March 2010 Archives

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 27 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 27 ends on March 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.

CAUTION: For the foregoing, all the usual chemistry lab safety rules apply!!!

Chemistry.  Say the word, and the average survivalist might cringe.  It brings up memories of a boring teacher in high school, or images of mad scientist lab with all sorts of beakers and tubes and glassware or long complicated formulas with strange symbols.

In reality, chemistry can help every survivalist have an ace up their sleeve. It’s just a matter of knowing a few tricks of the trade.  You don’t have to know how to build a rifle to fire it well, or how to run a large farm to have a garden.  It’s a matter of fundamentals, of simple things right there in front of your eyes.

Safety Proviso: This information is provided for educational purposes only.  While this information is scientifically sound, any experimentation with chemicals is dangerous. Any attempt to use this information is at your own risk and I take no liability or responsibility for your actions.

There has been talk in SurvivalBlog and in books about some aspects of this idea from articles about stills and making your own drinking alcohol to biodiesel.  You can read about soap making, and learn about lye.  But, what is left out is, where are you going to get the materials to do these things?  All of these articles presume a level of social collapse or destruction to put you or your group on a high self sufficiency level, not a 2 weeks and we get back to normal production situation, but do not take the next step to help the average survivalist find what they need.

For the purpose of this article, I create the following scenario:  You and your group have emerged from the initial danger period.  The looters have for the most part been driven off, gone away, died off, or are not a high level threat.  But, there will be no normal level of resupply or production for any foreseeable future if at all.  And while stores have been looted, there may still be a number of valuable items to look for, if you know what they are and what you can do with them and it is assumed you don’t have any of these items on hand.  Now is the time for a forage party to head out.

The first thing to look for is the “tools“ of the trade, starting with a still. A still is key for making drinking alcohol, along with its use in distilling water.  You can find plans for all types in many survival articles and books, but for this purpose I will keep it as simple as I can, literally.  Yes, a standard #10 juice can opened in the traditional manner by a “church key” leaving a triangular opening on each side.  Next you need a number of items that if you find them, take as many as you can carry.  First is a metal tube.  You’ll find one, if no place else, in any electric percolator in any looted store.  No one would take one of those.  Next is a little trickier.  You need a candy thermometer. Odds are no looter wanted one of them and you’ll find it in your housewares section of a number of store chains.  Now, look for rubber tubing with the inside diameter to fit over the metal tube. This you can find at the auto section or an auto supply store.  Do NOT use them from any vehicle as they have carried in them poisonous materials.  Lastly, you need a child’s toy plastic bucket, or if nothing like that can be found, the bottom of an empty bleach bottle.

Assembly is easy.  Place whatever is to be distilled inside the can. (Picking up a few funnels along the way wouldn’t hurt any.)  Cut the metal tube to a 2 inch piece. Put the rubber tubing over 1 inch of the tubing.  Place in the other triangular opening so that the rubber tubing seals it also.  Now, the placement of the candy thermometer will vary with the type.  If it is a spike/dial version, plug the one triangular opening with a cork, or piece of doubled rubber tubing, and stick the thermometer directly through the can lid. If it is a board mounted type, remove it from the board, insert through a 1 inch piece of the rubber tubing and place in the triangular opening so that you can see the 200 degree mark.  If you are using a gallon bleach bottle, cut the bottle at the point where the neck meets the bottom.  Save the top part; it also is useful as a large funnel. With either container, make an x cut in the side about ¼ inch from the bottom a little smaller than the outside diameter of your rubber hose. With one end of the rubber hose attached to the can, push the other end through from the inside; the hose will seal the hole. Coil the rest of the hose in the container. Add water for cooling.  The water need not be drinkable.  Put the can over your heat source, be it a grill, a wood fire, or a camp stove burner.  Plan on making different stills for different purposes, as some will be for items you will consume, such as water or drinking alcohol, others will be for poisonous, but useful items.

In the pet supply section, look for an air stone used in aquariums. It is a short tube that leads into a porous stone end.  Take any plastic tubing and connections there are.  If you find any coffee filters--the ones used in the coffee makers--buy as many as you can, as well as any Pyrex measuring cups and glass bowls you can get. And from the hardware or automotive section, try to find a pair of goggles or a face shield.

While there are even more items to be found for your “lab“, these will do for the purposes of what you are about to make.

As it has been written about in numerous places, you can make your own alcohol. But fermenting a “mash” out of various scrap items and yeast takes practice. While you are getting the hang of it, you need not go without.  Even if you and your group don’t drink, alcohol has many other uses from medicinal to trade goods and is an ingredient in biodiesel also.  So then, where to get it?
The looters would have stripped any liquor from any bar, or store. But, if you go to your dollar type discount store and check out the back storage area, odds are you will find a case or two of cheap mouthwash which is about 20% drinking alcohol (40 proof give or take). This means a pint (16oz) is about 3 oz of somewhere near 180 proof. Add that 3 oz to 5 oz of water and you have 8 oz of somewhere near 60-70 proof.  If you use a quart of cheap mouthwash, you can get a pint.  Remember this is “meatball” chemistry; we don’t try for anything near lab standards. 

But, how do you get it? Ah, to the still! Add the mouthwash, and place over the heat source. The trick here is to get the mouthwash to about 200 degrees F., so the raw alcohol evaporates but not 212 degrees, so the water does not . Depending on your heat source, this can be done a number of ways, usually using blocks or bricks to get the right level.  Use a measuring cup on the other end to receive the fluid and stop when you get near 3 oz. for the pint and 6 oz per quart. (Add 10 oz of water for the 6 oz)

Now in soap making, you’ll find lye mentioned. It is also an ingredient in biodiesel making. So then, how to get it?

The first place to look is in the drain cleaner area of the stores and look for cans marked LYE.  Wear rubber gloves in case the cans or containers have been broken open as lye will severely burn the skin.  But, if for some reason you can’t find any lye, you can revert back to the pioneer days.  Take wood ash, place in a non metal bucket or your bottom of the bleach bottle after you first make your x like for the still, and place a short 2 inch piece of rubber tubing in it.  Then pour 2 quarts of water, clear but not necessarily drinkable, in from the top.  Use a plastic bucket to receive the fluid that comes out.  This will be lye, so treat it with respect!

Even this method has its limits, as there may not be that much wood ash available after the first two or three productions.  What then??  Well it’s time to go “shopping” to your nearest building supply center.  What you are looking for is lime, also known as slaked lime or hydrated lime.  You will find it in as large as 50 lbs bags, and I doubt any looter would have touched it.  If none is there, you can use quicklime.  Then it’s off to your various stores, especial your dollar type discount store.  What you are looking for is plain washing soda (Sodium Carbonate or Sodium Bicarbonate).  There are a number of store brands along with the familiar name brands.  Look around now so will recognize it later.  Take all you can find.

With your rubber gloves, and your goggles or face shield on, you are ready to mix the ingredients.  If you use quicklime, you have to mix it with an equal part of water first.   BE CAREFUL! This mix gives off a fair amount of heat.  Mix the lime and washing soda together with an equal amount of water, example 1 cup lime or quicklime in water + 1 cup washing soda + 2 cups water (1 cup if you have used the quicklime/ water mix) in a large 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup.  Heat slightly while stirring.  Once the lime, washing soda, and water are well mixed, there will be created a liquid (Lye) and a solid (Calcium Carbonate).  Using an empty, clean plastic milk jug and a funnel lined with a coffee filter, slowly pour the mix in.  The filter paper will trap the solid, which you can let dry and store in any glass jar with a lid.  Using this method on a large scale you can get a lot more yield than by wood ash.

Last, but never least, is liquid bleach.  For a time it will be generally plentiful and available, but what then?  Once more we go “shopping” for the two items we need.  The first is sold under the trade name Saniflush, and can be found almost in every store in the drain cleaner section.  There are others also that can be used, but you can spot this one right off.  Next is a variety of powdered bleaches or pool chemicals that have chlorine in them.  With your rubber gloves on, mix one cup Saniflush in an equal amount of water in a 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup.  BE CAREFUL, this also heats up.  Pour it into a clean plastic milk jug.  Get a cork from an old wine bottle, clean it and make a hole in it for a plastic tube.  You can use the tube from a plastic eye dropper with the dropper end cut off.  Then, take your rubber hose and add to one end your air stone, and put the other on the plastic tube.  Place the air stone end into a small plastic tub.  Put into the tub a mix of 9 parts water to 1 part lye.  Now, carefully crush the pool tablets into a fine powder, or use already powdered bleach and with a clean funnel add one cup to the Saniflush mix.  QUICKLY cork the jug as the chlorine gas is immediately released!  The gas will bubble up into the lye water creating bleach.  As this is “meatball “ chemistry, it will be a lot stronger that your regular store bleach.

Now you have some “building blocks“ to play with.  With your lye, you can now make soap if you have the animal fat.  You can also experiment with a form of biodiesel with the lye, alcohol and old cooking oils.  Then, there is an important item you can make easily.  Take one part bleach and one part alcohol and simmer in an open container, such as an old pot.  No cover will be needed but be careful of the fumes.  This should be done in the open or with plenty of ventilation.  Let it heat until you can see some small surface stirring, but do NOT let it boil. Continue for 5 minutes.  The result is Chloroform, valuable in many emergency medical situations.

In summation, there are many usable items overlooked in the survival area because of the belief that you have to be a chemist to know, use or make them. While there are many articles on homemade explosives, there are fewer on non-weapon improvised chemical uses.  Used C and D batteries, for example, can provide a number of valuable chemicals.  For those of you who would like to learn more, I refer you to The Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments, a book written for an 8th grade level reader, now out of print, but available as a download on eBay and other sources.

It has been said, your mind is your primary weapon for survival; feed it with basic useful knowledge.


A heads-up for your readers: It has been announced that the 2009 edition of the book Passport to World Band Radio will be the last. I just bought one from the company that published it. They're still in stock and significantly less expensive than the storefronts who still carry it at Amazon. - Del

JWR Replies: Thanks for sending that news. That is disappointing, since the book is a great reference, especially the broadcast schedules. The frequency charts are bit less perishable, but I'll be sad to miss out on the updates. I'm confident the on-line references will fill that void.

I just wanted to remind people that in some areas of the US with spring, there also comes curbside bulk item pick-up via local town and city trash service. This can provide a wealth of items from the trash of others. I have gotten so many things from this that I cannot even begin to list them all. Everything from children’s toys to hand tools to gas powered equipment such as mowers, tillers, snow-blowers, etc. Many of the items were in excellent shape and required only a clean-up. Others require a bit more work but can easily be made serviceable to those who have even a small idea what they are doing. For example, here is a link to one typical program a town in Colorado that has this service twice per year – spring and fall. When I lived in that area I used to “attend” this regularly with my pick-up and a trailer. If you have such a program in your area don’t hesitate to check it out. My only proviso is that you first check local laws to see if it is okay to take items from someone else’s trash. [Ordinances vary!] Some towns have enacted laws against this to protect against identity theft but in many cases the law applies to all trash – not just documents. Regards, - Tim P.

Talkeetna Patriot found an interesting thread about constructing a hybrid ALICE/MOLLE bag.

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Cheryl sent this: Swine Flu Season Not Over, Warn Health Officials

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The leftist CNN is in hot water, after grossly under-reporting the size of the March 27th Tea Party Express gathering in Searchlight, Nevada. They described it as "hundreds of people or at least dozens of people" of people. Many more reliable accounts said that there were at least 10,000 people there. The Mainstream Media has obviously developed a bad case of myopia.

"Ours was the first revolution in the history of mankind that truly reversed the course of government, and with three little words: 'We the People.' 'We the People' tell the government what to do; it doesn't tell us. 'We the People' are the driver; the government is the car, and we decide where it should go, and by what route, and how fast. Almost all the world's constitutions are documents in which governments tell the people what their privileges are. Our Constitution is a document in which 'We the People' tell the government what it is allowed to do. 'We the People' are free." - Ronald Reagan, Presidential Farewell Speech, Jan. 11th, 1989

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 27 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 27 ends on March 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 couple of years ago I took the "red pill". Media led propaganda and the tales of success from my elder peers led me down the path of blindness. No problem there, it was, and still is, the norm. All of us are led until the day we decide to take flight on our own.

Sometimes its one incident that starts us down that new path of enlightenment; Haiti, Chile, Southern Louisiana, 9-11-01. Sometimes it is a series of unfortunate events; loss of the head of household, halving of investments or retirement funds, cut in pay or hours or loss of job, mountain of debt, higher prices for the things you want, higher prices for life sustaining needs, inability to sell your house, and on and on... However your understanding begins, it will not end until a new layer of comfort and security is built up. That will take education and preparing. Education is easy, your already doing it. Preparing is doing, and thus more difficult. Preparing is the act of buying a product, attending a class, physically practicing the skills on your list of things that you feel you will need to know. The actions of preparing will ultimately lead to a better life for you if you are willing to take the journey. TEOTWAWKI may not happen in ours or even our grandchildren's lifetimes, I pray that it does not, but we will all be better prepared for the multiple times that TSHTF in and around our lives.

I was told before that the best way to learn is from your own mistakes. I have found that to be true, and false, in my lifetime. More often than not, it is far better to learn from other peoples' mistakes and triumphs. That is why we seek out education and training, so that we can learn from others who have the knowledge and are where we want to be. It is far worse, however, to fail to learn from those mistakes and triumphs. The mistakes and corrections that I have made in the start of my journey is the foundation of this essay. My own failure to learn from mine and others errors and experience, or more precisely, my failure to act on that knowledge.

I am sure that all of the veteran preppers with decades under their belt can still recall the bliss of ignorance felt prior to "getting it". I know that I already do and I am quite sure that my lovely wife does, too. It is a scary proposition that all of the blessings and amenities we live with now can be gone in the amount of time between snooze button presses. And that is my first point. Try very hard to keep your life in perspective. The more education you take on, the wider your eyes get, the more that you see that is otherwise unseen, the darker your future will look without preparation. The world is still spinning, the seasons still change, there are only and always 24 hours in a day, and most importantly, your family is always growing. Your new found knowledge will create a since of urgency that needs to be kept under wraps. The time for panic will be left for those caught with their pants down, yours are not. Don't quit your day job, yet. Don't skip out on your children's [social] functions or worse yet, discourage them with the thought that it won't matter in the future. Don't inundate your spouse with facts, details, and rants as to why they need to get on board right now. They will follow you, they won't be pushed, no one will. Your spouse is the most important member of your team. They will be with you no matter how big or small your group gets. None of us ever want to have to go through our worst case scenarios but we still think about them. We prepare for them so that they won't become the worst case. That is stressful enough as it is so if the burden lays solely on your shoulders for the time being, let it lay.

We all do want to go through our best case scenarios, so remember to also spend time preparing for them, and doing them. Don't forget to play and have fun and enjoy the things we have while we still have them. Take your planning and prepping in stride, Tappan and Rawles did not do it in a day, or a year I assume, so how can you. Whatever preparing that you did prior to the balloon going up is what you did. Ten years is better than two, and one year is better than a month. I assure you though, even one week is far better than the majority of the continent's inhabitants. Live your life.

I am a list guy. My to do list has grown exponentially recently. With that said, I found it very easy to pick the tasks that I would enjoy first, I am human and that's our nature. When I first heard "Beans, Bullets, and Band-aids" it seemed so easy and clear to me. Beans, I like to cook, I like to eat, I have a basement. I went to the store and bought canned stuff with a touch of pride realizing how far ahead of the mob I was. Bullets, well that was easy too, I am former Army, I have duck hunting experience and shotguns, and I like guns. Band-aids, I am a EMT-Fireman so that's covered too...or so I thought.

I gravitated pretty quickly to pumping up my guns and ammo collection. Its a fun hobby and great training. Its what I know and enjoy so what better excuse can you have to buy more, than in the name of defending your family in the coming "end times" (not to be-little that justification, just don't put all of your attention on it). I spent a couple of bucks on a jump bag for my truck to stock up on some EMS supplies if needed while mobile. I stocked up the first-aid kit's at home too. I did start to look at all of the other things on my ever growing list and decided to start prioritizing them. I saw an opportunity that I could not afford to miss, the ability to gather knowledge at my house. What I mean is that the list grew to cover so many topics, so many studies, that it would take a decade to learn the basics of each, let alone get any hands on experience. Rather than wait to learn I decided to buy the "best" books on the topics, no need to list them here as it is pretty much Survivalblog's bookshelf.

My word of caution here is that as they started to arrive it became overwhelming very quick. For all of the books that came in that I will one day read, my wife was listing child-rearing books that I should have already read and need to read first. I have assured her that I will, and that these are simply a hard copy reference section of our library for the future. That said, it was also a relief to me to keep in mind that while I hope to never need to be leafing through Carla Emery's book under candle light, the safety net is there. If the grid goes down and all I have is a list of books and skills to read and learn, I would have been quite disappointed in myself for only making a list. That may have been the last time for generations to come that all the knowledge of the world was at our fingertips.

I was still lacking in the beans department. I had not set a high enough priority on food yet so I ordered the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course course to try to get me into gear. It was then that I learned about the disparities in shelf lives and FIFO rotation, about where and how to shop, how to determine quantities of needed supply, about what items on my food list were top priority. My wife and I joined an Adult-Ed course where we were both exposed to canning for the first time, highly recommended. If there are no courses formally taught near you, or no one in your family has any experience with canning then visit a senior center near you and adopt a lonely senior citizen for a few weeks to have them show you the ropes. You may just improve the lives of more than one person with a move like that. But I digress...

Starting with the Beans portion of preparation is so vital in this equation it can not be over stated. Any veteran prepper will tell you that a well laid plan is always evenly spread across all fields. I will tell you as a rookie prepper that your food is first and more food comes after that and then comes the rest. This leads nicely into the most important advice that I can give to people. When I started to focus on food, I did. It may have been my last focus where it should have been my first, but that is not the mistake I made that I hope at least one reader may learn from my experience.

Water is food! It is the most important food as a matter of fact. I know that my wife is rolling her eyes as she reads this, God bless her, as she has told me time and time again how I need to stop drinking the tap water and to drink only filtered water. My only attempt at water storage thus far had been to recycle all the bottles of water that I bought for her to drink. I refill them with tap water and collect them in the basement next to the new cases of bottled water. I know enough now that tap water stored in 16oz bottles will be no good to drink but those were to serve as our hygiene water if needed, or to boil and drink even though that is not (as I understand it) best. While doing this I still had a feeling that I was missing something huge in my planning. I did buy some iodine tabs, big kettles for boiling, a couple hand pump filters that are designed to last a few hundred gallons or so but I still felt that huge gap. None of those options had any long term viability. Where to go from here but to ask the expert! As it turns out, the solution was quite simple. So simple in fact, dear reader, that I simply did not pay attention at the time, nor did I put the top priority in its proper place. In everything that I have read, water seemed to be the first thing mentioned, the authors point was always that you will die in 72 hours without water. Why I missed the obvious need to prioritize that as number one, I can only speculate. Seeing as it was so recently though I think I know, and I think too, that it is a common fear of other rookie preppers. You have to learn about something you don't want to, which is always difficult.

Understand this much, no matter how much of whatever you have today, if your not drinking pure H2O every day, your time is limited. All of those things you had become just that, things that you had. Does it not make since to understand without a moment of doubt, the only thing that you really need to sustain life is the only thing that you can not have enough of? You need to determine first and foremost where and how you will have a long term potable water supply. I regret waiting as long as I did to act on this which leads me to believe that other new members to the survival fraternity may try to set the need for water aside for to long, too.

How much time do people spend on fantasy baseball teams, channel surfing, x-box (yes adults included), and the like. How much time do we spend self educating ourselves on things of interest (and yes I know the crowd I am speaking to). The true test comes in asking ourselves what percentage of that time we could be spending studying the things that we have little interest in, no knowledge of, are difficult, yet are so vital to our current and future lives.

I will not get into the details of why I feel that a Berkey water filtration system is the absolute best solution to water purification. I will not explain why and how simple it is to collect rain water for gardening, open source collection, and storage. My challenge to you is to educate yourself and come to your own conclusion on what will work best in your given situation for what should now be, if it was not before, your number one priority.

I spent a year in the Big Sandbox living with the knowledge that water was the most important need, yet I still missed the call to action in my home life to immediately supply my own family with a sustainable source of drinking water. Please do not make the same mistake that I did and put water first on your list.

In conclusion, for those of us who can still taste the red pill and have doubts or regrets about not choosing the blue pill, its too late (to put it nicely). Having simply entered SurvivalBlog's web site then you have proven already that you at least have an inkling of knowledge that at some point in the future all that we know and love may be gone in a flash.

You have the ability right this moment to start preparing for the worst, and by doing so, the worst will not be as bad as it could be. Learn to educate yourself by following the examples of those who are willingly guiding you, sharing their mistakes so that you do not have to make them, and sharing their achievements so that you can follow them. Build yourself a reference library that has all of the information laid out in it now while you still have the opportunity. God forbid the ship sets sail tomorrow but a copy of "Making the Best of Basics" with dust on it will be far more valuable to you than a worn out copy of "Call Of Duty" (the video game, guys) when the lights go out for the last time.

While you are on this path of preparing for the worst, never forget to prepare for the best. Your family needs you now, more than they need you in the future.

Most importantly, put a lot of thought into prioritizing what you do first, second, and so on. 72 hours is not a long time in the grand scheme of things but it will be your purgatory if you chose not to act on the advice of those ahead of you. It could have been the peril of my family and neighbors had I not broke through whatever it was holding me back from putting the effort into educating myself just because it felt difficult. I sleep well now, and you will too, once you prioritize your life and start to feel prepared for the future.

The recent Webley letters are particularly interesting to me since I own a 92 year old Mk 6 Webley converted to .45 ACP. I reload for most of my 34 guns. 49 years of reloading with never even a blown primer, and only 2 duds (no powder) in 49 years with thousands upon thousands of reloads, makes me feel somewhat qualified to write this. is a lead bullet reloading and casting site to which I belong. Common knowledge there is that Webleys, even Mk. 6s are not suitable for even factory .45 ACP factory load pressures. One of the top Gurus recently told me that shooting factory .45 ACP loads in a converted Webley is like proofing it each time you fire it, and will eventually shake it loose. He recommended 5.2 grains of Unique behind a 250 gr. lead SWC as his top load. After that, I pulled all my 5.5 gr. Unique loads, and even went lower to 5 gr. Unique/250 gr./.452 lead. All warnings to this load data apply here. Naturally you will find some hot shot who loads his Webley to maximum .45 ACP+P+ pressures and gets away with it. These revolvers are old, and the steels, and heat treatments are not what we have now. To compound the chamber pressure problem, many Webleys, mine included, have .449 chamber throats. I bought a chamber throat reamer from Brownell's, and reamed them out to .452. This lowered pressure and also increased the accuracy, allowing me to recently outshoot my 'ol buddy from Texas with his new Kimber .45. The look on his face was priceless. Ha!

For those who buy the old pre-1899 revolvers let me add a word of caution. These old sisters are 111 plus years old with many having rust and timing problems. They were mostly [designed] for black powder pressures. If you must shoot them, do it with only lead bullets, over recommended starting [velocity] loads in a reliable reloading manual, all this after a qualified gunsmith looks it over. I have my Grandfather's 125 year old S&W top-break in .38 S&W caliber. It's in very good condition, yet I will only shoot low power starting load powder charges in it. I have shot factory loads in it ages ago when I was a teenager, but no more, only my low power reloads. If you want power, get a new .44 Magnum. or better yet, a .500 S&W. Reloading is a very exacting hobby, and not for the careless, or accident prone. The thought of shooting some of the old cheaper brand pre-1899 revolvers such as H&R, Iver Johnson, Sears Roebuck types, with fresh factory ammo is scary to say the least. If one is not Born Again, don't even consider it. At best, you could only lose a finger, or two. Better safe than sorry, applies here. If your gunsmith shakes his head and hands it back to you, rest assured it makes a great shadow box addition to any den. Keep buying ammo and canned goods. Read your Bible! Mack

Trent sent this New York Times article: Push to Eat Local Food is Hampered by Shortage

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I just heard about a small company in Georgia that was founded by a retired USAF Tech Sergeant: Survival Solar Systems.

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A learning point (and OPSEC illustration) for SurvivalBlog readers: Militia group suspects charged with conspiracy. Don't associate with mad bombers and radical "lunatic fringe" types! They are bad news and bound to suck a lot of innocents into trouble! Rest assured that there are a lot of good and honorable militias out there, but the Hutarees are not one of them.

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Damon sent this one: Scientists stumped as bee population declines further

"You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from." - Cormac McCarthy, "No Country for Old Men"

Monday, March 29, 2010

I just heard from SurvivalBlog reader Tom G. (who is presently deployed in Afghanistan) that a collection of my quotations is now available on Wikipedia's "Wikiquotes".


Today we present another entry for Round 27 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 27 ends on March 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.

Want to eat a wolfberry? How about some vaccinium jam? Some chokeberry wine? They don’t sound too appetizing, do they? Few people know it, but the fruits of these plants are not only edible, but delicious. They have unappealing names and don’t look familiar to most Americans, so if you incorporate them into your landscaping you will have a supply of fresh, nutritious fruit that your neighbors won’t recognize as food. This makes them ideal for people who must shelter in place in a small-town or suburban environment, where houses are close together and others can see what you have in your yard. In a worst-case scenario your vegetable garden may be raided and your apple tree might be picked clean, but the ravenous hordes will leave these fruits behind, assuming they are poisonous simply because they are unfamiliar.

Not everyone has a rural retreat with a spacious piece of land, so these berry bushes have the advantage of being relatively small and easy to fit into an ordinary yard. They all feature pretty flowers, shiny leaves, or other ornamental features that help them hide in plain sight, even in the most landscaped and manicured neighborhood.

All of these berries are sour, like cranberries, and like cranberries they become delicious once cooked or dried with sweetener. Their sourness comes from their high content of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, and other nutrients. Most of them have more vitamin C than the same weight of oranges. These berries will not sustain life in the same way that grains and beans will, but they will provide a refreshing change of pace and will help keep your family healthy during a crisis.

These plants will grow over a wide portion of the United States; some will even grow in Canada. If a plant is not native to your area, you can still grow it if you can provide the temperature range, soil type, and moisture level that it requires. Each plant will grow in specific “Zones” of temperatures described by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. To determine what zone you live in and what you can grow, see the USDA's climate zone map.

Black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)

This pretty little shrub is a member of the Rose family. In spring, it’s covered with large white flower clusters that shine among its glossy, dark-green leaves. Later, the flowers develop into purple-black berries. The berries are quite sour, but with sweetening they can be used to make delicious jelly, juice, and even wine. They are nutritional powerhouses, extremely high in antioxidants and other healthful nutrients.

Aronia is native to the northeastern half of the United States and southeastern Canada, and will grow in Zones 3-8. It prefers moist, rich soil and full sunlight, but will grow in drier locations and part shade; it may not produce as many berries in these locations.

Although this plant is a North American native, it has become popular in Europe, where it is used to make juice and wine. Several European varieties have been cultivated to produce larger, sweeter fruit; these varieties include “Viking” and “Nero.” An American variety is called “Morton” or “Iroquois Beauty.”

Two recipes for aronia jam appear on the web site of Raintree Nursery, which also sells the plants.

Seaberry (Sea Buckthorn; Hipphophae rhamnoides)

This is a vigorous bush or small tree that produces masses of vivid orange berries. The berries, which have a bright citrus-like taste to go with their bright orange color, are filled with vitamin A, C, E, and omega-3 fatty acids. During the Cold War, they were used in East Germany as a substitute for orange juice, and the plant is still widely cultivated in the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe.

Seaberry thrives in dry, sandy soil and full sun, and does not do well when shaded by other trees. It can grow in Zones 3-7. In order to produce fruit, you must plant at least two plants, one male and one female; male plants do not produce fruit, but feature brownish clusters of flowers. One male can pollinate up to eight female plants.

Seaberry is extremely thorny, so it can be used to create intruder-repelling hedges. Once established, the seaberry plant sends up vigorous shoots that will make a hedge even thicker and more impenetrable. The thorns make picking the berries somewhat difficult; one way around this is to cut off berry-filled branches and freeze them. Once frozen, the berries can easily be shaken off and used for juice or jam. When you extract juice from the berries, if you let the liquid settle it will separate into three layers: a creamy layer on top, oil in the middle, and juice and sediment on the bottom. Strain the juice through a coffee filter to remove the sediment and mix it with 6 parts water to one part juice, sweetened to taste.

A recipe for seaberry jelly appears on this web site.

For a recipe for seaberry schnapps, a drink that’s popular in Europe, go to this web site.

Lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea)

This unassuming plant only grows to about 8 inches high, and it makes a beautiful edible ground cover. It is evergreen, holding its shiny, deep green leaves all year. It prefers shaded, moist, acidic soil, and will grow in Zones 2-8, although it doesn’t do well in long, hot summers. It produces its crop of tangy, cranberry-like berries in the fall.

Lingonberry is native to the northern parts of Europe and North America and is closely related to cranberries and blueberries; it shares their refreshing tartness, and can be used just like cranberries, using the same recipes, to make a delicious sauce. It can also be used in muffins or to make jam. The berries are high in Vitamin C and Vitamin A, and the seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids.

Goji (Wolfberry, Chinese Matrimony Vine; Lycium Barbarum)
Goji or wolfberry, is native to China, and has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. In recent years, the dried berries have become available at health food stores, at very high prices. Goji is a bushy vine, or viney bush, that can grow to 12 feet high and 8 feet wide; pruning will make it more of a bush than a vine. Goji has beautiful light-purple flowers that eventually become bright-red berries, which hang among the leaves like little coral earrings. The berries, which can be eaten fresh or dried, have a sweet/sour, tangy taste that is somewhat like a mix of plum, tomato, carrot, raspberry, and other flavors.

Goji is relatively trouble-free to grow and does not mind poor soil or fairly cold winters, growing in Zones 5-9. It prefers a sunny location but will grow in light shade.

You can order goji plants from nurseries, but you can also grow your own plants from seed using the dried berries. The pulp of the berries has a chemical in it that prevents the seed from sprouting, so first soak the berries in water for a couple of days. When they’re soft and mushy, carefully cut them open and scrape out the seeds. Put the seeds in a very fine strainer, like a tea strainer, and wash off all the pulp until the seeds are clean. Let them dry on a coffee filter or paper towel. Once they’re dry, you can plant them by putting them on top of the soil in a prepared pot and then lightly sprinkling a thin layer of soil over them. Keep the soil moist and when they sprout, place them in the sun or under a bright fluorescent light bulb. When the plants are a few inches high, you can transplant them outside.

Here is a recipe for goji berry rice pudding.

Evergreen Huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum)

Evergreen huckleberry is native to the western half of North America, growing from Alaska to California, but it can be grown in other parts of the country as well. The berries, which ripen in late fall, are similar to blueberries and can be dried, made into jam, juice, or pancake sauce, or cooked into delicious pies.

Because this bush keeps its glossy, dark-green leaves all year (except in the colder parts of its range), it’s an excellent landscaping bush for plantings around a home. In spring it’s covered in small white flowers. Evergreen huckleberry likes well-drained, acid soil and is one of the few fruits that actually thrives in shade. In shade, it can grow up to 6 feet high, whereas in sun it will only grow to about 3 feet high. It will grow in Zones 4-8.

Huckleberry can be used in any recipe for blueberries, but here is a recipe for huckleberry jam.

Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)

Black elderberry is an attractive, vigorous bush with feathery leaves; it can grow up to 12 feet high in a graceful fountain shape. The flowers are large, flat clusters, similar to Queen Anne’s Lace, making the bush very pretty when they appear in June. The flowers are edible; dipped into batter and then fried, they make delicious fritters. If left on the bush, the flowers will eventually develop into clusters of BB-sized purple-black berries that hang down heavily when they ripen in September or October.

The berries are tiny and very tedious to pick one at a time, so to speed things up, it’s best to pick the entire berry cluster, take it home, and then relax at the kitchen table while you “comb” the berries off their stems with a fork. Don’t wear clothes you care about because they will become stained with purple. Elderberry likes to grow in moist, well-drained, sunny locations, and will grow in Zones 3-10.

Elderberry fruit doesn’t taste very good fresh, and it gives many people a stomachache, but when the berries are cooked and the seeds strained out, they makes excellent syrup and jelly. Some people also make elderberry pie, leaving the berries whole; the pie is mildly crunchy from all the small seeds.

Elderberry syrup is said to help the immune system fight off viruses by preventing viruses from attaching to cell walls in the body. It’s also an excellent source of Vitamin C. Health food stores sell elderberry syrup, but it’s much more cost-effective to make your own.

One caution about elderberry: all parts of the bush except the flowers and the ripe fruit are poisonous. For safety, eat only the flowers and the fully ripe, cooked fruit. Do not eat “red” elderberry varieties, as they are poisonous. Only black varieties are safely edible.

A recipe for elderberry jelly appears on this web site.
If you make the recipe without the pectin, what you have is elderberry syrup; it will keep, once canned, for a long time.

This web site has recipes for elderflower fritters, elderflower juice drink, and elderberry soap.

Currants and Gooseberries (Ribes family species)

The plants in the Ribes family include currants, gooseberries, and jostaberries (a cross between the two). They all have juicy, tangy fruit that makes excellent juice, wine, and pies; black currant has a particularly rich, musky flavor. They grow in moist, well-drained soil, and unlike many fruiting plants, they enjoy shade and do very well when planted along the shaded north side of a house. In addition, gooseberries tend to be very thorny, so they can be an excellent intruder-repellent when planted under a ground-floor window.

These fruits are widely used in Europe, but are unfamiliar to most Americans because their cultivation was outlawed in the United States for most of the 20th century. This was because currants are a host for a virus that attacks white pine trees and other pines that bear their needles in clusters of five; they were banned to prevent the destruction of valuable timber. The federal law has since been repealed, but several states still prohibit growing these fruits. However, in many cases even these states will allow people to plant varieties of black currant that are resistant to the virus. These varieties include “Consort,” “Titania,” “Crusader,” and “Coronet” black currants. There are no resistant varieties of red currants, gooseberries, or jostaberries, so if you’re concerned about the laws or if you have pines growing in your area, check with your local agricultural extension office before planting them.

This web site has seven pages of recipes using currants.

Where to Get Unusual Berries and Learn How to Grow Them

The following nurseries, as well as many others, sell some, or all, of these plants:

Miller Nurseries
St. Lawrence Nurseries
Raintree Nursery
One Green World
Gurney’s Seed and Nursery

Nurseries will generally provide detailed growing information, but you can also find information at the following sites:





Evergreen Huckleberry


Currants and Gooseberries


The recipes given here are only a tiny sample of what’s available on the internet. If you grow any of these plants, take time to find and print out the recipes you like so you will have them when you need them.

All of these plants have many varieties that have been bred for different characteristics. Some varieties may have larger or sweeter fruit, may have larger or smaller growth, may ripen earlier or later, or may be adapted to unusual climates or specific soils. It’s best to check with several nurseries to see what varieties are available before buying a particular plant, because through research, you may find one that will be especially strong and productive in your area. If you live in a very cold or very warm zone, nurseries that are located within your zone are your best bet for finding plants that are especially adapted to your conditions.

Dear James Wesley,
I thought that it was about time you mentioned Webley revolvers and their variants in your blog, and was pleased to see you’re recommendation in last week’s content. I am a long time prepper, mostly through accident of geography, my family and neighbors have a unique support system and find your blog quite useful. I spent just shy of a decade in and around West Africa, and a year in Israel, which is where I first became familiar with Webleys. The British mandate left behind a wealth of practical firearms for their newly independent allies, some of which was intentional and some reallocated. The reallocation of scarce resources has been an Israeli mainstay for close to three quarters of a century and the maintenance of those resources has been an ongoing occupation. Webleys and Enfield’s became an interest and then a passion, at the time, due to the availability and durability of both. Being a machinist, anything mechanical was of interest, but Webleys in their many iterations became first a hobby, then through need and availability, a viable avocation. Through that association I have become, first, a fair to middlin’ Webley gunsmith, then an appraiser of Large and Small Bore British Military Revolvers dating from the 1880s to the mid 1940s.

The Marks I and II that you mentioned, which date from 1887 and 1894 respectively, do indeed fall into the category of antique firearms and require no ATF paperwork, but you should also take into consideration the Mark III, which is an updated Mk II with improved lock work, dating from 1897, and is a sturdier than either the MK I or II. All three of these marks were originally designed for use with black powder/cordite but are of sufficient strength to withstand a certain amount of use with modern smokeless powders as long as you don’t go over the 700 fps mark. Accuracy suffers in the Webley when you use full metal jacket ammunition, especially .45 ACP cartridges held in full or half moon clips, due to the shallow rifling in the 4 inch barrels. The original 265 grain soft lead bullet was of conical configuration and left the barrel at about 650 fps, I have found that hand loading your cartridges is the best way to recapture that accuracy, using an available 250 grain .45 caliber soft lead bullet of at least .454 diameter (intended for Long Colt revolvers) and with a velocity of between 650 and 700 fps. You will want to use either a .455 caliber sizing die, if you can find one, or a .45 Long Colt sizing which is commonly used. For cut down .455 cylinders, (re-worked for use with .45 ACP cartridges in full or half moon clips), you can use .45 Auto Rim cases sized in the .455 sizing die.

I would appreciate you not giving out my name or contact information, but can be reached through my property manager if you have any questions or need any more information about British revolvers. Sorry if I got long winded, but I’ve been waiting you to discuss Webley revolvers and wanted to get this information to you when I was at a computer.

Take Care, our thoughts and prayers go out to you over your recent loss. - The Hebrew Hobbit

Martin S. wrote to mention that he found some videotaped lectures from the University of California on Home Vegetable to be interesting.

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Grasshopper outlook strikes fear on Western range (Thanks to Jeff B. for the link.)

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SurvivalBlog's Editor At Large Michael Z. Williamson sent us this You Tube clip: So Useless, It's Awesome! Mike's comment: "Tautological running"!

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There is an interesting post over at Leon Pantenburg's site on survival knives.

"Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that's it." - Marko the Munchkin Wrangler, in his blog essay "Why the Gun is Civilization."

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 27 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 27 ends on March 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’m fairly new to SurvivalBlog but now it’s an every day read. I wanted to write and share my own journey of preparedness with you and your readers. After living with three and a half million people for about 22 years, a move to the country was long over due. I made the decision to get out of the city back in 1999, when I starting to take things a bit more seriously with all of the talk about Y2K. I was really hoping that something would have happened back then so I could test my skills at being prepared for it. I fear that those skills will be tested in the not too distant future none-the-less. Like you, I grew up in the age of bomb shelters and the threat of nuclear attack. My father was a member of the Civil Defense and I remember a small book that he gave me that showed how to build a fallout shelter in your basement. I always wished he would have done that but it never happened. What a great little fort that would have made for me and my brother, more on that later.

Anyway, I have wanted to live in the mountains since I was 12 years old so I headed out to the Rockies in search of a good bug out spot. I found just the right spot out in the middle of nowhere, 36 acres off a dirt road with the nearest Wal-Mart on the other side of the mountain range. It took another 5 or 6 years to actually be able to make the move. I was fortunate enough to start dating a like minded gal before the move and the minute we started talking about bug out bags and storing food, I knew I found myself a winner. We sold most of my furniture and put my home up for sale and were finally able to make the big move to our retreat property and start getting things situated.

Since we settled down we have been able to stock up on about two years worth of food, medical supplies, gasoline and diesel etc. To date we’ve put up about a ½ ton of wheat and a ½ a ton of corn, beans and rice. More than enough for us and enough to share with those that haven’t or couldn’t do it on their own. I love making things from scratch, so owning a welding and fabricating business has been a huge blessing as we are able to make most anything right here in the shop. And those things don’t necessarily have to be made from metal. We’ve been able to fabricate everything from a well water retrieval bucket made of pvc to our own colloidal silver generator to our bio diesel processing set-up. We converted an old exercise bike into a pedal powered grain grinder and I’ve made a lead melting pot so we can pour our own ammo and start loading it once we set up a loader. We have made a solar oven, solar air heaters for the roof of the shop and will be putting together a solar hot water heater real soon.

The shop has a small lathe, mill, drill press, cutting torch set up, MIG, TIG, Arc, and Plasma machines with two generators, sheet metal bender, notcher, roller, English Wheel and a ton of various hand tools. The hand tools will be a real important part of the operation when there is no more power from the grid and the gas for the generators runs out. We’ll be putting together a Faraday shielded box for some of our electronics in case of an EMP. In this box we will store a spare computer set up, radios, walkie talkies and anything with a circuit board that we don’t want to do without. Granted, the Internet may become a thing of the past but we have a lot of valuable information stored on hard drives and discs, we’re talking thousands of pages of info, and if we have a working computer, then we can access that info when needed.

Speaking of information, our survival library is currently at over 75 books, so at least some of our information is accessible without a computer. A few of the books and magazines that I would personally recommend would be “Dare To Prepare” by Holly Deyo, "The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It” by John Seymour, The Foxfire Book Series and The Mother Earth News magazine.

Every library should have books on gardening, first aid, holistic medicines and any skills that you might consider learning. It could be hunting or fishing or re-loading ammo or carpentry, canning, raising livestock or whatever peaks your interest. ‘Never stop learning’ is a good motto to hold on to. We try to learn something new every day. And this blog is a great way to do that.

We’ve been able to put in a huge garden, two greenhouses and I take a deer right off the land each year to put in the freezer. Moving here really has been a dream come true. Many of our friends here in the mountains feel the same way as we do about what the future holds and it amazes us as to how many people are getting ready for what’s to come. And yet we only discuss it with a select few from our church.

We have always felt that this was our bug out retreat since we left the hordes, but lately we’ve been wondering what we would do if we had to bug out of here. So, as soon as the ground thaws this spring, we start the next big project, an underground bunker. Dug into the side of our mountain, it will be made out of cinder blocks with the roof made out of ½” thick channel iron, since we just happen to have a bunch of that laying around. Then the entire thing will be buried under about 2 or 3’ of soil and will have two steel doors and even a periscope that I’ve made out of two 90-degree fittings and a couple of mirrors that we found at the hobby store. That way we will at least have a small view of the outside world if we have to hunker down for an extended period of time. Our biggest problem will be concealing everything with the proper camouflage, the tube that the periscope will be housed in, a solar panel to help keep the battery charged, a wire antenna for a radio and one of the steel doors will all be outside of the shelter. I‘m enjoying the other posts on this site of other shelters and would like to see more folks write in with their ideas. There are some pretty talented folks on this site.

My father has been a Ham for as long as I can remember and before too long I will be getting my Ham radio license and that will be another big asset for this whole effort. We’ll even try to install a transceiver in the shelter so we can keep in touch with the outside world.

I’ve read quite a bit on this site about obtaining skills for when TSHTF and couldn’t agree more. One of the first things I did when we got settled in was to join the local Search & Rescue team and Volunteer fire dept. and not long ago I got involved in a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). The training that I’ve received from each of these has been invaluable. Skills like wilderness first aid, CPR, rock climbing, rope rescue techniques, evacuation, firefighting, use of radio and much more. It takes a lot of personal time but I urge others to make the commitment and learn as much as they can. Being involved in these organizations might also give us a heads up with some advanced information and that could come in real handy.

Another thing we’ve done here is to load up a number of six gallon buckets with all sorts of items that we might need if we had to evacuate the house for some reason. These buckets hold some emergency supplies like food, bottled water, meds, blankets, tarps, rope, fire starters, gloves, socks, knife, flashlight, spare batteries and a small Sterno stove to heat water with. It’s amazing how much stuff you can cram into a six gallon bucket if you do it right. These buckets are buried strategically throughout the property. We keep the locations handy so we can get to the nearest bucket, dig it up and at least have some supplies to work with. In each bucket taped to the lids are the locations of the other buckets. Chances are pretty slim that anyone would find any of the caches by accident, being that all the buckets are buried on our own property and well camouflaged. All of the containers have a good seal around the lid to prevent moisture from getting in and when we bury them we have a piece of plywood cut in a circle that is an inch or two larger in diameter than the bucket. This helps keep the dirt off the lids when we need to dig them up. Each bucket is buried only a few inches below ground level and we stash a small garden shovel nearby underneath a rock, bush or by a tree trunk to make it easier to get the buckets out in a hurry.

As far as transportation goes, we have a gas powered pick up, a diesel pickup and a 1970s-vintage Jeep that has no [microprocessor] electronics in it that would be affected by an EMP. We burn vegetable oil in the diesel during the summer months, the harsh winters here make it a bit too thick to use, even with the additives we put in to help thin it out. I would also suggest that you get a good bike for each family member, know how to tune it up, know what the most common items are that would break and how to repair them. Have the right tools to carry on the bike and know how to use them. Here in the mountains we are a long way from anything and someday a bicycle might be the fastest way to get there. But in a big pinch there is always foot power. You obviously need to have good packs that fit well and a couple of comfortable pairs of hiking boots. You also need to maintain good physical health if you plan on hoofing a lot.

We try to teach others to be prepared as well. Not necessarily for TEOTWAWKI kind of thing but for the more common ‘what if’ scenarios like bad weather, power outages etc. We feel that if we can get our family members to consider those scenarios then they will be able to use that knowledge in case things really do hit the fan. It’s pretty frustrating knowing that my loved ones will not leave the big city and are pretty clueless as to how to survive when things take a turn for the worse. All we can do is pray for them and hope that they get a clue before it’s too late.

I know some readers will be thinking that we have it made being able to have a retreat, vehicles and a business that allows us to fabricate most of the things we need. Much of the emergency items we have were purchased from yard sales and thrift stores. We also barter for a lot of items and services. No doubt we’ve been blessed but it was not easy in any sense of the word. When we first got here we lived in an old camper with no water, shower or toilet for 14 months. We started out with a bucket for a toilet until we could get a port-a-potty hauled in. That was reason for celebration! It took about a year to get our place built and has been an ongoing struggle the whole time. But it has all been worth it. Being out in the middle of nowhere, we had no idea how we would make a living. It took about two more years to make a name for ourselves in the fabricating business. But word of mouth is the best advertisement in tight knit localities like this. We depended on miracles almost every month (and still do) when we didn’t know where the money was going to come from to pay the mortgage. It was a big leap of faith moving here but that’s what we were led to do. That leads me to one more item to mention before I close and that is faith in God. As many others have stressed, getting yourself right with God is the most important thing you can do. Faith has brought us this far and we continue to build our faith as things start to look darker and darker by the day. Pray for each other for knowledge, provision, wisdom and discernment and that we’re on the other side of the fan when it finally hits!!

"H2O" in California sent this news item about Kern County, California: Kern unemployment continues to climb: 17.4% in February. H2O's comment: "The bulk of Kern's population is located in the Southern San Joaquin Valley, where agriculture and oil are the lynchpins of the local economy. With the legislative/judicial droughts being imposed on California, local farmers have been allocated just 15% of their annual contractual water supplies. This means that they cannot secure the crop loans necessary to grow the crops to feed the nation for the fourth year in a row. Food shortages are right around the corner, I fear."

Alice W. was the first of several readers to mention his commentary by Charles Krauthammer at NRO: The VAT Cometh.

GG sent this: Supply fears start to hit Treasuries

Also from GG, the latest Friday Follies: Regulators shut 2 Georgia banks, 1 in Florida, 1 in Arizona; makes 41 US bank failures in 2010.

Items from The Economatrix:

Banks Unlikely to Cut Mortgages for Many Borrowers

Eurozone Agrees On Bailout Plan for Greece

Underemployment Hits 20% in Mid-March

Jobless Rate Rose in 27 States in February; 4 Hit Record Levels

Spring Outlook: Housing Sales Are Looking As Bleak As Ever

"We Are At A Tipping Point"--The Only Thing that May Save the Euro is a Collapse of the US

I found an interesting piece linked over at Steve Quayle's site about climate change: Global cooling: What happens if the Iceland volcano blows

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Greg C. sent this: 1918 and 2009 Pandemic Influenza Viruses Lack a Sugar Topping; Finding Could Aid Vaccine Design. (It sounds like we dodged a bullet!)

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Both Mark P. and my old friend Sandy sent this: Has SSL become pointless? Researchers suspect state-sponsored CA forgery

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price [is] far above rubies.
The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
She perceiveth that her merchandise [is] good: her candle goeth not out by night.
She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household [are] clothed with scarlet.
She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing [is] silk and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
She maketh fine linen, and selleth [it]; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
Strength and honour [are] her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue [is] the law of kindness.
She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband [also], and he praiseth her.
Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
Favour [is] deceitful, and beauty [is] vain: [but] a woman [that] feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates. - Proverbs 31:10-31 (KJV)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 27 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 27 ends on March 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.

It’s the dead of winter. Snow is flying. There is nothing more comfortable in the cold of a winter season than knowing you are cozy in your home. You are warm and oblivious to the penetrating cold of the outdoors. But just how vulnerable are you to a sudden and unexpected power outage from an ice storm or another failure of the electrical grid? Do you depend on oil, natural gas, propane gas or electricity for your home heating? Under any circumstance, could your home heating system become unworkable? This article should help prepare you enough so you and your family won’t freeze to death if the grid goes down.

I have spent 37 years of my life working as a chimney sweep and/or a brick mason. So my first love of heating alternatives are solid fuel heaters. When I say solid fuel, I am specifically talking about wood, coal, or other biomass, which can be combusted in a controlled environment in exchange for the heating value--as measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs)--of the fuel source.  Wood fuel will average up to 8,500 BTU of heat per pound. Coal is approximately 12,000 BTU per pound. Variations of the actual BTU of heat potential will be specific to the density of the solid fuel being combusted and moisture content. Lighter density woods like pine and cedar will take a larger amount of wood to make the heat potential that a smaller amount of oak or hickory will produce. Of course one is limited to whatever is locally available. If you have a good source of coal locally available, that could be your fuel of choice.  However, it is unfeasible to import coal or wood from other regions of the country because of the transportation costs and energy expense of the transport.  For this reason I do not recommend pellet fuel as a viable survival fuel. I will talk about pellet stoves specifically a little later.

There are three types of solid fuel appliances. Fireplaces, free standing stoves, and central furnaces. Each has unique properties, advantages, and disadvantages. Out of the three categories, a fireplace is the most inefficient. A fireplace will achieve perhaps a 10% efficiency rating because most of the heat goes up the chimney. Dampers must remain partially open during all phases of the heating cycle. Glass doors help efficiency considerably over an open fireplace. A better fireplace will have ducting around the outside of the firebox to allow more heat exchange. Masonry fireplaces store more ambient heat than metal box fireplaces. But a metal box fireplace will put out more radiant heat in a shorter period of time. And a masonry fireplace is relatively difficult to add to an existing structure without major modifications in footings and other structural considerations.

 The installation of a wood burning stove in an existing fireplace, called an Insert will increase the efficiency of a fireplace upwards to a comparable free standing wood stove. But before installing an insert stove in any fireplace, be sure to check manufacturers instructions for both fireplace and the stove insert for compatibility! Failure to follow the instructions or the use of mismatched parts can lead to unsafe and potentially deadly consequences! Safety cannot be stressed enough when using solid fuel heaters. When properly installed and maintained, solid fuel heat is safe, efficient, and economical under any conditions.

If you choose to have a gas fireplace, or gas log, be aware that the convenience comes with an expense. If the fireplace has an electric igniter and the power is off, that appliance will not function. Without blower circulation heat build up can become excessive and unsafe. Gas logs can be added, but they are relatively inefficient and ever an increasing expense to operate. Also keep in mind that if there is a disruption in gas supplies and distribution, your gas appliance may become useless within a very short period of time. Propane gas appliances allow storage on site, which may buy you some time. But under a prolonged disruption of gas supply, that appliance will no longer be useful.

Free standing wood stoves are the most popular. They can be located centrally in a house or cabin for maximum heating. Many stoves come with an electric blower system, which improves efficiency. However in a power outage, the stove will still produce enough radiant heat to keep you warm.  Stoves that have no blower,  rely upon their design to produce area heating. EPA Certified solid fuel heaters will have an efficiency rating of 85%, which is nearly as efficient as gas heaters. You may be able to pick up an older, used wood stove for not a lot of money. But be aware that the stove may not have the highest efficiency and by law may not be legal in some environmentally sensitive areas. But in a survival situation, the goal is to keep from freezing to death. On a tight budget, an older stove is still a worthwhile investment if it is sound working condition.

 There is also a class of solid fuel heater called pellet fuel heaters. While they may be the current rage of environmentally friendly solid fuel heaters, they will not function without backup electricity. I used to own a pellet stove. They are nice when you have electricity, but worthless if the power goes off. Unfortunately the cost of transporting the wood pellets is making the fuel source very expensive per BTU of heat. If there is a disruption of the transportation grid, the fuel would become unavailable in many areas of the country. By and large, I would never recommend a pellet heater for a survival heater.

Third category of solid fuel heaters is central a furnace. My home was originally "all electric". A couple years ago we had a severe ice storm in Central Missouri that knocked out power to thousands of homes for over a week. My neighbors essentially had to leave their all electric homes because the temperature became unlivable. But I was able to remain in my home. Why?  I have a central wood furnace that is ducted into my heating system. Without electricity, the blower circulation will not function. But the radiant heat rose from the top of the furnace duct and circulated naturally through my central ductwork.  When it became evident that the power might not be restored for several days, I brought my portable generator into use. I located my generator in my detached garage and ran an electric cord through my clothes dryer vent, into my furnace room. From there I was able to power the wood furnace, freezer, and extra refrigerator. Warning: Because of the risk on carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, never place a generator in an attached garage or living space! Also be absolutely sure to "lock out" the circuit breakers to prevent a back feed condition to the grid power lines. During the power outage, several people needlessly died due to carbon monoxide poisoning because they placed generators in their attached garage and the CO gas entered the home. The goal is to survive here so be smart.

Another popular wood furnace is located outside the house. A generator could run that system from outside. But one disadvantage to an outdoor wood furnace is having to go outside to add fuel. If there is some kind of outdoor environmental situation that makes it unsafe to go outside, the indoor furnace can be fueled from inside wood storage for a few days. Not having to open doors preserves the indoor air quality. The indoor furnace will still send heat into the ductwork without a fan. The outdoor furnace has a much more difficult ducting system that may not transfer enough heat to sustain livability if power is lost completely.

Having a generator is very good for short term survival circumstances. But you may be limited on how much use you may get out of a generator if there is a long term disruption of gasoline delivery. You may be able to use a good generator sparingly and operate a wood stove or furnace fan for many days on 5 gallons of gas. But in the long term your solid fuel system should be capable of sustaining enough heat in your home to make it livable under the worst of winter conditions.

A solar electric panel with battery storage will operate a blower , so that could be another consideration for power to circulate heat or other power needs. [JWR Adds: An inverter would be required to run an AC fan. But when sourcing your power from a DC battery bank, running a DC fan is much more efficient.]

You may have to consider blocking off some rooms to keep the heat in the main area of habitation.  If your wood appliance has a cook top that is capable of basic cooking or boiling water that is a plus. If there is a disruption of water supply, the ability to melt snow or boil water on a cook top wood stove could allow you to process enough drinking water to sustain an ample survival water supply.

One last item to consider for a survival situation utilizing any solid fuel appliance is the chimney. I cannot stress enough the importance of having a clean and structurally sound chimney system. If your masonry chimney has cracked tile liners, or is unlined, I strongly suggest you have a Certified Chimney Sweep inspect your chimney and perform any necessary repairs before you consider using a solid fuel appliance. There are stainless steel chimney liners available to reline your chimney. If the chimney has ever been used to vent a gas appliance, the mortar becomes weakened by chemical reactions and is unsafe to use without the addition of a stainless chimney liner. Under no conditions should you vent a solid fuel appliance into a chimney being used by a gas furnace or gas water heater. This can create a dangerous condition. In addition, the gas damages the structure as I've already outlined.

The other type of chimney system is called a Class A Chimney. These systems consist of insulated, prefabricated sections of stainless steel pipe that snap or lock together. They can be fully supported by the ceiling rafters, which allow installation in areas where a masonry chimney is impractical. Where a masonry chimney requires a concrete footing, a prefab Class A chimney can be easily installed into any existing structure. A chimney should be cleaned and checked prior to use in the fall, and cleaned and rechecked at least once during the heating season to insure safety and long term durability.

All in all, as a matter of long term survival, alternative heat should be a top priority as an equal to food and water storage. Winter may be almost over for many, but now is the time to start gathering firewood for next season. As a rule, one acre of timber produces, by natural turnover, about a cord of wood every year. Not many trees need to be cut to heat your home. I will heat my 1,900 square foot home with two to three cords of firewood a year with very little electric furnace operation. But if you do cut a tree, be sure to plant one for sustainability of your wood supply. In a survival situation. One can never have enough dry, split firewood handy if the power grid goes down in the dead of winter.

Deer, rabbits, and squirrels are a real problem where we live in western Canada. The deer and rabbits love our fruit trees and the squirrels have a penchant for strawberries. (Yes, up here we can grow many varieties of apples, plums, cherries, pears and even certain varieties of kiwi, peach, grape, etc.)

When we first moved to our farm we had several of our trees seriously damaged by deer and rabbits--not just fruit trees but trees in our shelter belt as well. The rabbits were the worst because they stripped the bark (several inches high) all the way around the tree and killed it. The damage from rabbits usually occurred in the winter while the deer preferred to eat the ripened apples in the fall--this of course caused some collateral damage to the branches. The deer also loved the taste of the leaves and branches on our young cherry bushes and thoroughly chewed them up. Squirrels really only hurt our strawberries. There would be no sign of them until the berries were just about ripe...and then we would check and the freshly ripened strawberries would be one-third eaten away.

We have relied on three effective means to prevent damage to our investments: guns, pets, and blood meal sprays.

(1) Guns are pretty self-explanatory. I used my Ruger 10/.22 to significantly thin down the rabbit and squirrel populations. Used to see sign of rabbits weekly but now I haven't seen one for about 6 months. The squirrels are more persistent and elusive but I have significantly decreased their numbers. Deer are off-limits without a license and only hunt-able during certain times of the year.

(2) We bought a young dog when we first moved to our farm and he helped to keep the pests away but unfortunately contracted the Parvo virus and died. Apparently, the Parvo virus is persistent and the vet advised us to wait a year before getting another dog. During this time our cat stepped up to the plate in defending our fruit trees. The cat had been relatively effective at killing squirrels (ground and tree varieties) but we were shocked the first time he got a rabbit! The rabbit was juvenile but was by no means a baby. Later, the cat was somehow able to kill an adult rabbit--maybe we weren't feeding it enough! We now have another dog that will help keep the deer away.

(3) Blood meal-based sprays are what we use to protect our trees in the winter when our fruit trees are the most vulnerable. Blood meal is dried, powdered blood. Some companies have incorporated blood meal into sprays that can be applied directly to the tress/bushes. We buy products such as Plantskydd but have used others as well. These sprays adhere really well and provide protection for up to 6 months. After the harvest and just before it starts to freeze, we spray down our trees with the spray and it has thus far been 100% successful for us. The smell of blood supposedly scares the deer and rabbits away. We make sure and coat the trunks of the trees thoroughly up to the height that rabbits can reach in the winter. We also douse the branches to keep the deer away. I have read that some people have found these sprays ineffective but given the success that we have had I can only assume that they didn't use enough. An enterprising person could probably make their own spray from blood meal. It is inexpensive and readily available but I haven't personally invested the time to try it.

The main drawback of the blood meal spray is the time that it takes to thoroughly treat all the trees. We have about 50 trees and it takes a while to spray them all with a hand sprayer. We are enlarging our orchard this year and I will need to buy a larger sprayer. Blood meal sprays can be purchases in concentrated form and are more economical for treating larger amounts of plants.

Using these three tools we have managed our first full year with no animal damage to our trees. Hope this is of some help to those struggling with these type of pests, - Ryan from Canada

Jason provided some good information on pest and varmint control, but I'd like to add one that I rarely see listed in recommendations: big dogs.

Our garden is usually 1/4 acre or larger and we live out in the country with plentiful deer, rabbits, raccoons, etc. Given it's size, the garden would be costly to fence so we've had to take our chances with the creatures of the night. While we do occasionally find deer tracks or nibbled veggies in the garden, it's not the problem I think it would be if not for our night patrol. Our two mixed breed dogs go tearing across the yard barking several times a night to chase intruders away. They occasionally catch their own dinners and quickly rid the yard of moles. In addition, we keep our poultry in movable coops to fertilize our pastures and rarely have predator problems as long as the coops are in the dogs' territory. And many a visitor has waited in his car for us to come out over concern about the friendliness of our dogs. We never tell them they wouldn't bite- I'd rather they wonder. We jokingly call our dogs "porch ornaments" since they loll around most of the day, but to our way of thinking, they are invaluable as pets and protection from all kinds of things. - Laura in an Unnamed Southern State

I've been reading your blog for a while now and have enjoyed the many useful and insightful articles.

The article on garden defense caught my eye as it's been a perennial thorn in my side.

On the advice of an elderly rancher who lived nearby, we constructed two fences--- a barb-wire outer fence about 4 feet high and an inner fence of #4 mesh about 6 feet high. The space between the two fences is about 5 feet all the way around.

The reason this fence works is that deer are unable to leap both fences at once and unwilling to jump into the tight space between the fences. And the smaller animals can't get through the mesh of the inner fence.

This works pretty well to keep humans out as well and costs less to maintain than a single, taller fence. Thanks, - Thomas

I would like to add some personal perspective on controlling deer predation. I read the article that Jason wrote : Garden Defense -- Repelling Four-Legged (and Two-Winged) Pests, by Jason , and he makes some excellent suggestions. Having tried virtually everything ever suggested to me, I would concur that scents, irritants, and other non-physical barriers are ultimately of limited effectiveness.

We garden year-round and the local deer population is big. To make matters worse, we have neighbors down the road who enjoy feeding the deer in order to watch them. A fine pastime, to be sure, but once the kiddies are bored with the deer the feeding stops for awhile and the four-legged residents forage elsewhere. Being the closest, the critters always stop by to see what we have on the menu.

After a few years of random devastation (one night we had 33 out of 80 tomato plants eaten down from four feet high to eight inches low), I decided that we needed to enclose our plots with fencing. We have two plots, each about an acre, so a full deer-height fence with a rabbit barrier down low was going to be a serious expense. Since the valley we live in has a few native residents, I decided to do a little brain-picking. I figured that since the deer have been here a long time, those born and raised in this valley might have a trick or two. A half-dozen loaves of homemade bread later, I had two "sure-fire" strategies. I decided to test them, one on each plot, and gauge their effectiveness.

Both methods take advantage of the same characteristics that all deer seem to have. Those being their inability to perceive distance/depth of field accurately, and their poor vision in general. While deer are very good a detecting movement, they are very much color blind and see things in shades of gray. Blaze Orange is a testament to their vision deficiencies.

The first suggestion was to put up a "standard" 4 ft. garden fence using steel t-posts, burying a 3-ft high rabbit barrier of galvanized roll fencing (same method as Jason detailed using chicken wire), then adding three strands of fence wire above the rabbit fence. This sort of fence by itself is useless for repelling deer. The trick I learned was to add a second fence line, outside the garden fence and 18-24" away. This needs to be a single strand of fence wire about three feet high. Done. The theory is that the deer will come up to the first strand and decide to go either over or under it. But, they will first see the second fence and not be able to determine how far away it is. Since the way deer jump a fence is to get right up next to it and go basically straight up and over, they are hesitant to go past the first strand, not know if they will trap themselves.

The second suggestion was one I had little faith in, I admit. I was already preparing for the loss of this garden before the fence was even up. In short, the "fence" consists of a single strand of monofilament fishing line, approximately 3-ft above the ground, stretched between posts as far apart as feasible. The idea with this method is that, due to their poor vision, the deer will walk into the mono strand and stop. Since they can't identify what is impeding them or how high it might be, they can't figure out a safe way past and so they give up and leave.

So here we went, one garden plot fenced with each method, and deer food coming up nicely. Since they absolutely love heirloom tomato plants, I put some in each plot. Time to wait and watch. It did not take long to see that the single strand of monofilament had no effect on rabbits. They came fast, and, being thwarted by the buried fencing on the first plot, went after the unprotected one. This was manageable for awhile, but the monofilament I used did not hold up well to stray dogs, nor to sunlight. While it stayed in place, the deer came up to it and left most of the time, but when it started to deteriorate and became opaque it lost it's effectiveness. The mono required replacing several times during the summer growing season to remain effective.

The multi-strand fence with the outside single wire did a much better job. No rabbit penetration, one incident of a raccoon getting into the melon patch, and twice a deer apparently got caught between the fences and tore up the single strand a little. No deer got into the garden plot however.

We have not had issues with fall and over-winter predation, so I took the mono down and left the dual fence up. Planning for year two over the winter, I decided to try mono again, but add a second strand. I found some "clear" mono that was UV stabilized (it said). I strung it with high hopes and waited. The new, improved, mono selection worked a bit better at resisting the effects of the sun, but two strands was twice as much work when dogs tore it up. I would have tolerated them better if they would occasionally get a rabbit but they are too domesticated to be true alpha predators anymore. After a second summer season, the mono method clearly works, but upkeep is time consuming.

The original double fence stayed in place during year two as well. I had to double up on a few posts that loosened, but otherwise held up well. Functionally, rabbits were still denied access and a few incidents with deer getting inside the first strand resulted in a couple deer incidents. One deer was caught in the garden and provided a winter's worth of stew meat in exchange for two cabbage heads and six tomato plants, three of which recovered and yielded plenty of tomatoes.

After another winter of contemplation, I decided to abandon the mono strand fence. Maintenance and lack of rabbit protection were my main motives. So I replicated the basic garden fence from the first plot. I decided to experiment again, and made it five feet high instead of four. Then, when I put up the outside fence, I went looking for mono stranding again. My theory was that the mono had worked so well by itself, it might be even better in conjunction with the inner fence. Maybe over thinking it, I know, but having a deer get into the garden fence made me think that I might be able to improve it somehow.

In searching for a tougher mono, I stumbled on a roll of bright orange trimmer string in the tool shed. It was enough to run down one side of the plot, so I put it on the side the deer favor. I had a bunch left over from the previous year, so I did the rest with a single strand of regular clear mono. Well, after the season was done, I was amazed. The dogs no longer ran through the mono, I guess because they could see the wire fence inside. And I didn't have any deer get inside. The clear mono still had UV issues and had to be replaced mid-season, but the orange trimmer line was a little stiff, but held up all season.

I have continued to use trimmer line since and have had good results. (The best price seems to be on Weed Eater .080", usually around $16 for a 2,000 ft spool). I have seen commercial deer fencing go to poly and PVC coated wire in recent years and know of commercial growers that swear by it. I will try it if I have to completely re-fenced at some point, but it is very expensive for a smaller garden solution. It also relies on height, and keeping up with a 7-10 ft fence might be a lot harder than a 4-5 ft one for the average gardener. One note: In our case, deer average around 90-100 lbs. If you are in an area with bigger (taller) deer, you may need to adjust the height of the outer strand somewhat. And if you are in elk country, scale will need to adjust too, I would imagine.

Now, if someone has a way to keep galvanized fencing from rusting out every five years or so...

Many thanks for your wonderful site, - Paul E.

James M. found a free 36 hour video permaculture course available online, from the good folks at the LATOC Forums.

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Lee C. was the first of several readers to mention a brief BBC article about US preppers.

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Jeff sent this: Military Cartridge Brass Destruction 2010 - Round 2

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There is an interesting thread of conversation in progress, over at the ("ARFF") Forums: National Emergency, will parents be able to get their kids from Public Schools?

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I recently did some research for a consulting client that I thought would benefit many SurvivalBlog readers. The client had asked for a source for reasonably-priced tritium vials. (In his case, he needed 2 mm x 8mm vials to "reanimate" a couple of 1960s-vintage Trilux scopes for L1A1 rifles. I'll be doing the same, for my own Trilux.) Here is the source that I found: B@rt's Tritium. They have an amazing selection of tritium vial shapes and colors. He said that he liked these so much, that he bought some extras to epoxy on to room light switch plates. (No more fumbling in the dark to find a light switch!)

"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing." - Helen Keller

Friday, March 26, 2010

Today we present a guest article by Jason, the editor of The Self-Sufficient Way.

Finally building a cabin in the woods close to nature can be a dream come true.  But if you are a gardener like me, the morning after the first midnight garden raid by pests unknown can be a real nightmare. 

Garden pests never attack the day after harvest or when the plants are young.  They always seem to attack my garden the day before the big haul.  A garden full of just ripened fruit and veggies must look like a neon all-you-can-eat sign to a hungry deer, or rabbit. 

There are ways to effectively turn that sign off but it will require perseverance and definitely some trial and error.


The most persevering four legged pests to ravage a garden are deer.  Their sheer size and appetite can make for absolute garden destruction.  Worse yet, many times they will simply ignore the things a gardener is apt to do to repel them.  They jump all but the very highest fence and eat right through a lot of treatments to plants.

Natural (or at least passive) repellents can be used but it is a lot like using a pesticide.  Eventually the pests develop immunity to the treatment.  Repellents are theorized to work in two ways.  The first way is by presenting the deer with something they associate with human activity.  Deer in most places have learned to avoid humans at all costs.

There are a few repellents that fit into this category.  The first is soap.  A technique taught to me by an old Kentucky corn farmer was to actually put the soap in a sock and hang it from a stretch of fence.  He hung them about every 40-50 yards.  When asked if they worked he replied, “for a little while, then the damn things lose their fear”.  Some people rub the soap onto a pie pan and hang it from a string close to the garden.  I’ve never tried this but it should work in about the same way.

The second human related repellant is a little more revolting to most people.  That repellant is urine.  Collected over a period of time and poured in a perimeter around the garden, this will sometimes keep the deer away.  Just be aware that urine in its raw state can burn your grass and crops.  The theory here is that some deer just associate the smell with humans or that they can discern the smell of the urine of a predator. 

Some people claim that human hair can also be used.  Probably also best placed in a sock and hung from a fence.

There are also many plants that can be companion planted in your garden to repel deer.  This second group of repellents works by odor as well.  This group works by masking other odors.  The theory with this group is either the deer won’t go into places where they aren’t able to smell predators due to the strong scents or that they simple can’t smell the tasty vegetables due to the strong odors.  The positive thing about this group of repellant is that they are completely natural and once planted should only require inputs same as the other garden plants.

Among the many plants that are purported to repel deer are yarrow, lavender, marigolds, rosemary, oregano, sage and thyme.  The great thing about these plants is that most perform multiple tasks; repelling pest insects, inviting helpful insects, providing food or all three. 

If all else fails, there are a few “last resorts”.  The first is making a pepper spray concoction from hot peppers and spraying the solution over the garden plants.  The reason this is a last resort is that every rain requires a new dosing and it uses valuable peppers that could be best enjoyed as food instead of deer repellant.

Another last resort is the gun.  Of course, this is not easy or foolproof in a lot of cases.  For one, state laws (including hunting seasons, tags and permits) must be obeyed.  Not everyone is allowed by local law to shoot where they live.  Even then, it only takes care of the immediate problem and other deer are free to move in and continue the destruction. 

The state where I live (Kentucky) in 2008 revised statutes to allow deer control tags to be issued in cases where: 

  • Deer hunting occurred on the property during the previous deer season
  • Standard deterrent measures recommended by a department representative have proven ineffective or are impractical; and
  • A department representative certifies deer damage to crops, gardens, and property or wildlife habitat.

Again, please check local and state laws before discharging a firearm or hunting deer.

The final “last resort” is the fence.  Fencing is costly to build to a height that deer won’t attempt to jump and it can limit any garden expansions.  However, a fence to a height of 5 foot or so will at least deter them somewhat.  It is also an adjunct solution.  A fence of that height can make it easier to trap them for a moment to shoot them.  It also gives you a base from which to hang repellant. 


Rabbits can wreak a lot of destruction on a garden as well.  Pound for pound they are probably more harmful than deer. 

Luckily rabbits can be stopped by most low cost fencing options.  In fact, in the early 1900s in Australia, three fences, one nearly spanning the entire continent from north to south, were erected to prevent rabbits from encroaching further.  Rabbits were an invasive species there.  I bring up this odd bit of trivia to point out the fact that the larger the fence, the more likely that erosion and other animals will breach it and allow rabbits inside.  This is exactly what happened in Australia.  The fence must be maintained.

Most rabbit fences are made of chicken wire, which is a thin strand galvanized steel woven wire fence material.  The shorter 36” height should be used and the first 6-8” should be buried in a pre-dug trench to prevent burrowing under or erosion from rendering the fence ineffective.  Stake should be driven in the ground at appropriate distances to keep the fence in place.  The wire can be stapled or tied to the stakes.  This fence will also help with raccoons.

In addition, lavender (also mentioned above as a deer repellant) is also a rabbit repellant.  With so many uses not just as a pest repellant, good insect attractant and more, it just makes sense to plant this one.  Rabbits also hate garlic; so again, you can keep rabbits (and vampires) away and enjoy the multiples uses of a delicious plant.  Foxgloves will also repel rabbits but with only one use (other than being aesthetically pleasing) I wouldn’t really bother with it unless it is a last resort before harming the animals.

For those who have no qualms about harming rabbits, a .22 LR or even a strong air rifle will do the trick.  Rabbits are delicious to boot.

Gophers and Moles

Although listed in the same category, these two mammals are different in the ways that they harm a garden but similar in how to deal with them. 

Moles are a lesser concern as they do not eat veggies but instead eat grubs, worms and other insects.  This in itself is not a concern but for the air pockets around roots that they leave which damage and kill plants.  Moles rarely emerge from their burrows.  Gophers will come out of their holes to eat your garden. 

Some methods of prevention will require identification.  This is not a difficult task.  The first obvious sign of a gopher is that your veggies are eaten (see above).  A mole will only leave wilted and/or dying plants.  Both animals create mounds.  The gopher creates a mound from which it pushes dirt and exits.  The mound will have a hole (which may be loosely plugged) and the dirt will be pushed in a crescent pattern.  The mole will push straight up and usually will not leave a hole.  The dirt will mound in a nearly perfect circle. 

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a viable natural method of keeping pocket gophers and moles in check.  Poison can be used but I find this method wholly undesirable. 

The first method is to simply build a barrier.  This will require trenching down about two feet and burying your fence to that depth.  If properly planned, this barrier could serve as a rabbit fence and gopher/mole fence in one.  Just be sure that the wire weave on the fence is small enough to prevent the smaller ones from going straight through.  An alternative is to fill the trench with rock or cement.  The trench and rock could be used in conjunction with the fence.  If you are building raised beds, the fencing can be nailed to the bottom of the frame or laid in. 

The second viable method is trapping but this will require more maintenance than even the fence.  The traps will have to be emptied and reset and new tunnels will need to be addressed.  Victor makes what is perhaps the most popular set of traps for gophers and moles.  Just be aware that there are separate traps for each.  So identification of the culprit is going to be necessary (see above).


I’ve never had a major garden problem with birds.  Occasionally I will find a peck mark in a tomato or realize that they’ve dug up seeds I’ve just planted.  In most cases birds actually help a garden by eating harmful insects. 

However, I concede that there may be situation where they become a problem.  In these cases, you can use a frightening device such as the aluminum pie pan you would use for deer.  Owl and snake decoys only work for a short while.  That is, until the birds realize they are immobile.  You can also take countermeasure to eliminate nesting areas and perching areas. 


No pest control method is 100% effective.  Fences break, erode, blow down or are jumped.  Killing the pest only leaves a vacuum that is quickly filled by another.  Pests will build immunities or otherwise ignore companion plantings occasionally.

The best approach is a multi-pronged approach using a double fence broad-spectrum repellant. 

The proper solution, of course, will vary with your particular pest problems, garden size and other factors impossible to list here.  You could add pie pans with soap rubbed on to this setup to repel birds and add an additional layer of deer defense.

The important thing to remember is to use multiple options that address more than one pest to maximize your money and time.  - Jason, Editor of The Self-Sufficient Way.

Dear Jim,
I have had the pleasure of reading your blog and archives on a regular basis and have purchased and enjoyed both the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course and your latest book.

My questions relate to the availability, safety and durability of the Colt Model 1892 double action (DA) .41, which you recently recommended. I have contacted some of the dealers and auction sites you mention on your web site, but have not yet found one for sale that is in acceptable condition. If you know of someone that would be willing to sell one or two, I would be very grateful for the lead. What would be a fair price? Also, if you have any suggestions for someone who can tune up and accurize old Colts and S&Ws, that would be greatly appreciated.

I'm a bit concerned about the cylinder latch on this model. As I understand it, with wear of the latch over time, the cylinder will often go out of timing, leading to malfunctions and a potentially hazardous situation. Unfortunately, it seems the revised model 1894 and 1896 are even harder to track down with serial numbers that identify them as pre-1899 production specimens.

Here are my specific questions:
1.) Sources for Colt 1892 DA .41 revolvers
2.) Prices for 1892 DA .41revolvers
3.) Gunsmith for old Colts and S&Ws
4.) Safety/Durability of cylinder latch on Colt 1892
5.) Any other suggestions/options for pre-1899 revolvers: 1894, 1896, etc?

Thanks in advance for your advice. Kind Regards, - C.M.

JWR Replies: I've personally never had any cylinder latch problems with Colt Model 1892s double actions. In my experience, the most typical problem with these guns are weak "hand" springs. Thankfully, that is a very easy fix.

These revolvers can indeed still be found, with some searching. Try, and Joe Salter.

Currently, $600 to $750 is the going rate for military contract Colt DA .41s in good mechanical condition, but at those prices they frequently have heavily-worn bluing. Civilian production guns command substantially higher prices thane the more numerous military contract revolvers.

If you find one with "tune up" needs or other gunsmithing issues, then I recommend Sal Lanara. (If his name sounds familiar, that is because is a brother of the famed Colt Single Action gunsmith David Lanara.) Sal specializes in the Colt Double Actions. In addition to tune-ups, Sal Lanara can also do re-bluing, shorten barrels, and even do complete restorations, but those can be expensive.

He does not have a web site. Here is his contact information:
Sal Lanara
8150 Richard Road
Broadview Heights, Ohio 44147
Phone : (440) 526-7265

My suggestions on some other practical and affordable pre-1899s:

  • S&W "Lemon Squeezer" (Safety Hammerless) .38 double actions.
  • Iver & Johnson .38 double actions.
  • S&W .44-40 and .44 Russian double actions.
  • Webley Mark I and Mark II revolvers. Many of these have been converted to .45 ACP--for use with full moon clips by milling the back of their cylinders. This ruins their collector value, but they are still very practical, and extremely fast to reload. However, they will "shoot loose", given a diet of full power .45 ACP loads. So use custom mild handloads. (If you don't handload personally, then specify smokeless loads that crawl out the barrel at around 725 feet per second.)

There are a few other models available, but those are the ones that you are most likely to encounter at gun shows, or offered for sale via the Internet in the US. See my Pre-1899 Cartridge Guns FAQ for details on determining if any particular gun is of pre-1899 manufacture. (My FAQ lists "cut-off" serial numbers and for the Iver Johnson revolvers, some key identifying features.)

North American Bees Are in Even More Trouble After a Bad Winter. (Thanks to Damon for the link.)

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SurvivalBlog's Editor At Large Michael Z. Williamson sent us this: This Turk shows one good way of defending oneself against multiple attackers, when unarmed. "Mike's comment: Nice movement. Keep them coming singly and hit hard, while keeping a good block up."

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Chester wrote me about RJR's recommendation on Gentex 1030A active hearing protectors. ("Wolf Ears"). Here is a review of several types of hearing protection that Chester found on the net.

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Damon found this at the bottom of a Google News page: For sale in Utah: "die-hard survivalist bunker"

"Political tags — such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth — are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort." - Robert A. Heinlein, "The Notebooks of Lazarus Long"

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 27 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 27 ends on March 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 mother of two young children, including an infant, I have considered the possibilities of emergency preparedness when it comes to how my baby will be fed in times of emergency. I’ve decided that breastfeeding your baby from the beginning is the best and safest option for parents when planning for their emergencies based on economic cost, the quality of nutrition, and the safety of breast milk when water quality is questionable. I have experience as a breastfeeding counselor and help mothers learn and prepare for nursing their babies on a daily basis. I have made a list of how mothers can best prepare to have success with breastfeeding as a part of their family’s emergency preparedness plan. 

There are several ways moms can get a good start with learning to nurse her baby. Some of these include:

  1. Breastfeed right after birth. It is best to nurse within the first hour of birth, preferably with skin-to-skin contact. Mothers should also consider the environment they are birthing in. Is it a hospital that encourages breastfeeding? Do you have a certified nurse midwife? Is there a lactation consultant available? These are important considerations when planning a successful beginning to breastfeeding. There are many options for mothers to consider, and it’s not my place to say what is “best” but only that it does matter.
  1. Watch for baby’s signs of hunger, instead of the clock. Sometimes nurses will tell you to feed every two hours, however every baby is different and you should nurse on-demand instead of timing feedings. Two hours is a minimum amount, and most babies will want to nurse more frequently. It is also important not to let your baby sleep all the time and make sure they are nursing often. A very sleepy baby could be a sign of trouble that needs to be looked at by their doctor.
  1. Breastfeeding is “Supply and Demand” The more you nurse, the more milk you will make. Many new mothers have a hard time believing they are making enough milk because they are unable to measure it in a bottle, but the vast majority of women are capable of making plenty of milk for their babies; it is very rare for a mother to truly not be able to produce enough.
  1. Get support from your family, friends, and support groups. There are breastfeeding support groups in many communities. La Leche League is a great one, and they are all over the world. Husbands, partners and friends should know to offer support instead of telling the mother to “just give them some formula” when things get difficult. If a serious problem occurs, there are lactation consultants who can offer solutions.
  1. Don’t set yourself up to fail. New moms sometimes receive formula, bottles, pacifiers and breast pumps for baby shower gifts from well-meaning friends and family. All these things can set a mother up to fail in those harder early weeks of learning to breastfeed. An exhausted mother may see a cupboard full of formula and give in while she is tired and has sore nipples, thus setting herself up for supply issues. Because making milk is supply and demand, every ounce of formula given to a baby is telling her body to make that much less breast milk. Sooner or later there will not be enough to meet the demands of the infant and he or she would be fully formula fed (this is not always the case, but I find it happens all too often).

The major reason women stop breastfeeding, in my experience with working with new moms, is lack of information and support. It is critical that mothers receive support from their family, especially their husbands/partners, if they are to be successful. Often fathers want to feed the baby themselves and they believe that this would be helping the mother and so they can bond with their baby. This is not necessary for helping mother and bonding, and can, in fact, be harmful to the nursing relationship. It is important in the early weeks to not give a newborn baby a bottle because they can develop what is called “nipple confusion” or “nipple preference.” Rubber/artificial nipples and mother’s nipples are very different. Babies must work at getting milk from their mother, whereas with an artificial nipple the milk flows out. Some babies may prefer the milk that flows out because they don’t have to work for it, this can and does cause babies to stop nursing and only accept milk from a bottle. Parents who want their baby to be able to take a bottle and still nurse should wait 4-6 weeks before introducing a bottle or pacifier to their baby in order to avoid this.

Now that you know some ways to get a good start with breastfeeding, here are some reasons why it is important to include breastfeeding in your emergency preparedness plan for your infant.

  1. Formula is expensive, breast milk is free! In times of economic hardship breastfeeding is the very most economical way to feed an infant. Even in disaster situations where formula companies are more than willing to give free formula to babies in need, mothers will eventually find that when the formula runs out, so has their breast milk! Continuing to nurse, even with free formula around, is ensuring that your baby will have adequate nutrition as long as he or she is nursing.
  2. Breast milk provides complete nutritional needs for infants. Breast fed babies do not need anything but mother’s milk for the first six months of life. After six months solid foods can be introduced, but babies should still be getting most of their nutrition from breast milk until the first year. The World Health Organization believes that all children of the world, both in third world countries and developed countries, should be breast fed until age two and then as long as the mother and child want to continue beyond the age of two. That may sound like a long time to most Americans, but it is very normal to breastfeed past two years in many parts of the world.
  1. Breast milk is sanitary, and it provides immunities to prevent illness. In times where water supplies are scarce or contaminated, breast milk is the safest option for infant feeding. Formula needs to be mixed with clean water in sanitized bottles. If there is not enough clean water or fuel to sanitize the water, the baby may be put at risk for illness. Furthermore, breast milk contains important antibodies to keep the child as healthy as possible during these times.

It is also noteworthy that lactating mothers require slightly more calorie intake than non-lactating mothers. This is approximately 500 extra calories a day. Lactating mothers should also consider a prenatal multivitamin for the duration of breastfeeding. Therefore, it would be wise to plan food storage accordingly.

There are a couple book recommendations that pregnant and lactating mothers might want to purchase or check out from the library. My favorite “How-To” books are, “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” by La Leche League and “The Breastfeeding Book” by Martha Sears.

I hope that families who are expecting a child, either now or someday in the future, consider this article as a helpful incentive to breastfeed their babies. There are so many reasons to breastfeed and emergency preparedness is just one of the many, but should absolutely be taken into consideration when planning for your family’s needs for any potential disaster; economic, natural, or otherwise.

About the author: Lizzy is a La Leche League Leader and breastfeeding peer counselor, as well as a mother with personal breastfeeding experience. She is in the process of completing her clinical hours to become an IBCLC certified lactation consultant.

As a wife and mother of a pre-teen daughter, how important is it to hide the fact that we are female in a G.O.O.D. scenario?

In considering this idea I realize that in the "flee natural disaster" situation it would be less of a concern. Perhaps it only applies to a bad TEOTWAWKI evacuation. What are your thoughts, ideas on this? When would it be necessary, how far would we need to go to disguise our female appearance, etc?

We have thought of everything from mildly sticking to athletic/hiking clothing that are form fitting but don't show skin, to cutting our daughter's hair before heading out and calling her by a male nickname that is close to her real name and buying all her BOB gear in masculine colors, and so forth.

We have also considered the pros and cons of letting it be known that I am a female to draw attention away from my beautiful daughter while she is "hidden". As a mother I would suffer anything to protect my kids, especially if we were without my husband (geographically separated, killed...) We also thought we might appear more sympathetic if they can see we are just a mom and kids instead of what appears to be armed men and boys coming at them.

Please tell me if this is something our family needs to consider in our planning. Thank you, - R.

JWR Replies: The last thing that you want to become is a refugee, moving cross-country on foot. But God forbid that ever happens, then yes, it would be wise to make females look like a teenage boys. BTW, in addition to butch haircuts, some judicious use of eyebrow pencil should help.

SurvivalBlog's Editor At Large Michael Z. Williamson forwarded this: Record numbers now licensed to pack heat; The "right-to-carry" movement has succeeded in boosting the number of licensed concealed-gun carriers to about 6 million. Mike's favorite quote from the article: "Because the gun death rates parallel an overall drop in crime, Hemenway suspects that the decline 'has nothing to do with concealed-carry laws.'" Mike's comment: "Did a PhD actually say that?"

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Attention Coloradans: Reader P.M. in Colorado suggested a "private party" sales venue where he has both sold and purchased guns. Note that interstate sales of post-1898 guns without using an FFL is illegal, but intrastate sales between private parties are perfectly legal in most states. (Be sure to consult your state laws, first!) JWR Adds: In my experience, two other good sources for private party guns are and

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Eric S. sent this item: Amid budget crisis, California makes parole easier - Yahoo! News. Eric commented: "24,000 prisoners released in one year due to budget cuts, not rehabilitation. and this will not affect the public's safety?"

"Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks. Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools. And their grandchildren are once more slaves." - D.H. Lawrence

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Reader Jeff D. mentioned that he noticed that SurvivalBlog is now in the top 7,500 US web sites' traffic ranking, on Alexa. Thanks for making the blog such a great success! Every link helps.


Today we present another entry for Round 27 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 27 ends on March 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 live in Tornado Alley which means we've had more than a few opportunities to break out the 72 hour kits and find out what works and what doesn't. However, one thing we were surprised to find was that we hadn't figured out what to do when the crisis extends through bedtime, or when it occurs while the kids are asleep. If you have to "hunker down" during a crisis, it'll take a while for you or the kids to get sleepy. For the adults, this isn't that big a deal, but when children miss sleep, they have a tendency to become cranky and irritable. Since that is the last thing adults need, here is some things we learned, both from emergency situations and from co-sleeping with our children when they were younger, that might help give other folks some ideas to take care of this aspect of preparedness.

* Let them snuggle up to you - touch helps many children feel more secure. I've had children fall asleep with their back against mine, or with just the top of their head touching my leg. It helped me calm down as well since it helped me keep tabs on them while they were asleep (I'm a light sleeper when my kids are sleeping in the room with me).

* Light massage - Depending on the child, a light massage on the neck or even brushing hair away from the face can relax a child enough to sleep. I've found it works well with toddlers and young children. I think my older kids would look at me funny if I tried that with them now.

* Smaller babies can be held or swung - My husband would hold our babies in his arms and gently swing them back and forth in front of him. This was the only way he could put them to sleep when they were with him. I couldn't duplicate that effect, but in a way I had it easier. All I had to do was hold them on my chest and they would fall asleep.

* Keep a routine as much as possible - Routines help children feel secure, not to mention learn that everything has a time, including sleep. In a crisis, this need becomes even more pronounced, so try to keep routines the same as much as possible, even if the location is different.

* Create a transition time - Create a space between regular activities and bedtime when the television is off, communication equipment is turned down or moved so that the kids won't focus as much on it (very difficult that one), any games are quiet, and bedtime is clearly acknowledged as coming soon, even for parents.

* Be aware of their security or lack thereof during the day - Watch to see how your children are handling the changes that come with a crisis. Doing what you can to make sure they feel secure during the day will help when the darkness arrives, visibility is lessened and the only security they see is their little group in the glow of the lantern.

* If children are used to sleeping alone, give them some space before bed - Sometimes, again depending on the child and most definitely with older children, it might help to create boundaries, even if it is just "their space" around their sleeping bag. Our kids go through this in phases, though this need for personal space seems to grow as the children do.

* Try to all go to sleep together as a family - Though there may be a need to stay abreast of information or keep watch, try to make sure one parent or adult member of the family goes to sleep at the same time as the kids. Kids live by example and if you don't make sleep a priority when the time comes, they won't put much emphasis on it either.

There are also a few things we've found help in non-crisis, day to day life that make sleeping or just resting more feasible in a crisis situation.

* Have a routine - We have seven kids, and I've learned that the freewheeling schedules I grew up with don't help when life truly goes crazy. One would think it would go the other way, but our experience has been that when you don't have a scheduled bedtime it is far too easy to let all sorts of things slide in a crisis. And if the kids have been taught that any time is good for anything, it puts added stress on the parents who may need that time to talk or just relax for a moment (not to mention possibly getting a few winks in themselves). This is true of more than just bedtime. Meals made at the same, general time every day, traditions that surround little events (like prayer before meals or a small routine regarding when a person leaves the house) and other regular, scheduled events give a child structure and a sense of control in a world that has far more chaos than order in it. These schedules and routines should have some amount of flexibility, obviously, but when a tornado warning is announced or a flash flood is creeping along your street, you'll have something to modify as opposed to chaos and the terror that comes with it.

* In line with this, have a consistent nap time - Sometimes we let it go, depending on the child. But every time I let a kid fall asleep at 4pm I regretted it that night.

* Make clean up part of bedtime - I didn't grow up in a house that made at least clearing a path through the room part of the evening routine. I've tried to do that with my kids and it's been a lifesaver when a tornado warning came in the middle of the night. I can't imagine trying to herd sleepy kids to a safe location while trying to step over toys, clothes, and/or assorted games. Because the floor has been clear, I've been able to pick toddlers up out of bed with minimal wake-up, giving them and me a greater chance they'll fall asleep again soon (this depends on the kid but at the very least it provided a smooth transition to waking up and kept them calm... at best we have had children fall right back asleep once settled in).

* Turn off the television as much as possible - We all know these things (television, video games, Internet) are highly addictive. Much has already been written about that, but I'll just add that when we keep television restricted to the weekends our kids sleep better, especially our boys. One son in particular has a tendency to wake up in the middle of the night if he watches too much television. I have no idea why but for our family this is true.

* Spend time with them during the day - I know in our current culture it's very difficult to spend time with your kids. I'm lucky in that I get to stay home with my kids while my husband works. Getting used to being around kids all day (and often at night if they aren't feeling well) is another essay in itself, but I just want to add that whether or not you stay home with them, it's very easy to push them aside -- yes, even stay-at-home parents. Spending time with them during the day, whether it's making a meal together, playing a game, teaching them a skill or just doing chores, teaches you more about your individual child's temperament (very useful in a crisis situation) and, we've found, makes bedtime less of a problem.

* Get some sleep yourself - I know I mentioned this in the earlier section regarding a crisis, but I mention it again because kids really do live by example. Our kids never had any illusions about fun and exciting stuff that went on after they went to sleep because once or twice I would let the kids stay up while I got ready for bed (I made it clear that when I went to bed, they did as well). They learned pretty fast that nothing exciting happened after their bedtime, and that mom and dad got tired just like they did.

Introductory Note: Some of the activities suggested in this letter may not be legal in your country or your US State. Please ensure that you are familiar with any related laws before attempting any of the methods outlined below. They are therefore provided for information only:

With regard to the recent article on semi-anonymous Internet access and the use of wi-fi, by Jeff T:

I agree with many of the suggestions in this article, but also wanted to expand on these and identify a number of possible additional risks associated with using wi-fi connectivity.

Ben from Tennessee is quite right that one of the biggest “finger prints” left behind on public wireless networks is the MAC address of the wireless interface within the PC, indeed many pay-to-use public wi-fi systems use the MAC as part of the browsing session validation process, so linking and storing details of the MAC used to any account details (when, where, how long, and more importantly what public IP address was used connecting to the Internet). The MAC is “burned” into every network interface at the time of manufacture (wired and wireless) and is unique to that device – effectively its DNA or finger print.

There are a number of ways that you can “hide” your real MAC address online (wired and wi-fi – and you may want to consider the wired option if staying in hotels with wired only connectivity etc), but one of the simplest for users of Microsoft Windows is SMAC. I have no relationship with this company, other than having paid for and used their products over many years, both personally and professionally). This tool allows you to change the MAC address of your wired and wireless interfaces’ through a Windows based application. Regular changing of your MAC address is the first step to reducing the audit trail of wi-fi connectivity you leave behind – especially if you use free to access/non pay-to-use/no-need-to-register systems.

There is a “feature” of Microsoft Windows, when wi-fi is enabled, that a lot of people do not know about! (Yes, I know we should all be using some form of Linux, I prefer Ubuntu & Gentoo, but this is aimed at those who are happy with “Bill” and lack some of the technical ability required to move to a Linux based system – at least initially).

When a wireless enabled PC running Microsoft Windows is unable to find any wi-fi access point (hot spot) with which to connect, it can (at least in its default configuration) actively seek one out. To do this it sends out provocative wireless signals attempting to connect with a network it has previously connected with. It will cycle through all of the network identities (names) it has previously worked with. All of these packets are sent in the clear and can be captured by anyone with a simple wireless tool running in “sniffing mode” nearby. The key issue here is that all of the network names you have connected with are disclosed cyclically over a few minutes. Coupled with an online resource such as WiGLE, this information can be used to establish a profile of the PC owner – where you live, work, eat, drink coffee, go to the gym etc, anywhere you use your portable PC with wi-fi. You may want to check to see if your home or employers wi-fi access point is on WiGLE?

Another aspect of wi-fi seldom considered by most people relates to OPSEC [and COMSEC]. In a localized grid down situation it is pretty obvious who has power in my neighborhood, as their wi-fi access point is clearly powered up and sending wireless signals that reach several hundred yards away – those access points on higher floors of high rise buildings, or those up the hill with a clear line of site to my house, go even further. Since the central office is still up on batteries or generator, these people keep their ADSL router on to maintain access to the Internet, and since they normally use wi-fi to connect with their PC’s, they continue to do so. Whilst this may not be so much of an issue for those “in the wilds” it is an issue for those in urban and sub-urban environments, where the neighbors, or more correctly their battery powered laptop powered up to watch a DVD or listen to a CD, spotting your access point could bring unwanted attention to your front door?

In my neighborhood with the majority of wi-fi hot spots (>98%) off due to the power failure, the signals from the few that are still working appear to go that much further, due to the greatly reduced interference. You may want to try this the next time the power goes off in your neighborhood – you will be amazed when you see all of these new, but very weak, wireless signals from those with UPS systems and back-up power within ~½ a mile of your home. Those that use their business names as the wireless network identity really stick out, as do the people who name their home wi-fi networks after the family name or home address (e.g. “Holmes home network” – I can look you up in the phone book, or even worse “128_Western_Avenue” – I can read a map!)

You also need to remember that even with the access point turned off, the client PC (or Macintosh etc.) will be sending out those provocative wireless signals in an attempt to connect with “something”. These signals can also be detected and give your location away, along with the fact you have access to power & working technology! This is especially a problem if your PC is set up to allow client to client connections over wi-fi (also known as “ad-hoc” connectivity – you may have this turned on by default) A simple Windows PC nearby will spot this device easily – and what did you call your client PC, another possible OPSEC leak? I did wonder if this could have been an issue with “movie night” in your novel, "Patriots", though the remote location probably reduced the risks?

To prevent any wireless signal becoming a problem you should always be sure to turn off any wireless capability (Wi-fi, Bluetooth, WiMax etc) if you are not using it, if only to save on the battery drain, and remember to do it at both ends of the link. This is equally true for PC's, Mobile phones, PDA's, and if you have a much newer car - its integrated Bluetooth/hands free capabilities too !

On a more general level, there are many PC related problems with achieving anonymity on the Internet, with processor IDs (turn this off in the BIOS), TPMs (Trusted Platform Modules – an embedded secure crypto-processor on the latest models – turn it off), License ID’s – Operating systems, including automatic software updates etc, and a whole host of other “meta data” that gets sent with all of our network traffic. Ask what is your online media player or virus guard/firewall downloading for you in the background whilst you thought you were being anonymous? For the more technically minded and PC savvy, downloading a copy of Wireshark to your PC can be quite enlightening, and frightening when you see what it is doing “in the background” over the network to which you are connected.

Certainly buying an older laptop PC and using this (with an ever changing MAC address) can go some way to achieving local anonymity when using wi-fi, but you still have issues with data remaining on the PC that is resent at a later date, and this is less than ideal. It is possible to run most PC’s without a hard drive – just physically remove it yourself, delete it in the BIOS, unplug it - leaving it in place in the laptop, or just buy a used PC from a company that has already removed it as part of their disposal security procedures.

Using another working and Internet connected PC you can download and “burn” a bootable CD or DVD (sometimes called an “ISO image”) that will give you a complete operating system with Internet access and an email client. It does everything your “normal” PC does, but when you switch this off it will not retain any historical data, and when you restart it, it will always boot “clean” with no residual meta-data from your previous online activities – you can transfer any data you wish to retain to a USB thumb drive, suitably encrypted of course, but never import this back onto the "anonymous" PC!

If you do not feel confident with doing this yourself, you can download or purchase bootable disc’s that are sold as simple “data recovery” tools – these are mostly Linux boot disks that help you to recover your data from the hard drive if Windows fails. They work quite well as anonymous operating systems if you take the correct precautions and should only cost a few dollars at most. You do not want or need professional level tools, and many are available pre-configured for your specific make and model of laptop (these are the ones you typically pay for). Put the disk in, hit the power button, and less than a minute later you have something that looks a bit like Windows, and after a few minutes getting familiar with it you should be browsing the Internet.

Finally there is a "whole other article” on anonymous proxy methods (e.g. TOR) which should be used in conjunction with all of the above methods when attempting some form of anonymity on the Internet.

The reality check with all of this is: If you are being specifically targeted by the authorities (or “hacker community”) there is little you can do to prevent yourself from being monitored, especially if you repeatedly conduct all of your online activities from a specific location (e.g. this could be a single wi-fi hot spot in the library, or a wider town area with multiple wi-fi connection points).

Only the “perpetual traveler” without a known itinerary or means of having their travel activities traced can hope to begin to achieve true anonymity online using these techniques, but that should not stop us from taking the most basic steps to maintaining our where possible.

Kind Regards, - Ian


In response to the letter, Semi-Anonymous Internet Access: Connecting to publicly available wireless networks (or piggybacking on an unsecured, private wireless network) does add a degree of anonymity - but comes with a few caveats.
1) It may be illegal where you are. Anything illegal you do may put the owner of the access point into legal trouble as well. The law is generally poorly worded or undefined when it comes to the area of ownership of wireless access. Do your research.
2) Professionally maintained wireless access points will have audit logs, which may include time and date of access, MAC address, computer name or user name, customer identifier (if any), and what sites you visited. Never do anything that would connect your identity to that audit trail.
3) Unless secured by another method (such as HTTPS, used by e-mail providers and online vendors) connecting to an unprotected wireless access point exposes you to the risk of someone eavesdropping your internet activity, or possibly even infecting your computer with viruses. Be security minded.
4) Just like using the public computer at the library, you lose anonymity if you establish a routine. Connecting to the same network every day means, should someone be trying to find you, they just have to watch that network and wait for you to attach yourself to it.
5) As JWR's son mentioned, doing anything which connects to your personal identity, or engaging in a routine you engage on elsewhere, will eliminate your anonymity. Criminals have been prosecuted for crimes because they paused long enough to check a friend's facebook page. Limit the work you do during that session to what you must do, preferably downloading it to your hard disk rather than reading it "live", so you can disconnect and leave. The more time you're connected, the more you're vulnerable.

Using someone else's wireless internet access is perhaps the easiest way to greatly decrease your internet signature. There is the problem of the MAC address. A MAC address is a code programmed into your wireless network card. The easiest way to change it is to buy a new network card, but that gets expensive. For many cards, it's possible to find a utility (oftentimes not by the vendor) that changes the MAC address on that card. Find it, download it, learn to use it. There is nothing illegal about changing your MAC address.

JWR's son was also correct that the easiest way to sidestep data leakage is to do as the government does it - one computer for sensitive (personal) data, and one computer with no personal data. You may take data from the non-personal over to the personal, but never ever transfer anything from the personal computer to the non-personal, and never ever use the non-personal to visit your favorite web sites (e-mail, facebook, gaming sites, work-related sites, blogs, etc.) Your web visiting habits are as individual as a fingerprint. Wear gloves.

Some other ways to get privacy - download and use The Onion Router (TOR). TOR is perfectly legal [in most locales], but jumps your connection through 10 or 20 other random connections, so the data is effectively scrambled. It isn't a cure-all, because it can be circumvented, with the right know-how.

Use a minimalist browser. "The more plumbing the easier it is to spring a leak" is very true with computers. Tomcat is an example of a browser that permits text-only. Using it in combination with tools like TOR is a force multiplier.

Consider joining a darknet. A darknet is a private network - imagine it as being its own, tiny Internet. The best would be to have wholly independent network cabling, but that is rarely a possibility. A properly made darknet is like a virtual speakeasy - encrypted access to it, and a wide selection of sensitive information, all protected from outside prying eyes.

Learn about encryption. PGP is available, for free, to anyone smart enough to compile it, and it has beaten federal investigations before. Unless it is encrypted, you should consider it unsecured.

Finally, take care of your passwords. Learn how to make a good one (in the case above, the user encrypted his entire computer with a page-long passage - making it effectively impossible to crack through conventional means), learn to change them regularly, and keep them secret. - "Dieselman"

Your readers might be interested to know that the street view of their house can be viewed by anyone using Google Maps.

If they do not wish to have the view showing all your expensive SUVs and G.O.O.D. vehicles, do the following:

1. Using Google Maps, find your address.
2. Activate the Street View for that address.
3. At the bottom of the view is a link that says "Report A Problem."

By clicking that link, you are taken to a form that allows you to request that your house photo be removed. Simply follow the directions on the form.

I did it for my house and it took about a week. Even then, the view was only partially blocked. I send another report and they changed it so that my house is completely blocked out from the front view.

Watch your top knot, - Jim H.

Dear Mr. Rawles:

Having read both of the letters about Northeastern Colorado Retreats and having personally lived the general area since 1967 I wish to offer the following comments. I believe there are merits in both letters.

The area is best described as semi-arid with an annual rainfall in the range of 12-13 inches per year; but, keep in mind we are recovering from a 10 year drought with average annual rainfall around 8 inches. These averages are accurate as our family has farmed and have kept accurate records since 1973. We have a large garden and routinely can more food than we consume with the balance going to like minded individuals that we barter with for services and goods or to the local food pantry. Yes we have to irrigate but we have two windmills, one for livestock and one for the garden that provide plenty of water on with no electricity what so ever. These wells are 55 feet deep with the pump base set at 45 feet. Ground water level runs in the 35-40 foot range depending on the time of year. We also have a domestic well 100 feet deep with the pump at 75 feet. There is live water 1/2 mile to the east and two fresh water springs with potable water within 1-1/2 miles of the house. One is concealed. Over the years we have planted and raised close to a mile of tree lines to protect animals, the garden and buildings. An orchard provides four different fruits and three different berries. Is one able to live off the land here? Yes, with years of preparation.

While not evident, many people in this area are silently preparing. Individuals are visiting and pacts are being discussed. Multiple lines of communication and defense are being quietly developed. Looters and thieves ("foragers") will not see a beehive but they will encounter a deadly swarm of bees. These people have been shooting and hunting together all their lives. 300 to 400 yard shots on coyotes are not uncommon. Can the area be defended? Yes, with preparation.

Incidentally, I have a friend that is actually moving out of southeast Nebraska after growing up there. He says "Do a Google search on 'Rulo, Nebraska and look back into the 1970s. Some things haven't changed". I can't comment, those are just his feelings and as 22 year veteran he must know something.

Sure the economy is poor, but what difference will that make if the SHTF.

The point I am trying to make is what SurvivalBlog is about. There is no perfect retreat location. You have to prepare. We have, in northeastern Colorado and western Nebraska, what we feel is an adequate retreat location for us. But, we have been preparing for over 40 years. You can not move into this area, or probably most areas, and be adequately prepared in the first year, two, or in some cases ten. Resources and allies take time to develop. - F.M. in Colorado

SurvivalBlog's Poet Laureate, George Gordon, sent this: Underemployment Hits 20% in Mid-March

H.H. spotted this: North Korean finance chief executed for botched currency reform. H.H.'s comment: "How ironic. In the United States, when a Treasury Secretary or Fed Chairman screw up the nation's economy through back-door deals, insider trading and the manipulation of the currency, they are granted even more power. In North Korea, even if you're just trying to do your job, you're treated a bit differently."

Items from The Economatrix:

Japan Joins China in Reducing Holdings of US Treasury Debt

Bonds Reveal US Losing AAA Status

IMF Warning Wealthiest Nations About Their Debt

$3/Gallon Gasoline Possible this Summer

Bernanke: Bank Bailouts "Unconscionable"

Job Loss Takes a Toll on Mental Health

Kyle was the first of several readers to mention this: Poll: Most Americans Fear U.S. Economy Could Collapse

   o o o

UN: Polluted water killing, sickening millions

   o o o

My Coast to Coast AM interview inspired a talented photographer to create this: Beans, Bullets, and Band-Aids.

   o o o

SurvivalBlog's Editor At Large Michael Z. Williamson found a link to a YouTube video showing a nifty sandbag tool. Mikes's comment: "Very clever. It fills them with enough slack space left for a fold or tie."

Eli: "No, I walk by faith, not by sight. It means that you know something even if you don't know something. It doesn't have to make sense, it's faith, it's faith. It's the flower of light in the field of darkness, it's giving me the strength to carry on, you understand?"

Solara: "Is that from your book?"

Eli: "No it's Johnny Cash, Live at Folsom Prison." - Denzel Washington as Eli, The Book of Eli. (Screenplay by Gary Whitta)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I'm scheduled to be the guest in the first hour tonight on the Nightwatch syndicated radio show, from 9 to 10 p.m. Central time in the U.S.


Today we present another entry for Round 27 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 27 ends on March 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 work as an independent hospital contractor. Our home base is in Montana, but I am independent. I work as temporary health care staff at hospitals, being licensed in about 5 states. I usually make pretty good money traveling, but I miss having a fixed point in case of crisis.

My wife and I really enjoy living in Montana, we were having a good life: hunting in the mountains panning for gold and camping. While working at a good paying contract, the hospital I was with had asked about renewing the job for another several weeks. I accepted the renewal since the pay was adequate and my wife was taking classes locally. Suddenly, the hospital terminated the existing contract early leaving me scrambling for another job. Usually during the winter months there are more offers than I can handle. This time it was different. Business was suddenly down about 40% nationwide.

I had what I thought was an adequate emergency fund and plenty of survival tools and supplies. Most of our belongings were in storage. I had a cargo trailer which I converted to a ‘camper-survival’ shelter. We thought we were prepared to re-locate anywhere in the country where there was work.
Murphy’s Law kicked in about two weeks after the last day of my job. The head gasket blew on my Toyota Truck, making a serious dent in our emergency/travel fund. Remaining in a fixed place waiting for repairs was expensive with no income to offset the rent. It was the dead of winter in Montana with an average temperature of 20 below at night. It was not practical to camp, since we had no transportation to and from the woods. What used to be ‘fun’ was now ‘threatening’ with the money running out.

Since I had to wait for the truck to be repaired, I used the time to prepare ourselves for another contract offer, I soon got lucky and we had an offer in Texas. Unfortunately, without a vehicle we were stuck indoors, unable to pack our trailer. We worried that the repairs would not be completed before the contract begins in Texas, and that was about two weeks away. The truck was finally repaired giving us about 15 days to get to Texas.

My ‘hard’ experience became a test. It was not a melt-down of society but our current problems were about as I figured it about 10% of what a real crisis would entail. We packed a chain saw, small generator, tools, clothes, and anything else we predicted we would need during the trip and while living in Texas. We had experience camping for several months with our trailer, but never in sub-zero weather. Most importantly, the stress level was high which made everything harder.

With the truck fixed we began "getting out of dodge". We hoped to go south and avoid some of the coldest weather. After packing, we realized there was too much stuff for us to sleep comfortably in our camper-trailer. We re-packed and put about 40% of our gear back in storage. I set priorities to keep, among other basic tools, a battery-powered circular saw, drill, chain saw, 700 watt generator and our sleeping bags. Cooking equipment was also a major part of our load. I left our long guns behind in storage, taking only one Benelli slide-action shotgun, a .22 [rimfire rifle] and a revolver. We would have to stay in apartments or motels so I figured that from previous trips that firing a .308 inside an apartment or populated area would be too dangerous to others during a confrontation (we counted on any work being in an urban area).

It’s important to note that we could not plan or prepare for camping in the open country with a tent, fire, etc. That would put us out of touch with possible employment and required too much extra equipment. In a 100% survival scenario I could foresee possibly camping in our canvas wall tent in a secure area, but not in the woods. The best I could think of in a serious disaster would be to make some kind of deal with a mini-storage and set up the tent behind the fence. Not very romantic.

The trip to Texas would cross into my home state of Missouri. We decided since it was the holiday week we could stay with family and friends we had not seen in 5 years. Our Missouri friends and relatives had always given us an open invitation, often asking when we would return. This was also an opportunity to save on Motel costs on the trip. The contract was to start on January 4, so remaining in Missouri would help us avoid the costs of sitting in a Motel in Texas. I don’t start to make money until the contract begins. We made phone calls to everyone telling them that after five years we would finally get to spend the holidays there.

After the truck repairs, the next major problem occurred during the trip. A winter storm had settled in the mid-west. Travel was extremely difficult, made worse pulling the trailer. Also there was the psychological ’effect’ of a deadline. With no other short-term option, we had to go. We hit black ice in Kansas causing our entire rig to slide into the oncoming lane. I managed to recover control, but the near-disaster shook us up pretty good. I drove an average of 35 MPH across Kansas in the winter storm. I was fearful that road conditions would prevent us from reaching our destination. Motel rates in one town were high and the fog was starting to settle in so we stopped early, and slept in our trailer. The fog was so thick we had trouble finding a Wal-Mart parking lot. At sundown, as my wife and I crawled into our sleeping bags we heard a loud Boom! This was the was the start of a big pile-up on the iced-over highway nearby. We had done the right thing stopping early, knowing when to quit.

The weather the next day was only slightly better, requiring very slow going. People were trying to get home for the holidays and taking the risk of driving too fast for road conditions. We saw the wrecked cars and trucks to prove it. We picked along, avoiding the Kansas City and its rush hour. We were trying to outrun another storm from the north by heading as far south as we could. When we finally arrived at our parents’ house, there was an unexpected reception. Our relatives seemed indifferent to our visit, and had no interest in the stories of our 1,400 mile trip. They did not care about hunting stories in Montana, camping, or gold panning. They spent the entire day watching sports television and talking about sports. They crowded around the television during a news report of the pile up of cars on the highway in Kansas we had experienced. When we tried to report on our first hand experiences, they ignored us. This attitude added to our stress.

We increasingly began to be viewed as inconvenient outsiders. This lack of respect started wearing on our nerves.
I tried to keep busy with constructive tasks. My portable generator was leaking gas, so I worked on it in the basement of the parents’ house, carefully laying out all of the parts searching for the source of the leak. I went back upstairs to attend to another matter and when I returned my 80 year old mother had taken the parts and placed them in random boxes. She was in the process of attempting to move the generator from the work table so the grandkids could have a place to play. She was trying to push the unit off of the table (waste high) and onto the floor. I was just in time to keep my Yamaha 700 watt generator from being smashed on the concrete. I sorted parts for two hours after that. My wife had similar stress in the kitchen, while attempting to cook for my parents. My mother had shut the stove burners off when my wife was trying to cook, somehow resenting the effort of my wife’s cooking. On the bright side, one older uncle and his wife of about 85 were highly interested in our lives, having done similar things after WW II in Wyoming.

The last straw and the strangest thing to happen, was when we threw away some accumulated trash. In organizing for next leg of the trip, I repacked food items into bags, which took up less room. The Oatmeal supply went into plastic bags rather in the bulky round box. I used the round cardboard container as a trash can in our (mostly private) sleeping room. After carefully tearing up some minor personal junk mail and receipts (I usually burn all of our mail for security reasons at home), I took the container to the kitchen to throw away , leaving it on the table. Later that day a relative who had taken little interest in our presence had emptied our shredded documents and trash onto the table. She was going through our trash, carefully sorting through the shredded documents and other trash, trying to put together the pieces as if it were a jigsaw puzzle. I looked down and she was piecing together one of my wife’s empty tampon boxes. This was the last straw. We decided to ‘try’ our friend’s homes for a few days.
We had been in regular contact with two of my best friends from Missouri over the years and looked forward to the holiday visits. Unfortunately, calls to one friend suddenly were not returned. I usually always talked to this guy. After numerous messages left I began to be concerned that someone had had a serious accident and was unable to communicate.
I told my wife, “That’s not like Tom, he usually returns calls right away.”

She said, “Maybe he does not want to talk to us.”

I replied, “That’s impossible, we talk all of the time, and he knew we were in the area.”
We never did hear from my friend until we were headed out of Missouri. I had made one last call and he answered. He said everything was ’fine’ but he was having some kind of arguments with his wife.
We visited my other friend, one I had known since grade school. He clearly stated his desire for use to come over and spend a few days. He is a lawyer with a big house and many guest rooms. He was also having trouble. His 24 year old live-in son had been arrested for DWI. His son also smashed some furniture in a drunken fit the night before we arrived. The stress of this family ’problem’ was evident. During the first night’s stay, the reception was cool. My friend did not talk much. He said he needed to go into the office the next day, a Sunday. His wife talked to us for only a brief period, spending most of the time watching television on her laptop computer, wearing earphones. I admit I questioned his ability to control his now ‘adult’ son and suggested throwing him out. Due to his son’s erratic behavior, I also felt our belongings were unsafe in the house. They had asked us to stay for several days. We left the next morning.

We re-packed our equipment , and, using our depleted funds, stayed in Motels during the rest of the Missouri ‘Holiday Family Visit’. We left for Texas earlier than planned, glad to be away from our ‘friends’ ‘and family‘. We finally arrived in Texas, mentally exhausted from the experience. It actually took several days to ‘recover’ from the trip. After I finally secured work, our financial situation began to right itself.

Lessons Learned

Our winter travel experience in my estimation was about 10% of what a real-world melt-down would be like:

1. Little Money
2. No Job
3. Bad Weather
4. Forced to ‘evacuate’ to a better place quickly.
5. Refuge with friends or relatives.

A ‘real’ melt down , I think, would include:

1. Lack of law and order, requiring more security arrangements during travel.
2. No ATM or Credit Cards, thus the need to carry large sums of cash.
3. Absolutely No Help from Others (based on what little help we did get from people we thought would help us AND the behavior of others in the household.

Knowing what we know now, in a Real Emergency the only chance would be to have a well-insulated, secure place with plenty of stored food and fuel. One would need a propane tank, wood cook stove and wood heating stove. Long-distance travel, relying on relatives or friends is ‘out’, for us. If we had to travel it would be to a motel/hotel with good security. The transaction would be in cash, no promises or favors from others. What would happen if one stayed with friends during a true melt-down and the live-in son decided to steal our survival equipment? Or vandalize our truck out of spite because he could not get his drug fix that day?
Lessons Learned:

1. Have all of your equipment in good working condition. Do not expect to repair or maintain anything during a crisis trip even if you think you will remain in one place for one or two days. I had a small 700 watt generator I took along, that developed a fuel leak. I had all the parts spread out on a work table in the basement during disassembly in order, looking for the leak. I had left them out for a couple of hours only to return to find the parts thrown into a cardboard box! The reason: the kids wanted to play a game on the table I was using and my ‘stuff’ was in the way. Do not expect people to respect your property or understand why you have certain items. In addition, I could not help thinking that there was some envy or resentment by some family Members regarding our preparedness gear. I couldn’t help thinking that in a ‘real’ crisis kids or other people may attempt to vandalize, steal, or otherwise disable our gear if left unprotected. Keep your stuff locked up, no matter what or how relaxed you feel.

2. Have three portable light sources with you at all times. You have to be able at any given moment tell if your trailer chains are hooked up in a snow storm. It’s just as important to be able to read at the end of the day in a dark unfamiliar room. Few if any houses or even motel rooms have good reading or task lighting. The Dewalt 18 volt flex-light with an LED element was a very useful light source for us. We had a 12 volt charger in the truck for the Dewalt. We also both carry LED head lamps (hung around neck at night). I also had my sure-fire light. Sounds like camping in the woods? It’s harder camping in someone’s house due to the human factor. Other unpredictable people were around; including undisciplined kids. The job of camping out in someone else’s home is exponentially harder. I would also try to add to our gear a way to lock a door from the inside, any door.

4. If you like an alcohol drink at the end of the day, keep that in your personal gear, not stored away in the truck. My wife and I like a private drink at the end of the day in our bedroom away from the need to have a conversation with everyone else. It helped us unwind and plan the rest of the project, not to mention get away from impolite questions and improper behavior.

5. Bring your sleeping bags with you into the bedroom or hotel room. For some reason people do not provide enough blankets or bedding. One sister’s house provided us with a room, two small beds and  one blanket! People are used to turning up the thermostat. We like good bedding.  Also have ear-plugs. Kids and even adults in some households keep the television on at top volume 24/7. They will not give consideration to guests. What would you do if you had to sleep in the same room as snoring (or worse) strangers during a real melt-down?

6. This next lesson is important believe it or not. Go to a Laundromat and fish out of the trash an empty detergent bottle. Instead of wandering through a house looking for the bathroom, use the makeshift urinal in the bedroom. Don’t use a throw away drinking bottle or anything for human consumption for a urinal! It seemed to us that during the stressful time we had there was a greater propensity for accidents. While it’s irritating to pour your laundry urine bottle in the washer by mistake, think of what you would do in the dark if you made a mistake with a container for drinking. If I were (god forbid) to have to stay in a room for an extended time, I would make the purchase of a portable toilet a priority. Along with taking a shower once in a while, being able to carry out this function (in private) is of the highest necessity to help keep you sane. The rule is: you have enough stress already, do what you can to minimize any stress. For us, privacy is a stress reducer.

7. People you deal with that are not preparedness-minded will not understand you and for some reason work against you either consciously or subconsciously. I have read stories about this but it never hit home until our trip. I keep everything locked away and secure or on my person at people’s houses as if I were sleeping in a subway station or a public park. I don’t need curious teenagers or careless adults to have access to my valuable equipment and supplies (they really don’t understand your equipment, and will break it when your back is turned).  I had many experiences during our trip of this  happening on a ‘good day”. Who knows what someone may do in an actual emergency.

8. Be prepared to have people you thought were your friends or whom you could trust to suddenly at the last moment back out on promises, ignore agreements, be unavailable, or even be counterproductive to your situation. I don’t know where this comes from but it’s out there. Maybe it’s because people no longer have the skills or mindset to make even minor adjustments in their lifestyles to help friends or relatives. Conversation is a lost art. After experiencing this ‘new’ social trait numerous times, I can’t help thinking that there is always some level of envy and resentment going on in general towards preparedness minded people.

9. Television broadcasts have more truth to most people than the written or spoken word. I tried to talk about our near-disaster sliding on black ice and the car pile ups we encountered. People either were disinterested or cut us off in mid-sentence to talk about something else. These same people we noticed would crowd around the television to hear newscaster’s reports of the same events. In a real melt-down these same people will probably believe government propaganda or lies before they listen to a verbal account of a shooting or other social unrest. They would be inclined to turn you in for a reward, or for some other kind of recognition.

10. Have food that is ready to eat with you in your personal gear. We avoided most family meals after we noticed unsafe sanitation practices going on in one household. I had limited health insurance and needed to be prepared to work, not spend time in the hospital suffering from food poisoning. Being aware of unsafe sanitation which will be more important if one is faced with no hospital or limited access to antibiotics in a true ’hard-core’ emergency.

11. My main advantage was traveling with a caring, supportive spouse. My wife did not mind sleeping in the trailer and tolerated our bad times with a positive attitude. She knows more about survival than I do, having grown up poor and under a Military Dictatorship in a third world country. She was much better had identifying the weaknesses of various people we met on our trip than I was.

12. During stress and moving I am more intolerant to people making disrespectful comments, digs, ‘jokes’ poking fun at my situation, and lack of empathy. Stress has a way of doing that for me. I have read of people taken hostage also have this problem. Little things matter. Plan for this kind of added stress by avoiding people likely to behave in this way. This is another reason to have your own place prepared and avoid staying with other people (unless they are very trustworthy). My wife and I seriously considered sleeping in our camping trailer, even at 10 below rather than spending another night in the house with my brother-in-law who made continuous jokes (to his kids) about us ‘living in a tent’ (referring to our propensity to camp and practice survival skills) . He also made a comment to my wife how she “must like having running water [in the house]”. Pride is a sin. Many of these basic teachings were reinforced during the trip.

13. Have at least $10,000 ready at all times for emergencies. When things start to heat up, have it in cash. During the storm, it was difficult to access an ATM. I was able to negotiate auto repairs at a cheaper price by paying cash. During a ‘real’ crisis the need for cash in some form proved to us to be even more important based on our ‘experiment’. Get a money belt and pre-arrange secret compartments.

14. You won’t have the time or the place to camp, pitch a tent or otherwise ‘rough it’ in a bug-out situation. All you can do is keep moving to your designated objective. Remaining too long in one unfamiliar place can become both expensive and unsafe. It would have been impractical to camp out during our winter trip. A.) It would have taken too long to obtain fuel for a fire. B.) Setting up and taking down a tent would have cut into our travel time. C.) Camping ‘looks’ wrong—people will investigate an obvious campsite, but will often leave a trailer alone. Our trailer is based on the cargo design, making it easy to overnight discretely in Urban areas.

15. We tried to carry too much stuff. Many items we carried were useful but only when we arrived at the final destination. It was very hard to make room to sleep in our trailer en route. It was very hard to get (sometimes to find) some of the basic tools and food due to the amount of stuff we packed.

16. Have some way at the end of the day to relieve stress and relax. We found that running or jogging (despite the cold weather) followed at sundown with some beer or whisky along with a good novel, as well as the radio, away from other people to be our method of choice.
17 Have some method of contacting people who you consider truly to be your friends and who are on your side to give encouragement during a crisis. During our emergency, we relied on our cell phones
and the Internet to contact real friends. Our long distance conversations with real friends helped remind us of our strengths. They helped us focus. The encouragement helped keep our spirits up. I had read about hostages relying on messages from supportive people (and being devastated by negative messages), and now understand better the need for this support network communication. In a ‘real’ Crisis one would have to consider some type of short wave radio and/or relay messages via short wave. I can’t think of any other practical method. I want to get some type of portable short wave transceiver and license.

18. Don’t expect people around you other than you spouse or trusted friends to behave reasonably during a crisis. I now don’t even expect grow up people  to behave like adults. Keep your equipment just as secure as if you were in the middle of the parking lot of an inner-city. You never know what people may do out of envy, greed or resentment, not to mention hunger in a real crisis.

19. As hard as this sounds: try a ‘trial run’. See point #15. Pack everything you think you will ‘need’ and drive about 200 miles. See what happens.  I really wish I had done this when times were good, instead
of the last minute.   This would be a great weekend family project that could require very little money. 

Maybe this list of lessons do not apply to your situation. You may think, ‘I have a great support network; this story pertains little to my situation. I have plenty of money and resources.   I don’t have to worry about outside help. ’ I hope so. That’s what I used to think. My biggest lesson learned during a stressful ‘survival’ move is how much even we, as preparedness minded people  took for granted. Moving under the best of conditions is stressful and can wear you down. Plan to have the basics always available: Have someplace secure and quiet to sleep, a place to go to the bathroom, illumination, food, and a few comfort items. Stay away from (or if you have to) be ready for rejection, indifferent (sometimes hostile) friends and relatives in a real crisis.

I only covered a few real-life experiences we encountered on our latest “10% crisis” trip.  After looking back on the trip and knowing what we know now, the best thing to do is to have a fixed place that you own to retreat to during hard times. Get there as quickly and as early as possible. Stay in your own place. Have preparedness equipment there, ready for use. An RV [or fifth wheel trailer] would have been more valuable than our camping trailer for the trip but would have been greater expense and harder to tow. Again, looking back,  staying with relatives or friends en-route, even for one night will not be  to our advantage during a crisis.  Staying with other people  distracted us , and almost prevented us from completion of our ‘mission’.  During the trip, my wife and I kept fantasizing about a private cabin in a quiet place. We kept thinking of someplace with a wood stove, plenty of Fuel, Food, and Water. We found being a ‘refugee’ carries with it too much potential for people to be emotional and/or create problems for one another in good times let alone during some disaster. I learned there were very few individuals we  could count on. We kept asking ourselves: “if we experience these problems on a good day, a ‘Holiday’ what can we expect on a ‘bad day’, a crisis, a melt-down of our current system?

Mr. Rawles:
I have been a registered pharmacist for 34 years. Most drugstores and insurance companies allow you to get up to a 90-day supply of prescription medications at a time. The “Refill-Too-Soon” edit, which is what prevents you from getting a prescription right after getting another one for the same drug filled is usually set at 75% of the days supply.

For example, if you are taking a high blood pressure medication once a day, then a 90-day supply is 90 pills. Seventy-five percent of ninety days is sixty-eight days. Therefore, if we use April 1, 2010 as the day you first fill your prescription for a 90-day supply and allowing 68 days to get a refill we come up with the following schedule:


This refill schedule will result in you getting a 540 day supply in only 338 days. Keep in mind that if your physician only allows for 3 refills, you would need to get a new prescription before your fourth refill.

However, many people can not afford to pay their co-pay for a three month supply at a time, even though the cost of the medicine is less for one ninety-day supply than it is for three fills of thirty day supplies. This strategy will still work for a 30 day supply. Your 23 day (seventy-five percent) refill schedule would be as follows:


This schedule will allow you to get 480 days worth of medicine in just 345 days. The same caveat about refills applies. If your doctor only writes for 11 refills, then you will need to get a new prescription before your 12th refill.


I read with great interest the piece by Jeff M. on building kits. I was kind of taken aback by his statement "I just won't be one of those guys who carries a purse". I guess in these days I need to understand what a purse is because I am a professional person who goes to meeting all over the state in a suit and tie and I always have what my family calls my purse with me. I carry an old trusted backpack that contains my laptop, but also carries all of my immediate survival needs (knife, first aid, water, food, compact 2 meter ham radio etc.) These days no one bats and eye when you carry a backpack, it is really quite the norm. I also carry in my car a Maxpedition Fatboy concealed carry bag, which I bring with me depending on the situation. I just think it is funny that someone would sacrifice security and protection because of the perception that they were carrying a purse, I guess I am secure enough in my masculinity that if the only option was to carry a purse, I would carry an actual purse to keep my essential gear with me.

Keep up the good work, what I have learned on this site is invaluable to me. - Mike in Oregon

I would like to first commend Jeff M. for his great post on the various survival kits. I would like to add that there is another important survival kit that should be considered: The I'm Never Coming Home (INCH) pack is a kit that you would use in event of TEOTWAWKI if you were forced to abandon your home. Usually consisting of an internal framed pack with everything you would need to survival for the long term. This includes shelter (usually a backpacking tent), sleeping bag, sleeping pad, stove, stove fuel, mess kit, food, water, and many other items essential for survival in the post-apocalyptic world. This kit can be added on to the contents of your Bug Out Bag for more versatility if you already have some of the required items.

Strength and Honor, - Ryan S.

Mr. Rawles -
Reading this gave me some good ideas, but also made me stop and take inventory of what I currently do. Here are the contents of my kits as of this moment. Maybe someone will in turn get some ideas from what I do.

The most important safety item is between your ears. Being alert, not going places you should not, situational awareness, planning for emergencies ahead of time, getting all the training you can, all depend on your using your brain, eyes, and ears.

Every Day Carry (EDC) - Every time I leave our house all of this is either in a pocket, on my belt, or in my pouch (worn over my kidney, not in the rear). Items are arraigned so loss of any one item such as my wallet, will not leave me without cash, ID, or credit card. personal identification - Driver's License, concealed carry permit, Sheriff department volunteer ID (it is amazing how few notice it is a volunteer ID
not a regular department ID), Passport card (this is a valid USA passport usable for ID, but in a card format) assorted ID - medical, dental, AAA, Insurance agent, auto insurance, CPR, card credit cards - American Express, Discover, VISA, MasterCard - 99% of the time I only use the two cards that give me cash back, but I have the other two on me in case my primary cards are not accepted - if you can't pay the card off in full each month, don't use the card! Sash (nothing larger than $20 bills - try to get a taxi driver or other small business to accept anything larger!), change (minimum $15 for vending machines & tolls), checkbook cell phone - the most important safety tool I carry - Do you know how to send and receive text messages? They will get through when voice messages will not.
Keys - house, cars, office, spare car key
Medications - prescriptions, Anti-Diarrheal
Knife - Swiss Army knife - in checked luggage when flying
Multi-tool - Buck Tool - in checked luggage when flying
Personal protection - handgun & spare magazine - when flying this gets left behind
Keychain based tools - S&W screwdriver
Pocket PC eWallet (great program, keeps all my important data 256 bit encrypted, and synced between the Pocket PC, laptops, desktops)
Panasonic DMC-ZS3K pocket digital camera, in a leather case from Wal-Mart - wonderful very small camera with 12x optical zoom - fits in my pocket with my wallet.
Quark AA2 LED flashlight - learned about this here on SurvivalBlog - a great flashlight - can serve as a backup headlight for your car, not great but good enough to get you home.
Ear plugs
Pen & pencil

Rolling computer bag - I need a laptop for work and for personal communication (e-mail, Skype, Vonage softphone) so this goes most places with me. All of this fits in the Wenger rolling computer bag.
PackSafe security kit - wonderful system that allows you to lock a bag to an unmovable object in a hotel room for security
Laptop with accessories (AC supply, mouse, headset, USB flash drives, USB hard drive, 30' Ethernet cable, memory card reader, cell phone tether cable, pocket PC VGA & USB cable, camera cable, camera charger)
Totes folding umbrella
Yaesu VX-7R 4 band ham radio (muti-band receive including AM, FM, and Weather bands), antenna, DC cable
Reading glasses, & repair kit
Pads & notebook, envelopes, address labels, stamps, business cards
First aid - bandages, Neosporin, vitamins, medicines, back scratcher, dental floss, Ziploc bags (Ziploc bags are your friends!)
Boy Scout signal mirror
Assorted wire ties
Pens, pencils, extra leads, eraser, highlighters
Laser pointer, AA cells
Comb, inflatable travel pillow, eye shades
Spare car key, ear plugs, AC outlet tester
United Airlines comfort kit - socks, toothbrush & paste, body lotion, Kleenex, eye shade - they give this to you on long flights in business class
Note from doctor about my walking stick - helps me get through security check points with my stick, handicap parking registration, ID holders (for Sheriff department ID to get through road blocks)

Car - the second most important safety item - particularly for someone like me who can't run well - it is your tool to let you G.O.O.D. and back home.
Make sure you have good tires, brakes, wipers, and have kept the gas tank at least half full.
spare tire & factory jack/tool kit - what the car came with.
2 quarts oil stored under hood - found a good spot to store this, and wish there was space for the ATF and washer fluid as well - this location keeps it where you need it and out of valuable storage space in the trunk.
Coat, Gore-Tex lined leather gloves, hat - always in the back seat of my car windshield sun shade
Ice scrapers, snow brushes - my normal commute is 30 minutes, but in a snow/ice storm I have had to stop to clean the windshield every 5 minutes.
napkins & Kleenex
2 - 1/2 liter water bottles
Disposable camera
Magnetic mount ham radio antenna
Jumper Cables - heavy duty

Shooting bag in trunk - bright colored, zippered (got this tip from Lt. Col. Dave Grossman - if you ever need to use your handgun, you may need more supplies than you will carry - so keep them in a brightly colored closed bag in your trunk - you can send someone with a spare car key to fetch this if things go bad)
100 rounds high grade carry ammo
100 rounds practice ammo
Spare magazines
Shooting glasses
Gentex 1030A active hearing protectors (Wolf Ears) - learned about these from Massad Ayoob - lets you hear (in full natural stereo) better than the unaided ear, while protecting your hearing from firearms noise - never mutes even for a second - in great demand for SWAT teams and the military.

Cloth bag in trunk
2 pairs leather/cloth heavy duty work gloves
Rain hat
Cell phone headset
Cell phone DC power cord
Laptop DC power cord
Ham radio DC power cord & belt clip
Felt tip marker

Milk crate in trunk - I am amazed that all this fits in the crate, but it does and keeps it organized and out of the way of other things I may put in my trunk.
Gallon windshield washer fluid
Quart of ATF
Spray can of WD-40
Large roll duct tape
Roll of packing tape
1/2 liter water bottle
County Emergency Preparation Guide Book - very well done, and has all the important contact info.
Craftsman 1/4" drive socket sets, metric & English
Small case with folding umbrella, flashlight & batteries, tire pressure gauge,
Pen, pad, and tools I added
Larger case with DC air compressor, duct tape, folding shovel, Accident
Report kit (disposable camera, tape rule, chalk, pen, accident report form), first aid kit, multitool, triangular reflector, emergency poncho, emergency blanket, work gloves, bungee cord, assorted wire ties, Battery terminal washers, Craftsman 3/8" drive socket wrench sets, metric & English, & screwdrivers Phillips & regular.

After taking inventory, I see places that need improvement, but my kits are always changing.

I hope some others get some useful ideas from my lists. - RAR


Whenever I check in to read and catch up with SurvivalBlog, I try to think of something new I might contribute . I routinely fail, since your site is so encyclopedic on the topic of survival and family preparations.

However, I think the following might be helpful to many of my fellow readers.

As a first responder medic for a rural Volunteer Fire Department I have a belt that I can grab on my way out of the house when we get a call. It's the same belt some police officers use as an "inner belt". About 1.5 to 1.75 inches wide that fastens with Velcro . it has just the right stiffness to allow me to comfortably carry a nice load. I just wrap it around me - outside my pants belt loops - and have hands free carry of a multitude of trauma material, gloves, CPR shield, and other medical and "on scene" material such as flashlight, multi-tool, etc. Total weight is about 4 pounds. This is stuff I may need immediately at hand so I don't have to go through our large bag kits.

It has occurred to me that for some who work in offices, plants, stores etc, this system can convert nicely for a "get back home or to safety" survival kit. While you can choose to keep a small pack at work or in your car, having all the essential survival tools and material on a pouch belt that you can quickly wrap around you will ensure that you don't drop it or lose it along the way as you could a bag or small pack. This method also allows the weight to be carried on your hips, not in your hands or on your shoulder.

All the various size pouches can be found on or or similar sites. just do a search for pouches and build your own belt kit. Everything goes in a nylon pouches with Velcro closures. In constructing mine I use nylon pouches of different sizes that ride on the belt. My belt kit has headlamp, extra AAA batteries, very small water bottle with purification tablets, 2 energy food bars, 2-strap respirator, small trauma kit, head lamp, medical gloves, leather work gloves, a few band aids & several blood stopper trauma dressings, one white wash cloth, antiseptic wipes, Neosporin, small pill bottle with aspirin, Advil, Imodium AD, antacid tabs, 50 feet of parachute cord, disposable "medical" flashlight, disposable lighter, fire starter material, and some other odds & ends. I even have an emergency Bivvy Sack from Adventure Medica. They really work well and I have used them to keep people warm when we have outdoor medical emergencies in the winter.

I highly recommend using many small pouches rather than a few larger ones so you don't have to rummage through larger fanny pack size pouches to find what you need. Using many smaller pouches will also keep the profile of your belt pack thin and allow you to more evenly distribute the weight.

Again, the benefit is that you are hands free when carrying your kit and all weight is distributed on the hips. Very hard to lose anything . When was the last time you lost a belt? Okay, you may look like Batman, but worn under a jacket or with your shirttails out, your belt kit will be invisible, organized, at your fingertips and light weight. - Marc N. in Alabama

GG sent this Wall Street Journal article: Public Pension Deficits Are Worse Than You Think

Reader S.M. sent us some more evidence that the US is slipping towards the edge of a bond rating downgrade by Moody's: Obama Pays More Than Buffett as U.S. Risks AAA Rating. Also, further economic difficulties with managing growing public debt: Lipsky Says ‘Acute’ Debt Challenges Face Advanced Economies.

Items from The Economatrix:

Agora Financial's Five-Minute Forecast

Court Says Fed Must Disclose Bank Bailout Records

A Salon opinion piece by Gene Lyons: It's Time for Wall Street to Pay

Health Care Companies Pull Stock Market Higher

Oil Edges Lower, Extending Friday's Losses

Spain Approves Bill to Overhaul Economy as Jobless Rate Hits 20%

Reader Greg C. wrote to mention that Wiggy's is continuing their 20% off sale on sleeping bags, with free shipping. Order soon, since they rarely extend their sales into the backpacking season!

   o o o

Frequent content contributor Brian B. sent this: There's a new buzz in gardening; With honey bees in decline, stacking-tray 'condos' attract mason bees that will pollinate fruit trees

   o o o

"Oxy" sent us this from The Wall Street Journal: Cartel Wars Gut Juárez, a Onetime Boom Town

"Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think." - Thomas A. Edison

Monday, March 22, 2010

A slim majority of the congresscritters voted late on a Sunday night to pass the ill-conceived socialized healthcare legislation package into law, despite a huge public outcry. (And contravening the long-established rules whereby conference committees must create identical legislation for both the House and Senate.) So they shouldn't be surprised when We The People will find them no longer fit to represent us. I anticipate massive non-compliance with the new scheme, and routs of Democrat incumbents in the next three elections. (Not a single Republican voted for the bill.) There may be some brisk business in tar and feathers on the banks of the Potomac.
Attention Bureaucrats: Go ahead and send me my noncompliance fine bill for $695, because I'm not signing up!


Today we present another entry for Round 27 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 27 ends on March 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 the last year, I have been on my latest “life journey”, wherein I have rediscovered preparedness. During my college years, my friends in engineering school and I discussed Y2K and possible outcomes. Obviously a bunch of electrical engineering students had no idea what would happen. But it did give me pause. What if the worst case situation occurred? What would my parents and I do? (I lived at home throughout college to save funds.)

On a limited budget, and even less knowledge, I did recognize two primary needs: water and firearms for self defense. Working at an internship gave me a few bucks more than most students, so I made use of it. We purchased over 100 gallons of bottled water and I purchased my first firearm—a Mossberg 590 shotgun. I soon supplemented it with a SIG-Sauer P228 9mm pistol and about a thousand rounds between the two—not much, but better than nothing. You don’t know what you don’t know, right? We, like many people stayed up until midnight on December 31st and breathed a sigh of relief.

Fast forward to Fall of 2008—current events dictated that we were in for challenging economic times and possibly quite a bit more. A trusted friend and I started discussing possible scenarios and what our reactions would be. Through a circuitous path, I found SurvivalBlog last Fall and was instantly hooked. When I discover a new topic of interest, I am a knowledge sponge. I have read dozens of books on survival as well as accomplishing “Level 2 Preparations” as described in the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. Preparedness seems to be as deep a topic as engineering or my other passion, creative real estate investing. Among the easier things to do such as store ammo and properly bucket food, there are more dynamic pursuits such as putting together like minded individuals for support and growth. One of the biggest questions you have to ask yourself is, “Who’s on my team?”

My previously mentioned friend and I have discussed a multitude of different potential issues, everything from Grid Down to Invasion to Martial Law to short-term weather-related disasters and earthquakes. As the incident increases in magnitude, the less likely it is to occur compared to the more common, less long-term challenges. We are both preparing for the more likely scenarios first. But we do talk about the "Big One." If TSHTF, who are we going to have join us? Who’s on our team?

We have two other gentlemen that we are encouraging to start deepening their larder, consider alternative heating sources and get firearms and medical training. They would be at the top of the list for our team (along with their spouses and two children apiece) as we are all friends and share similar interests and faith. Progress isn’t what we would hope for with them in the preparedness department however. One of the benefits they bring, in addition to their unique skills, is that much of their extended family lives outside of the state or even a few states away, so there is little to be concerned with in the stragglers department. (BTW, I would love to see children being a part of the G.O.O.D. plan in one of the two upcoming "Patriots" sequels—their unique evacuation requirements and challenges were absent in the first novel, and rare is the eight year old that can cover your flank with an AR-15.) Their skill sets bring depth and breadth to our group and we hope they kick it into high gear shortly.

A bigger problem concerns my friend’s family. His immediate family (wife, son and daughter) are fully on board and are not a problem. His other two sons from a previous marriage (and his nutty ex-wife) will be more of a concern. His adolescent boys have had a few scrapes with the law and generally have a “me-first, no one else matters” attitude. Not people you want in your foxhole. Hopefully the seriousness of a TEOTWAWKI situation would scare them straight, but I don’t typically overlook serious character flaws—especially when it’s a matter of life and death. What does he do with them? Give them a GPS and tell them not to show up empty handed? What about my friend’s Dad and his girlfriend? They have plenty of greenbacks, but it is unlikely they are using those to make preparations or purchase useful supplies. It is likely both extended groups will not bring any goods with them—only more mouths to feed and little in the way of skills. My friend’s mother-in-law and her husband are another consideration—are we going to drag them along too? You can see the problem developing.

A bigger problem yet concerns my extended family. As I am an only child, I have a responsibility and duty to my parents. They taught me a bunch about finances (mostly what not to do) and so I will likely need to double my efforts to cover them. I am fine with that, as they sacrificed a lot for me in the past. My aunt, uncle and grandma all live in a major city a few hours away. I fear they would be gobbled up in the ensuing mess that comes with living in an urban setting during a disaster. I can see them trying to stick together, but they are all aged and my uncle’s 30 years police experience only becomes more useless with each passing year as he loses his abilities. As I am very close with all them, this one hurts. They are at least making some preparations, but they struggle with the status quo syndrome.

What about my wife’s family? We live near her parents, but all three of her siblings and their families live 20 minutes away in a mile radius with one another. I have tried to point them on the path of preparedness by asking probing questions during holiday meals and birthday celebrations. They seem uninterested. “Since things have always been this way, they will never change” is the feeling I get from them—status quo syndrome strikes again. They refuse to purchase even a shotgun because, “Everyone else in our county has one—we’ll be fine”. I have discussed this with my wife and the intuitive answer is for them to band together. Eight extra adults and as many children would destroy our food supply. They are on their own, although I would consider dropping off a few 5 gallon pails of food on the way out of town along with a spare firearm.

It’s pretty obvious that you can not keep inviting all kinds of friends and family to a retreat type of situation. The NFL San Francisco 49ers [professional football] team of the 1980s and early 1990s stands as a model franchise. One of the reason they were so good is because they were ruthless. They had no problem cutting or trading three of the best players to ever strap on cleats: Ronnie Lott, Jerry Rice, and the man who won four championships for them--Joe Montana. They knew when to make the tough cut and had no qualms about including only those that would make their team a winner, or discarding those who’s time had passed.

Knowing who to include and who to exclude, is critical to your team’s success. It is not an easy decision and not one you should consider lightly. Those you exclude could very well die off in a long term SHTF disaster—possibly in a very horrific manner. Those you include could make you wish you that had died off in a long term SHTF disaster if you don’t select carefully. Not including family and close friends may be akin to a death sentence. Are you going to be willing to make that tough cut? These are questions that are best answered now, rather than later. The best ounce of prevention in my mind is to gently encourage friends and family to make some preparations themselves. Use real life illustrations like [the earthquakes in] Haiti, Chile, and other current events which can occur here. It is evident that removing responsibility from people for their own well-being is a catastrophe. Take a look at our culture at large to verify this.

With any group in a long-term situation where you will be living with people you are not familiar with, you will need to set the rules pretty early. This applies to the kids, as well as the adults. We as a society have too much time on our hands—this explains all the stupidity that has been evident in our society in the last 40 years. In a post SHTF scenario, there will be no time for whining about fairness, complaining about life or any other idiocy. Survival is a full-time job with no vacation time or holidays. Children constantly fighting, women being catty or male bravado needs to be addressed immediately. Clear leadership is never more critical. If my friend’s ex wife gets out of line in that circumstance, I need to be the one that explains the situation to her and makes sure she knows it’s my way or the highway since I actually bothered to store food, fuel and ammunition. Similarly, if one of my extended family does the same, I will rely on my friend to take care of it. I don’t consider this passing the buck, but using relationships to solve the problem. Make this easy on yourself by forming your group now and regularly getting together for meals, training and just plain getting used to one another. As with any area of preparedness, it is best to find out now where the holes are in your plan rather than later when your life may depend on it. Ignoring the difficult decision doesn’t make them any easier. - G., Behind Enemy Lines in Illinois

Dear Editor:
Is using a laptop with wi-fi from the library etc any better (in terms of OPSEC) than having a home Internet connection? We disconnected from our satellite ISP from home a while ago and now only go online from assorted wi-fi connections when we get to town. But is this any safer? What else should I be doing to keep a lower profile? Thanks, - Jeff T.

#1 Son Replies: There are several ways that you can be identified over the Internet. First is though your IP address, and more significantly, through your Internet service provider (ISP). Information on every site you visit and every email you send is potentially recorded and available to an intrusive government.

The other major weakness is through your email and other online accounts. Gaining access to your email, FaceBook, Internet forum, Amazon, eBay, PayPal, bank, or AOL/Microsoft Instant Messenger (IM) account would provide a trove of information to any snoopers. Who you talk to, what you've said, bought, and what you've read. You must keep in mind that anything said over the Internet is potentially vulnerable to being intercepted, even many years after the fact.

Overall, achieving genuine privacy on the Internet is very difficult. If you don't use the Internet at home, then investigations might instead just be directed at your e-mail account. However, if you are under a severely restrictive, technically capable government, public Internet access could be a useful tool for circumventing censorship. But for real security doing this, you should buy a dedicated a laptop computer for this use. If you are in a really draconian situation, then buy a used laptop with cash. Do nothing that would identify that computer with you. Don't use it to log in to your e-mail account or use your home Internet connection. Use public Internet connections, and use it strictly anonymously. This computer will be what you use for visiting controversial web sites, political writing, or sensitive communication. Keep it completely separate from your family and public life, so what you say with it cannot lead back to you. Any access of the Internet through an ISP leaves an audit trail! Leave completely separate Internet fingerprints for your public and private lives! (Addenda: Ben in Tennessee wrote to remind me that computers have unique Media Access Control (MAC) addresses. These MAC addresses can be combined with the IP Address to link the traffic on a network such as the Internet to your network card and thus your computer.)

At the present time, this level of COMSEC applies only in a situation like that in Cuba or mainland China, where censorship is rampant, and there might be repercussions for speaking out against the government. Short of this, in situations where you don't have to be totally anonymous, follow common sense. Use strong passwords. Consider very carefully anything you type or do. Anything can come back to haunt you. Use pseudonyms and secondary e-mail addresses for anything controversial. (It takes just a couple of minutes to set up a Hotmail or gmail account. You can establish and then discard them after very brief use.) Don't use the same e-mail address that you give to friends and co-workers to register on preparedness or political forums.

Keep in mind that the lynchpin to your online identity is your e-mail account. Once someone gains access to your e-mail account(s), then they can gain access to most or even all of your various web accounts. Just think how many times that you've had to be reminded of your passwords via e-mail.


The magazine Infoworld is a fairly trusted source in the information technology (IT) field. They recently posted an article titled, "Tech apocalypse: Five doomsday scenarios for IT".

Here is a quote:

"What could happen [from a wide scale EMP attack]: Workstations? Dead. Data centers? Gone. Cell phones might still work, but the cell towers probably won't, rendering them useless. Your car won't start. A large enough attack will also shut down automated controls at power substations, leaving everyone in the dark. Think pre-industrial revolution days. In our scenario the New York Stock Exchange shuts down, causing shock waves to reverberate throughout worldwide markets."

That is not bad for a mainstream IT magazine, though in this scenario they downplay the aftermath. in my opinion. However, they call it "higher than you might think" when talking about chances of this happening.

Their description of the effects of a massive coronal ejection (their last scenario) is pretty good, with a prediction of a recovery time of 4 to 10 years, if at all. - MP

Dear Mr. Rawles,

I thought I would drop you a note on my experiences in attempting to collect a significant volume of nickels. After seeing the site and some of your articles and hearing about the changes being made by the US government in what materials are allowed to be used to make nickels, I decided to take your advice and start collecting. I decided to obtain $1,000 worth to start with, so I went to my local credit union and walked up to the teller and asked what their policy was on obtaining large volumes of coins. She said that they have to pay for shipping of coins and that they order coins twice per week. They also ship their bulk coins that they collect in the coin counter they provide for their members to a company that counts and rolls and sells the coins back. She described the coin service they use. So I asked if they had any coins that they were going to have to pay to ship to the coin processing company that I could buy at face value so they could save money on the processing fee. She was happy to sell me a $200 bag of nickels, unrolled and only counted by their coin counting machine. I accepted that, bought the nickels and took them home. 4,000 nickels in one bag is not lite but it looked worse than it was for carrying.

I thought this solution seemed easy enough so I started dropping in at the credit union once or twice per week. At first they said they didn't have any bags of nickels for me to buy and then after about two weeks they told me they weren't allowed to sell me bulk nickels anymore and that their manager told them it was not allowed. I found this to be a little annoying, after all I was trying to help them to save processing fees by buying the nickels in a $200 bag so they didn't have to pay the shipping for the nickels. I considered my options at this point. I wanted to find the least painful way to get this situation resolved so I thought I would call up the Vice President of the branches in the area and complain. I realized this was excessive and thought I would try calling up the manager of the branch first. Maybe he was a reasonable man. I was disappointed to hear him tell me they had recently had a meeting and established new rules for coin purchasing. The rules outlined that each non-commercial member was only allowed to purchase $20 to $30 worth at a time on a basis of once or twice per week. I explained that I only needed $800 worth and that if I buy $30 worth twice per week it would take me a little over one year to obtain my goal of $800 more worth of nickels. I then stated that this was really over burdensome. He countered that he anything more would cost them too much money. He asked when I would be bringing back the nickels and putting them through the counting machine in the lobby. Then he explained that they have been having problems with some of their members buying large volumes of nickels, sorting them and returning the bulk of all the low value coins while keeping all the coins that sell on eBay to collectors. I responded by promising not to bring back any nickels and that I simply wanted to store them. I would only bring them back if I became unemployed and foreclosed on my house and desperate to spend the money. He still resisted and told me that this was their policy and he had to follow the rules as they were given by the senior management of the Credit Union. I persisted and asked if he would please request an exception to the rules this one time so that I could obtain $800 worth of nickels and that I would be willing to pay a small fee to obtain them if needed. After waiting about a week he called me up and told me they were willing to grant my exception to the rules if I paid a one time $25 fee and promised not to bring them back and put them in his counting machine. I did some quick calculations and decided this was a reasonable solution and accepted. We setup a schedule and they have been calling me twice a week to pick either 1 $100 box or 2 $100 boxes for a total of $300 worth per week. I now have $600 worth of nickels in my safe and am on track to have my goal reached within a little over one week.

Thanks for all your help and advice and hard work on your blog. - Max

G.G. liked this piece at The Daily Beast: America's Debt Gets Scary

Greg C. suggested this blog article that has some serious implications: The Most Important Story that the MSM, Fox News, Glenn beck, and Others Will Not Cover.

Flavio sent this linkio: Retail Sales Fall.

Here is a real Economic Indicator: Box makers wait for signal of economic growth (Thanks to Mike A. in Ohio for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

Stocks Fall on Worries Regarding Greek Debt Return

The Four Cities that Best Weathered the Recession (As if the "recession" were in the past?)

Germany and France Split Over Solution to Greek Debt Problem

When Credit Falls and Equities Rise, Stock Investors Beware

More than 20 SurvivalBlog readers forwarded the link to a New York Times article on potential cyber attacks on the US power grid: Academic Paper in China Sets Off Alarms in U.S. Meanwhile, we read: Electricity disruptions a growing threat. (Thanks to Brian B. for the latter link.)

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Observations from the mainstream media on societal decline and collapse: In the Soviet suburbs of Hell and the blasted avenues of Mogadishu, I saw what our society could become.

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Smoky the Bear Big Brother: US Forest Service admits putting surveillance cameras on public lands. (A hat tip to Chad S. for the link.)

"So this is how liberty dies: with thunderous applause." - Natalie Portman as Padmé Amidala, Star Wars: Episode III, Revenge of the Sith (Screenplay by George Lucas)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 27 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 27 ends on March 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 are many different ways to go about preparing for tomorrow. One method that has really worked out well for me so far is kit building. Kits focus your attention on one specific area at a time, and bring into focus the strengths and weaknesses in your planning. There is something of a natural progression to it; you can start small and work up to bigger and better as you develop the means and know how.
This is intended as an overview of the concept; details for specific kit building can be found all all over the web.

EDC (Every Day Carry)
The Everyday Carry (EDC) is a "kit" that you keep on your person at all times. What it consists of is entirely up to you, and based on your personal needs. Universal items (Prep minded individuals or not) are personal identification, credit cards, cash, cell phone, keys, medications. More specialized items are knives and multi-tools, personal protection, keychain based tools, fire making devices, flash drives with important personal info. My EDC is split between my key chain and my wallet, is not cumbersome in the least and I am extremely happy with the system. For your EDC balance the things you would never, ever, want to be without, under any circumstances; with what is practical to carry. I just won't be one of those guys who carries a purse.

PSK (Personal Survival Kit)
The Personal Survival Kit (PSK) is meant to be a small supply of materials to help you survive a few days if stranded or separated from a safe place. It does not have to be expensive, large or all inclusive. This is an area to expand on your EDC and give yourself a fighting chance. The survival basics must be addressed here: Shelter, Fire, Water, Food Gathering, Identification, Navigation, Signaling for help. My kit fits into an old military surplus three-magazine ALICE Pouch, and probably cost around $40 to build. It goes with me on hunting, fishing, hiking and off road trips.

24-Hour Kit (GHB)
The Get Home Bag fills the gap between PSK and the fairly large 72-Hour Kit. A typical School sized backpack will fill the bill nicely. Include Food and Water, Clothing, a Blanket, a Tarp, Personal Hygiene products. It may be more or less than 24 hours; build yours around the maximum timeframe it may take you to get home from the farthest you usually travel from home. For most of us, this kit is probably best left in your vehicle, and need not be overly expensive. In fact, many items can be found or re-purposed for next to nothing.

Car Kit
The Car Kit may be the most overlooked, yet useful, assemblage of goods you can put together. Something as simple as a flat tire can leave you stranded literally anywhere. Items such as Jumper Cables, Fix-a-Flat, Air Compressor, Flashlight, Fire Extinguisher, Water/Coolant, Oil and tools can be stored in a toolbox or, as in my case, an old gym bag.

72-Hour Kit (Bug Out Bag)
"They" say three days is about how long a person can expect to wait for rescue, or help to arrive after a natural disaster. It would make sense to build a semi-comprehensive kit to last a person (or family) 72 hours. It would make even more sense for this kit to be portable, in case evacuation in called for. This is where the concept of a Bug Out Bag comes in. Whether you have a place to "bug out" to yet or not, a good sized backpack prepared to support you and your family for 3 days is a good idea. The size of this kit will allow you to include bigger and better items like sleeping bags, cookware, food and water. A weapon and ammo should be considered. One pack per family member is a good idea. Don't forget to pack comfort items like sweets and stuffed animals, especially if you have little ones! While any old backpack will do, military surplus Alice and MOLLE packs will probably hold up better and are very affordable.

First Aid Kits

Store bought First Aid Kits can be good, but are rarely comprehensive and never tailored to individuals. A good plan is to buy a large kit and then add to it with medications and other items where lacking. First Aid Kits should be in each vehicle and Pack/Kit you have, as well as the home.

Disaster/Earthquake Kit
We live in earthquake country, and so have an "Earthquake Kit". For us it's a plastic tub in a closet with food, water, radio, flashlights, blankets and clothes. It should be enough to last you a few weeks if supply routes are cut off, and you want to work up to a two month store as a benchmark.

Future Trade Goods
It might not be a bad idea to begin storing up what may be "Future Trade Goods". That may be .22 caliber and other common ammo, tobacco, alcohol, spices, seeds, bleach, canned goods. Things that are fairly cheap and easy to find, but could become very valuable when unavailable. Somehow, I don't think the average man is going to be all that interested in a sack of old Nickels, he wants something he can use.

These are just a few examples of some of the kits commonly assembled. You can create sub-kits for more specific tasks such as Water Purification, Food Gathering or Self Defense, it's the concept and practicality that I like. It helps you look at your preps in detail and iron out the problems. You get to know each and every component and how to use each of them. The end product is a good modular system you can build on and modify as needed, and the peace of mind that you are making progress and prepared for whatever may come your way tomorrow.

Dear JWR:
I hope that you are well. I thought that the following news report may be of interest to your blog. Not to get too "tinfoil-hat" here, but many of your readers may not appreciate the vulnerabilities their vehicles' computers expose them to. See: Hacker Disables More Than 100 Cars Remotely. The article begins:

"More than 100 drivers in Austin, Texas found their cars disabled or the horns honking out of control, after an intruder ran amok in a web-based vehicle-immobilization system normally used to get the attention of consumers delinquent in their auto payments."

In this case the compromised system was an after-market product, but in a recent OnStar commercial GM actually brags about being able to remotely shut down a running vehicle [with their "Stolen Vehicle Slowdown" feature on "select 2009 and later models".]

Increasingly new vehicles are being equipped with these systems (e.g. GM's OnStar and Ford's Sync) as they are built. These systems are capable of providing location using GPS, two-way communication via the audio system (possible covert monitoring as well?), are capable of arming or disarming security system, locking and unlocking of doors, and even starting and shutting down the engine. Is that really a good idea? - L.S.C.

Hi Jim,

I am constantly making efforts to prepare for an uncertain future and I thought I was practicing good OPSEC. I do not discuss my efforts except with fellow preppers and my wife, I do not have anything outside my house that says “prepared”, and I generally stay low profile.

One of my friends just decided to make a purchase of 50 food grade buckets with me so we could share the shipping charges. I was shocked when one of my neighbors just called me to say, “Scott: What the heck are you preparing for?”

I raced home to discover five large boxes sitting in front of my house with “Emergency Essentials, Helping People Prepare” printed on every side on the boxes in a font that makes the words run from one end to the other. This is anything but low profile. Please pass this knowledge on to others on your blog. Let my mistake be a lesson to others. When ordering from unknown vendors, specify the packaging must be plain with no markings. This slip up on my part may have put my family at risk in the future. Having a box at your front door that says “DELL” is one thing, having a box that says “I am preparing with lots of food inside” is completely different! Best Regards, - Scott in California

JWR Replies: Most preparedness products vendors are happy to either use unmarked boxes, or assemble their logo boxes inside out. Be sure to ask for the "plain brown envelope" treatment.

Veteran analyst Jim Rogers talks about the world’s financial woe: Another recession ahead. It was nice of him to use the more kind term for it.

From Chad S.: Food prices push Indian inflation up to 9.9 percent

Also from Chad: China's Wen pushes back against yuan rise calls. This quote from the article doesn't bode well: "We are very concerned about the lack of stability in the U.S. dollar. If I said I was worried last year, I must say I am still worried this year."

G.G. liked this commentary from Richard Daughty (aka The Mogambo Guru): US Economic Outlook: Default, Hyperinflation or Both

Items from The Economatrix:

Pain in the Tank: Gas Prices Highest Since 2008

"Wall Street" Sequel an Omen of US Collapse

To Fill Budget Gaps, "Stealth" Taxes are Creeping Up

Debt Doom (The Mogambo Guru)

Strategic Defaults are Soaring in California, and Now they Might Really Explode

Rufus sent us this: San Diego Searches For Ways To Deal With Hoarders. No, not the sort of" hoarders" we usually think of, but just leave it to the vagaries of government to someday soon misapply such laws to to people that prudently build up larders.

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Rourke sent us this YouTube music clip: Meet You At Menards - Original Apocalyptic Ukulele Song. Rourke described it as "So cheesy that it's actually funny."

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Rebellion in America heats up as fifth state exempts guns. We also read in The New York Times: States’ Rights Is Rallying Cry for Lawmakers. (A hat tip to Brian B. for the links.)

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News from Idaho and South Carolina: Idaho's plan to downgrade the dollar.

"And, behold, I [am] with thee, and will keep thee in all [places] whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done [that] which I have spoken to thee of." - Genesis 28:15 (KJV)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 27 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 27 ends on March 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 us who spend any time at all thinking about “Survival” or “Preparedness” have probably spent some of that time considering the subject of Self Defense. If you’ve spent enough time thinking about it, you’ve probably spent more than time on the subject. Like many of your survival-minded brothers and sisters, you’ve likely spent some of your hard earned dollars on a weapon or two. Perhaps you have a small arsenal at home. Owning a weapon may save your life but not if it’s not with you when you need it or if you’re not prepared to use it.

As a law enforcement officer in a fairly large Midwest town, I’ve seen both the very prepared and the completely unprepared come out on both the winning and losing ends of violent encounters. I’ve seen a man beaten half to death by an unarmed intruder in his living room when he had a baseball bat sitting in the corner behind the door. It wasn’t a thought in his mind. I’ve seen the smelly result of a wood-be attacker picking the wrong apartment to break into and finding a young lady in the bathroom with a disposable cigarette lighter and a can of hair spray. She didn’t just have them; she knew how to use them.

In a violent encounter, having the right tools won’t do you a bit of good if you don’t know how to use them. If you have the correct mindset, even the wrong tools will often make do.

A cop carries a gun on his hip at work every day. Most people who work outdoors or in warehouses carry knives or box cutters. You’re average office worker or department store clerk doesn’t carry a gun or a knife. Many people don’t carry guns or knives. In uniform I may have two or three of each at any time. For those of you who typically don’t carry anything that is traditionally thought of as a weapon, it may be a consideration that you wish to make. If you choose to walk around unarmed, that’s okay, as long as you’re prepared to protect yourself.

Violence can strike at any moment. In my town, there was a somewhat recent incident where a mother took her two teenage daughters to tan at a tanning salon. While they were tanning inside, she and her infant and her toddler were waiting in the family van outside. While waiting outside, a man approached the van and physically made his way into the van. He left the mother and took her children. Due to some sensitive subject matter, I won’t discuss the incident further, except to say that if the mother had been armed or at least considered the weapons at her disposal, the story may have had a much happier ending. What is the most powerful personally operated weapon most of us have at our disposal and that this mother had that day?

What has four tires, weighs 2,000+ pounds and can be easily aimed at an attacker? If you haven’t figured it out yet, it’s your vehicle. Not only can a vehicle act as a shield or a shelter, it can make a fine impact weapon. Find yourself in a riot and you know that stopping means you’re not making it out alive or at best seriously injured? I understand that there are legal ramifications to doing what I am about to express but we’re talking about living and dying here. If it comes to me getting my family home safely or letting someone have their way with my wife and daughter while I’m lying unconscious in my own blood, I’m going to apply enough gas to keep moving quickly, tell my family to get as low as possible and I’m moving forward. Should rioters or attackers choose to stay in my path, they will have made the wrong choice.

Survival is about choosing to survive and carrying out whatever actions are necessary to complete the task. I once had an instructor who would say “Be polite and professional and have a plan to kill everyone you meet.” Does that sound harsh? Absolutely it does but to some degree, this is the way that people must live if they wish to continue to stay on the top side of the grass. Many violent crimes begin with some thug putting a smile on his face and asking for directions or some unsuspecting parent answering a knock at the door. Bad things don’t just happen when you accidentally drive through the rough neighborhood or when you’re walking to your car after work one night. They happen when you least expect them. You’re sitting in church and some lunatic walks through the door with a 12 gauge and starts mowing down the flock. You’re standing in line at the local convenience store and suddenly you realize the guy in front of you is putting on a ski mask or has just pulled a revolver from his pocket.

Mental preparation is important to survival. You have to have an acute awareness of your surroundings. You have to pay attention to the people around you at all times. You absolutely must have your eyes open to what is going on around you. I cannot count the number of times I’ve worked a robbery that took place in a public place with several witnesses who should be able to give an accurate description of the suspect and then find out that half of them didn’t even realize the store was being robbed until after the robber was gone. Instead of walking around like a sheep with your head down, grazing, you’ve got to keep your head up and your eyes moving. Be the sheep dog, not the sheep. You need to notice when the guy walks into the gas station with his hood and sunglasses on. You must see the guy approaching you in the parking lot after work. You can’t be talking to the other soccer moms when that weirdo is approaching your child on the other side of the playground. You have got to have situational awareness. There are times when you can’t prevent a situation from unfolding but if you are aware, you can at the very least try to protect yourself or your loved ones. The only appropriate action may be to run or hide or dial 9-1-1 on your cell phone. You may find it appropriate to draw your .40 S&W from your purse and create a cloud of pink mist where some bad guy’s head used to be.

Go back to the office worker. We’ll use Jane as an example. Jane works in a call center as a customer service representative. She has never fired a gun. The only knives she owns are for use in the kitchen and they don’t leave the kitchen. She spends 40+ hours per week sitting in a cubicle talking on the phone. One night Jane is stuck at work late on a long call. She gets off the phone finally, finding that she’s the only person left in the office except the creepy manager that always sniffs her hair when he walks by. Jane is grabbing her purse and keys when she sees him come around the corner and he has a slightly creepier look than normal. She suddenly feels very frightened. What does Jane have to defend herself with? Yes, pens and pencils make pretty good stabbing weapons if you’re strong enough to use them. I suppose you could try to strangle someone with your mouse cable. No, I don’t think the stress ball would do much to slow down a wood-be attacker. How about a stapler? The common desk stapler will open up and double in length in order to be refilled. Most people never look at their stapler as an impact weapon but the one on my desk weighs almost two pounds, is made mostly of steel and swung at someone’s head could do some serious damage, if not dispatch them permanently. Those scissors that she usually only uses to make paper dolls when calls are slow, they are an edged weapon and when jabbed into someone’s eye are pretty effective. Suppose creepy manager guy is a rapist and he’s been waiting for this opportunity to get Jane alone. Jane needs to be aware of the possible weapons at hand. Jane needs to be aware of the exits in the building. Jane needs to know where the fire-alarms are (fire alarms are just as good as calling 9-1-1, they bring firemen and firemen bring big muscles and axes, firemen can be just as effective as cops).

As far as having “a plan to kill everyone you meet.” I think the point is being ready for whatever may happen and being ready for whoever may bring it to you. There are people in the world with nothing but evil in their hearts. Those of us who are willing to not be sheep must be willing to stand up to these wolves and must be ready to do so at a moment’s notice. As far as dealing with the District Attorney or cops after you’ve beaten a burglar’s brain out with the toilet seat, there is an old saying; “I’d rather be judged by twelve than carried by six.” Living is priority number one. I’ll worry about the details later.

Now, if all of this sounds a bit too extreme for you, you probably haven’t ever had a gun pointed at you or had someone trying to take your head off with their bare hands. I have and I’ve talked to many people who have. I’ve seen what happens when people are unprepared physically or emotionally for violence. Violence is often unprovoked. Bad guys are like wolves. They take the weak sheep from the heard. The ones who aren’t paying attention when they sneak up, the ones who are still eating after the others have already run off, those are their prey. If you are the sheep dog, you smell the wolf before he ever gets close and he doesn’t approach you because of your strong, confident demeanor. If he is foolish enough to approach you, he gets the business end of a stapler stuck in his skull. Be aware and be safe.

Mr. Rawles,
I read Joe M.’s article with great interest. The contributors to your site always seem to have creative ideas. I have often thought of ways to conceal a passageway, escape route or just a safe / storage room.

Here are four links to companies that offer hidden doors or panels.

Thanks again for all you do. - John G.

Two very good books contain a wealth of hints on constructing and concealing hidden compartments and entrances, covering evidence of work you want to keep concealed, and devising ways to guard against tampering:

The Great Escape, by Paul Brickhill (the book, not the movie [which is much more inspirational rather that instructive.])

Escape from Colditz, by P. R. Reid

Additionally, they're great true stories of defiance, resistance, and survival. - PJJ


Referring to the article where the writer suggested magnetic locks. Most people do not know of Assa Abloy [of Finland]. I'm not even sure their product is available in the U.S. [Many of] their padlocks are just about un-pickable.

Main Products Page

Padlocks Page

Padlocks Brochure PDF

Regards, - Kevin S.

SurvivalBlog's Editor At Large Michael Z. Williamson sent us a link to an interesting graph on debt figures in the U.S.. Per capita debt almost $41,000 per person, and rising about $20 per day.

Chad S. recommended this: How Can Anyone Claim that the Housing Crisis is Over When the Delinquency Rate on U.S. Mortgages Continues to Explode at an Exponential Rate?

The latest Friday Follies installment: Regulators shut 7 banks in 5 states; 37 in 2010

Tod P. flagged an article from the Philippines, wherein the government pleads with its citizenry to spend their coins back into circulation, to co-mingle with the new debased steel slugs. JWR's Comment: People aren't that naive. I think that they'll wisely keep their real coins at home. This is a foretaste of things to come here in the States, once inflation kicks in.

Items from The Economatrix:

Will Your State Ban Employer Credit Checks?

Wachovia Settles Money Laundering Case for $160 Million

Economic Mixed Bag: No Inflation But Little Hiring

FedEx Sees Economic Recovery Spreading

There is "suspicion of wolves' involvement in Ms. Berner's death." (Suspicion? I guess those enormous red paw prints the snow might have been a clue.)

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Man Spends Four Days Stuck in Car in Snowbank. (A Cadillac would not be my first choice for an off-pavement vehicle.)

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Thanks to Kevin S. for sending this link: Psychopaths' Brains Wired to Seek Rewards, No Matter the Consequences. (Thankfully, only 1% of the population is psychopathic, and perhaps 4% is sociopathic. But taken together, that is around 15 million people in the United States. Got ammo?)

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Check out the free information available through The American Prepper's Network and Pioneer Living.


"It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not entirely strangled the curiosity of inquiry." - Albert Einstein

Friday, March 19, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 27 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 27 ends on March 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.

Mr. Rawles:

I am writing a brief letter with a few points that may be helpful for your readers, who like myself, find your blog site a valuable resource, one well worth supporting financially. The value of your blog, and advice, is multiplied many times over by the extremely well informed readership you have. There are a few thoughts I could offer that others may find of use:

1. I lived through an ice storm that hit in the late nineties. As many have mentioned, when a calamity hits is not the time to start preparing. I was caught totally unprepared, and living out in the country without heat, ended up driving to my brother's house, where there was a wood stove. On the way, I saw an Amish man, simply going about his chores, without a worry. Right then, I resolved not to let this happen to me again.

Incidentally, the Amish in our area sell 50-lb bags of potatoes in the fall for $10 a bag. These are Kennebec winter storage potatoes. I've taken to buying a couple bags and storing them not for eating, but planting in the spring given an emergency. Cheap insurance.

2. Within 24 hours, every store in the country had been cleaned out of bread, milk, and size D or AA batteries. I saw some people merrily loading up their shopping carts with beer. (I am not kidding.) However, if you've got your long-term storage items taken care, what crowds did not bother with were things that would be of great value such as cooking oil, bisquick, flour, powdered milk etc. These things are hard to store enough of, because the shelf life is shorter, so in a calamity, I would try stocking up on these items. They may be overlooked in the initial rush.

3. Concerning the use of barrier plants to discourage looters, the unduly curious etc. I would consider species roses, such as briar and rugosa roses. A rose known as the Scotch Double White is very hardy, grows to about six feet and is as bad as razor wire to get through. Planted in a zigzag pattern with about six foot spacing, in four to five years it would be near impenetrable. Harison's Yellow (one "r") is another briar rose about seven feet tall that would also do the job. Avoid anything called a "living fence" or "multiflora" unless you want a useless mess.

Also extremely useful are rugosa roses. Go for the simple species rugosa. These are hardy and have the particular value of rose hips with one of the highest naturally occurring sources of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). The hips are the size of a small walnut, bright red. Let them stay on the plant until after the first hard frost which will turn them orange. Pick and dry. A country lady near me made them into a nice jelly. The leathery covering of the hip is good in stews also. The leathery covering can simply be eaten as a vitamin source.

3. You have received some really good postings from readers on medicines and antibiotics. I was vexed because my own doctor is not interested in providing me with scrips for emergency meds and it's hard to find another doctor in rural areas. So, after much searching, I can suggest two alternatives. One is to google "fish antibiotics"and "fish cipro." Another is to consider off shore pharmacies which will supply meds, as long as they are not controlled substances, without a script. I have built up a good store of cipro, cephalexin, augmentin, etc., plus three meds for chronic conditions (my wife and I are in our sixties).

I have no intention of using these meds unless I have absolutely no choice. I can complain about the government all I want. I still want my pills FDA approved. Call me a hypocrite.

4. I have had a really good experience with Walton Feeds. They shipped items across the country and all arrived in good shape. Not the case without another vendor.

5. I live in the Northeast, and one of the values of your advice is that I've started thinking hard about my situation in various stages of a societal collapse. I live in the country, on a former farm, with lots of nearby water, and excellent neighbors who are handy with shotguns and deer rifles. There however is a nearby city with more than a few lowlifes, and a nearby prison. for a while. Winter on the Canadian border however has a way of trimming out the unprepared.

6. Another value of your web site is forcing a person to confront the state of one's preparations. I've been collecting emergency stuff for a decade without any overall plan. A recent power outage, and I couldn't even find my box of candles. Enough said. Now I'm organizing, and putting a list of what I have in a steno book, with each item's location.

Thank you for your blog and your books. - Northeast Fellow

JWR Replies: Thanks for your observations and suggestions. As for human use of veterinary meds, all the "use only in dire emergency" provisos that have been repeatedly posted in SurvivalBlog apply! I've heard from several readers that a good source for veterinary antibiotics is Jeffer's. I've also heard from other readers that, and provided good service. (The latter sells cipro.) Some readers have also reported using online pharmacies located in India and Mexico without a hitch, including and (But one must wonder about both the authenticity of the drugs--are they the genuine USP item?--not to mention the security of credit card numbers!)

Thanks for the great blog. I have purchased several items from your sponsors and appreciate your screening them for us.

I live in suburban Detroit and am looking to find a small farm. Values are still declining here. Until I can make a move, I'm stuck living in suburbia. Currently I own a cheap gas generator and am looking to upgrade. Should I go with a diesel or tri-fuel generator? Can you suggest some sources? God Bless, - Bob P.

JWR Replies: That all depends on how many hours you intend to run the genset. Because they run at lower RPM, a diesel is preferable for a genset that will get "high hours."

Another factor is the local ordinances on fuel storage. If you cannot legally have a 2,000 gallon diesel tank, but you can have a 2,000 gallon propane tank, then your choice is clear. If ordinances are very restrictive fuel tanks, then you might consider a "plumbed-in" genset, running on utility-piped natural gas. (The best solution, of course is to move somewhere out in the country, where there are no fuel storage restrictions. But I recognize that family and work obligations might preclude such a move.)

Do comparison pricing via the Internet. Generator sales is a very competitive market, especially in the current recession. And, since shipping costs are substantial, it often pays to find a vendor that is fairly close by.

Hi James,
I'm almost through your book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" for the second time and was wondering if you could recommend some 5-6 gallon stainless steel food storage containers for long term storage? I like the idea of food safe, oxygen-impermeable, and vermin-proof containers. Looking around on the web I found a pharmaceutical supply firm that sells nice ones for well above $1000 each. Also a few wine barrel vendors that were out of my price range.
Thanks, - Curtis

JWR Replies: One of my consulting clients in a locale where they have "rats the size of cats", had problems with his HDPE plastic buckets of rice and wheat getting chewed through. His solution: He bought used stainless steel beer kegs--the type with one large bung hole (I presume for the "tap".) Shop around!

Hello Mr Rawles
About a month ago, I read your book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It", followed a week later by "Patriots". I quickly realized how unprepared I was for even possible but probable emergencies. I started to ask question of coworkers of what they would do in an emergency. One co-worker was a former motorcycle club (gang) member. He told me that he would get with some of the club members in the area. This could be as many as 50 to 60 members. They would have plenty of "bullets" and plan on taking the "beans" from everybody else. This very much reminded me of the scenes in "Patriots" [where the outlaw motorcycle club took over a small town in Idaho.]

The tactics would be to take over a small town and go from house to house taking what they wanted. If you resist, they would burn you out of your house. Of course they would shoot everyone else. Once they finished in one town they would move on to the next.

I have been working with this individual for over three years. I have no reason to doubt what he said. From other things he told me they would be better armed than most police departments. This would include things like Kevlar body armor, long range rifles and handguns. All of these items are cached, so that if the police did visit (search) a home or club, then the illegal Items are not in their possession. But within an hour they would be fully armed and ready to go.

When he SHTF, and society starts to collapse, [outlaw] motorcycle clubs (gangs) are poised to take action. The things that they'd do, they would have no remorse about doing them. - TAC in Illinois

JWR Replies: I'd only temper those comments with the proviso that it is only true outlaw motorcycle gangs--the ones that call themselves "One Percenters" that have such plans. But even that small minority is still a huge threat to face.

S.C.W. sent a link to an update on the Ugandan Wheat Rust: Red Menace: Stop the Ug99 Fungus Before Its Spores Bring Starvation. [JWR Adds: Given the fact that the same ship cargo holds are use to transport used for seed as well as wheat used for food, it is nigh-on impossible to stop the spread of Ug-99.]

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Quoting the MI5 maxim, Britain is ‘four meals away from anarchy’

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Brian B. suggested this troubling article: Pre-Crime Policing. If buying a number of guns or a large quantity of ammo in a short period of time is now a red flag, then I'd better stop going to gun shows. ;-)

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Regular content contributor Chad S. mentioned some more ludicrous news from the U.K. Nanny State: £1,000 fine for using wrong bin: Families face new crackdown over household waste

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B. sent us this: A million library books to be sent down the mines

"Take sides! Always take sides! You will sometimes be wrong-but the man who refuses to take sides must always be wrong! Heaven save us from
poltroons who fear to make a choice. Let us stand up and be counted." - John Joseph Bonforte, a character in Robert A. Heinlein's novel "Double Star"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 27 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 27 ends on March 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.

Unless you’re lucky enough to actually live at your retreat in case of a TEOTWAWKI event, you are probably a little concerned with theft at your home away from home. Even if your primary home is your retreat, in the event of a break-in is your cache of “goodies” safe? Sure you might keep your supply of rifles, handguns, and shotguns locked in a gun vault the size of Grandma Shirley’s casket, but if thieves are given enough time they will haul the vault and anything else they find off into the night, leaving you empty handed and even worse, unprepared.

Vandals or thieves can do considerable amount of monetary damage and preparedness damage to your haven in very little time. Food items would probably just be destroyed by vandals and guns would be gone and sold probably before the police finished their reports. The likelihood of ever getting all of your supplies back and in useful condition is extremely slim.

For these reasons, when I built my retreat cabin I built in a number of “insurance” features that lessened the chance of a total loss. My retreat, chosen for its remote location is a prime example of the need to introduce safety features into your preparedness plan. The location of my retreat while remote, does not mean an occasionally person might not wander by. If this person decides to fire up a chainsaw and cut my metal front door right out of the framing, it is doubtful anyone would hear or notice for months. Like I said it is remote, but not a desert island.

So to give myself a bit of insurance against vandals/thieves, when I built the cabin I made one entire wall a “fake” wall. If you measured the width of my retreat on the exterior you would note that it is 16’ wide. However, an interior measure would yield around 14’ wide. The missing two feet is my insurance. Actual useable space is less than two feet. You must subtract the width of the actual exterior wall (about 4 inches) and the width of the fake interior wall (about 3 inches). Then you are left with 17 inches of great storage space. Be careful not to go overboard when allocating storage space. If your retreat cabin is 20 feet wide on the outside but only 15 feet wide on the inside, somebody will start wondering why.

I installed shelves in my storage space, just the metal rack types that restaurants use. They are extremely adjustable, durable, and can hold a lot of weight. I found some that were 16 inches wide, which meant they fit perfectly into my hiding place. Since the shelves are adjustable in two inch height increments, it was extremely easy to adjust them to fit my particular gear needs.

But enough about shelving let’s look at the actual construction of the wall. If you use Google, Bing, or Yahoo with the search phrase “hidden wall safe” you will find a lot of links to various types of construction methods. So I would suggest you do some research before you remodel or construct your hidey hole. Since I was constructing my retreat adding the false wall was an easy task as I could plan for window and door placement to account for the hidden wall. If you remodel your retreat to install a hidden wall make sure it makes the room look natural. For example if you add a wall and now the wall is two inches away from a window, it might look odd and cause someone to examine it closer (which is bad!). But by using new construction I was able to “center” my windows on their wall between the front wall and the fake wall, thus creating a very natural and normal look.

For my construction I chose to make my fake wall look like a normal wall, and to further conceal it we would place various items of furniture against the wall. Doing some research I noted that a few people chose to cover their wall entirely by using book cases in front of the fake wall. This really helped hide the wall completely and at the same time gave you more storage area for your “bait” items (more on that in a minute). You might be thinking that if you completely cover your wall with bookcases and then fill the bookcases with books or other supplies that this would be a huge impediment in getting to the supplies behind the hidden wall. You would be correct. However, I am more concerned with the preserving my supplies during, for lack of a better word, “normal” times and during my trip to my retreat during TEOTWAWKI times. Once I establish myself at my retreat you can rearrange furniture to make the hidden wall more accessible. A word of warning though, be careful of making it too accessible. In case of an attack my raiders or whatever, you don’t want them to walk in and find the hidden wall wide open with all your goods shining in all their readiness glory.

So keep the wall closed and concealed at all times unless you are removing or adding items to your storage. Don’t treat the storage as a daily access area. Pull a few days worth of supplies out at a time and then conceal the wall with your furniture. The wall is not meant to be something you should open in the event of an emergency. If you hear an unknown person outside of your retreat and you feel you need a weapon handy, that is not the time to open the wall and obtain a self-defense weapon. Those items should be much handier (in TEOTWAWKI times I would suggest a holster.)

Construction for the wall is rather easy. I am not a carpenter, but I managed to build a nice looking concealed wall with basic carpentry skills. In a nut shell, I simply framed an interior wall using standard 2x4 framing (16 inches on center). I ensured the base plate was firmly attached to the floor joists using lag screws instead of typical nailing. I did the same on the cap plate (top of the wall), securing the top of the wall to the ceiling joists again with lag screws. This gave my wall some extra stability. You don’t really want a bad guy to lean on your wall and feel it “give.”

I have paneled the interior of my retreat with a rough looking wood panel, often called a v-groove plank panel. This comes in 4x8 foot sheets (just like plywood). In fact if the material you wish to use is thin you can mount it to a panel of plywood using construction grade adhesive.

I framed the back side of my wood panel to give it stability and a place for the hardware. Basically this means I screwed 2x2 strips along the perimeter of the panel and horizontally every 16 inches. Then using a piano hinge I screwed the hinge to the 2x4 wall stud and to the 2x2 strip on the wood panel. This gives me a door. I built 3 of these doors and installed them side by side so I have a 12 foot-wide wall made up of three hidden doors.

There are various types of closure devices out there that you “push” to close and then “push” to open. I first used these and then realized that if someone were to lean on the wall the wall would “click and open a fraction. That was not good! So I settled on an extremely simple solution, screws. I screw my wall shut, every time. I use the same screw holes every time I close the door and I am careful not to over tighten the screws. Furthermore I replace the screws I use to secure the door when the head of the screw starts getting noticeably worn.

To conceal the seams I “finished” the cabin with vertical pieces of 1x2 strips of wood. These go at two foot intervals all around the cabin. Conveniently this covers the seams on my hidden wall. You screw this strip onto one side of the door, centering the strip over the edge of the door then when the door is closed it covers the seam and a portion of the wall next to it. Probably a design flaw on my part but when construction was finished and since I had put three of these doors side by side, I discovered the strip of wood covering the seam prevented me from opening the doors in any order I chose. Since the wood strip was attached to the left edge of the first door it covered the seam of the right edge of the next door. Therefore I could not open the second door without damaging the wood strip. So I must open the far right door first, then the middle and finally the far right door. Not a big problem, just a mild inconvenience. I arranged the gear inside the hidden wall so that the items I am most likely to need are behind the first door. If I had it to do over again I would leave some empty wall between the doors so that I could open the doors independently.

If your door is a bit heavier then you expected and sags some, you could put a support wheel on the opening side. Just be careful that the wheel doesn’t leave a track on your floor. As far as closing and locking your hidden door, look into magnetic locks, or other forms of closure such as screwing etc. Just be sure that the locking and closing mechanisms are hidden and won’t pop open at the wrong time. If some kids rough housing cause your door to come open, change the locking mechanism.

Now some personal notes on use of your hidden stash. Just like any other important secret, don’t talk about your hidden stash with anyone you don’t entrust your life and your loved ones lives too. Your drinking buddy at the lodge might seem like a good friend now but when TSHTF he might run up to the first place he knows that is fully stocked and ready to go. My wife and kids know about my hidden area and they are  all, period.

I had mentioned having some “bait” items out. I built a second concealed area, not nearly as big and not nearly as well concealed. My thought process being is that if I pull a few days’ supply out of the main area, I transfer it to this secondary area. Then if someone catches us off guard and demands supplies we can open this secondary area and give it to them, all the while begging and pleading that this is all we have left and please don’t take are last few days of supplies. It might work, or it might not. I just want to have the option. So I have the “bait” goods ready to go. If the bad guys take the bait and leave, then we have only lost a few days’ supply and not the mother lode.

Next I would build some other hidden areas to house your quick access items. This can be the picture frame on a hinge that hides a hole in a wall (not your fake wall). In the hole can be a firearm or other quick access item you deem necessary. I am not suggesting you have your entire arsenal in quick access hidey holes. But a portion of your weapons need to be quick access. Your other weapons that are only used at certain times, like hunting should be hidden behind your fake wall. Again if someone “bad” comes to visit they will most likely take your guns and ammo. Don’t leave it all just lying around, but then again don’t leave it all put away where you can’t get it when you need it.

You can get very creative with your hidden areas. If your retreat does not have a concrete floor it is very easy to cut a hole between the floor joists, attach a hinge and you have another hiding spot. You can do the same thing in the ceiling, just cut between the ceiling joists. Seam concealment, hinge, and closing mechanisms are the big challenges. Before you breakout your saws and start cutting holes, plan on how you will hide your hinge, seam, and closing device. Usually this is done with some form of furring strip. But if your seams are a “natural” part of the wall, floor, or ceiling you may not need to conceal them. Clearly you can’t leave a big hinge out in the open. Piano hinges can be mounted on the inside, they come in various lengths and you can always use more than one to run the full length of your hinge.

Remember that you don’t have to make all of your hiding areas completely invisible. If your hiding area is for daily use items hidden in the floor, then perhaps you can get by with just a throw rug covering the seams. However, if it is for the mother lode, then invisibility is required. Get creative and go hide. - Joe M.


The pastor/programmer is somewhat correct about SCADA and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), and his resistance of Windows based and “soft logic” is admirable. However, many SCADA systems installed out there recently have been implemented just as their name implies “SUPERVISORY CONTROL and Data Acquisition” in order to save labor costs by minimizing operator and maintenance training requirements on multiple different in- plant control systems. Most major power, refining, waste treatment systems etc. in recent years have utilized a DCS (distributed control system) as a SCADA base for overall and/or supervisory control often also monitoring or commanding smaller PLC systems operating auxiliary systems ( compressors, large blowers etc.). And although “manual back-up” is often available on “critical” functions it typically is limited to safety shut down and control transfers, not operation maintainability. Almost all major control systems built in the past 30 years are DDC (direct digital control) DCS, PLC, electric analog, or some type of microprocessor based controls. Even if the controls are old pneumatic analog they rely on compressed air controlled by a PLC. This basically makes almost all major plant control systems out there vulnerable to EMP effects. And although some of the hardware utilized may have been specified with EMI (electro magnetic interference) and RFI (radio frequency interference), this typically will only help with 5 watt communication radios and 220 or 440 power interferences. Certainly nothing as devastating as a large nuclear EMP blast as described in the novel "One Second After" or even a large solar flare.

I’d suggest the pastor, and many others, read the 2008 Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack. It speaks in great lengths of the susceptibility to damage of various types of plant control systems in a wealth of industrial applications.

Hopefully none of this will ever become a problem, but the pastor is wise to follow your advice to prepare. “Plan for the worst, hope for the best” - G.S. (A Senior Control Systems Engineer with 40 years of experience in SCADA)

I read this article and I must say that I have a few disagreements with it. I grew up in Washington County, Colorado.

Yes, it's a wide open space with some farming, lots of ranching and a general self-reliant attitude, but there is a definite downside.

1) Weather - the weather in this area is turbulent to say the least. Expect occasional white-outs and definite bone chilling wind all the long winter. Summers are either dry enough to scorch crops or rain, hail or tornado's flood do their thing. In all the years our family has farmed in the area, my Dad said that he personally has only experienced two seasons of "optimal" growing conditions (without excessive dead loss). This may not sound to bad, but my family has been in the area since the late 1800s, so we know a thing or two about the area over the course of time. -including surviving the dust bowl years. Summer days can top 100 Fahrenheit, but it's so dry that newcomers will pass out from heat exhaustion before they realize that their hot. I myself saw it every year of my childhood at Eastern Colorado Round-up.

2) Economy - the economy of the area has been on a decline since the 1950s. The area is not springing back to life any time soon. The last time I was home, it had been 10 years since I'd been there and I was shocked at how much things had changed during 10 "booming everywhere else" years. Fewer small businesses, fewer people, less optimism than there had been when I left. Most of the smaller towns in this area could now technically be considered ghost-towns, because the population of the cemetery out numbers the living in the area.

3) Water - it's few and far between. wells are necessary and they better be deep. if the SHTF, you're going to be digging for a long time to find more water. The best crops will be dry crops that will adapt to dry, sandy soil once the irrigation pumps stop running. A large amount of the land is only really suitable for ranching anyway. The rocky, sandy soil will sustain enough natural plant life for cattle, provided that you have access to a lot of water. How many gallons of water does a cow drink a day?

There is a definite beauty to the area. It is dry and desolate, with bluffs rolling hills. But having the family knowledge I have, it would not be my choice for a safe castle. I have my area picked out and it's actually in SE Nebraska. I own a large acreage with two wells, several ages of windbreak tree growth on three sides, a creek, backed up to a little known Rural Water District (RWD) watershed. I got it cheap because it's "unfarmable" to the bigger farms in the area and has limited access - just the way I like it. But mostly it's this, unlike Colorado, the Federal Government doesn't own diddily squat of the Nebraska. (Unlike the, what? 40% of Colorado?) When the SHTF, my family from NE Colorado, plan on coming to SE Nebraska - that should say a lot. - Buggin' out in Nebraska!

Reader Mark P. sent this: Busy bees, but hives are besieged, diseased; Scientists struggle to find cause — and fix — for colony collapse disorder. One particularly troubling quote: "We are close to the margin" of a viable ratio of pollinators to crops, he said. "It's amazing to me how close we are to that line." 1/3 of US crops are increasingly at risk from this problem as they depend on honeybees for pollination.

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J.D. in Virginia found this item: Backyard Bunnies Are the New Urban Chickens

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Jason M. sent us a link to a video of a genuine character somewhere in the Deep South that demonstrates how to catch snapping turtles, by hand.

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Software Turns Your Cell Phone Against You. As previously mentioned, the only way to be absolutely sure that your cell phone can't be used for tracking or eavesdropping is to remove the battery. (A hat tip to Brian B for the link. )

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SurvivalBlog's Editor At Large Michael Z. Williamson sent us a link to this article: Army drops bayonets, busts abs in training revamp. Mike's comment: "They are stupidly dropping bayonet drills, which promote aggressiveness and are a useful combat skill. While one need not spend boatloads of time on it. Boxing is another thing they should use to promote aggressiveness."

"Tears are the silent language of grief." - Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

For those who missed it, my recent lengthy radio interview with George Noory on Coast-to-Coast AM is now available on YouTube.


Today we present another entry for Round 27 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 27 ends on March 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.

By definition survival preparedness means attaining the state of having been made ready to outlive another person, thing, or event. Years pass by reminding us that life is short and meant to be enjoyed. People concentrate on material items but often overlook factors involved in determining the comfort level of a new living situation. A true self assessment now will determine whether life is barely survivable or comfortable.

People forget how the mind body element affects lifestyle changes. It is important to assess your actions before a situation takes away your ability to feed the habits that control you. Reflect on the past week of your life. How much of your day do you sit? If you add up the time spent watching television, typing on a computer, reading, driving a vehicle, and sleeping, you will see that a lack of movement outweighs your time spent participating in physical activities.

Now imagine how long you would spend sitting in a survival situation? Could we chop enough wood to heat a house? When was the last time we walked several miles to reach our destination? Do we produce gardens without a motorized tiller, or tend to the weeds on a daily basis without experiencing back pain? Would working our muscles on a daily basis result in overstrained and dehydrated bodies? What about the other people we are sharing our lives with? Could they carry their weight in a survival situation or would we have to find a way to carry the weight for them?

Today should be the day that we start training our muscles for additional activity that our bodies may encounter in the future. Changing our sedentary lifestyle and keeping our bodies hydrated plays an important role in body performance and repair. The ability to perform tasks and awaken the next day feeling refreshed will increase our quality of life whether our living situation changes or stays the same.

Another fact that should encourage us to start moving deals with the medicines we put into our bodies. Diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol affect our health. Many times obesity and being unfit initiate the disease which invades our systems. In this day we depend on medicines to fix our broken parts. I have been fortunate to control my diabetes through diet and exercise, but I must consider the facts that medicines may not be as easily available in the future. Becoming physically fit now will help to ward off or slow down illnesses that require medication as treatment. We must realize that some medicines may not be available or may be too expensive to purchase in the days ahead.

Upon waking do you automatically reach for a cup of coffee, cigarette, or cup of tea? Throughout the day how many times do chocolate bars or sodas pass by your lips? An addiction to caffeinated items or nicotine wreaks havoc on the mind and body when abruptly cut from the system. Withdrawal symptoms cause even the strongest person to feel like they are losing their sanity if not ready to battle the changes attacking their body.

I encountered the physical, psychological, and mental pains when we moved to a remote island in Alaska. Living 30 minutes from town by plane or three hours by boat meant groceries arrived once in a two week period. I decided that this would be the time to quit smoking. I flew in feeling confident. Bite the bullet, go cold turkey, dispose of a habit I hated but never conquered. In this situation failure would not be an option. How could I smoke if there were no cigarettes and no way to purchase a pack?

Less than 24 hours passed before the withdrawal effects began choking the confidence from me. Chest pains, headaches, dizziness attacked my body. Unfortunately for my family this was the least painful part of my experiment. The moodiness, irritability, and depression arrived. I turned from Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde. No one was safe from my wrath. I hid in the house, flipping from a rabid dog to a tearful mess. I could not think, or focus on anything. I had become irrational over giving up a habit I hated because of the control it had on my body.

You may not smoke cigarettes, but it is time to assess the caffeine and other chemicals you put in your body on a daily basis. Try going one day without any exposure to your habit or addiction. Then take a good look at how it affects you physically, psychologically, and emotionally. If it were erased from your life without any warning could you live with yourself? Could other people live with you?

When it comes to entertainment how much of the digital age controls your pleasure? In survival, quality of life must be rediscovered. We must relearn to use our bodies and minds in ways that we either have not used in a long time, or as in our children’s cases, never had to use. If a family chose to turn off the television, computers, and radio for one week, they could learn a lot about themselves and the people they live with.

We must find ways to be entertained by low tech ways. Reading books, playing cards board games, or talking to each other can become alternate choices for entertainment. Our first month living in remote Alaska taught us that without television, evening hours seemed to increase. We found ourselves going to bed several hours earlier when there was no computer or television to occupy our minds. Spending those evenings without using technology we learned to entertain ourselves, and it revealed how much time we had to communicate with each other. We no longer whined about not having any time to talk; now we found ourselves sitting in silence searching for things to talk about.

A positive attitude and a curious nature can ease the shock if technology is removed from one’s lifestyle. Is your glass half full or half empty? Finding something good in negative or stressful situations can bring about some peace to help get you through. A curious nature can open up the world in unexpected ways. Learning something new can encourage you to want to learn more.

As a parent when my child would refuse to try something new I would ask them how they knew they disliked it if they had never tried it. As adults we need to remember that also. Sometimes stuck in a rut we forget that trying something we have never done may give us joys we never dreamed of experiencing.

The next time you look at a flower, or a butterfly, or ladybug; stop. Observe the movements, or colors, or the small parts that make up this living item. If we are lucky it will bring back the child-like side in us where our mouths drop open in awe at the beauty in front of us. Letting ourselves experience life through the eyes or our hidden child can make life a bit easier to handle. We have to remember to ask ourselves one question when stuck in a bad situation. If I died tomorrow would this have been worth getting upset over? If the answer is no then take a deep breath and move on.

Beauty brought out by our curious nature and positive attitude does bring us around to one more point that is important in keeping a strong mental outlook on lifestyle changes.

Practicing and studying your faith now will increase the level of comfort in a survival situation. Having a belief in a higher power can give people strength when all seems lost and will provide the hope needed to make life feel safe and secure.

These are the things we should force ourselves to look at when preparing for a survival situation. Could you survive days of physical labor, cooking from scratch, gardening for your food, chopping wood, carrying water, lack of entertainment from televisions, computers, and radios or walking for miles to get to your destination? Are you physically and psychologically strong enough to survive without being stopped by cramping muscles, irritable mood swings, or boredom and depression? Are you prepared to keep a positive outlook alive to survive in a world where most people of today would find it unbearable, and be strong enough to repeat the process tomorrow? These are some items we need to focus on and realize that accomplishing them are as much of a necessity as having enough food, water and protective shelter so that we not only stay alive but are able to live our lives. Making the most of each day whether in today’s world or tomorrows depends on us deciding the level of comfort we want to experience and how determined we are to change now for a comfortable quality of life in the future.

The three conventional survival necessities are water, food, and shelter. Preparing yourself mentally, physically and emotionally will allow you to use these three basics to give you a life worthy of living. I challenge everyone to take a true self assessment and add your own well being as a necessity in preparation.

Howzit J.R.,
I'm a newbie groupie to your site, now on a daily basis. I'm going through the archives, year by year, and am compiling useful info for my situation. I've realized that at some point, due to the number of visitors to your site, [voluntary] membership dues may be necessary, just to support the technical requirements of having it. No problemo. I've never seen anything like the SurvivalBlog site, so my dues are in-bound.

I've seen previous posts about the tsunami warning in Hawai‘i, but not from a local resident perspective. I'll give you mine.

I live on Kaua‘i, in a flood and tsunami inundation zone. I work in the County Planning Department, and am very familiar with the geographical issues of where I live. I also am a Hurricane Iniki survivor, so I know of what I speak. The service you provide, if taken seriously, can be a matter of life and death, comfort and survival...or not.

My son woke me up at 5.30 a.m. and told me about the warning sirens which were to go off at 6.00 a.m., and that if a tsunami did occur, it would be at 11.00. I immediately thought "Wow, I got plenty of time to pack the truck" I woke up the wife, gave her the scoops, and told her to start packing. For me, I already had bugout bags and containers already prepped based on when I first started into your SurvivalBlog columns several months ago. I told my 21 year-old son and wife back then that it would be a good idea to pack a bugout bag just in case. Of course, they laughed, and ignored me. No problem, I did my prep. My wife packs a carry-on suitcase with clothes and says she's going into L‘hu‘e to her work place, which is centrally located on the island. Then I notice the size of her bugout bag, and ask "That's all you're taking?" She replies, if we lose the house, I'll just buy what I need. I really did have to control my face muscles - I told her okay, I'll catch up with you once I secure the house. Yeah, I know, I know.

I didn't need to join the gas parade as my truck was full, but my son did. That took him 45 minutes in line. He also filled up an extra 5 gallon container. I didn't need to join the parade at the food markets either, as I was already prepared. Ah, the luxuries of being prepared.

Once my wife is gone, the first thing I load onto my truck are my most prized possessions. My four best longboard surfboards, period. What can I say? I'm a surfer! OBTW, I did the same thing before Hurricane Iniki squatted on Kaua‘i in 1992 - I took my entire quiver of 8 surfboards and stashed them under my neighbor's house which was a post and pier construction with a height of three feet off the ground, tying them together two at a time with strips of rubber cut from tire inner tubes, then rubberizing the gate. Of course I knew that if the house blew, my boards would also go, but I had no other place to secure them.

My long guns went into a hardcover traveling case for golf clubs. Those cases are really good, and they're weather proof. I was intending to have one pistol under the drivers seat, an M1 Garand and Mini-30 with scope behind the driver's seat, and 12 gauge shotgun besides me, covered by a jacket and towel. No one else would be traveling with me besides my dog. On the floor in the cab were three ammo cans of nickels (2), and metal valuables (1) (gold, junk silver, Rolex watch, and baht chains). On the passenger's seat was a waterproof container of important papers.

In the bed of my truck: MREs; a container of all the canned foods in the kitchen; cooler of containers of water; bag of rice; 2 pots for cooking; the golf traveling case; containers of ammo (7.62x39, .30-06, .308, and various pistol calibers); a bugout container of tarps, ropes, bungie cords, candles, matches, propane containers and stoves, etc; a bugout bag of clothes, jackets, boots, socks, blanket, slippers, gloves, etc. (Yes, I had an extra set for the son and wife.); my spearfishing/diving bag, including 2 riffe spearguns; a container of dog food with water and food bowls.

In my son's truck were two bugout containers of tools, more tarps, tents, ropes, MREs, etc. He carried his .30-30 and 20 gauge with ammo. He also packed his Kawasaki dirt bike for alternative transportation, with extra gas and oil.

It took 45 minutes to 1 hour to complete the loading. We backed up the vehicles and positioned them towards the street, ready to go....we checked our neighbors to see what their choices and status was, and it was now 8.00 a.m. Those who were gone, were gone. There were three families that were going to remain - two of us were watching the television reports - we knew if anything hit Hilo on the Big Island, it would take [another] 30 minutes to hit Kaua‘i - so we had the cushion. I changed my plans - rather than an immediate evac (which the low lying coastal communities were doing in full force), I was going to stay to the very last minute because I knew there would be a potential for looting of evacuated communities (which the news began reporting several hours later), and because we had access to real time intel (the televisions and radios), and I did not want to join that evac parade if I didn't have to. My son was hesitant at first, but then realized the logic. Of course my mom and dad, daughter, and wife, who were all in safe zones, were texting and calling asking where we were. I just stopped answering the cell phone.

About 10.00, I decided to cook a steak and eggs breakfast for my son and I, on the premise we may as well eat a good one because if it gets hectic at around 11.00, we may as well not be hungry too. That was a great meal!

From the projected impact time, to 12.00, we had the television and radio on. And thank the Lord, nothing happened, this time around. The volume of traffic coming from the mountain back to the coastline was bumper to bumper for 1-2 hours. I'm so glad I wasn't in that parade.

Lessons learned: 1) The ammo cans of nickels are not a survival necessity. 2) There are different evac scenarios that may require different items 3) I've got to get my load and evac time down considerably. Under 30 minutes means an earthquake closer to home. This means I've got to better centralize those bugout containers in one or two areas of the house and garage. At least my son is aware of these containers.

I've just scored two army cots - these will be essential items for the next time. My immediate needs are basically water purification and replacement filters.

Sensei, you rock! - Longboards Rule

James Wesley:
On the palm stick topic -- I might add that a mountaineering carabiner -- the genuine load bearing kind, not the cheap copies -- would also work [as a self defense adjunct]. I routinely carry one -- and, when asked, say "Oh, I found that it makes carrying all those [full] plastic bags from the grocery store much easier. They don't bite into my hand." People see this as clever and never consider it has some alternative purpose [serving as a brass knuckle or palm stick type device]. And BTW, it also does make a great all purpose handle -- the weight rating is something like 4,000 pounds. Keep up the great work! - Karl B.


Here are a few more references for the Koppo stick:

The Martialist on Pocket Sticks
The Martialist on Koppo Wraps
The Martialist - More Comments on Koppo Wraps
The FMA Blog on Pasaks

BTW, with a koppo, I recommend that you put both loose ends of the cord through the loop going in opposite directions to better hide the knot.

I carry my LED "flashlight" in a belt sheath on my weak side for easy access. - Rick H.

I have long been an advocate of folding bicycles as a Get Out of Dodge Option, especially for folks that regularly commute into an urban area. The Montague and SwissBike folding bicycles sold sold by SafeCastle are probably the best bet in the U.S. and Canada. But in the UK, the more expensive--and even more compact--Brompton brand might be a viable alternative.

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Larry M. suggested this essay by a commentator who has "connected the dots" regarding multi-generational TEOTWAWKI: How Many Shoes? by Tom Baugh. It will take traditional self-reliant skills, not just a pile of stuff to pull through a lengthy societal collapse.

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Reader P.E.D. liked USA Today's recent piece on modern-day ghost towns.

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James K. suggested the recent Instructables piece on hand-spinning wool. (As previously mentioned in the blog, we recommend that you join a local Fiber Guild to get hands-on instruction.)

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Chad S. sent this: Indiana government positions surpass factory jobs. Chad's tongue-in-cheek comment: "I'm starting to think I should get a government job so I can have job security. At least the money will never run out, right?"

"Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason." - Jerry Seinfeld

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Check out the several new retreat property listings that have recently been added to our spin-off web site,


I owe an apology to Fernando "FerFAL" Aquirre, the editor of the Surviving in Argentina blog. In a recent radio interview, I made reference to some of his comments in the Minion Report Forums, that I had construed as anti-semitic. He e-mailed me yesterday to clarify that he is not an anti-semite, but rather that he is only opposed to Nationalist Zionism. He explained: "I don’t agree with Israel’s foreign policy, which was led until recently by violent Zionist extremists." He also clarified: "I don’t believe one ethnicity or religion implies superiority over others and I don’t discriminate people because of their last name, skin color or religious belief." I was glad to hear that.

Having lived in the northeastern corner of the state for the past 16 years (retired from the Air Force in 1994), I can give you some accurate information about the area for your readers who are considering moving to a retreat area.

The northeast is a very sparsely populated part of the state. I live in Washington county which has an area of some two million plus acres but only has about 5,000 or so people living here. The area is mainly in farming and ranching, and the far eastern part of this corner of the state is located on top of the Ogallala Aquifer. Wells are generally required for access to water, and land is readily available for purchase (dry land around $500 per acre, irrigated at around $750 per acre right now). The state is a "will issue" for concealed carry permits, and many of the residents are hunters.
The nearest large city in this area is Sterling (pop. about 15,000) and it does have a medium security prison on the edge of town. Otherwise, the only big cities are up on the front range (Denver, Greeley, etc).

Schools are small, teachers are always in demand (not sure of pay but it's not very high) and the general quality is high, especially compared to the front range. Employment is still fairly good out here but getting worse as we slip further into the Second Great Depression. Major employers are transportation (truck drivers) and agricultural. Game is fairly plentiful (pheasant, deer, some quail and turkey,) and the neighbors out here, while a bit clannish are friendly and helpful if you don't have a big city attitude!

The weather here can be a pain at times, but generally the winters are relatively mild (expect below zero weather for mid-winter, but not consistently) and the growing season extends from late April/early May (time for putting peas in the ground) to late September although snow has been known to fall as early as mid September. We've just recently come out of a 10 year drought, and precipitation is back to normal for the area (meaning dry land farming crops will generally work, but gardens need irrigation). Hope this might help a bit for your readers out there. Thanks and good luck! - S.C. in Washington County, Colorado

I have been reading SurvivalBlog for some time and have read your novel "Patriots" and now reading "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It". Great job and love your work. I work as a SCADA programmer for water, waste water and power plants and was wondering if you had some background on this. I know you are somewhat hard on the system as an overall and it is well aimed. Most of the programs and programmer I am around take much care as possible to keep the Windows based computer as a window into the system only. We use Industrial based control known as Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC). These are not based on the Windows platform and need a specialized programs to view and change them. I'm not saying some one can’t get into the system but it would be hard for anyone except with the software and a great deal of knowledge. We also make a special effort to always have a manual backup system that does not require the PLC to operate. Most of the Electrical Substations and power plants that I have been around the controls are so old that they are mostly "monitor only". When we program a new substation, the SCADA Computer does not make any decisions. Its only [made] by an operator interface and the trip and re-close is done be a relay, which is now electronic. (The old relays were magnetic, but with anything put in or changed in the 20 years would most likely be electronic.) There has been a move in the last few years to get away from the PLC and move to something we call Soft Logic. This is where the code is run on a Windows based computer. We have resisted because of the [inadequate] reliability of it and the threat of viruses and [the lack of] security of the Window- based platform.

I love your work and was just wondering where you knowledge came from on this subject? My family is buying into the survival thought process and it has made my road a lot easier to be prepared, I am a pastor of a small church and they sometimes look at me a little funny, but I have the family starting on the right track. Keep up the good work.

Luke 22:35-38 (NKJV)
35 And He said to them, “When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?” So they said, “Nothing.”
36 Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.
37 For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For the things concerning Me have an end.”
38 So they said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.”

It is time to sell our Garment and buy a sword until Jesus tells us we have enough. - J.M., Pastor and SCADA Programmer

Mr. Rawles,
I hope most readers that are considering building underground shelters that are 16' by 20' with a 6" cap or roof, hire the expertise of a registered structural engineer. The design of an underground structure that have a 6" cap or ceiling as proposed by Jim O., with 1/2" rebar is not to be considered heavily reinforced by any means, and would probably be not to any CRSI design standards, unless it is braced underneath with several columns. It does not really matter if a house sets on top or several feet of earth, when properly designed.

I am not an engineer but I did hired a reputable structural engineer to design my underground room which is not connected to the house, as any fire which could occur would have the possibility of evacuating any air in the structure.This potential exists even with ventilation. My room is approximately 12' by 18' and has an 8' ceiling. The roof or ceiling is composed of 12" concrete with two layers of 3/4" rebar at 9" on centers. Concrete is of five sack [per cubic yard] design mix. The walls are 10" thick with 1/2" rebar 9" on center, the floor is 12" with 5/8" rebar 12" on centers. The ceiling is freestanding without any interior support.

Any design with 3/8" steel or even 1/2" steel for an underground shelter to support any differential movement or possibly seismic activity would in my opinion be totally insufficient in design and to proceed would be negligent without professional design. Otherwise, the result could be none other than a large concrete coffin vault.

I am a retired commercial contractor with a degree in architectural engineering. I have closed my company this year after being in business for 62 years. People please, consult with a structural engineer. I stress "Structural" as not all engineers are the same, as doctors and lawyers. All have specialties.

Otherwise, article is excellent and informative. - O.T.

Several readers mentioned this: Social Security to start cashing Uncle Sam's IOUs. This does not bode well. The most telling statement is in the sixth paragraph. In summary, we'll be borrowing from foreigners to pay our Social Security benefits. This article certainly makes it clear that Al Gore's "Lock Box" rhetoric during a presidential campaign a few years back was absolute nonsense. Congress has been busily spending your Social Security "contributions", for many years. Here is a quote from the article: "In all, the agency has about $2.5 trillion in bonds, all backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government." Doesn't that give you a warm, fuzzy feeling? L'empereur est sans culottes.

GG sent this: Ratings agency warns on US public finances. L'empereur est sans culottes.

Reader H.J. sent this: Another Record Month of Red Ink: Government Racked Up Record Monthly Deficit of $220 Billion in February. L'empereur est sans culottes.

Frank. L. flagged this: Is There Gold in Fort Knox? L'empereur est sans culottes.

From Darryl Robert Schoon: Will the US Devalue the Dollar? L'empereur est sans culottes.

Items from The Economatrix:

Stocks Fall On Concern About US Credit Rating

Industrial Production Rises 0.1% in February

Oil Falls Near $79 On US Crude Demand Worries

Why Middle-Class Money Woes Rage On

UK: Another Banking Crisis Looms

Lawlessness after quake in Chile fishing village. The article begins: "Rene Orellana sleeps with a shotgun in his hands. 'I have to,' he says, motioning towards a shattered window frame covered with a tarpaulin." (Thanks to Alex S. for the link.) We also read: Chile May Face More Blackouts After 80% Lose Power
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Some excellent "old knowledge" links to references like Late 19th Century/Early 20th Century formularies were recently posted over at the LATOC Forums. I recommend archiving some of these on CD-ROMs. (Thanks to Bob G. for sending the tip!)

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M24 Sniper Rifle Fixes in the Works.

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Several folks wrote to ask me for more information about the The Carrington Event of 1859, that I mentioned in my recent radio interview with George Noory on Coast-to-Coast AM. Here is a good summary: The Great Storm: Solar Tempest of 1859 Revealed.

"...the United States government and its agencies have, by far, the largest pile-up of interest-bearing debts ($15.6 trillion), the largest accumulation of unsecured obligations (over $60 trillion), the largest yearly deficit ($1.6 trillion), and the greatest indebtedness to the rest of the world ($4.8 trillion)." - Martin D. Weiss

Monday, March 15, 2010

I've added several new bookmarks to my Links page.


Today is the last day in the Ready Made Resources 25% off sale on Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans. They are now offering free shipping on mixed case lots, as long as you order in increments of full cases! Get your order in by midnight, eastern time!


Today we present another entry for Round 27 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 27 ends on March 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.

The palm stick, sometimes called a Yawara stick, or Kubotan, is an excellent and highly effective tool for self-defense. The tactical folding knife and the concealed pistol typically dominate the self-defense culture, especially when weapons are discussed. However, the palm stick has several advantages and applications that firearms and knives cannot match.

Typically a palm stick measure around six inches in length, and about a half inch in diameter. Six inches is a good length, in my opinion. This combines concealment with a length that is still practical for offensive moves. A half inch may be a tad skinny, but too much thicker and one starts to get into concealment issues again, as well as weight and gripping ability. On the whole, I have found that the commercial off-the-shelf palm stick to be sufficient for the average citizen.

Since most of our palm sticks are going to be key chains, it pays to be aware of everything else that is in your pocket, and not to keep your keys in a place that is not readily accessible. One of the things I do is typically grab onto the kubotan and hold onto it loosely if I think there may be any sort of confrontation. It’s important to practice pulling the stick from its place of concealment, and practice with a purpose.

By "practice with a purpose", I mean simply bring the palm stick out and strike a target, real or imaginary. Do it with speed. One of the things I do, with a palm stick or folding knife, is bring it out and thrust it straight towards the chin area of an imagined opponent. This is good in either provoking a flinch, or hitting a target that can cause a great deal of pain, allowing for a successful escape.

Once you have practiced drawing the palm stick, it’s time to practice swinging it, stick part first. Obviously, its length precludes one from swinging the palm stick like a baton. However, there are a great variety of other techniques that are surprisingly effective.

For starters, grip the stick in the center, with a closed fist wrapped all the way around, making sure that there is a sufficient striking surface sticking out of both sides of the fist. One can grip off-center, and use the palm stick in a similar fashion as a knife, but that is not a technique I would recommend for beginners.

Next, practice a hammerfist technique, with the outside portion of your fist, or the part made up by the pinky finger. This is quite possibly one of the simplest strikes to learn and practice. Practice an overhead strike, a backhand hammerfist, a low hammerfist, and a palm-up hammer fist. Try striking in a variety of angles, with the hand in different positions. The length and hardness of the palm stick will turn this simple technique into one that becomes devastating when applied to nearly any part of the body. Imagine slipping this hammerfist into someone’s ribs, head, cheek, neck, hand, forearm, and you begin to see my point. It is a simple way to cause pain and damage to an attacker.

The next thing to do is practice with the inside of the fist, the part along the thumb. This strike may take a little more practice and finesse, but it also can be quicker, and just as painful. Practice strikes from top, bottom, left and right. Aim high, low, face, stomach, ribs, anywhere you can think of to strike. Later on, I will list some of my favorite targets. The forward portion of the fist also requires a little bit of coordination. If you find yourself having trouble, try to imagine a hook punch or a haymaker punch. In essence, this is what you are throwing, only not with the knuckles of the fist. Also, do not neglect a palm up strike.

Now, you already have formed a fist. Might as well take advantage of the fist and the natural inclination to punch someone, and practice a few jabs and crosses, with the palm stick. Punching with the palm stick has many advantages over having an empty hand. For starters, there is a little added weight to the hand, making a punch have more impact. Secondly, if the punch itself misses, the palm stick may graze the person, or the keys that may be attached to the stick. Last, and probably most important, the palm stick provides a measure of support and reinforcement for the knuckles and finger bones in the fist. Many people can easily break their own bones by punching someone in the head, which is an instinctive place to punch. A palm stick is one method of reinforcing these fragile bones and preventing serious injury.

Once again, a boxer’s delivery will help the most for punching. If you have no prior experience, simply try to remember a couple things. Always keep your hands up, bring your hands right back to your guard, and don’t rear back for the punch. Most likely if you have internet access, you can find a couple videos that can get you started on learning how to punch properly. At the end of this article I will provide a list of references for more information on punching and weapons for self-defense.
Now, in the case of a key-chain palm stick, the keys themselves have tremendous advantage over just a palm stick without keys. Keys are sharp, somewhat heavy, and can be swung by that palm stick with a decent amount of force. Practice swinging the keys in an X-pattern, known as ikis in Kali. Swing diagonally from upper right, then from upper left. The goal is to not only hit the person, but also convince them that you mean business so that they may run off and find easier prey. If they decide to rush in, imagine the consequence of taking a set of keys to the face. The psychological impact alone of having sharp metal objects swung at one’s face cannot be overlooked. If the attacker puts their hands up in attempt to ward off an attack, then any low-line targets such as the thigh, knee, or groin are open for some other attack.

A couple of years ago, a friend introduced the idea of holding the keys and swinging the palm stick. This is not my favorite method, but that does not mean it should not be trained. The advantages of this are that the palm stick typically has more solid mass than the keys, and can be swing a little harder due to leverage. I think that the keys are a bit trickier to get a grip on, but that may be my personal opinion. In any event, swinging the palm stick can be used just like swinging the keys. Describe an X pattern in the air in front of you. Ideally, this X should start at about the enemy’s collar bone, and cross about the solar plexus.

Care must be taking to balance striking power with control. Take care not to over-swing, and over-commit. W. Hock Hocheim describes the “window of combat”, a rectangle loosely bordered by mid thigh, to about shoulder height, no wider than the shoulders. If your swings start getting outside of this window, you are over-swinging, and opening yourself up to an enemy being able to defeat your defenses.

The palm stick can also be applied to a variety of pain points. The middle of the back of the hand, the notch at the bottom of the throat, under the nose, under the mouth, and behind the ear are some of the ones that come to mind immediately. A quick strike to the carotid artery, no matter how lightly, can have literally stunning results on an opponent. A strike to the temple can be potentially fatal, as can a strike to the trachea.

Using a palm stick, it can be possibly to break an attacker’s collarbone with a hammerfist attack. If you are grabbed, in addition to a releasing technique, a quick strike to either the offending limb or the person’s solar plexus will loosen their grip, making it easier to get away.

If you double the person over, a hammerfist to the back of the neck can have potentially fatal consequences, and will at least leave the attacker stunned and lying on the ground, unable to continue the attack. The palm stick can be thrust into either the groin or the solar plexus, with devastatingly painful results. [JWR Adds: In many law enforcement circles, baton strikes to the neck or head are considered potentially lethal, and reserved only for life-threatening situations that are comparable to firing a gun.] If the groin seems protected, the inside of the leg can be struck, as this can strike or come close to striking the femoral artery, a painful and potentially stunning blow. If the hands are high, aim for the ribs with either the inside or outside edge of the hammerfist. Ribs are always a good target for causing maximum pain and damage.

If you know any throws or takedowns, the palm stick can assist. One simple judo throw, o-soto gari, calls for the fist to apply pressure to the collarbone. That same pressure can be applied with the palm stick, to the collarbone or the throat area, making this simple foot sweep even more effective.

Against edged weapons, the palm stick has somewhat less usefulness. As always, the best chance of success against and edged weapon is to catch the weapon bearing limb, preferably after hitting the attacker with a chair, brick, or a car. Once you have caught the weapon bearing limb, you can beat on the wrist, the fragile bones of the hand, the elbow, and the inside of the biceps. All areas are vulnerable to strikes, and have numerous pain receptors. In the case of the inside of the biceps, there is a nerve cluster there that tends to send a shooting pain down the arm, sometimes making it go numb. It is not a strike to count on, but a possible and worthwhile target nevertheless.

A palm stick can be homemade quite easily. One merely has to select a thickness of dowel, preferable at least a half inch thick, measure out enough so that there is a striking surface of at least a quarter inch on each side of the fist, and cut it to fit. Added options include placing a weight in the center of the stick, drilling two holes in the stick and tying a cord [to make it into a Koppo stick], or making one end slightly sharper, or at least more pointed than the other.

At least one martial art that I’ve seen, Goju-Ryu Karate, which is an Okinawan style, has a kata that uses two palm sticks, although they are considerably smaller than what I’ve described here. Many Filipino systems cover the palm stick, if not in precise detail.

Many tactical folding knives can double as a palm stick, if the user is not able to deploy the blade right away. However, some State [and local] laws may prohibit carry of knives [or even palm sticks]. But keep in mind that several tactical flashlights, such as Surefire [and Mini-MagLite], can be used as a palm stick. Surefire and a couple other companies make flashlights with beveled front edges, specifically for this purpose. [JWR Adds: These are generally legal to carry. Ditto for beefy pens that run the gamut from the very inexpensive Cold Steel Pocket Shark to the very expensive Mont Blanc Meisterstuck. If you opt for the Pocket Shark (which, BTW, is what I carry when I fly on commercial airplane flights), then I recommend scraping off all of the pen's exterior markings. Be sure to consult the laws for wherever you will travel!]

There is a great deal of martial arts instructional material available on sites like YouTube if one does a simple search. [JWR Adds: Try doing searches at YouTube that include "palm stick ", "Kubotan", and even the very common misspelling: "Kubaton".] Much of my own instruction has come from W. Hock Hocheim, and guru Marc Halleck. Both individuals have first rate instructional DVDs.

In summary, the palm stick is an overlooked and easily used piece of self-defense equipment. Useful for striking and grappling, it can cause a great deal of pain with a reduced risk to the user. It’s easily concealed, easily employed. Overlooked by the majority of law enforcement officers and civilians alike, it can be hidden in plain sight. You’ll never have to leave it in your house while you go to the bank or a school board meeting. With a little elbow grease one can be custom made for every member of the family. The principles of the palm stick can be taught to children and adults. It is not a tool that depends on the use of the right hand or left hand. It may not have the range of some other more conventional self-defense tools, but it is much more versatile than the average citizen realizes.

About the Author: Kent is an 11-year veteran of the U.S. Army's Infantry Corps, now serving his third tour in Iraq. He has been studying Filipino Martial Arts (Kali, Arnis, and Silat), for about seven years. In addition, he has been training in various military and civilian combatives programs since joining the Army. He has taught combatives and martial arts to his fellow soldiers, and civilians.

JWR Adds: A full line of inexpensive yet very well-made high impact American-made plastic palm sticks is available from Alpha Innovations. They also make "Letter Openers", and other other high density injection-molded goodies. Their "Stylus Kubaton" variant is ideal for anyone that carries a touchscreen PDA or an iPhone. (Consult your local laws before ordering!) OBTW, they also make some amazing custom products and sell training DVDs.

Thank you so much for your books and Internet work. I have been storing food using the method of dry ice fumigation with five gallon buckets and mylar bags [as described in "How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It". and in the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course]. My family and I enjoy using brown rice quite a bit and I have read many articles explaining the oxidation of the fatty acids which is what causes the brown rice to have a short shelf life. What I can't seem to find is an answer to whether the replacement of air in the mylar bags with carbon dioxide will slow down or stop the rice from going rancid. I thought that maybe you have run across the science behind this idea. Does the minimal amount of gas exchange from outside the container negate this affect?

I have a couple of other observations regarding this storage method as well. When preparing to package foods I always crank up the wood stove in my house so there isn't a lot of moisture in the air to get in the food. With that said, I still get quite a lot of ice crystals, that turn into water, forming on the outside of the dry ice chunks while they sublimate. I usually put a piece of paper under the dry ice so the residual water doesn't make it's way down into the food and get trapped there when I seal up the container. I am not sure if the moisture is originating from the air in my house or from the food that I am packaging. Either way this got me concerned about the advice, which I have seen on many web sites and in other books, that you can put the dry ice on the bottom the container and put the food on top of it. I would think that this would trap some water at the bottom of the container, which is not a good thing.

My other observation has been that after the dry ice is done sublimating and I seal up the mylar bags with my wife's hair straightener, within a couple of days I go back and check on the bags and they look like they have been vacuum sealed. Apparently there is some sort of chemical reaction with the carbon dioxide that creates a vacuum in the bag. The question about this would be if there are any long term consequences from this reaction regarding shelf life or food quality. Again, thank you so much for all that you do and feel free to post this if you find it to be helpful. Best Regards, - Jesse in Oregon

JWR Replies: Rancidity is caused by oxidation and hydrolysis. The time required for rancidity to occur varies, with temperature as one of the biggest factors. (The higher the temperature, the quicker the onset of rancidity.) Foods with high oil content are prone to what is called oxidative rancidity. This is where there is a degradation of long-chain fatty acids into various short-chain compounds. One of the byproducts is butyric acid, which creates the distinctive "gone rancid" smell. To make a long story short, to minimize the risk of rancidity, keep rice stored below 60 degrees (the ideal would be just above freezing, but avoid fluctuations in and out of freezing), and at the same time minimize exposure to oxygen. Hence, CO2 packaging inside a mylar barrier bag works quite well.

Chris Wood, of CLSA and author of the Greed & Fear newsletter, was recently interviewed on CNBC and stated that the collapse of the Dollar would likely take place within five years. CNBC's Dennis Kneale, however, asserts that the Dollar is "self-healing", so that when the panic begins, "...suddenly people want to go into the Dollar, because the US Government is the most stable government on the planet". I had to rewind, because I couldn't believe what I had just heard.

This is precisely why looking to mainstream news sources as reliable conduits of factual information is so dangerous. If the US
government is the most stable government on the planet, then the world is in worse shape than I'd ever imagined. Cheers, - H.H.

J.D.D. sent this British newspaper article: Detroit family homes sell for just $10

CNN Money offers a baker's dozen of articles about America's fiscal disaster. (Thanks to S.M. for the link.)

Straycat sent us this item: States Facing Financial Doomsday as Debts Mount

SurvivalBlog's Poet Laureate, George Gordon ("GG"), spotted this: New round of foreclosures threatens housing market

My old friend Sandy mentioned this: Iceland, the Mouse that Roared.

Odds 'n Sods:

Richard S. liked this article on aquaculture: Dan Barber: How I fell in love with a fish.

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My brother Bruce (the well-known Sacred Geometry author) sent me a link to a YouTube video that has absolutely nothing to do with preparedness, but that is a lot of fun: The Ultimate Rube Goldberg Contraption. (Don't forget that despite my rural locale, I'm still one of those semi-geeky Makezine guys that likes watching those Eepy Bird Experiments.)

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U.S. reverses stance on treaty to regulate arms trade. (Watch out folks: Hillary is at the helm on this one!)

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Ian (from Nanny State Britannia) set a link to a BBC piece about the Open Carry movement in the United States: Armed and ready to shop. The dozens of anti-gun comments that were posted following the article are indicative that the UK is a lost cause. Take the Gap!

"Are you where you want to be if it doesn’t work?" - Novelist Louis L’Amour (1908-1988)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 27 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 27 ends on March 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.

My wife and I lived in place with no underground  rooms (such as a basement of a cellar) since we have been married.  As I have matured and my desire for disaster preparation has increased, I began to realize the importance of having an underground room for storage (particularly food storage and other things necessary for survival in the event of a short term or long term TEOTWAWKI) and protection from disasters such as heavy storms, tornadoes, nuclear activity, etc.  My career in construction, specializing in masonry and excavation, made this goal one that was easily attainable and I would like to share some things that I incorporated as I built and prepared this space for those possible emergency situations.

We were in need of a master bedroom addition on our small home.  So I decided to incorporate our underground room under it.  I will talk about the stages along the way that you will face so that you (working with the people that you may need to hire) can be prepared and have a head start.

The first step is to obtain the proper permits (a step that I decided to skip, as I live in a lenient county in a very rural area).  I chose to keep my project as low key as possible.  But I thought I should include this step because life could become very difficult in some areas where building inspectors and codes are strict.  Be sure to know where all underground utilities and wires are at on the property before moving forward with excavation.  Severing gas and electrical lines will most certainly ruin your day. [JWR Adds: There are free line-locating services provided by most utilities. In the US, just call 811. See this site for "pre-dig" numbers for Canada.]

After excavating, I poured the floor.   If you are not experienced  placing and finishing concrete, you will want to seriously consider hiring professional help.  If you decide you have the skills and strength to take on this task, make sure you have all the tools and adequate manpower to help.  Make sure to adequately reinforce your concrete (I always use steel reinforcing bar ("rebar") of at least 3/8” diameter).  I poured my floor approximately 6 inches thick.  You may want to pour concrete footers and lay up (or pour) your walls on the footers, leaving the floor to pour later.  I opted just to pour a thick, adequately reinforced floor, and lay up my walls on it.   Wanting to have some space for a root cellar, I left the floor in that area a dirt floor (to increase humidity, important for root cellaring).   I used standard  8x8x16 block for the walls.  You could form and pour your walls with concrete if you prefer.  I poured the cells of the block with rebar and concrete for reinforcement (making sure to leave adequate rebar extended to tie the ceiling and walls together).  Remember, concrete strength is always unpredictable without the use of reinforcement.   For the root cellar, I left lower and upper ventilation for circulation, also important.

As I planned, I decided to go with a seven foot ceiling.  I decided this because I wanted to be able to drain water without the use of pumps, and this made it possible.  Rain and groundwater can be your worst enemy, and I did not want to depend on a pump and electricity to take care of removing water.  I put a drain line in the dirt section of floor in the root cellar and sloped the concrete slightly towards the drain.  A pump may be necessary for your situation.  If it is, you may want to consider using a sump pump capable of being run by a battery backup.  Do not forget to put your sump pump pit in before pouring your floor and slope your concrete accordingly.  Proper grade around the perimeter of your  underground room will greatly reduce the risk of water problems, especially when combined with properly installed gutters (if your underground room has a room above it like ours does).   Also install  a waterproof coating on the outside of the walls and a perimeter drain.  Again, the perimeter drain would best be drained by gravity, but if this is not possible, drain it into your sump pump.  Always backfill with an adequate amount of gravel.  This will allow water to infiltrate down to the perimeter drain freely and will help keep your perimeter drain from being plugged.  I have been in this kind of work for many years, and I have seen many water problems caused by improperly  installed perimeter drains that have eventually filled with silt over time.

I decided to go with a concrete lid, heavily reinforced with ½” diameter rebar, to top off our new 16 ft by 20 ft underground room.   You will want to find out how much reinforcement and how thick the concrete will need to be in order to span the distance you need.   Also critical is the placement of the rebar in the concrete.  When spanning an open room, you will want to place the rebar towards the bottom of your concrete.   Make sure to be vigilant to make all the necessary rebar connections.  Not many different building materials do worse in an earthquake than un-reinforced or improperly reinforced masonry and concrete.  When it is necessary to overlap ("lap") your rebar, make sure that the length of the rebar lap is equal to 40 bar diameters of the size rebar you are using.  For example, if using ½ diameter (#4) rebar, your rebar lap will be 20 inches.  If you decide to go with a concrete lid, make sure to adequately brace your forms.  A collapse (or even a sag) would be a disaster for sure.  I used sheet metal roofing under the concrete, which ultimately become the ceiling of my room.  Make sure to leave some fasteners to anchor the sheet metal to the concrete, or the metal will sag when the forms are removed.

Since I wanted a dry and canned food storage (low humidity) area along with a root cellar, I built insulated walls to separate the two rooms.  I decided to build my own shelves for these rooms (you may want to buy yours).  Nonetheless, I took into consideration a few things.  One was to make them very sturdy.  Bulk food can be heavy.  Another consideration was to attach them to the walls and make a lip around the outside edge of the shelves.  That always unexpected earthquake could deplete your food supply quickly, especially glass containers.  I also liked the idea of building my own shelves so that I could build them to best suit my needs with the shelf heights and widths that were best for my particular situation.  This room would also be a great spot for your freezers.  You may want to consider a DC freezer with some solar panels and batteries or a propane freezer for those times of extended power outages.  Freezers may not be a necessity, but they sure would be a welcome luxury in those times without electricity.  This would also be a good spot to keep an adequate supply of drinking water.

Last thing I will leave you with to consider is your consideration for a dehumidifier.  You will want one for your dry storage area.  Moisture and stored foods do not go well together (not to mention moisture’s effect on guns, ammunition, other steel items, clothes, blankets, etc).  Some dehumidifiers operate better in lower temperatures, so do your research.

Since the completion of our room, this space has proven to be well worth the time and resources that it took to build it.  One day it may be crucial in the sustaining of our lives for any number of reasons.  Hope this article leaves those who read it with some helpful advice to think about.

John at sent us a link to an interesting article on American preppers, from a French newspaper: If the sh** hits the fan, they are ready for it.

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Chuck sent me this: Hard Times Turn Coupon Clipping Into the Newest Extreme Sport

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Tomorrow is the last day in the Ready Made Resources 25% off sale on Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans. They are now offering free shipping on mixed case lots, as long as you order in increments of full cases! Get your order in by midnight, eastern time on the 15th!

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Troy V. wrote to mention a radio interview with Gerald Celente, wherein he recounts his experiences in Chile during the recent earthquake. Apparently, he and a friend set a new world speed record for running down hotel stairwells.

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Several readers sent the link to this piece by Michelle Malkin: Obama’s war on fishing?

Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new song, [and] his praise in the congregation of saints.
Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.
For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation.
- Psalm 149:1-4 (KJV)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 27 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 27 ends on March 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 one thinks of a slingshot, the image of the forked stick and rubber band hanging out of the back pocket of Dennis the Menace is usually what comes to mind. Often overlooked in the survival community, the slingshot can be a valuable addition to any survival kit or day pack.

For all intents and purposes, the best tool for taking small game that a survivalist can have, in my opinion, is a .22 pistol. Until very recently, though, it was illegal to carry them into state parks. To those who are not up to date on local and state ordinances, it can be extremely confusing where you are allowed to posses a firearm. In Colorado, a hiker can unknowingly cross land owned by three different agencies in less than half an hour while on a trail. Knowing if you can or cannot carry a survival pistol, and the consequences of getting it wrong, cause many hikers to just leave them at home. With the threat of a felony conviction, fines, jail time, confiscation of your weapon, and future headache associated, it just doesn’t seem worth the trouble.

Slingshots bridge the gap between small but possibly illegal .22 handguns and snares for catching dinner in the wild. Other primitive weapons have limitations that often leave them in the back of the pickup when you need them. Bows and arrows are unwieldy and not usually taken on simple nature hikes. The atlatl is difficult to master for even the most ardent of survivalists, let alone carrying around a 5 foot arrow. Weapons such as the boomerang and bolo take skill and are not designed for small game. Blow guns are fine but are limited to the number of darts you have brought along. Making darts by hand takes time and patience, little of which you have in a survival situation.

Today’s slingshots are lightweight, collapsible, and reliable weapons that can be utilized to kill small furbearing game and birds. Whereas traps and snares are good for catching game that might come by in a few hours; they are useless for getting that squirrel staring at you from the tree branch 30 feet away. This is where the slingshot comes into its own. It offers you the ability to silently take an accurate thirty foot shot with the option of a rapid follow up shot. Ammo for your slingshot can be anything that fits into the pouch. Steel ball bearings, marbles, lead fishing weights, and spent bullets all make good ammo. The added bonus is that if you run out, you can always pick up a stone. The more round the stone is, the better it will fly. This means you never have to worry about running out of ammo. You can shoot at anything that moves and improve your odds at getting lucky.

Mastering the slingshot is as simple as taking an empty cardboard box in the back yard and drawing a bulls-eye in magic marker. After about an hour of plinking, with a wide array of ammo and at various distances, you should have a firm grasp of the abilities and limitations of his or her slingshot. Aiming is a simple affair. The two most common methods deal with whether or not you have a forearm support. For those who do have a forearm support, hold the slingshot upright with a strong grip, pull back the sling, center your target between the tops of the braces, and let fly. For the older “Dennis the Menace” style, hold the slingshot sideways with your thumb in the notch of the supports. Draw back like a mini-bow, aim, and fire. This position allows you to get a stronger draw without putting too much tension on your wrist.

Modern slingshots are widely available at almost any big box store, costing anywhere from $10 to $25 dollars, depending on quality and accessories. Although I find sighting systems on slingshots to be unnecessary, I do recommend a slingshot with a folding wrist/forearm support. The forearm support redistributes the tension from the sling away from the shooters wrist, saving the shooter the pain and embarrassment of having the sling shot ripped from your hand and hitting you in the face. A majority of the slingshots I have seen sold at army surplus stores and Wal-Mart have a hollow handle for storage. I find this extremely useful for storing the most basic of survival kits. I have a small ziploc-style bag containing three strike anywhere matches, a cotton ball, and a X-Acto knife blade. With this, I can skin my kill, start a fire, and whittle a skewer to cook it on.

Should you feel so inclined, a simple X brace can be tied onto the supports of slingshot in order to fire arrows for larger game. After some fiddling to get the height right, simply lay the arrow into the notch made by the X brace and seat it in the pouch. Now you will be able to aim down the shaft and fire it in same manner as a horizontal bow. This method is good if larger mammals come by, such as marmot or raccoon. I find that modern arrows work best, but feel free to try and whittle yourself one out of a straight tree branch.

Slingshots can also be used to distract and defend yourself while on the trail. Not many people think about attacks that happen in national parks, but they do happen. The IRA has famously used slingshots as weapons, during the war in Northern Ireland. Although it has no guarantee of a lethal shot, a strong strike to the face, neck or groin from a hefty lead fishing sinker or ball bearing will put the breaks on any attacker looking for an easy target. Granted, you will need to be alert to possible danger in order to utilize it, but if you weren’t paying attention to your surroundings, your going to get owned no matter what your packing.

Another great thing about slingshots is the multiple uses for there parts. The surgical tubing scavenged off a slingshot can be uses as; a drinking straw, a tourniquet, or a strong a fast engine for holding or spring traps. If in the event your supports break, but the rubber sling is still good, you can make a hand spear out of it. Simply tie your band in a loop, and then loop it around your thumb and index finger. Take whatever thin stick you are using as a spear and seat in the pouch of your band. Pull back and hold the spear with the same thumb and index finger your band is looped around, aim and let go.

For those of you who want to make your own, a decent sling shot can be made in about ten minutes. First find a stout stick roughly the width of your thumb with a fairly even fork in it. Trim the handle length to suit your preferences. Next, make two small notches on either side of what is to be your supports. This is where the rubber will be seated so that it doesn’t slide off the end. If it is green wood, allow it to dry out in the sun or by your campfire overnight. This will make the wood more rigid, allowing you to get more power behind your projectile. The type of rubber you use will make all the difference. Latex sheeting, surgical tubing, and layered rubber bands make good slingshot material, but improvised elastics can be taken out of the waistband of your underwear. Prison inmates have been doing it for years. Get two lengths about a foot long and tie one end to your supports, one for each side. After that, you will need to make a pouch. This can be any square sheet of material you can cut off, from an old nylon bag or t-shirt. Make two small holes about a quarter inch from the edge and tie your rubber slings through them. That’s it. Test and modify as needed. Understand though, despite how good your whittling skills are, anything you make can be matched or beaten by a cheap commercial slingshot in most instances.

My last point I want to cover is the difference between modern slingshots with rubber tubing, and biblical slingshots like the one that David used to slay Goliath. The biblical slingshot is nothing more than a strip of rawhide about 5 feet long, with a pouch in the middle. One in had a loop that went over the middle finger while the other end was pinched between the thumb and index finger. You spun it either beside you or over your head to build up momentum and then let fly. For those who are interested in a more primitive way of hunting, the biblical slingshot is worth a look. Keep in mind though, that it requires much more skill than the modern sling shot, does not allow for a quick follow up shot, and is not as quiet.

In the end, anybody that walks into the woods should have multiple means of procuring food. Relying on only one method to catch and kill game is a recipe for hunger. The tragic fact of the matter is that most hikers rarely if ever think about what they will need if things go wrong and they find themselves hungry, cold, and tired in the middle of nowhere. A few lightweight items in the bottom of their day pack can mean all the difference. In that regard, a slingshot can be justified as a necessary survival item.

Dear JWR,
On March 14th at 2 a.m. it is the Daylight Saving Time change time in most of the US. So now is a very good time to check some things that you haven't thought about in a while. I'm sure you heard the Public Service Announcements to change the batteries in your smoke alarm and to test them. That is certainly a good thing to do, but is that the only thing you should do this time of year? Grab a pen and paper and let's look around your home.

Batteries and Battery Powered Equipment
Since you're changing some batteries already, this is also a great time to check the batteries in your flashlights, radios, and other battery powered equipment around your home and cars. Turn them on and see if they still work and if you still know how to use them.

First Aid Kit
Hopefully your first aid kit didn't see much use, but you need to check it for expired food and medications, put what needs replacement on your shopping list. If things have migrated to all parts of your home, bring them all back together into one central location. Update any contact information, medication changes or allergies in your document kit.

How Are Your Vehicles Doing?
You probably use your car every day but have you taken the time to really look at it recently?
Check your tire's pressure and look for signs of wear. Use a penny to check your tread depth, if you can see the top of Lincoln's head you need new tires. Look in the wheel wells for signs of rust.
Pop the hood and check the fluid levels and not just the oil and windshield washer but brake, steering and radiator. Look for leaks and worn belts.
Get a helper and make sure all the lights work.

What Did the Winter Do To Your Home?
How well has your house and property weathered the winter? You might want to start another page and call it the Honey Do list.
Check under sinks and around outside faucets for water leaks. Drain your hot water heater. Not only will this clear the buildup of mineral deposits and silt, it will make the hot water heater more efficient and give you more available hot water and faster too, but also more drinking water in case of an emergency.
Look around the foundation, driveway and sidewalks for cracks in the concrete.
Check your foundation, deck and fence for damage or rotting with a pocket knife, particularly around the base of posts. Small piles of sawdust indicate signs of vermin or insect intrusion.
Grab your binoculars and inspect your roof for missing shingles and flashing.
Test your lawn mower, generator and other gas powered equipment and their fuel.

Oh and don't forget to set you clocks the night before. "Spring forward, Fall back."

Paul D. recommended this article from The Guardian: How food and water are driving a 21st-century African land grab.

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From E.M.B.: Energizer Battery Charger Comes with a Software Backdoor. Yikes!

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There are now just three days left in the Ready Made Resources 25% off sale on Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans. They are offering free shipping on even mixed case lots. These foods are delicious, compact, and have a 30 year shelf life. Order soon!

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Cheryl sent this news: Wyoming Governor Signs Sovereignty Resolution. This comes on the heels of several recent legislative victories for the Firearms Freedom Act movement, which also has the 10th Amendment at its heart.

"As I looked at my two young sons, each with his gun, and considered how much the safety of the party depended on these little fellows, I felt grateful to you, dear husband, for having acquainted them in childhood with the use of firearms." - Elisabeth Robinson, narrating in "The Swiss Family Robinson" by Johann David Wyss

Friday, March 12, 2010

I will be a guest on Lan Lamphere's Overnight A.M. talk radio show this evening, for two hours. If you have the time, please listen in.


Welcome aboard! Greetings to the thousands of new SurvivalBlog readers who found the blog after hearing my recent three-hour interview on Coast-to-Coast AM. For those that missed it, you can find an audio link to the interview here. It is also archived for free streaming download--but just for the next week--at KSFO's web site. (You'll need to select Thursday 10 to midnight and Friday from midnight to 1 a.m.)

I recommend that folks just getting started begin with my Preparedness Quick Start Guide for Newbies. You'll also want to read the "About SurvivalBlog" page, and my "Precepts" page. After that, with the Search box near the top of the right-hand bar, you can dig in to the nearly 8,000 archived SurvivalBlog articles, letters, and quotes. The archives are all available free of charge!


Today we present another entry for Round 27 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 27 ends on March 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.

From the beginning of time, ownership and control of quality farm land and raw materials have been closely associated with wealth creation and prosperity. What can you grow or raise? What resources and commodities do you own and control? How much metal, stone, glass, and wood do you own? Do you have the means, knowledge, tools and skills to produce valuable items from this land and these raw materials?

As America was settled, the pioneers knew very well the fundamentals of non-electric, independence away from the city and just how critical natural resources were to survival. If a parcel did not have fresh water and tillable flat bottom farm land, it was left alone and many years later those same lands are now national parks, national forests, and BLM lands owned by the government.

The primary questions in the minds of those early settlers should also be the same questions in the minds of today’s long-term prepper families. Those questions are simply, “Will this parcel of land support our life?”, and “Do I have ownership and control over the means of production of my food and fuel on this land”?

All along the Blue Ridge mountains, the real estate agents have a phrase they use concerning land value, that phrase is, “the steeper, the cheaper”. It is well known that when you see land advertised as “good hunting land”, that the property really will not support its residents. It is too rocky and hilly, and will not support decent crop production for man and livestock. It is only the last few generations of fearful city type suburbanites and armchair survivalists that have elevated the notion that mountain land remoteness equals security and that is the number one quality to look for in a “retreat”. But mountain living leaves much to be desired in security in many important areas and ways. Never be deluded into thinking that you are safe high up in the woods and that no one will know you are there. It bears reminding everyone of the biblical verse and truth:

Matt 5:14 “A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid”.

Caves and mountains are where you go to if you are on the run, and need temporary shelter from pursuit, just read the Bible and look at history. People only lived that way out of destitute desperation, because everything [needed to support life] must be hauled in on a continual basis in order to survive. Those locations are not an assured long term sustainable solution in many cases. The primary reason is that very little livestock feed can be produced. Be careful that your homestead location does not separate you from the critical means of production, and forever tether you to others for the things you should be producing yourself. If possible then always opt for sustainable systems capabilities in your land purchase decisions as the most important criteria. I encourage forward thinking preppers to expand their retreat and homestead plans to the realities of true societal and monetary system independence. Be willing to transition to an agrarian lifestyle now, and take control over all the means of production of two things in your life: food and fuel. Get to the place where you own the finished goods and things you cannot grow or raise each year such as salt, tools, and ammo. Owning a lifetime supply of salt is something that is not too difficult. You are trying to reach the point where a yearly cycle in food and fuel production is all you have to worry about. This gives you the freedom to stay out of the cities and towns for basic supplies others will be clamoring for; for a great many years. This starts not with the question of how remote is my land from society’s "zombies", but “will my land support life, and do I own all the means of production”? The litmus test is really drawn not at the backyard 4x4 square foot garden level, but rather: can I grow feed for my livestock and my family’s fuel production on this parcel? This is really what the means of production are all about.

It is ownership and control over the means of production of food and fuel that will ensure you and your family of long term survival in a TEOTWAWKI scenario.

Be willing to ask the questions of a pioneer settler with his family in a covered wagon in 1850. “Will this land support life”?, “Can I grow feed for my poultry flocks, dairy and meat animals, aquaculture ponds, and humans”? “Is there a surface fresh water source on this land”? “What about timber and material resources”? Do I have the tools, knowledge, skills, and finished goods for these systems and processes? These are the basics of life and questions that a century ago would have been common knowledge to all, but today’s modern city sheeple prepper wanna-bes too often overlook and discard. Just like we are spoiled with instant everything, we think of every shortcut possible to “instant survival”. At some point you must get to the place where your “retreat” becomes your “mini-farm”. Otherwise, you are simply camping with a can of food.

“Can I produce all my own fuel from this land?” is the second part of the means of production mindset. There are six primary farmstead fuels that wise people should all be in the process of utilizing for their energy independence. They are: wood, charcoal, methane, ethanol, producer gas, and beeswax. Study these fuels, learn all you can and purchase now all the means of production for them on your land. Do not look to the left or to the right. Turn the television off and spend your free time developing these systems and learning the skill sets needed for their production, storage, and use.

Many today will never voluntarily choose an agrarian lifestyle or pursue the ownership and control over the means of production. Instead they will rely solely on commercial packaged food and fuel produced by others who are wise enough to own the means of production. They must haul each load to their retreat, with no hope of new supplies while they keep their city office jobs and suburban comforts till they believe they will “bug out” and be "safe". Lord, help them all is all I can say.

While having the courage to pursue the ownership and control over the means of production instead of mere temporary “preps” is essential, the real challenge for First World urbanites is the shift in practicing and mastering the skills surrounding those means. It takes work and that is a four letter word when everyone wants to be a musician, artist, writer, or celebrity. Choose the agrarian/skills-based lifestyle now even with all the learning curves and mistakes you will make, before you are a fleeing refugee of this empire collapse, and can only wish you would have chosen this path and secured these means sooner. All of the suffering and sacrifice you endure now in becoming skilled and truly prepared, is nothing compared to all of the suffering and sacrifice you would endure later if you are not already skilled and prepared.

I'll close with two more Bible verses:

“Wise men lay up knowledge.” (Prov. 10:14)

“Fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov. 1:7)

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I would like to make a few comments on your post titled “Confronting Kleptocracy – Identifying the Looter Mentality”.

Although my education and profession are in medicine, I have been long interested in social anthropology particularly as it applies to the average “citizen” confronted with a breakdown in modern society. As you are well aware, our society exists by means of a fragile web of precisely balanced interconnected dependencies. This web was not created overnight but has developed over several generations.

At present we enjoy life at a time where the poorest people in our modern culture live at a standard way beyond what the richest kings enjoyed only a hundred years ago. About a year ago I sat in a restaurant and heard a young lady (20-something) exclaim to her friend and the server, “Oh my God, this chicken has bones in it! That is so gross!” Quite obviously, this typical young lady has lived her entire life eating only boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken nuggets and is so removed from the source of her meal that being confronted with the reality of chicken, she was appalled. Today, a majority of our population has never experienced life without these comforts. They have no frame of reference to anything different. We set the thermostat for 74 degrees because 76 is a bit too warm and, well, 72 is just a little too cold. We also feel free to complain when it’s not right.

I believe it is important to remember that as a reader of SurvivalBlog, you are not among the majority. If you are a regular reader then almost by definition you understand that your comfort, your safety, and your assets are earned and not deserved. If you are a reader than you understand and agree with the concepts of preparations that you make thereby earning your comfort.

One thing we can ascribe to the "Golden Horde" leaving suburbia is they will have a sense of entitlement. Never before have there been as many people who believe they deserve more then what they have. This phenomenon is made clear by the average personal debt, and is well documented and written about in business literature since it reigns as one of the largest problems facing employers today. In short we have a large group of people with a willingness to deserve but without a willingness to earn.

Last fall during a lecture I asked a group of medical residents what they would do if society collapsed. I used the example of an EMP with complete failure of the electrical grid and ensuing chaos. Keep in mind, these are very well educated and intelligent people; they are physicians in training. These people are expected by the population to have the highest ethical standards and morals. Their answers astounded me. In the early aftermath as a group these people said they would go to the store and get what they needed. When I reminded them there was no way to pay with a credit card they seemed to think that it would be okay anyway. Many of the women said they would resort to begging if things became difficult, but most of the males in the group said they would leave for the rural areas due to the availability of cattle and other farm animals. When I asked what they would then do, most responded that they would take “one or two.” It wasn’t until I mentioned that stealing cattle is also called “rustling” and men used to be hung for such acts that it even began to register they were in fact stealing. The notion had not even occurred to them. One of my residents took the discussion further saying, “It wouldn’t necessarily be considered stealing because of the national emergency.” When I assured him the farmer or rancher would definitely consider it stealing and would likely defend his property with a rifle, he answered, “He wouldn’t shoot me. I’m a doctor. Besides murder would be a worse crime than my stealing.”

In general statistics apply only to populations and never to individuals. This is a critical fact to remember as we consider what might happen in a societal collapse. Personally, I hate the term “sheeple.” Although descriptive in the sense that we refer to the masses of suburbanites moving in the Golden Horde it does not describe the individual. “Sheeple” conjures images of an inept couch potato lumbering along the road with a bed sheet full of junk food over his shoulder with a fat wife and three whining kids in tow. In reality, the individual may very well be educated, physically fit, and have a history of military training. He might be young or old. He might be married with kids or single and alone. He may be well armed and have a great deal of experience using weapons; he might be a felon, or he might be a doctor.

My fear is that the entitled attitude is not only common, but it is the prevailing mindset today. It will not even occur to these thousands of normally good and law-abiding people that taking your hard earned larder is wrong. “After all, it’s an emergency and my family and I are hungry.”

Could it be that all looters are not bad? Perhaps some are just self-centered, entitled, and clueless. This describes half the current population and part of the reason we are in this economic mess. While I have no problem justifying the use of deadly force to defend one’s property and loved ones, (yes, I have a rifle and a shovel) it might be beneficial to stop for a second and consider that the looter just doesn’t get it. They are a product of a society that has taught them the wrong values and ideals for a generation and encouraged them to be self-centered.

As I consider the possibilities in a post-TEOTWAWKI scenario, I can see where looting could fall into two distinct categories. The first group is the despicable where stealing is done for personal gain. They are anarchy in action, they destroy community, and spread destruction. For that group I would agree that “Rule .308” applies. But it’s this second group that gives me trouble. These are the folks that just don’t have a clue. They steal to survive and to protect their loved ones. If I was in their situation I don’t know what I would do, but I do know that I would not sit idly by watching my family starve. I believe these will be the majority and I have to think that education and a little charity could go a long way.

Regards, - Dr. Dean

Over at Zero Hedge, Tyler Durden asks: Is The Federal Reserve Insolvent? (He's warning that monetization is the logical next step. So beware of inflation ahead!)

Ben in Tennessee sent us this from The Market Oracle: The Coming Dark Ages.

GG suggested this one: Bernanke's Dilemma: Hyperinflation and the U.S. Dollar.

Also from GG: Doug Casey on Surviving Financial Apocalypse Now

Items from The Economatrix:

Are Unemployment Benefits No Longer Temporary?

Jobs Outlook May Be Too Optimistic

Public Pension Funds are "Going to Vegas"

National Debt to be Higher than White House Forecast, Says CBO

Senate To Pass Jobless Aid, Business Tax Breaks

Marjory of is co-hosting a "Sustainable Living Meetup" in southeastern Idaho on Thursday March 18th. This is a chance for preppers to to meet, network, and share resources. (If you attend any event of this nature, of course all the usual OPSEC provisos apply. For example, I wouldn't recommend mentioning your surname to strangers.) The meeting will be held at the Aurasoma Conference Center in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho, starting at 6:30 pm. Marjory says: "Bring a potluck item that you have grown, or just like to eat." For further details, contact Marjory through her web site.

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Jerry Ahern is the former president of Detonics USA and author of the well-known 29-volume paperback novel series "The Survivalist", that was published back in the 1980s. He's just announced that his new non-fiction book "Survive!: The Disaster, Crisis and Emergency Handbook" will be released in April. is already taking pre-orders. I suspect that his new book will probably best enjoyed by someone wearing Ray-Bans and carrying both a Sting 1A custom fighting knife and a pair of Detonics pistols nestled in a well-worn Alessi shoulder rig. Whilst reading, you should occasionally flick a Zippo lighter with your free hand... ;-)

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I was doing some web wandering yesterday, and stumbled into Subterranea Britannica. Fascinating! (BTW, my only underground experiences in the UK were riding the London Underground subway, and touring a slate mine in Wales, with the late Memsahib.)

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Reader G.L.S. sent this: Moringa Oleifera Tree Provides Low-Cost Water Purification for Developing World.

"What our generation has forgotten is that the system of private property is the most important guarantee of freedom, not only for those who own property, but scarcely less for those who do not. It is only because the control of the means of production is divided among many people acting independently that nobody has complete power over us, that we as individuals can decide what to do with ourselves. If all it be nominally that of ‘society’ as a whole of that of a dictator, whoever exercises this control has complete power over us." - Friedrich A. Hayek

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I will be interviewed by George Noory tonight (March 11th) at 10 p.m. Pacific Time on the Coast-to-Coast AM show. The syndicated show is heard on more than 520 AM stations as well as XM/Sirius Channel 165. This interview will be about my book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times". The conversation is scheduled to be a two hours long, so we'll be able to cover some preparedness topics in considerable detail.


I just noticed that we hit the milestone of 18 million unique visits. Thanks for helping make SurvivalBlog the Internet's most popular blog on family preparedness!


Today we present another entry for Round 27 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 27 ends on March 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'll discuss bringing someone into the world the old-fashioned way. I realize that as a man I may not be considered by some readers to be the most qualified person to write this post - but hear me out.  I have four kids, all four of which I've helped to deliver, the last two of which were done at home, three of which were assisted by midwives, and one of which was done without any assistance at all.  I’ve also had EMT training, including classes on emergency childbirth.  Nothing in this article, however, is medical advice.  If you need medical assistance, you should seek a doctor.  What I’m trying to do by writing this is help you to prepare for a pregnancy and birth in such a way that you have options.

Essentially, survival is a mindset and prepping is a lifestyle.  Both will be affected by a pregnancy.  This article is meant to be a guide for the father in a prepper household, though others should benefit as well. 

Part I - Pregnancy

The first consideration is pregnancy itself.  You must approach pregnancy from the right perspective.  A normal pregnancy is not an illness.  It's not a disease.  It's a normal process - and a beautiful one at that.  If you can keep this in mind, you'll be a lot better off. 

Medical Care During Pregnancy

Do you need a doctor during the pregnancy?  I feel that pre-natal care, if it's available, is a must.  That doesn't, however, automatically require a physician.  If the pregnant woman is otherwise healthy and you have access to a midwife, I think midwives are the better route.  Doctors are trained to treat illnesses, midwives are trained to help grow and birth babies.  Plus, quite frankly, midwives usually know a lot more about pregnancy and childbirth than most doctors.  Besides, you don't go to a mechanic to buy a car; you don't go to a veterinarian to buy a dog - why would you go to a healer to have your baby?  Much of the care given during pregnancy is about alleviating the concerns and fears of the mother.  In the end, midwives are usually better at that part too.

Food Preps

Mommy and baby need good, nutritious foods from wholesome sources.  Whole grains, proteins, vegetables, and fruits.  Dairy isn't a bad option either.  Lots of water.  Eggs, containing everything needed to sustain life, are wonderful things.  A 10-15% increase in your prep supply for all of these things for the pregnant person will be more than sufficient.  You also need a good supply of small, healthy snacks - I've never seen anything that works better for staving off morning sickness than regular, healthy snacking.  A hungry pregnant woman is likely a nauseous and/or cranky pregnant woman.  Pay particular attention to what types of things she's craving - they can indicate where her dietary needs are not being met.

Medical Preps & Supplies

Vitamins: a good supply of pre-natal vitamins and probably an iron supplement.  Get a few different types of morning sickness.  Prenatal vitamins can increase morning sickness, but many women eventually find a brand that doesn’t make them sick.  Most people agree that the benefits of taking a prenatal vitamin make it worth the nausea. The iron will help with a lot of things, not the least of which is slowing the bleeding after the birth.  You need a supply of both sufficient to last her through the duration of the pregnancy.
You also need to go ahead and purchase everything mentioned in the Childbirth section of this article.
Remember, you don't need to worry about the baby - you need to worry about the woman.  Her body will take care of the baby as long as you help her take care of herself.


There are a few books I recommend for the pregnancy.  One is Husband-Coached Childbirth , which is the manual used by the teachers of "The Bradley Method" of childbirth.  The Bradley principle is a sound one and the book is great.  Dr. Bradley was an old farm doctor and he basically said, "Animals know what they're doing during birth, humans are animals, let's imitate animals."  My wife and I took Bradley classes and she later became a Bradley instructor.  It's a method I know and trust and I’ve seen it work four times for my family and countless other times for other families. 

The second book is The Expectant Father.  Most books for Dads-to-be take one of two forms - a) they try to be funny and don't give out much information; or b) they try to be clinical and don't offer much comfort.  This book, on the other hand, is both entertaining and full of information

The third book I recommend is Emergency Childbirth: A Manual.. Yes, I’m aware that book was published in 1958.  Shockingly, the process hasn’t really changed much since then.  Read this book.  Read it again.  Get another copy and keep it in the glove box.  Put the other one with your birthing supplies.

You may want to pick up a book or two that deal with what types of medications and/or herbs can be consumed or should be avoided by a pregnant woman.  I don't have a good source to recommend here - but you can search and find several.  Your midwife or OB can usually recommend a good one too.  As a rule of thumb, if she can avoid taking it, she probably should.  Don’t get sucked in by labels with words like “natural” or “organic.”  That has nothing to do with safety for the baby.  Remember, hemlock is an herb.  That doesn't mean it's safe for baby. 


Physical comfort:  From a clothing standpoint, have the mother-to-be spend some time talking to someone at a maternity store about how best to prepare for the changes that are coming.  Every woman is different, every pregnancy is different.  My wife typically looks like she's carrying a basketball by the time she's 4-1/2 months pregnant.  Other women barely show at 9 months.  The tendency, from a male standpoint, is to buy sweats or something similar.  It's practical and cheap.  If the pregnant woman is someone whose moods are adversely affected by wearing “frumpy” clothes, you may want to reconsider this approach.  If she's not, you may still want to reconsider.  Maternity clothing is cheaply made and overpriced as a rule.  That said, the nicer stuff can help her feel beautiful - which, I've learned in 10 years, is extremely important.  This really should be her decision and her opinions are not to be taken lightly.  Of particular importance: bra and underwear. 

Bedding & Other Odds & Ends

  • Pillows.  Lots and lots of pillows. 
  • Some extra sheets. 
  • A waterproof mattress cover. 
  • Many women find a yoga/pilates ball exceptionally comfortable in late pregnancy (and even during labor).

Emotional Comfort:
Your otherwise sane and logical spouse/girlfriend will have moments of completely irrational insanity.  You are never to tell her she is having one of those moments.  Just be reassuring, comforting, and patient.  She needs your support. 
Most of the time, she needs you to listen - not to problem solve.  Offer comfort, but don’t jump immediately into finding solutions.  For example, if her problem is fear, the answers could be 1) you need to be her rock; 2) she needs to educate herself; or 3) you need to simply say some soothing words. It could also be all three or none of these things. 
So what do you do?  First of all, stop feeling sorry for yourself.  She didn't get this way all alone and you aren't the one whose body is changing so quickly that it's full of aches and pains and whose hormones make it tough to think clearly.  You aren't the one who is about to squeeze something the size of a watermelon through an opening the size of a lemon.  Imagine what she's going through.  Second - listen to what she's saying and watch what she's doing.  If she's talking about fear and clinging to you physically, she needs you to be strong and soothing.  If she's asking lots of questions, she needs you to be strong, soothing, and work with her to educate her (and yourself) about the process.  Common threads: listen, man up and soothe her.  Offer solutions if she's asking.  A foot rub or back rub will go a long way.  If all of that fails, toss her bite size pieces of chocolate and back away slowly.  When safe and practical, grab a beer with the guys and complain – just make sure you’re out of earshot.
Men also tend to get focused on two things during pregnancy: work and money.  This is how we prepare the nest.  That's fine, just realize what you're doing and make sure you're meeting her needs as well.


I’ve sat through dozens of pregnancy classes with my wife, both as a student and a co-instructor.  This question always comes up, so let me address it.  Yes, you can have sex during pregnancy.  No, it won't hurt the baby.  Yes, it still feels good for you and your partner.  Yes, she's likely to still have a sex drive.  Spooning works best, but you’ll figure that out.

Final Thoughts on Doctors & Pregnancy

I have nothing against medical doctors.  If I get hit by a car, please take me to the emergency room.  But Doctors treat illnesses and injuries.  Pregnancy is neither.
While I strongly recommend against doctors for a normal healthy pregnancy, nothing I've said in this article is a recommendation for unassisted birth or for not getting prenatal care.  I've done births unassisted and assisted, and I much prefer the assisted kind.  Just in case.  Again, pre-natal care, if available is a must in my opinion.
If there are any complications with the pregnancy, involving a doctor where necessary is of course the right thing to do.

Part II - Childbirth

Warning: I'm not embarrassed by bodily functions and I'm not grossed out by birth.  If you are, then stop reading now - unless you're an expectant father - in which case, suck it up you wuss - you need to know this stuff!
Medical Care during Childbirth
First rule: if she wants medical care - you get some. 
Second rule: If the pregnancy has been abnormal, you need medical assistance.
Third rule: Trust Your Gut.  If something seems “wrong” get help.
Other than those three rules, do you need a doctor during the childbirth? If everything is normal, then no.  In fact, when my wife teaches birth classes, I often sit in.  Many of her clients are second time mothers who had a bad experience with their first birth.  The bad experience almost always goes like this - so often that I've coined it a "snowball birth" because one step inevitably leads to the next and the whole mess gets bigger as it rolls downhill.  1) Doctor induces labor for no good reason; 2) Doctor gives an epidural [anesthetic] ; 3) Mother fails to progress to Doctor's satisfaction; 4) Doctor gives mother [pitocin, commonly called "Pit",] a drug to make her contractions stronger; 5) Mother can't push effectively (usually a side effect of the epidural); 6) Doctor tells Mother she needs a C-section; 7) Doctor performs major surgery without proper emotional support or mental preparation for the mother; and 8) Mother feels like a failure and Doctor leaves for his golf game.
What everyone fails to see is that this whole process happens because the baby isn't ready to come yet.  If the Doctor hadn’t induced labor, there would have been no problem in the first place.  [In most cases] the baby will come when it’s time.

Pain Management

Most mothers who have had a "modern" birth - those with epidurals and doctors - will tell you how much it hurt despite the epidural and often have complaints about the doctor being rough or rude or even threatening...e.g., "if you don't push, I'll need to use suction."
When you talk to a woman who had a natural and uneventful childbirth - no drugs and a midwife, they rarely talk about pain. They use the word "pressure".  There are medical reasons for this involving hormones released after pregnancy that affect memory.  Do you remember "The Flashy Thing" in the movie Men in Black, that erases memory?  The body has a hormone that does the same thing for pain memories.  If you have an epidural, it often doesn't triggered and you will remember the pain. If you're normal and healthy and you have the option - go with a midwife.

But what if …

Let’s say it's an emergency.  The baby is coming, it’s going to happen at home and no one can come and help ... the pregnancy, up to this point has been normal and healthy.  Now what?  Do you call 911?
Some of you may be tempted to tune out right now because you aren’t planning on having a home birth without assistance.  Well, guess what? Even if you aren't planning to deliver unassisted at home - remember that the baby may not have gotten that memo.

Supplies for the actual birth:

  1. You need something to clamp or tie-off the cord.  I've used dental floss and cord clamps.  I highly recommend the cord clamps.  You can buy them here.  You'll want to order those ahead of time.  You need at least two.  People have used clean, unopened packages of shoelaces as well. Again, I recommend the clamps.
  2. You need lots and lots of clean towels.  We used beach towels.  How many do you have? You need more.
  3. You need a large deep bowl to catch the placenta in.  It will likely come out with a good amount of force.  If the bowl is shallow, it will slide right back out and land on you.
  4. You need tissues.  It's quite possible she's going to poop during labor.  If she does, she most likely didn't intend to and she probably won't even realize it happened.  It won't be very much.  Just grab it with a tissue and put it somewhere out of the way.  You don't want it touching the baby and there is no need to embarrass mommy.
  5. You need a sharp pair of scissors and a way to sterilize them.  Alcohol works.  Just have it handy.  There will be no hurry for the scissors.
  6. Hydrogen peroxide is good at getting stains out of carpet.  I told you that you needed to get more towels, but you didn’t listen.

The Birth Process
She'll have contractions.  They may be fast coming, or not.  They may be hard or not.  They may be regular or not.  I know the movies say that they'll be regular, fast coming, and painful.  They're movies and neither the baby nor the mother’s uterus has seen them.  On a related note, the water may not break until well into the process of birth.  Occasionally, in fact, babies are born with the water in tact.  Don't count on the water breaking to be a sign - that's also just in the movies.
First things first: what's your job?  You are whatever mama wants and needs.  You make mama comfortable and hydrated.  You do not complain about your problems and you don't share your fears with mama.  You are strong when she is not.  You are soothing when she needs to be soothed.  You just need to help get mama to the point where her body and instincts take over, then you catch.
If you need to time the contractions, that's fine.  Do it discreetly, and don't give mama reports.  Above all, don't tell mama she's having a contraction or when one is about to happen.  It's fairly likely that she already knows.
Watch mama...she's likely to go through some telltale stages (these can last for more than 24 hours or be over in less than an hour):
Nervousness, insecurity, a sense of "I'm not ready" - I'm still talking about mama here, not you - focus!  These are all signs of early labor when they're coupled with contractions.  She'll likely be talking to you through her contractions...that's because they're still mild.  Have her rest, use the bathroom, and drink water.  Maybe eat something.  If that doesn't stop the contractions, this is probably the real thing.  It could be 24 hours or 20 minutes.  It's up to baby.  Keep mama as calm as possible, comfortable, moving, and hydrated.  Help her walk around, walking helps labor progress.  Close the blinds, lower the lights - if she wants soothing music, now is the time, wash your hands very well.  Gather your supplies - especially the towels.

There is also a period of emotional swings, if contractions were regular before, they may get irregular during this period.  That's normal.  This is a transition period.  Contractions will get more intense.  She'll likely stop talking during the contractions - you should too.

Unless she tells you otherwise, keep touching her - gently, soothingly.  Look for areas that are tense and help her relax them.  Tell her she's doing great.  Tell her you love her.  Tell her you find her amazing. Comments like: "you're hardcore," "you're a trooper," and "no pain, no gain," are probably ill-advised. When the contractions get to the point that she wouldn't move out of the way of oncoming traffic when she's having one - you're in the real deal.

At some point around this time, she's going to shed her modestly - and likely her clothes too.  That's why I had you shut the blinds earlier.  Keep her drinking water between contractions.
Now you should be watching/listening for a few things: 1) grunting; 2) clenched muscles during contractions ... the same ones you clench when you're trying to have a bowel movement (if you’re behind her and she’s removed her clothes, watch her sides just above her hips – when that area tenses, she’s pushing); and 3) her saying "I feel like I need to poop."  All of these are signs baby will be arriving very soon.

Then you'll go into the final stage - and men tend to want to say "PUSH!"  She won't have a choice but to push.  Pushing makes things feel better.  Her body will compel her to push.  This is not a 30 second process.  Our first child required more than four hours of pushing.  Keep her hydrated and comfortable.

In the movies (and at hospitals) they put mama on her back with her legs up.  They are idiots.  Nothing could be less helpful to mama and baby.  That position is only helpful for the Doctor, and the Doctor isn’t here.  This position is unhelpful because it doesn't use gravity to help and it makes the opening narrower.  It’s like trying to swallow food while standing on your head.  You can do it, but it doesn’t make the process easier.  Instead, have her get on all fours, or better yet in a standing squat.  This opens the birth canal and helps baby come.  True, it makes it harder for you to "catch," but this isn’t about you.   Keep your hands properly positioned, because babies can come out fast and you don't want the baby's introduction to the world to be a thump onto the floor.

The water will break at some point if it hasn't already - look at it.  If it's dark or brown, you may have a problem - but you already know that because you read the Emergency Childbirth manual, right?  Normal is slightly less than clear with flecks of white stuff that looks and feels like lotion floating around in it.
If you see anything other than a head coming out first, then call 911.

Crowning - the part where the head is coming out of the opening - can be a tough time for mom.  For dad, it's tough to look at - but get over yourself...she needs you now more than ever.  Believe me, everything will go back to normal after a few weeks.  Try to help her push baby out gently - too fast and you could have a serious tear.  In the end, the baby will come out however it wants.  But you can try. 
Follow the book's directions on clearing the mouth and checking the cord.
After the head comes out, the rest will follow quickly.  Catch!  Your baby is slippery, small, and may come out with surprising force.  Don't drop it. Don't pull it out and don't yank on the cord, the placenta (which the cord is still attached to) will come out in a few minutes.
Put baby on mama's belly, cover it with towels or blankets and get ready to catch the placenta.  Mama will feel it coming.  She can be on her back for this part.
Keep your hand up and keep the bowl in place.  This can take up to 30 minutes, but when it happens it will go quickly.   This is the messy part.  It's also the gross part.  Catch the placenta in the bowl.
You should expect about a cup of blood during this process.  That's easy to say because a cup doesn't sound like much.  It looks a lot worse than it sounds when it comes from someone you love.
Once the cord has stopped pulsing and goes limp, clamp the cord about an inch or two away from baby's navel and then about an inch further than that. 
Sterilize your scissors and make the cut between the two clamps.

Part III – Caring for Mama & Baby Post-Partum

Baby is easy.  Keep it warm and in contact with Mama’s skin.  Mama should be trying to nurse as soon as she feels up to it.
Mama will be shocky.  That means she'll be pale and shaky and may alternate between being hot and cold....make her warm and comfortable.  Hydrate her.  Orange Juice is good (and a Bradley Method tradition).   Keep her warm.  She'll still be leaking blood for awhile.  Don't make her move until she's ready - that could be hours.  Be ready for her to faint - you need to have hands on her at all times if she's walking.
At some point, she'll need to pee.  That can be really difficult for a newly un-pregnant mama.  Something that makes it easier is a thing called a peri-bottle.  Basically, it's a little bottle that you can fill with warm water and mama can use it to clean herself after peeing. 

Big, thick pads for her nether regions are important here.  She'll still have some blood coming out.  These look like giant maxi pads and she'll know what to do with them - you are still actually speaking to her aren't you?  She's a human being after all!  Some people even soak them in various herbal solutions and freeze them beforehand to use them as cold compresses - just beware of freezing the skin.  Or you could buy perineal cold-compresses.

Seek medical care if available at this point.  Unless something seems wrong, there's no real hurry here.  We didn't even go to a midwife until four hours after our third child was born and that wasn't really even necessary.  Consider it a wise precaution. The main concerns are baby's breathing (usually indicated by color), overall health, and whether mama is doing alright post-partum. 
Again, nothing I've said here is to be construed as medical advice.  You need to consult a professional if possible.  These are just tips from my experience with my kids - all of whom were born healthy and without any serious complications.  I'm very lucky in that way.

As a father – the time after baby is born is the easiest part.  You take care of mama and the other household members and she'll take care of baby.  Taking care of mama sometimes means changing diapers and cleaning up spit-up.  It means sometimes holding the baby.  It may even mean cooking and doing laundry.  I said this part was easy, but it sounds like a lot of work, right?  It’s easy because your role is well defined.  The process works like this:  Ask yourself what needs to be done.  Then, compare the answer to that question with this sentence - "Feed the baby with my breast."  If the two answers are not identical - then it's your job.  Simple, right?
Let's try one:  What needs to be done?  Someone needs to drink a beer.  Okay - does "someone needs to drink a beer" equal "Feed the baby with my breast?"  No?  Then you have to do it.
One more: What needs to be done? Dinner.  Does dinner equal feed the baby with your breast? No.  You make or otherwise acquire dinner.
What kind of food does baby need? - None.  Mama will handle that.  Breast milk is the best possible thing for baby.  Your only role here is not getting jealous. 

Diapers - disposable or cloth.  We use cloth.  From a prepper standpoint there is no other option.  We can buy all the cloth diapers we need for three years for about $600-$1,200.  That doesn't even cover the first year for disposables.  Storage room is minimal.  It takes a shelf.

Other things you'll need - gentle shampoos, onesies and/or baby clothes. If you're buying in advance think about seasonal weather. Grandparents are famous for buying cute little shorts and t-shirts for babies born in November. You'll also need soft blankets.

We co-sleep [with our babies], so we don't even need a crib - but if you'd like a crib, get one.  If you drink or use drugs (including prescription ones) or if you are obese or have a disorder like narcolepsy, then please don't co-sleep. If you breastfeed and co-sleep, then babies are much easier.  Most rarely cry or get colicky.

Now, if you're about to get upset over my views on co-sleeping, save it.  I know the arguments better than you do.  Bottom line: humans have co-slept with babies for millennia.  When was the last time you rolled out of your bed in the middle of the night?  Exactly.  You're equally likely to roll on top of a baby.

Now on to mama - what does mama need?  She needs you to check on her and make sure she's okay.  She needs moral support.  She may need help or counseling with regard to nursing - there are specialists for that called Lactation Consultants - there is also La Leche League.

She's likely to be bored and tired.  She needs your companionship.  She needs to rest.  You may have to force that one on her or she may love it.  She needs your companionship.  She needs food and water.  She needs to urinate regularly.  She needs your companionship.

When the doctor or midwife follow up they're going to seem oddly interested in bodily functions.  There's good reason - they are indicators of overall health.  She'll want to know if mama is peeing normally.  She'll want to know how often the baby is peeing and/or pooping.

For the first day at least you'll want to keep an absorbent pad under mama in bed.  She'll be oozing blood.  The big perineal pads will catch most of it, but more protection never hurts.

Oh, one more tip: the first few baby poops will be black and tarry.  That's normal.  They're a pain to clean off of the baby unless you put a little olive oil in the baby’s crack.  I know it sounds silly, but this first poop is called meconium and it's nasty and sticky.  The oil keeps it from sticking to the baby. 

I hope this has been helpful.  Enjoy your baby, they grow fast! - Ranger Squirrel

I'm often asked by my consulting clients about my specific gear recommendations. I've noticed that I repeat mentioning a lot of these, so to save time in my subsequent consulting calls, I'm posting the following list (in no particular order):

Hi James,

Since I returned from Haiti, I have given a lot of thought about the field sanitation problems that would occur when the Golden Horde after a disaster starts entering an area to set up camps. I live in a pretty remote area that would be attractive to people leaving larger communities. This area is one where hunting and winter snowmobiling is popular.

What can be envisioned is people who can make it this far, who are familiar with the few water resources, and the limited game would probably wind up. There is also a national wildlife preserve nearby that would be attractive to people desiring to live off of the bounty of nature, and of course forget about any Federal laws protecting that preserve. A group of ham radio operators in the region are also concerned. Some are prepared and fully expecting a disaster, We are planning in advance because we know there will be some form of disaster eventually. Lets face it: Words like, Indonesia, Katrina, Haiti, and Chile should really keep people in the preparedness mode. Disasters happen!

Personally, I have become very focused on field sanitation the past couple of weeks. I believe that having some extra shovels, picks, digging bars around, and making up some basic booklets or fliers on how and where to dig latrines will be in my preparedness larder. I fully expect when something happens here that I should expect what could become a health problem to be created by people, who have no idea how to survive, and thrive in the out door environment.

The Boy Scouts program isn't as popular as is was 50 years ago. Most people in today's society are totally unprepared on how to properly be safe and sanitary in the outdoor environment, unless there is a plastic Porta-potty parked there to use. And somehow magically gets pumped out and cleaned every few days by the person who has the nastiest job in the country, who by no mistake is pretty well paid by their employers to take on such a job.

Methinks it to be very prudent to take on an extra responsibility, to have extra preparations for this eventuality. To ensure that disease doesn't become something that could and would cause extreme discomfort and even death to wipe out a community.

I know I am not in the best place for a Rawlesian retreat, but this is where the Lord planted me. He did it for a reason, always does. I believe facing this in a prepared and focused way will possibly prevent a second disaster, Like the one we will soon see raising its ugly head in a few more weeks in Haiti, and has already started unfortunately.

Latrines are something that has been neglected in the camps in Haiti, They will not be neglected where I live, if I have anything to say and can do about it. I am also going to start building some portaloos out of five gallon bucket, and buying some seats to attach to the portaloos, filling them with toilet paper (TP) and handy wipes, baby wipes. etc just to have on hand for this possible event. They will be part of my charitable offerings to those people I would encounter in my area of operations (AO).

Something to remember when digging a latrine, is to always keep it a minimum of 100 feet away from any wells, or surface water sources. They should be at least three feed deep, a foot wide, and four feet long to accommodate about ten people. they should have a shovel there to use in order to pitch in a little dirt after each use. When the latrine has only about 18 inches of depth left, then it should be filled in, and a fresh one dug for another cycle of use.

In the Army, our units built plywood four holers with toilet seats installed. the units were hinged and latched so that they could fold up and could be used over again, they had rigging on the sides so four men could pick them up with two long poles, and move them easily to the next location. Since I was in the Signal Corps, we had females in the units too. thus two units for each company were made. I think that having separate men's and women's latrines will be very necessary, along with privacy screening made out of tarps.

Keep in mind that people will congregate, for safety and community. Being a loner isn't practical or prudent. So if your in an area like me, if possible think ahead, and have a plan ahead of time. Thus, when the problem raises it's ugly head, all of the possibilities are addressed.

There are military field sanitation manuals available online. Extract the pages that would be thought most useful in your situations and make some basic copies. Then place them in a large plastic bag and keep them available in your preparedness larder.

Portaloos are fairly cheap and easy to build, a bottle of bleach and a toilet brush would also be a good addition for them too.
These can be useful for people living in tents, they are easy to transport to a latrine and cleaned out for further use. the cleaning is fairly easy. To fasten the toilet seat on for easy removal, install two long 1/4-20 bolts with washers and nuts holding the bolts in place with the ends pointed out. Install the seat using large flat washers and wing nuts. It will make it easier to remove the seat for transport, emptying ,and cleaning. Storing the cleaning supplies and TP inside the unit with the standard bucket cover is more convenient. Home Depot has orange [non-food grade] HDPE buckets available fairly inexpensively. I think a trip there or other similar store one can purchase everything needed to outfit a portaloo for about thirty dollars or so. Blessings and peace of mind in preparedness. - Dave M. in Oregon (A Blessings For Obedience World Missionary Radio volunteer)

Mark P. spotted this: For Pennies, a Disposable Toilet That Could Help Grow Crops.

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There are now just a few days left in the Ready Made Resources 25% off sale on Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans. They are offering free shipping on full case lots. These foods are delicious, compact, and have a 30 year shelf life. Order soon!

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Two news items about Nanny State Britannia: Countryside ban for children because mums cannot read maps and hate mud, and Britain May Force Owners to Microchip Dogs to Curb 'Weapon' Pets. (A hat tip to Chad S. for the links.)

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The folks at CampingSurvival have announced the third of five big product giveaways. This one is a drawing for a free Cold Steel Kitchen Classics Knife Set.

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Florida Guy mentioned: Amazon pulls the plug on online business affiliates in Colorado

"There is no reason to fly through a thunderstorm in peacetime." - Sign posted over the Squadron Ops Desk at Davis-Montham Air Force Base, Arizona.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Today we present a guest article by "Ranger Squirrel." I recommend that you take a look at the free resources available at his web site.

One of the skills that has served me best in life is my tendency to make everything modular.  I think I learned it in the Army, but regardless of where I picked it up, it has saved my rear end at home, at work, in emergencies, and even in my hobbies. 

Let’s pick on Average Joe for a second.  Average Joe is exactly that.  He likes a beer now and again, listens to classic rock and some country, and works in a job that just barely pays the bills.  He has a commute of about 50 miles round-trip every day and drives a little sedan.  Today, for lunch, he decided to ride with a work buddy to a Chinese place downtown about five miles from the office.  While they were eating a riot broke out and Joe got separated from his buddy and despite all efforts, he can’t find him.  When he gets back to his buddy’s car, it’s gone.  Worse, it appears that the rioters have managed to knock out power for most of the area.  Police sirens are blaring, and Joe has a feeling they won’t be too discriminating in who they label as “rioter.”  He finds a place of relative safety and takes inventory.  He’s got $25 cash, a credit card, a jacket, and a pocket comb.  He may need to run, he may need to hide, he may even need to lay low for a day or two until things calm down.  In a word, Joe is screwed.

Let’s say Joe carries a basic everyday carry (EDC) pocketknife.  He now has some basic gear and maybe a way to defend himself.  He’s better off, but will it be enough to get him to safety?  Where is safety?

Let’s revisit Joe after we talk about modular systems and how they can affect your preps.  Effective modular design gives you improved flexibility and even more importantly, redundancy in your preparations.  If every component in a modular design has some way of making fire and a cutting tool, it’s not long before you’ve got 4-5 backups each for both of those key elements in your system.

My basic everyday preps are modular in nature.  Level 1 is the stuff that is always in my pocket, organized into an easy to carry/can’t leave anything at home by accident fashion.  Its purpose is to get me through the day-to-day routine and to give me the means to get back to my car in an emergency.  With just Level 1, for 12-24 hours, I have the means to obtain or improvise food, shelter, and water, I can signal, I have a means of security, and I can administer some self-aid.  Level 2 is kept is in my car and will give me enough supplies to sustain myself in relative comfort for 48 hours or more in most emergencies.  Combine the two and I’m up to 72 hours.  The purpose of the level 2 kit is to get me home to pick up the family so we can decide whether to bug-out or bug-in.   Level 3 is modular, in and of itself.  There are some components that can simply be thrown in the back of a truck, and there are other components that are meant for staying put.  Depending on whether we’re evacuating or staying home, we’re good for anywhere from two weeks to several months – plus a day or two more with my Level 1 and Level 2 kits added in.  Having the Level 1 and 2 kits along for the ride also offers me the ability to split up from the main family temporarily if necessary.

Now let’s give Joe a similar setup to the one I use.  Joe has enough gear to get himself the five miles back to his car.  Or he can hide out for a day and hope things calm down.  He’s got the gear for that too.  His Level 1 has given him options.  If he gets to his Level 2, located in his car, he has even more options and enough supplies to camp out in the office for a few days, or maybe – at a stretch – a week.  He could also try to get home.

That’s one example, but in the end modular design and its benefits is only limited by your imagination and your circumstances.  There are, however, certain things that need to be true in all modular systems.  Once you understand these elements, you can use modular design in pretty much every aspect of your life.

  1. Each module should be able to stand on its own.  The stuff that lines your pockets is never going to sustain you for weeks at a time.  But each level of your system should address, in some way, the basic needs of survival for some period of time in the environment you are most likely to encounter.  I’m referring to shelter, water, food, signaling, security, and self-aid.  My Level 1 does that for 12-24 hours in a semi-rural environment.  My level 2 does the same thing, but for a longer period of time and greatly increases my weather range.  Level 3 takes me still further.  All are functional by themselves without the help of the others.  In preparedness terms, this is mainly true because you have to assume that you will use up each module during the process of getting to the next level.
  2. The whole should be greater than the sum of its parts.  Consider the Army’s Modular Sleep System for a second.  It’s made up of four components.  1) A bivy sack made of GoreTex; 2) a thin sleeping bag we called a patrol sack; 3) a thicker sleeping bag we called the black sack (normally called an intermediate sleeping bag); and 4) a stuff sack.  Each component individually gives you protection in different temperature ranges, and all of the components combine to take you down to temperatures in the -20 degrees Fahrenheit range.  But the real added benefit comes in the redundancy.  Because there are layers, if any one component is damaged or torn, I’m still warm because of the other components.  The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  You can do the same thing with your stored food.  I can store the complete seven day nutritional and medicinal needs for one person in a 5-gallon bucket, but there are six people in my family.  If I give each person their own self-sustaining, complete one-week bucket, but I make sure to vary the stored ingredients a bit, I can greatly increase my food preparation options and everyone can benefit from the combined food wealth.  Moreover, if something goes bad in one person’s bucket, there are backups in other buckets.
  3. You must plan it out.  You can’t throw together an effective system on the spur of the moment.  It needs to be planned out.  You need to define the purpose and duration intended for each module of your system.  Then, for every item you put into a module, you need to identify all of the intended and potential uses for the item when used alone and with other items from its module.  Finally, you need to list all of the intended and potential uses when combined with kit from other modules.  Let’s say hypothetically that you’re in a minor emergency.  You open up your level 1 kit and find $25 and some gear.  You now have options that will, hopefully, see you through to your Level 2 kit.  When you get to your Level 2 kit you find $100 and some more gear.  Combined with the remaining Level 1 money and gear, your options have greatly expanded. 
  4. You must test your system.  When I say test, I mean both theoretical and actual.  You need to occasionally use the items in your kits.  Take your bug out bag and nothing else camping, for example.  You also need to constantly ask questions like, “okay, let’s say the power goes out right now, how will I get by?”  Test the individual modules as well.  Using nothing but your Level 1 gear, can you really get through a day?  Remember: Even the best-designed system in the world is essentially useless without the skills to put it into use.
  5. You must put the system together.  This sounds so obvious that I almost hesitated to include it, but the tendency is for us to think things through and then just let them go.  You have to actually put together your kit, or you won’t have it when you need it.

As I mentioned in the beginning, in addition to using them in my preps, I use modular systems at work, at home, and at play.  I’m betting that if Joe had seen the benefits beforehand, he would use modular design too.

I often get letters and e-mails, chastising me for being an anti-racist. I call these "nasty-grams." I get several of them each week. Some folks, it seems, are deeply offended that I look upon everyone as equals. The truth is that people should be judged as individuals. (That is one of my core Precepts.) Anyone that makes blanket statements about other races is ignorant that there are both good and bad individuals in all groups. There is no inherent superiority in any skin tone or facial feature, any more than there is in any particular hair color. I have accepted The Great Commission with sincerity. It says; "Go forth into all nations" and it means exactly that: all nations. God's elect come from every nation on earth. Skin color is a non-issue. It is also noteworthy that Christianity started out as a religion of Semitic people, and by God's grace, it spread all over the world. It is not a "white man's religion", as some racists would contend.

I'm often asked, "Aren't you proud to be a white man?" No, I'm not particularly proud to be white, any more than I'm particularly proud to have a Pronounced External Occipital Protuberance (aka "Anatolian Bump") on the back of my head. That is just a product of genetics. So what? Big deal. But neither do I feel guilty or embarrassed to be white, as some liberals seem to be. Do genetic traits make any difference in my standing with God? Certainly not. Granted, many of the scientific advances of the modern age came from some very creative deceased white guys. But again, will any of the fruits of Western Civilization mean anything when I meet my maker? No. Only one thing will matter: Whether or not I've accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. That is a distinction that I can and will share with Aborigines, Ainus, and Hottentots. I'm proud to be Christian, that just happens to be a white man.

I'm also chastised for being a supporter of Israel, and a defender of their right of that nation to exist. You should see some of my hate mail. I've been called a "Jew Lover", and a "Co-conspirator with the Mud People", and so forth. Sorry, folks but you will not convince me to change my views. The fact of the matter is that the Abrahamic Covenant hasn't been repealed. It is an eternal covenant. (Read Jeremiah 31:35-37.) It is also ground truth that Christians have been ingrafted into the same Covenant. (See: Romans 11:1-36.) So for a Christian to be anti-semitic is nonsensical. That would be turning our backs on the progenitors of our faith. Now it is true that the majority of Jews have been blinded to Christ's truth. (See: Romans 11:25) But in the days of the Tribulation, many millions of Jews will come to saving faith. They must survive as a nation, and live to see that happen. Israel must and will survive, as a nation. This was all fore-ordained, as shown in the scriptures.

The other nasty-grams that I receive the most often are about charity. Some people have said that I'm "hopelessly naive" to think that I can dispense charity in the midst of a societal collapse. Charity is not optional, it is Biblically mandated. I feel this very strongly, for several reasons. First: it is there in The Book, over and over again. There is no denying it. God said it. I believe it. That settles it. Secondly, I came to recognize that God's gift of salvation bestowed upon me, through election, and the profound realization that His gift was unmerited. I didn't deserve salvation any more than some of my neighbors deserve my charity WTSHTF. But God freely gave that gift to me, so I'm going to do my utmost to freely bestow charity on everyone that I can. Lastly, everything that I've earned and saved, I consider providential gifts from God. I intend to share it with those that are less fortunate and those that currently lack the foresight to stock up for potential bad times. And for those that say that dispensing charity will be "a security nightmare", there are indeed ways to dispense charity anonymously. With these methods you can protect your privacy and the safety of your family. Plan on sharing charitably. Stock up for it. Don't neglect it. It is our duty!

Dear Mr. Rawles,
To follow up on your recent blog article, it is sad that we live in a society where people will lower themselves to such activities as crime on the streets. That crime is regrettable, but in the aftermath of TEOTWAWKI, looting will be an absolute unacceptable crime. It will become rapidly, a capital crime.

Just as in the 19th Century, horse theft was punishable by death, so will be looting in the aftermath of any societal breakdown which results in any of the scenarios envisioned by either you, or your readers.

Essentially, "Rule .308" will apply in most cases. This will be true at the retreat where I reside. While is is not our intention, by any means, to harm a single human being, we will not stand by idly and be looted. Some of my group are of the medical profession, myself included. However, our survival will not be infringed upon by vagabonds and no-accounts who have disdain for their fellows and would steal our means of survival.

We are prepared to dispense charity (at a distance) and fully intend to follow that principle whenever and wherever possible. We believe in the old adage, "I'll gladly give you a dollar, but don't even think about stealing my dime."

While is may be a good thing to recon your area and know where food and other essentials are stored, I find the idea of "taking what one wants," as deplorable. Anyone who attempts to "help himself" to those commodities we have stocked and ready for use if needed, does so at his or her own peril! While we might eventually be taken down, it won't be without a fight.

We believe whole-heartedly in the Sixth Commandment...Thou Shalt Not Murder. We will live by this and the other nine commandments and expect others to do the same. Criminals caught by our members will be dealt with in accordance to the law, if still in existence. If not, then "Rule .308" will apply as I doubt that any criminal determined to harm us or steal from us, would find a sympathetic jury of his/her peers. And yes, I can pull the trigger. - R.F., MD

Letter Re: Long Term Situational Awareness Can Give You The Edge

My Dear Sir,
I am surprised at the concern generated by the individual [would-be] looters like Todd S. I think some of your readers are missing what can actually happen when TSHTF in a bad way. The time may come when your readers wish all they had to deal with is a Todd S, a grid down scenario, or a Katrina.

My wife's is from Communist China. Before the revolution, her family did well for themselves. They were a growing force in the county. They had farmland, silver and gold bars, guns, college educations, and an excellent family ethic. When the Communists came, they were slowly forced to give up all these things. There was no resisting the neighbors and the army behind them.

Burying things was impossible. It would have been death for the entire family with no appeal had they been caught. Though they were from central China, some individual members of the family attempted to escape to Taiwan or Hong Kong. They were caught and the entire family was punished. College education skipped a generation. My in-laws were denied the opportunity to go to college because they were from a landlord family (one that owned land). The family scrimped and saved during the good years. Their savings and small food larder food was immediately appropriated from them during the lean years. The stigma of success stuck to their children. My wife tells me stories of she and her sister being taunted on the playground for being from a landlord family.

When TSHTF, there will be a few "Todd S"es. Those people will be quickly ventilated or otherwise end up the recipients of the "Shoot, Shovel & Shut Up" (SS&S) treatment.

No, the looting mentality will be the neighbors who quickly form the worst of tyrannies, a democratic one. The Golden Horde will migrate into an area. These sheeple will not individually loot your belongings; most won't dare. Instead, your supplies will be taken away by vote and then by force. If you violently oppose your local community, you and your family will killed. A small group of people cannot indefinitely resist an organized regiment, even with significant force multipliers.

Be aware that in a low supply scenario, your neighbors will enter your house to look for supplies and they will have the force of law behind them. The sheeple around you are smart; perhaps smarter than the sheep dogs. They will know what clothes you are wearing and will know when you take a shirt out of storage. "That's a nice blue shirt Henry. I haven't see you wear it before. How long have you had that?" They will know what you are eating from your garbage or what your children say. Imagine that nosy old lady across the street. Now imagine her in charge of the local security committee.

Be prepared for this. Liberty or death may sound well, but you will speak for your parents, wife, and children and perhaps more besides. Americans are accustomed to thinking of the enemy as honorable or law-abiding. But even the Tarletons of our history behaved with far more humane restraint than many freedom fighters of the 20th century. Bloody Kansas does not compare with the Khmer Rouge or the Lord's Army. It can get bad.

But what about the good? The one thing that my wife's family retained from before the revolution is their ethic. Better yet, this is the most important thing to have. Best of all, this can never be taken away from a family. Instill in your children self-reliance and morals. They should know that with hard work and discipline, they can achieve great things. They should know that they will always be accountable for their actions to themselves and to God.

I am not saying that this will happen. Heck, the Schumer may not hit in our lives or when it hits, the manner in which it does will not be like I have suggested. But we are sheep dogs and thus we prepare.

What I have suggested here can be avoided by retreating to very low population areas. But do not think of finding one of these places east of the Mississippi. Regards, - P. from Illinois

From The Appenzell Daily Bell: More Sovereign Defaults Loom?

Brett pointed us to some great Afterburner commentary on the "carbon credits" nonsense as well as personal initiative versus Nanny Statism: Flying Solo: Choose Freedom Over the Nanny State.

I warned you, folks! U.S. Sales Tax Rates Hit Record High. (Thanks to Loren for the link. OBTW, I expect even more tax rate increases as the recession deepens, and more states face crises.)

Williams: Expect Hyperinflation Within The Next Five Years. (Thanks to H.H. for the link.)

S.M. liked this piece of commentary about the national debt and precious metals by Stewart Dougherty: America's Impending Master Class Dictatorship.

GG and MM both flagged this New York Times article: Public Pension Funds Are Adding Risk to Raise Return. (G.G.'s comment: "What could go wrong?)

Jorge sent us this: Detroit City land turned into farmland.
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Flavio sent this linkio from a television news show in May, 2008: Farmer Saves $70 a Day by Trading Tractor for Mule Power

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SurvivalBlog's Editor At Large Michael Z. Williamson sent us a link to a great resource of small-scale aquaponics: Faith and Sustainable Technologies (F.A.S.T.).

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More videotaped fun at the range with Mongo and Jeff: Thermal imager views of machineguns and tracers.

"'Value for value.' Building 'on the square and on the level.' The Hippocratic Oath. Don't let the team down. Honest work for honest pay. Such things did not have to be proved; they were an essential part of life-true throughout eternity, true in the farthest reaches of the Galaxy." - Lawrence Smith, a character in Robert A. Heinlein's novel "Double Star"

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A recent opinion column The New York Times was titled: The Moral Ambiguity of Looting. Ambiguity? There is nothing ambiguous about it. Let's have the moral courage to be forthright and uncompromising on this issue: Looting is the theft of property that lawfully belongs to another. There are no "ifs, ands, or buts". Looting is unconscionable and cannot be tolerated in a civilized society. Once looting begins, it soon devolves into: "You have it, I want it, I'm taking it." And once looting is sanctioned, then where is the dividing line on "acceptable" plunder? Do you draw the line at: Twinkies? Trinkets? Televisions? Teenage daughters? In essence, looting is pure, unmitigated anarchy in action. None of it is acceptable behavior.

It is noteworthy that much of the looting that went on in Chile was not about parents keeping their kids from starving. Rather, it was more about people wanting television sets. Every reader of this blog needs to make a moral choice: Do you tolerate looting or not? I pray that you don't. If you assent to theft, then don't be surprised if you come home someday to find your own house looted. As a Christian Libertarian, I'm an advocate of minimalist government. But a society needs some basic laws enforced, or it ceases to be classified as a civilized society. Its clear that law and order being re-established in Chile. But things were dicey there for a few days, and it took more than the just police and army to put the societal trolley back on its tracks.

I'm often asked about depopulation caused by pandemics--how that would be a time that would justify looting. That's just speculative balderdash. Even in darkest days of The Black Death, when Europe and much of southern Asia lost half of its population, there were still "heirs and assigns." (If you doubt that, then see William McNeil's book "Plagues and Peoples".) It would take a pandemic with a 90% lethality rate or more before that convention would become meaningless. So forget your "It'll be just like Will Smith and his dog, in I Am Legend" fantasies. The chances of an event causing that level of depopulation, and the even smaller chance of you being one of the lucky few survivors are almost infinitesimal. In all other circumstances, there will be rightful owners or rightful heirs of every piece of land, every vehicle, every tool, every cow, and every larder on Earth. So discard any fanciful "foraging" musings that you might harbor. That's nonsense.

SurvivalBlog reader William C. recently e-mailed me some thought, in warning about those that are planning to loot, in the aftermath of a disaster. He wrote: "To appraise and to steal someone's goods incorporates two dilemmas. One is the immoral practice of stealing and the other is the immoral practice of coveting another's goods. Both are addressed in the [Old Testament] Commandments and should be developed notions in the mind of a moral thinking man." He is correct in that appraisal. There are moral absolutes, and "Thou shalt not steal" is one of them. I also recently got an e-mail from Geoff in Utah, who mentioned: " I... find it disturbing the number of people that I've come across in my work on becoming self-reliant that feel entitled to what I and others have. For instance there is a Law enforcement officer in town that told me he didn't need to keep a reserve of anything other than ammo because being an officer of the law he new who had what and he had more guns, ammo and training."

If your "survival plan" is to loot (or, as I've heard it euphemistically put, "forage"), rather than to store in advance what you will need, then that's not much of a plan. By failing to store substantial quantities of food, you will very quickly force yourself into the role of Vandal or Visiting Visigoth, after the onset of a disaster. And, odds are, you'll end up in a shallow grave somewhere.

Consider this: The greatest threat we someday face might not be unprepared masses from the inner cities. No, it might be overweight armchair commandos from the suburbs, whose only preparations were buying a set of camo fatigues and an AR-15. That is a nightmare just waiting to happen. If you have budgeted for guns but not food storage, then you are setting yourself up to have only one option, when things fall apart. Examine yourself, and your preparations. If you see that you lack balance in your preparations, then I pray that you re-set your priorities, immediately. Food storage should probably account for more than half of your family preparedness budget. If it doesn't, then make it so!

James Wesley:
Ron Y.'s article posted on Sunday is interesting and helpful to those who don't spend much time around radios other than, perhaps, their favorite music station. For those of us who have had a lifetime of radio listening and, in my case, work with public service units in times of disasters small and bigger, there are a few things I'd add.

First is the scanner section of Ron's information. My work desk has four scanners going at all hours that I am awake. Any one of them might flag something that is of interest or warrants tracking. Frequencies scanned here include all the Air Traffic Control (ATC) and air-to-air channels used by both civilian and military aircraft. I live in the area of four ATC centers and not far from training and refueling areas of many Midwest military units from B-2 bombers to Air National Guard fighter squadrons. There are 200 channels of some activity represented there. Air frequencies were my first alert to the 9/11 disaster. Civilian traffic told to land at the nearest airport and military told to get active, plus the dash to Shreveport by Air Force 1 from Florida, all unfolded within ear shot [of a scanner] while the news channels were still marveling
over what was happening in Manhattan.

Closer to home, scanner radios are the heart beat of this rural area's health and problems. Sheriff's radio remains on analog channels while some city and the state police have all moved to digital trunking radios that take a little work to program but remain a first line of information. Arkansas, where I live, also has a state-wide digital
network for health and welfare on a larger scale such as contamination and radiation incidents.

Another resource for frequencies omitted that should be visited is for up-to-date information on frequencies, changes, digital monitoring and state-by-state lists of what to tune to.

And, another of the recently added radios in my monitoring station is a good old-technology crystal set. It hears all the 50,000 watt radio stations that Ray lists, plus more, and operates with no batteries or other outside source of electricity. These worked for my dad in the 1920s. He taught me to build my first one in 1940 or so. See and

There is, as the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band sings, "so much to know before you know enough." Best Regards, - Vern M.

You might have noticed that a CPA service advertising on SurvivalBlog. Her name is Mara Helland. Since it is now tax season, I thought that it would be appropriate to give my personal recommendation, and let you know what services she offers.

Like many other CPAs, Mara mainly does tax accounting. But what sets her apart from other CPA firms is absolute privacy. I know that this is crucial for a lot of people, especially fellow SurvivalBlog readers. I don’t know what privacy issues are like in the big cities, but I do know that in small towns, people who make a decent living want to be assured their personal financial information isn’t going to end up as fodder for gossip at the local bar.

I've learned that when new clients come to Mara Helland from another CPA, it is almost always because they have experienced poor service. She says that she rarely hears complaints about prior CPA fees, but she definitely hears about lack of attentiveness from other accountants. Of course, all CPAs will say that they value their clients and that they provide "excellent service", but that is not what happens in reality. A lot of times, CPAs or firm-partners will bring in the new clients, but the actual services and care for the clients are pushed off on staff members, with much less experience and fewer skills. Mara is now in her 20th year of working in public accounting. When clients come to her, they get top-notch service directly from Mara. As I have experienced personally, when a client calls her office, she answers the phone herself. She prides herself on taking good care of her clients, and I think that shows with the number of very long-term client relationships that she has developed.

Mara works with a wide clientele, including individuals, all types of businesses, estates, trusts and non-profit organizations. She has clients throughout the United States, so being in Montana does not limit her to only having Montana clients. She also works with military families and US citizens that work overseas.

March 15, 2010 is the tax-filing deadline for businesses that are corporations. And, of course April 15th is the big deadline for personal income tax returns, as well as partnership/LLC tax returns. If you need more time to gather your personal or business tax information, she can prepare and file a tax extension for you.

Mara noted in an e-mail: "I, too, am a SurvivalBlog follower. I came to your site first as a reader and then later chose to advertise with you. I can certainly relate to my SurvivalBlog clients."

I'm one of Mara's satisfied tax accounting clients, so I can highly recommend her!

JDD sent this item: China ready to end dollar peg. The article begins: "The head of China’s central bank has given the strongest signal yet that the country will move away from pegging its currency to the dollar, but he said any changes would be gradual."

Brian B. sent this news story that illustrates that the Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) won't stop growing: Program Will Pay Homeowners to Sell at a Loss.

I found this linked at The Drudge Report: Congressional estimates show grim deficit picture.

Jeff B. offered this for the No Great Surprise Department: IRS to Track Online Sellers' Payment Transactions Beginning Next Year

Tony B. recommended this recent two part article by Jeff Nielson, over at The Street: Silver Supply Crisis Looms, Part 1: and Part 2.

Dissension in the Ranks? San Francisco Fed Doubts Jobs Outlook. (Our thanks to David D. for the link.)

Reader Rod B. wrote to mention that Popular Science magazine has greatly expanded their free archives to include the entire 137 year collection!

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Just in case there's wholesale panic on the scale depicted in the movie Miracle Mile, reader H.N. in San Diego suggested researching maps of your city's storm drain system. For example, he mentioned that he found this map of San Diego's storm drain system, with just a quick web search. (Of course all the usual safety provisos apply.)

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Tamara over at the View From the Porch blog mentioned that SurvivalBlog readers, on average, are twice as likely to use Microsoft Explorer than her visitors that arrive from other sites. For those that have an interest, here are the most recent browser statistics on the web browsers that are used by SurvivalBlog readers:

Internet Explorer (4,352,882 visits) 60.5 %
Firefox (1,917,463 visits) 26.6 %
Safari (649,604 visits) 9 %

In my opinion, such heavy reliance on the Bill Gates Brain Trust is pretty pitiful. Haven't you read the warnings about using Microsoft's browser? Please, please please switch to Firefox or Safari, folks. Both of those browsers are available free, and you can easily migrate your existing bookmarks (also called "favorites") to a new browser. You won't lose a thing except some susceptibility.

"Liberty regards religion as its companion in all its battles and its triumphs,-- as the cradle of its infancy, and the divine source of its claims. It considers religion as the safeguard of morality, and morality as the best security of law, and the surest pledge of the duration of freedom." - Alexis De Tocqueville, "Democracy in America"

Monday, March 8, 2010

Do you have any favorite quotes that relate to preparedness, survival, self-sufficiency, self-defense, 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!

Dear Jim,

Greetings and thank you, to you and all your wonderful contributors of the past.

As most of us live in the ‘City’ or suburb of the ‘City’, there is a feeling of when TEOTWAWKI occurs, we will grab our G.O.O.D. bag get in our vehicle and head out to our personal retreat, hidden from the Golden Horde.

One quick question - when will the TEOTWAWKI occur? What date? What time? And how will we know it has occurred? As I have read most of the writings from the beginning until now, I seem to have missed that date, and time, so how will a survivalist know it is time to get out, just prior to the rest of the masses? Is there going to be a special announcement on the radio saying “Survivalist, please get your G.O.O.D. bag, and immediately leave, as we will have a surprise attack, by a hate-filled terrorist group in twenty minutes.” Or will we be informed, “A major 7.9 earthquake will strike our good community in 35 minutes. If you are a Sheeple, please ignore this message, and continue on your daily routine, until after this disaster.”

I don’t think either situation will actually occur, prior to the event. Even with a tornado, hurricane, flood, or forest fire, I don’t think anyone will know the exact course of mother nature, until afterwards. At that point, I think survivalist and Sheeple will be on equal footing to get out of town.

Think about Hurricane Katrina, and those who left when initially informed, and those who left when formally informed, versus those who stayed, until after the hurricane passed by, and then were informed that the levee had broken. New Orleans has been hit by many hurricanes, and will continue to be hit by hurricanes. When will the next hurricane strike that will in itself be an actual category 4 or 5, or cause a massive destruction of the pumps that keep the city safe from flooding.

The simple point I am trying to make, is that we do not know when we will need to evacuate, or leave for our planned retreat.

With that in mind, have we taken the time to practice our departure from the city? I am not talking about our driving the roads on a Tuesday afternoon, with little to no traffic.

As we are coming up to Memorial Day weekend. (BTW, Thank you to those who have given their all for my freedom). With that weekend's higher freeway traffic flow we have the unique opportunity to practice.

As with all of our other practice and preparations (firearms/canning/gardening/hand to hand combat/first aid/radio communication), we need to practice our GOOD process.

First, if you have not planned on going anywhere, this is the time to at least plan on being one of the masses on the road.

Second, unless otherwise required, do not fuel your vehicle prior to leaving.

Third, plan on leaving, or starting to load your vehicle on Friday, after 4 in the afternoon. T

Fourth, after loading your vehicle, go to the gas station to fuel your vehicle.

Fifth, take the road you intend on using to get out of town.

You might be surprised as to how many others are using that road, to get out of town.

I used to live around the Los Angeles basin, and dreaded the three day weekends. My personal story is, I would go home (more than 300 miles away from Los Angeles) on the weekends. I left work at 1:00 , and it would take me about three to four hours, to get to a point on the highway, where I could drive the speed limit. This is at a point where maybe 5 percent of the population was leaving for the weekend. Multiply that by 10 (50 percent of the population trying to get out), and a true understanding of what would occur, if the populous of Los Angeles decided to leave en mass, because of some unknown catastrophe.

Think back to the pictures of New Orleans leaving before Hurricane Katrina struck. How officials opened up both sides of the highway and made it one way, out of New Orleans , in an attempt to relieve and facilitate the evacuation of the city.

Do you remember seeing pictures of the European countries, during WWII, when people started leaving, prior to an anticipated invasion of their community by the invading armies? Walking, the lucky ones with tractors, pulling trailers, and the roads clogged with refuges.

The bottom line is, practice your escape route, this Memorial Day weekend (other times include this 4th of July, Labor Day, or Thanksgiving Weekend). Just don’t do it when traffic will be light, do it when you anticipate traffic to be the heaviest.

Practice what you have learned, and learn from your practice.

I had the recent somewhat surreal experience of going through the Hawaiian costal evacuation during the most recent tsunami alert. It was a near-miss natural disaster scenario that unfolded in slow motion because of the distance from the Chilean earthquake and the presence of tsunami alert sensors and monitoring officials. There are a few observations that I'd like to share.

I managed to stay ahead of the Golden Horde phenomena by a few hours and it was interesting to just acknowledge some of the predictable elements: most people were not alerted to the risk of the tsunami until 0600 when the civil defense sirens went off. The gas stations and grocery stores were subsequently mobbed and quickly were depleted of supplies. For the most part people were civil with each other but there were some conflicts despite the local radio hosts admonitions to "remember people, love, love, love -- aloha". I think the conflicts were minimal because this was a "potential" disaster only. The costal highways of course were packed. Look at a map of Maui and you can see how egress from many of the more densely populated areas is limited to a single road (right on the coast).

The other folks who were up with me at 0200 beating the crowds tended to be folks with increased "situational awareness". For example, I talked with a guy that had worked for the powerplant and knew that it was in the inundation zone and was threatened. This also included the main airport and of course the harbors. He currently works for the public utility and also knew that water and sewage pumping stations would be: a) turned off in expectation of the tsunami surge and b) out of commission if the island took a big hit. In a place where everything has to be shipped from somewhere else, it didn't take much imagination to realize that 120,000 inhabitants and 60,000 tourists could be quickly SOL for services and supplies.

All of this was of course to be expected. Somewhat more subtle revelations include:

-Even if you are going to Hawaii for your 25th wedding anniversary a preparedness awareness and travel kit are in order

-Consider the potential threats in your travel destination. For example a hotel room could be selected not just for the view but with the knowledge that in a tsunami you can vertically evacuate to above the 3rd floor, trying to balance with concerns for fire, or earthquake (these are volcanic islands of course and while there we also got to experience the Vog - volcanic smog, coming from the big island).

-When we arrived we didn't "need" anything more than a compact car - but it turned out to be prudent to have rented a vehicle with extra cargo carrying capacity when suddenly I was packing cases of water and food and supplies for potential camp out for multiple days

-It reminded me that the being in a state that disallows for conceal carry and personal/ family defense is not just a quaint ideological or cultural shift, but has potential real implications

-I was lucky in that I was up late enough to get the earliest tsunami warning reports. If it weren't for the Olympic coverage on television (which I normally would not be watching), I too would had my first awareness of the situation at 0600 with the rest of the clueless. It taught me that in your travel environment, (or home for that matter) some kind of monitoring of news and or civil defense sources is a good idea.

| -One shouldn't rely on the hotel or your other hosts for timely prep or information -- they still had their maintenance folks sweeping sidewalks just off the beach as part of their tsunami prep.

-We had selected a hotel room outfitted with a kitchen and this really helped when it came to taking essentials for cooking and cleaning, (as well as self defense if you count a 10" chef's knife)

-Civil Defense plans and their orchestration with local agencies was pretty good - but: a) a lot of sirens that were supposed to did not go off, and there were "gathering points" for evacuees that had no supplies (food, water, etc) because this was not part of the plan. Obviously the civil defense planning has not yet included secure power and water supply systems either. Your travel situational awareness might also include taking in the strength and weakness of governmental agencies and infrastructure. This now goes on my travel checklist.

I feel very lucky to have been able to watch and learn from all of this without having had to experience a full blown catastrophe. The process is going to light a fire under my tail to get going with my preparedness plans and to give all of them some needed hard reflection.

Thanks for all the education I have already received from SurvivalBlog. - B.P.S.

I am horrified by Saturday's posting by Todd. Okay, if we ever get to a position like in The Road, with the huge majority of mankind dead and civilization totally disintegrated, that is another topic. Really, what are the chances of that happening? Extremely slim.

What makes Todd S. think he so God Almighty special that his own personal survival makes it okay to loot, steal, trespass, and pillage? Instead of striving to rise to the occasion, to be a better man and set an example of, not our baser selves, but the free will, thinking, compassionate humans we can be, he puts himself first. I feel sorry for him.

He chooses to ignore law, mores, culture, and society. I name him a destroyer, not a survivor. - Elizabeth


I think Todd S. has given me a lot to think about and I'll be waiting for his foraging kind with my 7.62mm main battle rifle. - Jeff M.


James Wesley:
As a farmer/rancher, I can say with certainty that if Todd S actually plans ahead to help himself to my hogs, my cattle, my sheep, poultry, orchards or gardens, he should know that I have planned ahead to employ "Shoot, Shovel & Shut Up" (SS&S). Most farmers/ranchers use it all the time with varmints and/or predators endangering the livestock. I would consider Todd a predator without a second thought, and so would most others that I know.

Honestly, Todd. Do some better planning. Contact a few of those ranchers to see if they would be interested in some sort of alliance should TSHTF. Otherwise, you’ll likely be fertilizer. - Bobbi

Dear James,
While I was reading Todd S.'s letter about positioning of water, food and fuel, I was thinking to myself, this guy sounds more like a looter than a prepper. Thanks for your appended note to the letter. - Linda in Pennsylvania

Dear Mr. Rawles:
Thank you for posting the article from Todd S. regarding Long Term Situational Awareness. Although I have always expected there would be folks with Todd S's mentality in a grid down situation, I am appalled that someone would dare to commit these thoughts to written word, and expect the world of preparedness to take his concept to heart. Nay, that he would think that he had voiced something that we all would want to emulate.

Interestingly though, not a single word about Todd's own preparations, merely what he was going to take from others. I have more to fear from these calculatingly evil people than I do the person who would do anything to feed their children. And he is so darn proud of what he plans to do, and this from an alleged scout master. Todd's is not preparing, he is lurking in the prepper domain, gaining knowledge about others' preparations. Worse, he is a looter in waiting. Reminds me of those wicked people who lurk and prey on children.

Again, thank you so much for posting your personal thoughts on the matter. - Roberta I.

JWR Replies: Todd S. and those that share his warped mindset will be the enemy that we will face, if and when times get inimical. Please don't misconstrue why I posted his letter. I did so because we need to know who we will be up against. I wanted to make it clear that the amoral looter mentality is not just some amorphous concept. It has a face and a name. And it may be personified by one of your neighbors! People need to stand ready to confront evil. Unfortunately, Todd's mindset is all too common. Again: Keep plenty of .308 ammo on hand, folks. You may need it.

Chad S. suggested this commentary by economist Bill Bonner: Losing Control of the US Debt Machine

EMB sent this: Iceland Voters Set to Reject Debt Deal.

Items from The Economatrix:

Our World Balances on a Sea of Debt

More Consumers File for Bankruptcy Protection

Ready Made Resources is running a semi-annual 25% off sale on Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans. They are now offering free shipping on mixed case lots, as long as you order in increments of full cases! These foods are delicious, compact, and have a 30 year shelf life. There is now just 7 days left for the sale, so order soon!

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Attention Coast to Coast AM radio fans: I will be interviewed by George Noory on Thursday night (March 11th) at 10 p.m., Pacific Time. This interview will be about my book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times". The conversation is scheduled to be two hours long, so we'll be able to go into considerable detail.

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My brother sent me a link to a video about a new compact folding electric bicycle that's been invented in New Zealand: The Yike Bike.

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I recently had a conversation with a producer of the ABC television program 20/20. He sounded sincere and fairly sympathetic to the preparedness movement. He asked me to post this note for him: "I am interested in interviewing one or two SurvivalBlog readers, and videotaping their family and group preparations. Our story will focus on how this movement has become more mainstream. I am hoping to find typical families who have had to wrestle with all the planning and details involved in getting ready for TEOTWAWKI. In addition, if they belong to a larger group of preppers who train together in the backwoods and teach each other various skills, I would like to document some of that on camera as well. It would not be a problem for us to obscure specific locations, since I know that is a sensitive issue." Contact: Glenn Ruppel. E-mail:

"Believe in your cause. The stronger your belief, the stronger your motivation and per severance will be. You must know it in your heart that it is a worthwhile cause and that you are fighting the good fight. Whether it is the need to contribute or the belief in a greater good, for your buddy, for the team or for your country, find a reason that keeps your fire burning. You will need this fire when the times get tough. It will help you through when you are physically exhausted and mentally broken and you can only see far enough to take the next step." - MSG Paul R. Howe, U.S. Army Retired, from "Leadership and Training for the Fight: A few thoughts on leadership and training from a former Special Operations soldier"

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 27 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 27 ends on March 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 article is a good one to both print out in hard copy, and to leave on your memory stick, for future reference.

Situational Awareness is simply knowing what is happening. Information enables us to make more intelligent or informed decisions. Informed decisions could be the difference between surviving or not surviving. Communications is the exchange of information between a sender and receiver. It could be a simple shout, Morse telegraph or a complex computer network. This article will focus on using radios that are available to the general public. All frequencies listed in the following, except AM broadcasting, are in megahertz (MHz) or million cycles/second.

Radio and Television Broadcasting

There is usually a radio playing in my home and vehicle. The radio station I regularly listen to has news every 30 minutes and bulletins for breaking news. No special equipment is needed, just listen to your favorite station. The AM broadcast frequencies are 540 - 1700 KHz. During daylight hours these frequencies are absorbed by the upper atmosphere, only local stations can be heard. During nighttime hours they are reflected back to earth enabling distant stations to be heard. Most tabletop radios can be used without modification but they often lack the selectivity needed to separate stations. Adding an external antenna can make the selectivity problem worst.

I recommend using a good quality AM/FM radio designed for vehicles. They can operate on 12 volt batteries, with very short antennas, good selectivity, push-button tuning and often have scanning functions. Many automotive radios have front and rear speakers. Connect the rear speaker wires to a stereo phone jack for headphones. Distant FM and TV stations can not be received. These stations use much higher frequencies and are seldom reflected back toward earth therefore limited to "line-of-sight" or less than 100 miles.

List of 50,000 watt "clear channel" AM stations. Frequencies are in kilohertz (KHz)


Additional information about AM/FM broadcasting including this list of "clear channel" stations obtained here.

National Weather Service all hazards alert radios

Every family, and many businesses, should have a National Weather Service (NWS) all hazard alert radio. The NWS not only provides current weather conditions and forecasts, they also transmit all hazard alerts for a wide area. These alerts are not all weather related: such as "shelter in place", "radiation hazard", "civil emergency message", "evacuation immediate", "911 telephone outage" or "child abduction emergency". All hazard alert radios can be programmed for only one county. The "Specific Area Message Encoding" ( SAME ) is a 6 digit code: ABCDEF. A = in most cases 0, it can be used to sub-divide a county into zones ( 1 - 9 ) otherwise zero for the entire county, BC = state number; DEF = county number. Example: Clay county
Missouri 0 29 047 / 0 = entire county / 29 = Missouri state code/ 047 = Clay county code. If a hazard affects a larger area or region, then all the affected counties will be individually triggered by the alert signal. Most NWS radios can be programmed for multiple counties. The National Weather Service has seven radio channels, frequency modulated ( FM ) voice & data:

162.400 162.425 162.450 162.475 162.500 162.525 162.550

National Weather Service station coverage and "SAME" codes can be obtained a the NOAA web site.

International Shortwave Broadcasting:

Nearly every country broadcasts on shortwave ( 2.3 - 26.1 MHz ). Many of these countries transmit powerful signals that are some times beamed toward North America. These broadcasts can often be heard on portable shortwave radios. International broadcasters often cover stories not reported in the American media. If you use or are learning another language there are many non-english broadcasts. These signals travel thousands of miles via the upper atmosphere and they may have static, fading or interference. These signals are also affected by the seasons, time of day and solar activity (sunspots etc). Broadcasters often change frequencies, languages and times. Any schedule would soon become out of date. I have never used a "schedule. In stead, I just tune around the dial and listen to any interesting stations.

Usually good only at night:

2.300 - 2.495, 3.200 - 3.400, 3.900 - 4.000, 4.750 - 5.060, 5.900 - 6.200, 7.100 - 7.450

Usually good day or night:

9.400 - 9.900, 11.600 - 12.100, 13.570 - 13.870, 15.100 - 15.800

Usually good when sun is active:

17.480 - 17.900, 18.900 - 19.020, 21.450 - 21.850, 25.670 - 26.100

Listing of English shortwave broadcasts sorted by time.
Listing of English shortwave broadcasts sorted by country.
Listing of English shortwave broadcasts sorted by frequency.
An excellent web site: "Shortwave Monitoring Guide"


There are many shortwave frequencies used for long distance emergency communications. AM and International broadcaster's transmit a carrier with two sidebands [ lower / carrier / upper ]. Both sidebands have the same information therefore redundant. Shortwave frequencies use single sideband modulation ( SSB ). SSB removes the carrier and one sideband, only one sideband is transmitted. The advantage of SSB is a narrower more powerful signal. Disadvantages: SSB signals are harder to tune, when mistuned they sound "quacky" and when the talking stops the entire signal disappears. Almost all signals on shortwave are upper
sideband ( USB ).

It takes a better and more costly receiver to correctly copy SSB signals. If you purchase a shortwave radio I recommend it be capable of receiving SSB signals. Practice listening to USB signals by tuning to amateur radio operators ( Hams ) between 14.150 - 14.350 MHz. When you hear a signal slowly tune back and forth until the voice sounds normal. ( Read the radio owner's manual ).
The frequencies listed are the suppressed carrier, which is not transmitted. The actual USB signal will be centered about 1.4 KHz higher or lower sideband ( LSB ) signals will be centered about 1.4KHz lower.

SECURE ( State Emergency Communications Using Radio Effectively ) is a secondary emergency back-up communications network. Each state in the network may operate base and mobile stations, transmitting in USB voice, data and maybe morse code. I do not know of any scheduled drills or net operations. Suggest monitoring the interstate coordination frequency 2.326 MHz.

SECURE; Listed by states ( 33 states in network )

AL 2.326 2.487 5.135 5.192 7.805 7.935
CA 2.326 2.419 2.422 2.804 2.812 5.140 5.195 7.480 7.802 7.805
CO 2.326 2.466 2.471 2.274 5.135 7.802 7.805
CT 2.326 2.419 5.135 5.192 7.477 7.805
FL 2.326 2.439 2.463 5.140 7.805 7.932
ID 2.326 2.414 2.471 2.535 2.804 5.135 5.140 5.195 7.477 7.805 7.932
IL 2.326 2.414 2.569 2.804 5.135 5.140 5.192 7.480 7.802 7.932 7.935
IN 2.326 2.487 2.511 5.135 5.140 7.802 7.805 7.935
LO 2.326 2.812 5.192 7.477 7.480 7.805
ME 2.326 2.414 5.135 5.192 7.805
MA 2.326 2.411 2.414 2.419 5.135 5.192 7.447 7.805
MI 2.326 2.414 2.804 5.140 7.477 7.805
MS 2.326 2.535 2.569 5.195 7.477 7.805
MO 2.326 2.411 2.414 2.419 2.439 2.463 5.140 5.192 7.477 7.802 7.805 7.935
MT 2.326 2.804 2.812 7.477 7.480 7.805
NE 2.326 2.804 2.812 5.192 7.805 7.935
NV 2.326 2.487 2.511 5.195 7.480 7.805 7.932
NH 2.326 2.414 5.135 5.192 7.805
NJ 2.326 2.411 2.587 5.195 7.805
NM 2.801 2.804 5.135 5.140 7.477 7.480 7.805
NY 2.326 2.812 5.135 7.477
NC 2.326 2.411 5.135 7.477 7.935
OH 2.326 2.419 2.422
OK 2.801 2.804 5.135 5.140 7.477 7.480 7.805
OR 2.326 2.414 2.801 5.135 5.195 7.480 7.802 7.805 7.935
RI 2.326 2.411 2.419 5.135 5.192 7.477 7.805
SC 2.326 2.422 2.511 5.135 7.480 7.932
TN 2.326 2.419 2.474 5.135 5.140 5.195 7.480 7.805 7.932
TX 2.326 2.419 2.422 2.587 2.801 2.804 2.812 5.140 5.192 5.195 7.802 7.805 7.932 7.935
VT 2.326 2.411 2.419 5.135 5.192 7.477 7.805
VA 2.326 2.411 2.463 2.511 2.587 2.801 2.812 5.140 5.192 5.195 7.805
WA 2.326 2.411 2.414 2.587 2.801 5.192 7.805 7.935
WY 2.326 2.414 2.419 5.195 7.805 7.932

SECURE: Listed by frequency

2.422 CA OH SC TX
2.439 FL MO
2.463 FL MO VA
2.466 CO
2.471 CO ID
2.474 AL CO TN
2.487 AL IN NV
2.511 IN NV SC VA
2.535 ID MS
2.569 IL MS
2.587 NJ TX VA WA

SECURE locations and frequencies obtained from the Federal Communications Commission ( FCC ) database.

SHARES ( SHAred RESources ) is a network of over 1000 stations representing 93 federal, state and industry sharing radio resources. They have standardized message formats and procedures, so any agency can transmit emergency messages for other agencies. Each agency maintains their own ( unpublished ) frequencies. Drills and weekly nets are called on Wednesday 1600 - 1800 z ( 1100 - 1300 EST or 1200 - 1400 EDT ). Large scale drills are conducted in April, August and December.

4.490 5.236 5.711 5.901 6.800 7.632 9.064 9.106 10.5865 11.108
11.217 13.242 14.3965 14.455 14.3965 15.094 17.487 20.107 26.812

Information about SHARES found here.

FEMA ( Federal Emergency Management Agency ) has a network of shortwave stations between their regional offices: The day primary frequency is 10.493 MHz USB and night primary frequency is 5.212 MHz USB.

Net is called almost daily on 10.493 MHz at 1600 z ( 1100 EST or 1200 EDT ).

Each Monday, Thursday and Friday by primary net control station in Philadelphia, PA.
Also 1st Tuesday in January, April, July, October by primary station in Philadelphia, PA.
Also 1st Tuesday in February, May, August, November by 2nd alternate in Denton, TX.
Also 1st Tuesday in March, June, September, December by 3rd alternate in Thomasville GA.
Then 2nd Tuesday in March, June, September, December by 4th alternate in Battle Creek, MI.
Finally, every Wednesday an open drill between all regional stations. During any disaster or emergency, the affected state is in authority.

FEMA HQ Washington DC
Region #1 Boston: CT MA ME NH RI VT
Region #2 New York City: NJ NY PR VI
Region #3 Philadelphia: DC DE MD PA VA WV
Region #4 Atlanta: AL FL GA KY MS NC SC TN
Region #5 Chicago: IL IN MI MN OH WI
Region #6 Denton: AR LA NM OK TX
Region #7 Kansas City: IA KS MO NE
Region #8 Denver: CO MT ND SD UT WY
Region #9 Oakland: AZ CA GU HI NV
Region #10 Seattle: AK ID OR WA

2.321 ( Foxtrot 06 ) Regions 8,9,10
2.361 ( Foxtrot 07 ) Regions 6,8,9
2.375 ( Foxtrot 08 ) Region 4
2.446 ( Foxtrot 09 ) Regions 1,3,5,9,10
2.659 ( Foxtrot 10 ) Regions 3,4,7,8,10
3.342 ( Foxtrot 11 ) Regions 4,5,6,7,8
3.380 ( Foxtrot 12 ) Regions 5,6,8,9,10
3.390 ( Foxtrot 13 ) Regions 5,6,7,8
4.603 Region 4
5.212 ( Foxtrot 15 ) All regions, night primary frequency
5.403 ( Foxtrot 16 ) Regions 9,10
5.822 ( Foxtrot 17 ) Regions 1,2
5.962 ( Foxtrot 18 ) Regions 1,2,3,4,5,6,8,9,10
6.050 ( Foxtrot 19 ) Regions 3,5,8,10
6.107 ( Foxtrot 20 ) Regions 3,4,6,7,8,10
6.109 ( Foxtrot 21 ) All regions
6.152 ( Foxtrot 22 ) Regions 3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10
6.177 ( Foxtrot 23 ) Regions 6,8,10
6.180 ( Foxtrot 24 )
6.809 Regions 9,10
7.349 ( Foxtrot 25 ) Regions 1,4,5,6,8,9,10 Point-to-point primary frequency
7.428 Region 4
9.463 ( Foxtrot 26 ) Regions 9,10
10.493 ( Foxtrot 28 ) All Regions, day primary frequency,
10.589 ( Foxtrot 29 ) Regions 8,9,10
10.793 Region 9
10.407 ( Foxtrot 30 ) Regions 1,4,6,8
11.802 ( Foxtrot 31 ) Regions 3,6,8,9,10
11.958 ( Foxtrot 32 ) Regions 5,7,8,9
12.010 ( Foxtrot 33 ) Regions 9,10
12.217 ( Foxtrot 34 ) Regions 5,6,8,9,10
14.451 ( Foxtrot 35 ) All regions
14.777 ( Foxtrot 36 ) All regions
14.837 ( Foxtrot 37 ) All regions
14.886 ( Foxtrot 38 ) All regions
14.900 ( Foxtrot 39 ) All regions
14.909 ( Foxtrot 40 ) All regions
16.202 ( Foxtrot 41 ) Regions 9,10
16.431 ( Foxtrot 42 ) Regions 9,10
17.520 ( Foxtrot 43 ) Regions 9,10
17.650 ( Foxtrot 44 ) Regions 5,8,9,10
18.745 ( Foxtrot 45 ) Regions 9,10
19.758 ( Foxtrot 46 ) Regions 9,10
19.970 ( Foxtrot 47 ) Regions 9,10
20.028 ( Foxtrot 48 ) All regions
20.405 Philadelphia, PA ( Primary Net Control ) to Washington DC
21.919 Denver, CO ( 1st Alternate ) to Mt. Weather VA
27.850 Philadelphia, PA ( Primary Net Control ) to Washington DC

FEMA information and frequencies obtained here.
Additional information about FEMA and SHARES can be found here.
AMERICAN NATIONAL RED CROSS operates shortwave base stations and mobile units for long-distance
emergency communications. The listed locations and frequencies, from the FCC database.

Washington DC, Austin TX, Kansas City MO and Berryville VA.

2.326 2.463 2.801 3.170 3.201 5.135 5.140 6.858 7.480 7.549 7.697 7.932 7.935

Gretna LA has only one frequency listed: 3.201 MHz, USB only

AMATEUR ( Ham ) RADIO NETS handle emergency messages during disasters. Amateur radio stations do not have assigned frequencies. All frequencies listed are approximate.

ARRL ( American Radio Relay League ) during a communications emergency transmits hourly bulletins from their station W1AW in Newington, CT.

VOICE hh:00 MORSE CODE hh:30

1.855 LSB 1.8175
3.990 LSB 3.5815
7.290 LSB 7.0475
14.290 USB 14.0475
18.160 USB 18.0975
21.390 USB 21.0675
28.590 USB 28.0675

See the ARRL web site.
ARRL has an online search for amateur radio nets.

Hurricane Watch Net is active whenever a hurricane is within 300 miles of land in the northern western hemisphere. Amateur radio station WX4NHC located at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, FL.

3.977 LSB nights
7.265 LSB nights
14.265 USB daytime

More information about National Hurricane Center at
Additional hurricane net frequencies can be obtained at

SATERN The Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network is called on 14.265 MHz daily ( except Sundays ) at 1500 z ( 1000 EST or 0900 EDT ).

3.740 LSB
3.977 LSB
7.265 LSB
14.265 USB - daytime primary frequency

See web site further information


I own two radio scanners yet seldom have them turned on. During an emergency both scanners would be operated 24x7. The first scanner is programmed with local public safety ( air, fire, police and medical ) channels. The other scanner is a wide-band receiver ( 1 - 1500 MHz ) is currently programmed for shortwave broadcasting and two-way channels.

Here are a few frequencies I will monitor during an emergency. All frequencies use FM voice.

MEDCOM ( Medical Communications )
Nation-wide most hospitals and ambulance services use these frequencies.

463.000 463.025 463.050 463.075 463.100 463.125 463.150 463.175
462.950 ( Dispatch 1 ) 462.975 ( Dispatch 2 )

Many local Red Cross chapters operate on 47.42 MHz for disaster relief and damage assessments.

Many CERT Community Emergency Response Teams use FRS channel 1 ( no sub-channel ). If there is a disaster near your area CERT maybe engaged in search and rescue. DO NOT TRANSMIT non-emergency messages on channel 1. Monitoring channel 1 ( 462.5625 MHz ) could provide important information.

Amateur radio national FM calling frequency = 146.520 MHz and local repeater channels.

Here are two web sites for finding local frequencies: and


Disaster planning should include using two-way communications. Anything said on a radio is not secure. Keep all transmissions short! Instead of "cute handles" use false names. Example; Bob could always be called Jim on the radio. Anybody listening would assume Jim is on the radio. If available, use the "automatic roger" feature that sends a "beep" at the end of each transmission. Request repeats only if transmission was not fully understood.

Use a prearranged phrase that is said at the end of the message, such as; " Good day! ". If that phrase IS NOT said, ( or the WRONG phrase is said), then that could indicate trouble without alerting people outside your group. Do not call back and ask if they are okay. Instead ask for a repeat, like you did not understand their last transmission. If the phrase is omitted again take pre-planned action.

PLAIN OLD TELEPHONE SERVICE ( POTS ). Have at least one telephone that is powered by the phone line. These telephones will continue to function during power outages. However storm damage can cause service outages.

Do not place unnecessary calls during a disaster. Too many people trying to use the telephone at the same time can deny dial tone to everyone. Reserve the phone lines for real emergencies.

CELLULAR TELEPHONES: Everybody has them. Easy to use, reliable until disaster strikes! Too many people using their phones at the same time will crash the network. Disasters can take down towers and disturb power. Do not depend on cellular telephones for emergencies. Federal law prohibits listening to cellular telephone conversations and most scanners have those frequencies blocked.

CITIZENS BAND: ( CB ) Unlicensed 40 channels limited to 4 watts for AM or 12 watts for SSB voice modulation. If you decide to use CB install a good base station antenna. Every vehicle used during a disaster should be equipped with a CB radio. A good base station has a range of 10 miles or more. A big disadvantage of CB is interference and lack of security.

CB could be used to communicate with nearby sites or groups. Every site monitors the national emergency channel 9 ( 27.065 MHz ). Place a call on channel 9 using tactical call signs or handles. If the conversation lasts longer than a few seconds move to another [pre-arranged] channel. When the call is finished all sites return to monitoring channel nine.


1 - 26.965 8 - 27.055 rc - 27.145 23 - 27.255 32 - 27.325
2 - 26.975 9 - 27.065 16 - 27.155 24 - 27.235 33 - 27.335
3 - 26.985 10 - 27.075 17 - 27.165 25 - 27.245 34 - 27.345
rc 26.995 11 - 27.085 18 - 27.175 26 - 27.265 35 - 27.355
4 - 27.005 rc - 27.095 19 - 27.185 27 - 27.275 36 - 27.365
5 - 27.015 12 - 27.105 rc - 27.195 28 - 27.285 37 - 27.375
6 - 27.025 13 - 27.115 20 - 27.205 29 - 27.295 38 - 27.385
7 - 27.035 14 - 27.125 21 - 27.215 30 - 27.305 39 - 27.395
rc 27.045 15 - 27.135 22 - 27.225 31 - 27.315 40 - 27.405 rc = remote control / no voice

Rules and regulations for CB operations can be found here.

FAMILY RADIO SERVICE ( FRS ) is unlicensed 14 channels ( 1 - 14 ) limited to 1/2 watt with frequency modulation ( FM ) voice. FRS has a range of only 1/2 to 2 miles. Do not believe the mileage claimed on the handheld packaging! The commonly available FRS/GMRS handhelds have 22 channels. Do not use channels 15 - 22 unless you have a GMRS license.
Have your older child(ren) carry a FRS radio in their school back-pack(s). In case of an emergency ( school lock-down ) your child may be able to communicate with you. They may not have access to their back-packs so you need to wait for them to call you!

Learn more about using FRS radio for emergencies here.

GENERAL MOBILE RADIO SERVICE ( GMRS ) is licensed 15 channels ( 1 - 7 & 15 - 22 ) limited to 50 watts with FM voice. GMRS requires a no-test license, obtainable with an application and fee. GRMS can provide greater base to mobile range with far less interference then CB and FRS. The costs may be higher but a base station with external antenna and repeaters are allowed with GRMS. Unless you plan to use a higher powered base station or repeater I see no reason to obtain a GMRS license.

MULTIPLE USER RADIO SERVICE ( MURS ) is unlicensed 5 channels limited to 2 watts with FM voice and data. MURS has a range of 1 - 3 miles with low interference. External antennas are allowed to extend the range. MURS handhelds are rarely sold at retail stores therefore uncommon [and hence slightly more secure than CB and the other other commonly used bands]. I purchased 8 MURS heldhelds on the Internet and donated them to my church which is a local Red Cross shelter.


1 - 462.5625 Channels 1 - 7 1 - 462.5625 1 -151.820
2 - 462.5875 shared by FRS 2 - 462.5875 2 -151.880
3 - 462.6125 and GMRS 3 - 462.6125 3 -151.940
4 - 462.6375 4 - 462.6375 4 -154.570
5 - 462.6625 5 - 462.6625 5 -154.600
6 - 462.6875 6 - 462.6875
7 - 462.7125 7 - 462.7125

8 - 467.5625 Channels 8 - 14
9 - 467.5875 FRS only
10 - 467.6125
11 - 467.6375
12 - 467.6625
13 - 467.6875
14 - 467.7125

15 - 467.550 Channels 15 - 22 can be used for repeater
Channels 15 - 22 16 - 467.575 output channels. The input channels are
GMRS only 17 - 467.600 + 5.0 MHz up from output frequencies.
18 - 467.625
19 - 467.650
20 - 467.675
21 - 467.700
22 - 467.725

Channels and sub-channels? Everybody on same channel shares the same radio frequency. Sub-channels are low frequency audio ( below voice ) tones that are transmitted along with the voice. That tone enables the receiver to hear the signal. If other stations transmitting on the same radio channel but with different sub-channels ( tones ) your radio will remain silent. Using a sub-channel does not provide privacy, anybody monitoring the radio frequency channel ( sub-channel off ) can hear all transmissions on that channel. Using a sub-channel only prevents you from hearing their transmissions. During an emergency recommend setting the sub-channel OFF.

Amateur ("Ham") Radio.
An amateur radio license requires passing written tests, but there is no longer a Morse Code test. Hams have access to many frequency bands and up to 1,000 watts (or 1.500 watts in SSB). Hams can operate local line-of-sight to global communications. Every survival group should have a licensed amateur radio operator. Because of their license test studies, hams understand radio theory, propagation, and operating procedures.

Amateur Radio Bands

1.800 - 2.000 CW & LSB
3.500 - 3.600 CW & digital
3.600 - 4.000 LSB
5.3305 5.3465 5.3665 5.3715 5.4035 Five channels limited to 50 watts USB only
7.000 - 7.125 CW & digital
7.125 - 7.300 LSB
10.100 - 10.150 limited to 200 watts CW only
14.000 - 14.150 CW & digital
14.150 - 14.350 USB
18.110 - 18.168 CW & USB
21.000 - 21.200 CW & digital
21.200 - 21.450 USB
24.890 - 24.930 12 meter band CW
24.930 - 24.990 USB
28.000 - 28.300 10 meter band CW
28.300 - 29.700 USB FM above 29.5
50.000 - 50.100 6 meter band CW
50.100 - 54.000 USB FM
144.00 - 144.10 2 meter band CW
144.10 - 148.00 CW USB FM

There are several more bands of frequencies above 200 MHz.

"CW" means morse code. Rapidly turning the transmitter on and off with a hand operated switch called a telegraph key. When passed through a beat frequency oscillator (BFO) in the receiver, it sounds like a series of short and long tones. Each letter or number have an unique Morse Code pattern of tones.

More information about amateur radio, see the ARRL web site.

About the Author: Ron Y. is an amateur radio operator since 1964 with an Amateur Extra Class and commercial
radiotelephone licenses. Retired from a "Bell System Telephone company" after 31 years of service.

Mr. Editor:
Since stumbling across SurvivalBlog a few months ago, I've been amazed at the amount of valuable information contained here. This site has become a daily read for me, and I've learned much from the contributions here. That said, however, I did find some of what Todd S., the writer of "Long Term Situational Awareness Can Give You The Edge" to be both disturbing and impractical.

First, the disturbing part. What the writer does not plainly state, but what is clearly implied, is that when he decides that when a particular societal situation arises, and he wants food, he quite clearly plans to steal it from its rightful owners. Notice that he never explicitly states that he would steal the food. However, to cite one example (regarding the SYSCO truck filled with food), is he assuming the truck driver will be there with a cash register, ready to take a Mastercard and bag the groceries? Of course not. Nor would that be the case for any of the other examples he cites.

The fact is that looting is stealing, plain and simple. If you can spend the time and effort to scope out all the lootable food storage locations in your neighborhood, then you can spend the same time and effort to create your very own storable food depot in your basement. You don't need to become a thief of someone else's goods if you have your own.

Now, as for the second point -- the impracticality of looting these locations. You may think that you are the only one who has noticed these storage facilities, but think again. The first people who are going to be heading there are the owners and employees; and these people also have the keys to the entryways, room doors, and padlocks. They will get there long before you do. And if one of them does happen to arrive, armed, while you are attempting to crowbar your way in, you will have a very ugly situation develop very fast

I know that JWR wrote in an epilog to this letter that these actions would be unconscionable in any situation other than a massive depopulation scenario. However, even in that case, how can you be certain that you know all the actual owners of this property, where they are located, and that they and all their heirs are dead?

Far better should you put yourself in a position of implementing a food storage program, with several caches at secret locations, which would carry your family through an extended problem scenario -- than implementing a plan to loot others' property while putting yourself in serious potential danger. - DP


There are only two ways to look at Todd's wargaming: Either he assumes the entire world is going to drop dead at the same time, leaving him free to mill around and take anything he wants, or he is well on his way to becoming a competent and dangerous thief/looter.

I was with him up through the abandoned Sysco truck. I lost him sometime around his cataloguing all of the areas cattle. Does he think the ranchers, their hired help, and their families won't have an interest in these animals? So does he hope to hire out to these people, or rustle their stock?

Just because that contractor doesn't have the means to store the large quantities of fuel at his house,, doesn't mean he isn't taking it from his yard a couple of hundred gallons at a time. That might be naive of him, but it doesn't make Todd correct in taking it because he assumes it has been abandoned. Todd is liable to get himself shot or blown up by a booby trap. Contractors are generally resourceful. They work hard for what they have, and are going to be loathe to part with it.

God help all of us if preppers have to sink to the lowest common denominator. Todd's letter starts him out close to it. Perhaps I've been going about this preparedness thing all wrong. Instead of saving, packing, stacking and storing,, I should just be making lists of everybody else who does.

Thank you for your work, - J.B.

"Card House" sent us this: CBO: National Deficit to Hit Nearly $10 Trillion Over Upcoming Decade

GG flagged the latest Friday Follies news: Regulators shut down banks in 4 states, making 26 US bank failures this year

Also from GG: National debt to be higher than White House forecast, CBO says

Another from GG: Greece is a harbinger of austerity for all--The effects of the stimulus are wearing off, leaving us with a nasty
hangover, says Jeremy Warner

E.M.B. sent us this piece by Mish Shedlock: Construction Developer Says Banks Suddenly Playing Hardball, Asks "Mish, What's Going On?"

Items from The Economatrix:

Stocks Jump After Better-Than-Expected Jobs Report

Consumer Borrowing Up in January After 11 Declines

Unemployment Rate Holds, Payrolls Fall

Oil Settles at $81 on Jobless Report

More Fake Gold Bars Found

Gerald Celente: Neo-Survivalism Trend in Action

Odds 'n Sods:

Art suggested this piece by an economist: Stocking up on meds and ammo, NOW!

   o o o

Norman in England mentioned that he had found 680 tree fact sheets available from University of Florida Environmental Horticulture Department.

   o o o

Ready Made Resources has expanded their 25% off sale on Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans. They are now offering free shipping on mixed case lots, as long as you order increments of full cases! There's just one week left for the sale, so order soon!

James K. sent a link to a humorous little video clip: Prepared Police Fail.

   o o o

In my recent mention of the recently-passed Wyoming Firearms Freedom Bill, I neglected to mention that the South Dakota legislature has passed similar legislation, and that another 10 Amendment amplifying bill has already been signed into law, in Utah.

Art suggested this piece by an economist: Stocking up on meds and ammo, NOW!

   o o o

Norman in England mentioned that he had found 680 tree fact sheets available from University of Florida Environmental Horticulture Department.

   o o o

Ready Made Resources has expanded their 25% off sale on Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans. They are now offering free shipping on mixed case lots, as long as you order increments of full cases! There's just one week left for the sale, so order soon!

James K. sent a link to a humorous little video clip: Prepared Police Fail.

   o o o

In my recent mention of the recently-passed Wyoming Firearms Freedom Bill, I neglected to mention that the South Dakota legislature has passed similar legislation, and that another 10 Amendment amplifying bill has already been signed into law, in Utah.

"Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." - 1Th 5:16-18 (KJV)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 27 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

Please note that I'm posting this only as an illustration of what NOT to do, in the aftermath of a disaster.

The prizes for this round will include:

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 27 ends on March 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 been fortunate to live in the same general area for my entire adult life, the Rocky Mountains of Utah. I am very familiar with the area made more so by various employments, a variety of interests all centered around the outdoors and twenty years of being a Scout Master. Being familiar with my surroundings for a long period of time increases my knowledge base of useful things to know, information unique to my immediate surroundings.
I have always been curious and a great observer, of both people and things.  Some years ago my brother mentioned something to me when we were talking about being prepared if anything big should happen. At the time he worked for a national car wash company, traveling around the region inspecting various car washes.  He said he didn’t need to store a fresh water supply because all of the car washes have enormous tanks of fresh water underground; most have more than 2,000 gallons. People didn’t know this so he figured he could use these as a source for fresh water. 
A light bulb went off in my head. This conversation was the start of what I call my Long Term Situational Awareness. I am always on the look out for information that could help me if I have to G.O.O.D. or heaven forbid if TEOTWAWKI happens; information, places and people that I store away in my data banks so I don’t have to figure it out on the run. For example the water tanks underneath car washes, I might have figured that out eventually, but now I know right where to head.
Here are some of the things I have made mental notes about that I think will give me an edge.  Maybe you can keep an eye out for this stuff in your immediate vicinity.  The longer you are in the same area, the more information you can collect.  The more stuff you know, the better your odds are of getting out and surviving.
: Where I live we our bound on the West by a harsh desert environment, not a good escape route.  To the East are mountains, which I know intimately from hunting and camping, especially every paved and dirt road in an out of them for fifty miles. It would take several road blocks to prevent me from getting where I wanted to go if I choose to go that direction.  This direction is my choice if evasion or defense is the highest priority.  

There is only one North South freeway, which of course would prove completely useless. A bottle neck of both surface streets and alternate routes to the South make this direction a bad choice.  To the North, a bottle neck of alternate routes is still passable but not ideal. A little known closed rail road line, (Google Earth is a great source to start looking for these kinds of routes.) is only blocked by a flimsy gate. It bypasses the bottleneck by twenty miles.  A friend showed me this years ago as an access to some hunting ground.  I realized its other potential as an escape route and have never forgotten it. If I have to bug out, I’m going north.  
FOOD: We all know the grocery stores, convenience stores and restaurants will be looted first.  I’ve noted several places that might be over looked at least during the first few days. I keyed in an idea several years ago that anyplace that serves meals to large groups of people will have stores of food.  

There are two small convention centers within five miles of my house.  They are not in a retail, shopping or restaurant area, they are in the office and business districts.  I go to both several times a year.  Every night of the week they cook and serve dinner for several hundred people. The convention centers have storage rooms and commercial kitchens that will probably be overlooked in the first few days [of a societal collapse].
Any place with a snack bar, especially in an overlooked area, is a great source for food supplies.  I know of three indoor soccer arenas with snack bars.  All are in warehouse and industrial areas. All of them have snack bars and I’ve noted where the storage rooms are for the snack bars.  Two of the soccer arenas are on my bug out route.

The last several years I have seen an explosion of small gyms, many in strip malls and professional office districts.  Nearly all of these small gyms have supplies of nutrition and protein bars, bottled water and re-hydration drinks. Most will be overlooked the first few days.
Most Boy Scout camps store and cook food for hundreds of people everyday. I know of at least a dozen scout camps along different travel routes.

We have three, regional food distribution centers. These will be hit hard, but I know where they are and won’t have to look for them in the telephone book. What might be overlooked are the restaurant food supply companies. Not only might their warehouses be missed at first, some people might walk right pass a SYSCO semi truck and not realize it is filled with food. One semi truck from a restaurant supplier and I’m set.  I know the names of all the suppliers and their logos.  
:  Two miles from my home is a warehouse complex with over two hundred companies and a thousand semi-trucks, all with big fuel tanks, going in and out every day. It will obviously be looted, but it is so large the out lying trucks and smaller ware houses will go unnoticed at first.
Excavator companies and large construction companies often store their own fuel
. I’ve hired several of these companies and have identified three that are located in areas that may be easily overlooked.

There is farmland all around me.  Many farmers store fuel.  This would be a last resort for me because they also have guns, know how to shoot, are willing to shoot and if any group will survive WTSHTF it will be farmers.

A few random notes I’ve taken over the years in case I find myself in TEOTWAWKI situation. I know where three large sheep herds and two large herds of cattle graze in the summer. I know where a high-fence elk hunting outfit is located with 300 head of elk. I know of three small residential subdivisions in the mountains that are self sustaining, on there own wells and solar powered. I know of three large snowmobiling lodges in the mountains that are self sustaining.  They are virtually abandoned six months out of the year.  I know where a small, private fish farm, surrounded by a hundred fruit trees can be found two miles past a locked gate. I know where all of the wildlife resources fish hatcheries are. I know where a rancher has sixty head of domesticated buffalo penned in a remote mountain valley.
All of these observations have taken no extra time and effort, simply the realization that someday I may need to know this stuff and it would be a good idea to remember them.  Keep your eyes and ears open, you never know what will pop out at you if you’re looking for it.   You never know what piece of information you store in your data banks will give you the critical edge.

JWR Adds: Most of the foregoing would only be appropriate in the aftermath of a situation with massive depopulation, such as a pandemic. In anything lesser, appropriating "abandoned" supplies would simply be unconscionable theft, because those supplies would still have rightful owners. There have also been several discussions in SurvivalBlog about the inadvisability of crossing private land that belong to someone else. Even worse is shooting someone's livestock. In essence, that is just a good way to get yourself ventilated, in the event of a societal collapse. I have posted this just to show SurvivalBlog readers one sort of threat that they will face. It is encapsulates the horribly astray and ill-advised "justified looting" mentality. Keep plenty of .308 ammo on hand. You may need it.

Dear CPT Rawles:

I'd like to bring your attention to a paper prepared at Ft. Leavenworth, titled, "Increasing Small Arms Lethality in Afghanistan: Taking Back the Infantry Half-Kilometer."

Essentially, the old M14 rifle has not yet met its demise, even though Jimmy Carter did order the destruction of 700,000 M14 Rifles.

As you have known for years, the 5.56 NATO cartridge is not the best cartridge for a Main Battle Rifle. You have written extensively regarding this issue in your books.

For some time now, I have witnessed a sizable number of M14 Rifles, in various configurations, from the original wood stocked version, to the new Enhanced Battle Rifle, EBR-14, all "tricked out" with modern optics and night vision equipment capability.

As stocks are low, due to the ill-conceived destruction of so many M14s in the 1970s and the fact that the US sold the tooling and equipment for manufacturing this weapon, years ago to [the civilian company] Springfield Armory, in Geneseo, Illinois is the prime contractor for the EBR-14 platform.

Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF): We may see the Army Leadership finally realize that the old 7.62 NATO cartridge is hard to beat at not only close-in combat, but also at extended ranges as are common in Afghanistan.

There are many of us in the military community who believe that the M14, in whatever configuration is sorely needed by the soldier today and most likely in the future as well.

Best Regards, - M.B. LTC, US Army (Retired)

A quick observation about a dog's ability to judge character or to determine a person's intentions: They can't, they have no clue; they are terrible at it. What a dog can do, however, is study their master. Remember, we are their world and the object of their attention 24/7. Your dog knows your thoughts almost as fast as you think them. After all, they have nothing better to do but watch you. So if your dog doesn't like someone new, they are picking up that vibe from you, and acting on it. Your dog doesn't care about hurt feelings or offending someone. I find this most beneficial.

I have noticed that after the person that I deem to be ok is around awhile, my dogs will start to reflect how that person feels about them. If the dog's reaction is positive or negative I don't put allot of stock in their behavior, as the new guest has passed muster. It is their initial reaction to a person I've just met that I'm sensitive to. It helps me to hone my gut feeling and to pay attention to it when my dogs aren't around.

There is a book called "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin de Becker. It is a great read and very informative with regard to how we humans act and how to read and interpret those actions. The author shares the same opinion about a dog's observation skills that I do.

I hope this is of value to you and your readers. - JM


Concerning the lack of sanitation at some Haiti evacuation camps: Porta-john [chemical toilets] are nice, but must be pumped out, cleaned and refilled regularly in order to remain usable. A simple solution I have used on the farm is to cut out the bottom of the john's holding tank. Then we dig a hole and position the outhouse over the hole. As it is used, we occasionally throw a little lime or wood ash into the hole to control smell and bugs. The outhouse is on skids and is easy to move by hand, so when the hole is half full, we pull the john aside, dig a new hole and use the dirt to refill the "used" hole. When we have repositioned the outhouse over the new hole, we heap the remaining dirt around the outside edges of the building for more smell and insect control and to keep out ground water. Thus we have an always ready, clean and private facility for when the need arises.

I suggest that readers call their local porta-john rental companies. The suppliers in my area often have ones in need of slight repair available for purchase, at low cost. A non-chemical using, easy to move and clean outhouse would make a very nice, and most helpful, addition to

Mike T. sent this: Drug gangs taking over US public lands

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Wyoming House Passes Firearms Freedom Act. (Thanks to George S. for the link.) I suspect that this will be signed into law, following suit with Montana and Tennessee.

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I found an interesting article linked at The Drudge Report by South Carolina Republican Senator Jim DeMint: White House land grab

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Zac in Kentucky mentioned a congressional candidate from Missouri that is seeking donations of $5.56 apiece.

"He'd forgotten the precautions and the care a human had to observe in the depths of the arctic winter. How very easy it would be to cease to exist, by doing nothing, just being out there, getting lost, freezing." "It's called death by omission," said Ian. - from the novel "Ice Trap" by Kitty Sewell , 2008

Friday, March 5, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 27 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 27 ends on March 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.

Suggestions on how a survival community might enlist new members.

The lights have gone out. It may be years, if ever, before they come on again. You haven't seen a banana, orange or avocado in a long time. Of course that's not surprising since there hasn't been an open grocery store in a long while either. You have heard rumors that the death toll from disease in China and India is in the hundreds of millions, perhaps even in the billions. But you don't really know, because you haven't heard a thing from Washington or the State Capitol in quite a while.

You are on your own.

It is the end of the world as we knew it. Disease, the collapse of the economy, the failure of power, water, septic, delivery and legal systems have seen to that. There's no gas, which means no cars. All of a sudden you find yourself living in the 18th Century. About the only good thing that has happened lately is that you managed to find safety in a "survival" community.

You have a number of good people with you. There's 24 hour security, enough food, (barely), everyone's health seems to be holding out and the gardens are growing. But you have a problem. The group needs to expand in order to survive. There's just too much to do. The herd animals you have must be cared for and watched constantly because you can't risk losing any of them. Perimeter security must be maintained, but unfortunately security and animal herding are very different jobs, so that takes a number of separate workers. Making soap and candles, weaving cloth, sewing, and boot and harness making are all time consuming. And garden and field crop weeding is a full time job for many. Just doing the laundry is a major task, not to mention cutting firewood year 'round, and food prep. and cooking all day. 16 hour days of hard work are the norm, and mistakes are happening because some folks are just so tired.

So your group has met, and decided to seek out several more folks to join your community. The several bachelors would like to have a couple of more women join the community. And the single women feel the same about available men. You'd like some trades and crafts people who could start producing some trade goods like wooden buckets, tinware, paper, and a good bow maker would be great. More help in the house and gardens is certainly needed. Just getting someone to build a new pig pen would be wonderful. And there's always the necessity for additional folks on security.

So what do you do ?

There's still occasional "road people" and other wanderers. But picking the right ones to ask in can be very dangerous. You've heard that sometimes roving gangs will send out "spotters" who try to enter communities just to scope out defenses and resources. Anyone who might be sick is always a problem. Vaccinations are a thing of the past, so a touch of the "bad" flu could kill you all. And then there's the personality problems, and the crazies. Strangers can simply carry many problems with them. Not the least of which is your need to first confirm that they are not an immediate threat. But if a stranger seems initially ok, there are a few things that might help you decide if you should consider them for community membership.

Fortunately, a built in human survival trait often called "gut reaction", that is so often ignored in good times, will likely come into greater use. These feelings are sometimes called "the hair standing up on the back of your neck", but in good times are usually dismissed as paranoia or "being judgmental". Dogs have never had that problem and have always used it. You'll need to quickly relearn to pay attention to it. It's simply becoming more aware of, and learning to more often trust, your gut feeling, your first impression.

So the first thing to do on meeting someone is to trust your senses. If a stranger appears overly nervous, stands or walks kinda funny, seems too well fed, or too dirty, if their eyes don't meet yours, or they stare too intently, if their skin appears yellowish or too red, even if their smell seems "different" somehow, you want to trust your first impressions. "Casually" study any strangers. Notice if they are making an attempt to stay clean, or seem to be dirty by choice. In a friendly way ask about the meaning of something they are wearing or carrying, if it is fairly unusual. You may be surprised at the answers you might get, that could indicate some sort of mental "weirdness". Look for what doesn't exactly fit. If something just doesn't seem quite right, maybe it isn't.

But so far, your, (informed), first impression seems ok. Then what ? Well, on meeting someone new, notice what they talk or ask about. If they ask inappropriate questions, or blurt out asking to be given food, that's not so good. If they say they are traveling and looking for a place to settle, and ask if it would it be possible to do a bit of work in exchange for a bite to eat to help them on their way, that's better. You'd also want to notice how they react to things said. If you ask the stranger how are conditions back up the road, and they spit out that those blank, blank so and so's ran them off, that's not generally a good sign. (Unless of course you happen to know the so and so's don't like anybody who's decent.) If you make a joke, does the stranger laugh, or do they just frown or maybe laugh too much. Just really pay attention to how they react socially.

Next, check out what they are carrying. (Remember that earlier you had already confirmed they were no immediate threat.) Explain to them that if they are going to be allowed to stay in the area, you need to know they are okay. There's the obvious security issues involved, and you need to know what weapons they have. But also, what a person chooses to carry on their back says a lot about that person. If their kit is well organized, that's more likely a useful person. If they are carrying mood altering drugs, dirty utensils and unclean firearms and knives, they are more likely to just be a problem. If they object to a "friendly" search, its probably time for them to hit the road.

So, now you've met a person who has passed the "smell" test, seems socially appropriate, and appears well organized. You still don't know much about them, but it seems like maybe a work for food trade is all right. You don't want to let them into your community proper, they haven't been cleared for medical issues and diseases, and you never let anyone in for security reasons unless you fully trust them. But, since they asked to trade work for food, you can set them to work cutting firewood, in the wood lot outside the fence, or some other such job. It also would be a good opportunity to work with them to see if they can use a saw or axe without getting hurt. And you could push them a bit to see how they do with some hard labor. Pay attention to their ability and attitude towards what they are doing. And notice how well they take direction.

Then set down with them, serve them the food they earned, and talk. Ask them about being on the road, what their skills are, what they are looking for, maybe even what their dreams are. Ask if they have any family or friends they are looking for, or hope to find. And ask if they have been married, or would want to be. You could tell a story about some charity work you had done before TEOTWAWKI, and ask if they had done any themselves, (which can be an indication of their selfish or giving nature). If you make it a conversation and just have a casual talk, they may answer more fully and truthfully than if you act like it is an interview. Most people who have been alone for awhile, and still have their head screwed on right, like to talk if the person they are talking with seems at ease. So just be informal. It is amazing how much you can learn about a person by asking the right "inconsequential" questions.

If they pass all those tests, it's time to get down to business. It's time to be very, very clear and forthright. Tell them you are looking for a member or two. Ask if they are interested. If they are, explain they will need a complete medical check. If they pass that, they will go on probation. For several weeks, they will work a full day every day, be talked with a lot, be expected to make a few examples of the craft or trade they claim to be proficient at, and will live in a removed tent, cabin or teepee. In return they will receive fair trade for their work, and the same food as the rest of the community. Tell them if they get along with most everyone, pass the medical quarantine of living separate and have showed no new disease or illness, can work enough to contribute, and actually have the skills they claim, they will be held up for vote to become a member. Finally explain to them in detail the community's rules. And explain in as much detail the communities cultural norms, such as folks like to share meals, or pray together, or hold book readings and sing-a-longs every evening, ..or whatever. Every group or community has its own ways, and new members need to know what they are going in.

If they agree with all that, you're possibly on the way to growing.

But just remember. Do your due diligence in checking them out. We all often approach new opportunities and people with overly optimistic hope. It isn't until later we become more realistic. Living in a close knit community can be a bit like marrying into a family. Make sure that the "family" you choose, will continue to be the family you want. You really need to get along with each other as well as possible. Someone who always seems to need to do things in a way counter to the rest of the group, or who later displays an initially hidden problem personality, can tear a group apart. Then they are going to have to leave, one way or another.
--Problem is, in a survival situation, if you banish someone, they may come back with new friends. And the "problem person" will know every single one of your weaknesses and strengths. Having them leave, (vertically), may not be an option. And that will be one of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make. Who you take in can really matter. For the good or the bad.

--Note: For the past 35 years, I have had folks living in my home, out in one of the cabins, in tents, motor homes, or in various teepees at my place. One guy was here for 20 years, others only lasted three days. There's been homeless women with infants, recovering drunks, new age moon gazers, kids in school, some goof offs, others with no teeth and a few with too many lice. Some were good, some terrible. The suggestions in the above article are some of the ways I have developed over time in order to avoid the "terrible". I suggest that if you are able, take in some people now during good times, give them a break, help them get on their feet, then send them on their way. In return, you will have done a good thing, and learned many lessons about how to get along with folks. You will also learn some quick and valuable lessons about how to decide who to take in. You will find the experience very helpful in the coming TEOTWAWKI.

We are currently having free Disaster Preparedness classes. Please see the Survivalist Groups "Meet-up" web page--a listing posted on Feb. 28th, listed under "Ohio & Midwest". Lets help each other now, in order to be able help those less fortunate later. - Jim Fry, Curator, Museum of Western Reserve Farms & Equipment

I thought that you and your family might be encouraged by the following: There was an extraordinary occurrence in Haiti on February 17th. Here is a blog entry with a YouTube link about a nationally declared three days of fasting and prayer in Haiti. Amazing grace.

The final sentence in the entry is the most sobering:

"The only sadness that I feel today is for our nation. While a nation that has long been under Satan's domination is turning to God with total commitment, our nation, founded on Godly values, has rejected God and is rapidly trying to forget that His name even exists. Let us pray for revival." - Sheila M.

Hi James,
Its been a while. I just spent eight days in Haiti building a radio station in Crois des Bouquets. We were working with a church and pastor I have worked with before. He had about thirty Haitian people who lost everything in his home, plus 10 Americans, three on our radio team, and an evangelistic team out of Florida.

Our team went in with tent, MREs and Mountain House food. a water filter plus all of our necessities. fortunately we didn't need our food but donated it to the house hold to aid others. We left our tents, sleeping bags, and air mattresses behind and told the Pastor to give them to people he knew who really needed it.

We got a radio message from the states inquiring about an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp who had been sent aid
by a ministry in Indiana. Apparently they had not received their aid yet. We checked and thought we had the right IDP camp. They had not had anything to eat or water in over a week.

My first thought being an old army sergeant was: "Where are the privies?" There were no sanitation pits dug, and people were relieving themselves out in the open. This was just about three miles from the airport at the river bridge. There were two large tent cities in the same location with absolutely no sanitation facilities.

I talked with the leader of one camp and ask why they had no latrines dug. They had absolutely nothing to dig a hole with. I told him that if they didn't do something immediately about the problem, that disease would go through that camp in short order, and could wipe them all out. I told him I would get a pick and some shovels. I did so the next day.

On the following day we were leaving and the camp had a team out digging privies. Praise the Lord.
James, and readers, there was at that time absolutely nothing being done about sanitation in the camps. The U.S. Army was really concerned about this issue, but their hands were tied. There were no NGOs addressing the problem either. It is a major issue with the medical people I met.

I did see about ten brand new porta Johns at the IDP camp across the street from the presidential palace. But there was no one using them. I'm sure they were put there for the news nosies, just for the cameras. I know in the next month there will be a second disaster developing, and there already is in one camp. (I got word from a person that I trust and that is in the know, that a large TB outbreak had already occurred in one of the IDP camps.

The Haiti government is very inept and un prepared for any disaster. the UN, USAID, UNICEF, Red Curse, et cetera are all just having meetings and doing very little to help the situation.

All I saw when I was there was Christian ministries getting the job done. I know the Samaritan's Purse, Operation Blessing, Friend Ships, Catholic Relief, Mennonites, Baptists, et cetera are in there getting their hands dirty and getting the job done.

I would just say in closing that the first thing after a disaster strikes, and people are having to camp out, or go into a camp is to dig a suitable latrine, and make some effort to keep clean. One of the first things that our servicemen in all of our services learn in basic training is field sanitation. If our military were turned loose to help I know full well they would go in there and help provide some form of field sanitation.

I do have to say the Christians are pulling together in Haiti, and people are turning to Christ by the thousands.
Blessings, - Dave M. (A Blessings For Obedience World Missionary Radio volunteer)

Mr. Rawles,

I thought I'd drop a note having been in Haiti from the day after the quake to a couple weeks ago, and having run an ongoing program there for a few years now. I wanted to comment on the issue of rioting in Haiti versus. Chile. I think the core issue was that people in each country were faced with different immediate challenges.

In Haiti, like many other developing countries lacking Chile's level of building codes and construction standards, Port Au Prince was extremely vulnerable to a quake. Because the quake hit only a few miles from Port Au Prince you had complete destruction of entire zones of the city, with entire blocks where 4/5 of the buildings just collapsed. As a result the death toll was 220,000 people.

The immediate job for a large percentage of the city became how do I dig through these buildings to rescue those 220,000 people or at least recover the bodies. The self organized work crews were pretty incredible. For much of the rest of the population the immediate task became how do I find my family and find shelter. Most of those alive were in front of completely destroyed houses (1.5 million homeless) Even when looking for a few immediate resources because so much was destroyed people were salvaging collapse sites more often than looting.

In addition the atmosphere was somber and surreal, the work crews pulling out bodies everywhere in the city and piling them, the people crying for help, the surgery taking place on the street. I would say that everybody I spoke to who emerged from that situation left with a truly profound sorrow in their hearts. Missing a day or two of food was pretty secondary for most people. Many Haitians have dealt with food insecurity and hunger before, that wasn't as much of an immediate issue. Even for aid workers it was hard to even remember to eat much less worry about it.

Outside Port Au Prince people were largely just melancholy, it is a small country, everybody had somebody who died, everything was shut down, you couldn't get money from banks or buy food in stores for a week, yet there weren't people in the streets till the very end of that, and even then it was just some organized marches in front of the banks for them to re-open. Within four days in Port Au Prince many of the aid services started emerging and food and water started to become more readily available. Within 6 days some money transfer services started opening in the rest of the country and commerce started again.

Thankfully in Chile, outside of the terrible devastation in the Tsunami zone, comparatively many of the structures in the earthquake zone stood. So the challenges faced were different. The people seen on television looting seem more concerned about scarce resources than trying to dig out their trapped friends and family out of the rubble. With a death toll under 1,000 so far the number of people who are directly missing people or who came back to find their home collapsed on their family must be much lower. Which leaves more people concerned about "Where do I get food, where do I get water" than "How do I dig these people out, dear god there are so many people dead, everywhere"

I think in the end the Chilean people will look back on this tragedy and realize how prepared they were as a nation, that they had put the standards in place to keep their buildings standing and they will take that to heart in preparing on a personal level. I am hopeful things will calm and they will find the strength to rebuild.

For the readers who want to know how to prepare for seismic situations let me offer 3 bits of gear advice, always have a full unbreakable water bottle on you, always carry a whistle, and always keep a respirator (even if just an n-95 mask in a pocket, you would not comprehend the toxic cloud that is created when a city collapses, it was like 9-11 everywhere). Beyond that if you are in a developing country in a seismic area with poor cement block construction (lots of parts of Peru, Guatemala, Thailand, Dominican Republic, India, Pakistan, etc) in older style buildings try to sleep near an exit to an open courtyard, try to stay in one story buildings, stay away from adobe. The safest bet is to try to stay in modern hotels, the big chains force proper construction techniques. If the quake hits get out and watch for falling hazards. Many prayers that the readers of this blog never have to face anything like what people are facing in Chile or Haiti. Sincerely, - Peter H.

In the articles concerning Humping a Pack, I observed comments about not using wool for foot wear.

I would strongly disagree for a few reasons. My reasoning is based on over 16 years of active and reserve military experience in the Infantry, and from my experiences as a teenager helping Lane County (Eugene, Oregon) in the mid 1970s.

Wool is a superior resource.

1) Unlike synthetics, Wool socks can be repaired.
2) Wet Wool unlike synthetics still maintains up to 80% of its heat retention value. Granted, wet wool weighs a lot.
3) Wool does not burn and melt like synthetics can.

I mention this for not just backpacking, but for disaster and other survival situations.

I will recommend if one has allergies to wool, then synthetics may be a solution, but the ability to re supply or repair things like Gore-Tex, Velcro, or Polypropylene cold weather clothing is some what problematic in areas or situations where there are no means to obtain a re-supply.

I will applaud spending good money for good foot ware. I have three pairs of Materhorn insulated boots with solid dependable soles.

I spent the at that time $150 for each pair and those same boots are still in service today. Granted I do not wear them every day, so this is why I still have three pairs.

The fact of training in various terrains and conditions is extremely advisable. If one has a small child and kiddy back pack carrier, this could be a good alternate training method, without raising eyebrows.

Starting slowly, and getting into shape to back pack is also a good idea.

Other than the items I mentioned above, Each article that you have posted rings true, practical and correct.

I thank you for your blog. I am re-reading your "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation", your novel "Patriots" and your latest "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" and I have your "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. Wonderful work, Great Blog, Blessings, - Grog

"Luddite Jean" thought that a nuclear bunker listed on might be of interest to British readers of SurvivalBlog. Jean's comments: "It's a bit small, but in the UK, there is no restriction or planning permission needed for underground buildings."

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Louisiana police envision TEOTWAWKI in their cities: Bossier sheriff launches 'Operation Exodus'. Thanks to "B9" for the link.

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From Cheryl: US Gun Owners Buy 14+ Million Guns in 2009--More than 21 of the World's Standing Armies

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Marko marked this one for us: Quake mission casts the [Chilean] army as good guys at last

"… [M]any gun owners readily concede that their right to keep and bear arms is “not absolute” and is subject to “reasonable” regulation. This concession to moderation or reasonableness is fatal to the right. Yes, there are people who should not have guns. However, the point of the Second Amendment is precisely to deny government the power to decide who those people are, just as the point of the First Amendment is to deny government the power to decide what you may read and hear. Rights are not reasonable, and are not to be made reasonable, because government itself is not reason; it is force." - Jeff Snyder

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The situation in earthquake-ravaged Chile is still quite tenuous. SurvivalBlog reader "Zed" suggested that I mention this article from the BBC's Stephen Mulvey: Chile earthquake: Why do people loot. And don't miss this related article: Chileans protect, feed themselves after quake. Doesn't this sound a lot like "a neighborhood watch, on steroids"? The conjecture about societal breakdown in SurvivalBlog that was once castigated as "fanciful" is now sounding quite plausible. Get the gear, and get the training, folks. Be ready, willing and able to dispense charity and to help restore order and re-establish free commerce, if and when things go sideways.


Today we present another entry for Round 27 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 27 ends on March 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.

An air rifle or air pistol can be a really useful tool for anyone who needs to collect game unobtrusively while trying to survive.

I write a regular blog on airguns for . So here’s “Uncle Jock’s” take on why you might want to include an airgun in your survival kit.

Here’s a quick summary of the key advantages of airguns:

Tack-driving accuracy – High-end air rifles are among the most accurate projectile launchers on the planet. For example, Olympic match air rifles can literally put pellet after pellet through the same hole at 10 meters, and field target airgunners can routinely hit a dime at 50 yards with their air rifles. Some dedicated long-range airgunners report shooting sub-MOA groups at 100 yards and beyond.

Low shooting expense – Once you purchase your air rifle or air pistol, it will be superbly kind to your wallet. Depending upon which pellet your airgun “likes,” you’ll find typical shooting costs on the order of 1-3 cents per shot for ammunition. A sleeve (10 500-pellet tins) of high quality pellets will typically run around $120 plus shipping

Convenience and accessibility – Airguns can be legally shot in many places where it is absolutely forbidden to discharge a firearm. Check with your local authorities, but in many places, you can shoot an airgun in your backyard, basement or garage without running afoul of the law. That means you should be able to get in lots of practice at relatively low cost.

A neighbor-friendly report – Virtually all airguns are quieter than firearms (with the possible exception of some big-bore hunting models). In addition, it is rare for airguns to launch pellets faster than the sound barrier. Some airguns are inherently very quiet, and there are models that are virtually silent.

Some other considerations – You can spend as little or as much as you like, depending upon your tastes and your wallet. You can pick up a utilitarian air pistol or air rifle capable of bouncing soda cans around the back yard for under $50. Or you can spend thousands of dollars on the most sophisticated air rifles on the planet.


Before you select an air rifle or air pistol, you need to understand the several different powerplants used in airguns to send the pellet downrange. Here’s an overview.

Multi-stroke pneumatic (MSP or pump-up) airguns require 2-8 strokes of an on-board lever (usually the forestock) to store compressed air in the powerplant. This is the powerplant of classic Benjamin and Sheridan air riles. They are virtually recoilless and completely self-contained, so all you need for a day afield is the gun and a tin of pellets. The power can be adjusted by the number of strokes, but once the gun has been fired, it must be pumped up all over again. Another consideration: when pumped up to the max, a multi-stroke pneumatic can be loud.

Single-stroke pneumatic (SSP) airguns also use a lever to compress air in the powerplant, but – as the name implies – require only a single stroke to fully charge the gun. This is the powerplant that was used on many older Olympic 10-meter match guns. SSPs are fully self-contained, easy to cock, highly consistent and often incredibly accurate. The power and speed of these guns is usually low, shooting relatively light match-grade .177 pellets at 500-600 fps.

Spring-piston airguns – also called “springers” – use a lever (normally the barrel or a side- or under-lever) to cock a spring and piston. When the trigger is pulled, the spring is released, pushing the piston forward and compressing a powerful blast of air that sends the pellet down the barrel. Springers are self-contained, often relatively quiet and can be very accurate, but the movement of the spring and piston within the gun before the pellet leaves the muzzle makes them the most difficult airgun type to shoot with high accuracy. Nevertheless, many riflemen can and do master shooting springers.

CO2 airguns use 12-gram cartridges, 88-gram cartridges or CO2 transferred from a bulk tank to launch the pellet. CO2 airguns are recoilless, convenient, and (in target models, increasingly replaced by PCP target models) extremely accurate. Noise levels vary from model to model. Cocking effort is usually very low, making these guns a favorite for family shooting. CO2 airguns require periodic refilling and performance can vary with temperature. Velocity will drop in wintry conditions, and rise in very warm conditions.

Precharged pneumatic airguns (PCPs) are charged with air from a SCUBA tank or high-pressure pump. This is powerplant of choice for high-energy hunting guns, Olympic 10-meter rifles and pistols, and top-echelon field target rifles. PCPs are virtually recoil-free, very consistent, and often superbly accurate. But they are not self-contained – you need a SCUBA tank or high-pressure hand pump available to recharge them, and they can be noisy.

Additional Considerations

When I think about survival airguns, here are the characteristics that I would prefer (and, as you will see, they don’t always work together, so you’ll need to pick the characteristics that are most important to you):

1. Portability. That means either a pistol or a rifle than can be readily broken down. That eliminates many air rifles.

2. Self-contained. I want to reduce the need for ancillary equipment and consumables. That eliminates all CO2 airguns (which don't work well in cold weather) and pre-charged airguns which require a tank or pump for recharging.

3. Sufficient power for taking small game. Target air pistols won't get it done. Some springer pistols make 6 foot-pounds of energy, which is sufficient if you skills allow to stalk within 10-15 yards on small game. Some multi-stroke pneumatic pistols make 8-10 foot pounds of energy. Most air rifles generate enough energy to do the job. I have reliable reports of one shooter killing a feral goat with a multi-stroke pneumatic rifle, and another shooter inadvertently killing a deer with a cheap Chinese spring-piston rifle (he was trying to chase it away from the plants in his yard and caused a pneumo-thorax).

4. Stealthy report. I don't want to be noticed. Spring-piston powerplants are inherently quieter than most others because of the smaller quantity of air used to drive the pellet. Multi-stroke pneumatics tend to generate more noise than springers, but can be quieted with barrel shrouds or by reducing the number of pumps (which reduces the power).

5. Easy to shoot well. Spring-piston powerplants are the hardest to shoot well because of their whiplash forward and back recoil. Multi-stroke pneumatics are easy to shoot well.

6. Reliability. Airguns dealers tell me that springers are the most reliable powerplant. You can usually put at least a couple of thousand rounds through one before a rebuild is needed, and some are far more reliable.

7. Ease of maintenance. Spring piston powerplants usually require a spring compressor for assembly and disassembly. MSPs usually can be taken apart with hand tools.

Specific recommendations. The Mac-1 Steroid Benjamin or Steroid Sheridan is a dead reliable MSP rifle that can easily take small game out to 30 yards, is easily broken down, but is loud at full power and very difficult to silence. A modified 1377 pistol can be built up into a small, easy take-down .22 MSP rifle. It makes a bit less power than a Steroid MSP, and can be readily silenced.

The Diana/RWS LP8, Beeman P1, Browning 800, and Weihrauch HW45 are spring-piston pistols that make around 6 foot-pounds of energy, are inherently fairly quiet (but not dead quiet) and require some dedication to shoot with high precision. Nevertheless, small game has been taken with them, especially at closer ranges.

Jock Elliott, Airgun Correspondent, Precision Shooting Magazine, and author of Elliott on Airguns.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I fully enjoy your site and have been reading it daily for some time now.Only yesterday did I follow the link to the You Tube video, After Armageddon.

And only yesterday did the question dawn on me: Following any disaster, what percentage of survivors would be forced to leave their homes?

In twenty years of practicing preparedness, I've never given the question any thought!

Sure, I am well prepared and sited in a very rural area flush with abundant water, fish and game, mature hardwoods and other natural resources. I've a modest farm with large gardens, we can and preserve every year, and are capable of generating electricity without liquid fuels. I've ammo and firearms maintenance tools enough for several lifetimes.

Thus, I would never, under any circumstance, consider leaving my home.

Perhaps in some slightly perverse way, I have been looking forward to TEOTWAWKI. My family and I are enjoying a 19th century bucolic homestead, out of doors most days, maintaining a robust vigilance, eating well, staying warm, raising and educating children and so on.

In short, my family would make only the few adjustments brought on by the failure of high current commercial power, abandonment of motor transport in favor of our mules, and no mechanical refrigeration.

So I am now truly vexed with the question: Just how many folks are like me? What are the numbers of people who will not have any need to leave their homes? Do you have an idea of the numbers? I'd love to know your thoughts. Sincerely, - Tom H.

JWR Replies: Know the numbers is nigh-on impossible, since exact situations cannot be predicted. It is possible, however, to draw some conclusions based on some fairly safe general assumptions. At the core, it all depends on the big linchpin: grid-up, or grid-down. Without grid power for an extended period of time, most cities and even many suburbs will become uninhabitable. I suspect that in a grid-up situation, most people will stay put. But in a grid-down situation, there may be huge numbers of refugees.

I was doing some research on behalf of reader Dan K. about temperature stability for medications that are buried in waterproof containers, and I came across this useful map, which is probably already familiar to many gardeners.

   o o o

Ready Made Resources is running a semi-annual 25% off sale on Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans. They are offering free shipping on full case lots. These foods are delicious, compact, and have a 30 year shelf life. There is now just 10 days left for the sale, so order soon!

   o o o

Courtesy of reader Jim B.: Cellphones Become Our Comfort Objects During Disaster

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Sleepless in Seattle, but Clueless in Tacoma: ATF seizes 30 toy guns, infuriating local business owner. JWR Adds: I'd love to meet the expert that could "readily convert" those to shoot live ammo. Perhaps the same wizard could transmute some lead into gold for me, while he's at it! (A tip of the hat to Chad S., for the link.)

"The true God is a living, intelligent, and powerful being. His duration reaches from eternity to eternity; His presence from infinity to infinity. He governs all things." - Sir Isaac Newton

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 27 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 27 ends on March 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 will start this article with a question: What are you doing on a regular basis (i.e. daily) to prepare yourself mentally, physically, emotionally, and most of all, spiritually, to not just survive, but prevail during a violent encounter?

This is a question I ask myself on a regular basis.  I have also posed this same question to my hand-to-hand combat students.

There is no question that interpersonal violence will be fact of life for many in a post-societal collapse.  But, it is a reality in today’s society that many people (i.e. sheeple) choose to ignore.

Depending on your source for statistics, the number of instances of violent crime reported [in the US] in 2008 was more than 5,000,000.  Yes, there are six zeros after that 5!  That figure astounds and saddens me, but doesn't surprise me.

My full-time job is a police officer with a suburb of a major city that regularly meets or exceeds the number of violent acts from the previous year.  These acts of violence are prominently displayed in local newspapers and on radio and television.  Yet, for many, they refuse to accept this reality and thus refuse to prepare to for it.

Security Awareness

Security awareness needs to be a way of life for all of us because prevention is the best defense.  Now, I am not talking about paranoia, but preparation and practice.  One such example of being security minded is locking your doors once you are in your house or car.  How many times have you seen someone get into their car and talk on their cell phone or do some other task while being totally oblivious to what's going around them?  Maybe you have even done this yourself.

Speaking of locking your doors, how many of you consistently make sure that the door from the garage to your house is always locked?  I can't even begin to guess the number of burglaries that I have been on where the offender(s) found the victim's garage door open and the offender(s) then gained entry into the home via the unlocked man door.  As part of your daily OPSEC for your residence, make sure the garage door is shut and the man door is locked.

Let's take the last scenario one step further.  Just this past summer I saw several incidents in which the offender(s) pushed the center of the garage door back far enough to reach the disconnect cord for the electric garage door.  Once the opener is disconnected from the chain, they quietly lifted the garage door and stole valuable items from the garage.  Also, in one case they gained entry into the home because the man door to the garage from the house was unlocked.

A personal security tool that you can purchase for yourself and keep on you at all times is a small LED flashlight.  Streamlight, Surefire and Dorcy are just three of the quality brands that are out there.  You want a small metal one that’s not much longer than the width your hand so I am not talking about one of those big, 3 or 5 “D” cell Mag-Lites, even though those are good options for your vehicle and home. Having a flashlight already in your hand allows you to check in and around your car when you’re in dark parking lots or garages and performing OPSEC on your personal property.  You can also shine this light in the eyes of a potential assailant, causing temporary blurred vision and disorientation.  If you choose to get a flashlight, try to get one with a tail-activation switch option and that has replacement batteries and keep at least two extra batteries with you at all times.  Most people, even cops, forget to charge their lights and the lights don’t work when they need them the most.  Also, consider getting a light with the scalloped or serrated edges around the lens area.  It makes a great impact weapon should you need it.

Entire chapters can be written on personal and property security awareness.  But, suffice it say, security awareness needs to become a way life because, especially post-WTSHTF, your life may literally depend on it.

Hand-to-Hand Combat

As I mentioned earlier in the article, I am a Hand-to-Hand (H2H) practitioner and instructor.  My primary form is an Israeli H2H system that I have taught to both civilian and law enforcement.  I also teach security awareness and self defense seminars for women in the community.

I have studied several different styles of martial arts over the past 25+ years and have seen many drawbacks of traditional systems.  Most traditional systems are heavy on tradition but light in the area of combat applications.  This fact is well known and recently there has been a plethora of "new" systems out there that refer to themselves as reality-based martial arts (RBMA).

I personally believe that everyone should learn how to defend themselves with both empty hands and weapons.  Even now, depending on the size of your area, the number of officers on duty, and some other factors, our response to your 911 call could be anywhere from two minutes to an hour.  Even if our response is only two minutes, when fighting for your life that may seem like an hour.  Post-WTSHTF, police response may be non-existent. 

RBMAs have tried to step in and market themselves as the "answer" for your H2H needs.  But, there are some serious dangers involved that you need to be aware of.  First, it seems like most of the instructors or "creators" of these systems are former Navy SEALs, Green Berets, Special Forces etc.  Please take the time to learn the instructors true credentials, check references, and observe a few classes.  Also, be wary of the home study courses that claim that you will be able to defeat any attacker in seconds if you just purchase their products.

Another type of RBMA is one that relies heavily on ground fighting, such as Gracie or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or on joint locks, such as traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, Aikido, or some blend thereof.  The goal of these systems, especially in the beginning stages, is to learn to defeat and/or control another one-on-one.  There are too many variables in a violent encounter to justify spending time wrapped up tight with just one person. 

You should train in a system that teaches you to defend common attacks, encourages aggression when appropriate, limits ground work at the beginning levels, works in multiple attacker scenarios on a regular basis and teaches empty hand vs. weapons at the lower levels.  Some of the styles I mentioned do these same things but normally at a much higher rank level which translates to much longer training time.  At our school, you will see all of the above within the first 6 months of training.  I am not saying the system I train/teach in has all of the answers because such a system doesn't exist.  However, one comment I hear consistently is how the participant felt they were ready to defend themselves after the first lesson. This was how our system was designed and is why the Israeli military and police use it to this day.

I know that there are many proponents out there that believe mixed martial arts (MMA), judo, boxing, Thai boxing and wrestling are competent RBMAs, and they are for what they are designed for.  However, these specific RBMAs are limited by rules, safety equipment, number of opponents (which there is only 1), and lack of non-personal weapons.  Don’t get me wrong, these specific systems bring a lot of good training characteristics to the party and I have participated in several of them myself.  But, the point is that you need to train beyond the limitations of these systems. 

Now, some personal thoughts about your family members training in H2H.  If your budget allows, I believe each household member should receive competent H2H training.  Encourage your spouse/significant other to train but, when it comes to your children, especially younger ones, I think you should mandate it.  My wife has attended a womens' self defense seminar and we recently discussed her attending another one.  While she doesn't take formal classes on a regular basis, she likes Tae Bo so I encourage it.  Tae Bo done on a regular basis provides her with physical fitness, is fun for her, and allows her to practice some of the moves she had learned.

As far as children are concerned, I believe that quality self-defense training is a must.  According to a study I read a couple of years ago, there are more than 250,000 assaults in public schools every year.  Based on my experience, I believe that the actual number for this is about 25-50% higher.  I know many schools don't report these incidents because they believe that it will reflect negatively on them.  I know that the training my children have been through has greatly helped them.  One of my children has had issues with a bully and has had to defend himself from an attack where the other child was choking him with both hands on his throat.  This same child was also saved from a nasty fall on concrete when he executed a perfect break fall after he accidentally tripped over an object when playing.  A real good resource for preparing your children is the DVD titled, "I Am Not a Target".  We found a copy of it at our local library and I highly recommend it.

One key aspect of having you and your family trained in a quality H2H system is that everyone should be able to recognize pre-assault indicators.  This way, if one of you doesn’t see the indicators, someone else in your family may and then they warn the rest of the family and/or attack the assailants.  This especially vital in a post-WTSHTF period when it might just be your family against "the world".

Don't Cheat Fair!

I have a specific saying and philosophy when it comes to self-defense: The only fair fight is one that I win!  I have applied this saying to both my personal and professional life.

At the beginning of this article, I mentioned not just surviving, but prevailing during a violent encounter.  You must think and train with the understanding that you may be the only thing standing between your loved ones and their potential pain, suffering, or even death. 

What are you willing to do to stop a violent assault against you or loved one?  Are you willing to scratch, bite, or dig your thumb in someone's eye?  Are you willing to hit someone with a lamp, run them over with a car, plunge a butcher knife into them, or stab them in the neck with a pen?

These are questions you must ask yourself ahead of time and be mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually prepared to do what is necessary to prevail.

One aspect of not cheating fair is using your environment.  Take a look around at the area you are in right now.  What items do you see that you could defend yourself or someone else with?  What could become a barrier between you and your attacker?  What could you strike or stab an attacker with?  Is there anything that you could throw on an attacker that could cause pain, like hot coffee?  If you are at home, how quickly could you get to a firearm should you have picked one out for home defense?  Knowing your environment is a security awareness concept that you should be practicing constantly.

Now, let's talk about biting and eye gouging.  How many of you have ever been bitten real hard?  I have and it was one of my children.  She was 18 months old and she sunk her teeth into my neck the first time I started to dunk her into a pool.  She bit me so hard that my girlfriend had to physically pry open her jaws to get her off of me.  I remember two distinct things: first, it was some of the worst pain I had ever experienced and secondly, it didn't bleed.  I know some people are scared that by biting another person, they may contract some kind of disease.  Yes, that is a valid concern.  But if you’re dead because you wouldn't cheat fair, does it really matter?  Also, if the attacker intends the attack to be a sexual assault, what are you most likely to get a disease from, the completed sexual assault or some blood from a bite?  When you bite, go for a major muscle area like the chest, shoulders, side of the neck, back and thighs.  Try to stay away from appendages such as fingers, ears, nose, or genitalia.  These areas, while being fairly sensitive, will separate from the body with enough force, which helps the attacker with the pain factor, and these areas have the tendency to bleed a lot more.  Why take the chance with blood if we don't have to?

As soon as you mention sticking your thumbs in someone’s eyes, you see people’s demeanor change.  It’s a gross thought that cause many to squirm.  When my wife was in her self defense class and the instructors mentioned eye gouges, she looked at me and said that she couldn’t think of any reason why she would do something like that to another person.  I quickly asked her what she would do if someone suddenly grabbed our son from her.  I immediate saw a physical change in her demeanor.  Her eyebrows furled, her shoulders raised and her fists clenched.  She just visualized a reason she absolutely would stick her thumb in someone’s eye.  A good account of someone doing this very thing in combat can be found in the book, “House to House”, which is about the Battle of Fallujah.

Weaponry Options

No discussion about interpersonal combat would be complete without talking about weapons.  I will focus this part on weapons that are used for close quarters combat.  These weapons will be classified as blunt, chemical sprays, edged, electric discharge, firearms (mainly handguns) and improvised weapons.

When I think of blunt weapons, I think of any object that can be swung fast and hard as to cause blunt force trauma.  Some common blunt weapons are ball bats, sticks, telescoping batons (ASP, Monodnock), kubotans and hammers.  If you carry or intend to carry a blunt weapon for personal defense, you need to practice regularly by striking fairly stiff objects such as a heavy bag or rolled-up carpet.  Many people are surprised how a blunt weapon feels in their hands when striking a hard object.  I know of several instances of where officers have had their batons go flying out of their hands when they have struck a suspect.

Chemical sprays seem to be a choice that many people, especially females, make.  Actually many chemical spray products are specifically marketed to women as self-defense tool.  Chemical sprays have their place but some things to keep in mind is that it is not instantly incapacitating to an attacker, you will likely be contaminated as well and you need to practice regularly to know your particular spray device works.  Several manufacturers sell an inert spray that can be used for training or you can buy a second can of the same kind so you can practice. 

Use of edged weapons is an area that I know I am weak in, and I continue to learn more about. It is also an area filled with many options, misconceptions and a plethora of experts.  Edged weapons are scary to face and personally, when empty-handed, I would rather be facing a pistol or other weapon in close quarters than an edged weapon.  When learning about edged weapons, make sure that sure that your training includes defense against and the offensive use of the weapon.  Spyderco and other manufactures make training knives that look just like a regular one but that don’t have a sharpened blade.  The first time that I trained with this knife it was intimidating to me because it looked so real.  Another training option I recommend is to take several pieces of heavy duty cardboard and glue them one on top of the other until it’s about 4-5” thick.  Now you can slash and stab the cardboard several times.  This will help you to decide if the knife you have chosen will work with the impact of combat.  Once you find one that can hold up to this kind of training and not tear your hand up, keep that one for training and buy a second one for everyday carry.

In my humble opinion, electric discharge devices such as stun guns, Tasers, and similar devices are the most over-hyped and misunderstood self-defense options out there.  Based on my experience and research, these devices don’t always work when needed and, especially stun guns don’t instantly incapacitate an attacker.  Add to the fact that these devices are battery and technologically-dependant, and I believe that they are very impractical, especially in a post-WTSHTF world.

For many people, the firearms option is an absolute must.  If you choose this option then you need to constantly train with it. Shooting is a very perishable skill.  Also, shooting a few rounds into a paper bull’s eye target is not training, it just helps you to get familiar with the gun. Try to shoot human silhouette or similar paper targets.  Shooting competitions, especially the IDPA, are good ways to work on your skills under the stress of competition.  Your training should include force-on-force scenario training with Airsoft, Simunitions, and/or paint ball.  Airsoft guns are a great basic training options for children and others that are not familiar with and/or are initially scared of guns.  You can work on grip, sight picture, sight alignment, trigger control, basic marksmanship and gun safety. While nothing replaces shooting real ammo, air-soft is a great option that I use myself at a mere fraction of the cost of shooting real ammo and I can do it in my home. Just make sure to get a CO2 or green gas operated gun and not a spring operated one that has to be cocked with every round.  You need to train different retention options with your gun, whether the gun is deployed or still in the holster.  You also need to train to shoot one handed with either hand and train to use your flashlight and your gun together for low-light situations.

I kind of glossed over improvised weapons in the “don’t cheat fair” section.  Use your environment to your advantage.  I have seen this done in both bar fights and by women who have defended themselves from domestic assaults.  I have seen people who have been hit with pool sticks, bottles, mugs, pool balls, 2x4s, chairs, and cooking pans.  In many cases the injuries were quite severe.  Some other options are pens, vehicles, screwdrivers, garden implements and household brooms or mops.  One great option is a small fire extinguisher that you keep in your home and/or vehicle.  These are fairly small and lightweight so they can be wielded as an effective impact weapon plus if you spray it an attackers face, it is hard for them to breath and see.  An option I hear touted a lot is putting a key between your fingers and strike that way.  For this to work, you must hit a vital area, which is very hard to do in a dynamic situation.  Plus, I believe that the impact will cause significant enough damage to your hand at impact that they keys will leave your hand and cause severe injury to you.  To see so for yourself, fold a towel over several times and put it over a small pillow that’s lying in the floor.  Now, slowly strike downwards into the towel/pillow combination.  I think you will find that just a soft strike like this can sting your hand.  A good option for your keys is keep a small chain or lanyard on it, like the ones that you see people wear around their necks.  In a self-defense situation, grab the lanyard and swing your keys in a circular motion towards the attacker like a mid-evil flail.  When choosing a lanyard or similar option, get one with as much metal as possible, especially the clip that attaches to the keys.  You want something that will hold up to the impact that will result from a strike.

A common theme for weapons is that you need to regularly train with whatever options you choose.  Consistent, quality training is must that will pay off when you need it.  Do a lot of research and networking to find competent instructors and training venues.  While nothing can equal the stress of actual combat, choose training options/venues that put you under stress, which helps prepare you for combat.  This is why force-on-force training is so critical.

Your Mind: Your Greatest Resource

Preparing your mind and your body for the realities of combat should be a constant journey, not a destination.  For average citizen, seriously hurting or killing another person is not a normal behavior and I thank God for this.  This is why we are able to have a somewhat “civilized “ society.

The military and law enforcement know that this is true and that’s why measures are taken in training to help soldiers and police officers overcome this normal resistance.  Humanoid 3-D targets, human-shaped steel or paper targets, video simulators and force-on-force training are just some of the methods used to help remove hesitation/resistance.

Along with previous mentioned training methods, you should be thinking of scenarios in your mind and how you would react to them.  We do this in law enforcement all of the time.  But, it is no longer referred to as “if/when” thinking.  This method is now referred to as “when this happens, this is what I will do”.  When you leave “if” in the equation, there seems to be room for doubt and many people are still surprised when a violent event occurs.  By using the “when/what” method of preparation, you are more likely to be surprised when a violent event doesn’t occur.

Also, you need to be thinking outside the box.  An example of such thinking is feigning compliance should someone get the drop on you and has a temporary advantage over you.  This is especially true in sexual assault situations.  Feigning compliance may cause the offender to lower his guard enough for you to launch a counter attack or it may cause him to take his eye off you long enough for you to grab an improvised weapon.  Another example in the area of sexual assault is that the attacker may get close enough for you to suddenly bite or scream into his ear.  How many of you have picked up a child who suddenly screams just about the time you get the child to your face level? It scares the heck out of you.  Screaming when in close to an attacker is a great force multiplier.

There are some great training books that will help you to prepare for the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of being involved in combat.  First and foremost on the list is the Bible.  One Biblical example is David, who was a great warrior who served God and protected His people.  The books "On Combat" , "On Killing" and “Sharpening the Warriors Edge ” are also great resources.

But, even with everything I have said previously, I believe that the strength to defend yourself or a loved shouldn’t come from just you because the human is a created being and thus has limitations.  The strength that you should rely on comes from God and the hope we have in His Son, Jesus, as our risen Lord and Savior.  As a Christian, I pray for God’s strength and protection on a regular basis and I hope that you do too.

I pray that this article is useful and informative to you.  I pray for our nation and our leaders.  I also pray for God’s blessing and protection for each of you and your families.

One of the SurvivalBlog concepts that has fascinated (and haunted) me since learning of it has been the concept of the Golden Horde: the exodus of the unprepared-but-entitled softies, fleeing the cities in search of food, water and shelter after a SHTF scenario.

I say "haunted" because - out of necessity - my retreat lies in the middle of a triangle formed by three medium-size cities, so I've long suspected that I would be in prime Golden Horde country.

In order to understand what such an exodus might actually look like, I decided to make some assumptions about travel behavior and then superimpose those assumptions onto a map. I wanted to model something that I could actually prepare and plan for, rather than just worry about an invisible foe.

My nephew runs an instant oil change shop, and several months ago - when I first started reading SurvivalBlog - I asked him to begin noting the average amount of gasoline customers had in their tank when they brought them in.

This isn't in any way scientific; I just wanted some sort of information to base my assumptions on. After about two months of watching, my nephew reported that the average is somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 tank of gas.

I had assumed, if graphed out, it would probably be a bell-curve with a few people having a full tank and a few people running on fumes, and everyone else hovering somewhere around the middle. So I was a bit surprised that the average seemed to be quite a bit below half. I told this to a gas station owner friend of mine, and he said he wasn't surprised. He said nowadays people tend to just buy gas as needed (usually in even dollar amounts), and rarely "fill it up".

For my assumptions, I will say that most people have a gas tank that's 40% full.

As for average gas tank size on the road today, I basically had to trust the web for this one, and most of what I read put the average at between 14 and 16 gallons. I decided to split the difference and say 15 gallons.

A 15 gallon tank that is 40% full contains 6 gallons.

According to web sites that track such things, the average highway MPG of the 20 most common new vehicles on the road is 22 MPG. This does not account for all the used vehicles on the road. Also, I couldn't find average city MPG figures, but judging by the typical relationship between highway and city MPG, I'm assuming that the stop-and-start driving of a mass evacuation would be even worse than typical city driving, and would certainly offer no more than 18 MPG. I think 18 MPG would be generous.

Furthermore, after a genuine SHTF scenario, gas stations will be sold out within minutes, so for most people, additional gasoline above and beyond what they already have in their cars will simply not be an option. Which means that - to my surprise - after TSHTF, the majority of drivers fleeing the city will travel not much more than 108 miles before having to proceed on foot.

Based on disasters like Katrina and others, I assume at least 20% of the city will stay behind to try to make a go of it, and 80% will flee. Who knows if that will be accurate. Perhaps as many as half will stay behind, but for me, I used 80% as a kind of worst-case assumption.

Now, I had to formulate some route assumptions. These will vary from city to city, and you'll have to arrive at your own assumptions about this, but in my particular area, here is what I've come up with: 70% of people will (try to) use interstates, 25% will use state highways and 5% will use rural and secondary roads.

I've further assumed that the city will disperse in all directions. In other words, there is no compass point that will be particularly favored. This may not be true everywhere, but in my area, there's no real or perceived advantage to heading East vs. West for example.

I've been informally observing interstate traffic patterns in my area (something I'd advise you to do as well) and about 1 in 17 cars (say 6%) make a turn from the road they're on to any given side road or exit.

In other words, if you start at some random point with 1,000 cars, at the next off-ramp, about 60 will exit, leaving 940 on the road. At the next exit, 56 cars will get off or turn and 884 cars will continue on the interstate.

In normal day-to-day life, cars also get on the interstate at these places too, but I suspect that in a genuine SHTF scenario, people who are already out of the city will be less somewhat less likely to join the extremely slow, Golden Horde on the interstates.

Again, trying to get accurate figures for these things is obviously extremely difficult, and who knows if these figures will hold after SHTF, but by erring on the high side of things, you can at least have something to plan for.

So armed with these assumptions, let's now apply them to a roadmap.

Go to Google Maps and pick the major city that's nearest your location, and multiple the population by .8 (or whatever your assumption is on how many people will be bugging out).

Now, distribute those people along all the outbound interstates, state highways and secondary roads according to your assumptions. (In my case, 70% interstate, 25% state highways, 5% secondary.)

Then follow each route that heads in your general direction, losing 6% at each exit, or intersection and continuing with this until you get about 110-120 miles. These are the locations where people are going to congregate and decide what to do next.

From here, these groups will disperse in a more scattered way (since they're on foot), with perhaps 20% choosing to take exits and side roads, a few even going cross-country in search of something to eat.

Be sure to repeat this for other nearby cities, and when you're finished, you should have a (very) rough idea of the number of hungry people who may be descending upon your area. The accuracy of these figures will be entirely dependent on the accuracy of your assumptions, but hopefully it will aid in your planning.

Prior to doing this experiment, I had a vague uneasiness about this issue, but now I know that there will be about 2,200 refugees that will pass directly in front of my property gate on foot, with some percentage of those probably daring to walk the mile-long driveway to my house. I'm still uneasy about the situation, but at least now it feels like a manageable problem instead of an unknown bogeyman. - Rex J.

Reader "Straycat" says: Don't count on 911, and don't be one of the Sheeple: Man Dies During Storm When 911 Calls Go Unheeded

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Devon yachtsman jailed for 'piracy protection' shotgun
. (Thanks to Dane S. for the link.)

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Reader Steve K. found this: Backpack Hydroelectric Plant Gives You 500 Watts on the Move

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Bob G. sent this humorous short video clip of BHO addressing a US Navy audience. (BTW, more often that not, Navy "Corpsmen" end up with a surviving patient, rather than a corpse. So they get my heartfelt praise!)

"To none will we sell, to none deny or delay, right or justice." - The Magna Carta, Clause 40, 1215

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The news from Chile keeps getting worse. I'm now of the opinion that there wasn't more extensive looting in Haiti simply because there were very few things of value available to loot. The country is that poor--desperately poor. But in Chile, there is some loot worth stealing, and my-oh-my has the thin veneer of civility been torn away! SurvivalBlog reader Bob G. sent this from The Daily Mail: Security concerns spread as Chile quake death toll rises. Bob's comment: "Do you remember the docu-drama After Armageddon? The comment by one the people in that show was that "we are nine meals from anarchy." Well, this interview subject [in Chile] was only six meals way."

Josh sent me these news links: Chile Battles Lawlessness, Desperation After Massive Earthquake (VOA), Hundreds of looters detained in Chile (ABC Australia), and Chile earthquake news: Soldiers struggle to quell looting, president imposes curfew (New York Daily News). This was Josh's summary comment: "Fire up the printing presses for aid money...inflation be damned! Even if it isn't TEOTWAWKI, when the SHTF, we can expect 90% of the population to be ill-prepared, hungry mobs, looting, curfews, martial law, etc. It would be prudent to keep a low profile!"


Today we present another entry for Round 27 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round will include:

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 27 ends on March 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.

Dear Jim,
I'm very sorry to hear about your recent loss! God Bless!

Thank you for all the work you put into your survival blog to get the much needed word out! It is much appreciated! My wife and I live in the mountains of Western Oregon and the following is one of the defensive strategies we use that may be of interest to your readers.

A good defense from mobs for a couple living alone is bee hives. A hive of bees tipped over will attack anything that moves within 50' to 100' of the hive day or night. (maybe further) We set hives along the driveway into our house and inside of the deer fence around our house which encloses about a half acre.

At night you can extend your bees attack area by placing electric lights some distance from the hives. The bees will always fly toward the light. The lights should be individual bulbs which can be turned on to illuminate a certain area. Only light up the area where the bees are needed.

Bees are very good for blockading roads or driveways. They are very persistent. You will need bee equipment to avoid being stung: bee suit, hat, veil, gloves and boots. And you will need the bee suit to put the hives back together.

Bee hives can easily be tipped over with a rope or wire attached around the top, if they are close enough to the house or defensive position. For longer distances a piece of heavy sheet metal can be leaned against a hive and shot into with a high powered rifle. (Being careful not to destroy the hive boxes.)

Bees normally begin flying when the temperature reaches 54 degrees F. At lower temperatures they soon drop dead. Bees will fly in any temperature if their hive is tipped over but the lower the degrees the more bees you will lose. In a survival situation bees will provide you with honey and a good non-lethal defense.

You will need to study beekeeping which is very interesting. Bees can live and forage in almost any environment. The bees will also pollinate your survival garden and orchard and increase yields by 30 to 50%.

Every survivalist should be a beekeeper... for the honey and for defense... and for the fun of it. - Pete in Oregon


Having been a small municipal water system operator in Upstate New York, I have some experience with basic water treatment. The link provided in " Chris in West Virginia's" article is sound in regard to using Sodium dichloro-s-triazinetrione. One would want to use a test kit to measure residual chlorine in the water and maintain the level between 0.3 and 1ppm after initial treatment. To treat water, chlorine is added until the level is at least 0.5ppm after an one hour contact time. It is critical that the chlorine have time to interact with the water and some method of stirring the water during treatment must be employed. Once the water has had time to interact with the chlorine, there will be levels of combined chlorine in the form of chlorides and "free" residual chlorine. Presence of residual chlorine indicates that the water is saturated enough with chlorine that any microbes/contaminants present will continue to be oxidized.

Having clean, filtered water to work with is important as bacteria and other nasties can adhere to microscopic particles in the water making chlorine treatment difficult. There is not a particular specification for the size of particles; however, a bit of research into water treatment will reveal that municipal authorities typically use a flocculant to cause microscopic particles to congeal and sink to the bottom of a clarification basin. They use this method to quickly clarify water. In a survival situation, a good gravity filter for dirty water could be employed prior to chlorination to ensure that most, if not all contaminants are removed from the water. After treatment, the water should be kept still and siphoned from the containing vessel to ensure that any remaining contaminants settle to the bottom of the container. Also, the chlorine level of the water should be maintained at all times to ensure continuous protection.

These methods of water treatment are for surface water as well water typically does not support bacteria growth if the well is in continuous use; however, during a survival situation, treatment of well water is recommended. The need to filter well water prior to treatment is not as important unless debris is drawn up from the well or the well is open to surface contamination.

It is worth mentioning that it is very difficult to remove giardia cysts from contaminated water. To be sure that these parasites are removed, the water must be boiled to kill the cysts or filtered to less than 1micron to remove the cysts. Chlorine does not have any significant effect on giardia cysts. Giardia can be present in the fecal matter of dogs, cats, beavers, cows, and sheep. Infection with giardia causes "beaver fever" in humans.

Also, one should note that ingesting water with chlorine levels above 4ppm can do damage to the digestive system up to the point of death depending on the level of chlorine ingested; therefore it is absolutely critical to be able to test the level of chlorine present in the water before drinking!!

Anyone curious about studying water treatment more in depth can visit for some very good self-training and reference materials on all levels of water treatment.

Regards, - Drew in Thailand


Dear James,

I have only just rediscovered your blog last night and I am now soaking it up like a sponge.

I’d like to be the “someone with a chemistry degree” to respond to our brother in Christ, Chris’ information regarding use of pool chemicals for drinking water treatment, notably Sodium dichloro-s-triazinetrione. I am a degree qualified chemical engineer who has spent most of the past 15 years in selling industrial chemicals including for water treatment. One of my recent activities was packaging pool and spa chemicals.

The chemical name sodium dichloro-s-triazinetrione is also known as isocyanuric acid. Details of this chemical may be found at this link and at Wikipedia.

It is particularly effective as a water treatment chemical for sterilizing purposes due to its high effective chlorine % (typically >50%) and ease of use due to its powdered or tablet form; when compared with other chlorine sterilizing agents such as sodium or calcium hypochlorite. The other advantage of the powdered isocyanuric acid is that it remains stable over long periods of time provided that the powder is not exposed to moisture or excessive heat. The liquid hypochlorite solutions will lose their activity over any long period of time even when stored in closed drums simply by converting back to chlorine gas and caustic soda. Powdered calcium hypochlorite does not have this same problem provided it is also protected from heat, light and moisture. Liquid sodium hypochlorite (e.g. Clorox) has only 5.7% available chlorine, so more is required per gallon of water treated.

The toxicity of the isocyanuric acid is not 100% known though it is generally thought to be of low toxicity. This link gives details of toxicity studies completed to date .

Having packaged the product in its finely powdered form, one thing is clear – do not breath the dust as it will cause all kinds of acute (short term, intense) respiratory (breathing) problems. It literally feels like the air is being sucked out of your lungs.

There’s no doubt that the isocyanuric acid is more effective compared to hypochlorite in terms of gallons of water treated per pound of chemical used. I also know that the isocyanuric acid is way more expensive per pound to purchase – at least at the wholesale level. My preference would be to stick with hypochlorite since it’s a little safer to handle, more readily available (not every town has a pool and spa supply but almost every town has a supplier of Clorox brand bleach) and more well researched in terms of toxicity. I’m also concerned whenever I see chemical compounds that have “cyan” and “uric” as part of the chemical structure. Under the right conditions this chemical could break down to form hydrogen cyanide (HCN) as a decomposition product – toxic to humans as well as microbes in water.

It should also be noted that any individual or entity manufacturing or repackaging chemicals for sterilization or disinfection purposes must be registered with the [US] Federal EPA as a pesticide manufacturer. Retail pool and spa outlets would be exempt from this requirement as they are retailing products that should already comply with this. Consumers should inspect all packaging to look for a federal EPA registration number for any product that has a claim of disinfection. My bottle of Clorox clearly shows the ingredients and also the EPA Reg No 5813-50.

Your readers should also consider hydrogen peroxide as a disinfectant, since its decomposition products are water and oxygen, though it also has problems with long term storage as it will decompose when exposed to moisture, heat and light. Other methods for disinfecting water include chlorine dioxide and ozone (small equipment systems can be purchased to make these and directly inject into the water being treated). Ozone injection is often used in bottled water filling operations for rinsing bottles and also for the water itself, as it decomposes back into oxygen in a few hours and adds no taste to the water once the ozone has depleted. Ozone can’t be stored and you need electricity (probably > 1,500 watts) to run an ozone generator.

As a general rule, I always prefer from a survival perspective to look at disinfection techniques that can be done using physical processes, rather than chemical processes. Filtration (Berkey and activated carbon), boiling and other physical processes can be used to treat water for drinking purposes and use of purification tablets as an additional safety precaution. No chemical disinfection process has shown itself to be 100% effective against all microbes and your readers should consider multiple processes for water treatment prior to use of chemicals.

As another rule of thumb, be careful when buying disinfecting chemicals from pool and spa outlets. The label ingredients are only required to declare the active ingredients that are responsible for the disinfection. You will often see “inert ingredients” listed on the label, sometimes not even these are listed. Typically in powdered and liquid pool chemicals there may be other ingredients included (such as anti-caking agents, stabilizers, surfactants) many of which you don’t want in your drinking water but are included in pool chemicals to enhance the performance in its intended application.

Sincerely, - Graham T.

Hi Jim,
In Section 2 – Packing, Blake in Arkansas talks about using 1 gallon Zip-Loc bags for packing items. This is an excellent idea which I have used over the years in my sea-kayaking camping trips. However, another way of evacuating the air from these bags is to use a straw.

Method: With bag ready for closure, insert a straw into the Zip-Loc bag. Zip the bag up to the straw. “Press” out as much air as possible (not smash). Then, use the straw to suck out the remaining air from the bag. Remove straw, and zip closed. Voila! A human powered vacuum bag sealer. Regards, - Douglas in Connecticut


I've just found your site and love it! In response to the "humping a pack" letters, the best defense is a good offense regarding blisters.

I have very wide feet with a narrow heel so finding boots that fit well is a challenge. On long hunting trips and hikes, duct tape is my best friend.

Since most of my blister issues are on my heels/ankles the first thing I do is shave them. Yes shave them. Nothing like pulling tape off a sensitive area and giving yourself a Brazilian wax at the same time. Ouch! To protect my heel first I apply an 8" strip of duct tape along the back of my heel, under my foot and extending up over the Achilles tendon. Be sure to stretch your toes/foot as far up towards your shin as possible when applying to get the best possible fit. Your foot has to be absolutely dry to get the tape to stick and a quick wipe with rubbing alcohol helps remove skin oils.

Then apply three pieces of tape approximately 4-5" long horizontally across the back of my heel and up my ankle. Keep the tape as smooth as you can and avoid any lumps or flaps. Cutting the tape where it bunches and laying the flaps down flat works well to avoid "grinders" or humps of tape that will rub a hole in your foot in short order.

After you finish armoring your soft spots with good duct tape, give your feet a healthy shot of unscented antiperspirant. Layer on a thin polypro sock (or other wicking synthetic) then a pair of quality wool socks. Cheap socks are the #2 cause of blisters behind poor fitting boots. I am frugal to say the least but will happily shell out $9 for 1 pair of quality wool socks with good elastic. To remove the tape, pull it off immediately after you finish your hike when your feet are still good and steamy, or wait until you get out of the shower and the adhesive is warm and soft. - David in TN.


Hi Mr. Rawles,

The initial article, as well as the feedback letters, are all great and provide a lot of material for the individual to take into consideration. People with special needs, or medical conditions such as diabetes, should certainly pay attention to blisters or other problems. As [SurvivalBlog reader] S.H. in Georgia pointed out, "stop and prevent" is your best course of action.

Our daughter (18 years old, adopted at age 4) is very small in stature, less than 5 feet, and of muscular build. She runs, bikes, shoots, plays softball and basketball, has run cross country, and is generally very active and has a unbelievable sense of balance. She's also missing the lower part of one leg and uses a below-knee prosthesis full time. Her walking gait is so smooth you'd never know anything was 'wrong'. The below-knee prosthesis she uses is very high tech with a brightly colored lightweight carbon-fiber socket, silicone liner, and dynamic response foot.
Basically, she gets around about as well as is possible- but a long hike
carrying a load will still cause problems.

This is where planning ahead really comes into play. Do you know where you will be going or what types of terrain you'll be encountering? Have you practiced a trial run with your weighted pack and seen how it impacts your residual limb?
Our daughter's limb loss is due to amniotic banding, thus her 'little leg' has a odd shape plus numerous surgical scars. Even with a very well fitted, custom-built, socket and silicon liner she gets chaffed along the sides and in the back of the knee after being on the trail for a long period of time.

Unfortunately, we have discovered that there is no hard and fast answer to these sorts of problems. There are approaches that help for amputees:
-Stop every now and then, remove the prosthesis and liner and dry everything out as well as let the leg cool off. A sweaty liner slides around and can bunch up and cause more problems. A sweaty residual limb and liner can allow the prosthesis to move out of position causing not only more chaffing but a increased danger of trips and falls. When running cross country in hot weather,
our daughter often had problems keeping the leg in it's proper position.
-Keep a spare, dry, liner and/or prosthetic socks that you can change into.
-Amputees know that the size of the residual limb changes during the day. Fluid pools in the limb at night when the prosthesis is off, and is pushed back out when the limb is on. Thus the fit is slightly tighter in the morning than in the afternoon or evening. Keeping a supply of different thickness socks on hand to act as shims between the limb and the socket can help keep the proper fit.
-There are different balms that can help reduce chaffing. My wife and daughter actually cooked up a type of lip balm that works great for chaffing. We always try to have some on hand.

As if your pack isn't big enough already: Don't forget the spare leg, emergency repair materials, and crutches when you bug out. Our daughter has broken a socket wide open playing basketball before- what if we were bugging out and that happened? We repaired the socket with fiberglass casting tape, and subsequently do not leave home with having a roll or two in the vehicle's
medical kit.

The previous leg might not fit very well anymore, but if it'll work at all it's worth having as a spare. Do the feet attach the same way? Are the pylon tubes and adapters the same so you can cannibalize a old prosthesis for spare part if needed? Are you carrying the proper size wrenches to tighten loose screws? If there are usable parts with common attachment fittings on old limbs, feet for example, it is probably worth your time to throw at least one in the repair kit.

I know there are many aspects to this I haven't even touched. Limb loss is so individualized there really aren't many 'catch all' techniques. Thus, it is really important that the amputee know their bodies, their prostheses, and individual needs before hand and prepare to the best of your abilities. You don't prepare for a marathon by putting on running shoes and warming up for the
first time at the starting line- you work on technique and equipment over time and work towards the the goal. Whether you have special needs or not, it's exactly the same with bugging out. There's no need for anyone to be left out or viewed as a burden and left behind. Yes, there is more planning involved, but our daughter has taught us that it's all part of the adventure. The Lord created all of us with the same heart and soul and everyone has something to contribute. Even in the hardest of
times, that's something I hope we never forget. - Jeff B. in Louisiana

Garnet sent this one: Gun fans cheer Starbucks' policy

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In case you missed it in the theater, the DVD of Roland Emmerich's 2012 mega-disaster movie is scheduled to be released today.

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Ready Made Resources has launched a semi-annual 25% off sale on Mountain House freeze dried foods in #10 cans. They are offering free shipping on full case lots. These foods are delicious, compact, and have a 30 year shelf life. There is now less than two weeks left for the sale, so order soon!

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Teresa F. sent us this: Utah Legislature: Rainwater could be legally yours

"Paper money was born with the seed of self-destruction within. This is why the Founding Fathers mandated that only gold and silver coin can pass as legal tender; and no bills of credit (promissory notes: i.e. Federal Reserve Notes). Our Constitution is quite clear on this issue." - Douglas V. Gnazzo

Monday, March 1, 2010

I've received a lot of e-mails from readers about the big Richter 8.8 earthquake in Chile, and and the fears of subsequent tsunamis. The death toll is now above 700, and climbing. Here is a quote: "Chilean state television reported that 209 inmates had escaped from a prison in the city of Chillan after a fire broke out, while the president-elect, Sebastien Pinera, reported seeing some looting while flying over damaged areas. He vowed 'to fight with maximum energy looting attempts that I saw with my own eyes'."

Much like the recent earthquake Haiti, it illustrates that the world can occasionally be dangerous, and that it prudent to prepare for societal disruptions. If you aren't ready to grab your G.O.O.D. bag and be out the door in less than a minute---regardless of where you live--then you've done your family a disservice.

In a previous post you mentioned that Chilean 1893 Mauser rifles were not safe to fire [standard commercially-loaded] .308 [Winchester] because of excessive chamber pressure, but that these were safe to fire 7.62x51mm NATO. In your Antique Firearms FAQ you reference antique Mausers that have been converted to .308 [Winchester]. Can you recommend some antique Mausers that are safe to re-barrel for .308? I ask because I've had a difficult time finding 7.62x51mm hunting rounds.
Thanks, - Dylan F.

JWR Replies: The rifles that I used for those .308 Winchester,. 6.5 x 55, and .257 Roberts conversions were Turkish contract Oberndorf Mauser Model 1893s, that had been deep re-heat treated, back when they were arsenal converted to 8x57 in the 1930s. That brought them up to higher pressure specifications. Around 1994, I bought 60 barreled actions or rifles with cracked stocks--most with dark bores--for between $29 and $59 each. The Turkish contract M1893 Mauser action is still one of the strongest and least expensive of the legally antique bolt actions available. They can often still be had for under $125 each. (Yes, I know that Model 1898s are much stronger, but just try to find a pre-production "German Army Trials" Model 1898 action that is of pre-1899 manufacture. Those are practically "Unobtainium.")

The Turkish contract Model 1893s were marked with 1930s dates when they were re-arsenalized, but the ATF letter (with PDFs linked in my Pre-1899 Cartridge Guns FAQ ) confirms that they are still confirms that they are still antique even if rebarreled and/or sporterized.

The least expensive way to make 7.62x51mm NATO hunting rounds is to pull the bullets of military surplus rounds with a collet-type bullet puller, and re-seat spire point soft nose bullets of identical bullet weight, with a seating die. (Typically, these are around 150 grain bullets. Use a powder scale to weigh both the originals and their replacements, to be sure.) This "Mexican Match" process does not cause any significant change in chamber pressure, and will yield practical hunting loads. It is a process that even a novice handloader can handle.

Hello Mr. Rawles,
Blake's recent post on the fine art of "humping a pack" is much appreciated. I'm a bit of a backpacker, but have never been subjected to the rigors of "forced humping" for Uncle Sam. I've found that I rapidly become an unhappy camper when my pack weight exceeds 45 pounds. Thanks go to Blake for his service to our Country!

The magic (but painful) blister remedy to which he referred is Tincture of Benzoin (sometimes abbreviated Tr. Benzoin). This mixture of specific tree resins in alcohol, and it's cousin, Compound Tincture of Benzoin, are used in health care as a skin protectant when applying adhesive devices to skin. It has the added benefit of enhancing the tape's adherence, so the bandage stays on longer. Some in the hiking community have used it as Blake described, when the blister has already formed ,and you have no choice but to keep going (other hardcore folks use duct tape. I guess that's okay, until removal time!) As far as I can tell, there is little science available to confirm the "skin toughening" property that some attribute to Tr. Benzoin. Most probably it kills, or anesthetizes the superficial sensory nerves responsible for pain generation.

If you don't have a drill sergeant breathing down your neck, the best way, by far, to deal with blisters on the trail is prevention. As soon as you feel a hot spot, sit down, take off the boot and sock(s), rub your feet, let them dry out, find the hot spot, and plaster it with moleskin or one of the transparent bandages like New Skin (Tegaderm will also work). It is also critically important to stop and remove any pebble or debris in your boot as soon as you feel it. I've pushed it just a few more hundred yards, only to be sorry when a blister or abrasion occurs.

Once a blister has formed (again, if you have the luxury of tending to it without being shot or court-martialed) your primary focus should be prevention of infection. Try to protect the skin over the blister - as long as it's intact, bacteria have no access to the denuded dermis. A donut of moleskin covered with an adhesive bandage may help take the pressure off and preserve the skin. If there's just too much fluid in the blister to stand, clean the blister with an antiseptic (you do have alcohol pads or povidone iodine in your med kit, don't you?), insert a hypodermic needle near the edge (but still into the dead skin), and aspirate the fluid. Re-clean the blister and cover with a sterile bandage. Perhaps a little antibiotic ointment would help prevent infection and reduce friction.

At any rate, use your head. If you have the freedom to stop and prevent, then stop and prevent. If not, do the best you can, but always trying to prevent infection. One other thing that Blake said that bears repeating - sock liners are great! I like the thin, white ones that you can buy cheap at outdoor stores. When used with good hiking socks, the friction is reduced dramatically. They're so light you can take multiple pairs and stretch the smelly expiration date of your hiking socks, while keeping something clean against your feet. They're also easy to wash and dry quickly. I highly recommend them!

One more thought about on-the-trail foot care: be sure to trim (and file smooth) your toenails before a backpacking trip! I forgot this once, and a toenail attacked the adjacent toe! Trimming toenails with a survival knife is an adventure, at best! I now remember this prep duty, and have allocated 1 oz. in my pack for nail clippers (yes, I know I'm a weenie).

Best to all, and, as always, thank you for all you do Mr. Rawles. - Pharmacist S.H. in Georgia


This is a well written article full of excellent information – my thanks to Blake!

I have never been in the military but have been backpacking most of my life. I agree that moleskin is a waste of time and will do more harm than good. But one item I always carry in my first aid kit is a Second Skin Moist Burn Pad. These not only work well on burns but blisters as well. To apply, first clean the area; cut out a section about twice as large as the blister; peel the covering off one side; apply the peeled side to the blister; then carefully tape it on. The pads are sterile, so they are fine on open blisters as well. Just make sure you put the remaining portion in a Ziploc and squeeze out the air so that it doesn’t dry out.

Blisters can incapacitate you quickly and lead to some nasty infections, so treat those feet with respect! Make sure you put on those boots and that pack and hit the trail at least once a week so that if the SHTF, your equipment and your body are ready. - C.W.B.


Mr. Rawles,

I wanted to make a few comments on this Blake's Art of Humping a Pack. Having been in Special Forces I have spent more than enough time ‘humping’. Most things I read here I can only agree with, now I feel I have something to add.

Taking care of your feet, Blake is right on. Changing socks often is critical. Dry feet are happy feet. I have found problems with cotton socks, I recommend wool or synthetic. Always powder your feet when putting your socks on. If you feel a hot spot, stop and fix it before it becomes a blister. My worst blister came from a short ruck march when I didn’t want to stop and fix what I knew was becoming a blister.

With regards to Tincture of Benzoin, it really does work! If you are going add this to your kit be advised that most tincture of benzoin that you find at your local drug store has an aloe mix and does not work. You need to go to a medical supply store to get the pure tincture of benzoin! I have found that if you put a hole on one side of the blister, inject the tincture from the other side, until all the pus is flushed out, and then push the skin down to stick it together. "Painful" is an understatement but it does work. If you don’t have tincture of benzoin, another solution is to use needle and white thread (colored threads will cause infection) and run it through your blister leaving the thread in your blister. The thread will act as a wick to allow the pus to drain. With this method there is a higher risk of infection but if you have to get somewhere and you feet aren’t cooperating, this will work.

Waterproof bags in your pack is critical. Water is weight, the only water you want in your pack is the water you can drink. I have seen soldiers come out of a creek with their pack weighing much more than when they went in. Painful and unnecessary.

I recommend layering your equipment. I would always carry a survival kit (built out of a M16 Ammo Bandolier, under my shirt which contained some food, a water packet, small candle and matches, space blanket, simple medical kit, small knife and flashlight. Then I had my pistol belt with butt pack which is your fighting load which includes food, water, ammo, a couple pairs of socks and whatever basic cold weather gear might be needed. Last comes the pack with everything else; more water, more food, more socks, more ammo, … . That way if you have to dump your gear you can still get by.

Lastly, as much as good physical conditioning can allow you to carry a lot of gear the Marines did a study of the soldiers load and determined that 4/5ths of 1/3rd of your body weight is the optimum load for sustained load carrying. (The rule of thumb for pack animals I understand to be 1/3rd of body weight). So optimum load for a 200 lb male comes out to 53.3 lbs. Again, this is for optimum sustained load carrying.

Keep up the good work. - Steve T.

James Wesley;
I've only recently started reading your site. I'm enjoying both the current posts and the archives.

The article on humping a pack is consistent with my own experience. I'd like to add two points for your consideration.

First, the issue of how to carry a handgun when carrying a large pack. You get over 30 pounds pretty quickly when loading a pack. Any weight that high demands a good hip belt. You then carry most of the weight on your hips, not your shoulders. With both a hip belt and shoulder straps, all of the usual places to carry a hand gun are occupied. Neither belt holsters nor shoulder holsters work. You can do a thigh rig if you don't mind open carry. I never liked them. I much prefer concealed carry wherever legal. The best solution is a thing called a Safepacker, which you can find at The Wilderness web site. It was designed and made by a guy who needed to carry a large handgun on mountain search and rescue operations. It pads and conceals most any size self defense handgun you might carry. I hang mine on my hip belt. Looks just like any other part of the pack, is quick to access, is very secure, lasts a long time. You can hang them most anywhere on the pack. They come in both left and right hand models and have room for spare ammo and a nice velcro pocket for paper or ID. One tip - go with a larger size if in doubt which one to get. In most jurisdictions, carry in a Safepacker is regarded as concealed, not open carry.

Second a large pack makes you an unsteady bipod. In anything but swamp, a walking stick or two is a great tool. It makes you more stable, is handy for discouraging dogs and snakes, allows you to rig an effective bipod to steady a rifle or use as a monopod for the rifle if you give some thought to the handle end of the thing, gives you a handy way to poke at anything suspect, and gets your arms working a bit, defeating the dreaded "sausage fingers" that happens when you hump a pack with your arms dangling down for a few hours. The only down side is that you cannot do this if conditions demand you carry a rifle or shotgun at the ready. You can take your pick of many available walking sticks marketed for backpackers. Look for light weight. You don't need or want ones with built in spring shock absorbers. Too noisy. You do want to be able to pick your "basket" so you can get a big one if needed to stop from sinking deeply into snow or mud. You can get ones that telescope into small sizes so you can strap them to your pack. You can get ultra light carbon fiber ones that are maybe too fragile for most folks to use. You can get a rubber tip to use the sticks on pavement. You can also forgo commercial ones in favor of something more stout you can make yourself out of wood or metal - makes for a better weapon, but ounces count, so I like light ones. When I first saw walking sticks, I scorned them as trash for urban tree huggers. Then, I sprained an ankle and learned to love the things. On ice or scree, they can save your life. - JEJ


Greetings Jim,
I hope this Email finds you well. I would like to respond to the art of "Humping a pack". Some regard me as a bit of an expert, I have been backpacking the Northwest Cascades and the Pacific Crest trail for the last 20 years, including climbing a few of the more well known Mountains and have week-long excursions down to a science in terms of needs and weight. One of the misconceptions that people have with regards to backpacking is focusing on the military as a general guideline for equipment. Things like ALICE packs, MREs and camelback hydration systems work fine when you are backed up by [logistical] support, But these Items will only prevent you from truly being totally sufficient in a time when there is no support.

High quality internal frame backpacks with compression straps and gear are designed specifically for the task of self sufficiency and comfort, this includes climbing mountains, rock scrambles, and traversing uneven ground and doing this while hauling enough food for a week, plus gear.

MREs - Fine for a few days, but if you won't be around a food source for a week or longer, Lightweight Mountain House is a much better choice you can haul a weeks worth of food, and perhaps more if you are willing to eat late, and small, with their pro-paks.

Camelbak hydration systems - Guesswork is your only option here as to how much water is left, because you cannot see your consumption level because it is buried in your pack. Not a good thing when water is a primary concern. a better choice is two common water bottles, one packed inside at center-pack close to your back, the other rides topside for convenience.

Clothing, and this includes Socks - Clothes with any cotton are a giant no-no. We have a couple of sayings in the backpacking world, "Wool is worse" and "Cotton Kills!" all clothing should be synthetic, and wool blends only if you have to, with wool being around 35 to 40%. you only need two pair of socks: one to wear while the other is drying, synthetics dry fast, cotton absorbs, takes a long time to dry and clings to skin. Wool takes forever to dry. The objectives are to wick the moisture away from your skin, evaporation, and fast drying. Backpacking outlets carry clothing that is designed to keep you warm/cool, and wick moisture, soaking wet clothes can dry in minutes.

Moleskin - Only works in conjunction with rubbing alcohol, the area must be thoroughly free from oils and dirt before applying. if done correctly Moleskin can last for up to four days with a single application. if you have been fitted with right boots, moleskin probably wont be needed

Foot powder - We avoid it, as it only makes a mess of your feet, socks, and boots. The right socks make foot powder un necessary. Clip your toe nails short to avoid problems with the added weight and to save your socks from holes.

Boots - Spend the money. (Do web searches on Asolo and Vasque,) All feet may be different, but if you have to backpack across the country, or just across town, in the rain, snow, or blistering heat, these two companies make the boots that can do it.

Packing - Heavy items go center-pack against your back.

Packing enough gear goes hand in hand with packing the right gear, and knowing how to use what you pack. If you do it properly, some Items can serve more then one purpose, and you can be self sufficient for seven days or longer with as little as a 38 pound pack, this includes tent and sleeping bag, food, clothes, with rainwear, water filtration, stove. - Larry

JDD sent this: Greenspan: Worst Financial Crisis Ever, Including the Great Depression.

Blunt words: Bernanke delivers warning on U.S. debt. (Thanks to A. H. in Tucson for the link.)

GG suggested this, over at Seeking Alpha: Something Very Strange Is Happening With Treasuries

Kevin S. sent us two interesting map links: Bank Failure Map and Interactive Job Loss Map

NPR reports: Solar Storms Could Be Earth's Next Katrina. (Kudos for R.T.K. for sending the link.)

   o o o

The folks at Medical Corps are holding another one of their excellent three-day Combat/Field Medicine School courses, April 30th through May 2nd. The class will be held near Caldwell, Ohio at the Ohio State University Extension building. Contact: Chuck Fenwick at 740-783-8009 for details.

   o o o

Former New Orleans Detective Pleads Guilty in Katrina Shooting Cover-up. That investigation is just scratching the surface. I'm not sure if all of the bodies that were buried after Hurricane Katrina were checked for bullet holes or blunt trauma. There might have been quite a few "shoot shovel, and shut up" incidents.

"Whenever the legislators endeavor to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience." - John Locke (1690)

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