HomePosts Tagged "SHTF" (Page 27)

I work in a retail store’s warehouse. As anyone familiar with logistics work knows it’s basically just a big windowless box, and the lights are a long way off the ground, with lots of areas of shadow. One of my jobs is to drive order pickers down the rows and raise the platforms up around 40 feet in the air to gather orders off the shelves. Over the summer, I was all the way up at the top rack with my order picker, when I heard an explosion outside the building and the lights went black. The normally gloomy area was now completely dark; I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. A lot of people told me afterward that if they’d been in my position they would have panicked. I didn’t, however, because I had something on me that I always carry, no matter what: a flashlight.

What had ended up happening was that lightning had struck a transformer across the field, flash-vaporizing the oil inside and cutting power to our whole building. The sad thing was, we only had a couple of flashlights and over forty people were on duty in the store at the time. Luckily I had two on my person and another three in my van, all of them with extra batteries. My coworkers laughed, but I was able to help locate confused customers and start restoring order.

The point of that anecdote was to provide a case study of a very mundane event—a power loss due to electrical storm—that my prepared mindset enabled me to react to in an efficient and helpful way. I got laughed at, sure, for having so many flashlights, but I had more people come up and thank me for being able to lend a hand.

Flashlights are often overlooked as a part of a prepper’s Every Day Carry, especially for beginners. They’re not sexy, like guns and knives and monkey fists. They’re often considered bulky, awkward to use, and unnecessary. But as my story goes to show—and I have numerous others from various jobs and situations—they are far from unnecessary. In fact, flashlights are one of the most useful pieces of prepper gear you can carry on you at all times. You’re far more likely to whip out your flashlight than your gun or even your knife (and I say this as someone who always carries at least two knives and owns numerous firearms) in day-to-day interactions.

So, with all that by way of introduction, what are some good characteristics of an EDC flashlight that will serve well both pre- and post-event? Let’s look at a quick overview.

Characteristics of a Good Every Day Carry Flashlight:

EDC flashlights have to do a few basic things: They have to be easy to carry, take readily available batteries, be lightweight, streamlined, easy to operate, and provide adequate illumination. Let’s break these categories down a bit.

The best flashlight is one you have on you at all times.

An EDC light that’s easy to carry is one that you are going to have no second thoughts about throwing in your pocket or purse. It’s kind of like the “Always Gun” concept for flashlights. For those of you unfamiliar with the Always Gun concept, it means that even if you have a bigger, more powerful gun for specific situations you still need a gun that you will always carry, meaning it’s small, light, and easy enough to use that you won’t leave it home. With a gun this could mean you carry your Ruger Redhawk when walking in bear country, but a Ruger LCR when you’re at work in the city. Applying this to flashlights, this is the difference between a big MagLite 4 D-Cell flashlight that you keep by your bed and don’t take anywhere, and the little MiniMag penlight you keep on your keychain.

Readily available batteries should be self-explanatory but for a surprising number of people it’s not. The current rage in prepper products is for all things Tacti-Cool. These items have the appearance of being for high-speed operators, but are in reality bulky hindrances designed for mall ninjas. Case in point: more and more modern flashlights come with rechargeable batteries. I’m not against rechargeable batteries per se, but I do think they make for a bad EDC choice. Many of these batteries require USB charging cables, meaning they need to charge off of a computer or mobile power pack. This may be fine for a flashlight you keep in a truck or charging on the nightstand, but it’s not convenient to carry when prepping for life’s little (or not so little) emergencies. If you don’t carry any spare batteries on you (which you should, since a single change of batteries for a good EDC light adds negligible pocket mass and weight) or if your batteries have expired or gone bad, having very common batteries allows you to either swap supplied with someone else who is similarly prepared (this is why my sister and I carry flashlights that take the same batteries, since we work together), or allows you to buy them quickly from almost any retail or convenience outlet. It also allows you to help others if their light has gone out. Recently I tried to help a man whose flashlight was on the blink, but couldn’t because his light was highly specialized and only took one specific kind of battery I not only didn’t have but had never heard of.

Goldenguy 5 Pack Mini Cree Q5 LED Flashlight Torch 7w 350lm Adjustable Focus Zoomable Light – Great stocking stuffer.

A side point to keep in mind, where practicable, is to keep as much commonality between the power sources for your EDC flashlight and any lights on your EDC handgun or go-to home defense long gun. This is not a hard and fast rule, and often not applicable, but it will streamline supplies if it is possible. My EDC flashlights and the lights I’ve attached to my Ruger 10/22 and Mossberg 500 20 gauge shotgun (I live in town so need lower-powered firearms for home defense) all take the same batteries, meaning I can supply them all from the same stockpile.

Weight is a major consideration for an EDC flashlight. Most of us can’t go around in military web gear or with assault packs on our backs. We need something that we can easily fit into a pants pocket or a purse, and that isn’t going to slow us up, pull our pants down, or give us a sore shoulder. I have never weighed any of my EDC lights to get an exact measurement, but I know that they all come in at only a few ounces, even with batteries.

Another consideration is a streamlined design. Lots of lights look cool and techno, or tactical, or retro, or whatever floats your boat. But when selecting an EDC light, you have to keep in mind what kind of clothing you’re most likely going to be wearing and what kinds of activities you will most likely be doing while carrying the light. Believe it or not, what kinds of work you’ll be doing actually has a lot to do with what kind of light you select. That’s why I have a modest array of lights I can choose from depending on what I’m going to be doing. If I’m going to be mostly sitting at a desk or riding in a car, then I don’t need to worry much about a light that’s easy to turn on in my pocket because I won’t be moving my leg much. On the other hand, if I’m going to be out in the woods, at work, or on the range, where I’m going to be doing a lot of moving, squatting, or bending, I’ll carry a different type of light that isn’t so easy to turn on by mistake. There’s nothing worse in the world of flashlights than to pull your light out of your pocket and not have it shine because you’ve accidentally worn down the battery. So pick something that will fit within your lifestyle and the kinds of clothing you wear. If you wear cargo pants you’ll be able to get away with one design, skinny jeans or dress pants will require a different approach.

One important feature when thinking about design is the activation method. There are two main activation types on flashlights: Twist and push. Twist-type flashlights require you to twist either the head or the end cap to get it to turn on. I don’t personally like them because they’re almost impossible to use one-handed, but their advantage is that they seldom if ever turn on in your pocket.

Push flashlights can be further subdivided into standard push lights—where the button is up near the head of the light—and tactical, where the button is on the end cap or somewhere near it. Obviously this is a generalization, there are tactical lights with the push button near the head, and non-tactical lights with end cap activator. But for the sake of discussion this broad classification will work. By and large I recommend a tactical-style light with a somewhat recessed end cap button, as this is the hardest to accidentally activate. Standard types are the easiest to burn out through careless pocket activation, but there are some with good stiff buttons that are more resistant to this.

Easy to operate is fairly straightforward: get a light that fits your needs and that you can easily grab and turn on without thinking or looking. Odds are that you’ll be in the dark when you need it, and fumbling for your light’s on/off switch is the last thing you want to be doing, as you’re more likely to drop it than anything else.

One other thing to keep in mind when considering ease of operation is the bulb type. I am a fan of LEDs because they never get hot, do not need to be changed, and will not break so easily if dropped. However, if you have very sensitive eyes and will need to be using the light in close proximity to your face, such as in very tight quarters or inside an engine or mechanical assemblies, you may want to consider a standard incandescent flashlight. While they do not last as long and do not put out nearly as much light, they are gentler on the eyes.

Personally, I like a high-lumen light that provides a very bright beam over a short, wide space.

Lastly, I want to touch on adequate illumination. This is a tricky subject because it’s going to be different for everyone. The illumination a flashlight offers is measured in lumens. Without going into the physics definition of what exactly a lumen is, this unit is used to measure and compare the brightness of a flashlight’s beam. A higher number of lumens will be a brighter beam, and most likely reach farther. However the latter is not assured, as other factors including the lens material of the flashlight, mirrors inside the light head, the condition of the lens, and a few others dictate exactly how far a beam will reach.

Personally, I like a high-lumen light that provides a very bright beam over a short, wide space. This is because I’m usually using the light in cramped quarters or indoors, so I don’t need it to illuminate very far. If I were going to be spending a lot of time in the dark outdoors I’d consider something with a longer beam. Take into consideration how much light your eyes need to function. My sister carries a relatively weak flashlight because she has very strong eyes and can practically see in the dark anyway. I, on the other hand, have very weak eyes and need a lot of light to do anything, so I carry a much brighter light most of the time. Another criteria is the type of beam you want. Depending on what you think you’re going to need the light for, you may want a very tight, long-range beam, a broad, well-defined inspection beam, a diffuse beam from the many smaller lamps of a pocket work light, an adjustable-focus beam, or yet another variety. Choose your light based on your normal environment and the kinds of things you expect could go wrong there. I personally work indoors and tend to be in tighter quarters, so I want a wider, short-range beam to illuminate more of my immediate surroundings and not cast so many shadows.

Earlier I mentioned flashlights getting the cold shoulder in favor of guns and knives and other defensive gadgets. While these tools are more effective in a truly deadly confrontation, I would be negligent if I didn’t address the defensive use of the flashlight before I close. A bright, easy-to-use flashlight ready on your person can be used to shine in a nighttime attacker’s eyes, blinding him and either giving you time to escape or draw a more effective weapon. Just one more reason to carry some form of pocket torch.

A flashlight may seem unnecessary in our modern world of 24/7 ceiling lights and power at the flick of a switch. But even without a major disaster it’s still possible to be left in the dark for minutes, hours, or even days. For the purpose of brevity I didn’t go into all the further points to consider when choosing a flashlight for your home or vehicle, but hopefully this short piece helped provide some items for consideration next time you’re looking over your EDC load.

I work in a retail store’s warehouse. As anyone familiar with logistics work knows it’s basically just a big windowless box, and the lights are a long way off the

In Part 1 of the Introduction to Shotguns for Survival, we looked at what a shotgun could do for us in survival situations, the types of shotguns available, provided some information to help in choosing a shotgun, and began discussing simple modifications to improve its usability.  Here are some more useful modifications.

Chokes and Porting

If your hunting barrel has a fixed choke, you can have it modified with an adjustable choke or to handle screw-in choke tubes.  Another possible modification for the front of the barrel would be some “porting” to help with the recoil.  This is a set of holes on the top part of the barrel at the end.  Some of the gas escapes out of these holes, “pushing down” the barrel a bit.  Both of these modifications are best done by a seasoned professional gunsmith.

Shotgun Sights

Truglo Home Defense Fiber Optic 12-20Ga Sight

Look at what sights are currently installed.  A vented rib on your hunting barrel is a plus; adding one is a pain, so it is better to buy the barrel already set up that way.  Usually you will have either a bead at the tip of the barrel (with or without rib), or rifle sights.  The bead is better for hunting moving game, particularly if it is mounted on a full length rib.  But it can be made better by replacing it with a fluorescent rod which picks up ambient light and appears as a lighted dot.  Some replace the existing bead; some are held on by magnets or glue, neither of which I would trust.  If I was putting one on, I’d go with one which screwed on or clamped on.  There is an electronic clamp-on sight called “Redring” which might be even more useful, but being electronic it is subject to being fried by an EMP or the battery going dead, and it is kind of bulky and wicked expensive.  As for rifle sights on short barrels, they are useful for slugs.  Some are available with fluorescent tubes to gather any ambient light or even Tritium capsules.  The latter are great in the dark, but since they work on radioactive decay, eventually (10 years perhaps) they decay to where the glow is no longer useful, and they are much more expensive than plain or fluorescent tube sights.  Another option is to install a picatinny rail on the barrel or the receiver for a scope or electronic sight.  Shotgun stocks are designed so when your cheek is against it, you are looking right down the top of the barrel.  If you change the sight height, it would be wise to add a riser to the stock (elastic or strap-on will do) so this capability is maintained.

Shotgun Ammunition Capacity

Ammunition capacity is limited, from three in some semi-autos to five in most pumps (which may come with a removable plug to limit it to three).  This limitation is in part due to the size of the rounds, but also to comply with Game and Fish Department hunting regulations which limit you to three rounds loaded.  Assuming no part of the mechanism is in front of the magazine tube, capacity can be extended by two or three rounds (or more) by removing the magazine tube cap, replacing the spring with a longer one, and screwing on a magazine tube extender.  Do NOT have a magazine tube which sticks out further than the barrel, with the possible exception of one which has a reduced diameter end which extends past the barrel no more than 1/2″.  Also, some extension tubes may need modification to avoid a gap between the standard and extension tube, which can cause rounds to get hung up.  While we are in the magazine tube area, look at the “follower” which pushes on the rounds.  Often these are thin “cups” which are the same color as the rest of the action and may be subject to cracking.  It would be wise to replace it with a sturdier one, of a highly visible color so you can see you are empty, with a “bump” or “hole” on the end so you can easily feel that you are empty, and optionally a SHORT “tail” extending to the rear to reduce the chances of the spring kinking and failing to feed.

Shotgun Shell Holder – Brown Coat Tactical

Even with a magazine tube extension, shotgun ammunition capacity is limited, so ways to carry more ammo readily available should be considered.  Options include a carrier on one side (or even both) of the receiver, carriers which strap to the stock, a bandoleer (a handy way to carry a lot of shells, but may interfere with slings or backpacks), loops or various pouches or holders on your belt or a vest.  The best options keep the shells organized, so you can quickly and smoothly move a round from carrier to the shotgun loading port without fumbling with its orientation.  Note that they do make slings with ammo loops, but in my day, they were not nearly long enough or adjustable enough to be good slings regardless of how well they carried extra rounds.  A quick search seems to indicate they are no better these days; because so much of the strap is taken up with shell holders, there is not enough plain strap left to offer any real adjustment.

Shotgun Controls and Spare Parts

The most obvious improvement would be an oversized safety (for Remingtons and others with a cross bolt safety).

The controls often are appropriate for sport hunting, but can be improved to be more readily available for high stress situations.  The most obvious improvement would be an oversized safety (for Remingtons and others with a cross bolt safety).  For a semi-auto, you may also want an extended bolt handle and carrier release with cartridge loading ramp.  You may want to research if there are any parts in your weapon which are inadequate or excessively subject to failure and thus should be replaced.  For instance in later model 870s, besides the flimsy magazine follower, the extractor is often MIM (Metal Injection Molding) rather than being a machined part, so is more brittle.  And the carrier latch spring is a bit underpowered.  In addition to upgrading any parts which are not satisfactory, it might be wise to have a kit of small spare parts for your make and model in case any break, wear out, or get lost.  Large parts are usually not at risk enough to be worth stocking.

Shotgun Lights and Lasers

Finally, a lot of defensive use and some hunting is likely to be in the dark.  Having a flashlight on the front is very handy.  You can get a forend with a built-in light which is quite useful, but is a bit bulky.  An alternative is a forend with built-in picatinny rails, which offers the ability to mount a laser sight, flashlight or a combination of these.  But again, this adds to the bulk.  A picatinny rail or other mount can be clamped to the barrel.  If this must extend to the side, this can add bulk unless you already have a shell carrier on that side.  If you have enough of the barrel sticking out past the magazine tube, having a rail for the light under the barrel there does not affect the bulk much, and if there is a laser there, it will line up with the bore better than one to the side.  These sorts of things can be handy, but as with all electronics, they are at the mercy of dead batteries and EMP.  Make sure you have solutions for both of these problems if you plan to go this route.


As mentioned, the key to the shotgun’s versatility is the variety of ammunition available.  The first thing to consider is the “payload”; that which is sent towards the target.  The first variable is material.  It used to be that lead was the only real option, but of course that was determined to be an environmental hazard, particularly near water.  Today you can get steel, bismuth or tungsten shot, and in fact, are required to use it for water fowl (ducks and geese).  Of course, these shells can be higher in cost, and tend to wear out the barrel and can ricochet or spark if it hits something hard, so should ONLY be used for hunting waterfowl.

The next variable is projectile size and count.  On one end of the scale, you have the single slug.  This is good for hunting large game, and can extend the defensive range of the shotgun.  There are plain, rifled, and sabot slug versions.  The latter ones are a smaller diameter projectile encased in a “sleeve” (the sabot) which peels away in flight.  The smaller diameter and lighter weight give you a bit more range.  Then there is “buck shot”, which are the largest sizes of shot.  These are adequate for medium and deer sized game (they get their name from a “buck”, or male deer), but more often they are used for defense.  Most famous is “#00″ (double aught) buck, which is highly touted for defense by the movie and TV industry.  I don’t like it, since there are only a few pellets (9 is common in 12ga).  It might be useful against a barricaded attacker, but a slug would be better for that, and the #4 buck (the smallest common buck shot) is generally considered a better choice for defense.  The pellets are still good-sized (0.24”) and there are a lot more of them.  Of course, today there are some specialty defense rounds, but they are quite expensive and don’t seem to be significantly more effective than good old buck shot.

The #4 buck (the smallest common buck shot) is generally considered a better choice for defense.

For small game and birds, smaller sizes of shot are necessary.  Like buck shot, the size is specified by the pound sign and a number, but followed by the word “shot” rather than “buck”.  #4 shot and #4 buck are completely different sizes.  To get an idea of the size of bird shot, subtract the size from 17 to get the diameter in hundredths of an inch.  For instance, #4 shot is 17 – 4 or 0.13″.  Common sizes range from #2 to #8 although there are larger (B = #0, BB, and so on) and smaller sizes.  #6 is perhaps the most versatile, being adequate for all small game and birds except geese and high-flying ducks (needs a bigger size shot to maintain effectiveness at long-range), and doves and quail (needs smaller shot for a denser pattern).  If you are going after a specific target, you can use exactly the right size shot, but in a survival situation, versatility is critical.  Note that because steel is so much less dense than lead, you need a shot size two numbers bigger for any game.  If #4 lead shot is appropriate for ducks, you would use #2 steel shot in the same situation.  This has a less dense pattern, making it harder to hit the bird, so it might be more effective to use lead in survival situations in violation of any regulations to the contrary.

The next variable is the amount of shot.  In a buck shot shell, they cram in as much as will fit.  In bird shot shells, they specify the amount in ounces, usually 1 to 1 3/4 ounce (in 12ga, using lead shot).

Finally, there is the amount of powder.  More powder means more power, but also more recoil.  You can get a first approximation by looking at the shell.  If it is “low base” (the brass part only goes up the shell about 1/4″ inch), then it is a “light” load.  If it is “high base” (brass extends up 1/2″ or more), it is a “heavy” load.  Note that the height of the base does not provide “more support” for the higher power; it is simply to give you a quick visual reference as to whether the load is heavy or light.  Most slugs and buck shot rounds are “high base”, although there at least used to be “low recoil tactical” versions available.  Bird shot rounds can be either high or low base, and specify the amount of powder to help match the ammunition to the purpose.  In the beginning, shotgun shells were loaded with black powder, measured in drams (a dram is 1/16 of an ounce).  When smokeless powder became common, they measured it in “dram equivalents”, so people who were used to a particular load using black powder could get the equivalent load using smokeless powder (which is much more compact and light than an equivalent amount of black powder).

One more thing you need to be aware of, and that is the length of the shell.  In 12ga, for instance, the most common length is 2 3/4″, and almost all modern 12ga shotguns will shoot that length.  Some are marked for, and will shoot, 3″ shells as well.  And with the switch to steel shot, 3 1/2″ shells were developed to compensate for the reduced number of pellets imposed by the larger size required.  Along with these longer shells, new models of guns were produced to handle them.  But this would be for sport hunting of geese or high-flying ducks, and probably would not be a primary choice for survival usage.

Ammunition Supply

When you run out of ammunition, your shotgun is just a club and not a very good one.  So put some thought into what ammo you get and how much.  Consider the area(s) you will be in and see what game is likely to be found there.  Evil men can be found everywhere, so #4 buck would be a good place to concentrate; it could also be used for medium game.  Slugs and a few #00 Buck for large game and a bunch of #6 high base for small game and large birds, and some #7 1/2 or #8 low base for dove and quail would be a fairly good variety.  If geese or ducks or turkeys would be likely in your area, suitable loads for them would be in order.  Personally, I’d also get a box or two of non-lethal ammunition such as rubber or bean bag projectiles, just to give me another option in a crisis.

In Part 1 of the Introduction to Shotguns for Survival, we looked at what a shotgun could do for us in survival situations, the types of shotguns available, provided some

Food is one thing that virtually everyone can agree you need to have because we have all, to some extent in our lives, known the feeling of being hungry. Yes, the seriousness of the actual hunger is probably very relative and for the overwhelming majority, this hunger, however severe it felt to us at the time, was probably nowhere near as drastic as we envisioned. Most of us have never been without food for more than a single day much less a week or more, but the gut tightening response is strong enough to elicit some realization that we never would want to go without for very long anyway.

After the pain of hunger, we can easily grasp the body’s need for food. Simply put, without food, we die. Sure, the time it would take varies by situation but it is generally accepted that if you don’t eat food for three weeks you aren’t going to be contributing to society any more. Nobody wants that to happen.

But for many preppers, and I would presume most of the unprepared out there, the question comes up relative to how much food you have stored; what would you do if the food ran out? What if something happened and you were unable to acquire any more food through traditional means and your family was hungry? What would you be forced to do in order to live? Have you thought about what you are prepared to do to feed your family when their lives are on the line?

Recently, a FEMA contractor predicted that due to potential shortages and weather related events in the future, there could be a spike in food prices of 395%. If that happens, would you be able to feed your family?

Where does your food come from?

I started thinking about this topic the other day during a very routine act that happens every day in the world and has been happening since the dawn of time. This Spring, we purchased about a dozen chickens as our older flock had really decreased their egg production and we had given them away to friends who own a farm. Some of the new chickens we purchased were sexed, meaning their color determined what sex they were so you were pretty much assured to be getting hens. Hens are all we wanted because they lay eggs.

But I also got about 8 Rhode Island Red chicks and with those you really don’t know what you are getting until they mature. As ours matured, it became pretty obvious that we had a few roosters in the bunch. Roosters, as I told my daughter sarcastically, don’t lay eggs. On top of that, roosters are not allowed in our city and ours had started practicing their crowing in the mid-morning. Each day I would cringe when I heard their call knowing that any day one of my neighbors could (but probably never would) call the authorities and they would be well within their rights. I know I wouldn’t want Roosters crowing that weren’t mine beside my home. It was time to get rid of the roosters in my flock.

To be perfectly honest, I had not in my life ever harvested any of our chickens. We have had chickens for over three years, but missed my first opportunity when some friends harvested theirs but I wasn’t able to go. I did put it off because we were still getting eggs even though the output was more sporadic. I had harvested deer several times so this wasn’t anything I was really upset about or dreading. It was just another chore but taking a live animal out and going through the necessary processes to obtain a meal are a little different.

Can you kill your dinner?

After a little research just to make sure I had all the bases covered, I set up a table, prepared hot water and got bowls, knives and trashcans situated. I then went in to get the roosters. As it turns out, we lost the chicken lottery this time around and out of 8 chicks, 5 of them were roosters. I had hoped for a lot more egg production, but instead I was getting meat.

I caught the first rooster and hung it upside down by the feet while my dog watched with curiosity. Once the chicken settled down, I brought it over to the stump I had in my yard. I had pounded two nails into the stump to loosely hold the chicken’s head so I could stretch it out slightly for a clean shot at the neck. I have heard some people just wring the chicken’s neck but I wanted to be a little quicker and cleaner so I got out my trusty hatchet. After hesitating a good long 3 seconds, which seemed longer in my mind, I brought the hatchet down.

Unfortunately, I misjudged where the chicken’s neck was due to the feathers so the first shot was not as clean as I hoped, but I quickly made another chop that finished him off. (Note to self: on the next one, feel where the neck is first).

You have probably heard if you haven’t experienced this for yourself that chickens will run around the yard with their heads off and this I can affirm is true. The saying, “running around like a chicken with their head cut off” is based in fact and my first rooster didn’t really run so much as flop and flap and cover a good bit of ground even though its head still remained on my makeshift chopping block. After he was dead, I dunked him into a hot pot of water until the feathers started pulling out easily, plucked him clean (which isn’t as easy or as quick as I thought it would be) and harvested him for the meat. I did that to 3 roosters that day.

Three roosters ready for plucking.

My family got into the act the next day and harvested the other two. My children participated by catching the roosters, cleaning and harvesting. My wife was the hatchet woman for the other two and I was very proud of them for stepping up and felt a little more confident in their abilities should something bad happen and our nice refrigerated, clean plastic packages of food were no longer available.

What could you face in SHTF when it comes to food?

Now many of you might be saying that of course you would kill a chicken if you were starving, but I do know that there are so many other people who would not have the stomach to do this. They would rather starve than do what is necessary to feed their family. Others would say that they would simply eat vegetables because killing another living thing is mean. I disagree on the latter part. We raised our chickens in our yard; they were treated very well and fed daily. When it was time for them to go, we killed them quickly and humanely. They were serving their purpose in the grand scheme of things.

Phase 1 Plucking Completed – No, they aren’t pretty yet and hand plucking requires a bit more time than I expected. Looking to purchase a plucker for my drill.

Still others will find themselves forced out of desperation to steal or kill to feed their family and that is not what I think any of us should be planning for. It is one thing to kill an animal (that I raised) to feed my family, it is an entirely different thing to plan to kill other humans to feed your children.

But for those who would hesitate at doing something similar, what could you be faced with? I assume that a majority do not have any livestock of their own so that leaves you with less options. Many will say they will just go hunting and I think for most people that is simply not going to be an option. First, you would need to be near animals, second, you would need to be lucky enough to shoot or trap one and third you would be competing with everyone else who had the same idea. You may not even be able to hunt because all the game has been harvested already. What then?

What you should be doing now?

I maintain that if you want to be sure your family has food on the table you should not be looking at what you will do when you are desperate. You shouldn’t be contemplating killing your neighbor or anyone for that matter for the last can of beans or joining up with a gang to break into the local distribution center. You should be preparing now by stocking up on food yourself and investing the time it takes to produce your own food.

You can take steps now to build up your own food storage so that you won’t need to worry about going hungry for a very long time. You can begin a garden to supplement what you have stored with fresh vegetables. You can and should start preserving food and learning methods to keep foods fresh if you don’t have the benefit of refrigeration.

You should also look closely at your own abilities and motivations now. If you know you might not be able to swing that hatchet down, that is even more reason to stock up ahead of time in anticipation of future troubles.  Don’t plan on doing “what it takes” later because you didn’t do what it takes now to feed your family. Act now so that you don’t have to get desperate.

Food is one thing that virtually everyone can agree you need to have because we have all, to some extent in our lives, known the feeling of being hungry. Yes,


A Colorful History

There is no excuse for starving, especially in Florida. We have citrus of all kinds (orange, tangerine, grapefruit, lemon, lime, cumquat, and loquat), mango, grape, guava, bamboo, banana, plantain, sugarcane, avocado, acorn, dandelion, purslane, podocarpus, papaya, lychee, lemon grass, garlic grass, hickory, chestnut, coconut, cattail, coontie, cactus, cassava, Jimaca, and cabbage palm. They are all edible, all delicious, and each can be found growing throughout much of the Sunshine State, if you just know where to look. Nope, there’s no excuse for starving in Florida.

I grew up in South West Florida, just below Tampa Bay, and all my life I’ve loved studying the rich history of our Sunshine State. Florida has been home to many colorful characters throughout its history, from the pre-Columbian Chatot, Timucua, Tocobaga, Tequesta, Ocali, Apalachee, Asi-Jeaga, and fierce Calusa tribes to formidable Spanish Conquistadores like Hernando de Soto and Ponce de León to blood thirsty pirates like Jose Gaspar and Caesaro Negro to the wily Seminole and Miccosukee warriors like Osceola and Holatta Micco to Confederate blockade runners like Captain Archibald McNeill.

For me, the most interesting aspect of Florida’s history has always been the Seminole Indian Wars, partly because the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes are the only Native American tribes to never lay down their arms in abject surrender to over whelming Federal forces. Even the indomitable Comanche and Apache ultimately surrendered, but not so the Florida tribes who melted into the Everglades where Federal troops dare not follow. These two tribes were part of the Civilized Nations; they wore spun calico shirts, smoked clay pipes and were fond of their smooth bore muskets. They survived forty years of warfare (1817-1819, 1835-1842, 1855-1858)1 against a modern and well equipped army, not because of any technological superiority—although the Seminole and Miccosukee were excellent marksmen with bow and musket—but because they were adaptable and were able to live off the land in the wilds of Florida’s untamed swamps, wetlands, mangroves, and hammocks. As it was for the Seminole and Miccosukee, living off-grid in a SHTF scenario means having to live off the land.

Long-Term Scenario

We all pray that SHTF events never happens in our lifetime, but we prepare for them anyway. The Seminole and Miccosukee survived their own SHTF; will we survive ours? Our SHTF, when it comes, may come upon us slowly or suddenly. Regardless of the cause, we owe it to our children to survive, so we pray for the best and prepare for the worst.
I don’t have a cabin in the mountains. I don’t own a cattle ranch. I don’t have a fortified bunker with motion sensors and early warning systems. I am forbidden by our home owners association from installing claymores in my yard. Heck, I don’t even own any night vision optics. I just a private citizen who wants to see his family to survive. Faced with a SHTF event, I know that the acquisition of security, shelter, food, and water will be imperative to ensuring my family’s survival.

Most coastal Floridians have already faced SHTF scenarios—we call them hurricanes, and we take our hurricane preparedness seriously. Since Hurricane Andrew destroyed the southern tip of Florida in 1992, many households have maintained a family sized “hurricane box” containing enough gear and supplies for the home team to survive for at least a few of days. That may not seem like a lot by Prepper standards, but the hurricane box is not part of our Prepper provisions. It’s just a seasonal precaution. We stock the hurricane box in spring, watch the Weather Channel from May (Caribbean hurricane season) through October (Atlantic hurricane season), consume our hurricane supplies through winter, and restock the following spring. This rotation keeps stock fresh and it beats having to run to Publix for a last-minute can of green beans so my wife can whip up one of her tasty casseroles.
Preparing for the future requires forethought; the more you accomplish before an emergency event, the less you’ll need to accomplish during or after one. Stockpiling alone, however, can only carry you so far. You must be able to find renewable food sources. Once the SHTF, it will be too late to harvest Ramen at Walmart. Even if you could get your hands on that last brick of tasty noodles, fighting a gang of thugs for looting privileges is not sound tactical advice. If the gangs control your local Walmart, what then? Wouldn’t you rather be able to safely feed you’re your family from home than having to wander the means streets of some post-apocalyptic city scavenging for a nice clean dumpster? So, let’s assume you’ve already taken care of your short-term physical needs. You’ve got plenty of Evian and MRE’s on hand, your storm shutters are up, and everyone on your team who’s tall enough to ride the bog rollercoaster is strapped. No gun fight at the OK Walmart for you, but what about long-term survival? What about replenishable provisions? Have you considered that once your MRE’s run out, you will need to restock your larder with what you can hunt, fish, or grow?

Florida waters are teeming with fish, crabs, shrimp, crawdads, and turtles, not to mention the abundant squirrels, and various fowl that populate our area—with the notable exceptions of birds of prey and carrion eaters, pretty much most fowl are edible. For deer and hogs, we would need to go further afield. Barring a catastrophic decimation of wildlife, protein will most likely not be a problem for Floridians, especially for those of us living along the Coast. Carbs, however, will be much harder to come by.

The average healthy adult requires approximately 200-300 grams of carbohydrates daily.1 My favorite carb is rice, but what we’ve stored won’t last forever. We could try growing our own, but growing rice is a complete mystery involving paddies and some kind of water buffalo. We could try going native by harvesting acorns—a good source of carbs: 1 oz dried acorn (2-3 acorns) contains 14.6 gr. of carbs2—but the acorns in South Florida tend to be rather small, and harvesting them is labor intensive, requiring patience and lots of water for blanching out the tannic acid. Acorns are a great supplement—my wife makes a mean acorn-raisin cookie—but they are not a staple food.

The Lowly Sweet Potato

The sweet potato is not a magical cure-all food, but it does have many dietary and strategic qualities that American Preppers may find advantageous.

To resolve to the how-to-get-enough-carbs-so-I-don’t-starve dilemma, I would recommend the same carbohydrate-rich staple that was grown by the Seminole and Miccosukee and helped them survive as a people while they waged a forty-year long guerilla war. This same tuber was consumed by escaped slaves who filtered down from plantations in

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Georgia and Alabama to hide in the trackless Florida wilderness, and it was eaten by early white fishermen, farmers, and ranchers who settled Florida; the sweet potato (Boniato Rojo). The sweet potato has been a staple in Central America since about 8,000 B.C.2

It grows wild (and I do mean wild) in many parts of the South, not just in Florida. The sweet potato is not a magical cure-all food, but it does have many dietary and strategic qualities that American Preppers may find advantageous. A store-bought sweet potato weighing approximately 7 oz. contains about 3 gr. of carbs while the same amount of rice has almost three times as many carbs (11 gr.), rice is labor intensive. Have you ever tried hitching a water buffalo to a rice plow? Though it lacks the carbs of rice, an average-sized sweet potato does possess many other essential nutrients including: potassium (48 gr), Vitamin A (2,026 IU), and Beta-carotene (1,215 mcg).3


Even if you’re able to fight off the first wave of spam-starved zombies, a single-family dwelling can suffer an extensive amount of damage from a break-in, let alone a firefight. During a SHTF event, we must be able to survive off-grid inconspicuously. This means living under-the-radar. It’s your choice; you can hang a “Welcome” sign over your green house door, or you can hide your food source in plain sight. Because they are so well camouflaged, the only true enemies of these delicious uber tubers are mice, floods, and weed whackers (just ask my wife).

The Growing Process

Sweet potato vines can cover ground almost as quickly as kudzu and drop roots at the nodes their entire length.

When germinating sweet potatoes, I employ the “science project” method. It is the skin that produces the buds or “eyes” that become roots, so all you will need is the outer portion of the potato. Slice out one-inch wide slips of skin from the potato. Make them about as half as thick as a pencil (1/8 inch) to lend support to the skin. Suspend—do not submerge—the inch-wide slips of skin in cool tap water by using string to form a “hammock” or tooth picks spears to hold the slips at water level, skin side down. Each slip should have its own container; too many slips in a confined space can cause the delicate sprouting roots to tangle. Direct sunlight can quickly bake young sprouts, so store them in indirect sunlight.

In about two weeks, you should see several healthy root tendrils sprouting downward from the slips into the water. When the tendrils grow to about six inches in length, it’s time for planting. Gently remove the sprouted slips from their containers and plant them about 4-6 inches deep and about 12 inches apart.4 Much of the soil in South Florida tends to be sandy and poor, so you may need to prep your soil before planting. My property is sandy and wonderful for growing sandspurs—they are the reason Floridians don’t walk around bare-footed. I do not prepare my soil before planting sweet potatoes. The whole point of the exercise is to establish a renewable food source that will grow well without any help from me. After about three to four months—depending on the variety of sweet potato, rainfall, soil, soil prep, pests, etc.—the crop will be ready to harvest. You’ll know it’s time to harvest when the leaves turn yellow on the vine, and the growing tubers cause the ground to bulge as though there were moles tunneling beneath the soil. I live in Hardiness Zone 10 (South Florida); your results will definitely vary.

Suspend—do not submerge—the inch-wide slips of skin in cool tap water by using string to form a “hammock” or tooth picks spears to hold the slips at water level, skin side down.

Sweet potato vines can cover ground almost as quickly as kudzu and drop roots at the nodes their entire length. The potatoes grow close to the surface and can be harvested easily with bare hands. I don’t use my bare hands because Florida is home to the dreaded Brazilian Fire Ant, six different venomous serpents, and an ever-growing population of pythons. This is a genuine concern when weeding or harvesting because sweet potatoes attract rodents which in turn attract snakes, and the ground cover from the leaves can be so dense that you would never notice a coiled pygmy rattler until too late. All the prepping in the world won’t save you from a coral snake bite either—they are part of cobra family—with no way to refrigerate rare anti-venom serum during a SHTF scenario. “Don’t stick your hand in there!” is a good rule to live by in Florida, so use a little common sense and employ a small cultivator rake carefully to avoid damaging your crop.

For my first attempt at sweet potato gardening, I cut eight slips, but two failed to germinate. I planted the remaining six slips in a three-foot by five-foot patch of well-drained sandy soil. My little garden yielded 14 medium-to-large sweet taters. These were germinated from one store-bought potato. Not too bad for a first attempt considering the small size of the plot and the fact that I did not water at all. The Florida August monsoons did the watering for me. The rains come so regularly in late summer, between 3:00PM and 5:00PM, that you can practically set your watch by them. That particular crop of even survived a record-breaking three-day freeze just prior to harvest. A three-day freeze might not impress most Northerners, but it is big news in South Florida.

After my first crop, I let the vines continue to grow on their own, hoping for a second picking from the same planting. Unfortunately, the potatoes did not survive my wife’s attempt to clean up the back yard with the weed whacker. The best sweet potatoes are the large ones near the original slip planting. The further away from the original plant that the nodes take root and become potatoes, the smaller the tuber will be. The stunted golf ball-sized sweet potatoes, though still technically edible, are rough and not very tasty. These became seed crop for the next planting.

Another nice thing about the sweet potato is that it can be grown almost anywhere: apartment window boxes, small backyard gardens, empty lots downtown, power line easements, around the edges of county parks, or the woods behind your house. With their dramatic purple blossoms, the attractive broad-leafed vines are used as an ornamental plant. They make such great ground cover that they are regularly incorporated into landscaping around buildings, mailboxes, lakes, canals, trees, and other shrubbery.

There is a storm canal easement behind our property. Like Johnny Apple Seed, I’ve started planting germinated slips on this property. Several plantings have taken root and are growing well. When the summer rains begin, they should really take off. The early success of this off-property experiment has encouraged me to try other locations. I’ve germinated and planted sweet potatoes at my mom’s house, my brother’s house, and at a friend’s house. They’re going to enjoy the attractive ground cover around their shrubs, and I will enjoy helping them establish a prolific and renewable emergency food source.

I’ve started scouting other areas as well for strategic planting locations that will be self-sustaining. Anticipating future fuel shortages, I’ve kept my scouting to within bicycling distance from my property. There is a long tract of scrub woods along the river near our home which will make a good planting zone as the average non-agricultural zombie wouldn’t know the difference between potato vines and kudzu. My plan is to hide a strategic and productive potato pantry in plain sight. Nope, there’s no excuse for starving in Florida.


1. http://www.semtribe.com/
2. http://www.carb-counter.net/nuts-seeds/1027
3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_potato
4. http://www.organicgardeninfo.com/growing-sweet-potatoes.html

  A Colorful History There is no excuse for starving, especially in Florida. We have citrus of all kinds (orange, tangerine, grapefruit, lemon, lime, cumquat, and loquat), mango, grape, guava, bamboo, banana,

Selecting good routes is extremely important part of your security planning especially in hostile areas or in times of civil unrest. In theory the best routes should allow the vehicles to travel at the maximum legal speed limit with as little congestion and as few stops as possible but in reality this can be a difficult thing to achieve.

Firstly, you will need to select the routes available on a map and also use programs like Google Earth to view photos of the intended route. In the perfect circumstances the routes selected would need to be driven at the time of day you’d be using them so vehicle and pedestrian traffic flow could be assessed and also at a quiet time so a detailed survey of facilities and danger points can be compiled. You will need to plan several routes to and from each location and these will need to be varied as much as possible. In a high risk environment if you use the same route time and time again you will be asking for trouble.

The route selection needs to be broken down into simple stages and the time it takes to complete each of these stages recorded. This is because if there is a loss of communication with your vehicle at a certain time, then your location can be estimated by those your checking in with and will help people to know if your vehicle is overdue and might be in need of assistance.

You need to know the location of all the facilities along the routes such as the locations of hospitals, bathrooms, police stations, garages, hotels and so forth. Communications will need to be checked and all communication dead spots noted. The locations and payment methods (whether coins or cards) of all pay phones along the routes need to be noted. Emergency rendezvous points (RVs) will need to be allocated at positions along the routes in case of emergencies or separations, everyone using the routes will need to know the RV points.

Firstly, you will need to select the routes available on a map and also use programs like Google Earth to view photos of the intended route.

Things that could considered as danger points on your routes would be anything that could slow you down or could conceal an ambush.  These could include bridges, roundabouts, woodland, junctions, tunnels, culverts, narrow roads, one-way streets, areas of busy pedestrian or vehicle traffic, known criminal areas etc. Things to be especially suspicious of would include road works, lone-parked cars, pan-handlers, diversions and temporary stop signs. Now in reality if you live in a busy urban area I expect you will have to drive past the majority of the things listed to avoid on your daily journeys. In such environments you need to vary your routes as much as possible and take regular counter surveillance procedures. Also remember, if I know how someone has been trained I can usually predetermine the routes they will select, if I can do this so can the criminals.

You need to know the location of all the facilities along the routes such as the locations of hospitals, bathrooms, police stations, garages, hotels and so forth.

Most conventionally trained security drivers are taught to take the most direct and fastest routes between locations, which are generally easy to determine. If I was a criminal targeting them I would just wait at a stop light along their route for them to show up. I am personally all in favor of using quite indirect routes which make it easy to identify if you’re being followed and makes it a lot easier to change routes fluidly and unpredictably if required; this not the case on a motorway with limited exits and heavy traffic.

I am also not a big fan of GPS and I find it astonishing the number of people who blindly follow GPS directions right or wrong. GPS are an aid to navigation not a means of navigation. I have had many people go through my course who have gotten lost by relying in GPS; they were taken to the wrong locations or the locations I gave them were not in the GPS etc. You need to be able to use a map and compass and plan your routes properly, this might take you 5 minutes, which in today’s world is a long time but better 5 minutes planning than a couple of hours driving around lost.  Another take on GPS is that if I am a criminal who is watching you and see you’re using a certain type of GPS, all I need to do is buy the same model and it will tell me the routes you’re using between different locations, again no need for me to put you under surveillance.

Basic considerations for selecting routes are you must avoid routines, especially in daily journeys, keep your travel details secret, issue only rough timings in advance, use the most secure routes not the shortest, have a detailed reconnaissance done of the routes to be used, know what you’re going to do in the case of a break down or a security issue and know where there are hospitals and other facilities on the route.

Reaction to Ambushes

The ambush tactic, in one form or another, has been used by hunters, criminals and military units for thousands of years. They are commonly used tactic in kidnappings, assassinations and they can involve anywhere from 2 to 200 personnel. Ambushes can occur on busy city streets or on remote country roads.  When traveling in a vehicle, your best defense is speed. A trained ambusher will look for natural obstacles on a route which will force a vehicle to slow down.

In high risks areas you need to take into consideration what you are going to do if ambushed, your reaction will depend on the country you’re in, the manpower and equipment you have available. A large percentage of attacks occur when targets are traveling in, approaching, or leaving their vehicles. Attacks can range from explosives being attached to a vehicle at traffic lights to full-scale military ambushes using assault rifles and light anti-tank weapons.

 Your best defense against these attacks is your personal procedures of selecting safe routes and not using the same routes all the time and keeping details of your movements secret. If an ambush is properly planned, placed and the attackers know how to use their weapons there is a very good chance they will be successful and you will take casualties to say the least.

The attackers have the element of surprise on their side and the whole attack could last less than five seconds; to survive, your reaction must be simple, aggressive and fast. Your main objective will be to get out of the attackers killing zone as quickly as possible. You must always be aware that the initial attack might have just been a diversion to direct you into the main ambush or that the attackers might have deployed cut off teams to take you out, if you escaped the killing zone.

If ambushed speed is your best defense, remember, fast moving targets are harder to shoot that slow moving or stationary targets. To avoid ambushes, use fast roads and try to avoid places where you are forced to drive slowly, this is difficult in busy urban areas. If you are ambushed with small arms, drive through it as fast as you can. If you are traveling in a convoy, it may be possible for the chase car to attack the ambush or if there is a lone shooter, run them over. What you do will depend on your manpower and firepower. If the road is blocked to the front of you by a large obstacle or vehicle and you have a clear road behind you reverse out, use simple driving techniques; don’t use complicated techniques that you have seen in the movies.

If you are blocked to the front and rear, say in traffic or immobilized and taking fire, you will need to evacuate on foot. When you evacuate on foot stay low, bound from cover to cover and run as quickly as possible. Be aware that obvious escape routes might be booby-trapped and make maximum use of smoke or CS gas grenades to cover your escape.

Unarmed Reaction to Ambush

Here the guidelines for an unarmed contact drill that can be used if you encounter a manned road block and are in an area where you cannot carry weapons.

A consideration on weapons: In some hostile environments, criminals and terrorists put up roadblocks that can contain anywhere from 5 to 200 criminals or guerillas carrying automatic weapons. Think about it, you may have a couple of 9mm pistols in your vehicle but 5 guys with AK-47’s can put out 150 rounds, which will go through un-armored cars in just a few seconds. Additionally, in some places, if you are a foreigner and you are caught with a pistol by criminals or terrorists, you could be mistaken for being a spy and executed on the spot.  If you are going to carry a pistol, it’s best to go with a type not issued to law enforcement and military personnel; a Nickel plated .38 revolver says your careful where as a Glock can say your police!

This drill was worked out for a client who lived on a very volatile Caribbean island. Firearms were available but if they were found by local police at a routine road block they could lead to the client being arrested or getting severe beating. The client’s main threat was from driving into illegal roadblocks at night. This is a simplified version of what I worked out for him.

  • The client fitted high power spotlights to his vehicle. If he drove into a roadblock at night, he would hit the spotlights for a few seconds and temporally blind and surprise the criminals.
  • At the same time, he would reverse away from the roadblock. The client always traveled with another person at night whose job it was to drop smoke dischargers on the road to cover them as they reversed away.
  • Whenever possible and safe to do so, the client would turn the vehicle around get out of the area as quickly as possible. If chased by criminals, the client’s car was modified, so all the rear lights could be extinguished and he could drive with only the front parking lights on. In the vehicle, there was a high-powered hand held spotlight, which the passenger was to shine into the face of the driver of the chasing car, to blind them and hopefully cause them to crash.

This drill is simple but it still took a fair bit of organizing and practice to get right. You need to work out what threats that you’re most likely to encounter, then plan your reaction and then practice it.

Selecting good routes is extremely important part of your security planning especially in hostile areas or in times of civil unrest. In theory the best routes should allow the vehicles

For many preppers, a firearm is a must-have item for dealing with the aftermath of a potential SHTF or grid-down event. Firearms in the hands of properly trained individuals can prevent as well as cause death, so their use and acquisition isn’t something to be taken lightly. We routinely talk about firearms under the security category when I am mentioning the 4 things you should focus on when you are prepping, but simply having a weapon isn’t the end. You can check the box on having a firearm in your SHTF arsenal, but to be better prepared, you should look at what else needs to be planned for with that firearm to ensure that tool doesn’t become an expensive paperweight shortly after you need it.

Don’t get me wrong; just the fact that you have a firearm and a box of ammo is an advantage should you be called on to protect or defend your life, but history has shown us in order to be more fully prepared, there are other considerations that you need to account for and these topics are what I wanted to bring up today on Final Prepper. What are all of the other things you need to consider for your safety and protection that you may need to maintain that firearm and conversely your ability to protect yourself if the grid goes down?

Why do you need weapons if the grid goes down?

Before we get into the SHTF weapons checklist, I wanted to briefly paint a picture for you. Some disaster has happened and society is in chaos. Let’s take the example of an economic collapse which as I discussed the other day is a real and tangible threat our country faces. When millions (more) are out of work, services are cut and there are shortages on food, gasoline, power and protective services of police, people will get angry. Once they are angry, people will get desperate and once people get desperate, you better watch out.

A firearm is only a tool, but it is a tool designed to inflict mortal damage on your opponent. In the case of a desperate individual breaking into your home, would you rather have a firearm or harsh language? For me personally, I want firearms to be a tool my family has at our disposal in a case just like this. Above all things, I hope I never am forced to use a firearm in defense of my life or the lives of anyone in my care, but the pragmatist in me doesn’t believe for a second that people are always good deep down. I know people can be evil and act in ways that are dangerous. To believe anything else is foolish I believe so I prepare for evil and dangerous people while hoping I will never see that.

What are the best weapons for SHTF?

So if you are still hanging with me by now and don’t already have a firearm, you might be asking what are the best weapons to have on you in a STFT scenario. This question can be answered many different ways and I have actually written on this subject before. If I am looking holistically at an array of weapons you need for many different STHF scenarios, I would make similar recommendations as in our Top 5 Firearms You Need To Get Your Hands On Now, but this is an ideal scenario, not just what is necessary.

I have also recommended a shotgun as the best weapon for home defense under the assumption that if you only had time/money to purchase one weapon, what would that be. For a SHTF scenario, I think I have changed my mind somewhat on the best single weapon to a pistol. I read a post from FerFal who has his own blog. Ferfal lived through the Argentinian economic crisis and he makes a compelling case for the pistol as the best weapon for SHTF and I tend to agree with him. The main reason is that a pistol over any rifle or shotgun is highly concealable. Even if there is an economic collapse, life won’t immediately turn into Mad Max so as FerFal rightly proposes, you will still have to function in society for some time before you can whip out your camo outfit and go running down the streets geared up for battle.

The right pistol can be used for home defense easily and as I mentioned above, you can take it outside with you concealed so you can also have protection away from your home. I do still think that ideally you would have more weapon options, but a pistol would seem to be a priority for living in the immediate aftermath of any SHTF fallout.

What else do you need for SHTF?

OK, so for the rest of this article we are going to assume you have procured a SHTF weapon of some form, likely a pistol but what else would you need? A firearm is just a tool like I said and that tool needs several things to function ideally in bad situations for a long time. When we are talking about SHTF, you aren’t getting much worse than that and we will also assume a trip to Walmart or your local Sporting Goods store is out of the question.

Do you have supplies to keep your firearms clean after SHTF?

Ammo – Any weapon you have is going to need ammo and many people have asked me how much ammo do you need. Each person has to answer this question for themselves. I know some preppers who will say you can never have too much ammo. These people plan to not only never worry about running out, but logically state that ammo will be more valuable than precious metals after a collapse. Selco, who runs SHTFSchool.com and who lived through the Bosnian War where his city was under siege for years wrote that he personally gave all his gold for ammunition. Now, he says he keeps 2000 rounds per weapon. Your mileage may vary but consider how much ammo you need if you can never go to the store again. How much do you think you would need for one week? For one month? For one year? Purchase Hollow-points for damage and ball for practice.

Cleaning supplies – Sometimes we overlook how many weapon cleaning supplies you might need. Imagine the worst scenario. Do you have enough cleaning supplies for your weapons to last? Do you have a portable weapon cleaning kit? Do you have all of the right brushes for your various bore sizes? Do you have spare oil and cleaning solvent?

Magazines – Most new pistols will come with one or two magazines, but what if you lose one? What if during the chaos of a firefight, home invasion or attempted car-jacking you have to change magazines and in the panic, leave one on the ground that you aren’t able to find? Do you have spares to replace what could be lost? What about your AR-15? Do you have enough magazines for a load out and spares to replace those if you have to ditch your gear for some reason?

Holsters – This is one thing I think most people overlook and that is a good holster for your pistol. Sticking this down your pants isn’t the ideal way to carry concealed so a good holster is really important to have if you plan on carrying that firearm around with you. I would opt for a good concealed holster first and then get your go to war holster if you need one after that. Most people will only ever need a good concealable holster.

Spare parts – Things break all the time and you won’t be able to log on to Amazon.com to get 2-day free shipping in order to be resupplied after SHTF. You can now purchase spare parts for your weapons online easily so it may make sense to have spare parts on common items that may need replacing(if any) on your model of firearm . One of the reasons I like sticking to one weapons platform is that parts are interchangeable in many cases. I am partial to Glock so some of my magazines, all component parts and some barrels are interchangeable with different Glock weapons I own.

Training – Training is crucial because even if you have the best firearm in the world, pallets of ammunition and enough spare parts to last a lifetime, you still need to know how to use that weapon. Training at a minimum should enable you to safely use the weapon to hit what you are aiming at. You should be comfortable reloading ammunition, changing magazines, clearing jams or malfunctions and taking the weapon apart and putting it back together for cleanings. There are all forms of advanced tactical training courses out there too, but know the basics first.

I think that if you have a plan to keep a firearm for self-defense and you foresee a situation where you could be putting this weapon to use in a bad scenario, you should consider the checklist above. Do you have these bases covered? Did I miss anything?

For many preppers, a firearm is a must-have item for dealing with the aftermath of a potential SHTF or grid-down event. Firearms in the hands of properly trained individuals can

The central tenet of prepper websites is the unflinching belief that you need to be prepared for unexpected events. That statement on its face seems to be able to stand on its own, without receiving too much argument from anyone. Really who would say that it is ever better to be unprepared for disasters or catastrophic events? Common sense backs us believers up so the “be prepared” part of prepping is easy to digest and safe for almost everyone to get on board with. It is when we start discussing the “what” you should “be prepared” for that causes the splits, arguments and name calling. The physical act of being prepared no longer makes sense to certain people if the “what” is not something they either believe would ever happen  or care about personally. As long as you are prepping for something they can see happening, or view as rational you aren’t crazy, but as soon as you mention something they find odd or out on the fringe, you have lost them and they get to discount everything you say from there on out.

At least that is what I have been able to observe over the years I have been prepping and if I am being honest, somewhere in the back of my mind I do this too, but on a much different level. There are some prepper motivations that I think are highly unlikely myself and when I hear people prepping for these events, I usually cock my head a little sideways and look at them with that patronizing smile on my face that I have been on the receiving end of as well. If you tell me you are prepping for an alien invasion then I might look at you slightly differently.

On the other hand, there is a broader universe of events I do consider valid or at least more possible than I did when I started prepping. I might draw the line at some of the outer ranges of unlikely events, but I think that most of the reasons people give for prepping aren’t that insane to me anymore. Events that to your average soccer mom might seem like sheer lunacy; I like to think I can look at with a more open mind and see the possibilities from the perspective of the prepper who believes these events could happen. Maybe it is because I blog about prepping topics almost daily that I can appreciate the viewpoints of my audience a little more than the average non prepper person, but I like to think that it isn’t simply that I am trying to be more inclusive for the sake of readership; it’s just that I believe that I don’t know everything and I certainly don’t have all the answers. Who am I to say anyone is crazy?

Will the real Survival Experts please stand up

All of the arguing around the best way to go about prepping invariably begins because one or more people believe that someone doesn’t know what they are talking about. I guess another way of putting it is that some people think they know more or possess more qualifications than the person that holds the beliefs they disagree with. This is most evidenced in 3 main prepping areas. Firearms, Government abuse and the Economic woes.

There have been countless articles written about firearms from the perspective of the hobbyist, hunter, soldier, law enforcement, instructor, target shooter and yes, the prepper. I have written a few pieces myself on various subjects like the best gun for home defense and the top 5 firearms you need to get your hands on now. Both of these articles have spawned a great discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of each in numerous scenarios. Additionally, they have both been linked from other websites and re-posted on other blogs and forums. Most of the time, the comments are great, but it never fails that there are at least a few people when it comes to articles like this who say words to the effect that “sounds like it was written by an internet expert”.

Before I go on I should say that I do not consider myself an expert on anything and I am pretty sure I have not positioned myself as an expert at anything I have written or commented on. I do have experience and military training, but I don’t believe I puff out my chest about any of my credentials and try to go out of my way in saying what my experience is on any given subject in advance.

That being said, I wonder what qualifications the people who make comments like this have. Surely, to denigrate someone’s opinion from the safety of a forum post or comment field must mean that your knowledge or skills are vastly superior and that may very well be the case but does it matter? It caused me to wonder two things though. First, who are the survival experts we should be listening to? Who would be qualified to tell anyone the best firearms to have in all circumstances if the grid went down? Would someone who was a police officer be an expert? Would someone who has been on a Reality TV show and can eat bugs be an expert? Surely, anyone who has written a book would be qualified, right? Any soldier who has been overseas in conflict would be an expert, without question, correct? I know there are people who have been around guns a lot more than I have. There are people who can break down an AK47 and put it back together blindfolded, hanging upside down in a sewer after not eating for 7 days. I know a guy who has run a survival blog for years so everything he says must be absolutely correct, right? Those people are the real experts, aren’t they?

I think on most prepper topics it comes down to what you are talking about , how many opinions people have on the subject at hand and whether or not they agree or disagree with what you are saying. Some topics are virtually never controversial on the other hand. Take canning for instance. Canning is pretty simple and there are a few things you have to know and do, but the overall process is the same for the same vegetables generally speaking. If someone is going to argue with what you are saying about how you can, they will usually point to some factoid about how the process will or won’t work. Using a different example of the fear of impending Government tyranny let’s say, we are talking about hypothetical scenarios almost 100% of the time. In many cases, these are events that have not happened, but many can see the writing on the wall based upon current events and historical precedent. What can or will happen is anyone’s guess and our best guess is what each of us brings to the table based upon our experiences and information at the present time. You have guesses from writers, bloggers and people everywhere in the comments of various forums. You will have people who steadfastly disagree with what you are saying for a whole host of reasons. At this point you become the idiot because they don’t believe what you do. You are officially an internet expert.

Who is qualified to give prepping advice?

Don’t get me wrong, I think the survival gurus have some very specialized skills that we can all learn from , but those are usually from the perspective of getting stranded or lost in the wilderness. That is probably one of the most avoidable fates I can think of with a little planning and on some level, their type of survival is not what we are talking about when we are discussing the subject of prepping.

I think the best resources to go to for the broader subject of prepping present a wide spectrum of thought and information about a variety of topics that we can logically envision needing to know about when times get tough. This is rarely to mandate one and only one way to do anything, but provide a lot of different information so that you can choose what works for you. When it comes to any warnings, a good source of information will explain situations they see happening and usually offer up some rationale for why they believe the way they do. Does this mean that everything they say is 100% accurate? We will never know unless the event they were talking about comes to pass. It doesn’t mean that what they say is wrong simply because I or anyone else disagrees with it either. It doesn’t mean it won’t happen if it hasn’t yet or “Experts say it is highly unlikely”, thank you very much Doomsday Preppers. The real experts, not the internet kind have been wrong before.

In lieu of someone who has physically been through every single imaginable event known to the prepping universe and can speak to every conceivable situation on gear and recommendations, someone like Selco who survived through the Balkan war comes to mind. He has a one year in hell course that describes what he lived through and if you want to point to someone who could come close to being called an expert (in SHTF living in the Balkans during that conflict) my vote would be for him. For the rest of us internet experts who have never come close to anything like that, we are all giving our best guesses based upon our training and experiences and common sense. You know what? We won’t all be wrong either.

There is no college degree for Prepping. Prepping isn’t something you can apprentice in and after many years work your way up to your Master Prepper license that can sit framed on your living room wall. There really is no right way or wrong way to prep and nobody knows what the future holds. Most of the people who call themselves preppers are trying to prepare for a single something but what they do and how they prepare might be different than what you do if the disaster is different. If they live in a country that doesn’t allow guns, they might view how you prep as abnormal when you talk about stocking up on ammo. If you live in the country and are prepping to survive a tornado, what you do will be different than a city dweller preparing for riots. Everything depends on the disaster. Prepping by its very nature gets you prepared for a myriad of events you may not have ever dreamed of. It is the diversity of preparedness that will strengthen your family’s ability to weather unexpected events safely with as little disruption as possible. There is no way to reasonably cover every conceivable natural or man-made event that could happen to you, but regardless of what happens, if you have the basics of survival, your family will be so much better off. Who cares if aliens never land as long as you have supplies and a plan to survive when the next hurricane comes ashore? It doesn’t matter what actually lands that poses a threat, as long as you are prepared.

What should you focus on?

I think the best advice I as a non-expert can give you is to focus on what isn’t arguable. Focus on what your family as human beings need to live and that is water, food, shelter and security. If you have that taken care of, the event that causes you to rely on those preps is secondary. I do have a lot of people who will back me up on this one though. The survival and gun forum experts might have something to say, but we will leave that for my next post on firearms.

Thank you for reading; I’ll try my best never to steer you wrong.

The central tenet of prepper websites is the unflinching belief that you need to be prepared for unexpected events. That statement on its face seems to be able to stand

Self-defense is your right and it will be beneficial in a SHTF scenario, if you know how to tackle the consequences on your own with a sharp presence of mind instead of relying on others. This will give you confidence and will raise your morale and will make you independent.

Why is self defense important?

Just because some idiots out there think that they are stronger than the rest and to fulfill their illusion, they try to mess with others in the form of fighting. Or some of them are under the influence of serious drugs, due to which they are helpless to perform acts on which they have no control.

Regardless the excuses, the thing which does matter is that there are some ways you need to learn to defend yourself from any kind of attack done by these goons.

What will I get out of it?

The first thing you will achieve would be “A single piece of your body”. You love yourself right? And you also love your body and at any cost you would not like to get it dismantled.  So when the attackers attack they are never concerned about your body parts. Their focus revolves around either snatching something from you or beating you up to satisfy themselves.

For many, fighting fills some mental void which they can’t get from doing any other activity. This has been proven by the studies done by the experts and people who act in these ways has been awarded by the term of “Psycho”. You can’t change their mentality but you can protect yourself by learning some tactics of self-defense.

With enough practice, you will be able to achieve a high level of confidence and if this kind of situation comes up again then without any support you would be able to handle yourself.

What are the significant components of self-defense moves?

The attack on knee-caps:

For any form of a building, the base is an essential part which stabilizes the complete structure. So whenever you find yourself in a situation where the potential of getting attacked is high, the first thing you need to do is stay calm and try to have a verbal communication with the opponent.

The reason behind communication is to understand why the opponent is willing to attack you. If the reason is just a small amount of cash then it is better to give away cash to avoid conflict. This would not be the expensive trade to perform.

But, if the opponent doesn’t want to engage you with communication then apply the second strategy which involves making firm eye contact with him/her. This will send a strong signal to them that you also have the potential to fight. This will either break them and compel them to run from the situation or will offend them to attack and when they will approach to attack you then right away with your right leg attack on their knee-cap.

This attack done by you will make them helpless and will consume more time for them to get back stable again. In this duration of time either run away from them or if the surroundings have limited access to run then get the help of someone either by shouting loud or by using your mobile phone.

(Note: A forceful attack on their knee will provide you the time frame around 5 to 10 mins)

The attack on Groin:

Most attackers are male and they love to show their irrelevant impact on others by performing meaningless acts. Behind every strong power, there is a small amount of weakness which makes them helpless.

So if you have been attacked and you can see there is no place to run, then try to be aggressive because if the opponent is pretending to be strong, then by seeing your aggressive behavior he will run instead.

On the other hand, if they start smiling at this behavior of yours then you should stop doing it immediately because they are the real fighters and could prove harmful for you. You do not need to become tense as what you can do is put your both hand on their shoulders and within a matter of seconds lift your right knee up and bang into their groin.

The groin is the most sensitive part of the male body by attacking that it would be almost next to impossible for him to get up for at least 15 to 20 mins. From this, you can see how advantageous this defensive move is?

Hang on there is one more tip on your way. If you think the above-mentioned method is too hard for you to perform then what you can do is with your right hand grab their groin or either pull it hard or twist it like twisting a rope. This will definitely make him harmless and he will be grounded in an instant.

(Note: Just for the quick response, if you have a licensed pistol then you can always carry them for self-defense in a concealed carry handbags for better protection from such irrelevant acts).

The attack on Ribs/Solar Plexus:

The moment some stranger attacks on you can bring feelings of frustration and helplessness if you are not familiar with the concepts of self-defense. Relying on others has never been a healthy option at any cost. It is always better to protect yourself by developing our fighting skills.

So if you find yourself surrounded by a goon then the best way to avoid conflict is to run away from the situation. And by any means, if you are not able to do so then forcefully attack their ribs or solar plexus. This will break their force and will allow you 20 mins minimum of time to run away from the situation.

Attacking the ribs is the most favorable technique which has been used by many in terms to carry the fight for a long time period.  What else you can do is attack the softest tissue of their body which is under their nose. This will make them unconscious and a hefty amount of time you will carry to get some help.

Some others tips you can protect yourself in a healthy way:


It is always better to learn or develop some fighting skills in order to protect yourself and to build some confidence in you. This will help you to live proudly and you would be able to tackle any kind of situation mentally or physically with an ease.

Self-defense is your right and it will be beneficial in a SHTF scenario, if you know how to tackle the consequences on your own with a sharp presence of mind

In previous posts I have discussed home security concepts and how you could take steps to make your home more secure. Ideally, these steps would be ones we could all take to strengthen our home’s defenses but the sad truth is that most of us our modern home fabrication caters to aesthetics and not strength. We like light and windows too much and our homes while relatively strong are mostly built on frames that can easily be bashed in without too much effort and a sledge-hammer. Yes, I know they have plywood on the outside, but if I can drive my car through the wall, it isn’t too stout is it?

My wife and I like to play this game where we have won the lottery and we are discussing the first thing we will buy. Usually, at the top of the list is a new home far away in a remote stretch of wilderness. Since this is pure fantasy – mostly because we might buy one lottery ticket a year- the sky is the limit with construction. It is during these conversations that the stark difference between my idea of a dream home and my wife’s come into focus. For example, she wants a lot of big windows to check out our fantastic view of the hundreds of acres we will own. I tell her that we can’t have big windows because we have to think of security. Instead I suggest that if we have the large picture windows, we also install roll down hurricane proof metal shutters that would come down and secure all the windows from any damage. Yes, I know this is like something out of Batman, but Hey! I won the lottery in my mind.

Needless to say these conversations never go anywhere and no we haven’t won the lottery so I have to take all my defensive problems back to my current reality house instead of hiring some miracle contractors with an unlimited budget to solve it for me. But why do I need super Batman strength security in the first place?

What am I worried about?

I do not live in a “bad neighborhood” but you always want a home that you feel safe in regardless of the situation outside. Usually this is from the prospect of someone breaking in and stealing what you have or just plain busting down the door to do you harm. Our homes like I mentioned above are all easily breached with some basic tools, brute force or a little time. Heck, it only takes a rock to bust in a window and people can walk on in. A stiff boot will work on most doors the first try and that is if they are locked in the first place.

I think of regular home security problems when there are police and electricity and food on the grocery store shelves. I also think about home security when none of those things are present. If you have a grid-down collapse scenario your home most likely won’t stand up to a couple of determined people for long if they go unchallenged. It is times like this that unless you have a walled fortress you need to consider adding some resources to your defense plan. You could hire those contractors I mentioned to start retrofitting your castle with those handy hurricane shutters but that is impractical. It is much wiser to revert to the Neighborhood watch on steroids.

What is the neighborhood watch on steroids you ask? You have heard of the neighborhood watch before and some of you may even have this in your neighborhood. I remember that we had a home in our neighborhood that was broken into several years back and all of our neighbors got together at a meeting to discuss forming a neighborhood watch. We had a police officer come in and talk briefly about what we should and should not do and we all received small flimsy signs to put in our yard that said words to the effect of “This neighborhood is protected by neighborhood watch”. I think there was one lady who volunteered to roam the streets but that is about the last I heard of it and once the flimsy sign rusted and faded it found its way into my trash can.

If you have a true collapse and you and your neighbor’s feel that they need to defend their homes it is better to join together and combine forces so that you can protect more homes at once. It is also more likely that several people watching over things will be more of a deterrent than a single older retiree walking her dog at night. This is another situation where it all depends on the disaster that has happened. If you are talking about a late summer storm that drops some trees on power lines and you have the resulting loss of power for a few days, the neighborhood watch on steroids probably doesn’t need to get activated.

If you have something more long-term and serious like a hurricane that robs power for several weeks and damages homes or displaces people that neighborhood watch might be necessary to prevent looting. Thinking more long-term and dire than even a hurricane; if the police are unable to come to your aid, there is widespread looting, theft, panic and chaos – you should already have a plan for keeping your neighborhood safe from intruders. All of your able-bodied neighbors should be on board with joining the neighborhood watch if that happens. The more people you have watching, the safer you will be but the disaster will dictate what is necessary or prudent to expect in the way of escalation of force.

Defending the Neighborhood

Who are the people you could expect to pose threats to your neighbors in a grid down or Without Rule of Law scenario? I think it depends on the length of the crisis almost completely. If the crisis or disaster is relatively short-lived and some semblance of order is returned this problem will go away. The more prolonged or serious the crisis is and the more desperate or bold the people will become.

Looters – This will be the first wave and it is completely normal to see people looting over just about any event these days. There was looting in Ferguson that materialized out of protests, but the looting I am referring to would be more like what we saw after Hurricane Sandy. After the storm had passed, people were found rummaging through homes that had been evacuated due to the alerts. With nobody there to stop them, these opportunists simply had their run of many homes. I even heard some reports that looters would dress up as utility workers so they would look legitimate, but that may have only been rumors. Even if it was, I can see people trying it.

Desperate People/Nomads – After the looters have gone or when the subject of what people are looking for turns to necessities instead of flat screen TV’s I think people displaced from their homes would be the next group. We talk about the Golden horde moving out of the major cities and into surrounding communities and I think this is something we could easily see with the right disaster. Hundreds of thousands of people from New York alone could disgorge from the city if they had some form of terrorist attack or outbreak. When people are forced to flee so fast they can’t take any supplies, they will be left with what is on their backs. Even if you had a great Bug Out Bag, how much food are you taking with you? What will you do when the food is gone but the emergency isn’t over yet? These people will be looking for food and supplies and they may be walking through your neighborhood.

Bands of criminals – I think this is only likely in the most severe form of disaster after we have a long absence of law and order. Groups of thugs will join together for survival and once they do, they will start roaming outward to gain the same thing that others will be looking for;  items they need or want in order to live. If you are still in your home and you haven’t bugged out to your secret walled complex with rolling metal shutters in the middle of the forest, they could find your neighborhood. These people pose the greatest threat in my opinion because they will most likely be armed and will have experience with assaulting homes and people. This will be a larger organized group that has survived long enough to know a thing or two and the will require the most force and tactics to deal with effectively.

I plan to expand this topic to cover tactical ideas, strategies and supply considerations in upcoming posts that will all be linked and I’ll talk about how you to transition from no plan at all to a neighborhood watch on steroids. Have you given any thoughts to your neighborhood security? Do you plan to join your own Neighborhood Watch on Steroids?

In previous posts I have discussed home security concepts and how you could take steps to make your home more secure. Ideally, these steps would be ones we could all

Have you ever known someone who has a glum outlook on life? Maybe that isn’t the right term, how about fatalistic? I have some people in my life that I call ‘Eeyores’ from Winnie the Pooh. I don’t really call them that but you know what I mean by the term. Eeyore on the surface seems depressed and resigned to whatever fate brings his way. Rather than object to any of his circumstances, Eeyore says “its ok. I’ll learn to live without it” in a very somber tone that sounds as if he is half asleep.

What in the world am I talking about a cartoon character for? There are so many people who have the same attitude when it comes to great tragedies or crisis. If you try to talk to them about Prepping so that they are better able to weather any type of calamity, they will sometimes answer that they would “rather die” than live in a world that you describe. It is amazing to me that so many people would simply die rather than try to live and struggle to survive.

Even animals instinctively want to live and will go on living as best they can until they breathe their last breath. Oh sure, I know someone is going to send me videos of depressed monkeys or something but as a general rule, animals don’t know how to do anything other than try to survive. Why are humans so much more willing to give up when faced with adversity? What is it about crisis or the threat of a bumpy road enough to make some people throw their hands up in the air and simply quit?

What makes someone quit?

I’ll state right now that I am no Psychiatrist, but we have all faced periods in our life when we quit something. It could be as simple as a diet, an exercise program or smoking. It could be we quit running when we hit a wall – the key is that all of us have quit doing something. We are all quitters, well technically speaking. Becoming a Prepper doesn’t mean that you will never quit. It doesn’t mean that you won’t at some point in the future meet an obstacle you can’t overcome or confront a situation that offers you no chance at winning. Being a prepper simply means that you are joining the fight and you are going to give it your best shot.

Extrinsic motivation occurs when we are motivated to perform a behavior or engage in an activity in order to earn a reward or avoid a punishment. The opposite of Extrinsic is Intrinsic Motivation. Intrinsic Motivation involves engaging in a behavior because it is personally rewarding; essentially, performing an activity for its own sake rather than the desire for some external reward. This is where I look at both of those terms and see how prepping falls into both camps.
If my hypothetical TEOTWAWKI event is a global economic collapse that thrusts the entire world into something worse than the great depression, I would have an Extrinsic Motivation to avoid going broke, to find a job, to provide for my family. By the same token, I would feel personally rewarded if I was able to survive during a depression while still taking care of my family. Whether the motivating force is external or internal I still am motivated to some action.

Do the people who sit there, who might even be members of your own family and say they would rather die than go through another depression know something you don’t? Unless they lived through the first great depression I doubt it. Even if they did live through the first one, their age might be a huge factor in whether they had the strength to live through a hypothetical second great depression in the first place. No, what about perfectly healthy people who right now say they would rather die than go through something like that? What makes them tick? Why would anyone quit before they ever started trying?

You have to have hope

I think that there are so many people out there who very simply don’t have hope. For whatever reason – maybe they had a bad childhood, or someone has let them down too many times or maybe everything they have tried hasn’t worked out. Some people just don’t have any hope in themselves. They don’t believe they have whatever it takes to make it through tough times. Either that or they know right now that they hate more than anything pain and discomfort and would rather end it all than go through something horrible.

One of my fears and I am sure it is shared by every parent is that something would happen to one of my children in a SHTF event. I take prepping personally because it is one thing if your child dies tragically in a freak accident; it is another if they die because you didn’t do something right. Prepping for me is a never ending act of trying to take advantage of anything I can so that I am able to provide for my family should a crisis visit our street. I don’t know what will happen, but I know that whatever I can do to protect my family I will. That is my hope that they will all be safe. My hope is that I will have made the right preparations or that I am attuned to what is going on well enough to see danger approaching and take the right steps. My hope is that we are lucky. My intrinsic motivation is that my family, myself included live no matter what we face.

Could we all end up with some crisis that takes lives on a scale so epic it completely eclipses the horror of all the great tragedies in the past combined? Maybe, but that can happen regardless of what I do. My hope is that everything I am prepping for now will make things better regardless. Maybe when it is all said and done I will die during or because of the event I am trying to prep for. That’s OK because we all die eventually but I’m not going without a fight. It isn’t like I want to die; I want to live for a very long time. I would even want to live through some great tragedy even if, God forbid some of my family did not. Like I always say, I never hope to find out.

Preppers are motivated by external events to protect their internal interests. The simple act of prepping means you have hope. When I talk about prepping for some event, those Eeyores will say how I have some pessimistic view of the future. “Why do you always think something bad is going to happen”? I don’t want anything bad to happen, but it does. You can’t stop bad things from happening and the answer isn’t to give up. Prepping is all about believing that you can make it through. Prepping shows that you have hope that the skills and steps you are making now will help you later. Prepping isn’t pessimistic worrying about the future. Prepping is an act of defiance against potential tragedy, it is looking rough days in the face and saying “I’m not afraid of you”.

Will anything bad happen like the global economic depression I mentioned or wars, famine or disease? I don’t know. I honestly hope they do not, but I am going to prep like they are. My family deserves that and they are my motivation and hope.

Have you ever known someone who has a glum outlook on life? Maybe that isn’t the right term, how about fatalistic? I have some people in my life that I

Pop quiz. If you had to leave your neighborhood and the route you normally take was blocked would you have an alternate way out? What if the alternate was blocked? What if all roads out of your neighborhood were blocked by military check-points? Would you have a backup escape route or would you be trapped staring at the lights ahead wishing you had made it out sooner?

Most days when I am driving home from work my mind is on autopilot. I make the turns I normally make, engage my turn signal at the proper time and generally drive the correct speed without even looking at the gauge on my dash. I do this not because I am a robot, but because I have done this so many times the actions are ingrained into my muscle memory. I am sure it is this way for many of you who drive to work every day.

But have you ever stopped to think of your escape routes during an emergency? What if the normal paths you take aren’t available? What if you aren’t even able to take your vehicle? Does your bug out plan allow you to get creative or are you hoping for the best? For those of us who live in more rural/suburban settings, driving our vehicles everywhere is almost taken for granted. We rarely get out and explore the world outside of these paved streets but knowing what is out there could be the key to your survival if you find yourself depending on alternate route options. Knowing your area by foot could save your life in the right circumstances.

Going off-road

Knowing the roads out of your neighborhood is pretty simple and I would bet that most of us have that down already but could you go off-road if the way was blocked? Could you cut across a field or through the back of a neighbor’s yard to get out to another road? Have you ever considered that at all? In a recent post I mentioned the need for a bug out vehicle that had the capability to go off-road and this is a good example where that could be necessary. Maybe it isn’t the road out of your neighborhood, but it is a major road that you would normally take to get out-of-town and it is blocked. A line of cars stretches before you and you can see a roadblock ahead. What do you do now?

Ideally you would have considered all of this well in advance. I routinely go for walks through my neighborhood. Usually I stick to the roads, but there are also trails near where I live so me and the survival dog will check those out from time to time. I live on the outskirts of a decent sized city right in the middle of too many and too few people. A few miles in either direction puts me solidly into rural farmland or the congestion of downtown.

I know the best option is to move but I am where I am for now so my prepping so far has been looking at ways I can avoid getting stuck in a trap should something block our access out.

A creek might make vehicle traffic impossible but it is an alternate way out on foot.

Identify any natural boundaries that could block you in

The area I live in has mild hills around. There is a pretty good-sized creek on my southern border that I would be able to cross on foot if needed, but I also know areas where the banks are low enough to allow a properly equipped 4 wheeler to cross also. Getting across the creek is one obstacle that could give me an alternate way out if all the other methods were blocked.

In addition to the creek I have property between me and all of the major roads. Some of this property is fenced, but bolt cutters would allow me to cut through any fence if needed. Once on the other side of the fence, I could follow woods through other yards to come out well down the road, potentially avoiding the road block. There are other routes that could take me through public land where radio towers are mounted, possibly down power line right-of-ways to make alternate tracks out of the area.

None of this is rocket surgery it just takes the normal plans we might make when we are preparing our families for some evacuation need and takes them a step further. Each of us can get out of our car and spend a couple of hours every month or so surveying our neighborhood. Maybe you don’t have creeks and woods to worry about; perhaps your neighborhood is alleys and blocks of large buildings. There will still be options if you are looking the right way.

When was the last time you took a closer look at your immediate surroundings? Do you know who has fences in their yard and who doesn’t? Do you know who is rarely home or who leaves their trash cans by the road for a couple of days after pick-up? Do you know the area around your neighborhood from an aerial perspective? Google Earth or even Google maps is a great way to pretend you have your own drone and you are conducting surveillance of your territory. Start in on your property and zoom or pan out to see details you might have missed driving by. This information could give you options when it looks like there are none.

Pop quiz. If you had to leave your neighborhood and the route you normally take was blocked would you have an alternate way out? What if the alternate was blocked?


Communication is imperative in survival situations. This article attempts to cover some of the basic pros and cons of various forms of communication and introduce the reader to some additions that should prove helpful in crisis and bug-out situations.

TWO WAY RADIOS: can come in handy when a group is out of direct visual range, they are simple to use and relatively lightweight. However, they can also give away your position. Not only are they noisy but the messages can be intercepted, and interference created.

Uniden Submersible 50 Mile FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radios with Charging Kit – Dark Grey

CB RADIOS: are a favorite for long distance truck drivers and can be used over short distances to converse when two way walkie talkies may not be an option. They can be mobile (in a vehicle) or stationary. Anyone on the same channel can hear the discussion, so definitely keep that in mind. Use coded messages, preferably phrases that sound like normal conversation, to ascertain if any allies are in your vicinity.

Uniden 40-Channel CB Radio

HAM RADIOS: are not as common as two way radios and CBs. They are more complicated to use, and in many areas you need special licenses to operate one with any significant level of power. They provide some added security because they are less likely to be used by amateurs. They are also a good way to transmit Morse Code. In a SHTF situation, where current regulations are no longer regarded, these will allow you to contact others across much greater distances.

Baofeng UV5RA Ham Two Way Radio

HAND SIGNALS: have long been used by military forces to quietly communicate in tactical situations. This is both a benefit and a drawback. They only work if you are in formation and everyone has a clear line of sight. Many people already know some of the gestures, and for those that don’t, there are countless YouTube videos that demonstrate them and their meaning. Therefore, if you are inadvertently seen, you are also relaying your exact moves to the onlooker, potentially compromising the location of the rest of your team. A way out of this problem might be to create some variations that only your group is aware of. A particular motion that alerts your team that you have been seen, followed by whatever signal you want the opposition to think you are going to do next. This may work if you already have an agreed upon protocol for the scenario. Another option might be to completely switch them around, and create some of your own. Additionally, if you have a group of ten people, and only fully trust five, these unknown signs can be used to indicate when it is time to desert the others.

MORSE CODE: is one of the best forms of communication. Although the code itself is universal, the language you use is not. If anyone intercepts a message of “frog legs” they probably won’t know that the meaning might be to stay away from the pond, it has been compromised. The messages can be transmitted over airways, by light signals, or even in writing, or in the arrangements of rocks and sticks along a path. The real disadvantage of Morse is the level of difficulty. Learning the code is not for the faint of heart, or the memory impaired. I recommend creating short acronyms and memorizing them. BLB=bug out location B. NGC= no go, the area has been compromised etc.

SMOKE SIGNALS: can be a good way to advertise your location, if that is what you want to do. The color of the smoke, and the frequency and pattern of puffs can also be used to relay messages, but again, this only works if you don’t mind letting everyone know where you are.

COLORS: such as flags, can be used in lieu of hand signals when traveling in formation. Ribbons, paint, and chalk can be used to mark trees, buildings, or other landmarks as needed. Marking bags and gear by color can also be useful in case you quickly have to decide what to grab.

ANIMAL CALLS: are an alternative that can work well in a rural setting. Invaders may mistake them for the real thing, and/or be unfamiliar to the patterns of the native animal calls. In this manner you can effectively send basic messages across hostile territory without detection. Be sure your pattern is different enough from native species that you don’t misinterpret a real duck call as a message from your other party.

BOOBY TRAPS: that alert you to intruders are always a good idea. Some can be set up in such a way as to be widely seen. I’ve read of people who attach a charge to their trip wires that can set off a small firework. Marauders do not always have the intention of a hostile takeover, and there may be other bands of unpleasant characters wandering the area. Now everyone knows the location of the prowler. If you are forced to camp out and build a fire, keeping some black powder and smoke bombs on your person can be helpful. If your camp is ambushed, quickly throwing both into the fire creates a wall of smoke and flares, thus producing a useful diversion as well as an audible distress signal.

GRAFFITI: is a common sight in most urban areas, as it has long been used by misfits and gangs for marking territory (hence the name “tagging”). Knowing the meanings of certain tags can be useful. Having symbols of your own is also beneficial. In a situation where graffiti is popping up everywhere, a simple character hidden in a midst of urban art can communicate to the others in your party. Avoid using words or marks that are too obvious or easily counterfeited to avoid being led into a trap by imposters.

Hobo code.

HOBO CODE: is the simple pictographs etched into old telephone poles and drawn on buildings and railroad ties that vagrants who hopped trains utilized to identify if there were camps nearby or known friendlies/hostiles in the area. Many train station museums have examples of these signs and their meanings. Not many people are familiar with it, giving it a certain appeal. If you do attract actual wanderers, be sure you are set to deal with either hostility or recruiting them into your ranks. This is a possibility for those who have a loose association with other preppers and are only interested in full collaboration during an invasion or other ‘worst case scenario’. If you have such a set of connections, than learning this code will help these smaller cells find each other and form a more cohesive resistance.

RENDEZVOUS: points or another plan of action for when contact is lost should be a central element of all communication plans. Everyone in your group (be it your family or your entire neighborhood) needs to know how to reach one another in an emergency, what the signal or code means, and what to do if they lose contact. Practice makes perfect.

This is only a preliminary list, and is not meant to be all inclusive. It is important to assess your individual circumstances when developing your plan. Take into consideration which methods you have easy access to and can rely on.

Happy Prepping!

  Communication is imperative in survival situations. This article attempts to cover some of the basic pros and cons of various forms of communication and introduce the reader to some additions