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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 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:

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)

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

Would your family know what to do in the event of a disaster or SHTF event? Would the prepping supplies you have carefully purchased and stored away help your family survive or would they be unused because nobody knew about them?

Not that your family is inept without you, but do they know all of the plans and preparations you have made? Would they know immediately what you had planned to do in specific disasters? Would they know your rationale for making decisions you did or would they make the same mistakes you had already learned through? Would they know the dangers you had anticipated and prepare correctly for them or would they have to figure things out along the way?

The article has a cryptic title but the thought of writing down instructions for what to do in the case that you weren’t home during the apocalypse occurred to me the other day. I envisioned how best to leave information for my wife or any family members if TEOTWAWKI happened and I wasn’t there to help. The image of a grainy video tape playing of me sitting in my favorite chair, possibly holding my AR15 for effect came to mind from far too many cheesy movies. My family would be watching me as I said the words uttered by many a B-Movie actor: “If you are watching this, I must be dead” or something like that. I wouldn’t leave video behind but I could see printing a manual out and in a nod to those cheesy movies, my opening line might be: “If you are reading this, I may be dead”.

You may be in fact dead or you could just be seriously delayed in getting back to your home. We talk about people who travel for business on Final Prepper and making a journey of hundreds of miles on foot possibly with the right circumstances. If you are on a business trip and something like an EMP wiped the grid out while you were hundreds of miles away your family might not even hear from you for weeks. They might not know you are alive and trying to get back to them. The unknown in that situation would be pretty daunting to most people. The last thing they knew you were hundreds of miles away and now the bottom just dropped out. Without knowing if you would ever even make it back home, instructions you leave behind could be your plan laid out into words that they could look to for guidance and direction. While it may not make the thought of you being lost forever any easier to take, it could help them survive.

Before you begin your prepper plan

I think it’s only fair to say that your family shouldn’t be clueless about your prepping plans for survival even if you are traveling. I personally share most of my plans with my family but I don’t go into great specifics on many issues. I do understand that on some issues they hear me, but don’t care very much. Would they recall what I said two years ago during a disaster now when they could possibly very scared and near panic? Maybe, but I am sure they would need some additional details to make things go smoother if my plan is meant as the ideal for our survival.

Some people though don’t have family members that care about their preparations. Some preppers have spouses that are actually opposed to taking any steps to survive if something happens. That’s what the government is for, right? If you have a situation where you are prepping on the sly or are in some ways doing this all by yourself because of an unwilling spouse, you probably want to leave them with information they can use if you aren’t there.

As much as possible, I think you should try to get your spouse on board with your prepping plans. If you do, things will be so much better in the long run. If your spouse is with you, the rest of the family comes next. Make sure to talk about bad things happening in life and what you would do if faced with those situations. You can make these conversation topics age appropriate obviously, but share your prepping plans with your family as much as possible and then they will already know where your mind was at even if you aren’t there.

Make sure the location of this document is known. The last thing you need to do is hide the instructions from them, but don’t put this out in the open for anyone to read.

What should you document?

I have seen detailed plans for very specific things like how to thaw the well pump with schematics. If this is something that you need to pass along and have the time to do that, I say more power to you. Most of us wouldn’t need that level of detail, but each of us must take our own situation into account when you are writing down the important information that the people you leave behind might need to know.

I have broken a hypothetical set of instructions down into what I think are logical sections. Your plans might be completely different from this sample, but you can use this to create your own prepping instructions list.

  1. Introduction – If you’re reading this I may be dead. You can use whatever words you want to in this section obviously but the introduction should be an explanation of what the instructions are for and what to do in your absence.
  2. Evaluate The Crisis – This part is important because some people freak out unnecessarily. Is this a regional event? Are communications affected? Is the TV still working? Are people dead outside? The urgency of their actions could vary greatly with the crisis. Using guidelines based upon your own prepping priorities there should be logical decisions you can make based upon what you are seeing.
    1. Short or Long Duration – Assuming there isn’t wide-spread catastrophe is this disaster short-term as in a natural event like hurricane, tornado, flood excreta or is this something more protracted and longer with no end in sight?
    2. What is affected? – What infrastructure is impacted? There are triggers that you can analyze to see if you need to act immediately or can try to wait out the crisis in your current location.
    3. Last Minute Preps – In some situations, there is a chance to run out and obtain last minute supplies. What are the risks of this? Do you have cash stored if credit cards and ATMs are down? What stores and supplies should be at the top of the priority list?
  3. Do you need to Bug Out? – This is a complicated subject but going back to the list of triggers, what decisions does the person reading this need to consider? How long can they expect to last with the supplies you have on hand? Do they have a place to go? Could they get there? Is it worth the risk traveling at this time?
  4. Security – Hopefully the person reading this knows about any firearms you have, where your ammo is stored and combinations to the safe. Do you have weapons hidden? Do you have platform considerations they need to know about? For example all of your pistols are .45 Glocks and our tactical carbines are all AK47. This information could be a detail they need to consider when looking for additional ammo or bartering with others for bullets. What provisions do you have for home security and defense? Do they have an appreciation for how desperate people could become and standard safety procedures to prevent unwanted contact with hostile people?
  5. Shelter – Heat and Cold – assuming there is no power, what can be done to heat the home? Do you have heaters stored somewhere? Where is the fuel? How do you light that Kerosene heater and keep the house vented? Where are the tents? Do they know how to set them up?
  6. Food and WaterHow much food and water is stored? How many people will this feed? For how long? Do you have any food hidden in caches somewhere? How will they cook the food without power? Do you have stoves or gear to cook over a fire? Water filtration is a big one. Do they know how and why they should filter the water, optional sources for collection like rain barrels and how to disinfect with calcium hypochlorite if necessary?
  7. Sanitation – What do you have planned for sanitation if the toilets stop running? Do they know where your portable toilet and stash of toilet paper, hand sanitizer and lime is?
  8. Power – What are your backup power options? Do you have a generator and do they know how to start it? Do they know how many electric devices this machine will power so they don’t expect every appliance in the house to run off a 3000KW generator? What about solar chargers, inverters to be run off a car battery or other options you have?
  9. Communications – It’s great that you have all of the Ham radio gear you need, but do they know how to use it? What repeaters are programmed into your handsets? How should they monitor their communications? Is there anyone they can trust and what frequency and call sign do they use? Additionally, you might not be able to communicate with them to tell them you are OK and headed back on Route 80. They should know how to communicate their intentions if they have to leave before you get back for a hopeful reunion.
  10. Homesteading Skills – Gardens, livestock and anything that needs to be considered for long-term disasters. Do they know how often the chickens need to be fed? Do you have survival seeds stored somewhere? Do you have plans for harvesting game locally?
  11. Money/Finances – Where is the money stored that you kept hidden? What guidelines should they follow for using each after a crisis?

This list could be 10 times as long, but these are just some ideas I came up with off the top of my head. Your instructions should fit your plans and resources.

Where should you keep this prepper master plan?

As corny as it sounds I would stick this information in a binder with a big label on the outside that says something like “In Case of Emergency”. Make sure your wife, kids and any relatives who you trust know where this is. The information you put in here could save their life.

Now, I don’t expect everyone will write down as much detail as is needed on every single subject. Each could be its own book and there are great preparedness books out there. I recommend everyone have several resource books on-hand to fill in the holes and answer questions you might have forgotten.

The job of making sure your family is taken care of doesn’t end when you leave the house. It’s your responsibility to ensure they know as much as possible in order to survive. Sharing information with them if you are delayed in coming home could save them.

Would your family know what to do in the event of a disaster or SHTF event? Would the prepping supplies you have carefully purchased and stored away help your family

As preppers, we are always looking for solutions to problems. The solutions we find can come in many forms; from a different mindset or viewpoint, to skills training and in many cases, simply acquiring gear and supplies needed for survival. In some respects, prepping could be reduced down to the most basic aspect of problem solving to stay alive. One of the main problems preppers seem to be drawn to solve is the very realistic potential of having to drop everything and bug out of your home in a moment’s notice. There is a wide array of considerations on this topic, but today I want to focus on one potential answer to the bugging out problem, the bug out bike.

The bug out bike is not something we have dealt with much on Final Prepper before, but I did mention it as a possibility to consider in an older post on the topic of the Ultimate Get Out of Dodge Vehicle. I recently got interested in this subject again when I purchased a mountain bike for myself. I will admit that part of my decision to do so was from the standpoint that this could be a viable method of transportation if cars/fuel were no longer available due to shortage or EMP effects. It also helped that my wife was on-board with this idea too.

In looking further at my mountain bike, I started to consider the potential for using this as a tool to help us bug out. Since my family all had bikes now, could we use these relatively simple machines to our benefit? There are some advantages certainly, but I wanted to explore whether this bike would be a good idea or could end up being a large mistake. As with most things in prepping, there aren’t many absolutes. You take the situation you are given and deal with it, but there is nothing to say that the situation you planned for will work out the exact way you want it to. Prepping is equal measures preparation and creativity. You prepare for one thing to happen, but you need to be flexible if all that goes sideways on you.

What is a bug out bike?

For the purposes of this article, I am not talking about a motorcycle. A bug out bike in this context is similar to what most of us are intimately familiar with already. As a child growing up, owning a bike was pretty much a given. Your bike is what conveyed you all around the neighborhood to see friends and test the bounds of your relatively small borders. All of my friends had bikes and we rode them daily in virtually any weather until we grew old enough to get our drivers license.

The bikes of my youth were great for zipping down the road or jumping homemade ramps out of scrap pieces of wood but a bug out bike is a little more serious in design. A bug out bike is meant to give you a way out of a danger zone when traditional methods of transportation are no longer available. Ideally, a true bug out bike would be designed to carry the additional weight of supplies or your survival gear and be rugged enough to make a journey over less than ideal terrain.

There are two main types of bikes I see repeatedly that are proposed as the best bug out solution. Touring bikes are routinely used by millions each day to get back and forth to work. They can be outfitted with panniers to carry additional supplies like your lunch, laptop and change of clothes. They are geared to help you climb hills more easily and offer plenty of features for the modern commuter who doesn’t or can’t rely on a car or other mass transportation.

Mountain bikes are the other side of the coin and they too can be outfitted with additional storage capacity just like touring bikes, but they are meant to be treated a little more severely and might give up some of the comforts a touring bike could give you.

Either one of these two options could be a great benefit to your personal well-being even if nothing ever happens. Owning a bike is an excellent way to get exercise and interact with your surroundings in a different way. Just like everything else in life, the amount of money you can invest in this potential survival tool can vary greatly what you end up with. You can find used bikes on Craigslist or you can spend well over $5000 on the lightest bikes with the best equipment. Cost aside, I do believe that any bike would be good to have for both the health benefits and potential bug out options. You don’t necessarily have to have anything fancy as long as the wheels roll and you are in the proper shape to use it. But when we are considering solving the problem of bugging out, we need to look more closely and see if that bug out bike is the best option for your situation.

Does a bug out bike have any uses after SHTF?

When we go back to planning to bug out with the idea that we can ride to safety, let’s look at a few assumptions. First off, bugging out implies that you are leaving home or wherever you are currently located and traveling to someplace else. This could be to a remote bug out retreat, a friend’s house or out of the immediate vicinity of danger. Any bug out situation would ideally see you with the ready capacity to grab your bug out bag and go but travel by bike has just as many risks as bugging out by car of by foot.

Traveling by bike has numerous advantages:

No need to stop at the pump – You don’t require any fuel other than your own pedal power, but knowing this you have to also consider how much more physically intensive your day may be so food is an important factor. If you plan to cover 50 miles a day on a bike, you will burn though calories (unless you are going downhill) like crazy.

Flat tires should be less of a problem – Yes, bikes do carry a risk of flat tires just like cars, but it is far simpler to carry both spare tubes and patch kits for that eventuality. With a hand pump and a spare tube, you can be back on the road in minutes. Cars carry spares of course, but you would be hard pressed to carry multiple spares without losing valuable space. I can fit two spare tubes in a small pack under my seat.

Bikes can go where cars can’t go – Bikes do have a greater ability to squeeze into small spaces making any traffic jam easily navigated. Additionally, you can cut across wilderness using trails if you have that route mapped out.

Bug Out Bikes allow you to carry more gear – Or at least easily distribute the weight off your back. The properly outfitted bike can carry 40 -50 pounds of gear in bags and pouches. This weight isn’t free as you will still need to be responsible for pedaling it uphill but it’s hard to beat. Bug Out Bags themselves can cause injury to joints if you aren’t used to carrying that weight. When all your gear is loaded properly on a bike, even if you are talking about the same weight in gear, it will be easier to manage.

Bikes are quieter and easier to hide – You can easily sneak through areas in stealth mode on a bike assuming that you need to do that. Even the quietest car is far noisier and if you need to hide your bike, that is far easier done than with a car. You can lay it down in a small depression and cover it with branches or debris gathered from nearby.

But the bug out bike is not without its drawbacks

Some of the same reasons I used above for advantages can also be the bug out bike’s most obvious weaknesses in a bug out scenario.

Your bike offers zero shelter – I don’t mean that you can’t pack a tent on the back but you are essentially exposed to all of the elements on a bike. Weather is one thing, but there is some comfort that the mass of a vehicle can provide. You can be easily knocked off your bike by someone who is panicked and sees your ride with all those supplies as a way out. The traffic jam you are breezing through could easily be the place where someone jumps out from behind a truck and smashes you in the face with a bat. You are out for hours while someone makes off with your way out of dodge.

You can’t outrun everyone – Bikes can go very fast downhill but loaded down with 50 pounds of gear, going uphill is a recipe for again getting trapped by unscrupulous people. You won’t be crashing through any barricades with a bike either.

Two wheels aren’t as stable as 4 – slippery surfaces or the potential of trying to bug out in winter could send you flying into a ditch. Bikes are best in optimal conditions and balance must to taken into consideration.

Only one person can drive a bike – You are responsible for pedaling yourself and it isn’t like you can get tired and give someone else the wheel while you catch some sleep. I know this is the same problem a lone traveler by car would have but it is a factor. People riding bikes in the worst types of collapse could consider using night vision and only riding at night for somewhat safer travel.

Should you give up on your bug out bike dreams?

I think bikes offer so many possibilities that they should be considered as options. While I don’t necessarily plan to bug out on bikes, they are in my arsenal as a last resort. We can ride them to our hearts content now and get in better physical shape should we need to rely on them later and I am planning for a 21 mile ride myself this afternoon to further that goal.

Bikes don’t necessarily have to only be bug out options. Bikes could have extreme usefulness in a disaster even if you are staying put. Let’s say gas does run out or somehow the electric grid does collapse, you can still use your bike to get around. You could look at those as potential barter items for people who severely need an option to travel. They can make manning guard locations in an all-out collapse easier than walking. They make a lot of sense for many reasons.

Back to prepping as a way of solving problems. I view bikes as another way you can solve a few problems you might be faced with. They aren’t perfect, but I don’t think many other bug out plans are bulletproof. You try something and if that doesn’t work you have a back-up. Maybe your bikes are strapped to your bug out vehicle and you pull them out if you are unable to go any further with that truck. Options.

Are bikes a good survival option for you? They may be, or they could just be a great way to have fun, get outside and get in shape. Either way, it’s a win for preppers.

As preppers, we are always looking for solutions to problems. The solutions we find can come in many forms; from a different mindset or viewpoint, to skills training and in

I have been asked before by friends how I got started with prepping. It seems the concept can be pretty daunting at first for some people. I can understand how it is when you start to think of the literally hundreds of important items that you need to consider for your family. My first list of “needs” took up an entire sheet of paper. On first glance, this undertaking can appear to be a giant behemoth and some people throw their hands up immediately and give in. I have heard excuses from not having enough money to not knowing where to start. While I agree that some prepper items require money (sometimes a lot!) often there are alternatives to spending a ton of money, but knowing where to start should never be an issue.

The uncertainty of knowing where to begin prepping could stem from the motivation that is driving you toward emergency preparedness. If your desire to be prepared is driven by some external threat that seems real and tangible like living in Tornado Alley, the starting point might be easier to find. If the motivation to be more prepared is due to what I would call common sense; which is telling you to be prepared for anything, the sense of urgency being lower in some cases might make the choices about where to start and what to do more complex.

In this article, which will be broken into a few different parts,  I will try to lay out what I consider is a basic guideline for how to start prepping with a list of areas that I have placed in order of importance. This is just an example of one methodology, but your personal needs, resources or experience might shuffle some of these around. This list was designed for the perspective of the person who is brand spanking new to prepping and is looking for a template of sorts they can follow to get their homes prepared for most emergency situations listed above (within reason). This does not address bugging out but is designed primarily for sheltering in place. My wife loves lists and something like this breaks everything into nice little chunks that is easier to digest and then she can cross off one at a time, so this type of list is designed for people like her.

Step 1 – Priorities

First things first, before you do anything it is important to understand a few things. This is also known as “So you want to be prepared, now what?” For me, it started with a gut feeling for lack of a better word back in 2008. I have said before that I believe someone was trying to get my attention so I started to listen. There was no driving natural threat like earthquakes or hurricanes, wildfires or mudslides that prompted me. I do not worry about the poles shifting too much or aliens attacking from planet Niburu (look that one up) but I did have a sense that society as we know it now is too fragile. Within this fragile society we are dependent upon systems and processes that are created to address the problem of Just in Time inventory management and if those systems break down, so does society. When society breaks down, so do people. When people break down, all hell breaks loose.  As Gerald Celente says; “(when) People Lose Everything, They Have Nothing Left to Lose, And They Lose It.”

The example that gets used pretty frequently is natural disasters so I will stick with that for a moment. Looking back at Hurricane Sandy or Hurricane Katrina, the people in both of those situations saw how quickly society could come crashing down. In both Katrina and Sandy, gas shortages, grocery stores wiped clean and looting happened almost overnight. Power outages, of course, happened right away and within 24 hours people’s lives were turned upside down.

Now, imagine your family and what you would be faced with if you were in a similar situation. But I don’t live anywhere near the ocean you say. OK, now forget about tornadoes earthquakes, fires, nuclear meltdowns, comets with aliens living in them and all of the other natural disasters. What if there is a major fluctuation with the price of gas and the grocery stores are no longer filled by the trucks that drive down the street every day? What if the trucks were rolling, but with the high price of gas, they were only able to come half as often as they were in the past? What if there is a terrorist attack at the port of Los Angeles and shipments are delayed for months? What if there is a stupid basketball game that doesn’t go right and there is rioting on your street? What if the police declare martial law because a bad guy is running around and they prevent you from going out of your house for days or weeks?

The point I am trying to make is that there shouldn’t be one single reason you are preparing for. You should want to be prepared for anything. The chances of any single event happening to you are too small, but the chance of something happening at all that could disrupt your life is much higher. To understand what you need to be prepared for, think less about the event that could cause disruption and more about the potential for disruption and what you would need to live comfortably through that disruption.

Water is easy to store now and it will be there when you need it. These containers stack to reduce storage needs.

There is a saying called the rule of 3’s and it goes like this. A person can live 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food. We will use these as a guideline for prepping going forward. In some cases, the rule of threes can drive what you need to focus on.

Step 2 – Water

Assuming for a minute that you can breathe and have or can obtain shelter easily we will skip over to water. Water is an obvious necessity, it is probably the easiest survival item to procure before any disaster and yet most people still don’t have enough of it to last the normal duration of what we might call your “usual” disaster. Without trying to be funny, a normal disaster is not measured in hours or days. At a minimum, if you are faced with a severe emergency like a tornado, hurricane or earthquake, services and life as you knew it probably won’t return to normal for several weeks. To verify this just look at the people who lived through Katrina and Sandy. There are people still that can’t go back into their homes and this happened back in October of 2012. At the time of this writing, that is 7 months ago and Sandy was only a Category 1 hurricane. Imagine the destruction had it been much stronger.

A good rule of thumb for water storage is to have one gallon per person per day. This includes cooking and cleaning, but that amount could change depending on the weather, the health of the individual and the physical activity they are participating. Still, one gallon is a good rule and it is simple to figure out. I like nice round numbers.

For every person in your home, you should plan on storing a gallon each for as many days as you can envision needing clean water. FEMA recommends 72 hours’ worth or three days. The general concept is that you need a 72 hour kit for each person for survival. I think that in order to be well prepared a minimum should be three times that amount. For a 4 person home, you would need to store 4 X 9 = 36 gallons of water.  That is a great start, but having twice as much that would be even better. Twice as much would be closer to 21 days which works out nicely with your 3 weeks of food so now for that same family we are looking at 84 gallons of water.

For water storage, the problem is space for most people. If you have a large basement or storage building, storing a couple of hundred gallons of extra water is easy. In an apartment, this is not the same because you will usually only have a small closet and some pantry space if you are lucky.  Regardless of your situation, water is an essential aspect of planning and should be one of the first items you consider for your survival kit.

For storing water, it is easier and more space-efficient to store at least 5-gallon jugs of water as opposed to a case of individual bottles. There are plenty of relatively inexpensive options at your local big-box stores or online. Just search for 5-gallon water storage and you will have plenty to choose from. For those with more space, 50-gallon barrels are ideal. Because I don’t have the storage space I incorporated two 50 gallon barrels as rain barrels outside attached to my gutters. This water will need to be treated, but if it rains I can have a fresh 100 gallons fairly easily. For inside the house, I went with 5-gallon because that made the most sense for our available space. We got ours from the Ready store and they stack easily which helps with space.

The bottom line is getting some water stored for yourself and your family. It’s easy and doesn’t take any preparation at all.

You can read more about storage and water treatment options in our article that deals specifically with water.

Later on in Part 2 we will discuss the rest of the basic options which will cover Food Storage, Firearms for Self Defense and Financial Security.

I have been asked before by friends how I got started with prepping. It seems the concept can be pretty daunting at first for some people. I can understand how

Disasters, both big and small, bring on a range of emotions. These emotions can include fear, confusion, uncertainty, anger, and others. Include with those emotions the possibility of danger and dealing with a situation you may not have dealt with before and you could experience panic.

What is panic? It is a state of emotional being that causes you to act uncontrollably, freeze, shut down and/or react in a dangerous or illogical manner. In other words, it means you are unable to think well enough to act properly. Panic is not going to help you in a disaster situation.

In this article, I will help you learn how to recognize panic, combat the onset of panic, and react in a logical and helpful manner in spite of your initial emotional state. With some practice, you can prepare now so that when emergencies happen, you will be able to lead and less likely to panic later.

Panic is an extreme state of fear, terror, dread, horror, anxiety, etc. It will either cause a bad reaction to a situation, or even worse, to freeze and not react at all. We’ve all been uneasy, anxious, or afraid. Panic is an extreme onset of these emotions. If your mind is racing, your body is tensed, your heart is beating extremely fast, and you can’t think straight, you are well on the road to panic. So, what can you do?

If you feel panicky, stop and take a deep breath. Calm yourself and think through the situation. Determine your priorities and then act. Easier said than done, for certain, but there is a three-step process to help you with situations you can reasonably expect. You must Predict, Prepare, and Practice.

PREDICT future scenarios

Determine situations and scenarios that may occur, from most likely to least likely (i.e. severe weather and nuclear war, as two possible extremes). List them out in order from most likely to least likely. Then decide what your reaction should be. Once you have decided what your reaction should be, decide what you will need to react to that situation. For instance, for severe weather, have appropriate clothing and know where the best place in your work, home, etc., is for you to shelter from that weather.

PREPARE now to keep family safe

For each of the scenarios you predicted above, determine what you will need to act appropriately. For instance, in the severe weather scenario, have appropriate clothing where you can get to it. Whether this is warm clothing, rain gear, rubber boots or other gear, obtain it and put it where you might need it. You may wish to place some gear in the trunk of your car for commuting or trips. You may want to pre-position extra gear at work or keep an emergency poncho in your briefcase or backpack. The point, get what you need and put it where you need it. A warm coat and gloves left at home, do you no good if a blizzard hits while you are at work.

PRACTICE situations you may face

This is a critical thing to holding down panic. For each of the scenarios above, practice what you would do. For severe weather, have a tornado drill and have your family all go to the safest room in your home. For a fire at work, take a walk down the emergency escape route (as long as you don’t trigger any alarms). For things you absolutely cannot practice, think through the scenario and decide what to do ahead of time. You can’t practice for every possible situation, but if you spend the time practicing for likely scenarios, you will practice keeping calm and thinking through the situation, then acting accordingly. You’ll find that even in scenarios you may have never practiced, you’ll be much calmer, and a calm person makes better decisions. That brings up the importance of preparedness training.

Do your family members, employees and associates know what to do in the case of an emergency? Sure, you’ve probably done a fire drill or two, but what about other emergencies or disasters? Are you always going to evacuate the building like you would for a fire? Probably not.

In some emergencies you’re safer if you stay inside, at least temporarily. For example, what if a chemical spill happens near your building or home? If you just run out into the street, you may run right into the fumes. Emergency responders can help you decide which way to evacuate, and when is safest. If there is civil unrest or a riot going on out in the street, you may want to wait until it subsides or the police direct you to safety. The same thing applies to terrorist attacks, as you don’t want to evacuate your building right into the line of fire.

In other types of emergencies, you won’t have time to evacuate the building. Do your family members or employees know what to do if a Tornado approaches, or if an earthquake occurs? Knowing where to go ahead of time can make the difference between safety and possible life-threatening injuries.

The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Through Any Disaster

Staying in place is generally a good strategy when there is more danger outside than inside. Staying inside is known as “sheltering in-place.” Sheltering in-place is usually a temporary method of staying safe until the danger subsides. For example, if a tornado warning is in effect for your location, it is safer to shelter in-place until the danger passes and the warning is cancelled or expires. Also, the place to shelter is not next to a big plate-glass window!

Still, there are emergencies where it is absolutely advisable to get out of the building as expeditiously as possible, such as a fire or gas leak.

The point is, the time to decide what to do is definitely not when the emergency occurs. You should think through the different types of emergencies and what your best course of action is for each. This is where emergency preparedness training comes into play. If you take the time to inform your family members, neighbors, or employees, you can ensure their safety, and therefore your own.

Everyone should be trained on what to do for each type of emergency. They should be taught in which emergencies to evacuate and where to meet up to ensure everyone got out safely. This will help the first-responders know if they have to rescue anyone and how many there are.

In addition, train your family members or employees on when not to evacuate. Examples include earthquakes, tornadoes, thunderstorms, etc. They should also know where, in particular, to shelter. For tornadoes, an interior, windowless room on the lowest floor is best. For earthquakes, however, choose a sturdy door-frame or shelter under a sturdy, non-glass desk or table.

The whole point of this article is to emphasize that everyone must be trained to:

  1. Understand the dangers and hazards that may occur in their location
  2. Know what to do in each particular case, including where to go
  3. Actually practice what to do in these situations.

The way to do this is to work through a Basic Plan for your business or organization, including your personal organization, your family. Then practice it!

Remember the three Ps: Predict, Prepare and Practice! Doing these things will help you learn how to keep from panicking. Perform the three Ps as much as you can, and you will be in a much better position to hold down panic and act accordingly. It may just save lives!

Disasters, both big and small, bring on a range of emotions. These emotions can include fear, confusion, uncertainty, anger, and others. Include with those emotions the possibility of danger and

Do you have an awesome bug out vehicle already sitting in the garage of your remote bunker somewhere miles away from the nearest highway? Do you have a fully stocked Bug Out Bag crammed under your desk at work with all the supplies you need including 200 feet of rope to shimmy down the windows of your 8th floor office? Do you have an entire craftsman tool cabinet full of medical supplies loaded up and ready to roll into action? If your AR-15’s are all oiled and neatly stacked in the family safe, if your camouflage is pressed and neatly hanging in the closet and everyone knows where their favorite flavors of MRE’s are, but nobody knows the reason for these supplies, you might have a problem.

As preppers we can easily tick off a lot of needs. We need to prepare. I need to get additional tactical training. Our family needs more medical and first aid training, not to mention a larger garden. We need to be more self-sufficient. We need to know more about living off the land and on and on. Like I said in other posts, prepping is a lifestyle not a destination so I don’t have too much faith that the Needs in my life will ever go away. I should always need something if only to learn more, give more and think more. Needs only stop when you stop living and I don’t plan to do that anytime soon, but what we need to do before almost any other prepping activity is just that. PLAN. It is great if you have that gear I mentioned above, but if the SHTF, do you have a SHTF Plan?

Why do you need to have a plan?

Having a SHTF Plan for what you would actually do if the SHTF is the very first thing you need to do and it will accomplish a couple of things. First, it will help you take into consideration your current state and responsibilities. Most of the preppers I talk to have some driving idea that makes them want to be better prepared for whatever life throws at them. It could be they are worried about an Economic Collapse, or it could be something as simple as a winter storm. All of the people you see at the grocery store right before a big storm want generally the same thing that preppers want. The only difference is that they wait till the last minute to do anything about it. These last minute shoppers who wipe out the grocery store shelves are thinking about the storm and how they need to prepare just like you and me. The lesson I am trying to preach is that we know storms come every year. We know that the power could go out. It could get really hard without some of our normal conveniences and we need to plan for that well ahead of time. Having a plan will help you think of all these things that the people grabbing the last gallons of milk off the shelf are thinking of, but you will have the benefit of doing it while you are calm and the lights are still on.

The second thing a SHTF Plan will do is give you a checklist that you can use to both purchase supplies you need or plan on amounts of items you should have stocked up appropriate to the amount of people you are preparing for. Which leads to the second point.

Who should be included in your SHTF Plan?

Most of us aren’t single bachelors or bachelorettes. Humans are social people for the most part so when we talk about taking care of ourselves during a crisis, there is almost always someone else involved. This might be a girlfriend or boyfriend, parent, children, sibling or elder relative. It might just be your best buddy Joe. When you start to put everything you need to account for in your SHTF Plan you will also need to expand the scope out to the others in your prepping circle of influence. Water is one of the first items to check off on this plan but you need to take into consideration how many people will be using that water. Fortunately, water is just about the easiest survival prep that you can plan for. One gallon of water per person, per day. So for 4 people for 1 week you would need to set aside (4 X 7 = 28) gallons. The amount of water you need to store should be the first and easiest thing in the plan in terms of supplies.

For myself, I have a family. We also have 2 relatives within a short distance so I am already planning on my family plus 2. Then you have to consider pets and other relatives that might show up if the disaster allows and timing is right so my plan could have to adjust to an additional 8 people if I was truly prepared. In reality, I have started with my immediate family and I am building up from there so the extra 8 is a goal, but not yet a reality. The point is that having a plan will help you come up with these numbers.

It may be that your SHTF plan involves others at a different bug out location. In this case, the food and water requirements might need to be allocated differently and as opposed to storing these all at your present location; caches at your alternate location or hidden along the route might be needed. In this situation the plan will likely involve several families and be much more collaborative than a simple plan you scratch out on the back of a notebook.

Where are you planning to go if the SHTF?

Since we mentioned an alternate bug out location above, the plan will obviously need to take that into consideration for two main reasons. First, who will be at this location you are planning to go to and how will you get there. The first part is usually when we get into trouble as larger groups start to intermingle because it is hard to stay civil in a high stress environment and even harder to accept rules that you might disagree with. Tempers can flare and in a situation where your plan is to bug out with Joe and his family to his hunting cabin in the woods you could be in for a nasty surprise. Joe’s wife Lisa might have told three of her friends who all show up with their families and plan on eating the supplies you and Joe have stocked up.

To be equitable, Joe could be the problem too. Once you show up, Joe might not be as accommodating as he once was. If the stress and fear is high enough, Joe might greet you with a sawed off shotgun and tell you to turn your fully loaded suburban around. Anything like this can happen regardless of any plans you have made with Joe, your oldest buddy since kindergarten even with a plan. Having a plan isn’t going to guarantee that people won’t change their minds. The best SHTF Plan in the world won’t keep you from getting double-crossed, but the sooner you and Joe can agree on a plan and the longer that your family and Joe’s family works on, discusses and debates the plan, the better off you will be.

If your plan is to shelter in place, then you usually only have to worry about the disaster coming to your street. This could be the weather/event or it could be your neighbors that you have to consider. Which leads to…

What do you need to consider if the SHTF?

This is the real meat and potatoes of the plan and isn’t easily constrained to a paragraph or two. For me, I lump almost everything survival related that I “need” into 4 main categories; Water, Food, Shelter and Security. My survival plan takes all of these into account based upon how many people I need to consider in my plan and where we are planning to be then multiplies those figures by the duration I am planning to be prepared for. This is just the baseline, but it is something you can easily build off of because the essentials are there.

So, let’s say you have to take care of 4 people and you are planning on sheltering in place. You live in a decent sized city, but not a large metropolitan area and you want a plan to initially cover 1 month of not being able to access any other supplies. You would know that at a minimum you would need 120 gallons of water to keep 4 people alive and healthy for 30 days. Next you would need to plan on 30 days’ worth of food for 4 people taking various considerations like food storage if the power goes out. Depending upon where you live and the time of year, shelter could be a very real concern. If you lost power or the ability to heat your home in the middle of winter, what would you need to do?

Assuming you check the box on the essentials, you have to consider security. If you are living through an emergency that lasts 30 days, there will be others that are living through that emergency too. There will be people who haven’t made any preparations to survive for a month without daily trips to the store. There will be yet others who simply want to take what you have and it is possible with the right circumstances that you could have to defend your home and protect your family from these people.

Security is another large subject, but we cover a lot of those aspects on Final Prepper so I won’t go into specifics here.  I would recommend you have something in the way of security to deal with the potential for these situations and add this to your SHTF plan.

How will you take care of X if the SHTF?

Dwight Eisenhower said “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.”  Are you going to be able to plan for every conceivable option? Are you going to develop the most perfect prepper checklist in the world that accounts for every single variable known and unknown to man? No. What you can do is start with a good plan though and the sheer act of planning will open your eyes to a lot of different potentials. For me personally, I have discounted a lot of different scenarios from happening to me and haven’t planned specifically for them because I don’t believe there is a high likelihood of anything similar happening to us where we are at this time.

Planning has given me the opportunity to make these mental arguments with myself and discuss things with my spouse. We have had the ability to think about things in a way that I wouldn’t be able to as easily or as effectively do in a crisis mode. If there was a genuine crisis, I would revert to action based upon the preparations that we have already made. Most of us would do the same but the good thing about the plan is that I have already had these thought exercises. I have already stored away provisions that could be used in any number of different emergencies and we have thought about a thousand what-ifs already. Even if a disaster I wasn’t expecting occurred, the plan would be what we could fall back on. If everything failed and the plan had to be thrown out, we would still have the experience of thinking through the problems we could encounter if the SHTF and that would give us a huge advantage over others who wait until the last minute. Make a plan now and I guarantee that your life will be easier no matter what life throws at you.

Do you have an awesome bug out vehicle already sitting in the garage of your remote bunker somewhere miles away from the nearest highway? Do you have a fully stocked

A critical prep that you have to plan for including in your bug out bag is water. When I first got into prepping, I had people saying that they would carry all of the water they needed in their bug out bags. If you figure 3 gallons (1 gallon per person per day), that would simply not be wise or possible for most people for very long. Then I started seeing people say they would pack 3 liters of water. That’s better, but 3 big plastic bottles is almost 7 pounds, not to mention you must have space for them. Not the end of the world, but not insignificant either.

One of the ideas I try to promote is to watch the weight on your bug out bags and not overload them. I recommend this for a lot of really simple reasons. If your Bug Out Bag is too heavy, it will hurt eventually. It might not hurt when you first take off walking, but it will eventually. In addition to rubbing you raw and potentially causing injury, you will be more off-balance and less able to quickly move. If you can’t move out of danger quickly enough, that bug out bag could get you killed. The better idea is to pack your bug out bag in a way that is as light as possible while still maintaining the essentials you need to survive for up to 72 hours. Don’t go minimalistic for the sake of making the scales proud, but you should look carefully at the overall weight.

Water, Food and ammo, possibly a tent are all great places to shed pounds from your bug out bag and today we are focusing on water. I have personally tried a few different water filtration methods and wanted to highlight the pluses and minuses for you today on Final Prepper as I see them. Hopefully this information you will make sure the bug out bag water filtration options you choose will work well for you if you ever need to use them.

In addition to being less heavy than simply carrying your water on you at all times, these bug out bag water filtration options will give you increased range and capabilities. Instead of being limited to only the water you are able to carry, it is easy to filter an extra liter or more from sources along your route. All the while, ensuring that the water you are drinking isn’t going to make you sick.

MSR MiniWorks EX Water Filter

This first filter I tested is one I have owned for years and up until recently used on my backpacking trips. The MSR MiniWorks EX is a great water filter that is activated by a manual pump. You simply connect the hose, stick that into the water and screw your Nalgene bottle or dromedary bag onto the bottom of the filter and start pumping. In just a few minutes the water from your  source will be pressed through the filtration system and with a little time, you will have a full bottle of clean water to drink. Filtering a standard Nalgene bottle like below probably took 3-4 minutes.

msrminiworksfilter

The MSR MiniWorks EX was my first backpacking water filtration. We loved it when we had to depend on it in the woods.

I would take these down to the river and fill up everyone’s water bottle as well as two 48 ounce bladders we had when we stopped. The bladders were to refill bottles and went toward coffee and reconstituting our freeze-dried food.

So, good and bad about this filter. First off, I like the fact that this is pretty simple to use and you don’t have to get down into the water to collect anything. The water tastes great and the pump has stood the test of time for the most part. I did have one pump stop working on my wife when we were on a backpacking trip. Fortunately, I had two filters so we had some redundancy built-in. Pumping does take you a little while and the pump isn’t the lightest or cheapest option. Once you return from your trip you need to clean the filter element, usually with a scrubbing pad to get the gunk off of it and let everything dry completely for a few days before you put it away.

MSR MiniWorks Features

  • Ceramic/carbon Marathon™ EX element effectively removes bacteria and protozoa including giardia and cryptosporidia
  • Also removes unpleasant tastes and odors caused by organic compounds, such as iodine, chlorine and pesticides
  • Filter can be cleaned over and over for maximum field life with no tools required
  • Bottom screws onto an MSR Dromedary® Bag or Nalgene® water bottle for easy operation (both sold separately)
  • Easy dis-assembly lets you troubleshoot and maintain the MSR MiniWorks EX filter in the field

Weight: 14.6 ounces

Cost: $84 on Amazon.com

I also found this excellent review of the MSR MiniWorks EX from Black Owl Outdoors for those who like to watch videos.

Sawyer Mini

When I first tried out the Sawyer Mini I thought this was the best invention in the world at least from the standpoint of water filtration options for preppers. The filter was extremely lightweight, compact and could filter hundreds of thousands of gallons. The Sawyer Mini could be used as a straw to drink from a water bottle like the life straw or from the included squeeze bag that comes with it.

The cost, low-weight and ability to filter so much water is an incredible advantage, but using either the squeeze bag or a standard water bottle has some drawbacks in my opinion. You are still only filtering on demand unless you squeeze the water into another container and that isn’t always the most practical. One of the reasons I don’t think the LifeStraw is the best option for me in all cases.

sawyerwaterfilter

You can use the included squeeze bag to collect water and the Sawyer will make it safe to drink.

Sawyer Mini Features

  • Hollow-fiber membrane offers a high flow rate; sip on the Mini like a straw and it filters the water while it’s on the way to your mouth
  • Filter will also fit the threads on the included Sawyer 16 fl. oz. reusable pouch that you can fill at a lake or stream and then use to squeeze water through the filter
  • 0.1-micron filter physically removes 99.99999% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, cholera and E.coli; removes 99.9999% of all protozoa, such as giardia and cryptosporidium
  • Filter will also fit the threads on most bottles of water that you buy at a grocery store; can also be used as an inline filter (adapters and hoses not included)

Weight: 2 ounces

Cost: $20 on Amazon.com

I also found this review for perspective from Preparedmind 101

Polar Pure – Crystal Iodine Water Treatment

The third option I tried is Polar Pure. Polar Pure is a Crystal Iodine water treatment, not a filter. The bottle holds actual iodine crystals you might be able to see in the photo below. The process is for you to fill the bottle with water and let this sit for 1 hour. At the end of an hour you have something like concentrated iodine brine that you can use make almost any water safe to drink. There are simple to follow instructions on the bottle and even a hand-dandy gauge to tell you how many capfuls of the solution your water will need to be safe. The number depends upon the temperature of the water.

polarpure

Polar Pure uses iodine crystals to disinfect water.

You pour the recommended capfuls into your 1 liter water bottle and let it stand for 20 minutes before drinking. When you are done, just fill the bottle up with water again and it will be ready for your next treatment in another hour. This relatively small bottle will last for up to 2,000 liters of water, although I don’t know who would count them. When the iodine crystals are gone, so is your ability to use this to make your water safe.

Iodine, unlike the micron water filters above can kill viruses. Giardia, mentioned above is caught by the water filters, but if you have something like hepatitis or polio in the water, the simple filtration method above won’t work. Now, the question becomes, do you have to worry about viruses in the water you are drinking or just organisms that can make you violently ill?

The Polar Pure bottle is one that I would carry with me as an extreme back up for highly questionable water. The science is good on making your water safe. Iodine has been used for a very long time, but the bottle is glass. You could be in trouble if this is all you have and it is broken. Additionally, iodine will make your water safe, but it won’t filter it out so if you pour yourself a big cup of slightly brown pond water and treat it with iodine, it will be perfectly safe for drinking – brown pond water. Filtering your water first through a handkerchief or something like coffee filters at a minimum would be better. Some people use Polar Pure plus another filter for the ultimate in safe water.

Weight: 5 ounces

Cost: $20 on Amazon.com

For those who want to see the polar pure in action, there is a good video from Provident-Living-Today.com

Platypus 2L GravityWorks Filter

The last item I tried out for my bug out bag water filtration decision process was a relatively new purchase. I had heard about the Platypus GravityWorks Filter system from one of the readers on Final Prepper when I was initially looking at the Sawyer answer to the same functionality. The Platypus was almost half the price so I decided to give this a try because it looked like the perfect solution to me.

platypusdirty

Keeping the bags separated is easy with clear labels.

The Platypus 2L GravityWorks Filter is a two bag system. You have one bag for water collection and it is very simply labeled “Dirty”. Your dirty water goes in here and it has a wide opening at the top which works very similar to a zip loc bag. This wide opening allowed me to collect 2 liters of water from the creek very quickly and easily. You can see my test water isn’t a crystal clear glacier spring so the bag’s label was very appropriate.

platypusbaghang

The Platypus Bag system has a simple attachment system to hang your bag of water to be treated up on a tree, bumper or anything higher than the clean bag. Gravity does all the hard work.

Another nice feature were the connectors. The Platypus GravityWorks has a quick connect so you can collect your dirty water and either pack it out for filtration later or carry it back to camp. The filter element snaps in and you are ready to filter.

platypusquickconnect

The Platypus filter element snaps into the reservoir quick connect and you are all set to filter water.

platypusgravityworks

This system is fast. I only filled up about 1 liter but it was filtered in less than 2 minutes.

Once the filter is snapped in, the water will flow almost immediately. The tube running from the filter has a stopper that you can use to quickly pinch off the flow while you hook up the clean bag. As long as the bag of dirty water is higher than the clean bag, the appropriately named GravityWorks filter will take care of all your heavy lifting while beautiful clean water flows into your empty bladder.

This system will hold 2 liters of water which I think gives you a lot of water for the average person. You can also just filter two liters, then collect two more liters of dirty water for later. You will be carrying four liters of water with you at all times. Two filtered and two that needs to be filtered.

Cleaning this system is as simple as lifting the clean water bag up over the dirty water bag and squeezing your clean water bag. You will see the dirty sediment flow back into the dirty bag and you know your filter is clean when that stops.

Platypus GravityWorks Filter Specs

  • Easy, Pump-free filtering
  • Fast! 1.5-liters per minute
  • Weighs as little as 7.2 oz. (203 g)
  • Ultra-Compact
  • Meets all EPA & NSF guidelines for the removal of Bacteria and Protozoa, including Giardia, Cryptosporidium, E. coli, Salmonella and Cholera

Weight: 7 ounces

Cost: $79 on Amazon.com

And I found this review from Outdoor Gear Lab that shows the larger 4 Liter system.

So What is the best bug out water filtration system?

This question isn’t something I can answer with a definitive statement that will stand for all time or in all situations, but I will share some of my thoughts. My idea of bugging out involves living possibly for some time in forested terrain. I plan to be on the move and I don’t want to slow down more than I have to for rest. Water is crucial for life so I don’t want to have to go to more trouble than is prudent to acquire it. Additionally, if I am strapping a pack on my back and walking out the door, I have to plan for being on my own so to speak for potentially much longer than 72 hours.

I have considered both caplets like the Portable Aqua Water Filter tablets and I even own some of them, but they last for a finite amount of time. The standard bottles will give you I think 25 quarts of water. With a hike for three days in the summer, enough for food and your bottle will quickly be cleaned out. It will go faster if you are sharing.

platypuswaterfiltration

I had all of this clean, fresh tasting water in a little less than two minutes.

The LifeStraw product is one I just don’t think is practical. It is a great idea, don’t get me wrong, but I for one don’t want to be forced to stick my head in a puddle just to get a drink. I want to take giant gulps of water if I am thirsty and I want to be able to take water along with me. Sure you can fill up empty bottles and drink out of them with a LifeStraw, but I think there is a better option.

The MSR Filter pump has usually been a great filter, but because it is mechanical, I have had one give me troubles. I was able to repair it eventually, but that wasn’t a good sign. I should have back-ups anyway I know, but I would rather go with a more stable platform and the MSR is heavier than all of the other options I have tested.

What about boiling water? Sure you could do that, but you have to build a fire first and then boil your water, then let it cool down. Do you want to do all of that in the heat of summer? Even in winter, that fire might be nice, but to go through all that effort for drinking water seems like a fall back plan, not the first option.

Iodine crystals like Polar Pure seem to be the best option for killing viruses, but like I said, their bottle is glass. One slip out of your hands onto a rock will end your water filtration options for that bug out trip. Even if you don’t drop it, I prefer to drink water as soon as possible and wouldn’t want to remember to keep my iodine warm for effectiveness.  I think Polar Pure makes sense as a back up, but not the sole method of water filtration in a bug out scenario. For Backpacking trips Polar pure is a great idea. If you have the time to leisurely prepare your water, I think this is a good option.

The Sawyer as it is would probably be my second choice because of the weight and size. I would have to fill a large reservoir, something like the 48 ounce Naglene Bladders and rig up some way to squeeze filter a larger amount of water into my bottles. Not the best, but it is incredibly light and could get the job done.

What about items like the SteriPEN that use UV light to make water safe to drink? What about EMP? What if it breaks? What if you run out of batteries?

I think that for me the GravityWorks system from Platypus is the easiest and fastest way to collect water that will be clean and fresh tasting. With it’s fast flow rate, I can grab a 2 liter bag of water, hook up the filter and throw them both in my bag if needed and keep on going to a safe location. This seems to offer the most capacity with the fastest filtration time and easiest system to learn and remember. I can teach my kids how to use this in about 2 minutes which is about the same amount of time it takes to produce 2 liters of clean water.

That is my take on the best bug out water filtration options. What do you use?

A critical prep that you have to plan for including in your bug out bag is water. When I first got into prepping, I had people saying that they would

1 – VARIETY

Most people don’t have enough variety in their storage. 95% of the people I’ve worked with only stored the 4 basic items we mentioned earlier: wheat, milk, honey, and salt. Statistics show most of us won’t survive on such a diet for several reasons.

  • Many people are allergic to wheat and may not be aware of it until they are eating it meal after meal.
  • Wheat is too harsh for young children. They can tolerate it in small amounts but not as their main staple.
  • We get tired of eating the same foods over and over and many times prefer not to eat than to sample that particular food again. This is called appetite fatigue. Young children and older people are particularly susceptible to it. Store less wheat than is generally suggested and put the difference into a variety of other grains, particularly ones your family likes to eat. Also store a variety of beans. This will add variety of color, texture and flavor. Variety is the key to a successful storage program. It is essential that you store flavorings such as tomato, bouillon, cheese, and onion.

 

Also, include a good supply of the spices you like to cook with. These flavorings and spices allow you to do many creative things with your grains and beans. Without them you are severely limited. One of the best suggestions I can give you is buy a good food storage cookbook. Go through it and see what your family would really eat. Notice the ingredients as you do it. This will help you more than anything else to know what items to store.

2- EXTENDED STAPLES

Few people get beyond storing the four basic items, but it is extremely important that you do so. Never put all your eggs in one basket. Store dehydrated and/or freeze-dried foods as well as home canned and store bought canned goods. Make sure you add cooking oil, shortening, baking powder, soda, yeast and powdered eggs. You can’t cook even the most basic recipes without these items. Because of limited space I won’t list all the items that should be included in a well-balanced storage program. They are all included in the The New Cookin’ With Home Storage cookbook, as well as information on how much to store, and where to purchase it.

3 – VITAMINS

Vitamins are important, especially if you have children, since children do not store body reserves of nutrients as adults do. A good quality multivitamin and vitamin C are the most vital. Others may be added as your budget permits.

4 – QUICK AND EASY AND PSYCHOLOGICAL FOODS

Quick and easy foods help you through times when you are psychologically or physically unable to prepare your basic storage items. No cook foods such as freeze-dried are wonderful since they require little preparation. MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat), such as many preparedness outlets carry, canned goods, etc. are also very good. Psychological Foods are the goodies – Jello, pudding, candy, etc. – you should add to your storage.

These may sound frivolous, but through the years I’ve talked with many people who have lived entirely on their storage for extended periods of time. Nearly all of them say these were the most helpful items in their storage to normalize their situations and make it more bearable. These are especially important if you have children.

Store a variety of beans. This will add variety of color, texture and flavor.

5 – BALANCE

Time and time again I’ve seen families buy all of their wheat, then buy all of another item, and so on. Don’t do that. It’s important to keep well-balanced as you build your storage. Buy several items, rather than a large quantity of one item. If something happens and you have to live on your present storage, you”ll fare much better having a one-month supply of a variety of items than a year’s supply of two to three items.

6 – CONTAINERS

Always store your bulk foods in food storage containers. I have seen literally tons and tons of food thrown away because they were left in sacks, where they became highly susceptible to moisture, insects and rodents. If you are using plastic buckets make sure they are lined with a food grade plastic liner available from companies that carry packaging supplies. Never use trash can liners as these are treated with pesticides. Don’t stack them too high. In an earthquake they may topple, the lids pop open, or they may crack. A better container is the #10 tin can which most preparedness companies use when they package their foods.

7 – USE YOUR STORAGE

In all the years I’ve worked with preparedness one of the biggest problems I’ve seen is people storing food and not knowing what to do with it. It’s vital that you and your family become familiar with the things you are storing. You need to know how to prepare these foods. This is not something you want to learn under stress. Your family needs to be used to eating these foods. A stressful period is not a good time to totally change your diet. Get a food storage cookbook and learn to use these foods!

It’s easy to solve these food storage problems once you know what they are. The lady I talked about at the first of the article left realizing what she had stored was a good beginning, but not enough. As she said, “It’s better to find out the mistakes I’ve made now while there’s still time to make corrections.” This makes a lot more sense.

If you’re one who needs to make some adjustments, that’s okay. Look at these suggestions and add the things you’re missing. It’s easy to take a basic storage and add the essentials to make it livable, but it needs to be done. As I did the research for my cookbook I wanted to include recipes that gave help to families no matter what they had stored. As I put the material together it was fascinating to discover what the pioneers ate is the type of things we store. But if you have stored only the 4 basics, there’s very, very little you can do with it. By adding even just a few things it greatly increases your options, and the prospect of your family surviving on it. As I studied how the pioneers lived and ate, my whole feeling for food changed. I realized our storage is what most of the world has always lived on. If it’s put together the right way we’ll be returning to good basic living with a few goodies thrown in.

1 – VARIETY Most people don’t have enough variety in their storage. 95% of the people I’ve worked with only stored the 4 basic items we mentioned earlier: wheat, milk, honey,

One of the first things that people tackle when beginning to prepare for emergencies is food storage, and rightfully so. But there’s a lot more to it than stacking buckets of wheat in the garage or stockpiling bottled water.

If you’re going to take the time and money to prepare for the unexpected, get informed about the do’s and don’ts of proper food storage. Here are 5 mistakes that preppers often make when starting to build their emergency food supply, and how to fix them.

Storing food you don’t like, or don’t know how to prepare

Many people will buy a bucket of wheat, throw it in the closet, and call it a day. But they don’t know how to turn that wheat into bread, or if they’ll even like it if they do. Make sure you store food that you eat on a regular basis. Try making a loaf of bread from some wheat one day (you’ll feel like a superhero, promise), and use those dry beans and rice in your everyday meals. That way, when the day comes and you need to survive off your food storage, it doesn’t flip your world upside down. In an emergency, eating food that you’re already used to is beneficial to your mental health. Don’t add to the stress of such a situation by suddenly having to prepare and eat food that is completely new to you.

rice-and-beans

Rice and beans are a prepper staple and a great option for emergency food storage, but make sure you have variety or family might balk.

And if you choose to buy pre-packaged emergency kits, many companies sell samples of the meals that are included, so you can give them a taste before you stock up. Use the same rule of thumb here too, and rotate a packaged dinner into your meal planning every couple of weeks, so you’re used to preparing and eating your food storage. Using these pantry staples will also cut down on your grocery bill, too, which is a great added bonus.

Storing food improperly

Are you stockpiling cans in the attic or out in shed? Almost any food that you plan on storing for longer than 6 months should be kept at stable temperatures and humidity levels, which makes both of those places poor options. A cool, dark place like a basement can work great, but be careful if your basement is damp or prone to flooding. The best location for your food storage is on the main level of your home, where the temperature and moisture levels are controlled. Also, try not to keep all your eggs in one basket – have several different locations where you can store food, in case one area becomes compromised.

moldy_food

Food would ideally be stored in a cool, dark place like a basement

Also make sure that your food storage is packaged in a way that deters pests and moisture. Buckets and #10 cans are great ways to store long-lasting food supplies. Food packaged in their original boxes or bags can work fine as long as they are rotated and used regularly – just keep an eye on those expiration dates and make sure your storage area isn’t accessible to mice or other pests.

Not having enough variety in your storage

lunch

Both for the sake of flavor as well as nutrition, make sure that you store a wide variety of food in your supply. Many novices stock up on carbohydrates like wheat and rice but forget to include other essentials. Make sure you’re covering all the necessary food groups – there are a lot of great ways to store protein, dairy, fruits, and vegetables as part of your storage staples. You can easily purchase freeze-dried fruits, vegetables, and even meat in #10 cans or buckets, and dry milk is a great way to make sure your dairy needs are met. Pre-packaged meals also offer an easy way to incorporate variety into your food storage.

Forgetting “the little things”

Things like salt, spices, oil, and condiments make food storage more enjoyable to eat, and baking ingredients such as baking powder, yeast, and eggs are essential to cooking even the most basic recipes from your supplies. Some of these things can be purchased in long-lasting forms, but a great way to make sure you have them on hand is to simply buy a little extra each time you shop. Next time you need a bottle of vegetable oil, just buy an extra and put it with your food storage. Little by little, you can build up a stockpile of these “little things”, and with proper rotation for freshness, you’ll always have a little extra of everything on hand.

Remember to store things like desserts and candy bars, too. When an emergency situation hits, sweet treats are a great way to keep life feeling as normal as possible, especially if you have children. You can buy a #10 can of something like brownie mix, or simply use the method above to always keep a few boxes of treats rotating through your regular storage.

Not rotating food or letting it go bad

grocery_clearance_center

If you use everyday foods in your storage, make sure to rotate them properly and use them before the expiration date.

Buying an extra can of soup and sticking on the shelf for a decade is not a wise food storage solution. If you use everyday foods in your storage, make sure to rotate them properly and use them before the expiration date. Rotating food storage simply means using the oldest item first, and putting the more recently purchased item at the back of the line. For longer term “store it and forget it” options, you can purchase meal packs contained in buckets that store for 20 years or more. We recommend using a combination of both practices for a well-rounded supply that will be both easy and safe to use in an emergency situation.

Food storage can seem intimidating at first, but if you’ve got a handle on each of these areas, you’re well on your way to having a great emergency food supply that will last and serve you well, regardless of what life throws at you. Having a supply of familiar and delicious food on hand will give you an immense feeling of relief and safety. You can start small, and begin today!

One of the first things that people tackle when beginning to prepare for emergencies is food storage, and rightfully so. But there’s a lot more to it than stacking buckets

Let me congratulate you first and foremost for taking the time to read this article and the many others the touch upon how to become or continue to prepare to be a “prepper”. What are we preparing for? These are some of the buzz words or often discussed reasons. Total economic breakdown, food crisis, EMP or the countless many other mass disasters that can affect the average everyday citizens in the US. Y2K wasn’t so long ago that we all have forgotten but many young adults were not old enough to see the preparations, church plans and overall fear.

Many young adults have been brought up with a sense of almost instant gratification, entitlement enabled by the ability to communicate without too many issues with the advent of better computers and cell phones. These younger adults are starting to see that the world like those of us that are a little older. Just think this is the first year many students are learning about 911 as a historic event. The world is not as safe as many once thought it was. Many of us have seen the horrors of an economic collapse (currently taking place in Venezuela as I write this). Katrina’s wrath and long-term destruction. Earthquakes that kill thousands.

Some of you reading this have even been a part of disaster or time where you didn’t have power, water, food or ability to travel. How long do you think you can go without being able to shop at a store? How many days’ worth of food, water and protection from the elements do you truly have? For cold environments you need a heat source, for warm environments you need a shade or cooling source. Are you really prepared? Feel free to take a break from this article and look in your pantry?

Now that I have your attention or agreement. We will get to the meat and potatoes of why you should be a prepper. Do not depend on the system. The system as has been seen in action, is not fast or efficient. FEMA and DHS are not here for you. Scary thought – they are ready to help but are only able to handle 3 large-scale disaster at one time. Three Katrina’s, 911’s or Large quakes. After that the stock they have on hand is gone. There is no fall back plan for you the average citizen. Our government officials, Community Stakeholders and employees maybe will fare a little better. You are the only person that is going to truly provide adequate emergency supplies and protection for yourself when a disaster strikes on a large-scale. You are the end all be all that will protect your family and or self if you are a single person with no family.

food_riots

Food “protests” of 1917. Nothing as civil as this would happen if people were hungry today.

How do I start prepping?

Right now you considering making the choice to not be a “sheep”. You need to understand that telling the world that you are or want to become a prepper is counterproductive. You may not want to share that information with many because of the negative things that are happening the world. You DO NOT want to make yourself a target. Do I believe the government is going to come for your supplies and or weapons? No but I think that other people in your area may look to you for the things they need when SHTF because they have failed to plan themselves.

As a beginning prepper you’re overloaded with information. Trust me I thought I was doing all these great preps. I thought that I have it all figured out. I am prior service, a Firearms Instructor and have connections. Guess what? Connections do not mean anything when the desperation sets in.

So the supplies and cost may seem overwhelming. Your family and friends think that you have been drinking the “tin foil hat” crowd’s cool aid. Some of your loved ones have “known” other preppers and have a horrible connotation to the word prepper. Face it these same folks will come running if the proverbial feces hit’s the fan. You are prepping for you. You are prepping for your family. You want to be ready for an all hazards approach to Disasters.

People have been preppers longer then people have laughed at it. When our pioneers blazed the trail west they were preppers. They couldn’t magically go to the general store. How many people laughed at them? Be careful because the internet is full of “prepper” sites and articles that want to sell you the newest, best and in many cases very expensive ready-made kits. They can be Food buckets, that “cool new shovel that you can crush Zombies skulls” with or say that you need 20 different firearms for all the situations that you may encounter. These examples are a little outlandish but folks trust me, go shopping around on doomsday sites. They are often using fear to entice you to buy. Don’t get me wrong I am not knocking all of it I am just a realist. I have served overseas in harm’s way and can tell you that the biggest things you need are food, water, shelter and the ability to defend yourself.

lootedstore

Stores are quickly cleaned out in Venezuela’s food riots.

Having a basic 30-day food supply, water, defense and a plan is huge start. Don’t think about a year, start with a month. Most disasters that we truly will face are less than 30 days. Get training on how to use your defensive equipment. Stay in shape. The argument that having a firearm will keep you safe and make it so don’t you have to run is garbage. Next use some of the foods that you store know how to prepare them, don’t buy stuff you won’t eat or don’t like for food storage. You want to start small. For example, fruits, veggies and meats all in cans. Add up how many people are in your home and plan for 30 days. 2 meals a day and throw in a snack or treat as well. If you have kids plan for them. If you can keep everyone fed and semi happy, morale will stay high.

Next you need to evaluate your risks, include summer, winter and extreme conditions. Are you in a tornado, earthquake or hurricane zone? Use this information to ready shelters if needed. You must maintain your body heat. Lastly buy a good pistol and rifle for each adult. Do not spend a fortune. Remember that training I was talking about earlier spend more on that than the guns. A Glock 19 and a DPMS AR platform with 500 rounds each per adult would be the minimum suggestion from me.

kievriots

Riots in Kiev protesting government.

Once you are set on those mainstays add medical equipment and training remember it’s all on you. Count on there being no 911 or first responders to save you. Mitigate risks, plan for disasters that are realistic and when you are well set up and ready for a year start working on those less than likely situations.

In closing I want you to feel safe, be fed and have a roof over your head but do not forsake time with family to get this done in a weekend all you will do is stress yourself out. Try and involve the immediate family. Work on small project to build into the large project. It should be a fun journey that keeps you feeling prepared. It is not a project to that should be done out of terror or fear. We are not that close to an apocalypse or are we?

Let me congratulate you first and foremost for taking the time to read this article and the many others the touch upon how to become or continue to prepare to

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