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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

Have you ever run out of gas? Imagine running out of gas when gas stations are no longer pumping fuel or you are on route to your bug out location after some really bad stuff has gone down. You aren’t able to call AAA anymore and your buddy probably can’t come to pick you up. You thought ahead to carry some extra fuel, but long lines in traffic and multiple detours have depleted even your additional supplies.

If the situation called for it and you were desperate, would you know how to siphon gas from a car?

Many of us have tried this before with mixed results. I can remember shoving a length of garden hose in the tank of an old Ford truck I had and drawing the gas out with my mouth. In case you were wondering, a mouth full of gas is not a pleasant experience and it takes a whole lot of brushing to get that taste out.

This manual method is only slightly better with clear plastic tubing but you still run the risk of getting some amount of gas in your mouth.

Would this be acceptable in a grid down situation? Of course, if there was no other option. However, with a little planning and practice now, you can have a solution to your fuel needs in an emergency.

How to get gas out of a car

It would stand to reason that in even the most dire, apocalyptic scenarios you can imagine, there will be gas somewhere. We have gas in cars obviously, stashed in lawnmowers and in spare cans in sheds. Businesses have diesel stored in forklifts and heavy equipment. Gas at fuel stations can even be tapped into with a little know-how even if the electricity isn’t working. Gas is a vitally important resource and even if we have some global EMP, this fuel will still be valuable to the people who can obtain it but not everyone has experience with getting gas out of their car short of driving it around all day.

Cars that have been abandoned would seem to be some of the best and easiest places to acquire extra fuel to keep you going. I am not advocating stealing but should you determine that your situation requires it, siphoning gas can be a pretty simple way to get an extra few gallons in an emergency. Even 3 extra gallons could potentially get you dozens of miles away from danger or just closer to your destination.

Another good reason to keep an empty fuel tank in your car. Carol is always prepared…

Older cars didn’t have some of the anti-theft measures that more modern vehicles have now that make getting gas from a car more of a challenge. Depending on your situation, even with anti-theft devices, you can still get fuel. The process is basically the same regardless of the vehicle but the methods might need to change. You simply need to draw or drain the fuel in one tank to a container. The easiest way to do this requires gravity and a little help from a siphon. The siphon you choose can be the suction you create with your mouth (not ideal) or from a pump. There are manual hand pumps and electric pumps that I’ll discuss in a minute but it might make sense to procure one of these methods now before you find yourself needing gas and have no way to get it.

Siphon gas from an older car

A manual fuel pump could help you easily siphon gas from many cars

There are two methods I think that are brilliantly simple to siphon gas from older cars. When I say older, that is a general term because no two cars are exactly the same. In newer cars, probably from the 90’s forward, there are flaps installed on virtually all gas tanks now that would make it harder for you to remove the hose, but in older vehicles, it was pretty much a straight opening into the tank. You also have round balls in the tank hose that prevent hoses from being easily stuck down into the tank so older cars are easier to get fuel out of. If possible, an older model car would make the best targets for siphoning gas.

There are dozens of manual fuel pumps on the market like the 3 in 1 Hand Pump on Amazon. You can use this not only for siphoning gas from a car, but you could also use it to get other fuels into or out of containers. Maybe you have a 50-gallon drum of kerosene and you need to fill your lanterns and heater. This manual pump would be handy.

You can also use a modified method of manual siphoning with your mouth that I haven’t seen before but I wish I knew about a long time ago. You would insert the hose into the gas tank as you would on any siphoning method, but instead of sucking fuel up the line, another hose creates the pressure needed to push fuel into your hose. You can see a great video of the concept below.

How to siphon gas without a pump

The manual pump method works great on older cars, but what about newer vehicles? If you are desperate enough you can puncture the fuel tank with a hammer and screwdriver but this destroys the tank first of all and is riskier from the standpoint of creating a spark around fumes. Along with that, you would make more noise and have to get under the car so that might prevent you from observing the area as closely as you need to.

The Gastapper is a system that runs with an electric pump and it is supposed to get around the anti-theft devices on modern cars. The video below shows the process which is a little more involved than the manual pump method but could be a great alternative if you do have electricity. This could also be a good device for obtaining fuel from underground fuel storage tanks at a gas station.

How to siphon gas from a newer vehicle

So there are a few methods of obtaining fuel in an emergency. I think I am going to get a manual fuel pump and stash that in my vehicle EDC kit for emergencies. What is your method of choice to siphon gas from a car?

Have you ever run out of gas? Imagine running out of gas when gas stations are no longer pumping fuel or you are on route to your bug out location

When you read the various Prepper and Survival blogs and comments on Prepping, it’s hard to avoid the constant chatter about guns and defensive warfare… Hollywood has done an excellent job of glamorizing the use of guns and warfare to the point where some people actually believe that by simply owning lots of guns their problems will be mitigated. And nothing could be farther from the truth!

What’s even more interesting is that some of these same people own scoped rifles that aren’t even sighted-in! And if you were at a shooting range and handed them a rifle that was all dialed-in, they couldn’t put a single round on the paper (target) down-range under ideal circumstances, let alone if they were in crisis-mode.

Please don’t misunderstand me; I am 100% for the Second Amendment and the right to own and bear arms. I own guns myself and I grew up shooting and hunting for food in the mountains of Southern Oregon.

It seems however that there are a few people who think that survival (Prepping) is all about owning lots of guns and paramilitary training and tactics. And it’s my opinion that these beliefs are based upon defective logic when it comes to the primary objective of Prepping, which is survival, as in ‘staying alive‘ long-term.

If any given Prepper truly believes that there are bonafide risks to their families and friends, which might stem from any one of a host of credible natural and made-caused disasters, then taking a purely logical approach to minimizing those perceived risks requires that Preppers must do what is necessary at the moment such action becomes necessary. This, of course, requires a plan of action that is in place, as well as the equipment, supplies, and tactics that support such an action.

Any tactics supporting any plan that increases potential risks for casualties are defective because it violates the core objective; ‘don’t get dead’.

The superior plan of action is the one that removes as much risk as humanly possible. When you compromise this logic, you also compromise your odds of ‘staying alive’.

Almost anyone with a minimum of training using even marginal equipment can survive off the grid and in the wilderness for a week or even two. How well you fare in such matters will depend greatly upon your fitness, training, experience and the type, amount and quality of the equipment you employ.

However, when you are forced to survive for months and possibly years totally ‘off the grid‘, that’s a whole different subject and few people have the know-how based upon the actual experience that is required to help others prepare for such a challenge.

Few of the so-called ‘experts’ who are providing information into the Prepper community have themselves actually survived off-the-grid in remote locations for many months at a time. And having never been in that kind of a situation, they have no first-hand knowledge or appreciation of what the long-term challenges actually are, let alone the solutions. Surely some of these experts are making many assumptions and educated guesses.

Other experts focus on short-term survival; I recall an episode of Bear Grylls where he is shown squeezing the liquid out of Elephant dung into his mouth as a means of obtaining water in survival mode. Of course, he has the ability to check into a hospital after the show to deal with all the micro-organisms that would readily sicken him, and if left unchecked, potentially kill him in the long-term. These are not the kind of methods that will serve most Preppers very well but are taught in some military survival courses.

Most if not all expert advisers naturally teach what they know best; hopefully based upon their own actual experience. There are a few so-called experts who are writing books and posting information on Blogs who have very little if any actual meaningful or relevant experience.

Should other Preppers be making critical plans and adopting tactics based upon the guesswork of someone else, who may have only read some books?

Living ‘off the grid’ at a farm or ranch is really not ‘survival experience‘. I am not saying that the experience gained from such a lifestyle is not relevant or beneficial, in fact, it is. However, in the case of remote rural living, when a problem or need is encountered, you have the option of driving into town or reaching-out for what you need using the telephone (on our ranch, we would even occasionally ride our horses into town for supplies).

However, as in an actual disaster, where logistical support and travel are cut-off, an Expedition Sailor has no such options. That’s because when an Expedition Sailor has a problem, it is serious since he/she may be hundreds of miles (by sea) away from any outside help (medical, parts, tools, expertise, equipment, etc.). This mandates that Expedition Sailors must be self-reliant in real-life on a daily basis, long-term. It’s not some theoretical or academic exercise, it’s for all the marbles. When you are at sea or anchored at some remote location, separated from the nearest land by water, you can only look to yourself for solutions. This also means having planned ahead in provisioning all the ‘right stuff’ on-board the boat, before leaving port. This is what prepping on land is about; having all the ‘right stuff’ before a disaster hits.

There are some survival experts who have gained their ‘survival’ experience from duty in the military. To make my position crystal-clear; I have the utmost respect and appreciation for our military men and women (my son-in-law is a serving U.S. Marine and we are very proud of him). Some former military personnel who are now advising Preppers tend to teach/preach what they know best….guns, ammo, and military tactics. And a few of these ’experts’ seem to universally fail to acknowledge or even recognize that their success in the field was the result of the guy on the right and on the left, and the extensive training that they all had received in combination with the team of people in the rear, who were providing and fulfilling all kinds of support missions. Preppers will not have access to that training or the specialized training environment, nor the logistics support that is provided by the military.

A few former military operators who have become ‘experts’ on Prepping fail to continue to appreciate that every bullet, MRE, stitch of clothing, intel, transportation and mechanical support that supported their operations in the field were provided by many other trained people in the rear. And without these mission support personnel, the operators on the front line and downrange wouldn’t fare nearly as well as they do in achieving their military objectives. There are exceptions of course in that there are Special Forces who through highly advanced training programs can and do improvise and adapt in the field down-range (damn few!). Here again, Preppers will not have access to anything close that level of training and experience, as it was provided by the military and designed to train that personnel, who were already pre-qualified, screened and selected for that specialized training. In the world of civilian survival and prepping, it’s the Prepper who has to understand and incorporate many mission skills and parameters into their own survival paradigm. If you don’t, you will likely fail.

Nobody has all the answers and no one particular survival paradigm is perfect for everyone. Each Prepper needs to identify his own potential problems and goals and then using the best information from many reliable sources, form a custom survival paradigm to suit.

It’s extremely important to maintain a clear understanding of the vast differences between ‘military objectives’ and the tactics and training to achieve those objectives, and ‘Prepper objectives‘, which are purely related to ‘staying alive’ and long-term disaster survival. Any form of combat, at any level, will lead to casualties on ‘both’ sides of the conflict.

Aside from being fully prepped (supplies, equip, etc.), the most logical approach to survival is to plan to avoid risk when the SHTF.

Should a major large-scale disaster occur, one that may for instance take the entire U.S. electrical grid down, or some other catalyst that would cause a collapse of the supply-chain infrastructure (food, fuel and supplies into cities), there will be masses (in some areas millions) of Un-Prepped people that will be dislocated from the cities and towns and who will relocate themselves to the rural areas in search of resources (food, water, etc.).

Many of these un-prepped survivors (keep in mind, we are talking about millions of people) will be armed and desperate. If Preppers attempt to shelter in place within range of these survivors, regardless of the preps and tactics used, they will likely be ultimately overcome by their sheer numbers. Any argument to the contrary is simply illogical (none of us are John. J. Rambo). If you truly want to survive (as in ’staying alive’), then a realistic relocation plan is of paramount importance.

The thousands (and more) of un-prepared and desperate survivors who will be migrating outward from towns/cities during post-disaster conditions are what some Preppers refer to as ‘Zombies’; I call them the ‘Un-Prepped’. These are the people who are post-disaster survivors and through their desperation pose a real danger to others, akin to a drowning man who will quickly push another person under the water in his desperate attempt to survive.

So what are the legitimate options?

First of all, 24/7 situational awareness is absolutely key for people living in the cities, given that relocation may only be possible just before any disaster/event and/or immediately after (within minutes). If you are already living off-grid in a remote area, you are in the best situation and have much more time to consider the situation as it unfolds.

Second, you’ll need a relocation plan in place that will get you to a prepped facility that is at a secure distance from migrating masses, as in ‘out of reach‘ and remote. Distance is your ally, since many Un-Prepped survivors will be on-foot (vehicles will be grid-locked, fuel will be unavailable), and they can only walk about 10-20 miles in a day. Doing the math, and giving them the benefit of the doubt, the average ‘Un-Prepped’ may be able to travel as far as 2-3 days away from any towns/cities. This gives an effective maximum ‘Un-Prepped Radius’ of about 60 miles (maybe more) from any towns/cities. Therefore, I would expect that if your relocation facility was 75-150 miles away from the nearest major town/city, you would minimize possible contact with the Un-Prepped, and thereby minimize your risks of dealing with these desperate people.

Clearly, there is still some vulnerability being on land. This stems from the fact that some Un-Prepped may nonetheless reach your position on foot, and possibly using vehicles. The ones who reach your location will likely be the most resourceful of the Un-Prepped, since they will have obviously survived the initial chaos and made it out of the towns/cities, and likely have already engaged in lethal combat.

Being under-siege in a fixed location can be a real problem and due to the duration of such sieges, some fixed position facilities ultimately fall. It’s a function of how well prepared you are as compared to the threat that is presented by any hostile force.

There is also another option that is best suited for those people who are living in, or close to a city on the coast, which precludes the need for potential defensive combat and the risks posed by the Un-Prepped.

Bugging-Out in comfort on a boat is a very realistic solution for some people. In fact, Expedition Sailors such as myself do it for fun and have done it for many years with our families, friends, and pets!

Once you leave port and are over the horizon heading to a preselected safe destination, you are out of sight and out of mind, leaving 99.99% of everyone else in the city behind competing for the dwindling resources. The risks at sea and at a preselected remote location (an island with zero or limited population) are far less than those that must be endured long-term on the continent in and around cities. Of course, this paradigm may not be suitable for many people, for a host of reasons.

Over the course of several decades, among other commercial marine operations, I have personally handled all of the logistics, planning, engineering, and operations, including the customization of the vessels that were required for two separate multi-year sailing expeditions that each covered thousands of miles at sea. Each of these expeditions ultimately required that I provide all of the know-how that allowed my family (wife, two children, and two dogs) and I to successfully reach distant remote locations and then live off the grid at uninhabited desert islands in the Sea of Cortez.

The success of these long-range multi-year expeditions was not by chance. The technical know-how that I have accumulated over decades involves detailed knowledge of many disciplines, including but not limited to:

Power collection, generation and storage systems, communications and navigation systems, meteorology, water production-collection and storage systems, provisioning, food storage and long-term field supplementation, life support and safety systems, security, defense systems and tactics, surveillance and counter-surveillance, sanitation systems, equipment and clothing for personnel, advanced first-aid and medical supplies. And all the tools, parts and supplies to maintain and repair all mission-critical equipment, which must function long-term as they must in any ‘Prepper’ survival mission.

The bottom line is this:

When you have actually lived and survived off the grid long-term in challenging conditions you learn what works and what doesn’t work, and I have certainly earned some of that knowledge, by ‘living the preps‘. It would be a huge mistake for Preppers to learn the hard lessons under actual survival-disaster conditions.

For example; equipment fails over time; some much sooner than others and you have to know in advance which equipment is best and why…that knowledge only comes from actual use over time in the field. Morale is another critical matter in both short-term and long-term survival and through actual experience, many lessons are learned and genuine solutions have been developed.

When you read the various Prepper and Survival blogs and comments on Prepping, it’s hard to avoid the constant chatter about guns and defensive warfare… Hollywood has done an excellent

Your EDC gear that you carry daily can be used in millions of ways. It could be something as trivial as having a light to shine into a dark room for greater visibility or as serious as a weapon to defend your life or the lives of others. We carry and advocate EDC (Every Day Carry) to place tools on your body or within ready access that can make whatever situation you are faced with easier, safer or more survivable.

Some of the items I carry on my person (practically) everywhere I go are my concealed carry weapon, a folding knife, multi-tool, flashlight and bandana. Naturally, I have the more common items like a cell phone and a watch, usually some paracord and a Nalgene bottle of water in my bag but I don’t carry much more than that. This allows me what I consider are the basics that can be used in situations to provide me with an advantage.

For additional capacity I have my Get Home Bag or Bug Out Bag in my vehicle that has pretty much anything I would need in all but the most dire circumstances to live for 72 hours or more. I don’t have that on my person, but it is in my vehicle so when I am venturing away from home, those additional supplies are with me as well.

But there are supplies and gear I can expect to use that fall outside of the ideal mission for a Bug Out Bag. I don’t really want to raid that bag anytime I need something because I will then have to remember to put it back. Additionally, I don’t want to overload my bug out bag with gear I might not be able to use effectively in a bug out scenario. I don’t want unnecessary weight that could slow me down. Enter the vehicle EDC gear concept.

What is vehicle EDC gear?

Your vehicle EDC gear are supplies that can easily be stored in your vehicle that can give you advantages in situations where survival or simple convenience require them. Just like with my personal EDC gear that I have on my person, I might not use any of my vehicle EDC gear on a day-to-day basis. I might not use it for months or years, but it is there if I need it.

Your vehicle EDC gear extends your regular EDC gear but it doesn’t take the place of your Bug Out Bag.

Some of your vehicle EDC items can be stored in smaller pouches like this one.

Important factors to consider when choosing your vehicle EDC gear list?

Every person is different. We have different vehicles, different resources, and different commutes, live in different climates and have different priorities and concerns. The items I am listing for my vehicle EDC are ones that I have chosen based upon what I can see myself possibly needing on any day where I live and commute daily. My list isn’t set in stone and has and will evolve over time. Your list might look different and that is perfectly fine. This exercise is simply looking at what items could augment your daily carry EDC and make life a little better if you encounter an emergency.

The amount of time you spend in your vehicle, the work you do, the vehicle’s mechanical condition and what you may be able to fix, if needed all play into consideration for this list.

What vehicle EDC gear should you consider?

So with all of that out-of-the-way and without needing a tractor-trailer to haul everything, what are some ideas for vehicle EDC gear that could help you?

Water

We never used to carry water in any of our vehicles until I got into Prepping. It wasn’t long after that my wife decided that she didn’t like the thought of being stranded in the car with small children in the heat of the summer. Water is possibly the easiest thing you can do to affect your survival situation no matter what you are faced with. You can either buy a case of water and keep it in the trunk or fill up some stainless steel water bottles and store them. The stainless steel will prevent the plastic leaching into the water when it gets really hot, but don’t forget about them when the temperatures drop down to freezing. I lost a perfectly good SIGG water bottle this past winter due to that and some of my gear had mildew damage for sitting in water for I don’t know how long.

Food

Not everyone carries a set of jumper cables anymore. Would you have some in an emergency?

This one might be up for debate. I know some people will say you should always have some spare food in your vehicle, but choosing the type of food is a little trickier because again you have to worry about it spoiling in the heat. Even if that isn’t an issue, you have to prepare it unless you buy something that requires no cooking. I have two mainstay emergency rations in my bug out bag, but I don’t have any spare food in my car. Would this be completely different if I was on a cross-country trip or commuted more than 10 miles to work? Yes, but as it stands right now I don’t.

Vehicle Maintenance/Misc.

Some of the items don’t apply to all vehicles and to all people. If you have zero mechanical skills for instance, there really isn’t any value in putting tools in your car is there? One could argue that maybe you should learn how to fix vehicles and I can see some value in that, but for me if my car broke down and I couldn’t see something very simple I could fix, I would start walking if there weren’t any other options. I wouldn’t be pulling the engine apart trying to see if I could fix some broken part with duct tape.

  • Jumper Cables – This should be a no-brainer. My kids have run the battery down in our car while my wife was inside shopping. She wasn’t in there long, but it doesn’t take long running the fan in the summer, lights on and radio blaring to kill a battery. She had to call me because she didn’t have any jumper cables. It would have taken all of two minutes to get her back on the road, but because nobody around her had any, or was offering to help she was temporarily stranded. Needless to say, she had jumper cables that night.
  • Duct Tape – Getting back to my point above, I don’t expect anyone is going to be fixing a flat tire or mending a broken axle with strong duct tape, but that stuff sure does come in handy. You probably don’t need an entire roll either, just wrap some around your water bottle for emergencies.
  • Fluids (as necessary) – Again, this is vehicle dependent. I don’t carry any fluids because my vehicle doesn’t go through fluids that I should worry about it. Some people have older vehicles that needed the occasional topping off of oil or coolant. If that is you, plan accordingly.
  • Flat Tire Tools – The simplest option is a good old can of fix a flat although sometimes that can cause more havoc when you take your tire into the shop and they refuse to fix the Tire Pressure sensor. The jack and wrench that come with your car are the bare essentials. They will get the job done, but not as easily as a beefier jack and lug wrench. Make sure the spare is full when you top off the other tires too. You don’t want to get a flat tire only to find out your spare is empty.
  • Spare Gloves – A good pair of mechanix gloves or even simple leather work gloves will come in handy if you have to get your hands dirty. It is much easier to put on a set of gloves than to get grease off your hands.
  • Tarp – Another multi-use item. A tarp can provide protection from rain. You can lay on it instead of muddy or frozen ground if you have to get under the car or it can protect the inside of your car from getting dirty.
  • Gas Can (empty) – Again, this is one that I don’t personally have only because I am pretty much always filling up when my tank gets to half-full. I could regret this one day, but for me it isn’t needed at this time. If you do get one of the newer style (which are practically worthless, thank you California) be sure to get a Gas spout and modify the can so it actually pours.
  • Basic Tools – Back to the initial point. Tools are great if you know what you are doing. If you can’t find the hood release, or recognize the big parts under the hood, this probably won’t do you any good.
  • Demolition Hammer – This might be a luxury item but if you ever need to beat the ever-loving crap out of something or just hammer some tent pegs in, a big hammer will come in handy. Doesn’t take up too much space either.

A good multi tool has hundreds of uses.

Survival/Safety

  • Multi-tool – The multi-tool goes in the duct tape category. Actually, for most people, this might be the only tool that you need. No, it won’t allow you to remove the water pump, but it can take on a myriad of smaller tasks.
  • Spare Magazines – No, I don’t mean People Magazine or the latest Oprah. In addition to my concealed carry weapon, I have a weapon in my car. It is my EDC backup. Usually, there are a few more on long trips, but I always have spare magazines for each weapon ready to go.
  • Seat Belt Cutter/Glass punch – The likelihood that you are going to be involved in an accident that requires you to cut your seat belt or shatter your window to escape is remote, but having something like the resqme car escape tool is cheap and provides some extra peace of mind.
  • Rope – I have some general use Polly rope if I ever need to tie something down to the roof rack. Paracord is a suitable alternative too and takes up a lot less room.

First Aid

Most of the time you will need a first aid kit in your car it is going to be for either headaches or minor boo-boos. You likely won’t need the Elite First Aid fully stocked medic bag unless you drive up to a war zone or horrific accident and have the skills and training to know what to do. However, a good first aid kit gives me peace of mind. I don’t plan on surgery, but I do have some celox quick clot, some blood stoppers along with my own IFAK. If nothing else, I can help stop bleeding if I need to until help arrives. Then I’ll pop some aspirin and go back to my car.

A good handheld ham radio will work in disaster scenarios to communicate when traditional methods are out.

Communication/Navigation

Getting lost is half the journey, right? Well, if you have all the time in the world to kill and plenty of gas, maybe that sounds nice but I usually don’t go for joy rides. Have you ever been given the wrong directions on your GPS? We have. I have had Google Maps tell me to get off the highway at one exit, drive back to the previous exit and turn around again. Yes, like an idiot I followed it. GPS might cease to work, or due to some other reason, you can’t use it. I like to have backups.

  • Road Atlas – Rand McNally has simple and low-cost maps that you should have in your car. Throw it in the trunk for emergencies.
  • State Atlas – I also have a state atlas for my state that will help me get out of my neighborhood (figuratively speaking here) if the roads are blocked and I need alternate routes.
  • Cell Phone Charge cord – You should have a spare cell phone charger in your car at all times. These are usually less than $20, plug into a USB to cigarette lighter adapter and can keep your phone going.
  • Ham Radio w/Battery Charger – I have one of my Baofeng handheld radios in my car in case all else fails. This also has FM frequencies on it if I need to listen to local news/radio.

General Purpose

  • Pen/Pad
  • LED Flashlight
  • Headlamp – Superior to a flashlight in a lot of cases due to the hands free nature.
  • Light Stick
  • Spare Batteries
  • Lighter
  • Toilet Paper
  • Shop Towels
  • Trash bags

Weather Dependent

The weather where you live greatly affects this list so I am not going to get too specific. I think people who live in colder climates already know the importance of keeping some supplies just in case.

  • Cold Weather
    • Tire Chains – or all-weather tires
    • Wool Blanket –I like a wool blanket better than the space blankets although it is more expensive and takes up more space.
    • Tow Strap – I now have a 4X4 so I have a tow strap just in case I can pull someone out who has fallen into a ditch. Again, this doesn’t make sense for all vehicles.
    • Proper footwear
  • Hot Weather
    • More water, electrolyte solution
    • Hats to block sun

What to store your vehicle EDC gear in?

Now, what do you store all of this EDC gear in? If you are building your kit out I would suggest you compile everything first and then choose a suitable container or containers for holding this gear. Some gear makes sense to be kept with similar associated gear and the potential for use might dictate where you place it. For instance, you might have food and any cooking supplies in one container. The vehicle you have will obviously dictate where some of this goes. The general purpose items could go in a glove-box, center console or a molle visor attachment.

I have different gear spread over the vehicle, but the majority sits nicely in a plastic tote from Rubbermaid. It’s there if I ever need it and I am not surprised at how often my vehicle EDC gear has come in handy. Maybe some of these items could help you out.

Your turn! What do you keep in your car that I missed?

Your EDC gear that you carry daily can be used in millions of ways. It could be something as trivial as having a light to shine into a dark room

New to prepping?

What is prepping?

The practice of making active preparations for a possible catastrophic disaster or emergency, typically by stockpiling food, ammunition, and other supplies.

OK, so you have decided that you want to take steps to protect your family from unseen events. You may not know what events to plan for or you could have a much defined idea of the threats you see, but regardless you recognize a need.

There are people who come to the Final Prepper after they read something on another prepping blog or they may have been visiting our site for a year. The newer visitors are usually just getting starting in this crazy world of Prepping and if they are anything like I was at the beginning, knowing where to start can be pretty daunting.

Prepping isn’t the same for everyone but most people eventually look for a simple guideline to follow so I have pulled together this prepper’s list of supplies.

How is this list of supplies you need going to be different than any of the 523 million other lists out there? Maybe it won’t be, but I am going to try and go in order of importance so you can follow along at home and let me know what I missed or what should have received priority.

Your list may be completely different than mine, but I believe the items contained in this list of supplies will be common to most people and more importantly will be required if you are going to be as prepared as possible if the manure hits the hydro-electric powered oscillating air current distribution device.  This list is not all encompassing either. I am probably not going to have blacksmith supplies or leather working tools although I can see the use in each of those. This list is going to be for the average person to get by if we have a SHTF event, not start a new life in the wild west. Please let me know what additional items you would recommend and I’ll keep this list updated so you can print it out whenever you need to purchase items or want to build your supplies out.

Lastly, this list is primarily for Sheltering in Place and the requirements/resources the average person would be able to lay their hands on. This doesn’t take more extreme climates into consideration but should still provide a base regardless of where you live. For something more specific to the Bug Out Bag checklist, click here. Also this list is going to be missing the specifics of the amounts because each family or individual is different. So without further ado, here we go.

Water

  • Method of Disinfecting or Filtering Water
    • Big Berkey Light or similar gravity fed water filter (capacity 2.25 gallons). It doesn’t get much easier than this. The capacity in only one of these units might not be enough for a family of 4 in the summer though so plan accordingly. You can also buy the filters and make your own water filter much cheaper.
    • Paint or coffee filters – to remove sediment prior to filtering. This will keep your filters working much longer if your source is murky. Bandannas or old t-shirts can be used too.
    • Backpacking/ Camping Water Filters – MSR Miniworks, Sawyer for individual use or travel. Gravity filters like the Platypus are fastest and have less moving parts to break.
    • Bleach – Non-scented or Calcium Hypochlorite is a better long-term option that won’t go bad. For additional instructions on treating water, you can read this article.
    • Boiling water over a fire will kill organisms, but will not remove chemicals.
    • SODIS Method which you can read about online.
    • Water purification tabs – These are last on my list because they do not last long.
    • Polar Pure is an iodine based disinfection method that will last far longer than any water tablets.
    • How to purify water with Charcoal
    • Other safe drinking water strategies for preppers
  • Method of carrying water
    • Plastic Nalgene Bottles or Stainless Steel water bottle for each individual if you plan on needing to boil water for individual use.
    • 5 Gallon water jugs – These are pretty heavy when full. Get the heavy plastic ones not the collapsible bladder type. These will need to hold up to a lot of abuse.
    • Yard wagon or wheel barrow to haul the water jugs and reduce trips to your water source if it is remote.
    • How to store and carry water in a survival situation

  • Methods of obtaining/Storing additional water
    • Assuming you don’t have running/well water on your property…. Rain Barrels are best in most climates if you plan ahead.
    • Find additional water sources by exploring your neighborhood
    • 55 Gallon Storage barrels are easy to set up and forget.
    • WaterBOB is great for emergencies with warning you are about to lose water.


Food

  • Short Term Food Items – This should be the food you eat every day. Just ensure you have 30 days’ worth of food storage at all times at the minimum. Build out to one year as your resources allow.
  • Long Term Food
    • Canned vegetables, fruits and meat (chicken/Tuna/Spam if you can stand it)
    • Hard Red Winter Wheat
    • Rice
    • Beans
    • stored in sealed Mylar bags
  • Staples (Food to make food taste better)
  • Ultra-Long Term Food
    • Freeze Dried foods would be the last item to stock up on unless you have an abundance of money and zero time. The benefit with these are super long shelf life and virtually zero work so even with the added cost, they are a really smart choice if you have the other bases covered first.
  • Misc
    • Canning Jars
    • Pressure Canner
    • Water Bath Canning pot (all of these are reasonably purchased at Walmart or Amazon)

Security

  • Personal/Home Defense
    • Identify what you will use to protect your family if a bad guy is beating down the door. For me I have chosen several firearms and you can read what I consider are the top 5 firearms you need here, the best gun for home defense if you can only afford one and how to find the best handgun for self-defense in other articles on the Final Prepper.
    • Door Security – EZ Armor Door Security Kit
    • Sandbags – great for protection from water and bullets.
    • Barbwire
    • Camouflage clothing – This can have multiple advantages
    • Body Armor in either Soft or Hard panels
    • Heavy Duty Knife
    • Holster for Pistol
    • Ultra bright flashlight
    • For firearms purchase additional ammo and use our Ammo inventory spreadsheet to help keep track of what you have
    • Firearm Safe bolted to the floor

  • Extra weapon cleaning supplies
    • Gun Oil
    • Cleaning Solvent
    • Spare brushes
  • Financial Security
    • Personally I would store most of my extra cash outside of the bank. Your mileage may vary and this is not without risks. This doesn’t prevent a currency devaluation but it does circumvent blank holidays or power outages.
    • 14 ways money can save your life when SHTF
    • Precious Metals – Investigate this for yourself, but I find the arguments and historical track records against fiat currency and the current rumblings of Government wanting to take care of your investments for you very compelling. Gold is easier to transport with the high cost to weight, but you might have problems cashing a gold coin for a tank of gas. Silver is where I have chosen to invest in precious metals.]
    • Search for gold on your property
    • Pay off bills – move now to ensure you won’t be in debt if the economy collapses.

Shelter

  • Clothing
    • Make sure you have appropriate clothing to be outdoors. Trendy stops when you have to live outside in the elements. This goes for children too.
    • Layers are key in winter, wicking garments in the summer. If you have plenty of camping gear you should be set.
    • Sturdy Work Boots
    • Heavy Duty Socks – Wool Blends like Merino are my favorite for winter.
    • Heavy Duty Gloves
  • Repair Materials if needed
    • Spare wood – Plywood and 2 x 4’s will handle a lot of different repairs until you can get the right materials.
    • Tarps
    • Plastic Sheeting – Good for blacking out light or making an infection barrier.
    • Duct Tape
    • Nails
  • Temporary Shelter
    • Camping tents and tarps can be used to effectively keep the elements off you if needed.
    • Bivvy Bags are great emergency shelters, but not meant for extended use.
  • Heat Source
    • Kerosene Heater
    • Wood Burning Stove
    • Propane Heater
    • Fuel for either in abundance. For Kerosene, you can treat it so that it will store for much longer.
    • Fire Extinguishers

Hygiene /First Aid

I have plenty of hygiene items but it is not my major focus/worry. If you can shower every couple of days and wash your hands before eating and after touching anything nasty you should be fine.

  • Shampoo
  • Soap
  • Toothpaste
  • Comb/Brush
  • Clippers
  • Floss
  • Razors
  • Vitamins
  • Fish Antibiotics – In a grid down situation a healthy supply of these could save a life. Also get this Survival Medicine Book to know how to use them.
  • Hand Sanitizer – Also good for lighting fires
  • Sunscreen
  • Chap-stick
  • Feminine Products
  • Alcohol and Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Calamine Lotion – Benadryl
  • Children’s Fever Reducer
  • Neosporin or Fish Antibiotics
  • Plenty of bandages
  • Latex or Nitrile Gloves (these are cheap so buy two boxes)
  • Face-masks (regular and N95)

Sanitation

  • Quick Lime
  • Spare 5 Gallon Bucket with Toilet Lid
  • Trash bags
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Bleach – Non-scented or Calcium Hypochlorite is a better long-term option that won’t go bad. 
  • Latex or Nitrile Gloves
  • Camping Shower

Cooking

  • Gas Grill
  • Camp Stove
  • Rocket Stove like the EcoZoom
  • Fire pit
  • Solar Oven
  • Spare Propane Cylinders
  • Disposable lighters/ Matches
  • Manual Can Opener
  • Butane Stove – Spare fuel Canisters
  • Cast Iron Cookware – The best option for cooking when the grid goes down.
    • Dutch Oven
    • Skillet

Lighting/Power

  • Rechargeable Batteries X 2 for the important items (radio, lights)
  • Battery Charger w/ solar or vehicle adapter for batteries and cell phones
  • 1000 Watt Inverter connected to car battery for charging devices/running small appliances
  • Spare fuel to run vehicle (min 25 gallons)
  • 5 – 5 Gallon gas cans
  • PRI – G gas treatment for long-term fuel storage.
  • 3000 W Generator
  • Tri-fuel generator (gas, propane, natural gas)
  • Spare fuel for generator (min 90 gallons)
  • 7 – 14 gallon gas cans
  • 100 Watt Solar Panel kit
  • Deep cycle Batteries
  • Siphon pump to acquire additional fuel
  • LED Flashlight with spare batteries – 1 per person
  • Candles – 15 Hour Emergency candles
  • Battery powered lantern for common areas
  • Headlamps for each individual – infinitely easier and more practical than flashlights. Allows for hands free tasks.
  • Propane lanterns – great outdoor lighting option or use within well-ventilated area.
  • Oil lamps – the right kind can provided plenty of light and last longer than batteries, or should according to use.
  • Lamp Oil

Tools/Misc.

For tools, these will be basic and not specialized. There are a lot of people who don’t live where there are any trees for example and most will not be building their own log cabin even if they do. Buy the best quality you can afford. You will feel the pain in your wallet one time, but the tool should last long enough to offset that.

  • High quality non-GMO seeds.
  • Shovels
  • Large Pry Bar
  • Med-Large Bolt Cutters
  • Plastic Zip Ties – Various sizes
  • Plastic Bins – 5 Gallon buckets
  • Chain Saw – Good for clearing roads or closing roads.
  • Heavy Work Gloves – Several Pairs
  • Oils and lubricants – Chain oil, motor oil, two cycle oil, WD40
  • Wheel Barrow or Yard Wagon
  • Clamps
  • Full set of wrenches (metric and standard)
  • Good Hammer
  • Ratchet Straps
  • Bungee cords
  • Rope
  • Rake
  • Hoe
  • Pruning shears
  • Loppers
  • Limb Saw
  • Hand Saw
  • Pick Axe or Mattock
  • Post Hole Digger
  • Metal Tubs
  • Full set of Screwdrivers
  • Allen wrenches
  • Pipe Wrench
  • Spare PVC and PVC cement
  • Garden Hose
  • Nails
  • Screws
  • Spare Lumber
  • Chain

Communications

  • Entertainment World Band Radio
  • Ham Radio – HT (BaoFeng BF-F8HP 8W High Power)
  • Antenna
  • Base Station Short Wave Radio
  • Spare Batteries for HT and Radio
  • Solar Charger
  • Games
  • Books
  • DVD on battery operated player
  • Cards
  • Frisbee
  • ball and bat

So there is the list. I know that I missed a million things that people will think is important. Please let me know and we’ll grow this list so it covers everything.


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)

Prepping isn’t the same for everyone but most people eventually look for a simple guideline to follow. I love lists. They make my life easier.

There are great concerns about possible Ebola pandemic spreading outside Africa, media is bombarding us with this information.

You can read all sorts of information online, like possible reasons for fast spreading in Africa including religious beliefs and rituals there where people handled bodies without proper knowledge, contributing to the fast spreading. They also say that lack of general knowledge about diseases, hygiene and eating bush meat along with lack of training of local medical professionals caused the mess. Interesting to read, no doubt.

They also say that there is no way of some doomsday scenario of sick person getting onto regular flight, contaminating everyone, because it spreads through body fluids only etc.

All good info, but somewhere at the end of article there is one sentence that goes like this: “… so there is clearly no reason for panic…”

As I said few times before, whenever someone from government, law enforcement, or similar says “no reason for panic” I get strong urge to buy more ammo (food, water, gas masks…).

Just use common sense here. Would media really ever say it is time to panic? It is time to prepare? No. This would cause chaos and some people would overreact. Not show up to work anymore, this could lead to collapse itself. People do not think for themselves anymore so media to certain degree has to always calm people down. It is how the system works.

Soldier during Balkan War.

Panic is bad in any case. Reading how scared some preppers are, some people seem to be in constant state or emergency. This makes no sense and just makes life miserable. We prepare for every possibility to not be in panic mode.

First be prepared, then do not panic. Of course stay alert and use common sense.

Ebola is scary, and it can become big problem for sure, but just like sharks kill just about 10 people every year and elephants kill 10 times more, it is often what we perceive as harmless that can cause biggest problems. Survival is a lot about seeing dangers where they are. In this sense you should make sure your bathroom is not slippery because many people die by slipping in shower. Today I write about the regular killers I experienced during my time in war.

Wound Infections

It does not have to be big wound to get you into the trouble. When SHTF small cut can kill (literally). In world where there is no proper medical care you need to be ready to deal with problems like this. During my SHTF time there were lots of troubles with wound infections. Everything from minor cuts to bullet wounds had chance to be infected.

We treated infected wounds with what we had, over time with less and less resources it mostly became simple water cleaning, and local mixtures of things for treating infections. Recipes were different, from pine pieces to onions on wounds and similar, and of course local alcohol beverages.

Sometimes we had antibiotics, mostly we did not. Results were very random. What worked for one guy sometimes did not work for someone else. Some people died, others became crippled.

For future SHTF scenarios I suggest to learn as much as you can about wound treatment.

  • How to clean and close wound and how to use antibiotics on proper way.
  • Remember that simply procedures like wound closing with steri strips can save you lot of troubles later, of course as more as you know (suturing, staples) it is better, and do not fall under the influence of movies, for example no, tourniquet is NOT always best choice for bleeding (mostly it is last), and simple covering of the wound with sterile 4×4 can do miracles later for preventing infections.
  • Store normal saline, iodine, peroxide and similar for wound treatment.
  • Learn how to do pain management, I did it many times with simple alcohol drink, it does not work well always. Again forget about movies.
  • Good advice to know how to use what you have, having needle and sutures without knowledge does not make too much sense.
  • Do not blindly follow advertisements about “miracle first aid kit for all SHTF troubles” you may end up with useless stuff in nice cammo bag. Like in all areas of life today, people try to also sell snake oil and miracle solutions in survival area. Knowledge is king.

Of course there is good stuff around to buy, but be sure to check what you get, good idea is to ask your friend who is in medical field what you actually gonna get in that kit, or even better to assemble your own.

Food (and water) poisoning

You can be sure that sooner or later you will have to deal with this. It is not only dangerous to be crippled with diarrhea and vomiting because at the end it can kill you, but also it can make you so weak that you can not perform your duties. In SHTF that means that you are too weak to defend yourself, or to go out and gather resources and similar, and that is bad. Again, thats why groups are important and lone wolfs have odds against them.

I think that everyone was poisoned with bad food or water at least once during my SHTF time. We dealt with it with teas and simply trying to give the person more water than he is losing it. There were casualties of course, mostly very old or very young.

First line of defense would be hygiene. Be very serious with it when SHTF. Have plan how to keep yourself and your home (and food and water) clean when SHTF. It is much better to think more about preventing that stuff to happen by how you store your food and handle it instead of having great first aid kit to treat the problems.

Mistake that people often make in case of diarrhea and vomiting is that they try to consume too much water too fast and that causes more harm than good. Point is to consume fluids very slowly and in small amounts. For example one sip of fluids every 20 minutes or similar, take rest and be careful with water and food intake in next 24 hours.

Already sick people

I know many people think that when we experience breakdown of system and total collapse everything will be about adrenaline, fighting, chaos and blood.

This is part of it, but mostly, especially in first weeks people who lived with small conditions are going to experience them much worse. Think about what small problems you might have at the moment that can become huge if you have to live survival lifestyle with heavy physical work every day, maybe lack of sleep, extreme stress and less hygiene. Problems will be multiplied many times.

For example your uncle had high blood pressure for years, he is on pills, and his family tries to „force“ him to eat healthy, and it is working more or less, but every now and then he ends up in emergency room because his blood pressure goes dangerously up. When SHTF what is the plan to regulate his high BP, and for how long you have stash of pills for him? Or how he is gonna be able to eat healthy or similar when SHTF? From my experience in survival situations, these people are the first to go.

Solution could be to try to regulate his blood pressure today as good as you can, to have stashed good amount of medication for him, and of course to learn everything about alternative means of treating that condition (with herbs for example). Point is to do all this today, because when SHTF you may not have chance or enough time for that.

As heartless as it sounds but also think about what to do with people who are against prepping today and who you know will run into serious problems once normal system is not there to support them anymore. Who will be angry and cause problems in your group if you simply decide to leave that sick uncle to his fate? At some point you have to know when train is full and you are leaving and it makes sense to think about this before.

How do you prepare for diseases? Besides first aid kit(s), what plans do you have? Share in comments below or on our Facebook page.


Other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

Healthy Soil + Healthy Plants = Healthy You

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

Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation

Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns

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

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

Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps

There are great concerns about possible Ebola pandemic spreading outside Africa, media is bombarding us with this information. You can read all sorts of information online, like possible reasons for fast

There are many great reasons to start down the road of being prepared to take care of yourself in an emergency or crisis. When you feel that is something you need to do personally, it usually begins a search on what you need to be prepared. This searching can lead to checklists of prepping supplies which can provide guidance or a place to start but in reality; the process is different for each person. The answer to the question of what you need to do in order to get prepared isn’t something that anyone else can answer for you and in the end, is almost wholly dependent on what happens and where you are when “it” happens to you.

I have often sat down and compiled lists of things I need to accomplish in the main areas I focus on with prepping. My very first list had dozens of items and now, since I have been prepping for a little over 8 years, my lists aren’t quite as expansive. I have been acquiring the needed supplies and making preparations so that I don’t need as much as I thought I needed in the beginning. One thing I have learned though is my list overall still contains the exact items I thought I would need back in 2007, just the quantities of what is left to do have gone down.


The concept of making lists again made me think of the question I have asked before of myself. Are you prepared enough for what you think is coming down the road? Have I made the best plans you could have made knowing what I know? Have I made the right fiscal decisions to put me in the most advantageous position should the economy collapse? Have I shared enough information with my family and in my own small way, the rest of the world? Have I done enough? Am I prepared?

Are you prepared enough?

How much preparation can anyone do that we could consider the level of those same preparations to be sufficient? I have stated before that prepping is a journey, not a destination and I still subscribe to that theory, but depending on the situation; I could have more than I needed. What if there was a regional storm that caused minor flooding in my town and the utilities were out as well as roads for a month. Would I have enough supplies to last? Yes, I certainly would.

What if there was a crisis that lasted two years? Would I have enough?

Getting back to how much you need, it all comes down to what the emergency is, what your situation is at the time and how other influences impact you after the crisis begins. You could have enough food to last you for a year, but add in 6 family members who you take in and that amount of time could go down to 2 months. You might not have enough in your eyes, but the hungry family might think you are prepared enough. What if you have 2 years’ worth of food stored safely in your basement but you are away on vacation and a tornado rips right through your town and sucks everything you have been working on up into the air?

We can make as many plans as we want but if something happens outside of our plans we will have to adjust. Thinking that you have the answers to all of the different scenarios posed in your head is well and good, but you should account for contingencies. More importantly, you have to face the reality that you might walk into TEOTWAWKI with nothing but the shirt on your back.

You are asking yourself the wrong question

You can inventory all of your prepping supplies and make lists; I do it too. I use these lists to gauge what I have left to accomplish in my mind. I check items off so that my imaginary supply room of everything I need, will be filled with precisely what I think will be the minimum necessary but I try not to ever think I have enough. Does this mean I am stocking supplies up as much as possible? Does this mean I keep buying ammo or food or weapons until I have no money left? No and I think if you are looking to reach some level where you can say, “I think I have enough to last…” you might be looking at this the wrong way.

There is a danger in thinking that there is ultimate security in your supplies. Why do I say that? For one thing, your supplies can be taken away from you. Your supplies will eventually go bad if left unused or in the right conditions. Your supplies, if you have to rely on them will eventually dissipate down to nothing. Having a 6-month supply of food or a few thousand rounds of ammo and some gasoline stored doesn’t mean I am any better prepared than the neighbor down the street when the time comes. It does certainly mean I have put some thought into this that the average bear might not have considered, but does that make me better prepared?

When my family asks me questions like, how much food do I have or basically, how long could we live on what we have stored, I have to guess. Sure, I know roughly how much food is stored and I have calculated how long we could eat on that food but I don’t consider myself prepared really. I am looking at this as a stop-gap measure. Could my preparations buy me and my family some time? Yes, very possibly we could be sitting pretty while others go hungry, at least for some time. Does that mean I am prepared enough? Not hardly.

Prepping isn’t about storing up supplies and quietly riding out Armageddon from the comfort of your easy chair, happily eating your MRE’s and enjoying reruns of the office on your Solar Powered DVD player. The steps you are taking today might not be enough for the disaster you face. Are they better than nothing? Absolutely, but don’t become complacent and cross the last item off your list and sit back and wait. Prepping should be constant movement, preparation, consideration of your environment and the world around us and you have to reevaluate what is happening all of the time. We shouldn’t think we know what is coming, even though we can prepare for certain scenarios.

When you start asking yourself the question of are you prepared enough, the answer is it really depends on what you are forced to go through. Looking back after you have made it through alive is the only way to answer that question. Making it through alive should be what we are striving for.


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There are many great reasons to start down the road of being prepared to take care of yourself in an emergency or crisis. When you feel that is something you

In almost every post we talk of preparing for disasters or emergencies and the simple steps you can take ahead of time to become prepared. Being prepared for specific or even general instances is a worthy goal, but once you get beyond the basics of survival what else is needed? The basics of survival are food, water, shelter and security and we lay out a lot of ideas and recommendations for how to cover those four bases in our how to start prepping article. But does that advice make sense for you in your situation when someone asks you the question what are you prepping for? In some cases, are the basics really basic? What constitutes a disaster to you and is there only one path to becoming “prepared” for anyone and everyone?

What are you prepping for?

There are some really great prepping checklists out there and the general idea is that you can print out these lists of items to purchase or gather together and when you have completely checked off everything on the checklist, you will be all set. It’s so simple when you look at it this way, but the problem or at least something to consider with any checklist is how it pertains to you and your situation. Does this checklist make sense and more importantly, will it help you get prepared for what you think is coming down the road?

I think the answer could be no in certain situations and that is what I wanted to discuss today. Just because you have a list of survival items, it doesn’t mean that you will survive. Having gear doesn’t guarantee you will make it through anything better than anyone else, but they can be useful tools that could assist you in a survival scenario. I could have all the mountain climbing gear that the professionals own and still not possess the skills to make it up or down a mountain if I had to rely on the gear I didn’t know how to use. Could I use the rope somehow to help me down a sheer face? Possibly, but is getting that type of gear going to help me in my home in suburbia?

I think before you start compiling lists of items and wearing out your credit card on Amazon.com or the local camping store it is important to frame your efforts by getting a general picture of your end destination prior to jumping in and going in directions that might not help you get there in the fastest way. Before you start gathering a ton of gear for your bug out bag, ask yourself the question, what am I prepping for? Doomsday preppers does this every week and they let the preppers state what they are preparing for. You will hear in their own words everything from super tornadoes to massive earthquakes, tsunamis, nuclear war, economic collapse, government tyranny, global pandemic and dozens of others. These preppers have all put a figurative face on what it is they are preparing for and they can state what that is.

It’s important to have something you can visualize I believe because every decision after that can be viewed from the standpoint of is this going to help me prepare for X. Is this box of MRE’s going to help me prepare for an EMP attack from North Korea? Will this shotgun protect me from a super volcano? Will these heirloom seeds protect me from an earthquake? You aren’t limited to one thing either and for a lot of us, we see a few different scenarios that could happen and we prepare accordingly for both. Knowing what you are preparing for will help you identify what you need to do and putting these into a priority order will assist you when you ask yourself the next question of what to do first. The priority is up to you based upon what you know.

What will you need to be able to survive that threat?

After you know what it is you are prepping for, the next step is to make those lists that will help you cope with whatever disaster you are envisioning. If you could lay out everything you think you need on the floor to deal with that disaster you identified above, what would that list of items be? I will say that the four basics of Food, Water, Shelter and Security would be at the top of any list for the simple reason that you have to have all of those to live. You must have food or you will die in three weeks. You must have clean water or you will die in three days and you must have shelter from the elements or you could die in three hours. Those are pretty universal and should be at the top of anyone’s prepper list of supplies if you plan on any disaster that will prevent you from easily accessing these items for some duration.


I include security in my 4 basics because history shows again and again that in bad times, bad people will do bad things. Even some good people will do bad things out of desperation. I don’t want to have to defend my home with a can of green beans so I have firearms to protect my family.

But what else? The other items on your list begin after you have taken care of the basics. What does your disaster scenario tell you about your preps? What are the gaps between what you have and what you believe you need to survive a disaster?

Inventory what you currently have

When people ask me how to start prepping, there are a lot of things you could potentially need to take care of but in most cases, you already have some supplies.

One of the misconceptions about being a prepper is that the first thing you need to do is run out and get some camouflage pants and buy a gas mask, hop on your 4-wheeler and go tearing through the woods. Leave that to the people who are on Doomsday Preppers. The average family doesn’t do anything like that but again it goes back to what you are prepping for and if those camo pants or that gas mask could help you with your envisioned disaster. Let’s say you are prepping for something that happens every year in every state and that is a temporary loss of electrical power due to storms. What items would you need to deal with a blackout? What items on your lists do you already have and what do you need to consider acquiring?


For starters you should consider light. Most people already have flashlights, some may have lanterns and almost everyone can scrounge up a candle from somewhere. Do you have any way to prepare the food you have stored? Can you cook if the power has gone out? What about backup power? Do you have a generator or solar panels and batteries? Do you have a car? If so, an easy way to provide power in a blackout is to run an inverter off your car into your home. This will give you enough juice to power small electronics and charge things like cell phones and laptops. The only thing you would need really is the inverter and plenty of fuel that has been stored properly to run your car. For my lists, I write down everything I have as well as everything I need so that all items can be considered as part of my plan. This way I can identify where I have some redundancy built in.

Who are you prepping for?

Many of you are prepping for families and most of the items you would need to consider for any type of disaster could benefit everyone in your home, but there are some items you will need to be specific about. Do you have small children who are still in diapers or are drinking formula? Do you have pets that will need to be fed if the disaster prevents you from making it out to the store? What about taking your pets with you during a disaster? Do you have elderly relatives that may need to stay with you? Does anyone have medications that need to be kept cool? Do you have enough of these medications to last the duration of the disaster?


One thing I have tried to balance is my family’s needs versus their fashion sense. In my family, I am the only guy so it isn’t easy getting the women in my life to buy rugged 5.11 tactical pants. I can’t convince them that their trendy footwear is all but worthless and they should buy more substantial shoes that could actually last if we had to walk a hundred miles. I already know that any thoughts of us bugging out into the woods would not go as smoothly as I hope, even if I thought that was a good idea. The amount of gear they can handle, the intensity of work they might be asked to do and their general morale needs have to be considered in a disaster or else you could have meltdowns when you are already stressed to the breaking point. If you are planning to survive, you have to plan for everyone’s needs and their limitations as well. This will further help you know what you need to focus on and what should get priority.

What skills do you have to survive?

Thinking about your disaster that you are planning for, visualize what life will be like in the immediate aftermath. What situations can you see happening to your family that you would be relied upon to deal with since you are the one who was ‘into prepping’ in the first place. Could you offer basic first aid? Do you know how to properly use the firearms you want to purchase? Do you already have a garden for those heirloom seeds? Do you know how to address sanitation issues and keep your family healthy so that an easily preventable bug doesn’t kill them?

In our society that has everything functioning, we stopped worrying about all the things we used to worry about. Clean (relatively) water comes out of the tap and washes our waste away never to be seen again. We have washers and driers to get our clothes clean and dishwashers to clean our dishes. Warm showers keep us clean and if we get injured we have ambulances and hospitals. What if you take all of that away?


Skills in living without the conveniences of life might trump knowing how to start a fire with a fire plough if you have plenty of lighters. You might need to figure out how to take care of everyone’s bathroom needs sooner than you think so don’t assume you need to be a ninja medic and that’s it. Survival isn’t always Rambo running through the woods of Washington state making booby traps. Survival is the small but important things too and knowing how to deal with number 2 might be more practical to know than how to make a booby trap.

How long?

Lastly, once I have all the supplies listed that I think I need, start adding time to the duration. Are you planning for a power outage that lasts 3 days? What if it lasted 3 weeks? We have had that before with winter storms so it is certainly possible. That global pandemic? What if you had to stay in your home for 6 months? How would that affect your supplies?

You can start off small and cover the basics and build as you go. As you build out your supplies, you should be able to weather longer durations of the disaster. How long do you plan for? That is really up to you and your resources. FEMA recommends being able to live in your home for 3 days. I think a wiser goal that should account for 98% of all events would be more like 6 months. Do your supplies allow you to do this?

Hopefully this helps any of you who are trying to formulate a disaster plan. If you have any questions or suggestions please let me know in the comment below and good luck!


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In almost every post we talk of preparing for disasters or emergencies and the simple steps you can take ahead of time to become prepared. Being prepared for specific or

Most preppers recognize the rule of threes, as they pertain to preparedness, to include being able to survive three hours without shelter, three days without water, and three weeks without food. Included in being able to survive three hours without shelter but often neglected, is the clothing. Warm clothing will help keep you from burning calories up at a time when calories may have to be carefully controlled.

When you aren’t getting enough calories, your body has a harder time generating heat and you really need warmer layers of clothing and blankets. Light clothing will help keep you from overheating in heavy labor in summer. Choosing the right clothing may be critical to your survival.

We choose our clothing based on the climate, but we should also remember to prepare for some changes to climate if there is any possibility at all of moving to an area that differs in temperature, humidity, or rainfall. While I have lived most of my life in the high deserts of the West, I did spend five years in Missouri. Northern Nevada and Central Missouri are at about the same latitude and the temperatures are the same. The difference is humidity, and wow, what a difference! I never want to experience the bitter cold of a Missouri blizzard again. Nor do I want even a few hours’ repeat of laboring in the garden at 90 degrees Fahrenheit and 90% humidity. So it may be wise to prepare for extremes. It’s something that many of us don’t consider, probably because we have grown up in a time when the solution to being too warm or too cool hasn’t been to add or remove layers, but to adjust the thermostat. I’m grateful for each morning I wake up to find that the thermostat still works. But I prepare my family for the day that it won’t.

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Making the right choices in clothing could be crucial to our survival, so let’s start from the top and see if you are a well-dressed prepper.

Hats

A wide-brimmed straw hat is essential for working outside in the heat of the day. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are real threats, and they are even more real for the elderly. But heat stroke can also affect those who think they aren’t quite senior citizens yet and still able to put in a good day’s work, or at least a few hours in the garden. Baseball caps and visors are good for shading faces. Beanies are good for all cold weather, but also for sleeping when nights are cool, for those who chill easily. Ski masks/balaclavas are crucial for bitter temperatures and biting winds and blizzards to protect the facial skin from frostbite.

Bandanas

Bandanas are the multi-tool of clothing. But make sure what you get is 100% cotton. Not only can your bandana—which when TEOTWAWKI hits you should be wearing at all times—blot sweat or function as sunblock for your neck, but it can also work as a tourniquet, sling, bandage, signal, preliminary water filter, the list goes on. An entire article could be written just on bandana uses.

Scarves

Choose your scarves carefully. You may want one that can do more than wrap around your neck once or twice. And if you live in colder areas, you will definitely want to upgrade beyond a wool scarf to alpaca or angora fiber instead for something that is much warmer, much softer, and at the same time much lighter.

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Underwear

ShirtsThese items I just do not want to have to DIY, ever, so these get stockpiled. Fortunately, they are very light and take very little space. Thermals get stockpiled as well. Under Armour is a popular choice. Wool is highly desirable if there is any chance of getting wet. Yeah, we all fear the itch, but there are really high quality merino thermals available. They’re a little pricey, but they will be worth every penny when the need arises.

Of course, everyone has plenty of t-shirts, for everything we have to do. And most have Pendleton-type heavier wool shirts for keeping warm in winter, but make sure you have some long-sleeve lightweight shirts in natural fibers. I really love the very light-weight 100% wool shirts I have. Unlike 100% cotton which I will eventually be able to wring the sweat out of, the light-weight wool shirts are great at wicking perspiration and shielding from the sun.

Pants

While most everyone has plenty of jeans, most of what is sold today is very lightweight and poorly made. What we need are heavy-duty denim jeans, like what farmers wear. Buddy’s Jeans are incredibly durable, and made in the USA. Duluth Trading Company sells “firehose” pants, which are also very durable.

Socks

People sometimes don’t give much thought to the socks. They’re cheap and easily replaced. Unfortunately, they ARE cheap! As with almost everything in the USA, quality has been decreasing over the past few years. Cotton socks in brands that I have bought for years now seem to start falling apart after just a few washings. Because commercially produced high quality wool socks for a family of seven are a bit out of our price range, I am now knitting socks. Regardless of whether you buy commercial or make your own, you must have natural fibers, though you may have some nylon content for durability. Avoid acrylic like the plague. Wear wool socks year round to help control athlete’s foot fungus. Choose angora blends in the winter to have the warmest feet.

Shoes

Everybody in the family should have work boots as well as several pairs of athletic shoes for every day wear. Most shoes are manufactured overseas, and most are rather poorly made and will not last long. When our society collapses footwear will become extremely hard to find. Be sure to have plenty of Shoe-Goo for repairs and an abundant supply of spare shoelaces. Flip-flops are not shoes and should be reserved for showers. Shoes should really be worn at all times, even indoors, to protect from injury.

Hard work is usually best done with heavy duty work boots.

Sweaters

Each family member should have a few sweaters for layering. However, not all sweaters are created equal. For maximum comfort and warmth, you really only want sweaters made from natural animal fibers—wool and alpaca primarily. Cotton and synthetics just don’t keep a body very warm, and if they get wet, they stay wet, whereas if wool and alpaca get wet you will still be able to keep warm.

Coats and jackets

Make sure that your outerwear will keep you warm enough to be outside for extended periods in the coldest of temperatures and in a range of conditions. And make sure you test it in those conditions! I have one jacket my dad bought me that is warm enough for me most of the time, but if the wind is blowing it’s almost worthless. Better to find that out now, before it can’t be replaced.

Coveralls

The family mechanics have lightweight coveralls for dirty jobs. However, everyone in the family has Carhartt insulated coveralls. My husband and son reported that these coveralls kept them very comfortable—almost too warm—as they worked to help a family whose car had gone off the road one Thanksgiving in a miserable Missouri snowstorm.

Gloves and mittens

Of course, a wide variety of gloves is needed. Leather gloves for heavy labor, garden gloves for digging in the soil, rubber gloves for doing dishes and protecting hands from harsh chemicals, latex gloves for caring for the ill and handling bio-hazards, and very warm gloves or mittens for cold weather. Children will need the latter in a variety of sizes to accommodate growth. Also consider having some very warm finger-less gloves for those occasions when having to work with tools outside in cold temperatures.

Aprons

Aprons were indispensable in times past when people had just two or three changes of clothes and when it was all washed by hand. They served two important functions—protecting clothing and reducing the amount of laundry. While we currently have aprons only for cooking and working in the shop, this summer I am also making aprons for eating dinner and working in the garden.

Many preppers frequent thrift stores and garage sales looking for discounted quality items that will help them. Most also seek good quality clothing. However, they often limit themselves to looking for clothing in sizes currently needed. This is a great time to buy for the eventual needs of growing children. A pair or two of shoes in every size for a few years into the future is not unreasonable, and in fact will save you a great deal of money even if society never collapses. Also consider acquiring knit sweaters in sizes you don’t wear and scarves that can be re-knit or felted into other clothing.

Clothing was so expensive in colonial times that suits and dresses were written into our ancestors’ wills. “My black suit to John, my brown suit to James….” “The blue dress to Sarah, my red dress to Elizabeth….” As I prep for economic and societal collapse, I consider the daily life of colonial and pioneer women, living as they did without electricity or indoor plumbing. For them, there was a reason why as soon as the dinner dishes were done, the work day wasn’t over yet, and women sat down to mend clothing and knit socks. Women spent all day cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry, all evening working on clothing. Clothing isn’t glamorous. It’s not exciting. But it is essential to our survival. Choosing your clothing well now will make you and your family much more comfortable when times get difficult.


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Most preppers recognize the rule of threes, as they pertain to preparedness, to include being able to survive three hours without shelter, three days without water, and three weeks without

Who knows what could happen tomorrow? This is the philosophy that most preppers live by. No matter the situation, when danger suddenly appears, a prepper’s heightened organization and awareness will greatly increase their chances of survival. There are roughly 3.7 million preppers in the United States, and each one most likely understands that being a prepper takes a lot of time and money. So how do you make sure that you’re being efficient? Apart from the necessities of food, clothing, and shelter, what are the other tools and tricks you need to survive? Check out this list of five tools and five skills to have under your belt in case of an emergency.

5 Handy Skills

Navigation and compass skills

Being able to navigate yourself in an unknown area is a skill that will get you far. Literally. In times of danger, who knows where you could end up? You may have to escape your house on foot, escape your town or state and in extreme cases, the country. In its most basic form, practicing a good sense of direction can be great, but also mastering the use of your compass can be better to avoid getting lost in an unknown area like a forest or even an unfamiliar city.

First aid

Performing first aid is essential to ensuring that you and those around you are out of any immediate danger that could lead to serious injury or fatality. This could be especially helpful in natural disasters in which people are prone to drowning, suffocating or choking. But there are many dangerous situations where people may need assistance through mouth-to-mouth resuscitation or other first aid techniques.

Finding and producing water

More so than food, enough water is an absolute necessity to survive. And with such an abundant supply of water all over the earth, it’s just a matter of knowing where to find it. Even if you feel like Tom Hanks in “Castaway,” you may be able to find your very own coconut to feast on. Apart from collecting rainwater, there are other ways to be creative. When in snow or ice, boiling it can be a great way to make water safe from bacteria, however, this requires fire or another heating source. If you find yourself in a mountain, make your way down it, as water always runs to the lowest point. In a desert, finding water can be a bit trickier, but try digging a few feet below creek beds or building a solar still.

Fire making

This skill is one that will help you with a number of things — cooking food, boiling water to make it potable and staying warm. While it doesn’t take many materials to start a fire, it does take some practice. In order to prepare for this, try out different fire starters and see which works best for you. After that, it’s a matter of practicing how to collect the right wood and branches and correctly arranging them for a fire.

Knowledge of flora and fauna

In extreme circumstances, you may find yourself out of food, water, and shelter and may be forced to use the natural resources around you. However, with so many different species of plants and animals, a sound knowledge of flora and fauna can go a long way. This is a way of making the environment work for you and knowing what can be used as food or as survival materials, as well as what can be potentially harmful.

5 Handy Tools For A Prepper

Multi-function survival tool

It’s always important to make sure you have as many tools on you as possible without taking up too much space because you never know what you might need. A multi-tool can be used as a knife, screwdriver, can opener, ruler, bottle cap opener, 4 position wrench, saw blade, butterfly screw, wrench, direction ancillary wrench, 2 position wrench and other configurations based upon what you select.

Hunting knife

Keeping the need for food in mind, a hunting knife is a useful tool to carry in case you’re stuck in a situation where you have to hunt for your food. Matched with educating yourself about hunting, this tool can be the difference in feeding you and your family or not.

Fire starter

As mentioned, the use of a fire is multifaceted, so it’s important to make it a major focus. Experiment with different types and brands of fire starters to see what you like best. They often come in different styles and can have other things attached to them such as torches or whistles.

Water tools

Water is essential and should be included in any prepper’s schedule. As a base, preparing hydration packs is a great way to ensure that everyone stays hydrated, especially in a circumstance when you’re leaving on foot and will be prone to exhaustion and dehydration. Once your water supply ends, another great water tool to carry is filtration tablets. When added to dirty or bacteria-infested water, these tablets kill the germs and make the water drinkable.

Flashlight

One of the worst parts of natural disasters or other dangerous situations is that you’re often left without electricity or a source of light. Having a readily available flashlight can mean that you’re able to not only find food and water at all times but can also remain aware of your surroundings and therefore avoid any further danger.

As a prepper, remaining organized for any situation is vital. And there’s usually a fear that you’re forgetting something, which could end up putting you and your family in even more danger. Make use of these five tools and five skills to ensure you’re always prepared to keep you and your loved ones safe in a variety of scenarios.

Other Self-sufficiency and Preparedness solutions recommended for you:

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The Lost ways II (4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis)
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Who knows what could happen tomorrow? This is the philosophy that most preppers live by. No matter the situation, when danger suddenly appears, a prepper’s heightened organization and awareness will

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.

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.

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.

Plastic bottles

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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 lasagna beds, we can use bottles as a spin on irrigation, too. We can drill holes all over, 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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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. 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?

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.

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.

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.

When we are planning for our family’s safety, preppers employ a wide spectrum of ideas, plans and approaches to getting their family out of danger or protect them from danger in the first place. This is a noble goal and one that I myself strive to achieve in some way daily. When you are planning on surviving though, it is important to take a minute or two and consider the people you are trying to protect. If your grand prepper plans for keeping the family safe or healthy are for whatever reason abhorrent to the same members you are trying to save, what good is that?

Analyze your family’s strengths

When I first started getting into the subject of Prepping and learning everything out there that formed my thought process around threats, I was full of energy and ideas. I just knew I had the perfect plan to protect my family and I just needed the time and money to implement all of my ideas. Some of what I had hoped to do wasn’t really possible or practical with my family. For instance, I don’t live with Seal Team 6 so a highly dynamic, crack team of trained professionals wouldn’t be there to help me secure my home in the event of a collapse brought on by any number of natural disasters or man-made events. Now that I think about it, I am not sure I really want my wife to be able to kill me that easily…

Your family has strengths that you need to consider and this can apply to anyone. Just because you are the father of younger children, that doesn’t mean you are up the creek, but you do need to adjust your strategy and take advantage of these strengths. As an example, my wife is very smart and analytical. I try to run every idea past her that I have. This sometimes doesn’t go as planned but she has on many occasions pointed out flaws in my preps. Had I been Johnny Ranger and tried to do everything by myself, I would have made some pretty significant errors.

Make sure you plan for your families strengths while being mindful of their weaknesses.

Your team is more than yourself and as a whole you need to make it through whatever crisis you are faced with. Your children might be too young to take a highly active role in defense of your home for example, but they can do other things. Maybe while you are busy boarding up windows and doors, they can load magazines or gather supplies. I wouldn’t plan on defending against an army anyway, but your kids could be on lookout and report back using radio to other members. Maybe instead of giving them all rifles and expecting them to shoot the bad guys they would take care of the animals or smaller children or cook. Everyone who is past toddler stage can contribute to your family’s success.

Analyze your family’s weaknesses

There are good and bad traits in everyone and I am not excluding myself from this. For some reason I get irritated at some of the stupidest things and it doesn’t help getting mad at inanimate objects no matter how righteous you feel. As an example, sometimes when I am walking through my house in a certain pair of pants, they get caught on the door knob jerking me backwards or like yesterday when I didn’t have the right sized allen wrench to take the handle off a leaky faucet I got irritated. I didn’t throw chairs or scream, but I know I should have more patience and that could be a weakness in me. I know I need to work on that. If I am going to lead my family in an effective way, I want to analyze my personal hang-ups and develop a plan that mitigates those weaknesses or at least doesn’t rely on my not showing my ass at a crucial moment.

Your family has weaknesses too. For children the obvious are weaknesses that are through no failing of character like mine, but exist simply because they are young. Young children aren’t as strong, don’t see the bigger picture in most cases, tire and get scared more quickly. In a lot of cases, they are going to need more than they are capable of contributing to your survival efforts so any plan that assumes they will barrel head long, full speed ahead with you into the abyss might need to be rethought. Like the guy building the tree house, you should first figure out if anyone in your family is afraid of heights. Do you plan on going down to your bunker? Is anyone claustrophobic? Is your plan to bug out on foot for several, maybe dozens of miles? Are your family members going to be able to go that long?

One of our readers who have small children has already purchased a game cart that usually helps you get deer out of the woods much easier than dragging or carrying them. This is his plan for his children and bugging out. If needed, he will stock his game cart with gear and throw the kids on top and I think this is a great idea. Is it the best plan? No, but I think it is obvious that he is thinking about his family and knows what he will need to consider if the time comes when he needs to travel long distances on foot.

Plan for the future

Another aspect of planning is for the future. If you are a young family do you plan to have more children someday? Maybe children arrive and they weren’t in the plan. It may be harder to visualize something horrific like a disaster and small children but it happens every day. Your plans for living out in the woods might work for two healthy and competent people, but what if eventually there are three of you?

Maybe the lesson in this is that life changes and you have to roll with it in order to survive and thrive. Our plans are nothing more than a rough draft – sketches on a napkin that sound great until life steps up and changes the rules for you. The more prepared you are the better you will be able to pivot when changes cause your formally brilliant plan to end up in the trash pile at the end of the street. Plan for people to get a vote too because your ideas are only as good as the situation you have planned for and everyone else’s willingness to go along with them.

When we are planning for our family’s safety, preppers employ a wide spectrum of ideas, plans and approaches to getting their family out of danger or protect them from danger