December 2009 Archives

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The unabridged audiobook of "Patriots" is scheduled to be released today (December 31st). Thanks for your patience!


Today is the last day for Californian's to be able to order British Berkefeld water filters, before an absurd new law goes into effect. for details, see the Directive 21 web site.

James Wesley,
I just wanted to mention something that has been on my mind for some time but recently re-emphasized as I drove to work the other morning.

Along my route (20 blocks or so before I hit a main thoroughfare) the other day the concept of trash OPSEC really hit me. It was trash day for that part of town and I saw signs everywhere that said "come burglarize this house". I saw flat screen television boxes, video game boxes, stereo boxes, DVD player boxes, computer boxes, small appliance boxes, toy boxes, you-name-it boxes in all sorts of shapes and sizes all prominently displaying beautiful full color graphics of the contents that they once held that were now readily available inside the home. They just looked like big billboard shopping signs for any would-be thief telling them exactly where these lovely and expensive items were.

Of course the frequency of boxes of this sort were increased due to Christmas but we should be reminded to cut and break down boxes such as this before putting them out to be recycled or disposed of. If you can burn them discretely that's great too. [JWR Adds: Most companies are paid for their recycled cardboard or have it hauled away at no cost, so they are usually willing to allow local citizens to throw their flattened boxes into their cardboard recycling dumpster. If you get permission to do so in advance, you can do so after hours, for the greatest privacy.]

Also, don't ever put those blow-molded gun cases that new guns come in out at the curb. Cut those up with a saw into tiny bits and filter them into your trash. Same goes for ammo boxes, etc. Just use your head and hide your waste.

Happy New Year to Jim, his family and to all the wonderful contributors and readers here at SurvivalBlog! - Tanker

Mr. Rawles,
I just wanted to mention the possible use of [European-style roll-up steel] hurricane shutters when constructing your retreat. Here is eastern North Carolina hurricane shutters are very popular and are built right into the existing house. Roll down shutters provide many conveniences as they are built in and have very little visual impact. They can also be controlled from inside the home and provide excellent security. In addition some designs will completely seal out light from inside or outside the house. Thanks, - Jared C.

It appears the Brits are upgrading to a new camouflage uniform to replace the venerable Disruptive Pattern, Marine (DPM) and in some instances, the #5 Desert Combat. Dubbed the Multi-Terrain Pattern (MTP), it was developed by Crye Precision and bears a striking resemblance to their "MultiCam" camo.

It looks like their will be a flood of the old DPMs on the surplus market in the near future. [JWR Adds: This release of surplus uniforms will undoubtedly be a boon to preppers. Be prepared to stock up when the prices drop at vendors like]

Take care and God bless, - Paul

While obtaining law doctorate, one of my classes was Health Law, which is two parts navigating your way through the morass of Federal intrusion. One part was actual policy. But, I digress. Only one thing of significance stuck in my mind from that whole class: "Of the forty years increased life expectancy enjoyed in the past one-hundred years, 35 of those years are the result of improvements in
hygiene and sanitation. Five years are due to clinical medicine." I translate that to: "you owe more for your health to the trash man and plumber than you do your doctor."

I hope yours was a Merry Christmas. - Ben W.

JWR Replies: As prepared individuals, we need to recognize the public health risks posed by any major disruption of utility water, sewers, and garbage collection. Again: It the power grids go down for more than four or five days, it will mean The End of the World as We Know it. (TEOTWAWKI)

Dear Editor:
I often find myself visiting family in the mountainous areas of North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky. I can't believe how incorrect my TomTom can be. I first got it because I'm a bit of a gear junkie and I've got one on a boat in the Canadian Great Lakes area which has always been very accurate.

This Christmas, I was blessed enough to be able to be off work from the fire department and went to visit my mother in North Carolina. Little did I know that I-40 has been shut three miles into North Carolina from the Tennessee state line due to an 18 story-tall rock slide that happened in October. BTW ,they say that it'll be open in March or April. My GPS hadn't been updated and I found it hard to get it to navigate me around the mess.

It turns out that my emergency kit I always travel in has [hard copy] state maps for all the states where I generally travel and I was able to follow an un-posted detour that saved me over an hour over the posted route which has to accommodate large trucks, wide loads and such.

I am constantly surprised how my preps for The End of the World always seem to help me out with the lesser or even non-emergencies. What a convenience to be preparedness minded!

I love your site. - T.T. in Kentucky

John C. recommended this: Seven Resource for Learning to Safely Forage for Wild Food.

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Do you want to buy American, but you're frustrated by the profusion of imported goods? Reader K.T. suggested a company that is one of the last of the All-American textile firms: Maine Heritage Weavers.

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Larry O. flagged this: Plan to turn farms into forest worries Obama official

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Ferd spotted this over at KK Cool Tools: Eskimold Igloo-building kit

"Now it becomes my duty to carry out the sentence which I have imposed on these men for killing and stealing within the territory under my jurisdiction. However, I want it strictly understood that there will be no undo shooting or cheering or drunken talk when I pull that lever on account it would offend the dignity of the occasion." - John McIntire, as Skagway Sheriff Gannon in The Far Country (1954). Screenplay by Borden Chase.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mr. Rawles,
I want to thank you for having this site and presenting people with opportunity two obtain useful information that could save their lives one day. I have been dedicated reader of your blogs for some time and now think that is my time to contribute some information instead of just reading it. I have survived through collapse of former Yugoslavia and the years of war that followed after. I will try to cover as much of different topics that pertain to every day survival. No matter on how much the person is prepared, it might not be enough.

I was born and raised on farm in Western Bosnia and we always had enough food and supplies on the farm to survive at least one year without any contact with the outside world. We grew our own wheat and corn and always had enough flour for at least three years. We also had cows, chickens and sheep for dairy products, meat and eggs. The sugar and salt would be purchased in the 50 pound equivalent bags. Besides the motor vehicles we also had horses that could be used for farm work and transportation. We even made our own brandy and had at least three years supply of it. During the peaceful times, before the collapse, we only had one firearm, Yugo M57 Tokarev pistol, with about 50 rounds of ammo, but after the things started to go down the hill, are family arsenal improved. We added a Russian PPSH 41 [submachinegun], a Yugo M48 Mauser [bolt action rifle] and a Yugo SKS [semiautomatic] rifle to our arsenal, but we only had few hundred rounds for the each weapon. A lot of times it was really easy to obtain weapons but getting the decent amount of ammo was more challenging. My father was in the reserve status of Yugoslavian Army so he was issued a M48 Mauser but only got 40 rounds of ammunition with it.

When the things started to go bad, we were under impression that we would be okay; since we are on the farm and that we can just live there until everything was over. Boy, where we wrong. When the fighting broke out, the villages, small towns and farms were systematically cleared of people, looted and destroyed. You had a better chance of surviving if you lived in an apartment in the big city of if you lived in the farm that was further away from the front lines. It does not matter how good your house is built, it will not sustain few direct hits from the T-72 tank. Also, it does not matter how well you are armed, unless you have numbers on your side (number of armed people), and you dig in and try to protect your property, you will be over-run and destroyed. Yugoslavia had a fairly strict gun laws before the collapse, basically, you could own pistols, shotguns and bolt guns but after the collapse nearly everyone was equipped with selective fire battle rifles.

I would advise that you don’t keep everything that you have in one location. I was forced to leave my house and take off with just my backpack and weapon. If you can, keep a bug out bag [cached] a few miles away from your house so that you could go to it, if you are forced to abandon your residence. Be prepared to not return to your home for years and try to have another place to live in another part of the country or even some other country. I was not able to go back to my home until years later. Stash as much ammo in different locations as you can. I did not have enough ammo in the first place and whatever I had was used or traded within first month of me leaving my home. Ammo was good trading currency and could get you a meal at any time. Local paper currency was basically worthless but if you had foreign currency, then you were in better shape. At that time German Mark was most popular currency in Europe and could get you anything in former Yugoslavia during the war. The Gold and Silver were good to have but it was harder to find someone that would accept gold and silver as form of payment .

People that lived in big towns also had their share of problems. If they lived in apartment buildings, they were dependent on central heat and when the things started to go bad, there was no more fuel to heat these apartments. Not that many people had wood burning stoves and the winters in Eastern Europe can get really cold. I would advise that if you don’t have a wood burning stove, to get one and store it somewhere until you need it. You will need it not just for heat but also for cooking. The people that had stoves or were able to obtain them or make them then had another problem, getting the firewood. If you live inside of city that is surrounded and you can’t just go outside of city and cut some trees down, obtaining firewood can become your daily battle for survival. Burning your furniture, books, park benches, trees from the parks and every other tree that you can find will be normal. I would advise that if you are going to have a stove either store at least one winter supply of firewood (if you have a place to store it at) or have a plan where you get that firewood when you need it. Another issue that people from the cities faced was the shortage of water. Some people ended up digging wells in the courtyard of their apartment buildings but majority of people who tried this were unsuccessful since they were digging where there was not water or old city utilities were under the places where they tried to dig. Most of the people were forced to make daily runs to water points and bringing the water back to their families. Water points were favorite targets for snipers. Having extra water jugs will help you minimize your visits to water points.

Since this is my first post, I will not make it too long and will stop here until the next time. - A Bosnian Survivor

First of all, thank you for such an informative blog and web site. I wanted to share one of my solutions to the problem of perimeter defense [in worst case situations]. Perhaps it will be of some value. I have created natural hiding places for intruders varying from 80-150 yards around the perimeter of my property. In close proximity to these carefully chosen areas I have made an allowance for the future placement of 1-to-5 gallon containers of gasoline, which are visible from my defensive position yet not readily recognizable to intruders. These may easily be ignited by first puncturing said container with a few rounds from a rifle, thus expelling the liquid, followed by an incendiary round. The eruption is not explosive, however there is a significant fireball and spontaneous ignition of the surrounding area, which I have carefully crafted in order to provide containment for the resulting inferno. With careful planning this would be a great diversionary device, or as I foresee in my planning, a great way to engulf my road barricade in the event of a near breach scenario. I have experimented extensively with this type of arrangement with a 100% ignition success rate in all weather, as a result, I feel that this would be a significant defensive asset in a "do or die" situation. - S. in Northwestern Montana

The BBC is doing another pandemic flu documentary, this one centered on Los Angeles. I did some video stuff for them last fall. I got a call just before Christmas from the Times of London wanting to interview me about the documentary. The BBC reporter said I was apparently the most depressing man in the world, but I told her she should talk to you! Regards, - Michael Bane, Producer, DownRange.TV

Ferd was the first of several readers to mention a news article that illustrates both the current over-reliance on GPS and the need to keep outdoor survival gear packed in your car: Couple stranded three days after GPS leads them astray.

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Our friend Tamara (the editor of the very entertaining View From The Porch blog), suggested this piece about weather whiners. OBTW, Tamara refers to the new Avatar movie as "White Guilt in 3-D. aka Dances with Aliens."

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Best Prices Storable Foods (aka The Internet Grocer) has announced an End-of-Year Blowout Clearance Sale, with the following discounts:

15% off Canned Dehydrated Foods (*excluding* Milk, Morning Moo and Wheat). Code is DEC15.
15% off Mountain House on any order. Free shipping (48 states) on orders over $150. Code is MH15.
15% off Canned Meats, full cases (including Mixed Cases, but not Sample Cases). Code is MEAT15.
15% off Life Sprouts. Code is SPR15.

NOTE: Their shopping cart will accept only one discount code. They will know to apply the other codes if you qualify for them. Sale items for sprouts, meats and Mountain House is limited to the items in stock (Ground Beef--both sizes--is out-of-stock until January). If you qualify for free shipping, don't panic when the cart "charges" shipping. They remove those charges manually before your card is charged. They a are offering (48 continental US states) for year units only. If you've been toying with the idea of getting a Year's Supply
for 1, 2 or 4 (or a 3 Month Supply for 1), they've adjusted pricing for them to allow for free shipping in the continental US

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Reader M.P. mentioned this Scientific American article: Bugs Inside: What Happens When the Microbes That Keep Us Healthy Disappear? The human body has more microbial than human cells, but this rich diversity of micro-helpers that has evolved along with us is undergoing a rapid shift--one that may have very macro health consequences

"We're on a journey - and we don't know it - back to a nation of communities where your character really matters, and where character rests on whether your deeds comport with truthfulness. Many will be dragged kicking and screaming upon that journey, and many a dark night will be passed in the cold and damp on the way. But it will take us to a place where the hearths are burning brightly and the estranged spirits of our national character await a reunion with us: fortitude, patience, generosity, humor. That will be a Christmas to live for and remember" ! - James Howard Kunstler (Author of the post-Peak Oil novel World Made by Hand)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The unabridged audiobook of "Patriots" is scheduled to be released on Thursday (December 31st.) Please wait until Thursday to order a copy.


Today we present another entry for Round 26 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 26 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I am a board certified Internist, and I've read with interest the SurvivalBlog articles on antibiotics. I believe that the one by FlightER, MD was the most informative, but a little over the head of most lay people. In a TEOTWAWKI situation, I think this might be helpful to lay people.

I think it would be wise to have both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications on hand. But they are worthless if not used correctly. That is the problem if you are not trained and experienced in recognizing infections, and thus providing the correct antibiotic for the identified infection. I can describe the most common infections one would most likely encounter, and the best antibiotic to use in each circumstance. Please note, that if medical personnel are available, seek medical advice first, because a mistake could cost you your life if you have a serious infection. My advice is only for use in a situation where seeking medical advice is impossible, like TEOTWAWKI.


Preventing infection is better than treating an infection. The biggest advance in health was the improved sanitation in the early 1900s. Disposing of waste as far as possible from living and cooking and eating areas will prevent the common diarrhea illnesses that kill many when modern medical care is not available.

Any wound, even the most minor scratches should be thoroughly cleaned with soap and water. If dirt and debris is in the wound, do your best to scrub and irrigate with water to clean it out as best as possible. This simple thing will prevent most wound infections. Antibiotic ointments help, but simple washing and copious irrigation of open wounds is the most important.

Good hygiene helps as well. Bathing regularly as much as possible. Wiping after going to the bathroom from front to back for the ladies to prevent urinary tract infections. Brushing your teeth to prevent cavities and gum and dental infections. Having a single intimate partner to prevent STDs. We all know about condoms.

Keep your skin in good condition. Use sunscreens to prevent sunburn, and skin cancers. Use moisturizing cream to keep your skin in good condition as well. If your skin is damaged, dry, scaly which can easily happen if you are doing a lot of manual labor, or out in the hot sun, you are less resistant to skin infections. This includes the feet. If you sweat a lot, take your shoes and socks off twice daily and fan dry them to prevent fungal infections. If your feet are dry and scaly, then use a good moisturizing cream.

Use insect repellant to prevent insect borne infections.

Make sure you have had a recent tetanus booster. In TEOTWAWKI, vaccinations will be difficult to obtain, so make sure you are up to date. You should update your tetanus vaccine every 10 years. The current tetanus vaccine includes diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). Make sure you get this triple vaccine, called Tdap ("T-DAP"). All three of these are rare in the US because of our vaccination campaigns. In some parts of the world where vaccines are not available, these are major killers. Also get your influenza vaccine every year, and ask your Doctor for the pneumonia vaccine. Pneumonia is one of the most common, serious infections, and prevention is always best.



If prevention fails, these are the infections you are most likely to encounter.

1. Common cold. Symptoms are: runny nose, sore throat, cough. You might get a little achy, fatigued, even have a low grade fever up too 100.5 or so. Just take some cough and cold meds. It will go away by itself. Please do not take antibiotics for this. It is a total waste of your resources. Antibiotics will not help, and may make you worse if you have an adverse reaction.

2. Cellulitis . This is a potentially serious infection. It usually arises from an injury, like a cut, or puncture wound. It is easily recognizes as an expanding area of redness. It is warm, and tender to touch. As it enlarges, you will eventually develop a fever, and have chills. Swollen lymph glands may appear nearby. This may also develop into the classic "red streak" going up an arm or leg. This is called "lymphangitis," but is a type of cellulitis. The idea is that it is expanding/enlarging, usually quickly, over hours you can see a difference. This is life threatening, and requires antibiotics. It might have been prevented by washing a wound, and applying antibiotic ointment, but now it is too late for that. Systemic antibiotics are necessary. This is usually a type of streptococcus ("strep") infection, similar to what causes strep throat. It is sometimes Staph. The best antibiotic for this is Cephalexin (Keflex), or Erythromycin if you are allergic to Penicillin.

3. Sinusitis You will know you have a sinus infection if you have sinus pressure or pain, discolored drainage, and swollen glands in the neck. Sometimes a fever will be present. Usually Amoxicillin will work for this, or Augmentin. If you are allergic to penicillin, then Bactrim is a good choice.

4. Bronchitis This is almost always viral, and does not require antibiotics, unless you have chronic lung disease, or if you are a smoker. In that case, Amoxicillin will work for this, or Augmentin. If you are allergic to penicillin, then Bactrim is a good choice.

4. Pneumonia Pneumonia is not easy to diagnose, even for a Medical Doctor without x-rays, but if you have a cough, and fever above 101 degrees F, I would assume it is pneumonia, especially if you are having chest pain or shortness of breath. The best choices here are Avelox, Levaquin, and Azithromycin. If these are not available due to cost, Amoxicillin, and Augmentin will usually work, as will Erythromycin.

4. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) The symptoms are painful urination, and the feeling of needing to urinate frequently, and an urgent feeling to urinate. In women, this is usually a bladder infection, and three days of Cipro, Bactrim, or Macrodantin will usually work. If there is also flank pain, and fever, I would assume it is a kidney infection, and treat with Cipro or Bactrim for two weeks. For men, unless you have some abnormality in your bladder or kidneys, it is almost always a prostate infection (prostatitis). A fever may or may not be present. This requires 30 days of either Bactrim or Cipro.

5. Gonorrhea and chlamydia For men, the symptoms are painful urination, and a discharge. We always assume both gonorrhea and chlamydia are present, and treat for both. Ideally, this would be treated with an injection of ceftriaxone, or oral Suprax (cefixime) 400mg, and a week of doxycycline. In TEOTWAWKI, I would try a single dose of Cipro 500mg orally for the gonorrhea, and a week of Doxycycline 100mg twice daily. Resistance to Cipro is being reported, so it is not ideal treatment. If you have Azithromycin, a single oral dose of 1 gram (1000mg) will take care of Chlamydia, so the simplest regimen would be Cipro 500mg orally, and Azithromycin 1000mg orally as a single dose. For women, the symptoms are pelvic pain and discharge (PID), and sometimes fever. Please do not treat this at home unless you have no alternative. This is a serious infection, and it is easy to confuse this with appendicitis, or other serious, life threatening conditions. The only oral regimen recognized for PID is Levofloxacin 500mg daily for 14 days.

6. Boils These are easily recognized. They are enlarging, painful cysts. Like giant pimples, they usually come to a head eventually, and open and drain pus. The best treatment is to open them, and drain using a scalpel. Do not squeeze them, because if they rupture internally, you have converted a minor thing into a serious thing. It is best to apply heat, and take antibiotics until the boil is "mature." It will come to a head (have a white point in the center) and can be easily drained, or will become fluctuant (mushy feeling) where you can lance it open to drain. The best antibiotic today is Bactrim, as this is almost always a Staph infection, and many are resistant to other antibiotics. These are MRSA Staph infections.

7. Impetigo These are superficial skin infections. They are weepy, crusted patches on the skin. Children are most prone, but adults can get it also. It is usually strep or staph infections, and the best antibiotic is Cephalexin, or Augmentin. Erythromycin will work also.

8. Middle ear infection The symptom is a painful ear. Sometimes also a fever. It is not always easy to differentiate it from "swimmers ear," which is an infection in the ear canal. If the ear hurts, and there is not obvious swelling and tenderness in the ear canal, I would assume it is a middle ear infection. Amoxicillin, Bactrim, Augmentin, Cephalexin would all work.

9. Swimmers ear This is the other "earache." The ear hurts, and if you look in the ear canal, and compare with the normal ear, the canal will be obviously swollen, sometimes swollen shut. If you gently wiggle the ear, to put some traction on the ear canal, it will be very tender. Middle ear infections will not be tender. Antibiotic ear drops are needed here. If you want to conserve money for supplies, have some antibiotic eye drops on hand. These can be used for eye infections, and will also work in the ear. DO NOT TRY THE REVERSE. DO NOT PUT ANTIBIOTIC EAR DROPS IN THE EYE. IT REALLY HURTS!!!

10. Toothache This is always caused by mouth bacteria. They are always sensitive to penicillin, so Amoxicillin is best. Erythromycin is a good alternative if you are allergic to Penicillin .[JWR Adds: But of course don't ignore treatment for any underlying cause of the ache such as impaction!]

11. Pink eye This is usually viral. So cold compresses, and artificial tears will do. If the drainage is especially foul, discolored, then it could be bacterial, and antibiotic eye drops may help. Sulfacetamide ophthalmic solution is inexpensive and should work fine. Ofloxacin if you are allergic to Sulfa.

12. Diarrhea illnesses These are usually viral infections, and will resolve on their own in a few days if left alone. Just take Imodium, and drink plenty of fluids. If you are having a lot of abdominal pain with the diarrhea, or are having blood tinged diarrhea, and running a fever, it could be a bacterial infection, so in TEOTWAWKI, I would try Cipro. This will treat most of the bacterial causes of diarrhea. Remember also, these are usually sanitation failures. So good sanitation, and hand washing are good preventatives.

13. Cold sores/ genital Herpes These are caused by essentially the same virus. They are easily recognized as clustered small blisters, and are very painful. The blisters are easily ruptured, so sometimes all you see are small ulcers. The key thing is that they are very painful. Acyclovir is effective for cold sores on the lip, and genital herpes. Acyclovir also works for shingles.

14. Influenza Influenza is usually only seen in the "flu season." It is also easily recognized. It is like a cold on steroids. It is a respiratory illness, causing a cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, muscle aches, and fever. Fever is usually 101 F or higher. One hallmark of influenza is extreme fatigue. If you are not exhausted, you are not likely a "flu" victim. Tamiflu is effective, but must be started within 48 hours of onset of illness to be effective.

15. Animal bites Animal bites are considered infected from day one. Most Doctors initiate antibiotics immediately. The best thing to try to prevent infection is to thoroughly cleanse the wound. If the wound is open, that is actually better, because you can more easily irrigate copiously with water. Sterile saline is not necessary. If you have clean tap water, that is fine. Use liters of irrigation. Bandage the wound, apply antibiotic ointment, and immediately start antibiotics. Augmentin is usually used because of the bacteria which usually cause the infection.

Antibiotic Medications to have on hand in TEOTWAWKI

OTC antibiotic medications

1. Bacitracin or Double antibiotic ointment (do not use Triple antibiotic, or Neosporin ointment, these are highly allergic).
2. Povidine (Betadine) is a great solution to cleanse wounds. It contains iodine. Those who are allergic to iodine should avoid.
3. Hibiclens This is a good alternative as a cleansing solution for those allergic to iodine. Several gallons would not be too much.

Prescription antibiotic medications

1. These antibiotics are relatively inexpensive, and would be effective for almost anything you would encounter: Amoxicillin, Cipro, Bactrim DS, Doxycycline, Erythromycin, Cephalexin, and Sulfacetamide Ophthalmic solution.

2. If you have antibiotic allergies, or if you want a more complete armamentarium of medications, I would include: Augmentin, Zithromycin, Avelox, Suprax, Macrodantin, Acyclovir, and Tamiflu.

This is the usual doses for adults of the antibiotics mentioned

Amoxicillin 500mg three times daily for 10 days

Augmentin 875/125 twice daily for 10 days

Cipro 500mg twice daily for 10 -30 days

Azithromycin 250mg take 2 tablets the first day, then 1 tablet daily after that for 4 days.

Avelox 400mg daily for 10 days

Suprax 400mg as a one time dose

Macrodantin 100mg twice daily for 7-10 days

Acyclovir 400mg three times daily for 5-14 days

Tamiflu 75mg twice daily for 5 days

Doxycycline 100mg twice daily for 10 days

Bactrim DS 1 tablet twice daily for 10-30 days

Erythromycin 333mg three times daily for 10 days

Cephalexin 500mg four times daily for 10 days

Sulfacetamide eye drops 1 drop in affected eye four times daily for 7 days. For the ear, 3-4 drops in the affected ear 4 times daily for 7 days

Your blog readers continue to be generous and devoted to efforts in Zambia through Anchor of Hope Charities. Your wife’s memorial fund continues to bring much prosperity to the children. [As of mid-December,] $12,692.43 has now been raised. There are several of your readers now making repeat donations. One generous check came recently for $1,000! This is amazing to me.

These donations continue to keep us busy! By us I mean two of us at Anchor of Hope Charities - and Ronnie and Kennedy Mvulo, the Zambian couple who run the orphanage. We are busy negotiating with local vendors, purchasing supplies, and coordinating the building efforts. We are also making plans for our next trip in May. Our hope is to have a medical team available to offer services to those in the surrounding communities. I would venture to say that 1,000 local people will end up camping out, waiting to see our US doctors and dentists. It should be an amazing experience for both Zambians and Americans.

It’s funny, Jim. Because of all the work that’s being done in the area, people are starting to take notice. They too want to be a part of the work. We are starting to see local donations of work and some supplies.

I cannot express to you what an impact we are making. But I’m truly grateful. My best to you and our readers. - Judy Kendall, Director, Anchor of Hope Charities

JWR Replies: I am most profoundly gratified to see such an outpouring of charity to such a worthy cause. I urge anyone that has not yet donated to go ahead and do so. For readers in the US: If you make a donation before December 31st, it will be deductible for the current tax year.

Tod sent us this troubling piece of news: First Case of Highly Resistant TB Seen in U.S.

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I recently got a chance to see the new movie The Road, based on the same-titled novel by Cormac McCarthy. Do not consider this movie a survival manual, since the tactical mistakes displayed were numerous. Most notably, large campfires were lit at night, in circumstance where it was in fact important to avoid detection. "Cold camps" or at least using small tin can stoves would have been much more appropriate! I don't want to post any spoilers, so I'll refrain from further comment on details in the movie. Despite the gaffes, the film is still worth seeing, and I even more highly recommend reading the novel.

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Reader F.G. noticed this National Geographic article: North Magnetic Pole Moving East at 37 miles per year. Even if you don't get the most current topographic maps, then at least be sure to update the magnetic north declination data on the maps that you keep on hand and carry!

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Mark P. sent us this: Solar power coming to a store near you; Buyer be warned, however — the DIY part of solar goes beyond installation

"Science has come full-circle, taking a page from the medieval Church by using fear and persecution to silence sceptics. The oppressed have become the oppressors. Given that most professional scientific bodies and peer-reviewed journals have been active accomplices in this scandal, one wonders how many other so called scientific consensuses have been similarly engineered and waiting for their own ClimateGates before truth is known." - Joanne Nova

Monday, December 28, 2009

Dear Editor:
Pam N. wrote an excellent addition to the blog that was posted on December 24th. Their is a couple of points I'd like to add.

Be careful keeping rabbits in an area without a lot of ventilation. Rabbit urine puts off an ammonia type smell that evidently can damage their health. We regularly get freezing weather in the winter and then as high as 110 in the summer and our rabbits stay outside all year round.

While it's made very clear on the package not to use it on anything other than cattle, Ivomectrin is very helpful in treating rabbits. We have used it on dogs and rabbits for over a decade. The VetRX rabbit product should be in the vet kit as well.

Rabbits do require protein for good growth as Pam pointed out. However they will eat most any of your vegetable and fruit scraps, cut grass from your yard (non-weed sprayed of course), most whole grains and many deciduous (smaller) branches. Ours love fruit tree branches so at pruning time the trimmings are put right into a wheel barrow and go right to the rabbits. Whole green corn stalks are pulled apart and given to the rabbits after corn is harvested off of them, they love the green corn husks also. Our rabbit pellets go into 55 gallon drums that are kept outside near the rabbits. Usually they are rotated within a year's time.

We separate the young from the mother at around 6-to-8 weeks. Most folks say to butcher then but their really isn't much meat on them at that time. We put them into a separate larger cage that my son called "the playground cage" since the rabbits seemed to always be playing around in there. Usually they are kept another four weeks or so before they are butchered.

Their are several advantages and disadvantages to rabbits for the survivalist-


  • Small animal that can be eaten during one meal, thereby circumventing the need for refrigeration.
  • Small animal that could be taken with you during a vehicle bug out. Put 2-to-3 rabbits in one cage to conserve space. [JWR Adds: Sibling males that have been raised in the same cage together generally get along, but introducing a new male into a cage is almost certain to cause a fight, possibly a fight to the death. Also, does should always be taken to the buck's cage for breeding, rather than vice versa! And if a buck is rejected by the doe, he should be removed from the cage immediately. Breeding age does should generally be caged by themselves, although if need be, their own offspring can often be left in the same cage with their mother until they are close to butcher size.]
  • They are normally quiet as compared to chickens, goats, etc.
  • Meat, fur and fertilizer, guts get put in the fish traps or given to the dogs.
  • Can withstand cold weather pretty well. [But very high temperatures can be a problem.]
  • Very little veterinary care required as compared to cows, pigs, etc.
  • Low initial costs compared to larger animals.


  • Cannot forage for themselves while in cages
  • Require regular care versus a flock of chickens allowed to free range that may only require a little bit of supplemental feed.
  • Not a lot of fat on the carcass. Domestic rabbit will have some fat on it but nothing like beef or pork. This is good for health now but may be a disadvantage if the SHTF.

Merry Christmas! - Robert (from

I was thinking about the fishing e-mails and thinking: why are we talking [about using hand-held] rods?

In a true TEOTWAWKI situation [where present-day conventions and legalities on sport fishing have gone by the wayside] I don't want to be standing there for hours trying to catch dinner just like I don't want to be sitting in a tree stand trying to shoot dinner either. Like hunting, which I tend to agree with you on (you do it all the time by carrying your rifle and being ready at all times -- or at least some firearm capable of taking big game)...the same goes for fishing.

Should I find myself near a lake or pond that has fish in it I'll rig up a trot/trout line and get it set across the lake or between to jutting trees etc. Then I'll go back to surviving and check the line later in the day, even the next day. I don't have to sit there and watch it so I can gather wood, work in my garden (should I be fortunate enough to have one) etc etc..

When I was young I remember an older native lady who used to set up multiple poles on the pier she fished from. It was up north in British Columbia and far anyone so no worries about getting in trouble with the law. The point is, she put multiple hooks in the water then went back into her little shack and waited out the day doing something else.

She always caught lots of fish and you'd never know unless you watched her pull them up or put the lines in...she often set trout lines from one wharf to another also and always caught fish on them.

How did I know? I was an enterprising young lad who spent hours with my rod and reel to catch one or two fish, while she caught 10 or 12.

So it's just lines, hooks and gear of that sort for me with one or two compact rods to use if traveling.

Otherwise, why waste the time? - Erik

While a good discussion on fishing gear please remember that post-collapse the "old" rules no longer apply.

There are two excellent methods for getting fish that have not been mentioned.
The first is courtesy of Larry Dean Olsen (primitive survival expert) and I have tried this myself and it works like a champ. Basically you trap a small rodent (ground squirrel, prairie dog, etc. that you would not eat) and hang it over a deep cut bank on a stream or lake. As flies come maggots will grow and gravity being what it is, they will drop off the carcass and into the water. This process takes three days at a minimum. But it conditions the fish to come to that spot for a "free" meal. Then using a large net or other means, the fish are relatively easy to catch.

The second is courtesy of my brother who worked doing fish surveys for the Division of Wildlife in the back country of Utah for a number of years while finishing his education. Basically you drive two copper rods into the bottom of the stream or pond and attach them to your vehicle's electrical system (I use jumper cables). The 12 volt DC current acts as a magnet for the fish and you can pick and choose which ones you want for supper. Now I've only tried this in areas that are predominately populated by trout and char (brook and lake trout) so I do not know if it works on other species. - Hugh D.

Many of your readers seem to think that hunting and fishing are going to be feasible ways to feed their families after the balloon goes up. I guess this is possible in very remote areas, but I would caution them not to count on it. Even assuming the disaster that caused the collapse doesn't destroy wildlife (radiation for instance), wild game is a very undependable food resource.

The assumption is that without game laws, a resourceful fisherman can take many times more fish from a body of water than if he were following rules. This is absolutely true. Having fished with grenades in the past, I can vouch for the effectiveness of unrestrained fishing techniques.

Unfortunately, game laws are there for a reason: to keep the resources from being over-exploited. I participated in an exercise with a Tahan Pran unit (Irregulars attached to the Royal Thai Army) in 1986 and watched a platoon fish out an entire section of a fairly large river in just a few days. By the end of a week, they stopped throwing grenades in the water because there weren't enough fish to justify the activity any more. This small group of people basically denuded several miles of river and harvested all the fish available, including minnows. We ate a lot of fish that week, but their technique was too effective for long term use.

Even a large body of water has a finite carrying capacity and I expect most of them will be exceeded after the balloon goes up. Even if nobody is fishing with dynamite, lots of people are going to have the same idea and most bodies of water are going to be exploited much more heavily than they currently are. Most lakes, rivers and ponds are stocked regularly with fish to keep anglers happy. Without constant re-stocking and feeding programs, the watershed will be dependent on native fish breeding to restock. This is a slow process at best. Add to that over fishing by lots of hungry people and I expect water resources to be quickly depleted in most areas.

Hunting is even more prone to over-exploitation. Shooting deer from a feeding station or spotlighting them is very easy, but the downside is that anyone can do it. Deer, bear, and other large game may be poached to extinction in most areas and are going to be scarce wherever there are hungry people. Even rabbits and squirrels are likely to be in short supply.

Perhaps more serious is the topic of security. After TEOTWAWKI I expect fishing to be extremely hazardous. Water courses and lake shores are lines of drift and attract people. Standing around dangling a hook in the water seems to me to be a very dangerous activity and drifting around in a boat can make you a convenient target. You are vulnerable to rifle fire from basically anywhere on the shore. Tramping around in the woods is little better. If you run into anyone, you may find yourself on the receiving end of an ambush, or at best, in a battle, far from help.

Hunting and fishing are very time consuming (with the exception of traps and trot-lines). After TEOTWAWKI, there may be better uses for your time and energy. If you are truly isolated, hunting and fishing can be valid ways to put some meat on the table, but if you are anywhere near a population center, I would forget about buying fishing gear and use the extra money to store more food. - JIR

F.G. spotted this: New high-tech vehicles pose trouble for mechanics. Here is a quote from the article: "As cars become vastly more complicated than models made just a few years ago, Baur is often turning down jobs and referring customers to auto dealer shops. Like many other independent mechanics, he does not have the thousands of dollars to purchase the online manuals and specialized tools needed to fix the computer-controlled machines." F.G.'s comment: "It sounds like that clean, 1965 Mustang, or 1978 pick-up truck may be a better investment than just being a nice vintage ride. You can still work on it yourself. "

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Freeze Dry Guy has introduced a number of novel scheduled buying club plans. This is designed to inexpensively and consistently set aside a supply of long term storage food for your family. These plans uses calendar-scheduled discount purchases, based on your available budget.

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Reader D.A.S. notes that Brownell's has a article on different rust preventatives and their effectiveness. This great information for storing metal equipment and tools.

"The degree of equality in education that we can reasonably hope to attain, but that should be adequate, is that which excludes all dependence, either forced or voluntary. We shall show how this condition can be easily attained in the present state of human knowledge even by those who can study only for a small number of years in childhood, and then during the rest of their life in their few hours of leisure. We shall prove that, by a suitable choice of syllabus and methods of education, we can teach the citizen everything that he needs to know in order to be able to manage his household, administer his affairs, and employ his labor and his faculties in freedom; to know his rights and to be able to exercise them; to be acquainted with his duties and fulfill them satisfactorily; to judge his own and other men's actions according to his own lights and to be a stranger to none of the high and delicate feelings which honor human nature; not to be in a state of blind dependence upon those to whom he must entrust his affairs or the exercise of his rights; to be in a proper condition to choose and supervise them; to be no longer the dupe of those popular errors which torment man with superstitious fears and chimerical hopes; to defend himself against prejudice by the strength of his reason alone; and, finally, to escape the deceits of charlatans who would lay snares for his fortune, his health, his freedom of thought and his conscience under the pretext of granting him health, wealth, and salvation." - Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat, marquis de Condorcet

Sunday, December 27, 2009

This is in response to the articles on fishing. Depending on where you are, I would assume that everyone and his relations will be sitting on the bank and hoping for a fish to bite. Fishing is hit or miss, unless you have a boat and have spent a great deal of time on the water, you will starve to death waiting for a fish to bite. You will be sitting exposed and probably looking over your shoulder.

I have a better solution and it is one that will work every time it is tried. Assuming you are operating in survival mode, a device my dad and, now I, have is a simple thing called a crawfish (crayfish, or freshwater lobster) rake. You make a rectangular wire basket with a long pole on the top and the end facing you open. You thrust it out into the water and let it sink. Then you rapidly pull it back in by letting it drag along the bottom. You dump it on the bank and poke through all the leaves and sticks for all the small fish (occasional big fish), crawfish, frogs, mussels etc. You not only have bait, you can also add this to a pot of stew or gumbo, it may not look good but I assure you it will be good for you. I am attaching a picture of one I've used for 25 years. You can probably describe it better than I can for your readers.

You can easily supply the protein needs of a family with what you can drag out of a ditch, or most any still body of water. The murkier the water the better.

Another devise is a minnow seine, one or more persons will have to get in the water. One end is secured on land, the other is walked out into the water and then in a wide arc as it is slowly walked until you get the other end on shore. Then you simply keep walking until the net and its contents are on shore. I recommend at least a 20 foot one.

There is also a device called a cast net, it requires practice, but is very effective at catching fish.

Webbing is very effective, this requires a boat or shallow water and is extremely effective at snaring fish, turtles, etc. I have a 100 foot one stored in a duffle that will go with us when we bug out.

A hoop net is another type of net. There is a company in Jonesville, Louisiana called Champlin Net Company. They have been making and selling nets for as long as I remember (Hoop, webbing, gill, and even baseball). [JWR Adds: OBTW, the large mesh commercial fishing netting (1.5-inch squares) is also perfect to use for the base layer for assembling ghillie camouflage ponchos.]

Although bulky, fish and crab traps are also effective. They can be hidden and out of sight, just remember where you deployed them. And don't forget the trot line and simple lines tied to tree limbs that you run at intervals during the day and night.

Everyone likes to get out the rod and reels, but ask anyone who goes fishing how many trips they make to Wal-Mart or Academy Sports for supplemental gear for every trip. There may not be a sporting goods store to go to, so keep plenty of hooks, line and sinkers. Don't just keep monofilament line, it goes bad from old age.

Hope this helps, catching a mess of fish is great and the eating is good. But using any or all the techniques I have described above will feed you every day. Thanks, - Ken G.


Mr. Editor,
No offense to W. in Atlanta - but that isn't a TEOTWAWKI fishing article, it is geared more toward "what to consider before your weekend fishing trip" article.

First, my nephews catch just as many pan fish (from shore) on their $12 SpongeBob Squarepants and Batman poles as I do with my 10x more expensive Shimano/St. Croix rods. So while it's a good idea to have some more expensive/reliable equipment, you might also consider getting a number of bubble pack rod/reel units too. More hooks in the water, lots of spare parts,
and cheap.

Regarding fly fishing - It's difficult enough to remain semi-hidden when fishing from shore, but a fly fisherman flipping a 9' rod around while wading in waist deep water can be seen from a great distance. It also puts you at a serious disadvantage tactically. Another advantage of the cheap bubble pack rods is their short length, making it easier to cast from the cover of weeds, trees, or rocks - albeit at less distance.

Some additional equipment I'd add would be:

1) Gill nets with mesh sizes appropriate for the fish species in the nearest bodies of water, and nylon rope for trot lines. Draped under the waterline after dark, these hopefully go unnoticed during the day for retrieval the next night. These also allow you to be 'fishing' while you're performing other activities.

2) Minnow nets/traps for bait (and pet food).

3) Ice fishing gear, if applicable (or again, another use for the short bubble pack poles).

4) Devices capable of producing an underwater shock wave. ('Nuff said).

Lastly, don't forget to store lots of brine ingredients, seasonings, and freezer bags/wrap, cause at TEOTWAWKI we're going catching - not fishing.

Merry Christmas, - Off-Grid Al

Mr. Rawles:
Just a quick note. For years my father-in-law used a refrigerator, stripped of motor and coils, buried in the backyard.on it’s back to ‘pit’ his potatoes

He would add some straw and store his veggies. The rubber seal was removed as was the [door latch] closure mechanism. A simple handle allowed access with no worry about children getting into trouble. A few holes allowed any water to drain. The local water table is many yards under the surface so that was never a concern. Only about one inch of the refrigerator's body was above ground.

If use of a refrigerator is not allowed in your jurisdiction, then the trash cans might work. But I would suggest adding insulation prior to dropping the can in the ground.

As always, thanks for the blog and all the fine folks who write in. Thanks, - Hambone

EMB mentioned this creative housing uses for old water tanks and round grain bins: Annesley's Art House

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Also from EMB: New Panasonic Lithium-Ion Battery to Power Up a House--New Li-Ion Battery Coming from Panasonic in 2011

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K.T. sent this humorous Steve Lee music video from Australia: I Like Guns. Visually, you will note that it is orchestrated into a lovely crescendo of shooty goodness.

"To confess you were wrong yesterday, is only to acknowledge that you are a little wiser today." - Charles Spurgeon

Saturday, December 26, 2009

I would expect that most readers of SurvivalBlog either are good marksmen already, or desire to be better marksmen. I consider myself to belong to the latter group with skills that place me, at best, in the very modest middle of that category. As the prices of ammunition and reloading components increased during this past year my visits to the range became fewer and fewer while my skills languished accordingly. This is not good for someone who hopes to be better prepared to put meat on the table, or to defend oneself.

Not long ago my younger brother was hampered by the rising cost of regular practice at his local range, decided to try a bit different means of honing his marksmanship skills: indoor target practice using his pellet rifle and pellet pistol. I know that this is probably not a new concept to many SurvivalBlog readers, but I had never given much consideration to it until my brother began emailing me photos of his ever improving groups.

I decided that he must be onto something and that I would give it a try as well. I established an unobstructed lane in my basement from one wall, through a doorway to my garage, to the outside garage wall. This gave me just over ten useable yards--not a long range, but plenty long enough to practice the basics and fundamentals of shooting with pellet rifle and pellet pistol. Whether a target is 30 feet away or 500 yards away, you still need to concentrate on such things as steady position, sight picture, breathing, and all the other elements of marksmanship that result in making the projectile go where you intend it to go.
In the weeks since I began using my little range-in-the-home I am very pleased with the steady progress I have been making. I'm a long way from striking fear into the hearts of the competitors at Camp Perry, but the local game animal population may have greater cause for concern. With the cost of pellets being negligible compared to the cost of rifle and pistol ammunition I can now shoot many, many more times per session and thereby more readily discover and correct shooting errors than I could have otherwise.

A few bits of cautionary advice might be helpful to readers who may want to try this method. Do not underestimate the power of a pellet rifle or pistol. They can be lethal. The pellets can easily tear through a layer of plywood with enough energy left over to damage the mortar in a block wall (don't ask how I know this), so be sure you have a backstop that can safely stop the pellets without ricochets which are also dangerous. Also, I have chosen to wear a thin nitrile glove, such as mechanics sometimes wear, on my right hand as a precaution against absorbing lead from the pellets I am handling. I don't know if this is necessary, but I handle quite a few pellets during a session, so I figure it can't hurt to take that added step.

A range-in-the-home can never fully substitute for practice with "real" firearms at a "real" shooting range, of course, but it can certainly help you to sharpen or maintain your skills when the weather, or the cost of ammunition is frightful. - Daniel M.

Hi Jim,
Thank you so much for the wealth of information on your blog. It is encouraging to see so many people working towards self-sufficiency.

I was recently introduced to a gardening concept called Square Foot Gardening. There are several advantages to the concept not the least of which are: much less area needed to grow a bounty of fresh veggies, no longer needing to till a large area that only grows plants in a few inch-wide rows, less watering, no weeds, and also no need for numerous gardening tools to tend your crops. A friend used this method last year and had fabulous results; until a once-in-a-lifetime hail storm wiped out her crops with golf-ball sized hail. For more information, readers can go to the web site or read the book All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew.

In the book, he had a great alternative to the traditional root cellar. My husband and I are doing everything we can to prepare for TEOTWAWKI, including paying off a mortgage, car loan, etc., as fast as we can, thus are doing our prep work as frugally as we can. A large concern about growing produce is of course storing the fruits of our labor. I can some and dehydrate some, but I also wanted an inexpensive way to keep fresh veggies and possibly some apples over the winter. In his book, Mel suggests using either plastic or metal garbage cans (probably the bigger, the better) and burying them in the ground, leaving the top couple of inches above ground so that you can still fit the lid on snugly. You then layer inside the can moist sawdust, peat moss or sand (I am planning on using straw since my husband grows so much of it!). Note: this method is for veggies that need cold moist conditions such as all root crops and those in the cabbage family. You then secure the lid tightly, cover with at least 12 inches of hay or leaves, and then cover that with a well secured tarp to keep the moisture off the mulching material, so that you can access the lid to the can throughout the winter. I was also thinking it would be a good idea to line the can with a trash bag so that you can easily lift out the contents at the bottom of the can as you use them up, and to help prevent additional unwanted moisture from seeping in.

I am curious if you or your readers have any thoughts or experience in this area. Thank you so much in advance, and may Christ richly bless you this Christmas season! Warmly, - W.D.

I just wanted to pass along a link to a company that sells new made in USA alternators for common vehicles, 190 up to 270 amps, and brackets and belts to run duals. the base model 190 amp puts out a 130 amps at idle ( factory puts out maybe 60 amps, on a full size truck) these things look built to last, and would run an inverter a lot better than stock, never mind worrying about burning out your electrical system. I will be getting one of these soon! As usual just an interested consumer, not affiliated with company at all. I saw this at the blog. - Matt Bradley

The Road hits the theaters. (Thanks to SurvivalBlog old timer Charley S. for the link.)

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Safety First: Frozen lake leads to tragedy for California family. People do love their pets, but human life must be preserved, above all!

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Reader F.G. mentioned this smokin' deal: Complete MOLLE II pack, frame, straps, ruck, belt, and sleep bag carrier sets for under $50

"A people may want a free government; but if, from insolence, or carelessness, or cowardice, or want of public spirit, they are unequal to the exertions necessary for preserving it; if they will not fight for it when it is directly attacked; if they can be deluded by the artifices used to cheat them out of it; if by momentary discouragement or temporary panic, or a fit of enthusiasm for an individual they can be induced to lay their liberties at the feet of even a great man, or trust him with powers which enable him to subvert their institutions; in all cases they are more or less unfit for liberty; and though it may be for their good to have had it even for a short time, they are unlikely long to enjoy it." - John Stuart Mill, Essays on Representative Government, 1861 & 1862

Friday, December 25, 2009

The upgrade job is turning out to take longer than expected. SurvivalBlog, now with over 8,100 posts, has gotten too big for the old publishing system to handle. The archives are still mostly down, until we can work things out. WE hope to have everything up and running again soon. Merry Christmas!


I was recently interviewed by Cope Reynolds on The Shooting Bench Internet radio show. (Be sure to scroll through the extensive archives of their podcasts.)


Today we present another entry for Round 26 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 26 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Much has been written in these pages and elsewhere about prepping for food: maintaining protein and caloric intake. Fish are an excellent source of protein, and will continue to be so under most post-SHTF scenarios. How does a person go about preparing to catch them, and convert them to food?

I write this as someone who has had the good luck to have fished over the last fifty plus years in every continent but Australia, and survived, and who has designed and built hundreds of rods in pursuit of every conceivable species of fish using a wide range of techniques. I prefer the anonymity that others on this blog use, but my articles on fishing have appeared in national and regional magazines over the years. I also happen to be a prepper. More correctly put, I have been a prepper for a while without realizing it, until I read Patriots and other writings by Mr. Rawles, and others!

I must qualify any recommendations I make:

  • First of all, fishing gear is the subject of exhaustive discussions on every possible media. It’s the nature of things that fishermen and women get very detailed, and opinionated, in what works and doesn’t. By making recommendations, it is not my intent to stir the pot. I have tried to keep my comments as brief and as practical as possible.
  • Secondly, name brands of gear. I happen to lean towards Penn and Abu reels with a preference for the older models, and make most of my own rods from blanks made by Calstar, Seeker, Loomis, Sage, Lamiglas, Amtak, Cabela's, Tiger, and more. However, these preferences are meaningless for the purposes of this letter. There is a lot of other gear out there that is high quality, made by these manufacturers and others such as Shimano, Daiwa, Bass Pro shops and others. Instead my recommendations are based on line capacities, which drive size, weight and to some extent drag performance, and commonly available rod lengths and lure sizes. You must pick out the outfit(s) that fit your situation.
  • Third, I am assuming in a TEOTWAWKI situation you will have no access to a boat (or if you do then you may lack a vehicle to pull it with) and will be on foot. In a boat, you can get by with a lot less casting, so the equipment recommendations may be different. What I present below is a set of opinions based on distillation of a lot of ideas and my experiences.
  • So, this is addressed to those intrepid souls who have their wits about them, even if not a lot of fishing infrastructure, as they diligently prepare for scenarios they may be confronted with. I’ll start with outfit types then move to terminal tackle, then inexpensive alternatives.

The spinning outfit. If I were limited to a single outfit for a vast majority of the situations I would encounter anywhere in the Americas it would be a spinning outfit. The technology enables a user to cast and manipulate small and large lures and baited hooks efficiently across a wide spectrum of applications, and species of fish.

The actual size outfit will vary, however, depending on where one is located:

  • For 80 percent of the applications in the Americas: that is where one may encounter fish up to, say, 20 lbs., in relatively unobstructed water, a rod in the 6 ½ - 7’ range designed to handle lures from ¼ to ½ ounce or so, with a reel having a line capacity of 200 yards of 10 lb. test line will handle things nicely.
  • If in higher altitudes and latitudes where trout, small salmon and char predominate, I would lean toward a lighter outfit; something in the 6 - 6 ½’ length designed to handle lures from 1/8 to 3/8 ounce or so, with a reel capacity of 200 yards of so of six pound line.
  • In lower altitudes and latitudes, in water full of trees and brush, as well as for light salt water use, I would go with a rod in the 7’ range designed to handle lures from 3/8-3/4 or so, sporting a reel having a capacity of around 200 yards of fifteen pound line.

A decent outfit meeting any of these descriptions can be had starting at about fifty bucks, and going upward from there (substantially upward!).

If you can, buy extra line for the reels in various line classes at, above and below the recommended ones, as these can be used as replacement lines or to quickly add a leader to the existing line of a smaller diameter to fool finicky fish, or larger diameter to prevent toothy fish such as pike (in fresh water) and mackerel (in salt water) from biting through your line.

The spin casting outfit. Also called “push button” “closed face spinning” and “under spin” reels, depending on whether they are mounted above or below the handle on a rod, these are instantly recognizable by their enclosed shroud inside which the line is stored. These are great outfits for kids to learn fishing with, but they have no place in a prepper’s set of tools, unless nothing else is available or as a backup.

I have a number of these reels, including some expensive models, and observe that drags are uniformly weak and the line pickups are poor. The line pickups for example are either a stationary – non-rolling – pin of steel or coated material, or are integral to the rotating head and have a serrated edge, not unlike like a bread knife, with a predictable impact on line wear. With these reels the line quickly twists and frays, as any dad with a fishing kid can attest. As a result, line life is very short compared to reels that have ball bearing line rollers such as spinning reels or reels where there is very little contact with the line as it is retrieved, such as bait casting reels.

Another factor: the design of these reels is utterly incompatible with saltwater because of its closed face which traps salt water, and quickly rusts the reel out unless you have the time and means to meticulously clean and air, re-lubricate and reassemble the reel after each use. So unless you have plenty of extra line and spare time to maintain the equipment, I wouldn’t bother with spin casting if prepping for a wide range of situations.

The fly outfit. These are far better suited to the gathering of fish protein than some would think, a fact which has been underlined by some well thought of outdoor writers such as HG Tapply of Tap’s Tips (Field and Stream) fame which I used to read avidly. In reality, the fly outfit is deadly at laying out not only flies and streamers, but also dangling worms from a distance, even flipping perch bellies for bass, pickerel and pike.

Once you figure out you are casting the line rather than the lure, things fall into place. Another plus is that, with a little practice, once you have made your first cast into an area it takes only a second or so to place a lure or bait into a productive fish zone if it has drifted away or if you are working a shoreline: there is no need to retrieve the line and cast it back out – you simply lift it off the water and with a flick move it to the next spot.

Simplicity is the key. For example, there is little need for a reel to do anything but hold line, so you can strip out the line you need when you start fishing, then wind it back on the reel when you are done (or need to move on to the next spot and don’t want to trail loops of line behind you on the ground). The fish is fought by stripping the line backward through your fingers. Thus, for most applications the typical “single action” fly reel is dirt simple: a spool with a 1:1 gear ratio which rotates on an axis mounted on a frame.

Some of the fancier reels for large fresh and salt water fish have serious drags so you can fight the fish “from the reel”. There are also “multiplier” reels where one turn of the handle generates more than one turn of the spool. But these are not a requirement for the vast majority of situations the prepper is planning for. The KISS principle applies here.

If I were to limit myself to a single fly rod, I would get something approximately 8 ½ - 9’ long that matches to a 7 or 8 weight line (with a preference for a “weight forward” or “bass bug” tapered line if I had either of those options over “level” or “double tapered” line) and a “single action” reel. I would attach a tapered leader to the fly line say 7 1/2 -9 feet long, and going down to as small as six pound test (10-12 lb. test for heavy situations such as farm ponds and larger fish).

For alpine lakes and rivers I would select an 8’ - 9’ rod that matches to a 4 or 5 weight line, with the shorter length rod being better suited to brushy streams, and the longer rod being for more open spaces. Leader would taper down to about 4 lb. test.

People ask, doesn’t one need an advanced degree in entomology (bug science) to be able to successfully fish a fly rod? Heck no! Here’s why: lots of bugs are “terrestrials” which is a fancy word for anything other than the genteel critters with the Latin names that “match the hatch”: Terrestrials are grasshoppers, bees, spiders, crickets and the like which occur pretty much everywhere. You can buy a pack of these flies at your local china-mart for a few bucks, and along with a few bare hooks (for garden worms, larvae, and strips of fish belly) are pretty much all you’ll need for terminal tackle for the fly rod. Tie one of those terrestrials on and the fish will hit it even if it does not match exactly their normal fare, because it will look like something that got blown into the water by the wind. By the time they taste it: too late!

You can buy a complete starter fly fishing setup including rod, line, reel and leader, with perhaps a few flies thrown in for about $80 at Wal-Mart or any reputable mail order catalog.

The bait casting outfit. This is a generic term for the revolving spool reel. This gear is most popular in the Americas in applications involving the casting of artificial lures and baits of 3/8 ounce and larger. They are by far the furthest casting reels in long distance casting competitions when a large weight of about 5 ounce is cast out three hundred yards and over (no kidding)! They are also excellent for trolling and bottom fishing, as quality models have the line capacity and the drags are able to tame very large fish. They happen to be my favorite category of reels.

For practical purposes, however, the minimum lure (or bait) size limitations will limit the usefulness of bait casting. In most fresh water applications the deadliest range of lures and baits for gathering fish protein is from about 1/16th to ½ ounce, and bait casting gear can comfortably accommodate only the upper end of that range. They are also more difficult to learn to use than, say, spinning gear.

Therefore, unless my retreat is on an ocean beach or a boat, I would not recommend this type of gear for the prepper except as a backup, especially when other choices are available.

Decent bait casting outfits can be had new for around seventy dollars and up.

Rod considerations. In the non-prepping world rod choices are generally lumped into one-piece (the best choice for most mainstream saltwater rods, and many bait casting rods), two-piece and “travel” (which may have three or more rod sections).

In the prepping world, where we are interested in addressing a wide range of applications with as little gear as possible, the choices narrow considerably (although they are still ample). First of all I would eliminate one piece rods, unless your plans call for staying in one place – they lack the portability of the multi-piece rods.

So the question becomes “am I better off with a two piece rod or a multi-piece “travel” rod?” The answer is not simple, because of a general rule that for the same amount of money, the quality generally goes down the more pieces your rod has. The best value is therefore a two-piece rod. However, if space and convenience is at a premium, a multi piece travel type rod may be the best alternative, even if more expensive. My advice would be not to scrimp, if you go the multi-piece route.

One option you may find very attractive is a combination travel fly and spin rod: one rod that can handle both fly and spinning applications. Eagle Claw and Fenwick came out with these in the sixties, and they were quite the ticket in those days, but the selection is greater now. This setup would be tailored for the lighter applications, however.

What about terminal tackle? For an extreme post-SHTF situation, you can get by with just some hooks, and perhaps an assortment of sinkers. One rule of thumb to follow is that – generally – you can catch a big fish on a small hook, but not a small fish on a big hook. Here’s a punch list since we have the luxury of shopping now. These are available from any Wal-Mart ("China mart") or outdoor mail order business:

  • Hook Assortment from about size 12 to about size 2. For saltwater, expand this hook size assortment to include hooks up to 4/0 (you’ll still want the small hooks for catching smaller fish and bait).
  • Sinker assortment from split shot to 1 ounce.
  • Bobbers or floats, from marble size through golf ball size.
  • Pre-filled “Beginner tackle box” sets loaded with hooks and sinkers, as well as some assorted lures can be had for perhaps 10 bucks.
  • Line – lots of spools in sizes ranging from 4-15 lb. test, as well as some 30-40 lb. test to use for leader material. This is inexpensive stuff. What you do not use will make excellent trading stock!
  • Some wire leaders. For most purposes single strand “piano” wire of 27 or 36 lb. test is the best of the alternatives.

Selection of artificial lures, some staples of which are:

  • Rapala floating minnows – silver in the 7 to 11 cm sizes
  • Mepps spinners – size zero through size 3. Also buy small ball bearing swivels if you use spinners.
  • Assortment of bucktail jigs.
  • Assortment of jig heads (unpainted) in sized 1/32 through ¼ oz
  • Assortment of “Curly tail” plastic lure bodies (which attach to the jig heads, above).
  • Selection of “terrestrial” flies, if you plan to fly fish.
  • A few “muddlers” “”black gnats” and “coachmen” (all purpose flies)


  • A couple fillet knives. These have a long, thin and flexible blade that allows you to separate the fish flesh from the bones.
  • A sturdy knife that can be used to sever heads from fish, or to cut bait with.
  • A simple knife sharpener. Can be a sharpening stone or steel.
  • Pliers: at a minimum a pair of needle nose pliers for removing hooks from fish. If you are in catfish country I’d add a standard set of pliers (for breaking spines and skinning)

The $5 or less solution! There are millions of folks out there (particularly outside the industrial northern countries) who fish with nothing more than a piece of line with a hook on the end. Now, their technique may not be as productive as with fancier gear, but if you are either not able or not interested in investing in this aspect of your survival preparations, you can certainly pull a kit together that will do the job, inexpensively even if not perfectly.

Line – there’s really no substitute for monofilament line. You could use cord, but you’ll still need a section of clear leader, and the cord may fall apart when wet. If I were limited to only one piece of line, and space was limited, I’d select about a 100 foot section of 30 lb. test line. For alpine lakes and rivers, I’d drop that down to 10 lb. test line. You can buy a hundred yards of line at a discount store for a couple bucks, easily.

Reel – For storage, you can store line simply by wrapping it around a piece of cardboard with a v notch at each end to hold it securely. For a reel, you can use, literally, a beer can – lots of people do. The line is wrapped around the outside and the “cast” is made by holding the can in one hand and pointing the can at your intended destination, then whirling the baited hook on circles with your other hand and letting loose with the line peeling off the end of the can. The retrieve is made by holding the can in one hand and winding the line back on with the other.

A variant on this is a cleaned out tin can with a plastic lid on it. The line is wrapped around the outside as per the beer can example, above. The can itself can be your tackle box, containing hooks sinkers, lures, etc. held in place by the removable plastic lid.

Other economical substitutes:

  • Small sinkers can be made from discarded metal nuts (as in nuts and bolts)
  • Big sinkers can be made from old spark plugs that have the electrode squeezed down to form a closed loop you can tie your line to. Clean off the smelly oil and gas sludge before using, the odor may (will!) repel fish.
  • Bobbers can be made from bottle corks. They can be attached to the line in a number of ways: a needle can thread the line through where it will be held under tension; or you can drill out a hole in the center then thread the line through, holding it in place with a match stick. Alternatively you can simply attach the line to the exterior of the cork with a rubber band, a twisty or a zip-tie.
  • The Boy Scouts tout the many uses of paperclips, including for hooks, but do yourself a favor - just buy an assortment of hooks.

The bottom line is that prepping for fishing is like lots of other categories of prepping. You can get about as detailed as you want. Just cover the basics if you have to!

I don’t think you’re a fool. It is important to put yourself in this type of situation and test yourself. I live in rural Northern Michigan, it gets cold up here. Last winter I did exactly what you’re talking about. I walked down to the river behind my house (about a ½ mile) and stayed two nights without any gear. The only thing I had other than my clothes was a lighter. You should always have a way to make fire on you. Ironically smokers are more likely to make it through survival situations, simply because they always carry a lighter. I also practice using my shoelaces to make a bow drill for fire starting. You do not want a bow drill to be your only method to start a fire in an emergency, although the effort of using one will help keep you warm. Carry a lighter always, everyday, everywhere.

The first night I was out I didn’t have time to make a proper shelter. I first started a fire and gathered lots of wood. The activity kept me warm. I needed a dry place to sit so I gathered cedar branches and piled them up next to the fire. The cedar not only kept me off the wet snow but it insulated me from the cold ground too. I took off my shoes and socks and dried them with the fire. I got warm enough by the fire that I fell asleep. In the middle of the night I woke up chilled to the bone. The fire had burned out and I was freezing in my sleep. My body told me to get up and stay alive so I started running around to get warm and I built the fire up again. I’ve never been that cold before. I didn’t get good sleep the rest of that night; I spent most of my time tending the fire.

The next day I started building a shelter; I made a lean-to with pine and cedar branches and insulated it with tall grass. I made a long fire with a stacked log reflector behind it, the opening of the lean to faced the fire. I gathered tons of wood for the second night. It was definitely more comfortable than the first, but it was still cold. I found that the cold ground will suck the heat out of you faster than the air. If I had stayed out a third night I would have tried lying over a bed of buried hot coals to keep warm.

You have to try it so that you know what to do when you don’t have the luxury of going inside. I tested the sleeping system I have packed in my bug out bag this fall, during the first freeze. It consists of a sleeping bag inside a sleeping bag inside a surplus Gore-Tex bivouac bag on a foam camping pad. I slept very well. Take care and keep warm, - Dano

Thanks to C.B. for sending the link to Joel Skousen's recently updated web page on Strategic Relocation.

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F.G. sent a link to this story: In classic NIMBY behavior, Senator Diane Feinstein nixes solar, wind farms in the California desert.

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D.A.S. sent an article from Brownell's on rust preventatives.

"God rest you merry Gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay;
Remember Christ our Saviour,
Was born on Christmas-day;
To save our souls from Satan's power,
Which long time had gone astray:
This brings Tydings of Comfort and Joy."
- from "Three New Carols for Christmas", Wolverhampton, printed by J. Smart, circa 1760

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Planning for our extended family’s provision in the event of TEOTWAWKI turned out to require much more time and thoughtfulness than a few trips to the big box store. Although we had laid in a good volume of stored food supplies, we were concerned about sustainable sources of food possibly necessary for extended periods of time. During the planning stages, it became clear that the kind of protein we preferred (meat) was the most expensive to purchase and trickiest to preserve and store. After much research and thought we decided to begin raising rabbits. Our reasoning went along these lines:

  • Rabbits are prolific breeders with short, 31 day gestation periods.
  • Large breeds have large litters (6-14) and can be re-bred soon after raising a litter.
  • It takes only 12-14 weeks to obtain butchering weight (6 pounds yielding 3 pounds or more of meat).
  • They have very few health problems and no diseases we could determine were transferable to humans.
  • Care is relatively simple, as they need food and water and little else.
  • Their meat is very low fat and lower in cholesterol than most other meats.
  • And unlike larger animals, an entire rabbit can be consumed by a small family if no refrigeration is available.

We began our rabbit raising adventure 2 years ago. Our thought was to begin raising them before we actually needed to eat them so that we could gain proficiency and do any necessary problem solving before we were dependent on eating them. We have learned a lot; some from books, some from our own experience, but overall, we have found rabbits to be easy to raise and tasty.

RESEARCH: Learn as much as you can before you buy your first rabbit! We read lots online and purchased books. The best book we found was the eighth edition of Rabbit Production by McNitt, Patton, Lukefahr, and Cheeke published by Interstate Publishers, Inc. We found valuable information on the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) web site. We talked to local rabbit pet/show breeders to get general information, but we did not find anyone locally raising meat rabbits. We also joined the Professional Rabbit Meat Association for the contacts that yielded. Nothing about raising rabbits was hard, but talking to someone who has done it successfully really helps.

BREEDING STOCK: From internet research and talking to local 4H folks at the fair, we learned there were two major breeds of meat rabbits, Californian and New Zealand , both developed for meat production. Meat rabbits are small boned and heavily muscled and are rapid weight gainers. We eventually purchased rabbits from both breeds, but started with one Californian buck (male) and three does (females). We had a hard time finding these rabbits. We purchased them and all the basic equipment from a lady getting out of the business. We raised several litters of kits with these starter rabbits and learned as we went. We kept does and bucks that produced large litters and sold or ate the less productive ones. Our original animals were “inbred”; father bred back to daughter and granddaughter. This made us nervous at first and we later bought “purebred” rabbits from New Zealand stock. Oddly, the inbred rabbits were better producers on average, so we eventually culled many of the purebreds. Go figure. Our current stock of 12 does is mostly interbred Californian/New Zealand crosses. We freely breed to “relatives” and have seen absolutely no ill effect from this practice. We keep a mature buck and a younger up-and-coming one as a replacement in case something happens to the senior buck unexpectedly.

HOUSING/EQUIPMENT: Rabbits are very tolerant to cold, but intolerant to heat. We kept our rabbits in an open shed with walls on two sides only. This provided shade in summer, but little protection from wind in the winter. The rabbits tolerated this arrangement just fine, even in freezing temperatures; however, we did have to thaw water bottles twice a day during freezing weather. This got old fast. We bought several different used cages in the beginning, but soon determined that making our own cages would offer many advantages. Starting with used equipment had allowed us to determine if we would be successful at raising rabbits before we had invested much.

Once we determined that this was a good fit for us, we knew we wanted to build our own cages, so that we could make them specifically designed to meet our needs. Wire is expensive, but we saved some money by buying wire in 100-foot rolls from local feed stores and, later, from Bass Equipment. Additional supplies were also required. We bought several styles of water bottles and feeders that attach to the cages. We also bought nesting boxes and resting pads. We could have made the nesting boxes out of scrap lumber, but chose to invest in galvanized steel boxes for longevity and ease of cleaning between litters. Everything that goes into a rabbit’s cage must be chew-proof, or edible and replaced when it starts to disappear. Our cages are hung by 2x4 supports and wire, so that they are stabilized but free-hanging for easy cleaning. We placed them high enough to be out of reach of predators, but low enough for easy access for care and cleaning (about chest high). The waste piles up on the ground below and is shoveled into buckets for hauling out to the garden.

Last summer we put up a separate outbuilding for the rabbits and they are now housed in a four-sided structure with power, lights, a water source, windows for cross ventilation in the summer, and a small heater to keep the temperature just above freezing in the winter (for our comfort more than theirs). My husband also designed a system for collecting the waste into 5-gallon buckets. We will market some (as fertilizer) next summer, as many people have expressed an interest in buying it. The building was an extravagance and definitely not a necessity, but we felt it would add to the value of our property and make care of the rabbits easier for us.

FEEDING: Commercial rabbit pellets are designed specifically to put the maximum weight on young rabbits in the least amount of time. We started out raising rabbits solely on this feed, as most sources direct you to do for “best practice” meat production. We bought 50 pound bags from farm and feed stores for awhile until we found we could purchase in 1,500 - 2,000 pound “super sacks“ directly from a feed plant in our county. Over time we learned that rabbits can eat a large variety of things, but do require a high percentage of protein in their diet to allow for rapid weight gain. We have fed leftover garden vegetables, small amounts of fruit from our trees, and clover and dandelion greens from the lawn. You can feed fewer pellets daily if you supplement with high protein hay (clover or alfalfa, minimum 16% protein). Rabbits will not eat stale, moldy or damp feed; unlike many other animals. It became clear to us when we forked over the payment on our second “super sack” that we needed to plan for a sustainable food source for our rabbits. More on this below.

RABBIT TREASURE: What lands below a rabbit cage is valuable. Rabbit urine is more alkaline than most other animal urines. If your soil is too acidic and you are trying to raise the pH, it is easy to collect and supplement with rabbit urine. Rabbit manure is a magnificent “cold” fertilizer! It will not burn plants even when added immediately after leaving the rabbit. (You don’t have to “age” it.) We have been using rabbit manure for 2 years in our garden and greenhouse. Separated from the urine, the pellets are odorless in the greenhouse. I had 12 foot tomato plants last summer that produced like they were on steroids. Out in the garden, we threw manure mixed with urine all over the garden and everything did exceedingly well. We read about people raising worms in the piles of rabbit droppings directly below the cages. We weren’t sure about marketing worms; our county has plenty in every garden, but I suppose you could eat them for protein in a pinch.

STRESS: Rabbits are affected by stress. In the wild they are able to hide, run, or escape into underground burrows. In a cage, rabbits are exposed to the coming and going of humans, their children, and any animals that are in the vicinity, including domestic dogs and cats, or wild raccoons, coyotes, or other animals that may attack them through the wire cages. Meat rabbits are specifically bred to have light bones and heavy muscles. If they panic and stampede while confined in a cage, they frequently injure themselves seriously. The most common injury in this setting is a broken back. If you raise rabbits in the open like most people do, you may go out in the morning to find one or more of your rabbits paralyzed from the midsection down. If this happens, they are permanently unable to control their hind legs or their bladder and must be put out of their misery. Stress can also cause does to deliver their babies or “kits” outside of the nest box (kindling on the wire), fail to care for their young, or to cannibalize them. It is important to keep loud noises, animals and frightening stimuli away from the area that you use for raising rabbits.

BUTCHERING: Rabbits are stunned with a small club, hung upside down and bled. Done properly, they do not suffer or make any noise. They are skinned, eviscerated and packaged either whole or cut into manageable pieces. Each rabbit will yield 3 to 4.5 pounds of meat at 12 to 14 weeks of age. We freeze ours in zip lock bags as soon as they cool. The exact technique for butchering can be found in books and on-line. With practice we are now able to butcher a rabbit in 15 minutes. The skins can be processed, but we haven’t tried that yet.

MARKETING: There are pros and cons to selling your excess rabbit meat. The lady who sold us our original rabbits gave us a customer list of folks who were hoping we would continue to sell. Local regulations allow the sale of up to 1,000 rabbits a year without the interference of health officials. Check your state laws. Selling rabbits means people know you have them. If TSHTF, conceivably people might come looking to take them away from you. For us, a good arsenal and frequent target practice is the answer to many such problems. We decided to go ahead and sell locally because we live in an area with many ranchers and farmers and didn’t feel we would have very many people after our food. Additionally, selling the rabbits helped us offset feed prices. We sell for $3.50 pound at the present time and figure we about break even.

TROUBLESHOOTING: We lost lots of rabbit kits the first winter. Although we put plywood bottoms in the nesting boxes and plenty of hay, they seemed to be dying of the cold. Temperatures were in the freezing range at night when most young are born. We tried placing more nesting material at the disposal of the does, but they always “dug” down to the bottom of the material and delivered their kits on the bare plywood. They would be covered with a nice pile of hay and straw but cold as ice when we found them. We discovered nothing in the literature to help us; however, my husband hit on the idea of placing a narrow sheet of Styrofoam between the plywood and the bottom of the nesting box. This stopped the loss of frozen kits.

We had an eye infection in one litter which spread to all the kits. I used a canine eye ointment I had on hand and it cleared up nicely. I went back to the rabbit books and noted that eye infections can happen if the bunnies are in unsanitary conditions. We had been leaving the nesting boxes in the cages longer than recommended because it was cold outside. The kits were using the nesting box for a litter box (not all litters do this) and so it needed to be removed. The kits do just fine even in cold weather once they are old enough to start jumping out of the next box deliberately.

We also lost babies now and then for reasons we couldn’t figure out at first. We would find a baby out of the nest (dead) and it always seemed to be the biggest, healthiest ones. Kits are sometimes pulled from the nesting box holding the teat of the mother. Once out on the wire, they are unable to get back in the box themselves, and rabbit mothers are not capable of picking them up in their mouths to do so either. Since rabbits usually nurse just once a day in the middle of the night, we would never find these babies until it was too late. We may have hit on a plan to try to stop this problem; we’ll see how it works.

CUISINE: Rabbit is wonderful cooked a variety of ways. Domestic rabbit meat is mild. It can be fried, baked, or slow cooked in a crock-pot. Our favorite recipe so far is rabbit slow-cooked in Marsala wine. You can find many delicious recipes online for rabbit.

FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS: We are currently working on “dropped” nesting boxes that are suspended below the wire cage. These are supposed to decrease the amount of young accidentally misplaced outside the nesting box. We were interested in these from the start, but were concerned about them being within reach of predators. Now that we are in enclosed housing, it is safe to try. Our biggest future planning involves replacing commercial rabbit feed with a crop we grow ourselves. We have no experience “farming” other than a large vegetable garden. We plan to dedicate part of our 5 acres to growing a high protein alfalfa or clover crop. We have contacted the county extension program for help. We built the rabbit building bigger than needed so that we could also have a place to dry the hay/clover well enough to store. Again, rabbits won’t eat moldy feed, so it must be dried thoroughly. If we can figure out how to plant, grow, and harvest our own rabbit feed, we can produce meat indefinitely and stop writing checks to the feed company.

All in all, this has been a very good experience and we are feeling more in control of our food supply. Rabbits are easy to handle and care for. At any given time, we have about 40 rabbits, although the number ranges a bit higher when we have several litters nearing butchering. It takes us no more than 30 minutes every evening to feed, water and tend to them.

Mr. Rawles,
I am grateful to you for providing this site. I am one of perhaps to many, who can barely make it check to check. Though I have been aware of what is happening for several years now, the amount of provisions I have been able to secure has amounted to nothing compared to what I am reading here. However, within this site is information which has been the greatest of value to, at the least, strengthen me with understanding.

I sit here in the comfort of my home, surrounded outside with cold and over a foot of fresh snow in the east, and ask myself what would I be able to do if it came to leaving on a moment's notice?
While I am without skills for the outdoors, and not tempered to weather hardships, one article of knowledge from here resonates more and more frequently, and hopefully I am on the start of becoming better. Do not lose your head. Do not allow panic to set in. Think. Look around and think. Stay calm and just think.

I am literally out of money. Utilities cannot be paid and Christmas is three days away, so there are meager presents to speak of. My family prefers to ignore the signs of what may occur shortly. I have no preparedness network, as most people I know want to believe it will never be necessary to scramble and bug out.

And yet, within this web site, I find people and information everyday which encourages me. It provides me with opportunities to look around and see what I can use if need arises. Look at what is required for to build a quick shelter, how to store what food I can, etc. Mostly, your site is helping me to stay awake and force myself to push out of this box I have come to comfortable in, and see what I can do to be more prepared. I need more help and perhaps more time as well.

I am seriously considering sleeping outdoors within the next week or so before New Year's, just to learn more of myself and my abilities to stay calm and think. Push myself to find strength and tough it out. Build a fire, make a shelter, etc. It will probably end up a disaster, but I need to experience something like this. I perhaps sound like a fool, yet I want you to know that somebody who needs what you provide is greatly appreciative you and all the others put it out there. Sincerely, - Jim F.

Arrow Trucking suspends operations leaves hundreds of drivers stranded. (Our thanks to HPD for the link.)

El Jefe Jeff E. spotted this: Consumer Spending in U.S. Climbs Less Than Forecast

From Chris J.: Economy revised downward (AGAIN!). Chris's comment: "It looks like the men in the know have yet again revised the third quarter downward, from 3.5% to 2.8% to 2.2%. Of course this CNN article doesn't mention that the cash-for-clunkers and home buyer's credits are estimated to be worth 2.0 to 2.5 percentage points. It takes faith though; the "experts" who didn't get it right last time assure us that the economy will grow 3% this quarter!"

Items from The Economatrix:

Oil Holds Above $74 After OPEC Output Unchanged

Asian Markets Rise on Stronger US Housing Starts

November New Home Sales Seen Rising 2.3%
(But only because of the temporary Federal tax credit. The bottom is is still nowhere in sight!)

Top Execs: Longer, Deeper Recession Ahead

Professional Middle Class Hardest Hit By Recession

Ron Paul: Bernanke World's Greatest Counterfeiter

Martin Weiss: Three Government Reports Reveal New Looming Risk

While You Were Sleeping...The Economy Collapsed

Jim Sinclair Interviews

Small Business Bankruptcies Rise 81% in California

The Ponzi Decade

J.K. recommended the publications of Astragal Press. They emphasize "early tools, trades, and technology" J.K. commented "I ran across them a while back while researching my slide rule collection. There's several books on blacksmithing and woodworking with traditional tools that I'm planning on adding to my preparedness library, in case I end up having to operate in a long-duration 'low-tech' environment."

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G&K sent a story from Fox News: The Nazareth Hardened Home.

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Mike Williamson sent a link to a clever improvised ox roast.

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Ted B. sent a link to this news story about declining crime rates from MSNBC. Ted's comments: "The news media is at a loss to explain why, with huge unemployment numbers and a devastated economy, the major crime levels are down. They make numerous guesses, most of which are patently wrong. Heinlein had it right: 'An armed society is a polite society.'"

"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, the the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord." - The Gospel of Luke 2:8-11 (KJV)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Our blog database overhaul work is now almost complete. Things should be back to normal--and the entire blog (with archives) fully searchable--by Christmas Day. Thanks for your patience!


Today we present another entry for Round 26 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 26 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

[Introductory Note from JWR: The following article is presented for educational purposes only. As previously discussed in SurvivalBlog, using vinyl ether for anesthesia can be very tricky. Not only are its vapors highly flammable, but it can can induce deep levels of sedation much more quickly than desired. Thus, at a minimum can can compromise the patient's airway, and thereby very possibly kill the patient. So unless you have both the equipment and the regularly-practiced expertise to safely intubate and extubate your patient, then do not use ether!]

Pain is not my friend!  In some circumstances, it is useful, perhaps to help guide workout intensity or to let you know that something is wrong.  As an emergency physician I frequently perform painful procedures on my patients. The last 10 years or so have seen major strides in our ability to sedate patients using [dissociative] agents like ketamine and propofol. This makes my job much easier, to say nothing of making life more pleasant for the patients who have to undergo procedures like drainage of abscesses, repositioning of fractured limbs and dislocated joints, spinal taps and repair of complex lacerations.

Luckily, to make it easier on them, and frankly possible for me, we have drugs.  Gone, for the time being, are the days of biting the bullet after a shot (or more) of whiskey, then having a few friends hold you down.  Before the invention of anesthesia, surgeons were often lauded for speed:  doing the fastest amputation was a plus for a surgeon’s career, for example. Now, we have loads of options for sedation, pain control and anesthesia.  I love giving ketamine!  It works great, and is generally very safe.  There are others, too, but obviously they all have potential drawbacks in a Schumeresque situation.

I started thinking about this when my wife, pregnant with twins, jokingly asked me late in term to “do a C-section on the kitchen table.”  Being a disaster planner at my local hospital, I inwardly cringed:  what would I do if we got hit with EMP or a coronal mass ejection (if she couldn’t deliver the old-fashioned way) to keep her and our babies from dying? 

A number of recent novels like"Patriots" and "One Second After" describe various post-crash scenes of severe infrastructure disruption that impair delivery of routine medical care. Many of these books also illustrate excellent preparedness on the part of some of their characters, who stockpiled ketamine and other medications in advance to have them available. Lidocaine, Novocaine and other local anesthetics can be used for nerve blocks and other “regional anesthesia” techniques, good to know if you are serious, but demanding of practice and subject to the same logistical concerns. 

This wonderful concept might not be realistic in some cases:  many useful medications are only available by prescription, and you may not have a sympathetic physician willing to prescribe them to you.  This applies especially to mood-altering drugs that are prone to abuse. How do you get hold of these controlled substances without a nocturnal visit from your local DEA special agents?  Sure:  you could grown your own, but poppies give an impure hodgepodge of drugs, and the druggies may be attracted to your garden as much as the cops.  Your doctor will prescribe them, you say?  Well, supposing you find someone willing to prescribe them, these medications may simply not be available:  even with prescriptions, you must figure out how to afford and store these medicines.

"Special K" is but one of many street names for ketamine, and propofol was recently made famous as a drug of abuse courtesy of Michael Jackson. What happens after TSHTF?  Count on your friendly pimps, dealers and druggies to know where this stuff is used and stored. They will surely take advantage of the lack of LEOs to gobble up as much as they can. With significant damage to the grid, we can envision stressed people resorting to violence or breaking and entering to obtain drugs of abuse. Keep in mind these are the same people who roam around the dumpsters over at the local nursing home looking for discarded narcotic fentanyl patches. They chop these up and use them to make tea, and also have been known to place them as rectal suppositories to get their high. (I'm not joking about this.)

Under these circumstances, you may not have access to anesthetic medications, and you may not choose to go looking for them, either.  For any grid crash scenario, you must have alternatives, like using “old” tools when nothing else is available.   This might include using a medication that can be produced from materials at hand to provide sedation for painful procedures.  Luckily, a few smart guys used just such a drug as an anesthetic after learning about its use as a recreational drug:  Yep, they were "huffing" in the 19th Century! Of course I am talking about ether, or more correctly diethyl ether.  You may have poured starter fluid into your carburetor in the past.  Many brands are mostly ether.  In a pinch, you can make pure ether yourself. 

All the usual kitchen chemistry safety caveats apply:  Make sure you know what you're doing, as this is explosive stuff.  It is highly flammable, and since its vapor is denser than air, ether fumes may travel along the ground, creating the conditions for distant explosion or fire. Ether attacks plastic and rubber. Because of all this, it poses a serious fire risk when you are making or using it.  You should try to find a person knowledgeable about chemistry and preferably volatile/explosive chemicals for your intentionally chosen prepper community if you have any thoughts about doing this!!! 

Ether has a number of advantages.  Like ketamine, it stimulates respiration and doesn't lower blood pressure, so it is good for patients in shock.  When too much ether is given, respiration becomes depressed, and the patient breaths in less, potentially self-correcting the problem.  It causes bronchodilation, so it doesn't worsen asthma. It is a good pain reliever, so you don’t have to have other drugs, and it gives good muscle relaxation. It is especially useful for caesarean section (because the baby tolerates it and the uterus contracts well after delivery.)  Overall, it is considered medically to be a safe agent for high-risk cases (using lower doses) and is the agent of choice when general anesthesia is needed but oxygen isn't available.

Ether anesthesia was largely abandoned due to its explosive risk. Its flammability means you should not use open flames or filaments (like cautery) with this agent nearby.  To minimize risk, keep at least 40 inches between electrical equipment and ether; vent the space naturally or with a fan.  Don’t use any electrical appliances, live plugs or sockets lower than 18 inches above the ground in the area you are using ether.  Watch out for static electricity; consider using only cotton drapes and clothes for patient and staff.  You probably will be doing many of these things by the same circumstances of TEOTWAWKI that force you to make and use ether. 

Ether has some disadvantages besides its aforementioned volatile nature.  Its effects begin and end slowly, and it may cause coughing. Finally, it causes a lot of secretions, and most folks have postoperative nausea and vomiting after ether. The main benefit, of course, is that you could make ether with simple materials that are widely scavengable, or that you can make from other simple materials.  Just to show that this is not a hypothetical suggestion, the proof is in the experience of Allied POWs during World War II who made ether in captivity. One prisoner (a surgeon) needed to tie off an aneurysm on one of his fellow POWs, digging deeply around his shoulder to do so.  His hosts, unfortunately, neglected to provide any medications to allow the procedure.

The surgeon turned to another prisoner and asked him for help.  The chemist (as pharmacists were known then) demanded two simple materials:  ethanol and sulfuric acid.  He got the ethanol from sake that some [camp guard] NCOs were making illicitly in their hut from burnt rice, and sulfuric acid stolen from batteries in the Japanese auto shop some prisoners staffed.  Two weeks later, they had brewed enough ether to do over 40 surgical procedures!  

Ether has drawbacks, no question, but if it’s all you got, you could make it and use it.  Consider, for example, that ether is still used in parts of the third world to provide anesthesia.  With some tools we have now that weren't available to earlier anesthetists, we might be able to make it better and safer.

If you think you might use ether, you should have a few other things and more importantly, some knowledge, prior to using ether.  You should know basic airway support like chin-lift or jaw-thrust, plus use of Sellick’s maneuver to reduce aspiration, placement of oral airways, and bag-valve-mask ventilation.  Ideally, knowledge and supplies for more advanced airway management like intubation are good to have as well.  You should have atropine or glycopyrrolate (to decrease secretions) and an anti-emetic (like zofran, for nausea) when using ether as an anesthetic agent.  Suction and oropharyngeal airways will help increase the safety of ether as well. 

Use a portable pulse oximeter to monitor heart rate and oxygen level.  Nonin sells a nice portable model that gives you an audible pulse and cues you to a drop in oxygen saturation in the patient's blood. (Obviously a pulse oximeter has many other applications in medical aid, like deciding when a pneumonia patient is sick enough to need some of the precious antibiotic you've stored up.)  
Your patient should have an IV for administration of fluids and medicines.  If you have ketamine, you can give one dose of this agent to make the patient sleepy, and begin having them breath in ether.  By the time the ketamine wears off, the ether will have taken effect. 

 The World Health Organization web site has a free downloadable book on austere surgery, with a good description of the techniques for using ether anesthesia.   In a pinch, you could do it the way the non-physician anesthetists use ether in many places even today:  dripping it into a piece of gauze using an ether mask like the Schimmelbusch mask, which you can improvise out of a regular medical facemask, or sometimes find on eBay.

The old style “open drop method” is to place a towel over the patient’s eyes, then drip some ether onto 10-to-12 layers of gauze held by the mask.  The mask is held a few inches above the towel and gradually lowered to cover the patient’s nose and mouth as they fall asleep.  The pupils dilate with etherization, and the muscles relax.  When the pupils dilate, you should place an oropharyngeal airway.  Further ether can then be dripped slowly onto the gauze as needed to keep the patient under. 

Stop giving ether about 20 minute prior to the end of the procedure, and assist patient respirations with a bag-valve mask to wash out the drug and speed awakening.  This may mean you put the patient out then stop giving ether, doing the procedure while the patient “emerges” from anesthesia, for short procedures. 

If you have all the know-how, all the stuff, and can safely make your own ether, you could use it for a lot of painful procedures like caesareans sections, wound care, chest tubes, fracture manipulation and the like. You may not choose to do (or even be able to do) a lot of complex surgeries, but those are probably unrealistic under the conditions where you'd want to make your own ether anyway. As always, what you can do is so much more important than what you have.

Jeff D. mentioned: Employment funds going ‘absolutely broke’; 40 state programs to be emptied by the jobless tsunami within two years

GG spotted this: The Inflation Bomb Hiding on The Fed's Balance Sheet

Tom B. spotted an article in The Shanghai Daily: Harder to buy US Treasuries. Here is a brief quote: “ was inevitable that the dollar would continue to fall in value because Washington continued to issue more Treasuries to finance its deficit spending.”

Items from The Economatrix:

Gasoline Prices Flatten Below $2.60. This may be a good opportunity to refill your storage tanks with fairly reasonably priced winter formulated gasoline!

Borrowers with Modified Loans Falling Into Trouble

Surge of Foreclosed Homes Set to Hit Market

The Coming Shortage of All the World's Most Important Industrial Metals

US Jobseekers Face Bleak Christmas as Unemployment Continues to Rise

Reader Brett F. recommend this piece: Loaded for bear, or wolves--both as a data point on the wolf pack population explosion in the western US and for some good points on gear to carry when in the back-country.

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Jim W. sent us a tidbit for the "Global Warming " file: Big freeze kills at least 80 across Europe

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Reader G.G. wrote to mention that appears that Richard Daughty (aka The Mogambo Guru) has retired from journalism. There is a fan site attempting to get Kitco, Daily Reckoning, Agora, and The Asia Times, to bring him back. He recently (12/14) wrote a short piece for the site.

"Be on your guard against the ruling power; for they who exercise it draw no man near to them except for their own interests; appearing as friends when it is to their own advantage, they stand not by a man in the hour of his need." [2:3]

"Judge not your neighbor until you have come into his place." [2:5]

"In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man." [2:6]

"Let your friend's honor be as dear to you as your own." [2:15]

- Selected quotes from "Sayings of the Fathers" in the Standard Prayer Book, a Jewish prayer book published in 1922. (Translated by Reverend S. Singer.) Special thanks to Alex H. for selecting and transcribing these quotes.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Don't panic! This is still Nothing significant is changing, but we are making some upgrades to our software.

We are in the midst of upgrading to MovableType 4.3. SurvivalBlog will be looking a little funny for a while, while we are getting everything working. Things should be back to normal soon, along with some new features.

Right now, the search and other functions should be working again, and each day's blog will continue to be available here, at

Thank you for your patience! - #1 Son, Webmaster, SurvivalBlog

As a student of history, it is surprising how often the same traumatic patterns emerge in times of economic turmoil, political upheavals, and civil unrest. All too frequently, average citizens get caught in the middle of tumultuous situations and unwittingly are soon reduced to the status of refugee. Unlike someone that intentionally emigrates to better themselves, a refugee typically hits the road with few or any assets and no sure destination. As I've mentioned before in SurvivalBlog, if the 20th century taught us anything, it is that the one category you don't want to find yourself in is "refugee." Refugees have a short life expectancy, nd embody the risks of being tossed about by the waves of change and the vagaries of polical shift and consequent civil unrest. Do everything in your power to avoid becoming a refugee! Your surest and best course of action is to strategically relocate, before tumultuous times occur, to a region that will fare well in hard times.

Just the other day while on a cross country trip, I noticed a commercial trailerload of U-Haul trailers being returned empty to California. This was indicative of the hard times that have befallen the periphery of our nation. In normal (good) times, California was the destination point for U-Haul trailers, but now the worm has turned, and states like Wyoming, Utah, and the Dakotas now have U-Haul trailers and trucks piling up in huge numbers. So many in fact, that they must be shipped back to places like California and Arizona. My mention of this should not be construed as criticism of those who have left California, Arizona, and Florida, but rather, my hat is off to them for taking the initiative of moving to more prosperous region with better chances for employment. Good for them! They didn't just wallow in self-pity, collecting unemployment, waiting for someone the bail them out. They've taken the initiative to provide for their families, better themselves, and move to greener pastures.

In closing, heads of families should prayerfully develop a contingency plan for relocating in the event of localized economic problems. Again, there is a sharp contrast between someone that proactively relocates in advance of truly bad times and someone that hesitates, and thereby reduces himself and his family to refugee status. If and when hard times befall your family, don't hesitate to relocate. It's better to be a year early than a day late. This is doubly true in the event of a TEOTWAWKI-scale economic collapse. We have no way of knowing if the current recession will continue to stair-step down into a full multi-decade economic depression. Be ready!

I didn't know how to post this, so I thought I'd email it. [JWR Adds: Email is the preferred method for submitting letters or articles to the blog, at]
A couple of Sundays ago, we lost our "getaway" car.

My wife and I had our 2004 V-10 Ford Excursion tricked out for anything, including an emergency kit with everything from soup to nuts in the back. And best of all, it was paid for! We could grab the grandkids and go. Might even take the kids, too! Anyway, a little road rage from some miscreant in a Toyota and it was either run him over, hit a pole, or try to get off the road. I over-corrected, flipped the SUV, only going 50 miles per hour, so yes it can happen, and wound up sliding on my top into the median.

2 points to my story:

  • My 3/4 ton Ford chassis, and the Grace of God saved me. I crawled out without a scratch. Although hanging upside down in a safety belt is an experience I don't want to repeat. So buying a big car has it's advantages despite the fuel consumption, in safety and hauling ability.
  • The second, and just as important an issue, is that my plastic survival kit broke apart during the turn over, and all the contents became missiles within my vehicle. A 5 lb. sledge hammer that I had on the back seat floor, (forgot to put it away) wound up in the front seat near me. Tool box, flares, water bottles, compact shovels, etc., all over, everywhere. It could have been a lot worse.

So now I am back in the market for a replacement vehicle. - Doug in Kalifornia

JWR Adds: Securing your gear carefully is particularly important when you carry pioneer tools. A sudden stop or rough road can turn an axe, shovel, digging bar, or hi-lift jack into a formidable projectile, breaking a window or much worse.

Hi Jim,
One of the most common failures which will cripple your G.O.O.D. (Get Out Of Dodge) vehicle is a broken fan/accessory belt. Granted, the newer [flat, grooved] serpentine belts last a lot longer than the old V-belts, but failure will mean overheating or the eventual loss of ignition due to battery discharge, especially at night if headlights are needed.

So a spare belt and tension release tool (usually a 1/2" ratchet or breaker bar, for a serpentine belt) is a must for your emergency parts kit. [JWR Adds: Whenever you change your vehicle's serpentine as a part of a regular service, save the old one to carry in your vehicle as a spare. An old belt is better than no belt.]

Also consider some thick, sticky caulk that you can work with your fingers, which can be used to plug a radiator leak. The fire-stop used by electricians works well. Be sure to open the radiator cap to release any pressure (Watch out for scalding steam!) and leave it loose. I have seen a vehicle driven hundreds of miles in that condition after being hit by debris from the road.

Keep up the good work. - Larry P.


Hello James,
Like many others, I've just finished reading "Patriots" for the second time. The first time, 10 years ago, I didn't take notes while reading it, this time I did! I have just discovered your site and was reading a post about your vehicle. While the extra ignition and fuel components are nice, the EMP (electromagnetic pulse) will very likely take out the alternator regulator as well. It could also quite likely take out your car's computer and possibly the electronic dashboard (depending on the model). Even analog looking dashboards these days are full of electronics instead of actual, physical things like speedometer cables, or a capillary tube to a pressure switch. The computer may go into "limp home mode" if it's not getting information from the throttle position switch, mass air flow sensor, or manifold absolute pressure switch, the crank position sensor, etc. Another possibility is that the vehicle won't run at all.

If at all possible, for those who need not go very far to get to their retreat, buy something old like the Bronco in your book or an old CJ or Willys overland wagon. Basically anything that uses points. Tune it up, yank the points distributor, and store it along with a distributor wrench. Install an electronic ignition distributor, and run a jumper wire across the ballast resistor, as electronic distributors need 12 volts and points need 6 volts. If you have a GM product, remove the "resistance wire" that is used instead of the ballast resistor and replace it with a regular wire and ballast resistor from a Ford or Dodge.

When EMP destroys your distributor, install the points distributor and motor happily away for the next 15K miles as the EMP will not affect a points distributor in the slightest. Be sure to remove or cut the jumper wire on the ballast resistor, or you will only motor for 500 miles (Bosch) or 1000 miles (Standard) on a set of points, running them at 12 volts. Just a thought. - Bill J.


Mr. Rawles,
I recently started reading Survivalblog and find it very helpful. In hopes of providing some help of my own, I would like to address the question of survival vehicles especially in regards to EMP survival. I am an ASE certified master automotive technician with a background in not only automotive repair but also agricultural and diesel mechanics as well as welding.

To get right to the point, today's automobiles have so many electronic components and control modules that there is no way to stow enough parts to make them operational after exposure to an EMP. The only way to be confident in your vehicle's ability to function after an EMP is if it is equipped with a carburetor rather than fuel injection (unless it's mechanical like some of the old European autos or an older diesel) and a mechanical fuel pump. As for the ignition system, electronic ignition has been standard since the mid 1970's. However, there is a chance to stow enough spare parts to get an older electronic ignition back up and running if it is a simple design like the old GM HEI that doesn't use an external engine control module. The best and safest bet, though, would be to get your hands on an old points-type distributor that would be installed in your vehicle if it did fall victim to an EMP, especially if a second or third or more might come.

I would also recommend a standard transmission and, if the vehicle is 4-wheel drive, a manually operated transfer case and front wheel locking hubs. The reason for this is because starting in the mid to late 1980's even automatic transmissions are computer controlled and any truck with push button 4-wheel drive is also using a computer to engage the transfer case. In fact, virtually any automobile built since the mid to late 1990's uses computers to do even such basic things as turn on the head lights! There is a reason that the government keeps coming up with things like cash for clunkers and emissions inspections to get old cars to the crusher!

My personal vehicle is a 1985 Toyota Landcruiser with a carburetor, electronic ignition, manual transmission, transfer case and manual front hubs. It's not fast, fancy or efficient but it is simple to repair and super tough. The only weakness from the factory is the electronic ignition but it can be repair with just one part after and EMP or be fitted with an older distributor. Other models that I would consider for my personal use would be a Chevy, Ford or Dodge truck build before 1986 (that's the year electronic fuel injection became pretty much standard on domestically made truck, 1984 for cars) but it would be even better if it were built before 1980 since Detroit was using some super finicky feedback carburetors after that. Most all trucks that fit that production range can be fitted with an older distributor if desired but they all definitely have a simple electronic ignition system. The best thing to do would be to find a survival-minded mechanic and get his advice and help with your plans. - Elijah K.

JWR Replies: Thanks for that suggestion. I am constantly amazed at the depth of knowledge provided by SurvivalBlog readers. I will be including some details on carburetor and timing adjustments for unusual fuels like natural gas distillate ("drip.")in my forthcoming sequel to my novel "Patriots".

There is just one day left for the body armor sale, with 20% to 30% off helmets, and Interceptor Tactical Vests as low as $590.

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On the Lifehacker Blog: Use a Crock Pot to Make Homemade Candles

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Tricia R. recommended the book "Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things" from Reader's Digest.

"Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards; they simply unveil them to the eyes of men. Silently and imperceptibly, as we wake or sleep, we grow strong or weak; and at last some crisis shows what we have become." - Brooke Foss Westcott

Monday, December 21, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 26 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 26 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I first became fascinated with the art of preparedness in my youth during the days and months leading up to Y2K. The thought societal meltdown and global collapse seemed almost too much to bear, hard to wrap my head around. I was 17years old, just starting my life -- now faced with a potential situation that I had little training or experience to deal with. But my parents had instilled in me a valuable lesson early in childhood; fear is derived from the unknown and the lack of preparedness. With knowledge, preparation, a “never quit” attitude and maybe a little luck, any situation can be overcome. Granted, the Y2K scenario came and went without incident, but I swore never to carry the same fears again. Ten years later the same feeling has swept over our country, a feeling of loss, impending doom, fear and a myriad of other things is accompanying this New Year. I started my journey all those years ago with an “Armed Services Survival Manual” given to me by my father. Reading every word, memorizing every picture, I studied it tirelessly. It just didn’t seem enough. By knowing a little, I really knew nothing at all. The potential scenarios that we face are larger in scope than anything covered in a typical survival manual. So what should we do?

The military taught me several things, but most importantly it taught me to fight the enemy that lies within before I ever face an external adversary. Start from scratch to combat your fear.

Step 1: Analyze Your Life
You know better than anyone what you are capable of, whether you have had extensive military or law enforcement training, or are a highly trained civilian. The greatest lies are those we tell to ourselves, don’t lie to yourself. By being truthful with your self assessment you will achieve more than if you are not. Determine what areas are strengths and weaknesses; increase the balance by becoming a well-rounded person. Increase your knowledge in weak areas, while maintaining your strengths.

Step 2: Location
Just like in real estate, "location, location, location." Where you live is so very important. It dictates many of your needs and precautions. Do you live in a house? An apartment? The city? The country? Are you close to a major interstate? What is your climate? Do you have a local food source? Do you have room to store equipment? Land to grow food? How far away is your closest neighbor? Do you have a close fallback point? A secondary? A tertiary fallback point? Do you have an out-of-state fall back point? If you must evac quickly, will there be others around you with similar needs? What is the local population? State population? All of these questions have roots in different scenarios, application of preparation techniques and above all, pure survival. This is just the start, challenge yourself to continue your list of questions, learn why these things are important how to use your location to benefit you.

Step 3: Visualization
In the martial arts I learned the technique of visualization. Really it is a continuation of using your childhood imagination. Develop that skill and it will provide you answers to questions that you never even knew to even ask. Start by picking a scenario an EMP attack, economic meltdown, a nuclear surface detonation; go through your day such as that event took place. By imagining what would be changed in your lifestyle you will be able to determine what holes need to be plugged. You don’t have to even tell a soul what you are doing, but it will remove the “rose colored glasses” that sit upon your face. Life takes a turn for the worse when there is no available food, water, medicines. The possibility of having to leave your home makes it even more challenging.

Step 4: Equipment
Weapons. Some people shy away from this, but defense is always necessary. Don’t make this complicated, you don’t need a tricked out $4,000 battle rifle, you do need something battle proven. It also needs to use a cartridge that can always be replenished. Stick with NATO standard calibers: 5.56x45, 7.62x51, 9mm Parabellum or other very common cartridges like .45 ACP, 40 S&W, 12ga. I prefer the 7.62x51 (somewhat interchangeable with .308 Winchester) over the 5.56x45 (somewhat interchangeable with .223 Remington) due to its increased range and power. Same goes with the 40 S&W over the 9mm. I try to stay away from Soviet cartridges; once that supply is dried up it will be gone forever. Most importantly go get professionally trained. Clothing and other gear, make sure it is good quality. Nothing is more demoralizing than when your equipment fails when you most need it. Test it, train with it, and make the equipment prove its worth to you before you stake your life on it. You will figure out what you need through research and training.

Step 5: Medical Concerns
Learn basic first aid. This should go without saying; we should all know basic first aid. Get some medical supplies on hand, Israeli bandages, a one-hand tourniquet, clotting agent (if trained), sutures (if trained), antibiotics, your daily meds. Again, learn how to use these things correctly. If you don’t, you could cause more harm than good. Staying healthy is of great concern. Dying from something as simple as an infection is very possible in a survival situation. Knowing basic things such as what antiseptics work best or complex techniques like wound debridement are invaluable.

Step 6: Physical Fitness
An old SEAL once told me, “Guys need to push themselves away from the desk, put down the 'tactical wannabe gear,' and run!” There is incredible amount of truth to this statement. You need to be physically fit to handle the stress encountered in a survival situation. Start working out regularly! All of the gear in the world can’t help you if you are not physically able to use it.

Step 7: What’s Next?
I don’t know, that is for you to decide. Pick your scenario, study it, live it through visualization, prepare for it, get the necessary knowledge, visualize it again and again, over and over until your fear is gone. Make checklists for each scenario, to remind you of tasks that need to be completed or gear that needs to be packed. By training hard you will have overcome the event before it even happens. Your mind is the most powerful tool you have at your disposal; don’t be afraid to use it. How deep you want to dive into this is your choice, but don’t take shortcuts with your level of training, equipment or the quality of information; it could be the difference between life and death.

These are basic areas to start with, expand upon them, and add too. Remember, this is a journey, a lifestyle; not of sacrifice, but of increased knowledge and security. God forbid you encounter a life threatening scenario, but if you do, you can take comfort in knowing that it is a mountain you can climb without hesitation. One that you can guide others to the top of if need be. Carry the weight of knowledge and leadership instead of being weighted down by fear.

Louis Pasteur said: “Chance favors the prepared mind.” Good luck and Godspeed.

I'm about halfway into your book and love it so far! I'm curious about what store-bought food has the longest shelf life. I am LDS, and you know we believe in food storage, but I'm not too excited about living off of hard winter wheat forever. Can you give some suggestions of store-bought food that will last the longest. For example, I've heard that Velveeta cheese lasts forever, as well as Twinkies. I'm really just looking to have some variety in the food storage. Also, is there a better place to get MREs? I have a cousin in the army and I was thinking maybe he could buy them cheaper and fresher. Let me know.

Thank you, - Aaron V.

JWR Replies: First, I'd like to state for the record, that I have never stockpiled Twinkies, nor do I intend to. And, BTW, as documented at Snopes, they do not store "forever".

I only believe in stocking wholesome foods will real nutritive value, not empty calories. There are better quality cheeses available--either fresh canned or dehydrated flakes--from a number of SurvivalBlog advertisers. The key to a well balanced food storage program is to start first with the staple foods that you use on a regular basis.

1.) Start out by simply doubling-up and tripling up the staples that you normally buy each time that you shop fro groceries, and as needed, package them in vermin-proof containers. This is usually done in 5-gallon food grade HDPE buckets.

2.) Next, add a large quantity of wheat (or a gluten-free equivalent, for those that are gluten intolerant), and then round out your food storage with a quantity of freeze-dried fruit and vegetables, commercially nitrogen packed in #10 cans, for maximum storage life. (BTW, members of the LDS church have access to their church's local dry pack canneries, at cost. (While I have no common ground with the wayward doctrine of the LDS Church, I admire their food storage program!)

3.) Finally, add a few "comfort" foods for treats and special occasions. (Yes, I suppose, you could store a few Twinkies.) But my personal favorites for storage food treats are freeze-dried strawberries, dried apricots, and banana chips. (Yum!)

In my Rawles Gets You Ready family preparedness course. provide considerable detail on inexpensive methods for stocking up at Big Box stores as well as two methods for packaging bulk foods for long term storage. These will keep them safe from the depredations of insects and their larvae.

In the past few months, more than a dozen readers have reported a glitch in viewing SurvivalBlog with the Firefox web browser. Firefox is otherwise an excellent web browser and my recommendation as the best browser available.

If you receive a "Content Encoding Error", while trying to access SurvivalBlog, then there is a problem with Firefox's cache on your PC--not a problem with our web site. This cache is the local archive that it maintained to speed up loading commonly visited web sites. Occasionally, this archive can be corrupted by your browser, producing a "Content Encoding Error."

The easiest solution is to have Firefox reload SurvivalBlog entirely, and refresh its cache. When you get the "Content Encoding Error", press Control+Shift+R, to have Firefox reload the page from the source on our server, rather than your local cache. (If you are using a Mac it's "Command" key rather than "Control"). This will reload the page, and update the cache, replacing any corrupted data.

Reader Joe G. sent a link to a story on a house that is so "green", it produces surplus electricity.

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Ed C. sent us this link to at start-up company in Polson, Montana. Gearpods is offering containerized survival gear, mostly in Nalgene style water containers, from day pack kits to shelter systems.

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Reader Johnny G. sent this link: S.F. bank's startling interest: 79 percent. And SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent a link to a similar story, from Fox News.

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John F. suggested this story on the Art of Manliness blog: 13 Things a Man Should Keep in His Car

"Assessing, developing, attaining and sustaining needed emergency preparedness, response and recovery capabilities is a difficult task that requires sustained leadership… there is no silver bullet, no easy formula." - William Jenkins

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Here in the northern hemisphere, we are about to have our Winter Solstice - the shortest day of the year. For some of us, that means that it is time to start planning our Spring gardens! (The seed catalogs will start to arrive soon. They are reliable as our January snow and Spring rain.)

Mr. Jim,
You perfectly encapsulated a modification I just did to the kit I carry in my vehicle. While I knew better, it still took reading "One Second After" to set me thinking: How do I get home if the car dies? Your reference: "My personal circumstances are unusual, since I live at my retreat year-round. So the gear that I keep in my vehicle is more of a "Get Me Back Home Kit" rather than a "Get Out of Dodge Kit" is perfect.

I have carried a pretty decent vehicle breakdown kit for some time, but I did so in a document box. It then occurred to me: You will have to walk, dummy. So I bought a cheap, "Remington" brand backpack from Wal-Mart, and everything got transferred. It's not "Military" looking, in keeping with ominous rumblings about that stuff in various "Memos," but rugged enough to get me home.

Excellent way to encapsulate that notion. That's how I will start referring to it as with students and family. Thanks, - Jim B2


Thank you again for your excellent blog. You are definitely saving lives and saving dollars.

When our Nissan expired, we had a long discussion about what to buy for our general use/SHTF vehicle. The criteria we settled on were:

  • Size – The vehicle must be big enough for the entire family, plus guests (we made a mistake here, by not accounting for two college student siblings, who recently moved back to the area), plus cargo.
  • Engine – Diesel is preferable to gasoline or propane for a number of reasons in every area except for availability of parts and costs of repairs. For diesels, pre-2007 is a requirement (for bio-diesel compatibility). For all engine types (with the possible exception of hybrids), older is generally better. Buy used.
  • Chassis – The question here is balancing fuel efficiency (which translates to range) vs. pulling power. Performance requirements vary based on your location. Ideally you should buy the smallest size available that will meet your hauling and performance requirements, maximizing your fuel efficiency. This also will reduce your final costs. A trailer hitch is a must, even for smaller cars, but can be added after-market for little cost.
  • Reliability – Reliability is a must. Do your research before you buy.
  • Cost – Don’t take on debt buying more than you need. Forego leather seats and satellite radio to stock up on spare parts and mechanic's classes. A lower cost vehicle also lets you practice doing all the regular maintenance yourself without fear of putting yourself $20,000 in the hole.

I rarely see it mentioned, but for many people, it’s worth considering cargo vans. You can pick them up on the cheap, well-maintained, with plenty of cargo space. The downside is poor off-road performance, but this isn't as much a concern for people near or in the cities, and can be addressed separately.

Do research on alternative fuels for your vehicle. Diesels can draw on a number of fuel sources, most especially bio-diesel. Many gasoline engines can accept ethanol. But both require production, which is difficult to impossible without the proper equipment and knowledge. Figuring out how to fuel your generator when your tank has run dry is going to be a painful lesson in preparation.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and yours. - Dieselman

I am not an electrician, and I set as system like this up at my house three years ago. It kept our food cold, and the house tolerably warm for three days when the power was out. But I endorse a couple of important differences.

First, letting your car run at idle will run down your battery. The alternator doesn't reach full output at low RPMs, so you need to kick up the throttle a little bit. How much will depend on your car. I watch the volt-meter built into the inverter, and set the engine at about 1,500 RPM, because that's where the voltage stays high enough for the inverter. Also, make sure to check the output of the alternator. (I looked it up at an online auto parts store.) When my inverter runs at full power, it draws 100 amps at 12 volts. If you have a small alternator (smaller car), then 1,500 RPM may not even be enough to power the inverter. That means you're drawing amperage out of the battery when the inverter runs at higher power.

Second, I would never power the house by using an extension cord with two male ends. JWR was right to point out the danger of potentially back-powering the grid when plugging in a hot extension cord from the inverter. Even with the main breaker turned off, the neutral is still connected to the grid. Can you imagine the liability you would incur if you accidentally electrocuted a local repairman who was trying to get your neighborhood back online? He may even be one of your neighbors. I've made mistakes in my life (no one seriously injured because of them) and I can't justify the risk of injury when it's so easy to avoid. Because the average 1,200-1,500 watt inverter will only power one or two major appliances (or one furnace blower), I recommend that you plug those items directly into the unmodified extension cord from the inverter. Yeah, you gotta move the extension cord around a bit, but you won't hurt anyone and you don't need to worry that you might ruin your inverter when the grid does come back up.

Remember, the main objective is to survive the ordeal, hopefully stay warm, and not accidentally hurt anyone else in the process. - Dave in Missouri


Dear James,
I'm sure Tom H. meant well with his article on using power from a car to power a house, but I have some serious nits to pick.

1. When talks about getting the "largest cable size you can get", it really opens a door for disaster. Electrical cable needs to be sized for the current it will be carrying. If the cable you find is too small, you risk creating an electrical fire. If it's too big, you've wasted money. What you need to do is to have a handle on the power and current that the cable needs to carry, and size it appropriately.

Remember, Power (watts) = Current (amps) x Voltage (volts).

Add up your power requirements for a given voltage, and then determine your amp load.

Current (amps) = Power (watts) / Voltage (volts).

Here is a link that gives conservative estimates for the current carrying capabilities of various American Wire Gauge (AWG) wire sizes.

2. When adding up the wattage you need to support, don't go by the tag value on appliance alone. These are maximum values possible, and probably do not represent the power used under normal circumstances. This is a case where there is no substitute for actually measuring the power draw. The good news is that it's easy to do with a Kill-A-Watt (plug-in power meter). Before TSHTF, test each of your appliances by plugging the Kill A Watt electricity usage monitor into the outlet, and then the appliance into the Kill A Watt. You can see the power being used at that moment, and the power consumed over time. For good measurements, use a Kill A Watt or similar meters.

3. Assuming the proper breakers are thrown, and the proper wires sizes are used, the weak link in this system is not the inverter but the size of the alternator output. The system cannot sustain more continuous power output than the alternator can provide. The battery may act as a 'surge protector' by supply the difference when the demand is larger than the alternator can supply, but that will quickly drain the battery.

It would be wise to find out ahead of time how big your alternator is and plan accordingly. The good news is that there are after market alternators available for some trucks and 4x4s which are designed to output more power to run tools through inverters at remote work sites. Best Regards, - Bear in the Sierra

Mr. Rawles,
There are so many problems with the vehicle/inverter backup system presented in today's article that I felt I had to comment. You are to be commended for pointing out the foolishness of the power cord backfeed method, that can get someone killed in very short order. But there are other reliability/safety concerns the author does not address. These include vehicle alternator issues (overheating from insufficient air flow, diode current ratings, etc.), SLI battery limitations, connection issues, ground bonding, and transient inverter loading concerns.

For the record, I am a degreed electrical engineer and certified reliability engineer, and have over twenty years of experience with power inverters ranging from a few hundred watts up to 300KW (that's right, 300,000 watts). Best Regards, - John in Colorado

Reader M.S. spotted this editorial by James Quinn: Brave New World 2010.

This editorial by Frank Seuss was linked over at The Daily Bell: The Life-Long Challenge of Differentiating Between Truth, Paradigms, Truisms and Plain Lies

RLG sent this video clip: Ryedale Coin Penny Sorter. Keep in mind how much profit from how many hundreds of thousands of pennies it would take to recoup the cost of buying a sorting machine. To my mind, this is a hobby business strictly for retirees with strong backs!

Bill from Ohio sent this: Six Banks shut down Friday - 140 total this year

Items from The Economatrix:

12 Gift Ideas That Save Recipients Money Great ideas to help tight budgets!

Fewer States Add Jobs as Recovery Sputters Along

Greece Hit By Strikes as Debt Crisis Grows

ECB Raises Estimate on Bank Writedowns

Who Needs Casino Bankers?

Dollar Rises as Stocks, Commodities in Flight From Risk

Henry L. suggested this article over at Market Skeptics: 2010 Food Crisis for Dummies

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SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson spotted a blog post about a warning poster at Fort Benning. Mike's comment: "We're terrorists, apparently."

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From Ferdinand: Man kills bobcat with bare hands during north Phoenix attack. He comments, "Even if it isn't a complete collapse, things like this will become more common. Being defenseless--having to use your bare hands qualifies you as defenseless--is a death sentence, in my opinion."

"Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.." - Nehemiah 4:9 (KJV)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

James Wesley:
The often-quoted prognosticator Gerald Celente (of The Trends Research Institute) is predicting that the Survivalist movement will go mainstream next year. In a recent issue of The Trends Journal, he wrote:

"Back in the Cold War days, survivalism meant building a bomb shelter and stocking it with enough food to outlast nuclear fallout.

In the late 1970’s, with inflation soaring, Iran raging, and gold and oil prices skyrocketing, survival meant cashing out of paper money and heading for the hills with enough ammunition and pork & beans to wait out the economic and political storms.

In 2000, the Y2K crowd – the most recent breed of survivalists – expecting computer clocks to crash, infrastructure to break down and the world to go dark, were armed and barricaded with enough food to feed an army and enough ammunition to hold one off.

In 2010, survivalism will go mainstream. Unemployed or fearing it, foreclosed or nearing it, pensions lost and savings gone … all sorts of folk who once believed in the system, having witnessed its battering, have lost their faith.

The realities of failing financial institutions, degrading infrastructure, manipulated marketplaces, soaring energy costs, widening wars, and terror consequences have created a new breed of survivalist. Motivated not by worst-case scenario fears but by do-or-die necessity, the new non-believers, unwilling to go under or live on the streets, will devise ingenious stratagems to beat the system, get off the grid (as much as possible), and stay under the radar."

Well, it seems every good social movement deserves its day, and we are finally getting ours. Let's just hope that we don't get tarred with the same brush as the assorted Neo-Nazi/Skinhead/Racist/KKK/Anti-Semite fringe element types, as well as the relative handful of "Gray Aliens Abducted My Baby" types and "Its the End of the Mayan Calendar" Mystics. Knowing the tendencies of the Mainstream Media, they probably will try do do precisely that, by interviewing a few way-out-there whackos, and then attempting to portray them as "typical" survivalists. Lord help us. - Hal F.

Thanks so much for your books, which have really opened my eyes. I began with "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" and have just finished reading "Patriots" for the second time. The first time on Kindle, then I decided I really needed a hard copy as well. After much prayer, my husband has acknowledged the need to prepare as well.

We have just joined the NRA and we will be joining a local gun club next month, as well as looking for proper firearms training. We own a new .22 LR and a Winchester .308. In the area of security, I have two questions:

1.) Today my husband stopped by the gun store to inquire about pistol and shotgun prices. They quoted him on some used ones that sound reasonable for our tight budget. Is there any reason to avoid used guns from a reputable dealer?.

2.) Then he told the clerk that his wife asked him to check into an AR-15. The clerk's response was "What would she need that for?" How do you go about purchasing such a weapon without looking like a loon? What should the response be to questions like that? Many thanks, - Janice in Virginia

JWR Replies: I recommend avoiding any un-necessary firearms purchase paper ptrails.We have no way of predicting how firearms laws might change in the future, so it is wise to not leave an audit trail. If your state law allows it, then I strongly recommend that all of your subsequent firearms purchases--most importantly handguns--be made from private parties who live in the same state, at gun shows or through auction services such as,, or fixed-price sellers through Newspaper ads by private party sellers are also a possibility--and often some real bargains can be found--but of course your local selection will be much smaller.

Because all sales of modern (post-1898 manufacture) firearms bought from (or transferred through) a Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder must be put on permanent record, a paper trail cannot be avoided. So again, your best alternative is to make only private party gun purchases, without an FFL in the loop.

Mr Rawles,
Having seen the info on EMT training that has been on your blog recently, I decided to throw in my 2 cents. The National Dept of Transportation (DOT) sets all standards for Emergency Medical Services (First Responder through EMT-Paramedic) for the entire country. These standards include training and standardized interventions for certain trauma and illnesses by EMTs. These can all be found at All questions on certifications, training requirements, etc can be answered there.

Some courses claim that they can accelerate you and get you certified. DOT has requirements that must be met to be nationally certified. These include specific skill sets and minimum hours of training requirements. All states are required to participate in the NREMT Registry. States can require you to complete a written and or skills test to get a state license in addition to the national registry. Some states allow you to do procedures that other states don’t. In Wisconsin, we can insert a combi-tube down your throat in certain situations to help you breath and use a laryngoscope and Magill Forceps to remove a visualized blockage in your trachea.

In other words, “caveat emptor” buyer beware. Make sure the course you are taking or plan on taking meets the Federal DOT guidelines for the National Registry. Be prepared for the NREMT skills test and written test. Both must be passed to become Nationally Registered. The benefit of Nationally Registry is transfer of EMT Licenses throughout the country.

One other thing to remember. In a TEOTWAWKI situation, all the EMT training in the world won’t save you if you don’t have a doctor to complete the treatment for a major trauma or illness. As an EMT, We perform interventions to keep people alive until they can get to the doctor that can fix what’s broken or not working correctly.

I am deeply indebted to you for all the information you have provided and allowed to be posted on your blog. You have made my commitment to my family’s preparedness and survival an easy task. - R.T., Somewhere in the ice and snow in northwestern Wisconsin

Mr. Rawles,
In response to this article. People need to be aware that just because they are a NREMT regardless of the level, basic or paramedic, not all states recognize the National Registry. For instance, I have been an EMT-B for 25 years in the state of Minnesota, and an EMS Instructor for 12 years. Neither Iowa or Wisconsin will recognize my NREMT certification in their state. Just make sure you research which states allow reciprocity and which ones don't. - Brenda L.

Mark Lundeen at Gold Eagle asks: How could GDP have increased 2.8% and yet electrical power consumption in the US declined by 5.04%?

The latest from the Dr. Housing Bubble blog: Southern California and the MLS Myth: Why the MLS does not Provide an Accurate Picture of Housing Inventory. Shadow Inventory, Foreclosures, and Fantasy Housing Numbers.

Red State Ranger sent us this: You Can Negotiate Anything. BTW, I recommend that you read my archived article on savvy bartering, for some more negotiating tactics.

(The Economatrix is snowed in today, with no Internet service available.)

From John S.: Happiest U.S. States Pinned Down. Note the correlation with my Recommended Retreat Areas ranking.

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Chuck M. flagged this from The Guardian: Why Britain faces a bleak future of food shortages

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Reader M.S. mentioned some analysis from Washington's Blog: Officials and Experts Warn of Crash-Induced Unrest

"Adversity has the same effect on a man that severe training has on the pugilist - it reduces him to his fighting weight." - Josh Billings

Friday, December 18, 2009

I have been reading a lot of the archive items and I have noticed a few times where you went on a trip etc, we have had a few nieces and nephews born this year and when I travel 3 to 4 hours from home I don’t feel as secure as when I am close to my home and supplies so when you venture out for a few days the questions that pop into my mind are:

  • What kind of vehicle do you travel long distances in?
  • What supplies do you stock in it?
  • What are some things we could keep in mind as we travel away from our homes for short periods?

I tried to search for these answers, so forgive me if you have already covered it and I missed it. Thanks, - Larry M.

JWR Replies: Vehicle and gear selection have been discussed in SurvivalBlog since 2005, but not much in the past year, so this subject is worth re-visiting.

A "Get Out of Dodge" vehicle need not be large, if you've planned ahead and pre-positioned the majority of your gear and grub at your retreat.

My personal circumstances are unusual, since I live at my retreat year-round. So the gear that I keep in my vehicle is more of a "Get Me Back Home Kit" rather than a "Get Out of Dodge Kit". And since I live in a remote and lightly populated region that is mostly public lands, many of my readiness items I carry are for severe weather, fallen trees, or off-road driving mishaps. So, for example, I regularly carry a parka, Wiggy's brand FTRSS sleeping bag, wool blanket, fire starting kit, two tow chains, a come-along, a shovel, and an axe. There have been times that I wished that I also had a chainsaw on board, but storage space is a constraint. (An axe will suffice in most instances, but it is much more labor intensive.) Thankfully, the majority of this gear--most notably the tow chain--has been used several times to assist other motorists, rather than myself or members of my family. Most of these have been nature photographers and dude hunters that have got themselves in over their heads, back on BLM and Forest Service roads. Depending on the season, I also carry varying quantities of cold weather clothing, and tire chains. (Yes, there are circumstances in the spring "mud season" when studded snow tires are insufficient!) When I take longer highway trips outside of my neck of the woods, I often substitute full-up "get me home" backpacks for the weight and space normally that is occupied by the tow chains and pioneer tools.

Our primary vehicle is a well-maintained Flex Fuel (E85 ethanol compatible) Ford SUV, circa 2002. It is in fairly "stock" configuration, but here in my region, one common modification is the addition of an extra heavy duty brush guard. These aren't designed to deflect brush, but rather deer. (Deer collisions are by far the most common road hazards here.) You even see some passenger cars equipped with these "deer catchers" . They look rather comical on the front of a four-door sedan.

Even though I live outside of any anticipated EMP footprints, I carry spare electronic ignition and fuel system components, wrapped in multiple layers of aluminum foil, and stowed in a Danish cookie tin.

Since several members of our family are licensed radio amateurs, we carry either 2 Meter or 440 MHz (70 cm) transceivers in our vehicles. (We have both vehicular and hand-held models, mostly older model Kenwoods.) Diamond makes high-quality dual-band and tri-band magnetic mount vehicular antennas. For short range communication, we use MURS band walkie-talkies--which require no license--that are typically tuned to the same frequency of our Dakota Alert alarms.

Mr. Rawles,
I wanted to pass this along to you and the readers of your site. I've been looking to increase my medical skills and training and, I found these schools and programs. I intend on going to a few of them when I return to CONUS. Anyone considering taking any of these classes should account for all associated costs and time to attend. This kind of training isn't cheap but it is well worth it.

The first is Deployment Medicine International (DMI). It's been set up to augment military and contract personnel that are deploying overseas. As far as I can tell anyone can go and get trained. The courses they offer are: Operational Emergency Medical Skills, SOF Operational Emergency Medical Skills, Deployment Medicine Operator's Course, Combat Trauma Management, Mission Performance at High Altitude, Basic Combat Trauma Training, Advanced Combat Trauma Training, and an Accelerated EMT-Paramedic Program.

A lot the course descriptions are the exact same thing after you get past the first two or three paragraphs wit some differences. The school is in Maine and is being used by some operators looking to broaden their skill sets. There program description say they are a benefit all who attend. I can see how they would be and I'll be going there after I get my NREMT-Paramedic certification/license.

The next school is Tech Pro Services. They have EMT courses you can take online. You take the didactic (lecture) portions online and then in order to complete the certification process, you must travel to their location in Abilene, Texas and complete the Hands On Skills training, testing, clinicals, and ride-alongs.

Upon successful completion of all portions you receive a National Registry EMT certification at whatever level you've been working on. If your state, or Commonwealth, is a member of, and recognizes, the National Registry EMT system, your able to return to your state or Commonwealth and challenge the EMS governing body for reciprocity. Once you have reciprocity you would then be certified/licensed in two states.

At this time, Tech Pro Services is the only school to offer an online EMT program that will provide you with this certification. They offer other useful courses but, I'm focusing on the medical training only at this time. I'd recommend any of their classes as all of them are useful.

For those wanting another option for an accelerated EMT-P program, Tidewater Community College in Virginia has an accelerated EMT-P program that is five months long. The only prerequisite is that you already have an EMT-B certification/license. I've no idea if they are able to take out of state certifications or licenses.

As I understand it, this course can also provide you with college credits, if you attend their program in that fashion. Good luck getting in touch with them by phone or email though. It took me a few weeks. Why they didn't answer their phones, return my calls after I left messages, or return my emails in a timely fashion is beyond me, but I'll be taking their class prior to attending some of the more high speed classes with DMI regardless.

For those that didn't catch it previous mentions, Medical Corps has some very informative classes that would be useful as well. I've spoken with one of the people there and hope to get there in a few years.

For those on a really tight budget you can start learning about some aspects of the EMS field by taking the free Independent Study courses from FEMA's Emergency Management Institute. You can download the books and files and test online. I'd recommend the first few courses such as IS-1, IS-3, IS-5.a, and IS-& for starters and then take the National Incident Management System (NIMS) courses. A lot of agencies require them to operate as an EMT.

Frederick Community College in Maryland accepts this training and will convert the classes into single credit courses. They are the only college in the country that will do so. They also have an AAS Degree in Emergency Management that these courses can be applied to. The cost of converting the courses to college credit used to be $60 per course. I don't know if it is still the same or if it's changed.

I've no affiliation with any of these schools, organizations, or facilities nor have I attended any of these classes or programs. This isn't intended as a review of them. I thought this would be extremely valuable information to pass along for properly preparing for medical emergencies that will undoubtedly arise WTSHTF. Anyone who's seen someone shot or unlucky enough to be near an IED when it goes off will truly understand why you must always have at least one medic on hand, and if possible, two with other personnel trained to assist. Good luck and God bless to all, - D. in Dubai

The article written by Tom H. contains some dangerous advice and overlooks some important issues. He wrote:

"Next, cut the receptacle end (female) off the 120 VAC extension cord and install the replacement 120 VAC plug (male) to the cord. Make sure it's wired correctly. (Black to black, white to white and green to green). You will now have a cord with a [male] plug on both ends."

Such a modified power cord [commonly called a "disaster cord" or more aptly a "suicide cord'] is extremely dangerous, and should never be made. If one end is plugged into a power source, the other end now has exposed electrical contacts and anyone touching them is in danger of electrocution. Don't take the chance of killing your child, spouse, or even yourself by having such a cord around where someone could try to use it.

Tome also wrote: "After making sure the main power disconnect is off, plug in one end of the extension cord to the inverter and the other end into any 120 VAC outlet in your house."

Most homes in the USA have what is known as 120/240 volt single phase power coming into the house from the electrical company. A few may have 3 phase power.

Back feeding a 120 volt outlet with power will only energize 1/2 (or 1/3 if you have 3 phase power) of the 120 volt loads in your house. If your furnace, refrigerator, deep freezer, or other critical load is not on the same "leg" of your power panel as the outlet you are back feeding, it will not get power and will not run. Worse, if a load such as a furnace has motors that run from 240 volts, single or 3 phase, and power is applied to only one leg of the motor, it could damage or destroy the motor.

JWR added this advice: "The best and safest solution is to have a qualified electrician install a proper bypass circuit breaker panel that will eliminate any risk of a back feed!"

This is certainly true, and may be the only easy way to be both safe and meet electrical code when providing backup power to a furnace. There are some other solutions that are safe, however.

Here is an easy solution if your furnace only requires 120 volts AC at some reasonable amount of current. If you are competent to work on your own electrical panel (a working knowledge of electricity is a useful survival skill), you can determine which breaker powers your furnace, and disconnect the wire to the furnace from the breaker. Mount a small electrical box with a single 120 volt outlet on it next to your breaker panel, and feed it from the breaker that former fed the furnace. Drill a hole in the box next to the outlet and bring a short power cord with a male plug on the end out through a grommet (to protect the cord from damage as it exits the box). Run the other end of the cord into the breaker box and wire it safely to the power wires going to the furnace. When the short power cord is plugged into the new outlet, electrically the furnace is hooked up just as it was before you started.

If you unplug the cord from the outlet, and plug the cord into an inverter or generator, you can safely power the furnace with zero danger of back feeding the power lines. Back in 1999 I made such a modified power feed to my furnace, and tested it with an inverter powered from a pair of golf cart batteries. Because the furnace was a low power consumption type (hot water heat) I was able to get around two days of power for my furnace before the batteries needed charging. A large 50 amp battery charger would recharge the pair of batteries in a few hours. Therefore, I would only need to run my generator when I needed to recharge the batteries, or when I needed more power for appliances such as the deep freezer or refrigerator. If I kept the doors shut on the deep freezer and refrigerator, a hour or so of power
twice a day from my generator would keep them cold.

Tom wrote "A car that is quietly idling, parked in the driveway, is not going to stand out. ... As long as you have gas for the car, you are in business."

While most inexpensive generators make more noise than an idling car, they also use far less fuel. If you spend the extra to get a very quiet generator such as many of the modern inverter/generator sets, you can have both the quiet and low fuel consumption.

Blessings on you and your family! - RAR


I think that Tom presented a very inventive idea, but I have personal reservations about it. I haven't actually tried this in a real world test scenario, so these are just theoretical observations:

1.) Under normal circumstances, the higher the load placed on the alternator, the more energized it becomes. As the current draw on it increases, the mechanical resistance required to turn it becomes higher. The engine RPM increases to compensate. Higher RPM, more sound. (If you ever want to see the max amount of power your alternator can put out, try to find instructions on how to "full field" it. I would not recommend doing this on a vehicle with computer controlled anything!)

2.) Power loss because of clip on jumper cable connection will be high. A secondary effect of this will be high heat problems in the DC side of the wiring, possibly enough to melt the insulation off the wire.

On a side note, when looking at jumper cables to carry with you, buy the larger cables (Lowest number AWG). Trying to jumpstart one of my vehicles in 25 degree cold that had been sitting for three months took me two pairs of "el cheapo" 12 gauge cables. Larger diameter cable = lower resistance and heat buildup = more electrons streaming into your dead battery

One way to decrease this would be to replace your vehicle battery cable connectors with marine style terminal ends (The ones with the wing nut and post on them) and securing the inverter to the battery with actual ring terminals. The more surface area you can get in the connection, the better. Be warned however, most marine style terminal ends I have used have a noticeably smaller inside diameter than regular automotive terminals. They will require some force to go over your auto battery terminal posts.

3.) If a running generator will make you a target, a running vehicle will as well. - A.R.

Dear Sir,
As someone who has both solar photovoltaic/battery bank and multiple generator standby power options at home, and at a remote airfield location without grid power, I would like to offer my opinion on the article "Covert Home Power for When The Grids Go Down" offered by Tom H on Thursday December 17th 2009:

The use of a vehicle based generator system does offer a number of potential benefits, most importantly the regular running, maintenance (hopefully?) and fuel replenishment aspects, not to mention a large and safe fuel storage capability - you do always keep your tank at least half full? Without these important activities the author is correct that small gas powered generators become nothing more than "garage queen's" - and expensive ones at that after a year or more in storage.

As with all things in life there are also unfortunately an equally if not larger number of negatives/limitations associated with vehicle based generator methods. The relative fuel economy of a small gas or diesel powered engine, compared with a typical car/pickup engine (and its' 12V electrical generation capability) is vastly different. The much larger vehicle engine capacity and all of the accessories attached to it (water pump, air conditioning pump, power steering pump, and all of the associated drive trains/belts for these etc.) take power, and this comes from the engine and the fuel, increasing consumption. When was the last time you had a vehicle with a pull cord "re-coil" style starter option found on most small gas engines?

There are other issues too, such as leaving your vehicle engine running (not overly covert?) and the risk of vehicle theft as most modern engines will need the key in the ignition to run (especially bad if someone is looking to G.O.O.D. and needs functioning transport with available fuel). If you do choose this option, do you have a spare key to lock the car with the engine running? You may want to consider fitting a wheel clamp or similar to deter someone driving off - you may already have one if you own a larger trailer or caravan/camper?

Connecting to the vehicle battery with jumper cables often stops you from fully closing the hood, or risk a short circuit if you do, so a raised hood may be another give away and can increase the noise signature of the running engine too. The longer the cables (and I agree that thicker is better) the greater the power loss, so shorter cables are better, but this then places the inverter at greater risk of being stolen - you also need to protect the inverter from any water/moisture ingress - even next doors dog relieving itself! Consider permanently fitting a high power 2 pole connector to your battery (e.g. Google "Anderson SB connector") under the hood and a matching end on your jumper cables. This can then be used to jump start other cars, power your inverter (winch, any other 12V appliance), and stops people from borrowing your jumper cables as they only work on your car now! This method also reduces any risk of polarity reversal/short circuit accidents.

One option seldom considered when using a vehicle based generator is the "extra battery method". Take a large car or truck battery (or leisure battery) and connect this using the jumper cables to the vehicle battery. This can be located inside the (ventilated) garage and you can use slightly longer and/or thinner jumper cables with this method. Connect the inverter (also now in the garage) to this second battery and it provides a "reserve of power" for heavy starting loads - recharging from the running vehicle once this is passed. Remember that 2,000 Watts of power from the inverter is around 200 amps at 12 VDC (there are losses in the inverter) so you are placing a considerable strain on the vehicles electrical system - how many vehicles are capable of continuously producing this amount of 12v power from their alternator system, and even if they are the considerable heat generated will not be so easily dissipated as there is little if any air movement that would come from a moving vehicle in normal operation? The radiator fan will cool the engine, but by doing so will blow hot air into the engine bay where the alternator is housed, right next to a really hot engine too. You may want to check the continuous rating of your vehicle's alternator output, and factor in the cost of repairing/replacing it verses the costs of a separate generator?

There are some very special instances with hybrid vehicles where they are capable of generating much larger amounts of electrical power (e.g. Toyota Prius), but these are the exception rather than the norm. If you have a Prius/Lexus then Google "Prius UPS" for details on these systems - they can even automatically start/stop the engine as power is used from their onboard battery systems, increasing fuel efficiency and running time. These really are the best vehicle based generator systems if you already have such a vehicle.

There have been many articles on the use of back feed "suicide cables" to power to grid down locations, and whilst these are functional there are considerable risks associated with this method. The best option would be in install a power inlet and transfer switch if at all possible. If you are going to use a back feed cable I would advise you to set up a check list of actions (for both connecting and disconnecting/returning to grid power), and follow these in strict order to ensure you do not cause a dangerous condition - remember it may be dark/cold when you are doing this and you may not remember exactly from memory what is needed - pilots (amateur and professional) use check lists, and they regularly practice their emergency actions, so take a hint from people who really need to get things right first time! I would also attach a brightly coloured plug or label/streamer to the "live" end of the back feed cable as a reminder not to touch this when the system is back feeding power. The location you choose to plug this in must consider risks from people tripping over the cable and pulling it from the receptacle - exposing the live pins. Anywhere that children may be able to access it is not even considered in my opinion!

A couple of options not considered are small diesel and propane powered generators. Diesel fuel stores for much longer than gas (especially with anti fungal compounds added) and once warm the engine can run on a variety of different "fuels" including cooking oil, heating oil, even clean engine oil at a push, but if you do not have anything else that is diesel powered it can prove difficult to "rotate" your fuel supply" (even if that is only every 2 - 3 years) and they can be much harder to start in cold climates. Propane stores almost indefinitely, you can use it on your gas grill in the summer and this can also provide standby heat and cooking facilities all year. A few medium sized propane bottles (a minimum of 2 - use one, plus a full spare) can be safely stored in a garage or shed, and far more safely than gas (petrol) IMO. The down side for both of these being that the generators are typically more expensive to purchase initially.

Please do not think that I am being negative with my comments. Any system is better than none, and vehicle based systems can and do work so long as you acknowledge their limitations in running time, security and power available etc. (I would not aim for much more than 800 to 1,000 watts continuous, even if you do buy a bigger inverter [~1,500 Watts] to allow for "start-up" surges). The components required for vehicle based systems can also be "recycled" into a more permanent fixed solar/battery/generator system as time and funds permit.

Whilst "modified sine" inverters are much cheaper than the "pure sine" variety, you should be careful with electronics/motors working from modified sine power. Ordinary filament light bulbs work fine, but some compact fluorescent lamps can flicker or make high pitched noises on modified sine power. Some items such as cell phone chargers and other "transformer-less" wall-wart power cubes can fail quite spectacularly on modified sine power, as can some satellite/cable boxes in my experience - if you can afford a pure sine inverter then this is the choice to make.

Finally it should be remembered that any small engine (gas/diesel/propane) can also provide considerable distraction when trying to get them to work after periods of storage, when after a few minutes it should have become obvious that it isn't going to start and that you should abandon it for now and implement plan B, only returning to it when this is working. (You do have a plan B, right?)

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this time, and I hope and pray that the true meaning and message of Christmas will support you all over the holiday season following your loss of the Memsahib. Kind regards, Ian H. - NSoB (Nanny State of Britannia)


The Army sent my organization a cheap generator several months ago as part of a bigger system. About a dozen of them went out to various Army posts to be used by civilian trainers, some of them have no military background. This week, several of our sites tried to start their little generators and were shocked that they were inoperative. (I am just as guilty as they are. We have all ignored our generators since September.)

There are basically two types of internal combustion generators out there, main power generators and backup generators. The difference in cost between the two types is substantial. Heavy duty power plants are more than ten times the price of a backup generator, so as a compromise, many of us wind up owning a backup generator of some kind. There are lots of little micro-generators around 1 KW, but I am not talking about those. They are really too small to be much help, but the larger ones can be very useful for keeping refrigeration or pumping water or any number of tasks when the grid is down.

The typical backup generator is about 6 HP gasoline rated for something like 3,500 watts and costs from 300 to 600 dollars. The following is specifically written about a "All Power" AGP3002D 3,500 watt gasoline generator, but since it's is a typical survival generator this will also apply to many different models and sizes. I am talking about any generator too big to carry but small enough to wheel (and has wheels). If it has convenience outlets instead of a wiring collar, and it's big enough to to run a freezer, I am talking about your generator. These are not top-of-the-line generators, but they are a pretty good if you take care of them and use them within their limitations. They are basically backup generators intended for short duration events. They should be fine for short duration crisis and in a total collapse, unless you have made a substantial commitment to storing fuel, your cheap generator will easily outlast your fuel supply.

There are two basic approaches to backup generator maintenance: You can maintain it constantly ready for action, or you can mothball it between missions. Most people don't really need to be able to push a button and have their generator come to life. In fact, if they can get their generator up within about half an hour, that's probably just fine. Also, most people need a backup generator very infrequently. Maybe less than once a year.

Mothballing is probably the best choice for most people.

To mothball a generator, drain out all the gasoline. You can let it run dry or drain it from the fuel filter (or disconnect the fuel line). Be careful. Gasoline is explosive. When you try to start it later, you will have to keep pulling the starter rope until you suck fresh gasoline though the patient and keep pulling.

You can leave the oil in the engine (and probably should) but if it sits for a year without starting, you will need to drain the oil and replace it with new stuff before you use it. Look at the oil before you use it and use common sense. If your oil is ever black for any reason, it needs to be replaced immediately. The engine only holds a little over a half a quart (.6 liter for the model I have). Use regular 10W30 oil. No need to get fancy.

Protect the generator from the elements while in storage. You can leave it in a garage and haul it out when needed. If you must store it outside, you are risking weather damage and theft. Most of these things are not really made to sit outside in the weather, so try to store them in some kind of shelter.

When the grid power goes off and stays off long enough for you to use your generator, Oil it, fuel it and start it up. Plug in your stuff and smile smugly at your own cleverness. You should start it up at least once a year and it should work when you need it. That's pretty much all there is to mothballing.

Or, you can maintain your generator ready to use on short notice. That requires more work. Regular maintenance requires you to run it under load for about an hour per month. You will need to follow some steps to do it safely.

You should follow this procedure whenever you run the generator for any reason.

  1. Put in fresh gasoline. For maintenance run-up, about a pint of any kind of unleaded should be enough. Don't use much because gasoline has a short shelf life and turns into varnish (or technically....gunk) in a few months. You ideally want to burn through all your gasoline every couple of months, so only add a little and then run it almost dry every month. I think old fuel may be the most common cause of failure in small engines. Don't leave old gas in your tank or you will be sorry. I don't know much about fuel preservatives, but they seem to be unnecessary unless you are storing a lot of fuel. If you have only a few containers of fuel for emergencies, you can rotate them and burn the fuel in your car or truck. I only keep about 20 gallons and rotate my fuel every month. On my model, there is a fuel filter (glass bowl type) in the back. It has a drain plug for removing water. If you have a fuel filter bowl you really need to check this when you refuel and drain out the water if you see any. (it will be the lower layer...duh). My tank is sized to run the generator about 8 hours under a 1,500 watt load. It holds 4 gallons, so I can expect to need about a half gallon per hour of use.
  2. Check the oil level, You will need to change the oil after the first 20 hours of operation and then every 100 hours thereafter. There is often no oil filter so this is really important. You may need to siphon or pump the old oil out if there is no drain. The oil level is usually checked at a cap or plug at the bottom of the engine. There is no dip stick on cheap gas engines. The oil plug is slanted into the base of the engine so that when the generator is level, the oil level should be exactly as much as it will hold with the oil plug out. (like a lot of lawn mower engines.) If a few drops spill out when you open the plug, that's perfect but basically, if you can touch the oil with your finger without inserting it past the first knuckle, (an inch or so below the top) you have enough. Even dirty oil is much better than no oil. If you ever run it without oil you will be very sorry.
  3. Check the air filter periodically and wash it with soap and water when it's dirty. (if it's a replaceable filter, you will need spares). The manual on mine says to clean it every 60 hours, but in a smoky or dusty environment, you may need to clean this filter every time you refuel.
  4. Ground it! Generators are dangerous. You are supposed to ground it using a long grounding rod. You might be ok strapping it to plumbing, but a dedicated ground rod is usually safer. If you are in doubt, wet the ground around the rod with salt water (or any water)...about 10 gallons to increase conductivity. Sand is a terrible conductor. If you hit bedrock, drive it in horizontally for it's full length instead of leaving it sticking out. This is potentially lethal, so don't screw it up. If you get a kid killed, you are really going to feel bad.
  5. Turn on the engine switch (mine is on the control panel, but it can be anywhere. Push the choke as far as it will go if you have a manual choke. (Mine is hidden by the air filter. It will be on the same side).
  6. Pull the starter rope fast but smoothly until the engine starts. (crossing your fingers seems to help). When the engine catches, let it run a few minutes and then push the choke back to the run position. Let it run 5 minutes before attaching a load.
  7. Attach a load that draws at least 1,000 watts. An electric space heater or even an old steam iron will work for a load. I have always heard that running a generator without a load is bad for it, but I am not sure if this is just superstition or if it is fact. I have always used a load because I am a primitive, superstitious primate. If someone knows the definitive answer, I would love to hear it.

My generator is rated at 3,500 watts, but that's a lie. That's the start up surge capacity. My maximum rated load is only 3,000 watts, and it's not really big enough to run that much. My system is designed to run for long periods at half load, which is only 1,500 watts. That still sounds like a lot until you start counting up the watts you need. To figure out wattage, multiply volts times amps and that gives you watts.

Example: a typical Mr. Coffee (drip coffee maker) draws 7.5 amps at 120 volts. 120 times 7.5 is 900 watts.

Get a heavy duty extension cord for safety. Thin, long cords add a lot of resistance and can heat up under a heavy load. Your cord will need to be pretty long to reach outside to the generator, so get a good one.

Your generator is going to be noisy. If you are hoping to hide a cheap backup generator, forget it. They are much louder than expensive power plants of the same size. You might even need to wear hearing protection if you are working near the engine. I do. Hiding any internal combustion engine will be even harder if everything else in the area is quiet.

Cheap engines are not overly efficient, so they stink. They also put out copious amounts of carbon monoxide. You may want to set it up downwind and far enough away to not be annoyed. Under no circumstances run this thing indoors. Without adequate ventilation \a gas engine can kill you in minutes. - JIR

Hi Jim,
Just a few additional caveats to the article: Covert Home Power for When The Grids Go Down.

Running the 120 VAC electrical system from your automobile may seem like a relatively easy thing to do, but there are some hidden issues one must be aware of.

One issue is called Power Factor which happens when a reactive load (such as a motor) is running. In simple terms you can not simply multiply the current and voltage to get an equivalent power draw from the system. Depending on how the output of the inverter is designed and protected, you can even destroy the inverter outputs. This may happen with a motor that is two large, or by simultaneously running multiple motors. It's best to check the inverter users manual or contact the manufacturer for proper operation of inductive loads like motors.

Another issue that was already mentioned is inrush current on a motor when it is starting. The additional power is used to take a physical piece of material (the motor shaft and get it moving from a stopped position. Overcoming the inertia can take a bit of extra power. A good rule of thumb is 5 to 6 times the running current draw , keeping in mind that a 1 HP motor at 120 VAC will draw at least 6.5 Amps when running under a load. Motors may have this specified on the name plate as Locked Rotor Amps or LRA. A 1 HP motor under load can draw as much as 40 amps (4,800 watts) on startup. This can simply mean that the motor won't start, or can mean you've destroyed your inverter.

Even an incandescent light has some inrush current, so it is better when using more than one at a time to turn them on separately.

Back on the DC side you can do the simple math, but there can be a problem here also. A 1,500 watt inverter at full output will draw about 125 Amps (1,500 Watts / 12 Volts). A typical automobile alternator is rated at 50-75 Amps and the higher output alternators can output 100 or more. Keep in mind also that when supplying the higher power, the automobile engine may be more than just simply idling.

The main thing here is to know the limits of your system, which will typically be your alternator and DC power source, and know those limits (preferably by testing) before you need them. - LVZ in Ohio

A Year End Reminder, from Bill in Missouri: "Let the IRS help you restock your pantry every year. Take your food that is nearing its expiration to a local food pantry and donate it to them. It will be used before it expires, and you will walk away with a donation receipt which is tax deductible. Food banks are always in need of donations, especially now that the unemployment level is so high. This is a win/win for you and the food bank, and a loss for the IRS."

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Michael Williamson, SurvivalBlog's Editor-at-Large forwarded this story. Energy-efficient traffic lights can't melt snow..

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From Popular Science magazine: How to Make Convincing Fake Gold Bars. Educate yourself on how to recognize counterfeits, and only buy name-brand serialized bars with well-known marks, from reputable dealers. Unless you have more than a quarter million to invest, you shouldn't even get into gold bullion. Silver will likely out-perform gold, and counterfeiting is much more rare with silver. You can usually sell 100 oz. serialized silver bars without a call for assaying. (A tip of the hat to Ferdinand for the link.)

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There are just five days left in the body armor sale, with 20% to 30% off helmets, and Interceptor Tactical Vests as low as $590.

"Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars." - Edwin H. Chapin

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 26 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 26 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

There is much written about the Power Grids going down (for whatever reason) and how to prepare for that event. Recommendations have been made for the installation of a generator, solar panels, battery banks, inverters, automatic system switches, on and on and on. These systems range from a simple inexpensive plug in inverter for your car 12 VDC socket (which may power a lap top or a cell phone battery charger) to an extremely complicated self-sufficient system that will operate your whole house. The simple fact is that most people will not install such systems for a variety of reasons ranging from cost to placement and sometimes simply knowledge. Short of installing a complete off the grid system, almost every other solution will require some sort of hassle and inconvenience. If it is winter, the problem is compounded as it takes very large amounts of electricity to run electric heaters, electric stoves, etc.(anything that produces heat). The idea is to do what is absolutely necessary; conveniently, inexpensively effectively.

Many will buy a generator, fill its gas tank, start it to make sure it runs, place it in their garage, put a full five-gallon gas can in the corner and think they have the solution in hand. Over the course of a year, the gas will turn to kerosene, or worse, (gumming up the carburetor and eventually making the gas in the can useless). They will have forgotten how to start the gen set and connect it to the house; dust will gather on both. Without considerable effort and knowledge, this set up becomes useless. Any generator use will produce noise when in operation; broadcasting to all within ear shot that you are producing electricity and potentially make you a target. If you live in a small neighborhood in a city, as most do, this will be of particular concern.

With a little preparation, no ongoing maintenance and very little cost there is a more effective solution to powering part of your house, one or more appliances at a time, and not bring attention to yourself and enjoying the use of electrical power. This is particularly valuable if the power outage is in the winter. Powering only your furnace will keep you warm and keep your pipes from freezing. Most people reading this are already somewhat prepared in the areas of food, first aid, etc.

What Do I Need ?

In its most simple form, you will need the following:

  1. Heavy duty automotive jumper cables in the largest cable size (diameter of the wire) that you can get.
  2. A 12 VDC to 120 VAC inverter. For $200 or less you can buy this at a discount store, many auto parts or sporting goods stores, and a myriad of other places. Thy typically range in size from 1,000 watts to 2,000 watts in capacity, and are about the size of a small briefcase. The larger size is preferable to the smaller ones as they provide more power and therefore will power more items at the same time.
  3. A 120 VAC extension cord. This should also be of the largest wire diameter (gauge) that you can find.
  4. A replacement 120 VAC plug for the extension cord.
  5. Extra stored gasoline for your car.

What Do I Do With This Stuff?

First, locate the main power disconnect (breaker or switch) that connects your house to the Grid. This is normally on or in the meter box. Turn it off. In this condition, even if the power comes back on, you will have no power coming into your house. This also duplicates a Grid down condition. Under no circumstances turn the main power disconnect back on while the inverter is attached to the house.

Turn off all the sub-breakers in your house. (Hopefully you will have identified which breaker powers what items or rooms in your house). Do not turn off the main breaker in this panel. This second main breaker must be in addition to and separate from the main house power disconnect.

Next, cut the receptacle end (female) off the 120 VAC extension cord and install the replacement 120 VAC plug (male) to the cord. Make sure it's wired correctly. (Black to black, white to white and green to green). You will now have a cord with a plug on both ends.

The shorter you can make any DC cables, the better. (There is significant "line loss" in DC cabling, but not in AC cables.) Make the cords and cables as short as you can between the inverter and car. Do not modify the jumper cables unless you have the tools to do so correctly.

[Editor's Strong Warning: Putting AC power into an outlet in your house might seem like a simple solution, but it can create a dangerous "back feed" condition that could electrocute a power lineman, when an attempt is made to restore power to your neighborhood! It is ABSOLUTELTY ESSENTIAL that you turn off your home's main circuit breaker before energizing your home's wiring with any alternative power system. The main breaker should be "tagged out" with a prominent warning sign, or better yet both tagged out and "locked out" physically. The best and safest solution is to have a qualified electrician install a proper bypass circuit breaker panel that will eliminate any risk of a back feed! - J.W.R.]

Place the inverter on the ground in front of the car. Connect the inverter to the posts on your car battery (pos + to pos + and neg - to neg -) with the jumper cables. Make sure the connections are as tight as possible. After making sure the main power disconnect is off, plug in one end of the extension cord to the inverter and the other end into any 120 VAC outlet in your house.

At this point you should start your car. (Warning: Do not run your car in your garage, or you may get carbon monoxide poisoning.) When you then turn on the inverter, you will have 120 VAC going into your house to the breaker panel. Your car battery will start to discharge and may not have enough juice to start it later, so do not turn on the inverter without the car is running. As you turn on a breaker, it will send power to whatever is plugged into the outlets on that circuit, and those items will operate, unless they require more wattage than the inverter produces.

As long as you have fuel to run the car, the car alternator will charge the battery, which runs the inverter, which then produces 120 VAC power to your house. A car that is quietly idling, parked in the driveway, is not going to stand out. A car can often be idled safely for many hours in cold weather, but in warm weather, over-heating may be a problem.

What I have described is not the ideal, most efficient way to do this, but it is the least expensive and simplest way to have power while not alerting scavengers. As long as you have gas for the car, you are in business.

There Is A Catch

The inverter will only run items which do not exceed the wattage rating of the inverter. For example, if you bought a 1,500 watt inverter, it will only run 1,500 watts total at the same time. (e.g. fifteen 100-watt light bulbs). This necessitates you do a little homework. As you can see, you can quickly overload the inverter. Your electric oven, your electric dryer, and some other appliances will not work. (They require too much power, and are often on 220 VAC circuits.) [JWR Adds: And keep in mind that the peak current draw comes with an electric motor's start-up.]

Your furnace may take 1,000 or more watts to run the blower, the microwave may take 1000 watts, the your refrigerator another 1,000 watts, and so forth. You must know how much power is consumed by each item in your house, or you will quickly overload the inverter. If the tag on the appliance doesn't tell you how many watts it takes, it may tell you how many amps it draws. You can convert amps to watts by multiplying the amperage (it may say 2 amps) by the voltage (120 volts). This item will draw 240 watts. The amperage listed is almost always more than it actually takes.

As you can see, this arrangement will allow you to run individual appliances at the same time, but no more than the inverter will handle. You must do a inventory of every item that is plugged in and know what breaker controls each. If you have your refrigerator plugged into the same breaker as your furnace, the inverter may not power both at the same time. You will then need a bigger inverter. Unplug every item in your house that is plugged into an outlet, and know how much power you are using for every item. It may be that all you need to operate concurrently is the furnace and a few lights, or the refrigerator and a few lights. Do the math. You may not want to run lights anyway, as this will only draw attention to you.

If and when the grid power supply returns to normal, disconnect the inverter, from the car and then the house, turn your main house to grid disconnect back on, and you are back to normal.

A little organization, planning, and thought will allow you to continue on through a emergency without a lot of expense, undetected by the outside world.

Good day, Sir!
What a pleasure it was to see that a like minded individual spoke out about this often neglected aspect of preparedness. It was gratifying to find that your "survival tool set" matches my own core tool collection almost exactly. However... I'm not certain how you get all of that into one toolbox!

I have a two-tray box exactly as you describe with virtually identical dimensions...and there is no way you're going to get all those tools in that one box. I presume you are referring to your "road box" with that description. In my own collection, the 1/2" set has it's own do the pliers/grips, drivers, bicycle tools, my number two 3/8" set came with it's own box, et cetera. Besides what's on your list, I've also got a set of Torx bits for working on newer GM and a 1/2 impact driver (the handheld kind that you hit with a hammer) with a selection of impact bits and sockets. In addition, I've collected a few oddities that have allowed me to minimize my spending on personal transportation. I spent just $1,000 this year on vehicles. I bought four, killed off two, sold one, and am currently driving the fourth as it's engine has been overhauled (by me) and it came with an almost-new transmission (and a pristine body, which is why I bothered overhauling the engine). To do this, I've also obtained items like a ring compressor, coil spring compressors, brake tools, ball joint fork (actually makes a good pry bar in some situations where a crowbar doesn't work as well), and some simple diagnostic tools, like a timing strobe. I've been debating whether or not to invest $100 or so on an OBDII reader.

I've also made the habit of picking out any free information I can find on things mechanical. The Briggs and Stratton mower I purchased a few years back came with a code to the B&S web site where you could download a free brochure on small engine maintenance. I've used this information to keep the mower running like new. You probably know that it's possible to kludge together a gas powered generator with nothing more than a good 4-5 horsepower mower engine, an auto alternator, and an inverter. I got the inverter at a wholesale liquidators for 20 cents on the dollar. It's only a 400 Watt unit, but that will keep a few lights burning. I plan to tinker with it until I feel confident to move up to a more powerful home built rig.

Anyway, enough about me. I enjoyed the article and I will be visiting your site regularly in the future! - Brian S.

As a former aircraft mechanic and elevator tech, I thoroughly agree with the survival tools articles, which I saw on Also consider the kind of vehicles you want to keep running. I like old air cooled VWs because they are simple and designed to be maintained by the owner. One of mine has 700,000 miles on it. If there is an electromagnetic pulse from a nuclear weapon there are no computers that will fail. The simple carburetor is easily modified to run on alcohol. They will even run on kerosene if warmed up on gas first. In the 1970s many were modified to run on propane, see the article under "transportation". They even have an article on running cars on wood gas from firewood! A local company converts them to electric power. Many American cars from the 60's are simple too. I also have a 1967 Chevelle with a Straight 6 engine and 3 speed transmission.

Pick up a copy of HotVWs magazine for parts sources and info. - Pat from Florida

Cheryl sent a link to a piece by Claire Wolfe, in Backwoods Home magazine: Circle of Friends: The Importance of Other People In Our Preparedness Plans

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Dan in Colorado mentioned this supplier of some hard-to-find food items, such as honey locust beans: Wild Pantry.

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Tord mentioned that there is yet another Robin Hood film is in the works. This one is directed by Ridley Scott (who created Blade Runner, Blackhawk Down, and Gladiator.) It stars Russell Crowe, and it has a big budget, so it will mst likely be worth watching.

"Yes, we did produce a near-perfect republic. But will they keep it? Or will they, in the enjoyment of plenty, lose the memory of freedom? Material abundance without character is the path of destruction." - Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My sincere thanks to the dozens of SurvivalBlog readers that have made contributions to the Linda Rawles Memorial Fund. The folks who operate the orphanage and school in Zambia have expressed their thanks. Your contributions are doing a lot of good for a very worthy charity! I urge anyone that has not yet donated to go ahead and do so. For readers in the US: If you make a donation before December 31st, it will be deductible for the current tax year.


Today we present another entry for Round 26 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 26 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

As a member of the Armed Forces stationed overseas, and for those civilian government employees likewise stationed, we face unique situations as we attempt to get ready for TEOTWAWKI scenarios. First, when you are stationed overseas, usually for a 12 to 36 month tour, whatever happens back home seems magnified in your mind because you are so far away and feel helpless to do anything about it. Mental preparation is of utmost importance if you get a sense of panic after reading about all the horrible things going on back home.  It is important not to panic when you see special sales for prepper items on the blog as this leads to impulse buying and frustration if the vendor does not ship to FPO/APO addresses. I think we tend to go into panic mode because in the military exchanges and commissaries overseas, it is common to run out of a given item and it may take months if ever to get restocked.  I am a mental health professional and just as I would counsel my clients, I suggest to my fellow military bloggers, the first thing I would advise is read as much as possible, take a deep breath, and realize that you are limited in what you can do.

The second piece of advice is, ask God to open your eyes to what you can do.  There are a lot of things we can do that give us unique advantages over our stateside friends.  What country are you in?  Get out and see the local surroundings.  You will have unique shopping opportunities so see what that country is known for producing and see how cheaply you can get it there.  Remember, whatever is not contraband gets shipped back to the States when you leave at Uncle Sugar’s expense.  (Check out the local Costco or Wal-Mart as their inventory likely will stock things particular to that country that you can’t readily purchase as inexpensively back in the States.  What things do the local nationals do that strike you as odd or weird?  I have found that much of what initially appears ‘weird’ actually makes good sense.  For example, in many Asian countries the custom of removing one’s shoes upon entering a house may strike American’s as strange but upon second glance, this practice makes a world of sense.  Imagine being limited in terms of medical care and trying to control the spread of disease.  Now imagine where you walk everyday and what you pick up on your shoes – everything from doggie doo to spittle and worse.  Now imagine what you’re bringing into and spreading throughout your home with those shoes.  Enough said!  For every custom you observe your host nation practice that leaves you scratching your head, ask “why” and you would be amazed at how much you can learn.  In particular, since most countries don’t have the same amount of stuff to waste and space to store their stuff, they live frugally compared to our standards and if you observe long enough you walk away with a wealth of knowledge and innovative ways to do things.

What is offered at your base?  Many of us, even if we don’t carry weapons have the opportunity to go to qualify on a weapon, and for free.  Each service probably has its own point of contact – for my base it’s the Security Chief.  Most overseas locations have a very active Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) program which offers everything from tours and trips to the practical such as Auto Hobby and Wood Hobby Shops which allow you to develop automotive and wood working skills for free to very cheap. The Family Service Centers normally offer free to very cheap classes on budgeting, child care, local culture, retirement preparation, to name a few.   Additionally, the base is the place to look for unique bargains.  Most bases both in the States and overseas have a local thrift shop that carry items at bargain basement prices and make Goodwill prices look like Nordstrom’s.  What courses does the base hospital or clinic offer?  There are generally health promotions courses going on that focus on particular diseases, CPR, etc.  Also, contact Military One Source for tons of free information and literature.  It is a clearinghouse and referral source for military beneficiaries.

Now for the challenging part – what do you do about making purchases from back in the States and where do you store them?  First, when you see something you’d like to order, decrease your frustration by going to the company’s drop down boxes to see if there is even a listing for FPO/APO addresses in both the “Billing” address and “Ship To” sections.  If there is none, don’t waste your time trying to order online.  E-mail or call the company and explain your situation.  For example, I have a great relationship with Shelf Reliance and Arbogast.  While they have no FPO/APO drop down box and there is a time difference of almost a day, when I receive Shelf Reliance’s sales notices I shoot them an e-mail (they’ve given me a particular customer service representative whom I deal with exclusively) listing the items I wish to buy and then call in my credit card number during their working hours.  Some items cannot be shipped by a company to an FPO/APO address because of import/export laws (i.e. certain electronics cannot be shipped from say Radio Shack to an FPO address, it can however be shipped to a friend in the States and they can mail it to you with no problem).  Other items cannot be shipped to such addresses period (that may include food items), so it is important to check with your post office and find out what can and cannot be shipped.  Also, find out from the Household Goods office what items would be considered contraband to ship back to the U.S. in your household goods shipment.  Get educated before you spend your hard earned cash and have to leave your purchases behind.

Is there someone you can ship your order to back in the States and who is willing to store what you ordered until you return to the states?  Arrange your leave with great care.  When I went to my Mother’s this summer for 21 days, I coordinated my purchases of grain, mylar bags, food grade buckets, etc. to arrive a few weeks prior to my arrival.  I spent a good portion of my leave in her basement packaging foods and storing things. Again, coordination is crucial, as you don’t want a ton of wheat arriving two weeks after you return to your overseas assignment.  Also, it gives you a chance to examine your merchandise and handle situations if you receive defective merchandise.

If you are considering firearms, know your state laws.  I never owned any firearms and knew nothing about them.  While I didn’t purchase ammo, I did purchase a shot gun and a rifle to keep at my Mom’s.  This was a challenge because most of us who have been in the military for any length of time, have had several moves and probably no longer have a home address in the state from which we joined the military.  In my case the most recent state I lived in before going overseas was North Carolina and even though I own property there, that didn’t help.  To purchase a firearm in the state of Virginia, I needed to show some type of bill addressed to me at my mother's house.  Fortunately her cable bill is in my name, so with that, a copy of my military orders, and my military ID, I was able to purchase the firearms.  Find out in advance what the requirements are for the state you plan to purchase firearms if you are still stationed overseas.

Business affairs – no matter how routine it may seem, read thoroughly every bank statement.  In preparation for leaving the States I got a safe deposit box at Marine Federal Credit Union. I had to have an account there with a minimum balance. Having met those requirements, another wrinkle has been added to the mix.  Recently the credit union schooled me to “Escheatment”.  In other words, my account is considered dormant because I have not had any withdrawals or deposits (interest deposits don’t count) for one year and this Dormant Account Notice was to inform me that in the State of North Carolina any account that is inactive for a period of five years will be claimed by the state.

If you want to buy gold or silver, most dealers will not ship overseas.  Either have it delivered to someone you trust impeccably for safe keeping stateside; place your order so that its delivery coincides with your travel back to the States; or visit a local dealer when you are in the States and make your purchases.  Finally, when we are overseas we get a fairly decent cost of living allowance (COLA).  Get financial counseling on base as many people are able to get on a financial plan to get out of debt while overseas.  If you are out of debt, treat the money as an extra pay check and use it towards your prepping plans.

In addition to annual leave (vacation), take advantage of opportunities that present themselves when you go on Temporary Additional Duty (TAD/TDY). Recently I was sent to Honolulu.  Aloha Stadium Swap Meet (hours and directions are available on the web) is fantastic!  On Saturdays and Sundays vendors are there that sell real flea market type stuff.  The touristy items are at the beginning of the swap meet but if you go all the way into the Meet’s Netherlands, you will find at least two vendors who sell military gear at bargain prices. I got mess kits for $1 each, cold weather gear, mosquito netting, and the list goes on.  One vendor also has a store in town but the best deals I got were from the older gentleman and his wife who only sell at the Meet.  Another place for good deals is the Marine Corps Exchange in San Diego.  Because the Marine Recruit Training Depot is there, when recruits drop out, the gear is cleaned and resold in the uniform shop very inexpensively (duffle bags for $2).  Some items can only be purchased by those still on active duty so research it; and retirees, make friends with some active duty folks.  Look for prepping opportunities when you get to travel to other areas.  I have ended up with so many great buys that I always travel with an empty duffle bag to either bring stuff back (some airlines will allow military travelers to check as many as 3 bags at no charge). Sending things back by snail mail with insurance is also a reasonable way to ship.

I am a single female prepper who has had to look at things from both sides of the aisle. Being stationed overseas is difficult, but you can think outside the box and make progress on prepping instead of waiting until you return to America.  One downside is that sometimes I don’t always get the best deals as I’ve had to weigh “’buy now’” and have it” vice “wait till I get back and maybe the Schumer will have already hit”.  For me the peace of mind of having some of the basics while they are still available outweighs waiting for a better deal, so I make the best of a so-so situation.  Hopefully these thoughts will help my active duty counterparts.

What is the best way to store handgun ammo? I have a military surplus ammo can with a good rubber seal on it. However would it be a good idea to wrap it in plastic before putting it into the ammo box.
Also is there anything I should keep it away from while in storage. Thanks, - Motor Oil Man

JWR Replies: The two crucial things to remember for storing ammo in milsurp cans are:

1.) Use an ammo can with a nice soft gasket, and,

2.) Drop in a commercially-made silica gel packet (or a homemade equivalent) in the can if you live in a humid climate. This will dry the air that is sealed inside the can.

Some additional guidance:

DO NOT coat cartridges with oil or grease. This can cause a dangerous pressure condition if you forget to remove the lubricant before loading and firing a cartridge. As has been documented by the good folks at Box O'Truth, the oft-mentioned risk of "deadening primers of loaded cartridges" with oil or oil vapors has proven to be erroneous, with some recent scientific tests. BTW, I must admit that I was guilty of spreading this dezinformatsaya myself, until reading the test details.

Plastic wrapping the boxes has little utility, that is unless your expect the ammo's cardboard boxes to become collector's items in a few decades. (Wrapping the boxes will keep them looking pristine.)

Just be sure to keep your ammo cans in a fairly dry place, so that the exteriors don't rust. (For this, salty water is the worst offender.) If left in puddles, ammo cans will eventually rust through, given enough time. In a humid coastal (high salt) climate, it might just take a scratch through a can's paint bring its eventual ruin.

Mr. Rawles,
There are several proven, low cost techniques that can be used against thermal/infrared imagers. But none of them last an extended period of time. While they are not fool-proof they certainly do work well enough to frustrate the US military in Afghanistan.

The first method being used is for men to lay down in a small depression in the ground and cover themselves with a heavy wool blanket every time they hear an engine overhead -- be it a helicopter or the lawn-mower whine of a drone. This technique is well documented based on visual surveillance of groups of Afghans. All they did was to prop up the edges of the blanket with twigs to let their body heat escape around the edges of the blanket. This disrupts the pattern of the human body such that there is a warm spot but it does not look anything like a person.

A step up from this is to use one of the Space Blankets available on the market to do the same thing. They reflect heat right? If you have one of the heavier ones laminated to a ground cloth they can be used over and over again. In fact there is a poncho version of the space blanket that is very effective for this purpose even if you are moving about.

For shelter areas you can use mass (think of adobe houses) to diffuse the heat signature such that while the whole house will glow a bit it is impossible to see inside the house. Similar methods can be used in the field. For example, when digging a fighting position always use overhead cover if possible and pack the overhead cover with dirt or stones. This, combined with the use of blankets or tarps to screen the "windows" will render most thermal imagers unable to track you.

Finally there is always deception. In one exercise with a law enforcement team, we created a large number of "false" positives for them to track using small candles and Mylar balloons. Since aluminumized Mylar is the primary component in the space blankets, if you direct a small heat source onto the exterior surface, the whole surface will reflect the heat source and appear to be a large heat signature. (The aluminum can also be used to fool radar -- the balloons can be strung in a line so many feet or inches apart -- and as long as that distance apart is close to the wavelength of the radar beam the balloons appear to be one large solid target. I found this out many years ago when I was living very close to the largest helicopter base in the Argentine army just outside Rafael Castillo. We could float a string of balloons and get an almost immediate response ...)

Another trick is to place a small candle (120 hour candles work well for this) under a piece of metal about the size of a hubcap or 20 gallon drum lid -- as the candle burns it heats the entire surface without any hot spots but rather fairly even heating. To the poor chap looking through the thermal imaging gear now sees a heat source that is about the same size as a person's head and is not moving the way an animal would when a helicopter is overhead. So it has to be checked out.

Then there is my favorite one. Simply lay down to take your nap amongst a herd of goats or a flock of sheep. - Dr. D.

JWR Adds: Another method of infrared camouflage is to encamp in an area with numerous natural hot springs and pools. Since these are often associated with natural salt licks, these areas tend to attract wild game. Thus, not only will the hot springs themselves create distractions, but so will any deer (and similar-sized hoofed animals) that are in the area.

Reader "+P+" sent another article on a theme that I've warned about: Police say suspected robbers rammed an SUV into a gun store in Avon, Indiana, and stole some weapons. Large masonry "decorative planters" should be a key part of your retreat's defensive architecture!

   o o o

OSOM mentioned a treasure trove of Free Medical Books available to download.

   o o o

Tamara (writing in her View From the Porch blog) pointed to a piece (by way of the Blunt Object blog) about the Toronto police going ballistic over the apparent sight of a gun held by citizen: Police piece together fake Lego gun case, after armed takedown. Here is the Blunt Object blog editor's summary: "So: Torontonian buys [a] Lego Glock kit online. Torontonian assembles said kit in his office. Other Torontonian freaks out, fails to notice Lego pips atop the slide, and calls the police. Toronto [Police Department]’s Emergency Task Force bounces Lego-Man off a few walls before discovering said Lego pips atop the slide."

"We pay too little attention to the reserve power of the people to take care of themselves. We are too solicitous for government intervention, on the theory, first, that the people themselves are helpless, and second, that the government has superior capacity for action. Often times both of these conclusions are wrong." - President John Calvin Coolidge, Jr.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

When the Schumer Hits the Fan (WTSHTF) are you going to be physically able to handle the new pressures of life? If not, then now is the time to get your butt in shape. Getting fit and healthy is not complicated. Losing weight comes down to two basic things, eating healthy and exercise. Forget all the so-called fitness gurus who promise you that they can get you fit and trim only if you buy their expensive equipment. You don’t need it. Forget the drug companies that say the fat will melt away if you buy their pills. You don’t need it.

All you need is to exercise every day and reduce your daily caloric intake. If you are overweight then I would suggest you talk to a doctor before starting any fitness program. But there is no reasons why you can’t just get off your fat butt and walk around the block every morning. Walking is one of the best physical activities to lose weight. Break out the sneakers and hit the pavement. If you haven’t exercised in a while, just take a short slow walk around the block or down the road. As time goes on you will be able to go farther and faster, but for now just start slow.

Before you start any other exercises you need to get the junk out. I am not talking about your flabby gut, I am talking about food. You should all know what’s considered good for you and what's bad for you. But if you don’t then I will break it down for you. Grilled fish, chicken, lean meats, fruits, vegetables, are good. Fast food, chips, cookies, ice cream, fried foods, lots of carbs, bad. Use you God-given gift of common sense and make the right choices for the food you put in your body.

Once you have a healthy diet planned and you have started a walking routine, you can move on to other exercises. Martial arts training is my preferred . Not only is it good exercise, but you will learn to defend yourself. This can get expensive, with monthly contracts, but there are always DVDs. I have trained in the martial arts for over 20 years, so I know the basics. Now, all I do is buy a different DVD every few months and watch it over and over and practice the moves until it is drilled into my head. A great style to learn for WTSHTF is Krav Maga. It is a very practical style and easy to learn.

Weight training definitely has its benefits. But if you are short on space or cash, then doing exercises that use your own bodyweight is the next best thing. I am talking about push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, dips, squats and lunges. Once again, start off slow with low repetitions and as you get stronger you can increase your reps.

People make fitness out to be some hard and mysterious thing. It's not, eating right and exercising is all you need to get in and stay in shape pre and post-WTSHTF. Regards, - Brian B.

Dear Captain Rawles,
I recently saw the following excerpted comment at Zero Hedge and the argument makes sense to me:

In my opinion there is a flaw in the inflationary argument. It is only when money escapes into the general populace that the dilution effect on the currency actually occurs and drives up prices. By giving the majority of the new money directly to his buddies, Bernanke is simply changing the ratio of cash held in favor of the big banks and against the general populace. If the big banks fail to spend this money with wild abandon and instead hold on to most of it, inflation will be moderate or even nil.

Thus, I view the current Fed policies as simply a way to steal from Peter to enrich Paul with little or no inflationary impact whatsoever. At worst we may see inflation in equities (which we are seeing right now) but little or no general inflation since the money is not out there in the malls and grocery stores competing for common goods and services. It may take years for this extra cash to leak out into the general economy and meanwhile asset prices, like the entire housing stock of the United States, continue to fall.

Deflationary pressures may continue for far longer than many people expect. Or, as Keynes said, "the market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent". - Dave R.

Mr. Rawles,
As a physician I take significant offense to Lawrence R.'s letter regarding antibiotics. The fact is over 90% of infections presenting to US hospitals are antibiotic resistant in some form or other.
He is correct that some of the older medications may be effective and that is why bacterial cultures are performed to determine antibiotic resistance. He is sadly misinformed regarding the idea that we prescribe the most expensive or newest antibiotic available. We prescribe the least expensive antibiotic that is effective against the specifically cultured infection as long as a patient is not allergic to that class of antibiotic.

I wish him luck using penicillin for 90+ percent of soft tissue infections obtained outside of the hospital as the large majority of community acquired soft tissue infections are resistant to penicillin.
A good broad spectrum antibiotic which can be obtained very inexpensively is Sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim otherwise known as Septra or Bactrim. This can be had at large chain stores for $5 for a two week supply and is widely used as there is low resistance to this class of antibiotic as of this time. This applies to localized soft tissue infections only, such as a cut, scratch, abscess or boil.
I had to correct this misinformation posted on your superlative blog. Thank you for your time, - Kevin C.

After reading the suggestion from Lawrence R about antibiotics, I think this email that I sent you back in 2007 bears repeating, with just a few changes.

Terramycin is a trade name for tetracycline, a common antibiotic. It's value has changed over the years due to antibiotic resistance (not drug company lies)....but it's useful as

* an alternative in PCN-allergic patients: syphilis, yaws, Vincent's infections, and infections caused by N. gonorrhoeae, B. anthracis, L. monocytogenes, Actinomyces sp., and Clostridium sp.
* URI and lower respiratory tract infections; skin and soft tissue infections; Granuloma inguinale;psittacosis caused by Chlamydia psittaci.
* Typhus infections,Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, rickettsial infections, and Q Fever.
* Infections caused by Chlamydia trachomatis.
* Urinary tract infections.
* Infections caused by Borrelia sp., Bartonella bacilliformis, H. ducreyi, F. tularensis, Y. pestis, V. cholerae, Brucella sp., C. fetus.
* Adjunctive to intestinal amebiasis cause by E. histolytica.
* Infections caused by susceptible strains of E. coli, Enterobacter aerogenes, Shigella sp., Acinetobacter sp. Klebsiella sp., Bacteroides sp.


* H. pylori-related peptic ulcer disease (in combination with bismuth subsalicylate and metronidazole - a very large percentage of ulcers are caused by this bacterial infection).
* Gingivitis/periodontitis
* Acne vulgaris

As you can see, it's useful for specific infections.....

There is no 'one best antibiotic' for all purposes. Antibiotics have to be administered based on the specific type of bacteria causing an infection. Administering the wrong antibiotic doesn't just NOT work, it causes different bacteria that are not killed outright to become resistant to it - which can cause problems down the road. People have pathogenic bacteria in and on them all the time, when something causes them to go out of balance and cause disease. At the very basic level, antibiotics are based on the cell wall of the bacteria (which determines if it will stain pink or blue with the Gram microscopic stain process), and their shape. Once that determination is made, certain bacteria have been shown to be sensitive to certain drugs, for example Gram-negative bacillus (say, E. coli) is usually sensitive to the fluoroquinolones like ciprofloxacin (Cipro).

If I were to recommend a basic armamentarium of oral antibiotics, I'd have to pick at least five different ones. I actually carry these, plus 4 or 5 IV/IM only drugs, and pick the best drug for the problem at hand, because once again, the wrong drug isn't just not as good, it's no good and a waste of valuable, scarce resources that might be needed more appropriately for another patient.

1. Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) 500mg twice a day
for infectious (bacterial) diarrhea (5 days max), anthrax prophylaxis (x60 days),uncomplicated UTI (7 days max), gonorrhea (1-2 tabs, once)

Given the incidence of certain bacteria that are resistant to ciprofloxacin, it is also wise now to also carry azithromycin

2. Azithromycin 250mg Comes in packs of 6 for 5 days dosage, take 2 the first day, then 1 a day until gone.
for bronchitis, pneumonia, or serious throat infection.

3. Ampicillin 500 mg 4 times a day for , or
amoxicillin-clavulanate 875 mg twice a day (Augmentin, very $$$)
for sinus infection, skin infection, or ear infection, GI, GU,

4. Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole 160/800mg (double strength) twice a day, 7-10 days or
doxycycline 100 mg twice a day, for 7 days for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection, UTI, otitis media, sinusitus, bronchitis

Doxycycline is also a chloroquine-resistant malaria prophylaxis, take 1 daily starting 2 days before travel until 4 weeks (28 days) after return from endemic area, effective against Rickettsials (Rocky mountain spotted fever)

5. Metronidazole 500mg 4 times a day for 7-14 days
effective against Giardia lamblia and for dental infections, trichomoniasis

Augmentin is very good for animal (especially cat) bites, but is quite expensive. Amoxicillin is a synthetic penicillin, the clavulinic acid (clavulanate) contributes penicillinase (an enzyme some bacteria produce that inhibits penicillin effectiveness) resistance.

This list is in no way comprehensive, nor are the indications the only possible uses for the drug, or the only drug for a condition.

Take care, and keep up the good work. - FlightER, MD

Mr. Editor,
I feel compelled to write you about a couple of recent medical posts by other SurvivalBlog readers. One writer stated that Cipro is good for sinus infections. Generally this is not true. Given a severe infection and no other antibiotic options, [if it is] TEOTWAWKI, then sure go head and try it, but think of Cipro as a below the diaphragm antibiotic, urinary tract infections, diverticulitis (preferably combined with Flagyl, an inexpensive antibiotic/antiparasitic), and so forth. Physicians will sometimes try it for skin and soft tissue infections, such as cellulitis, but the results with this generally are quite poor in my first-hand experience.

The real reason I take keyboard in hand, however, is to reply to the posting of Lawrence R.. It pains me to see someone who appears to be a former Coastie (Semper Paratus) making the claims he does about antibiotic resistance. It is not my intention to start an argument or negatively toned debate on your excellent blog, but to state that antibiotic resistance is a lie is patently false. Resistance among some of the most common pathogenic bacteria to penicillins, cipro, and other commonly used antibiotics is a substantial problem physicians contend with every day. An internet search using the terms antimicrobial resistance and the name of their state, community, and perhaps even a local hospital may reveal tables of statistics with the frequencies of resistance to common pathogens to readers. Additional light reading may be found here. Lawrence's comments that ranchers and farmers treating themselves with antibiotics devoid of trained medical advice is done "with no deleterious effects" is a disingenuous and potentially dangerous statement. Certainly, people - with or without physician advice, often in today's world, will take antibiotics when they are not needed, and suffer no apparent harm. The lack of direct, obvious and immediate consequences does not turn this uneducated practice into a virtue. This practice is one of the primary reasons for the significant levels of antibiotic resistance prevalent today.

Further, complications from partially treated infections, delays in seeking proper medical attention for medical problems because one thought the antibiotic in the cupboard would take care of it, and direct consequences of antibiotics on the human system are all problems physicians help patients with every week. Ask the next woman you see about yeast infections with antibiotics and you may begin wondering how much Diflucan to stock at the retreat. Or, instead of that common but relatively minor example, ask one of my patients who now must be on antifungal medicines for the rest of his life because prior to seeing me he partially treated a series of sinus infections until a yeast infection took hold, ate into the bones of his skull, creating an infection in his skull which can be contained, yet never cured. Also, ask anyone who has had C. dificle colitis after an antibiotic course if antibiotics have no deleterious effects. C. dificile colitis can emerge up to a year after the last course of antibiotics. In a TEOTWAWKI situation this makes stockpiling some Flagyl especially helpful, though I have seen patients have to take it for up to 3-6 months for the colitis to be resolved. There are other antibiotics which can be used for this problem, but they are cost-prohibitive for stockpiling. Oh, BTW, think that the appendix has no meaningful function? It's use is as a reservoir of normal colon flora to be used to repopulate the colon after a severe diarrheal illness. Since this discovery was made I have noted that the distinct majority of patients I have seen with C. dificile have undergone previous appendectomies. In either case, with or without your appendix, it is an unnecessary risk of health and "antimicrobial OPSEC" to randomly treat oneself without medical input from someone with relevant training.

In another vein however, my personal opinions about the ongoing prevalence of antibiotic resistance in TEOTWAWKI may be of interest. Most forms of antibiotic resistance mounted by bacteria require the expenditure of energies and resources by the bacteria themselves. Because we live in a world in which antibiotic exposure is unnaturally common, from prescription medications as well as the indiscriminate use of antibiotics in our food supply - reference Lawrence's own assertion that the local feed store is an easy and ample source of antibiotics. (I have close family members and patients who are livestock farmers and have witnessed flagrant misapplication of antibiotics to livestock first-hand as well.) This environment creates a scenario in which a survival advantage for the bacteria who express the resistance factors is generated. Interestingly, in TEOTWAWKI, the world-wide presence of antibiotics in the ecosystem should rapidly revert back to the natural state, where microbes such as fungi, for example, who release penicillin naturally (the original source of the "discovery" of penicillins), will be the only source of organic antimicrobials. In this scenario the bacteria who are consuming their energies and resources to make antibiotic resistance defenses will be at a survival disadvantage to other bacteria who are not dividing their resources between survival & replication and antibiotic resistance. Thus, in relatively short order, measurable declines in resistant antibiotic populations could be expected. If this theory pans out, then the utility of Penicillin, Cipro and other stockpiled antibiotics, when recommended by your survival group's medical officer, could be greater than present day patterns of resistance would suggest. Certain microbes will always be resistant to certain antibiotics, as inherency of their natures, but reviewing such examples may be tedious and unhelpful to those of us surviving, as the tools and opportunity to perform gram stains, cultures and sensitivity testing may not be practical.

On a final note, in addition to my specialty specific text books, Harrison's Internal Medicine being the most well known of the comprehensive ones, I also keep for emergency/survival scenarios copies of Auerbach's Wilderness Medicine and Goldfrank's Toxicologic Emergencies as well as DOD field manuals. Those two books are rather thick and heavy, so may be worth reading through and pre-positioning at the bug out site, or having at the site for the designated medical officer of your group. There is a field guide version of Wilderness Medicine which is easier on the wallet. The Washington Manual General Internal Medicine is another portable resource which should be excellent for your group's medical officer. Medical libraries at medical schools and hospitals often have second hand sales of books that are outmoded by new editions and lightly used copies of these books can sometimes be found at bargain prices there. OBTW, other medical books at these sales can also make very convincing "book safes" if one has glue, sharp instruments, and time on one's hand.

In parting, common sense is essential, but it isn't a substitute for medical experience and training. Make sure your survival group has at least one experienced medical person, be they medic, physicians' assistant, ARNP, physician or surgeon. The life they save may be your own! - Dr. G.

Man with master's degree lives in Moab cave without money. (Thanks to Rick W. for the link.) For further reading, here is a link to Suelo's web site.

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Lowell sent this: North Yellowstone Wolf vs. Rocky Mountain Elk

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Reader "MMA" forwarded a link to news article with some OPSEC implications of infrared technology: Suspect still at large after extensive air and ground search

"One of the common failings among honorable people is a failure to appreciate how thoroughly dishonorable some other people can be, and how dangerous it is to trust them." - Thomas Sowell

Monday, December 14, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 26 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 26 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I’ve read many articles regarding “survival “ and “preparedness” topics, my conclusion is that an important area has been missed. Lots of planning seems to focus on food storage, water, supplies, and so on, yet I have not seen or read anything about “survival tools -- how to be prepared for anything mechanically”. So after considering this topic for several years, I’ve decided to introduce my own topic as far as tools for the self-reliant individual. My background includes 30 years of mechanical equipment repair on automobiles and trucks/trailers to heavy construction equipment including dozers and cranes. Having been exposed to working independently while on the road performing field work, you soon develop a survival sense that allows you to think through repairs and situations, even before you actually arrive at the work site.

Planning as we all know is the key factor, when considering what tools and equipment are  necessary.

  • What are you planning on keeping running, is it your vehicle/boat/plane/ATV/snow machine/camper?
  • What maintenance is required for each of these pieces of machinery?
  • What supplies will be required, what spares are necessary for repairs?

Lastly, yet most important of all, will be the tools necessary to keeping your equipment up and running. Transportation is critical as for preparedness situations, as we all know. Once you have determined your needs, your spares, supplies, think through what tools will be required.

For example, to replace disk brake pads, you need to remove the tire/wheel assembly, compress the caliper, unbolt the caliper, install the pads, and reverse the process to put it back together.

Just for a simple job like this, you will need a lug wrench for the lug nuts, a large C-clamp to compress the caliper and a wrench or socket to remove the caliper. You need to sit down and consider what will be required in whatever contingency or jobs may arise, and how to deal with it. I have a list of tools that, over the years, I have found will suffice for most basic repairs. These tools are carried in what I call my “road box”. This road box has been with me a long time. Even though the original box has long since rusted away, most of the tools have lasted.

This set of tools is my choice based on my needs as well as the fact that you may have to improvise to get the job done. Here is the list that we can call our “survival tool set”.

  • Storage box, a two-tray nesting type box made of durable plastic, now many years old.
  • ¼” drive socket set, used on small nuts/bolts in tight places.
  • 3/8” drive socket set, handy for removing nuts/bolts.
  • ½” drive set including 12pt short sockets as well as 6pt deep sockets, include a “breaker bar.”
  • Assortment of pliers (slip-joint, locking, needle-nose, side-cutting and electrical crimp type).
  • Wrench assortment, my favorite are the “ratcheting type” as well as adjustable type in different sizes.
  • Screw drivers an assortment of straight, cross and whatever else you may need depending on your needs.
  • 12 volt test light, extremely handy for troubleshooting 12v troubles.
  • Good hammer, I carry a 16oz Ball-pein type which works wonders when you need it.
  • Ignition wrench set, allen wrench set and a “feeler gauge set.”
  • Lastly, I carry an assortment of what I call “goodies”, clamps, bulbs, fuses,  spare wire and connectors, nuts and bolts, electrical tape, duct tape, Teflon tape, silicone gasket material, rubber freeze out plugs, tire plugs.

As I mentioned before, this set of tools has been my choice over the years to keep things going. I’ve changed oil and filters with the addition of a universal-type filter wrench, replaced spark plugs, changed fuel filters, replaced brake pads, repaired broken wires, plugged leaks on everything from fuel to water and air as necessary. I’ve improvised wiring for a trailer to keep the lights going and replaced a busted heater hose a few times. The size of my tool box is approximately  9” x 15” x 13” tall and there is room for more inside. Another consideration should be the need for “metric” tools, depending on you individual needs. Many vehicles today are metric and will require you to adjust your tool inventory as such. This tool set will also cover a great deal of home/shelter/retreat repairs if you again plan what you may have to do. An example would be with the addition of a pipe wrench you would be able to tackle plumbing repairs such as cleaning a  water well pump strainer from debris. As mentioned in the beginning, plan for all sorts of mechanical problems, consider what tools are required and adjust your inventory accordingly. If you carefully think all situations out thoroughly, your tool supply should be able to handle most anything that happens to arise.

Now to really complete your tool supply , you need to consider what special requirements that you may need. How about jacks as a beginning point, you should have a hydraulic bottle jack  and/or what I call a “farm jack” included in your tool supply. The bottle jack depending on its lifting capacity can solve many “lifting” situations. It will raise a vehicle including trucks/trailers, jack up a building if necessary. The farm type jack is versatile because it can “push” or “pull” as well as lift/raise. So with the easy addition of these two items you have the ability to raise, jack, push, pull and even if necessary use in some sort of improvised rescue situation. As I mentioned before that a 12VDC test light can assist in 12V repairs but the ideal choice would be a “multi-meter”, they are available everywhere from the basic variety to the extravagant type. Let your budget guide you on this, bottom line is that they are indispensable for troubleshooting various electrical problems. These types of meters can test DC (low voltage) as well as AC (high voltage).The important thing  to remember is “know” how to use it and what you are working with. Obviously if you need electrical training check out your community college for a class on basic electrical skills/repairs. My personal favorite add on equipment would be an air compressor. With this addition to your tool “cache” you will be able to air up tires, perhaps inflatable boats, blow out wet items, run pneumatic tools and the possibilities go on and on. Compressors come in all types and sizes, my favorite is the small electric variety, I used this type for the above mentioned as well as to run pneumatic nailers for remodeling work. There are all types of tools available for drilling, grinding and cutting. Again think about your needs then plan out the tools required.

Tools are just the beginning, you may need some type of mechanical training but common sense will cover most of the items that will need to be repaired. Shop manuals are really the key to preparedness, if you have the information required all should proceed according to your plan. Again as in all preparedness plans, look at all the “what if” scenarios, to determine what tools you will need to handle what needs to be repaired.

Good luck and head out for your local tool store to start “stocking up” your tool supply.

Hello Mr. Rawles,
I am new to your blog but after reading "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" and currently reading "Patriots". I am an active reader of your blog. I am an Eagle Scout and by living the Boy Scout motto, Be Prepared. I have already been living the lifestyle without even knowing it. However, there are things that I still need to work on which is also complicated by the fact I am currently in the military and some of the areas are lacking due to the complex issues this create for myself. For example, moving every two to three years makes it difficult to stock pile on some things and I find that I have stuff spread across America in storage units, with family and friends.

Today, I saw something that would be beneficial for many people. Storage is a huge issue because many of us do not have unlimited funds and adequate space available but by being prepared this requires us to turn any space into storage space. If you have a garage, basement or other large storage facility you should consider installing a sliding shelf system, similar to the ones you see in hospitals for storing medical records. The shelve slide around on runners and only two shelves can be accessed at any one time however you can slide the shelves as necessary to access any of the shelves as needed. This makes it possible to maximize storage space but also allows you to maximize organization. Since the shelves slide together like books in a book case you can then post load diagrams as well as packing list of what is in stock, when it expires and even the shortages that need to be filled. I would also recommend that you also hang a note pad and pen to write notes of what is added, used, or even list of items needed.

These shelving systems are not cheap brand new. Therefore, I recommend that you keep an eye out for clinics and hospitals that are upgrading there current system and try to purchase the old shelving units. However, you could also install heavy duty, high quality caster wheels on your current, homemade or new shelving. Without having the runners it will be imperative to have handles mounted on the outside to assist with maneuvering the shelves. Do not go cheap on the wheels because a broken wheel could quickly make such a system difficult to use. In fact, as with everything else, buy some spare caster wheels so that they can be replaces as needed. If you buy the extras when you purchase the original set you know that they will fit perfect when it is time to replace them. Also, by having caster wheel installed you lift the shelving units off the floor which helps prevent moisture damage, which leads to rust and also will help reduce rodent and bug issues. You will be able to place traps and bait stations below the shelves.
Be Prepared, - S.K.

I love the Christmas season, and it is not for all the time and money wasted watching kids rip open boxes with toys or gadgets that they will forget about in a month. I can really reduce my hay bill for January even in the worst winters. Round about December 21st, I post small notices at the library, banks, and other places that will let me that advertise; "Tree Removal - $5 Mountain/Clean Trees or $10 all others" Costs me less than an hour of my time to make and post the notices and nets me between 50-100 trees a year. I've only had two clients ask where I take the trees. My answer, "I feed my goats." Remember, goats are browsers and would prefer to dine on trees than hay. As a bonus, when the stock is done, I've got firewood.

Spring is another great season for me. The best goats I've ever gotten were free. I keep the word out around town and inevitably end up with at least one bum every year. I've raised cattle, sheep and goats all free. Last year, someone gave me a mare and foal. Why, because the foal is blind and the mare hasn't been earning her keep. The mare is due to foal again in March. That is three free horses simply for being willing to take someone's rejects. This is a good way to get stock if you know what to accept and what to pass on or send straight to slaughter. We have filled our freezer numerous times on free cattle and sheep. Another trick I use in Spring is to drive every night behind the local greenhouse. They throw away an amazing quantity. Because it's not grass, the goats go nuts over it. I kid out in January-March and I've never had to feed grain, the extras from the greenhouse keep everyone sassy. Now that leads to another source: broken bags at the stores. I have a route I drive each week that nets me 1-6 bags of free/reduced feed. Goats don't care if they eat rabbit food. Chickens love dog and cat food. [JWR Adds: Be sure to read ingredient labels carefully!] This way, when I have to lure in an escape artist or feel like giving everyone a treat, I don't have to pay so much for it.

Summer is the hardest time of year for me. I don't own any land suitable for livestock. I use my parents' barn and pastures all year. I have gotten on friendly terms with the neighbors. I also have a solar-powered electric fence earned as payment for eating down the city's weeds. Since high school, I've grazed off the barrow pits along the county road to their place. I'll admit, it is a lot of manual labor for sometimes a bit of free feed, but some years it can't get all eaten down and people still end up mowing them. I also beg the use of empty pastures, though it is easier to find pasture for horses and cattle than goats and sheep. Summer is the season I bug the tree services. I've got one or two that will let me know when a real leafy tree is coming down and I'll give them free labor for all the leaves/branches we can stuff into our trucks. Evergreens or hardwoods, the stock doesn't care. The greenhouse treasures are not as welcome this time of year by the goats, usually because they are browsing on pasture, but I still bring them home. Summer is also the season we start delivering hay. We have been paid in the past to clean out hay storage. Usually this starts coming in as our pasture starts running out. We also let it be known that we are not adverse to weeds in our hay. Over the years, I've gotten several tons of hay for $10-50 a ton because it was too weedy to be sold to anyone else. One of our suppliers was shocked to see the goats trample the timothy to get to the bindweed in the bale. Last year, hay averaged $115 per ton, so this saved us quite a bit.

Fall is they hurry-up season for me. This year my son and I made quite a bit of money raking leaves. Again, they all went to the stock. For each truck load of loose leaves, I saved a bale of hay. I don't reveal the reason we are the cheapest service in town is because it saves me money to take them home and not to the dump. We also watch for those that have bagged their own leaves. We get permission to take the bags. Usually they are grateful we are grabbing them. These we store next to the hay in the hay shed for late season treats between the first snow and Christmas trees. Depending on the weight of the bag, two-four bags save me a bale of hay. Fall is when people clean out their gardens. This year, we had a lady borrow two of our gentlest goats and simply turn them loose in the garden after she was done with the harvest. For the most part, we donate labor to pull out gardens and it all goes to the stock. I sort as we unload and end up with food for our table too. I don't raise pigs, but for those that do; free feed is easy. I have a friend that stops by all the grocery stores, fast food joints and restaurants in town with her pick-up once each day. She raises 20-30 hogs a year and never buys food. She passes on what is still safe to the family table and to neighbors that are on hard times. I've known others that raise hogs to pick up road kill. If you butcher your own stock or game, hogs love the entrails and will pick clean the bones. If I didn't have these cheap fall backs for feeding my stock, I couldn't own any. There are probably more that are not available in our area, or I haven't thought of yet. I'll keep my eyes open and hope I've opened others. - KB

Editor's Note: As previously mentioned, when this thread was started, the use of anything other than USP Human Grade antibiotics on humans should only be considered in the most dire of circumstances, where there is no other choice.

In reference to the question of sources for prescription medications, I recommend that readers interested in stocking up on medicine take a copy of Wilderness Medicine, Beyond First Aid, by William Forgey, to their primary care physician and show them the list of medications listed in the book. Explain to the doctor that you are preparing and that you would like to get prescriptions for the medications listed in the book. You may have to try several doctors before you find one willing to work with you, but they are out there if you keep looking.

Forgey's book has an amazing amount of information on the most common medical problems which the average person can apply in the field. There are several uses for each medication listed in the book.

A very good source of vet medicine (including lactated ringers for vet use) is SHOPMEDVET.COM. They also have sutures, instruments etc which are priced very reasonable. also has a large amount of medical supplies and medicines available on their website.

One other suggestion for obtaining some of the medical supplies that individuals may be looking for is to look for pharmacies going out of business. We obtained several boxes of sealed syringes, bandages and other supplies recently at a pharmacy that was closing. Thanks for a great site. - Sandy M.


Your readers may find Atlantic Medical Supply useful as a mail order source for IV fluids.
Regards, - H.S.


For the past three decades our pharmaceutical industry has been telling us the 'bugs' are resistant to antibiotics, so they must constantly look for new antibiotics, which is expensive. They lie. The truth is, they don't make any money on simple Penicillin G, tetracycline, terrramycin, and staple sulfa powder anymore, and they are in business to make money for their investors.

So, where do you get a long term supply of simple basic antibiotics? The Answer: Your local feed store. They try to tell you such antibiotics are not for human consumption, but that's a lie. It never made economic sense to have two assembly lines for antibiotics--one human, one animal--when just one line can service both humans and animals with just a change of label. The drug companies are run by economics too. Ranchers and farmers know this, and it is rare the rancher or farmer that doesn't treat himself with antibiotics that they bought for their animals, with no deleterious effects.

Terramycin powder is used for hogs, chickens, birds of all sorts, and bees. It is a water soluble powder, and will last for many years. Penicillin G, shaken once each two weeks and stored in an ammonia absorption refrigerator at 36 degrees, (no electrical grid necessary), will remain good to use about three years beyond the posted expiration date. Oxytetracycline, same thing. It will last for years if kept cool.

With any injectable antibiotic, follow the instructions on the label, inject by weight of the subject. Of course don't inject anyone who is allergic to eggs or has had obvious reactions to Penicillin or Tetracycline. But, you can stockpile Epinephrine for such reactions. Again, simply follow the directions on the label.

Stockpile over the counter medications too, one of the best is simple Benedryl or the store-brand generic substitute. Stockpile plenty of simple Aspirin. Got a dog that's rattlesnake bit? Give him an aspirin (300 mg) in a small piece of meat that he'll swallow without chewing. He won't even swell up if you get it into him in the first few hours. This works well on humans too.

Use some common sense, people! Survivalism isn't an arcane science. It's mostly common sense and simple action.

We discuss this all the time on my group: and SurvivalBlog is linked as a must read resource. Semper Paratus, - Lawrence R.

SurvivalBlog's British-born Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson catalogued another article on the descent into Nanny State Britannia: Three -inch pocketknives illegal in the UK.

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I was just introduced to a great dry firing trigger kit for Glocks, made by Southwest Shooting Authority. These provide a very realistic feeling trigger pull and trigger reset. Unlike those made by their competitors, the Southwest dry practice kits have a 90 day warranty, and are useful for up to 50,000 trigger presses. Installation and removal are a breeze. (It takes less than a minute for anyone that is familiar with Glocks.) With the current high price of ammunition, I consider dry practice a must, and these kits provide the best way get that practice for Glock owners, with no repetitive slide racking required! To my mind, these kits provide the most realistic dry firing experience. Most importantly, if you get in the habit of racking your pistol's slide repeatedly in dry practice, that muscle memory might carry over into the high stress of a defensive pistol shooting situation, turning your Glock into a manual repeater, dumping half of your ammo as live "rounds on the ground". Don't laugh--people do indeed revert to their training when under high stress.

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Thanks to Jeff B. for spotting this: Freak winds freeze rural county. (Six to eight foot drifts!)

“Sure I am that this day - now we are the masters of our fate; that the task which has been set us is not above our strength; that its pangs and toils are not beyond our endurance. As long as we have faith in our cause and an unconquerable will-power, salvation will not be denied us.” - Winston Churchill, addressing a joint session of the US Congress, December 26, 1941

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 26 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 26 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Editor's Proviso: Please note the following article is presented for educational purposes only. Implementing the steps described below is illegal in most jurisdictions. This article is presented in the context of total collapse of society and government, in which government has become nonexistent.

Pain management is one of the most serious aspects of any medical situation whether it is life threatening or not. Many of us have chronic pain issues which get worse as we age or as our physical workload increases. Pain exacerbates shock when traumatic injuries are sustained. Pain management can comfort us in during palliative care and make the transition into the next world easier – both for the person who is dying and to ease the anxiety of loved ones. The reality is that pain management should be a concern for all of us who are preparing to meet whatever the future holds.

Most of us do not have access to effective pain management medications beyond Tylenol, Aspirin and Ibuprofen. Narcotics that are regularly prescribed for serious pain are unavailable to add to our medical kit, and will certainly be unobtainable when TSHTF. All is not lost, however, but we must be prepared to grow our own painkillers. Fortunately, this is neither expensive nor difficult. The answer is to begin growing opium poppies just as our ancestors did up until a century ago. Opium poppies are used to produce morphine and codeine, and do not require much processing to create a useful painkiller that can be grown in your garden.

Which Poppies to Grow?

Opium producing poppies are known by their botanical label Papaver somniferum. Variants go by the names Giganteum, Hens and Chicks, Persian White, Persian Blue, Danish Flag. Each type will have a different morphine content genetically, and conditions will also affect the potency of the poppy. They are readily available as seeds and are legal to order and possess. 500 to 1000 seed packages can be had for $10 to $20 and are viable if stored in an airtight container in a cool dark place for 3 to 5 years. One poppy pod can produce several hundred seeds that are easily harvested, so a rotating seed stock is easy to maintain.

Growing the Opium Poppy

Opium Poppies tend to like a cooler environment for germination, warmer for the growth phase and into maturity for opium production. Early Spring is a good time to plant when there is still snow on the ground. Some folks plant in the Fall and let the poppies sit dormant over winter to spring to life as it warms up. I have found it best to plant seed directly in the garden and let them germinate there. They require only a shallow covering of topsoil. Soil should be well drained, and sandy soil works well for this. The poppy roots near the surface and does not extend roots down into the soil very far. Sowing many seeds close together and then thinning the group a couple of times early in the growing season works well. The mature poppy needs space – 10” to 12” around the poppy is a good idea. A soil and water pH level of 7 (neutral) is good. Manure based fertilizer is excellent. Water and fertilize the poppies regularly. Poppies are quite hardy, but they don’t like weeds, so weeding your plot is essential.

Poppies grow tall (4’ is common), and so must be somewhat sheltered from the wind. Full sun in a temperate climate is good, but in very warm climates partial shade is appropriate. Once the poppies reach their full height, they will develop a lovely flower and seed pod. The petals of the flower will last less than 2 weeks and will be shed completely leaving the pod. Once the petals appear, cut back on watering, but do not allow the roots to dry out. This will push the pods to produce more opium.

Harvesting the opium

Once the seed pods have shed the petals and the pods are mature, you can begin to score the surface of the pod with a sharp blade. Draw the blade from near the bottom of the pod to near the top. Do not go deeper into the skin than 1/16”. Immediately you will see a milky substance appear. After a couple of hours the substance will begin to get gummy and you can scrape it off the pod with a blade or flexible piece of thin steel like a putty knife. This is the raw opium and will contain a quantity of up to 20% morphine.

The pods can be scored multiple times over multiple days until the plant dies. Once the plant has perished, cut the poppy at the stalk about 5” from the bottom of the pod. The pod will contain hundreds of seeds, and once it has dried, the pod can be crushed and the seeds extracted. The remaining plant matter can be collected and ground up to make a vile tasting tea that has many of the painkilling properties as the raw opium. Seed pods can be harvested and stored for future use and may deteriorate slower than grinding and storing the powder, but they will take up more room.

What to do with the opium

For centuries opium was ingested orally. From the 16th to the late 19th Century, it was sold as Laudanum, which was simply the opium “latex” (the raw scrapings from the pod) that was powdered and mixed with alcohol. As well as being more soluble than water, alcohol aided the painkilling properties of the opium and likely preserved and increased the shelf life. Small bottles of 10% opium and 90% ethanol alcohol would make excellent barter goods and be a way to dispose of excess opium.

As discussed earlier, tea made from adding crushed poppy plant matter to hot water makes a fairly powerful painkiller, but getting the dosage right could be a problem, so using multiple small doses is the best way to start with opium tea.

The best way to meter dosage is to actually smoke the opium latex. Direct heat to the latex works, but not as effectively as vaporizing it. Simple vaporizing is done by heating the pipe bowl rather than applying heat to the opium directly. Small, match-head size pieces can be smoked and the effects are fairly immediate.

Another use for opium

Opium also acts as a good anti-diarrheal agent. The opiate derivatives of opium – morphine, codeine and heroin are known to stop up users. This can be a problem in a survival situation, so starting a laxative regimen may be necessary. But, where diarrhea is accompanied by pain, opium may be the best solution in a self-sufficient environment.

Potential Problems

Opium is addictive and should be treated with due care and respect. Coming off of protracted usage is difficult and painful both physically and psychologically. However, if used for managing real physical pain, addiction is often not an issue as long as the usage is stopped when the pain subsides for good. Opiates are still the most used and often most effective painkillers prescribed today.

Legal issues. While it is widely legal to own opium poppy seeds, it is also just as widely illegal to grow poppies for opium production. Having hundreds of poppies growing in your garden prior to TSHTF will invite arrest. Growing a few poppies for decorative purposes will go unnoticed, and the dried seed pods are widely available for decorative flower arrangements. Growing just a few poppies every year and storing the seeds is what I do.

Where to get seeds

I got my first seeds online after searching Papaver somniferum. There are many dealers, and they are inexpensive to buy. I know have several strains growing in my garden, as do relatives and friends. They are beautiful plants, and will certainly come in handy some day.

Editor's Proviso: I must reiterate that the preceding article is presented for educational purposes only. Implementing the steps described below is illegal in most jurisdictions. This article is presented in the context of total collapse of society and government, in which government has become nonexistent.

Most folks focus on vests first when it comes to ballistic protection, but the head should not be neglected. Obviously your brain is one of your most important organs, one of the most sensitive to blunt trauma - and the body part most likely to be exposed when you are behind cover!

A helmet is not a "discreet" piece of gear, and not appropriate for everyday use, but helmets are much-needed ballistic protection in a bad to worst-case situation, e.g., a homeowner in a Hurricane Katrina type situation, or a patrol officer rolling up on a potential shooting. In that kind of situation you would probably prefer that bad guys see that you are armored and a "hard target", in order to deter an attack. Most importantly, you would (we hope!) be behind cover with just your head showing - so wouldn't it be smart to protect what is most exposed?

Helmets are also excellent for lessening blunt trauma, though you should be aware that any impact on the head is a serious threat that causes some level of injury - no armor makes you invulnerable. The blunt trauma protection of a helmet is often not given enough weight. Think about it - in a high-threat confrontation you would often be coming under fire and moving as fast as possible, perhaps in the dark. Very likely you would be hitting trees, walls, cars, the cover you are diving for, etc., etc. in your haste to get to cover. Any helmet (even a bike helmet) is desirable so that crashing into hard objects is less of an impact on the brain, possibly saving you from being knocking disoriented or unconscious.

Helmets are excellent ballistic protection from pistol-caliber threats (and Fragmentation) but, sorry to say, rifle protection helmets are not on the market. Traditional mil spec PASGT helmets stop Level II threats (9mm pistol / .357 Magnum) and the latest mil spec, the Advanced Combat Helmet (aka ACH aka MICH) stops Level III-A threats (9mm sub-machine-gun / .44 Magnum). Most people focus on this small increase in ballistic protection of the ACH over PASGT, but what is much more important is the big improvement in blunt trauma protection.

The traditional PASGT Kevlar Helmet has a leather and nylon suspension system that is not particularly comfortable, and provides very little blunt trauma protection. But the latest mil spec for the ACH is a pad system inside the helmet (3/4th inch or 1" thick / 19 - 25mm) that absorbs a lot of shock that would otherwise be transmitted to the skull.

If you already have an older PASGT not to worry! You can upgrade with a PASGT Retrofit Kit to bring the old PASGT up to the ACH standard for blunt trauma cushioning.

If $70 is not in the budget, there is a very inexpensive accessory called the Parachutist Foam Impact Liner that is almost as good. Airborne troops used to get a 1/4" (6mm) thick pad which the Air Force research found is roughly 70% as good as the ACH pad system. We would recommend that as a minimum upgrade to older PASGT helmets.

Either way, there is one upgrade to vintage PASGTs that is mandatory to keep the helmet secure, and prevent bobbing of the helmet when you are moving. This is replacing the old 2 point chin strap with a 3 or 4 point system that connects at the back.

Helmet Buying Checklist

1. PROTECTION - whether it stops Level II or Level III-A threats is less of a factor than whether it has an ACH blunt trauma pad system. Personally I'd rather have the old PASGT Level II protection - with the ACH pads retro-fitted in - than a newer Level III-A helmet without the ACH Blunt Trauma Pads.

2. COVERAGE vs. ERGONOMICS - the ACH shape has no brim, and is cut short on the back and sides for better hearing, and better ergonomics in the prone position. The PASGT has a brim, and is longer back and sides for more coverage (photos).

You can get Level III-A helmets in the PASGT shape, so it really depends on your situation and personal preference as to which is better for you--e.g., maximum protection in a vehicle, or for a non-combatant - go for full coverage with the PASGT shape. For a "trigger puller" who needs to go prone - ACH.

3. COLOR is not a determining factor as you can spray paint the helmet, or put a cloth helmet cover on. We do recommend Tan as a good all around color, as solid Black can tend to stick out.

4. FIT AND STABILITY is critical. The chin strap must be connected at the back as well as the sides. The helmet must fit snugly and comfortably even with no chin strap. Get a good head measurement to ensure a good fit.

The bottom line - in a bad situation you want ballistic and blunt trauma protection on your head. You have two eyes, two arms, two legs, and two lungs - but only one brain, so keep it safe!

Yours truly, - Nick, Manager

I just finished reading a Prepared Christmas by Hunkerdown and it made me smile as I remembered last year. Emergency Essential ran a special on first aid kits and we sent one to each of our adult children. It consisted of two kits - one for the home and an outdoor kit to take in a vehicle.

Right after the holidays, our 16 month old grandson put his hands on a stove (those little critters can move faster than a cheetah) and burned the palms of his hands. He was treated at the emergency room (the burns were very bad) and after coming home, he tore off his bandaging. The parents used material from the kits we had given them to re-bandage his hands. Then a couple weeks later Grandpa Joe (he's 92) took a dive off of his porch. The kids grabbed their kit, rushed over and had him taken care of quickly. Also, last year, each one of the grandchildren received from us a fishing kit - from the 15 year old down to the 4 month old. This year each will be receiving a Silver Eagle. For the adults we've come up with various ideas - cold weather gear (Under Armor, insulated boots, etc.), Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook by Peggy Layton, an emergency kit for the car with jumper cables, etc., non-hybrid seed packs, The Five Thousand Year Leap (for the liberal in the family). Other ideas could be hand warmers, emergency candles, backup propane heaters for the home (everyone experiences power outages at some time), sprouting kits and seeds. Hunters and hikers would be open to Mountain House food pouches or MREs even if they aren't preppers and you'd be helping them without them knowing it.

Before I started reading SurvivalBlog, Christmas gifts were pajamas and small appliances. Thank you for all the knowledge we have gained from you. - L.C.

Regular content contributor GG mentioned this in The Wall Street Journal: Are Your U.S. Treasury Bonds Safe? The price of credit default swaps jumped by more than 50% in the private market in recent months.

Frank S. sent this Friday Follies Update: Three bank failures take year's tally to 133

"3Can" mentioned that the IBD had a good discussion of gold related to purchases by central banks.

Items from The Economatrix:

Freightliner Moving Truck Production to Mexico, Raising Fears of More Layoffs

Australian Lawmaker Warns US Could Default on its Debt Triggering an "Economic Armageddon"

Timebomb for the Euro: Greek Debt Poses a Danger to Common Currency. (The EU's economic and currency problem almost always start on it periphery.)

Obama Blasts Banks for Opposing Financial Overhaul

Gun laws are getting looser across much of US. (Thanks to Garnet for the link.)

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SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson found an interesting article for advanced home machinists: The Making of a Rifled Barrel.

   o o o, one of our most loyal advertisers, is running a 20% - 30% off sale on Kevlar helmets and Interceptor Tactical Vests, ending December 23rd.

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Kathryn D. told me about a line of SPF 30 clothing that is ideal for people that live in sunny climates. Kathryn's comments: "The pieces are permanently SPF 30, feel like sandwashed silk, and made with underarm and back ventilation so they are very cool and comfortable. [These are] a little more expensive than regular clothing but worth it, and you don't need many pieces to have yourself covered."

"Just as we must learn to obey God one choice at a time, we must also learn to trust God one circumstance at a time…We honor God by choosing to trust Him when we don’t understand what He is doing or why He has allowed some adverse circumstance to occur." - Jerry Bridges

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 26 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 26 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

A period of lawlessness may prevail after any major interruption of services. We all know this and try to plan. But have we really realistically faced what this means? Once the food trucks stop arriving, US cities and towns have less than a week before food riots and general looting begins. If things get really bad, there are going to be literally millions of people starving, thirsty and sick, willing to do whatever it takes to survive. The simple math points to a huge die-off unless the government can maintain control and re-institute some emergency measures. In the worst case scenarios, almost any preparations you can make seem woefully inadequate. The challenge may come down to surviving the die-off and not becoming one of the unmarked graves.

Face facts, this throng of hungry, desperate people are going to be heavily armed, just like you. Many of them are going to have military and law enforcement experience. Also, remember that every piece of military equipment in the government's arsenal is going to be owned and used by someone. Those machineguns and rocket launchers and mortars are not going to just evaporate. [JWR Adds: It is noteworthy that with very few exceptions, National Guard and Reserve units have not stored live ammo at their local armories since the 1960s. Looters might eventually cut their way in to arms room vaults, and they'll indeed find mortars, machineguns, and grenade launchers, but not mortar rounds, grenades, or belts of machinegun ammo. Their ammo is stored only at active duty installation Ammo Supply Points (ASPs).] The point is, the teeming population is not just going to die off quietly and go away until all of the food they can locate is gone.

Whether these hungry people come at you as small gangs of thugs or as ad-hoc governments equipped with arm-bands, they are going to systematically look for food and supplies. If you are anywhere near a population center, you are going to be looted and perhaps killed. No matter how many buckets of nitrogen packed wheat you have cleverly stored in your basement, you are almost certainly going to lose it all when the local "committee" searches your house for "contraband" or "hoarding".

Single family dwelling homes and apartments without power are nothing more than inconveniently located caves. They are impossible to hide and very difficult to defend. Any determined group of raiders (or whomever) are going to pick your bones if you try to "Custer" inside a modern American home. The very fact that you are living there will be proof that you have something they want. If it looks deserted, they will still search the place thoroughly looking for food. When that happens, you will either have to fight to keep your possessions or you will have to evacuate or "bug out". Where will you go? What will you need to carry? Most "Bug out Bag" plans that I have seen don't measure up. A planned evacuation is a lot better than a "grab stuff and go" emergency. Your current home can be expendable if you plan for it.

For folks with military training, or the willingness to learn, a compromise can be to set up a semi-mobile encampment. This concept is based on a Long Range Surveillance (LRS) "Hide site". Sort of a patrol base for extended stay. For an explanation, see the Wikipedia page on LRS. Most LRS hide sites are used for a maximum of two weeks, but their occupancy can be extended for months with additional supplies. If you use your head setting up a hide site, you can avoid having to fight to keep your things. It's much better to hide than fight. Setting up a site is relatively simple if you follow sound tactical principles. With a little luck and discipline, you can stay invisible for extended periods.

The reference document for LRS hide sites is US Army FM-7-93. Appendix E contains a lot of good source material. While most of this field manual will not be appropriate for simple survival, it contains a lot of good ideas if you have no experience and have never considered this topic. You don't have to create a site as extreme as the FM describes to have a survivable hide site.

The location you select is the most important factor. Ideally, you need a patch of wilderness that offers nothing that anyone wants. Parks and national forest lands are good choices. The only resources there are firewood and perhaps game animals. If you can find an area that has neither of these, you are better off still. The point is this: Find a place where nobody is going to go looking for something they need. Desperate people are not going to walk randomly, they are going to drive if they can and walk if they must. They are going to follow lines of communication that have a reasonable chance of taking them to resources. If you can find a place that is isolated away from roads and undeveloped, you are half way there.

You need to choose an area within half a tank of gas to your home, but a mile or so from the nearest road or anything most people would want. It needs to be close enough to a creek to carry water and as rough and remote as you can find. At such a site, you could conceivably remain for months without being detected. With a little planning, you can build a hide site in a matter of hours and it will be stronger tactically than any normal dwelling. Plus you can make it as undetectable as your imagination and discipline will let you.

If you already have a well stocked retreat or working farm with dozens of acres, consider pre-positioning most of your goods in hidden caches on your own property, and setting up a hide site in advance. When (not if) your retreat is attacked, you will have someplace to run and supplies that remain available. You can even use your existing well or water supply if you plan well. Remember, if you make your retreat too comfortable, someone may take it from you and keep it. Try to make it look like any other house without water or power and looters will probably just move on once they sack it. You can move back in later and tidy up the mess instead of having to fight. Hide your comforts and supplies well.

I recommend "digging in" three different sites, within rifle range of each other, all of them concealed and preferably booby-trapped. (LRS teams always carry a lot of mechanicals, like Claymore mines. Finding them is hazardous to your health and killing them is even harder). The basic hide site is low and hidden. Any tarps you use must be as close to ground level as possible and well hidden from view by covering them with dirt and debris. Setting up inside stands of scrub brush is a common tactic. Digging most of it underground is also common. The goal is to make the site as invisible as you can make it, even from close range. You want a casual intruder to walk right by it without noticing anything.

1st site. A kitchen area/living area/kill zone with fighting positions dug-in for emergencies. Make it as hard to find as you are able. Use brush and natural terrain features to mask it from casual view. If attacked or discovered, the guard post (described below) will be your ace in the hole. If your site is discovered or someone approaches, dive for cover and wait them out. If your kitchen area remains undiscovered, all is well, but If you absolutely have to fight, being dug in with a real fighting position will give you a major edge and your guard post will come as a very nasty surprise.

2nd site. A Guard post/sleeping area/fighting position well hidden. It should overwatch both other sites and have a good field of view covering likely avenues of approach. These two sites should be able to provide supporting fire for each other. You also need to provide a covered egress route of some kind in case you have to evacuate the site. Radios to communicate between fighting positions are very handy and so are night optical devices of all kinds. During hours of activity, this site remains manned by a guard with a rifle. At night it is the only manned site. One person stays on guard and everyone else can sack out.

3rd (or more) sites. A cache for most of your stores within rifle range but completely concealed. If you lose your entire hide site, you can always double back in a few days and pick up your stuff. The third cache is a life saver if you really have to run for it. This site should be completely undetectable. That means buried and carefully camouflaged. A good reference for establishing a cache is Army TC 31-29/A

A Fourth site for the truck(s) and other vehicles should be established about a mile away. Make your vehicles look abandoned and drain them of fuel. Make no mistake, they really are abandoned. You may be able to recover them, but you will probably lose them. Once you occupy your main site, you must not keep visiting your vehicles. [JWR Adds: It doesn't take long to remove their batteries. This further disables the vehicles to discourage theft, and those batteries could come in handy. And even more elaborate measure os putting vehicles up on blocks and removing their wheels to hide them separately. That will truly make them look abandoned, and make it very difficult for the vehicles to be stolen. ]

You should be able to carry water to the kitchen area and purify it, do all your cooking and eating and living there. Generally do anything there that is hard to hide. Sleep off-site at the sleeping area in case the main base is discovered and attacked at night. If you have at least three adults, you can keep a guard at all times and still get all the chores done. Fewer people means you will only occupy your sleeping site at night. Six or more adults would be needed to make a hide site into a fortress, so you are depending on stealth for most of your protection. If you are alone, stealth is all you really have.

Cover your tracks. Don't wear a path between your sites. You don't want discovery of one site to lead to discovery of the others. This goes double for your water source. There should be no way to tell someone is using the creek, well or pond. This takes a lot of discipline.

Your kitchen area is the hardest to hide. Smoke from cooking fires is the biggest danger. You can avoid detection by using a propane or other type of cooking stove and cooking only non-smelly foods. (Odor from grilling meat can carry for miles, but simmering cracked wheat is not so bad.) If you plan to cook something smelly, consider cooking it up to a mile away from your hide site to avoid detection. In any case, no food should be eaten or prepared in the sleeping area. The sleeping area and guard post must remain undetectable at all times.

If the kitchen area is discovered while you are sleeping, you can either choose to fight or give them the kitchen. You may be able to lay low and avoid detection even if a whole gang shows up and discovers your kitchen/living area. They will only get a portion of your stocks and everybody gets to live another day. If you have access to Claymore mines and/or M16 bounding mines, you can probably use the kitchen as a kill zone and wipe out many times your number in bad guys, but remember, stealth is your biggest defense and any fighting entails a lot of risk.

Strangers that stumble upon your site can be dealt with in several ways. Simply hiding is a good approach if you can pull it off. If hiding is out, you will either have to talk to them or fight. If they are hunters and seem fairly well provisioned, be friendly and show them as little of your site as possible. Under no circumstances, show them your main food cache. Everyone has limits, so don't tempt them. They should not see anything they are willing to fight to possess. A couple of buckets of food are probably not worth getting shot over. If they are a small group and desperate, consider adopting them. Most people are pretty decent and if they see a good reason to team with you, they will do it. If you are all trying to survive and they see you as an ally, you are probably fairly safe. The added security of a few extra people could be a real plus. If your site has been compromised, remember, you can always move. You can even leave your cache in place and simply move your other two sites a couple of miles and you may be safe again.

You will need some supplies and equipment to hide in relative comfort. The suggested bug out bag for this scenario is a whole pickup truck load of stuff: Even if you wind up going to a shelter or a community center, you won't be showing up hungry with your hand out.

Weapons: In order to fight realistically, you will need a good rifle and of course ammunition for anyone in the group with skill. I personally prefer an old scoped Ishapore 2A1 [Enfiield] chambered in 7.62mm NATO, but almost anything will do as long as it is robust and you are skilled with it. Also a pump shotgun with lots of buckshot can be a real killer in a night fight. Night sights of some kind on the rifle are really useful. Modern thermal sights can be devastating. With luck and discipline you won't ever need to shoot anything, but having any firearm is much better than having none at all, and a rifle always beats a pistol at long range.)

An extra rifles to cache, with ammo, might be handy if you can keep them weatherproof.

Lots of buckets of storage food (Keep it all cached except one or two buckets at a time). 10 or more 5 gallon buckets of food per person is not excessive. The more food you have with you, the longer you can stay.

A case of MREs for each person, stored in the sleeping area. Also, your packs need to be wherever you are at all times. Remember to store water in the sleeping area. More than you think you need.
A main kitchen and backup stuff to keep cached. (in case you lose the kitchen).

When you are setting up your site, you will have to make multiple trips from the vehicles, but the more food you have, the longer you can stay hidden. Multiple caches can be strung out along an escape route or the route back to the trucks. Also, you will need basic camping gear and water purification, field sanitation supplies etc.

For each adult:

Backpack with frame : This is your last ditch bag and should be near you at all times.
Water filter (PUR backpack model) is a good one
polar pure Iodine crystals in every pack. They are light, cheap and essential.
Several plastic garbage bags. These have multiple uses. You can't have too many.
2 x canteens with cups. This allow you to carry some water and cook if you must.
6 x MRE in the pack (12 more at the cache or sleeping site)
P38 can opener
2 butane lighters
2 camping candles or other heat source
Box of self striking fire starters are sometimes handy

* LED light and spare batteries (rechargeable) can come in handy
*Someone should carry a 4 watt solar battery charger. These are important to have along [to charge batteries for night vision, communications, and intrusion detection gear.]

Generator radio AM/FM/Weather (with cell phone charger and LED light) This is a critical piece of equipment, so have two of them, but be careful not to play it out loud. Ear buds or head sets will keep you from giving your site away. Boredom is your biggest enemy and a radio can be a great way to stay entertained and silent [when not on a watch shift.]

A good sleeping bag is a must. It's cold underground or when you aren't moving.
Insulating ground pad is also a must.
1 emergency blanket/poncho
1 poncho liner (Army. Great piece of gear!)
1 x large drop cloth and a roll of heavy plastic are handy for underground living.
1 hat and wool glove inserts
1 set of thermal underwear (tops and bottoms)
An extra set of clothing. BDUs or other outdoor wear and a spare pair of boots (Clothing can be rolled up inside a plastic sheet and put into a laundry bag and carried outside the pack). Remember, extra socks and underwear are always needed!

Ka-Bar sheath knife (7 inch) or equivalent.
Leatherman Multitool or a Swiss army knife
Small machete (at least one in the group is very handy and has multiple uses).

Medical Stuff (I recommend keeping this with your last ditch bag)
Spare eyeglasses if needed
First Aid Kit for minor wounds
sewing kit
Imodium for emergency treatment of diarrhea (packets of salts are even better)
iodine swabs
burn cream (not much is needed, but if you need it you will be glad you have it)
Chap stick or petroleum jelly
white tape
emergency blanket (cheap is fine)
Scalpels or Razor blades
Safety pins
Large bandages (2 or 3 can be life savers if someone is shot)
Dental floss
hand sanitizer
Insect Repellant
small lock blade knife
Prescription medication
ID cards, credit cards, cash on hand

A pistol of some kind. I highly recommend the Ruger SP101 in .357 Magnum and a couple of speed loaders.

Other stuff to load in your truck or large car:
A bicycle! You can load a lot of stuff on a bicycle and cut down on the number of trips required from the vehicles to the hide site. Bike tracks are a giveaway, so make sure they start at least 25 meters from your vehicles and erase them as well as possible after the last trip. Whatever you use, be prepared and willing to haul everything by hand from your vehicles to the site. Without a bike or dolly, its going to require something like 12 trips. You can improve on this by using a cargo carrier of some kind. Vary your route between the vehicle and hide site to minimize your tracks. You might want to unload and then move your vehicles to avoid anyone tracking you.

Shovel, crosscut saw, axe or hatchet and pick axe (army E tools are light, but not as good as full size tools). All tools should be loaded in a bag that you can sling or tie to a bike.
100 ft roll of repelling rope may be very handy. 550 cord is also handy.
A roll of wire for rigging noise makers and rigging brush and shelter

Food: You will want 10 or 11 buckets for each member of your group:
6 buckets of wheat, 2 buckets of beans and 4 gallons of oil.
2 buckets of rice (and a bucket of sugar if you wish). and 2 pounds of salt. Spices and bullion are
very nice to have, but beware of odors!
This will be the bulk of your provisions and will weigh something like 400 pounds per person! Don't begrudge the weight. It will get lighter soon enough.
*24 rolls of toilet paper (in a plastic bag) You will miss this if you don't have any.
At least one grain mill. Two is much better. You can hide the extr aone in your cache.

(Split between 2 Duffel bags per 2 people): (this is your kitchen/living area stuff)
24 x MRE
Sterno stove + large candle heater in a can (12 face-inches of wick makes a lot of heat)
Fuel (10lb, paraffin to recharge cooker. Each pound will burn several hours with care )
If you are going to burn wood for fuel, use a hobo stove to minimize smoke and light.
4 pots. (2 for cooking, 1 for cleaning and one left with the food cache.)
A dutch oven is really handy. You won't regret the weight long when you cook with it
Tea, Coffee, Sugar, Gatorade powder
Tobacco (2 x 6 oz cans with rolling papers) (for those with a monkey on their backs)
Water, 6 liters (12 x 1/2 liter plastic bottles)
plastic bags. 20 heavy trash liners and 20 freezer storage bags
Spare batteries (12 x AA. Mostly for charity)
Soap, washcloth and towels (2 large ones)
4 large Poly Tarps (camo) and 550 chord
Fem pads (for that time of month. Include at least one bag per female per month)
Deck of cards
Bible and other reading material. Boredom will get you killed. Depression will too.
It might be worth the weight to carry a lot of books. Reading is a quiet activity and could keep you from going out of your mind!

In a suitcase or preferably another bucket that's waterproof (keep in the sleeping area.): Hat and wool glove inserts for each person. Extra clothing is good to have.
A wool sweater and outer cold weather gear. Blankets will be handy.

If you can manage to set up a hide site with these few essentials without anyone observing you, you can probably stay hidden for up to 200 days with care. That six month breather will allow you ample time to assess the conditions of the local area and plan your next move. More importantly, if a major population die-off is going on, a well stocked hide site will allow you to miss most of it. Hiding outdoors is not easy or comfortable, but it may be your best way to keep breathing.

[JWR Adds: Even the best defended retreat can't expect to hold out against a determined and well-equipped fighting force. If you hear that the muy malo hombres (or a nearby polity with kleptomaniacal intent) is heading up the road, abandoning your retreat may be your only choice.

As I have mentioned time and again in SurvivalBlog, pre-positioning supplies at your retreat is essential. You will not have time to pack. If you are fortunate, you will have time to put on your shoes. Having a hide prepared a half day's hike from your retreat, with food and gear already there, means you could avoid having to choose between an untenable fight and starving in the woods. Having a hide prepared could give you a couple weeks in safety to see what develops. You could then return to (or retake) your retreat, or abandon the area entirely, at your discretion.]

Hello Jim,
A. Woofer should be commended for his excellent article on Betadine. An excellent way to use/carry Betadine in a small personal first aid kit is Betadine swab sticks. There are normally used for skin prep before minor surgical procedures. Take care, - Jeff in Ohio

I’m writing to take exception with the author’s affinity for using Betadine in open wounds to “prevent infection.” While the liberal application of Betadine was relatively standard practice in the Emergency Medicine community when I started practicing 20 years ago, recent studies have changed this practice considerably.

As the author himself points out, “It kills everything”. While this may be the desired effect against microorganisms Betadine is also cytotoxic, meaning it kills healthy cells of the patient as well. Studies have shown that this delays healing, increases scar formation and may lead to chronic wound formation – wounds that never close or heal. Other studies comparing Betadine with wound cleaning detergents (Shur-cleanse) or tap water or sterile water overwhelmingly conclude that tap water is the best agent for wound cleaning. While this may sound far fetched it has changed the way many Emergency Departments (including my own) treat wounds. A couple of good references for anyone interested in this subject would be:

Durani P, Leaper D: Povidone-iodine: use in hand disinfection, skin preparation and antiseptic irrigation. Int Wound J 5:376, 2008
Moscati RM et al: A multicenter comparison of tap water versus sterile saline for wound irrigation. Acad Emerg Med 14:404, 2007

You can find these journals available to the public at any medical school library.

Additionally, the author briefly mentions irrigation using a pin-hole in a plastic bag filled with irrigating solution. This too has been studied recently, along with other field expedient irrigation methods, and the conclusions are that you cannot get enough pressure using this method to dislodge debris from a wound. It requires 15psi for irrigation to have the desired effect. These pressures are best achieved in the field setting using a standard syringe and flexible IV catheter along with copious amounts of clean water.

I commend the author for teaching first aid techniques to lay people. I do this myself and know first hand the amount of work involved in preparing and presenting quality training. We owe it to our students to incorporate (into our teaching and our practice) the latest changes in the field so that what we teach is better than what we ourselves were taught years ago. - PA Matt

Readers should be reminded: Don't confuse Betadine solution with Betadine soap. Both are available, but the soap should not be used to purify water. Betadine solution can be used as stated in the article. Please note these soaps and solutions should not be used on persons having a history of anaphylactic reaction to iodine or shellfish. Hibicleans (Chlorhexidine), manufactured by Regent, can be used for wound cleansing instead. Hibicleans is not as broad spectrum as Betadine solution, but is the standard substitute. - Mike in Tennessee


James Wesley:
Just finished reading the information from Woofer on betadine for wounds. About a week ago, my spouse took a tumble and fell about three feet into some planter boxes filled with dirt. He had some big belly scratches and a nasty arm gash. He was covered in dirt. Immediately had him shower with soap and water to get rid of the dirt and then I poured betadine on the wounds, bandaged up the big gash, and took him to the Emergency Room (ER). Apparently, these days the family physicians no longer want their patients to come to the office for such things like they used to do. As the ER physician told us, "this is new medicine and the doctor's office wants to churn through patients and suturing takes time." It was debatable about the arm gash being sutured or not but instead the ER physician cleaned some and then used wound glue to close it. The ER did nothing to my wound cleaning job for the belly scratches. Guess I must have done as good a job as the ER physician would have done. (Husband got his first tetanus vaccine with diphtheria. We don't like vaccines but these were some pretty nasty dirt filled wounds. I told the ER doctor that I was worried about both tetanus and 'flesh eating disease". She responded that tetanus and 'flesh eating disease' are the same thing. It sure doesn't appear to me to be the same bacterium but maybe one of your readers would know?) Within a day the belly wounds were healing very, very nicely. I think the the arm gash will leave a dented scar but it too is healing up pretty nicely. It has been many, many years since I had a first aid class. Looks like I did the right things.

I had planned to use the Thanksgiving weekend to get my first aid supplies organized so that I could pull out a container for wound treatments, one for colds, etc. Instead, I was running from one location to another to pull things together. Also, I had only been focusing on the wounds as the visible impact and a possible concussion but didn't think of possible broken bones nor internal injuries.

What would I have have done differently? I wish had had my supplies readily available instead of my hunting for my supplies for wound treatments. I wish I had taken the refresher first aid, advanced first aid, and the wilderness training program. And, wish I had done a better overall accounting of the situation to ask about broken bones or think of possible internal organ injuries. Finally, I have several first aid books but again I would not have been able to locate them easily and I would have had to read through them instead of as, Woofer, pointed out being very familiar with the written materials.

I was prepared for a modest crisis but would have been ill prepared for a major crisis simply because I was not and am not well organized. Some things are here; other things are there -- and in a crisis one doesn't want to be running here and there gathering things together. Regards, - Still Getting Ready

"If it be not to come, it will be now,
If it be not now, yet it will come.
The readiness is all." - William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act V. Scene 2

Friday, December 11, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 26 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 26 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

As most folks are running around fiercely to holiday parties and the malls in search of the perfect gift, even in these troubled times, it dawned on me that this is a unique time of the year that preppers can share our enthusiasm for our lifestyle. I started my preparedness journey (Yes, ‘journey’, as I’m now sure there is not a final destination. Can you ever be too prepared?) a little less than a year ago, and through sites like SurvivalBlog, have spent many hours educating myself about the numerous issues we may face in TEOTWAWKI. I often find prepping hard to discuss with friends and family, for the risk of seeming odd or simply being ignored, but I do care enough that I want them prepared.

One simple way I have found to bring others into the loop, is to focus my Christmas presents on items that will bring exposure to the subject and be useful for everyday preparedness or TEOTWAWKI. Rather than giving a fruit cake that no one wants (although I do understand the shelf life to be quite long!), I am putting thought into each person and finding a gift that works for them.

For my father, who is an over-the-road trucker in the Midwest, I have assembled a Bug Out Bag (BOB). He has the basic safety gear and tools for his rig, but he does not carry food, fire starters, or extra clothes that may be necessary if he is stuck in a snow storm for several days. I have purchased a sturdy pack from a surplus store and have stocked it with bottles of water, MREs with heaters, candles, lighters, matches, emergency blanket, portable radio, flashlight, batteries, and other essentials. I’ve also included some wool socks, gloves and a toboggan vacuum sealed. I vacuum sealed them so he doesn’t get the urge to use them in a non-emergency with the thought of putting them back that never actually happens (i.e., it must be an emergency if he is going to break the vacuum seal). I used this trick with other items in the bag as well, so they don’t ‘wander off’ and are protected from the elements. I will have him add a flannel shirt and other appropriate clothes at the time that I give it to him.

For my mother, who is an avid gardener and cook, I purchased a grain mill, 45 pounds of hard red wheat, and a book about cooking with wheat. She loves to bake bread, but has traditionally used store-bought ingredients. Now she can experiment with the mill before a TEOTWAWKI situation and I have also added a much needed prep item to our inventory. My mother lives 200+ miles away, but that is my current BOL (bug-out location), until I can buy my own land.

Instead of more clothes or a trip to the day spa for my girlfriend, I have purchased her the same 9mm pistol that I carry. Some may think this is like giving her a vacuum cleaner or exercise videos, but it is not. Over the past year, she has learned to shoot, obtained her gun carry permit, and started shooting with me in our local practical pistol matches with my gun, which she likes. She enjoys the activity, is quite proficient, and will enjoy having her own and I will feel more at ease as well.

Stocking stuffers can be great opportunities to help others with preparations too. Little things, like pocket knives, flashlights, NOAA radios, multi-tools, etc, are handy items that everyone needs. Other great gifts are books and magazine subscriptions on the subject of preparedness or really any skill (carpentry, gardening, alternative energy, canning and preserving). My college friend is getting "Patriots", as he loves a good story and I think the first chapter will challenge his thinking on the world around us. And for women looking for a gift for their man, most would probably love a gift certificate for a gun training course. Hint, hint, if you are reading this, honey.

All the above are items that are purchased, and cash may be tight at home. But you don’t have to spend big money to get your point across or to be thoughtful. You could give friends or family homemade soup or vegetables that you have canned, and a handmade gift certificate for teaching them canning and preserving methods. You can give them packets of seeds so they can do container gardening and give them an opportunity to learn a skill. The possibilities are endless if you package the gift the right way.

I do not have children, but do have a niece and young cousins. For the little ones, how about camping equipment made for kids, and a trip to go camping with you, even if just in the backyard. Or maybe a compass and some maps, and teaching them how to properly use them to find a hidden treasure (your choice on what the treasure will be). A rod and reel and a fishing trip are things that will not only teach them useful skills, but will give what kids need most; more time with parents or mentoring adults. Think about what you wish you knew growing up, and give the gift that will last a lifetime. I’m fairly sure their skills with the X-Box will not help them much if the SHTF.

So, if you are going to celebrate the season by exchanging gifts, why not help those you care about and who may not have a preparedness mentality yet. This can also pertain to birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, or other special occasions. I’m sure you believe, as I, that this shows more thought and caring than the latest fad clothing or cool new techno gadget that will be rendered useless by an EMP.

That was a great article on the revival of tourniquets. One very important point that the author briefly touched on is the ability of the wounded individual to apply the tourniquet without assistance.

The central tenant of it's use by our forces in the field today is that the wounded individual must be able to tend to his own 'blowout' while everyone else continues to engage and suppress the enemy. Otherwise the risk is that one wounded troop might multiply into more if the enemy gains fire superiority and/or individuals expose themselves to aid a wounded comrade.

Individuals who carry these devices as part of an individual first aid kit should practice applying it to arms/legs at varying heights while laying in awkward positions. - Greg L.


Mr. Rawles,
I have read your blog for several years and found some interesting concepts in the posts. A little about myself: I am a 34 year old former soldier. I spent seven years in army special operations including three years at 1/75th Ranger. I have worked on large cattle operations throughout the west since returning from Afghanistan after my last deployment and subsequent ETS. I have also been a lifelong "survivalist," or "prepper" to use the newest term du jour.

In regards to the recent post by Robert U, entitled "Tourniquets in Combat Medical Planning." It was a well-written overview of one aspect of the TC3 protocols. I would respectfully disagree with his conclusion however that "many of the advanced skills taught in TCCC are beyond application by the average person due to both the medical knowledge required and the materials used..."

That's nonsense. The TC3 protocols are being taught to 18 and 19 year old kids right out of high school. The average thirty-something "survivalist" can certainly wrap their head around those skills as well. Both the Care Under Phase and the Tactical Field Care phases should be implemented into any serious survivalists preparation training.

Not just the tourniquet, but the application of Israeli Battlefield Dressings, priMed gauze bandages, etc, HemCon agents like Quickclot and others, the use of a naso-pharyngeal airway, and others are relatively simple to teach and to learn. All are legal to use in most jurisdictions due to the fact that they all apply to the traditional "ABCs" of first-aid.

Even the use of needle decompression of tension pneumothorax is a simple skill set to teach and learn.

Any restrictions to the TC3 phases that would apply to the general survivalist would be as a result of legal restriction to access to narcotic analgesics and by-prescription anesthetics. - Cowpuncher

You recently mentioned Ciprofloxacin in your blog. Cipro is an antibacterial, a fluoroquinolone. It's useful for urinary tract infections, bacterial (not viral) sinusitis, post-inhalation exposure to anthrax, traveler's diarrhea, and in combination with other drugs for abdominal infections. Resistance to various sexually transmitted diseases and some bacteria that cause pneumonia (Pseudomonas aeruginosa) is increasing.

Ringer's isn't usually given with dextrose. It can be, but not normally. Ringers is an electrolyte (salt) solution, dextrose is used to replace (just) water or water and add some carbohydrates. Electrolyte solutions are used in cases of electrolyte depletion or dehydration (often combined with electrolyte depletion), normal saline is often given more or less interchangeably with Ringers (in fact, all I carry these days is normal saline).

And for trauma supplies (not drugs) a good source I've found is Regards, - Flighter, M.D.

Reader P.D. sent this: 10 Countries most likely to default. (It is notable that because of the size of its economy, they listed California among the list of "nations" at risk of default!)

Russ J. recommended a link from Nathan's Economic Edge. to an MP3 recording of John Williams of Shadow Government Statistics. Russ's comment: "His conclusions, if they prove out, could easily land us all in a "Patriots" scenario".

El Jefe Jeff E. sent this: U.S. Homeowners Lost $5.9 Trillion Since 2006 Peak. Jeff's comment: "Home foreclosures topped 300,000 in October for the eighth straight month, and still growing. As you know, the bulk of foreclosures are working its way through the system like a gopher in a garden hose."

The folks at The Daily Bell linked to this Telegraph article: Volcker Sees No Value in Derivatives. Here is a key quote: "He said credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations had taken the economy 'right to the brink of disaster' and added that the economy had grown at 'greater rates of speed' during the 1960s without such products. When one stunned audience member suggested that Mr. Volcker did not really mean bond markets and securitizations had contributed "nothing at all", he replied: 'You can innovate as much as you like, but do it within a structure that doesn't put the whole economy at risk.' He said he agreed with George Soros, the billionaire investor, who said investment banks must stick to serving clients and "proprietary trading should be pushed out of investment banks and to hedge funds where they belong".

Items from The Economatrix:

Americans Want Money Spent for Jobs, Send Bill to Rich

Government Program Has Only Helped 31,000 Borrowers So Far

Stocks Rise as Trade Deficit Narrows in October

Goldman Sachs Execs Won't Get 2009 Cash Bonus. They are receiving restricted stock awards instead

Natural Gas Prices Surge as Crude Fades

High-Stakes Duel Between Ron Paul and Bernanke Intensifies

An Obvious Question About US Government Gold Supplies Goes Begging

First Dubai

S&P Overvalued by 100%

Official Chinese Paper Calls for More Gold Reserves

FEMA Suggests Disaster Readiness Christmas Gifts. (Thanks to Lisa E. for the link.)

   o o o

The Suburban Survivalist suggested a good video of Mike Rowe (of "Dirty Jobs" television fame) speaking about what he's learned of the value of work.

   o o o

On a recent trip to a more populous region, I noticed that some people just don't know how to drive in the snow. Even with chains on, the Nervous Nellies creep along at 5 to 10 m.p.h. on straight and level roads. These folks even cause accidents, by forcing those approaching them from behind to apply their brakes.

"Empires and currencies rise and fall, but gold stands strong, monolithic and proud, casting an enormous shadow over all monetary history." - Adam Hamilton, April 2, 2002

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My brief interview with G. Gordon Liddy on Wednesday went well, and it is now available as an archived podcast. Please skip past the vulgarity of his brief opening humor segment.


Today we present another entry for Round 26 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 26 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Most of the books and preparedness literature available seem to assume that our post-TEOTWAWKI lives will be in a place where we can expect cold winters and the four traditional seasons.  I understand the attraction of relocating to a mountain retreat in a lightly populated northern or western state, but like many others my current preparedness plan is for in-place survival.  I just so happen to live in tropical Florida.  I believe that many of these same considerations apply for those living in southern Louisiana, Alabama, and Texas.

There are both challenges and advantages to choosing a tropical location like Florida when considering long-term survival.  Generally accepted approaches to water storage, food storage, food sources, shelter, power, health issues, tools, clothing, and security issues must all be re-examined in light of the environmental differences between Florida and the mountainous northern states.  The plans presented in most preparedness books must be adjusted to account for these differences.

The humid subtropical zone that contains Florida and much of the southeastern United States requires different tactics and equipment than those used for the semi-arid west and continental northern regions.  In Florida, the debate rages on where to draw the ‘freeze’ line.  This is the imaginary line south of which, usually, it will not freeze.  Some put this at about 80 miles north of Orlando; others as far south as Lake Okeechobee.  In any case, the winters are very mild in Florida. Temperatures in much of Florida are rarely below 60 for more than a few weeks.  The humidity, however, is often extreme.  This means that we need to be less concerned about storing cold weather gear like sleeping bags, warm clothes, and fuel for heating and more concerned about protection from sun, insects, mold, fungus, and heat.  On the plus side, the climate here also means an extended growing season.

Everyone knows that the weather in Florida can be volatile.  Those that live in Florida must be prepared for hurricanes.  If you don’t already own hurricane shutters or screens, this should be one of your first priorities to protect your residence over the long term.  Depending on the materials selected for these shutters, they could also provide additional protection for your family from other threats – such as gunfire.  A home generator is also almost a requirement for residents of tropical climates.  In many tropical areas like Florida, most of the power lines are still above ground and the utility power is frequently out when these lines are blown down.  These utility lines are gradually being moved below ground, but it is a massive undertaking that will take years.  If you choose to live near the ocean, make sure that your home is elevated above sea level as far as possible so that you are less susceptible to flooding associated with a storm surge.  Or, at the very least, store a good supply of sand bags.  Florida is known as the ‘Sunshine State’ and it does get a lot of sun.  Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas get more sun, but Florida is still eminently suitable for using the sun for power.  If you are near the beach, you can also count on being able to consistently generate power from the wind. 

The location of your home or retreat in Florida or any other tropical area may be critical.  As of 2008, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the population of Florida at over 18 million.  As many as 11 million of these people live in the largest population centers like Miami, Tampa/St. Petersburg, Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, Jacksonville, and West Palm Beach.  I probably don’t have to tell you – but, I will anyway.  Avoid these large cities.  Check the web site for the published evacuation routes.  These will likely be the same routes used for population migration out of Florida in the event of a major disaster or societal collapse.  Much of the traffic will have to go up the major north-south interstate highways like 4, 75, and 95.  Those living in close proximity to these routes will be at higher risk of looting, theft, and assault.  When looking for a retreat or place to live, look for the less populated areas that might be somewhat insulated from these migration routes.  You might consider living in one of the rural locations in central Florida or north Florida that are lightly populated.  I have chosen to live on a lightly populated stretch of the barrier island that runs the entire length of the state.  There are a limited number of causeways that control access to the barrier island from the mainland.  The island is narrow enough in many places to be defensible.  And, if necessary, evacuation by boat is possible using either the inter-coastal waterway or the ocean.

A sailboat can provide some additional benefits besides the option of escape or evacuation.  It can be used to store additional supplies.  It can be used for transportation and fishing long after a fuel shortage renders power boats useless or uneconomical.  It can be a self-contained mobile survival retreat when equipped with a desalination unit to provide fresh water from salt water and with solar PV and wind generator to charge onboard batteries that operate lights, radios, satellite GPS, fish finders, and other useful gear.  When anchored in a calm river or bay, it can offer a degree of security. 
One of the unique things about Florida is that the water table is very high – especially near the beach.  This makes it fairly simple to drill a water well, but it also means that very few Florida homes that have basements or cellars – it’s just too wet.  That means limited access to storage space for food and equipment. It also means that very few Floridians have access to below-ground shelter that would provide any decent level of protection from nuclear or radiological attack.  A garage can be used for storage, but this is often not a good choice either due to the high heat and humidity.  Near the beach, the high salt content in the air causes any exposed metal to corrode relatively quickly.  This means that the options for food and equipment storage are more limited.  One option is to set aside areas of the home that can be used for storage where the temperature and humidity are controlled.  Or, rent a climate controlled storage unit that is easily accessible to your home.  Another option is to build a climate controlled storage area in your garage or utility outbuilding.  This could also be useful as a fallout shelter if designed with enough shielding and HEPA air filtration.

Access to drinking water must be a primary concern of any preparedness plan.  However, in most tropical locations like Florida there is a lot of water available – fresh, brackish, and salt.  Many homes in Florida and other tropical locations have a large reservoir of fresh water at hand – the swimming pool.  But, care must be taken to ensure that this water source is protected from evaporation and contamination in the event that utility water is not available.  Make sure that you have a pool cover or a sufficient quantity of large plastic sheeting to cover the pool.  Head to the swimming pool supply store and stock up on the granular calcium hypochlorite that is used to treat your pool water.  This form of chlorine can be corrosive and reactive, so be careful to store it in a dry, secure place and rotate it as you would your food supply.  The same chemicals that are used to keep your pool clear and algae-free will allow you to disinfect your pool water for drinking purposes.  Filtering the water through an activated charcoal filter will remove the chlorine taste of the water.  A high-volume gravity-fed water filtration unit like those sold by Berkey, Katadyn, or AquaRain should be a key component in your long-term water plan.  Desalination units, such as those installed in some sail and power boats can provide a critical advantage in securing access to clean water.

As mentioned above, food storage can be a challenge.  Use plastic and glass to store and preserve your food supplies rather than metal cans.  Even stainless steel rusts eventually in the salt air.  Silica gel desiccant is your friend in a humid environment.  Use it to control moisture in stored ammunition, food, electronic equipment, and anything else that you don’t want to rust or corrode.   Batteries left in electronics or flashlights corrode quickly, so check and change them regularly or else store them without the batteries installed.  If you seal your electronics in Mylar bags with desiccant packs, you’ll protect them from moisture as well as protecting them from the effects of electromagnetic pulse (EMP).

Plan to establish a sustainable food supply. Even if you don’t already keep a garden, learn what grows and doesn’t grow in your soil and climate.  There is a wide range of soil types in Florida.  In sandy soil and humid environments near the beach, dietary staples might include the cassava, yams, sweet potatoes, bananas, plantains, coconut, date, heart of palm, citrus, peppers, and rice.  Other inland areas of Florida with richer, drier soil might better sustain traditional vegetables like potatoes, carrots, peas, beans, squash, and others.  Fishing opportunities abound in Florida and may provide one of the most easily acquired sources of protein.  Salt water fish can be taken from a boat, by snorkeling with a spear gun, or by surf fishing from the beach.  Traps can be set for crab and spiny lobster.  Rock shrimp can be netted from the river.  Bass, catfish, and many other species of fish are abundant in the rivers, lakes, and ponds.  Anyone that intends to remain in place in Florida should acquire the equipment and practice the techniques using cast nets, surf fishing and fresh water fishing with rod and reel.   Wild pigs are a real pest in Florida and can provide fat and protein in a diet.  Deer, turkey, duck, and goose are also available as are a variety of other water birds.  Alligator might be another source of protein for those near rivers or lakes where they live.

When choosing clothing for a tropical environment like Florida, give preference to lightweight, breathable, manmade fibers that will keep you cool and still wick sweat from your skin.  Avoid cotton and wool fabrics that will deteriorate and mold in a hot and humid environment.  When working or hunting outside, long sleeves and long pants should be worn to protect from sun and insects.  Be sure to have wide brim hats for protection from the sun and rain.  Good rain gear is a must for each member of the family along with good, high-top, waterproof boots. Consider a set of rubber waders for those that might be fishing or hunting in the wetlands and swamps.  Mosquito face nets will become more and more necessary when the commercial spraying currently used to keep down the mosquito population is no longer available. 

There are some unique health issues to consider in Florida and other subtropical or tropical regions when man-made pesticides and fungicides are no longer available.  Malaria and other mosquito borne diseases are not currently a concern in Florida.  But, they could become a factor again when the means currently used to control them no longer is employed.  In other parts of the world, mosquitoes spread encephalitis, dengue fever, yellow fever, West Nile virus, and other diseases.  Anti-malarial medications should be stocked.  Screens for doors and windows should be installed or repaired.  Standing sources of water where mosquitoes breed should be eliminated as far as possible.  Mosquito nets should be purchased and used to protect sleepers in bed during the night.  Be certain to stock mosquito and insect repellant with a high percentage of DEET. Ticks, fire ants, cockroaches, termites, and other insects are currently controlled only by extreme efforts using chemicals in many subtropical areas of the U.S.  Ticks carry Lyme disease, tularemia, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever among other diseases.  Fire ant bites can produce fatal anaphylaxis in those allergic.  They destroy small ground nesting animals and birds and have had a very negative effect on the wild populations of dove and quail in Florida. These pests and others could all become significant hazards to our health, food sources and possessions when the current suppression methods are no longer available. Molds and fungus are also causes for health concerns for those in tropical areas.  Mold or fungus infections can be serious in humans and difficult to eradicate.  They can poison or destroy food and make our home unlivable.   To combat mold, keep fabrics clean and dry.  Avoid cotton and natural fibers in favor or man-made fibers that are more resistant.  Use a dilute solution of bleach (sodium hypochlorite) or quaternary ammonium compounds to kill or clean up mold or fungus.  Be sure to wear a filter or gas mask when cleaning up mold.  Breathing mold spores can have long term health consequences.    You may want to stock mold and mildew inhibiting products like paradicholorobenzene or paraformaldehyde powder from the drugstore.  Be careful to store these chemicals and all pesticides away from food and access by children.  Be sure to have a supply of sunscreen available for additional protection from the sun.  This is an area that you should research carefully as many of the chemicals and additives in sunscreen are harmful.

In a tropical environment, there are tools and equipment that can be very useful that may not be needed in other environments.  Each adult should have a good quality machete or woodsman’s blade.  Cold Steel produces a variety of heavy machetes that are suitable for the brush and growth in the Florida wetlands and swamps.  Cutting is done with the end of the blade, so get one that is long enough provide the leverage to cut relatively thick branches and vines without multiple cuts.  Besides clearing brush, they are also good general purpose tools for defense against snakes (or men), cutting wood, butchering, and many other tasks.  Monofilament cast nets are great for catching small fish that can be used for bait or just dried for food.  Crab or lobster traps and long-handled shrimp nets can provide an additional source of protein if you have a boat that can be used to drop them.   If you are near the ocean, snorkeling gear and a spear gun can allow you to harvest fish and turtles even if compressed air isn’t available for diving.  Fishing equipment – hook, lines, leaders, etc. - will probably take the place of some of the hunting equipment that those in other climates might acquire.  Consider stocking naval jelly for rust removal and plenty of paint for protecting exposed metal.   Firearms may be the most important tools to Florida residents in the event of TEOTWAWKI.  Florida has a large population and, at some point, a lot of them may be looking for food.  Prepare to be charitable.  Prepare to defend your family, life, and property, as well.

These are just some of the considerations for surviving in a humid, subtropical zone like Florida in the event of a collapse, but I hope that it will provide food for thought and a starting point for modifying the plans and recommendations published elsewhere to be more effective for this environment. 

I love your blog, I read it daily. Good article on the field craft of tourniquet applications. I do have one question to add--where can I get medical supplies for treating trauma? I love the fact that we have the blood clotting bandages available to the civilian--long live the free market. In the Army, I was a Combat Life Saver and I may be out of practice, but when truly required of me I am certain that I can start an IV to keep someone from going into shock. I have tried to find lactated ringers on the Internet, but they require a medical license (as would the needles and tubing sets I imagine) or a doctor's prescription. How can one stock up on the supplies that can save some one's life after the tourniquet is applied? I have considered having "the talk" with my doctor about prescribing such items, but that hardly seems likely without putting him in an awkward place. I searched the archives in your fantastic blog to no avail--are there any foreign distributors? I hate to think that I would have to "back door" to get supplies, but if it came down to preventing one of my family from going into shock and possibly death after grid-down, you better believe it is worth pursuing this during grid-up times.

Thank you for all that you do, - SBC

JWR Replies: Here in the US and other First World countries, to obtain USP-listed prescriptions medications there are few alternatives to finding a sympathetic doctor. (And, by the way, that must be one acting "within the scope of one's practice", so don't expect your local dermatologist or podiatrist to be able to write you a scrip for Ringer's or for an antibiotic medication like Cipro.)

One alternative often mentioned by SurvivalBlog readers is buying veterinary pharmaceuticals. A Strong Proviso: This is mentioned for educational purposes only. Buying veterinary medications is only recommended for absolute worst-case contingency planning--for when there is no other source of medical aid and supply.

One starting point for your quest is Jeffer's. Among other items they sell a veterinary dextrose solution, by mail order, without a prescription. (IIRC, Lactated Ringer's is often used with a 5% dextrose soliution.)

Dear SurvivalBloggers:
The economy has taken a dramatic turn for the worse for many Americans. Hundreds of pages could be written to describe how it happened and who did it. While many individuals and households have had the financial resources and good fortune which will allow them to weather economic uncertainty, many will simply not be able to maintain their standard of living. Many two income households are now one income households and that income may have decreased due to companies cutting back on work hours. This situation has been occurring for many Americans for many many months, forcing people to assess what is important and downgrade their lifestyle. The time to make hard decisions has arrived, and will dramatically alter the lives of many for years.

People who relied on spouses to pay the bills are now paying the bills. Those who have relied on savings and unemployment benefits to maintain their standard of living are now faced with the reality that those resources are exhausted. Bills are not being paid. Healthcare premiums are not being paid. Automobile and household maintenance is being neglected which will create costlier repairs down the road. Simply put:

  • You might have to stop making your car payment and save those payments up to buy a used car. The car you currently have financed will be repossessed.
  • You might have to stop paying your mortgage and save those payments up to move into an apartment.
  • You might have to give up your healthcare, your magazine subscription, your club membership, your vacation plans, your charitable donations, your cell phone, your internet access or home phone service, your lawn care service, your financial support that you provide to friends and family who are having financial problems themselves, and many more expenditures not listed here.
  • You might have to contact an attorney to discuss bankruptcy.
  • You might have to sell off your possessions and assets.
  • You might have to move in with other families, friends, relatives, or shelters provided by the government or charitable organizations.
  • You may come to realize that what you thought was valuable and important to you has no value or significance at all.

Basic human needs will become the biggest priority in your life after you shed the things that have merely brought comfort and convenience to you. You may be forced to downscale your lifestyle so dramatically that it will cause you to question your own intelligence and hindsight for not planning for such a life changing event.

The things that you have always taken for granted could become difficult to obtain now that there is no longer enough money to buy those things. Basic needs become vital issues that need to be addressed:

  • Food, and ‘non-electric’ means both to prepare it and store it.
  • Portable water filtering devices and containers to store water for drinking, cooking, and bathing.
  • Over the counter medicines, vitamins, supplements, first aid supplies, and some basic health and first aid literature in book form. Individuals using prescription medications, or require medical attention, will need to determine their best course of action during a period of financial distress.
  • The need for shelter may require the purchase of a tent, camper trailer, and other camping equipment if you can longer provide an actual roof over your head and have no one to turn to.
  • The need for personal protection will become more obvious as desperate people begin to take desperate actions to provide basic needs for themselves and their families. The level of security you choose will be determined by your location, your finances, and your personal views and beliefs. If chaotic conditions occur lawless activity will surely follow. Past incidents of disaster and mayhem give testimony to this.

The times that we endure today will be the history that others will read tomorrow. History has shown us events that have destroyed some societies and created new ones to take their place. Those who rise to power often decide the fate of millions. And there have been times when a people rise up as a nation, united to achieve mutual goals of prosperity and hope for a better future. Today as a nation, Americans must uphold their moral convictions and beliefs that a nation of people that stand united will not perish. There are events occurring in this country that could change the very existence of our nation as we know it. And no one person or political party can decide the best course of action to insure our prosperity and hopes will not be taken away from us. The answer to our problems is right in front of us, and we must cling to it as if it is our only hope, because it is the only thing We The People have left: The Constitution of the United States of America .

We must set aside our differences and unite as a nation before those that would profit from our demise succeed in destroying us. - T.R. in, Florida

Solar Storms Ahead? (Thanks to Donald G. for the link.)

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Rob at (one of our loyal advertisers) wrote to let us know that he is running a special offer just for SurvivalBlog readers, until December 17th. By using the code SB5OFF at checkout customers will receive 5% off their total order (before shipping). There is no minimum order and the code can be used multiple times. Any order placed on or before December 17th will be shipped to arrived before Christmas.

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A cousin mentioned this collection of links over at Hiding Guns and Preparing Guns for Long Term Storage.

"Let me be a free man, free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade where I choose, free to choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to talk, think, and act for myself--and then I will obey every law or submit to the penalty." - Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Tribe

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I'm scheduled to be a guest on the G. Gordon Liddy Show for a half hour, this morning.


Today we present another entry for Round 26 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 26 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

We can all agree that at the very least hard times are here, for way too many of ourselves, our friends, our family members, our acquaintances. And most of us here agree that harder times are a’coming. And I’ll add  another basic human agreement: we all need to nourish our bodies with food, preferably good-tasting and health-sustaining food. I’d like to address and share my thoughts on this basic human requirement. I am not an expert in food nutrition or preparation. I have no college degrees in these areas: my credentials are only a little common sense and 30 years of feeding my family, as well as possible, on the smallest dime possible.

So first I’ll address hard times: feeding your family on as little as possible during normal hard times. I have a few “rules” for thrifty cooking: (1) basics are better; (2) beans, rice and pasta; (3) meat is a flavoring agent, not a main dish;  (4) if it’s on sale, buy a bunch; and (5) use your imagination.

  1. Basics are better. I’m talking basic cooking ingredients like flour, sugar, salt, oatmeal, baking powder/soda, spices/herbs, oil/shortening, bouillon/broth, dried milk, eggs, vinegars and soy sauce, basic vegetables etc. Learning to cook from scratch using basic ingredients will save you big bucks, is healthier, and can bring you immense satisfaction.  Learn to bake bread (I recently discovered the wonderful new “no knead” bread recipes: as easy as it gets, and makes delicious bread). Practice making scratch biscuits, cornbread and pie crusts. Play with serving flavored oatmeal for the kids’ breakfasts, instead of the expensive store-bought cereals. Try creating different soups and stews using the various spice and herb possibilities. Experiment with making a “kitchen sink” casserole or stir-fry, using different combinations of ingredients and flavorings.
  2. Beans, rice and pasta. These should become your kitchen “go to” staples. They can be purchased affordably in bulk and can stretch any meal far beyond the usual menu ideas. Countless sauces and toppings can be created and stretched by being served over rice or pasta; all three items can bulk up soups or be the basis of warming and nourishing casseroles. I understand that if your constitution isn’t adapted to bean-eating (and carbohydrates in general) you may have intestinal distress - so start now on adding some bean dishes to your family’s diet. They’re cheap, tasty and healthy. Learn to cook a perfect pot of rice. It’s not hard, it just takes a little practice.
  3. Meat is a flavoring agent, not a main dish. Meats tend to be the most expensive part of any meal, so get away from the “meat-n-potato” mindset when planning menus. Less meat, mixed and stretched with sauces, vegetables, broths, and the aforementioned beans, rice and pasta, etc. gives you a similar satisfaction, and good taste, for a lot less money. It’s healthier too. An example: I’m going to fix Sunday brunch for my family of five. I have a pound of bacon, which if I fried and had a basic meal of bacon, eggs, potatoes, toast, juice - we’d eat most, if not all, of that bacon. So instead I only fry up 3-4 slices, and stir it in with beaten eggs, potatoes, veggies, flavorings etc. and bake it for a breakfast casserole. I now still have 2/3 of the bacon, so for supper tonight I might use another 3-4 slices to flavor a pot of beans. With appropriate side dishes, it‘s another whole meal. And the last third I can use for another supper - a skillet of bacon/veggie  fried rice. We’ve eaten 3 wholesome and satisfying meals vs. 1 meal using the same pound of bacon. This is just one example, but you can see how a little thinking about your meat usage can really stretch a food budget.
  4. If it’s on sale, buy a bunch. This is self-evident. If your grocery budget is very tight, start small on stocking up on sales, but start. Buy fruit and vegetables that are in season and therefore lower in price. Pay attention to grocery prices so that you’ll know what a good price is. In my area of the country, the price of a pound of cheddar cheese (which we use a fair amount of) can fluctuate from $2.69 all the way to $3.89. I know, from price-watching, that $2.99/lb. and below is a good price. So I always buy at least two at those times (four if the budget allows). Cheddar freezes excellently, I always have it on hand, and never have to overpay for it.
  5. Use your imagination. I’d like to suggest a paradigm shift here: when planning your main meal of the day (let’s call it supper), don’t ask yourself in the morning “What sounds good for supper tonight?” Rather, you should ask “What do we have around that needs used up for supper?” Are there any leftovers in the fridge that could be adapted to a casserole? Any veggies that are starting to look bad, but could still be thrown into a pot of soup? Something you could “sauce up” and eat over rice or pasta? The possibilities are endless, and the creativity of trying to come up with a tasty meal using a little bit of nothing can even be fun!

And now we address harder times, or serious hard times, which is much more difficult because it’s theoretical. But we are all here on this most excellent because we at least see the possibility of food shortages, hyperinflation, loss of basic utility services, theta. So we’re stockpiling. Later, we may have to make do with the foodstuffs we’ve stockpiled or can otherwise forage. We may need to dramatically stretch small amounts of food. And we’ll want to be able to feed our families as healthily and tastefully as possible with what we’ve been able to put by. If we’ve already practiced the tips I’ve stated above regarding thrifty frugal cooking, then those ideas will also stand us in good stead in the event of serious hard times.

(For the purposes of staying on-topic, I have to assume that those reading this will have already addressed the basics of water procurement/storage/purification, and having at least three sources of a cooking method, in the event of serious hard times.) So back to:

  1. Basics are better. I have stockpiled my own personal list of dehydrated veggies, herbs/spices, canned meats, and kitchen staples. Your choices would probably be different than mine. But the point is that stockpiling basic kitchen ingredients, rather than only prefab meals, means my choices in feeding my family varied and tasty meals dramatically increases.  Using my stores of basics I can bake bread, or use a bit of oil to make flatbread. I can prepare either cornbread or johnny cakes. I can make a breakfast of oatmeal, or even a treat of pancakes, because I’ve learned to make my own pancake batter and maple-flavored syrup. I can make noodles to stretch a pot of broth. Rather than deciding which can of soup to open, I can cook any  of a number of types of flavorful soups, stir-fries, or casseroles, using different ingredients and spices. My personal “A-list” of stored veggies is dehydrated celery, carrots and onions. I can mix these same three ingredients into a beef stew with potatoes; or I can use them with a bit of canned bacon or ham and make fried rice; or I can layer them with a flavored white sauce, a bit of canned ham or tuna,  some peas and some pasta for a hearty casserole; or I can cook them in a chicken broth with some beans, corn, rice, tomatoes, garlic and cumin for a tasty Southwestern soup. Same basic ingredients, infinite possibilities.
  2. Beans, rice and pasta. Because I’ve stored quantities of these foodstuffs, my ability to stretch my stockpiles has also increased. I could open up a can of chili and feed 2 people, and rather minimally at that. Or I could heat that can of chili along with a cup or can of cooked beans, a cup or can of tomatoes, some garlic, oregano and cumin, serve a dollop of it on top of bowls of rice, and feed 4-5 people with plenty of flavor and satisfaction.
  3. Meat is a flavoring agent, not a main dish. I can guess that meat would be in much shorter supply in harder times, and I am afraid to depend on electrical power to maintain stores of meat products in this event; therefore I’ve concentrated my budget on canned meat stores. This is expensive stockpiling. (Many people pressure-can their own meats; this is something you may want to look into.) So of course I would be rationing those precious meat stores to the greatest extent possible. Because I already cook our meals using smaller amounts of meats, I am in practice of imagining meals using meat more for flavoring than as a main dish.
  4. If it’s on sale, buy a bunch. Saving money on my grocery budget today helps enable me to prep  foodstuffs for a possible harder-times tomorrow.
  5. Use your imagination. This will be more important than ever in the event of serious hard times. I will have to substitute and make do with my stores. For instance, I have been researching sourdough bread-making, in the event that commercially-produced yeast isn’t available. I have been practicing bread-biscuit-and-pizza-making both in the charcoal grill and over (and under) the fire pit. I have been researching the foraging possibilities in my area - trying to learn what grows wild that I may be able to use to improve the nutrition of our meals. (Or even simply to keep us alive.) I’m thinking about the possibilities of “you bring me some of your venison and I’ll cook and stretch it three different delicious ways, using my stores, and we’ll share”. 

Entire books have been written on just small areas of what I’ve touched on here. Because the subject matter is so vast,  I’ve only hit the high points, hoping to give a learner somewhere to start, some things to think about. Every cooking skill we learn today, when grocery stores are full of affordable and available foodstuffs, could come in very handy later if shortages occur. Knowing how to create an edible and good-tasting meal from available little-bits-o’-nothing could become an important skill-set to have and share with others. Indeed, having this knowledge could someday be essential toward keeping ourselves and our loved ones alive and healthy.

Reader J.K. sent this one to file under "Emerging Threats": Two burglaries today used vehicles to smash into buildings. J.K.'s comment: "This serves as evidence that vehicles can/will be used as modified 'entry tools'".

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My old friend Peter K. (now living in Germany) mentioned this web page that helps explain the current shortage of loaded ammunition and reloading components: Why Can't I Find Sierra Bullets?

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For those of us that take buying American-made products seriously (or at least Not Buying Mainland Chinese), Ron B. suggested this site:

"Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you." - Sachel Paige

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 26 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 26 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

As an instructor of multiple combat medical courses, I have had the privilege of instructing many courageous and dedicated young corpsmen and medics in Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC), Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support (PHTLS) and Combat Lifesaver (CLS), as well as other courses.  Out of all of the information I have taught, I am amazed at the feedback I receive from many of these students returning from the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and other areas of the world.

Tourniquet use is documented as far back as Roman times; examples have been found composed of bronze and leather.  The first practical tourniquet use was by Joseph Lister, and it was improved upon over the course of time by utilizing pneumatic air bladders and control pumps designed to restrict the flow of blood past the device itself.  Tourniquets were issued and used by US military medical personnel during the course of our conflicts,  but eventually the use of these tourniquets fell off due to inadequate control of bleeding, or irrecoverable damage to limbs, causing loss of most or all of the limb below the tourniquet.

In 1945, an article in the Journal of the Army Medical Department, a physician cited the following:  “We believe that the strap-and-buckle tourniquet in common use is ineffective in most instances under field conditions... it rarely controls bleeding no matter how tightly applied.” 

In the 1970's, civilian emergency medical training was instituted, and Emergency Medical Technicians took to the streets.  Training for the use of tourniquets was minimal, as they were to be used only when direct pressure over the wound, elevation of the wounded extremity and utilization of pressure points to restrict arterial blood flow had failed.  The mantra 'use only if you have to save life versus limb' truly discouraged most emergency medical personnel from using these devices.

Even in the mid 1990s, the strap-and-buckle tourniquet was still being used; medics and corpsmen were still receiving them as issue, but were encouraged not to use them.  However, in the mid 1990s, Special Operations personnel began looking for another way to treat heavy bleeding from limbs due to combat trauma.  Dr. Frank Butler, a Navy physician working with the elite Navy SEALs published an article in the 1996 Military Medicine supplement titled 'Tactical Combat Casualty Care in Special Operations'. This marked the birth of a radical change in combat medicine. 

Current Use

While many of the advanced skills taught in TCCC are beyond application by the average person due to both the medical knowledge required and the materials used, the tourniquet is easily acquired, quickly taught and understood, and effective in immediate lifesaving.  Currently, tourniquets are used for 6+ hours in surgical procedures such as knee joint replacements to prevent patients from severe bleeding during the actual operation.

Currently, the US military is using the Combat Application Tourniquet, or CAT.  As described at, it is a simple device that can be applied (with practice) one-handed to oneself, or to another victim to rapidly control severe bleeding.  The windlass and strap system is simple to use, and when properly applied, will hold pressure well.  Other tourniquets are available on the market, but this is the one most commonly referred to in our courses.

A word of caution:  Modern tourniquets work because they are broad bands which apply pressure to all the vessels around an arm or a leg.  The broad band prevents tissues underneath the band from being crushed – this is vitally important, as crushing or strangulating the tissues with a narrow width, such as a rope or a bootlace, will cause the tissues to die, followed by the possibility of the dead tissues entering the blood stream and poisoning the body.  Do not use any item as a tourniquet except on specifically designed for use as a tourniquet!

Why Use A Tourniquet?

It's five o'clock in the morning, and the goblins have decided that now is the time to get into your retreat.  You, or a partner are wounded, be it in an arm or a leg (you are wearing body armor during the assault, right?), from a bullet or a shrapnel wound.  What will happen to the wounded person?

When an artery is severed, a casualty can bleed to death in three minutes.  Shock will probably occur, and will deteriorate your ability to think and fight back.  Your defense has now lost two people – the casualty, and a person who is now trying to stop the bleeding.  While this is appropriate in a non-emergent situation, it is vital to 'get back into the fight' as quickly as possible.  The tourniquet can be applied to control the bleeding and allow one, or possibly both individuals to continue resistance; multiple testimonies from wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines can attest to this.

Because of it's construction, the CAT tourniquet can be applied to yourself,.  This will save your life if  you are alone and bleeding severely.  Apply the tourniquet, and tighten until the bleeding has stopped.  In practice, you will find that a tourniquet properly applied will stop a person's pulse in their wrist or   foot.  In addition, you will find that it hurts like the devil!  I tell my students 'if it doesn't hurt, it's not tight enough' – followed by a yank which dislodges the tourniquet, proving that it didn't work.

If the first tourniquet hasn't stopped the bleeding, a second should be applied just above the first; the combination will usually stop the bleeding.  However, don't apply the device on the elbow or knee, and don't apply over items in pockets, holsters or other bulky items – it won't work properly. 

The most difficult decision is when to use it.  It is quite startling to see a person bleeding – after 18 years in emergency and combat medicine, I'm still startled when I see copious amounts of blood.  But you have to assess the situation – is this life threatening bleeding?  I've been cut and have bled a mess all over my clothes and the floor – but it's not life threatening, just ugly and in need of stitches.  Arterial blood is the most common indicator of needing a tourniquet, as well as gunshot wounds and crushing injuries.  It's a judgment call – in the end, it's all based on the knowledge you've learned and practiced.

It's On – What Next?

In the TCCC course, once a tourniquet is applied and the bleeding is stopped, that is all that you should do until the danger is over.  Once this is done, and you are certain that it's safe, the tourniquet can be addressed.  Once you've identified the fact that you are safe, you can proceed.  However, if a tourniquet is applied, it should not be loosened to 'let the blood flow'.  This will cause more blood loss and will dislodge any blood clots that are established; it will allow more poisonous materials into the bloodstream, leading to infection.  You should not remove the tourniquet - you have to get your casualty to 'definitive medical care' – a doctor or other medical personnel capable of doing surgical interventions.  You should not remove the tourniquet if the limb was 'traumatically amputated' (blown into hamburger).  If your casualty is in shock, Do not remove it! They are already battling the effects of blood loss, more will make it worse.  Instead, use your medical training to treat for shock, and get them to whatever advanced medical care you can reach.

In Conclusion

The tourniquet has come quite a way from it's origins in Roman times.  It is saving multiple lives every day since it's new birth into combat medicine.   They are light weight, easily purchased, go into any first aid kit, easy to use - and it could save your life or the lives of your loved ones in an emergency as well.

I am an old prepper but new to blogging. Current economic and political events have awakened my smouldering interest in prepping. I was saving telephone books back in the in the 70's for toilet paper and for bulletproofing. I had read some stuff by Howard J. Ruff and moved to the country dadada. He was a little early on his predictions but he was pushing gold, guns, and stocking up. I have long since sold my gold and bought silver, sold my little chicken farm and moved back to the city. The traffic got to be too bad to commute 25 miles in stop and go traffic.. The reason that I now have silver is because I would hate to give up a Krugerrand for a sack of potatoes.

The reason for my letter to you is to let your readers know about a wonderful piece of fuel-efficient transportation for now and after TSHTF: the Honda Trail 90 or Trail 110 trail bikes. These were available in the states from the early 1970s to the mid-1980s and were basically unchanged. One advantage of this bike over a 4-wheel ATVs is [that in most locales] they are street legal. They are still available new from New Zealand. They are still used by mail carriers in New Zealand and Australia. (That ought to speak volumes for their reliability). These bikes are often found on eBay from $3,500 for a like-new condition used one on down to $1,000 or less. Parts are readily available from Internet sources. Look these bikes up on Wikipedia or I had one back in the day and am now currently restoring an 1984 CT110. It has a big luggage rack, auxiliary gas tank and a neat lever to double the gear reduction that will enable you to climb a telephone pole. The older ones had an altitude compensating carburetor with a switch to push when over a certain altitude. I suppose you could re-jet the carb if you live in a high altitude on the newer models. Regards, - Funky

Dear James,
In response to the person who asked about military manuals, most (at least US Army) are available online for free, from the following sources:

The site has lots of military and world sitrep information updated constantly.

The Federation of American Scientists has tons of military hardware systems information. The pictures are useful for recognizing and there is data on each system's performance, purpose and use.

Also, the US Army maintains the General Dennis J. Reimer Training and Doctrine Digital Library at Fort Eustis, Virginia. It used to be mostly open access, but I believe it's changed to a more restrictive system. It's worth a look. FM 5-103 Survivability is great reading, very informative. One of my favorites! - R. in NH <><

The link which an earlier reader posted to Steve's Pages has an excellent copy of FM 3-105 Survivability. This copy has high resolution graphics which are readable, unlike many versions online.

The PDF of the Joint Forward Operations Base Force Protection Handbook and has more modern (Operation Enduring Freedom) knowledge on force protection. Kind Regards, - Craig

Dear Jim,
SurvivalBlog readers can find fairly new versions of all the field manuals you mentioned - FM 7-8, FM 5-15, and especially, FM 5-103 - online at It is free to register there and you can download these manuals in either text or PDF formats.

The March 2007 version of FM 7-8, Infantry Platoon and Squad, is also numbered as FM 3-21.8. I just downloaded it all 602 pages of it as a PDF. If you only have dial-up, you may want to look for a printed copy as it is a 54 MB file. Thanks for all you do. - John in Waynesville, North Carolina

Dear Jim,
A solar calculator is a good tool to have, but old style slide rules never require any batteries, do all major math functions, and provide a visual aid for teaching logarithmic functions. It's worth having, and learning to use, a couple of those, too. - Michael Z. Williamson - SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large

Dear James:
To follow up on a previous post, as information for US citizens looking to relocate to Australia, I offer a few very general suggestions.

Although Australia is a large continent, most of the population is located on the eastern sea-board mostly because of the arid interior. House prices have not fallen dramatically during the GFC and houses in capital cities are dearer than those in regional centres. But even in capital cities, there can be great differences in house prices in the different suburbs. I suggest that in the first instance that anyone relocating, rents for a period of time until they find their feet, a job, a location and a lifestyle with which they feel comfortable.

For a general overview of housing in Australia I suggest browsing through or Both of those sites will give plenty of information on houses/units/land for sale and houses/units for rent. - Margaret G.

Jen suggested this article, which has some Get Out of Dodge Vehicle implications: I live in a van down by Duke University; How do I afford grad school without going into debt? A '94 Econoline, bulk food and creative civil disobedience

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Safecastle (one of our most loyal advertisers) is offering a 2-for-1 special on long term storage dehydrated diced potatoes.

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F.G. flagged this one: Minnesota man arrested for trespassing on his own land

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Erik Prince, head of US security firm Blackwater, ‘was CIA operative’ (Thanks to Damon for the link)

"When goods do not cross borders, soldiers will." - Frederic Bastiat

Monday, December 7, 2009

I would like to let your readers know that there is an opportunity for them to get free medical training in there community, I have just done this and am working on going further. I joined a volunteer fire department (VFD). No, not everyone has to fight fires, in our department only 10% do. In my area we have a mandatory three hours per month that we have to be at the station and [respond to] any calls that come up. So out of this we all get free EMT training and they actually pay us to go do this, there are also different types of training that we can also take but for me this is the best we can go all the way to EMT paramedic. Try that in college, [paying for your own tuition]. In addition to the training you will meet some of the nicest people ever, so check it out it might be a good way for you to get some great training. And sometimes you even get to drive a big red fire truck. Best Regards, - ElectroMech

Dear Mr Rawles,
I pray that God may continue pouring His comfort, love and strength upon you and your family in these difficult times.

My wife and I will finally settle down in Melbourne, Australia in 2010 after years of relocating internationally due to my work - we finally obtained the Australian resident permit! As a result of all the traveling, we have also had to leave all our savings in banks for all these years.

We prefer living in a region to know it well before purchasing property, so we will probably purchase a house sometime in 2010-2011. As many (including yourself) have convinced me of rising gold prices and crashing fiat values in the coming years, it makes a lot of sense to buy Australian gold bullion/stamped bars using our savings, and converting them to cash just before purchasing property.

What is your opinion on this? The worst-case scenario I can see is a minor loss in profitability whereby interests from the bank would have yielded more 'profit'. As I am risk-averse, there are few 'investment' opportunities for me outside of term deposits. Thanks for your advice. Blessings, - David C.

JWR Replies: I cannot comment on the particulars of the housing market in Oz, but it is apparent that the real estate market is far from the recovery stage in the US and presumably in the rest of the English-speaking nations. Here in the States, I suspect that it will be 6 to 12 years before the residential real estate market recovers. But things might be considerably different, Down Under. With that said, if you find a truly retreat-worthy property (say, with a shallow well, defendable acreage with plenty of room for gardens, and that has an exposure advantageous for photovoltaics) and you an buy it below current market prices, then you might consider it. Just keep in mind that prices are likely to continue to drop, and it may be a long time before that investment that will appreciate in value. if you do decide ito park your money in tangibles--and you probably should do just that if you are indeed risk averse--then Australian Mint Kookaburra one ounce gold coins are a good choice. Just be sure to buy ion a "dip" day.

Jim -
There is an absolute plethora of military manuals out there. I'm looking for a Listening Post/Observation Post (LP/OP) diagram such as you use in your novel "Patriots". What manuals would you consider your "must read and own" manuals that would answer this question and others I that haven't arrived yet? I'm a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber and enjoy your web site and books. Thank you and God Best You, - Brent I. in Louisiana

JWR Replies: The basics describing and illustrating one-man and two-man fighting positions (suitable for LP/OPs) with overhead cover can be found in FM 7-8, Infantry Platoon and Squad. (An older edition is available online, sans illustrations.) But for greater detail, including some on larger and more elaborate positions, see FM 5-15, Field Fortifications. A very old edition, circa 1944, is available online.) One other excellent--but hard-to-find--manual is FM 5-103, Survivability. I recommend looking for used hard copies of these either at gun shows or from online booksellers.

Many people preparing for the inevitable SHTF situation overlook the simple day to day needs of the children. It is easy to forget, especially being pre-occupied with food, water, ammunition and the like. I remember when I was in the army in the late 1980s, we were on a project in Honduras. We would make frequent health and welfare flights into the mountain villages to provide medical assistance and rendering aide were possible. One thing that amazed me was the educational system in the third world. Basically, if the child did not have a pencil and note book, they could not attend school to learn. I remember contacting my dad back in the states, having him buy a couple of thousand pencils and note books and send them to me in country. I became a pretty popular guy with the natives after that. Now as I look around at all my preparations for keeping my family alive, I realize what I have neglected. My wife and I have two extremely beautiful and smart children, ages 2 and 4, not that I am biased. When thinking of their needs, I need to also consider the progressive development in a post-SHTF society. Because we will after all have to be the teacher not only the protector. Here is the list I have come up with, and it is by no means complete.

1. Crayons- lots of them

2. Coloring books

3. K-12 text books

4. Books- children’s-teen-and adult, science, history, science fiction, a good mix, considering the library will be your living space and you will be replacing the television

5. Pencils- lots of them

6. Lots of note pads and books

7. A couple of solar calculators

8. Pens (and see items 8 and 9 below, for when ballpoint pens are gone)

9. Bottles of India Ink

10. Quill pens (for the ink)

11. Chalk board and chalk

12. A couple of educational science kits

13. And depending on how long you think things might last, learn to make paper, ink etc.

All the above is relatively inexpensive, but a mandatory investment as far as I am concerned. Hope this helps someone in their preparations. Sincerely, - Craig B. in South Korea

Mr. Rawles,
I am prompted to send along some information that I am hoping will be useful to your readers looking for instruction in spinning and weaving. The Handweaver's Guild of America has an online list of local guilds as well as a list of Member Artists/Leaders, both of which are rich resources. There are some 454 guild, listed by state. Contacting a nearby guild is a great way to learn about local class opportunities in spinning and weaving. Most of these guilds also have member newsletters that will often list used equipment for sale by members at significant discounts over the "new" purchase price. I encourage your readers who are interested to contact a local guild - we are always happy to have new members and to point them toward good instruction. One of our newest members is a retired military officer. He has turned into quite a talented spinner in the past few months!

My sincere condolences on the loss of your wife. - Nan M.

Reader HPD mentioned this article: 24 States Borrow Money To Pay Unemployment Benefits. HPD's comment: "Don't worry. The Fed sees signs of recovery... Besides, Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi are on the scene to fix it. "

Another missive from Dr. Housing Bubble: Wall Street and Housing Neurosis: The Real Cost of California Homeownership. Extreme Foreclosures, Option ARMs, Renting Utility Costs, and Breaking the Financially Twisted Psychology.

Noah C. spotted this: Heh, I Thought Dubai Was a Non-Event. Here is a quote: "Refusal to stand-still means there's an immediate default, which means the [credit default swaps] go boom"

Items from The Economatrix:

Chinese Official Slams Western Banks Over Derivatives

Gold Will Reach Mind-Boggling Levels

High US Jobless Rates Could be New Normal

Japan's Recovery Stumbles

China Wary of Gold "Bubble" Danger After Doubling its Reserve
. [JWR's comment: At least it beats leaving their assets in the stinkin' US Dollars!]

Recent World Events Indicate Impending Market Chaos. "All those who value truth, liberty, and an honorable society, should be ready not only to save themselves, but to save each other, and to save their country. The time for readiness grows short."

Taxpayers in 29 States Hit With Higher Taxes

This is Progress? Jobs Data Optimism Obscures Harsh Reality

Reader "Hope in the Northwest" stumbled across a good basic web site with articles on common health issues, with pictures included. Some useful topics covered are bugs, eye diseases, foot problems, etc. There’s also basic info on treatment for common illnesses.

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The Californization of Colorado continues: Colorado State University bans guns on campus. (Thanks to Chad S. for the link.)

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The folks at DNS Down announced that they are now giving away their software free of charge, as a public service. Be sure to check it out!

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Glade was the first of several readers to point us tthis Washington Post article: The $700 billion man - The FedGov's former TARP administrator is now hunkered down at a rural retreat in the foothils of California's Sierra Nevada mountains. Glade's comment: "Probably a good idea for some more bankers to head for the hills, but not real good OPSEC."

"The only thing that can stop a bad man with a gun, is a good man with a gun" - Major Lars Laine, a fictional character in the forthcoming sequel to "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse", scheduled for release in 2011. The working title is: Veterans: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse. Its storyline will be contemporaneous with that of JWR's first novel, and will have a few cross-over characters. This novel will be set primarily in the southwestern United States.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tommorrow, December 7th, Americans remember the Imperial Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. On a Sunday morning, 68 years ago, we were the recipients of a well-planned and executed raid. According to an Internet history page: "The attack sank four U.S. Navy battleships (two of which were raised and returned to service later in the war) and damaged four more. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, and one minelayer, destroyed 188 aircraft, and caused personnel losses of 2,402 killed, and 1,282 wounded." This day is a reminder that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.


Today we present another entry for Round 26 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 26 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

When it comes to natural and man-made disasters, I’ve seen my share, and each was a learning experience. Although diverse in type, all of them shared a common factor: a dire impact on the human populations they affected. That impact, in turn, led to dangerous encounters with some rough criminals. Some people cannot cope, so they turn to ruthless behavior. Other people are selfish opportunists. While we may have pity for those who can’t cope with the stress of a survival situation, we should nonetheless remain vigilant for those who would do us harm in any way and for any reason. As my niece says, “It only takes one creep to ruin your life.” She is so right!

We preppers and survivalists know by now that being part of a trustworthy and cooperative community will dramatically increase the odds for our survival. Whether surrounded by family, friends, or like-minded neighbors, having a support system in place during hard times is universally considered vital.

Suppose, however, that circumstances preclude you from enjoying the benefits of a protective community. Perhaps your friends and family live out of town. Some of you reading this right now don’t know your neighbors, and don’t want to know them. Many of you live alone by choice. Or perhaps an event forces you to become isolated from your community. Bottom line: you’re on your own. You need to ask yourself some questions now, before the bogey man arrives.

How can I maintain my sanity when chaos reigns around me?
Physical well-being is not enough. Besides the requisite beans, band-aids, and buckshot, a lonely survivor will need emotional and spiritual comfort, and a reason to live. Accumulate some mementoes of loved ones and happier times - photographs, voice recordings, a vacation postcard – anything that will abate the inevitable sense of aloneness and isolation. A few photographs and a small tape or MP3 player will fit easily into a Bug Out Bag (BOB).

Strong faith in an entity greater than yourself is a true comfort in times of trouble. Having faith in someone or something will help you endure the solitude.

As a sole survivor, how can I defend my living space?
The old adage goes, “there is safety in numbers.” Through projecting a sense of multiple occupants, your living space can be defended. If you have a source of electricity, use your radio, scanner, or tape recorder to produce vocal sounds. Set timers to turn on and off lights throughout the house. If electricity is unavailable or sporadic, quietly move about within the building. Keep any would-be intruders guessing as to where you are. Before the SHTF, place decorative glass objects on windowsills, so that anyone attempting to enter through a window will be encumbered. Plant knee-high, thorny bushes under windows and around all entrances. Whether or not actually you have a dog, place used dog dishes where outsiders can see them. Install a burglar alarm with battery back-up. Please note that burglar alarms and cluttered windowsills are not going to stop a determined intruder, but the noise these safety precautions make will alert you to trouble so that you can react accordingly.

Consider having 3M Safety & Security film installed on the inside of all windows so that “smash and grab” is more difficult. Perimeter fences should be sturdy and climb-proof. Landscaping should discourage fires from reaching the residence. Turn a basement bathroom or a laundry room into a bunker and a well-supplied defensive stand. Abandon rooms that cannot be easily defended from within. Another old adage, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” is good advice when it comes to stashing weapons and water.

If you venture out, keep a low profile and don’t betray your location. A car can be a retreat in desperate times. It can also be a betrayer. Concealment makes the difference.

Will I be able to survive without electricity if my “strength through imaginary numbers” plan cannot be implemented without it?
If it is impossible to project a sense of strength, project a sense of abandonment. Make no noise. Cooking odors and smoke must not be visible. Venture outside of your sanctuary with great stealth and only when necessary for survival. Keep a low profile at all times.

Can I convince those who know or learn that I live alone to leave me alone?
I ask myself regularly:

  • Can I prepare without alerting others to what I’m doing?
  • Does my home look deserted or securely occupied?
  • Or both, depending on the situation?

Perhaps the best defense is to pretend to be absent. I have known people who hid in a secret closet or a basement bathroom while scavengers rummaged through their homes. When the thieves left, the homeowner returned to living as if nothing happened because their survival gear had been stowed with great forethought. Contemplate adding an underground or subsurface bunker to your home. If that is impossible, remodel an interior room to serve as a defensive position.

Present an impenetrable exterior and a well-defended position so that those will ill intent will be inclined to go elsewhere. Your goal should be having a home and property that appears occupied, when that is your best defense, and unoccupied, when that serves your needs. The balancing act is a tricky one, to be sure.

When at home, during times of trouble, keep a low profile. As you plan for survival, downplay each change to your home and your purchase of supplies. Your caches should only be known to family and trusted friends. Loose lips don’t just sink ships, they could sink your personal safety and security. Never hire the same contractor for two separate survival projects – don’t divulge the real reason or purpose of the work you are having done.

Could I use a weapon against another human being, if necessary? Can I train to do so? Are your knives sharp? Can you keep them that way? Is your 4x4 always ready for a quick getaway if you must abandon your home? Most importantly, Do you have a G.O.O.D. plan if things get too dicey? Your weapons should be familiar to you so that using them is second nature. Ammunition should be securely stowed until needed. If your weapons use common calibers and gauges, bartering will be easier.

Can you project a defensible exterior to your home while still presenting a comfortable residence during times of normalcy? This can be problematic unless carefully thought out. Landscaping can be defensibly practical and simultaneously attractive with little effort. Fencing, however, may have local restrictions and aesthetic considerations. Check local codes for current limitations, then work within those limits to create the best perimeter barrier. With a little work now, you can make a fence that can be easily reinforced at a later and more dangerous time. What you do to the interior of your house should be your business, so long as you keep it private and non-hazardous to your neighbors, you shouldn't have much trouble. [JWR Adds: See the blog archives for my admonitions about liability issues, including chemical irritants and trap guns.] Filled sandbags line the walls of your garage? Why not!

The Bottom Line
Under many worst-case scenarios, odds of solo survival are less than 50-50. The odds get worse as sustained hardships persist. This you must know and accept, if you don’t accept those odds then you need to become part of a like-minded group of trustworthy people who will work with you to survive. If, however, you accept the odds, you must commit to not rolling over and dying without a fight. No human parasite will find an easy victim at your place. Many have survived while alone. You can, too, if you take stock of your vulnerabilities and prepare accordingly. Ask yourself the tough questions and answer them truthfully – your life may depend on it.

More Friday Follies: U.S. Bank Failures Continue Apace. "Cleveland-based AmTrust Bank, with 66 branches and roughly $8 billion in deposits, was closed by regulators Friday, as the ongoing credit crunch continued to claim victims."

Financial institutions urged to make banking accessible

UN says global economy will bounce back in 2010. [Again, one for the Economic Humor section.]

Items from The Economatrix:

Goldman Sachs December Party Ban: No Groups of 12 Or More. So, 10 lords a leaping, nine ladies dancing is totally OK. But if you see 12 bankers — they'd better be banking!

Most Americans Not Confident About Financial Future

Stocks Mostly Rise as Fed Sees Improving Economy

Senator Moves to Block Bernanke Confirmation

BofA to Repay TARP, Raise Cash

Ample Supply of Oil Drives Prices Below $77

Joe H. mentioned a site with an animated map of global air traffic patterns that was linked once before on SurvivalBlog. Joe's comments: "Two key things to note are that you can see the 'sunny side' and air traffic seems to increase by a factor of five as daylight arrives, and there is not much air traffic routing around Cuba-- a hole in the traffic."

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C.B. was the first of several readers to mention this Popular Science article: How to Build a Propane-Fired Metal Forge

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Reader Michael G. wrote to mention that he noticed that Springfield Armory is having a 30% off sale. Mike commented: "I'm buying several XD-M .40 magazines saving $10 on each one, amongst other things. Time to stock up!"

"Search me, Oh God, and know my heart. Try me, and know my thoughts. And see if there be and wicked way in me, and lead me to way everlasting." - Psalm 26:2

Saturday, December 5, 2009

I'm 60-ish. My old man had a lot of projects using "recycled" lumber and nails, and you know who did the nail recycling. As an electrical engineer and general artificer, I would pass along some thoughts if I may.

I was involved in a demonstration at a Navy base in the 1980s where a bicycle was coupled to an alternator and sealed beam lamps were attached for a load. One would pedal the bicycle up to speed, and the MC would switch on a lamp. Then two. Then the third. Very few could maintain output for two lamps, and only a couple could maintain all three; they looked like SEAL types. The lamps used were 35-watt sealed beam headlights. 70 watts is a day's work for even a healthy young man.

Not only do I have several braces, various sizes, with the appropriate "ship augers", but also some "egg-beater" geared drills. I would tackle a hole in steel or aluminum with my teeth before trying it with a brace. Of course, in a desperate situation, you do what you gotta do.

The geared drill is for drilling metal. I have one that actually has two speeds. The crank slides in a slot, to engage different gear ratios. It and another, are what is known as "breast drills". Instead of a handle at the top, there is a curved plate of some 8 square inches. In use, the operator presses down with his chest to provide pressure while cranking. With a properly sharpened drill, it will cut 1/4" mild steel fairly quickly.

What is more important is that you know how to sharpen a drill by hand, and by eye. I still do on small and very large drills that won't fit my "Drill Doctor", which only goes down to 1/16th inch. There are about 35 sizes that are smaller than that. And, of course, a Drill Doctor only goes up to 1/2". I also sharpen by hand my paddle and spade bits, Forstner, carbide impact drills, and so on...

Cold chisel work is essential to metal working. It is easier than power tools in some applications. Also, learn filing technique and how to protect a good file, and how to restore a dull one.

Now, the most important part: Know-How!

For general construction, I recommend the Navy SeaBee BU-3&2 manual, post WW-2 era. It is declassified and reprinted by Dover Publications. I keep 2 copies. One well worn for day to day usage and another nearly new for when WTSHTF. Actual Dover title is "Basic Construction Techniques for Houses and Small Buildings", ISBN 048 620 2429

Also, the electrical equivalent, Navy EM-3&2 Manual. That is the definitive text on how to work with electrical equipment. Also from Dover, also two copies. Dover title "Basic Electricity", ISBN 048 620 9733

For using hand metal working tools, the best I have seen is from the Henry Ford Trade School in the 30's. I have an original, it is reprinted by Lindsay Publications. Look them up or go to and find the link on the "stuff I like" page. Just look for the model engines.

Matter of fact, you might find some of my other stuff interesting. I have a number of projects where I have had to devise unconventional solutions to problems. Gets one to thinking, you know...

I still occasionally find Audel's Books on eBay. They cover just about every thing and do it by hand. Just be sure to get older versions. I don't trust much of anything printed after about 1964. Most of my Audel's books date from the 40's or earlier.

BTW, you don't need all those measuring tools. A 3-4-5 triangle will give you a square, and almost all measurements are relative to something else. A string or stick and pencil will work just fine. Look up the "storey board" as used by the old time carpenters. I use a plumb bob, string, dividers, and a 3-4-5 when I want to play primitive. The square and the plumb will give you level. Anything else is a convenience.

And, probably just like your Pop, don't even think of touching one of my saws. - Bill H.

Reader Todd H. mentioned a newspaper article about Cupertino's Fairgrove Neighborhood

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Michael W. mentioned that Wiggy's makes a dog coat that is insulated with Lamilite-- the same material as their sleeping bags. Michael says: "Our dog loves hers."

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Damon S. found an article on pinhole emergency glasses.

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From CNET News: EFF Sues Feds For Info On Social-Network Surveillance

"The nation needs to return to the colonial way of life, when a wife was judged by the amount of wood she could split." - W. C. Fields

Friday, December 4, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 26 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 26 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Many of the very informative articles that have been written, talk about Getting Out Of Dodge (G.O.O.D.), plotting alternative routes, allowing for problems along the way, practising packing the vehicle and having fuel and supplies at en route stop-over points.

May I suggest that another plan that needs to be thought out ahead of time is for the family pets?

When people go away for the weekend or go on holidays, quite often a neighbour or family member comes in to feed and check up on the pets and this works out fine.
Alternatively an ice-cream container of dry food is left out for the cat or both the cat and dog go into boarding kennels. But when the Schumer occurs, these arrangements become null and void.

I’m sure animals have some form of ESP and changes can cause them to become either super-excited and uncooperative or they hide themselves away. Both possibilities will cause delays that no-one wants.
I no longer have a dog but the cats know that when their routine changes even slightly, "Something is Going to Happen." And if you do decide that it’s time to G.O.O.D. it would be great to have reasonably calm and cooperative animals.

Some issues to address ahead of time:

  • Do your animals need medication from the vet when travelling? Do you have that medication?
  • Do you have restraints for the dog in a packed vehicle? There would be nothing worse than a vehicle full of gear and children with an excited dog bouncing off the roof. You will be stressed enough.
  • Do you have emergency food/water for your pets while travelling?
  • Have you practised packing with the cat carry-cages in place? No doubt there will be lots of last minute things from the house that get tossed into the vehicle, but please don’t make the carry-cages one of those. A cardboard box will not do.
  • How are you going to carry the gold-fish, the budgie and the guinea pigs? Are you going to take these pets with you? If you are, you will need to work out where and how their containers will fit into your vehicle. If not, I suggest that you decide now who will be given these creatures. It would be plain cruel to leave them to starve.
  • It may be possible to practise taking all of the family pets with you on your next visit to your retreat so that you can see how things work out and while you still have time to implement changes.
  • As cats in particular are territorial, you may need cat harnesses to walk them for the first week at your retreat until they realise that "This is the New Home".

The suggestions above will probably need to be modified because every pet is different, but thinking ahead and having a plan will make your life and that of your pets less stressful in a worst case scenario.

First, thanks for the blog useful information is so hard to come by nowadays. With regards to alcohol I would add a few bits

First, Everclear 190 is a great addition it any backpack or bail out bag, This wonder bottle has a subject all its own. If for barter purpose you choose booze there is a bit of an OPSEC point to make. Trading liquor has risks especially if you are dealing with someone who may be looking for a lucrative target. Trading a sealed bottle of bourbon or even worse taking said bottle from a visible case can leave the impression of plenty which is simply dangerous in TEOTWAWKI. If you have liquor on hand to trade it will be important to disguise it so that you do not appear “rich” [in tangible goods]. Personally, I am not going to place a lot of faith in liquor jumping in value there are a lot of things I do use that I will need to stock up on (namely, the three Bs--Beans, Bullets, and Band-Aids). But if I were to invest in liquor I would go with no more than a case of pints of a popular brand (Jack Daniels or Jim Beam come to mind) and when it came to trading I wouldn’t bring new sealed bottles, instead I would use a small amount out of one bottle (say for a cake or sauce) and use the now not quite full bottle to trade. So now I am trading something that looks like my last bottle.( This can apply to anything being used for trade.)

Appearing like you have little, but that little will be very is hard to take can mean the difference between having a robber problem or not. - Stephen from Idaho

JWR Replies: Thanks for those important barter OPSEC tips. As I've mentioned before in the blog, in addition to storing denatured alcohol for external use (and as a fuel), high grade medicinal ethyl alcohol (sans denaturants, such as Everclear) is important to keep on hand, for creating your own herbal infusions and decoctions. These are described in detail in the book The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody. (This was one of the late Memsahib's favorite books.)

Reader Brian S. noted that plastic drum liners look like a good way to re-use otherwise sketchy 55 gallon drums for at least storing washing water. Brian's comment: "I've ordered other items from US Plastics before. It is a good place to buy in bulk."

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From Cheryl: At Midnight Last Night (Dec 1st), The UK Ceased To Be A Sovereign State

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Frank B. sent us two clever bike trailer building articles at Instructables: Combined cart bike trailer and Shopping Cart Bike Trailer

"You need only do three things in this country to avoid poverty: finish high school, marry before having a child, and marry after the age of 20. Only 8 percent of the families who do this are poor; 79 percent of those who fail to do this are poor." - William Galston

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Do you have any favorite quotes that relate to preparedness, survival, self-sufficiency, or hard money economics? If so, then please send them via e-mail, and I will likely post them as Quotes of the Day, if they haven't been used before in SurvivalBlog. Please send only quotes that are properly attributed, and that you've checked for authenticity. Many Thanks!


Today we present another entry for Round 26 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 26 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

In 1940, Reserve Constable Albert Alexander scratched his face.  Accounts differ on whether this occurred while shaving, or an encounter with a rose bush.  In either case, the Constable had a minor scratch  which became infected. What makes Constable Alexander’s story notable, is that his was the first wound infection treated with the then-new antibiotic, penicillin.

It almost worked. 

When first treated, Constable Alexander improved dramatically, but the hand-purified supply of antibiotic available ran out before the infection was eliminated. The infection returned, and he died from the combined staph and strep infection of the wound.  Welcome to the reality of wound care without antibiotics.  A minor scratch can kill you.

With TEOTWAWKI, we would rapidly re-enter the pre-antibiotic era.    So what are we to do with the routine nicks and scratches, let alone, major wounds? The simple answer is that primary wound care, with an emphasis on preventing infection becomes paramount to avoiding the fate of Constable Alexander.  Non-antibiotic antiseptics – such as Betadine® -- should be a part of your kit and routine practice. Note that Betadine® is the registered trademark of Purdue Products for their povidone-iodine products – I’ll use the term Betadine® in this article, but the discussion below applies to any 10% povidone-iodine solution.

First, get yourself some basic first-aid training.  I teach first-aid, CPR and Wilderness First Aid (WFA), and strongly suggest seeking out a WFA course as your basic first-aid training.  Standard “urban” first-aid assumes that your victim will have advanced medical care – a hospital – within an hour or so of an incident.  WFA assumes that advanced care is delayed – perhaps for days.  Providers of WFA training include Stonehearth Open Learning Opportunities (SOLO), National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), some chapters of the American Red Cross, and others.  A good basic course should have at least sixteen hours of instruction – this is not a one-afternoon class.

Second, get some reference materials for your bookshelf.  My favorite WFA references are NOLS Wilderness First Aid (NOLS Library), Wilderness Medicine, Beyond First Aid, by William Forgey, and Wilderness First Responder, by Buck Tilton.  These are not tiny “reminder” [or checklist] pamphlets for your kit, but serious texts to be read and practiced in advance of an injury.  Practice and drill in first-aid is as essential as in marksmanship.

Finally, lets look at primary wound care.  Where you start depends on the wound.  In the case of severe bleeding, you must first control the bleeding.  I won’t attempt to teach first-aid by typing, but applying a gauze or cloth to the wound to aid clotting, along with direct pressure, elevation and pressure-points are in order. If required, a tourniquet can control severe bleeding in an extremity.   Always pay attention to the ABC’s of life first: Airway, Breathing, and Circulation.

With bleeding controlled (and the rest of the ABCs addressed)  you need to pay attention to cleaning the wound and controlling infection.  If you don’t, as William Forgey points out in Wilderness Medicine,, Beyond First Aid, your patient will still die from infection, but it will take longer and be more painful than bleeding to death.  And remember, cleaning and caring for a wound applies to any wound, not just severe ones.  The good Constable died from an infected scratch!

Cleaning minor wounds:  Simple scratches and minor, shallow cuts can be simply cleaned with soap and water followed by a daub of Betadine®.  Do this as soon as possible after the injury.  If you are away from soap and water, at least apply the Betadine®, and let it dry on the wound.  I’ve used this simple treatment in my home for nearly twenty years and avoided the need for follow-up antibiotic ointment, let alone oral antibiotics.

Larger wounds and abrasions:  The best technique for deep or heavily contaminated wounds is take a hint from hospital ERs, and use irrigation.  You probably won’t have sterile saline handy, but a dilute 1:10 solution of Betadine® in clean drinking water serves quite well – you’ll need at least a quart for most wounds. The best irrigation device is a simple no-needle syringe.  In my pocket first-aid kit, I carry a 10cc oral medication syringe (available at any drug store).  In my larger first-aid kits, I carry a 90 cc “flavor injector” plastic syringe (from Bed, Bath and Beyond).  In a pinch, a plastic bag with a pinhole will do. 

Flush the easily removed dirt and blood from the wound, inspecting closely for particles of embedded debris.  If there had been severe bleeding, gently remove the clotted dressing with irrigation, being ready to staunch bleeding again. Using tweezers or a gauze pad, remove embedded bits of dirt and flush again.   Using a sharp, sterile blade or scissors, trim  and remove disconnected strips of dead flesh – they’ll only serve as a focus for infection.   Repeat the process of irrigation, inspection and irrigation until the wound is clean.  Gently scrub with the gauze pad if you have to, always toward the outside of the wound.  Did I mention that this would hurt, a lot?

If the wound is completely clean, you can consider closing it, but you increase the risk of serious infection if you do.  I’ve closed wounds in the field without infection, but they have been “clean” uncomplicated wounds.  I’d recommend 3M Steri-Strips for closing uncomplicated wounds, unless you’ve have the materials and practice needed for suturing.  This is also the time to use some of your limited stock of antibiotic ointment on a sterile dressing (or dampen the dressing with diluted Betadine®.  Infection in a closed wound is a major problem.

If you are unsure if the wound is clean, then pack it open with non-stick sterile dressings dampened with diluted Betadine® and let it heal “open”.  Yes, the scar will be nasty, but that is cosmetic, not functional, and you reduce the risk of  an infected, abscessed wound.  Change the dressing twice daily, and if signs of infection arise (the wound is hot, reddened,  tender, swollen, oozes foul pus, or a fever is present), then irrigate again, and apply antibiotic ointment to the dressing.

If you know the wound is still contaminated, then pack the wound with gauze dampened with the diluted Betadine® solution, and let it partially dry before removing.  Clotted blood, some of the dirt and dead skin will lift off with the gauze (again, this will hurt).  Irrigate the wound, and repeat the wet-to-dry dressing process until the wound is clean, then pack open as above, monitoring for an infection.

A hint for monitoring infection:  A normally healing wound is often red, slightly swollen and a little tender, so how do you tell when you have a serious infection?  Starting with the first dressing change, gently mark the margin of the red/swollen area with a pen.  If the area is getting larger the next day, then you likely are dealing with infection and need to consider irrigation and antibiotics, if available.  Even severely infected wounds can heal, so be sure to treat the whole patient, not just the wound:  sufficient fluid intake and easily digested foods are important during long term care.

So, why Betadine?

  1. It kills everything.  Viruses, gram negative and gram positive bacteria, fungi and even protozoa.  Even iodine-resistant organisms such as cryptosporidium go down with enough contact time.
  2. It is versatile:   You can use is as a surgical skin prep, a simple topical antiseptic for scratches and abrasions, diluted as an irrigation solution for severe wounds,  a dental irrigant following tooth extraction, and even as a water purification agent for lake or stream water (8 drops per quart of clear water, with a contact time of 30 minutes at room temperature).
  3. It stores well, unlike most antibiotics.  The manufacture’s published shelf-life is three years at room temperature: in practice, Betadine lasts much longer. The bottle in my medicine cabinet “expired” in 2007, but it is still effective. So long as free iodine is released, the antiseptic qualities of Betadine® remain.  This is easily tested by mixing a drop or two of Betadine with a paste of flour and water:  if the mixture turns deep purple or blue-black, then free iodine is present, and the Betadine® is still effective as an antiseptic.
  4. It is cheap.  A gallon of Betadine® sells on-line for less than $50, and an 8 oz bottle for about $5.  Unless you plan to do daily surgeries at home, skip the gallon bottles and buy multiple small bottles that can be unsealed one at a time – this will reduce the chances of contamination and potentially increase shelf life.   The hard to find  one-ounce bottles are great for pocket kits.
  5. It is safe.  Allergic reactions to iodine or Betadine® are rare, and typically no worse than a minor skin rash.  The irritant effects can be avoided by ensuring that Betadine doesn’t dry on tender skin, especially in skin folds such as the inside of the thigh or elbow. 

Disclaimer:  The author is not a physician.  He is an avid outdoorsman and wilderness first aid instructor.

Blessings on you and your ministry. Regarding securing bedroom doors and walls article: For new construction, it would be acceptable to place a 1/8 inch 4' by 8' [plywood] panel behind the drywall. Paneling is built with two or three plys, like plywood. A wall so constructed would be only 1/8 inch thicker, but considerably stronger, and would slow down any intruder. Of course, even this would not stop a bullet. - Jim P. in Texas.

James Wesley;
I read the recent blurb on securing interior rooms, something I have been working on for a while. Seems to me the easiest way is to install exterior grade steel doors with steel frames to take care of the bedroom doors. As for the ease of breaking through drywall, the fix is to use 1/2 or 3/4 inch plywood on the inside areas of bedrooms that backs hallways and other areas that would be accessible to intruders once inside. In my 2,400 square foot home I have less than 30 linier feet of walls to cover to "harden" bedroom areas against adjoining "non-bedroom" living spaces. That comes to only needing eight 4x8 foot plywood sheets. Once these are screwed to the studs, it would take quite a bit of time and effort to breach these.

I am also considering installing a trap door in each bedroom that leads to the crawl space under the house so we can exit with weapons when needed. Trapdoor would be hidden under a small area rug with rug attached to door so when it is used and then closed, there is no evidence of the trap door. I love the wide variety of ideas your readers share. Regards, - Marc N. in Alabama

Mr. Rawles,
The recent letter about securing bedroom doors was of interest,Since I had the experience of having armed, drunken intruders in my bedroom. That leaves a lasting impression. Ask a guy who knows!

In my opinion a bedroom door should be constructed like an [exterior] entry door. It is the last layer in a layered defense. For a balance between cost and security, I recommend a commercial steel door and frame, of the type commonly seen on the side walls of box stores, movie theatres, etc. (these doors are available with armor steel lining but the cost is very high- we are talking here of a standard 16 gauge door.) A door and frame, new, will run roughly $500. I suspect they are available much cheaper on the used architectural salvage market. Get one bored for a lockset and deadbolt., and a double deadbolt bore (two deadbolts) would be even better. Make sure both sides of the door stamping are welded together at the lockset and deadbolt areas. The supplier should be able to do this work. Usually they will come cut for three heavy duty hinges-use a top grade hinge and commercial deadbolt. A flat faced door is easiest to modify for appearance, anything from paint, to a solid wood veneer can be applied. They do come with a pressed panel look also. This door will not be a box store item, look for an architectural supply house.

To add resistance, get a double rabbeted jamb and install a security screen door on the outside- this can be locked to prevent access to the main door and also serve as bedroom ventilation in hot climates without totally sacrificing security.

In regard to the poster's query, I would recommend changing the double doors for a large single door. It is much harder to secure a set of double doors, as the one anchors to the other-- to make it really secure, the first door will be anchored to the floor and top jamb, and be such a hassle to use it will never be opened anyway. Have the opening framed in for a 36" or 42" single door, this gives an opportunity to do the reinforcement of the framing at the same time. Block in between the studs with 3/4" plywood, glue and screw down the plates (bottom framing member) to the floor.

Framing and contractors: Obviously the door is no more secure than the wall itself- some dry wall may have to be removed and plywood attached to strengthen it. Think about this- what you are trying to accomplish is two things, to prevent the door from being compromised by having it pushed out of position- either by having the jamb pried away from the door far enough to allow the deadbolt to release, or by having the stud the steel frame surrounds, pop or slip where it is attached to the rest of the framing. Plywood stiffeners between the studs will help with spreading, and making sure the framing components are screwed together will help to make sure it does not come apart. Some places may need a bolted in angle iron or similar to reinforce. Also make sure the hollow metal door jamb has wood blocking that backs up to the deadbolt pocket-no good having a solid door and framing if the jamb can be bent back far enough to pop the deadbolt free.

Most contractors are going to be thinking in standard house terms. So instead, find one who will get the hint. This is probably someone who has worked on high end homes and custom jobs)--you want a door/jamb/frame assembly that will withstand a sledgehammer or a battering ram. It should buy at least a few minutes of time under attack- time to arm up, call the police, position yourself, and so forth. And as a side note-consider the access to the door-if it is tough to swing a sledge or use a ram, so much the better. Five minutes does not sound like a long time - compared to the mere seconds a standard door will resist attack, it is an eternity.

Where the door is placed has a major effect on it's strength, and method of reinforcement. Some doors may be at wall junctions, head of stairs, etc where there is a lot of internal framing, and there may be no easy access through an adjacent wall. The worst would be a door in the middle of a flat wall, with no interior cabinetry- in such a case, Mr. Rawles pointed out, the wall can be easily breached through the drywall. In any such case, it may be easiest to attach 3/4" plywood over the existing drywall, then attach another layer of drywall or finish material over the plywood.

There should be no "drywall only" walls within arm's reach of a door knob! It is too easy to punch through the drywall and unlock the door.

Consider a small camera to cover the door, so you can see, from the inside , what is going on. And figure out what is next- the door will buy you time to wake up, and prepare-think about how you will use the layout of your space to best defend it.

Also consider a "cage and door " type arrangement at the top of the stairs, made of openwork wrought iron or similar. This is common in some countries.

Last but not least, make sure that you have a way to get out in an emergency. A house fire is one of the more likely "survival " scenarios! [JWR Adds: Yes, and far more more likely than a home invasion.]

My condolences on the parting from your wife-may you be reunited in everlasting peace by our Infinite Creator.
With Great Regard, - E.C.

JWR Replies: I concur that "plywood, glue and power screws" are your friends when your goal is delaying home invaders. I must mention that I have had some consulting clients that took layered defense to extremes. For instance, one of them that lives in Central America had a house custom-built with the bedrooms located over a combination vault-basement. Not only didhe beef up the bedroom door, but the bedroom closets were reinforced to good "panic room" specifications, using two thicknesses of marine plywood on five sides, and steel exterior doors with three door deadbolts at the top, middle, and bottom. Both of these closets have trap doors and ladders to the basement. Imagine the frustration of would-be kidnappers to batter down multiple layers of plywood defense, only to face a blank steel plate trapdoor surrounded by concrete!

I worked in Network Security in both the military and civilian sectors for quite a few years. The thing I would recommend is not to use any social networking site. Due to the terrible security embedded in the new web programming technology they are rampant with malicious software that can be downloaded to your computer.

Your computer would then be owned by some goon who would use it to attack others and steal your personal info, such as your bank account number, and so forth. But you say, hey I have the newest router, firewall and anti-virus. The companies that make these products are fighting a losing battle because they can only react to what the bad guys build and they have to wait for an attack to fix it and then get it to all their customers. The president of Symantec actually came out and publicly said it was "a lost cause" at a conference a year or two ago. V/R, - Don

SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson found an amazing story that illustrates the anarchic situation in Somalia: Somali Pirates Open Up a "Stock Exchange". Mike pointed out this quote: "Piracy investor Sahra Ibrahim, a 22-year-old divorcee, was lined up with others waiting for her cut of a ransom pay-out after one of the gangs freed a Spanish tuna fishing vessel. 'I am waiting for my share after I contributed a rocket-propelled grenade for the operation,' she said, adding that she got the weapon from her ex-husband in alimony. 'I am really happy and lucky. I have made $75,000 in only 38 days since I joined the 'company.'"

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Doc Gary spotted this: Zero House.

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Edward T. mentioned that he keeps a set of FAA Low Altitude Sectional maps of his area that can be used for ground navigation. Edward notes: "They are inexpensive, available at most local airports, have topographical information, are intended for navigation, and have good relief. They have to be current for legal use in the air, but current or out of date sectionals could come in handy should a person be in need of detailed topographic maps. I keep identical sets in all my vehicles and G.O.O.D. bags." JWR Adds: Slightly out-of date Sectionals are usually available free for the asking. Just ask any private pilot you know, or at your local General Aviation airport's flying club.]

"Inflation is the senility of democracies." - Sylvia Townsend Warner

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Today we present another entry for Round 26 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 26 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

This essay has been written from my personal experience and that of others. This suggested course of preparedness and action in the event of TEOTWAWKI will not be for everyone. Instead, I address those who live on the coast due to reasons such as; nearness to family, proximity to work, tight finances , or it could simply apply to those who might be caught on or near the coast should the events we prepare for take place.

Quite a few years ago while I was working for a floatplane company in S.E. Alaska, two of our float planes returned from a State Trooper charter. The first floatplane contained numerous sporting goods; coolers, firearms, lanterns, small outboard motors, sleeping bags along with other items used for camping or boating. The second aircraft had a couple troopers along with a young man, cuffed, who apparently had been living at a U.S.F.S. trailhead. This trailhead though inaccessible by road, has a float right on the saltwater that weekend fisherman and those simply wishing to get away were able to tie up to with their boats and leave unattended while they hiked up the trail. The trail itself follows a saltwater lagoon leading to a small church summer camp and a nice sized river that drains several lakes. This watershed is a popular fishing area due to a high trout population and migrating salmon. Dense forests surround the trail and few venture away from it.

This young man, as we later learned, had been living quite some time in the vicinity of the trailhead, had left a “Lower 48” state due to apprehensions over an infraction with the law and had become a fugitive. After locating himself to this secluded site, he had begun raiding the trail user’s vessels. After a number of complaints regarding stolen gear the troopers began to suspect that someone was perhaps living in the heavily wooded and stealing to survive. Troopers were able to successfully catch the young man in the act of sneaking down to a boat and he was removed from the scene and charged for his crimes of theft. Apparently he had been out there many months and possibly, by being a just a little more discreet he could have remained quite a while longer before being discovered.

I use this story to illustrate that one can, with proper preparation and the right equipment, live indefinitely on the Pacific Coastal areas many of which are rich in food resources and due to inaccessibility these same areas offer some of the most remote locations in North America.

Coastal Indian tribes, from Washington going up through British Columbia and into S.E. Alaska were known for their totems and wonderful carvings in their clan houses. These tribes, as has been noted by anthropologists, were able to spend a generous portion of their time devoted to carving because of higher food concentrations on the coasts hence lessening the need for extended travel and migration such as the plains tribes or mountain tribes were compelled to do to stay alive, while they hunted or foraged. Some of the advantages for coastal living then are still practical today for the survivalist; mobility which also offers seclusion, a maritime climate, rich food sources and plenty of fresh water availability.

Before we examine these advantages, lets first look at some geographical facts. For purposes that are obvious due to population densities we will focus on Alaska and British Columbia although Oregon and Washington will receive honorable mention and we will discuss further reasons one would consider coastal survival here, or for that matter on any seacoast. Miles of tidal shoreline in each respective state or province are can be found here: Coastal mileages by state. [JWR Adds: Because of terrain fractalization, these are rough estimates.]

Oregon: 1,410 miles. A major disadvantage to this state is lack of “protected” waters, however, these waters are very rich in seafood. My family and I spent two winters in the Gold Beach area, during which we spent every spare moment exploring the logging roads and the beaches. The incredible amount of deer, elk, wild turkeys, quail, and waterfowl that crowd that also reside there simply amazed us. This area is known to have it’s own microclimate and is considered by many to be a “banana belt” on the Oregon Coast.

Washington: 3,026 miles. I was raised in western Washington. Puget Sound alone accounts for 2,500 of these.

British Columbia (B.C.): 16,900 miles. The famed “Inside Passage” leading up to the 1898 Gold Rush port of Skagway travels of course through British Columbia. I have navigated the Inside Passage by small vessel four times. Twice on a 46’ commercial fishing troller, once in a friend’s pleasure craft live a board, and once running my own vessel up. All trips originated in Washington State and ended in S.E. Alaska. Traveling through B.C. has always been a pleasant experience for me, whether by pick-up, van, motorcycle or boat. Travel through B.C. by vessel requires checking in with Canadian Customs. Traveling with firearms through Canada is strictly regulated, although with the proper registration one may travel with some rifles and shotguns. It is fair to say that in the event of TEOTWAWKI, survival of one’s family would trump certain written laws each would have to decide for himself which risks would be taken.

S.E. Alaska: 10,000 miles. South East Alaska is comprised of a narrow strip of mainland and over 2,000 islands. The southern boundary starts at a large body of water known as Dixon Entrance and runs up to Cross Sound, continuing again along mainland coast to the remote town of Yakutat. S.E. Alaska is also referred to as the “Panhandle”. To keep things a little simpler, I am not going to discuss that portion of coastal Alaska known as South Central due primarily to geographical isolation and weather patterns which are quite simply extreme. I acknowledge that South Central Alaska including Prince William Sound and the Aleutian Islands contain much of what we might seek for a coastal survival location however.

Mobility: Coastal Indians built dugout canoes for transportation using the inlets, bays, sounds and channels as a natural highway. Explorers and traders navigated the same waterways on sailing vessels. My brother, while between schooling, spent many days kayak camping on the outside of Vancouver Island, a large island (12,079 square miles) in British Columbia. During these extended trips he carried an incredible amount of camping gear in his sea kayak including a full size axe, sleeping bag, dive gear (minus SCUBA), grill, large cook pot, fishing pole and tackle, tent and foodstuffs! His report, outer coast B.C.; saw few travelers, lots of drift available for consumable use (This should be considered a great advantage to anyone on “outside” waters. Lumber, buckets, jugs, floats, nets, rope and line, tires, shoes, wax and much more can be found at the high water mark) all of which could be very valuable should one be in a survival situation. Shellfish populations were prolific.

Not to be ignored are many other forms of travel, some of which would be of more value or maybe considered long term travel solutions versus some of which might just simply get you to where you wanted to go and then of necessity, so as not to give away a permanent position, be scuttled. Canoe, skiff (with oars or small outboard), sailboat, yacht, fishing boat you name it, all of these may be used to get to where you could set up a long term survival retreat. Other thoughts; coastal Indians in S.E. Alaska used the canoe for food gathering, many tribes were able to make long voyages for trading purposes and in one documented case, a vindictive canoe load of Kake Indians traveled the Inside Passage to exact a revenge on a customs official in Washington State…. consider that, a 1,700 nautical mile roundtrip!

Perhaps the best Coastal Survival setup has been prepared by friends of mine, a retired couple. They have a custom-built sailboat they live on full time. They have traveled the Inside Passage numerous times in this vessel. It is 45’ long with a 12’ 6” beam and draws 9’. This vessel is powered by a 236 cubic inch Perkins diesel, and it remarkably efficient with the hull design they chose. Just a note on diesel engines, naturally aspirated engines (versus turbo charged engines) turn at lower RPMs, tend to last longer between major maintenance, are quieter, and for slow hull speed boats very efficient. On this vessel they have adequate storage for the two of them, foodstuffs, medical, firearms, et cetera. In the event of TEOTWAWKI, this couple could simply slip their lines and sail into a quiet, secluded cove. With their local knowledge of waterways, weather, edible indigenous plants and simple fishing tackle they could survive indefinitely with no disturbance from marauding bands of parasites.

One more possibility for those living in or near any of the seaports along the Pacific Coast (including California) is to look into a Federal “Buy-Back” commercial fishing vessel. These vessels, many of them capable of long range trips to Alaskan fishing grounds and used as such, were decommissioned when the owners took advantage of a Federal Program designed to reduce commercial fishing pressure on certain stocks. Typically, these vessels can be reasonably purchased and with minimal changes be converted into an excellent live aboard vessel, complete with huge diesel fuel storage, freshwater storage (or even fresh water makers). One recent example of this, a 71’ steel hulled vessel sold here in S.E. Alaska for just over $100.000. The owner had converted it into a sport fishing vessel, I toured the vessel and found the engine room and all equipment to be in excellent running condition. State rooms and bunks were plentiful, the design was spacious and it was apparent that this would be a worthy idea for one perhaps trapped from traveling inland (Southern California comes to mind) instead why not have a vessel equipped and ready to “slip the lines” sailing away from trouble? To sum this section up; a vessel can be used for permanent transportation, or for just getting to where one wants to be and then using as a live aboard or as alluded to earlier if necessary, scuttled for security purposes.

Maritime Climate: Coastal areas typically receive larger rainfalls due to the clouds dropping their moisture as they stack up against coastal mountain ranges. Although the summer is wetter, the pay-off is in the winter months when the weather is much milder. Example; right now, as I am writing this the current weather in coastal Prince Rupert B.C. is 39 F. Terrace, just over the coastal range and only 90 miles away, is 32 F. Smither, again a little farther inland is 23 F. This usually holds true with all mountain ranges on the west coast, the western side is wetter, more moderate, while the eastern side is drier and has hotter summers but colder winters. One advantage to this is winter heating, less energy is required. Prevailing winds are onshore or Westerly, this allows for clean air, and in the event of nuclear fallout one would find him exempt from concern (discounting major river and stream pollution, for instance the Columbia River). From a tactical standpoint, if one is concerned about aerial surveillance, the British Columbia and S.E. Alaska coasts usually have heavy cloud cover, preventing or making aerial photography more difficult.

Food Sources As previously mentioned, coastal Indians in many cases were able to build permanent homes in specific locations because of available food supplies. Let’s consider another example. Both Brown Bear and Grizzly Bear are recognized to be the same specie, with the only difference being the Brown Bear lives on the coast and the Grizzly Bear lives inland. Compare the size between the two; Brown Bear can reach 1,500 lbs while interior Grizzly Bear, while still very large are usually less than half the body weight. This is due strictly to environmental situation. (For those who have experienced the nuances of both subspecies, Grizzly Bear are known to be less predictable and more likely to charge, lack of more plentiful food perhaps?)

To increase food availability on coastal waters, some type of a watercraft is necessary. With a boat, crab and shrimp pots can be set, “long lines” can be set for bottom fish, seals and other mammals could potentially be harvested. Without a boat however, the available food supply is still generous; migrating salmon in the rivers, many varieties of shellfish are there for the taking including mussels, clams, scallops, abalone, moon snells, all of which are a protein source whose gathering requires little energy.

Coastal areas are also known for prolific wild berry concentrations. Perhaps the very best berry growing on the coast is the salmonberry, which is high in Laetrile. Wild strawberry, blueberry, huckleberry, blackberry and many others can also be found.

Another valuable food source is seaweed, which arguably contains many minerals the body needs but also is great compost for coastal gardeners (we successfully grow each year cabbage, broccoli, brussell sprouts, lettuce, spinach, potatoes, beans and peas. What does not leave grow well, without a green house anyway, are tomatoes, corn or anything requiring extended warmth and lots of sun). Many flats along the ocean tidal beaches have fertile soil, excellent exposure to sun and along large river delta’s gardening plots abound. I would recommend anybody who has not already done so to purchase some Non-Hybrid Seeds from Survival Blog Advertiser Everlasting Seeds.

Wild vegetables, such as Goose Tongue and Wild Asparagus can supplement diet. Another recommendation is to purchase a book describing wild edible plants in the area you live.

Migrating waterfowl, seagull eggs, marine mammals, migrating smelt runs, venison, bear, elk, and moose are all other sources of food should one find himself in a survival situation on the coast. One final note on food sources, outdoorsman will learn certain areas that “hold” game, fish, edible plants and the like, as in contrast to some areas which will seem lifeless and barren. I am not referring simply to one species, but rather an area which just seems blessed with life, vs. an area which never seems to produce.

Fresh Water: I have lived on the coast all my life. To me, the thought of dying of thirst is hard to comprehend. What helped me understand the challenge of finding water in certain areas was a recent motorcycle trip with some family members down into the American South West, after miles of desert and no visible water such as a stream or lake, I can see why the concern. Here where we live, we receive approximately 13’ of precipitation a year, most of it in the form of rain. In addition to our rainfall, there are many spring fed streams, creeks, rivers and lakes. These can be found all up and down the coast. If you are unsure of your water source boil or treat it. If one is trapped on a small island with no freshwater, and has access to certain equipment, a solar still can be fabricated, or by boiling the water one can collect the steam and thereby separate the moisture from the salt, a tedious process, but possible to do if necessary.

Summary: My family and I enjoy driving and seeing other parts of the country, we have considered moving from the isolated area we live in to a sunnier part of the country. Our current situation prevents us from relocating. Frankly, I am tired of the rain, but in recent years I have come to accept I am where God has placed my family, and me and I will trust Him, and take advantage of the wonderful attributes he has instilled into this country should we be cut off from civilization. There are other disadvantages too; for instance our salt air humidity causes rapid corrosion, wounds don’t heal as fast as they could in a drier climate, and in essence we are cut off from barter or trade with those on the “outside”. However, if one wants to find a quiet spot to spend recovery time, with little interference from the outside world, in a land that is rich and plentiful there are plenty of spots along the Pacific Northwest and up into Alaska.

This is a communications security (COMSEC) warning: Readers may wish to think about the networking tools used to communicate between friends and associates - Facebook, Linked-In, Jaiku,
Pownce, Yammer, and others - and realize that not only do they pose a serious threat to the security of their personal information, but some of them are now apparently being used to bring new people into the non-secure comms environment by falsifying "invitations" from others to join. While tools such as Outlook, AIM, Yahoo Messenger, Gmail, Hotmail, Flickr, and MySpace should also be used with caution to limit the damage that could be caused by interception of sensitive information, I have found recently that Facebook is sending out invitations to join that did not come from the stated inviter. I was recently invited to join FaceBook by two different people that I know, but not very well. I wrote them each an E-mail and neither had extended any such invitation. One was not even involved in Facebook himself, and he said he had been getting invitations from East Coast relatives that he hardly knew. It would appear that some engine is finding past links between people and using the name of one to invite the
other to join Facebook, where information is much easier to gather than "point to point" communications such as Outlook. I had the same thing happen with Linked-In. A past business colleague appeared to send me an invite to "join her network of business associates." I checked with her directly and she denied having issued such an invitation.

Readers should be strongly cautioned that electronic communications are easily spoofed, intercepted, redirected and in many other ways rendered non-secure. Never trust electronic communications as if it were snail mail - for the moment, about the most secure way of sending information (other than to/from anyone in the military), unless you are face to face and have removed the battery from your cell phone.

COMSEC is an important part of living in today's world of eavesdroppers, both the innocuous ones and those with evil in mind. Learn about COMSEC from articles in Survival Blog's archives or from other online sources and then practice good COMSEC, as if everything sent electronically is going to be intercepted by your worst enemy and shared with everyone else in the world. - Ted in Idaho (one of most loyal advertisers) is running an Interceptor Body Armor special until December. 23rd: $590 in Small and Extra Large ($830 for Medium or Large), and 20% to 30% off selected Kevlar Helmets. For example: $156 for a Level III-A helmet with the ACH / MICH blunt trauma pad system, and as low as $67 for unused, military contract overrun PASGT helmets.

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KT sent this indicative piece on The Guns of Goldman: Arming Goldman With Pistols Against Public.

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A SurvivalBlog reader has a launched a business making a line of trailer-mounted photovoltaic power systems. Check them out.

“Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia.” - Charles M. Schulz (American cartoonist, 1922-2000)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

We've completed the judging for Round 25 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. And the winner is...

First Prize goes to InfoRodeo for "The Dumpster List" posted on October 31st. He will receive: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.), and C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from (A $350 value.)

Second Prize: goes to Daniel in Montana for "Lessons Leaned from a Wildfire Evacuation." His prize is a "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: goes to Ted B., for "Cross-wire Your Home Heating and Save Money". He will receive a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.


Today we present the first entry for Round 26 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

Round 26 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Note: The prizes for Round 26, will be the same, except that we've added one more! Starting with this round, the First Place winner will a 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is is a $249 value, and includes free UPS shipping. Be sure to visit their site and check out their growing assortment of products at great prices.

Note to the Prize Winners: Please e-mail me your snail mail addresses!

I’m kind of a weird woman, not really a "girly" girl. I grew up on horseback, helping my Daddy out in his oilfield service company shop (my job was to clean old parts), and playing cowboys and Indians out with my brother. I like my guns and my motorcycle now, and I’ve been preparing for a SHTF scenario for almost a year. My career is also kind of weird, I repair musical instruments. School band instruments, flutes, clarinets, saxophones, that sort of thing. My husband is also an instrument repair technician, and we began our own business about seven years ago. Because of the nature of our business, I found myself working with nothing but a shop full of men for several years. And I didn’t realize until much time had passed that there were some things that I needed in order to feel, well, womanly. And in this respect, if there are survival groups being planned and executed by men, sometimes they might not think about what a woman might need to be content.

I know, contentment is not a high priority here. But most women, I believe, actually require very little to achieve contentment. Of course, feeling as safe as possible, knowing that there will be enough food for the family, feeling confident in the use of weapons as well as the use of cookware. Some women like to lean on a man, and others don’t. But there are some special needs that, if the men of the group are aware of them, some planning can be done. Your list of lists only says “Ladies Supplies.” Well, that could include lots of things. The menstrual problems have been pretty well covered in some other posts, so I don’t feel that I need to cover them here.

It is probable, as in your book "Patriots", that someone will become pregnant. Some wrap-around skirts would be a nice thing to pack away, or oversized pants with extra fabric and drawstrings in the waist. Speaking of babies, I think that cloth diapers would not only come in very handy, but would be great trading wampum as well. I prefer the longer unfolded kind, I think they are easier to get clean. They can be used even if very worn. Plus, they have many other uses after the child doesn’t need them anymore.
Full size diaper pins are going to be an important item, also, and would make for great trading. Safety pins are rarely big enough to pin a diaper with. Diaper pins are big and sturdy, and after my children were out of diapers I found many uses for them around the house.

Women who are breastfeeding an infant might want larger size bras, and nursing bras will be even more of a luxury. Remember, when a woman’s milk comes in, her breasts get much bigger, and sometimes sore and tender. When this happens even walking a short distance can be very painful. For first time mothers, this can be a really nasty surprise that wasn’t considered in the preparation. The support of a bra could make all the difference between a happy camper and a very unhappy one.

That’s just a few “necessaries” that I thought of. But, I found that in my time of working with nothing but men there were other things that I started craving.
Take flowers, for instance. I never used to care anything about flowers, and generally thought it was a huge waste of money for anyone to buy me any. However, one day one of my shop guys stopped to pick some wildflowers for me on his way to work, and I instantly embarrassed myself by breaking out into tears. What can I say? I was just struck at that moment by the absence of flowers or anything else pretty in my life, and those little flowers were the most beautiful things I had ever seen.

After that, I learned that even tomboy me needed some beauty around. I started putting some pinks, reds, yellows, and generally “feminine” colors in my bedroom and instantly became more contented. And not all women would like the colors I picked, but the idea of something pretty will make a big difference in a girl’s life.

Now, when faced with some dirt-bag trying to get into my retreat, I can be as vicious as any man. Maybe not as strong, but certainly as lethal with a weapon in my hands. But in the day-to-day drudgery of eking out a living after TSHTF, little pretty things may make existence much more pleasant. Packing away some flower seeds or starting some antique rose varieties would keep beauty in her world.
When we got to the point in our business where I could hire a bookkeeper, I was thrilled. Not only did the lady I hired do a terrific job, she became my fast friend and companion. The point is, even the most die-hard of us probably need some other women as company. If a woman is the only feminine presence in the retreat, she may feel alone and overwhelmed.

When I first started working with the guys, I did learn much about cars, guns, and motorcycles, and I enjoyed the conversations. But after a while, I craved some girl-talk, and I found myself growing weary of the “guy” conversations. I would go find something else to do. My friend was a God-send. In my retreat planning, I am certainly going to make sure that I am not the only women there if I can help it.
Of course, starting our own business then meant that my husband and I spent every minute together of every single day. 24/7. We both had to learn, the hard way, that we really both needed some “alone” time. In a The End of the Worlds as We Know It (TEOTWAWKI) situation, young couples especially may have a hard time dealing with this. Don’t ever compromise your tactical position, but do respect the other person’s need for some time to themselves, even if it is just a little bit.

If I was a man preparing my retreat, I would put a very small little tin in my bug-out bag, so that I would always have it handy. In the tin, I would put a few little gifts for that special woman in my life. A pretty thimble, perhaps. Or some pretty ribbon, her favorite color. A few pretty antique buttons. A gold or silver ring. A necklace she could wear under her camos. A silver cross or other religious symbol. Anything to brighten a bad day, a storehouse in a tiny box of “pretty gifts” that will let her know you thought about her and that you appreciate her. My husband hand-made a thimble for me out of brass, a special quilting thimble, and he polished and lacquered it. It is one of my most prized possessions, and one of the least expensive yet most thoughtful gifts he has ever given me. And he didn’t give it to me on my birthday or anything like that, he gave it to me after we had a particularly stressful day. I love him all the more for it.

I have never been in the military, although the Marines tried to recruit me when I was a young girl. I don’t know how the girls who get sent over to Iraq and Afghanistan handle this stuff. Perhaps they are too young to know the difference, and they get used to it. I’m 53, and this has just been my experience.

When TSHTF, I’m sure I can tough it out like most women. Heck, my grandmother traveled across country in a covered wagon. But it sure would be nice for someone to appreciate what I do, and make sure I had a little beauty in my life. If this country goes down the path I think it is going to, there are going to be so many folks who mentally can’t handle the stress. A little thing might help a lot. - Jeanan

I have been soaking up your web site for the last month now with great respect, thank you for this wealth of knowledge. You may or may not be aware of a television show that is on the outdoor channel called "The Best Defense" they have completed their second season earlier this year. The first season was all about personal self defense, awareness, and they reviewed a lot of handguns. The second season is the "survival" series covering topics from HazMat, forest fires, earth quakes, civic unrest, to economic collapse, some group and team development, and they moved into reviewing long guns.

This series is a weekly must see for me and it has helped open my wives eyes to the skills that I learned and developed in the military. The outdoor channel currently is only showing repeats and I am hopeful for a third season soon. I have found online that they are offering season one on DVD so it is on my "Christmas list".

I encourage you and your readers with the outdoor channel to watch the show, the hosts are extremely professional and have a lot of knowledge to share. Their web site has clips from each episode which made for a good refresher to the shows I watched previously. All the best and God bless, - Ken A. in Ohio

JWR Replies: The Best Defense is produced by Michael Bane, a name that should be familiar to SurvivalBlog readers. (He is also the producer of DownRange TV and the editor of its associated blog.) Many of the survival segments in The Best Defense feature Michael Z. Williamson, SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large

When I was in the US I stored taxed Everclear and the less expensive off brand of 190 proof grain alcohol in new non-breakable Nalgene laboratory plastic containers since it could be used for festive food/drink or various medical purposes and is still useful as a stove fuel (alcohol stoves only) or primer for kerosene and diesel fuel stoves. Currently I keep a few bottles of methanol poisoned ethanol paint thinner for my ultra light stove and priming the heavy fuels stoves.

For those with the cheap hard liquor food grade charcoal filtration will remove the nasty volatile organics found in home moonshine and cheap liquor, filtration often is cheaper than the better liquor.

As a urban and rural firefighter/paramedic my experience was that ethanol addiction was both in quantity or abusers and severity of the secondary medical problems worse than the second place bad guy drug heroin. The body stops producing the neurotransmitter GABA which alcohol mimics and it can literally kill a badly addicted person to go cold turkey. That said the demand for liquor as things get worse would likely be huge for those who wish to self medicate their depression. These combined with the dominant American zero responsibility culture make me hesitant to suggest trading drinkable ethanol to unknown persons and only to friends on a very limited scale. I would just set out small amounts for a lech chaim (toast) at special events and otherwise stay mum so you won't get liquor beggars. Shalom, - David in Israel

As a fireman, my point of view may help Dan M. JWR’s reply about home construction is spot on which makes it possible for us to get in and out of rooms to search for victims and escape if egress is blocked. Combining the mentality of preparedness and firefighting has been difficult for me as I would hate to trap anyone in or out of my house in a fire or collapse that would happen before TEOTWAWKI. I know that fires and collapse from an earthquake, flood, or landslide are all qualifying TSHTF events, which is what we are also preparing for.

My own resolution has been to combine my fire escape plan with an anti-Breaking & Entering plan. I too have adjoining bedroom closets to my own girls rooms. I have a local, remote alarm system at all entry points on the first floor the same as I have multiple smoke and CO2 detectors throughout the house as an early warning. I am upstairs with my wife and children at night so we have always had a plan to get out of the best window (no fire or smoke below) with our deployable window ladders. Now adding the survival/preparedness mentality the game plan stays the same, with a twist. We will go out the windows with our weapons checking for accomplices on the ground first, I go last in the event they make it to the room we are going out, and we trap the perpetrator inside our house until reinforcements or law enforcement arrive.

This is all the same as keeping your family away from a fire, it is a threat to your lives. If its already in, you get out and reestablish control of the situation. You know your house and what the most important things in it are, protect them by removing them from a possible threat.
I hope these thoughts may help in your planning. All the best and God Bless, - Ken A. in Ohio

In response to the letter on "securing bedroom doors against home invaders" I'll add this: Several years ago, while living in Alaska's bush country, I had one of the numerous brown bears visit my cabin while I was away for the day. Brother bear sort of rearranged the modest furnishings and made a Real mess of the place. I resolved to harden the entry-point (the front door), since the bear simply pushed-in the solid door.

I fabricated what visitors thereafter referred-to as my "bear bar." I cut a length of stout 2x4 about a foot longer then the door width. One end of the "bar" was drilled to accommodate a long 1/2" bolt, and a corresponding hole was drilled through the wall for the bolt. Poof: we have a hinged bar. On the other, opening side of the door I mounted a metal bracket to hold the bar when it was down and in place. It worked like a charm ... at least no more bears (inside).
To open the contraption from the outside I attached a piece of parachute cord to the opening end of the bar and ran it diagonally up and across the door to a small hole drilled in the wall. The cord was then run through the hole in the wall to the outside, and affixed with a knot and loop. (OPSEC required that I didn't tell the bears what the outside cord was for. And they never figured it out.)

The simple system worked, and I suspect could be done for an inside door as well (but your comments about the vulnerability of sheet rock walls are quite valid). - C.

Jim B. sent a link to a BBC story about a British prisoner of war who smuggled himself into Auschwitz during WWII. It includes some interesting observations on cigarettes as barter items.

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Courtesy of Captain Bill and Bayou Renaissance Man, a The Daily Mail piece about a British couple who demonstrated what not to do when your house catches fire.

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SurvivalBlog regular Bill Buppert sent a link to a study on the effectiveness of current camouflage patterns. Bill's comments: "One of the keenest bits of advice is contained in paragraph 4.b. in the Conclusions and Recommendations wherein it states that the USMC should be emulated for adopting the coyote color for all personal kit so it can be accommodated by all aspects of the environment e.g., woodland and desert. Wise words indeed. If you must wear camo uniforms, don't match the scheme to your accessories such as packs, slings, etc. Monochrome is best for versatility. My biggest disappointment was not seeing the old Army Woodland and Three Color Desert patterns tested against the ones in the report. Talk to most soldiers returning from the Middle East and they will tell you that the old desert pattern is very effective."

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A reader recently asked about Moss tents. I mentioned the Moss Stardome II model in "Patriots", and my family has been using our Moss tents for over 15 years. Sadly, they are no longer in production. I have not yet discovered a new source for sturdy, American-made expedition tent that comes in earth tones. I found the discontinued Moss brand Little Dipper and Stardome II designs to be the most practical. You might look for used Moss tents in good condition on eBay.

"We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate." - Thomas Jefferson

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