Friday, February 24, 2012

Commuting and Your Bug-Out Bag

I commute to work each day about 35 miles. Lately I've been thinking about what I would do if I was stranded at work during an emergency. What if something like an EMP or large scale earthquake were to hit and the cars or the roads are no longer an option? What would I do? Would I get be able to get home? What sort of tools would I need for the journey?

I remember someone telling me once that the CA Missions were spaced about 30 miles apart because that was how far a person could walk in a normal day.Well, I'm not in the best shape so I'm assuming I could make the walk, but it might take a while. What if the "issue" developed at 3PM? I wouldn't have much time before sundown.

How about you? You might only be 5 miles from home. But what if you are wearing your dress shoes? What if it's really cold or really warm? What if you have children with you? Especially in CA, we are car people. We rely heavily on them to get from Point A to Point B.

You would be wise to carry a "bug-out bag" in your car. Maybe it's not as full as you home bag, but it should be able to keep you healthy for at least 2 days. Three bottles of water, some food like energy bars or granola, walking shoes, rain poncho, fire starter, Swiss army-type knife, antibiotic wipes, tissue, paper, pencils, compass, med kit, flashlight, extra socks, nylon cord and a small tarp. This is not an all-inclusive list, but you get the idea.

Where are you going to meet your loved ones? Do you have a predetermined location to meet if there is a large-scale emergency? Who is picking up the kids?

Plan ahead. Don't be reluctant.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Water Supplies

There are many options for emergency water supplies. My main source of emergency water is a large supply of bottled water. Start with keeping a case of bottled water for each person on hand. Then get two. Just remember to rotate the cases out and put new ones in. They don’t last forever and the plastic bottles will brittle with age. We keep a refrigerator in the garage and fill the bottom of it with bottled water. This serves two purposes. First, it’s a good space to store water since the bottles take up a lot of space. Second, the water is cold and helps keep the air inside the refrigerator from heating up too fast so it runs less in the summer. I replace the water as I use it so the oldest water bottles are in the refrigerator at all times. 

In a serious emergency, you can’t rely on your municipal water supply. Terrorist attacks, earthquakes, flooding and other “issues” may make the water coming from your tap dangerous to come into contact with. Boiling is OK for microbial issues (if you are able to make a fire), but it does nothing for chemical contamination. The best thing to do is plan ahead and have a way to gather and store water from tap immediately, before there is a contamination issue.

If you want a good way to store water in an emergency, you can use foldable camping water jugs, 2 liter soda bottles, washed milk jugs, or even large ziplock bags. Of course, there is water in your hot water heater, but if it is a few years old, you’ll need to filter out the sediment. Another possibility is the WaterBOB. It reminds me of a small water bed bladder. Place it in your tub at the first sign of an emergency and fill it with water. It will hold 100 gallons of fresh water inside the tub and it has a handy siphon for filling bottles, etc. You may need to add a drop or two of bleach to keep the “critters” from growing over time. There are several versions of this product available with different names and specifications.

In the event you have to evacuate, your bug-out bag should have something to help you obtain potable water. Certainly you will have some water bottles in the bag, but you may need more, a lot more. Old fashioned Water Treatment Tablets are a staple in most hikers’ backpacks, but we have come a ways from that technology.
The SteriPEN is a great alternative. Simply fill your water bottle with water and insert the pen into the top. Swirl it around with the pen on for a few minutes and it should be biologically safe. The UV light on the pen sterilizes any critters in the water. The drawbacks are that it does nothing for chemical contamination and it doesn’t clear up dirty water. Also, it’s battery powered, so if you are going to be using it a lot, bring extra batteries.

Probably the best alternative is a portable water filter. A unit like the Katadyn Vario Multi Flow Water Microfilter works well for a few people at a time. It fits easily into a bag, filters out most critters and many chemicals and can filter around 500 gallons before the filter needs to be changed. Buy a few extra filters and charcoal and you’ve got a good portable water filtration system for some time.

Water is your number one requirement after ensuring your safety. Food, blankets and bullets are all important, but without water you are gone in days, not weeks. So make some plans now.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

More About Books

I added a list of some of my favorite Prepper books over on the right side of screen. It is not an all-inclusive list by any means. Since this website deals with new and less extreme prepping, there are some books you might want to shy away from. Trust me, reading Patriots by John Wesley, Rawles is likely to turn you into a more hardcore Prepper. One Second After is even more likely to scare you. Just remember, you cannot prepare for every eventuality, but you can be better prepared, in general.
My advice is to start small. Read The Prepper’s Pocket Guide first. Wouldn’t be a bad idea to pick up Where There is No Doctor and Where There is No Dentist, too.
There is also a great phone app for you to have. It’s called the iMedJet. It is a pocket CPR and First aid guide for your phone. It gives you step by step instructions for treating emergencies. And it is absolutely free!!!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Last Night’s Doomsday Preppers

I am a huge fan of the Urban Homesteaders. As I understand it, the Dervaes family didn’t initially want to do the program, but NatGeo sorta convinced them. Obviously, their little Homestead is a great example of self sufficiency, but most Preppers were sad to see there is no real defensive capability. And their proximity to major population centers is going to make them a huge target for looters. The best defense for them, heck, for all of us to pray all of our prepping is for nothing. Either the “zombies” never show up or we are all wiped out in the blink of an eye.

The older couple with all the guns went a little overboard, I think. Hey, if you like collecting guns more power to you. But a handful of people really don’t need hundreds of guns for Prepping. And I’m not sure a Christian should be stockpiling alcohol for trading. Medicinal uses are there, but obviously most people are going to use it to get plastered and do something stupid. Dealing in alcohol seems sinful in that regard. To each their own, I guess.
And, yeah, the guy really blew his thumb off. On camera. In front of his kids. With America watching. And we all look a little sillier today because of it. Not so sure I want to buy one of his razor sharp shovels, now.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bug-Out Bag Options

Last time I talked about starting out simply with your bug-out bag. Let’s look at some other options. You will likely not be alone. While assembling my bug-out bag, I started to think about my family and what we could all carry. I’m strong, so I could carry more water and other heavy items. The wife could carry more food since she is would likely prepare it, too. She’s logistical in that way, you know. One son is an older teenager, so weapons and other heavy duty items in his bag. My younger son is strong, but obviously the weakest back. So possibly toiletries, linens, etc.

This is a different way of thinking and I can’t say it’s perfect. Most Preppers would say to pack each item as a separate bag as if you are going out alone. Frankly, I’m not going out alone. If my family can’t bug-out with me, I’m not likely to bug-out. I’m not leaving anyone behind.

I’ve been checking out a few bags I like. Remember that high visibility bags are not good. I found a few bags here. Good bags, military grade and some of them are pretty cheap. Fifty bucks for a quality bag is a great deal. If you are thinking of specially-packed bags, how about one of these? Holy cow, an ER in a back pack? Wow!

Get those bags ready, my friends. Start simply and build them up over time.


Monday, February 13, 2012

"Sensitive" Issue

This one is for the ladies. Let’s be blunt, OK? Tampons and feminine pads. What did your grandma or great grandma use? Disposables are all we in the US know. Check the calendar (yeah, right) and see that it is nearly your “time” and you make sure to pick a box up at the store. But what if the stores no longer had them? What if they were sold out of your brand or cost $100 a box?

While there were all manner of gadgetry available 100 years ago, most women made their own. Simple, folded cloth held in place by underwear was the norm. Some women made their own using cotton wading stuffed between two sheets of fabric.This was especially important after giving birth. But none of us has an endless supply of fabric for this purpose. So what would YOU do?

You can stock up, but those boxes take up a lot of space and many women are very private when it comes to these things. You can count on using some cloth each month, I guess. But how much spare cloth do you have laying around and how comfortable will it be? Plan ahead on this one, ladies.

There are many places online you can buy washable, custom made pads. Gladrags is a great place to buy re-usable pads and tampon cups, but there are several other places you can use or you can make your own. I have seen some re-usable tampons, but, frankly, I worry about them since they are inserted into the body, so I don’t recommend them. Be warned, they are expensive and you need to buy good soap for laundering, but they are built to last. Especially if you are “bugging in,” this is a good alternative. I’ve even seen where some women soak them in water in a bucket as they replace them with fresh ones, and then pour the water and such into the garden beds later.
At minimum, keep a few months worth of these items in your CHTF stockpile.  

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Buying Books

I go back and forth a lot when it comes to buying books. Having spent so many years in college, I amassed a large quantity that I have stored away. Prepper books are no different. I purchased a lot of physical books over the last year, but I also bought some e-books, as well. I didn't own an eReader at the time, but you can download a Kindle app for reading on your computer so I did. I did save a few on my Droid phone, too.

For Christmas, the wife bought me a Kindle Touch. I love it! I have probably downloaded 20 books since Christmas. Many of the e-books are cheaper than regular books and I get them immediately. I can flip through them, highlight and recommend them to people through social media. I have downloaded books about DIY solar arrays, weapons, homesteading skills and many others.

The questions is: Should I buy e-books or physical books? So let's look at the pros and cons of it.

The Pros:The Kindle allows you to save literally thousands of books and other media in one small, flat, lite, compact source. Physical books are tough and barter able.

The Cons: The Kindle is an electronic device, not water proof and must be recharged. Books are heavy and take up a lot of space.

So what do we do? I say, buy both! Some books are just too good to have only on Kindle. For instance, The Encyclopedia of Country Living. You should have this book in Kindle AND Physical editions. I tend to look at books on Kindle, and if I deem them absolutely necessary I buy the physical versions, too.

If you have a eReader, you should have something like this. It allows you to charge an external physical battery that you can plug you eReader into to charge it. It will also charge other USB devices. I don't recommend a specific solar charger, so do your due diligence before you purchase one (or more).

A note on EMP's. An electromagnetic Pulse MAY make your eReader unusable. This is why you should have both digital and physical copies of those "can't live without" books. However, it should be noted that experts disagree on the extent of the damage an EMP will do. If you want a worse case scenario read on EMP, check this book out. One thing is for sure, an EMP will knock out power grids all over the US at a minimum. So the solar charger is not a bad idea anyway.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Doomsday Preppers Show on NatGeo

Does this do more harm than good for the movement? These people look like nuts. I don't think they are crazy, but, really, gourmet prepper food? Is that what you are most worried about? Superior taste? You are going to be fighting for your life day after day in your Doomsday scenario (especially if you "bug-in"). Are you really going to take the time to solar cook gourmet food? You really want to take 5 hours to heat your petit fours? I'll take room temperature Beenie Weenies in 30 seconds.

Well, more power to you, I guess......

How About Your Emergency Bag?

Sometimes referred to as your "Go Bag" or "GOOD (Get Out Of Dodge) Bag" it is a small backpack filled with small items you would need to survive on foot at a moments notice. This bag is kept packed and in a closet so you can grab it and go.

There are exhaustive treatises on what should be included, but buying everything all at once is expensive. So find a good, used school backpack you have laying around the house or at a yard sale. You can always go to the Army Surplus store, too, but I find stuff there to be expensive at times. A good school backpack or used hiking backpack will suffice. It should not have holes in it and should have low visibility (not bright colors). It needs to fit you well as you may be wearing it for some time. BTW, everyone in the house needs one, even the little ones can carry something. You may need to run with it on, so keep a little bungee cord, nylon rope or zip ties to clip the front if needed.

OK, what goes in it? Food and water, for sure. Start with enough for three days. Now, depending on the time of year, you may need more water, but let's do the best we can here. Figure six bottles minimum. They are heavy, so be prepared. Throw a few Gatorade pouches in there if you like. Food is up to you. A couple of bags of trail mix, some jerky and some sweet hardy candy. Is it gourmet? No, but it will keep you alive and keep your calorie intake up. Remember, several small bags are better than one big bag and placing each item in its own Ziploc is not a bad idea. Sure, you can throw a few cans of food in there or some MRE's, but they are heavy and take up space. Canned tuna is probably your best bet there.

Toiletries are simple. Travel toothbrush and travel toothpaste. Hand sanitizer and small hand soap. Camping toilet paper or phone book paper works well. Q-tips and mouthwash. All travel size and in there own Ziplocs. Don't forget a small first aid kit.

Tools are up to you but they need to light and useful. Remember to go cheap at first using what you already have. A small LED flashlight with extra batteries will work, but eventually you want a solar or motion rechargeable one. Duct tape is essential. Camouflage colored duct tape is best. Nylon cord is also necessary. A Swiss army knife, folding shovel, mess kit, compass, sewing kit and a large hunting knife will fit nicely. Any other tools are up to you and it really depends on how much money you want to spend.

Extra socks are good for traveling by foot and providing cushion in your pack. Remember, you don't want to be noisy. A small, green tarp is helpful for some cover. Emergency foil blanket if it's colder at night. Some large rash bags to wear if it raining. Some cash is also good.

My final suggestion is a small flash drive or SD card. This will contain copies or your ID card, SS card and any other important documents. Also put on there any important family pictures you don't want to lose.

Start small and build, my friends. Get the bag. Get the water. Get the food. Then just see what items you have around the house. You may spend less than $30 depending on what you have to buy. Most of mine is already in the garage.

Don't wait, get started now!

Why are you still reading?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Why Am I Doing This?!

Good question. First things first. I’m Rob and I’m a Prepper. What’s a Prepper, you ask? They used to call them Survivalists. Unfortunately, that name got corrupted and bastardized over time. Just the word “Survivalist” conjures up ideas of compounds surrounded by minefields, naked babies peeing on a dirt floor with momma sitting nearby glaring at the Lord’s Prayer tattooed on her thigh while daddy works outside skinning an elk with a knife made out of his own teeth. I’m sure that exists, but it is hardly the norm.

Contrary to popular belief (and popular media) most Preppers are normal, decent, God-loving people who simple believe in being prepared. Prepared for what, you might be asking (I’m really doing some mind-reading, huh)? I can only speak for me and I am a novice. I’m preparing to challenges. Small challenges first and then the larger ones. Let me paint you a picture.

I’m new to being a Prepper, but I am well-schooled. I’ve been mulling the idea for months, reading everything I can get my hands on, and finally decided to start small. I’m first making sure I have enough food and water for my family to last a month. It sounds easy, but it’s not. It takes a lot of money and a lot of room. We are not talking about gourmet meals. Mostly canned food and packaged food along with some goodies and staples. It doesn’t necessarily have to be heated but it would be nice. Nothing inherently wrong with cold with cold Raviolis, right?

So why should you waste your time reading this blog? Simple, I’m like you. I’m not preparing for the end of the world. Maybe someday, but for now I’m just looking to prepare for small-scale challenges (natural disasters and other regional emergencies). I’ll give you some book reviews, some nifty projects and my own na├»ve insights. Stick around.