you may just be stuck where you are. This could give you the opportunity to help some of your neighbors out.

Cleanupafterflood

Cleaning up is a nasty but horrible part of the aftermath of any flood.

Cleanup after a flood

If you are fortunate enough to live through this nightmare but your home or possessions aren’t there are several considerations to consider when the water has receded and the cleanup must begin. Cleaning isn’t simple and it isn’t going to be fun but it is very necessary.

  • Shovel out all mud and debris. Wash mud off of everything that was contaminated. The mud dredged up from river bottoms smells incredibly bad and could be full of toxins.
  • Clean and disinfect every surface. This is another good reason to have the ability to make your own bleach from Calcium Hypochlorite. This includes everything you would eat off of and all surfaces contaminated with the flood waters.
  • Take everything that is salvageable outside to dry as quickly as possible.
  • Wall boards that have become wet will need to be removed at least to the water level and any insulation will have to come out as well.
  • Carpet and rugs that were flooded are best thrown out. Some wooden floors can be salvaged if they are allowed to dry properly
  • Ensure you have clean water – Don’t drink any well water until it has been cleared
  • Electricity shouldn’t be used until it has been inspected.
  • Check your home’s foundation for cracks.

There are many other considerations for the aftermath of a flood that fall well within the context of our standard preps we discuss on Final Prepper. Make sure you have an adequate supply of food to ride out this crisis. Of course, if your food is destroyed by water it would be necessary to clear that out too. Water should be stored and you should also have a way of filtering water to make it safe for drinking and cooking.

Lastly, security was an issue in both Katrina, Sandy and I suspect we might see some of that from this latest disaster. Make sure you are prepared to defend yourself from the unscrupulous who always seem to appear when there are people to be taken advantage of. The last thing you need after a disaster is to lose what little you had that survived to some criminal.

What flood preparedness ideas do you have for surviving?


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

Floods are common in many areas around the world though and even if you live far away from “Flood Alley” you could find yourself impacted by walls of water that

If you are like me you don’t have the resources to afford a bug out retreat. My prepper ideal of a remote fortress located on hundreds of wooded acres, miles away from civilization and fully stocked with 20 years of supplies, flowing water and established orchards for me and the rest of my extended family is sadly just a dream. I hope to one day have a location that I can fall back to if I need to leave my house, but the way things are going right now at least, my isolated retreat is just my simple suburban home.

A true remote location that will provide shelter and safety isn’t something that most people can swing. It is one thing to live in a remote area but it is another to live closer to larger metropolitan areas for the convenience of work, schools and commerce while also maintaining a separate property to be used if the grid goes down. Having two homes is not something the average prepper can afford, or at least I haven’t figured out how to yet. I know that there are some that will say you have to make sacrifices now, to sell everything and move while there is still time but for a whole host of reasons my family plans to stay put and try to ride out any crisis that would head our way.

Does that mean that I don’t believe we will ever be forced to leave? No. I can see a lot of potential reasons to bug out even if we don’t have anywhere to go, but it would be the absolute last resort. I know enough to know that the best plans can change and I can already foresee situations where what I thought would happen might turn out differently. There are no absolutes in life so I will adjust if needed.

Thinking about what I would do if I was forced to bug out led me to the concept behind this post. What if me and my family couldn’t stay in our home for any one of a dozen reasons? Where would we go? Would we be left only to bug out to the woods and try to hide there? Are there other options? What would give us the best chance of survival?

If you have to leave now

If I had the resources to be able to move to an ideal retreat location, what would I be looking for? Could I use these traits of the perfect survival retreat property to help me find a place after the SHTF that could keep my family safe? I started thinking about how I could apply these same search criteria on a much smaller scale perhaps even locally to my home to find someplace where my family would be safer. I know there are some who will say for one reason or another that you will never be safe in any location permanently. I guess they assume you would wander the wilderness forever eating moss and shrubs or else you die.

Retreat1
Everything depends on the disaster  you are going through and it is with articles like this that I usually have people saying how one or more of my points won’t work because of X. This will probably be no different, but to frame the discussion let’s just say that a global pandemic has hit the US very hard. The virus was so deadly that 45% of the population was killed in one year.

Naturally, with a disaster on this scale, panic and rioting are common as services had ceased due to problems with supply and personnel. Cities are burned to the ground and no order existed in the town you live in. Over the last few months you have heard reports on your Ham radio of gangs roaming further out of the city and they are on track to be in your neck of the woods in a few weeks. You know that you can’t defend your home against overwhelming numbers and your neighbors were almost all decimated by the virus or have left long ago. Being prepared you were able to shelter in place and reduce your exposure but without a large group to defend your property the prospects of survival look bleak.

With the news of approaching gangs who have slowly fanned out looking for food and creating a path of destruction in their wake you have decided it is time to go. You pack up the supplies most critical to your family’s survival and head out away from the city looking for a new place to call home that will give you all of the traits of that perfect retreat location that you couldn’t afford before the SHTF.

What are the traits of good retreat?

As you set out on the road you will be looking for a new place to stay. Depending on the location you are in you would probably want to get as far away from the city as possible. Finding a new place to hunker down will be difficult and you will most likely need to find a location that is an abandoned home or building. What would you look for?

Retreat2

Running water – A location next to or very near a source of water will be crucial assuming the utilities no longer work. This is where location matters as cities routinely do not have a source of running water. If your city is not located on a river, you could improvise rain catchment systems but you would need to work out a system for storing the water. This isn’t impossible, but I think cities have their downsides. Even if half of the population was gone due to the virus, you will still be in the middle of a large area of others all competing for resources to live. Do you leave town or do you try to claim the top two floors of an abandoned building?

In the country, running water is easier to find but you are still going to treat it for disease. There is no way of knowing what is upstream but you can boil water for a minute to kill all of the active bacteria and make it safe to drink.

Away from population/ Lines of drift – The further away from people the better is what we look for in a retreat, but that assumes we have some support in the form of a larger group. You may find that you will want to stay closer to others for safety, but again each situation will be different. My preference would be to hide away but you can be attacked in the woods just as easily as in the city.

In a disaster we frequently mention the Golden Horde and you would assume if 45% of the people are dead already there would be a lot less people you would need to worry about but I would still stay as far away from interstates and secondary roads as possible. I would be looking for a place I could hide in that would be very likely overlooked by anyone out wandering around. Of course, if it is a location you found that means someone else could find it too.

Good ground for growing food – This is regional as well but if you live in an area with a short growing season it would make sense to move to a new home where you could grow food for longer each year. That may mean migrating south or east or west depending on where you live. Can you grow food in a city? Of course, it you can find good dirt and assuming the climate is more agreeable to long growing seasons. You can still garden just about anywhere in the US though but what you grow and how well you are able to garden will be factors.

Retreat3

Defensible – High ground with clear lines of sight – Does your new bug out retreat give you the ability to defend it if need to? If you are going through all the trouble to move somewhere else, you would want it to be an upgrade hopefully, right? Any location you select should ideally give you good visibility to your surroundings so that you can see who is approaching. In a city this could mean the roof of a building but I still think that is a less ideal place. Having a cabin halfway up a mountain with some cleared land would be better. What about an abandoned bank or service station? You could have security on three sides but the store front windows would be a downside.

I would be looking for a building that had no windows if those were my options; or at least windows too high for the average person to crawl in. Something like a warehouse would give you a lot of choices if it was in the right location.

This is all hypothetical but I think it is conceivable that in order to survive you could have to roam outside of your city in a worst case scenario. The same advantages of the retreats that we look for can be had in other locations too if you know what you are looking for. Will it be as nice as that dreamy prepper retreat? Probably not, but it could still give you a location that could keep you and your family alive.

A true remote location that will provide shelter and safety isn’t something that most people can swing. It is one thing to live in a remote area but it is

The various types of emergency foods that are available, coupled with the commercial hype surrounding them, can understandably lead the prepper to make less than optimal decisions with regard to the types and amounts of emergency foods to acquire. In this article I will briefly recap the most common types of emergency food and describe how each would fit in to a practical survival strategy.

The common types of emergency food stores include:

  • Canned Foods – Canned foods consist of fruits, vegetables and meats that have been prepared for long-term storage in jars and cans. Canned foods can be prepared at home and are available at virtually any grocery store. Depending on the type of food, they can either be ‘dry-pack canned’ or ‘wet-pack canned’. (Wet-pack canning involves immersing the food in hot water – sometimes in a pressure cooker – prior to vacuum-sealing.) Dried beans and dried white rice are the dry-pack canned foods most commonly stored by preppers and survivalists because they have an extremely long shelf life (up to 25 years!) and provide a good supply of proteins and carbohydrates.
  • mre

    MRE’s are a common choice for Emergency Food.

    Dehydrated Foods – Dehydrated foods have been processed in a food dehydrator to remove much of their moisture. This inhibits the growth of microorganisms that cause the food to spoil.

  • Freeze-dried Foods – Freeze-dried foods have been processed in a commercial freeze-drier in such a way that virtually all water has been removed (much more than is removed by a dehydrator). This process results in food that is lightweight and which has a very long shelf life.
  • Cured Meats – Cured meats have been treated with chemicals (usually nitrates) in such a way as to inhibit the growth of microbes and extend the unrefrigerated shelf life of meats.
  • Smoked Meats – Smoked meats have been exposed to the heat and smoke such that the increase in temperature dehydrates the meat (which inhibits microbial growth) while the smoke deposits an anti-microbial chemical layer over the meat.
  • Meals Ready-to-Eat – Originally developed for the military, MREs are portable, long-shelf-life food packets that contain complete meals. MREs can quickly be prepared and consumed. Often these packets include built-in food heaters and provide complete meals.

ISSUES RELATED TO NUTRITION

In general, all of the above forms of preserved foods provide good nutritional value. While the heating associated with some canning processes can degrade some water-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, C, thiamine and riboflavin, they still serve as a good source of these and other nutrients. While nutritional value is preserved in the above types of foods, the nitrates used to cure meats have been shown to be carcinogenic in larger quantities. Salt and sugar may be added to canned foods to improve taste, which can also affect the nutrition offered by such foods (be sure to check the labels of any canned foods for references to sugar and salt!).

MREs provide good calories and some nutrition, but also contain a large quantity of sodium, which has been show to have adverse health effects when consumed excessively (MREs are designed to simply “get the soldier across the battlefield”).

SHELF LIFE OF DIFFERENT EMERGENCY FOOD TYPES

The shelf lives described here assume the foods are kept at room temperature of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Canned fruits and vegetables typically have a shelf life of between 2 and 5 years. There is much anecdotal evidence of canned meats being eaten (and having good flavor and nutrition) after being stored for as long as 10 years. Some dry-canned foods such as dried beans and dried white rice can have a shelf life that exceeds 25 years.

Dehydrated fruits and vegetables typically have a shelf life of up to one year, while dehydrated meats have a shelf life of only about one month.

Freeze-dried foods have a shelf life that ranges between 5 and 25 years, depending on how well it is packaged (plastic food pouches have a shorter shelf life, while cans have a a much longer shelf life).

Smoked meats have an unrefrigerated shelf life of only a few weeks.

Cured meats have an unrefrigerated shelf life that ranges from a few weeks to as long as a year, depending on the type of meat and how it was cured.

Canned foods offer offer the most nutrition at the least cost. The other forms of food have the advantage of lighter weight and/or longer shelf life, but at significantly greater cost.

Smoked meats have an unrefrigerated shelf life of only a few weeks.

NOTE: While the storage of cured and smoked meats is of limited value in the time leading up to disaster; the ability, equipment and supplies required to smoke and cure meats will certainly be valuable skills to have in the aftermath if refrigeration systems are unavailable.

Modern MREs have a shelf life of between 3 to 4 years when stored at room temperature, however that shelf life can decrease rapidly when stored at higher temperatures (in a desert environment the shelf-life for a MRE may be as short as one month!). Also, when purchasing MREs you should be certain of their date of manufacture – otherwise you won’t get the benefit of the full shelf life.

DETERMINING YOUR OWN EMERGENCY FOOD NEEDS

A good way to begin to understand the types of emergency food supplies you will need is to consider how you will most probably be traveling during and after a major disaster. If you expect to be sheltering-in-place then the bulk of your emergency food supplies should consist of canned foods, as canned foods offer a very good shelf life and provide a lower cost per meal than other forms of emergency food. Even though canned foods are heavier than other types of emergency food, if you are sheltering-in-place then portability becomes a less important consideration than cost.

If you expect to be traveling on foot for an extended period, then the weight of your food will be a major consideration. In these circumstances you should plan on having freeze-dried food available, as freeze dried foods have an extremely long shelf life and are extremely light.

If you expect to be traveling by vehicle then weight is less of an issue and the ability to “eat while on the move” becomes important. MREs are an excellent choice for these circumstances because they can typically be unpackaged, heated and eaten without the need to interrupt travel. Also, because they utilize a chemical reaction to generate heat, the preparation of MREs does not produce smoke that might attract undesired attention.

When considering these factors you should not only be anticipating your travel needs when bugging out, but also potential future needs to travel overland for trade, barter and defense. Of course no one has a crystal ball to be able to predict these needs with certainty; however you should at least be able to develop a reasonable estimate. Additionally, you should build into your estimates the expected duration of the disaster, which should ideally be the amount of time required for you to become self-sufficient.

A quick way to estimate your emergency food needs is to answer the following questions:

  • How many people are in my group?
  • What duration disaster (in days) am I planning for or how long do I anticipate before achieving self-sufficiency?
  • If bugging out to another location, how many days of travel will be required?
  • In the aftermath of disaster, what percentage of total group members’ time will be spent on extended trips away?
  • What percentage of meals will utilize basic dry-canned foods such as beans and rice?

The answers to these questions can help you to estimate your own emergency food needs. If MREs are used exclusively for travel, for example, then the total number of MREs needed for travel is simply the product of number of group members, number of days of travel and number of meals per day. You may then increase this number so as to plan to use MREs for a percentage of post-disaster travel when concealment and speed are a top consideration.

Amounts of freeze-dried meals can be estimated as the product of average number of people traveling, the number of days of travel and the number of meals per day (while there will be some double coverage of travel by MREs and freeze-dried food, it’s never a bad idea to have some extra food on hand).

The balance between dry-packed “beans and rice” type meals and canned foods will be much more subjective, however by thinking in terms of the percentage of beans-and-rice meals vs. other meals, and of course considering the number of people you are planning to feed and the expected duration of the disaster, you will be able to identify the types and quantities of these bulk emergency foods that will meet your preparedness needs.

NOTE: Even before disaster strikes you should normally be consuming and replenishing your supply of canned disaster food so that you do not find yourself with a cupboard filled with expired canned food when disaster does strike!

 

The various types of emergency foods that are available, coupled with the commercial hype surrounding them, can understandably lead the prepper to make less than optimal decisions with regard to

Prepping for a large majority of us involves analyzing the risks we see inherent with situations we could be faced with and taking steps to mitigate those risks. For a lot of risks, the answer is simple. To avoid starving due to a disruption with our food delivery system you can grow your own food, you can plan to increase your storage of long-term foods by canning or purchasing quantities of extra foods, freeze-dried foods or bulk food items like wheat, beans and rice. Other aspects we prepare for involve a similar process but usually the place where we are best prepared is home.

Sure we can plan for bugging out if needed. Our bug out bags extend our abilities to leave our castle in the face of impending doom and move to a safer location. We can outfit bug out vehicles with additional capacity to move overland and carry extra supplies but nothing really replaces a strong, stable location where we have systems in place to help us survive. As well has having all our stuff, we know the land, usually have some relationships with neighbors or friends to further build-out our potential survival group. Our home base has incredible advantages that we might not miss unless we are away when some disaster happens and you are forced to make it home with only what you have on you and what you are able to scrounge or scavenge along the way.

I think of this subject at least once per year because I travel on business. My family travels to see relatives or to vacation in some nice place if we are lucky. When either of those things happen and I am hundreds or thousands of miles away from home, I feel less prepared for anything than when I am sitting in my suburban (non)bunker with all of my support systems surrounding me. However, I have learned that just because your man-cave isn’t within arm’s reach and all your weapons and gear aren’t as easily available, you can and should still prepare. There are some lessons I have learned and rules that I try to follow as closely as I can when I travel that could keep me alive and help me make it back home if disaster struck and I was away from my family. Today I want to talk about how to travel like a prepper so that you aren’t left with nothing if faced with disaster.

I have discussed in the past how to pack like you are never coming home. That article captured some of my thoughts around what you should consider if you were traveling with family via car somewhere away from home. Today I will focus more on the scenario of a trip where you are going to be traveling alone perhaps on business and need to plan for getting back home and surviving should some emergency occur.

Do your homework before you travel

Naturally, where you are traveling to, what your reason for traveling is, who you will be with and the method of travel all factor into decisions you have to make before you start throwing the first pair of socks into your suitcase. If I am headed an hour or two away, I would not plan the same way I would for a trip overseas. If I was traveling in my car, I would have different items than if I was traveling by plane.

Here are a few things I think about:

  • How far away from home will I be?
  • Is the destination a major urban center or more rural?
  • How will I get there?
  • What restrictions if any are there on what I carry or how I dress?
  • Can I make it home if needed on foot from this destination?
  • What is the best/safest route?
  • How long would it take?

The goal is to consider my travel destination within the context of what I am traveling for and take with me items that appropriately could mitigate my situation if some emergency happens. These emergencies can scale from minor travel disruptions to a complete grid-down mess.

What prepper tools can you bring with you on your travels?

Many of us leave the bug out bags and our go-to war chest rigs at home when we travel and that makes sense. If you leave town for a business trip, you simply won’t be able, without an inordinate amount of headache, take many of your prepping supplies with you.

There are some staples that I bring with me whenever I go that are multi-use and offer me several advantages that the casual traveler won’t have. Before I get into those, make sure your situational awareness doesn’t take a break when you are out-of-town. Know where the exits are at all times, especially in a strange place. Do you know the route back to the airport? Where are the major freeways? Are you watching the news for current events? Keeping connected to what is going on around you is advantageous too.

EDC items packed in the suitcase

Many people who fly these days pack all their luggage in a carry on. This has some advantages but many more drawbacks in my opinion. First, you can’t bring anything on the plane that could be construed as a weapon so that rules out knives and firearms obviously. Yes, I know people will say that you can never lose your luggage if it’s with you in the overhead compartment, but I would rather take my chances with that than to not have some defensive measures with me. Actually co-workers have looked at me strangely when they saw I was carrying a knife on a business trip because the idea is so foreign now. They even said, “How did you get that through security” because the idea of checking luggage is so foreign to them. Oddly enough another co-worker. when they saw I had a knife and a multi-tool said, “I know who I am hanging out with if anything bad happens”. They could see I was thinking ahead.

41iqJTqUPvL

CamelBak Arete 18 Hydration Pack – Day pack for carrying essential gear plus water bladder

  • Knife – I bring along my tactical folding knife whenever I travel because the utility and advantages of a knife in a survival situation are too great to ignore. Yes, I assume that there might be some way for me to purchase one at my destination should all hell break loose, but who wants to take that chance?
  • Multi-Tool – Another force multiplier that goes with me. My Leatherman Wave has 17 tools that I could use if needed during an emergency. Some will say that since you have a knife on your multi-tool you could leave the other knife at home. Yes, you could, but I have a backup.
  • Headlamp – I have extolled the benefits of a great headlamp many times in the past and you don’t even have to worry about sneaking this past security. Being able to see with the added benefit of hands-free is a great advantage in a lot of situations. Need to get out of the hotel at night because of an earthquake? Wouldn’t you want to slap your headlamp on your head before you move out?
  • Bandana – Cheap multiple use items. The ubiquitous bandanna can offer protection from contaminants in the air, can be used to shield you from the sun, as a bandage, a sling and many other tasks limited only by your ingenuity. Carry more than one because they don’t weigh anything or take up space. You can have one in your carry-on luggage.
  • Source of fire – Pack a couple of Bic lighters and some dryer lint or a few WetFire packages to get a blaze going when you need to.
  • Firearm – If I am traveling any place that has a reciprocity agreement with my state on concealed carry, I am flying with a firearm. Flying with firearms is perfectly legal and relatively pain-free. I also carry a spare magazine, a holster and at least one box of ammo. If the worst does happen and I am forced to deal with a horrific situation, I want something more than harsh language as self-defense.
  • Bag/Backpack – I won’t pack anything large, but a small bag to carry items is another useful thing if you have to walk. Many travelers already have a backpack that they throw their laptops in. If you have one already you are good. I don’t have a backpack though so I carry the Camebak Arete 18 which does two things for me. First, it is a simple day-pack that can hold a modest amount of gear and supplies. I can throw all of my EDC items in this pack if I need to plus some shelter options and maybe some food and hit the road. Additionally, it has a water reservoir so I can carry water to drink at the same time. You can never have too much water capacity though so I also pack a 48 Ounce Nalgene Wide mouth canteen. This rolls up to about the size of a small deck of cards when I am not using it, but allows me to double my water capacity. I throw in a Sawyer Mini Water Filter too. For its size, it is phenomenal and gives me the ability to filter more water than I can probably drink in a couple of years safely.
  • Watch – My Pathfinder watch is solar-powered and it has a compass so if I get lost, this could help point the way.
  • Backup power – I also carry a battery backup system. The RAVPower 16750 Battery pack can charge my cell phone 6 times. If you are delayed somewhere or the power is out but cell service is still working, this can keep you talking with family. Also makes long overseas flights better when your devices don’t crap out on you mid-way across. Bonus feature, this has a light on it.
  • Cash – Always fly with cash because your credit cards or ATM cards may not work where you end up. How much cash should you carry? That depends on what you are comfortable with. I generally tend to bring enough to get me out of minor jams, but not so much I could buy a car. A couple of hundred dollars could go a long way.

hiker-1149877_640

You could be forced to make it home on foot. Will you have the right supplies to do that?

How will you make it back home if the worst happens?

So the EDC items above give me some advantages. I can cut things, shoot at bad people if they try to harm me, light my way and know where I am going. These tools above can help you anywhere you are, but what if you are forced to try walking home? What can you bring with you to assist you on that journey should you be unfortunate enough to have to make it back to your family.

Consider your clothing

I love sitting in airports and observing the outfits that people fly in. I imagine something tragic like a crash landing on a remote mountainous region and visualize how these people in their flip-flops and short shorts will fare.

For starters, I always fly in good laced up shoes just in case I have to make it out over sharp or hot surfaces but I also pack a walking outfit that fits the climate and terrain I will be traveling through if I have to make it back home. This isn’t anything fancy and I am not bringing changes of clothing but I do have some basics.

  • Long pants – Preferably some that are a little more durable. Hiking pants that convert to shorts would work too and pack down small. Extra pockets give you the ability to carry more and make sure they have loops for a belt.
  • Long Sleeve Shirt – Yes even in hotter climates I pack a (lightweight) long sleeve shirt. I can roll up the sleeves if needed, but cover up if the sun is an issue. Longer sleeves also help with mosquitoes and other insects.
  • Hat and Sunglasses – Seasonal. For warmer weather Hats offer a break from the sun and you always need to protect your eyes. In colder weather, the hat would be a toboggan.
  • Rain Gear – A jacket at a minimum even if there is no rain forecast for where I am staying. A rain jacket also doubles as a windbreaker. Colder locations I would bring other layers and a fleece.
  • Good walking shoes – These don’t have to be hiking boots but something that you can comfortably walk in all day. For many days potentially.

Know your route home

Sure you might be able to pick up a road atlas at a store before you leave, but know the route you would take back home just in case. One business trip I was on put me on the other side of the country. There were several routes home, but most passed directly through large cities. It may be necessary to avoid these in a really bad collapse.

Discuss plans with family

My family knows that if something happens when I am away that I will be coming back as long as I am alive. Cross country trips on foot could take months so they know it may take some time. If communication is open, then likely the emergency isn’t so wide-spread that civilization has failed. They know where the supplies are and what to do in order to stay safe. Make sure your family knows this too.

The items above only scratch the surface. There are so many other ways to stay safe when you travel that aren’t mentioned here but I find that the items above are the ones that most people leave at home. I could go on and on with other items that are useful, but I thought that this list covers most bases. What do you pack when you travel?

There are so many other ways to stay safe when you travel that aren’t mentioned here but I find that the items above are the ones that most people leave

I frequently highlight the need for water when you are preparing for emergencies. This simple, yet vital element of life can’t be ignored for long, so I recommend a multi-faceted approach when it comes to making sure you always have enough to drink. As long as the tap is running and the source is not dangerous to your health, you should be fine. That works great normally, but we all know that stuff happens. Water mains break, sources become contaminated or the disaster can render the pumping stations inoperable due to personnel or equipment problems. Your job is to keep any of those situations from impacting your ability to provide good clean water to your family.

If you are in the safety of your home you can store water in large containers so potential disruptions don’t affect you as much. You can collect and filter rain water from your roof normally or in emergencies, public sources like ponds, streams or rivers will work for a large percentage of us assuming you have fairly consistent access to them. This is usually enough if rainfall and those water sources are prevalent.

But what if you live in a drier climate and you are forced out of your house due to some emergency? Or what if you are lost in the wilderness and your source of water is depleted?

A reader of Final Prepper, James sent me an email asking for more guidance on water for the millions of preppers who actually live in Phoenix or other desert environs. I do appreciate the question and although I don’t live in the desert (so this subject is a little out of my imagined wheelhouse) I figured that this topic was very worthy of research for my own information as well. Below are some of the ways I knew about in addition to new ways I learned to find water in the desert. I know that we do have some readers (and authors) who live in Arizona who will be happy to fill in with their own ideas in the comments below also. So, without further ado, let’s get started.

canyon-hot-warning-dead

The desert doesn’t play around…

Where can you find water in the desert?

I have been to Phoenix, AZ before on a business trip to a nice resort type of location in the warm days of July. If I did not fully appreciate it before, that trip really reinforced my gratitude for Willis Carrier, the inventor of modern air conditioning. To be honest, the temperatures really weren’t that bad in the evenings and mornings. I was inside during the day so it isn’t like I was too inconvenienced by the heat but with temperatures over 105 degrees, I know that you really wouldn’t want to be more than arms reach away from a good water source for very long. For Preppers, this type of climate does impact the importance of water in your survival plans. The heat and low humidity (but it’s a dry heat!) seemingly evaporates your sweat instantly so I didn’t even see the traditional outward signs of moisture loss, but the ready access to water everywhere reminded you to keep hydrated.

This was reinforced doubly when my wife and I took a drive after that up to the South rim of the Grand Canyon. I had planned a short hike into the canyon and in my research; I was frequently admonished about my hiking plans and water supply. Because of its altitude, the rim where you begin your hike down into the depths of the Canyon can be as much 40 degrees cooler than your destination. You start out at the top of the Canon and it is a relatively pleasant 80 degrees, but by the time you reach the bottom near the Colorado River, the temperature can be as high as 120. To make things worse, the hike back can take you twice as long as the trip down so if you foolishly consume all of your water going down, you won’t have any for the much more strenuous hike back up. Our plans weren’t to even hike all of the way to the bottom, mainly because I didn’t want to have to carry 2 gallons on my back.

Had I been in another, flatter desert environment and found myself without water, there are some tips and tricks you can try.

A woman seeks water in a dry riverbed near Kataboi village in remote Turkana in northern Kenya. In 40 degree heat and no access to clean water, she resorts to collecting unfiltered water for her family in containers. The lack of rain this year across the Horn of Africa has resulted in failed crops, lack of water and death of livestock. The Government of Kenya declared the drought a national disaster as 3.5 million people in the country are in need of emergency assistance.

A woman seeks water in a dry riverbed near Kataboi village in remote Turkana in northern Kenya.
In 40 degree heat and no access to clean water, she resorts to collecting unfiltered water for her family in containers.
The lack of rain this year across the Horn of Africa has resulted in failed crops, lack of water and death of livestock. The Government of Kenya declared the drought a national disaster as 3.5 million people in the country are in need of emergency assistance.

Dry riverbeds can still contain plenty of water if you dig for it.

North facing shady areas at the base of cliffs – There is water in the dry climates like Arizona. Actually, the main source of water for Phoenix comes from three rivers and they bank surplus water underground, but if you were out in the wilderness it might be harder to find. One thing to remember is water goes to the lowest point which is almost always underground. Even when there is no water on the surface, you can often find it where it used to be. In lower areas, near the base of cliffs, you can dig down and find water occasionally. This water has run off the face of the rocks and settled below the surface. If you find a low spot that looks like the sand is moist, you can dig down and sometimes find plenty to drink. This water will need to be filtered for sediment if nothing else but could save your life.

Watch where birds and insects travel from/follow animal trails – Birds and insects like humans need water to live. You can watch the path that they fly from in the early mornings and evenings for a clue as to where a source of water may be. Animal tracks can be used to follow a path to a water source as well and you may find a watering hole used by the native wildlife. To get a clean source without any type of water filtration you can dig a hole 9 feet away (roughly) from the water source and allow cleaner water under the surface to re-hydrate you. This water, filtered through many feet of sand and silt should be free of any contaminants that the water on the surface of the watering hole would have. Again, I would always try to keep some form of water filtration device with me if I was going out into the wilderness. It’s just one less thing I have to worry about.

Tinajas

Water collects in Tinajas and you can use this to keep you alive.

Rock pockets and depressions – Rain is routinely collected in depressions in rock surfaces. Some of these can be large enough for you to swim in. If you are searching for water, it is a good idea to get up a little higher up to see if you can see a source like this. Just one good-sized hole could be enough to keep you in water for a very long time. There are some of these large depressions called Tinajas, that have petroglyph markings on them and it is thought that some of these may have been ancient directions to denote good places to get water. If not, at least they are really interesting to look at.

Where vegetation is living/broad-leafed trees – If you can find trees growing in the desert, it’s a good bet they have tapped into a source of water. Broad leafed trees like cottonwoods are an indicator that you can dig down to their roots and find water suitable for drinking. These trees could be growing in old riverbeds that still have water flowing way beneath the surface.

In dry river beds – Like the example above, just because there is no water on the top, you may find water by digging below the surface. The drier it has been, the less likely you are to find water but look for a lower place in the riverbed, one where the water would have likely stayed there the most time and dig down. This is another reason to have a handy bandanna with you to soak up water and squeeze it into your mouth.

What not to do if you are looking for water

Solar Still – Now I have heard about solar stills for a very long time. I think even in the Army we discussed these as a good source of water. In a desert however, you won’t get the same amount of return for your effort. Digging a solar still will expend a lot of calories and effort and you won’t get much moisture out of the ground. If you have plenty of green leaves to lie in there, you still have to wait a whole day. If you are thirsty it is better to stay in the shade than dig a still.

Forget the cactus – You have probably seen the cowboy chopping open the cactus and drinking from it. Trying this yourself can get you killed. There is only one type of cactus you can drink from and only one variety of that one cactus. The barrel cactus looks like its name and the Fishhook barrel cactus has water in there that isn’t toxic. It isn’t like a bottle of Evian though and you could still get sick. One alternative is to eat the fruit off the cactus. Prickly pear can be roasted to get rid of the little hairs and spines and can provide some moisture.

Don’t drink your own pee or anyone else’s for that matter – If your body is straining with lack of hydration, the last thing you want to do is force your kidneys to work overtime on a strange substance. Yes, your urine is supposed to be “sanitary” but this shouldn’t be a trick you use to re-hydrate yourself even in an emergency. What you can use it for is evaporative cooling. Soak that bandanna in your urine and wrap it around your neck to cool off somewhat. Then make a mental note to wash that bandanna.

So there are some ideas I have for how to find water in the desert. I think it goes without saying that as much as possible, you should plan for water well before you find yourself in a situation that would require you to use any of these methods above. If you are, hopefully this will help.

I frequently highlight the need for water when you are preparing for emergencies. This simple, yet vital element of life can’t be ignored for long, so I recommend a multi-faceted

Preppers are a resourceful group of people and there aren’t too many dire situations we don’t have some type of prepared response for ready in our minds. Our plans and preparations for survival are expansive and limited in most cases only by our imaginations or our paycheck. You name the disaster and we have got the bases covered in terms survival kit, our basic needs, bug out plans and tactical DEFCON 1 defensive measures.

But there is still a large number of people in the world who simply don’t see the same value in preparing as preppers do. I personally think that number is coming down, but like everything else, there are degrees of urgency based upon your own situation and each individuals’ views of likely risks as you see them. I know friends who 4 years ago would laugh at the mere suggestion that our country could have anything approaching an economic collapse but who now, at least in conversations, agree that the future looks a little dimmer than even they had imagined. They can now freely admit that they have a sense that there will be bumps ahead, but disagree on how much you should worry about or prepare for any ‘potential’ disaster. They can acknowledge increased risks but they don’t feel inclined to do too much about it.

Then there are other people who never in a million years believe anything bad like economic collapse, pandemic, war or outright tyranny could happen in this our enlightened society. They also believe that the mere thought of bad people getting together to do bad things and not tell anyone (conspiracy) is a sign of mental illness. Sure they will agree that monstrous atrocities have happened in our collective past but rationalize that away because people were less educated, or concede it is limited today to a few violent places in third world countries. They will tell you that as a modern, interconnected world we are so much more thoughtful and considerate now. Rational discourse rules the day.

They have no doubt seen far too many Oscar award-winning, tear-jerking movies about bad people and bad situations to believe that any tragedy on a similar scope could befall us in these progressive times. These bad stuff deniers seem to have this view of the Star Trek ‘United Federation of Planets’ utopia where everyone gets along (usually) and there is peace and harmony across the cosmos if only the smart people (elites) are in charge. Sounds nice doesn’t it?

Well, even these people who have watched far too much TV and rely too heavily on the wizards of smart can admit that even if we don’t have Klingon battle cruisers outside our Solar system, you can have storms, both literal and figurative that wreak havoc with our peaceful civilization.

Even Prepping Deniers want a backup plan

Understanding that there are people like those I mentioned above out there, some of whom we are even related to, I wanted to try to put a less ominous spin on Prepping for the benefit of those who need some additional encouragement. You can still have some level of preparedness without going to the lengths that others of us choose to do. Granted, you are only going to be as prepared as the level of time and energy you put into it, but something is better than nothing.

denial

Even if you don’t believe anything bad can or will ever happen, wouldn’t you feel better with a just-in-case survival kit of items on hand?

To that end, I wanted to put together a list of common sense survival items to have on hand just in case, barring all logic and the goodwill of your fellow enlightened souls, something bad does happen and you are forced to rely on your own self for survival. These survival items are multi-purpose should be non-threatening to anyone out there. I won’t mention camouflage or firearms of any type today but I thought a simple list of items to go into a survival kit for not quite the end of the world could still come in handy to you out there someday.

This survival kit and the items below should be something that anyone can store in a closet of your home, nicely out-of-the-way and hidden from all your friends who would react with horror and derision at the mere hint you were taking any of this ‘prepping nonsense’ seriously. It may not be enough to keep you alive if we really do have a SHTF event, but it will help in many situations where it’s not quite the end of the world.

So for those of you who can foresee some minor inconveniences in life that are worked out shortly, but still want to be prepared, a little…. This list is for you.

Simple Survival Kit List

Backup Power – When the power goes out, it’s good to be able to replace that electricity isn’t it? You can do this in many ways according to how much you want to spend, but let’s assume that a whole home generator is not what you had in mind. Neither is a noisy portable generator. You can still have a fairly reliable source of backup power with a solar panel charging kit like the EnerPlex Kickr IV Portable Solar Charger. This set of panels allows you to roll it out and charge up your cell phone. Add something like Generatr S100 Portable Battery and you can charge a larger battery that will in turn recharge more devices. Another thing to consider with this is having extra batteries on hand should the power go out. I have Sony Eneloop rechargeable batteries but there are many other types of rechargeable batteries that I can use in almost all of my devices like radios and flashlights. I also have spare USB type batteries like a portable RavPower 16750mAh USB charger that sits fully charged. With this one unit, I can charge my iPhone 6 times.

BlackoutNY

Blackouts happen all the time.

If all that fails, you can also purchase a simple 1000 W inverter to plug into your car’s adapter to provide power to larger appliances or recharge your batteries much faster. Just make sure you have extra fuel stored for your cars too.

Lighting – Even during the bright hours of the day, if you are stuck inside, you could be in the dark, literally. Flashlights are a must have for power outages even during the day. You can choose from a lot of options like a bright tactical flashlight to something you attach to your key-chain but for the best of both worlds I like a headlamp. This way I can have the light automatically shine where my eyes are pointed and my hands are free to do whatever task I need to. Have one source of light for every family member.

Money – When the power goes out, so too usually goes your ability to get money out of the bank or ATM or make purchases without cash. Almost all point of sale systems rely on electricity and now the internet. so having a small stash of cash on-hand makes pretty good sense. Just a couple hundred dollars could buy your family food, get a hotel room in another state or purchase gas to power your car. Make sure you keep some on you and some hidden at home. You can hide some spare emergency cash in between your phone and the phone case and always have a backup. Have at least $200 in cash where you can get to it. Smaller bills (20’s) are better.

Food – Who wants to go hungry during a power outage or short-term emergency? You can either keep more food stored at home, or purchase food for emergencies. The former will give you better tasting food, but the later requires a little less discipline. Storing extra food in your survival kit keeps everything in one place, but it does take up additional room. Ideally we wouldn’t lose that space to something you already have storage options for, but it may work out better this way.

Along with actually storing and having access to food to eat, you need a way to cook it unless you want to eat a lot of cold canned food. One of the better options I have found is simple freeze-dried camping meals. All you need for these is hot water which you can either heat over a fire outside or with a small camping stove like the JetBoil. Sure the freeze-dried meals aren’t going to be the healthiest options but for short-term situations like this they store nicely, pack a pretty decent amount of calories (make sure you check first) and are filling. I would much rather eat a warm packet of Mountain House Chili-Mac than eat a cold or even warm can of beans. Have enough meals for 5 days for each family member.

Water – Water is one of the trickier items if you consider it. It is all around us usually, but clean drinking water may be hard to come by at times. If the water isn’t coming from the faucet, you might need to find a source. Fortunately, in most climates, there is water around us in lakes, pools, hot-tubs, water heaters and streams. You should store one gallon of water per person per day. We have been going with 5 days so far, so plan accordingly.

Having water on-hand is the best, but just in case, you need a water filter too. For the most basic needs, you can boil water for a minute to kill any bacteria. Filters like the gravity filters from Platypus allow for a lot of water filtration plus carrying capacity in a short time. LifeStraw makes an individual option too that is cheaper, but you can’t filter a large amount of water using one of these easily. Compared to boiling, purification tablets and the LifeStraw, I prefer the gravity fed options best.

Pensioners

Do you have a supply on cash just in case the banks don’t let you in or the ATM machines aren’t working?

Shelter – We will assume that you have shelter since this is not quite the end of the world and heat isn’t something you can easily plan around without power. Cold is something that can be easily addressed with a little more preparation. For this a good three season sleeping bag is a nice item to have for each member of your family. Optionally, you can go with something like the puffy blanket from Rumpl which packs down small and will keep in body heat. Hats and gloves are good also.

CommunicationsA simple weather radio will help you stay in touch with what is going on and you can even use some of these to charge your portable devices and also see in the dark with the included flashlight. No, you won’t be able to communicate out, but you can stay informed.

How do you store your survival kit?

For most of the items mentioned above,  they will easily fit in a good-sized plastic tote. Something like Rubbermaid’s 48 Gallon Action Packer will allow you to store these items neatly away. You may need additional options for water since that takes up so much space but the rest of these items should fit fine.

That will get the most basic needs out-of-the-way, but what else could you store if you were really hoping to cover more bases?

Miscellaneous tools and gearA good sturdy knife is important as well as a multi-tool or at least a decent set of tools to work on items around the house. A nicely stocked first aid kit would be a good addition. Disposable lighters are always handy and are much easier to use that a fire striker.

Security – I said I wouldn’t mention guns, so you can use something like pepper spray or a tazer if you feel that your security would be helped by having something. I would tend to agree.

Mobility – The ability to pack all your gear into a bag would be another nice to have, but if you are talking about evacuating, we have moved well past the simple survival kit mentioned above. If you do decide something more robust is necessary, we have lots of articles on Final Prepper that can help you with that. Bikes are another consideration.

Hopefully the simple items above can help you out if you find yourself in an emergency that isn’t as dire as The End of the World As We Know it. As anyone who regularly reads this site should know, I strongly advocate much more serious and comprehensive methods, skills and supplies, but that isn’t for everyone. Maybe this will help or inspire those out there who still can’t see the point, but nevertheless want a little insurance.

Preppers are a resourceful group of people and there aren’t too many dire situations we don’t have some type of prepared response for ready in our minds.

One evening last week, I decided to make my family an apple pie. We had canned apples from last fall and I still had about six jars left in the pantry.  “Perfect!” I thought as I rolled out my pie crust.  I opened the first jar and dumped the apples in, but since I prefer a deep-dish pie, I needed one more jar to fill it to the brim.  Alas, to my dismay, I opened the second jar and I shrieked in horror because the lid wasn’t sealed.  Fearing the dreaded botulism spore, I opened the third.  Now with a more critical and leery eye, I decided these apples looked weird and possessed an odd brown color.  Out they went.  Under the same scrutiny, unfortunately for my pantry, the fourth and fifth met the same fate.  Luckily, the sixth and final jar passed the test and my family’s craving for a sugar high and “circumferential” celebration was satisfied.  I baked the pie, and we all survived.

This occurrence caused me to consider the peril that could be lurking in our pantry.  I realized the seriousness of botulism and how little knowledge I possessed on the topic.  This concerned me greatly because I have a pantry full of canned foods that were either purchased or I had put up myself.   After some research, I verified the fact that canned foods, the kind in actual metal cans not jars, affected with botulism will bulge and rust.  However, jars of food from home canning or some metal cans show zero signs of botulism.  What is even more frightening is that once botulism is contracted,  you inconveniently may require medical attention to survive.  Treatments such as respirators, feeding tubes, and IVs may be necessary for survival.  How many preppers have a respirator on hand and the medical know-how to treat food poisoning such as botulism?

The Facts

Botulism or Clostridium botulinum is found in soil and untreated water throughout the world. It produces spores that survive in improperly preserved or canned food, where they produce a toxin. When eaten, even tiny amounts of this toxin can lead to severe poisoning.

C. botulinum is anaerobic: Oxygen kills it. That’s why, if the spores are already in the food, home-canned foods can be particularly dangerous. The canning process depletes oxygen, and if a high-enough temperature is not maintained for long enough during the cooking and canning process, the spores can survive, and they’ll feed on the food until it’s eaten … by humans.  If you assume the bacteria could not be possibly living in that jar of green beans that came from your grandmother’s garden in 1933, think again.  Microbiologists have found dormant bacterial spores that were thousands of years old.  This is serious, so don’t have and delusions about your iron stomach or intestines of steel.

There are two types of food-borne botulism: The type that affects adults and the type that babies contract from eating honey before they are one year of age.  Simply put, there are traces of botulism in the honey that are taken care of by adult stomach acid, but not yet developed in infants under a year.

As of right now in the U.S., there is an average of 145 cases of botulism annually.  15% are from food, 65% are contracted in infants, and 20% are wound-related.  For this post, I am focusing solely on the food-borne type.  Of the 15% contracted poisoning from food, almost all the cases derive from home canning.  Rarely does anyone sicken from commercially canned goods because the cans are required to undergo a “botulinum cook” at 121 °C (250 °F) for 3 minutes.  Home pressure cookers can only reach 240 °F.  The culprits are generally not high acid foods, but low acid edibles such as beets, green beans, corn, and asparagus.  It is also likely found in cured pork and ham and smoked or raw fish.

Another source of poisoning to be wary of comes from oils that have been infused with garlic, pepper, or other vegetation because botulinum bacteria may seep into the oil from the vegetation.  Pay close attention to dates on the products and once opened, refrigerate.

Normal symptoms of food-borne botulism usually occur between 12–38 hours after consuming the botulinum toxin. However, they can occur as early as 6 hours or as late as 10 days after.

Normal symptoms usually include dry mouth, double and/or blurred vision, difficulty swallowing, muscle weakness, drooping eyelids, difficulty breathing, slurred speech, vomiting, urinary incontinence and sometimes diarrhea. These symptoms may continue to cause paralytic ileus (bowel obstruction) with severe constipation and will lead to body paralysis. The respiratory muscles are affected as well, which may cause death due to respiratory failure. These are all symptoms of the muscle paralysis caused by the bacterial toxin.

No Worries!  I Am A Clean Freak!

Even if you are the most sanitary person on the planet and vacuum yourself out of your house every day please consider the following from http://www.pickyourown.org/botulism.htm

“Clostridium botulinum bacteria exist either as spores or as vegetative cells. The spores, which are dormant and comparable to plant seeds, can survive harmlessly in soil and water for many years. When ideal conditions exist for growth, the spores produce vegetative cells which multiply rapidly and may produce a deadly toxin within three to four days of growth in an environment consisting of:

[list style=”1″ underline=”1″]

  • a moist, low-acid food (like meats, almost all vegetables – including peppers, green beans, corn, etc.)
  • a temperature between 40° and 120°F
  • less than 2 percent oxygen (which occurs in any jar of canned food)

[/list]

While the incidence is fairly rare, the death rate is high if not treated immediately. Prevention is obviously extremely important. Home canning should follow strict hygienic recommendations to reduce risks. Pressure canners should be used for all low-acid foods, but home pressure canners only reach 240 F, not 250 like commercial equipment, and are not hot enough to kill ALL of the spores. It is the destruction of the active bacteria, and destruction or substantial reduction in numbers of spores along with the creation of an environment that is less conducive to the growth of the remaining spores, that ensures safety.

The botulism spores can only be killed by the high heat which can be obtained in a pressure canner. Water bath canners cannot do this. The toxin (that is produced in anaerobic conditions) can only be destroyed by boiling; so if there is any doubt, boiling the food for 20 minutes after opening the jars adds an additional measure of safety, although this is not always practical. Colorado State University says:

As an added precaution, boil all home-canned vegetables and meats without tasting for 10 minutes plus one minute per 1,000 feet above sea level (15 minutes at 5,000 feet). Boil home-canned spinach and corn 20 minutes before tasting. If the food looks spoiled, foams or has an off odor during heating, discard it.

The processing times in recipes in PickYourOwn.org are from the USDA and Ball Blue Book, and ensure destruction of the largest expected number of heat-resistant microorganisms in home-canned foods. Properly processed, home canned food will be free of spoilage if lids seal and jars are stored below 95°F. Storing jars at 50° to 70°F also enhances retention of quality.

Can’t I simply heat the jars in a water bath canner for a very long time or add acid (vinegar or lemon juice)?

Botulism spores are very heat resistant. They may be destroyed at boiling water temperatures, but extremely long times are required. The higher the canner temperature, the more easily and quickly they are destroyed.

Low acid foods

Therefore, all low-acid foods should be sanitized at temperatures of 240° to 250°F, attainable with pressure canners operated at 10 to 15 PSI. PSI means pounds per square inch of pressure as measured by a gauge. At these temperatures, the time needed to destroy bacteria in low-acid canned food ranges from 20 to 100 minutes. The exact time depends on the kind of food being canned, the way it is packed into jars, and the size of jars.

Acid foods

The time needed to safely process low-acid foods in a boiling water canner ranges from 7 to 11 hours. Such long processing times are not researched and are not recommended. Losses in nutrients and quality would be unacceptable. The time needed to process acid foods in boiling water varies from 5 to 85 minutes.

In addition to the acidity of the food and the heat resistance of the microorganism, the time required for sufficient heat to penetrate all parts of the food in the jar must be considered. Heat is transferred from the outside of the jar through the food and thus is affected by:

The size and shape of the container. Smaller jars heat faster than wider or taller jars. The USDA no longer recommends jars larger than a half-gallon, and typically jars must be 1 quart or smaller.

Amount of liquid. Food containing a large amount of free liquid heats much more quickly than a more solid product.

Piece size. Smaller pieces of food (corn, peas) heat much more quickly than large chunks.

Amount of fat. Fat insulates the food and slows heat transfer. Most canning recipes require little or no added fats or oils.

The type of heating medium being used. Wet steam heats faster than dry air.

The many factors involved make it impossible to estimate the correct processing conditions for any food product. This is especially true for items which are mixtures of food with differing water content, piece size, fat content, or acidity as well as types and numbers of microorganisms present. The establishment of a correct, safe process requires laboratory research by trained scientists. “

Steps to Reduce Risk

  1. If in doubt, throw it out!  Remember, botulism can only be detected 100% in a laboratory.  Don’t take any unneeded risk.
  2. Bulging cans or jars with bulging canning lids should be thrown out immediately and wash your hands after contact.
  3. If food is foamy or has a bad odor throw it out.
  4. Do not decide you are Martha Stewart some weekend and invent your own recipe assuming that adding acidic ingredients such as vinegar or lemon juice or other acids will render your canned food safe.  There is hope for your creative side, however!  Playing around with spice amounts is usually fine because it does not affect the acidity levels.
  5. Avoid canning pumpkin or pumpkin butter because home pressure cookers cannot heat the jars to a temperature required to render such foods safe.
  6. Be careful of who you accept canned foods from.  If your Aunt Dorothy decided to can for the first time to save a bundle on Christmas gifts, but she has a tendency to leave her house without a stitch of clothing on, I would thank her graciously and pitch it in the trash as soon as possible.

A Good Source for Recipes

Use only time- tested recipes that have been in your family for years.  And of course, recipes form Ball Blue Book, USDA, local agricultural and University Extension services, and PickYourOwn.org are tested approved.

Anyone stocking up on food should consider the safety of their stores and clear out and dust off the shelves once in a while.  Being prepared and providing safe, healthy food to your family is the key to any survival plan.  Considering the ramifications of contracting food poisoning such as Botulism, checking and ensuring the quality of your preps is vital.

One evening last week, I decided to make my family an apple pie. We had canned apples from last fall and I still had about six jars left in the

As disaster prepping continues its precipitous rise in popularity it seems every conceivable gadget, defense rig or bit of advice has been done or handed out. Everything’s been thought of, right? Not so fast. When you come right down to it, that advice, those how-to’s are what works for them. “Them” are all the people out there on the internet writing blog articles and posting videos. Most of them have the best intentions. They want to impart their knowledge to others who might benefit from it. But how do you take what they offer and make it your own? How to tweak it, modify it and customize it to what works best for you? This is exactly what should be done for a bug out vehicle, or in this case a bug out trailer. It has to meet your specific needs and include those particular adaptations and improvements that will be comfortably functional for you when everything else is going down the tubes.

Where to Start

First, select a base trailer to build up into the perfect survival masterpiece trailer. Lucky, for you there are a ton of choices out there. Trailers in all shapes and sizes have been manufactured for decades to meet all kinds of utilitarian needs from the professional contractor or construction firm hauling equipment to trailers meant for moving goods to those built for transporting recreational toys. Add to those variations all the recreational camping trailers on the market and the choices seem pretty much endless.

 

Do your research, envision the finished trailer in your mind, go look at potential buys in person, seek out used trailers for sale to save money, and pick the one that best fits your needs. Remember the longer a trailer is, the more restricted it will be for some locations. Longer trailers, obviously, need a larger turning radius and more space, in general, to maneuver. They are also limited to predominately flat roads as they are unable to manage rolling trails with narrow troughs between steep inclines.

Consider these types as potential bases to build out from;

  • Box utility trailers
  • Compact horse trailers
  • Teardrop trailers
  • Airstream trailers (compact versions)

To pull that trailer you need to first build your bug out vehicle.

These types provide solid bases from which to customize to your unique specifications offering enough variety to fall within particular budget constraints. The benefit of these trailers is they are already enclosed which is a head start, so to speak, which allows you to jump right into customizing the inside. Having said that, though, there are numerous examples of people who have built up open-topped trailers, or even homemade pickup bed trailers, into rugged, workhorse camp trailers capable of going anywhere the vehicle towing them can go. But more on those later.

Enclosed Trailer

Determine the type of space you want to have inside. Will the trailer be self-contained with room to sleep and move around or will it serve as a gear and supply storage and transport? Once the usage of the inside space is settled on you can set to designing the features; insulated walls, the sleeping and sitting areas, storage (gear, food, water), cooking equipment and fuel (Used inside or out? Is ventilation needed?) and windows.

The biggest decision to make (most likely made before even buying the trailer) is will it be a sleeper or a transporter. Will the environmental conditions require an insulated, indoor living area or will an expansion component like an attached tent or pop-up roof sleeper be sufficient and comfortable?

BugOutTrailer1

This trailer has almost every bell and whistle imaginable. Click the image for more photos and details.

If you’re starting with what is, essentially, an empty box on wheels then it would behoove you add a layer of insulation, especially if you plan to sleep inside. The typical, recreational, camp trailer will already be insulated but it’d be worth checking its condition if the unit is an older model. Insulating a cargo trailer is done in the same fashion as insulating the walls of a house. The trailer will already have ribbed, structural support throughout, just as a wall has studs. Cut and fit sections of insulation between these ribs and cover over with sheets of plywood, measured and cut to fit properly and don’t forget to do the same with the roof.

From here, the rest is a custom job, built to your standards and needs. Aftermarket interiors such as cabinetry, foldout beds, convertible seating (into sleepers), and counters are available from various travel trailer retailers or you can build them yourself. Sinks and plumbing are easily found at supply stores and counters can be built to fit a typical camp stove. Research space-saving techniques online for innovative storage areas, utilizing every empty space inside and out. Add storage fuel and propane tanks, generators and batteries outside to avoid gasses from building up creating dangerous conditions inside. For additional energy supply needs beyond fuel, with most trailers’ flat roofs, consider installing solar panels or even a roof-mounted, wind turbine.

 

ButOutTrailer4

Sleeping tents are a popular add-on to some bug out trailers.

Open Trailer

The open utility trailer comes in a full range of forms and sizes. By the term “open” we mean what is essentially, a flatbed trailer with 1-2 foot sides all around or a shallow, open-topped box on wheels. A popular customization for these is to convert them into tent trailers. A number of companies have cropped up over the years that manufacture folding or pop up tents that collapse into a zipped up square and overlays the open trailer. The tent and its support platform are hinged on one side and raise like a hatchback and serve as a cover lid for the open-topped trailer. The inside space is used for equipment and supply storage which can be partitioned off to effectively organize supplies. Or a portion of the inside houses slide-out storage containers or even full, outdoor kitchen setups with stove, sink and counter space.

Many people who go this route with their bug-out trailer make them into truly rugged, go-anywhere contraptions. Fitted with independent suspension, off-road tires and specialized hitches with couplings that allow for extreme vertical and horizontal towing angles these trailers can go virtually everywhere the vehicle towing them can go.

Both types of trailers, open-topped and enclosed, can incorporate external storage containers mounted to the outside walls, on over-sized wheel wells and to the roofs. There is often space on the trailer’s tongue for sturdy containers, propane tanks for cooking fuel or battery banks to store power. The customization opportunities are extensive, limited only by your imagination, time and to some extent, your wallet.http://fpnws.wpengine

Trailers are really one of the most versatile, bug-out vehicle options able to carry all that’s needed for a survival situation – food, water, shelter and lots more – the essentials, all piled into a mobile home away from home.

As disaster prepping continues its precipitous rise in popularity it seems every conceivable gadget, defense rig or bit of advice has been done or handed out. Everything’s been thought of,

Work Smarter Not Harder – In The Garden

Sometimes in the preparedness folds, we really get wrapped around axles. We have so much that we’re learning and trying to do, and we’re regularly doing it on a budget – which is just one more thing that circles around our heads and beats us up.

We can limit some of the pains of preparedness by changing how we look at things, but also how we do things. Gardening and larger-scale growing is routinely on our to-do list. It’s something that’s going to come as a shock for those who don’t practice ahead of time, no matter how many tricks get applied. However, we can save some time and stress on our bodies with a few low-cost and low-skill tricks and tools, and see increased yields. Bigger yields means lower dinner costs and potentially some increased food storage, letting us expand our preparedness in other ways.

Here are a handful of quickie, usually highly inexpensive – easy garden hacks to save time, money and labor. As you read them, don’t forget: Paper products are compostable.

Mulch

Mulch makes life easier.

Mulch can be straw or wood chips, lightly soiled animal litter, mown or whole leaves, the tips of branches we’re pruning, or shredded white paper. Shredded paper will settle into a mat that makes it tough for weeds, but “loose” mulch routinely does better with a weed suppression barrier down first. We can use newsprint, cardboard, or phone book pages as a weed suppressor and to keep small plants free of dirt kicked up by rain. We won’t get the same moisture-holding and soil aeration improvements, we will still have to weed some, especially if we already have beds that are weed prone, but it lessens our time spent sitting or crouched and bent over.

Mulch lessens the pains of gardening. We don’t weed as much, our plants do better, and we don’t have to water as much.

In some forms of mulch gardening, the mulch stays right there year-round. Some styles use a mulch that in hot, damp climates rots enough during the off-season and is tilled in that winter or early in spring. In others, we scoot aside just enough to drop seeds or transplants in during succession plantings, add amendments like cured manure or compost or pH-raising pine by raking it just into or over the surface, and add mulch more slowly.

Plastic bottles

olla-drip-irrigators-easiest-way-to-do-it-plantcaretoday_com

Sub-irrigated planters for buckets and storage tubs and conventional planters can be made using bottles for the tubes instead of aquarium or garden hoses or PVC.

We don’t store water or foods in milk jugs because they’re porous and can leach previous content out slowly, but they have their place among soda and juice bottles in the garden.

Various bottles can be used to make mini-greenhouses, cloches, scoops, and seed spreaders, as well as mouse and rat traps (2Ls can work for small squirrels and chipmunks, too, or slow them down enough for the garden terriers to get there). They’re great for vertical strawberry and herb and lettuce towers. We can use them to keep cord from tangling, and punch various holes to use for spreading amendments and treatments. Whack them in half, use sourdough starter and water or beer, and they catch horrific numbers of slugs.

For time savers and back savers, though, bottles really excel at helping us water.

Sub-irrigated planters for buckets and storage tubs and conventional planters can be made using bottles for the tubes instead of aquarium or garden hoses or PVC.

Whether we grow in raised beds or tilled rows, mulched beds or multi-layered hugel or lasagna beds, we can use bottles as a spin on olla irrigation, too. We can drill holes all over, as shown in the graphic from http://plantcaretoday.com/soda-bottle-drip-feeder-for-vegetables.html, bury it near our plants, and use a hose to fill it quickly. A similar version plants the bottle cap-down, with holes drilled in the cap and the sloping neck, and the inverted bottom cut entirely or with just enough remaining to make a flap. Those are even easier and faster to fill, with less aim needed.

The water from those will then sink out slowly, watering deep at the roots and watering our plants, not the weeds or walkways. Less water is lost to evaporation, and we don’t have to deal with timers or hose connections, or PVC to avoid standing out there forever to slowly sink in water. We pour it in, fill it up, and move to the next. If it’s really hot and dry, we might need to repeat, but it’s a low-tech, low-expense way to work faster than standing there with a hose or moving hoses back and forth so we can mow.

Maybe that means less time on our feet overall, or maybe that lets us progress to our weeding and suckering or the next round of planting.

Seeding time – The Dibble

A dibble is basically just something that makes a hole for us. Usually, it’s a somewhat shallow hole and it’s usually intended for seeds but we can work with that. There are two general types, rolling or boards, although with leek dibbles (which work with any transplant), you walk around with a rake or double-handle tool poking your holes. Boards are typically set up with dowels that will poke holes, or come as cutouts and we use something to poke holes to our desired depths. Rolling dibbles tend to be drum or wheel style.

drum-or-rolling-dibbler-and-dibble-board-www_ncat_org

There are two general types, rolling or boards.

Plans are out there for dibblers that can run from almost nothing if you salvage parts or make minis out of coffee cans and 12” PVC or make a single, double- or triple row dibble wheel out of bikes from Craigslist. Drum styles can cost as much as $100-200 to make at home if you’re inclined to go that route instead. Some of the really fancy board dibblers even get marked in colors so one board can be used for spacings from 1” to 6”.

In no-till schemes where you drag a pointed hoe to clear a spot for seeds, dibble wheels tend to be handy. In tall raised beds and window boxes or trays, a board dibbler may be more beneficial.

Using dibbles at whatever scale we choose to lets us quickly mark the space for seeds and transplants. Even if we have to go back with a post hole digger for some of those transplants, time spent upright instead of crouched tends to make for happier backs.


Seeding time – Furrowing rake

A furrowing rake is the simple DIY result of adding tight, relatively stiff hose or PVC to an ordinary hay or garden rake, and using it to drag lines along a prepared bed. It’s typically done so that the extensions are movable, letting us go as tight as the 1-1.5” gaps of the rake tines out to the full 1-2’ width of that rake.

We can get as complex as we like, adding marker lines to tell us how deep we’re aiming, or using multiple depths so we can plant cutting salad greens in the shallowest grooves and have deeper grooves for our peas. We can drag it both down and across a bed to create a grid, with seeds going at the cross points.

rake-with-hose-for-seed-spacing-1-themarthablog-dot-com

A furrowing rake is the simple DIY result of adding tight, relatively stiff hose or PVC to an ordinary hay or garden rake, and using it to drag lines along a prepared bed.

Taking a few minutes to prep some moveable rods or pipes and lay out our grid – while standing – limits how much measuring we do while we’re bent or crouched, saving time and pain with a very quick and low-cost trick.

Seeding tubes or pipes

Dibbles and furrowing aren’t the only way to limit how much time we spend crouched over during seeding time. Even a congestion-planting scheme that calls for under-seeding doesn’t have to be done from a stool or our knees.

There are a couple of tiers of standing seeders for small plot growers, from this really simple version http://knowledgeweighsnothing.com/how-to-build-a-back-saving-pvc-corn-bean-seed-planter/ to this more advanced DIY https://thinmac.wordpress.com/a-homemade-seed-planter/.

Those aren’t really necessary, though. All you really need is a pipe smooth enough for seeds to roll through cleanly and sturdy enough to stand up straight.

If you want to work with tiny seeds as well as larger ones, maybe you lay on skinnier aquarium tubing to attach to a tool handle or yardstick (with rubber bands, even), and make yourself a pasteboard, tin-can or paper funnel and tape it in place. Use the back-end of a teaspoon or the little measuring spoon from somebody’s aquarium chemicals to fish out 2-5 seeds at a time.knowledgeweighsnothing-com-pvc-seed-hack

Seed tapes and mats

If we’re not digging the various seeding tubes, we can also use our rainy days or blistering hot days to make seed tapes out of strips of paper, or larger seed mats out of unfolded paper napkins and paper towels like these http://annieskitchengarden.blogspot.com/2009/09/september-22-2009-home-made-seed-mat.html & http://simple-green-frugal-co-op.blogspot.com/2009/12/construct-your-own-seed-mats.html . We don’t have to mix up some kind of funky glue like with some of the DIY-ers show. The toothpick dab of white Elmer’s the first site shows is water-soluble and works just fine.

When we’re ready to plant, we just zoom along exposing our soil or following her mix, lay out our mats, and cover them again. We can work in fair-sized lengths that we roll up around an empty tube and then just nudge along using a broom or hoe, or use a square or two at a time that lets us stagger our planting for a staggered harvest or interspersed companion flowers.

Seed mats and strips can also be made out of a single thickness of newspaper pages for larger seeds like peas and beans as well, although we’ll want to make a small 1/8” slit or poke a pencil-tip hole through to give our seeds a head start on busting through the heavier paper.

Since we’re planting 3-6” or as much as 8-12” apart in those cases, whether we do rows or congestion beds, working with a larger paper size makes sense. The newspaper sheet will decay over the season, but being thicker, it does offer a nice head start for our seeds over the weed seeds that may be lurking below. Being thicker, it also does better if the seed gets that head start of a slit.

No more removing gloves. No more exposing seed packets to dirt and moisture, or unfolding and refolding and sticking them in a pocket as we try to keep track of where exactly the tiny black seeds landed in our bed. And since they’re evenly spaced instead of scattered in lines and areas, it’s minutely easier to tell which tiny baby dicot we should be plucking when the weeds start – at least we can work quickly in some of the gaps.

In the garden – Avoid the crouch-ouch

So why the focus on things that improve soils without hauling lots of bales, limiting all the bending, limiting the bending and time we spend watering (or pumping water), collecting trash to make all kinds of weird contraptions in the garden? It’s not just me being a greenie, I promise.

Especially for seniors and those with nagging pains and injuries, the ability to work standing upright or from a chair without leaning over or reaching far can not only increase the joy of gardening, but in some cases go as far as making gardening possible again.

Arthritic hands, shaking from an injury or age, and loss of full motor function from an accident can make it frustrating and painful even to fetch out and drop a lima or pea, let alone broccoli and spinach, and unless they’re willing to just punch some holes in a baggy and shake, just forget about iceberg and romaine and strawberry spinach.

The ability to work slowly over winter or summer to prepare for spring and autumn leaf and root crops, the ability to use a tube and funnel, then shake or scoop seeds using something they can actually grip is enormous.

Reexamine how you garden

Even for those in good health or who just like to be out there, some simple and inexpensive DIY projects and some trash collection and reuse can save a lot of time.

That might make a difference in garden size now, while we’re working and balancing families. It will definitely make a difference later, when we’re depending on those gardens to feed us or add a little forkability and crunch to our starvation-staving diet (I loved that article, BTW).

Saving backs and creating easy-to-use tools can also let us involve our parents and kids a little more in some cases, giving them independence and sharing the satisfaction that comes from a meal we procured for ourselves. There’s little better in life than seeing that pride returned to your parents and grandparents, or watching it bloom in your children.

It also sucks to fail, especially when we have a lot of time invested in something.

Water reservoirs, reduced weed competition, proper seeding coverage, and workload-friendly seeding methods can help increase our rate of success, which encourages us to do it again.

Work Smarter Not Harder – In The Garden

Surviving on the road is something every prepper dreads. But, it’s necessary in case of a major disaster or catastrophe that causes you to evacuate your home. In 2004, a record-breaking tsunami struck South Asia, killing more than 300,000 people. The next year, we witnessed the destruction of New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina. Then, there were the Southern California wildfires, recorded as the worst in US history. These wildfires caused the evacuation of more than one million people.

During all of these disasters, no one had access to local utility services. Stores were shut-down or ran out of emergency supplies, including food and water. If this happens to you, it’s crucial to your family’s survival to be prepared to survive on the road. So, here’s a list of ten items you need to survive on the road.

1) Bottled Water – You know just how important clean water is while on the road. Make sure your bottled water comes in “food grade” storage containers. Experts advise storing one gallon of water, per person, per day.

2) Procurement Supplies – However, when on the road, it may be difficult to tote around gallons of bottled water. So, as a prepper, it’s just as important to learn how to use contaminated sources to procure your own water. Here are two common methods:

– Distilling Water: This method requires that you boil the contaminated water. Then, you collect the steam that comes from a “run-off.” This results in clean water dripping into a clean container.

– Filtering Water: With this method, you simply pour the contaminated water into a “filter” system. Your homemade or manufactured filter system will help to procure the water.

3) Non-Perishable Foods – These are foods that never require refrigeration. The food is packaged and/or processed to give it a long shelf life. Some of these foods include canned foods, dehydrated foods, and freeze-dried food, which has a 25-year shelf life.

 

4) Battery-Operated Flashlight – You should have multiple flashlights on hand. There’s no telling where you may end up at night. Not to mention, some natural and man-made disasters can cause darkness, smoke, etc… even during the day. So, make sure your flashlights are heavy-duty, with the ability to withstand moisture. Also, pack extra batteries for your flashlights.

5) Fire & Other Light Sources – When you’re trying to survive on the road, you’ll need various light sources. If you’re on the road for a long period of time, candles may be your own source of light. This is especially true if you run out of batteries for your flashlight. Be sure to pack candles that burn for longer periods of time than traditional candles. You should have a large supply, along with other light sources. Some of these include matches and lighters. These will also come in handy if you need to start a fire to cook or stay warm.

6) Battery-Operated Radio – While on the road, your only source of communication may be your radio. If radio news stations are still broadcasting, you can stay updated on the current status of the emergency situation. Battery-operated radios are very common in these situations if you have enough extra batteries on hand. However, there are other non-electrical options, such as a wind-up radio. They generally last about 30 minutes without having to be cranked up again.

7) First Aid Kit – Every savvy prepper owns a basic first aid kit. Check yours regularly to ensure that it stays well stocked. Most kits come with basic supplies. But, there are a few things you may need to add in order to be prepared to survive on the road. Some of these include:

– Fever reducer
– Pain reliever
– Antiseptic spray
– Hydrogen peroxide
– Rubbing alcohol
– Anti-diarrhea medication

8) Shelter – No prepper should ever be caught trying to survive on the road without shelter. Most use heavy-duty tarps. Experts advise that you choose a dark-colored tarp, so you stand out less. You never know. The emergency situation may require that you hide out for a while. Tarps can be used to build shelters outside, as well as underground.

9) Sleeping Bag – Many natural disasters affect the weather. That’s why it’s very important that you’re prepared to survive extreme weather conditions while on the road. Pack sleeping bags made specifically for cold weather. Prepare for twenty degrees below zero to be safe.

10) Outdoor Clothing – The clothing you pack should be appropriate for heavy, outdoor use. Be sure you have an assortment of clothing to last for a while. Pack wool socks, thermal underwear, hooded sweatshirts, sweat pants, jeans, heavy-duty boots, and a heavy coat.

 

 

Other Self-sufficiency and Preparedness solutions recommended for you:

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

Surviving on the road is something every prepper dreads. But, it’s necessary in case of a major disaster or catastrophe that causes you to evacuate your home.

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

 

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

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

Where to find water

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

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

WaterfromHydrant

Water Hydrants are a source of water in an emergency

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

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

How to carry water

DeerCart

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

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

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

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

How to treat water

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

BerkeyFilter

Berkey Filters are excellent Prepper resources.

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you find yourself without power as they did in American Blackout, food and water were their priorities. Safety and security weren’t big issues until people started living without food

Urban Camouflage and Concealment

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

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

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

Movement and Rural Camouflage

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

6000768

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

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

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

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

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

The basic guidelines for camouflage are

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

realtree-camo-pattern-max-1-xt-05

Guidelines for Movement

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

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

61w8LlcrfyL._SL1002

Camo Face Paint Sticks – 3 Pack – 6 Colors

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

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

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

realtree-camo-pattern-realtree-max-4-04

Moving at night

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

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

General guidelines for rural movement

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

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

Modern humans are positively disadvantaged when surviving in and moving one foot in rural and wilderness areas. Most people these days have never spent a night outside without any cover,