June 2010 Archives

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Today, June 30th, is the last day of the Mountain House sale, offered by Ready Made Resources. Ordering any multiple of six can cases (even if mixed cases) gets you 25% off and free shipping. Partial cases are also 25% off, but $17 is charged for shipping.


Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 29 ends on July 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.

You've heard it before, "Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it."  That principle can be, and should be, applied to every facet of your survival preparations.  It applies to the possession of material items such as food, weapons and first aid.  It applies to your skills such as how you find your food, use your weapons and administer first aid. It applies to your physical abilities such as endurance, speed and agility.  It applies to your state of mind such as courage, honor and ingenuity.  And, of course, it applies to your actions such as being pro-active, studying and employing measures to safeguard you and your loved ones.
One could argue that being fully prepared requires quite an investment.  You can spend thousands and thousands of dollars on all the equipment and supplies needed to insure that your existence continues, for as long as feasible, relatively just as comfortably in a social collapse, military attack, natural disaster or grid-down situation as it does today (depending, of course, on your geographical location).  The list of necessary items goes on and on.  What is necessary?  Some might argue that aside from having a cave and a club, nothing else is needed.  After all, man did survive that way for quite a long time, right?  Sure, when wild food was plentiful, the earth's waters were cleaner, their adversaries also had only clubs and they wiped their asses with, well, who knows.  Others might argue you need many year's worth of everything you use today and a back-up for every device that could break.  And consider all the great gadgets and products out there to help make every single facet of survival that much easier.  You could fill a warehouse with things you "need" but do you already have some of them without knowing it?

Certainly not everyone has the means of acquiring everything they want or even what they would need.  Many people, even if they wanted to, can’t even afford to stock up on food.  If you fall into the category most of us find ourselves in, be determined but not dismayed if your preparedness budget is chronicled into the 22nd Century.  After all, primitive man survived and pioneers did pretty well with just a wagon full of supplies.  They all learned to forage, adapt and invent.  Although this is modern day with many technical differences and new challenges for one wanting to survive and/or live off the land, there are just as many advantages.
I remember when I was working as a carpenter.  When I wanted to heat up part of my lunch, something you'd put in a microwave or oven, and the sun was shining, I'd go get our black wheelbarrow with the high-density polyethylene (HDPE) tub, put my lunch in it, turn it under the sun, and set a single-pane window or large piece of glass over the top.  It would heat up to 200 degrees inside the wheelbarrow in minutes and then usually hovered around 250.  It made a great oven and could also be adapted as a dehydrator.  Today they sell solar ovens constructed with the same materials.  But you don't necessarily have to buy one to have one.  Again, if you can forage, adapt, and invent, you can increase the longevity of your survival. 

When it comes to preparedness, implement intelligent priorities and, God-forbid, if you find yourself ducking from Schumer that hit, embrace your challenges and learn to improvise.  We dispose of a wealth of materials in ordinary garbage.  Glass containers laid flat and stacked into a south-facing mud or adobe mortared wall could make for great passive-solar heat in a cabin.  Metal cans can be flared at one end and then stacked together to build a flue pipe.  Add the flue pipe to a steel barrel and you've got a wood stove.  Two large garbage bags, one inside the other, stuffed between with balls of old newspapers can make a sleeping bag for your child.  Plastics can be used to collect rain water.  Here's a more technical idea I've done successfully for heating a tent;  long scrap metals such as metal studs or wire rope, laid horizontally and continuous, can be buried on one end in a shallow bed while left exposed on the other end.  If the exposed end is applied a heat source such as from a Dakota fire, the other end will radiate heat in the same manner as hydronic or electric in-floor heating.  You can pitch a tent over the shallow bed and keep warm in the middle of winter without worry of asphyxiation.  The depth of burial is dependant upon the materials used and their spacing for the transfer of heat.  I laid five 10' long, 20-gauge 4" metal studs 10" on center, buried 3" under the dirt.  If you like warm toes, keep them on the end closer to the fire.  And it takes a few hours to heat the ground, much like pitching a tent over buried coals and rocks from a campfire.

Next example, crime is growing.  You are worried that someone might break into your root cellar in the middle of the night and steal all the cans of yams and tuna you just put down there.  You never did purchase that security system or the remote motion sensors you’ve always wanted.   But you’ve got a pile of pop cans and some fishing line.  You could set up a trip wire around the perimeter.  As a minimum you'd want to lay out a triangle with one pop can set upright and weighted with a rock at each corner.  Drop a couple of pebbles or small bells from the Christmas-ornaments box into each can.  Tie the fishing line to the pop-top of each can at each corner of the perimeter and you have an alarm system.  Even better, you could use a small pulley at each corner, tied to a stake, tree or bush.  Still attach the cans somewhere on the trip line, preferably in a concealed location.  Attach one end, the dead end, of the line to something fixed or solid.  Attach the other end to an anchored trigger-switch on a batter-powered flood lamp.  Then if someone trips the line, you'll get clamor and illumination.  Or you could build a completely concealed and remote alarm by utilizing a pressure plate buried flush with the ground surface.  I've done this by using two boards, a hinge, two copper pennies, a spring, a loop system of low-voltage 12 gauge wire, and a 9V battery all tied into a doorbell.  I will spare you the electrical details in order to keep this brief.  If you really wanted to, you can create your own security system. 

The point I am trying to make is the importance of your resources and the value of ingenuity.  Mankind is intelligent enough to put human beings on the moon and bring them back again (or at least smart enough at the time to get the rest of the world to believe it).  At the least, if we are smart enough to build a space station, we can certainly figure out how to adapt in a survival situation to obtain water, food, good hygiene, medical care, shelter, heat and security.  Virtually every item around you can be adapted for multiple purposes.  So if you're on a tight budget, I'd start out with the necessities like dried or canned goods, garden seeds, matches and ferrocerium fire starters, and other items where the benefits greatly outweigh the cost, like first aid supplies.  And don't forget items like 100% stearine candles and soap.  Sure you can use animal fat to make candles and soap but it is very time consuming and yet cheap to purchase.  In a survival situation, your time would be extremely valuable.  So stock up on the inexpensive stuff and save the big purchases for items like firearms. 

My final mention goes to references.  As you know, right now you can search the internet and easily learn about almost anything you want.  Search for information that would be valuable if times get tough and print it out.  Seal and store your references.  I label mine and put them in binders.  For example I recently embarked in a short geology lesson in order to be able to identify flintstone in my area.  I was guessing that flint could make a reasonable barter item.  I found that high carbon steel such as an automobile spring and quartz or jasper are a great substitute for common flint and steel.  And that if using flint and steel (not to be confused with ferrocerium igniters) to start a fire it is extremely beneficial to use charcloth.  I printed out information on how to make charcloth and put it in my files.  Then I printed out references to help me build a hydroelectric generator from items I have around the house.  Even if you don't have time to read it now or work with it now, get your references printed out while they are readily available.  If the grid went down tomorrow, think of all the information lost that was at your fingertips.  My comfort level and confidence in my own preparedness increases every time I add references to my library, which I try to do several times a week.  Knowledge increases potential ingenuity exponentially.  The more you learn the more you can learn, adapt, invent, and be better able to help yourself and those around you and survive on a poor man's budget.  Chance favors those who prepare. 

Just sending a note to remind your readers that the time to plan and plant a fall vegetable garden is right around the corner. Check out the USDA Hardiness Zone Maps for your area to find out what generally grows well in your area. Even better, check with your local Land Grant College Extension office for specific varieties as well as gardening tips and techniques for your area. In Oklahoma, mine is the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service. See their home page for the Fact Sheets. For example, see the Fact Sheet for Fall Gardening.

Here is a quote from that Fact Sheet - "Some of the best quality garden vegetables in Oklahoma are produced and harvested during the fall season when warm, sunny days are followed by cool, humid nights. Under these climatic conditions, plant soil metabolism is low; therefore, more of the food manufactured by the plant becomes a high-quality vegetable product."

BTW, an excellent source for open-pollinated gardening seeds is Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company. I do not have any financial interest in the company but I am a well satisfied customer.

God bless you for all you do, - Tom B. in Oklahoma


Thanks for keeping up Survival Blog. It's been an invaluable resource.
Just a note on the referenced article based on long experience in the lighting industry
and in growing stuff here in the Frozen North

Save some money by not falling for the "Full Spectrum" lamp nonsense. 6500K refers to the apparent whiteness of the light output when compared to a THEORETICAL chunk of black iron heated to 6500 Degrees Kelvin. This is called Colour Temperature. It has no bearing on plant growth. It is an attempt to quantify a subjective individual perception.
"Full Spectrum" is a meaningless term that conveys no information other than the light source emits light in the full range of the visible spectrum. Almost all lamps do this especially fluorescent lamps.

A more appropriate measure is "Colour Rendering Index" (CRI). This is a measure of the apparent rendition of colours from a standard chart called the "Munsel Scale" They show colour samples to people within normal colour vision range and record the results. If a majority of subjects report seeing colours within the acceptable range, the CRI rating is applied. Roughly. 81% reporting of "accurate" color judgment gives a CRI of 85. Thus a Lamp whose catalogue number ends in 735 has a Colour Rendering Index of 70 and a Colour temperature of 3,500 Degrees Kelvin. This is useful when lighting my wife's make up mirror but useless in the growing area.

A few years ago I worked with a physician who was treating Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) with Light Therapy. After I got him Fixtures for about one tenth of the cost of the usual advertised scam units I asked him if he wanted the fancy "Full Spectrum " lamps to go with them He laughed at me. Then he told me that the cheap .99 cent ones did the same job as the $12 ones.

The advertised "Full Spectrum" Lamps almost never reference the CRI and are touted on the basis of the higher Colour Temperatures being somehow better. This is all part of the scam.

The real determination of the effectiveness of artificial light in home winter growing is the amount and positioning of light & the photo period. (How much light for how long)
Just get around 100 Foot Candles on the growing plants for the same length of light that they would get in a normal summer growing period
Note that a foot Candle is one "Lumen" per foot or the light of one candle. You can buy a meter to read this level at most photography supplies
They are usually available in an inexpensive model that does very well. The growing of an indoor garden is not Rocket Science.

Use the cheap lamps (light bulbs) & spend the extra money on ammo. With Regards, - George, Casa Frejole


Thanks for your blog and what you do. I'm not just a 10 Cent Challenger, but also a fan your books, "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It", "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation", "Patriots", and your earlier writings before this. I'm a retired [U.S. Army] 11B [infantryman] mostly active duty, but did tours in Somalia and Kuwait among other. I appreciate the content and comments of your blog.

In "The Winter Salad" the author gave some great information and alternatives, and your OPSEC comments are valid, one small thing was perhaps omitted and that is sprouts, this may be a good alternative as well as sprouts do not require as much energy input to get good nutrition. Granted there are some precautions to take, some plants are okay to eat of the seed or fruit, but not leaves or roots and the like, Consulting your local county agricultural agent may be a good place to start.

I mention this more for a "grid down" situation where one has a static location and is not in movement or the like.

Also the addition of multivitamins with minerals may be a good addition to a nutrition issue.

Thanks again for an excellent blog. - T. in the Pacific Northwest

T. in South Florida wrote an excellent article on hurricane preps. As a life-long Floridian, hurricane preparation was my introduction to the preparedness mindset. Working on hurricane preps, and dealing with the aftermath of three hurricanes in 2004, facilitated my progression to preparing for other worst-case scenarios. There are two things that I would add to T.'s hurricane readiness plan:

Every home should have a hard-wired telephone as opposed to the wireless portable kind. Even though electricity goes out, a hard-wired phone will often continue to work. During the 2004 hurricanes, many people had phone service, but didn't realize it because their wireless phone didn't have power. This applies to other power outage situations; and, remember to turn the ringer on.

Also for a roof repair kit, rolls of heavy gauge plastic are relatively cheap and easy to store, along with a few dozen wood furring strips and some roofing nails. A large roof can be quickly covered with these materials, but these materials may be hard to come by after the storm. In August 2004, Hurricane Charlie removed about 40% of the shingles from our roof. I was able to obtain materials and get them on our roof shortly after the storm; my expedient repairs withstood two subsequent storms (Hurricane Frances and Hurricane Jeanne) that struck in the following six weeks. (I spent a lot of time on the roof that year.) Due to labor and materials shortages after the storms, it was April 2005 (eight months later) when we were finally able to schedule a contractor to fully repair the roof. All the best, - John in Central Florida

K. in Montana mentioned this humorous piece: You might be married to Burt [Gummer] if......

   o o o

15 Facts About China That Will Blow Your Mind. (Our thanks to Ed in Kentucky for the link.)

   o o o

F.G. sent this: Utah gun permit business booming - in other states

   o o o

John M. flagged this: FDA issues Draft Guidance to reduce antibiotic use in food-producing animals

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." - John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834–1902)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 29 ends on July 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 reading SurvivalBlog have some amount of food stored. We are aware of the problems with the most commonly stored foods as well: sufficient nutrition, a large enough assortment to provide variety, and a good enough taste to keep people eating. I'm going to offer another alternative here to help provide these three things in the dead of winter while sparing our stockpiled food.

If you have a window that receives a decent amount of sunlight (south facing is best in the northern hemisphere) then you may well be able to provide entire fresh salads or ingredients for other dishes throughout the winter. Sufficient light in winter can be difficult to achieve if there is a grid down situation, but several options can be used to increase the amount of light your indoor plants receive.

For those with their own ongoing alternative energy source, full spectrum compact fluorescent light bulbs might be something to add to your stocking list. A single 15 watt that has a rating of 6500K (full sunlight) can keep several plants going for a minimal amount of electricity. I prefer the 23 Watt Full Spectrum 6500K bulbs, since I keep an entire desktop (about 12 sq ft) of plants going through the winter and I can illuminate the entire thing well enough to give the additional lighting requirements with just two of the 23 6500K bulbs.

For those with no electrical options in a SHTF situation where the grid is down, reflectors can make up a good portion of the additional light needed and keep some plants yielding food. The easiest reflector to use for this purpose is an "L" shaped piece of cardboard. Stiffen it so it will keep its shape. Cover the side facing the plants with aluminum foil, or paint it white, or use whatever process you prefer that will cause it to reflect light and heat back to the plants. Position your reflectors several inches behind (and some beside) the plants so that they catch any additional sunlight that would normally filter into the room behind the window. This process will keep the plants yielding through most of the winter, and provide enough light to keep them alive, if not yielding, through the couple of weeks to either side of the winter solstice.

The plants should normally be kept as close to the window as possible. In cold snaps (or hot snaps, we get those in my location in the middle of winter) you will want to check the temperature at the front edge of the plants to ensure that they are neither too cold, nor too hot. The range of temperatures you are looking for depends on the plant itself. Most greens such as lettuce, chard, and kale will be perfectly happy in temperatures down to the mid-to-high 30s (Fahrenheit) but start to wilt at 85F and above, whereas tomatoes and radishes would prefer the temperature to be above 45F and as high as 90F. With the light coming through the window, the plants should be moved away from the glass if the temperature right inside the window reaches 90F. The glass can sometimes focus hot-spots on portions of plants that are too close to it.

In all cases the pots used for growing your winter salad should have good drainage holes in the bottom. I do my indoor planting using "Mel's Mix" from Mel Bartholomew's All New Square Foot Gardening book. It is essentially a blend of 1/3 peat moss to 1/3 vermiculite (or perlite if you can't find vermiculite) to 1/3 blended compost. Your plants will need feeding over the winter also; for this I typically use either worm castings or Complete Organic Fertilizer (COF) as described in Steve Solomon's Gardening When It Counts (a book I highly recommend for anyone doing a decent-sized garden). I'll typically feed the plants one or the other of these when their yield starts dropping. If you have a garden in good shape, soil from it can be used as the potting medium since some of the ingredients for Mel's mix will be difficult to obtain in a SHTF situation.

On to specifics for individual plant types:

Lettuce (and other greens):
Recommended types of lettuce for indoor winter salad growing include most of the leaf lettuces; head lettuces are not as useful in this application as the "cut and come again" leaf lettuces. I prefer to go with the more cold hardy lettuces as I worry about them less. Leaf lettuce should be grown in an 8" (1 gallon) or larger pot. This size pot can take 4-6 lettuce plants. I use oak leaf lettuce as my standard indoor growing lettuce.

Kale is another good "green" for the winter salad. Depending on your location you may even be able to overwinter your Kale outside and not need to have it inside. It will grow well in a 6" (2-½ quart) or larger container, single plant per pot.

Swiss Chard is another option for a "green" easily grown indoors. It should be grown in an 8" (1 gallon) or larger container, single plant per pot.

Tomatoes are a little rough to grow indoors in the winter and take more care than most other plants. It can be done with a good yield though if you ensure they have sufficient light, food, moisture, and space. Growing tomatoes indoors gives the highest yield if you use an indeterminate tomato, preferably a cherry tomato. The tomato should be planted in a 5 to 10 gallon pot. It should have its own trellis (in my case I use bamboo, 14 gauge fencing wire, and duct tape along with a nylon mesh to build the trellis attached to the 5 gallon bucket I use to grow it in, leaning the top end of the angled trellis with one pole on a wall and the second on the window) and as much of the trellis as possible should be in direct sunlight.

If you have an indeterminate tomato in your garden that you are fond of, you can use it as a starter for your indoor tomato. Well before the first frost, clip some of the larger branches from the bottom of your plant (a 4"- 6" length works well). Then remove all but the top leaf or two from the branches. Place the branches in a cup of water along with rooting medium, or a small measure of ground willow bark, or just in plain water if the other two are not available. Either place your container of water on a sunny windowsill or outside in full sun. After several days (up to a week) you should see roots growing out of the portion of the branches in the water. When the roots are visible, take the branch and plant it into your pot. This will save you quite some time over starting seeds from scratch. Also if you want that type of tomato in your garden the next year, you can use the same procedure again in the spring with your indoor plant as your donor to give your tomatoes a head start on their spring growth.

I've gotten about a pint of cherry tomatoes a week from this method although I've had others tell me they get a pint every other day. Perhaps using the 10 gallon bucket (instead of the 5 gallon I use) makes the difference. Tomatoes will require more additional food (worm castings, COF, or your choice of fertilizers) than anything else I detail here but I consider them worth the extra effort.

If you are willing to continue to care for your indoor tomato through the summer, it can be used for a second winter. Tomatoes will yield well for at least two years although in most places the weather is such that outdoors it can only be grown as an annual.

One note on tomato selection. You do not want the most vigorous growing types for this method,they tend to overwhelm the space they are in and need a lot more tending than some of the less vigorous types. My personal preference for this method is the "Tiny Tim" tomato.

Curly Cress (aka peppergrass):
Curly cress is the wonder green, I am giving it its own entry because it is not a full-sized green and is not picky at all about potting requirements. It has a very tangy taste to it though, almost peppery, and grows incredibly fast. Curly Cress can be planted in as little as an inch of soil and still yield usable cress. It germinates in 2-4 days and is ready for use immediately although if you wait for 10 days there is significantly more to each piece. I currently grow a variety called Cressida (Lepidium sativum) which takes only 10 days to maturity. Fair warning, if you allow the cress to continue past the 10 days it gets more and more peppery/tangy and can develop a decent bite to it.

Radishes are fairly quick to grow and do not need a great deal of space. I'd recommend a 10" pot for them (approx 2 gallons), or larger, but you can grow a lot of them in it. Sow them thickly and then thin them to 1-2 inches apart. Remember that the radish tops are also edible with a little preparation. I use Chery Belle radishes that come to maturity in about 22 days. There are several other varieties recommended for indoor growing but I've not tried them.

In the winter, spinach can be grown either indoors or, if you are in hardiness zone 4 or higher, outdoors under a cold frame. The most cold hardy spinach types, under a cold frame, will continue slow growth throughout the winter, taking advantage of whatever sun is available. To grow spinach indoors you will want an 8" pot (1 gallon), or larger. You can grow multiple spinach plants in this pot, spaced at about 3" apart. You'll be able to tell if your spinach plants are not getting enough light as they will grow long and thin (leggy) as opposed to developing their normal leaf set if they have inadequate light. Most varieties of spinach are fairly cold hardy so temperatures down to freezing are okay although going below freezing will slow its growth noticeably. I normally use either Bloomsdale long standing or Noble Spinach for my indoor growing.

One note on Spinach. You'll want to keep the temperature below 90 degrees or your spinach is liable to bolt, especially if you have artificial light on it to extend its light hours.

Carrots need a 10" pot (approx 2 gallon), or larger, and it needs to be fairly deep as the root hairs of the carrot go far deeper than the part of the root we harvest and eat. Use only smaller size carrots for growing indoors. I use Little Finger carrots.

Side note: Carrots can also, if you have a garden and grow them there, be stored in the ground you grew them in. Before the first frost, scatter hay or some other mulch thickly over the carrots still in the ground. If you use this method, you can go and pull carrots any time the ground isn't frozen over in the winter and have them just as fresh as picking them in the normal growing season.

Scallions can be grown in an 8" pot (approx 1 gallon), or larger, spaced at approximately 2" apart. My preferred indoor scallion is "Evergreen Hardy White" although most types will work fine for indoor growing.

Indoor peppers are grown similar to tomatoes. They require a 5-10 gallon pot or bucket. Some will require trellising (depending on pepper type). The bonus to growing peppers indoors is that peppers are a perennial plant with a lifespan of up to 15 productive years, significantly more for some varieties. Similar to tomatoes, most peppers are only used as annuals in cooler areas but if you choose to continue to care for it indoors, productivity and flavor quality of the pepper will increase dramatically after about 4-5 years. I would recommend jalapenos for an indoor hot pepper (they do quite well indoors) or whatever your favorite type is for a bell/sweet pepper. Peppers do not like the cold at all so this is one to watch in the cold snaps.

A variety of herbs are easily grown indoors for the winter. Many herbs prefer partial sun and these are the ones you'll want to choose from. The best herb choice for a winter salad, in my opinion, is garlic chives. Which, fortunately, is one that prefers partial sun. I'd recommend a 6" (approx ½ gallon) pot for most types of herbs.

There are a number of other plants which will do quite well for a winter salad. You can look up your favorites online with a search for "container growing [plant name]".

Now that we've got our salad ingredients, here is a relatively easy method of creating a dressing for it in an extended crash situation.

Italian Dressing:
Italian dressing is a combination of oil, vinegar, and spices.

1/2 cup oil (olive oil is most common but any vegetable or sunflower oil will work as well)
1/4 cup vinegar
Spices to taste

Oil is one of the things that many preppers store. If not, it can be pressed from a variety of plants that can be grown at home. This process is too extensive to add in to this article though so we'll assume you have oil.

Vinegar you may or may not have stored but it can be made at home with only a little difficulty. Once again detailing the process is a bit much for this article but it can be looked up online.

Common spices used in Italian dressing are: Black pepper, onions (or scallions in this case), bell peppers, oregano, parsley, and salt. You can add other spices to your taste, or remove some of those listed.

To make your dressing, simply dice the solid spices, mix all ingredients together to taste, stir or shake well, and serve. If you allow the freshly mixed dressing to steep for at least an hour, the flavors of the spices will seep into the oil/vinegar mix.

With a variety of the items listed here you can easily make a nutritious, and tasty, salad frequently during the winter. It will save your stored goods, be very nutritious for you, and certainly liven up your meals if you've been eating only stored foods. Many of the plants you grow can also be used to spice up meals by mixing them in to the dishes created from your stored foods as well.

Fair warning: eating salads fresh from the ground, or your container-grown plants, can be addictive and I state that as primarily a carnivore. I started growing indoors over the winter to try to keep having fresh salad materials available throughout the year. There is no comparison to the equivalent produce you might purchase at a grocery store. - Tom from Colorado

JWR Replies: Use discretion when setting up indoor "grow lights". Since these lights are also commonly used by illicit loco weed growers, your actions could be misconstrued and trigger a police investigation, or even worse, a violent home invasion robbery by criminals intent on robbing you of your "crop".

I've often written in SurvivalBlog about the over-dependence of modern societies on technology. Our level of dependence on high technology is large, and steadily growing.

Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle summed up over-dependence on technology in their novel Lucifer's Hammer:

"Whole nations depends on technology. Stop the wheels for two days and you'd have riots. No place is more than two meals from a revolution. Think of Los Angeles or New York with no electricity. Or a longer view, fertilizer plants stop. Or a longer view yet, no new technology for ten years. What happens to our standard of living? Yet the damned fools won't pay ten minutes' attention a day to science and technology. How many people know what they're doing? Where do these carpets come from? The clothes you're wearing? What do carburetors do? Where do sesame seeds come from? Do you know? Does one voter out of thirty? They won't spend ten minutes a day thinking about the technology that keeps them alive."

So what happens when the grid goes down? Thirty or forty years ago, if the power grids collapsed, there could still be considerable commerce transacted. But today? I think not. It would be la fin du monde tel que nous le connaissons. So much of our daily commerce is tied to electronic cash registers, ATMs, computerized inventory control systems, point-of-purchase credit card transactions, debit cards, and the Internet that I have doubts that there would be an easy transition in reverting to "the old way of doing business." Furthermore, many retail stores in the US and Canada are now housed in almost windowless buildings constructed with tilt-up slab architecture. So even if businesses wanted to stay open in the midst of a power failure, they couldn't, because there wouldn't be enough daylight to see the merchandise.

Technological Complexity

Part of our dependence on technology is tied to the increasing complexity of the technologies themselves. With each passing year, the complexity of high tech systems increases. Some of this complexity contributes to redundancy and robustness, but most of it does not. Do you really need an electric clothes dryer with microprocessors? Or a toaster with a microprocessor? Don't laugh, many of them are now made that way. As an illustration, when I recently bought a slightly used pickup truck , I felt obliged to buy an extended warranty, but only because it was a 2009 model with an absurd number of "bells and whistles." It seems that there are no longer "stripped down" models available. Almost all the new rigs come with power windows and so many electronic gadgets that the owner's manual is nearly an inch thick! There is so much complexity built into this vehicle, that the likelihood of a failure of some sort (electronic, or mechanical) seems very likely. This a is a far cry from my fondly-remembered 1968 Ford Bronco. There wasn't much that could go wrong with it, and the few items that did fail were all owner serviceable.

The miniaturization of microcircuits has changed considerably in the past 30 years. The typical gate sizes of microcircuits has been reduced from two or three microns, to far less than one micron. The smaller the gate, the easier it is for a stray voltage to "weld" it shut. This has made microchips increasingly vulnerable to static electricity, electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and solar flares.

Many systems in a variety of industries have been developed that are completely dependent on computer controls. There is no reversion available for "manual backup." Without the CPUs, you have a dead system.

Logistical Complexity

As I've discussed before in SurvivalBlog, we now live in a world with very long chains of supply and just in time (kanban) supply chain management. Meanwhile, container ship docks are now being transitioned to computerized management.

Financial Complexity

Derivatives. That sums it up in just one word.

Medical Care Complexity

One of the blessings of the modern age of science is life extension through medical technology. But it has also become one of our vulnerabilities. If the grids go down, so will millions of Americans with chronic illnesses. Here are some examples: Millions of people now depend upon medical oxygen--both in clinical environments and at home. At least 11,000,000 people in the US and Canada have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) -- the catch-all term now used for chronic emphysema and bronchitis. Most of them are on medical oxygen, and some of them 24/7. More than 100,000 patients get heart pacemakers implanted each year in the United States. Nearly 24,000,000 people in the United States have diabetes, many of whom require regular insulin injections. More than 500,000 people in the U.S. are classified as having End-stage Renal Disease (ESRD). The number of newly diagnosed cases has roughly doubled in the past 10 years and the same has happened in Canada. Without regular kidney dialysis (or a kidney transplant), many of them would die within a few months. There are also millions of Americans that have severe sleep apnea, who use CPAP machines. For a small percentage of them, without a CPAP machine running every night, they would have complications and die. There are about 500,000 Americans that have had various "ostomy" procedures like urostomy, colostomy and iliostomy. Many of these patients are on very restricted diets, and many need specialized appliances. And of course there are also many millions of Americans that are dependent on daily doses of various medications.

In summary, any large societal disruption that interrupts the power grid and/or the supply infrastructure would result in a large die-off of patients with chronic illnesses.


We've built ourselves an enormous complexity trap. And for most of us, the severity of this won't become apparent until after the grids go down.

Dear Mr. Rawles:
I know...I know...I know...it is bad for you. But I do enjoy my two cigarettes a day. I am also tired of reading apocalyptic books and watching movies in that genre where everyone is running around hunting down tobacco. So, last year I bought 250 tobacco seeds via the Internet. A fine blend of Virginia Gold for $5.00.

The seeds arrived. Each seed was the same size as a grain of salt. Thinking it would never grow I planted them in a corner of my greenhouse in late February. They sprouted.

In May I had about 75 mature tobacco plants all over my yard. They are beautiful, six feet to seven feet tall with huge broad leaves. Spectacular tubular pink flower heads full of ripe seeds.

Now my garage is loaded with curing leaves. I learned everything I need to know [about tobacco growing] from YouTube.com. I haven't smoked any of it yet, I think it takes a year or so to cure. - Barbara B. in Southern California

Yishai sent us this (by way of Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit): Foreign Central Banks Going for the Gold

RBS tells clients to prepare for 'monster' money-printing by the Federal Reserve. Here is a quote: "We cannot stress enough how strongly we believe that a cliff-edge may be around the corner, for the global banking system (particularly in Europe) and for the global economy. Think the unthinkable." (Thanks to Brian B. for the link.)

S.M. sent this: Biden: We Can't Recover all the Jobs Lost

Items from The Economatrix:

Derivatives Blow for Wall Street Banks Under Historic US Reforms. Translation: The congresscritters don't understand derivatives, and the legislation will do little to prevent a massive derivatives implosion that is likely in this decade.

The Next Catastrophic Bubble to Break Will be Private Sector Debt.

Extend And Pretend: A Matter of National Security

Scrambling for Votes on Wall Street Reform

The Market Goes Under Full Anesthesia

NY Fed Probes Wall Street Exposure to BP

Double Dip? Or Did The Great Recession Never End?

Lee C. sent us a link to a BBC radio segment: Parts of residential Detroit have gone feral. Derelict crumbling houses, human gangs, dog gangs...

   o o o

Reader R.B.S. wrote to mention that Michael Yon has expanded his article series on Gobar Gas. (Home biogas production.)

   o o o

Now that's a mess! (A NASA photo taken back on day 67 of the Deepwater Horizon spill.)

   o o o

Brian B. was the first of several readers to send this: High Court’s Big Ruling For Gun Rights. That was a narrow 5-4 decision. Let's pray that we maintain access to all of our liberty boxes! Oh, do you want to see some hilarious lies about the decision? See the statement from the Violence Policy Center. I nearly had a laugh attack when I saw them mention: "America's fading firearms industry..." The last time I checked, gun and ammunition makers could barely keep up with demand. The thing that is "fading" these days is enthusiasm for civilian disarmament.

"In 1868, our nation made a promise to the McDonald family; they and their descendants would henceforth be American citizens, and with American citizenship came the guarantee enshrined in our Constitution that no State could make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of American citizenship. The rights so guaranteed were not trivial. The Civil War was not fought because States were attacking people on the high seas or blocking access to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The rights secured by the Fourteenth Amendment were understood to include the fundamental rights honored by any free government..." - Attorney Alan Gura, in oral arguments, McDonald v. Chicago (decided June 28, 2010)

Monday, June 28, 2010

A reminder that the Mountain House sale, offered by Ready Made Resources ends in just two days, on June 30th. Ordering any multiple of six can cases (even if mixed cases) gets you 25% off and free shipping. Partial cases are also 25% off, but $17 is charged for shipping.


Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 29 ends on July 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 have lived in Florida all of my life. I was born here, went to school here, and my chosen profession is here. I have bugged in through every hit and near miss in my 30+ years of existence from North Florida to South Florida. I was never scared of hurricanes as a child because my parents made sure we were prepared. I do not have fear of a hurricanes now because I understand what can happen and what I need to do for myself and my family. Don't mistake lack of fear for lack of respect. A hurricane is an immense and powerful storm that will leave devastation, destruction, and death in its path.

If you are planning on riding out a hurricane you need to assess your personal situation. Is your home hurricane hardened, do you live in an area that is prone to floods with even a normal thunder shower, at what predicted category of hurricane do you stay or evacuate? My personal situation is high and dry during even the worst rain storms and torrential down pours, I am not in the storm surge zone and my home has been upgraded to the latest Miami-Dade County Building Code. I am comfortable staying and riding out a hurricane up to and including a Category 3, anything larger and I evacuate. If you decide to evacuate, this is when to activate your G.O.O.D. plan. I will focus on bugging in.

First and foremost monitor the activity throughout the hurricane season but don't ever fall into the hype of your local television station. Make your own formed opinions from all of the available information on the Television, Radio, and Internet. Deciphering all of this information can be overwhelming, but it is in your best interest to understand it.

The Week Before Hurricane Season
In the beginning of the season I go through my hurricane supply list (below the article) and make sure I haven't raided any of the items for projects. I also go through my pantry and restock (I do this quarterly). The government says you should have at least three days of nonperishable food and water. I would suggest a minimum of a week. I have substantially more than a week stored for my family's use. Downed trees, debris, and power poles can make roads impassable for much longer than the 3 days. Also make a video or picture documentation of all of your possessions including interior and exterior of your home. Know where your power, water, and gas shutoffs are and how to shut them off if you need to. I also slather silicon grease that I use for my SCUBA mask on all fridge and freezer seals (there may be a form of this at your hardware store). This saves you money during the rest of the year as well. Check with your family, friends, and neighbors to decide on how you will communicate before, during, and after the storm.

I check my generator. I get it running and put a load on it. I run a resistive item like a coffee pot or toaster and a high wattage device like a microwave for 10-15 minutes (I have an old working microwave in the shed). After this time, I turn off the fuel valve and run it dry. I store a minimal amount of gas in the generator tank with Sta-Bil.

Three Days Before a Storm Hits
I go fill my gas cans and top off my vehicles. I never let any of my vehicles go below a half tank. You can fill them earlier than three days just make sure you have enough Sta-Bil for all of the gas you plan to store. Don't wait till the day before or even the day of a hit to get fuel. Either nothing will be open, the line will be around several blocks, or everyone will be out of gas. I don't store more than 5-10 gallons at the house at any time. I don't have enough outside storage without taking up too much [floor] space in my shed for too long. I fill 14 5-6 gallon cans. This gives me approximately two full weeks of generator power based on the loads I have previously used for my house. If I am certain the effect of the storm will last longer, I can start cutting out creature comforts and extend that time by another week and maybe two. If the storm doesn't hit, I have the fuel available for the next storm or to transport to friends or family that do get hit. During Hurricane Wilma my brother drove down from Central Florida to me in South Florida with 14 gas cans. I got six, my neighbor got six and my brother kept two for the return trip. I was without grid power for a little over four weeks for Wilma. I also fill as many jugs of water as I can and put them in the deep freeze and the refrigerator freezer. This helps maintain the temperature for when the power is out during the storm and at night after the storm when I am I not running the generator. Turn all of your freezers and refrigerators to maximum cold setting. Wash all of your clothes, everything. You will be going through plenty of shirts, pants and underwear with all of the clean up and repair work you will be doing after the storm. Fill up your bath tubs and plug them closed.

The Day Before a Hit
I put up my shutters. Even if you have hurricane resistant windows I would suggest shutters on the large and expensive to replace windows. I have the wing nut type shutters. There is an adapter at home depot that lets you use a drill to put these on, definitely get a couple or three. Also make sure you have at least two egress points from your house in the event of an emergency. I have the front door, Garage door, and a side window that is protected by the neighbors house. When I put up my shutters I also leave a small gap in one panel of my front window shutters in front and a small gap in the back window so I can see outside. This helps with morale during a storm and keeps anybody from trying to open a door too see "what's going on." After this is done I call up my friends and see what help they need. If any of my friends are out of town I make sure their houses are battened down. I also get as much ice as I can. I fill every cooler I have with ice. I also put two block ice chunks (gallon or half gallon frozen jugs) per cooler so that it stays colder longer. Ice is cheap enough even better if you know someone with an industrial ice machine. Lube up your cooler hinges with silicon or petroleum jelly. This helps when someone opens the drink cooler in the middle of the night so you don't get that loud creaking.

Park your car/truck in the most sheltered position possible if you don't have a garage to put it in. I have an L shape on my house to do this. If you can, park between two houses if you are unfortunate enough to live in suburbia. If you have a concrete parking garage near your house park one of your cars there. Park it on at least the second level in case of flooding. Don't go to the top floor as that is usually open to the elements. Shelter your vehicle as best as possible. This gives you a better chance of at least having one vehicle that isn't destroyed in case you have to G.O.O.D.

During the Storm
Stay inside. Monitor the storm via any media means possible. Watch the weather radar on your computer. Listen to the radio or television. Know what is happening. Take bets with friends on which reporter gets hit with debris first it's inevitable and comical). Do not leave your house unless your structure has been compromised. Once you have lost power shut off your main breaker or switch to the house. I have one inside and one outside. This inside main gets switched off after power is lost during the storm. Power surges can occur periodically throughout the storm. I go out during the eye. Everybody says not to go outside and if you aren't comfortable going outside, then don't. Its a small window of opportunity to assess damage to your house and vehicles and an opportunity to move your vehicle to a more protected area depending on the wind direction. The wind after the eye will shift. Depending on where you end up in the hurricane will dictate where the wind will be coming form. The eye can last from minutes to a half an hour or more depending on if you end up [centered] in the eye and the size of the eye. Get inside before the rear wall gets you. Do not use candles, oil lamps, or any other open flame item in your house during the storm. If you have a structural failure the last thing you need is to have an open flame ready to burn down everything you have. Glow sticks, florescent lanterns and LED lights are your friends. Play games, read books together, pray together, stay calm, and monitor the media.

Pets During the Storm.
My pets are well trained and do not spook easily and are not afraid of strong storms. But, if your pets are easily spooked, you can go to the veterinarian and get a sedative [such as Acepromazine (ACP or "Ace")] for your pet during the storm. Many of my friends have to do this even during the Independence Day celebrations.

After the Storm
Assess the damage after the storm has passed. Document everything with pictures and video. Assuming your house is still livable and after you have documented all of the damage and all friends and family are safe, you need to set up your living conditions and assign tasks to family members. Stay clear of down power lines. Do not walk in puddles or standing pools of water unless absolutely necessary.
Posting a watch. If you end up doubling or tripling up with other friends and families posting a watch at all hours is an excellent idea. Posting a watch may be even more important if local government and law enforcement has broken down due to the effects of the storm. I'm sure many of you have seen the pictures after Hurricane Andrew of the guy on his lawn with a "Street Sweeper." There were no looters bothering him. I don't recommend sitting in a chair on your front lawn with a shotgun for all to see. But, having someone whose only job is to watch ingress and egress points of your property is cheap insurance. If you have the manpower, rotate shifts. If you are sticking it out in your neighborhood and are a lone family, work together with your neighbors to put an effective neighborhood watch together.

Set up your generator and get it running. After the generator is running begin to load it up. I have a 240 VAC outlet behind my house just for this. I shut of my main and turn on only the circuits that I want to run one at a time. I listen to the generator and let it settle before switching on another load. Before having the transfer switch setup, I ran extension cords to The Fridge, Deep Freeze, television, a couple lights and portable fans. Having the transfer switch allows me to run what I want just like I had grid power, but you need to only use what is necessary. Fuel is a hot commodity before and after a storm and burning through it on power you don't need is a waste. Protect your generator form the elements and from thieves. I set my generator under a fold up/down hurricane awning and chain/lock it to the house. I also set up a noise barrier between the generator and the house. Always run your generator outside and away from the entrances to your house. Make sure to have carbon monoxide detectors and fire alarms in every room as well as multiple ABC fire extinguishers.

Set up a cooking area outside. Even if you have a gas stove inside, the heat given off during cooking can be unbearable. Under normal conditions your air conditioner makes living indoors enjoyable, but after the power goes out you need to do everything possible to make the inside of your house hospitable. Also, cooking indoors can lead to a build up of carbon monoxide. Without the Air Conditioning running and proper ventilation this can be a deadly hazard. I use a propane gas grill and a Coleman propane two burner stove with a large tank adapter. This allows me to have a large reservoir of propane that has a shutoff valve that won't leak to the atmosphere like the little 1lb cans will. Make use of the items in your list set up the kitchen just like you would inside. Set it up under a tarp, tent, or porch. Even after the storm has passed rain bands and other storms are always a possibility. Set up one large cooler for items that are frequently accessed like drinks and condiments. This allows you to keep the fridge closed and use less power. Do not open your fridge or deep freeze unless you need to. I also put 10-20 lbs of stuff on top of my deep freeze to make sure the seal is good and tight.

Sleeping arrangements. I try to do everything in one room. My living room has cross flow which helps keep it cooler when the windows and doors are open. I usually set up the living room with air mattresses that I can move out of the way during the day. If you are running a portable air conditioning unit off of your generator close off all other rooms that you do not want to cool. Having a small quiet Honda generator chained down outside and running a portable AC can make sleeping at night much more bearable (sleeping at night in a closed up house in 90 degree heat is not sleeping it's passing out). This does two things. It allows you to completely close your house at night for security and you won't sweat to death. If you hook it up to your transfer switch you can also leave your home security system and outside lights on. I don't advocate running any generator at night that isn't quiet. Your neighbors will be much happier with you this way. Sleeping at night in the pitch dark can be unsettling. If you are not running a quiet generator at night, I have a few tips to help you be more comfortable. Cyalume or similar light sticks are excellent night lights and can be bought in bulk fairly inexpensively. I keep one in the main bathroom, one in the sleeping room, one inside the drink cooler (you remembered to lube the hinges right?). You can use low wattage LED lanterns, but the Cyalumes are much better for your night vision. I like green and blue as they last the longest and are the brightest. Battery operated fans will make sleeping in the heat much more comfortable. Sleeping on an air mattress as close to the ground as possible is much cooler than sleeping on a traditional mattress. My floors are terrazzo and are very cool in the summer. I have slept with my windows open to allow for a breeze to come through the house, but unless you post a watch you will not get much sleep worrying about looters/crime.

Showers, toilets, and water. Fortunately, I have never lost municipal water or gas where I live so I have had plenty of water and heat for showers. If you are on a well, you will need to know if your generator can power it and know how much load it will take to pump the water. My sister in law ran a separate smaller generator just for the well pump and one for the house. A five gallon bucket left out during the summer heat will be plenty hot for an evening shower. Also the black camp shower bags are excellent for this task as well. You can hang the bag on an eve on a pulley system (for ease of filling) and run the hose inside through the bathroom window if you don't want to set up an outside temporary shower. If you still have running water cold showers during the summer are a welcome treat. I store enough water for my family to drink for a month. This does not include the juices and Gatorade that I have as well. If I am under a boil water order, I use my stores until it is deemed safe. I also have two 55 gallon drums from a car wash, the bath tub, a hot tub and a canal for non-drinking water . The bath tub is not for drinking, it is for flushing the toilet if the water is out. I keep a small 1-2 gallon pail just for flushing. If it's yellow let it mellow, if its brown flush it down. Hopefully, the sewage or septic system is up and running and you will not have to worry about setting up a latrine outside or honey buckets.

Laundry. My washing machine is 120 VAC and my clothes dryer is 120VAC/Gas. So I can do laundry without much load on the generator. But why waste power if you don't need to. There are quite a few articles in Survival Blog on how to wash and dry clothes without power. I use two five gallon buckets. One bucket to wash and one to rinse. Once the clothes are washed hang them to dry. Make sure to have clothes pins. No point in having to re-wash clothes after they been blown down from the drying line.

Keep in mind that the storm may have greatly affected where you live but usually a 30-60 minute drive and you can find untouched areas to re-supply. If you decide to do a re-supply run, make sure to include family, friends, and neighbors. Make a caravan so you can bring back more than you would all by yourself. If your land line or cell phone is working let your fingers do the walking. This way you are not driving aimlessly. I stay in touch with family and friends throughout the state that can bring me supplies if it looks like I am going to be low or run out. Never leave your house unattended if it isn't absolutely necessary.

After you have your situation squared away, it's time to help friends, family, and neighbors. Tree removal is usually number one, roof repair number two, then windows, etc. I help where I can and within my abilities. I know most of my neighbors and usually have more than enough supplies to help and do when I can. I have given tools, food, water, ice, and labor. If you have not lost power at all or have everything squared away at home and have the opportunity to help at your local church, town government, or even the Red Cross do so. Helping others is good for the soul.

Once I have the opportunity, I follow my power line (assuming its safe) from my transformer in both directions to the main feeder and to the end of the line and note any trees on the lines, open switches, down lines, and down poles then call the power company with this information. They know you probably don't have power but this helps with their damage assessment and triage. The closer you are to a hospital or government building the faster you get power as well. If you see a power truck moving through your neighborhood or power crews working. Offer them a good meal and cold drinks. They have usually have come from around the country to help, work extremely long hours and welcome the small break and the food and drinks. Its not all bad if they get a chance to inspect the service to your house while you are distributing charity.

Eventually power will be restored. I have a light on the power pole outside my house to know if power has been restored at night. During the day you will notice your neighbors being excited because power has been restored. Most people leave their main breaker on, waiting for power to be restored. Do not do this!!! If you think power may be back to your home, turn off your generator and disconnect any items plugged into it. Switch all of your breakers to off, your main should already be off remember. Inspect your service line from the pole to your house. If it looks like there has been no damage, switch on the main. After the main is on I switch on one and only one circuit. I then measure the voltage with a voltmeter. It should be at 120VAC +/- 10% in Florida. It should also be fairly steady within 2-to-4 volts and not jumping around 5, 10 or 20 VAC. If your voltage is correct and steady, then start switching on breaker one at a time. Go to the room that is turned on. Look, Listen and Smell for a few minutes. If all seems good move to the next breaker and repeat Look, Listen, and Smell until all breakers are on.

Life will return to normal and usually resembles normality within a month. This is not always the case as some hurricanes can devastate a community and normalcy can take years to return.

My Hurricane Preparedness Checklist

Many SurvivalBlog readers will already have these items and much more, but this list represents a good collection of items that I have used and make certain I have available before every hurricane season. I am sure there may be more items to add to the list below that may be specific to your situation and some of these items you may not need. Just being aware and prepared will make living through a natural disaster more comfortable.

Portable Camp-Stove, Stove fuel, and large propane tank adapter
Grill and Propane
Charcoal and lighter fluid
Aluminum foil
Zipper bags
Oven mitts
Manual can opener
Disposable plates, cups & eating utensils
Napkins & paper towels
Matches and/or Lighters

Non-Perishable Foods - The idea is to have easy to make meals. I save the MREs to pass out to people that need a quick meal.
Canned meats, fruits, vegetables
Bread in moisture-proof packaging
Cookies, candy, dried fruit
Canned soups & milk
Powdered or single serve drinks
Cereal bars
Granola bars
Peanut butter & jelly
Instant coffee & tea

Equipment & Other Items
Flashlight (one per person LED preferred)
Cyalumes or Glow sticks (I use three to four a night)
Portable battery powered lanterns
Hurricane Lanterns and ultra pure oil (only for use after the storm)
Glass enclosed candles (only for use after the storm)
Battery powered radio or television
Battery operated alarm clock
Extra batteries, including hearing aids
Mosquito repellent (lots and lots I can't stress to have enough)
Sun screen (I use the Neutrogena SPF 70)
Waterproof matches/butane lighters
Bleach or water purification tablets
Maps of the area with landmarks (street signs will be gone and many landmarks as well)
Buckets and lids
Sewing Kit
Generator (Fuel, oil, spark plugs)

Home Owners Insurance
Car Insurance
Photo copies of prescriptions
Photo identification
Proof of residence (utility bills)
Medical history
Waterproof container for document storage
Back up discs of your home computer files
Camera & film or memory cards and batteries

Dry & canned food
Litter box supplies
Collars and Leashes
Muzzle (most shelters will not allow a dog without a muzzle)

Other Necessities
Tools: hammer, wrenches, screw drivers, nails, saw
Chainsaw : extra chains, chain sharpener, bar lube, two stroke oil, fuel
Work Gloves
Knife/Utility knife
Trash bags (lots of them)
Cleaning supplies
Plastic drop cloth
Mosquito netting
ABC rated fire extinguishers
Duct tape or strong masking tape
Outdoor heavy gage heady duty extension cords
Spray paint

Personal Supplies
Money (ATMs and Banks don't give out money without power)
Prescriptions (1 month supply)
Toilet paper
Soap, shampoo & detergent
Body Wipes
Glasses/Contacts and cleaning Solutions
Toiletries & feminine hygiene products
Changes of clothing
Extra glasses or contacts
Bedding: pillows, sleeping bag
Rain ponchos & work gloves
Entertainment: books, magazines, card games, etc.

Water, Ice Chest & Ice
One gallon of water per person per day
Block and Cube Ice

First Aid Kit
OTC Meds
Alcohol or Alcohol cleansing pads
Antibacterial ointment
Antiseptic cleansing wipes
Burn relief pack
Cotton-tipped applicator
Emergency blanket
Finger splint
First aid tape
Instant cold compress
Itch-relief cream
Latex-free exam quality vinyl gloves
Gauze and Various Bandages
Super Glue (the magic wound closer)

Land Line Phone that doesn't require wall power
Cell Phones, charged batteries, car chargers
FRS two way radios
I also have portable VHF marine radios that can monitor NOAA and coast guard activity since I am near the coast

This is an area that I am leaving blank. Not because it isn't important, but it is something that is very personal. I've prepared in this area, and so should you. - T. in South Florida

James Wesley:
I noticed about two weeks ago, that the chart movement for the price of gold is almost a carbon copy of the price of silver, one goes up, so does the other in almost the same amount. Admittedly two weeks is not a long time but is is still uncanny. The charts are almost identical, only the values are different. Check the Kitco silver chart, and then select the gold chart on the left side then back to silver. Notice the movement is almost identical?

This may not mean anything, but I think the odds are too high for this to be accidental.

Have a good day. - Greg L.

JWR Replies: Yes, it has been well-established that the gold and silver prices do tend to move in harmony. But keep in mind:

1.) The silver market is always more volatile than gold. It has more dramatic swings, because the silver market is much smaller ("thinner") than the gold market.


2.) The long term ratio between silver and gold prices is gradually changing. Historically it took an average of 16 ounces of silver to buy one ounce of gold. The ratio has swelled to a whopping 66-to-1, in part because of the current sovereign debt crisis that is coincident with a weak economy. (Gold is seen as a safe haven investment, in times of crisis. Meanwhile, silver is currently undervalued, because it is a more industrial metal and hence it gets price depressed in economic downturns.) But since silver is being consumed industrially, while at the same time gold is almost 99% recovered in most uses, the ratio will eventually drop again. This makes silver a better long term investment. (In about 30 years, I predict that the ratio may be back down to something closer to 20:1.)

Mr. Editor:
As a firearms instructor for more than 20 years (including concealed carry and personal protection), there are a few things to remember in an encounter:

  • "I think I'm in shock and need to go to the hospital." Often more true than you might think.
  • "I want to talk to my attorney."
  • He who calls 911 first is the "victim". Prior to the point where you will be using force against one or more opponents, you should call 911 and keep the line open. The call is recorded and can be used in your defense. If things happen too quickly to call first, call immediately after the incident and ask for help. This way you get to tell the story first.
  • Be absolutely sure of the laws involving force (lethal or non-lethal) in your state. For instance, here in Ohio lethal force may not be used to protect property, but in Texas things are much different. Know your laws.

Good luck, - LVZ in Ohio


Good Morning Jim:
A proud Ten Cent Challenge member here with another two cents.

I can't think of a much better way to lose everything one has worked and sacrificed for than to do what PJ did with his pepper spray. Hindsight being 20/20 and all my family has dealt with similar issues and thank God haven't had to confront anyone yet.

There are a lot of self defense mistakes involved but the main one he made, and the reason he is facing prosecution from an un-sympathetic D.A., is moving from the relative safety of his home to go out and meet an imagined threat.

1. The 'perps' in this case were merely crossing his un-fenced property. So what. Let them go, they are not vandals, burglars, thieves, or home invaders trying to force entry into the house. For all he knows they were off duty cops investigating a case, border patrol looking for illegals, or the Taliban smuggling drugs and armed with full auto AK4's. They might have been the local no good frat boys up to some minor nonsense but he didn't know this before setting out to protect himself from an imagined threat.

PJ made a mountain out of a mole hill and now his father may very well wind up without a caretaker just as he feared, only now HE made it happen rather than a third party with his poorly thought out plan to meet a non-threat.

2. He knew the local D.A. is "anti-self defense" and yet he moved toward two trespassers with a can of mace.

3. PJ admits he doesn't have money for an outdoor light, (which is what, like $20 on the high end?) but he has already spoken to an attorney and is now going to have to come up with money to mount his defense. Sounds like the first legal consult alone will be more than the cost of several outdoor lights. By the time this is over with, and he still has to think about the civil suit that will undoubtedly be coming, he probably could have paid for a six foot chain link fence around his property's perimeter.

4. PJ now has a police record as well as a restraining order. So much for staying off the radar.

5. Retaliation. Now everyone at the college and in the town, knows he will be away from the house and in court dealing with his assault on their comrades. (public records) How does one protect their own when they are dealing with the legal system and facing jail time?

Take care, God Bless, and although we disagree with his methods, we hope PJ will come out of this okay and the rest of your readers can learn from his mistakes. - Cactus Jim

Dear Editor:
I've been thinking of submitting this post for a while now. After reading P.J.'s post this morning I decided the time is right.

First off, let me preface this by saying I am an 18 year veteran of a major metropolitan police department here in the northeast. I have worked my entire career in the fields of narcotics/firearms and gang enforcement. I make my living by convincing people to tell me what it is not in their best interest to tell me and by convincing people to allow me to search places that it is not in their best interest to let me search. I am now a supervisor and I am training a new generation of cops to do what I do.

Secondly, as we all know, hindsight is 20/20. I have been involved in hundreds of critical incidents through the years as a participant, observer or investigator. It is easy to sit back after the fact and tell someone what they should have done. This post is not meant to be critical of P.J.'s actions in any way. I hope to use his experience as a teaching tool to show how police work, how they respond and how you should act in their presence.

Thirdly, if you are building ANFO bombs in your garage, or are converting firearms to illegal configurations or are seeking to overthrow the US Government, then you deserve to be arrested, convicted and put in jail. The advice I will provide below is meant for the average, law abiding citizen who, for whatever reason, finds him or herself dealing with law enforcement.

As in any line of work, there are a variety of personality types in policing. Each individual officer also has his own motivations and goals. You don't know if the officer you encounter is a lazy, ignorant toad who will attempt to do as little as possible or is a hard-charger looking to get assigned to an elite unit and who sees arresting you as a stepping stone in that process. But rest assured, no matter what, the officers motivation almost certainly does not involve doing what is right for you. He is going to do what is right for him. If that happens to help you, then good for you. If that happens to hurt you, then too bad. Believe me, he will not lose any sleep over it no matter how it turns out.

In most jurisdictions there are limits on when and how force, including deadly force, can be used in defense of yourself, others and property. Whether you agree with the laws in your jurisdiction or not, you should know what they are and be prepared to comply with them. [JWR Adds: And this should be a key data point in deciding where you want to live. my advice is to move to a state that has a Castle Doctrine las.] If you feel that you must act in a manner which may be outside the law, then you need to be aware that you may be arrested/indicted/tried and convicted. In my jurisdiction, a mace/pepper spray canister of the type described by PJ is illegal to possess. Note, it is not just illegal to use it, it is illegal to possess it. Period.

Also, in my jurisdiction the use of force (spraying someone with pepper spray is pretty obviously the use of force) is generally not justified to prevent or deter a trespasser.

There need to be other factors involved, but a simple act of trespassing does not warrant the use of force [in may jurisdictions].

When dealing with law enforcement, you must also remember that the officer is a person too. He may be an agent of the Government but he is not the Government itself. He is just a man like you are. He has a job that probably pays well, that provides good benefits and allows him to provide for his family. He does not want to lose this job. he does not want to be sued and lose his home. He does not want to make the wrong decision

and pick one side over another. You must remember that the two drunken college students who got sprayed with pepper spray are probably going to tell the officer a completely different story than the one PJ told them. So what are the officer's choices when he is called to respond to PJ's incident?

1) Ignore the whole incident. While this does happen, it's not likely. A weapon was involved and at least one person was injured (bodily injury = being pepper sprayed).
2) Arrest the trespasser and tell him that it serves him right. Although this may be what the officer wants to do, he can't. Remember, he doesn't want to lose his job. This frat boy is probably already spouting off about lawyers and internal affairs complaints and who his father is. The officer knows that, unless he witnessed the trespass, he can't arrest for it. (In my jurisdiction, unless I witness a minor crime such as trespass, I generally cannot make an arrest.)
3) Remember, the officer knows he must do something. He needs to find that weapon. He wants to recover it, place it into evidence and, if necessary, arrest the guy who used it. Let the court figure it out will be the officer's decision. This way, the officer is protected, which is his real motivation here. He wants to wrap this up and get on with his tour so he can go home and watch television or play with his kids. He wants to find the easiest way out that covers his ass. Plus, if the cop is a little sharper than average, he is probably thinking :"Hmmmmm, is this guy just a little overzealous or is there some reason he is so hopped up over a little drunken trespassing." So, the officer is going to talk to PJ and PJ, thinking he is doing the right thing is going to tell the officer exactly what happened. The officer is going to tell PJ that he sympathizes with him, that he would do the same thing if it was him in that situation, that at least he didn't shoot the guy, even if that's what the guy deserves. Oh and by the way, do you have any firearms?" The officer is going to ask PJ if he can come in. You know, so we can talk about this in private, so the whole neighborhood doesn't hear. Now the officer is in your house, legally. He sees a box of ammo, he sees a well stocked pantry, he sees the books on your bookshelf......you see where this is going. That officer is going to go back to his precinct and talk and next time you call, next time you have a dispute with a trespasser, he and his will remember.

As a police officer I can give you the following advice:
1) Don't let me in your house unless I have a warrant. If I have a warrant, don't resist my entry.
2) Do not consent, in writing or verbally, to a search of your person, vehicle or residence. No matter what I promise, no matter what I threaten. If I had probable cause for a search, I'd be doing it. If I am asking for your consent, it's because I am on a fishing expedition or because I don't have probable cause yet.
3) Don't try to explain. If the police are there, something has gone wrong or something bad has happened. If something has gone wrong or something bad has happened, then you probably need a lawyer.
4) There are hundreds of petty laws I can arrest you for, If you aren't in handcuffs, don't give me a reason to put them on you. Once I arrest you, my ability to search you and your property generally increases.
5) If you are having problems with trespassers or something similar, document it. Call the police and record the time and result. Keep calling. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Contact your elected representatives (local/municipal/county etc). Find others who are having the same problem and attend community meetings. Request an appointment with the police commander or tour chief responsible for your area. Address your concerns in a professional, calm manner.
6) Even if the police are wrong and you are being victimized by them, do not make matters worse by resisting/fighting etc etc.
7) Video and audio recording devices are cheap, small and getting cheaper and smaller all the time. They come in handy.
8) The police are not your friend. The police are doing a job. The police want to go home at night. The police will do what benefits the police, not what benefits you.
9) Know the law. Know your rights. Know your lawyer's phone number. Just remember, one thing police really, really dislike is being lectured by someone claiming to know their rights, claiming to know the law. More often than not, someone who is screaming "I know my rights!" is wrong. - Tom M.

Dear Readers:
After reading what you wrote I wonder if you have expressed yourself well enough to the rest of us here. As a 22 year police officer and a fledgling prepper, I think I have a different take on this that may help you. I doubt that we are in the same state but laws may be close enough.

1. Going to trial on this is not about the truth it’s about the best presentation.

2. A good prosecutor is not going to ask why you went out of you house, he is going to paint the picture that you had some emotional need to confront/assault these 2 poor college lads.

3. When speaking to the officer being anything other than the scared victim is going to hurt your side.

4. Telling a cop to "Go get a warrant" is never a good idea. We will do our best to get one.

5. I hope you lawyer can convey how all you wanted to do was have the 2 leave and if true they didn't just keep walking but were "advancing on you." How things are worded have a huge impact.

6. Don't skimp on a cheap lawyer.

7. Get an honest lawyer who will treat the officer as a "nice young rookie" who didn't do anything wrong, but just didn't interpret the facts at the time as the really were. This gives a judge or jury the idea that they are smarter or at least have ample time to come to a better decision. - P.S.


The scenario posted by P.J. in "You Versus the Perps, their Lawyer, and the D.A." is fraught with unanswered questions.

Was the property posted "No trespassing"?

Had PJ ever brought the video evidence of previous trespassing to the police to ask for their help? Had he ever approached the Fraternities or the college administration regarding the problem? (If you had, and one of the frat boys had been busted for trespassing, now it would be their PR problem, not yours.)

I highly recommend taking the NRA home defense course in your state so that any property owner is clear on rights and responsibilities before force is used.

I did, and it really opened my eyes. Take the course, get legal advice before you take action in a non-life-threatening situation. Be clear on what your rights and responsibilities are. - J.E.


Dear JWR,

It's too bad P.J. had to experience this nightmare. If he was in Texas, this would be a no problem situation. This incident happened at night time and that makes it an automatic legal assumption that the perps are armed and dangerous; a legal shoot first and ask questions later situation. Also, with the castle doctrine here, you can't be sued for your actions.

Steve H., Houston, Texas

After reading P.J.'s article describing his encounters/situation (if the description of events is accurate), it seems that other avenues might have been explored prior to the use of the OC spray, and the approach used that night could possibly have been modified in order to give the real 'victim', P.J., some legal leverage. of course this is after the fact, and I was not there, so I do not know all of the dynamics. I some cases like this, the first one to call the law wins. A camera and lights may have benefited you more in solving this problem (if you can identify the perps, and photo them in the act, charges should be easier to pursue), just a thought. Then you could have directed the police to the exact guilty parties.

Every municipality has differing requirements for notifying people that they are trespassing on another person’s property. Some say you have to post "No Trespassing" signs so that they can be seen from all directions by any persons, prior to their actually crossing over to your property; some say you have tell (verbally or in writing) that they are not welcome on your property. Either way, posting a "No Trespassing" sign or few could have only strengthened P.J.'s position. Also, calling 911 before venturing outside, and staying on the line with the 911 call taker while the incident is unfolding could possibly also have helped (maybe).

As far as I remember, Fraternity and Sorority chapters that are on property controlled by colleges and universities have to answer to the entities for their conduct. Complaints to the school (in writing) do, sometimes, have an effect on their conduct. You can also lodge complaints with the Fraternity or Sorority national chapter offices [note: they are extremely sensitive to incidents that bring negative NEWS coverage to their organizations, so you could explore that avenue as well]. It is important that all of your official complaints be in writing, that way they are documented and, generally, taken more seriously. Also, if you have an officer or officers assigned to community issues in your area, they can be a resource (many departments do have these).

Lastly, unfortunately, in many (I think most now) states citizens, and in many cases police, are not allowed to defend property (baring arson, bombing or something similar that is possible a threat to someone’s life and safety) with deadly force or high levels of physical force. OC-spray is not considered a high level of physical force in law enforcement, but as you said, there are people and judges that will bring their own twisted morality into the equation.

American society, in general these days, has the expectation that a citizen has almost no right to defend their own property, or themselves from harm. Hopefully this will change, but do not hold your breath!

In the meantime cover yourself by consulting with a private attorney (contact your local public defender and/or legal aid society if finances are an issue). You also have the right, as a citizen, to contact and consult with your local District Attorney, Magistrate, etc. on matters such as these, before taking any action. Even will all of that, you still may have negative issues to deal with in any situation involving the use of force.

There are times when all of us would like resort to physical force to solve a problem, and in some cases that would be the most efficient solution, however with the modern legal structure and societal leanings, that puts the force user at risk of criminal and civil liability, even when they (the victim) is in the right - and even if they are law enforcement and justified in their actions.

Good luck with you situation, P.J.. Regards, - Sheep Dawg

Ben Bernanke needs fresh monetary blitz as US recovery falters. (A hat tip to G.G. for the link.) As I've warned before, The Mother of All Bailout s(MOAB)is inexorable. It will continue, round after round, until the US Dollar is destroyed as a currency unit.

Clint L. sent this: Silver Without a Cloud by Richard Daughty, aka The Mogambo Guru

Items from The Economatrix:

20 Must-See Charts on America's Disastrous Level of Government Spending

California to Offer Program to Trim Underwater Mortgages

Fannie Mae Gets Tough with Homeowners Who Walk Away

Economy Faces Tough Road Ahead with Slower Growth

The Many Faces of Gold

The Magic Yellow Brick Wall

Medical Corps is running another Medical Response in Hostile Environments class, October 15-16-17. It is filling rapidly. Don't miss out on this great training.

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Reader Rod V. suggested a waterproof memory stick for archiving your most important computer files, such as e-books, and scanned family papers: Corsair Flash Survivor 8 GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive. Rod's comment: "This may be one of most important items in your Bug-out bag, so don't be stingy. Get one that's waterproof, bombproof, and kid-proof."

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Jeff M. told me about a good web site with free barn and shed plans, offered by the University of Tennessee Extension.

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It looks like the US Supreme Court will be hearing another Second Amendment case soon. I'm hopeful that this will further solidify the individual right to keep and bear arms. I'm also hopeful that many other states will adopt Vermont-style permitless concealed carry, like Arizona recently did.

"The human race's prospects of survival were considerably better when we were defenseless against tigers than they are today when we have become defenseless against ourselves." - Arnold J. Toynbee

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 29 ends on July 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 writing anonymously because I'm facing misdemeanor charges for spraying a trespasser with mace. Our county has an anti-self defense district attorney. Being next to three fraternities, I'd been having problems with trespassers; this was third time I saw them. (There was evidence of past intrusions; I'd videotaped it and will submit as part of my legal defense.)
To prep, I'd purchased a mace-pepper spray-UV dye compound in a canister about the size you see for bear, with a range of 20 feet or so.

I saw two trespassers in the side lot from the kitchen, where I leave lights off late at night in order to see out (I'm not paranoid but do my rounds every hour or so on weekends.)
I crossed the lot to intercept them. I wasn't giving myself away but wanted them to react, stop, or retreat--the first one did none of those things. I knew when the perp kept going that I had to spray, being that there were two of them coming down the hill, deeper into our lot.

It was pitch black. I knew I had to hit. If I missed number one, number two would be down the hill coming at me. So I unloaded with a controlled burst at the minimum range just outside of hand-to-hand combat. It streamed straight, I think. Then I gave a very small curl with another shorter blast. Again, it being dark, I had to try and hit. I might have heard it splatter, but not sure. Like an automatic weapon, I held the button depressed about two seconds total (beeline on the long first one, second shorter and just a tiny bit circular.) He continued walking at first, as if nothing had happened. Three seconds then his hands went up to face and he swore. I'd hit. Where was #2? Find him...now.... I didn't know how far behind him #2 was, but I'd accomplished my top priority, which was avoiding hand-to-hand with #1, which would make me vulnerable to #2 big time. And #2 surely had seen or heard the spray, or #1's reaction (confused) so he'd be deterred from advancing. Turns out he'd retreated back out to the front. Deterred. Back to #1. Tell him to get off the property. He's hunched over. No longer a threat.

Post action, the mace container seems to be about 1/3 full or so. The cop commented how much there was on the perp. I refrained from smiling or expressing any joy from his suffering. I simply wanted him and his friend off the property. I took no pleasure in spraying him.
The cop was bright eyed but young. I was friendly, let him in. Explained it like I am now, minus the edge. My demeanor probably kept me from jail. He'd been summoned by the "victims" who have since been given restraining orders against me. BTW, the restraining order drastically reduces my second amendment and puts the perps--who turned out to live in a frat next door--a reason to provoke me. Gotta be careful.

The officer brought up the need for light, which he swore would act as a great deterrent. I agreed. I'd wanted one. But see I look after my dad with Parkinson's (ever try and convince someone with that?) and don't have the money to get a fence or light up, but he's now paying for it. My legal costs will be high(er than a fence), but I hope I succeeded in deterring future aggression. In the meantime off to court I go.

I'm trying to stay okay with cops. The D.A. will be harder not to hate. The officer asked for a voluntary statement which I gave the next day, said pretty much the same as I had during the initial interview. No lies or distortions; Joe Friday's "just the facts." The Assistant D.A. used it against me! Later, my attorney said that giving the statement showed I "had no understanding whatsoever about how the criminal justice system works." Lesson learned. Still, I need the cops because we get noise, drunks, drugs, all the time near where I live.

Completely alone without police though. Campus security non-existent. I thought I'd be proving myself innocent by my forthrightness. Not so. Next time (God forbid) I'd shut door on cop, say "get a warrant," and speak to a lawyer or no one. Unfortunately that approach would have gotten me arrested that night. Being hauled off is a troubling issue if the "victim's" friends go for some payback against my defenseless dad and our nice property (they've vandalized it before.) House is indefensible without me (lacking fencing, it's purely an organic defense.) She's a beaut and worth trying to hold despite more aggressive students. Worth jail to protect.

The incident raises huge issues about what to do in these circumstances. The law is being interpreted out of context by an overzealous D.A.. A lot of people in town come up and express sympathies, saying I was on my own property and within my rights. One old lady even came out and told me about another incident involving students from the college which never made the paper (unlike my action, which did.)

I'm so relieved I didn't have to fight hand-to-hand. Especially one-on-two. I'm big and train for hand-to-hand but never want that. A gun would have been ineffective because the perps would have ignored it. Using a gun would have landed me in jail for years. My dad would have lost his sole caretaker and the criminals would be all over our yard and porches with no one to defend them.

This is an Amerika where caretakers are targeted by opportunistic predators lurking outside at night. It's the ultimate example of being exposed to crime and vulnerable to a legal system that prays on honesty. We're in an age where the criminals have rights and can come on your property expecting to sue you or take your freedom for defending your property. And if you use a gun, you could spend decades in prison. Try to stop the criminals and you'll be made into one. They never used to be this aggressive so often. This is TEOTWAWKI. Here. Now.

The best option, to call police, hadn't worked previously as they're too few and they come too late. So you really are on your own. I'm inclined to think that I should find a more defensible location, but with my handicapped dad, it looks like that'll be hard. Plus, like I said, it's a classic home. One worth defending. At any cost. Something really bad could happen to me--a knife was thrown into my driveway--but I'm not going to cower in fear with the Sheeple. I wonder if the D.A.'s intent isn't to squelch those who challenge the police's monopoly on the use of force. (A frightening implication indeed.) The price of standing up to criminal activity might be my life. Yet I fear no man and trust in God.

My advice: you might think about how easily you can cap the intruders but don't rely on guns alone. And if you absolutely have to interdict (i.e. the intruders stay around or don't get off your property) then do it the way I did. I could have called the cops--again--but I felt I had no choice but to deter the intrusion, not only that time but to intimidate others, as the word gets out when you take a stand. Firearm use would have demonized me in the community. Some shun me now, but I've actually made a lot of friends. And be ready to answer, in court and in jail if need be. The D.A. will need a lot of help from a jury and judge, so I'm confident that I'll defeat the charges. If not, I'm willing to accept the penalties. I've had no criminal charges filed against me for 26 years. And maybe, best of all, the dumb perp may be able to tell all his friends about his mistake. I'm hoping this'll cut down on future trespassing, especially with a new fence and lights. It's a price to pay, but worth it to possibly save a life, even that of a perp, who in the end was just some dumb kid making a poor choice, not someone who really deserved to die for it. You may think you'll pull the trigger, but remember you're human and they are too. Then again, if you're not willing to do what you have to, don't pull the gun in the first place. Grab the mace instead (and hope they aren't armed!)

You might be able to confront them vocally, but don't count on it. The intruders might choose to ignore you, or could be high, drunk, disturbed, etc.. Sometimes the best deterrent is the willingness to strike. Still, deterrence can't work unless future would-be intruders know of you willingness to use force. Some might try and thrill-seek, but chances are they'll go elsewhere knowing what you could do to them. That's the whole point of deterrence after all. In a small town, people remember stuff like this, which can make a big difference at TEOTWAWKI, when the gangs are dividing up turf and choosing prey items. Then again, the mace might invite the use of more powerful weapons in some future retaliatory raid. So it's not a win-win to use force. Yet I have proven that I'll confront evil and criminal acts, at night, on my property. That means something.

JWR Adds: Our natural tendency as law-abiding citizens is to want to explain and justify our actions. But unfortunately in modern First World countries we live in very litigious societies. I concur with the sound advice in this law professor's lecture: Don't Talk to Cops. (View Parts 1 and 2.) Be calm and polite, but just refer them to your attorney. Here in the U.S., conviction of a felony means automatic disenfranchisement (forfeiture of your right to vote), and forfeiture of your right to own firearms. Don't put yourself at risk!

Autozone.com (the auto parts franchise) has a free feature that allows you to create a profile (make up an alias and use good OPSEC), enter your vehicle(s) information and then access repair guides for various subjects. You can, of course, also purchase parts and have them shipped to your anonymous mail drop location.

They keep you updated on recalls, service reminders, etc. You can even download a free app for your iPhone, which includes access to the repair guides, which comes in very handy if you're on the road and have a breakdown. Of course, post-TEOTWAWKI, the service probably won't be available... but for now it's great. - NIM

The Other Rourke recently posted his interview with Dr. Bruce Clayton. You'll probably recognize him as the author the book Life After Doomsday.

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Yishai suggested this good article: Night Vision Versus Thermal Vision

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Floyd B. spotted this: Solar cycle sparks doomsday buzz. Here is a quote: "Fortunately, the methods for predicting space weather have improved over the past decade or two. Satellites such as the Advanced Composition Explorer can spot the signs of a geomagnetic storm up to an hour before it hits our planet, providing valuable lead time for power grid operators. (A space storm in 1989 sparked a nine-hour electrical blackout in Quebec, affecting 6 million customers and costing the power company more than $10 million.) Other observing instruments, which measure seismic activity originating on the far side of the sun, can provide a couple of weeks of warning about active sunspot regions"

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Randolph flagged this: In the Catskills, Comfort in a Gingerbread House. ("Comfort" doesn't have to cost a lot of money. And, BTW, this sort of frugal living frees up cash for for food storage and other preparations.)

"Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation? The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered. The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field. And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens." Proverbs 27:23-27 (KJV)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 29 ends on July 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 I discovered SurvivalBlog I was 17 years old. My friend had given me a copy of the novel "Patriots" that he had picked up on our twenty-three day trip around the United States. After I had read the novel, I realized that I was so far behind on my prepping for TEOTWAWKI. Before had I had only focused on wilderness survival and when I went hiking in the woods. I never perceived how fragile our economy was and how easily it would fall apart with the slightest push. I had to do something about my preparations. This article is for those who are trying to get prepared and do it with the least amount of money possible.


My family is middle class. My mom is a school teacher and my brother is the manager of a music store. I did not have a full-time job, but I was trained as a lifeguard and had all of my certifications. The first step in getting prepared is knowledge. Knowledge is almost free. The Internet and library is full of information on many topics to pertaining to TEOTWAWKI. You can find information on things such as gardening to canning to building up your stock of supplies. You can never stop learning and the knowledge that you have will only benefit you more when the time comes for it. As a lifeguard I learned lifesaving techniques and gained a job in the process. All of my training was paid for by the company as long as I worked for them for a summer. This situation does not only pertain to life guarding. Since I am a student in a high school I have the benefit to receive a free education. My school has a career campus where you can take classes to gain experience for when we apply for a skilled job. My school offers classes such as construction, automotive, welding, sheet metal, HVAC, medical, and electronics. These are free opportunities to gain knowledge that can benefit someone WTSHTF. If your school offers them, then take the courses while they are still free.


This can be one of the costly items when it comes to getting prepared as a teenager. Luckily this is still the time in your life when family members will still give you money for the chores you do and sometimes just because they love you. My mom would gives me twenty dollars a week for lunch at school and twenty or more dollars for the weekend to have fun, since I do not currently have a job. During the week I would pack my lunch to save a few bucks. When the weekend came around, I would go to the local camping store and buy a couple of pouches of Mountain House dehydrated food. Whenever I went to visit my grandparents, my grandmother would give me a twenty dollar bill. Down the street from their house was a military surplus store. Here I would buy some MREs. For those of you who do not get extra money like I do, you could go to the grocery store with your parents and grab a couple extra large cans of soup or dried grains and slowly build up your reserves. Over time you can have a substantial amount of food in your supply cabinet.


Defending your family is a big subject when you are a teenager. As a young boy I always wanted to gun and couldn’t wait to buy one. On my eighteenth birthday, I went to a gun show and bought a Remington 870 TALO edition [with a digital tiger stripe camouflage stock and forend]. Its the best gun that a teenager could buy to start out with. Its affordable and it has many uses. Unfortunately, some are too young to buy a firearm. So, what do they do? I started out with knives. This is particularly easy to do, because it is easier for parent to accept. Every young boy has a knife. It is a right of passage. There are so many different variations and prices so it can fit any budget. I started with a small locking folder, then bought a multi-tool, and then various sized fixed blades. I read books on tactical knife combat that I borrowed from one of my friends. Starting with a knife is wise, because then you can learn how to treat and respect your gear and when a firearm is absent, you will have the knowledge on how to defend yourself with an old companion. Another item that I bought was a


An early option that most teens and even adults can do is play paint ball and gain some tactical training. This is a fun and relatively inexpensive way to learn how to work as a team when having to be on offensive and defensive roles in TEOTWAWKI. Like a knife, it is more socially acceptable. So know one will ask questions. When my friends and I would play paint ball we would mostly play woods ball, since it is more realistic. You can learn many things during these games. We would practice tactical moves, concealment, flanking, escape and evasion, proper gear safety and cleaning, and we would even use practice knives. If your school offers sports programs then look into what there is. An important factor to consider during TEOTWAWKI is that you will be working a lot more than you are know and you will need to be physically fit. Take up playing football. This will help your conditioning. I ran track for two years and it put me in my peak condition. I learned about the proper running forms and better breathing techniques that will help you when you need to travel long distances after your vehicle runs out of gas. Wrestlers at my school are in peak performance and learn many moves that would help in hand to hand combat if you ever need it. The point of the matter is to stay in shape and get off of those videos games. Some fresh air does not hurt and you will need to learn how to stop depending on electronics for entertainment.


A quick and easy way to get emergency gear is to ask for it. Christmas, Birthdays, and other holidays that your family celebrates. Just make a list of camping gear that you would want and ask for a number of things that you would like. If you have a dad that enjoys camping then just keep adding to his supplies and make sure you get quality gear. I would say this was the easiest way that I accumulated my gear over the years. Now I have a vast collection of items that will assist me in any situation. Garage sailing around the town on the Saturday mornings is also a quick and inexpensive way. I’ll get up a few mornings during the summer to get my hands on some sweet deals. There are plenty of older people in all communities that are cleaning out the attic and you can find camping equipment, old oil lamps, military items, knives, and plenty of strange items. Getting up early is the hardest thing though, since teenagers love to sleep in.


Every teenagers dream is to get their license and to be on the open road. The feeling of being free and going where ever you want. Once, that license is in your hand then what. You will have to start thinking about the vehicle you will want to drive. Many teens want the fastest and coolest vehicle. If you are survival minded then why not get a classic? I got a 1965 Jeep CJ-5. My grandfather only paid $4,500 for it. It was in good condition with no rust and the best part about it was that it had no computers in it. This made repairing the engine an easy task whenever it would act up on me. It also gives you the know how on how to fix your car in TEOTWAWKI. Any old model car, usually before 1980, does not have all of the microprocessors found in more recent models. This makes them EMP proof and when you are driving around while everyone else is walking, then you have a big advantage over everyone else. If your parents do not think they are safe enough, then tell them that there are all sorts of aftermarket safety products that can be installed in them, such as a roll cages and five point safety harnesses. These vehicle are inexpensive and are relaibel once restored.

In the end time is the biggest factor. It will take time to save money for more expensive items, but if you are witty enough then you can most items for a lower price or even free. Building a collection of supplies might seem time consuming, but I have fun buying something new that I didn’t have before that will help me in the end. However you do it, have fun with it and do not think that because you are young that you should not be prepared.

The community described by DMT seems like a nice place to live and I wish I could share his optimism and his faith in human nature. It seems to me that a community like he describes would take years to form. It might have a chance if everyone could be persuaded to store a year or more of food and stock up on agricultural equipment, but it seems to me that it would be a superhuman task to get everyone to go along with it in an emergency unless you could feed them until harvest time.

Also, unfortunately, my figures don't jive when it comes to minimum acreage required to support a population. Veggies don't count. I love tomatoes and zucchini as much as anyone else, but the problem is growing enough calories to survive. Discounting rice, which I don't think you can produce in suburbia, that leaves a few grains and root crops as the best staple products. Here are my personal estimates for Corn, wheat and potatoes, assuming you have some gardening skill and seed.

The national average for corn production is just over 150 bushels per acre (with heavy input of chemicals). With 56 pounds per bushel, that means 1/10 acre plot can be expected to produce under 900 pounds of grain using modern methods. With no fertilizer and non-hybrid seed, I would expect about 1/3 that yield, or 300 pounds.

Wheat's national average is 30 to 100 bushels per acre (with lots of variation, depending on soil inputs and irrigation) at 60 pounds per bushel 1/10th of an acre can be expected to produce under 400 pounds of grain or about half that without chemicals or irrigation.

>From potatoes you can expect 150 bushels per acre if you have chemical fertilizers or deep, well built soil, that means on your 1/10th acre, you could expect about 15 bushels, or about 900 pounds. You might get a third that much without chemicals and newly formed gardens like you would have if you dug up a lawn. With careful cultivation, I think you could get about 400 pounds max. Not bad.

Unless my math is wrong, that means you would be hard pressed to grow enough calories on 1/10th acre for more than one person. I think DMT may be confusing profit with calorie production. Garden crops such as lettuce and chives are expensive and pay more per acre...but you can't live on them.

I would also wonder where his community would get heating and cooking fuels. - JIR

JWR Adds: Yes, you are right. And the whole issue of essential Fats and Oils is also a shortcoming. To allow enough room for grain growing, I believe five acres is a more realistic minimum size parcel to support a family.

Hello Mr. Rawles,

I thought you might be interested in an article about New York state's 12th consecutive weekly package of emergency spending bills "to keep the government operating."

This bill will raise the price of cigarettes to over $11 a pack in New York, as well as taxing the cigarettes sold by American Indian stores to people outside the tribe. The last time New York tried the latter was in the late 1990s, and it met with violent protests. They haven't tried it since, so you know that they're getting desperate! - E.

SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent me a link to a collection of photos showing Chinese military's obsession with parades and ultra-precise formations. It reminded me of a quote from Jean Larteguy (The author of The Centurions and The Praetorians.): "I'd like France to have two armies: one for display, with lovely guns, tanks, little soldiers, fanfares, staffs, distinguished and doddering generals, and dear little regimental officers who would be deeply concerned over their general's bowel movements or their colonel's piles: an army that would be shown for a modest fee on every fairground in the country. The other would be the real one, composed entirely of young enthusiasts in camouflage battledress, who would not be put on display but from whom impossible efforts would be demanded and to whom all sorts of tricks would be taught. That's the army in which I should like to fight."

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Gary S. sent us an article with some G.O.O.D. possibilities: New Google Earth Shows Hiking Trails

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Mike M. sent us this news story from California: Welfare cards good in Casinos. Mike's comment: "I don't even know where to start! This is this sort of thing that got me to vote with my feet and move out of California. Because I know that this sort of ridiculous welfare state mentality is quickly spreading across the U.S., I'm thinking about the viability of expatriating!

"Despite the threat of asteroids and volcanoes I'm going to go with a definite certainty: Man's un-doing will be his own doing." - SurvivalBlog Reader Mike C.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 29 ends on July 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.

Swimming in a Sea of Humanity
A homestead will not survive isolated in a sea of desperate humanity.  Nor will man survive in a desert void of it. 

For many of us surviving in place (the suburbs) is going to be a fact.  With it carries tremendous risk and dangers yet imbedded within it, also a cornucopia of resources and individuals with critical skill sets and life saving knowledge.  Unlike urban areas, there is a small enough degree of separation between people, enough so to actually define and scratch out a living independently.  Current Homesteaders have proven it is possible to not only provide for your family on 1/10th of an acre, but to also support a larger economy with the surplus.  The question becomes, given marginal localized security, what can be done to assist in the re-emergence of stabilized society from a cascading chaos, which will be essential to survival in the suburbs?

Disasters are amplified by the weakness of civil society and the absence of the rule of law.  After a few days of living within a failed food and water supplied system and without a sizable government assistance response, people will begin to lose hope that assistance will come…  as this hope disappears, real desperation will set in and people will take extraordinary measures to fend for themselves and seek an outlet to vent their anger and fear.  

Violence and the threat of criminality will have to be addressed, before any homesteading can take place in the open, which it must for it to succeed.  Recognizing that looting and rampaging vandalism flares where authority is lost and history has shown repeatedly that where a community takes extraordinary measures to organize and secure itself, it can re-instate a semblance of authority and civil control.  It is from under this protective wing of security that the commerce of survival can begin to flourish.

While it is nice to have your neighbor’s complaisant agreement for mutual security, the quality and viability of such may leave much to be desired.  As such, other arrangements should be planned for and arrangements made.  Whether this is in the form of friends and associates you know and trust, or from an outsourced service providers, security and consequently authority surrounding your local homestead needs to be established and is not something that I would leave to others, as they may have very different agenda than your altruistic view.   

People have always been drawn together in desperate times, and history has continually shown where looters and pillagers gather strength in numbers, so too can communities and to do so communities will need two things; a belief in a better alternative to their plight and leadership who is determined and prepared, which can be accomplished by the following;

  1. An active and determined neighborhood watch (which is motivated by having the following at stake)
  2. Establishment of Individual homesteads throughout the neighborhood (individual stake)
  3. Create neighborhood community farming initiatives (a greater collective stake)
  4. Empowering others for widespread, parallel efforts in surrounding areas.

Clearly the better you know and trust your neighbors and they know and trust you, the faster and smoother neighborhood safety and security measures will naturally formulate.  It is unlikely that neighbors will be willing to formulate or support neighborhood cordon operation, establish roadblocks and conduct patrols until their individual stake and survival possibilities are strengthened, which is why homesteading teams should be created as soon as a loose security measures and agreements are initiated. 

Homesteading teams should be formulated and divided up into specific organizational groups to specialize and concentrate upon three critical components for each homestead; establishment of front yard gardens, rain water cistern catchment basins, and water treatment and purification systems (individual slow sand filters). 

Front Yard Gardens
Most suburban homes can easily accommodate gardens in their front and back yards.  I would initially prepare only the front yards collectively and allow the homeowner to prepare the back yards, which typically will be trickier, as private spaces tend to be more developed than public sided spaces of private property.  The front yards will also be easier to restore and therefore compliance will be easier obtained early on.  The same is true for neighbors who have vacated the area, having to explain to a returned neighbor that you’ve torn up their back yard will be more difficult to explain than if you just focused on the front lawn.   Additionally from a security standpoint front yards are vastly easier to observe, patrol and secure by the community.

Rain Water Cistern Catchment Basins
Rain water cistern catchment basins, can be readily developed and are far superior to a barrel system, as quaint as they are.  The most simple is an excavated pit or trench lined in plastic, which will be limited in size due to soil conditions and its ability to retain its shape.  A more effective basin is a simple wood framed crate, lined and sealed with visqueen (large plastic sheeting), which is partially counter sunk and bermed into the soil for stability and support.    The basic volume of these cisterns can be calculated, based upon their geometry, a simple box (LxWxH) and then multiplied by 7.4 (the number of gallons of water in a cubic foot) to derive the water storage volume.  A simple 4’x8’x4’ cistern will hold about 950 gallons of water, as compared to nineteen 50-gallon rain barrels. 

Slow Sand Filter
Having a firm grasp on the principles of slow sand filter is a critical component for water filtering and purification.  Slow sand filters use biological process to cleanse water, require little or no mechanical power, chemicals or replaceable parts, simple to use and operate and only require periodic maintenance.  It is recognized by the World Health Organization as being not only the least expensive and simplest, but also the most efficient method of water treatment.  The biggest drawback is in the lag associated with the start up time, about two weeks.  Keep in mind this is a biological filter (living organisms) and they have to be established.  This doesn’t mean that water can’t be run through the system to filter it (separate solids and particles), it just means it will also have to be purified afterwards through boiling or chemical treatment.           

Homesteading Armory
To accelerate the neighborhood homesteading process, ensure its success and for about the cost of an battle rifle (which I would need several to defend my property otherwise), you can amass a small collection of assorted basic garden and construction tools, supplies and equipment and seed stores in bulk that you can arm your neighbors with onto the road to self sufficiency.  (This list of supplies would incorporate the major elements associated with the project above).  These supplies are both a helping hand to your neighbors and a planned and concerted effort to create a safety buffer around your homestead.  The logic is the same as acquiring a small armory of firearms to arm your friends and neighbors who’ll join you at your retreat.  In this case, instead of arms, its gardening and farming equipment and supplies.   Weapons for personal and property security, gardening tools for food and water security. 

The next time you’re in a big box home improvement store, ask yourself how far will $1,000 would go in establishing these projects.  In the general example I’ve listed above, I estimated that each homestead would take about $200 in basic supplies, if purchased new, at retail prices…  with lumber being the largest component of that (for the cisterns).  That’s five homes, without putting any creativity into alternative supply acquisition.  By removing the lumber component from that list (I plan on having at least one as an example) you can stretch those supplies to include ten homes.  You may likewise decide that every homestead doesn’t need a slow sand filter and that a neighborhood one would suffice or that your community may already have the resources available, such as sand filtered swimming pools.  By generally observing (google map of your neighborhood) you can assess how many swimming pools are in the area…  then ask yourself what percentage are sand filters?  If it’s high, you don’t need to purchase sand for the slow sand filters…  What you’ll normally find is that if you’re resourceful , you’re really left with is visqueen, some basic hand tools and bulk quantities of seeds and in that case $1,000 really does go far, well enough to develop every house, along your average suburban street.  The point is to observe your suburban neighborhood and look at what resources are there and plan accordingly. 

Side note:  From observation of the basic outlined above example and for about $300, including lumber, you can acquire all the basic elements you would need to establish your own small homestead, which can be readily stored and placed out of the way, in the garage or shed.            

Community Initiatives
A follow on number of community farming initiatives should also take place after the individual homestead have been established, the most obvious being the cultivation of crops in formerly open public spaces.  Suburban areas are replete with communal public areas that can be integrated into co-opted farmed areas.  If none truly exist, it is possible to utilize the sidewalk green space and a four foot wide section of the crown of the road and to go down the center of the street’s length, boxing in the transported topsoil, which only needs to be about a foot in depth.  Parking lots can be developed the same way to great effect for even larger community parcels. 

Question of crops
The crops in open public spaces should focus on two types of crops; grain crops, due to the required foot print size and primarily large scale planting of basic root vegetables, as they are a dense nutritional source, that are naturally made into stews and stock.  The root vegetable crops should supplement the neighborhood homesteads and to attempt to feed the greater population by establishing a simple soup kitchen.

Directing humanity
A number of types of people will be drawn to these initiatives, those seeking work, those seeking food and displaced people looking to survive will eventually be drawn to such efforts, and should be integrated into the community initiatives, as labor is a major component to these endeavors and work for food will be recognized as established level of fair trade.  This is also an opportunity to empower others for widespread, parallel efforts in surrounding areas, furthering your physical and food security buffer.   Amongst those that these efforts touch will surely be skilled professionals with critical life-sustaining knowledge and skills that you may one day desperately need.      

With that consideration in mind, I would plan on storing a large quantity supply of grains, which can be purchased in bulk.  Third world food in bulk is cheap security to keep the masses at bay from your homesteading practices and occupied by laying the inroads to their own survival.  It can also be used as currency, to pay for services you or your community may sorely need, but are unable or unqualified to perform.  Beyond that basic rationale even in temperate climates, and depending upon the season, a simple crop will not come in for several months, and this food supply is to help sustain that population. 

This food should be stored in at least thirds (or more), two thirds in separate caches, and the distribution third, held in community trust at a food distribution point.  At no point should your homestead be the location point for public food distribution or seen as the storage facility.  Remember you are working at establishing anonymity by hiding in plain sight.      

Guerilla Gardening
While aspects of guerilla gardening should be implemented for food security, the majority of the efforts should be centralized and consolidated to aide in securing and protecting the communities efforts.  Decentralized and dispersed holdings will be easy targets for the desperate and have a poor ratio of labor to output rewards.  You should also have a reserve seed supply that is not utilized, but kept in reserve should the first plantings fail or fall short. 

Community Nursery
Beyond the individual and community gardens several group projects should also emerge.  A simple yet critical community project is the community plant nursery.  Utilizing methods established in commercial nurseries would vastly increase the quality, volume and success rate of the community garden areas, as well as being a resource for surrounding communities (trade generator).  It also provides work opportunities for those that cannot perform manual labor.   

Community Chicken Coop
One of the most important projects in the community initiative concept I believe should be that of a  community chicken coop.  It’s an aspect of farming that is quickly expandable, yields quick results, is non-seasonal and can utilize many of the aspect found in intensive chicken farming, which makes the area utilized for this quite small.  A contribution of a brood of chicks would rapidly create this, and is one of the reasons why I believe every established homestead should have a rooster and a few hens specifically for breeding purposes.  The ramp up time, chicken availability and chicken feed being the critical determinants for this project.

Community Water
All of this will be to no avail unless large quantities of water are acquired.  A larger scale version of a roof based rainwater catchment is one that utilizes the street and its storm water collection.  Most streets in suburbia are designed to collect and direct a large amount of storm water.  Creating a makeshift culvert is a simple process and can interrupt the normal directional flow of water (prior to it going into municipal culverts) and redirected into large community cisterns or ponds.

Siphon Tubes
Transferring water supply will be a critical factor and having a supply of large diameter tubing will be an asset for siphoning, whether it’s for water transferring from a catchment area to a retention area or for irrigation purposes.  Like gardening, utilizing siphoning principals in the field is a little trickier than one would first assume, but centers on two critical points, the first that the final reservoir is lower in elevation than the supply reservoir and that the siphon tubing is primed (filled with water) before the tube is placed over the intermediate obstacle for it to start to reliably transfer water.   The key is to seal the supply end and fill the tube with water until you’re fully ready to activate the system. Otherwise you will need to utilize a siphon pump to start this procedure.  A third issue is to ensure the supply end tube stay submerged in the reservoir to remain operational. 

The value of the siphon tubes are that they tend to be very inexpensive, do not require precision to layout and utilize and can be relocated from one location to another based upon need and use (non-permanent installation).  To regulate flow into or from an area will depend upon the gauge of the tubing and the number of siphon tubes used.  Obviously, more tubes, greater volume of flow.  

A major concern with cisterns and ponds is their open nature as they will be breeding grounds for pests which will carry disease and debris that will rot.  Ideally these ponds or cisterns need to be covered to prevent this.  While circular shapes contain a large footprint/volume, linear shapes will be easier to cover as the majority of building materials are also linear in nature.  A Series of parallel deep and wide trenches lined in plastic are readily covered and will be a safer option than a larger circular open volume cistern. 

While not all of the water collected by the community needs to be potable, having a large water purification system in place will be a tremendous asset.  The slow sand filter system devised for the homesteads can be applied directly here at a much larger scale.  In fact these types of systems are still utilized at some municipal level facilities in a number of countries and as recently as the mid-50’s here in the United States.

Obviously communities and homesteads that are able to implement strategies of municipal utility and food supply replacement the smoothest will fare the best, which will be critical for social and civil restoration.   The upside is it is vastly easier to have a first world nation create third world infrastructures than it is the other way around.  The downside is that most people have no real causal understanding of the way our infrastructure works.  People are dependent upon strangers and a system they don’t really understand. By reversing this trend, by learning self sufficiency amid mounting uncertainty will make people feel more in control.  This will be even truer for the enormous desperate plight of people seeking any manner in which to survive in a catastrophe.  They will take a hand-out, but will need more and that more should be followed by a hand up, in the form of a means to contribute to their own survival.  By providing purpose, direction and motivation you can achieve authority and credible leadership to get a large number of people to actively and willingly participate in their own survival, which ultimately will assist you in yours, as otherwise they would become a threat risk.  One of the fastest ways to establish this authority and trust is to demonstrate competence in homesteading.  Competence you can learn and develop today when the practice is inexpensive and painless.  The harsh reality is that survival in the suburbs will require a community of people supporting and acting on mutually beneficial shared values and it will be wishful thinking expecting a differing result to let a crisis and societal collapse resolve itself.

Letter Re: Learning from an OPSEC Failure

Hello Mr. Rawles,
The shopper who had a badoperational security (OPSEC) experience at the grocery store is not alone. Here in Canada I had the same thing happen to me in a slightly different way. It was a tax free weekend at a major store and I stocked up on everything subject to both provincial (state) and federal sales tax. Big (12%) savings on every item that wasn’t food. I provision a family of seven, I wait for these weekends. For the first time I noticed I was stared at by other shoppers by hour two of my shopping trip. No matter the deals, I still need to count each item and decide for value against my budget and current inventory.

In Canada we tend not to comment so much, but four times !!! I had people mention about my big load, two even had the audacity to say my shopping trip looked expensive. Most of the expensive items were little: sunscreen, toiletries, cleaning products, etc. The bulky items: sacks of rice, 5 gallons of oil etc were relatively cheap. As to the comments, where I live that is simply not done. There were a lot of half full carts around me, but I was the only one filled to the top. I live in one of the most expensive towns in Canada, it was shocking to me. In general, to me it feels like the nerve of people seems to have changed slightly in the past two years.

To increase OPSEC I hve been switching to online shopping, scheduling ‘in person’ shopping for more than twice per week, and taking my inventory planning even more seriously. If it is on sale I will now consider two or more trips split between my husband and myself to stock up. If hubby can’t shop and I do take two trips to the store to load up on specific items I will make sure to split my visits between morning and evening to lessen the number of times shift staff sees me, and I will vary my methods of payment, debit, cash and credit card. I will also, of all things, switch between wearing a suit, high heels, make up and ‘done’ hair for work, and my ‘shlubby’ clothes, a pony tail and a very casual look. Most people never notice dressing option 2, and clothing option 1 may be noticed but consigned to ‘working Mom’ category. If people need to label me, I’ll take advantage of it.

Those are my best options for being invisible in a crowd at the grocery store. I would love to hear of other options from other preppers.


I am a Scout Master in a local Boy Scout troop. After years of camping with Scouts it has become apparent to me that most propane camp stoves have a very short life span, even the name brand units. They work great for the occasionally camp out but they start leaking around the connections and they are not field serviceable. Many years ago, I was given an old Coleman white gas stove. I cleaned it up and have used it extensively over the last 30 years. Other than replacing the few parts, which are field serviceable, the stove is still going strong. I also purchased a propane adapter so that I could run the stove on propane in addition to white gas. I believe that the fuel flexibility and ruggedness of the Coleman white gas stove are two characteristics that are valuable considerations for anyone looking for a camp stove. Just recently, I found a Coleman white gas camp stove on Freecycle. I replaced the only part that was keeping the stove from working, a leaking cap on the gas tank. Now I have a second stove. If your readers have opted for a propane camp stove they many want to consider changing to the rugged, field serviceable white gas model. Thanks for all you do. - J.S.R. in Kalifornia

Reader Jamie D. mentioned that the government's own documents show that the FSA program's food warehouses are effectively empty. Jamie notes: "Government still hasn’t begun to replenish actual reserves of food. This is mandated, funded, and empty. If the gulf disaster results in toxic rains that impact crops, the government will have no reserves of wheat, corn, soy, et cetera."

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Chavez pushes Venezuela into food war. (Thanks to Matt D. for the link.)

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G.G. flagged this: Knoxville City Council approves backyard chickens

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Keith B. spotted this: Brazil to end foreign land purchases.

"It has always seemed strange to me… the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second." - John Steinbeck

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 29 ends on July 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 are a family of five living in Houston, Texas. Within the past several years, we have faced several dangerous situations where we were caught blindsided. Among those where several hurricane evacuations, and most recently, we experienced a forced evacuation from our home, after a chemical plant leaked and exploded nearby. Prior to these incidents, we had no thoughts of survival skills, prepping or preparing for disaster. While these experiences were very unpleasant, we are actually thankful for them because they served as a huge wake up call for our family to prepare.

One of the most important things we did was to write out a “risk mitigation” plan to help us through the upcoming hard times. This was a very basic plan of action that would help our family better weather any crisis, whether it be an economic, job loss, or any other natural disaster. This article is a synopsis of our plan.

Risk mitigation is the process of assessing certain risks, and developing a plan to minimize the impact of those risks. Your plan should include three basic steps:

Step One: Identify and assess which potential risks threaten your family. Examples of risks that you may want to consider are accidents, job losses, crime, acts of violence, natural disasters, economic collapse, long term unemployment, food shortages and medical crises.

Step Two: Prioritize the risks and determine which are more likely to occur. Do you live in an earthquake prone area? Do you have a chronic medical condition? Do you live in a large metropolitan city? Are you financially stable? No one likes to examine their weaknesses, but it is critical that you take a realistic look at your present situation, to find your weak areas. These are the cracks that may later grow into huge problems. It is better to work through them now!

Step Three: Develop a coordinated plan to minimize, monitor and control the impact of the risks.

I am going to share a basic overview of the basic plan that we came up with for our family. While it is not comprehensive, it will provide some readers an opportunity to see what our family is doing, and perhaps encourage others to get started. We recently had to put our plan to the test after we faced a huge setback – a job layoff! We were so thankful to have been prepared to help us navigate safely through the crisis!

We divided our plan in to four main categories:

1. Financial Security

2. Food Security

3. Home & Personal Security

4. Health Security

Financial Security

· Our first priority was to get and stay out of debt. If you are like most Americans, this will be a huge hurdle, but not an impossible one. We used the principles set out in Dave Ramsey’s web site and attacked our debt aggressively. We are Christians and committed our plan to God. He empowered us – miraculously - to pay off a huge debt that seemed like a bottomless pit. After years of struggling and feeling hopeless, we can say that “Nothing is impossible with God.” We are now living debt free. We follow Biblical principles with our money management and trust God to provide.

· We set aside a cash savings for emergencies. It is important to have funds accessible in a crisis. The amount isn’t as important as having something set aside. In a crisis, the ATM machines will likely be out of order or nonfunctioning. We experience this during Hurricane Rita. Make sure you have some cash.

· Eliminate as many extra bills as possible. We focus only on the basic needs of our family such as food, clothing and shelter. We have given up cable, fitness clubs, and instead read, garden and have learned new skills.

· We examined our investments and made some changes to better protect our assets. This included moving a larger percentage of our investments into gold, silver and precious metals.

· We save as much money as we can every month.

Food Security

· We started to maintain a three month supply of food in our home, at all times. This is our short term supply. Most of this is ready to eat or food with a shorter shelf life. We stock up on basic items and have built up our pantry.

· We slowly built a reserve of freeze dried foods for long term storage. This is costly so we are taking it slow, buying only what we can when we have the extra money. We would like to build up to having a year of food storage. Again, this is a work in progress.

· We store a two week supply of water, and have resources for purification in an emergency. We have purchased a Big Berkey water filter, water purification tablets, store extra bleach.

· Most importantly, we have become avid gardeners, and have started growing our own food in our backyard. We have several fruit trees, and several raised garden beds. We have planted foods that our family enjoys to eat, and have learned how to plant, grow and harvest heirloom garden seeds.

· We have alternative methods for cooking our food, should we lose power. We have a camp cook stove, propane, Sterno fuel and purchased a Volcano emergency cook stove.

Home & Personal Security

· Car Safety. We keep our cars well maintained, stocked with basic emergency supplies, a first aid kit, a tool box and maps. After watching the runs on gas stations during the Hurricanes’, we learned to keep our vehicles filled up with gas at all times. We maintain at least ½ a tank at all times, and store a small gas reserve in our garage.

· Personal Security. We took a class on gun safety and learned how to shoot a gun. This was very difficult for us, as we have never owned a gun. We have secured our home with alarm system, property lighting, guard dogs and a weapon for self defense. We are alert to our surroundings and are learning new evacuation routes using back roads.

· Bug out Bags. We have them packed and ready to go on a moment’s notice. They contain food, clothing and basic supplies for 3 to 5 days away from home.

· We have started saving to buy land and secure a retreat in the country. This is a long term goal for our family. We desire to become as self sufficient as possible.

Health and Well Being

· We focus on eating right; taking vitamins, exercising and getting proper rest.

· We are Christians and maintain an active relationship with our Lord, Jesus Christ. We attend church, read our Bibles, and surround ourselves with fellow believers who offer encouragement and moral support. We cast our burdens on God, and pray for wisdom in decision making.

· Due to a chronic medical condition, we store extra prescription medications. We have also assembled a large and well stocked first aid kits. We keep one in each vehicle and one in our house.

In conclusion, risks are always changing and you may never be fully prepared to face all of them, but that is not a reason to ignore them! Take some time to write down what dangers your family might face, and do your best to mitigate the damage by preparing for them now. Use all the resources available in the SurvivalBlog archives and start doing something today!

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I read your site daily and am very appreciative of your work and that it is from a Christian perspective. Thank you so much.

I wanted to relay a personal operational security (OPSEC) failure that happened last week that your readers may learn from.

My Husband is gone on an extended business trip and before hand I had convinced him to allow me to "prep" for his being gone. We have several young children and I didn't want to have to go shopping regularly. While my Husband is not a prepper, he is slowly listening to me and allowed me to take a dry run for his business trip.

However, due to extending hospitality and several illnesses I had to run out to restock. The way I did it was a big mistake. I drew attention to myself and I had honestly never thought about that before. First, I filled my cart to overflowing. My thought process was I have several young children who I could tell were about to get sick, I was starting to come down with something and my Husband is away for a few more days. I figured get it all and get it home and then at least I don't have to run out with sick kids in a few days. While this is a good way to manage my time and errands, something very uncomfortable happened.

People were staring at me. This was at a big box store, it should have been common place there...but it wasn't. I haven't left the house much in the last several months, but people's carts were very empty. As I was going to the check out line a woman who worked at the store gave me a dirty look and loudly demanded to know "Where do you work that you can fill your cart up like that? I want your job" Several people shook their heads in agreement. I started to realize the situation and just wanted to get out of there.

In the line, people started asking me why I was buying so much (I honestly wasn't...we are talking mostly one of each item and not more than one cart full..that is why this was so freaky). I told them I don't get out much with young children.

I had planned to pay cash because we are teaching our children about using cash when we realized they kept playing grocery store using a "card" (I use a debit card). I had brought enough cash with me and it was a significant amount. I told the cashier I wanted to pay cash, and she gave me a double take. The people around me already staring started watching in earnest now. I realized I needed to get out of there and needed to not look like I had cash on me. I acted like I forgot the money then asked her to run my card like a credit card. I then got the heck out of there.

The cashier then made a big deal about how I needed someone to help me to my car. I had just one cart! She insisted that I had purchased so much I needed help. Then the manager insisted I accept help. I honestly didn't know what the heck was going on. I wasn't taking a sofa out. I just had a cart of some things. It was embarrassing, but it was also getting a bit scary. It brought everyone around me to watch me leave.

This was very, very strange. I by no means live in a low income area, in fact, quite the opposite. But I noticed people watching me, watching what I bought and what I paid for it. I have never had that happen.

I have decided that I will purchase more things either by themselves or online. I am trying to cultivate sources for things that are local and can be paid for cash, but this is very hard. However, I will not fill my cart again at one of these stores. It seems the economy has caused people to become very curious when someone is buying things..and possibly jealous.

I hope this might help another reader. I actually got a bit scared from all the attention and have never experienced that in my life. I am by no means rich, but I will be sure to look a a lot poorer next time I go out.
Thank you, - Mrs. R.

Mr. Rawles,
Alex's post on dogs in a post-SHTF world was very informative but I think he dismissed cats far too easily. I've been both a dog and cat owner my entire life and though my dogs throughout my lifetime have been wonderful hunters, protectors, and companions none have been quite as useful as my cats in keeping the mouse, squirrel, and roach (especially important having a retreat property in the deep south) population down to a minimum. Not to mention cats have a far lower daily consumption of food and water and take up less room in a bug out vehicle.
Sincerely, - A Southern Prepper

Mr. Rawles:
While I appreciate Alex C.'s recommendations for dogs in his "Surviving with Pets," submission, I'd like to respectfully add some insight for him and others who may think like him. He wrote, "...it's hard to see the value of a cat in a post apocalyptic world other than as a companion animal...and to alert to possible unseen threats...." Here are 15 reasons why cats (and I am referring to domesticated cats) will be valuable in a post-apocalyptic world. And while I sometimes contrast cats to dogs in my analysis, I am in no way trying to diminish a dog's value after TSHTF, in my opinion both cats and dogs are always important assets.

1. The number 1 pragmatic, post-apocalyptic value to cats is their ability to control the rodent population (which is why barns always come with a barn cat or two). During times when access to modern rodent control methods may be in short supply, keeping one's living space, food storage and harvest preserved from rodent infestation and diseases will be critical to survival. Furthermore, even pre-TEOTWAWKI, I don't believe any modern rodent control method has yet managed to supersede the ability of a cat. While there are some dog breeds which are useful for killing rodents, I daresay none come as naturally equipped as the cat. This reason alone justifies keeping them around after TSHTF, but for those of you unconvinced, I continue.

2. Cats do not require much food, water or space--a good return on investment when everything is in short supply.

3. Though not as hygienic as owner-provided food, cats can manage to supply their own food--see above "rodent control." Self-sustaining is always a good thing, right?

4. Cats are low maintenance which frees the owner for all those other needful TEOTWAWKI tasks. Cats need less (if any at all) training, attention, supervision, caution around strangers, exercise, bathing, grooming, medical care, "chewing management," poop clean-up, kennel clean-up, and yard restoration (for diggers) than dogs.

5. While many dogs, by nature, foolishly rush in where angels fear to tread, getting into significant trouble at the wrong time (remember "I Am Legend?"), cats by nature are extremely cautious and stealthy. They would wisely rather let you go first and check it out. This trait unburdens owners from pet-created snafus.

6. Cats are safe companions. They do not attack unless provoked and cornered. Even in circumstances where they do attack a human, they are not a fatal threat to a human's life. Neither do they form packs which threaten a human's life. A cat may hiss, strike out and bite a person because they feel threatened (which, I admit, for some injured or ill cats may just mean coming within striking distance of them), but after making a brief show, even feral cats will always choose to flee and hide rather than to persist in subduing, maiming or consuming a human. This predictable, evasive behavior is an asset under TEOTWAWKI circumstances--in other words, you can trust your cat to remain a "safe" companion. A dog can unpredictably "go bad" and pose a threat, even to its own familiar human community. Now all of us intend to train our dogs so well that "this could never happen to us," but the truth is aging, malnutrition, pre-programmed genetic instinct, lack of exercise, lack of stimulation, illness, stress, the introduction of another dog, etc. can trigger an unforeseen catastrophic attack--the dire impact of which will be multiplied under teotwawki circumstances where medical care is hard to come by.

7. Cats usually manage their own safety and can survive various threats without assistance from their owners. A cat evades threats on its own, which leaves its owner to focus on family safety. Hopefully, the cat will be retrieved once calm has been restored. While cats tend to stay out of the way, dogs, however, in the heat of an untrained-for circumstance, and in their eagerness to add value, can add a complicating, even fatal, factor to the fray. To be fair, I must add that dogs can also be a life-saving asset in such circumstances as well. Alex wisely advises that training is essential to minimize the negative contingency and maximize the positive, but my point is that with cats, one doesn't need lengthy training because they are naturally evasive and non-confrontational.

8. Critical for OPSEC, unless meowing for food, in a fight, or in heat, cats are the embodiment of quiet, stillness, and "hiding in plain sight"--especially when they sense danger.

9. Critical for OPSEC, cats do not need to be let outside for bodily functions.

10. Critical for OPSEC, cats do not need to be let outside ever, whereas a dog needs outdoor activity for health and sanity. A dog moving around outside quite easily garners the notice of anyone within sight.

11. With their having perfected the art of relaxation, their lap-sized dimensions, ability to conform to your body, desire to sleep most hours of the day, their charm, beauty, purr, soft fur and warmth, cats have the ability to soothe and relax human companions like no other animal--an extremely valuable commodity under high stress conditions. Doctors have been known to prescribe owning a cat in order to lower blood pressure or reduce other effects of stress. Conversely, playing with a cat can be highly entertaining, eliciting much-needed comic-relief and laughter. Thus, add a cat to your TEOTWAWKI medicine chest.

12. As Alex mentioned in "Surviving with Pets," cats are valuable for post-apocalyptic companionship. Like dogs, they are intelligent, affectionate animals which bring happiness and minimize loneliness for adults and children.

13. Also, as Alex mentioned, cats, like dogs, are able to detect unseen threats, but unlike dogs, they usually alert their owner without auditory vocalizations--another OPSEC benefit. Cats instead use an amazingly effective body language to convey alarm and they do it infrequently enough so that whenever an owner sees his cat in an alarmed state, he knows to pay attention. And if a cat's visual cues to its owner are not enough, the cat will resort to "tactile" alerts in the form of firm, prodding claw pokes to the owner's skin whenever the cat thinks the circumstance warrants it.

14. While it would be extremely rare for a cat to sacrifice itself for its owner as dogs are known to do, cats, probably due to their instinct for self-preservation, have been known to wake their sleeping owners to house fires or other emergencies--thereby saving the family. Although not guaranteed, one more potential safety factor I don't mind having around now or then .

15. Survivalists should have some level of respect for the cat as the "ultimate survivor." Who else gets the reputation for having "nine lives?" Maybe there's something important we can learn from them.

Sincerely, - L.G.


Mr. Rawles:
I had to comment on Alex's "Surviving With Pets" article. He was misinformed. I am not an expert, but my significant other and I train hunting dogs to the expectations of the AKC, UKC, NAVHDA, and the breed standard. We also train other various breeds for obedience. We stress to our clients that not every dog is "Hunting Material". Some dogs just don't have the instinct or the drive to become a dog you can hunt over. This is going to sound very opinionated, but it would be a ridiculous amount of work, if not impossible to train say a rottweiler to hunt upland game or track a deer you shot that took off. I speak from experience. I had the notion I could train some of our German Shepherds to hunt with our German Shorthaired Pointers and it was like trying to teach a pig to fly. They will hunt, stalk prey, and usually catch it. The problem comes in with trying to get the game from them. Their prey drive kicks in and they try to run off and find a quiet place to tear into it and eat it. They wont bring it back to their master. These are dogs that would retrieve a bumper thrown for them all day long. Something they consider a meal for themselves is a different story. Trying to get it from them is not an easy concept either. Also, Sporting breeds are trained to have a soft mouth. I have dogs that can retrieve an uncooked egg off the floor and fetch to hand without cracking it. the majority of "Non Sporting" Breeds are going to have a hard mouth and bite down with their back molars and crush small game, like rabbits, pheasant, quail, squirrels and you will be picking bones out of breast meat or trying to clean dirty intestinal contents off of what was usable meat.

The letter stated "Almost every breed of dog can be trained to hunt." I'm sorry but this is very far from right in my opinion. I believe only dogs that fall into the the Sporting, Hound, and Gun dog variety as labeled by the AKC, UKC, CKC, and various other kennel clubs can actually be trained to hunt. Which is why so much research and work went into dividing the various breeds into different groups by these organizations.

I'm assuming the author has never trained a dog to hunt or track. It was kind of obvious they had no knowledge of how much time goes into this training. Most dogs have it breed into them through their pedigree. Into their working bloodlines. I think every sporting dog breed has this controversy between Field Trailers and Show Homes. For example, Shorthairs. We have breeders that breed to show quality. You could go five generations back into their pedigree and have not one hunter. Then attempt to put one of their Show dogs on birds and it has no interest. The instinct has been breed out of them. A lot of Sporting dogs bought in pet shops have this problem also. They were breed by backyard breeders who have no concept of improving and bettering the breed and sold to a pet shop to make some extra cash.

Alot was said in the letter in regards to Dry dog food and how to preserve it and so forth. If you were using your dogs to hunt for food for yourself and your family, why would you not just place it on the raw food diet? Hello? Wolves, coyotes, wild dogs and so forth eat their fresh kill. Most hunters feed their dogs a raw food diet or grind up beaver or venison and feed that cooked with rice to their dogs.

Regarding the discussion of barking dogs, it's becoming a fairly common practice nowadays that vets are removing the voice boxes on dogs to eliminate barking. It cuts down on the amount of dogs owners have to relinquish due to their neighbors complaining to the homeowners association or police department about the noisy dog dog next door.

This author knew so much about a dogs nose, but nothing about the time and work and expense that goes into training a hunting dog. To take a pup at six months and put it all the way through the various tests and end up with a finished AKC Master Hunter that's qualified to be a guide dog at a hunt club roughly cost $10,000 which includes your birds, tests, time, and proofing. Do a web search on "Buy a Master Hunter quality dog" to check out the prices a finished dog sells for.

The author also referred the readers to contact their local pet store for classes. Seriously? That is bad advice. Stores like Petco and Petsmart will just refer you to the local humane society. Maybe the readers should refer to their Breed Club, or the local dog Club who usually offer classes taught by qualified instructors who have finished numerous dogs. Another option would be to hire a professional handler. In which case the dog gets sent away for six months to a year and comes back finished. - Christine in Illinois

G.G. suggested this: Niall Ferguson: Two year time horizon for US fiscal crisis

Andrew H. spotted this piece over at Jesse’s Café Américain: Silver leaving the COMEX. Andrew asks: "[I]s there a reason why some of these well-heeled investors suddenly want their silver, and are either going in person to get it or arranging for armored car delivery? It makes one wonder what might be coming our way in the coming weeks."

Brian B. sent this: The Associated Press: Canada's economy is suddenly the envy of the world

Thanks to Brett G. for flagging this: NIA Releases 2010 U.S. Inflation Report

Items from The Economatrix:

Stocks Fall After New Housing Sales Drop 33%

Oil Prices Slide As Stockpiles Build

Bob Chapman: Fiat Money and Schemes Collapsing

Cost of Seizing Fannie and Freddie (financed properties) Surging

Financial Overhaul 101: Protecting US Consumers

Battered Eurozone Vulnerable to Crisis

Rise of the New Gold Rush

Gold's Good Times

The US Dollar Falls By Fall

Jerry E. sent this item: Belarus president halts gas flow. [JWR Adds: I guess that from now on, they'll be calling him "President MasterBlaster".]

   o o o

Jonesy, in Alberta, Canada highlighted this: Eat up – we may soon witness the decline and fall of a food empire

   o o o

EMB mentioned this at Frugal Living: Coupons Sources You May Not Have Thought Of

"We should do well to remember that, since time immemorial, gold has successfully acted as the ultimate extinguisher of debt — until it was forcibly removed from the international monetary system in 1971. Since 1971 governments have pretended that paying debt in U.S. dollars extinguished it, too. But in fact it did not. Debt was merely transferred from the debtor to the U.S. government and kept accumulating. Debt accumulation has a natural limit. This limit has now been reached." - Dr. Antal Fekete, What You Always Wanted to Know About Gold

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 29 ends on July 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 our day-to-day lives most people seem to take our pets for granted. They are a welcome sight after a long day’s work, and a loyal companion with whom we can share our deepest darkest secrets. Our pets love without condition, and many of us return that love to our pets when our lives seem to be going well. However, far too often our animal friends are either left out of survival plans unintentionally and left to fend for themselves, or removed with cruel forethought and left to suffer alone.

It can be understandable that a person would want to ensure their own welfare and survival or that of their family over the welfare of an animal; however, those who consider themselves "preppers" have not rightfully earned that title until they have implemented plans to deal with the problem of surviving with pets. Pets can be valuable survival tools or terrible hindrances depending on how well you have prepared. Being a dog person myself, it's hard to see the value of a cat in a post apocalyptic world other than as a companion animal to help stave off loneliness, and to alert to possible unseen threats (something a dog is also capable of along with many other endearing traits).

Almost every breed of dog can be trained to hunt. When your very survival could depend on being able to find the sustenance provided in the meat of just one rabbit or squirrel, a dog's acute sense of smell and hearing, plus that inexplicable 6th sense to tell them when something else is "out there", could mean the difference between living to see another day, and dying a slow and painful death from starvation. The unconditional love that a dog feels towards its owner can compel the dog to heroic feats of courage in the face of deadly attacks from other animals (be they two or four legged), and in the coldest throws of the darkest nights, the warm embrace of a K-9 friend as they lay their head against your chest and breathe softly and calmly can be the emotional support one needs to get up the next morning and start the daily cycle of surviving once more.

Of course, trying to survive with pets does present greater challenges as well. They are another mouth to feed; another body that needs water; they attract dangerous animals as they are usually easy prey; they can be loud when it is imperative that no sound be made; and they take up room in cars/boats/shelters that might be used for storage. Make no mistake, having a pet after the SHTF will become a more difficult task than just having to get up in the middle of the night to let them outside. Rigorous training needs to be in place so that every command given to your animal is followed to the letter, and if that's not possible, you may have to face letting go of your beloved friend to ensure the safety and survival of your family. To help prepare you for that inevitable day, here are a few things that one must consider when prepping yourself and your pets for TEOTWAWKI: (We'll use dogs as an example because after all, dogs are man’s best friend, and arguably present the best possible chance at surviving because of this)

#1 - Bringing Your Pet: First and foremost, you need to know ahead of time if your pet will be joining you on your quest to survive after TEOTWAWKI. If so, then you need to start training now (if you haven't already). Training must include the ability to stay completely still without any movement, and to remain absolutely quiet unless otherwise ordered. In a post apocalyptic world, man will join the ranks of "beasts". We will have to rely on our senses to find food, and to avoid danger. Our animal instincts will need to be sharpened back to the point of our cave dwelling ancestors if we want the best chance of surviving. Since that will not happen overnight, we must rely on our K-9 friends to use their already impeccable senses to keep us out of harm’s way, and to keep food in our stomachs. This will not be possible if your dog runs around barking at everything and not listening to your commands. A barking dog could alert a hungry animal or worse, a hungry person, to your whereabouts. The ability of your animal to remain still and silent while you use your advanced brain to assess the situation at hand will prove to be invaluable when the ruffling of leafs, or just a few decibels of sound at the wrong time can mean the difference between life and death.

Teaching your dog to aid in hunting will also be valuable. Their highly tuned senses alert them to the presence of other animals far before we humans have any clue that an animal has been anywhere nearby.

"The structure of a dog's nose gives it a sense of smell that is much better than a human's. A dog's nose has two hundred million nasal olfactory receptors. Each receptor detects and identifies the minute odor molecules that are constantly flying off different objects. Of all a dog's senses, its sense of smell is the most highly developed. Dogs have about 25 times more olfactory (smell) receptors than humans do. These receptors occur in special sniffing cells deep in a dog's snout and are what allow a dog to "out-smell" humans. Dogs can sense odors at concentrations nearly 100 million times lower than humans can. They can detect one drop of blood in five quarts of water! Sniffing the bare sidewalk may seem crazy, but it yields a wealth of information to your dog, whether it's the scent of the poodle next door or a whiff of the bacon sandwich someone dropped last week. When a dog breathes normally, air doesn't pass directly over the smell receptors. But when the dog takes a deep sniff, the air travels all the way to the smell receptors, near the back of the dog's snout. So for a dog, "sniffing is a big part of smelling".

Hunting and obedience classes and training aides can be found in nearly every city across America. Local pet stores should have information on clinics and schools nearby, and if you still need help, a simple Google search will produce a wealth of information online.

Of course, not every dog can be trained to serve as a survival dog. Some dogs are simply too old already to learn how to aid in survival. Too many bad habits have already been formed, and the amount of time required to correct them simply isn't realistic. Other dogs have cognitive disorders akin to A.D.D. that prevent them from ever really learning how to obey commands. That doesn't mean that you can't have years of love and faithfulness with them, it simply means that they will most likely hinder your ability to survive after the SHTF. If you find that such is the case, it is important that you plan accordingly. If your pet is nearing or already in their twilight years, a natural ending is most likely going to occur before TEOTWAWKI. However, if your dog is still young and you've found that no amount of training has been able to correct unwanted habits, you will need to face the decision of ending your dog’s life.

Already in our day to day life, the prospect of living without our beloved canine friends is heart wrenching. The thought of being the one to end their lives is more than even I can bear to think about without stressing my emotions, yet it is a situation that needs to be addressed. You must think about it ahead of time so that you will be prepared when the day comes because when faced with the possibility of a slow and painful death, or the grotesque demise of one's family, the decision on whether or not to part with your dog must be made. If you choose to part ways, please, please be humane about it. Do not tie your dog up and leave them as easy prey for whatever my roam by. Make it quick, and make it painless. The guilt of doing otherwise might also hinder your chances at survival.

#2 - Food and Water: It's likely that you've already planned out your own food and water needs. You may have large air tight containers filled to the brim with purified mountain spring water, or perhaps a steadfast filtration system and a nearby water source. You may have large bags of grains or legumes piled high in a basement, or a garden with a variety of foods and the ability to harvest seeds year after year. Whatever the case, it's doubtful that you have considered how much of that food and water would be spared for your pets should you need to ration. The Golden Retriever and the Labrador are the most popular breeds of dog in America. Each of these dogs can weigh anywhere from 60 to 100+ pounds from the time they are one year old to the time they pass away, and can live nearly 20 years! "The average dog drinks about 1/2 to 1 ounce per pound per day". That means that an 80 lb Lab or Retriever needs roughly 40-to-80 ounces or 5-10 cups of water. That is proportionally the same amount as a human. So when calculating your water needs, remember to add one more "person" to the equation.

When it comes to feeding dogs, things may get a little tricky. Dogs can eat almost all the same foods as humans, with a few exceptions such as onions, chocolate, macadamia nuts, and a few others. So if you have food stored away, chances are you will be able to share some with your canine friend. However, the daily caloric requirements for dogs is roughly the same as that of humans, so if you're planning on sharing food, make sure you count one more "person" in on your food storage needs also. A better alternative might be to start stocking up on dog food. One thing to keep in mind is that according one good authority "most dry foods have a shelf life of one year, while canned products are usually good for two years from the date of manufacture"

It's doubtful that you will only plan on surviving for that long, so additional measures will need to be taken to preserve the pet food longer. Dry dog food isn't totally dry; it has oils in it that are good for the dog. You might notice this if you pick up a handful of food and rub it between your palms. Storing the food in vacuum sealed containers will help preserve it, but it cannot guarantee the same texture for years to come since most vacuum containers do not remove 100% of the air. The food will likely dry out, but will still be good to eat. The only question at that point is will your dog still be a picky eater. (And yes, it is generally safe for humans to eat dog food, though the lack of moisture and lower protein concentration found in most foods make them not the best choice for long term survival).

#3 - Space: Unless you have horses, cattle or other farm animals as pets, most household pets don't take up very much room. Whether you have a cabin in the woods, a small apartment in the city, or a moderate suburban home, chances are you have enough room for an animal companion. But what if you need to get out of dodge in a hurry by car? Is there enough room to pack all your gear, your family and your pet? Do you drive a Prius or an F-350? Do you have a small Terrier, or a Great Dane? If you're not planning on staying put, transportation in a bug out scenario needs to be planned out.

If you've already decided that your pet is coming with you then you need to make sure you can actually bring them with you when you leave. True "preppers" will have most of their survival supplies in place already, with a Bug Out Bag or Kit ready to go in case the trip to safety demands a little survival of its own. But how much room is allotted for your pets? Do they get a full seat? Are they in a carrying case in the back with all your gear? Will they be on your lap or spread across a few laps in the back seat? Pets can't teleport to where you're going so you need to bring them with you and if you're not adequately prepared, that may mean you need to leave some supplies behind in order to fit them in.

Perhaps you're leaving on foot. Why not utilize your K-9 friend to help carry some gear? www.ruffwear.com has a variety of packs that every true "prepper" with a dog should have (no matter how you plan on "bugging out). Your dog could help lighten your load, or bring along extra supplies that you don't have room for. They can even carry their own food and water in a pack that detaches and leaves a harness still securely around the dog. Dogs can be trained to help with just about any task, but putting a pack on and walking is something that requires no training and no special skills.

Whatever your SHTF plan is, it should be constantly evolving to help you survive after TEOTWAWKI. If you are a pet owner, you need to decide early on what you will do with your pets and begin training with them just as you would with the rest of your family. Do not underestimate the usefulness of a trained animal in your ability to survive. Think of all the reasons why you love your pet, and then add to that the ability to truly save your life with the right training. Wouldn't you want to do them the courtesy of including them in your plans for survival? After all, they may be your best chance at doing just that.

I found an Internet vendor who makes and sells gun racks right here in the USA! His prices are good and he publishes the dimensions of the racks on his site so anyone who is handy can build them at home.

I know you hear this everyday but I’ll say it anyway. I sincerely enjoyed your books and SurvivalBlog. I am sorting my way through the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course.

I want you to know I appreciate your attempts to open the public’s mind to the crisis which is coming to our country. Knowledge gained and then positively applied is true wisdom. You have enabled me with knowledge and I am now applying it positively.

Best Regards, - Doug T. in West Virginia

McAfee recently sponsored and published a report on global cybersecurity gives some startling statistics on the preparedness of critical infrastructure in various countries to attack. It is available for free download, as a PDF. Here is a brief excerpt on security for Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) and Industrial Control Systems (ICS) , which run our infrastructure:

Executives generally reported very high levels of connection of SCADA systems to IP networks or the Internet, despite widespread acknowledgment about the risks involved. Seventy-six percent of respondents with SCADA/ICS responsibilities said their networks were “connected to an IP network or the Internet.” Nearly half of those connected, 47 percent, admitted that the connection created an “unresolved security issue.”

Connections to IP networks pose a vulnerability because they might allow unauthorized users access to the systems at the heart of critical infrastructure, said one veteran IT security executive. “The original SCADA design generally didn’t assume that the control systems would be exposed on networks where untrusted people had at least some level of access to them.” Much SCADA software was written “quite some time ago and has not been modified since.” The systems “are not [running] on the newest platforms, so they have those vulnerabilities that have been discovered over time.”

Because SCADA systems often combine hardware and software, they cannot be updated like regular software can be and replacing them is “hugely complex and hugely expensive,” said the veteran. There is “no mechanism for revisiting the system and changing them once vulnerabilities are discovered.”

It is important to note that the sample size for this survey is not very large, as only a handful of the overall sample of interviewed IT executives had SCADA/ICS related work. But it is still quite shocking. - N.R.

JWR Replies: The SCADA and ICS vulnerabilities to cyber attack must be one of the most ignored and under-reported news stories of the early 21st Century. Within the related industries, (like electric power, refining, water utilities, et cetera) management awareness of the threat seems to be lacking. In many cases, designers have added an IP interface to existing SCADA systems, but without any robust protection from external attack. This created an essentially unlocked "back door" to their systems. (By unlocked, I mean interfaces that can be compromised by only moderately sophisticated hackers.) For many years, embedded software writers lived in the fantasy land that they were somehow isolated and insulated from cyber attack. Open architectures changed all that. Any connection to "the cloud" is a threat. And they need to learn that that a manually-generated seven digit password is insufficient security! There are a few notable exceptions in the industry. One is the software work being done by Schweitzer Engineering Labs (in my old stomping grounds). Another is the work being done by Sandia National Laboratories. But generally, SCADA users are behind the power curve on the threat posed by terrorists and even just prankster hackers. It will be many years before a robust follow-on to SCADA is fielded. This will presumably have high security inherently designed into all layers and nodes. In the interim, we will continue to see cobbled-together systems that have huge hacking vulnerabilities.

Don't be surprised if someday our nation's power grids simultaneously go down for weeks, and we find out later that it wasn't EMP, and it wasn't a Carrington-scale solar flare. No, it was the Bu wei ren zhi team from Jiaotong University, or perhaps just a pimply-face teenager from Minot, North Dakota that stayed up late nights, drinking Red Bull.

There has been an e-mail widely circulating, with pictures of a Zeta drug cartel camp that was found near Higueras, Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. They uncovered quite the little arms cache--enough guns to make even my old friend "Dan Fong" envious. These photos were recently posted to a web page. It is noteworthy that the Zetas are just one of the many Mexican drug cartels. By the look of it, the majority of the weapons came straight from the Mexican Army. No doubt some very large stacks of cash changed hands with some Generals. And to answer one criticism: no Nancy and Diane, most of these guns did not come from gun shows in the American Southwest. You can't buy selective fire M4s with 14.5 inch barrels, RPG-7s, and 40mm grenades at gun shows. More about the M4s: If those had actually been smuggled commercial M4geries from the States, then they'd be in umpteen different configurations and have 16-inch barrels. Notice how those rows of M4s all look identical? Obviously, those were built to Ejército Méxicano contract specs. Now I suppose those two Barrett .50 rifles might have been smuggled from the States. They aren't in the TO&Es of most Mexican Army units, but they are used by their Special Forces.

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Reader EMB sent a link to a brief entry at the Al Dente blog: A Helpful Home Canning Resource

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Thomas Sowell asks: Is U.S. Now on Slippery Slope to Tyranny?

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Trent H. Suggested this: "Gasland": Will Natural Gas Save America ... or Destroy It? FWIW, my next novel (now nearing completion) is set primarily near Bloomfield, New Mexico. Why? Not only is Bloomfield bordered by natural gas fields, it is also served by one of the few truly self-sufficient independent power utilities in the country, the Farmington Electric Utility System (FEUS).

"When people lose everything, they have nothing left to lose. And they lose it." - Gerald Celente

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Here's a gift for the prepper that has everything: A dedicated digital device "Playaway" of my latest book. (I had no idea that such a product even existed. It looks like a pair of ear buds are included. Wonders will never cease!)


Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 29 ends on July 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.

You're sure there aren't any bugs in the garden.  The plants, the few that grew, don't look like there's an infestation or fungal problem.  There's no odd spots or discolorations.  And yet, the radishes and carrots, with their deceptively lovely tops, haven't produced anything more than pencil-thin roots underground.  The tomatoes produced one or two extremely delicious globes of fruit so that's encouraging, but they never got to the height you expected or produced the amount you thought they would.  And forget about the lettuce.  It didn't even show.  In fact, the only thing that seems to be doing well is the parsley and sage you planted as an afterthought.

This pretty much sums up my first two years gardening.  Discouragement haunted me those first two years and only four things kept me from giving up entirely:  the articles here on SurvivalBlog about prepping and TEOTWAWKI, the beautiful pictures I saw in Howard Garrett's book on gardening in Texas, comments I heard at the local farmer's market, and that one delicious tomato that had a taste I didn't know was possible inside those typically mealy and expensive fruits.

For those who have started gardening and feel like they have a black thumb, I offer a list of things to check that I used, one beginner to another.  My garden looks much better today because of it and we may even have enough tomatoes to add salsa and spaghetti sauce to our food storage.

1.  Soil

Ideally, this should be checked before you even put plants in the ground.  We did.  But we didn't know what to do with the information.  Our soil test said we needed to add more nitrogen.  We're trying to avoid using conventional [petrochemical fertilizer] methods of growing since we doubt it'll exist after the collapse.  So, we did some research online and found some who said nitrogen is always low because of the nature of the test and not to worry about it, while others said the problem could be fixed by adding more compost. 

We tried adding more compost.  It didn't work.

We then read a book called Gardening When It Counts by Steve Solomon.  I highly recommend every beginning gardener read this book.  Through it, we learned not only that soil must be balanced, but so must compost.  I won't go into all the details here since every garden's soil is different.  The book does a much better job of explaining.  To sum up, compost is not the answer to every soil problem.  In fact, if it's unbalanced, it will make the problems worse.  In our case, we found cottonseed meal and blood meal did an excellent job of adding nitrogen.  Our plants are growing much better than we expected, even with our laxity in the other items I will add to the checklist in a moment.

Another important question to answer is whether your soil leans toward clay or sand.  It's a pretty simple test and I've seen it in more than one place.  Solomon's book discusses it, as does another gardening book I like, the e-book Growing Your Groceries by Kimberly Eddy.

Take a quart canning jar with a lid that will screw on tight enough that no water will escape during the test.  Then, take about a pint of soil from where you plan on growing your garden.  Clear out any plant matter and rocks, pummel the soil until it's as fine as you can make it, put it in the jar, make a line or similar mark to show where the top of your sample is inside the jar (we used masking tape and a permanent marker), fill it up with water to about an inch from the top, add 1 teaspoon dish detergent to help break up the soil, screw on the lid, and shake vigorously for five to ten minutes.  Older kids and a spouse come in real handy during this process.  What you're trying to do is break the soil up as completely as possible.  Once your soil is looking uniformly finely ground, set down the jar in a sunny window or some other well-lit place and time two minutes from the moment you set the jar down.  While you wait, get a flashlight since you may need it for the next part as well as a marker and possibly some tape.  We found masking tape worked well.  At exactly two minutes, you'll see that some of the soil has accumulated on the bottom.  We didn't have any difficulty seeing it because of the nature of our soil, but some might, so shine the flashlight on the jar to help find the top part of that accumulation.  Make a mark.

That first mark is the amount of sand in your soil.  We have extremely sandy topsoil;  that's why ours was easy to see.  At two hours, make another mark to show where the accumulation is at that point.  That's your silt level.  If you really want to be thorough with this test, wait until the water turns clear to get your clay level.  It could happen within a day.  Ours took several days.  It looks like we have very fine clay in our soil.

Once you have all these marks, calculate the percentage of each.  Divide the height of that original mark into the other marks you made after the shake-up.

Solomon recommends doing this for every soil layer up to three feet deep or until you reach the point at which roots can't go beyond, whichever comes first.  We've only done topsoil so far. 

The reason this test is so important is because it lets you know how much water your soil will hold, if any.  Ours is almost entirely sand.  There's so little clay in it, it's not worth measuring.  It doesn't hold any water.  Judging by how bad our foundation is, I'm guessing the subsoil is sand as well.  I'll come back to this when we discuss watering.

For those with the resources, it may be easier to add topsoil and ignore the ground underneath.  Some of our friends did that, and they have found the cost is worth it in the amount of vegetables they got.  We feel strongly we should try to improve the soil in our area, if not for ourselves, then for those who may try to grow something after we've moved elsewhere.

If you don't have the money to do much to your soil, or feel as we do, then the next item becomes even more important.

2.  What Are You Growing?

My husband and I discovered we were trying to grow medium to high maintenance plants in poor soil.  We also were growing them too close together for our climate.

When we first started, we used a very popular book on gardening as our guide.  The plants ended up spaced very close together and it felt like we were watering all the time to no effect.  Sometimes even with daily watering they would look incredibly limp during our blistering Texas summers. 

Based on what we'd been reading, we asked ourselves a few questions:

*  Is the soil right for this plant (each one has slightly different needs)?
*  Is it too close to other plants?
*  Is it getting too much sun?
*  Is it native to this area?  If not, does it grow well anyway?
*  Does anyone else have success with this plant?  (Places to find out include farmer's markets, neighbors and co-workers who garden, local gardening clubs, etc.)  If they do, what do they do and how much effort does it take?
*  Is it getting too much water?  Too little?

If you planned your garden using a book, cross-reference your plant with other books to see what they have to say.  Definitely check out any and all guides you can find on growing plants in your specific area, the more local, the better. 

In our case, we found out that tomatoes do fantastic in Texas in our area.  They adore the heat.  We have planted lots of them and accept whatever free tomato plants others are trying to give away.  On the other hand, we've chalked the peach tree off as a loss now that we know they're very high-maintenance trees in our area.  We are going to focus on blackberries instead.  We've also learned carrots are tricky when it comes to watering initially and have decided to focus on them next year.

If I had it to do over again, I would start my initial garden with a focus on herbs, beans, greens (like kale and collard), barely domesticated edible plants (like Jerusalem artichoke), and maybe some beets for soup.  Oh, and tomatoes.  All except the tomatoes are easier to grow.

3.  Water

Perhaps water is not an issue in your area.  If so, you are blessed. 

Here in Texas, it is.  We learned from Gardening When It Counts that spacing the plants too close together means the water in the soil gets absorbed faster by the plants.  Sure enough, this year, when we planted them a bit further from each other (closer than recommended in Solomon's book) they seemed to like the room and water, though still an issue, was not as desperate a situation as previous years.  At least until the dog days arrived early.  However, because they had a better start than other years, they're handling the heat somewhat better.

So, if your soil is appropriate, and the plants are low-demand, but they aren't growing as well as they should, water should definitely be checked.  Unfortunately, the best advice we found is also the most frustrating for those like us who like measured amounts:  the right amount of water for a plant is whatever it needs. 

Another fantastic book we used this year is the American Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Gardening.  Our tomatoes looked a little dry so, as opposed to just following what that initial gardening book said, we looked it up in the "EofG".  The initial book recommended one to two gallons a week for tomatoes.  The recommendation from the EofG worked out to five to six gallons per plot a week in hot weather.  The latter one works much better for our tomatoes and has perked up our sluggish cucumber plant as well.  Now that we have an idea of just how much water our plants take, and now that we know the nature of our soil, we find ourselves, during dry spells, watering twice a day.

It is also possible, as we learned with carrots, to over water.  So, just like in the previous section, read lots of books and find out how much water locals use in their gardens and what they've found. 

Finally, on this subject, it's also important to watch your garden plot during a storm or a similar deluge.  Watch where the water goes.  Does it sink in quickly or pool on the surface?  Does it gather in one particular spot while the rest stays dry?  I'm sure others could think up several more, but those are the questions that stand out when I watch the rain hit my yard.  I've tried to plant with those natural pools and drier spots in mind and that's helped this year.

The point is to avoid any water-related stress.  It will stunt your plants' growth at every stage.  Even if they seem to recover, a plant never entirely recovers from it.  It will affect growth.  I've found there's an art to watering correctly.  With so many variables, it takes checking on the garden every day to make sure things are going well;  or, in our case, checking twice a day.

If you've done this much work so far, I'm sure you're asking yourself, do I really want to do this?  I personally believe everyone should have a garden.  I believe this because of what I've found a garden requires:  discipline, a good work ethic, the ability to prioritize, diligence, and observational skills.  If a person doesn't have these, a garden helps you acquire them, and at a faster rate than you thought possible.

A garden will help you understand the myths and stories of our ancestors.  If you're Christian, it will help bring to life many parts of the Bible.  If you have children who work with you in the garden (even our four year old has learned how to pull weeds) it can become a shared metaphor for things like bad habits (they're like weeds, easier to get rid of them when they're small) or how our actions affect our lives (you reap what you sow... even if it takes three years to figure out how to sow and reap correctly).

It also encourages humility.  All it takes is one hailstorm to realize how dependent we are on Providence for whatever we get each year from our efforts.  Mistakes, cut corners, and any slacking in the above mentioned character traits also encourage humility.  Humility is definitely something we need in this age when we think we can control nature itself.

So, even if it's a struggle to keep your plants alive, there are more reasons than fresh tomatoes to grow a garden.  Growing a garden makes one a better person.  With that in mind, please keep trying, keep learning, keep investing time while trying to make sure you aren't wasting money.

And if, after all this, it turns out you truly can't put in the effort, hone a useful skill and barter with the gardening friends you've made along the way for their produce.  If they're anything like my friends, they'll be willing to share with those who have something of value to trade.

I am a nurse anesthetist currently working in Georgia. In the short time of about a year, I have been involved with preparing for a possibly very ugly future. I wanted to state that your web site has been extremely helpful. Your contributors on the blog site have given me many directions in which to prepare and think, as well as yourself.

Last summer, I was in a Borders bookstore with my wife and was passing a table in which your novel; "Patriots" was presented. It caught my eye, and I bought it. It was a real page turner for me (especially for the events of the day).  "Patriots" made me acutely aware of how poorly my family was prepared. Although, my wife is not necessarily of like mind, she has felt that the need to be somewhat prepared for a minor catastrophe. Thus in her mind it would be worth the time and money that I would be putting into preparing our family.

Like others that visit your web site to glean information—some families are in the position of where only one member has to be the one to do the “heavy lifting” of sorts. I welcome this opportunity because I am the one that has the desire, means, and opportunity to get the materials and training done. Since reading your book, watching the news (which is maddening and depressing at best), and reading other recommended books from your site---I have been able to acquire the basics and built from there. Those being; shelter in a lightly populated area; water from a hand pump/Berkey filtration systems; food for approximately a year; weapons/ammunition; medical/dental supplies; wood burning stove with wood; rosaries/Bibles; and tools. Building on this, I have signed up for a medical survival course, wilderness survival course, and Front Sight weapons course. The Lord has allowed me to do much in a very short period of time that others may not be able to have the means to do---but as my mother reminds me----“When much is given, much is expected”. So while I do want to make my family safe—I am under no illusion that the Lord may bring many my family’s way for help/assistance.  But until that time, the prepping continues.

I would also like to thank a contributor that advised walking for a means of exercise to simulate real world situations in which one may have to travel a distance without the means of modern transportation. This suggestion spurned me to get out on the local high school track and walk. Fortunately, it is open 24 hours a day. Over the last couple months, I have worked up to walking 5 miles 3-4/week with an A.L.I.C.E. pack and boots. I do this at 4-5 am or 10-11 pm. I have read and trained up on doing some tying of ropes, which I practice for a short time on the bleacher rails (which would simulate helping others down a mountain/steep grade or even setting up a temporary shelter. Just a couple of suggestions with this type of training if you do it—start off with tennis shoes and work up to boots, start off with nothing on your back- then progress as tolerated with a light pack (I work out at the gym and felt I could do this in this manner—don’t hurt yourself, please). I also have the blisters on my feet to prove this isn’t something that comes easily. More suggestions: preemptively take some Tylenol or Ibuprofen to reduce the anticipated swelling (I also take regularly Tumeric seed, Emergen-C Joint Health (with glucosamine and chondroitin), cod liver oil, , olive oil which help reduce swelling and lubricate joints among other things) and a generic caffeine pill from Wal-Mart to get me through the workout in which I put myself through at funny hours of the day/night. This training has also given me a new appreciation for the men and women in the armed forces that defend our country---I really don’t know how they do it, no less be in the hot sun day in/out. My thoughts and prayers are with them (and your readers) as I hoof it around the track myself.

Thanks again to your many contributors and you. God Bless, - Michael in Georgia

Jeff E. spotted this article from Florida: Brazen home-invasion robberies stir Jupiter Farms residents to action

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RBS suggested this New York Post article: $7-a-gallon gas?

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Reader David W. wrote to mention that last week all of Intuit's online services went down for several days. This sent much of the company's critical accounting system, payroll and credit card business into cloudy limbo. Intuit's President sent out this apology. David comments: "This was reportedly caused by a power failure that cascaded. But no one is talking about where or how a massively redundant distributed, multi-locational system went down from a single outage."

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Cheryl sent a link to a piece over at Steve Quayle's site: Shopping For Your Survival Retreat. This is is a repost from a letter that originally appeared here at SurvivalBlog, by reader John J.

Conan The Objectivist: "Nay, to outwit your enemies, to see them fall at your feet -- to purchase their horses and goods at low, low prices, hear the lamentation of their women and to deliver a six-hour speech, exposing the shortcomings of their philosophy and worldview and establishing a sane and logical framework in its place. That is best." - Conan The Objectivist, Blogger Roberta X.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Last day! The special sale on the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course ends tonight (June 21st) at midnight, Pacific time.


Oh, and speaking of sales, keep in mind that the Mountain House sale, offered by Ready Made Resources ends on June 30th. Ordering any multiple of six can cases (even if mixed cases) gets you 25% off and free shipping. Partial cases are also 25% off, but $17 is charged for shipping.

I get regularly deluged with more than 200 e-mails per day, and that's not counting spam e-mails. I regret that I simply don't have the time to respond to all of your e-mails. To save time, here are some answers to some frequently-asked questions (FAQs):

1.) "Can you recommend a retreat group in my region?"

See my static web page titled: Finding Like-Minded People in Your Area

2.) "Why do you have a comma in the middle of your name?"

I use the comma to make a distinction between my Christian name, and my family name. My Christian name (James Wesley) is my property. My family name (Rawles) is the common property of all those that share the Rawles bloodline, and our wives. This is a Common Law distinction that is only used by a few right wingers who poke around law libraries. Every novelist seems to have an idiosyncratic affectation. George Bernard Shaw had his iron-clad five page per day writing limit. Clive Cussler has his car collection, and he includes an obscure collectible car in each of his Dirk Pitt novels. Charles Dickens cried when he read his own novels. The comma is my own little idiosyncrasy!

3.) "I can't find your personal Twitter or Facebook page. Is it hidden under a pseudonym?"

I'm not a member, nor do I want to be! Please refrain from trying to get me to join Facebook, or any of the other social networks. Getting dozens of daily "John Smith is following you on Twitter" messages drives me crazy. I consider social networking a huge OPSEC risk, and I advise my readers to cancel their accounts.

4.) "Could we get together for a cup of coffee when I pass through Moyie Springs, Idaho next week?"

Sorry, but I don't live anywhere near there! That is simply a mail forwarding address that I use, to help keep the actual locale of the Rawles Ranch secret.

5.) "Can you please forward my e-mail to Mr. X., who recently posted a letter in SurvivalBlog?"

For the privacy of my readers, I forward e-mails only under rare, exceptional circumstances. Also, be advised that I regularly scrub my e-mail folders, so I don't have addressees that date back more than a few months.

6.) "How can I read SurvivalBlog on my cell phone?"

We have an RSS Feed available. Click on "RSS" in the left hand bar. That will bring you to: feed://www.survivalblog.com/index.xml. If you aren't familiar with how to configure an RSS feed, see this tutorial.

7.) When I try to bring up your blog page in Firefox, I get a message saying: "Content Encoding Error" What is wrong? Is there a problem with your site, or with my computer?"

The problem is with you computer's cache settings, not with the SurvivalBlog site. It is actually fairly common, with many web pages. Try re-starting you browser. If you still get the same error message, the workaround is to close tabs with SurvivalBlog, then go though these Firefox menus: Tools -> Options... -> Advanced -> Network -> Offline Storage -> Clear Now

8.) "Can you appear as a guest on my podcast?"

Because of my time constraints of writing, editing, and running a ranch, I only do interviews on network or "major market" talk radio shows. So unless your radio show has a very large listenership, I generally have to pass. Sorry!

9.) "I'm writing my own novel. Attached is my draft. Could you please edit it for me or read it and make some suggestions?"

I'd love to, but I don't have the time. Sorry, but there aren't enough hours in the day.

10.) "Can you put a link to my blog on your Links page?

I'm generally willing to put folks on my Links page. but only for blogs and web pages that I think would be of interest to a large number of SurvivalBlog readers, and only if they have no objectionable material. (Assorted ranters, racists, anti-Christians, anti-Semites, loose wing nuts, blasphemers, and folks with girlie pictures on their web pages need not apply.) Also, keep in mind that I don't put up links until a blog can provide the bona fides of a six month track record, with at least weekly postings. (I've seen far too many blogs die young.)

11.) "Can you recommend an online dating site where I can meet a survivalist spouse?"

See my static web page titled: Finding Like-Minded People in Your Area.

12.) "I can't find the "Post" button on your site."

I don't allow “autoposting” of comments from SurvivalBlog readers. This is because A.) I don’t want to have to have the time to moderate the posts and B.) I know from past experience that if I were to allow autoposts, it would quickly degenerate into a venue for flame wars and foul language. So I pick and choose the letters that will be posted. I am the sole "filter" for what is posted on SurvivalBlog. Just e-mail me what you'd like me to post. (There is no "Post" button, so don't look for it!)

13.) "How can I order autographed copies of your books?"

Sorry, but I no longer do any mail order sales, so autographed copies of my later books are very hard to find.

14.) "When do you think that a Crunch or "Cliff Event" will actually happen?"

As I state in my Provisos page: I'm not a guru. I'm not a prophet. I'm just a guy with an opinion and perhaps the ability to extrapolate some trends. Your mileage may vary. I don't know when, but I do know how the world will end, because I read the last chapter of the book. Come swiftly, Lord Jesus!

Here are some fascinating country-living related books from Project Gutenberg. Some may be a little dated, given recent technological developments though...

Livestock feeder's manual

The Making of a Country Parish

A Woman's Wartime Journal (circa U.S. Civil War)

Home pork-making


Electricity for the Farm

Everyday foods in wartime (WWI)

On Horsemanship (Xenophon!)

Regards, - Jonathan W.

Hi Jim,
I know that several readers have mentioned that they decided to hunker down in the city in their homes rather than bug out if the SHTF. A recent article and video shows what mobs will do when they are happy. Imagine what they will do if they are, hungry, thirsty, and without power for heating or cooling. Fire seems to always be a common denominator in such situations. The last place I would want to be is in or under my house when someone sets it on fire or it catches fire from a nearby house. The bad guys would not even have to use guns.

I worked the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles as mutual aid officer from the northern part of the state. That was a real eye opener. I will never forget being at a housing project (Imperial Courts) with 30, two man units. We were quickly surrounded by hundreds of people screaming at us. We were ordered to flee and we did. We were told that if we had not left, we would of been shot at from the rooftops within a few minutes. After that experience, I always tell people it only takes 1% of the population to disobey the law and the police cannot cope and the situation is totally out of their control.

Hunkering down in the city might work for the short term [in a societal collapse], but long term it is suicide. - PD

Dear SurvivalBloggers:

The concept of operational security (OPSEC) is simple. You conduct yourself in a way that doesn't give anyone the impression that you're doing anything out of the ordinary. Sounds simple, doesn't it? It's not.

Everything you do and say is an indication of the things that are going on in your life. Most importantly, people tend to operate in predictable patterns. It's called a rut. When you get into one, you define who and what you are. If someone has an interest in you, all they have to do is watch and establish that pattern. If you make a change, it stands out. Think about it.

You're suddenly happy for no apparent reason.

You call the newspaper office from your work phone and put a hold on delivery.

You call the post office and do the same with your mail.

You leave brochures around for Disney World, and you live in St. Paul.

How long would it take someone who is interested to figure out that you're going on vacation? You haven't said word one about your vacation to anyone in the office or workplace, but it's pretty obvious, right?

The same applies for your preparations. I know, it's over the top obvious when you have a pallet of MREs drop-shipped to your driveway. The neighbors will notice. They may never say anything, or ask you about it, but they will know. Too obvious? Okay, try this. You suddenly take an interest in off-road vehicles. A 1965 Bronco shows up in your driveway, and you live in suburbia. You're not known as an outdoors type of person, but suddenly you develop an interest in guns. The neighbors see you carry gun cases into your house, or out to your vehicle when you go to the range. How much intellect does it take to put those images together?

It's the little things that make the difference. You set up a tent in your backyard, but you never go camping. Your house grows an extra antenna or two. You're at the company picnic and the topic of camping comes up, and you spend twenty minutes telling your co-workers the difference between a 5.56 and a .223. You explain to them the best types of water filters available, and the best places to buy them. Someone is going to pick up on that.

This is not a bad thing in itself. In the military, we operated on a presumption of ignorance in many cases. It can't be avoided. When your tactical air wing is being deployed, it's hard not to let the world know about it. Everyone from the day care operator to the guy who mows the grass is going to know something is going on. The important part of that was to try to make sure they didn't know where you were going, or what you were going to do when you go there.

So what do you do? Again, it's all about patterns. It's important to make your preparations part of your normal life. Don't drop-ship that pallet of MREs. Instead, carry in a box or two at random occasions. Better yet, every time you go to the grocery store, buy a couple of extra of what you normally eat anyway. Someone will notice you carrying in boxes, but nobody will give a thought to a couple of extra bags of groceries. Once a month, do your grocery shopping and pay cash. Those store discount cards are an excellent way to track what people are buying. I'm sure if someone had access, they could tell what you have for just about every meal for the last year. You did pay for it with your debit card, right? They look up the name on the store discount card, match it with the name on the debit card, and viola! they know what you're buying, how much of it, and most importantly, if you change your buying habits.

Is this paranoia? Probably, just a bit. Is it warranted? Probably, just a bit. One of the largest employers for the last several years has been the Department of Homeland Security. To put that into context for you, the Soviet Union called their internal security apparatus the Committee for State Security. We knew them as the KGB. (Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti.) Did the pucker factor just go up a notch or two for you? I hope so. I have no delusions that there are people sitting around, discussing me in the context of a threat to national security. I'm just not worth their time. They have bigger fish to fry, and all that. Does that mean I'm not aware of the possibility that someone is taking a look now and then? No.

Does that mean that I'm not being careful about the image I'm putting out there? Nope. Most importantly, I'm constantly aware of my usual patterns. What I do and when I do it. I make a habit of letting people know that I like to camp, and that I go to the range a lot to shoot, just for fun. I don't buy a lot of ammo at one time. When a sale hits on ammo or something else, I pay cash. The guy at the Army surplus store knows me. I go in and just talk on occasion, looking around without buying anything. When I do buy, I pay cash, and I never buy a lot of anything at one time. I park on the street, because I don't have a garage, and wait until after dark to bring in the big packages. The neighbors don't know me very well, and that's the way it's going to stay. I put out the image that I'm a fairly harmless guy, maybe a little redneck, but basically nobody anyone would be interested in. I don't hassle cops, and generally try to be a good citizen.

Most importantly, I try to maintain a pattern of normalcy that doesn't draw any attention to myself. If I have to hunker down, I can do that. If I need to throw it in the truck, (which I bought because, you know, I live in a little valley, and that last snow storm had me stuck for a week with that little car) and G.O.O.D., I can do that too. I don't let the gas gauge get below half, because you know, the truck runs just as well on the top half of the tank as it does the bottom half. I keep an eye on most of the political situation, and even a closer eye on the economic situation, and try to be ready. That's all we can do right now, but it's important that we do it in such a way that WTSHTF, I don't have sixteen neighbors showing up on the doorstep. - C.T.

H.H. sent this: Venezuela Food Prices Skyrocket. H.H. asks: "How's that Socialist Revolution workin' out for ya, Hugo?"

K.C. saw a story on CNBC that is of interest: 'Serious Market Problems' in the Fall—Gold to Hit $2500. Here's an excerpt: "In the meantime, Schatz said investors should expect a rally through June and into August—before seeing 'serious problems' in the fall. ...Taxes are going up next year and so on the surface, people are going to have less money to invest and less money in the economy,” he explained. “We’ve also got a municipal crisis coming on the horizon that no one’s talking about."

Items from The Economatrix:

Spain: The New Crisis in Euroland

Bank Run in Spain and its Destabilizing Ramifications for the Entire EU

Spain Plays High-Stakes Poker Game with Germany as Borrowing Costs Surge

Gold Rises as Euro Struggles, Share Prices Down

Spending Fable (The Mogambo Guru)

Kevin S. flagged this: How to Survive a Solar Storm. The article begins: "Scientists at NASA have been warning for some time of the dangers of space weather affecting the earth, and particularly the danger of solar storms. With the sun due to reach the top of both its 22-year magnetic energy cycle and 11-year Sunspot cycle in 2013, there's real danger of magnetic energy damaging electronic equipment."

   o o o

Reader EMB sent me a link to very practical piece posted at Hillbilly Housewife: Homemade Sanitary Pads. If you'd rather buy them pre-made, there is prepper-oriented home-based business that makes a "made-to-order" comparable item: Naturally Cozy.

   o o o

Food prices to rise by up to 40% over next decade, UN report warns. (Thanks to Damon for the link.)

   o o o

G.G. suggested this: More college-educated jump tracks to become skilled manual laborers.

   o o o

Dr. Steve sent us this gem: Buy Solar Power System, Get Free Gun

"We truly have an ancient part of the brain that was about survival when we were prey but we seem to have gone past prey. We eat everything and nothing eats us." - Nick Nolte

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).with a retail value of at least $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 29 ends on July 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.

Before I begin discussing bugging out or Getting Out of Dodge (G.O.O.D.), I want to be clear on one point: Any travel during a disaster is dangerous. After TEOTWAWKI, it could be deadly dangerous. If you can avoid it, you should.

Mr. Rawles is a strong advocate of living year round at a well-stocked and well-chosen remote retreat location, and I couldn't agree with him more. This is a great compromise that will get you through a whole variety of problems. Unfortunately, not all of us are so well postured and are forced to make due with a lesser solution. Your solution might be living near a city and maintaining a retreat somewhere. Or, it might be living in a city with a plan to go join relatives in an emergency. Or, worse yet, you may only have a vague idea of where you could go in an emergency. The purpose of this article is to explore the circumstances that could cause you to need to bug out and generate some discussion on tactics and maybe cause some of you to think seriously about where you will go and how you will get there.

Some problems are temporary and regional, but still too dangerous to face, like hurricanes. For these events, you need a bug out bag that can carry you to safety. You will also need a reliable means of transportation and a route to safety. so, where is safe? For a regional problem, you can move almost any direction out of the immediate area and make it to an unaffected area in a few hundred miles. In this case, cash is king. If you can live in a hotel or take a Some problems are probably better faced at home in the city or town where you normally live. An economic depression, for instance. Economic problems are likely to last for very long periods. Crime rates will rise, and so will prices. There may be terrible shortages of almost anything. You probably have a better chance of weathering it by hunkering down in your own home and trying to lower your household expenses. If you can continue paying your bills as best you can, you will have a good chance of hanging on and waiting for better times. Having a deep pantry and some cash or barter goods can make all the difference. You need to keep enough "money" in some form to pay your bills if you are unable to work for a period of time. Something like a pandemic disease can force you to curtail working or cut back hours and impact your income. If you are ready for that, bugging in is a good option for minor emergencies.

Bugging in or moving out temporarily to avoid a short term disaster are both relatively easy solutions, but will not serve if the worst happens. If we experience a total melt-down of services, bugging-in in any urban or suburban area is a bad decision. Once the power goes off, water stops flowing, food trucks stop and the police quit reporting for work, life near any city is going to be dicey and very short. Hiding is not an option unless you can hide your whole building since every building will be systematically searched for food within weeks. IMHO, bugging out is an urbanite or suburbanite's only real option.

There are some serious problems with bugging out in during a disaster. If recent natural disasters are any guide, the roads can be expected to be clogged and fuel and food stocks low or non-existent. Consider the possibility of being stranded for days (or forever) in an endless traffic jam with thousands of other thirsty, angry, scared people. The towns along major roadways will be quickly saturated with people and run out of supplies. Where will those thousands of stranded motorists go once FEMA, Red Cross, and the national guard not around to rescue them? The last place you want to be is stranded with them. This is a sobering thought. If you make it past the swarm and get a clear road, what happens when you catch up to the guy who ran out of gas on a lonely stretch of road yesterday?

If law and order break down, the situation gets much worse. Property rights become very theoretic and hungry, desperate people will take whatever they need, if they can. Even without a traffic jam full of thirsty people, you face the probability of ambush and robbery. I have experienced this phenomenon in four different countries. Here is one example: In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DROC), immediately after the coup in the mid-1990s, it was common practice for local thugs to put up road-blocks and "tax" anyone passing by. The bad guys would place a log across the road and station one person next to it and the gang would sit in the shade nearby. Anyone passing would be robbed and sometimes gang raped or beaten if they couldn't pay enough. We drove through the region in two Land Rovers with FN-MAG [belt-fed light machinegun]s mounted in ring mounts, so we were able to bluff our way past each of these roadblocks. As we approached each roadblock, we pointed our machineguns at the group sitting in the shade and announced (through a loud PA system using a local interpreter) that we were the US Army and ordered them to clear the road. They usually smiled and waved as they scrambled to clear the log from the road. We were, of course, bluffing to a certain extent, because we couldn't afford a firefight any more than they could, but the group knew we would (and could) fight, so we got away with it. As soon as we were out of sight, the log went back in place. A single family in a car would have had to pay dearly every 20-30 miles and probably would have found themselves on foot very quickly--or dead.

Put into the context of the USA, I think local law enforcement is probably your biggest threat. It's going to be awfully tempting for some towns to use the highways passing nearby to extend their tax base. When the local sheriff is running out of fuel for the squad cars, I think at least a few of them will attempt to tax "surplus fuel" from passing vehicle traffic. (I expect lots of fuel and food delivery trucks to get confiscated en route.) How many jurisdictions does your bug-out route pass through?

The message is clear. Your bug-out will have a much better chance of success if you get out early. If you wait too long, the roads will be clogged so badly you won't be able to move. If you wait until the roads are jammed, the only way you can keep moving past them is with a motorcycle, bicycle or on foot. Cars are going nowhere in a bad traffic jam. Bugging out early is essential, but really can't be guaranteed. Some disasters are sudden and you can't be sure that you will react faster than the golden hoard. Having a well thought out plan can save your life.

1. Have a definite and reasonable destination. If you live in New York and plan to bug out to Montana, you are dreaming. Your destination needs to be reasonably close. Betting that you can refuel several times and keep moving in your primary bug-out vehicle assumes a lot. You may get robbed of your "extra" fuel or hit an impassable section of road and have turn around (if you can) and find another route. Your vehicle could be disabled along the way. If you can't possibly walk there in a couple of weeks, it's too far. I would estimate "reasonable" for me as roughly 200 miles. With a full tank of gas, I could reach that far if the roads were clear. If I had to walk, I could do it if nothing bad happened to me along the way.

2. Have a reliable vehicle. Your mini-van may be fine as a bug-out vehicle (as long as you can stick to paved roads), but it needs to be in top condition. Have a full sized spare tire (not a "doughnut" [mini-spare]) and a tool kit and air pump with you to repair tires and other mishaps. You may need oil, coolant, belts, etc that you can't buy after a disaster, so carry some spares with you.

3. Carry all the supplies you will need. This is hard, but essential. You can't count on being able to re-supply or re-fuel along the way. So, you need to carry fuel, water, food, sanitary and medial supplies. Carry enough supplies to get there even if you have to detour or get stalled for some reason. At the same time, you need to avoid looking rich. If you have a dozen gas cans strapped to your luggage rack and visible, you are going to be an awfully tempting target. You want to avoid envy at all costs. In an emergency, envy quickly turns into confiscation.

4. Be armed. Legal rights, especially property rights, are a legal fiction. They exist only as long as they are enforced. When you can't count on the police to provide that enforcement, you have no recourse except to defend yourself. You have to use some judgment here, but there are times when a convincing show of force is the only right answer. Nobody sane wants to get into a gunfight, but the willingness and ability to do so can save your life. When you come across a stranded motorist standing in your path waving a pistol to stop your vehicle, your chances of getting past him will go up dramatically if your "shotgun" passenger really has a shotgun (or AKM) to provide a counter threat. If
you come under fire, your ability to shoot back may be your only hope of survival. Your passengers need to be able to provide a quick and deadly response to suppress the enemy or kill them. The people who say "violence never solved anything" are idiots who have learned nothing from history. Violence is the foundation of diplomacy. Without a credible threat of violence you have no rights.

5. Have a backup plan. Your vehicle can be stopped by too many things. If circumstances prevent you from using it, you need to have a plan for alternate transportation. A good emergency transportation system is bicycles. A bicycle can allow you to tow a trailer with over 200 pounds of gear at an average of 5-10 mph, depending on the terrain and your physical condition. I have toured on a bike towing a trailer and see this as a viable mode of travel in an emergency. You can travel roughly four times as fast as you could if you were walking while carrying four times the weight. With a trailer, you can carry your 60 pound bug-out bag plus another hundred pounds of supplies easily, but you will need to buy a sturdy cargo trailer, not the light weight stroller types. I recommend the Aosom Bicycle Cargo Trailer, available on Amazon for a little over 100 dollars. They are stoutly built, low profile for stowing on top of a vehicle, and rated for 180 pounds of cargo.

Choose bikes with comfort in mind. You will want a very slow low gear or you will be pushing them up every hill. A bike towing a trailer moves slowly, (under 10mph) most of the time and you never want to let your speed get over about 15 mph with a trailer. Count on moving slowly for long periods. Choose a gear that allows you to pedal about twice a second using little power. That will allow you to ride longer and further than you could in a higher gear or at higher speeds. Rest on the down slopes and continue to move at a slow pace and you will find yourself eating up the miles. You should easily be able to cover 50 miles a day, even if you are not in especially good shape. 100 miles a day is not an unreasonable goal if you have some riding experience and you are in good physical shape. If your retreat is about 200 miles away, you could cover the whole distance to your retreat in under four days if you had to.

If your vehicle quits on a lonely stretch of road, or you get stuck in a permanent traffic jam, having a bike for each member of your group could allow you to repack your essentials and keep moving. You can get bike racks for up to 4 bikes that attach to the rear of your car. Up to two bike trailers can be strapped down on the top of most vehicles if they have a luggage rack on top. You can load most of your bulky bug-out gear in bike trailers before you start, and secure them to the top of your vehicle roof and cover them with a tarp to cut wind resistance. Then, if you get stranded, you can quickly continue on your way at a slower, but still respectable speed. If you have kids too young to ride their own bikes, you can tow them in a cargo trailer sitting on your bug-out bag.

Another (generally dreaded) form of transportation is walking. People used to walk more than they do nowadays. My father, when he was a teenager, used to walk nearly 15 miles to see his girlfriend and walk back the same day. I used to backpack as a teenager and routinely covered 15 miles in rough mountains carrying a heavy pack. I also have some experience ruck-marching in the Army, so I have a lot of respect for LPCs (leather personnel carriers). The advantages of walking are huge, but unfortunately, so are the disadvantages.

Advantages: Mobility over almost any terrain. You can walk where no wheeled vehicle can go. You can leave the road and move cross country if you need to and detour around trouble. You may be able to travel parallel to a large road and remain unseen, especially if you travel at night. Security is easier on foot than in any vehicle. You can move silently and watch and listen to your surroundings. That lets you see dangers and avoid them rather than driving into them blindly.

Disadvantages: Walking is slow and tiring. With a heavy pack you will be lucky to maintain an average of 2 m.p.h. unless you have lots of experience and you are in good shape. That limits your daily range to 10-20 miles per day or even less. The longer your trip takes, the more provisions you will need to carry and the slower you will travel. If you plan to walk to Montana from New York, you would have to carry enough food for 3 months or more, which is simply impossible. It's difficult to carry enough provisions for more than a couple of weeks at the most. Realistically, this limits your trip distance (without food re-supply, but foraging for water) to something like 200 miles. If you must carry your own water, your realistic trip distance drops to about 50 miles.

You also have to be physically able to do it. You can't expect to walk far if you are out of shape, pregnant, overweight, elderly or have young children with you. All of these factors slow you down, limit your cargo capacity and also limit the number of hours you can travel every day. Any injury can make matters worse or even impossible. A twisted ankle by anyone in the group can end your trip. Be realistic with yourself when planning a foot movement and plan for the worst. Count on moving slowly and carefully to avoid injury and exhaustion.

Preparing in advance for foot movement can make all the difference. If you expect to move a hundred miles carrying enough gear to make it in good health, you need to do a little work in advance.

Get a good map! If you have a decent map (a paper map, not electronic) you may be able to save yourself miles of walking.

Good shoes or boots. Without good walking shoes, you are going to be miserable in no time. Sneakers are better than wingtips, but dedicated hiking boots are a godsend if you have to cover any real distance. Sneakers are less expensive, but they will fall apart fast, so the cost savings are an illusion. A good durable pair of boots are essential to have anyway. Cheap shoes will leave you barefooted in a few months. Try on the shoes with your walking socks before you buy them and get a set that are very slightly loose to allow for swelling feet. Wear them for a while to break them in. A long foot march is the last place to try to break in new boots or shoes.

Walking socks. Good socks are another essential item of gear if you plan to move very far on foot. Believe it or not, there are a lot of options and opinions out there about socks. Some people buy very high-tech socks for hiking. I used to wear a thin pair of dress socks or ladies knee-highs under a thicker pair of wool socks. Having a thin layer under heavier socks helps prevent blisters. Thick wool provides some padding and insulation and continues to insulate well even if it's wet. But many modern backpackers hate wool because it dries slowly and gets very heavy when it's wet.

Moleskin. A blister is a serious matter when you have to depend on your feet. If ignored, it will get worse and worse until you can't continue. A broken blister can get infected very quickly. When you feel a hot spot forming on your feet or heels, you need to stop immediately and deal with it. One good approach is moleskin. This is a sort of adhesive bandage that you can put over the hot spot that eliminates the rubbing or chafing and prevents it from forming a blister. I have successfully used duct tape for the same purpose, but carrying a small package of moleskin is easy and lightweight.

Walking stick. In rough terrain or when you are tired, a sturdy walking stick can really help you keep your balance. It also gives you something to lean on when you stop for a brief rest.

Good sling or holster for any weapons you carry. Toting a 10 pound long gun around all day is exhausting and ties up your hands. Besides, it makes you look very dangerous and could draw unwanted attention. If you are carrying a long gun openly, you should have a sling that works with your pack. A long body sling that allows you to carry a weapon cross-body in the front will allow you to quickly grab your weapon and fire it without removing your pack. If you carry a pistol, experiment with your holster and pack together. Most holsters interfere with the pack belt.

Walking around looking like Rambo might be a bad idea. A better option might be to carry a folding stock weapon in a tent-bag strapped to your pack and a pistol in a Maxpedition Versipack. You can fit a folding stock AKM and a few magazines into a large tent bag and [with a short section of foam padding included] it looks like a tent unless it is closely examined. The Maxpedition Versipack is not an obvious holster and can be rigged to not interfere with your pack belt. This is a good compromise allowing you to travel without looking dangerous and still be postured to quickly present a weapon if needed. If things get really bad, you have quick access to a more effective weapon tied to your pack.

A good pack. Uh-oh. There are a lot of choices for a main bug-out-bag sized pack. Whatever you buy, be careful about buying a bargain pack. The mid-range bags around $100 are a safer choice, especially if you are inexperienced at walking long distances. On a good pack you will "discover" nice features you didn't suspect you needed. I am partial to the "High Sierra" brand packs. A good bag will allow you to carry most of the weight on your hips and walk upright. I use a "High Sierra Long Trail 90 Frame Pack " I got at Amazon.com and I love it. It's a good choice for a large man like myself. But if you are smaller than 5'10 or so and have a waist smaller than 34 inches, you wouldn't be happy with this pack. If you are small, I suggest their "Sentinel 65" or even the smaller "Explorer 55" models. If possible, try on the pack with some weight in it to see how the straps feel. A good pack is one of your best investments. I used an Army rucksack for years and hated it every time I had to do any serious movement. The frame doesn't fit my body at all. If you get a good fitting, well made BOB, then I guarantee you will thank yourself if you ever have to walk with it.

Consider using a cargo carrier such as a bike trailer, stroller or even a wheelbarrow. These can allow you to move a lot of cargo with less physical strain than carrying it on your back. A "jogging stroller" or bike trailer can handle fairly rough terrain and allow you to move off road somewhat.

So, what do you have in your BOB?
That, of course, is a very personal question. Each person has their own preferences and opinions about what gear and supplies they consider essential. It's one of those questions with no right answer. The biggest consideration is what you expect from it. A BOB packed to carry to a FEMA shelter a few miles away or get you home if your car breaks down will be very different from one packed to carry into a desert wilderness for a month. A 3 day kit is very different from a 2 week kit.

In general terms, You need to fit your BOB to your plan. (including contingencies). My own BOB is actually three different groups of equipment and goods that reflect my predictions of what I will need in three very different sets of circumstances. The core is a heavy backpack with a wilderness backpacking load of gear and 3 days of food. It includes the following stuff:

Water filter (PUR backpack model)
polar pure Iodine crystals
2 x 1 quart canteens and a canteen cup and 2 large steel spoons
1 quart pot and a small rocket stove
Small tupperware box hot beverage kit (tea, bullion, instant coffee and sugar)
Several plastic garbage bags and several freezer food bags.
6 x MREs. With care, this is enough calories for about 3 days...well, 2 days at least.
P38 key ring can opener
2 butane lighters
2 camping candles
Box of self striking fire starters
Small radio (Kaito KA1102 - this is one cool little radio)
LED light and spare batteries (rechargeables)
Solar battery charger
Fishing kit

Sleeping bag
insulating ground pad.
emergency blanket/poncho
real Army poncho
poncho liner (army. Great piece of gear!)
large drop cloth
10' x 12' camouflage poly tarp and 500 feet of 550 cord
Hat and wool glove inserts
set of thermal underwear and 2 sets of underwear and socks
Hiking boots
Bath towel (lots of uses, but really handy for field bathing)

Ka-Bar size sheath knife (7 inch)
Leatherman Multitool
Kukri machete Cold steel 12 inch. (multiple uses)
Bicycle tool kit
Ruger SP101 revolver and three speed loaders of .38 +P ammunition (total of 20 rounds)
I also have a large tent bag with a folding stock AKM, four magazines and 120 rounds.

Medical kit (Mine is fairly heavy because of the IV bags)

Spare eyeglasses
Prescription medication
Bar of soap and washcloth
3 pressure dressings (army)
1 large burn dressing
2 x saline IV bags and an IV kit for fluid replacement (rotate yearly)
sewing kit with 4 suture needles
aspirin (100 tabs)
iodine swabs
burn cream (not much)
Chap stick
white tape
band aids
emergency blanket (inexpensive)
Ammonia inhalers
Razor blades (and an old safety razor...gotta shave you know)
A new Toothbrush each for me and my wife
Safety pins
Large sling bandages (2)
ACE bandages (2) (These are a must)
Moleskin sheet
Dental floss
hand sanitizer
Insect Repellant

A waterproof/fireproof safe with our important documents, cash and more spare eyeglasses. If I have to walk far, they can be transferred to a vinyl bag and fit in a side pocket of my pack. I also have $1,000 cash in $20 bills with the documents and a small wad of $1 dollar bills for machines.

My wife has a similar, but lighter bag. (Also with a .38 revolver and more cash). Both of these bags (as you can tell) are optimized for remote camping, but would be equally useful if we moved into a shelter or a hotel.

The rest of my bug-out gear, including weapons, food etc. depend on my need and build on the basic BOB wilderness motif and add three cases of #10 cans (food enough to last me and my wife two weeks at least), mechanic tools, pioneer tools, extra clothing, 14 gallons of water a full set of cooking utensils. I will also carry two motorBikes and a trailer in case the truck breaks down. The full-up kit takes 35 minutes to load by myself, but the hurricane kit only takes about 10 minutes.

My full vehicle kit has a 12 gauge coach gun in the front seat which is short enough to use from inside a vehicle and inexpensive enough to abandon, along with 80 rounds of buckshot. I also keep a nice old Ishapore 2A1 [7.62mm NATO Lee Enfield bolt action rifle] and 200 rounds in the vehicle, but less obvious behind the cab seats. While driving, I keep a Ruger P90 .45 ACP handy, but concealed. My retreat is only a few miles from my home, but if I can't get there immediately, I feel well prepared to evade or walk or bike to the site without attracting too much attention.

Notice that my kit contents strongly reflect my plan. I plan to travel 300 miles to relatives in case of a hurricane or other regional disaster and plan to buy gasoline along the way. (I have 7 gallons of gas in two cans. That won't get me very far, but that and the half tank of fuel I always have will hopefully get me far enough to be able to buy gasoline). In an orderly evacuation I should have no problem reaching my destination. If things turn nasty, I figure I can rent a hotel room or at least rig a shelter out of my truck and ride it out at some town along the highway. Whatever happens, the problem is temporary and I know help is only a few days away.

If I am bugging out because of TEOTWAWKI, I have to make it a few miles over suburban and rural roads in a gun-permissive area. The climate here is very mild, so I don't have to worry about freezing or getting snowed in. I have pre-positioned most of my supplies and gear, so the BOB gear just has to get me there in one piece. I don't need to worry too much about traffic unless I wait much too long to bug out. In fact, I could leave behind everything I am carrying and probably still make it to the site on foot with no serious trouble.

Your kit will need to reflect your own plan. I strongly urge you to start your planning with a set of triggers that could cause you to bug-out and then work out a solid destination. Build your G.O.O.D. plan from there. You may need extra fuel and vehicle emergency kit (or even two vehicles) if you strongly rely on your vehicle. You may need cold weather gear or snow chains or special tools. Think it out now and if possible, rehearse your bug out plan. You may find that you are over-prepared for the plans you are most likely to use. Or you may find that you have forgotten something critical


Regarding the water problem in the basement: In our own basement, we have the traditional electric (grid powered) sump pumps. However, the previous owner had installed a water-powered back-up sump pump. As long as there is cold water pressure, this pump works beautifully. After using battery-powered back-ups for years, I've found this to be virtually maintenance free, while serving it's purpose well.

For most folks, a power outage in a severe thunderstorm is the most common cause of basement flooding. At least for a short period of time, such a water-powered back-up should work long enough for you to move and/or protect your gear. Some will rightly say that water pressure eventually will fade in an extended outage, since public generators will fail and stop pumping to the towers. This is true, but in power outages, people tend to reduce their water consumption for cooking, watering lawns, and bathing. The pressure may last longer than you think.

Best, - The Other Brian B.

Several readers suggested this fascinating interactive map: Where Americans Are Moving. If you click on an individual move segment, it shows the average income level of those moving. As an interesting example, click on Teton County, Wyoming. Wow! Talk about Galt's Gulch. (Could this be, because there is no personal income tax in Wyoming?)

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S-Gnome found a web site useful for those of your readers trying to stock up on food while surviving on a limited budget: Eating Well On $1 A Day. S-Gnome's description: "This guy takes couponing to a whole new level and manages to get hundreds of dollars worth of food for around 30 dollars."

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Tamara over at View From The Porch posted a photo guaranteed to cause a few chuckles. Note the "Jayne" spelling. I suspect that is an homage to the Jayne Cobb character in the television series Firefly and the spin-off movie Serenity.

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Reader RBS sent this piece from Time: First, China. Next: the Great Firewall of... Australia?

"My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach [me] so long as I live." Job 27:6 (KJV)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Just two days left! The special sale price for the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course will be discontinued on June 21st. So order yours, soon!


Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 29 ends on July 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.


So you are interested in forming a group of like minded preppers. Good ! Now what? First and foremost you have to understand forming a group is damned hard work and not a little frustrating at times. Probably not what you wanted to hear but I have helped formed a large mutual assistance group (MAG) and two formal Teams. What is the difference between the two? A MAG is a less formal organization and your starting point. I should point out that not all groups reach the level of a team which is fine. A team tends to be a much more structured entity and that is not for everyone. So how do you get started, by watching and listening. Unfortunately there is no national preparedness ranking list we can consult, "Oh hey great my neighbor is a Level Six Prepper! I'll go see if he is interested in teaming up!" You listen at work, at church, your social clubs, the different places you spend time. Who is talking about what, who is reading what. Did someone just say they are worried about food prices and swine flu? Hmmmm The Internet is obviously another resource but a word or three of caution. People can claim whatever they want from the anonymity of cyberspace. If you think you've found someone out there go slowly. Do not pass along gobs of personal information about yourself, if they are for real they will understand and do the same.

Staying with the Internet theme for a little bit. Say you are on a forum of like minded folks. What are you looking for to help you identify potential group members? Proximity to you is a big one, there is nothing wrong at all in talking to someone clear across the country and getting to know them as much as possible. It has advantages but for the purpose of putting together a regional group not the best first choice. You determine who is within a radius of a tank of gas driving distance, or fifty miles or whatever criteria you settle on. Once you settle on it though stick with it. Read their posts, as many of them as possible. The purpose of this is to help you get a better feel for them. If you are still interested and comfortable reach out via Private message or email. "Hey saw that you are in my general area, wanted to say hi" and see what happens. Do they respond, ignore you or what? If they do respond take it slowly, better to lose some time due to prudence that get the wrong person in your group who now knows all kinds of things about you! Continue to talk, exchange e-mails and then phone calls. Set up a face to face (FTF) meeting and use a neutral location. Trust your instincts, if something doesn't feel right, then listen to it. If it feels okay then keep meeting, at some point you will both have to give up some personal information and then home locations. Don't give away your whole plan or location of all your goods. Trust is earned and that goes both ways. Offer to help them out removing that dead tree, ask for help fixing your car. This is about more than just cans of corn or bullets. It is about demonstrating in a meaningful fashion the type of person you are and learning about the person they are. 

A period of time has gone by and you have identified and gotten to know a group of like minded folks. You've introduced them to each other and continued to foster relationships between them as well as with yourself, great! Now what? You have a network (which is a very good thing) but not a group yet. How do you move to that point? Again and I know I am probably killing you by saying this all the time but I'm not going to apologize for it, take your time. Bring up the idea to each of them on an individual basis and see what kind of reaction you get. Is it positive or luke warm? If there are other groups already in operation on the Internet forum use them as an example, learn from them. Ask them questions, talk up the benefits of grouping together, be a cheerleader for mutual aid. May sound silly but it does work. Like-minded people are generally as a rule not stupid.

Get the various people together for a social event, be the host for it if you have to. Shared socializing is a great bonding tool and it also lets people see how each other function in a social environment. "Oh great Bob is drunk and its only 2 in the afternoon." That is a pretty good indicator that he is not a good choice for group membership. Sally and Fred showed up early to help set up -- a good point in their favor. It really does work that way folks, I promise you.

 You broach the subject of forming a group (again not a team that might come later) and let the conversation go forward. Don't relinquish your role as moderator but let the people talk, both good points and bad. Watch their body language and listen to their voice. Is he/she really excited about the idea or not? If the group is for it then you proceed with some basic outlines and questions. Things like "If there is an event whose location is best suited for a group? or "Would it be smart to pre-position a few things with each other? and allow the conversation to move forward. Take your time but each step forward no matter how small is an improvement.

So you've had your meeting and most of the people there are in agreement that a group needs to happen. What is often best to start out with is a MAG. This gives the members a simple structure to work in and develop. It would be a good idea to have some basic rules for the group in writing that are mutually agreed upon. Set a few small goals for the group and work toward completing them. This gives the members focus and a sense of accomplishment. It also allows everyone to see how everyone else is doing. Is Bob pulling his weight or does Jim always just get the work done at the deadline? As more goals are accomplished the overall preparedness of the group improves as does the feeling of ownership among the members. What kind of goals are we talking about? Setting up 72 hour go bags is a good start. You have everyone put their own bags together and then at the next meeting go over the lists of what people put in theirs. This is essential to keeping the group moving forward, you trust that people are doing the work but verify it. This goes for all members.

If anyone wants to learn the right way to ride a motorcycle, the best way, in my opinion, is to refer to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. I know in my state, if you get your learners permit, take the course and complete it successfully, you get a waiver and do not have to take the state road test to receive your motorcycle endorsement on your driver's license. Also, depending on your insurance company, you get up to 10% off your insurance premiums. - Sid, Near Niagara Falls

Hi Jim,
When it comes to Survivalists writing about motorcycles, either online or in hard copy, a lot of writers simply get it wrong.

In addition to being an early retiree, semi off-the-grid prepper, I'm proud to say that I'm the owner of a modified KLR650 (civilian version of the standard military issue dual-purpose motorcycle), with combination military-style tubular engine guard and highway touring footpegs, and the lowest-profile Corbin saddle (similar to what the BMW GS650 uses).

I originally got the motorcycle in black, but over time, was able to paint the motorcycle in a flat, dark sand color, while subduing the chrome wheels in Rustoleum's textured flat black (mainly because the tires were still on the wheels while painting them, in addition to the fact that any other color would have made the bike stand-out, in the current world).

The KLR650 is the ultimate do-everything motorcycle. You can go into the dirt with it, jump with it, and tour with it. I've driven mine from Washington state to Arizona and back, with no problems, except for some preventative pull-overs in Phoenix, due to the temp. gauge reading and traffic. And it is one of the ultimate get-out-of-traffic vehicles, as I have been able to take the bike routinely over curbs, between parking lots, vacant fields, etc. Also,the KLR650's cargo rack's outer width still fits inside the inner width of a standard military ALICE pack frame, perfectly!!

You can even go Road Warrior with this motorcycle, and buy some octane boost. It seems to like it, along with with the higher octane blends. I'm well aware of the diesel conversions that have been done for the Marine Corps, by Hayes Diversified Technologies, in southern CA. But while these diesel conversions (the Mother Of All "torquee" Engines) do outperform the standard KLR650 in the dirt, they only get the street performance of a 250cc bike. Plus, the diesel engine makes them

I was lucky to get the 2007 model, the last year before it got redesigned, with snazzy colors, dual disk breaks, and 50 lbs. heavier. No one I've ever met liked the newer model, so do yourself a favor, and look for the 2007 and older models, preferably in the more tactical green color.

I also own a Yamaha TW200 dual purpose, which is even more versatile, because not only can it carry two people with stuff on a cargo rack, but with my modifications (lightweight rear sprocket), it's light enough for two people to actually pick up the motorcycle and put it in the back of a truck. And, get a top speed of 80 mph without excess vibration!

EMB suggested this discussion forum thread: My Emergency Communication Box (Ham radio)

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Trent H. flagged this article in an Australian newspaper: Our own extinction is forecast, but he's going by dead reckoning

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The folks at Directive 21 (one of our advertisers) wrote to tell me that the recently unavailable Stainless Steel Berkey Water Filter systems are now back in stock, and back orders are being processed and shipped.

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The National Geographic Explorer special ‘Electronic Armageddon’ is going to be replayed this Saturday, 6/19 at 7:00 PM and on Tuesday, 6/22 at 6:00 PM on the National Geographic Channel (typically listed as ‘NGEOG’ or ‘NGCHD’ or ‘NGC’). Check your local listings!

"America faces a new culture war. This is not the culture war of the 1990s. It is not a fight over guns, gays or abortion. Those old battles have been eclipsed by a new struggle between two competing visions of the country's future. In one, America will continue to be an exceptional nation organized around the principles of free enterprise--limited government, a reliance on entrepreneurship and rewards determined by market forces. In the other, America will move toward European-style statism grounded in expanding bureaucracies, a managed economy and large-scale income redistribution. These visions are not reconcilable. We must choose." - Arthur C. Brooks, The Washington Post, May 23, 2010

Friday, June 18, 2010

Just three days left! The special sale price for the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course will be discontinued on June 21st. So order yours, soon!


Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 29 ends on July 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 title of this piece is a motto used during WWII by which the population was being warned to be circumspect about what they discussed and with whom they discussed it.
It seems to me that it may be timely for the motto to be recycled for use by the Preparation Community.
I’ve read over and over in this excellent blog and in other articles “find someone or a group of people you can trust”.
I think that instruction is much more difficult and more time consuming than stocking up on beans, Band-Aids and bullets.
Although I live in Australia and the political and geographical issues we face are somewhat different from those faced by Americans, so it can be said that issues themselves are different in every country in the world both on a macro and micro level.

But the problem of “trust” remains no matter where you live.
My Oxford Illustrated Dictionary has a long list of definitions that start out with “Confidence in, reliance on, some quality of person or thing, or truth of statement …..”
So who do you know that fits that definition? 

Let’s start at the macro level with Governments.
I don’t want to start or become involved in political debates but I doubt very much whether there are many people left who totally trust their government no matter what country they live in. But we (in the majority of cases) elected them and we have the ability to make our displeasure known by voting them out next time there is an election. The trouble with that of course is “the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know” and they have the ability and power to make less-than-sensible decisions while they are in office. But at least it is an option.
This lack of trust or confidence in them probably adds weight to the reasons why we are preppers.
As individuals, there’s not a great deal we can do at national levels apart from continually writing to our elected representatives – and that can be time consuming and very emotionally draining (and often quite useless).
In the meanwhile I think it is needful to keep a close and watchful eye on the legislation and policies that get passed so that you can evaluate how those measures will impinge on you and yours. Try to make it a habit to watch the news and read papers or web sites that keep you up to date. Depending on what the government – whether federal, state or local – does, it may be necessary to change the way you prepare for disasters whether those be financial, natural or manmade.
The operative word here is Change.
The bottom line is Survive.

Micro levels
Trust at a micro level is even harder.
Who can you trust? What is the factor that makes you trust or distrust an individual? Can you isolate that factor?
There are some extremely charming people out there, they are good company, witty and friendly … and while I may enjoy their company, I wouldn’t trust them an inch – especially with my prepping plans or the safety of my family.

Pre-TEOTWAWKI: there’s still time.
Everyone has many acquaintances – workmates, people in the neighbourhood, relatives – the list is endless. (And just because a person is a relative, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you have to trust him/her.) While I dislike the idea of putting people into categories, it is something we all do almost unconsciously. Some people we like more than others for many reasons. 
There is still time to try to look more deeply into a person’s character whether or not he/she is an avowed prepper to decide whether that individual can go on your Trustworthy List.
“Liking” a person is different from “trusting” a person. I like a lot of people but I trust very few.
Conversely there many people you may not like particularly but who are utterly trustworthy. You can work with a person and not like him/her but who is always there when it counts.
And when the crunch comes you need to be able to pull out your Trustworthy List.

Over the course of many years I have been fortunate enough to acquire four really close friends that I could trust with my life, rely on in crises and for whom I would put my life on hold if they needed me.
They are my Inner Circle.
In the Middle Circle there are the people from my Trustworthy List.
In the Outer Circle are People Useful to Know
Then there is Everyone Else
The boundaries of these lists are not engraved in stone because I am bound to meet more people and individuals change with experience and maturity.

I don’t, won’t and can’t give you a set of absolute criteria that will allow you to determine Trust because trust is often related to a gut feeling and that is something that is indefinable and subjective.
But I would urge you to disregard the appearance of a person – the clothing, the mannerisms, the age and the language and try to look more deeply into that person’s character. A friend of mine says “Just because they speak English, doesn’t mean that they think the same way you do” and it is the Thinking part of the individual is the important part.

If this article has encouraged you to think more closely about the issue of Trust without slipping over the edge into paranoia, I’m sure your prepping plans will proceed more smoothly.

I can’t speak highly enough about Timbuk2 and their products. I received one asa gift in 2003. Since then, I’ve carried it all over the world including a war zone, on business, to conventions, while driving.
I’ve stuffed it to the point where I needed a knee to apply enough pressure to close it. It’s been dragged, carried, tossed, shoved, buried under luggage and cargo, through airport security hundreds of
times, and there’s not a loose seam or worn zipper anywhere. It seems to be as indestructible as textiles get. While this style is no longer available, it’s demonstrative of the breed.
Timbuk2 started in San Francisco, designing and making bags for bicycle messengers. They still act like a small company in terms of service and support, including a lifetime guarantee on materials and
workmanship, spare straps and hardware, and a 20% discount on a new bag for trading in an old model, in any condition.

My particular model is the Timbuk2 Data Dump. When stuffed to what should be a breaking point, it exactly fits the carryon size limits for aircraft. The shoulder straps are comfortable, contoured, designed for people
with shoulders, adjustable, with a hip belt. The laptop compartment is padded enough to cushion a computer, and to pad against the wearer’s back.
The accessory pockets are integral, collapsible, and well thought out, with lots of mesh, slots and loops for compartmentalizing stuff, from business cards and pens, to toiletries and computer accessories. The
main compartment opens wide for access, then zips closed and latches down to minimize profile.
The outside is tough and sufficiently padded to keep contents secure. The bottom is a tough rubber over nylon. There are thumb loops/carabiner attachment points on the shoulder
straps and back, and a sturdy, solid carry handle atop with a stitched in piece of hose to reinforce it.
Their models change regularly as new technology is developed, and they offer not only a variety of colors, but a build-your-own option for style, size and color. Some of their bags are imported, made under
good supervision. The custom bags are American built (it seems more appropriate to say “built” rather than “sewn” for these engineering masterpieces).
You’ll pay a little more, but the quality is beyond compare for a travel bag/day pack/briefcase of this type. For a smaller, unobtrusive BOB or a reliable daily carrier, I can recommend this company’s products without reservation. - Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog Editor at Large)

Dear Jim,
The roads are getting worse, gas prices are high, and the taxes keep going up. Something has to give. So far road maintenance seems to be one of the breaking points. I have witnessed roads evaporate. I have witnessed them get consumed in vegetation. I have traveled in the Sierras in places where the 4WD was getting stuck and knew an off road or dual sport motorcycle would cross these places easily. I can't help but think while I've learned to shoot rifles and purify water and stitch wounds, shouldn't I put at least as much effort into examining alternate transportation options?

So long as law and order remain, we still need to keep jobs to pay the taxes, and complete collapse seems very unlikely at this point. It seems to be more a matter of accepting new standards, and figuring out ways to retain the ones we value most, ones like freedom of travel. The world is already changing due to the end of cheap oil, and the financial melt down also results in various system failures, including road maintenance. Is it not reasonable to see roads get so much worse, particularly where people don't live to pay taxes for upkeep, that rural roads will become patchworks of pavement, gravel, and dirt? If so, and in the face of fuel shortages, what is the best way to get around?

Motorcycles. Ones that can ride on the dirt, light enough to pull out of the mud yourself, and yet remain street legal once you get to the "highway". We've seen them running around in the countryside, exploring fire roads and logging roads, country lanes, that sort of thing. We've scoffed at the MZB acronym, but what if we should be learning to ride a motorcycle ourselves, just as we've learned to shoot? Isn't this just another critical skill? I have been investigating this for several years now, including watching video of travel in deeply rural locations and been impressed by the terrain a motorcycle can cover in a day. I can't pedal that far or fast. Knowing that a motorcycle can go around many obstacles which would stop or delay a car or 4WD truck/jeep is points in its favor. True, its not going to carry much, but You are the most important part, and as a getting-around vehicle they're very good at what they do.

As for safety the number one threat is yourself being foolish, and the number two is cars not paying attention. If the roads continue to fall apart (and they will continue) and gasoline rationing gets instituted by the government, both threats will be much reduced. Finally, safety also relies on proper gear, not all of which is expensive. Expensive gear is better, just as a more expensive rifle probably shoots more accurately, but a motorcycle bought for a few hundred and some elbow grease applied is just as good for travel as one costing thousands and may be easier to maintain or convert to E100 you can make on your ranch or buy in town at the co-op or general store. Being able to safely go faster and further than a 4WD SUV on the same road has its benefits and while the SUV still has value on grocery day, the motorcycle will get you to work (or the rail station in town) the rest of the time. Barring rain or snow, at least. Not fun in a thunderstorm, but what would be on a dirt road? We're used to driving anyway, because on pavement it doesn't matter much, but once the roads go to dirt we're going to get used to finding a motel and wait it out. That may seem ludicrous, but think about the world prior to Eisenhower's interstate highway system. Its not unreasonable at all. We'll adapt and adjust because we'll have to. Preparedness means thinking about all the options. Give the motorcycle serious thought. Best, - InyoKern

Here is a link to the Milo Nordyke interview on CNN that I previously mentioned. Nordyke is a proponent of peaceful uses of nuclear bombs--including the possibility of using nukes to seal off deep sea oil leaks.

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J.M. in Michigan sent me a link to some videos about "off grid" projects. Go to Vimeo.com and in their search box enter: emas. This takes you to about 10 pages of videos on topics like High Pressure Hand Pumps, Rain Water Harvesting, Water Storage Cisterns, Ferro Cement Tanks for Water Storage, Using the Sun to Heat Homes, Latrines, and many more.

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Brian B. sent this alert: NRA cuts deals to limit free speech.

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I was doing some web wandering, and I found an interesting USGS map of major earthquakes in North America recorded from 1979 to 1996. The USGS also has a variety of similar seismic maps.

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Calvin in Kansas mentioned a YouTube video of a former Marine singing an oft-ignored verse of our national anthem: The Star-Spangled Banner. The later verses aren't considered politically correct. The anthem's lyrics were derived from the the poem "Defence of Fort McHenry", written by Francis Scott Key, in 1814. The full lyrics, by the way, are worthy of some study and pondering.)

"Political correctness is tyranny with manners." - Charlton Heston

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Just four days left! The special sale price for the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course will be discontinued on June 21st. So order yours, soon!


Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 29 ends on July 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 first part of this series described the foundation for success in starting a community preparedness group.  Part Two describes the lessons we have learned.  If you haven’t read these please do so now before proceeding.

I hope the two previous articles have encouraged you to start your own CQ.  Let’s now assume you are at the same point we are.  Where do we go from here?  If we follow the rules we focus on excellence, but let’s do so in an organized manner.

1) Individual Preparedness (IP)
2) Family or Group Preparedness (F-GP)
3) Community Preparedness (CommP)
4) Regional Preparedness (RP)

I’ve chosen to follow these four points when deciding what topics should be covered at CQ.  These topics will generally focus on the first three pretty heavily and on the fourth lightly as I’m not inclined to create a bureaucracy.  Some CQ’s may actually have all topics focusing on IP but that may be by necessity due to the time of year, group dynamics or some other essential need or requirement.

IP is focusing on basic skill building.  We do try to avoid topics that can encroach upon vocations that can create income during hard times.  For instance,  we have a group member who is actively perfecting her skills in soap making.  We will avoid this topic in specifics but review in general terms as something someone can do for themselves.  As a concession she has opted to help teach everyone how to make laundry soap that is far superior to store bought and costs under two cents per load.  The idea is to cover general skills and let the individual decide on specialization for their own economic benefit.

F-GP is the natural byproduct of individual skill building.  I consider this level the Beans, Bullets and Band-Aids option.  This is were we present topics to help the correct, efficient and cost-saving acquisition of materials for families and groups.  Our next CQ has two such topics-First Aid Kits and Home Herbal Medicine Kit.  By covering these we are focusing on the materials that make up quality kits but will cover at another time the use thereof which would focus on the IP level.  You could say this level focuses on the nuts and bolts of preparedness gear and supplies.

CommP we are beginning a two fold plan.  The first part of the plan is to encourage growth of CQ groups in local communities in our county and adjacent counties.  We started at the neighborhood level and have slowly accumulated members from neighboring areas and towns.  We are now running ads in our local radio market advertising CQ for all the towns in the county.  The ads are being paid for by one of our business partners who is also presenting a topic.  This invite is basically for folks in our area to come and see for themselves and start networking to start their own CQ.  Part two of this plan is an extracurricular part to CQ.  This plan is designed to mitigate the effects of those in our local area who refuse or can’t prepare for hard times.

As we all know there are individuals who will never see the wisdom of preparedness.  There are also folks who haven’t the means, wherewithal or character to prepare for leaner times.  A comprehensive preparedness plan must take into account these people and how to deal with them.  An immoral fantasy of large scale die-off or armed resolution is nonsense and evil.  The possibility of large scale fatalities is real as well as the prospective use of force in defense of your property but to long for it or refuse to prepare to mitigate it is weak, lazy and unethical.

Our plan is to create a food acquisition, storage and distribution plan using the umbrella of an existing entity but run and managed by CQ members.  The basic principle is to set up an apparatus that can submit for grant money, buy long-term storage food, secretly store the food and then distribute it safely in times of need.  Now, please don’t think this is a food bank approach.  Let me explain further. 

We have a community organization that is set up as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.  This group has paid the expense and taken the time to become a charity.  There goal is to be an umbrella for the surrounding community organizations which allows them to apply for grant money using their IRS number.  We are using this process for our local gun club to save time.  The gun club registered with the state for $30 and now we can pursue grant money using the umbrella group.  This food plan would pursue grant funds allowing us to buy a one year supply of long-term storage food for 500 people.  Once food is purchased a secure location would be obtained for storage and an agreement with local churches to utilize their existing kitchens for distribution.  Think of it as a level between individuals and the Red Cross.  This would begin with one location and then branch out to other communities effectively covering all urban/small towns in our county.

We have received encouragement to proceed from the Sheriff’s office and the county Emergency Management Director.  They see it for what it is--an extra layer or buffer between chaos and order.  The county likes the fact it’s a private endeavor that requires no funding or oversight from them.  It will or may require some security provisions when utilized but at that point security will involve the whole community under the sheriff’s leadership anyway.  This plan takes a little more time and effort but the rewards of having secure, private foods cache(s) for public distribution can relieve negative and immediate food concerns when troubled times hit.

RP is really just encouraging the first three in communities next to yours.  We envision our CQ maturing in content and skills.  While this occurs neighboring communities start CQs and do the same.  We have two in the start-up phase right now.  Once they mature they look to their borders to do the same.  Think of it as a growing sphere of influence and protection.  The greater the influence outward and away increases defense and potentially mitigates problems translocating to your area.  We naturally or by other examples want some sort of leadership or formal organization.  We can have the benefit of this without the headache or time-consuming investment.  Let me explain.

In CQ-Part Two I explained our radio net that we have here.  This is the perfect apparatus to loosely organize the entire network in your area and eventually regionally and nationally.  If our network here in Central Idaho matures and begins to grow outward we can add captains to each new area and eventually a group of ham captains to relay regionally and nationally.  Again, I don’t like to re-invent the wheel so I will look to established routes to achieve my goal.  The last weekend of June is a National Radio Field Day for hams.  They will spend 24 hours trying to reach as many contacts as possible.  We will encourage those ham folks in our CQ to establish radio contacts outside our region such as Spokane, Boise, Missoula and farther away.

Likewise, new CQ groups with their local net will bump into each other as the CQ sphere of influence grows or as radio networks start overlapping.  This model for expansion or connection reminds me of Subway sandwich shops and how they franchised in the early 1990s.  You could find Subway’s almost built on top of each other they way they expanded and allowed franchises to open.  Let’s hope CQ is so successful that it has the same “problem”.

In closing, we here in Central Idaho hope and pray that you will take the bull by the horns and get started on your CQ.  In keeping with our philosophy of encouraging CQ to communities in our area we would like to extend an invitation to attend our next CQ.

Location: Kooskia (spoken "Koo-Skee") City Park, Kooskia, Idaho.
When: Saturday, July 3rd.
Time: Potluck BBQ starts at 5:00 pm, CQ starts at 6:30 pm.
BYOB: Bring your own buns, hot dogs, lawn chairs, spouse and kids.
Last names ending A-J bring salad/side and dessert.
Last names ending K-Z bring chips and dessert.

We provide: grill, condiments, plates, utensils and water/iced tea.

Contact: H.B. at (208) 451-4890 and leave a message. I will return it ASAP.  Please contact only if you need information on overnight accommodations  and directions.  Please, only serious inquiries. 

CQ has been a rewarding endeavor with many blessings and very little headache.  May God richly bless you with success with your preparing and new CQ.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the Holy Bible: "The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it." - Proverbs 27:12.

Gloria Deo, - H.B. in North Central Idaho

Dear Jim:
There has been such a great response to the article I wrote about using the basement in my home as a survival retreat, and I want to thank everybody for taking the time to read both parts—and to respond with some great questions. I wanted to take a moment and address a few of the questions, and perhaps give a little deeper insight into the arrangements, processes, and the solutions I have found to each of the various questions.

First, and most importantly, I would like to stress that I’m not claiming this to be the ideal solution. My intent, and the thought process I used while setting up this retreat, was to create a very short-term means to provide for the safety and security of my family. In no way do I recommend or expect this arrangement to be a long-term, permanent solution to a survival situation—instead, my goal was to create a way to lay low during the opening salvo of a major catastrophe, let things sort themselves out for a few days, and then move on to better arrangements.  Ideally, I would not hope to be confined to this arrangement for longer then 10 days, with the real intention of using this as a viable survival retreat for a period of 3-5 days, or until a time where we can begin the journey to a more permanent place set up for an extended collapse---and this may be the subject of a future article because it’s one of my current projects.

Ironically, all of the questions and issues which have been brought up are issues I’ve had to address in one form or another during this process—and when I wrote these articles I decided to focus more on the main theme to keep it at a readable length, and omit many of the logistical and technical needs, details, and solutions associated with this arrangement for the purpose of expediency.

Greg L. asked about restroom and sanitation arrangements, along with cooking scents. The restroom issue, for obvious reasons, was one of the first issues I had to address. How I decided to address the bathroom issue was by three methods. First, I have a curtained off area in the rear of the basement to use as a bathroom area. I have purchased a store of 5 gallon buckets, with lids, to use for the purpose of storing waste. Please remember, also, that we are not completely confined to this basement—so during certain times these filled buckets of waste could be moved to an upper level of the home or outside and hidden in a nearby wooded area. I have also gathered a supply of lye powder soap and sawdust to add after each use to eliminate smell and help with decomposition.
For the basic toilet set up I currently have a lawn chair with a hole cut out in the middle—eventually, if I ever get around to it, I would like to create a better solution for the seat. The area where the bathroom is curtained off also contains one of the window wells now blocked off, and I have kicked around the idea of running some PVC pipe back up through the window, rocks, and soil, for the purpose of venting—but this is going to be a major undertaking, and I wish I had thought of it before I filled the window wells.
As far as the smell of food cooking, the plan is to use MREs while in the basement; for ease of use, ease of waste disposal, and to minimize cooking smells. I don’t expect any group to set up squatter’s rights in our home in the first few days of an event, so I’m not really expecting a parade of people moving through the upper levels. Maybe I’m dismissing this issue too easily, but it’s just not something I’m too worried about right now.

Dave in Missouri asked about the furnace, A/C, and hot water heater, and how these impact the useable space. Our A/C is located outside of our home, so it’s not a problem. The furnace, water heater, and water softener are in the basement, but due to the size of the basement and the placement of these appliances they do not cause much loss of space or hinder any of the plans and preparations.

Kathy H. had some great points and issues. The issue of waste and sanitation I addressed above. The issue of CO2 buildup will not be a problem because the basement area is not completely sealed off, and the size alone, coupled with the fact I do have a hidden and secure window I can still open and use to vent gases has me pretty secure in using this basement for the short-term.
The one issue Kathy did raise that has caused me a great deal of thought is the issue of moisture or flooding. I have only had one issue of water in our basement in nearly ten years, and this was due to getting 7 inches of rain in an hour and a half one summer night long ago—so the basement has proven to be fairly impervious to normal rainfall amounts so far. We do have a sump pump, and I’m still in the process of determining the best options for a backup power source I can rig up to use should the weather during our stay in the basement be less then ideal. To find the solution I’m working by the premise of having total failure of the power grid, so battery backup or a solar powered alternative will be what is needed, and I’ve yet to come up with the ideal solution as of this point.
Water is among my greatest fears right now for the basement retreat, and if I ever need to use this retreat for the purpose and reasons it was created I would like to have this issue put to bed—so I’m open to any good ideas from anybody out there.

Dr. A.W. mentioned the need to have the basement area, or any underground area, checked for Radon gas. In our area every home is inspected, during the sales process, for Radon gas. I have also tested it myself with a home test kit that can be purchased at any hardware store—and so far I don’t have any problems with Radon. Great point, A.W., and thanks for the suggestion.

Again, I would like to stress I don’t think of this as the ideal solution---but it is a solution available to me at this time, and instead of dreaming of distant retreats, endless food stores, and the utopia of survival land I decided to use my the things at my disposal, within my budget, and in a way that presents the most realistic scenario should the worst events come to pass. I do hope to improve my plans, upgrade my arrangements, and hopefully someday create that “perfect” retreat—but for the time being, and with the current problems we are facing in this nation, I wanted to have a place I could use now—today—to keep myself, my wife, and my children alive and safe.

I hope some of you may be able to incorporate some of these ideas into your own plans and arrangements, and I’m happy to answer any question that might help.
Thanks and good luck! - Jeff W.

Evan D. suggested this: The Death of Las Vegas.

Niall Ferguson: Debt Has Taken Down Empires Before, There Is No Reason Why It Won't Happen Again. (Thanks to Eric J. for the link to the lecture. JWR Adds: Don't miss his discussion of "The Metrics of Doom", starting about 28 minutes into the video.

Europe Troubles Are About to Start: Wilbur Ross (Thanks to Brian B. for the link.)

Kevin A. sent this incredible article: State Wants to Borrow From Pension Fund, to Pay the Fund. The article begins: "Gov. David A. Patterson and legislative leaders have tentatively agreed to allow the state and municipalities to borrow nearly $6 billion to help them make their required annual payments to the state pension fund. And in classic budgetary sleight-of-hand, they will borrow the money to make the payments to the pension fund - from the same pension fund." [JWR Adds: If this sounds absurd, then just consider that conceptually, there isn't much difference between this and the US buying its own Treasury paper!]

In 1930, They Didn't Know It Was "The Great Depression" Yet. Talk of "recovery" in the midst of a Depression isn't new... (Thanks to Evan for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

Homebuilders Less Confident in Housing Market

US and Other Countries Buy US Treasury Debt

US Stocks Rise After European Markets Climb

German Investor Confidence Tumbles Amid Crisis

Markets Braced as Greek Credit Rating Cut to Junk Again

Slide in Home Construction Hurts Stock Futures

All that I've been hearing from SurvivalBlog readers thusfar about the National Geographic documentary Electronic Armageddon has been positive. It is about the effects of a High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) on the US. Check your local listings for repeat showings! For further research on this topic, I highly recommend the EMPact America web pages.

   o o o

SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson mentioned this free NAS on-line book: Severe Space Weather Events—Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts: A Workshop Report

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RS.R. noted this: Green Gadgets: Nokia Unveils New Bike-Powered Phone Chargers

"Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well." - Jack London

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 29 ends on July 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.

With all the preparations people make for TEOTWAWKI, one skill that I've noticed that a lot of people lack is personal self defense in close quarters combat (CQC). I'm not talking about their collection of weapons only here, but rather their overall sense of what self defense really means and what it really requires. People have a in inherent duality to their nature. In normal times, nearly all humans have an aversion to killing each other. However, in a survival situation (even just a perceived survival situation) people can be exceedingly vicious if they think they have to be. This isn't news to readers of this blog, however I would like to address some of the often times overlooked realities of self defense against knives.

Knives are tools first and foremost and weapons second. Because of this, knives are abundant. For the purposes of this article, almost anything that can cut or impale you could fall into the knife category. Many people including experience martial artists, are unprepared for the realities of knife encounters. You often hear certain types of people say how they hate knives or are scared of knives. Indeed, the use of a knife brings combat to a much more personal level than do firearms. However, being scared of something will not save you from it but rather makes it your weakness.

If we find ourselves in a TEOTWAWKI situation, then you can expect to encounter rough people with ill intentions and a lot of these people are going to carry a knife of some sort. Again, knives are abundant, relatively inexpensive and easy to find, quiet and can be just as lethal as a handgun if the user is determined. You have to prepare for these types of people with these types of weapons if you really want to be prepared for a world turned on it's head with a lot of desperate people living in it. Even in TEOTWAWKI it will be hard to avoid all people no matter where you are. Remember there are over 300 million people in the US alone.

Many knife attacks occur suddenly and unexpectedly and the receiver rarely even knows a knife is involved until he feels it. That goes double for criminals that are used to using knives offensively. The knife may be huge or it may be a box cutter (the kerambit type blade also comes to mind) that you can barely see, even without attempts to conceal it. It may be a machete, or a butcher knife, a folding pocket knife or a bayonet. You have to be prepared for all of them because they all could be encountered, and truthfully, you should react in a similar manner to them all. A mantra for most professionals is "watch the hands, they can hurt you." Not bad advice, but even if the hands appear empty, don't assume anything.

The key is to learn to watch the persons movement overall. Notice the hands (and feet, and knees, etc.) of course, but you have to watch the person as a whole to be able to react soon enough. Remember, the person is attacking you, he just happens to have a knife in this case. If you learn to deal with the whole person, you will learn to take care of the problem (the person attacking) and not just the symptom (whatever he is attacking with and how they are attacking.)

The following are some strategies against edged weapons (including large knives and machetes).
The specifics are dependent upon what the attacker is armed with of course so this is a general outline. I'm not recommending a certain martial art or style as that would be a can of worms at least as big as the "what gun should I carry?" question.

You unarmed versus the knife wielding attacker:
First, this is a bad situation yes, but certainly not a hopeless one. Learning to control your inherent fear is your best defense. You must maintain enough awareness to maintain your breathing and therefore your movement. Don't just wait there in a fixed stance and make it easy for the attacker. Also, do not stare at the knife if it is displayed. You must keep an awareness of the attacker as a whole (what if he has two knives?) as well as your surroundings (what if he has friends with knives or other weapons?), what if the light is dim and you can't make out all details? Remember, you may never see the knife to begin with but you will likely be able to see the attackers silhouette. If the knife is a large one, then consider the attacker has a range advantage, but don't let that rattle you. The same goes for wicked looking or tactical type blades - don't let their appearance change your mindset, or intimidate you - the goal is the same - survival.

Don't let yourself get cornered if possible. Keep your distance and look for possible escape routes so you can run and survive or at least get time to equal or beat the odds. Indecision is your worst enemy here. However, keep in mind don't be a hero. You are a survivor, so make sure you survive - your family needs you, live to fight another day.
If the guy is on you and you must defend empty handed or if you are getting stuck, cut, caught unawares, or whatever, the response is always the same - move! Just moving can keep the blade from making too deep a cut or stab. Inches count. A serious wound is better than a perforated lung or kidney. Moving the moment the blade comes in contact, or if possible before it touches you can make all the difference even if you get a wound in the process. Naturally, if you can defend and disarm/disable the attacker without getting cut you do so and this is what you train for. Just remember that if you are cut in the process it isn't necessarily the end of the world. Freezing and not reacting however very well could be. Spontaneous movement is better than the frozen pose followed by a "what if" period of indecision. Training is your friend here, as always.

Armed with a stick or cane against a knife wielding attacker:
Of course, this depends on the stick's length. Broomstick length offers a distance advantage of course but you could defend yourself with a sturdy ink pen as well. Bats are good of course but resist the urge to go on the offensive with wild swinging attacks. If the attacker is circling or taunting you then use short jabs at his hands and face to keep him disrupted all the while maintaining your own unpredictable movement. Don't play with the guy too much though or he may yank the stick right out of your hands if he is quick or very strong. Let the guy make his move and react with your own movement. Get off the line first and attack his hands and any vulnerable areas as he commits and can't react quickly enough. Two important points here. One, you have to hit people a lot harder than you think to do real, immediately felt damage with a blunt object, even with blows to the head. Therefore, make your shots count or you may find yourself cut in spite of your having a stick weapon. Two, Remember that if you are swinging and the guy gets past that swing or you miss, then he is inside your offense and right on top of you with his knife. More training will help naturally.

Armed with your own knife against the knife wielding attacker:
This is a really dangerous situation to begin with. There are now at least two blades in play and your chances of getting cut have doubled. If you aren't trained to knife fight, then you may be better off trying to escape this situation all together. Even if you are trained, resist the urge to have a "duel" with the attacker. You can't possibly know his level of skill, speed, training, agility, tolerance of pain, etc. so don't find out the hard way. That said, you owe it to yourself to at least have some idea of how to use a knife for defense as there is hardly a household in America that doesn't have some sort of knife in it. A butcher knife can kill as easily as a high dollar fighter, so don't underestimate an attacker just because his knife isn't impressive.
If forced to knife fight, then the rules are the same, keep moving and don't be an easy target. Don't wave your knife around out in front or you may find yourself missing fingers and the knife they were holding on to. Keep your weapon out of the guys line of sight so you can use it unexpectedly if he lunges or slashes. Training is not just a good idea here but is pretty much mandatory unless you are ready to meet your maker or have a colostomy bag (possibly hard to come by in TEOTWAWKI scenarios).

Armed with a handgun versus a knife wielding attacker:
This is probably what a lot of forum readers expect to encounter I'm guessing.
First off, let me warn you off the convenient idea of simply "just shooting them," unless you catch the guy coming at you from a distance and the attack is quite obvious. If you sense trouble get your gun out ASAP and learn to do it in a smooth manner that does not attract attention. Why? Because you don't want the guy to change his attack and make the situation even more unpredictable for you. That way, you are dealing with only one problem at a time. In addition, you need to learn to draw on the move. You don't want to stand there doing only one thing at a time when trouble comes. Why? Because if the guy is younger/stronger/faster than you then you need all the advantages you can get and a moving target is hard to hit - so move. On that note, you need to learn to shoot on the move as well. The better training centers teach this and I highly suggest you learn the skill to some degree. A lot of people have an Indiana Jones type fantasy of simply shooting the knife wielding attacker nonchalantly and calling it a day. Well, it might happen that way....or you might not even get your finger on the trigger before you are impaled. As I've stated and will continue to state here, don't underestimate your attacker. A smooth, clean draw, while moving off the line of attack without making a lot of obvious movements will buy you a surprising amount of time. Standing there in a fixed weaver or isosceles stance and seeing if you can beat the clock while you draw is not going to be good enough if someone is lunging at you with a machete (or anything else for that matter). Also consider that you may score a perfect hit but the damage may not stop the attacker quickly enough to keep you from getting cut or worse. Again, don't delude yourself with any assumptions about the instant effects of a handgun. The effects are rarely as dramatic as what many people expect them to be.

If you don't train in knife defense, start training now. Buy or make yourself some good training knives and practice. If you are into martial arts, make a point to include knife defense in your training. The more realistic the trainers, the better. There is a huge psychological component to knife fighting and a specific fear many people have with respect to knives. Learning to control that fear is best done through realistic training with realistic training weapons. Many Kali and Filipino influenced martial arts use the aluminum trainers available online. They are a worthwhile investment for those serious about learning to deal effectively with blades. You don't need the fancy, curvy, fantasy looking types. Stick to the basics, they will serve you best. Even a little training is better than none. If you can't find anyone to give you instruction, there are a variety of videos and books. As someone who has trained in martial arts for 28 years, I would not make that option my first choice, but if you have no alternatives, then follow one of these and practice with another person until you gain some understanding of the dynamics involved.

Safety Proviso: Of course, I don't have to tell you but I will: Be careful training and use caution with your mock weapons. Especially protect your eyes and face when using metal training knives - accidents happen in realistic training. Pace yourself, train honestly and you will have one more feather in your preparedness cap.

Mr. Rawles:
I had a shock when I went to the supermarket the other day. I had gotten into a habit of buying beans and lentils in the little one pound clear plastic bags. I had also bought a lot of white rice in two pound bags, just one [bag] at a time. That was convenient, but I wasn't paying attention to the price tags. When I went to stock up, I found that the difference in price [per ounce] just between the 1 pound bags and the 10 pounds sack was huge. They charge like three times as much [per ounce], in the small packages. But even in the bigger packages, it seemed expensive. So my question is: when I go to mega stock up, to fill all those five gallon [HDPE food grade] plastic pails I've been saving, where should I buy in bulk? (The supermarkets are a rip-off!) Cheers, - Andy B.

JWR Replies: As I describe in the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, the best place for most folks to to buy food in bulk is Big Box stores, like COSTCO and Sam's Club. The preparedness course includes a lot of details on the selection and buying strategies that you should use at these stores. I should mention that the current sale price on the preparedness course ends in less than a week, so order soon! Regarding rice, another thing that I mention in the course is buying your rice at Asian and Hispanic ethnic markets, where available. These tend to have the best prices on rice, and because of their large turnover of inventory, they also keep freshest inventory that will provide maximum shelf life.

Since the 1950s many homes have had them. Since the 1970s many building codes have required them. What? A sump pump.

Yeah, that thing in the hole in the corner of the basement that kind of hums every once in a while. You don’t think about it much do you? But it keeps your basement floor dry.

If the electric goes out, for any reason, for very long, you may have a big problem. I have seen over a foot of water in a 30x25 foot basement after just a mild spring rain.

They make “battery back up” auxiliary pumps, and they work. But the battery is recharged with a 110 volt charger. If you don’t have the electric back after the battery is dead you don’t have either pump. Is it time to think about a PV panel on the roof to charge the battery?

But why not make some lemonade out of that lemon?

Don’t just pipe the water to the ditch. At the least send it to the garden. Maybe a “rain barrel” set-up. My grandmother did it for decades.

But if the electric is out, then your well pump is dead also. And if you are on city water, their pumps are dead too. Once the water tower is dry, the whole town is dry. Lack of water is going to be a big problem real fast.

Now time for some imagination.

That sump hole is really just a 6 to 12 deep water well. The water is just rain water that has seeped down to the bottom level of your foundation. It is then piped via some tiles or plastic pipe to the sump.

It is pretty clean water. I have used it for years to top off my swimming pool. Nobody’s ever gotten sick from it.

Reroute that battery powered pump to a barrel in the kitchen. At the least, get one of those lever handled manual pumps and fill up some pails you can carry upstairs. If can’t bring yourself to think about drinking and cooking with it at least use it to flush the toilet.

You did remember that you need water to flush a toilet didn’t you?

It is almost certain you are going to have to get that hole down there in the corner drained sometime. Make use of what comes out of it. - KBS

Everyone who reads your blog should own and read Nuclear War Survival Skills, by Cresson H. Kearny. [It is available for free download in PDF, but be sure to also get an EMP-proof hard copy!] Chapter 6 deals with ventilation, lets the air out of assumptions about the subject (couldn't help myself) and explains how to do it without electricity for when the Schumer really Hits The Fan. - R.J.W.

For those planning to use the basement for a retreat, do not forget to test for Radon Gas, a carcinogenic found in many basements throughout the county. Here is a link about it. - Dr. A.W.

Mike M. highlighted this interesting article from southern California: Wealthy homeowners seeking privacy are increasingly buying adjacent properties.

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Reader F.J.R. sent this uber-doom prediction on an Extinction Level Event: The end of the world as we know it; Forget man-made threats – the catalyst for the apocalypse will come from outer space, warns astronomer Chris Impey

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For those in coral snake country: Why Snakebites Are About to Get a Lot More Deadly. (A hat tip to Damon for the link.)

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Another Medical Corps Field Dentistry class is now in the works! Tom Loomis, DDS will be teaching a class August 20-21, 2010 in Sweetwater, Tennessee. The cost is $400 per person. This class will cover all aspects of Field Dentistry with hands-on instruction on several aspects such as types of fillings and how to do them, dental anesthesia, extracting teeth, what equipment to use and how to get it. Details are available by e-mail. The instructor is a dentist in practice for 28 years and am the dental officer for Medical Corps.

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Dr. Chuck Baldwin very thoughtfully included a prominent plug for SurvivalBlog at the end of one of his most recent columns: A Suggested Survival List

"Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out." - The late Art Linkletter (1912-2010)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com. (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 29 ends on July 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 first part of this series described the foundation for success in starting a community preparedness group.  If you haven’t read it yet please do so now before proceeding.

The first step in implementation is to find a few like-minded individuals with whom you can share ideas, receive counsel and help spread the word about the first CQ.  As I mentioned previously I used the wisdom and connections of a local businessman who saw a lot of like-minded folks come through his door.  I also sought counsel from a few others whose temperament and personalities were complementary to my own and conducive to a strong group bond.  This core group was jokingly called “The Council” one day when my son asked who was coming over to sit by the fire for the evening.  I, of course, was referring to Elrond’s Council in Lord of the Rings.  One of our council even looks like Gimli--go figure!

I highly recommend anyone looking to start their own CQ have something similar to fall back upon for guidance and input.  Let me be very clear.  Your council will fail you if it doesn’t include your better half!  I’m talking to you men!  Your wives are there to complement and actually complete you.  You are incomplete without her.  Would you drive a car with only two good tires?  Point:  You won’t get very far.  They have insight, intuition and wisdom we don’t.  Include them from the start and it will go well with you.

Step two is to advertise your first CQ.  Advertise quietly and by word of mouth only.  Hand out fliers to just those friends and neighbors who might be interested.  This will ensure a small turnout but a turnout with quality.  Use the first CQ to work out the bugs.  Have more discussion time and talk over your goals and plans.  Take input and ideas and implement them into the next one.  Once you are comfortable and see how it goes you can go bigger on the advertising by hanging up flyers.

Step Three is to make the CQ more sophisticated by offering more for attendees.  For instance,  we brought cookies and coffee/tea to the first two CQ’s.  The third CQ we started early and added a potluck meal fellowship time and then we added a campfire social to the end.  Those wanting to hang out and talk did so until late into the evening.  Ironically,  we set up a big tent (borrowed from an attendee-keep it cheap) and the meeting ended up being held with 50 plus people standing around a large fire pit.  Relaxed, cozy and warm.  It felt like a big family gathering and was quite productive.  All the subject content should be building upon previous CQ’s.  Say you start with basic seed sprouting, then small garden to large garden to greenhouse production.  Simple to complex.

Step four is to add extracurricular activities as you and the group feel comfortable.  For example, the first CQ we did a topic on Pruning.  I offered a workshop the Saturday morning after the CQ and several people showed up to “watch” me prune fruit trees.  It was very rewarding for them and after about ten minutes they went from pupils to management telling me which branches to cut and where.  I finally had to chase them off by asking who wanted a turn.

At CQ-3 I sent a sign-up sheet around for a Utah conceal carry class.  We had to have a minimum of 10 people to sign up to get the instructor to come to us saving us an hour travel time.  We had nearly 20 signup.  We are planning a mid-summer Barter Faire where no Federal Reserve Notes “money” can be used.  Just barter with goods and services.  All services need to be preparedness style goods.  Breads, leather goods, knife sharpening, honey and other hand-made goods.  No yard sale fodder allowed.

Also, we are planning several cider pressing days when the fruit comes in.  I have also traded my jam making skills for access to acres of blackberries.  We will pick and make jam the same day.  I can taste the fruit of our labor already.  Yum!  These extra-curricular ideas can be timed to the season and community need like group firewood day or cider day.

Step Five is making sure you are ready for anti-CQ mentality.  We experienced at CQ-2 a newcomer who was quite visibly agitated at the presenter who was reviewing a formal emergency management plan.  Everyone in the room new this was a review of what the professionals use and was not intended for us as a group.  The individual left agitated at the break.  The next day I spoke with him and I thought I had clarified the direction of CQ enough for him to be satisfied.  Boy was I wrong.  The agitator then changed subjects.

He believed the CQ should be run differently and have a different focus.  He seemed to have some valid points to his argument so I offered him the chance to present these ideas to the “Council”.  The mistake I made was offering empathy towards his ideas by stating some of them have merit.  He took that to mean that I thought all his ideas had merit and that I just needed a little more information to make the changes he wanted-which wasn’t the case.  I think the meeting with the “Council” went quite well.  This individual did convince us.  He convinced us that there is a radical, self-serving segment to the survival community of wanna-be bad-asses who will do and say anything to create a fictitious resume of skills and expertise.

Let me be very clear.  Do Not Give Radicals a Formal Platform at your CQ.  They will instantly destroy your credibility and your groups momentum and attendance will suffer.  We decided to graciously encourage this individual to go create his own militia or “Black Ops Group” as he called it.  We let him know that we weren’t as prepped as him and needed to focus on skill building or basically 4H for adults.  Well, to say the least, this didn’t work.  He turned on the full court press trying to entice me to the dark side.  The harder he pushed the more evident his lack of credibility became.  I refused to respond and his final last gasp was an insulting email that included a personal threat to me.  He even resorted to accusations of government conspiracy and infiltration by members of the “council” into our community.  The final red flag for us was his incessant desire to be in control and make CQ into his own personal fantasy of Red Dawn in Idaho.

An interesting side note:  A clear indication of embellishment of his expertise was the fact the he called himself an expert in preparedness but had never read or heard of the novel "Patriots" or SurvivalBlog.com 

Step Six is to embrace programs that already exist and can jumpstart your CQ or give it a definite boost.  As I mentioned in Part One I don’t like to re-invent the wheel so I looked to the local LDS community for what they already had rolling.  We were able to join their local radio network making it even more community based and not LD- based.  Once a month they do a radio check on GMRS radio frequency channel 20.  The check is run professionally by the net command.  They call out instructions in order of importance.  Any emergency traffic is given immediate priority.  Then a roll call of captains is taken.  These captains are central to their area or neighborhood.  The net commander then calls roll for each area/neighborhood and then visitors to the net get to call in.

The exercise is vital to where we live due to the mountainous terrain and lack of comms between valleys.  Those on points and mountain tops complete the radio check by relaying to command messages and contact information.  The last radio check on Sunday evening was impressive as to how far our net could reach and how professional all those taking part in it were.  As we grow our CQ from the local to the regional this radio net will take on a whole new importance.

I’ve also learned that each LDS church has a local “purchasing agent” that actively pursues great bargains.  All we had to do was ask to be put on her email list and we were in the loop on great purchases of long term storage food.  When the email goes out you just reply to the instructions on where to pay and pick up the goods when they arrive.

We have also found out our county has a part time emergency management director.  He has been a good source for print materials pertaining to disaster preparedness--specifically fire and pandemic.  We hope to start working with him and the county on a county/regional plan through the political power CQ can wield as it grows.  I'll have more on this in Part Three.

Step Seven is to allow and encourage local businesses to participate.  These local businesses can provide experts for your topic discussions and great locations to advertise your CQ and get people attending.  One of our CQ topics was basic communications and radios.  A local communications company attended and they gave a great lecture on radios and radio wave propagation with our local group in mind.  They even brought examples of radios to buy and we discussed as a group what radio to standardize with for our communications net.

Another topic was water production and storage taught by a local well driller with 30 years experience in well and spring development.  At our next CQ a local health food store will give a lecture on Home Herbal First Aid/Medical Kit-which will focus on grid down prevention.

In closing, these seven points are meant to help you implement and succeed with your own CQ.
1) Find like-minded individuals as your foundation.
2) Advertise quietly and purposefully.
3) Make subject content increasingly more sophisticated.
4) Added extra-curricular activities as you grow.
5) Be ready for antagonists.
6) Embrace other programs that already exist.
7) Encourage local business to participate.

All of these points are dependant upon your good listening skills, focus on excellence, and pursuing what can bring you and your community together rather than what can divide it.  In CQ-Part Three: The Big Picture, I will describe where we are going and our vision for the colloquiums.  So I will leave you with one final point.  The best part of CQ is that its private.  We never ask anyone what they have or what they are doing [to prepare].  Don’t know!  Don’t want to know!

Gloria Deo, - H.B. in North Central Idaho

Hello Mr. Rawles,
I noticed that another bug out bag article was posted to SurvivalBlog. The love affair with the bug out bag is for the physically able. For those of us who cannot shoulder a 50 to 70 pound pack, there ought to be an alternative.

My wife and I are both 69 years old and in relative good health. Neither of us could shoulder a 40+ pound bag and go any significant distance. The answer to this is mechanical leverage. We bought two yard carts like those used to move plants around at commercial plan nurseries and greenhouses.

Our bug out bags will stand up on one end giving plenty of room for additional supplies. Moving a wagon down a paved road would be the easiest. Across open level ground more difficult. Crossing hilly rocky terrain perhaps impossible. But a wagon could be used on usable ground then unpacked and moved piece meal to more favorable ground in separate trips.
Time consuming but effective and it would keep your bug out bag kit together.

Other substitute mechanical devices include a hand truck, wheel barrow, golf caddy cart, bicycle or a wheeled deer cart. Soon, demographically, a significant portion of the population is going to be 65 or older.

All mechanical devices for moving weight/mass have restrictions based on ability to clear growing vegetation, cross ruts, ditches, gullies and draws. However, it is better than trying to haul a heavy pack when you are age restricts your physical limitations.

[Some snipped, for brevity]

It would be interesting to see other people's ideas concerning [relatively simple] mechanical devices that could be used to transport bug out equipment as a supplement to a human only pack system. Of course there are also mule, horse, Ilama, donkey and dog methods. Cordially, - J.W.C. in Oklahoma

One question comes to mind, does his basement have a restroom, or is he relying on a honey bucket? Also, how does he intend to deal with cooking odors [both good and bad?] Might be a huge tip off in a SHTF situation. Thanks, - Greg L.

Most of us have furnaces, A/C and hot water heaters in our basements, and they require seasonal maintenance by outside contractors. The description from Jeff W. sounds like he may have restricted access to these devices (180 degree turn at the bottom of the steps), or they're not in the basement...

How did Jeff W. overcome this problem? - Dave in Missouri

Hi Jim,
I just had to respond to this piece. There are three glaring omissions that will turn this place into a nightmare in short order. The first is air circulation. Without an air exchange system, there will be CO2 build up that will make the place unbearable and dangerous. Cooking will be out of the question. The second problem is waste management. In a month, the smell will be bad, the flies worse and the prospect of disease a reality. It would take a power source to run a pump to push sewage into an existing system. The final problem is likely to be moisture. Even if rain does not actually run into a basement, moisture is a reality in underground living. Best wishes, - Kathy Harrison (author of Just in Case: How To Be Self-sufficient When The Unexpected Happens)

JWR Replies: The challenges mentioned are significant, but not insurmountable. A fairly small DC "muffin" fan that is powered by an alternative power system battery bank can provide plenty of outside air, but of course you'll need a corresponding size outlet. Ideally, a more sophisticated DC and hand-powered air pump (with a HEPA filter for NBC events) should be added, as your budget allows.

See my lengthy response to a 2007 letter in the SurvivalBlog archives for some recommendations on minimizing cooking odors.

Depending on your water table and time of year, and manual sump pump, or one powered by an alternative power system battery bank would be appropriate.

For most family shelters, I recommend getting a Luggable Loo Portable Toilet. These toilet seats fit on a standard 5 or 6 gallon HDPE bucket. Depending on how many people you will have in your shelter, and the expected duration, you'll need to lay in a corresponding supply of additional buckets with lids. (The inexpensive non-food grade buckets from places like Home Depot work fine.) For planning purposes, keep in mind that the accumulated volume of urine will be greater than the volume of fecal matter and toilet paper. When each bucket becomes nearly full, move the toilet seat to a new bucket, and tightly seal a lid on the full one. To cut down on odors, keep a sack of powdered lime available, to sprinkle over the feces, immediately after each use. The lime you'll need is the calcium hypochlorite type, a.k.a. Ca(ClO)2, which is made from chlorinated slaked lime. this is available from many feed stores and farm/ranch co-op stores.

The Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) continues to grow, just as I predicted: Congress considers more stimulus as economy shows signs of slowing. (A hat tip to David D. for the link.)

Also from David: Dallas Fed Chairman: White House (& Congress) "Dead Wrong" on Financial Reform. David's comment: "Talk about dissension in the ranks, I think this would qualify. I’m surprised Mr. Fisher hasn’t been replaced yet."

Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan warns of 'collapse' under debt pile. (A hat tip to Lee C. for the link.)

By way of The Drudge Report: Euro to hit dollar parity in 2011, if still exists: analyst

Items from The Economatrix:

Economist Predicts Greek Default in August

Pick-up Sales Picking Up and Economy Hitches A Ride

Report: Employers to See 2011 Medical Costs Jump

Stocks Extend Gains on Signs of European Growth

6-Week Slide in Gasoline Prices May be Ending

I just did some business with a small company that sells field gear, and I was very pleased with their prices and customer service. Check them out: Saber Tactical Group.

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Ready Made Resources is running another Mountain House sale, from June 15th to June 30th. Ordering any multiple of six can cases (even if mixed cases) gets you 25% off and free shipping. Partial cases are also 25% off, but $17 is charged for shipping.

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Paul W. liked this article: Masters of Disaster. It begins: "At Wharton's Risk Management and Decision Processes Center, researchers are investigating why humans do such a poor job planning for, and learning from, catastrophes."

"A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows." - Doug Larson

Monday, June 14, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 29 ends on July 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 part one of this article, I outlined the process I used for the exterior of my home to create a hidden retreat for my family, and maybe a few lucky friends, should we experience some event in the nation which would precipitate the need to “go underground” for a short time.
With the exterior of our home finished, and the basement retreat fully camouflaged from possible intruders, looters, or those looking to pillage and do harm, I turned my attention to outfitting our basement retreat into a space converted to provide shelter, defense, and storage.

The only true access point to our basement is a single staircase leading down from the first floor. The door to our basement is in a short hallway with four other doors leading to various other rooms in our home. I created a quick-assemble false closet to install behind the door leading to our basement, matching the closet contained within another doorway in the same hallway, and hopefully good enough to fool anybody attempting to loot our home.
The stairway leading into the basement dead ends into a wall at the bottom, and anybody entering the basement needs to take an immediate left turn at the bottom of the stairs, and make another left turn to enter the main portion of the basement. Basically, a person makes a complete 180 degree turn at the bottom, and then enters the largest portion of the basement. This section of the basement is about 25 feet wide, and runs the entire length of our home, twenty yards or so, and then another section meets it from the left. Essentially, the basement is configured in an “L” shape, and anybody entering the basement would be entering from the top portion of the “L”.
The stairway, due to the fact anybody entering the basement needs to immediately turn to enter, creates a natural choke-point which limits the number of people who can enter the main basement space—a nice feature,  perfect for creating a defensive setup.
To take advantage of this funnel, I decided to build a false wall at the far side of the basement, facing the stairway and entrance to the basement.
I built the wall six feet from the original back wall of the basement, and the wall runs the same width as the section of basement visible when a person enters the basement from the stairs. One side of the wall is open, for easy access—and the window leading to the area below our deck is now behind the new wall as well.
I built this wall using concrete blocks to make it appear as the normal end of the basement, and when constructing the wall I left five slots, each 6 inches by eight inches, for firing positions. With these slots, I can stand behind the cover of the wall and fire out into the open section of the basement, and most importantly—the bottom section of the staircase. From these slots in the wall, one person can cover every inch of the main section of basement effectively, and with more then one person firing from behind this cover we now have crossing fields of fire. As only one, maybe two, people can squeeze into the basement from the stairs at the same time, this creates a killing zone right at the basement entrance.

The concrete blocks also would provide adequate cover should somebody toss a flash-bang or fragmentation grenade into the basement from the stairway.
To further give the appearance that this new wall is a natural part of the basement, I lined the floor in front with boxes, toys, and other junk we keep in the basement.
The rest of the defensive preparations for the basement were simple changes. To augment the defensive position of the new wall, I also cut out a section of riser in one of the steps—the vertical part of the step—at shoulder height. This wooden board can now be removed quickly from underneath the stairs and used as another position to fire upon the landing at the bottom of the stairs. I also painted the front wall of the basement white--the portion that would be immediately to the rear of anybody entering the basement--to create a better silhouette picture and provide easier target acquisition.
To also further disorient anyone entering the basement, I placed two large strobe lights on either side of the basement, shining toward the stairway entrance, but until I’m able to rig these lights up on a battery system they may just be useless if the power grid goes down.
Now that I have the two entrance points to the basement covered defensively, it was time to lay in supplies of food, bedding, communications, ammunitions, and weapons. This process was pretty self-explanatory.

Our food stores are a continuing, on-going process, with the goal to build up to a minimum of a one year supply. This consists of a combination of canned goods—both from the grocery store and freeze dried #10 cans from Costco, MREs, and other long-term storage food items.
Water, also, is a continuing and ongoing process. With a goal of having one gallon per person, per day, the amount of water needed for a long-term event is daunting to say the least. Every week I purchase at least one 5 gallon plastic water dispenser from the local grocery, and I keep these stored in the coolest, darkest portion of the basement. I have also built a rain-barrel, and eventually I will have this feed down into the basement with the use of PVC piping and a clamp system.

I currently have a Sawyer 4-in-1 filter, which can be used to filter any water gained from the rain-barrel or other outdoor sources if needed, and I also have a Steri-Pen for backup. The Steri-Pen is effective and easy, but I use it strictly as a backup due to its fragile nature and battery usage.
The shorter section of the basement—the lower portion of the “L” shape—is the living quarters, and this section has been partitioned off from the main section of the basement using steel cord and curtains. Most of the food and water is also stored in this section of the basement. This section of the basement also faces the open side of the new wall, providing quick and easy access to the defensive positions and means of escape from the window well leading out below the back deck.
With the current setup, I figure up to ten adults could stay here for up to a month, but the cramped quarters would not be large enough to accommodate this many people for longer periods of time.
I also have G.O.O.D. packs prepared and ready for each member of my family. I have obtained and enlarged maps, both street and topographical, of an area 100 miles around our home—with designated routes of escape, alternative routes, and possible destinations should our home become a non-viable place of shelter.

Our weapons, another process of continual growth and upgrade, are pre-positioned, along with an adequate amount of ammunition, in our defensive positions and ready to go at a moments notice.
I have also laid in a stock of supplies that include medical kits, saved prescription medications, batteries, flashlights, radios, a C.B. radio, and all of our tactical gear. I had to get rid of a great deal of junk to create room for all of these things, but the proceeds from the garage sale of items we no longer used purchased a number of supplies that made the entire effort worth our time.
My biggest fear during this process of creating the “Disappearing Suburban Basement” was my neighbors on either side. I often wondered if they might find it strange that my window wells were suddenly gone, or that my house now appeared different then the home they were used to seeing from their windows---but the reality is most people are too caught up in their own lives, their own dramas, to really notice or care what you are doing. Not once did anybody ask me about the window wells, or the construction I was doing in and around our home.

Today, I feel totally secure that the people who live in close proximity to me have absolutely no idea of the preparations I’ve made---and in a catastrophic event secrecy will be perhaps the greatest tool of survival.
My basement, and my plans, continue to grow and evolve---and while I’m now confident that I can ride out most major events in relative safety for a short period of time, the lessons I’ve learned creating my hidden bunker have opened my eyes, and opened my mind to even bigger and greater ideas—and I’m excited to begin my next project using the knowledge I’ve gained in the time since I started this journey.
For those of us who don’t have the means to become remote and remove ourselves from the mainstream of society and larger population centers, the need to become creative and use the things you already have available is critical—and it could very well be the difference between life and death. I encourage everybody to make a list of your needs, your wants, and then take an inventory of what you have available currently, then fashion a plan. Don’t wait, thinking that eventually you may be able to move to some far off location---make your plans as if some event could happen tomorrow---because, the reality is, it can.

As I mentioned in SurvivalBlog once before, I'm involved with development of a preparedness television show for a major cable television network. I'll be doing voice-overs for the show, critiquing the participants. For fear of having the show's concept get hijacked by competitors, I can't mention many details. Suffice it to say that this is a legitimate project. I personally know two of the principals in the production company. I can assure you that they are sincere, and not out to do a "hatchet job." Rather, they are serious about preparedness, and want to show some "best practices" in the preparedness movement, to motivate others. They are preparedness minded, conservative, and pro-gun. Ditto for the actor that will be the host of the show. I'd love to be able to mention his name (preppers will recognize it!), the name of the production company and their lengthy list of credits, but I can't do so until after the production gets the final "green light" from the cable network. Rest assured that the producers have promised that identities and locations will be kept confidential.

For full disclosure: I am being paid modestly to work on this project. But I'm enthusiastic about it, because main goal is to get hundreds of thousands of American families motivated to prepare themselves substantively. If that happens, then I'll count this as a success.

Thusfar, more than 15 families have submitted anonymous biographies and/or video tapes. If you'd like to appear on the show, prepare yours, and send it in, soon.

For even greater privacy, I recommend that you make your submission under a pen name. You might even set up a special gmail account, created just for correspondence with the show producers.

Here is the latest revised "casting call" announcement, from the producer.


A “like-minded” Production Company is developing a television show about TEOTWAWKI.

They are looking for self-sustainers, survivalists and squared away preparedness families to appear on the show and instruct America how to survive the coming collapse.

Identities and locations will be kept confidential.

If you have a retreat, an underground bunker, or an organized self-sustaining community then you may submit a short bio of family members along with photos. You have the option of including a video showing your preparations.

If you are trained in weapons, hand-to-hand combat, medicine, agriculture or possess a set of survival skills please describe them in your submission. Send all submission materials to:



TEOTWAWKI Producer, P.O. Box 1848, Santa Monica CA 90401

For video submissions you can post them on your web site, or send them in by mail. Acceptable formats are VHS, Mini-DV and DVD. Tapes will not be returned unless a self-addressed stamped envelope is included.


Hello Mr. Rawles,
I communicated with you from time to time over the past two years while stationed overseas. As I said before, your site was a true morale booster after a hard day’s work. Thank you sooooo very much! I discovered your web site a few months prior to transferring overseas and began serious preparation at that time and have continued. I returned to the U.S. two weeks ago for my twilight tour (final tour before retirement). I continue to be a dedicated reader and have purchased some of your materials. I do have three questions regarding plastic pails. Last summer while home on leave I tried to put away as much as possible but unfortunately ran out of [confirmed] food grade pails. Since I had no other option given my situation, I purchased some new plastic pails from Home Depot. With both the food grade and Home Depot pails I put my grains in heavy duty mylar bags with oxygen absorbers, sealed them and then placed them in the pails. I have three questions: Can chemicals from the plastic pails penetrate the mylar bags? Should I discard all of the items stored in the manner I described above in the Home Depot pails? If these items are still safe, do you suggest I take the mylar bags of food from these pails and transfer them to food grade pails at this point? Thank you very much for your assistance. - Marilyn B.

JWR Replies: I get this question frequently. While mylar bucket liners are often described as "gas-impermeable", there are several factors that can contribute to a loss of their integrity. These include:
1.) An inadequate seal of the top of the bag. Unless you use a heat sealer and you get an absolutely perfect seal, then you can't be sure about permeability.

2.) Pinholes or tears. Just one pinhole in the mylar liner will allow vapors to enter.

3.) Time. Mylar isn't 100% gas impermeable (although they are much less permeable that the HDPE buckets themselves). So over time, it is conceivable that contaminants inside a bucket could end up inside the liner.

So to be absolutely safe, you'd have to discard any food stored in non-food grade buckets.

As I've mentioned before in SurvivalBlog, your non-food grade buckets should be marked and specifically relegated to non-food storage purposes, such as storing tools, clothing, web gear, and ammunition.

The "Rawles Gets You Ready" family preparedness course has details on determining whether or not particular buckets are truly food grade.

Mr. Rawles,
Regarding the recent post on homeowner's insurance: I am an insurance claims professional. Most standard homeowners policies have a stated limit (in your example, $250,000) for the main structure and then 70% of that (or $175,000 in this example) for personal property. This 70% is the amount that would cover all food storage and other gear. Even in total house fires, I rarely see a claim where that limit is exceeded. If someone thinks it would be, then that coverage limit for personal property (called Coverage C) can be increased through your insurance agent. Like you said, the best support in case you need to make a claim, is to video or photo your personal property (all your goods that are not attached to the building) and keep that video or photos at multiple locations. Related to this, most policies have a stated limit for theft of firearms, say $1,000. If you have more than this, you will want to increase your coverage there as well. Finally, if you are storing personal property at locations that you own other than your primary residence, there may be a stated limit (say "$1,000 or 10% of Coverage C, whichever is greater"-which would be $17,500 in your example), so be mindful of that as well. The best way to find out what your policy covers is to call your agent and ask for the phone number of the claims office and talk to a claims adjuster or claims supervisor. The agent is not usually the policy expert, but rather the sales expert. - Panama Ridge

I wanted to express my thanks to you for all of your books and this great blog. The information is incredible. I have been in the risk management and insurance business for 30 years. I wanted to respond the Nancy S.’s question about insuring her survival gear.

First, let me say that as a prepper myself, I have been worried about how the insurance industry treats preppers as clients. Credit scoring has made it’s way into the basic rating systems of most, if not, all major insurance companies. This creates a problem for “debt free” survivalist/preppers, because becoming “debt free” may cause your premiums to go up.

Credit scoring is determined on the following factors:

* Payment history - 35%
* Amounts owed - 30%
* Length of credit history - 15%
* New credit - 10%
* Types of credit used - 10%

A good payment history (while carrying the highest weight in the formula) is only 35% of the score. Amounts owed, new credit, and the variety of types of credit make up 50% collectively. Therefore, if you have recently paid off your mortgage or other large debt obligations you may see your premiums go up (even with good payment history and without any claims). If you do, it’s your credit scoring having a negative impact on your insurance rates.

There is no way to know how much insurance companies rely on credit scoring to determine the price of insurance (they consider that a secret). So I can't give you a list of the ones who rely less on credit scoring. However, I have three suggestions to fight the impact of your credit score on your insurance premiums.

First, discuss with your agent the reduction of your debt. They can sometimes be a positive influence for additional credits, and these additional credits can off set the negative impact of credit scoring.

Second, use smaller or more regional insurance companies. These companies are not as sophisticated as the larger insurance companies, who can and do spend millions of dollars annually to figure how credit score impacts claims. Credit scoring by most insurance companies is done electronically, meaning the credit score is pulled when the application is submitted; and therefore, immediately you are placed in a higher rating model. Smaller companies still use a less sophisticated rating systems; and therefore, may not have access to your credit score as quickly. Always use an insurance companies with an A.M. Best rating of A.

Third, the judicious use of credit cards, by using them for small purchases then paying them off, will help increase your score and lower your premiums. (As against our morals as that may be!)

Now more directly to Nancy’s question, the question of whether they believe you have a year’s worth of food stored when you make your claim, is an easy fix. Documentation rules the day! Everyone should take a video of their personal property, including their stores, and other items as evidence that you owned it.

Someone else should shoot this video, as you walk through your home and narrate the video. You should open cabinets, closets, drawers and any of your hiding places to show what you own. This will produce a record of your personal property including your identify and your address (with a view of the outside of your home) and evidencing your personal property. It will also help you remember what you had after a loss.

This video should be duplicated and stored off site to prevent it from being damaged by the same insurable event that you might be making a claim on. One lesson learned from Katrina, was that the one time in most people’s lifetime when they needed a copy of their insurance policy, it was destroyed. Ask for an electronic copy of your policy and store appropriately.

Don’t forget that many of the items we hold dear such as firearms, artwork, business property, electronic data, jewelry, and money (cash or precious metals) have “built-in” limits as to how much the policy will cover. The limits are very low, sometimes as low as $100 (check with your agent or representative). Therefore, you will need to list these items on a “scheduled basis”. This can get expensive so get quotes before you do it.

As to the question of secrecy, most insurance claims adjusters have had a though background check (including criminal checks) by their employers and don’t pose a huge threat of coming back to get your stuff. As to listing your guns on your policy, beware that if the government passes a law stating that the insurance companies must give up the information about who owns a gun, they will give it up in a minute! And they've publicly stated as much in their privacy statements.

As the cost of food goes up and our cash becomes less valuable, being able to replace you home and stores will become more difficult. Insuring those properly should be on our list of "must do"! - Ted G.

Jim W. sent this article: Squatters take over South Florida. homes in what police call latest fraud in housing crisis

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Ethnic riots sweep Kyrgyzstan, government begs for help. (A hat tip to Mike M. for the link.)

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Rick in Canada mentioned a National Geographic documentary that will air on Tuesday, June 15th at 10 p.m.: Electronic Armageddon. It is about the effects of a High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) on the US.

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F.G. sent this one: Black Flight Hits Detroit: After 10 burglaries in seven years, a professional Detroit woman calls it quits

"Within, I would say, the next six years, interest payments on the [U.S.] Federal debt will exceed the defence budget. I think that one of the clear lessons of history is that is a major turning point for any [global] power. From Spain in the 17th Century , The Netherlands in the 18th Century, through the Turks in the 19th Century, and British in the 20th Century: When you are spending more on your debts than [on] your Army or Navy, it's all over as a great power." - Niall Ferguson, in a 2010 lecture on sovereign debt and crises of public finance.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 29 ends on July 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.

Two years ago, as I began preparing for TEOTWAWKI, the first thing I did was take a real, accurate assessment of what I had and what I was going to be able to do for my preparations. One of the first issues I needed to face was the fact I would never have a true “survival retreat” located out west, far away from any major population centers, and tucked away in some forgotten corner of the country.
As much as I would love to have something like this in place, the balancing act between having a family, financial commitments and restraints, employment, and several other obligations, I needed to accept the fact that should the worst happen I was going to have to deal with it in my current location and from my current home.

I live with my wife and two small children in Ohio, in the suburbs midway between two decent sized cities. Just two decades ago our town was a sleepy little farming community, but developers came in, bought up most of the land, and began carpet-bombing middle-class homes and planned urban developments. We still have the feel, the atmosphere, of being out beyond the cities, but the tractors and combines no longer run in this area.

With these limited options, the only thing available to me WTSHTF is my home or a neighborhood effort to create a fortified, defendable position to try and ride things out—not ideal, but it is what it is . . .
At that time I decided to use our home, part of our home really, to create this fortified location to protect my family, store our supplies, and lay low for awhile. Our home is about 2,000 square feet, with lots of windows and entry points, and built by a home developer whose motto seemed to be quantity over quality---again, not the ideal home for creating a defensive position, but it’s what I had to work with.
The only thing of any value I had, as far as creating a defensible retreat for my family, was our basement. The basement is poured concrete and has around 1,200 square feet of useable room; it has three window wells and one stairway leading to the first floor for entry points.
My dilemma was how do I make this basement a retreat location---easy to defend, with adequate storage, and most of all hidden from potential looters or those wishing to do harm and steal our supplies?
How do I make this basement disappear?

With the thought of creating an invisible basement retreat, I got right to work. I have the three window wells leading into the basement from various points along the foundation of the house, so this was the first issue I decided to address. One of the window wells is actually located below our wood deck at the back of our house, behind the kitchen. At night, when the lights are on in the basement, the window was barely visible due to light leak—and only then if you were looking for it specifically. I came up with a plan for this window; since the only means of getting in and out of the basement was the stairway leading down from the first floor, I decided to make this a second means of exit, a more covert access and escape. First, I pulled out the window and replaced it with an insulated wooden panel and hinged it at the top. Now, the window well to the outside could be accessed quickly in case the basement should be discovered or overrun in a survival situation. The deck outside was already raised, with just enough crawl space for a full sized adult to be able to crawl out between the support beams. At the side of the deck I cut the boards and placed bolts on both sides of the loose wood panel. This way nobody could open up the boards from the outside.
The leaking light problem was fixed with the hinged, insulated window I had installed, so the only time I needed to worry about light was when the window hatch was open for somebody to come in or go out. To minimize this effect I purchased a carpet remnant, twice as long as the wooden window panel, and screwed it to the inside portion of the hinged window—essentially creating a light flap.
Now, the basement had an emergency exit leading out into the backyard should the need to escape arise.

The other two window wells are on either side of the house. They are standard sized window wells, with glass window panels to allow light into the basement. The wells are surrounded by a metal well grate, and at the bottom have gravel and a drainage pipe.
These windows presented a large problem due to the fact they were obvious, and they were also standard on all the surrounding homes in the neighborhood that had basements. About half the homes on our neighborhood had basements, while the other homes were simply slab homes built upon a solid concrete foundation.
To conceal these window wells, I decided landscaping both sides of the house would be needed.
First, I purchased half-inch, treated lumber and cut the panels the fit and cover the glass windows. Using Liquid Nail and silicone, I attached the wood panels to the outside the windows, completely covering the glass and eliminating light from the inside of the basement.

With the lumber in place, I gathered some larger rocks from a nearby construction site and used them to fill the window wells about half way. Next, I placed about a foot of peat moss in the wells, filling in the gaps between the stones and covering them. After the peat moss settled, I filled the rest of the wells with regular topsoil. Along the entire length of both sides of the house I built up the topsoil to completely cover the concrete foundation, sloping it outward toward the yard. Now, the walls along both sides looked like a garden plot---and the window wells were both completely invisible.
To complete the camouflage, I planted perennial flowers—being sure to intersperse plants that bloom throughout the spring, winter, and fall. I also included bushes---choosing firs for year round coverage.
Once completed, our home just looked well landscaped with lots of foliage along the entire length of our home. The home now appeared like just another slab foundation, no-basement home from the exterior.

Next came the interior, and the issue of the stairway leading down to the basement. The hallway which contains the basement stairs is a short hallway that also contains access to a half-bath, a laundry room, a coat closet, and the doorway going out to the garage. In all, this hallway is only about 14 feet long yet has five doors---it’s actually pretty goofy looking, and a major design flaw, but it’s what I had to deal with. All the doors in the hallway were matching, so I needed to figure a way to disguise the basement steps.

I decided to turn the doorway leading to the basement into another coat closet
—matching the one straight across from it as much as possible.
To do this, I purchased lumber and sheetrock, and built the back wall, top shelf, and flooring section to the same measurements as the existing hallway closet. I also created a bracket, hinge, and support system that allows me to attach all the pieces needed to complete the closet in about five minutes.
When fully deployed; with the addition of coats, hangers, and other stuff thrown in on the top shelf and flooring, the disguise is complete---I now have a second fully functioning coat closet hiding the stairs to the basement. The back wall of the closet also swings open enough to allow anybody in the basement to quickly leave the basement.
I did this closet with the thought, and the hope, that should the “worst case scenario” come true, looters will be moving quickly—looking to get in and out, strip away and steal whatever they can use quickly and without time to fully investigate, or even wonder, why there might be two matching closets in the same hallway.
Now, I have a usable, defendable, secure retreat perfect for disappearing for short periods of time.
My next project was to outfit the basement with supplies, create defensive positions, and to make a livable space for several people that could be used for an extended stay should outside events require the need to go underground.

In Part Two I will show you how I finished my “Suburban Basement Retreat”, and how you too can create a safe space for your family in case of emergency.

A gentleman posted some options about carrying M1 Garand ammo clips, and I wanted to share this link and his story if that was possible: Olongapo Outfitters
He makes gear specifically for Carbines and Garands, and while he has a bit of a wait time, he's had good reviews. - M.W.

In addition to the methods described in the 11 June SurvivalBlog letter from Matt R. regarding M1 Garand ammo carrying options, there are at least three other excellent methods worthy of note.

The twin-magazine MOLLE pouches meant for the carry of a pair of 30-round M16 magazines will nicely carry three loaded Garand clips in each pouch cell for a total of six clips or 48 rounds of ammo, only with the clips placed in the pouch with their bullets pointing toward the sides of the pouches instead of vertically. Similarly, the common three-magazine M16 magazine pouch, usually seen in OD nylon, also works very well with Garand clips instead of the bulkier box-type magazines. the small straps meant to keep the M16 magazines separate from each other need to be removed to use them for Garand clips, a pretty simple modification. Either of these pouches can be used with either a web pistol belt and LBE suspenders, or with a MOLLE vest or ballistic plate carrier with MOLLE straps.

Also usable: the 10-pocket Chinese cotton web chest pouch belt for the SKS, each pouch holding a pair of stripper clips for the SKS rifle. These pouches will also take a pair of Garand clips each, making it a 160-round pouch that's frequently available for around $10.00- $15.00 or so. There is also a smaller accessory pouch built into the ChiCom SKS chest pouch belt, providing a place for cleaning gear, spare parts or a first aid kit.

One source for these is ODSurplus in Texas, which lists the ChiCom pouches for $11.00 each, plus shipping. regards, - George S.

Check out the M1 Garand 48 Round En Bloc Clip Pouch made by FCO. Regards, - Timothy J.

"Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint. " - Isaiah 40:30-31 (KJV)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I just heard from my editor at Penguin USA that they've gone back to press yet again on my nonfiction book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It". This ninth printing of 15,000 copies will bring the total in print to 96,000.


Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 29 ends on July 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.

If you have seen the movie What About Bob can in some way relate to the OCD character Bob and cannot help but laugh at his ridiculous antics.  The funniest and perhaps most well known scene is when Bob meets with the psychiatrist and receives what would become the most famous cinema prescription, “Baby steps.”  When trying to conquer any fear, or overcome difficult circumstances in any situation, we need the same advice, baby steps.

I was just recently introduced to the SurvivalBlog. Upon first reading it, the amount of information is daunting.  The amount of preparation for TEOTWAWKI is virtually insurmountable.  If not for the even greater fear of current events and the real possibility of societal collapse, I would have “x-ed” out of the survival blog, never to have returned.  But I took baby steps, read a few articles, and am still overwhelmed by the amount of preparation I need to do. 

I was born and raised in Northern Virginia.  For any reader not familiar with the area, “inside the beltway” is as urban as the District itself and as yuppie as Hollywood.  The closest thing us Northern Virginians come to experiencing nature is the Cougar living down the road driving her Jaguar to her “green” McMansion.  We have no sense of the reality of nature.  Our lawns are professionally groomed by the company our HOA hires.  We cannot cultivate a green thumb by planting a bush without prior approval from the HOA.  Having a vegetable garden in your backyard, let it be anathema!  To eat healthy or even naturally, one must ride their bike down to the local Whole Foods and carry their produce back in an environmentally friendly reusable bag. Survival techniques like fishing and hunting include buying fish sticks from the frozen food section and hitting a deer with your car on the way home.  The Northern Virginia lifestyle has no resemblance to a traditional agrarian lifestyle nor does it teach the age old techniques of survival.  So you can now imagine my raison d'être for hyperventilating and the necessary prescription, Baby steps!

Where do I begin and what baby steps do I now need to take?  What I intend to do in this article is tell briefly my story of survival preparation thus far, and then explain my “baby step” survival plan for those urbanites/suburbanites who have yet to begin any preparations. My survival preparation began unknowingly the week after the last presidential election.  Fearing strict new gun laws, I went to the local sporting goods store and purchased my first gun, a Remington 870 Express. Known for its versatile capabilities and simplistic construction, I decided this was going to be the right gun that could do it all. Although there are many other guns that would better suit certain individual activities better, like hunting or protection, I can hunt and protect myself with my shotgun. I do not need a multiplicity of guns, just different kinds of ammo.  My unknowing TEOTWAWKI preparation continued with a free subscription to Field and Stream Magazine.  In my opinion it is the ultimate outdoorsman magazine with so many useful tips and interesting stories. This subscription sparked that outdoorsman/survival instinct in me.  I began to read and learn about fishing and hunting.  This past November I went hunting for my first time.   While the experience was exhilarating, the stark reality of my inability and lack of skill was clear. I am fortunate in that I live very close to the NRA’s headquarters and Bull Run Shooting Center, a range that is considered one of the best on the east coast for sporting clays.  I frequent both with increasing regularity becoming more familiar with my shotgun. I have also become and avid fisherman, going out to the lake any chance I get.  I purchased for the first time a fishing license allowing me to fish in fresh water, salt water, and fish for trout (Virginia requires different licenses for each). I invested in fishing gear that is good beginner gear and economical at the same time.  I have tried different lures and baits and I am on my way to perfecting my casting and retrieval techniques.  Finally, I purchased a National Parks pass.  This pass grants me entrance into any of the nation’s National Parks.  My hiking trips have increased in number and in scope.  I began at the “bunny hill”, Great Falls National Park and have since graduated to some of the more difficult trails in Skyline National Park.  Why on earth am I telling you, dear reader, about my hobbies?  What does this have to do with TEOTWAWKI? 

Step 1

I think the first step for any survival plan and TEOTWAWKI preparations is familiarity with the environment that we will most likely be forced to live in and survive by.  Imagine any disaster situation.  It is one thing to have a whole lot of gear prepared, but if you don’t know how to use it, what’s the use?  Cultivate that inner outdoorsman survivalist.  Go hiking; buy a gun and go shooting; go fishing.  While becoming the outdoor enthusiast and purchasing gear, keep in mind that you might need to survive on this one day so get something that is versatile.  Buy a gun that can be used to hunt deer, rabbits (or squirrels), and birds. By changing the choke and ammo, my Remington 870 gives me the ability to hunt all three of these animals. When you purchase a fishing pole, get a pole that is strong enough to catch the big channel catfish, and yet light enough to catch trout.  Remember, if you are forced to survive, the chances you will be able to have a plethora of fishing poles is slim to none. My suggestion in this area would be a medium action Ugly Stick.  It holds a 6-10lbs line and is known for its strength and sensitivity while at the same time being only moderately priced (about $40).  A 6 lb line is about the heaviest you would want for catching trout. But you would also be able to catch a bass on the same line.  You could change it out with a heavier line and catch really big bass or catfish.  But it’s all done with one rod and one reel. Another major benefit of learning the art of fishing, aside from the fish you will catch, is you learn the art of knot tying.  Knots will be used in all sorts of survival circumstances from catching animals and hanging up meat from a tree limb to getting yourself across a swollen river or down a steep cliff.  Begin to hike, even if it ends up being in the small local community parks.  You will need to figure out what type of hiking shoes do not hurt your feet and will hold up for the miles of hiking you might be forced to do. I own a pair of low cut Merrell’s, while the rest of my family swears by L.L. Bean. To each his own! Figure out your brand. 

Step 2

Step two of my “baby step” survival plan is to prepare for two weeks at a time.  I battled despair when I first happened upon this blog. I read article after article by those who had a two year supply of food, a cabin out in the woods, a root cellar, etc.  I kept asking myself, “How on earth will I ever be as prepared as these people?”  Living in Northern Virginia, how can I gain the necessary skills to survive “off the grid?” Baby steps!  Preparing a two week food supply is a whole lot easier than to trying to prepare for a whole month or two months.  It takes time to build up the food reserves and the other necessary equipment.  Take it two weeks at a time.  Prepare for the first two week with a bug out bag.  Then prepare for another two weeks.  Then prepare for another two weeks after that.  Eventually you will have prepared the necessary food and supplies to last you the two years plus that others on this blog already have.  I’m not going to try to reinvent the wheel by trying to list what I think you would need for a two week bug out bag.  There are many a fine article on this site which are more comprehensive than I could hope to be. Another point to consider while making two week preparations is your action plan.  Try to imagine all the situations that could happen and then asses the area you live in.  Lets pretend for a moment that you live in Old Town Alexandria just across the river from DC.  The likely hood that DC is the epicenter of the disaster is great.  You live on the river, a stone’s throw from what could potentially be ground zero.  What do you do?  Do you bug in or do you bug out?  If you bug out, where do you go? When making these kinds of plans, you must always keep family and friends in mind.   Will you quickly move to a relatives or friends house and combine efforts? Will you bug in there for two weeks and assess the situation from there?  Should you immediately decide to bug out, is there a spot out in the country that is your prearranged meeting place? When you are surviving, you have to take it day by day.  When you are planning, take it week by week.

Step 3

Finally, the last baby step in survival preparation is religion.  There is the very real possibility that you will not survive the TEOTWAWKI event and you will quickly be sent to meet your Maker.  Will the years of prepared food and survival skills matter when you are standing before the Divine Judge?  If you do survive TEOTWAWKI event, the Lord will be your shepherd guiding you through those dark valleys.  Your soul’s preparation is just as necessary.  If you don’t practice any faith, now would be a really good time to start.  If you already practice your religion with firm belief, take that conviction from firm to rock solid.  I am a cradle Catholic and by the grace of God, have always been firm in my convictions.  But I also know that I am a sinner and miss the multitude of opportunities presented to me every day to prove my love for the Lord.  In the difficult situations, will I have the serenity and fortitude of Job, or will I deny Christ like Peter did? Religion and faith is a hard thing to acquire and perfect.  Take it a week at a time.  If you don’t already go to church, start going on Sundays.  It may be boring at first, but the effort will eventually pay off.  If you already go to Church, then pick up the scriptures once during the week and read a chapter from the Gospels. If this is something you are already accustomed to doing every day, spend a little extra time in meditation or prayer.  Take the time now to get know the Lord so that when you are forced to rely on Him, you are relying on a friend rather than a stranger. 

Toward the end of the movie “What about Bob”, OCD Bob is well on his way to conquering his fears.  The one scene that comes to mind is of him sailing.  He is tied to the mast of the ship with life preservers all around him and he is exclaiming “I’m sailing!”  He was only able to overcome his fears by taking baby steps.  Take baby steps in your TEOTWAWKI preparations and you, like Bob, will do what you thought was unachievable and be able say “I’m prepared.”

I have a question that I haven't found the answer to yet on your site (which I read every day.) I have over $40,000 in storage food and survival supplies. I was wondering about insuring it with my homeowners insurance. I doubt my company would believe me if a fire or tornado destroyed everything. If I take out a supplemental addition to my insurance there goes OPSEC. Should I just take pictures on everything and store them off site? What are your thoughts on this? Thanks for all the great information. - Nancy S.

JWR Replies: Many homeowner's policies are written with "matching coverage" to the effect of: "If you house is worth $250,000, then we'll cover $250,000 worth of your household goods." I should mention that most policies specifically exclude precious metals, without buying a separate "rider" policy. (Be sure to check your policy, for details!)

To keep your other gear insured stealthily, I recommend that you save all of you receipts and scan them. Also shoot digital pictures of all of your stored gear. create a file with descriptions and serial numbers of the most expensive items. Make two backup copies of those files, on memory sticks. Hide one of the sticks at your retreat, and the other one at a trusted friend's house.

James Wesley:
The House of Representatives yesterday passed the "Grid Reliability and Infrastructure Defense Act" which is "intended to bolster that national electric grid against terrorist attacks, cyber threats, electromagnetic
pulse weapons and solar storms. The Act authorizes the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to issue emergency orders to protect critical electric infrastructure, and to take other measures to address current
and potential vulnerabilities."

Given the speed at which government moves, I don't think I'll be unpacking my bug out bag or getting rid of my food stores! - Michael H.

Evan D. mentioned this article: Next bubble: Corporate bonds..or stocks

The BBC reports: Finland in double-dip recession. (Our thanks to Evan D. for the link.)

By way of The Daily Bell, we read: Britain Becomes The First To Choose Deflation

Reader S.M. sent us this: Bernanke Puzzled by Gold Rally. Obviously, Helicopter Ben doesn't understand that gold is a proven hedge against both inflation and deflation. Thankfully, Mr. Market isn't fooled by such political pronouncements. When I last checked, spot gold was at around €1,018 per troy ounce. This is near its all-time high in Euro terms. In my estimation, the precious metals are nowhere near their eventual top!

Schultz: Deflation Now, Hyperinflation Soon

Items from The Economatrix:

IMF's Unpalatable Truth: Euro Must "Reform Or Die"

Europeans Believing in Gold

Gold Breaks Record as Investors Fear Recession, Currencies

Bernanke Tells Congress: Reduce The Deficit

Risks to Global Economy Have Risen Significantly

Euro Crisis Could Hit Asia, IMF Warns

Perspectives on Gold Demand

Debt Spreading "Like a Cancer": Black Swan Author

Soros: "We Have Just Entered Act II of the Crisis"

Fearing the US Dollar

Brandy down in Bianchiland suggested this piece in the Los Angeles Times: Economic Slump Stirs Up Homemade Preserves Industry

   o o o

RNS mentioned this troubling news from Sweden: Robberies raise prospect of retail cash ban. What great logic. So if they ban water, there'd be no more drownings!

   o o o

Roger Y. suggested this article: Doorstep bank raids plague cash-loving Argentina

   o o o

One of our former advertisers, BulletProofME.com, currently has a special on their overstock of US-made Interceptor vest nylon outershells. These are in camouflage. They are just $20 each if you mention SurvivalBlog when you call. If you previously took advantage of their Interceptor vest special via SurvivalBlog, this is a great chance to get a spare carrier, or to add another color. These are also good load bearing vests. They have lots of MOLLE loops on the front, plus a big Rifle Plate Pocket / hydration pouch on the rear.

"It is a blessing upon every one that feareth the Lord, and walks in His ways, that he shall eat the labor of his hands. And he that without his own labor either of body or mind eats the labor of other men's hands only, and lives by their sweat, is but like unto lice, and other such vermin." - John Robinson, "Observations of Knowledge and Virtue"

Friday, June 11, 2010

Back on May 1st, shortly after the big oil leak started in the Gulf, I was one of the first to broach the subject of nuking it. Well, lo and behold, the mainstream media has finally caught on. Recently, they've been earnestly interviewing Milo Nordyke, formerly with Lawrence Lab's Plowshare program. I just heard that CNN will be airing an interview with Nordyke today.


Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 29 ends on July 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 Beginning

CQ has a unique definition to many people.  One military and another for the Amateur Radio ("ham") community.  I’d like to add another definition for CQ.  CQ to us refers to our local community preparedness group that we started five months ago.  CQ is actually short for Colloquium- which basically means an open discussion about various topics.  I chose colloquium to shorten the even longer original name-”community preparedness meeting at the Big Cedar Schoolhouse”  Whew!  What a mouthful!  You can see why it was abbreviated.  I soon got tired of having to explain what a colloquium meant so CQ it became.  I prefer the original and classical word but will concede to our generational ignorance caused by 100 years of government schooling.

The following is a concise record of how we formed our group, how it is organized, what it has accomplished and how it will continue to grow and mature.  We are sharing this information in hope that you will be encouraged to take the same step and be empowered with information to be successful in your endeavors to organize your family, friends, neighborhood and community.  So let us begin.

The original idea for a preparedness group came from the most obvious place--"Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse".  (Just a quick side note: any attendee of our CQ who hasn’t read it is soon ridiculed, harassed, admonished and put on the rack until they read it).  SurvivalBlog is a primary source for any research done by me if I am presenting a topic. 

I realized that I couldn’t have a group the same as the “Grays” in "Patriots" so I gave careful consideration to individual prepping.  Individual prepping leads quickly to recognition of the fact that you can’t do everything yourself and the futility of trying.  You need other people to complete the total package of fulfilling daily needs.  No one person has the time, money or expertise to be a all-in-one survival community.  Who would want to anyway?  I like the idea of needing neighbors and sharing skills, assets and blessings.  For instance, my wife is an excellent cook but I really enjoy potluck dinners.  It gives you variety and flavor that you would otherwise never experience, especially desserts!  More on that later.

The CQ acorn was planted one sunny day when I was talking with two other 4H dads.  The kids were busy with their 4H project so us Dad’s started conversing about the bad state of affairs and the coming economic troubles.  I then broached the subject and asked, “..wouldn’t it be great if we all got together to discuss preparedness and get organized as a community?”  The response was overwhelmingly positive.  One of the men belonged to the LDS church and he gave me a thorough review of their church preparedness model and how they have a program dating back 60+ years.  I was impressed.  They have a great program and lots of resources for preparedness minded individuals.  Just one problem.  I’m not a member of the LDS church nor do I see myself joining their church.

I realized that I wanted to know more about their program but I didn’t want to open the door for the “Amway Guy” either--if you get my drift.  Once I started to inquire of acquaintances that were LDS I was pleasantly surprised that they actively encouraged all community members to prepare-whether they are LDS or not.  They do so without proselytizing or recruiting.  I haven’t asked but I think they have a real common sense approach to preparedness philosophy.  Every family outside their church who is prepared is one less community member who may need help when times get rough.  They prepare for not just themselves but to dispense charity also.  As for proselytizing,  the young men on bikes will get to you eventually for a visit at your doorstep so let prepping be prepping and mission work be mission work.

I, obviously, can’t speak for the LDS church but my dealings with them have been honest, straightforward and mutually respectful.  I know they are LDS and they know I am a Christian Reformed Evangelical.  So be it!  We disagree on doctrinal issues but agree on the coming storm and we have grown to care for one another.  Christ called us to be in the world and have dominion over our culture for Him.  How can that happen if we don’t have acquaintances outside the church-even friends who are of different faiths and beliefs?  Being in the world is not being of the world-two different things.  I retain close friendships for those who are of my covenant community all others are just friends or acquaintances.  The point is don’t be afraid to interact with the LDS or others.  They won’t bite.

Anyway, once I found out about their preparedness history and apparatus I asked how we could access those resources.  I was encouraged to speak with people in the LDS church membership who had specific duties or leadership.  In our area one individual had tried to start a community preparedness group but it only had buy-in from those who were LDS and no others.  The problem was that non-LDS saw it as an LDS thing.  I immediately realized the potential of garnering support from the vestiges of this group and build from there.  One thing I hate is re-inventing the wheel and this would save us time and energy in getting the word out to potential attendees.

Each community has a business or businesses that have their pulse on the community.  It may be a coffee shop or café where the locals meet and exchange information and discuss politics or the like.  I was fortunate to find just the thing here in my small community.  I explained to the man who owned the business my plan and he said it was a great idea and new for a fact that most of his customers would be interested.  He also thought that CQ would succeed because I was organizing it.  Meaning that would calm the fears of non-LDS folks and so we would see attendance from everyone.  We also had another local asset, a small schoolhouse we could rent for $10 dollars.  The location was central for all my neighbors as we are several miles out of town.

Choosing a good location is vital.  An old-schoolhouse, grange, or community center.  Making the location neutral is important as some folks don’t like going into houses of worship not their own.  Being considerate of the entire group can pave the way for much consensus and team building.  Our location lasted two meeting before we moved it up the road to my own property.  We have lasted two meetings here and now are moving it to a more public location due to growth and scope of CQ.  Your location needs to have a few obvious and not so obvious essentials.  The obvious are restrooms, water and power.  I have learned the more amenities there are the more options you have for your topics.  Cover from the elements, tables and even a dry erase board can add significantly your program.  You may notice I didn’t mention chairs as we have had our last two CQs outside and everyone brings there own lawn chair.  By the time the weather turns we will be back indoors at a location that has all these things.  Sound system is recommended once your group reaches 100 people otherwise its overkill for smaller groups.

Now that we knew we wanted a meeting and I had consensus of several community leaders (not politicians) we set a date and started formulating a game plan.

First rule--Focus on excellence and everything else will follow.

Focusing on excellence requires you to see through the small details that can aggravate and disrupt your groups momentum.  Momentum or positive word-of-mouth reputation is important to get your neighbors involved.  Once they’ve figured out they are missing something fun, innovative and worthwhile they will make an effort to attend.

Second Rule--Keep It Simple and Short.

All our CQ’s are scheduled for Two hours every 1st Friday of the month.  6:30 pm to 8:30 pm with social time afterward so people can talk and network with each other.  Our second CQ was so successful people stayed until 11:00 pm just to talk and network.  We chose Friday nights for its ability to allow for later hours and it doesn’t burn a weekend day which are a commodity in rural areas.  We try to have four topics discussed in 20 minute segments.  If a topic takes longer the presenter gets another slot the following month or gets a double.  For example, our first and second CQ had a presentation on lighting in austere environments.  The first CQ he covered oil or kerosene type lanterns.  The next CQ he presented part two which covered pressure fuel (Coleman) lanterns.  The CQ this last Friday we had a Physician’s Assistant provide us a basic overview of the three styles of medical care: Grid Up, Wilderness, and Grid Down.  This took 45 minutes but set the foundation for future topics on medical issues moving forward.  This has been our one exception to the 20 minute rule so each topic stays fresh and the attendees don’t get lecture fatigue so changing topics every 20 minutes keeps fatigue to a minimum.

Third Rule--Focus on skill building.

Discernment of economic disasters and wisdom about our fragile society or thin veneer of civilized behavior is the foundation for a preparedness mindset.  The building of skills becomes the obvious outcome of such knowledge.  The skills that remove you from the J.I.T. supply chain are the skills we look to build in each other and ourselves.  The following topics were covered in the last four CQs.

CQ-1: -Introduction to the concept and quick demographic survey.
-Pruning For Production-Fruit Trees and Bushes.
-Lighting: Lamps and Candles in Austere Environments.
-Beans, Bullets & Band-Aids-Various topics/open discussion.

CQ-2: -Review of Formal Emergency Management Plan for Area.
-Lighting: Lamps & Candles Cont.--Fuel Lanterns.
-Discussion of Topics for future CQ’s.
-Beans, Bullets & Band-Aids-Various topics/open discussion.

CQ-3 -Review of Color Code of Awareness/Plan to design Color Code
Emergency Action List.
-Latest CPR Techniques and Certification Signup.
-Radio Basics and Options.
-Water Production and Storage.
-Beans, Bullets & Band-Aids-Various topics/open discussion.

CQ-4 -Update on progress for Color Code Emergency Action List.
-General Advanced Medical Primer.
-Water Filtration, Purification and Storage.
-Knife and Blade Sharpening.

The topics were picked at random or by request.  Again, keep it short and sweet.  Those presenting topics should be experts in their field or have extensive knowledge otherwise you can see right through it.  Focus on Excellence!

Fourth Rule--No Militia or Talk of Making War.

We all know the look.  The look you get when you say “preparedness”: like you’ve got three heads and just admitted you like country dancing with Bigfoot(for the record--Sasquatch don‘t dance, especially to country music!).  If you want full community buy-in and support you have to be able to give guarantees that the war mongers among us are welcome but will not be given time to speak or recruit for there own self interest.

We do discuss guns, training and other topics pertaining to paramilitary preparedness but we declare up front that guns and gun training are for the gun range.  There is a separate time and place that is appropriate for such discussion but CQ is not it.  Paramilitary preparedness and training are subjects best discussed quietly amongst friends you know and trust--not publicly and especially not amongst a general populace.  It will turn off a large percentage of attendees and kill any momentum you might be building.  Again, focus on excellence by keeping topics short, concise and on schedule.  Do Not Give a Formal Platform to a Radical.  It will poison your efforts.  I will discuss in Part Two how we handled just such an issue.

Fifth Rule--No Politics or Religion

CQ sees regular attendance by LDS members, Christians of different denominations and a family that are Messianic Jews.  We are even seeing a growing contingency of granola folks.  I hope “granola” is the right word to describe the holistic/organic living group without offense.  I’ve slowly been educated by our neighbors who live this culture.  I’ve learned they love to barbeque (non-meat dogs or turkey burgers), drink good beer (life’s too short to drink bad beer) and some of them even love to shoot.  Let’s face reality--organic chips and salsa are the best!

What I’m trying to get at with rule number five is we need to focus on what we have in common--not what can divide us.  Keep the group and discussion focused on skill building.  One person described CQ as "4H on steroids" or "4H for adults".  A perfect description.

Sixth Rule--Don’t have a bunch of rules.

Over regulation, organization and rule making will turn people away.  They want to come and be a part of something without having to join something.  No call chains, emails or Yahoo groups.  Again, keep it simple for you and them.  You’ll thank yourself later and they will thank you by attending and complimenting you on the quality and success of your meetings.  An occasional pat on the back and slice of apple pie is all I need to do my part and it should be that simple for you also.  If it isn’t it’s time to look in the mirror and ask why you want to lead such a group.

In closing, I hope this helps you with starting your own CQ.  “CQ-Part Two What We Have Learned” will describe some of the details of what is written above and how to avoid pitfalls and headaches associated with organizing a community group.  I would like to leave you with two things: Our motto, Parasumus (Latin) “We Prepare” and our stated purpose: "To further community cohesiveness through skill building and resource networking in preparation of societal disruption and change."

Gloria Deo!


I have a question about plastic buckets. I've heard that some of them put toxic chemical fumes into food, but others don't. How can I be sure which ones are food grade? Thanks Much, - Wendy J. (Living too close to Mr. Schumer)

JWR Replies: As I explain in the "Rawles Gets You Ready" family preparedness course, determining whether or not a particular used bucket is truly food grade can be a challenge. I've had several readers and consulting clients who have mistakenly been told that the the number 2 (with the number 2 inside the "chasing arrows" recycling symbol) refers to Food Grade HDPE, but that is not true. Not all "2" marked plastics are food grade! Let me explain: The "food grade" designation is determined by plastic purity by and what mold release compound is used in the injection molding process--not by the plastic itself, since all virgin HDPE material is safe for food. For paint and other utility buckets, manufacturers sometimes use a less expensive (and toxic) mold release compound. For food grade they must use a more expensive formulation that is non-toxic. Unless the buckets that you bought are are actually marked "food grade", (or, marked NSF, FDA, or USDA approved), then you will have to check with the manufacturer's web site to see if they make all food grade buckets. For more details, see the information at this barbecue and brining web site. If in doubt, then mark the suspect buckets to strictly non-food item storage, such as for storing cleaning supplies or ammunition

JWR Replies: That information detailed in the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. The same information can also be found in my book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It", and you can also find it in the SurvivalBlog archives.

I wanted to provide a couple of suggestions for those folks that are using M1 Garand rifles. [These .30-06 rifles are fed by 8-round en bloc clips .] One obvious solution is the ten-pouch WWII ammo belt that every one is familiar with, giving a total of eighty rounds. There are a couple of other good solutions.

One that I especially like is to use a WWI U.S. Grenade Pouch Vest. You can find them on eBay and various internet sellers, both original and reproduction ones. It is a rectangular panel with a shoulder/neck strap and ties to go around the chest. It looks like what we call a [Magazine] Chest Rig today and has eleven pockets on it that snap close. They were obviously designed to carry WWI vintage grenades, but each pocket hold two en bloc clips as if it were made to do so. This gives a total capacity of 176 rounds. Better yet, tie or stitch the sides of two panels together and you now have an impromptu vest holding 352 rounds. Its not as fancy as a store bought vest but it works really well.

Also, Original S.O.E. makes a Pull-Out Garand Tray that fits in their Patrol and Ralleyman AR-15 magazine pouches and sub-loads. One of these pullouts hold six en-blocs each giving forty eight rounds for each AR pouch or ninety six rounds for one of their double AR-15[magazine] pouches.

Maybe these will give the M1 Garand users out there some additional ammo carry options. Sincerely, - Matt R.

The article on perennial food sources was both timely and excellent! Kudos. We are already planning to introduce many of the species into our farm.

Next, a question. Since your book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" has caused me to re-think several things -- and after I have spent 20 years being a prepper --I figured I should buy your book "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation". Chapter 14 is of special interest to me right now as we are building a snug little adobe house on the farm we just bought. We don't want to call it a cement bunker do we?

Chapter 14 [of the book] is a good starting point but I was wondering if you have a source of more detailed information. I've researched many different "housing styles" around the world and across time. But turning them into a modern grid independent house.

There is the crux of the matter: I was wondering if in addition to the books you listed there might be others. Or if you know of a good architect you have worked with to create a "green" off grid bunker?

We envision a semi-buried adobe style house that will have a full basement and a bunker off of the basement (for NBC protection) as well as a flat roof. We are in a low rainfall area. This provides a place to mount PV panels, and a flat roof with a solid wall around it gives us a good "high ground" to defend the house from.

But we are open and interested in contacting anybody who might have professional experience building such a retreat house.

JWR Replies: Three of SurvivalBlog's advertisers could assist you:

  • Safecastle specializes in combination walk-in vault/fallout shelter/storm shelter rooms, both below grade and above grade.
  • Hardened Structures is an engineering and architectural firm that does "start to finish" hardened retreat home design and construction management.
  • Ready Made Resources can help you specify and assemble a complete off-grid power setup. They do free consulting on alternative power systems.

I also recommend that you get a copy of the book The Secure Home by Joel Skousen. Also, keep in mind that there are also more than 450 articles in the SurvivalBlog archives that relate to retreat security. There are some real gems there--everything from thorny bush and cacti plantings to ballistic hardening.

It appears that $1,200 per ounce has become the new price floor for gold. With more global financial turmoil surely ahead, we ain't seen nuthin' yet for the precious metals. If you feel like you've missed the boat, don't. It's not too late to buy on the dips. (The top will be much higher than today's price levels!) Silver is a better choice than gold for most investors. But of course I've been saying that ever since I called the bottom of the market, back in February of 2001. That was just a couple of months before its actual low point.

Reader Kevin A. wrote to mention: "Anthony Fry, senior managing director at Evercore Partners, recently told CNBC that markets are about to turn nasty. He said, “I don’t want to scare anyone but I am considering investing in barbed wire and guns, things are not looking good ..." Mentioning the same interview, reader T.C.N. sent us a link to a Daily Bell article: False Meme of Anarchy?

Michael H. liked this Wall Street Journal piece: Tax Hikes and the 2011 Economic Collapse

Reader Chris P. suggested this piece by Amy Hoak: The housing-market recession is not over

Items from The Economatrix:

OPEC: 2010 Demand Picture Unclear

US Facing Debt "Super Cycle"

Gold Price in New Record, Hits $1,250

Insufficient Silver to Supply China's Growing Demand (The Mogambo Guru)

Gold's "Real Move" to $7,000 is Coming, Says Asset Manager

Stocks Surge on US Jobs Data, China Trade Growth

Judy T. suggested this: Peak Oil and Apocalypse Then

   o o o

Reader John G. mentioned a South Carolina proposal to criminalize hidden compartments in cars. Yikes! Talk about a legislative solution to a non-existent problem. Whatever happened to "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects..."?

   o o o

G.G. sent us a curious story about the owner of a "nail house" in China's Wuhan Province: China's Wuhan Nail House Owner Fights Forced Demolition with Home-Made Cannon. From the photos, his "block house" architecture leaves a lot to be desired. (A variation on a Fujian Tulou would be more robust).

"You can’t keep printing money [that is] based on nothing." - Gerald Celente

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 29 ends on July 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 end of the world may happen tomorrow or who knows when.  Hard times are happening now and may get even harder.  A food storage system and MREs act as a life jacket when times get tough.  But you need to have a plan for when things get even tougher or if your finances or food supplies run out.  Once established, perennials can be a simple, minimal labor answer to a permanent and reliable food source and first aid kit. 

Perennials have the advantage of being planted once and then being around to enjoy for many years without the limitations of weather impacting planting or the yearly time commitment.  They can be planted at a survival retreat and be allowed to fend for themselves or in an urban yard as a part of your landscaping.  One interesting advantage is that as more perennials are planted, less time and resources are needed to mow the lawn.    

After the initial cost in time or money, perennials will more than pay for themselves.  Annuals require yearly dependency on a supplier while perennials offer independence. Other than a few trees, perennials are less likely to be a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO). Perennials also show their value when it comes to trade.  It seems that everyone grows beans or tomatoes, but asparagus or raspberries, now that’s a treat.  See how much more value you can get when you’re trading with a bowl of asparagus or raspberries than a bowl of green beans.

Plan.  Do some investigating before you start to buy your plants.  You need to determine the amount of space you have as well as know your planting zone.  Choose local, heritage varieties over hybrids.  If you buy from an internet or catalogue nursery, be sure that you are buying from a nursery that raises the plants in your zone.  Northern folk need to be concerned about winter hardiness and southerners need to think about summer heat.  Just because a plant, in theory can survive a Montana winter, doesn’t mean that it will if its parent stock has never seen freezing weather for many generations.  There are lots of nurseries and seed companies located in the temperate areas along the coasts.  These are great areas for raising seed, but you want to make sure that your plants can withstand your local climate conditions.  We have been pleased with St. Lawrence Nursery in Potsdam, New York.  It is a nursery that grows trees and shrubs in a zone 3 location. 

The book Perennial Vegetables by Eric Toensmeier offers a great deal of information as you start your search.  Permaculture is a growing movement that uses perennials in landscaping.  Local groups are starting and can be good resources for local information.  More information about Permaculture is available at Permaculture.org.   Another resource that has an interesting selection of plants is EdibleLandscaping.com.

You don’t have to restrict your search to nurseries.  In the spring, gardening clubs often have annual plant sales.  Keep an eye out for the end of the spring rush when the stores start to put their plants on sale.  Just asking a gardening friend to share when they thin out their plants is the least expensive way to find good plants.

Some plants may be perennials in warmer climes, but are only annuals in the north.  Although it requires more work, this can be overcome by over-wintering plants in containers indoors.  We live in a zone 4 area.  If transportation shuts down, we would truly miss coffee and bananas so we are considering having a few plants.  Of course these could live outside all summer, but would have to come indoors by fall.  Chicory could be grown as a possible coffee substitute or for its greens.  In general, seeds take longer than plants to get established, but are considerably less expensive.

Trees.  Start with trees.  They will take the longest to get established, but they will also provide the largest amount of food as well as shelter from sun and wind.  Think of the fruit trees that will flourish in your climate.  Fruit gets expensive to buy and if anything disrupts shipping, there won’t be any available to purchase. Apples are happier in the northern regions and citrus trees need the southern warmth.  Since trees provide so much food, consider what you will do when faced with a sudden rush of bounty.  Many fruits dry very easily.  Just peel, slice and put in a food dryer.  Other preserving options include canning, fermenting and juicing.  Don’t limit your tree selection to fruits.  Nut trees provide protein and fats and nuts are easy to store.  Although labor intensive to produce,   syrup from maple or birch trees is a wonderful substitute for sugar.

Shrubs.  Shrubs or bushes have the added advantage of providing a privacy screen or low wind break as well as providing food.  Berry bushes are an excellent starting point.  They are easy to care for, nutritious and tasty.  Every home should have an elder bush to make elderberry syrup to fight winter colds and flues.  Hawthorn bushes provide an effective treatment for heart issues.  Since hawthorns have impressive thorns they were traditionally used as fences in hedgerows to keep out unwelcome visitors.  Rugosa roses are beautiful, winter hardy, and [their hips] are an excellent source of Vitamin C.

Vines.  The first vine that comes to mind is grapes.  But don’t limit yourself to just the fruit.  Grape leaves are used as a wrap in a number of dishes such as the Greek dolma.  Adding a grape leaf to a jar of homemade pickles will keep them crisp.  Kiwis and groundnuts, also known as the potato bean are two more examples of hardy perennial vines.  Chayote or vegetable pear is a pear shaped squash that is very popular in Central America.

Vegetables and Herbs.  Most people think there are only two perennial vegetables, rhubarb and asparagus.  But there are more. Artichoke is a perennial in warmer climates.  Jerusalem artichoke, also called sunchoke, looks like a sunflower but produces a tuber.  Sea kale of the cabbage family grows in climate zones 6-9.  Green leafy plants that add variety to salads include sorrel, New Zealand spinach and lambs quarters.  I like to include lettuce in with my greens since it so easily self seeds itself.  Lovage is an old plant that can be used in place of celery.  The buds, stalks and roots of the cardoon or artichoke thistle can all be eaten, although it is grown only in warmer areas.  The vegetable source of rennet, which is used to make cheese, is the stem of the cardoon. 

Herbs are more likely to be perennials in the southern states, but even the northern states have chives.  The mint family seems to survive almost anything.  In northern areas herbs are easy to dig up in the fall and winter inside in a container.  This saves the cost of buying seeds or new plants yearly. Walking onions will continue to grow and reproduce while providing for your family. Yarrow should be in every first aid kit to care for bleeding and bruises.  Aloe is another essential plant to have on hand for burns.    

Animals.  Perennials not only provide food for your family, they can also provide for your animals.  Pigs were traditionally fattened on acorns.  We have been hearing interesting things about the Siberian pea shrub and started growing our first batch this year.  This is a perennial shrub that is a legume.  It produces a podded “pea” that is 36% protein and can be used for flour, sprouting and animal feed.  Of course many animals will enjoy the leftovers of all of your fruits and vegetables.  Comfrey, which is very prolific, can be grown as a food supplement for some of your animals.  I also consider it to be essential to have in my first aid kit. 

Wildcrafting.  There are many wild growing perennials and self seeding plants.  Of course, rural homes have a larger area and variety available to them.  Nettles aren’t just weeds, but are a great spring tonic.  Urban homes still have a nice selection of plants available to use as long as no chemicals are used on the lawn.  No home should be without plantain, either fresh or as a salve or tincture.  It is an incredibly useful first aid tool for the skin and things that bite, itch or sting.  Dandelions used to be so valued for food and medicine that people used to save the seeds and bring them when they were pioneering a new area.  Mushrooms are another treat which can be wild crafted or seeded or inoculated in a given area.  Morels are easily identified, but hard to find.  In general it is best to learn how to find mushrooms under the direct guidance of a very experienced person.

Don’t limit yourself to a few traditional fruit trees.  Staghorn sumac, lingonberries, buffalo berries, nanny berries are all unique and wonderful sources of food that require little work on your part that allow you time to deal with other essentials.  Start to explore all of the perennial food options that will grow in your local area, your neighbors will think that you are landscaping, but you will know that you are adding a long term food supply.

Firefighter Charles's statement about FEMA's response times shows a lack of understanding of how the process works. In the event of another Hurricane Katrina type natural disaster, the following things have to happen, in the following order:

1. Disaster strikes
2. Local officials setup an incident command
3. Local Emergency Operation Centers (EOCs) are activated. The local emergency operations plan (EOP) is put into action.
4. Mutual aid agreements are activated. If the disaster goes beyond this, then...
5. State EOCs are activated. State EOPs are put into action.
6. The state activates it's mutual aid agreements.
7. If the situation is not contained, the Governor declares a State Emergency. He can then.....
8. Appeal to the President to declare the event a federal disaster - whether it is a Stafford Act event or not.
9. FEMA is then activated and ordered to head the rescue/relief efforts. The FBI is the lead investigative agency for any criminal acts, while the BATFE is the lead law enforcement agency for anything law enforcement related such as security, etc.

The National Incident Management System (NIMS) always puts the onus for response on local governments. FEMA is a last resort and responses to disasters must always be handled at the local level if at all possible.

Therefore FEMA's "response time" is irrelevant. FEMA will most likely be kept abreast of any situation through the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC), but cannot act unless the locals, Governor, and President have done their parts. FEMA does not just swoop in and take control as this is totally against NIMS and the National Response Framework (NRF).

All of this certainly doesn't change the author's 72 hour assertion. I dislike FEMA as much as anyone else, but FEMA shouldn't take the blame for bureaucratic foot dragging that's quite out of it's control. - Adam in California


I've noticed many SurvivalBlog articles, including Firefighter Charles', advocate the use of the Vehicle Bug Out Bag/Bin or Bail Out Bag. At this point, I wouldn't store even just a plastic spoon in my car. It is so easy for thieves to break into a regular car. In the present day car break-ins are opportunistic in nature. In a society break-down situation, people who are desperate might not stop at anything to fill their needs.

In the past seven years, my Suburban has been burglarized five times. The first time was when we were moving to this city and had just pulled into a hotel. We went to check out the room and in less than 10 minutes had lost coins and a gun that we felt were "hidden." Others parked beside us lost electronics. At least our window wasn't broken. Then we had a couple of break-ins while at work in full daylight with crowds present. Nothing taken as nothing was available. Last, two break-ins in our driveway, probably kids. However, the last thing stolen was the car's Owner Manual, for goodness sake!

Now we have a loud car alarm which is always left set when parked. My city is one of the largest in the country and we don't leave any kind of box or crate or bag in a car, even in cars with tinted windows.

One idea: Buy those flat under-the-bed plastic sweater containers. Take out the carpet in the back, place a couple of loaded containers, cover with thin plywood, replace the carpet. This might deter casual thieves pressing their noses against the glass. Clearly, someone who is determined will find anything hidden in a car or a house. - Elizabeth S.

JWR Replies: It is time for you to move to a lightly-populated, low crime area! All those break-ins should have been hints.

Dear Jim,
Feral dogs and coyotes aren't a problem over here [in England], but urban foxes certainly are. Here is a recent news headline: Baby twins savaged by fox treated for 'life-changing injuries' in separate hospitals

All the fox-loving 'experts' say that this is an isolated incident, but the reader comments suggest otherwise. I'm not sure how these guys get to be called experts, one on the radio insisted that foxes don't kill chickens for fun, either. I've never had it happen to my chickens (I'm more wily than the local foxes) but I've seen the result of a fox getting in with chickens and it isn't pretty. (My biggest problem is badgers, which are a protected species, and the tales of trying to get the badgers moved would fill a book.)

Blessings, - Luddite Jean.

Brett G. sent us this troubling article: Treasury Report: US Debt to Skyrocket to $19.6 Trillion by 2015. Hmmmm... Lets's do the math: The current "official debt" is around $12 Trillion, which is around 93% of our GDP. And $19.6 Trillion would be a 63% larger debt. If the economy doesn't grow, then that means that by 2015 the debt will be...uh-oh. And as a data point, Greece is presently in a full-blown crisis that is about to crater the Euro, because their debt got to 130% of GDP.)

Kevin S. sent this: Sovereign Credit-Default Swaps Surge on Hungarian Debt Crisis

Also from Kevin: Banking System Collapse: Wake Up America Your Banks Are Dying

Dave C. suggested this analysis of the current economic situation, comparing it to the Great Depression of the 1930s: Haven't We Been to This Show Before?

Items from The Economatrix:

Germany Signals End of Love Affair With Europe

If 1 + 1 Still Equals 2 Then Gold Will Explode

Gold $2,500 Still Looks More Likely Than Ever

No Escape (The Mogambo Guru)

More lies from Helicopter Ben: Bernanke: Recovery on Track Despite Despite Headwinds

Wholesale Inventories and Sales Both Up in April

More Employees Jump Ship as Economy Improves

Reader D.T. pointed us to a Coast to Coast AM where William Forstchen discusses EMP Threats. (He is the author of the novel One Second After.)

   o o o

NASA reports: The Sun Has Reawakened. (Robert R. was the first of several readers to send me this link.)

   o o o

I heard that Noah's Castle, a hyperinflation novel by John Rowe Townsend, just went back into print. It was written for the "young adult" market. The good editors at October Mist books in Seattle noticed that this British book from the 1970s was out of print. So they took the initiative of contacting the author to secure the rights to a new edition. In my opinion the book has some merit, but be advised that it portrays some bad teenage attitudes, and the premise of the novel is depressing and in the end, anti-prepper. (The only serious prepper in the story is described in unflattering terms that make him look mentally imbalanced.)

   o o o

Jeff B. sent me a link to an great new on-line computational engine research tool that is still in its infancy: Wolfram Alpha. You might find it useful, especially as it grows.

   o o o

Kudos to Tamara (editrix of the very entertaining View From The Porch blog). I just read that she's been tapped to write the back page column, "Ballistic Basics", for Concealed Carry magazine. (A hard copy magazine.)

"The reason mankind has to hope that the world, its leaders, its newspapers, its so-called human rights organizations and the United Nations are right about Israel is quite simple: If Israel is the decent party in its war with the Palestinian Authority and Hamas -- and nearly all the world's countries, nearly all the world's media and the United Nations are morally wrong -- what hope is there for humanity? If the world's moral compass is that broken, are we not sailing into a dark age?" - Dennis Prager, June, 2010

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 29 ends on July 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 was standing in the living room, watching CNN.  I saw the devastation of Haiti.  I listened to how help is coming and arrived almost immediately.  Logistical issues hampered “helps” immediate aiding of the people in Haiti.  Weeks later, Chile was hit by a massive earthquake as well.  With Chile’s government not wanting any support at first, watched how Chile succumb to riots and looting in just three days after the quake.  Haiti broke down as well after five days of no food, water, or shelter.  Many people in Chile had to sleep in the streets due the unsafe conditions in their homes, uncertain if the structures of their homes were sound.  Many of the Chileans who stayed by their homes, slept outside in makeshift tents that were made out of blankets, sheets and plastic tarps.  In Haiti, hundreds of people made shelters out of wood, clothes, and cardboard boxes.  Needless to say both countries were unprepared.  At least the people in Haiti have an excuse.  Most of the people are poor and or uneducated.  The people in Chile have no excuse.  They live in earthquake country and [since they are more prosperous and better educated] they should have been better prepared.  In the case of Louisiana, people had time to get prepared and chose not to.  I guess most people in Louisiana figured it wasn’t going to get that bad or decided at the last minute to take whatever they needed.  Either way, “help” did not come for them for four long days, in some cases longer.  Many people died from dehydration along with other things such as drowning, infection, and medical complications.

Three Day Kits are Obsolete:
It hit me that the 72-hour Emergency Kit, 72-hour Bug Out Bag, or Bail Out Bag or whatever you call it is obsolete.  I am now convinced that the 5 or 7 day Bug Out Bag is the way to go.  Hurricane Katrina was a huge lesson to the American preparedness community.  We watched while a lot people struggled, died, and became victims.  Our financial situation here in the U.S. is crumbling.  Programs are being cut, resources running low, and politicians don’t ever think a disaster can happen to us or they might not care.  Either way help will be a long way off from three days.  Even if your Bug Out Location is only two days away by car.  Running into unforeseen problems could extend that trip (will discuss later).  For those who have flee on foot, vehicles, and boats having a 5 to 7 day bag might have extended some of these individuals’ lifespan.  Having more is a lot better than having less especially in a disaster situation.  Like many people say: "It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it."

The Scenario:
     Now FEMA’s response times as we all know is pitiful.  FEMA’s response time also varies from situation to situation. But for our purposes, let's give FEMA the benefit of doubt.  The scenario i san unlikely yet devastating a 7.5 earthquake in New York City (Manhattan).  I’ll play with the numbers in their favor.  It might take them 8 to 12 hours to figure out logistics and if the area is safe.  It may take them another 10 to 12 hours to mobilize and get to the disaster area.  Then once there, they set up outside of the disaster area, which might take another 8 to 12 hours.  Also having engineers come in to analyze the tunnels and bridges, will further delay the rescue.  Depending on the bridge or tunnel they decide analyze, that only can take up to another 12 hours.  That would be an estimated FEMA’s response time.  You now exhausted your 72-hour bag.  Keep in mind that each disaster warrants a different approach.  Also understanding that getting to the disaster zone would take time because of the possibility of compromised bridges and tunnels, hence the engineers.  The total estimated time would be 62 to 84 hours.  Not including the process time to get into a FEMA camp.  A 5 or 7-Day Bug Out Bag is starting to look real good at this point.

     Now once FEMA has established itself in, near, and or around the disaster area.  It could take another 12-24 hours to receive one-on-one assistance.  Considering that thousands to Hundreds of thousands will also be on line waiting for “help”.  Now, picture yourself being on line for your favorite band and waiting 10-24 hours to get their tickets.  Now translate that to a disaster relief line.  You exhausted your 72-hour bag and now have to wait in a line for hours maybe even days to be sheltered and fed.  You will be beyond hungry, thirsty and tired.  Knowing that you are so close yet have to wait for hours more, will really agitate you.  Note: That waiting for FEMA support on a line of hundreds of thousands will bring out the good, the bad, and the worst.

     Using an earthquake scenario in New York City is one of the ultimate crises for usage of a 5 or 7-Day Bug Out Bag.  You will be using your tube tent, emergency blanket, emergency sleeping bag and or tarp for shelter and warmth.  Collapsed or compromised building will have you setting up a temporary home in Central Park, Van Cortland Park, Prospect Park, Yankee Stadium (Being the only sports arena in the five boroughs) or a safe clearing near the home.  Compromised water lines, the aqueduct, and sewer lines will have you depended on your hydro bladder and emergency water packets in your bag.  Along with using your purification tablets to purify possibly tainted water.  There are many other scenarios like a Nuclear Attack (which is less likely), Hurricanes, Civil Unrest, and other disasters that would make a 5 to 7-Day Bug Out Bag desirable.  Keep in mind that you should be sheltering in place for the previously mentioned disasters and have food storage but if you don’t, that’s where your Bug Out Bag can also come in handy.

      Now, on the early mentioning of running into problems while you are Bugging Out to your determine location.  You had already picked out your escape route.  Once on the road, you start running into multiple "road blocks".  Which now alters your escape a few times.  Now the three-day trip has turned into a 4 to 5 day trip.  Again, your 72 hour Bug Out Bag is now depleted.  Having your 5 to 7 day Bug Out Bag during an evacuation will sever you well in the case of major detours.  Keep in mind if you are a responsible prepper your Vehicle Bug Out Kit’s inventory should sustain you for a few days without having to tap into your Bug Out Bag.  I, myself have enough in my Vehicle Bug Out Kit that I would most likely not break into my Bail Out Bags, Start Up Supplies or Bug Out Bag.  Planning ahead with your supplies in your Bug Out Bag will go a long way if you go past your 72-hour mark.  Having more is better.  Having less is foolish.

Is It Really Too Much?    
     Some people might think that having a 5 or 7-Day Bug Out Bag is over the top but in the field of preparedness.  When being faced with uncertainties nothing is over the top, as long as you keep level headed and use common sense.  You are only adding a few more items to your already existing bag.  If you don’t have a bag of any kind and don’t have a lot of money to build a 5 or 7 day bag out right.  Start with a 3-day bag and build from there.  Make sure you end up with a 5 or 7-day bag, at the very least a 5-day bag. 

This or That?
     Some people are going to say “Why not just have a 7 day Bug Out Bag instead of a 5 day Bug Out Bag?”  It comes down to how much you are willing to spend on the items in the Bug Out Bag and how much you are willing to carry.  Trust me adding four more 4.222 oz of water packets add up in weight (you’ll feel a slight difference).  Three more (field stripped) MRE meals or canned goods add in weight.  I’m a weight lifter and a firefighter and am use to carrying heavy weight for long periods of time.  For some this kind of weight is not acceptable or doable.

Somewhat Of A History:   
     The Bug Out Bag was designed for evacuation purposes.  The Bug Out Bag is portable equipment full with survival to sustain you for 72 hours.  The typical items such as food, water, emergency blankets, flashlight, shelter, weapons, et cetera could be found in most bags.  The Bug Out Bag goes by a few names such as G.O.O.D. bag (Get Out Of Dodge), SHTF bag, Go Bag, Bail Out Bag and the 72 Hour Emergency Kit.  Nobody is sure where it started but some say that it was derived from those used by military aviators.

The New Idea (Somewhat):
    My Bug Out Kit is different from most people.  My Bug Out Bag is actually inside of my Bug Out Kit, which is a military duffle bag (sea bag), which also contains my Bug Out Rigging System.  My Bug Out Rigging System is a tactical vest with a 6x6 tactical pouch (emergency blanket, water proof matches, paracord, emergency poncho, food bars, flexible canteen and disposable lighter), fixed blade knife (mounted on the back), folded knife (on front left chest), a copy of the personal document kit (inside the vest behind the ballistic plate), and some items I don't discuss.  Inside the sea bag is a change of clothes, boots, tactical vest (Bug Out Rigging System), 6 – 0.5 liter bottles of water (to fill the hydro-bladder in the Bug Out Bag), Personal Medical Kit (thigh rigged, part of the Bug Out Rigging system), Main Personal Document Kit (everyone in your family), and a dump pouch (Folded up on my belt).  The Bug Out Bag is the 5.11Tactical brand 72 Hour Rush Backpack (trust me you can fit way more than 72 hours worth of gear in that bag).  Compartmentalize bags are the best option to go with.  If packed right you can get to anything you need without having to dig through it or dumping the entire bag just get one item.  When bugging out, you want to keep moving and create distant between you and the disaster.  So, knowing where the item is or having accessible is important.

     A Double Bug Out Bag system can be another option if you’re strong enough and packed correctly.  A Double Bug Out Bag can extend your bug out time.  It also allows you to carry more food, water, ammo, medical supply and or clothes.  The double bail out bag system does not have to be two big bags but a small and larger or two medium size bags.  Recommendation:  For the second Bug Out Bag I use Maxpedition’s Jumbo Versipack, which is medium size and pack a lot of extras.  Or Condor Outdoor’s Modular Style Deployment Bag, which is small but can pack a lot of extras.  I use the Condor Modular Deployment Bag for medical gear.  Plus, the Modular Style Deployment Bag can be “married” to one of your Bug Out Bags.

     A Vehicle Bug Out Bag/Bin is more like a kit that stays in the vehicle and is kept in the back.  It’s a back up kit to your Bug Out Bag.  While you are traveling in the vehicle, you utilize the bag or bin.  The difference in this Bug Out equipment is that most of the contents in that bag or bin will have vehicle related items like jumper cables, road reflectors, tire patching kit, flashlights, flares, ponchos, [12VDC] electronics charger, et cetera.  Not to mention water, food bars, and a back up weapon of some kind.  I own a small one in the back of my SUV.  It’s a bag not a bin.  I do store water and food bars under the rear seat of the last row.  I own a 2004 Ford Explorer so I use every inch of the vehicle. 
Recommendation: If you build a vehicular bin, make sure you also add crucial auto parts like a serpentine belt, water hoses, a good set of tools and things of that nature.  Note: Make sure you check your spare tire every six months.  Also have a realfull-size tire as a spare and not a "mini spare" donut.

     A Bail Out Bag is what I have design to be for the extreme case that I have to bail out of my vehicle and can’t grab anything else but that.  I keep my kit on the middle console.  My girlfriend’s bug-out bag is on the back of her seat.  In there I have 3 days of energy bars, 3 days of water (if used sparingly), packets of water soluble vitamins, mini flashlight, folded knife, paracord and a map.
Recommendation: I use Condor Outdoor’s Tactical Messenger Bag.  For those that carry firearms this bag is very compatible to those who carry rifle and side arms.  Since I don’t carry and can’t have a firearm here in New York City (Liberals).  With that in mine I have more room to store other items.

     A Bug Out Rigging System is a tactical vest and a thigh rig with items that will help during your bug out phase.  As I mention before my vest is more design to the standard of the state/city I live in.  For those who can own firearms strapping magazines to your vest with other survival items is key and adds more ammo to your firepower.  Having a thigh rigging system is also part of the Bug Out Rigging system.  Keeping a personal medical kit (for yourself), sidearm, fix blade knife, collapsible baton, or a 6x6 pouch full of “stuff” will help when needed.  Plus carrying extra food, water pouches, and or ammo always help.
Recommendation: I keep my thigh rigged Personal Medical Kit opposite my baton.  Using a 4x4 or 6x6 pouch would be the biggest I would go with on a thigh-rigged pouch.  Anything bigger will just get in the way.

[JWR Adds: In my experience, gear that is strapped to one's thighs tends to be fatiguing, when walking long distances. A small "fanny" pack or MOLLE pouch worn in front is far more convenient. They can be re-positioned if you ever need to low crawl.]

    A High Speed Kit/Bag is a bag I built with heavy tools, weapons, and a comprehensive medical kit for the small chance of an earthquake, building collapse, or bad hurricane here in the city.  The bag was built to help others.  In the bag I keep a mini axe, Stanley FatMax Xtreme [Halligan Tool], 200 ft nylon climbing rope, fixed blade knife, folding knife, hydro bladder, food bars, and emergency blankets (for trapped people).  The bag I use is Condor Outdoor’s Level 3 Assault Pack.  I came up with the idea to start my own bag after 9/11.  After experiencing not having my own equipment available, I now keep one on deck.  Recommendation: If you build your own bag, make sure you know how to use the tools and that the tools have a multi purpose use.  Pack enough according your area and the distance you are willing to travel to help.  Note:  A Good set of “irons” (Halligan bar and a full size [firefighter's] axe) goes a long way.  Carrying them around will tend to weigh after awhile but they are worth their weight in gold.  Note: There are other companies that make the Level 3 Assault Backpack.  Some are less expensive.  Some fall apart easily.  Some are just no good.  You have to choose the right one.

Carrying The Load:
     Carrying a Bug Out Bag can be heavy.  Let alone carrying a tactical vest, thigh rigged pouch, Bug Out Bag, and a second Bug Out Bag/Kit.  If you are on foot this stuff starts to weigh after a while.  Keeping in shape like Robert Neville in [the movie] I Am Legend is necessary.  I know working out is not a major “to do” on your list but it has to be done in the interest of family and self. Keeping in shape is key to allowing your body to deal with extra weight you might be carrying.  By working out and lifting weights, that allows me to carry a Double Bug Out Bag system.  You have to keep your core tight.  By strengthening your abs, back, and legs, you can do more without risking injury. Recommendation:  For workout tips read Muscle & Fitness, Men’s Health, or Flex magazine (keep in mind Flex magazine is more for the body builder but they do have good tips from time to time).  You can also read the recent two-part SurvivalBlog article: Fit To Survive.  It’s not a bad read and has good tips on going about getting strong.

Why Do It To Yourself?:
     One Person Bug Out Bags are your best choice.  Buying one of those Multi-person Bug Out Bag is somewhat for novice preppers.  Even so novice preppers should actually know better.  You can also look at it as being irresponsible.  Having all your belongings, food, water, shelter, et cetera in one bag is foolish.  Lets say you buy a 72- hour Bug Out Bag built for four people.  You have everything in one bag.  Now a disaster strikes & you have to bug out of town or the city.  What happens if one of the four family members gets separated?  Or the lead person carrying the 72-hour Bug Out Bag built for four gets separated?  Now, the other three family members are SOL. Or the one family member who got separated is now cold, hungry, and alone.  Recommendation:  Every able body should have their own Bug Out Bag.  With children under five years of age I would split their stuff between the adults’ Bug Out Bag.

The Personal Document Issue:
     Keeping personal documents safe is another priority all on it’s own.  Make sure everyone in your family has a Personal Document Kit on them & in their Bug Out Bags.  You (the head of the Family) keep everyone’s Personal Document on your person and in your Bug Out Bag.  Everyone in your family should have two full copies of Personal Documents, one on their persons and the other one in their Bug Out Bag.  If you have an infant then try putting on one on them.  Of course, they won’t have their own Bug Out Bag unless they are Spartan.  In any case, the extra copy of the infant’s Personal Documents will be in the mother’s Bug Out Bag.  The reason for putting one on a small child or an infant is in the small chance that you get separated from one another.  Some may say that keeping so many copies of personal documents is unnecessary but in a time of crisis things as we all know never go according to plan.  Having a main copy in your bag is good but with thieves lurking in every corner.  If your bag gets stolen, then at least you have a copy on yourself. Recommendation:  For every Bug Out Bag, Bail Out Bag, Vehicle Bug Out Bag, & Bug Out System you should have copies of key personal documents in each bag or system.

     The Preparedness field is forever changing.  There is no “set in stone way” of doing things.  Whatever works for you is what you stick to but never be afraid of new and approved ideas.  The different Bug Out Bag systems might work for you.  It works for me and still keeps my hands free.  It might seem overboard but again in the face of disaster, you’ll need as much help as you can safely carry.

The problem of feral dogs after TSHTF will be a real one. In my part of the country we have a problem with people dumping unwanted dogs. They were cute when they were pups but outgrew the family. Some people would take them to the pound, but with it’s over population and short ‘stay’ led a lot of people think that they were doing the dogs and cats a favor by letting them loose to fend for themselves. This is animal cruelty any way you look at it.

There have been several cases where a feral dog joined up with a coyote. These two are usually natural enemies. But you throw a female in heat into a coy dog’s territory, he may eat her or he may take her as his mate. Now you have the start of a pack that 1) has no fear of man and 2) the natural instincts to hunt of a coyote. These packs will then grow as other feral dogs join.

Now for some food for thought; my uncle was having trouble with a large mixed pack killing off his livestock. When I mean large, I’m talking close to thirty animals. He tried hunting them. The instincts of the coyote kept him from killing more than one or two at a time before the others learned. He tried trapping them using foot holds. Again he did catch a couple before the others started digging up his traps. Snares were not used, being illegal in this state. The way he did finally take care of the rest will be considered inhumane by the bunny huggers. He took large treble hooks and tied them to stout branches using pieces of barbed wire about four and a half to five feet off the ground. He then baited each hook with a chunk of beef. Within a week he had disposed of over two dozen feral dogs, coyotes and hybrids. I know this sounds cruel but look at the alternative. That chunk of meat could have been one of his prize show calves or one of his daughters or my aunt.

As for these working on wolves, I have no experience with them. But I don’t see why not. Just place them another foot or so higher and make sure to secure them to a larger branch.

So I suggest that along with your regular traps and snares, stock up on the bigger treble hooks. You could hang them using bailing wire, wire hangers, barbed wire like my uncle or even heavier gauge speaker wire or some of your used and twisted up non-reusable snares.

One word of warning though. These will catch any canine that can reach them including yours and your neighbors’.

That’s my pre-1982 penny’s worth. Keep your head down and your powder dry. - "Okie" in Muskogee

JWR Replies: Documented instances of feral dogs "packing up" with coyotes are very rare. So it is not realistic to think that this will be a common threat in TEOTWAWKI. However, feral dogs just by themselves will likely be a significant threat, since millions of pets will surely be turned by their owners in the event of a nationwide disaster. It has also been well-established that wolf packs proliferated and expanded their territory in the aftermath of the Black Death in the 14th Century. At one point there were packs wolves heard howling just outside of Paris. We could witness something similar in the event that there is a population crash--wolves, coyotes, feral dogs and other predators will probably all expand their territories and hence there will be more attacks on humans. And people ask me why I have so many traps and store so much ammo...

Thanks to your blog, I now know where I can get cheap (or free) plastic [food grade] buckets. I've been building quite a pile of them, and the time it takes to wash them is minimal. I mainly plain [to pack] Pinto beans, rice, flour, and pasta. How do I make sure that I won't open them up someday, and find them full of weevils? That would be a disaster, especially if I really need that food when it all hits the fan. Thanks, - Randall W.

JWR Replies: Insects and their larvae can't survive without oxygen. Two different oxygen-free bucket packing methods are detailed in the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, which is presently offered at a sale price for a short time. The same information can also be found in my book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It".

Here is "must read" article: Societal Collapse Due to Peak Oil ‘Inevitable,’ According to Researcher. (Thanks to Chris H. for the link.)

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Reader RBS recommended a link to some free greenhouse plans, over at Vibration Nation.

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Kevin S. suggested this from New Scientist: The wisdom of herds: How social mood moves the world

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I noticed that even more counters have been automated at the U.S. Debt Clock web site.

"You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body." - C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 29 ends on July 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 will provide background information on allergic reactions and anaphylaxis, and overview the initial management , or “buddy care”, of these conditions. Some of the procedures described in this article will require additional medical training in order for the provider to become proficient. These conditions range from mild to life threatening.

After a societal collapse which results in austere living conditions, definitive medical care would not be available. As a result most life threatening pathologies would not be treated. The good thing is that allergic reactions are readily reversible, in most cases, with prompt treatment. In these cases definitive care can be administered in the austere environment, so it is worth the expenditure of valuable medical supplies. Medical specialists cannot be everywhere, and some of these reactions must be treated immediately, so others should have some basic knowledge of how to treat severe allergic reactions.

Background and Signs and Symptoms of Mild Reactions

Allergic reactions are a hyper-stimulation of the body’s immune system to an antigen (foreign protein). The reactions range from mild signs and symptoms, such as with hay fever, to a life threatening condition called anaphylaxis, common with bee stings or specific medications. Both mild and severe forms require that the patient be sensitized (first exposure) to the foreign protein so that when exposed the second, and subsequent times, a response is mounted by the immune system. Allergies are very common in the general population. They include food, medications, soaps, insect bites and pollens.
The body’s reaction can begin as mild signs and symptoms and then progress to anaphylaxis. Mild allergic reactions usually manifest with urticaria (rashes, redness), hives (raised bumps in skin), edema (swelling), resulting in itching to the exposed areas of the skin. This is common with poison ivy, soaps and certain medication reactions. Itching and mild edema to the eyes lids, nose and throat, with rhinorrhea (runny nose) and lacrimation (tearing) can occur with pollens and inhaled antigens.

Although not life-threatening, mild allergic reactions are annoying and can disrupt activities of daily life. The ability to use scopes, night vision, binoculars and even maintain attention span can be limited by them. Rashes can worsen under hot, humid conditions and limit the ability to wear boots, protective clothing and remain outdoors for extended periods. Mild signs and symptoms also result in manual scratching as well as contact with mucus membranes, which can become sources of infection. This can be counter-productive and dangerous when living and operating in an austere environment such as a retreat, therefore justifying treatment and resources.

Treatment of Mild Reactions

Mild allergic reactions can generally be treated with antihistamine medications (oral and lotions) and oral over the counter (OTC) sinus medications. These are cheap, easy to store and have long shelf lives. Stockpiling these are easy and administering them requires no special training other than to know when to use them. Your medical specialist(s) will be able to handle the treatment of mild reactions as they are not time sensitive.
Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is an antihistamine and a mainstay of the treatment of allergic reactions. Histamine is a substance that is released by the body during an allergic reaction that results in the above sign and symptoms. Benadryl actively antagonizes the release of histamine providing relief. It is packaged in 25 mg tablets. The dose is 25-50 mg orally for mild allergic reactions every 4-6 hours. The chief side effect is drowsiness which can most easily be limited by drinking coffee.

There are several OTC medications for hay fever and the associated signs and symptoms to the eyes, nose and throat. The key ingredients to look for are pseudophedrine or chlorophrenamine. For those with high blood pressure pseudophedrine preparations should be avoided if possible as they can raise blood pressure (BP). Neosynephrine nasal sprays can aid in relieving nasal congestion and swelling. Loratadine and Zyrtec are two other popular long term antihistamines that do not have the side effect of drowsiness

Background and Signs and Symptoms for Moderate to Severe Reactions

More severe forms of allergic reactions, known as anaphylaxis, can manifest with itching, urticaria and hives that proceed from a local reaction to a systemic (body-wide)reaction with the addition of difficulty breathing (wheezing, increased work of breathing, increased respiratory rate); and difficulty swallowing.  Stridor is caused by edema (swelling) to the upper airway (inspiratory and expiratory noises when breathing, swollen tongue). Signs and symptoms of decreased BP (from dilated blood vessels) can also occur such as cool, clammy skin; decreased mentation; and weak pulses. This is a life threatening condition that can rapidly lead to death if not treated.
Anaphylaxis can be functionally divided into two forms in terms of signs and symptoms and treatment: moderate and severe. Both forms will require the provider to be able to administer intramuscular injections (IM); and the latter, potentially perform advanced airway maintenance as initial care for anaphylaxis.

: These procedures require hands-on training and initial instruction on how to draw up medications and inject them safely. These should ideally be performed by your group’s medical specialist if available, but could be considered buddy care in austere conditions. EMT and paramedic courses cover the treatment for this in comprehensive detail. Your medical specialist (paramedic or RN) can also teach these procedures and oversee practical training. Volunteers and oranges can be used for practice administration. Instructional videos can be found online. All medication doses are adult dosages. All pediatric doses should be weight-based and referenced prior to preparation. ]

Moderate anaphylaxis is characterized by a body-wide rash/urticaria as well as difficulty breathing; difficulty swallowing; but no signs of decreased BP. The patient will be in considerable distress but will be awake and conscious at this point but unable to exert themselves.
Severe anaphylaxis can occur within minutes of some exposures (such as with bee stings) or can be a continuation of mild anaphylaxis that does not respond immediately to treatment. This is the most lethal form of allergic reactions and results in a patient becoming unresponsive; severe difficulty breathing; failing respirations; bluish-color skin to the face and neck (cyanosis- lack of O2);  and low BP. These patients can die within five minutes without further, prompt treatment.

Initial Treatment for Moderate to Severe Reactions

These patients need two medications rapidly administered via intramuscular (IM) injection: epinephrine and Benadryl . If a patient is not responding to these medications quickly, they must be evacuated to more definitive care by your medical specialists. Those providers would establish IV access and may proceed with IV doses of these medications plus a steroid medication (anti-inflamatory) as available.
Benadryl is same as the oral version but in an injectable form for more rapid absorption. 50 mg is needed to be given via IM injection, between the hip and knee, in the outer aspect of the thigh of the patient. Drowsiness may still occur and may manifest more rapidly than the oral version.
Epinephrine is derived from the same adrenal hormone in our body. It caused blood vessels to constrict (raises BP); decreases swelling and edema (from vasoconstriction); and dilated bronchioles (eliminates wheezing). It is given IM in the deltoid muscle (anterior upper arm) or in the opposite outer thigh. The dose is 0.5cc of a 1:1000 preparation. This can be repeated once in young, otherwise healthy adults. It should be used with caution in older patients with cardiac disease. It does not have a long shelf life and if it turns brown in color it has expired.

Basic Procedure for Preparing IM Medications

1. Ensure the rubber-topped vial is epinephrine or Benadryl
2. Cleanse the rubber top of the medication vial
3. Use a 3cc syringe with a 22g needle and puncture the rubber top; keep the bevel of the needle in the solution to avoid drawing up air
4. Steady the vial upside down with your non-dominant hand and expel the medication into the syringe with your dominant hand. Draw up the necessary amount of medication; draw up slightly more than needed.
[Benadryl is usually packaged 25 mg / cc and epinephrine (1:1000) is usually 1 mg/cc- check all medication concentrations prior to use to know the dose/amount for what you have on hand]
5. Remove the syringe from the vial and push the plunger of the syringe up to expel any volume of air or large air bubbles, while ensuring the correct amount of medication is left in the syringe
6. Re-cap needle safely

Basic Procedure for Administering Epinephrine and Benadryl via IM Route
1. Expose the outer aspect of the patient’s thigh
2. Locate the site which is the outer aspect of the thigh mid way between the hip bone and knee
3. Cleanse the site with an alcohol prep in an up & down fashion and then with outward concentric circles
4. Re-check the that the medication is correct and amount drawn up is correct- usually this will be 50 mg Benadryl in 1or 2 cc and 0.5 mg epinephrine in 0.5 cc (depending on the concentration on hand)
5. Uncap the needle and inject it into the site at a 90 degree angle with your dominant hand
6. Steady the syringe with your non-dominant hand and pull back on the plunger with your dominant hand; and aspirate for blood (if blood returns this indicates you are in an artery- if so, withdraw the needle and re-inject about 1 cm away from it)
7. Inject the medication fully into the muscle and withdraw the needle
8. Apply pressure to the site with an alcohol prep for 1 minute to assist in absorption
Emergency Airway Management for Severe Reactions
If enough swelling and edema occurs in the upper and lower airway of a patient with severe anaphylaxis, emergent airway procedures may be needed. This will be evident in the patient by audible stridor and severe respiratory distress. Essentially the edema blocks off the larynx from its ability to exchange air and prevents ventilation. Death can occur in 4-6 minutes. The procedure of surgical cricothyroidotomy can be used to place an emergency airway for these patients. Basically this is putting a tube through the “Adam’s apple” of the patient below the level of the swelling.  This airway compromise may be present within minutes of the start of the reaction, or happen if the swelling is refractory to medications. Early epinephrine administration and Benadryl should begin alleviating s/s within a few moments so further interventions will not be necessary.
There are several ways to perform a surgical airway. Again, formal medical training is necessary for success and safety with this procedure. There are prepared kits as well as alternate methods to do this procedure. I will detail the latter later in the article. Although an advanced procedure, surgical airway insertion is very time dependent and more thoroughly trained personnel may not be immediately available, so it can be considered buddy care in austere conditions. This procedure should  be ideally performed by your medical specialist if available.
Caution: Movies and television show other heroic methods, such as using Buck knives and pens. These methods do not work and are dangerous. This is a procedure that must be kept as sterile as possible and be functional for 24- 48 hrs. Plus there are limited ways to treat infection and pneumonia in the austere setting, and saving a patient only to lose them to blood loss or infection is overtly counterproductive.]
 The key to this procedure is locating the cricothyroid membrane. You will need to look at anatomical pictures and find this location on live people plus use animals for further practice. Pig tracheas are very similar to humans and can aid in this process (they are also thrown out by butchers and can be harvested for training).
The larynx (“Adam’s apple”) is located to the front of the neck. It is the large, rigid structure sitting on top of the trachea. When palpating it, the superior hard ridge at the top is the thyroid cartilage (upper landmark). The next hard ridge blow the thyroid cartilage is the cricoid cartilage (lower landmark). Below that are the more pliable tracheal rings. The cricothyroid membrane is located between the thyroid and cricoid cartilages on the anterior aspect of the larynx. (It is the spot where if one presses on it, it feels like you will suffocate.) This is where an opening is made and an endotracheal (ET) or tracheostomy tube is placed in order to open an airway.
Note that locating the landmarks requires practice to be successful. The actual procedure is easy once the correct location of the cricoid membrane is made. A surgical airway should only be used in a last ditch effort to save a life after all other pharmacological options have been used and are not working. This cannot be over-emphasized.]

Basic Equipment Needed for Surgical Airway

Alcohol preps
Betadine preps
#6 ET tube (preferable- alternates will be discussed later)
4x4 gauze
1” medical tape
Adult bag valve mask (BVM) - if available

Procedure for Surgical Airway:

  1. Wash hands if at all possible or wipe with hand sanitizer; use gloves if available
  2. Determine need for procedure
  3. Place patient's head in the sniffing position (place rolled blankets under the shoulders of the patient and let his head hang dependent)
  4. Prepare all equipment(kits can be assembled ahead of time)
  5. Locate the cricoid membrane as previous
  6. Cleanse the site with alcohol prep in concentric circles moving from center of site to about 3 cm outside- repeat with Betadine prep
  7. Stabilize the  cartilage with one hand
  8. Puncture the cricoid membrane with the scalpel to approx 1 cm depth
  9. Remove the scalpel
  10. Insert the #6 ET tube through the hole into the trachea approx 4 cm
  11. Listen for air exchange and respirations through the tube plus chest rise
  12. Pack the edges of the site with 1-2 4x4s to control any bleeding
  13. Tape the tube in place by taping around the tube 1-2 times at the level of insertion in the larynx, and then by encircling the neck 1-2 times and finishing with tape to the tube
  14. Reassess for improvement in the patient
  15. Ventilate (breathe) for patient through tube PRN or at 10-12 b/min
  16. Move patient to more definitive care by your medical specialist

Caution- You must successfully identify the landmarks for the cricoid membrane. Any deviation can cause catastrophic bleeding (and death) as the carotid arteries and jugular veins lie on each side of the larynx. The thyroid gland also is present behind the thyroid cartilage (the upper landmark for the cricoid membrane) and is rich in blood supply.
There will be some bleeding but this should be minimal so long as you do not deviate from the landmarks for the cricoid membrane. Stridor should disappear after the tracheal tube is inserted and the tube should fog from the condensation from respirations. The cyanosis should also decrease and the patient’s respiratory distress should decrease as well.

Back-up Surgical Airway Methods
If a commercially made endotracheal tube or tracheotomy tube is not available then a barrel of a 1cc syringe can be used as the tube. This will need to be held in place after taping it like an ET tube, as it is shorter and non-pliable, until given to definitive care.

Another back-up method to do a surgical cricothyroidotomy is to use the drip chamber form a 10 drop IV tubing set. The barb from the drip chamber that is used to puncture the IV bag can be uncapped and used in lieu of a scalpel. You will need to cut the drip chamber in half in the middle of the chamber to act as a tube. Landmarks and procedure are the same as before, but here you use the sharp barb to puncture the cricoid membrane at a 45 degree angle towards the feet of the patient. The hole is large enough to allow for air exchange and standard BVM will fit the end of the drip chamber that was cut, in order to facilitate ventilation. It will also need to be held in place and taped as above, as it is also shorter than an ET tube.

The above two back-up methods are only for use if the standard equipment is unavailable. All medical kits should have a surgical airway kit set up from the supplies listed previously or have a commercially prepared cricothyroidotomy kit (that will have all supplies in it that are needed).Your medical specialist will know what the indications are for removal of the tube and the after-care that is needed for the site.

Although anaphylaxis can be successfully treated and all group members should know the buddy care for this condition. However, prevention is the best way to avoid death from anaphylaxis. All people who are allergic to known substances (foods, medications) should first, avoid them, and then advise all medical providers of their presence. Severely allergic people should have access to antihistamine tablets (Benadryl) and have access to Epi-pens (self-injectable syringes that contain 0.3 cc of 1:1000 epinephrine) for self-treatment. Anaphylaxis can have a high recovery rate but the treatment must be initiated early for optimum results.

Good Morning Jim,
Well the Schumer Hit The Fan here in northwestern Ohio and southeastern Michigan this past weekend with a rash of tornados. We lost seven lives and countless buildings in the area.

Tornados are a scary reminder of how quickly bad things happen and how a survival / preparedness mind set is important. One case in particular caught my attention that prompted this quick message from me.

One man lead his family to the safety of his basement before the storm hit. While waiting the power went out so he went upstairs with his dog to start his generator. Seconds after he went upstairs everything down to the carpet and padding was stripped from the first floor deck and scattered across the town.

There is a time to act and a time to hold your ground in every survival situation. To those with a plan in this world, as I am sure this man had one, make sure yours places safety and survival well ahead of any type of amenity or convenience. He and his dog would still be with us today had he waited for the storms to pass. Yours in Christ, - Buckeye Ken

One-pound propane cylinders are easily refillable if you use a couple of tricks. A filling adapter is available for under $20 from [Harbor Freight and other merchants.
You need a full 20# cylinder as the "donor". Place it in a warm place or in the sun for a couple of hours. Chill the empty one-pound cylinders in your freezer.
Join the cylinders. using the filling adapter. The filling procedure is that you invert both of the joined cylinders and open cylinder valve. Refills take about one minute each. Regards, - Rob S.

A bad portent of future lawlessness, in hard times: The End of Empathy. "A University of Michigan Study of nearly 14,000 college students has found that they have less empathy than college students did during the 1980s or 1990s. In fact, today’s college students scored about 40 percent lower in empathy than their counterparts did 20 or 30 years ago." (A hat tip to Rebecca S. for sending this link.)

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Jeff B. flagged this troubling news story: Mystery Crop Damage Threatens Hundreds of Acres.

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Reader James C. pointed us to a YouTube "low tech" instructional video: Homemade 12 VDC Coffee Can Heater. (A Strong Proviso: I linked to this just to show some "outside the box" thinking--not to encourage anyone to build one. All the usual safety disclaimers apply. This gent's project has some serious safety issues!)

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Will somebody please tell Al Gore: Pacific islands growing, not sinking

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More tricks from the gun-grabbing Chuck Schumer: Making NRA Membership Lists Public. (Thanks to P.D. for the link.)

"To be or not to be is not a question of compromise. Either you be or you don't be." - Golda Meir

Monday, June 7, 2010

I have been asked to be the primary on-air subject matter expert for a new reality/documentary television series that is now in development. This should be an awesome show! It will be a great way to get people not just thinking about family preparedness, but going that crucial step further and actually training and preparing.

My involvement in the show will be as its narrator/commentator, critiquing and making suggestions on how the families can improve their preparedness, in voice-overs.

Here is their preliminary "Casting Call" announcement:

Are you a self-sustainer, survivalist or a squared away preparedness family?
Do you have a retreat, an underground bunker, reinforcements, a militia or an organized self-sustaining community?
If so then you may be right for a new Television Series that instructs America how to survive the coming collapse.

Please submit a short bio of family members along with photos and a video showing your preparations. If you are trained in weapons, hand-to-hand combat, medical, agriculture or possess a set of survival skills please describe them in your submission. Send all submission materials to:
or, via U.S. Mail to:
Producer, P.O. Box 1848, Santa Monica CA 90401

For video submissions acceptable formats are VHS, Mini-DV and DVD--or just a link to a video already at your web site. Tapes will not be returned unless a self-addressed stamped envelope is included.

The producers have promised to do their utmost to protect your privacy. They won 't mention your real name, or your location.


Mr. Rawles:
There is so much in your blog about stocking up, and it is appreciated, I can tell you. But I haven't seen all in one place any big reference on how long I can expect things to last. Some of the "shelf life" info out there [on the Internet] is unrealistic. (Do they pull these numbers out of the sky?) This info is also scattered on dozens of websites, not all in one place. Can you recommend any one good reference? Is that info in any of your books? Thanking You In Advance, - Lydia. J.

JWR Replies: The detailed shelf life reference information that you are seeking can be found in a 15-page long appendix that is included in the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, which is presently on sale, for a short time.

I noticed that the 1-pound propane cylinders are currently on sale at "2 for $5" at Wal-Mart stores. This is the equivalent of paying $50 for a 20-pound tank, which are normally between $40 and $50. The economies of scale have made these 1lb. propane cylinders relatively inexpensive, and they have numerous benefits [in some applications] that you don't get with the larger 20-pound cylinders.

One of these 1-pound cylinders will run a Camp Chef oven for 7 or 8 hours for baking bread. - Jeff M.

Mr. Rawles,
This letter from Friday 4 June, plus a few other recent articles, prompted me to chime in with a plug for cross-country skiing (alternately, nordic skiing) for the preparation-minded individual. Cross-country skiing's benefits for preppers include:

- An alternate method for getting from A to B in adverse conditions
- An outstanding physical workout
- Another way to get outdoors in the winter
- An inexpensive activity for couples and families

R.M. in Iowa wrote a very interesting and thought-provoking letter about having to solve a winter mobility problem. There are winter situations in which snowshoes are not only an appropriate solution, but also the only one. However, in some cases skis might be a better choice, namely those in which distances are involved. Cross-country skis offer a very attractive method for traversing long distances, with or without loads. The reasons are simple. Skis can float through or over snow, using a more efficient gliding stride that lends itself to long movement. Also, nordic skiers can take advantage of downhills for a little rest and to add some speed.

Cross-country skiing is a great workout, and one that fits with other recent article about getting fit for what lies ahead. It works the entire body, and promotes endurance. I don't usually see heavy folks at cross-country skiing centers, and there's a reason for that. It does take some skill, and it's worth the time and effort to get some lessons.

A blanket of snow closes off the wilderness to many people, but not if you have skis. Logging roads and many mountain biking trails are ideal avenues for the cross-country skier. And there are several activities you can add in to a winter outing-- a late season hunt (while most other hunters are at home), a map reading exercise, a scouting expedition, a visit to your retreat, or a test of your alternate bug-out plan. Additionally, you'll probably have the woods to yourself, a great advantage for OPSEC or for someone who just prefers to stay away from the crowds.

One of the most pleasant sights at a cross-country skiing center is whole families out on skis. At my favorite center, Whitegrass in Canaan Valley West Virginia the area use fees and rentals for a family of four work out to $90. That's $90 for all four-- contrast that to teh cost of a single lift ticket at a downhill resort. Now, this can be not only a good family outing but a stealth way to get the spouse and the spawn with the program. (BTW, purchasing the equipment, even new, is likewise comparatively inexpensive. And quality gear lasts for a long time. [JWR Adds: Annual "ski swaps" in many towns are a great place to pick up gently used cross country ski gear at bargain prices!])

The bottom line is this-- R.M. in Iowa brought up a good point about needing to be mobile in the winter. Snowshoes, as he demonstrated, are one way; cross-country skis offer another way. Cross-country skiing is not the be-all/end-all of winter mobility, but it is a useful capability to have on hand. (Read about the Norwegian commandos who raided the heavy-water plant at Vemork in WWII. They could not have done that mission without skis and the ability to use them.) And the development of that capability has several ancillary benefits. If you live in a snow-prone environment, you would be well advised to consider as a viable and useful capability.

Semper Fi, - P.J.

First, this is a great write up with some excellent ideas. It certainly raises awareness about the need for physical training. However, two quick clarifications need to be made.

1. Re: "The stronger you are the faster you can run, the further you can jump, and the harder you can hit."

This depends on which type of strength you’re referring to. For example, low repetition heavy squats will develop only slow twitch muscle fibers. The meat-head you see at the gym who squats 700 and benches 500 is probably the slowest guy in the room. To run faster, jump higher, and hit harder you have to develop “explosive strength” by training fast twitch muscle fibers. Explosive strength is defined strength per unit time. “Maximal strength” is developed through the concentric, eccentric, and static muscle movements of weight lifting. To increase speed and acceleration much more time should be dedicated to explosive strength training than maximal strength training to achieve optimal performance so slow twitch fibers aren't overtrained.

2. Re: "In my opinion, any man above 5’10” tall and weighing less than 200 lbs is underweight."

I hope to change your opinion. A man who is 5'10" 200 lbs has a BMI of 28.7. While this man is not obese, he is by definition "overweight" (BMI 25-30) unless he has a high muscle percentage skewing the BMI calculation. Being overweight alone increases your risk for many diseases: osteoarthritis, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, certain cancers, sleep apnea, etc... This is corroborated by many peer reviewed medical studies. Of course we need some fat, and we should strive to maintain a healthy BMI (18.5-25). Anything under 18.5 carries its own set of risks.

If we knew TEOTWAWKI would occur within six months, then putting on a few extra pounds like a bear before winter is a great idea. However, we don't know when TEOTWAWKI will happen, so maintaining an unhealthy BMI for an event that could occur 20-30 years down the road is unhealthy and might even make you dependent on pharmaceuticals later in life (i.e. insulin, beta-blockers, bathyspheres). Good information on a healthy BMI and how to calculate it can be found here. (Again, please note the BMI calculation is not accurate for those with very high muscle percentages.)

Warm Regards, - David S. in Texas

NASA reports: The Sun Has Reawakened. (Robert R. was the first of several readers to send me this link.)

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Brian B. and SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson both mentioned this video clip of a new robot-deployed bangalore torpedo.

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Ferd spotted this practical link: Build a Simple Off-Grid Laundry Machine

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North Korean Envoy Says War Could Erupt Soon

"Power is not revealed by striking hard or often, but by striking true." - Honore de Balzac

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The special sale price for the Rawles Gets You Ready Preparedness Course will be discontinued on June 21st. So order yours, soon!


Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 29 ends on July 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.

You have spent large amounts of time and money getting prepared for the day that we all hoped would never come.  You have found a retreat, kept it stocked and have been prepared to leave when TEOTWAWKI strikes.  It’s now here, but have you prepared how to get to your retreat? One of the most critical tasks for survival in TEOTWAWKI is getting to your retreat in a safe and efficient manner. 

I was a US Army soldier who completed two year- long tours in Iraq working convoys.  I have written the following for civilians with no military or tactical experience to help them reach their retreat.  This is real basic information, so basic that much of it can often be overlooked. 

  You have prepared everything you could possibly think about for this day.  Have you prepared how to get to your retreat?   The closer your retreat is to your current location or home, the easier this will be on you.  It will be crucial knowing how to get to your retreat by memory and landmark identification.  During TEOTWAWKI, your cute GPS system may not be functioning.  This will also be the same with car assistance such as On Star.  Practice getting to your retreat without the aid of any type of electronic navigation system.  Know it by heart.  Know additional routes.  Knowing which one is quicker during certain parts of the day or which routes are under construction and are blocked off can mean the difference between life and death.  Have routes that take you out of the city or heavy urban environments and also routes that keep you off of main throughways including highways and freeways. 

There are several ways to do this.  Having a map of the area and along the routes to your retreat is ideal.  I would recommend having a military style map with grid patterns.  The reason behind this is if your retreat takes you out in the middle of nowhere, your vehicle becomes disabled and you need to walk it out, these maps are good for navigation on foot.  Having a city map of streets, parks etc are also going to be another way to get this done.  Knowing which street you are on or where you need to go is a must.  This will also help you with urban landmark association.  Both maps are good for their own reasons, having both will make you more aware of where you are.

Vehicle Preparation:
 Preparing your vehicle for this critical move is can be an overlooked task.  Having a proper vehicle to get you to your retreat also needs consideration.  We live in the land of Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and they should be considered for the task.  Driving to your retreat you may have to drive off road, in mud, ice or snow.  It would be one hell of a time to find out that your car could not do this.  Travel to your retreat during all seasons and weather conditions can give you a better idea of what to expect.  Having an SUV also provides a tougher vehicle to use to push through road obstacles or barriers.  Trucks are also a good source, but this is going to depend on who you are transporting and what type of equipment. 

Make sure that your vehicle receives its scheduled services.  Any problems that you have with your vehicle get it taken care of immediately.  Make sure simple things such as fluid levels, batteries and belt conditions are always full and in top condition.  Also check light bulbs and take care of your tires.  Your tires can make or break your trip.  Always get your tires rotated during services and replace them according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.  If you see any wear and tear in them or loss of air, do not even bother with tire sealant products.  They will just delay the inevitable. 

Necessary equipment that I would recommend:

  • Jumper cables-can make or break your journey
  • Spare tires - Plural.  Chances are that you will be driving through absolute chaos which will include debris in the roadway and subjection to gun fire.  Also consider a tire sealant product which is a very very distant second choice.
  • Extra Fuel- This is a no brainer.  Depending on how far your retreat is located.  This is where recon of the route will help you determine how much extra fuel is needed.
  • Vehicle Fluids- Water, Radiator fluid, oil.  Be prepared for these fluids leaking during your journey.
  • Vehicle spot light-This can be helpful if you need additional lighting to help you navigate. They are simple to use and can even plug into your cigarette lighter.  

Know how to change your tires and what tools are required.  This will help you if you need to change your tire in a hurry with all of the TEOTWAWKI chaos around you.  If you have several people who are physically able to assist you in the event, assign everyone a task to reduce the time and effort.  Always leave someone in the driver seat in case you need to leave the scene and to ensure that no one takes your vehicle.  I would also recommend in taking some mechanical classes to help you understand how your vehicle works and to assist you in fixing or repairing your vehicle. 

Equipment:  Hopefully during this time, you are not packing your entire house.  I would highly recommend packing as little as possible.  When you do load your items, you need to consider securing, without them being able to move or shift around.  In the event you get into an accident, your items will shift and even fly around within your vehicle.  This can cause obvious injury but you can also lose them as they break through a window.  I would recommend bungee cables or even tow straps for large objects.  Just because you have a large item, does not mean that it will not move around. 

Roof racks are great and they save a lot of interior space.  However, during this journey, you should consider not advertising what you are transporting.  This will show everyone that you have those ten cases of MREs and water.  I would recommend if you are going to use roof racks or secure an item on the top of your vehicle put items you can afford to lose.  This is TEOTWAWKI, people will be in pure chaos and that will include ripping your items off of your vehicle.  As soldiers in Iraq can attest, the Iraqis would take anything off of your vehicle and get away with it.  This included climbing on truck ladders and getting boxes of water, MREs and even oil drip pans.  If it is not bolted down or inside of your vehicle, then consider it gone. 

Also keep in mind that if you are packing items in your trunk, make sure that you have easy access to spare tires and tools to assist you during a vehicle break down.  Having to unpack your car just to get to a spare tire and then repack your car when you are done is just dim-witted.  Prioritizing your items in what you absolutely need and what you don’t will help you in the event you need to bail from your vehicle and hike it out.  Keep your priority items easily accessible in the event you do need to bail.  This means don’t put them at the bottom of the pile!  Having a “Go bag” or “bail out” bag will expedite the process in the event that you need to leave.  Have all of your survival items in a back pack and grab it when you leave.

Convoy movement: 
If you have the luxury of traveling in a convoy here are some simple considerations.  Be advised that convoy movement is an entire book in itself.  This is real basic considerations for the non military type of person.  Your first vehicle is going to be the “leader” or “navigator.”  This person knows where they are going and will lead the rest of your group there.  It would be helpful and smart if everyone else knows where to go but the lead vehicle is the best at this job.  The lead vehicle should be tough and durable and will be used as a battering ram to whatever obstacles are encountered on the roadway.  Vehicle should have minimum amount of people inside. 

Vehicles that are in the middle of your convoy can be used as support vehicles if you feel comfortable.  If you have enough vehicles and expertise, you can have dedicated vehicles for specific tasks.  Such as a mechanic vehicle that is responsible for fixing or repairing other vehicles.  The use of medical vehicle can be very helpful.  A medical vehicle can be used to help people within your convoy or others that you may encounter. 
A weapon vehicle could also be considered.  Take this into consideration, if you are not familiar with guns or shooting, shooting from a moving vehicle is a completely different skill.  Bottom line, you will not hit anything.  Having a gun for personal protection in your vehicle is ideal, but shooting and driving is not.  If you have a vehicle dedicated to security they can be responsible for addressing possible threats while stopped or moving. 
Make sure there is constant communication with the other vehicles via radio.  You can also develop signals using your vehicle lights, turn signals and hazard lights.  Have a solid plan and make sure that everyone knows it. 

Driving behavior:
Depending on the situation is going to dictate how you drive.  However, you will always drive defensively.  If complete chaos is everywhere, then drive more aggressively.  Be aware of your surroundings and what people are doing.  This is not the time to stop and help everyone.  You need to be extremely cautious and protective of you and your vehicles.  You will see old guerilla type tactics being used during times of desperation.  The most common tactic will be to have you stop your vehicle.  This is used with children walking into the roadway to get you to stop.  Once you are distracted with the child, several armed subjects will attempt to rob you, or take your vehicle.  This can also be accomplished with obstacles in the roadway.  Another common insurgent tactic is to disable your vehicle and then attack while you are busy repairing your vehicle.  I do not believe that during this time you will have to worry about Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).  They are used to destroy vehicles, and destroying your vehicle would be no benefit to anyone.  However, they can be used to keep people off of a certain roadway.

For those of you contemplating adding some sort of armor or fortifications to your vehicle there are things to consider.  First off, this can take an extremely long time. If you add slabs of metal or other material you still have to secure it in a manner that would not be dangerous if you got into an accident.  Adding more heavy material can create too much weight for your vehicle and dramatically slow you down and hinder the vehicle performance.  My recommendation would be individual body armor, or bullet resistant vests.  They are much lighter than your vehicle additions and can be worn outside of the vehicle.  During TEOTWAWKI defense during driving is going to be your driving.  Drive straight and fast and cautious. 

In conclusion, this is a straight forward approach to get you to your retreat.  This is geared more towards people with no military training or tactical experience.  The more people you have in your convoy the better coverage and expertise you can add to your team.  There are many things that you can add to this.  Just because it sounds good does not mean that it could work.  If you would like further information on convoy driving you should refer to the US Army Convoy Leader Training Handbook.

Thanks for your great work! The following video series is available through Netflix and with a membership can be viewed instantly on your computer. Very good stuff. Normal people in a wilderness survival situation. Shows how important mental attitude is in such a scenario. Here is a description from Netflix:

Out of the Wild: The Alaska Experiment (2009 TV-PG 2 discs / 8 episodes)

"Deserted in the harsh Alaskan interior, nine outdoor enthusiasts must rely on their resourcefulness to make it back to civilization alive, foraging for food, building makeshift shelters and battling plummeting temperatures along the way. Over the course of one grueling month, several team members give up completely while the others valiantly struggle to overcome their crippling hunger and exhaustion."

Thanks again! - David S.

Mister Rawles,
I really enjoyed reading a fitness article that made sense to me from a prepper's perspective. But building sensible body mass is important for much more than fight, flight and health reasons. In a collapse situation jobs will be at a premium and equal opportunity hiring will truly be a thing of the past (as will most desk jobs). If you find yourself needing work, you'll want to be bigger and stronger than the guys around you. Also, it will be apparent to any employer that you are no stranger to toil and self discipline. In short, you'll be wearing your resume. Kindest regards, as always. - The South Aussteyralian

Joseph C. sent a link to this: Why U.S. debt matters to you

Trent H. flagged this: For Some Homeowners in Foreclosure, a Rent-Free Approach. Trent's comment: "This attitude is astonishing and disappointing. The attitude that 'the banks are crooks', and thus its okay to behave similarly is frightening."

From Brian B.: Federal debt tops $13 trillion mark. (And that doesn't include the massive future obligations like government pensions)

Why a 'new euro' could be the saviour of the European dream. (Thanks to L.R. for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

First-Time Jobless Claims Drop for Second Week

Retailers' Reports Show Tepid May for Shoppers

China Ready to Say Good-Bye to the Dollar

Iran to Dump 45 Billion Euros for Gold Bullion and Dollars

US Mint Out of Not Only Silver But Gold American Eagles as Well

Chronic Joblessness Bites Deep

Jeff B. reminded me about this useful article by Grandpappy: How to Preserve Food for Future Consumption Using Three Simple Old Fashioned Methods.

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Phoenix-area hospitals fight highly toxic 'supergerm'. (Thanks to S.M. for the link.)

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Douglas wrote to mention a Guatemalan web site that has downloadable examples of pedal power that can be harnessed which would otherwise require electricity or hand power (which is far more effort). Pretty neat stuff.

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Bill M. thought this article would be of interest: Vanishing Farmland: How It's Destabilizing America's Food Supply

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Fellow blogger Leon Pantenburg reviews the book Bug Out.

"The LORD knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever. They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied." - Psalm 37:18-19 (KJV)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A reminder that the special sale on the Rawles Gets You Ready Preparedness Course ends on June 21st. Get your order in soon!


Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 29 ends on July 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 Part One of this article (posted on May 16th) I tried to emphasize the importance of strength and what roles it played in survival.  I want to reiterate that strength is the cornerstone of all human physical ability.  The stronger you are the faster you can run, the further you can jump, and the harder you can hit.  However strength is not everything and being satisfied with only developing strength is like only focusing on purchasing guns for your SHTF scenario, it’s very one dimensional.  After a period of time, up to a year, it would be wise to take some time off of hard strength training by stepping into a program that will maximize your ability to maintain the strength you’ve worked so hard to obtain while at the same time developing other necessary physical attributes like speed, agility, coordination, balance, and endurance.  This is much easier said than done since the ability to run long distances (i.e. more than 5 km at a go) and be very strong (Dead lifting double your bodyweight) are generally mutually exclusive in their training methods.  Long runs are usually performed at a pace that isn’t challenging enough to induce an adaptation, but is challenging enough to compromise our ability to recover from your heavy lifting workouts.  Despite the inherent difficulty in programming for strength maintenance and proper conditioning it is a fairly simple process.

During your time gaining strength you will have probably noticed that you were very hungry and ate everything that stood still long enough for you to catch and shove in your mouth (at least if you were doing it correctly).  It is understandable and desirable that you will probably put on a healthy amount of body fat while developing strength and building muscle.  I would hate to think that anyone would be put off of a strength building program because of a little body fat accumulation, especially since a healthy amount of body fat is necessary for survival.  Some of the first people to fall out of a long walk/patrol, and some of the first to starve to death, are the people who have those well defined "six pack" abdominal muscles.  It is nearly impossible to maintain physical effort for long periods of time without a store of body fat for our internal systems to derive energy from.  That is why in my first installment I recommended that people of certain heights weigh certain amounts.  In my opinion, any man above 5’10” tall and weighing less than 200 lbs is underweight. 

It is a shame that all of the so called health magazines and publications today are urging people to become skinnier and skinnier when, in most Third World countries and most of western history, burly men and curvy women are the most desirable and the healthiest.  It is a shame that we have been led to believe that if we cannot see our abdominal muscles that we are overly fat.  We have been led to believe that if a woman weighs more than 110 lbs that she is fat, and that a man who weighs more than 180 lbs is either a muscle head or a fat body.   The fact of the matter is that it is very difficult for a man to maintain a low enough body fat percentage to see his abs year round.  It was easy for Gerard Butler and the rest of those “Spartans” [in the movie 300 ] to look that good because it was for a very short time period. It was reported that Gerard Butler was so overworked that he had to take eight months off from almost all physically strenuous activity for his body to finally recover from his nearly 12 hours per day of workouts/ fight scenes and the insufficient amount of calories he had to consume to look that “good”.   It’s even worse for women who get their body fat low enough to have abs that are visible.  Women typically have about 7-10% more body fat than men in similar condition.  Since women don’t produce testosterone like men do (thank God) they don’t have similar muscle mass and so they can never have the high resting metabolic rate that a man is able to, and that high metabolic rate is necessary for such a lean body composition.  Women also need the extra body fat to help their bodies cope with the stresses of carrying and delivering a baby.  A woman who is so lean that you can see her abdominals in sharp relief is in a very unhealthy state; at this point she has usually lost her menstruation because her ovaries have stopped producing estrogen.  This can happen because of too much exercise, too few calories, or a combination of both.  When this happens it is called Secondary Amenorrhea and is most often seen in female athletes.  The bottom line is that we are built to carry around a certain amount of fat and it is actually healthier to have a slightly padded frame than a bone thin one.  Couple low body fat with low body weight and you end up looking like someone out of a refugee camp. 

I want to take the time now to say that this is not meant to give anyone cart blanche permission to pig out and get as fat as possible.  There should be a relation between how much you weigh and how strong you are.  If the numbers on the scale keep going up and the numbers on the bar don’t, then you are probably eating too much junk food and not lifting hard enough.  I urge you to take this seriously because it won’t do you any good to be as strong as an ox only to die of a heart attack from all the Ho-Hos and Cheese Wiz.  We always have to pay attention to the law of diminishing returns.  At some point we all have to admit that the amount of ammo we have stored is hurting our ability to store food, and there’s also a time when we must realize we have gotten as big and strong as we need to be and now it’s time for a jog.   If it’s hard to get in and out of your car, the waitresses at the buffet put on riot helmets when you walk in, small children simply point and stare when you say hello, and you become short of breath while combing your hair you have, my friend, violated the law of diminishing returns. 
Now that we have gotten that out of the way how do we address our need for development of all the physical attributes that will help increase our chances of survival?  As I said before it is a simple process, but it is not easy.  There is simply no substitute for hard work and hard work is what we will have to resign ourselves to if we want to have the highest possible chance of survival.  Again I want to say that it is the simple and the basic that will help get us to our goals, not the complex and the complicated. 

Pareto’s Principle-- more commonly known as the 80/20 rule--states that we will get 80% of our results from 20% of our effort.  If we can master the basic 20%, we will already be above the curve.  What I mean when I refer to simple is this: basic compound movements that involve as much of the body at one time at possible.  There are many different modes that we may use to achieve the results we need and want, however we all need to remember that our bodies develop specific adaptations to specific demand (you can’t get stronger without picking up heavy objects, and you cannot become a better runner without running), and so we need to identify not only what we most enjoy doing but what we see as a real possibility in a SHTF / TEOTWAWKI scenario. 

There are five basic spheres of athletic development: strength, speed, balance, agility, and endurance.  Yes there are other sphere’s I could name like coordination or power, but they are simply combinations or abstractions of the core qualities in my basic list (power is the combination of speed and strength and coordination is the combination of balance and agility).  Balance and flexibility are more than taken care of while performing your daily exercises if you perform them with a full range of motion.  We have already discussed strength at length, so that leaves us with speed and endurance. 

Speed and endurance are mutually exclusive concepts.  I say this because you cannot run fast for very long, and you cannot run long very fast.  However they can be trained at the same time if some care is given to the division of labor during the week.  I want to caution here that endurance does not simply mean the ability to run for long distances.  Endurance is the ability to sustain prolonged stressful effort or activity.  We must train for more than just endurance running.  Speed carries the same stigma in that when I say speed, most people think of running.  Did you know that jumping is a product of speed?  The ability to jump relies on how fast we activate a muscle.  Olympic lifting is also a product of speed (married with copious amounts of strength).  So when we think of endurance we must think in a three dimensional manner. 

Speed is developed simply by doing things fast and explosively, while endurance is developed by doing things for longer than you would normally enjoy.  If you enjoy running then you can simply split your runs into fast run (i.e. 100, 200, 400, 800 meter sprints), and long runs (I would recommend no more than 5-to-10 km).  Hiking and heavy Ruck marches are very applicable and functional ways to develop survival endurance.  Pushing a car is another good way to develop functional endurance.  Laying down on the ground, either on your stomach or back, and seeing how fast you can achieve a standing position (or a shooting position) is a very functional way to develop some practical speed (I call these Pop Ups).  Long hill runs, or fast hill runs, are amazingly effective ways to develop serious endurance and speed, respectively.  Exercises like star jumps, burpees, mountain climbers, plyometric pushups, deck squats, box squat, and box jumps all can be used to develop both muscular endurance and speed.  Basically any exercise, even weight lifting exercises, can be used to develop speed or endurance, its simple the volume that determines what adaptation is encouraged. 

On a day that we choose to work on speed development we will be placing a lot of stress on our central nervous system, since this is the part of our physiology most responsible for speed development.  When we place a lot of stress on our central nervous system it is harder on the body and thus harder to recover from.  This is solved by simply doing less.  While it’s okay for us to run 5 miles at an 8mph pace, doing that at a 15 mph pace would kill us.  If we are going to run as fast as possible we must only run as much as we need to, and no further.  Never do a speed exercise to your limit because it will hinder your training for up to a week, so stressful is this training on the body.  For instance, most Olympic sprinters and Olympic weight lifters training sessions are frequent but they are very, very short.  A good way to measure your speed workouts is by your actual speed; when you can no longer perform your chosen exercise as quickly as when you started it is time to call it a day.  You must also take large rest periods because you want each effort to be a maximum effort.  For instance, let’s say you decide to perform five 100 meter dashes’ for your workout.  It would be a good idea to take a five minute break between efforts, so that you may maximize each one.  After your fifth sprint, go home and rest.  If you chose something like Star Jumps or Burpee’s, it is a simple matter to perform X number of the movement every 30 seconds and then rest for 1 minute.  The first time that you fail to complete X number of reps in the given 30 seconds the workout is over. 

Endurance is probably the simplest and most difficult to train because it takes a lot of time if done improperly.  I don’t know many people who have the time to run or hike 10+ miles per day, and I can’t imagine dedicating 1-2 hours of my life every day to endurance training.  However it is very simple to develop endurance without taking unholy amounts of time.  Running is a fairly simple exercise, which is why a well trained person is able to do it for an hour or more at a go.  However if you add in a few steep hills what was an hour long run only takes 20-30 minutes.  From personal experience a 30 minute hill run makes the occasional one-hour flat runs a breeze.  You could also add weight to your runs, turning them into hikes or ruck marches.  These will typically be long workouts, and can last up to 20 miles for people who can really focus themselves.  It is good to perform a long workout once every couple of weeks so you know what it feels like, but it isn’t necessary every day, or even every week.  You can easily sustain your endurance with 5 km runs or less, 10 km hikes, and appropriate weightlifting and callisthenic exercises.   For instance, have you ever tried to do 20-30 full depth squats with your bodyweight on the bar?  I can tell you from personal experience that I have never seen someone do this without meeting Jesus (the praying starts around rep 12).  These are a good way to develop endurance.  Remember Dan John, whom I mentioned in my last article?  He once, on a bet, squatted 300 lbs 61 times without putting the bar down.  Doesn’t that sound like functional endurance? 

When it comes to programming, your imagination is your only limit.  I would however caution that working out more than four times per week is usually counterproductive.  Here are a couple of sample weeks in what I would call a typical training plan:

Week One:
Monday: Heavy Day, Dead lifts and Military Presses.  1x5, 1x3, 1x2 (sets x reps)
Tuesday: 5km run, 8 minute mile pace
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: Sprints, 5x200m
Friday: rest
Saturday: Bodyweight training (various callisthenic exercises, like Pop Ups, Star Jumps, Sit-ups, Pushups, etc)

Week Two:
Monday:  10km run, 8 minute mile pace
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: Heavy Day, Squats and Weighted Pull-ups. 1x5, 1x3, 1x2 (sets x reps)
Thursday: Calisthenics for 20 minutes
Friday: rest
Saturday:  Hill Sprints, 5x40 seconds

This is just a sample program format that can be used.  I would recommend at least 48 hours of rest between a heavy lifting day and a sprinting day.  Long runs and calisthenics days can be treated as “easy” days where the work can be done at a moderately challenging pace.  Your calisthenics days may also replace your sprinting days if you want to or need to.  Just remember that speed is fast, hard, and short while endurance is slow, moderate, and long. 

I sincerely hope that this has helped with your survival preparedness.  It’s folly to spend so much time and money making sure we have enough if we aren’t willing to invest some time and money into our own health and well being to insure that we are able to use and enjoy what we have set aside.  Physical health should definitely take top priority in our list of prep needs, simply because none of our food, water, and ammo will matter one whit if we die of a heart attack or stroke, or are crippled by mistreated and unused joints, muscles, and ligaments.   No matter who you are or where you physical health is right now, you can do something to improve your situation.   For some it will start with a walk around the block, for others who have been doing this for while it may mean a new challenge on the horizon.  At one time in all our lives we all had to face the reality of needing to prepare and not knowing where to start.  Those who have been preparing for years know that the most important thing is to just start and worry about the details along the way.  It’s the same with our physical health; the most important thing is to start.  Whether prepping or training or exercising, I think we can all agree that if you haven’t already, now is the time to start. 

JWR Adds: All the usual disclaimer about rapid changes to your exercise schedule and consulting a physician apply.   

James Wesley:
Do you want to see a serious breach of operational security (OPSEC)? Then go to the "ANTS Group" web site and click on their map. Zoom in on some of the names and addresses of folks with supplies just waiting to help others. I'm glad to see folks ("ants") ants willing to help [others], but I'm sorry to see folks getting setting themselves up [as targets] for the [the depredations of the] not so trustworthy or "Golden Horde" (a.k.a. Grasshoppers)! Regards, - M.T.

JWR Replies: Thanks for sending that illustration of how not to keep a low profile. The naiveté that they display is astonishing, in this day and age. I agree that charity is a very important Christian duty. But please folks, use some common sense!

SurvivalBlog reader H. in Quebec asked me to summarize my view of the current economic situation, and asked what is coming next. In essence, the recession will likely turn into depression that may last for decades. What is ahead? This is what I wrote in early 2008: "The current financial instability is just the beginning. Before this is over, the debt crisis will start an avalanche that will bankrupt countless individual investors, institutional stockholders, hedge funds, stock trading companies, municipalities, banks, S&Ls, and insurance companies. Since the magic money tap will be turned off, both residential and commercial real estate may decline--absent overall consumer inflation--by as much as 70%. Stock markets will collapse, and economies will be plunged into prolonged depression. On and on it will go, as the trillions of dollars worth of bad debts that have been winding up for the past two decades are gradually "unwound." This unwinding will be an incredibly painful and protracted process that is punctuated by some massive layoffs, strikes, and social unrest. Dan Ackroyd said it best: "Real wrath-of-God type stuff." I suspect that the debt avalanche will destroy entire currencies and possibly bring down governments. (We should remember that the Asian financial crisis of 1997 led to the ouster of the 30+ year Suharto regime in Indonesia.) My only hope is that one of the institutions that is replaced is the private banking cartel called the Federal Reserve. Inevitably, we need to replace fractional reserve banking with proper warehouse banking, and replace the fiat currencies with ones that are freely redeemable for precious metals."

Reader Jonathan C. highlighted this article: Bond New Issues Shut as Bank Default Swaps Rise. Jonathan's comments: "Since the current GDP growth is dependent on non-sustainable government spending , the only hope for real economic expansion must be the private sector. However, as this article shows, corporations are unable to fund their businesses through bonds and with the increased volatility in the equity markets they will also have trouble increasing capital through equity sales. In terms of small businesses that don't have the option of public equity sales, a bank lending freeze all but guarantees a contraction in the small business sector which constitutes around 50% of U.S. employment and 80% of new job growth."

JP Morgan Cazenove: UK must sell bailed-out banks to save AAA rating. (Thanks to G.G. for the link.)

More Friday Follies: Three more banks bite the dust. (Perhaps bank sign painting businesses will be the shining stars of the nascent depression.)

G.G. sent us this: Gold Is an Inflation-Proof Deflation Hedge

Items from The Economatrix:

10 Companies Back From the Brink

Trade Group Says Service Sector Grows in May

Fed Boss Pushes Loans for Sound Small Businesses

Job Hopes Rise as Layoffs, Productivity Decline

Freddie Mac: Mortgage Rates Up From Yearly Lows

"Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course

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Thanks to Kevin S. for a heads-up: Signs Point to Administration Plan to Lock Up 13 Million Acres of Federal Land

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Reader Lee C. spied this one: Wheat rust: 'cereal killer' in Kenya

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Bill in New York suggested: 15 Unusual Uses for Baking Soda

“The worst thing in the world next to anarchy is government.” - Henry Ward Beecher

Friday, June 4, 2010

Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 29 ends on July 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 purpose of this article is to lay out the intellectual underpinnings of what I will call the neosurvivalist movement. The target audience is those individuals either beginning, or considering to start, preparations for broad societal emergencies. The intended result is to demonstrate that far from being a fringe or extremist movement, neosurvivalism is rational and has emerged as a natural result of broader social, cultural, and technological circumstances grounded in specific historical and contemporary thinking.

This movement goes by many names, including survivalism, prepping, emergency preparedness, and so-called “offgrid” or “resilient communities.” Businesses and governments are likewise investing in continuity of operations plans, disaster mitigation, and disaster response. Everyone it seems is concerned about the permanency of civilization. While the focus of these groups varies – some are more “green” and “sustainability” focused, others are profit motivated, still others fit the traditional media stereotype of militant and self-defense orientated loners – all are worried about the fragile and interconnected nature of modern society and understand that the interconnectedness of our civilization is its major weakness.

In recent American memory the fundamental game changers were the dual warnings of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. These two events demonstrated that man-made and natural disasters could seriously disrupt a modern society, and that governmental plans were insufficient to respond quickly to large scale events. These events have spawned a large and growing body of work on emergency response and mitigation. The flagship publication is the Journal of Emergency Management, an excellent source of articles running the full gamut of neosurvivalist concerns, a mission shared since 1993 (in the wake of the governmental failure to properly respond to Hurricane Andrew) by the Federal Emergency Management Higher Education Program, itself designed to research and educate in areas of emergency planning concerns.

During the Cold War national attention was focused on fallout bunkers and bomb shelters and there was little public interest in broader problems associated with societal collapse until the mid-90s. That it has now reached a point of near universal concern at operational and strategic planning levels is most evident in the last couple of years. While the nuclear Civil Defense Programs of the 1950s and 1960s are well-known, there was little focus by federal planners on other societal threats until the creation of FEMA in 1979, which slowly expanded from almost purely nuclear civil defense to the current focus on “full spectrum” and or “integrated all-hazards” disaster response. Prior to this it was assumed local and state agencies would lead disaster response, and they often did not. Cold War preparations assumed a Federal-Individual partnership, in which the government assisted individuals by preparing “self-help” programs for citizens’ protection. The classic example was the backyard bomb shelter for individual families, a mitigation program continued today with state block grants usable for individual family safe rooms or in-ground tornado shelters. To highlight the American public’s general unwillingness to prepare, at the height of the Cold War fewer than 3% of the population had taken any personal measure to defend against radioactive fallout. Current assessments (following the U.S. Government’s introduction of the “Ready” preparedness program in 2003) of those likely to prepare for disasters typically include the following characteristics:
1. Pays attention to the news
2. Aware of and concerned about socio-environmental threats
3. Has personal experience with disasters
4. Has children in the home
5. Has strong community relationships (church, civic organizations, etc.)
6. Has disposable income available to make preparations
These characteristics are important because the surge in neosurvivalism is often attributed to religious, suburban professionals with families. These are the people, to be frank, with the awareness, good sense, and money necessary to make preparations capable of producing a meaningful result.

As much as government agencies and private industry have embraced a general preparedness philosophy in recent years, it often seems as if academia largely undermines civil defense strategy. Books such as The Imaginary War, One Nation Underground, and Bracing for Armageddon seek to ridicule and discredit preparedness concepts in general, arguing the government cannot be trusted to deal truthfully with the public on such measures (a mantra most obvious in the media frenzy over the “duct tape and plastic” advisement issued by the new Department of Homeland Security in 2003). That this view often emanates from those corners which often wish for more government and more governmental control – a schizophrenic position perched perilously on the anti-nationalism ideas of Eric Hobsbawm and Ernest Gellner, and the liberal-democratic faith in deterministic concepts of man’s inevitable progress. It’s important to consider that media treatments of private individuals engaged in preparedness typically attack along these lines – suggesting that preparedness is a statement of little faith in the government to handle emergencies, and that individuals that do so are dangerous or at least hold dangerous ideas. At the same time, the media typically depicts governmental agencies and programs as necessary, particularly if their budgets are cut. Often journalists interview academics who seem to invariable fall in line with depictions more appropriate for Cold War interpretations of governmental malfeasance than the day-to-day realities of a post-9/11 and Katrina world. This and raw political partisanship explains much of the disconnect the average American feels about his place in society. That this can manifest in profoundly important political ways (such as the “Security Moms” so often depicted in the media in 2004) only adds to the lack of clarity in the general consciousness of the population.
Fundamentally, Americans having been asking themselves questions such as “Is it wise to prepare for disaster? If so, how much is enough? To what degree should I believe the government or the media?” Journalists and leftist academics generally provide a negative reply.

It’s important to understand that the above actually represents a very small contrarian academic view, and that generally academic specialists support the conclusions of neosurvivalism. Researchers such as Tainter, Diamond, and Zartman all find the modern state as an incredibly imperiled and fragile edifice. Joseph Tainter’s The Collapse of Complex Societies follows in the footsteps of earlier historians such as Oswald Spengler’s Decline of the West and Arnold Toynbee’s A Study of History in that it predicts that societies do not enjoy “progress” endlessly, that eventually societies reach a point of diminishing returns when solutions to their problems invariably cost so much that they create more serious problems. This is an assessment shared by Vaclav Smil in his book Global Catastrophes and Trends. Smil foresees a connection between global stability and energy consumption; military and economic engines are powered by the energy source of the nation, a reduction in which can create substantial geopolitical problems. Peak Oil researchers will find much to agree with in Smil’s work.
Jared Diamond is a Pulitzer Prize winning academic whose work Guns Germs and Steel was followed by his equally impressive Collapse: How Human Societies Fail or Succeed. Diamond comes down on the side of environmentalist fears as a major threat to human civilization, though to his credit he’s more than willing to entertain a joint effort at sustainability with corporations. That Diamond’s Collapse has received positive reviews buttresses the idea that societies can indeed fail, and that human action or inaction can cause that collapse. Posner’s book, Catastrophe: Risk and Response, comes to similar conclusions as Diamond, and his exploration of events which can wipe out humanity and how we should rationally respond to them is a remarkable read.

William Zartman’s book Collapsed States uses post-colonial African Nations as the subject for his study of how nations cannot easily be put back together. Once a polity collapses, he ominously predicts, only a powerful outside force can reestablish its authority, and even the success of such operations is spotty at best (as U.S. adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan can attest). The typical result is ongoing instability, tribalism, and intranational violence. Zartman is supported by R.J. Rummel’s work on what he calls “democide” in his book Death by Government, which demonstrates that failed states are generally highly active in either perpetrating or supporting genocide. Mary Kaldor comes to similar conclusions in her work, including her excellent book Old Wars, New War. Fearing one’s government as an agent of violence against its own citizens is not paranoia – it’s an academically supported position, and a cause célèbre of the Amnesty International and its supporters.

Finally, consider the concept of societal collapse, something that Mr. Rawles and many others write about. This too is a well-studied and supported concept in academia. George Mason University economist Robin Hanson has this to say about it: “While there are many kinds of catastrophes that might befall humanity, most of the damage that follows large disruptions may come from the ensuing social collapse, rather from the direct effects of the disruption.” He also goes on to say that “if individuals vary a lot in their resistance [to disaster], however, then it may pay to increase the variance in such resistance, such as by creating special sanctuaries from which the few remaining humans could rebuild society.” Archaeologists Harvey Weiss and Raymond S. Bradley have said that “The archeological and historical record is replete with evidence for prehistoric, ancient and pre-modern societal collapse. These collapses occurred quite suddenly and frequently involved regional abandonment, replacement of one subsistence base by another (such as agriculture by pastoralism) or conversion to a lower energy sociopolitical organization (such as local state from interregional empire).” Thomas Homer-Dixon’s work, such as Environment, Scarcity, and Violence maintains (as an extreme simplification) that environmental scarcity results, ultimately, in violence (something Smil and many other scholars have concluded). That these scarcity issues cannot always be solved is something Homer-Dixon explores in his book The Ingenuity Gap. The result is fragmentation and destruction, if not extinction.

What I have attempted to do here is layout the academic and intellectual work that has been done in support of neosurvivalism. This is necessarily only a short introduction to the topic, and it focuses only on the academic research angle, the books published largely through academic presses such as Oxford University Press, MIT Press, and Princeton University Press. These books are read mostly by policy makers and planners, generally not by journalists or non-specialists. The reason I have focused on these is to inform the general neosurvivalist community of the immense support that government and academia provide for them as they make individual contingency plans. When faced with family members and others who are dubious about the practice of emergency preparedness, a library stocked with the texts I listed above may be the very best tools available because they may help convince loved ones of the importance of emergency preparedness.

In closing, the U.S. government has been urging American citizens to prepare for nuclear war since 1947, for all-hazards emergencies since the late 1970s, for terror attacks since 1999, and for national health disasters, such as pandemics, since 2006. Every U.S. state has a disaster management agency, which often has funds available for disaster mitigation in individual homes. The Red Cross urges emergency preparedness as well, including the requirement for two weeks of food at home and one gallon of water per person per day, as well as the packing of an evacuation bag, with three days food and water in it. The reason people do not prepare is because they do not match the criterion I listed above – they either do not have the disposable income (meaning they choose to spend family funds on other priorities) or they are unaware of the dangers to which they are exposed. In addition, academic researchers from the best universities have produced copious evidence to support any number of rational preparation schemes, to include preparation for total societal collapse. Following the recommendation of the government disaster planning agencies and the scholars who specialize in studying disasters is the result of neither paranoia nor foolhardiness. It is prudent, logical, and rational. Pretending none of this is an actual threat, and refusing to make even the most basic preparations, is lunacy.

The following academic texts may prove interesting to the general survival community. These are not “how-to” survival texts, but nevertheless are books very worth the reading because they help the reader to understand the potential survival situation which may result from a disaster or societal collapse. (And this alone is an invaluable service for emergency planners, institutional or individual.) Those marked with an asterisk are, in the author’s opinion, especially useful:

David W. Orr, Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse
Johan M. Havenaar, Toxic Turmoil: Psychological and Societal Consequences of Ecological Disasters*
Robert A. Stallings, Methods of Disaster Research
Havidan Rodriguez, Handbook of Disaster Research
Piers Blaikie, At Risk: Natural Hazards, People's Vulnerability and Disasters*
Maxx Dilley, Natural Disaster Hotspots: A Global Risk Analysis
Robert D. Putnam, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community*
Greg Bankoff, Mapping Vulnerability: Disasters, Development and People
David R. Montgomery, Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations
World Health Organization, The Management of Nutrition in Major Emergencies*
Richard A. Posner, Catastrophe: Risk and Response*
Michel Agier, On the Margins of the World
Karen Jacobsen, The Economic Life of Refugees
Mohamed Gad-el-Hak, Large-Scale Disasters: Prediction, Control, and Mitigation
United Nations Human Settlements Programme, Enhancing Urban Safety and Security
Vaclav Smil, Energy: A Beginner's Guide*
Nayef Al-Rodhan, Neo-Statecraft and Meta-Geopolitics
Nick Bostrom, Global Catastrophic Risks
Dmitry Shlapentokh, Societal Breakdown*
Michael Bollig, Risk Management in a Hazardous Environment
Carl Sagan, The Cold and the Dark: The World After Nuclear War*
Jerome H. Barkow, The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture
Azar Gat, War and Human Civilization*
Henrik Hogh-Olesen/Azar Gat, Human Morality and Sociality
Glenn M. Schwartz, After Collapse: The Regeneration of Complex Societies*
Herbert Gintis, The Bounds of Reason: Game Theory
Daron Acemoglu, Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy
Douglass North, Violence and Social Orders*
Mark Juergensmeyer, Terror in the Mind of God
Marc Gopin, Between Eden and Armageddon
Kenneth D. Rose, One Nation Underground
Colin S. Gray, Another Bloody Century
Robert D. Kaplan, The Coming Anarchy*
John Robb, Brave New War*
Fathali M. Moghaddam, The New Global Insecurity*
Kaldor, Old War, New War*
Tainter, Collapse of Complex Societies*
Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Human Societies Fail or Succeed
Walter Dodds, Humanity's Footprint: Momentum, Impact, and Our Global Environment
Goudsblom, The Course of Human History: Economic Growth, Social Process, and Civilization*
Bill McGuire, A Guide to the End of the World
Vaclav Smil, “Limits to Growth Revisited: A Review Essay”
Vaclav Smil, “Energy at the Crossroads”
Vaclav Smil, Global Catastrophes and Trends: The Next Fifty Years*

Jim and All:
As I got off the plane and headed out from the airport parking garage I realized that actually getting home could be a challenge. The blizzard of February 2007 which was coming to an end had dropped a significant amount of snow and the high winds had been producing white out conditions. A phone call to a friend who lived in my area quickly told me I might have to walk if I plan on getting home. Normally I would have just stayed at a friend or relatives home until the weather lifted and the roads had been cleared. This really wasn't an option for me as my wife had been snowed in for three days alone with my 11 month old daughter. My daughter's medical conditions required she be on a ventilator during the night and have 24 hour observation. With the roads impassable, our daughter's nurses who normally came to the house 16 hours a day hadn't been able to help out.

The plan was to use the buddy system with two four wheel drive vehicles to see if we could find a back way through the country side to the house. As a plan B, I stopped and picked up some cold weather gear and boots before I left the city. I should have already had this in my truck, but you know what they say about hindsight. After getting one truck stuck in the snow at a time and pulling each other out, the only real option was to get as close as possible and start walking. As close as possible turned out to be about two and half miles.

With the wind at my back I started down the snow drifted road on foot. After about a 100 yards, I quickly realized that this was going to be a challenge like nothing I had ever experienced. After a mile of trudging and crawling over snow drifts I started to get a severe spasm and cramp in my lower back. At this point it took everything I had to go 50 yards and I would have to lay down and stretch out my back. It took me around three hours to get home. My snowshoes were sitting at the back door when I got there. Three days later the snow plow came down the gravel road.

The next time I would see a winter like this would be the winter of 2009-2010. The snow falling in early December was a welcome sight as we normally do not see significant snow this time of year in the Midwest. This foot of snow and major drifts made it quite difficult for the deer hunters trying to fill tags during the gun season. Luckily I had already filled tags during the archery season and could sit this round out. The few that did get out and brave the elements were trudging through knee high deep snow at a snails pace. How they got the deer out of the field if they were lucky enough to get a shot was a little work to say the least. Others were pulling snowmobiles on trailers to retrieve the downed animals from the fields. As a result of the heavy snow that stuck around, the gun season deer harvest was extremely down.

I kept a close eye to the on goings of the late season and weather due to the fact that I had a few tags for a January anterless season. The snow kept coming and the drifts kept growing. By the time the late January season rolled around we had record snow fall for the season with no end in sight. We lost track of how many days we had been snowed in. Usually area farmers got the roads passable with tractors before the county road maintainers could get to them.

I could have said the heck with rest of the deer season, but had already paid for the late tags and couldn't stand to watch them go to waste. Finding the deer this time of year was not an issue. Getting to them and getting them out of the field was. Horses were a thought, but the snow was even too deep for them to be effective. With snowshoes strapped on, rifle, pack, and sled in tow I set out from the farm for an adventure. My buddy was not as equipped for the deep snow and put in ten times the effort to walk 20 yards. We were fortunate to fill all of our tags within 3/4 of a mile or less from my farm. The trek back to the house with a sled full of quartered venison was still a workout despite the snowshoes, but was still easier than simply walking without them.

The snowshoes I purchased six years ago were a leisure item that I hadn't really considered a necessity at the time. I can't imagine going through another winter like we had in 2009-2010 or walking through another blizzard without them. Aside from the deer hunting, I used them on a daily basis from walking to the mailbox, bring in firewood, to feeding the horses and chickens. During a winter of TEOTWAWKI transportation would most likely be by horse or foot unless you want to use snowmobile and stored fuel. Even then a horse or snowmobile can be difficult if the snow is too deep.

There are many different styles of snowshoes based on the application and your physical size. Keep in mind the extra clothes and gear you will be hauling when wearing snowshoes. This is critical when selecting what size you need which is based on a load rating. The pair I have are a tad undersized, but I did drop about 20 lbs through the winter which I have to attribute to the added physical activity and the snowshoes. This was also an "economical" set as I wasn't sure what I would actually use them for at the time. My next pair will be a more rugged and higher quality set as well as a higher load rating.

Buying snowshoes after the snow hits is like trying to find a generator after the power goes out. I will be getting an additional set for myself as well as the rest of the family, not too mention a few more sleds. I will also be sure to keep a set in each vehicle during the winter with the rest of the cold weather gear. - R.M. in Iowa

Dear Editor:
Roxanne with RMR makes a good point about sea salt adding flavor to a TEOTWAWKI diet. As a physician I must caution everyone that the brief mention she makes about iodine being added to "regular salt" is not a minor issue. In my practice I have identified modern day patients who are actually iodine deficient, something most physicians, even most endocrinologists, think can't happen. A very respected endocrinologist whom I trained under speaks about when he was a child and families in Utah becoming iodine deficient over the course of winter because of their diet. Iodine needs to be a calculated part of a survival scheme, otherwise, children born post-TEOTWAWKI will be born with cretinism. It will be hard enough to take care of a family in these circumstances. Having one that is mentally retarded will only make survival that much more difficult. - Dr. G.

JWR Replies: Sea salt actually contains low levels of iodine, but not as much as found in commercial iodized salt. However, there are many foods like eggs, some seafoods, cheddar cheese and others that are commonly eaten which contain substantial amounts of iodine. So iodized salt isn't truly necessary unless you are not getting iodine from these natural dietary sources. (For some details on storage foods, see the Rawles Gets You Ready Preparedness Course.) My own approach to be absolutely sure of providing sufficient level of iodine is as follows: I use bulk (one pound canister) iodized table salt when brining (such as when making venison and elk jerky) and in most of my cooking (such as the salt that I add to the water when cooking pasta). The onion salt that I also use when cooking some meats is also iodized. But the salt that I serve at my dinner table is Celtic Sea Salt. This way, I provide my family with the attributes of both products.

U.S. Inflation to Approach Zimbabwe Level, Faber Says. (Thanks to Brian B. for the link.)

Reader Matt in in Tennessee notes that the animated national unemployment map (mentioned before in my blog) has recently been updated to include data from March, 2010. Matt's comment: "The map grows darker and darker...like a cloud that hints of an impending storm."

Joe K. mentioned that someone is auctioning one million copper pennies on eBay. That's 7,000 pounds of copper!

G.G. sent us this: U.S. Mint's May gold coin sales reach most since 1999

Courtesy of reader Becky P.: Greece Urged to Give Up Euro

Items from The Economatrix:

Gold at $2,500 Looks More Likely Than Ever

US Debt Soars to 90% of the GDP. (Gee, this sounds a lot like the national debt described in Greece...)

Tax Credits Fuel 6% Rise in April Home Sales

Consumers Snap Up Cars in May, Despite Fewer Deals

BP Share Price Collapse Hitting Pensions

Abram in Washington State mentioned a comparative nutritional analysis of canned, frozen and fresh fruits and vegetables conducted by the University of Illinois Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition.

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F.B.P. pointed out a US Department of Transportation map of truck traffic in the U.S. that can be added to your data set in choosing retreat locales.

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Reader RBS flagged this: West Poised for Worst Grasshopper Outbreak in 30 Years

"We have four boxes with which to defend our freedom: the soap box, the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box." - Congressman Larry McDonald

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I am pleased to report that another valuable prize has been added to the assortment for the current round of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest: A complete M17 medical kit with a retail value of $179.95 has been added to the First Prize items, courtesy of JRH Enterprises, one of our most loyal advertisers. Be sure to visit their web site to check out their broad line of preparedness products at great prices. For example, they offer some hard-to-find NBC defense gear and night vision equipment. I thank them again for their long-term generous support of SurvivalBlog. They deserve your patronage.


Today we present another entry for Round 29 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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo (a $249 value), and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 29 ends on July 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 spent the better part of the last decade in service to our nation. First as a Marine in Iraq and the last three years in Afghanistan as a civilian “security” contractor. And I've spent more of the last three years in a very rural valley in north-eastern Afghanistan than at home. In the last year with the birth of our first child, and the destruction of the ideals our country was founded on I found myself thinking more and more about the state of affairs in the world today and began to prepare for TEOTWAWKI. Starting as many beginner preppers do I began to accumulate silver and a small amounts of gold. Due to my professions I was ahead of the game in the guns and ammunition department from the beginning of my preparations. As I began to put together all the pieces of my plan I found myself trying to look for real world lessons in survival.

That's when it dawned on me. I've spent the better part of the last few years in an area that is what TEOTWAWKI looks like, and I began to find problems with my survival plans upon comparison with the local community. First and foremost and my “expertise” is security.

The local communities have a simple but extremely effective security plan. Each village is basically it's own militia. When the bad guys show up, or any unknown person, the alarm is raised and every able bodied male is alerted. This is done through a number of ways depending upon the time of day. At night flashlight signals or animal noises are used to raise the alarm. Hand-held radios are available but due to the monitoring of all UN-encrypted frequencies by coalition and the bad guys the local populace shy away from radio communications like the plague. A 155mm round landing on your family in the night because you keyed a radio can ruin your day. During daylight hours there are always members of each household outside doing chores and tending to animals so the alarm is spread simply by yelling or waving to one another. While extremely old school their methods are extremely effective. While observing this the importance of knowing your neighbors struck me. You quite simply are not going to defend yourself from a determined attack from a numerically superior enemy by yourself. The locals have learned this through centuries of war and genocide in the country and have adapted strong small community ties because of this. So get to know your neighbors, you don't have to knock on their door and say, “Hi I'm here to get to know you so when the Schumer hits the fan we can defend ourselves.” A little familiarity will go a long way to creating a strong community in an emergency situation.

Another thing I observed was the amount of real hard physical work it takes in daily life in this country. There is constant activity through the daylight hours here. There are nearly always crops growing in the fields that are being tended to, clothes and rugs being washed dried outdoors, water buckets being hauled to and from the local water source, animals being taken to feeding grounds daily up in the mountains. And everyone in the family participates. The women can be seen doing all of the aforementioned tasks, the children are often shepherding the animals high into the mountains, often as young as 5 years old! If there were a social services here! The men are often in the fields and many hold a job as an unskilled laborer (not desirable) or a skilled laborer (extremely desirable) at one of the coalition bases in the area while still having to tend to their lands. Life for the locals is almost purely work. Most breaks from work here consist of praying or eating. One can see how important a role religion takes in a such a lifestyle (albeit a false religion) because there is little else to occupy one's mind. Life is a physical grind and spiritual nourishment goes a long way to a happier existence.

Perhaps one of the biggest lessons in today economic environment that I have taken from my observations is the emphasis on tangible goods. The wealth of a family is measured by their access to clean water, the size of their goat and cow herds, and the ability to produce power for their house. (There is no power grid here. Each community must find a way to generate their own power if they want it.) When I first began working in this area I used to have a good laugh with my co-workers at the expense of the local populace. “I can't believe they think they're rich because they own 200 goats!” However I have since amended my thinking. Tangible goods truly are a measure of wealth here. The indigenous populace has very little faith in paper currency for good reason. Their national currency has changed many times and there is simply no guarantee it will be worth anything tomorrow. They prefer American dollars to their own because they believe that it will always have value. The joke may be on them before too long. When a family needs something here they can take their tangible goods and sell or trade for what they need. The winter wheat harvest not as good this year? Sell or trade some of your goats and cows for food and you've now expanded your food stores and reduced the amount of grain you have to feed your herd. Gasoline more expensive than usual? Offer to let your wealthier neighbors the use of your generator for a fee. These people have adapted so that if tomorrow the paper currency in Afghanistan goes to zero they can continue on with their daily lives much as they do today.

As I watched the daily lives of the Afghans in this area I compiled a small to do list for TEOTWAWKI. 1) Get to know my neighbors both in my city home and at the family retreat and be prepared to use very old world techniques to communicate. 2) Be prepared for the physical and mental grind of daily life in a survival situation. While I've been in excellent shape for years because of my profession I had let my spiritual fitness begin to lapse. 3) Assign each person in your family daily chores based upon age and ability. And if you live at your survival retreat do this NOW rather than later. 4) Own real tangible goods. Sure that fat savings account is great now but when the dollar goes to zero what are you going to do? Beans, bullets, and Band-Aids (and some precious metals) are going to be the currency of TEOTWAWKI. Don't find yourself without a means of purchasing goods you are going to need. And I guarantee 99% of use don't have everything we need for TEOTWAWKI and are going to need to purchase additional items and a $100 bill will be toilet paper in an economic collapse.

My experiences here in Afghanistan have gone a long way to my preparations. You don't have to just take my word for it. Do some reading on life in third world countries around the world. These lessons and more will appear without fail in each and every instance. And to see what happens when people are not prepared in these countries one only has to look at the news of starvation, disease, and war around the world and see what becomes of those who cannot take care of themselves and their families.

Dear Jim,

I'm in no way affiliated with COSTCO but have the store to be an outstanding source for survival gear. The other night I saw in the store, for example:

Bottled water, rice, beans, canned foods, soup
Waterproof (submersible) 25-liter backpack what would make a good Bug Out Bag
Twin pack Motorola 35-mile (max/optimal conditions) FRS/GMRS radios with NOAA weather alerts: $50 -- I bought a pair
Twin pack LED tactical aluminum flashlights with strobe setting: $20 --I bought several
Power Generators (two models)
Really good prices on batteries of all types (from AAA to marine)
Tarps, storage shelves, storage boxes/bins (the Allied Moving kit, seasonally available, is a great deal for a ton of cardboard boxes)
Bulk quantities of toilet paper, feminine products, diapers/wipes, etc.
Trash bags, foil, plastic wrap, ziploc bags, Gladware, etc.

First aid kits, bulk quantities of Band-Aids, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer
Bulk Vitamins, Over The Counter (OTC) medicines
5-gallon bucket of emergency food rations
A 14-gallon portable gas tank/pump-dispenser on wheels.

In the past I have seen other useful items such as photovoltaic panels, gun safes, etc.

I just wanted to point out that this fine company has apparently made a conscious effort to cater to the preparedness community. Best regards, - CZ

JWR Replies: You've reminded me that I should mention that my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course (presently offered at a special sale price) focuses on stocking up at "Big Box" stores, like COSTCO and Sam's Club. The course includes a "walking tour" that I narrated at a Sam's Club store. (It was transcribed and is included in the course binder. In it, I show in the course how to stock up inexpensively at Big Box store, all in just one or two trips, even if need be at the Eleventh Hour.

If you have some land for livestock, then give thought to raising animals that will need as little care as possible, and are survivalists themselves. In a TEOTWAWKI situation, you want animals that will need little if any veterinarian care that you cannot provide, that can live and flourish on almost any kind of vegetable matter for food, and will give you multiple benefits for having them around. Our sheep have cleaned the bark off of Juniper trees as well as ate the berries and leaves. They also like the leaves of yucca and have turned some into very small puffballs.

Two animals that I am familiar with are the Navajo-Churro sheep and the Spanish goat. Both have survived as feral animals and have developed the instincts and genetics needed to get by just about anywhere on anything. Relatively small size in animals can be important too if you are handling them all by yourself.

The Navajo-Churro sheep are a bit smaller than many of the English sheep breeds, and from my experience, smarter. They have sixteen recognized colors or color patterns, a heavier fleece than most breeds and can have multiple horns – or none. Our small flock has eight colors and our rams have no horns (polled), two horns, four horns, and one has five. The wool has been used to make blankets, cloaks, rugs, and wearing apparel. The various colors can be fun for anyone interested in spinning or weaving. Some Navajo rugs and blankets have lasted for centuries. The milk can be used as is or for cheese and yogurt. The meat is winning many of the blind taste-tests where it is presented because it is more succulent and tastier than regular meat breeds of sheep. Keep in mind that good fodder equals good meat and milk in any animal. The hide is useful, especially with some of the wool on it, for covers and clothes. (Yes, this means that you will want to learn how to tan hides under rather primitive condition, nut that is another article.) Probably because of having been a feral animal, they have a natural resistance to worms and other parasites. Veterinarians in the Navajo-Churro Sheep Association have tried a number of times to bring the sheep to a clinical level of worms but were unable to do so because the sheep naturally sloughed off the parasites. They are also smart enough to make a good pet if you are inclined. These sheep used to be the most numerous sheep in the Southwest and feed the miners who made their way to the California gold fields and those seeking a new life in the West. More can be learned about these exceptional animals on the Navajo-Churro Sheep Association web site.

Spanish goats are similar in that they are a common goat in the Southwest part of the United States. You can get meat, milk, hides, and entertainment from them. Goats are picky eaters and seem to try to find the best food – another plus in the simplicity of their management.. More can be found out about them here. I know that there are goats that give more milk or more meat, but these animals are easy to care for in an emergency situation

When you are trying to keep it all together under very primitive conditions, you want animals that can not only survive those conditions, but will thrive while not taking a lot of your time feeding them or giving them vet care.

It will take time and practice learning to milk any animal or learning how to properly butcher one out (anyone who has done a deer can handle a sheep or goat) but it will be worth it.

As a final note, find yourself a community where you fit and will have support spiritually, emotionally, in those areas where you are lacking in skills or preparation.

God's blessings on you and yours, - Sam S

Michael H. suggested this article: Is Europe heading for a meltdown? Mervyn King, the Bank of England Governor, summed it up best: "Dealing with a banking crisis was difficult enough," he said the other week, "but at least there were public-sector balance sheets on to which the problems could be moved. Once you move into sovereign debt, there is no answer; there's no backstop."

Roubini: World at Risk of Double Dip Recession for Years. (A hat tip to Brett G. for the link). Brett's comment on article: "Wouldn’t that be called a Depression'?"

Thanks to Brian B. for sending this: Gold Rises to Two-Week High on Demand for Alternative to Euro

I saw this over at Tamara's View From The Porch: My big fat Pennsylvanian credit rating

Items from The Economatrix:

General Strike Looms as Spain's Credit Rating Falls

Greece Urged to Give Up Euro

Warning Signs of Full Spectrum Collapse are Everywhere

Most Over-Valued Region in San Francisco Gets Taste of Commercial Real Estate Bust

Down, Not Out (The Mogambo Guru)

Stocks Rebound on Housing News; Oil Shares Jump

As if there wasn't already enough "real wrath of God stuff" news in the headlines, Jeff B. sent us this: Tropical Storm Agatha blows a hole in Guatemala City.

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Damon S. spotted this: Glitch shows how much US military relies on GPS.

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Our Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent a link to a photo compilation of the recent floods in Tennessee.

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I spotted another review of the novel "One Second After"

"Liberty, Sancho, my friend, is one of the most precious gifts that Heaven has bestowed on mankind." - Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote (Book 2, Part 14).

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The special sale on the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course is now in full swing. The sale runs just three weeks, so don't delay. Order your copy today!


Today we present the first entry for Round 29 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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com. (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 29 ends on July 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 most difficult situation to encounter when preparing for survival is getting your spouse on board with you. By using some of my techniques hopefully you will get your spouse to understand that you are truly in touch with reality. Until your spouse is 100% percent committed to survival you will always feel an anchor weighing you down psychologically and financially. The psychological toll is simple- Every time you do something out of the norm, that spouse will sometimes question your sanity and if you are not a psychologically stable person, you may begin to question your own sanity. The fact of the matter is most survivalists are people who tend to read more books rather than believe everything the television tells them. We are just normal people who understand preparation is better than cure. As for the financial aspect- If your spouse doesn’t take survival seriously he/she will more likely spend two thousand dollars on a shiny new plasma television rather than buying something to increase your survival odds such as silver, food, medicine, etc.

Here is my step by step method for getting a spouse on board:

1) You first must understand your spouse and utilize the traits of their personality that will eventually get them to take action. For example, if you have a husband that is money hungry, you must start informing them of the possible dollar collapse and him losing all of his hard earned paper money. Give him credible links on the internet for him to look at which explains the difference between paper money and precious metals. Another example is for the religious type of spouse. Show them Bible verses pertaining to the future and the mayhem that will take place on planet earth before Jesus returns. Regardless of those two examples, you must give them something that they can relate to.

2) Once you narrowed in on the personality trait that you will exploit to get their attention then you must use the “drip” method. This simply means you always give them some new information pertaining to the subject(s) that affects them most. Occasionally leave them a CD or DVD pertaining to your survival topic of choice. Email them a link to watch something on YouTube via the personal computer. On birthdays, anniversaries, or any other special occasion, buy them a silver or gold coin depending on your budget. Wait a few weeks later and say “I just made you some money”. When they ask how, kindly explain to them that the price of that precious metal has increased in the stock market. Either way, the idea is to keep dripping information on them and use a subtle approach if you can.

3) Use the kids to get their attention. If you have children, remind them that your job as parents is to protect them no matter what. Ask them how would they feel if their child drowned because mommy/daddy didn’t make them a sailboat? It may sound childish but you can choose your words for the discussion. Eventually, the love they have for those children will make them take action or at the least, shut up and stay out of the way while you make preparations. You can also have a family movie night and watch a movie that will make them think. Rent a movie like 2012 one week and then follow up with a movie like The Book of Eli. The third week, have them watch something like Police State 4: The Rise of FEMA or I Am Legend. While your spouse is in the room, encourage your kids to give their opinions of the movie. Those movies will open doors to those conversations you may not me comfortable bringing up. If your spouse tries to leave the room at the moment you quickly reel he/she back in by saying the old, “Can’t you spend time with your family for a five minute discussion!?!” Its underhanded but when it comes to the survival of your family , the ends justifies the means. Don’t worry your kids will ask plenty of questions and you need to be ready to tell them with authority that Mommy and Daddy will make sure they are safe and they will have plenty of food and water. A theme you should highlight from these movies is the fact that some people were prepared and some people were not.

4) Did I mention manipulation? You will sometimes have to use it. Here is how. Suppose your spouse doesn’t want to visit a mother- in-law. You let them get out of the visit on the grounds they accompany you to the gun show (or any other event).They say in life we have to give in order to get.

5) Pray and read the Bible. This is highly underrated with people in our society in general. Hence the reason our society is on a crash course for disaster. You should ask God help in opening your spouse’s eyes concerning survival preparation. Sometimes a spouse is just plain hardheaded and you will need supernatural help. If they are a Christian who claims to read the Bible, there are numerous verses you can challenge them on concerning survival preparation. We can start with Noah, the original survivalist. He endured all the humiliation and yet he still prepared. He didn’t say the quote that many misguided Christians say concerning disaster, “Well, God is Love, so he will never allow that to happen”, or “We don’t have to worry about that, we’ll be caught in the rapture”. God always gives warning before the storm, its up to you to listen and prepare. In fact, just give them simple logic. In chapter 24 in the book of Matthew, Jesus is asked about the end of the world. He tells his disciples about the mayhem which will take place on planet earth first and then finally in verse 31 he tells of the rapture. If the spouse still doesn’t think that they you interpreted it correctly you can tell them to read the book of Revelation. Christians argue that the rapture occurs at Revelation Chapter 7 or Chapter 11. Regardless of either one, prior to Revelation Chapter 7 utter mayhem has broken out on Earth. So, you can show them again that they need to stop thinking rapture and begin thinking survival preparation. There are good Bible studies online concerning survival preparation, the New World Order, Martial Law, and Earthquakes.

6) Lead by example. If you are serious with your preparations for survival your spouse will eventually know it. If your lackadaisical with your preparations they will treat it accordingly. Don’t talk about it, be about it! Let them see you buying extra food. Let them see you getting solar panels for the house. Let them see you buying gold and silver. Your actions will dictate their long term attitude and behavior. Set your computer browser to a survival type web site whenever the Internet is turned on. I recommend SurvivalBlog or PrisonPlanet for starters. I have numerous friends that can attest to this. If your spouse knows that you are serious they will begin to take your survival preparations seriously. Especially when they continue to turn on the news and see that things are getting a bit unstable here in the U.S. as well as abroad.

7) Use the car stereo as your ally. Whenever informative programs are on such as Coast to Coast A.M. or Alex Jones, try to demand to listen to the program while your spouse is in the car. This way you haven’t brought along a CD to force them to hear but at least they are hearing a radio program that may have some survivalist type thinking. Check your local radio listings for something in that realm of thinking. Make the ride in your car as another way to wake up that spouse of yours from the dream world they are living in.

In Closing: Try to have fun. It took me a year to finally get my spouse on board and committed. It was aggravating at first but now I know how lucky I am. But you know what, she now says the same thing about me. I used all the methods I mentioned with her and eventually she has joined me on the journey of survival. Now we have fun. We go to gun shows together and laugh at some of the weirdoes we meet but we laugh harder when our family members call us weird. We laugh at how blind and misguided the masses have become. We laugh when people believe everything their government tells them. We laugh at the gun range when she always manages to shoot the target underneath the belt buckle (although she was aiming for the head).

Mr. Rawles,

Jason’s good ideas the other day with his “five C’s” for garden safety brought to mind the old-timers who grew up during the Depression. By the time I was growing up, life was comfortable for them. But many of them, elderly by now, would grow large gardens as they always had, producing more food than they could possibly use even after they canned and preserved enough for winter, gave quantities to neighbors, friends, and relatives, and fed some of the excess to livestock. A couple of my relatives even had multiple gardens -- one close by the house, another back in a secluded corner of their land. “Why?” I asked one of them, back when I was a child. “Just in case,” was all the answer they gave me.

It makes a lot more sense to me nowadays. If that garden is the difference between life and death for your family, you want some margin for when things go wrong. In a good year, you have far too much and the extra work you have put into growing it has been “wasted,” on the face of it. But in a bad year? Who knows? Maybe the deer and ground hogs eat most of it. Or it doesn’t rain enough. Or it rains too much. Or there is an early freeze. Or, as Jason said, maybe a father is stealing from it for his children.

If you can, grow enough to give to that hungry father and others in need, as well as your neighbors. One thinks of the jokes about New Englanders leaving sacks of zucchini on each other’s doorsteps; this is a remnant of old-time virtue. The time may come when a sack of fresh garden vegetables from a neighbor might be like manna from heaven. Regards, - Andrew H.

Dear Mr. Rawles:
We've a few comments to add to the excellent posts on veggie growing. Consider Jerusalem Artichokes as a "stealth veggie." These are sunflowers native to N. America. We plan to use these as a screen for concealment along the only open area to our plot. And the roots are fine raw. These sunflowers are also pretty.

Our plot is on a gentle slope so we have constructed a number of terraces so that each can be flood irrigated with a hose placed at the high point of the terrace. As all farmers know, flood irrigation is far better than sprinkling as it goes deeper into the soil and encourages deep root growth. We will have asparagus planted on the high side of each terrace. Few folks recognize asparagus in the summer. This is also a concealment idea. Our rabbits ignore the asparagus. They also ignore southern field peas.

We arrange our plantings so that early harvested plants (onions, cabbage, broccoli, potatoes) are on a terrace that has on the adjoining terraces vining crops as sweet potatoes, melons, pumpkins. By the time the early veggies are harvested these vines will have reached those terraces and will have plenty of room

One poster mentioned heirloom "Bloody Butcher" corn. We use this partly as a support for pole beans. The local raccoons are not able to reach the ears which grow high up on the 9-10 foot stalks. Excellent cornmeal!

We dehydrate a lot of tomatoes. This reduces the storage space required. The shelf life is much greater and if the jars freeze no damage is done. We remove most of the air with a Pump 'N Seal device.

Our opinion is that a ~24 horsepower 3 point hitch diesel tractor with a PTO-powered rototiller is the best thing since sliced bread. It allows us to cultivate more area much more easily than with lesser equipment. I note that in our area of East Tennessee there will be many opportunities to earn some cash money by tilling other folk's gardens. I believe we all know that veggie gardening is about to become hugely popular. Store lots of stabilized diesel.

One final thought: save all the seed you can manage. Your seed may well mean the difference between eating and starvation for your neighbors in the future. We rotate the cultivars and the types of veggies each year so as to build up a huge stock of diverse seeds. - H.D.


I just want to say about this, there is an answer for everyone. The idea of protecting or concealing your garden is good, but you are never going to stop the zombie hordes. My answer is potting everything, having a garden as a distraction, and moving the pots inside when things go bad. When the weather is bad and going to hurt the plants I can move them inside. I control the soil and the weeds. This is my first year with this system, but I had such a failure with my garden due to weeds and watering last year, I know this will work. I will grow inside all year if I can. Good test of the system. I encourage everyone to test themselves as well. Gardens provide essentials that your body needs, not calories. Unless you have a farms worth, gardens will only help.

One other thing regarding this article. We are preparing for the worst, but the question remains, what worst case will we deal with? When you look at history, Zombie takeovers or Crazy democrats are the extremes in our world. We will most likely never have to deal with either. (Sarcasm there, regarding zombies) The point is you should prepare yourself for everything, but plan for the most likely. We are going to crash like the stock market. Little bits as a time. Not all at once. Prepare for when things get "hinky".

People accuse me of caring about mankind, wanting a better world for all, and saying I am good for the environment. Let me be selfish and blunt. I want you to grow your own food so you don't eat mine. I want us all to live together in harmony, but if the circumstances present themselves, and you are stealing my tomatoes, I will kill you, any age. It is not my fault you don't know or didn't prepare. I will save water from my downspouts. Not because I am concerned about water but about energy. The government is going to raise our taxes on energy one way or another. Until our Rome is finished, take advantage. The scraps of yesterday are a meal today.- Matt B.

Reader H.H. recommended a speech by economist Marc Faber, titled Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall, where he talks about what will be the next entity like AIG to fall. At minute 54, he says to buy a house in the middle of nowhere" to avoid the various forms of social unrest he believes is coming. He also recommends, of course, that you buy physical gold as a hedge against inflation. It sounds like he's now in accord with economist and investing guru Barton Biggs, who has also recommended buying retreat property: “Your safe haven must be self-sufficient and capable of growing some kind of food,” Mr. Biggs writes. “It should be well-stocked with seed, fertilizer, canned food, wine, medicine, clothes, etc. Think Swiss Family Robinson. Even in America and Europe there could be moments of riot and rebellion when law and order temporarily completely breaks down.”

Robin C. sent this: Paying a price for risky schemes; Derivatives meltdown costs metro Atlanta entities $394 million

Soaring costs force Canada to reassess health model. (Thanks to Brian B. for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

BP Shares Plunge as Company Struggles to Plug Leak

Euro Hits New 4-Year Low Against Dollar [JWR Adds: Meanwhile, gold is approaching "I told you so" price levels. It is not to late to buy on the dips. And FWIW, I think that silver is the better investment, at present.]

Canada Raises Interest Rates

Hewlett-Package to Cut 9,000 Jobs; Restructure 6,000 of Them

Construction Spending Jumps 2.7% in April [JWR Adds:Of course a lot of that was "stimulus" driven, using nonexistent dollars.]

The US Economic Collapse Top 20 Countdown

The Looming Financial Holocaust is Closer than We Thought

Spain Races to Halt Bank Crisis as Euro Slides

401(k) as Dangerous as the Dollar

Michelle sent us this: Global Cold Wave May Be Looming — This Time, the Science Is Good

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Reader RBS suggested some commentary by sci-fi veteran Robert Silverberg that puts all of the Peak Oil punditry in proper perspective: Reflections: The Death of Gallium

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I was troubled to see that the erroneous e-mail titled "Wasp Spray...important information" is still circulating, after more than two years. What is described therein is a good way to get sued for every penny that you have, for blinding some goblin. As I've mentioned many times in SurvivalBlog, we live in a very litigious society. People file lawsuits on any pretense. Do not use wasp spray or oven spray for self defense. Instead, buy commercially-made Mace, and or a Pepper Oil (OC) mix with ultraviolet dye. It will just as effective, yet it will reduce the chances of a lawsuit!

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Brian B. sent the link to a humorous YouTube clip: For The Record: Guns Are Good

“He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot will be victorious.” - Sun Tsu, The Art of War translated ” by Samuel B. Griffith. (Foreword by B.H. Liddell Hart), Oxford University Press edition, 1982

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course doesn't go on sale very often. Order your copy today, at a great sale price! This special sale that starts today will run for just three weeks, so don't hesitate.

We've completed the judging! And the winners are...

First Prize goes to C.F., for A Southwesterner's Experience in Family Preparedness, posted on April 2nd. He will receive: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com. (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Federal 5.56mm XM193 55 Grain FMJ ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $199 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize goes to A&C.K., for their article Caring for Babies in TEOTWAWKI, posted on May 26th. They will receive: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize goes to Vaerity, for her article The Broke Survivalist, A Learning Experience, posted on April 16th. She will receive: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Honorable mention prizes go to seven writers for these articles:

They will each receive a $30 Amazon.com gift certificate.

Note to prize winners: Please e-mail me your snail mail addresses (both UPS and US mail), and I'll get your prizes out, right away.

Today we begin Round 29 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. Get busy writing, and e-mail your entry!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 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com. (A $275 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Parabellum (Luger ) with 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP projectiles, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value, and includes free UPS shipping.

Second Prize: A.) 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 $400, and B.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and B.) a Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.)

Round 29 ends on July 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 we think about setting aside emergency supplies, most of us would agree that preserved food and purified water are the essentials and everything else is secondary to these. Some might even choose to incorporate things like a manual grain mill, a water purifier, a food dehydrator, a solar cook stove and so on. But who would ever consider something as simple and humble as sea salt as an indispensable necessity and commodity in the tumultuous days ahead? I would even go so far as to say if sea salt is not a part of your survival provisions, it’s time to tuck away this invaluable, hidden treasure.

In fact, salt was once valued as a form of currency – it was that scarce, and considered a luxury of few. The ancient Greeks used salt to trade for slaves and Roman soldiers were paid in “salt money” or “salarium argentum” where we derive the English word, “salary”. Homer called it “Divine”. Jesus calls His followers (which I’m honored to say I am) the “salt of the earth”. Wars have been fought and whole settlements turned into cities and nations over the pursuit of salt. Just as gold and silver have once again gained ground in this present economic meltdown, so also will sea salt be a valuable and tradable commodity, literally “worth its weight in gold.” It will be a supreme bartering tool.

Sea salt has a unique ability of drawing out the flavor in food like no other seasoning, but this is secondary to yet another one of its amazing values. Salt has long been known for its ability to preserve foods. If in the event of societal and economic collapse, refrigeration may be a thing of the past. Unless you plan to consume what you pick immediately, depend on your air dehydrator or live off your food storage, you will need salt for preserving food. During harvest time, there should be plenty of fresh food (assuming you thought ahead to plant a garden), but the long harsh winters will inevitably come and preserving food will be a crucial issue. Even hunting for game, chances are you will not be able to consume it all in one sitting – salt preservation will be key. And without power, your pressure canner or electric dehydrator will not get you very far, so salt can be the perfect alternate route. 

With salt’s same ability to retard spoilage, “mineral dense sea salt” will also aid in the disinfecting and healing of wounds. A simple salt paste or soaking a wound in a salt/water solution several times a day, should achieve positive results. Sea salt also rejuvenates the skin keeping a more youthful appearance while aiding in the healing of acne, psoriasis, eczema and other skin related problems. Did you ever wonder why your skin felt so tight, free and clear of irritation or blemishes after spending a day at the beach? Sea salt has miracle healing properties that are often overlooked. In fact, the Blue Lagoon in Iceland is world renown for its hot salt springs that people flock to with skin conditions. Dead Sea salts are another sought- after skin commodity.

But might I be quick to add that not just any salt will suffice when it comes to you and your precious loved ones, especially typical table salt (sodium chloride) and in some cases, certain brands of sea salt. Salt that is processed for vast human consumption while meeting the public’s demand for a product that is cheap and convenient, much is also sacrificed. According to Jacques De Langre, the author of the book Seasalt’s Hidden Powers, table salt has been stripped of all but two of its 84 trace minerals through a chemical process, dried at extreme temperatures, and oftentimes - for the sake of appearance - anti-caking, free-flowing, or conditioning agents are added along with iodine. But buyer beware of even some brands of so-called sea salt: It may be mechanically harvested from dirt or concrete basins and piped through metal conduits; artificially processed; heated to extreme temperatures to break the molecular structure; stripped of its essential minerals and further adulterated by chemical additives. In essence, many highly acclaimed “sea salts” are no different than plain ole table salt.

So where do you find pure, unadulterated salt – like God intended in nature? The best sea salt we have discovered on the market is Celtic Sea Salt. Dense with vital trace minerals along with its light gray hue from the pure clay soil that it’s harvested from, this sea salt is unmistakable in old world flavor and nutritious. (And taste may mean everything with a bland diet of survival foods!) Extracted from the natural evaporation of the sea and wind alone, the ocean brine is channeled from the sea to the pristine shallow clay ponds, surrounded by vegetation. It provides a natural habitat for the salt while the salt farmer gathers the dazzling white crystals with a long, shovel like tool then collects it daily by hand.

Celtic Sea Salt® can be a simple addition to any food storage plan that just makes sense. It not only stores indefinitely, it provides so many hidden health benefits to mention in this article, but here are just a few: Supplying well over 80 (24 of which are essential to life) minerals needed for proper metabolic functions and the assimilation of necessary nutrients in the body, natural sea salt is also an excellent immune booster and helps keep the body alkaline. It works synergistically with vitamins and other minerals for their bioavailability to the body. For instance, we know that calcium needs both magnesium and Vitamin D3 to be absorbed; Sodium and potassium need each other in the proper proportions to help maintain normal blood pressure and water distribution. Since natural sea salt contains a balance of minerals including sodium and potassium, the body is able to safely eliminate any excess sodium without the complications of typical table salt. This is a huge benefit for those who have to monitor their salt intake.

In an age of degenerative diseases and in the difficult times that may lie ahead, no doubt sea salt will be valuable to keep on hand. It’s not only essential for health and vitality, but clearly carries a vast array of benefits. Discover for yourself why sea salt should be an important part of not only your emergency storage plan, but to a healthier “you”.

“Sea water contains minerals such as ionized sodium, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and selenium, plus many trace elements such as copper, iron, zinc, manganese, and chromium. The human body uses the minerals & trace elements in sea salt to create electrolytes, maintaining the “internal ocean” which is vital to the proper functioning of every system in the body.”

Roxanne Griswold, Ready Made Resources, LLC

I live in Prescott, Arizona about 80 miles north of Phoenix. We are at over 5,000 ft. altitude, in the mountainous high desert, where the temperatures are usually about 20 degrees F lower than down in the valley. The local creeks still have some water flowing in them from the rain and snow we received this past winter, but the flow is now down to a trickle and they will cry up completely soon. We actually get some decent rain storms during the local monsoon season, usually around July, but we're not allowed to trap it in reservoirs because it's all spoken for. Like they say around here, "Whisky is for drinking; water is for fighting."

Most of "our" water either flows down to the major population centers to the south, or sinks into the ground to recharge the local water table. We have an aquifer a few hundred feet down, but it has been slowly going down over the last few years as a result of population growth (that's what we get for being one of those "best places to retire"). There are some farms with greenhouses in the area that are fed by wells, but they cannot produce enough to feed our local population. We get no water from outside like Phoenix does from the irrigation canals that have been built to carry water from the Colorado River.

Yesterday I drove my wife down to Phoenix to catch a plane, and we noticed a huge traffic jam on the northbound side of the I-17 where a small brush fire had briefly closed the highway to traffic the day before. This was on the part of the hill where the signs tell you to turn off your air conditioning to prevent overheating while going up a long, steep grade, and the semis move along at about 10 mph. We looked at each other and said, "Those people are all going to die when the Schumer hits the fan." Down in Phoenix, the temperature was already in the 90s, and everyone had their AC cranked up to the max.

I used to live in Phoenix when I was a kid back in the 1950s, and can remember what 116 degrees in the shade feels like. Back then the population of the valley was about 10% of that it is now, and it was a pretty nice place to live. Our subdivision was in what had, until recently, been a lemon grove, and they'd open the gates from the local canal to flood our lawns twice a month to keep the grass green. The irrigation canals were originally built to bring water to feed the citrus groves and cotton fields that have been largely replaced by mile after mile of suburban sprawl. If the grid ever goes down for any length of time, millions of retirees are going to discover that the desert really is uninhabitable, and they aren't going to be able to live there after the air conditioning and water pumps stop running. So, where are they all going to go?

Like you said in a previous post, towns like Prescott and Sedona will quickly become free-fire zones in a TEOTWAWKI situation. If the grid goes down we will have it marginally better than the hordes down in the low desert, but even this area can naturally support a population of only a few thousand, like it did back when Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday lived here. In the event of a mass exodus from Phoenix, we may have to put up road blocks at the strategic choke points on the few roads leading into town, and tell the golden horde to try to keep going on up to Flagstaff. Sorry, no vacancy...

If you go further north up towards Ash Fork and Williams and the other old railroad towns along old Route 66, they have to actually truck water in because they can't even get it out of wells up there (this explains why the population density is so low in that area). If you've ever driven on I-40 between California and Texas, you'll quickly realize that in a real TEOTWAWKI scenario most of the people who live in the Los Angeles area are going to be lucky to get through the Mojave Desert, let alone to the Colorado River.

Those who make it that far will still have to cross hundreds of miles of high desert in Arizona (before they get to even more desert in New Mexico...). It's easy to imagine tens of thousands of broken down cars along the Interstate between Needles and Kingman and Seligman and Ash Fork. The southerly routes along I-10 and I-8 in the hot low desert will be even worse. Look at your road atlas and try to imagine how many suburbanites are going to end up dead before they get to a gas station that still has gas, let alone to any place that has enough water.

It's almost enough to make you want to move back to Missouri or Minnesota or somewhere else where water actually falls from the sky on a regular basis. Regards, - Robert L.

Dear SurvivalBlog Readers:
How do you conceal resources so an intruder won't see them? Try storing things in plain sight.

An old soft drink machine, the kind that looks like a large refrigerator and dispenses cans, makes a great weapons locker. Anyone looking through your shop or garage would walk right past a machine like that, if it's not plugged in and shows no sign of active use. The great thing about these is they are very difficult to break into and when all the can distribution stuff is removed, they can hold a lot of guns, ammo or food. A weapons safe can be encouragement for determined thieves to work harder or apply extreme measures to force the owner to open it.

How about a new plastic 500 gallon septic tank? They will hold a lot of supplies and few would ever think to pop the top of one of those to peek inside. (I borrowed this idea but it's a good one.)

Many garages and shops have open-frame walls. A 2x6 wall can hold a lot of food supply if you caulk the seams well and cover it with something like OSB plywood to hang your tools on. The caulking will keep the bugs and rodents out.

An old washing machine can store items like food or propane cylinders. Few burglars will bother to remove the heavy “something” that's sitting on the lid.

Even if your plan is to “bug in,” it's a good idea to store much of your food in small caches. If you are robbed, they likely won't get everything. - Tyler W.

This isn't news to most SurvivalBlog readers: American Family Farmers Feed 155 People Each - 2% of Americans Farm. (A hat tip to Josh for the link.)

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SurvivalBlog readers in the Pacific Northwest will find this of interest: A new store that specializes in survival gear, compact storage food, and bullion coins is opening today (June 1st, 2010) in Kalama, Washington: The Survival Bunker. They are located at 447 North First Street, Suite 110, Kalama, Washington 98625. (It is about 30 miles north of Portland, Oregon, just off I-5. The usual sales tax breaks for Oregon residents shopping in Washington apply.) Note that since the store is truly ready for "off grid" operation they do not take credit cards, so bring cash! This is great opportunity for you to buy your survival gear anonymously. Their phone number is: 830-822-1210

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Gray Wolves Rebound, to Neighbors' Unease; Close Encounters, Animal Killings Worry Wisconsin Town; Federal Government Pushes to Allow Hunting, Trapping. (Thanks to Oxy for the link.)

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Some good news! Eighth state says guns beyond feds' control; Alaska governor signs Firearms Freedom Act into law

"I know that [there is] no good in them, but for [a man] to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it [is] the gift of God." - Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 (KJV)

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