Tag Archives: preparedness

30 Items Every Prepper Should Carry When Traveling


This is the time of year when families travel to visit friends and relatives near and far.  When taking a road trip, it is easy to throw a bug-out-bag and extra food and clothing into the trunk of your car but what if you are traveling by air?  Not only do you have those pesky baggage weight limits to deal with, but you also have the scrutiny and probing eyes (and sometimes hands) of the TSA to avoid.

Can you imagine what might happen if you showed up at the airport with a fully stocked survival kit?  I am being just a wee bit facetious but these days, you can never be too sure what will happen if someone decides to label you as a prepper.

TSA notwithstanding, today I would like to share a reminder that no matter where you go, you should include some basic preps in your carry-on or in your check-through luggage so that no matter what, you will be prepared to deal with bumps along your journey.

Here in list form, and in no particular order, is a list of 30 items every prepper should carry when traveling.

Survival Items You Should Carry When Traveling

1. A wise traveler not only carries a passport, but also a photocopy of the passport and a scanned version on a laptop, CD, or flash drive.

2. Your health insurance or Medicare card.

3. Your driver’s license, proof of car insurance, and the 24 hour claims number for your insurance company.

4. Two credits cards housed in two different places (in case one gets lost or is stolen) along with the customer service numbers for the credit card companies written down and stored someplace other than your wallet.  You might want to consider RFID sleeves for your credit cards.

5. A list of emergency contacts, including telephone numbers and email addresses.

6. A prepaid long distance card for making calls when there is no cell phone service or when the calls will be too expensive due to roaming charges.

7. A few blank checks or traveler’s checks plus some funds in the local currency (if you are traveling out of the country).

8. Prescription medications with at least 3 days over and above the number of days you plan to be gone.

9. An emergency first aid kit including bandages, pain medication, instant hot/cold packs, antibiotic ointment, lavender essential oil, an anti-diarrheal, allergy medication, heartburn medication, and anything else that you commonly use.

10. Insect repellent or essential oil alternative.

11. Sunscreen.

12. Protein or snack bars.

13. Travel tissues and a travel sized roll of TP (you would be surprised at how often this “essential” will come in handy.)

14. Baby wipes or my favorite, No Rinse Bathing Wipes.  You can wash up pretty well with these in the event you can’t take an actual shower.

15. Hand sanitizer plus sanitizer wipes (Those tray tables on planes are horrifyingly filthy – this article says they very frequently are the home for fecal matter.)

16. A mini, LED flashlight and possibly an LED headlamp as well.

17. Pocket knife or Swiss Army-style knife. (This will have to go in your checked luggage)

18. Chemical light sticks.

19. An emergency whistle. This Windstorm Safety Whistle is my favorite,.

20. Paracord in bracelet, keychain, or lanyard form for portability.

21. Water purification tabs for ensuring safe, drinkable water if supplies at your destination are compromised.

22. A portable water filter and pouch, like this Sawyer Mini kit.  The pouch takes up very little space when empty but would give you a clean container for your filtered drinking water in an emergency.

23. A small roll of duct tape and some tie wraps (also called cable wraps).

24. Mylar emergency blankets.

25. A pocket poncho for every member of your group.

26. Protective masks to wear when seated near obviously sick people (coughing and sneezing) while using public transportation.

27. Batteries (or rechargeables plus a battery charger).

28. Your cell phone charger or a USB cable to use as a charging cable.

29. Key passwords to access email accounts and online financial data.

30. Pre-printed labels with your home address, home phone number, and email address. Include one or more of these labels in each checked bag.

Extra Credit Bonus Items for the Traveler

As a proponent of essential oils, I travel with a small pouch containing my most important oils including Shield (a thieves like protective blend), lavender, and melaleuca (tea tree).  I also carry some DIY Cold and Flu Bomb and DIY Anti-Viral Sanitizing Spray.

Something else I carry with me is a tin containing a portable survival kit.  This portable kit contains a number of the items I would normally have in my travel kit but has the added advantage of allowing me to throw it in my pack or handbag while I am out and about at my destination.  You can put your own emergency kit in a tin together.  You will find some ideas in the article 8 Essential Items: The Perfect Portable Survival Kit.

Another bonus item is solar lighting. I throw both a solar lantern and my SunJack LightStick in my bag. They are not as small and portable as a flashlight, but they operate without batteries and can be used in a variety of situations to provide an abundance of light as well as emergency signaling.

Since everyone’s needs are different, you might find some additional ideas for your travel kit in the article Don’t Fly Without These 20 TSA-Approved Items in Your Prepper’s Carry-on Bag.

Here some some air travel tips from Daisy Luther, the author of that article:

Pay attention to the flight attendant. Aren’t you going to feel kind of stupid if the plane crashes and you have no idea where the nearest exit is? Take 2 minutes out of your life to listen when the flight attendant goes over the safety information.

Dress appropriately. Whenever I see fellow passengers wearing flip-flops, high heels, or other inappropriate footwear, I cringe. You should always wear shoes that are sturdy and comfortable enough for a long distance hike. As well, clothing items made from natural fibers are less flammable and more breathable. Cover as much of your exposed skin as possible by wearing long pants and sleeves.

Wear your carry-on bag. That well-packed carry-on bag isn’t going to do you much good if you don’t have it with you.  To keep your hands free for other tasks, I recommend a backpack or cross-body bag for your most important survival items.

Bring snacks.  I always pack things like Clif bars, nuts, and dried fruit.  The more snacks you have, the longer you can wait before eating your fellow passengers, Andes-soccer-team style.

The Final Word

There is nothing remarkable about this list and, as a matter of fact, it is fairly mundane and undoubtedly includes things you routinely pack along as a matter of course.  Still, if there is just one item you have overlooked – and you need that item – you will be happy to have it along to help you out of a jam or to make your journey more secure.

And just for the record?  I pack all of these items and a whole lot more when I travel.  I can get by with just a couple of pairs of shoes but not without my preps. You just never know.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Gaye Levy, also known as the Survival Woman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and has moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle through her website at BackdoorSurvival.com. At Backdoor Survival, Gaye speaks her mind and delivers her message of prepping with optimism and grace, regardless of the uncertain times and mayhem swirling around us.

Should You Eat Roadkill? 8 Important Rules To Consider First


If the thought of preparing dinner from a dead animal found in the road makes you squeamish, join the club.  I personally find the thought revolting but then again, I have a robust pantry full of food for both the short and the long term, and currently do not feel compelled to eat roadkill of any type.

That being said, should you eat roadkill?  Are there situations were eating roadkill will become a necessity?

Let us play “what if” for a moment.  What if there was a global famine and no food coming down the food chain?  What if your garden was producing vegetables but was sorely lacking in sources of protein?  What if there was a second great depression and ordinary folks like you and I had no jobs, no money, and no food other than what we could forage?

If that were the case, roadkill might start to look pretty darn good.  That said, are you sure you really want to eat roadkill?   Only you can answer that but my guess is that under the most dire of circumstances, the answer would be yes.

Let us hope we never have to eat roadkill to survive, but if we do, my friend Todd Walker at Survival Sherpa has come up with 8 roadkill rules to follow before you even take your first bite.  After reading this, you just might open your mind to eating roadkill in a survival situation.

Manna from Motorists: 8 Roadkill Rules to Follow Before You Swallow

It’s practically a self-reliance commandment:  Thou shalt not waste food.

You won’t find these words on a stone tablet, but these 5 words are rock-solid advice!

The smallest ripple in the industrial food machine can wreak havoc on food prices and availability. That’s one reason self-reliant types grow some, if not most, of their own groceries. Cultivating food independence is hard work, sweat-of-the-brow kind of stuff.

You deserve an unexpected gift, a miracle of sorts. The roadways are the perfect place to claim your next free-range fur or feathered meal.


Hardly! It’s the ethically thing to do out of respect for the animal victim. See Self-Reliance Commandment above.

More questions swirl in minds of refined readers, followed by the inevitable…

Why, I’d never eat from a ditch!!

Here’s the thing, though…

Roadkill is an overlooked secret survival sauce. You gotta eat to survive. Food costs money. Roadkill is free. Plus, it’s healthier than factory farmed animals injected with who knows what.

How do you know if manna from motorists is safe to eat?

If you experience a fender bender with Bambi or witnessed the crash, you know the exact time of demise. When you run across a potential meal on a road trip or daily commute, how can you be sure it’s safe to harvest? There are many variables to consider.

8 Rules of Roadkill

Follow these Roadkill Rules to help determine if food by Ford is safe to swallow.

1. Legal Stuff

Any fur-bearing animal or bird is edible. However, laws on harvesting roadkill or possession of protected species vary from state to state. Check out this interactive map to see if your state allows the collection of roadkill.

In the Peach state, motorists may collect deer without notifying authorities. Bear collisions must be reported but you get to keep the bruin.

Texas, California, and Washington are among the few states that prohibit roadkill collection. In Alaska, the Fish and Wildlife personnel collect reported road-killed animals and distribute to charities helping the needy.

Check your state laws first!

2. Impact Damage

The point of impact determines how much meat is salvageable. My experience with broadside impacts are not good. Internal organs usually rupture and taint the meat. Not to mention all the bloodshot meat. As in hunting, a head shot saves meat.

Tire treads over the body usually means a bloody mess. Squashed squirrel would require a spatula to remove from the asphalt and should be avoided.

3. Clear Eyes

If the eyes are intact and clear, the animal is likely a fresh kill. Cloudy eyes hint that the animal has been dead for some time (more than a few hours).

Creamy discharges around the eyes or other orifices indicate a sick animal. If the eyes are gone, leave it alone.

4. Stiffness and Skin

Rigor mortis sets within a few hours of death. This is not a deal breaker depending on other indicators. The steak in the butcher’s glass counter has undergone the same process of “decay” or tenderizing.

Pinch the skin of the animal, unless it’s a porcupine, to check if the skin still moves freely along top of the muscle beneath. If so, you’re probably okay. Skin stuck to the muscle is a bad indicator. If fur can be pulled from the hide with a slight tug, the animal has been deceased far too long.

5. Bugs and Blood

Fleas feed on the blood of warm blooded animals. Brush the hair on the carcass and inspect for fleas like you would on a family pet. If fleas are present, that’s a good thing. Fleas won’t stick around on a cold body.

There’s usually blood involved when animals come in contact with 3,000 pound machines in motion. Blood all over the road may mean there’s too much damaged meat to salvage. The color of blood present should be a dark red, like, well, fresh blood. Dark puddles of blood have been there been there a while.

Flies could be a bad sign. They lay larvae in wounds and other openings of the body. A few flies present isn’t always a deal breaker. A prior wound on a living animal may contain maggots. We had a live deer seek refuge in my mother-in-laws car port who had a broken hind leg from a vehicle collision which was infested with maggots. I approached her in an attempt to humanely dispatch her and put her out of her misery. Sadly, she gained her footing and disappeared through our neighborhood woods.

In the hot, humid summers of Georgia, it only takes a few minutes for flies to zero in on dead stuff. Which brings us to our next consideration…


A Large Beaver Found on the Side of the Road

6. Climate and Weather

The weather conditions and geographical location are variables to consider. Cold to freezing temperatures is ideal – think… roadside walk-in freezer or fridge. Meat will decompose quickly in hot and humid conditions.

One steamy August evening years ago, I was in my backyard and heard tires screech followed by a distinctive thud on a nearby road. I walked two doors down and found a freshly dispatched deer laying on the grassy right-of-way. That gift primed my freezer before fall hunting season.

7. Smell

This one is pretty obvious.

If it has a putrid odor, leave it alone. You don’t have to be a TV survival expert to identify bad meat. Your old factory sensors will let you know… along with your gag reflex.

Ever break the cellophane on a pack of chicken breasts you forgot about in the back of your fridge? Register that stench for future roadside foraging.

8. Collection and Processing Tips

Our vehicles are prepared with Get Home Kits. You may want to add a few items to it or build a separate Roadkill Kit. My kit is simple and includes:

  • Tarp
  • Surgical gloves

If you don’t drive a pickup truck, wrap large carcasses in a tarp and place in the vehicle for transport. Smaller animals usually go in a contractor grade garbage bag to get home.

It’s common sense in my mind… Do NOT field dress an animal on the side of the road! It’s dangerous, illegal (hopefully), unsightly, and disrespectful to both animal and human. I’ve seen some really stupid and disgusting practices over the years from unethical “hunters” and idiots.

If you’re not prepared to harvest game properly, stick with the supermarkets.

Don’t practice slob self-reliance!

Rant over…

When processing wild game animals or fowl, (road-killed or not) always check the internal organs – heart, liver, lungs, kidneys – before going any further. Dispose of the animal properly (or report it to local wildlife officials for study) if the organs are discolored or showing yellow-greenish discharge.

Again, use your sniffer. If it smells bad, it probably is.


Todd Walker and his website, Survival Sherpa, have been around as long as Backdoor Survival or close to it.  Survival Sherpa offers extraordinary articles on what Todd calls “Doing the Stuff”.

To learn more about the he is doing, visit Survival Sherpa on Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, and  Facebook.  You can also check out the Doing the Stuff Network on Pinterest, Google+, and Facebook.

The Final Word

The subject of eating roadkill may be distasteful or even taboo for some.  On the other hand, there are many that consider finding a deer, moose or other animal in the middle road a real treasure.

The purpose of this article is not to judge, but rather to open up the possibility of eating roadkill if you have to, and further, doing so in a safe manner.  You only want to eat roadkill if it is fresh, regardless of how hungry you are.  And remember, even if it is not edible, you may still be able to salvage and use the hide.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Gaye Levy, also known as the Survival Woman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and has moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle through her website at BackdoorSurvival.com. At Backdoor Survival, Gaye speaks her mind and delivers her message of prepping with optimism and grace, regardless of the uncertain times and mayhem swirling around us.

Strategically Relocating? Here’s How To Move All That Prepper Stuff


In the prepper world, everyone always talks about “strategic relocation” but it’s rare to hear about the actual act of moving the enormous amount of stuff that we accumulate.

We’re preparing for what I hope is my final move ever. We have a nice little farm awaiting us, with a deep well, a greenhouse, and a barn: everything we need for self-reliance heaven.

But holy cow, we have a lot of stuff.

Nothing makes you come face-to-face with the extent of your stockpile like moving it from one place to another, trying to find space for it in a new home, and trying to move it with OPSEC (operational security) in mind.  Most of my prepper friends who have moved to a better location have shared my opinion: the sheer amount of “stuff” that we have makes a move quite an undertaking. When you’re setting up your little homestead, the first step is to get there, with all of your belongings intact.

Long distance moves have many logistical challenges, but local moves are also nothing to sneeze at when you have a stockpile to move.

Because my family has moved numerous times (including one move that included an international border crossing and a drive across the continent), I’ve put down some tips to make it a little easier. Note that I said “a little” easier. Moving is never actually easy, as anyone who has ever done so can tell you with technicolor details of what went wrong.

A word about OPSEC

A very important issue is OPSEC – (operational security).  Preppers are private people, and moving opens us up to others seeing our supplies. Whether you have hired movers or you have friends and family helping you, suddenly, someone outside your immediate family knows how much stuff you have. When people are unloading your truck, you want to take care that your possessions don’t scream PREPPER.  Otherwise, you’ll hear that phrase we all love so much, “I know where I’m coming if I ever run out of food.”

One option is to box up your supplies like long-term food storage or weapons in boxes labeled with different names – even something vague like “basement”.  I know that all of the moving specialists tell you to be specific about what you write on the outsides of the boxes, but you really don’t want people commenting on the 90 boxes of ammo that they’ve just lugged into your new abode. (There’s more on organization below that will keep this from being a logistical nightmare when unpacking.)

Of course, the best OPSEC is moving all of the items yourself.  This isn’t always an option, though, for smaller families or those with physical limitations.

Before the move

The things you do before the move can make all the difference in the world to your ease during the actual move and while you’re getting settled in.

Get good quality moving boxes.

One thing I like to splurge on when I move is professional moving boxes. Sure, you can get boxes from the grocery store and liquor store, but the pro boxes are uniform in size, making them easier to Jenga into the moving truck. This saves space, stacks more securely, and these boxes tend to be very sturdy. (This is a great resource for inexpensive moving boxes.)  As well, I often use these boxes at my destination for organizing my supplies for the very same reasons – ease of stackability and uniform sizes mean your storage space is used efficiently.

Get organized.

This is your chance to become the uber-organized prepper you always see on websites, with their glorious pantries, labeled tubs, and storage rooms, where all things needed can be found in a matter of seconds.

Before you start packing, if possible, designate a room to be packing central. (We used our dining room and have been eating in the living room since we began packing.)  Move everything of a type into the packing room. Here’s an example. Pull all of your food storage from various nooks and crannies in your home.  Divvy it up according to type: cans, dried foods, etc.  Check to be sure everything is packaged properly, with dates marked clearly on the packages. Wipe them if they’re dusty, and then box items according to their type.

Make a “key”.

For our moves, we have a notebook with a “key”.  This is a little trick we learned when we moved here from Canada and were required to have a complete manifest for crossing the border.  For the obvious reasons of OPSEC, you don’t want to write “Food” on dozens of boxes, but you could mark them F and add a number. In your key notebook, you can put a description of what is in each box to make unpacking or finding an item easier.

If you already know where the item will be stored once you move, mark the room on the box too, so the movers can take it right to its destination.

Of course, at the end, you may lose steam and just start chucking things into a box with no care for organization at all. But if most of your boxes are packed with organization in mind, unpacking will be vastly simpler. As well, if you absolutely must have a certain item, it’ll be far easier to locate in the pile of boxes with your notebook.

Do some decluttering.

As you pack, you will find that this is an excellent time to declutter and pare down your belongings. While the move we’re undertaking now is just a couple of towns over, when you’re undertaking a cross-country move, reducing the amount you relocate is even more important.  Many people who lead a preparedness lifestyle have accumulated a lot of “stuff” – we dismantle no-longer-working items for the spare parts, we save buttons and rubber bands, and we have stockpiles of all sorts.  If you are going a long distance, for some things, it will be far cheaper to replace them on the other end than to move them. Large items require a larger moving truck, and the weight increases the fuel usage. Make your judgment based on the following questions, particularly in the case of a long distance relocation.

  1. Would I be able to easily replace this in the future?  I get a lot of my things at yard sales and thrift stores, and this makes some of them tough to replace.  For example, I have an antique coffee grinder, an adorable little device with a hand crank.  I picked it up for $3, cleaned it and now use it on a regular basis in my kitchen.  It could be tough to replace because of the age and condition, so my beloved coffee grinder has always made the cut.  On the other hand, I had a toaster that I still use even though only one side actually works now. (Yes, I am so cheap that I turn the bread partway through the toasting time.)  I could easily find another one (that works!) for just a few dollars at a thrift store when I move, so the toaster is history.
  2. How much would it cost to replace this in the future?  This is a similar concept to question #1.  If you have a  collection of shampoos and soaps from the dollar store, they will take up a lot of space, but you could quickly and easily build a new stockpile of these items.   If most of your furniture is “vintage” – which is a nice way of saying that it came from yard sales and the occasional curbside pile, you can refurnish from yard sales when you arrive at your new home, rather than moving a couch that cost $20.
  3. Is it worth the space in the moving van?  How you rate the importance of an item is a personal decision for everyone.  There are some things that aren’t particularly useful, but they are sentimental – gifts from departed loved ones and photo albums, for example.  Expensive preps, like the Big Berkey water filter, the pressure canner, an assortment of books collected over the years, hand tools, and other off-grid kitchen tools, would be very costly to replace.  A great way to save space is to pack clothing and linens in “space bags”.

Make sure to have Box 1.

On the last day at your old home, put together Box 1 and keep that with you. Box 1 should contain the things you’ll need immediately: bedding; pjs; bathroom supplies like toilet paper, towels, soap, and shampoo; the coffee maker and supplies needed for coffee; paper plates and cutlery. This way, when you arrive you can immediately have these necessities available without a frustrating search.

Actually moving

When the big day arrives, your truck or trailer is loaded up with all of your worldly possessions.  The kids are buckled in, and the dog has her head out the window.  If your move is not local, there are some considerations for the road trip itself, some of which are unique to preppers.

Be prepped for the potential of disaster.

I always worry that a life-altering SHTF event will occur when I’m in the middle of a field in South Dakota, with no friends or family within 500 miles. (I can’t be the only one who thinks this way!) It is the preparedness mindset to constantly run scenarios – EMPs, sudden gas shortages, nuclear disasters, natural disasters… if these things happen while you’re on the road, you are a refugee.

The good news is, if you are driving your possessions, you have every prep that you felt was worth keeping in that big rolling bug-out bag of a trailer.  The bad news is, you have to protect those items, and you have to get them to a secure place.  Be as prepared as possible, with food that doesn’t require cooking, comfortable hiking gear readily available, camping gear easily accessible, and all of the necessary defense items.

Pay special attention to security.

Another consideration is general security.  This is particularly important if you are moving weapons.  Be sure that your truck or trailer is locked securely and consider installing some type of alarm on the door of the cargo area.  Be prepared to protect your family and possessions (all within the confines of local laws, of course). Choose stopping points and parking spaces carefully, and consider cracking a window if you are staying in a motel, so that you can hear what is going on outside.

Use common sense safety measures during the road trip.

  • Keep the kids within view of an adult at all times.
  • Keep a cell phone charged in case you need to call for help.  (If you are like me and don’t use cell phones, consider the purchase of an inexpensive Tracfone for the trip).
  • Make sure your vehicle maintenance has been taken care of before your departure.
  • Don’t let the fuel level drop below 1/4 of a tank – in remote areas, gas stations can be few and far between.
  • Always have plenty of drinking water in the vehicle, especially in hot weather.
  • Follow the rules of the road.
  • Remember that the police are not always your friend.  Strictly abide by speed limits to avoid lining the pockets of small town PDs. Be very aware of your surroundings if you are pulled over.  If possible, pull over in a public area, like a restaurant parking lot.
  • Don’t get lost – use a GPS or maps to stay on course.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings – ditch the headphones and remain alert during rest stops.
  • If possible, keep one adult with the moving van at rest areas, and take turns going to the bathroom.
  • Be constantly prepared to defend yourself if necessary.
  • Follow your gut – if you have a bad feeling about a situation, chances are, you’re right.

Settling in

Once you’ve arrived, it’s time for the fun stuff: settling into your new home.

First things first, unpack Box 1. This way, your basic necessities are available.

Get some food.

Before unpacking everything, make a quick run to the grocery store. Grab some healthful snacks, but splurge and get things that are already prepped. We usually get a veggie tray and a fruit tray from the deli, a rotisserie chicken, and a couple of frozen pizzas. Make it easy on yourself while you get unpacked.

If needed, do a quick clean of the house before putting things away.  (Hopefully the previous residents left things nice for you, but you always want to do at least a swipe to get rid of the cooties.)

Prioritize the most important rooms.

I usually prioritize unpacking in this order:

  • Bathroom
  • Small children’s rooms
  • Kitchen
  • Living room
  • A place to sleep in my room
  • Everything else

Once the necessities are put away and you can function, it’s time to get to all of that other stuff. Now’s your chance to be the most organized prepper around.  Remember all of those belongings you carefully sorted? Before putting them away, try to get the necessary modifications to your storage areas made. That way, you can put away your carefully organized possessions with the precision of a Costco warehouse.

Tell us about your experiences, moving as a prepper.

Keep in mind that during every move, there’s a catastrophe. There’s always something that goes wrong.  One friend was moving across three states when something flew off a vehicle ahead of her and punctured her fuel tank. She had to get a trailer to go on the back of her Uhaul at the last minuted to take her damaged vehicle to the new location. For us, the internet tower we thought we could hook into was shut down. Because we’re moving to a more rural location, I couldn’t find a service provider. (Panic-inducing for someone who works online and homeschools using an online resource.) Thankfully, we finally found a company that could work with us, but it was a sketchy, stressful couple of weeks.

The point is, there’s always some chaos. As a good friend of mine says, adapt and overcome.

It’ll be worth in when you look around your well-organized new home.

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor who lives in a small village in the Pacific Northwestern area of the United States. She is the author of The Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy writes about healthy prepping, homesteading adventures, and the pursuit of liberty and food freedom. Daisy is a co-founder of the website Nutritional Anarchy, which focuses on resistance through food self-sufficiency. Daisy’s articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, and you can email her at [email protected]

We Prepare For Survival But Is It The Main Thing?


In the past, I have written about the never ending list of things to do, the frantic pace of organizing preps, and the never ending quest to learn just one more sustainable skill.  Couple all of that with the burden of truth and knowledge that keeps you awake at night, and you have a recipe for frustration, exhaustion, and burn out.

There goes those words again.  Prepper burn out.

The truth is we all have a need for quiet, reflective, time whether we know it or not.  It is during that reflective time that we can think, really think, and focus on what is really important.  Is learning ten different ways to start a fire so important when all you really need is three?  And who do you believe?  Is there any one expert?  Or is everyone a beginner of sorts?

We prepare for survival but is it main thing?  In this article I present the latest think piece from contributing author Richard Broome.  Sit back with a cup of coffee and read about “the main thing”.  This is important.

The Main Thing

The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.Stephen Covey

It is a rainy day this early Sunday morning in Montana. The sun is slowly rising over the Bridger Mountains. I enjoy sitting quietly in the peaceful, dark pre-dawn of Montana, watching the sun come up over those magnificent mountains. In my home office where I do my writing, I look at them all day.

I can see fresh snow on them this morning. However, I don’t think the snow will reach us in the valley. No. I think just cold rain. This is a good day for a fire and another cup of coffee.

But today is not so peaceful. I am overcome with a sense of apprehension.

“Is the world literally getting ready to explode all around me?

This morning I turned on one of the Sunday news programs and listened to the discussion on how ISIS is claiming they now have sufficient money to buy a nuclear weapon. Both the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of the FBI have recently discussed the possibility of ISIS already operating within the borders of this country. This is chilling. There is no doubt in my mind that if ISIS ever gets control of a nuclear weapon they would use it. On us.

During this past year dedicated visitors to Backdoor Survival will know my previous “think pieces” have addressed several ideas: the coming cyber war that I see building day-by-day, the need I see to build a culture of preparedness in our country with the same societal intensity as we now do to foster our heath and fitness, the widening gap that I think exists between the increasing multi-level complexity and dangers of the global threat against all of us, that is in juxtaposition with our lesser level of national preparedness, and so on.

Sitting here and reflecting on world events this rainy Montana morning, I have come to the very unsettling conclusion that nothing is getting any better, but rather, steadily becoming much worse. I feel like I am watching two trains about to collide head on.

One train seems to be accelerating and going faster and faster. The engineer has his head out the side yelling for more steam. The other train’s engineer also has his head out the side and is looking at the danger ahead. He seems to be rubbing his chin and thinking, ”It is really another train? Maybe it will slow down? I think I had a clear track signal a few miles back?”

All while the trains keep on coming at each other, faster and faster.

Do you really have confidence that our national leadership is seeing the train wreck coming and will act before it happens? Or, do you feel as I do that the overriding philosophy seems to be: “Move cautiously. Let’s study the problem. Certainly someone else will see this and solve it. Why stick my neck out? To me this attitude is what drives the decision process for far too many right now.

You want a glimpse of this kind of mindset and leadership? Read my first novel, Leaving The Trees. Read the first part of the book and the scenes in Washington, DC. It is very accurate. Believe me. I have been in the room at very high levels and watched these kinds of deliberations. When writing this part of the novel I was trying to convey to readers that things could all come unraveled from the selfish decisions of a powerful few.

But, this is not the main thing. I believe, in a time of increasing threat and looming crisis to this country, that there is also another and even more compelling and critically important factor to consider, which could make all the difference.


And will you, as an individual, come to the internal conviction that for you, “The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.”

To the point, are you able to answer the fundamental questions we must all honestly ask ourselves, “Am I prepared?”but more important, “How well am I prepared?”

Because I do believe most of you sense the train wreck is coming too, but it is a nagging, silent worry as you cope with all of the other demands in your life. You are probably like the frog in the pot of boiling water. The temperature seems to be rising. You can feel it. But certainly, “Someone will do something before you become boiled?”

I am not so sure. Personally, I think you need to hop out of the pot right now. When you do, get refocused on the main thing, which is the survival of you and your loved ones.

I want you to know that I have, like many of you, dealt with a high-pressure job and multiple, pressing demands on me. I have had to cope with the very same lifestyle many of you have now. This late in the day, unexpected client meetings that kept me at work later than I had planned, a killer commute home that night in terrible traffic with a sudden, unexpected text message to do child pick ups to support my spouse (who had her own unexpected work demands to meet), the last minute pizza deliveries for a quick dinner (which was typically eaten standing up while orchestrating homework and baths), and so on.

How do we do it? Somehow. But…we all know it takes an enormous amount of energy and commitment. It also gets us distracted from many things we should spend more time on.

So as you all go about your very crowded, very busy lives, you must also still find a way to take a deep breath and try to get focused on the big picture. It is so clear in everything we read and listen to. The world we live in is facing significant threats. You simply must get yourself out of the pot of boiling water, because I do not think others will do it for you.

I was on the radio twice recently. Once on Preparedness Radio and again on Freedomizer Radio.

One of the things I talked about was my experience in the military with readiness. Clearly, one of our most central concerns was the readiness of our military units to achieve their assigned mission. Both individually as a soldier and working together with others as a military unit, we always had to be certain we were prepared to do our assigned military task. We examined our readiness posture on a monthly basis from the individual to the largest military organizations.

We had a set of metrics for this that measured many factors to establish what we called a readiness assessment. “Did we have all the people we needed? Did they have working equipment with all the essential supplies on hand? Were they properly trained to do their specific jobs within several possible threat scenarios?”

We would use this analysis to develop a readiness indicator for every unit within a military command. From this kind of honest self-examination we were able to diagnose our actual readiness posture and then work on any shortcomings we detected.

Similarly, as a prepper, you cannot know where you are going unless you know where you are. There are core survival principles for food supply, water supply, shelter, health, safety and individual preparedness, which many have written books and articles about. However, are we able to agree upon some metrics and standards for preparedness like the military does for readiness? I think this would be very important now as we strive to keep the main thing, the main thing.

I mean more than just checklists, but rather how to rate your preparedness on some scale like: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert or any other scale that works. How would we describe each of these levels?

There is more than a little complexity to this kind of an idea. You have to think about this within the context of where you live.

I live in Montana. We have our advantages such as lots of firewood, fresh water, fish, and game. We also have our disadvantages, very tough winters. If you live in Florida, you have a different set of factors to contend with. One solution will not fit all, but there should be a core set of standards that would allow us to self-assess and also do what our military does so well, continually identify and shore up weaknesses.

Beginner. Intermediate. Advanced. Expert. Or…something similar?

I would be interested in what others on Backdoor Survival think about this. It is important to offer our advice to each other about preparedness.

Isn’t that one of the main things too?

Richard Earl Broome – All Rights Reserved –May 24, 2015


Richard Earl Broome is a contributing author and friend to Backdoor Survival. He has lived an extraordinary life rising from an Army private to an Army colonel who served on the White House staff for two Presidents of the United States as a member of their National Security Council staff.

He is considered a national expert on the subjects of preparedness, disaster recovery and survival. He is a frequent contributor of articles about the many threats facing our society, appearing frequently on shows to discuss issues such as pandemics, ISIS, and the cyber threat and how we need to meet the new threat realities facing all of us.

Now living in a small community in Montana, he is a member of the faculty at Montana State University where he teaches leadership. For more about Richard, visit my  About Richard page.

Also, note that his two books, Leaving The Trees and Good Crazy (Leaving The Trees Journey) (Volume 2), can be found on Amazon.  His next novel, Final Reckoning Day, will be out in the fall of 2015.

The Final Word

Something sorely lacking is a methodology whereby we can assess our preparedness efforts against a set of core standards.  Do you know of any such standards that can be applied universally to civilians not under the direction and rule of the military, government, or big business?

As citizens who embrace self-sufficiency, perhaps the best standard is the standard we set ourselves, based upon our unique needs and skill sets.  Like Richard, I am interested in your thoughts.  Think of it this way.  If  friends, relatives or co-workers came up to you and said they wanted to begin to prepare, what would you tell them.  What “gold standard” would make them preppers?

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Gaye Levy, also known as the Survival Woman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and has moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle through her website at BackdoorSurvival.com. At Backdoor Survival, Gaye speaks her mind and delivers her message of prepping with optimism and grace, regardless of the uncertain times and mayhem swirling around us.

The Three Most Important Survival Skills According To Grandpa


Recently I asked some of the book festival authors the following question:  Given your background, knowledge and experience, what do you feel are the three most important survival or prepping skills?

It has been interesting to read the answers and I am always surprised that the responses are so different from each other.  That just goes to show you that we all live our lives within a different context.  We have different family situations, live in various geographical areas, have varying degrees of health and wellness, and span a wide range within the economic strata.

One of the more interesting responses came from Ron Brown, author of the Non Electric Lighting Series of books and eBooks. He submitted his response and then, after the fact, he submitted an alternate version.  By that time it was too late to include the alternate in the article.  Instead, I share with you today, the three most important survival skills according to Grandpa.

What skills did Grandpa need to survive?

We all want to “live a long time” but we don’t want to “get old.”  Funny thing, language. “Survival” is the same as “living.” If we don’t survive, we die. If we don’t live, we die. Same thing, no?

When the SHTF, modern technology (cell phones, microwave ovens) will disappear and our lifestyle will return to an 1800’s lifestyle, to Grandpa’s era.  What skills did Grandpa need to survive? Not just survive and hang onto life by a whisker, but survive and prosper?

The answer is simple. There are three skills that Grandpa took pains to learn: reading, writing, and arithmetic.

This is not a cute or silly answer. This is the real answer. You wanna survive in Grandpa’s era?  Learn Grandpa’s skills.

1. Reading

You will need the ability to read directions. “Turn the adjusting screw clockwise.” Today, my neighbor’s kid doesn’t know how to read an analog wall clock. She doesn’t know what “clockwise” means.

2. Writing

You will need to keep a diary. “A short pencil is worth a long memory.” What was the date you started the tomato seeds last year? And what were the results? And the year before that? And what was the variety name? And how much did you pay?

Cursive writing is three times faster than printing. It’s much more efficient than printing. My neighbor’s kid cannot do cursive writing. Nor can she read it. Nor can my doctor’s receptionist read cursive writing. She’s edjumacated. She’d have a hard time in the 1800’s.

3. Arithmetic

You can always hire somebody with a strong back for stoop labor. Always. You can today. You could in the 1800’s. But finding somebody who can “do” numbers. Without a calculator?  Different story.

The three skills that Grandpa valued – reading, writing, and arithmetic – are the same three skills that you, like Grandpa, would need to live in Grandpa’s era. Everything else you can figure out as you go along.  If you have those three skills.  Next question?

The Final Word

Perhaps because of my age and because I am not around young people much, it did not occur to me that the three Rs (the three “Rs”—reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic) were becoming lost in the digital age.  If what Ron is saying is true, however, then indeed, these are definitely skills that need to be promoted as survival skills.

In these days of computers, smartphones, eBook readers,tablets and Xboxes, it is easy to become seduced by technology. We all need to do our part to ensure that these three vital skills are not lost.

You can read Ron’s complete interview in the article Ron Brown and The Non Electric Lighting Series.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Gaye Levy, also known as the Survival Woman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and has moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle through her website at BackdoorSurvival.com. At Backdoor Survival, Gaye speaks her mind and delivers her message of prepping with optimism and grace, regardless of the uncertain times and mayhem swirling around us.

Looking For Motivation? 21 Preppers Share The Stories Of How They Got Started


One of the most common questions I’m asked in interviews is how I got started prepping. That crucial moment when you decide that you need to change the way you live is paramount to understanding the motivation to live a prepared lifestyle.

Recently, I asked many of you how you started out, too, for an article I was working on.  You answered via email and social media, and I so thoroughly enjoyed hearing your stories that I decided to publish some of them in this collection, as opposed to merely quoting bits and pieces in the original article I had planned.

Sometimes I think we all have days where we lose our prepper mojo just a little bit. These stories of our awakenings can serve as a reminder to push you through the low spots, and they just might inspire someone who is considering becoming more prepared to take the leap. For privacy reasons, I’ve redacted anything that might identify the person or their location.

How I Got Started Prepping

20 years ago, I was a new mom to a lovely baby girl. My husband had a good job, we had an adorable little apartment, and we were doing okay on our small budget.  Then, when my daughter was just 3 weeks old, my husband came home unexpectedly in the middle of the day.

His good job was no more. Completely out of the blue, he had been laid off.

Panic ensued. Rent was due, which used up most of his paycheck, and we had 2 jars of peanut butter, 10 bags of bagels in the freezer, and a garden that had just been planted in the yard, but had not yet produced anything we could eat.

He began applying for jobs the very next day. He was young, intelligent, and strong, so we figured he’d have no trouble finding work. Unfortunately, we were wrong.  He also applied for his unemployment benefits, but it was going to take 6 long weeks before any money would arrive.

We went into survival mode.

We rationed out our bagels and peanut butter over the course of those six weeks. We never even considered asking for help, even though our parents would have gladly given us some groceries or money. We buckled down and just focused on getting through until that first unemployment check came in. He managed to get some day labor work a few times, which kept us in enough money to go to the laundromat to wash diapers and clothes, kept our electricity on, and paid our rent. Any debt we had incurred before this, of necessity, went unpaid. We couldn’t even afford groceries, so we certainly couldn’t manage minimum payments on credit cards. The only bill we paid was the car payment, since we lived in a small town and he needed a vehicle to seek work elsewhere.

Since we couldn’t afford any type of entertainment, I spent a lot of time at the library. One day, when searching for frugal recipes (back in the days of the card catalog), I stumbled across a book that would change the course of my life. It wasn’t a preparedness book in the sense of “prepping”. It was about frugality. Amy Dacyczyn had written 3 books (that have now been combined into one big compendium) called The Complete Tightwad Gazette. Amy wrote with a sense of humor and a friendly tone, added quirky illustration, and immediately become my hero, my go-to girl for all things frugal. I felt a glimmer of hope when I read about her “pantry principles” and I knew that there was a way I’d never have to be in this desperate situation again.

Although I didn’t know it, a prepper had been born.  Once hubby’s unemployment money came in, I began to quietly build a pantry. I was determined that my child would not ever wonder where her next meal would come from. Over the years, with the ups and downs of life, I’ve had many occasions to be thankful for my pantry: when I was laid off from my job as a single mother, during lengthy power outages due to bad weather, after incurring a major medical bill.  A few years ago, when we relocated from Canada to the United States, I had to leave most of my supplies behind. (This book was inspired by what I learned when rebuilding our stockpile.)

Personal economic disaster is a common theme.

Overwhelmingly, people who responded to my question shared that they had begun prepping due to a personal financial crisis.

1.) Julia

My husband having a motorcycle wreck last July. He broke himself in seven places along his right side, suffered from MRSA (they had to do an IV four hours a day) had some of the hardware that was put in removed in the 2nd surgery and now has four blood clots on his opposite arm where he had to have a pik line. Almost a year later he suffers from inflammation and chronic pain.  If it wasn’t for me being a couponer at the time and having a stockpile I don’t know what we would have done!!

2.) D’Ann

My husband also lost his job right when our first (turned out to be only) baby was born. Those first few years were rough.

3.) Jane

I inherited my nephew when his mother and father passed away. We went through my 3 month supply pretty quick, and I had to ask for charity on his behalf. When I was just starting out, there were too many times that I had to make a decision to buy a can of beans or a roll of toilet paper.

4.) Jedidiah

911 certainly got our attention but it was the banking crisis and subsequent recession the end of 2008 that gave me a major wake up call. My construction company went from 7 employees to little ole me. Personal income dropped 70%. From my perspectivthat felt like a depression, not a recession. We managed to weather those difficult years and had we not lived well below our means prior to the recession, we would have been in serious trouble.

Now, here’s the take-away from all this. During that period of time, I was not a happy man about what had happened to my business or my great employees. Now, looking back at that adversity….I’m thankful for that experience. My wife and I ultimately survived AND thrived. There was blood, sweat and tears involved, but as a result of that experience, we are now better able to handle most anything life may throw at us. That’s empowerment. That’s freedom!

5.) Brian

I lost my job in 2009 after I broke my back. Although it healed up, I couldn’t no longer do the heavy work I’d been doing for 20 years. The same year my wife used all of her maternity leave before going back to work and 2 weeks later shattered her ankle. They let her go.

It was in the worst of the crash and no one was hiring. We lived on miracles and prayer for about a year. We had just moved. I planted a garden and studied how to plant intensively, bought chickens, she couponed and learned how to do things like make our own detergent to save expense. I think in the meantime it became a lifestyle that we enjoy.

We have been blessed since then and the pantries are now stocked for about a year. Expanding on that many other things such as hand powered tools and kitchen appliances, candles, rechargeable batteries ect and the solar panels to charge things have found their way into the inventory.

It’s a scary thing to be on the verge with few applicable assets and we chose not to be arrogant in assuming it can’t or wont happen again. In fact we continue strongly in Iight of the current economic and geopolitical situation the world is in and there is NO guarantee that unemployment benefits will be there to help next time.

Don’t panic, prepare.

6.) Andrea

A heart attack and financial devastation

7.) Diane

The seed was planted in March of 1979 when the 3 Mile Island “accident” happened. We were newlyweds, married only a few months, living about 50 miles from the power plant and worried what we would do if we had to evacuate. Then I read the book “Solar Flare” by Larry Burkett (if you haven’t read it, it’s a page turner & a fascinating novel based on facts) and the seeds were watered.

Then 6 years ago my husband went to work as always to be told he was being layed off due to downsizing. We had just re-financed our mortage and done $30,000 in upgrades to our home and were afraid we could lose it. The seeds were now sprouting. We were lucky that my husband was only out of work 3 days, a family member got him an interview that led to an immediate job. It took about a year to get back to the wages he had been earning, money was very tight. but we were able to keep our home and our kids did not die as a result of having to attend public schools.

We now are preparing for whatever hits the fan first, economic colapse, solar flare, terrorisim, peak oil, etc. My 15 year old son is my greatest ally in prepping. We shop at big box stores and try to put up 1/4 of each shopping trip. We also shop yard sales, auctions, etc. in search of non-electric tools like butter churn, treadle sewing machine, victrola & 78 rpm records, etc. We are currently looking for an older (pre 1970) pick up truck and a camper in case we would have to bug out, but we are hoping to be able to shelter in place as we have a lot of grid-free items at our home.

8.) Linda

The 2008 financial dip. It was a reminder of the need to be prepared. The economy has not improved and I don’t see it improving any time soon. Plus, my husband became disabled.

For some people, self-reliance was always their lifestyle.

9.) April

My husband and I live in (redacted), rural area, 1800 ft. elevation, near a university town, and we love disaster movies…etc. We just thought it made sense to have some food put back, well bucket, water filtration backup, etc. We burn wood for heat, propane for cooking. Our most vulnerable aspect so far is our good well, 140 ft. deep, wouldn’t be usable without electricity.

10.) Vicki

We live on an Island where we are isolated for the most part 4 months of the year, so prepping is a necessity for those months. Recently I have extended the prepping to include clothing for growing kids, lots of medical supplies ,and many off grid living items. I think economic problems and the extreme weather everyone is experiencing got me thinking, better safe than sorry. If nothing happens you have less to spend later, also getting chickens soon!

11.) Dennis

I was born into being a prepper. Being raised with humble circumstances, we were taught from a very early age to throw nothing away and take care of yourself. Back then there was no government handouts. Everyone supplied their own needs. We grew and raised everything we ate from gardens to livestock. I didn’t think much about it until the 60’s and then became a “Mother Earther”  and learned to dry foods, everything from my family’s cereal to fruits etc.

Later on my wife and I felt led to take in foster children from 5-10 years old, all hard core sexually abused children. I bought a 3 acre place with a house and barn. I figured since I had been raised in that situation and with a great circle of relatives and was well adjusted that it would work for them. We had 5 at a time plus our own 2 older teenagers. We milked our goat twice a day, raised pork, beef, chickens, ducks, rabbits and all things in between. It worked wonders for them as we and our animals gave unconditional love, like our Father.

Again we got away from it until the 08 election at which time we started all over again and will continue. All 7 of our grandchildren are older and the joke is not to stand in one place too long or grandpa will vacuum pack you or freeze you. They all enjoy the dried jerky, fruit etc.  They do have a lot of good laughs about all our prepping supplies, lanterns, portable crapper, Big Berkey, food dryer etc. That’s how I got started and we continue on at 70 years old. Just makes good old common sense with our upside down world. God richly bless you and keep you.

Sometimes an outside event triggered the awakening.

12.) Jack

My start at prepping began three days after 9/11/2001.  While hearing the reports of what was going on and happening in NYC my wife described the scene as best she could without losing her voice.  I am and have been blind since age 24, had two wonderful careers, public sector and private sector and when my wife described it to me I turned to her and said “our world has changed just now, to what extent and how and when it will change is yet to be seen but we need to prepare” .

Not knowing at the time what it meant I went to my computer that evening after things had began to sort themselves out and began seriously searching for long-term storage food, generators, and other such prep items.  I have a special software package that allows me to have the screen read to me if it has text on it and at that time the internet had quite a bit more text than fancy graphics and animation which is the case today.  I slowly began to build my supplies of food,  tools etc even though my wife was a skeptic about what good it would do.  I began in earnest finally settling on Amazon and a couple other web sites that had shown up selling prepping supplies such as alternative energy, food and water supplies.

In 2008 my wife had to go to a nursing home and I was left alone in my house which I sold and turned the small amount of money I made into more preps and finally purchased a home in ( near my sister in a rural area and did even more prepping such as building up a solar system for power as I am a ham operator and wanted power for operating my ham gear and keeping my freezer and refrigerator running as well as being able to use my 700 watt microwave to cook since I am a klutz about real cooking.  The solar system is capable of charging a bank of 8 large marine deep discharge batteries with 1000 watts of solar power each day the sun shines and it can operate without sun for up to a week for the things I need in my house.  I am currently building an alternative water collection system using rain gutters which I had installed on my metal roof and placing about 3 55-gallon barrels around the house to collect the water and filtering it as it goes into the barrels for watering my SIMGAR container garden and my abundant white clover patch on the half acre for the honey bees on my property.

But what got me started?  I had in my mind an idea that it would come to this ever since high school.  I was attending the Arkansas State School for the Blind in Little Rock and in 1959 a B-58 exploded about 1500 feet above the area the school was  in and we were without power for over three days and also water etc and that started some wheels to turning in my brain which really got to spinning with the September 11, 2001 attack and I have been plugging away at it ever since.

13.) Betty

Watching the news and realizing what I was seeing going on in the world ,terrorism,impending economic collapse,all the natural disasters .I’m a christian and knew from scripture what I was seeing coming to pass and setting in place to happen,when I saw all the for rent and for sale signs I hadn’t seen in 40 years of living in my town and the jobs started leaving mills closing down I talked a family member into pulling out the 401 k and paying off their mortgage,it saved their home the only employed family member got laid off ,they would have lost their home,blessing from the lord,I think it common sense to prep as a lifestyle even in good times you lose nothing and if the worst suddenly happens your family stands to suffer much less ,it also teaches the next generation how to

14.) Ray

I have always been interested in being self-sufficient.  Ever since my early 20’s (I’m 66 now) I’ve had a garden when I lived where I could have one, and tried to learn a new skill or raise a new veggie every year.  I’ve raised bees, hogs, now raise dairy goats and a few cattle.  I can most things rather than freezing.

But all that was for long term self-sufficiency.

There were two things that got me switched on to prepping, literally overnight.  The first was the 2007 economic tanking and the government response to it: TARP, QE, monetizing the debt, all showed, and continue to show, that we are in for some real pain because no one is willing to identify and fix the real problems in our economy.

The second thing was the election of Barack Obama.  Not because he is Black (stupid comes in all colors), but because I listened to what he said and took him at his word that he meant every word of it.  The course and direction that he said he was taking the country, and post election the things he said and did, made be firmly believe that if he accomplished his stated goals, there would be nothing left of the America that I grew up in.

Sadly, he seems to have succeeded.  Crushing debt, uncontrolled government spending, Ferguson and Baltimore race riots, poverty and racial tension are all pushing this country to a precipice and any sudden shock could spill over into widespread rioting and looting.

We’ve lost the backbone of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility in favor of being on the government plan (or plantation).  Even worse, we’ve put up impediments and disincentives for those who still want to try to improve their lot in life.  Over the last generation we’ve turned out grads who are progressively less and less educated; can’t read, can’t write, can’t do simple math.  We’ve regulated and over-regulated to the point that new entrepreneurs aren’t starting businesses.

I founded and ran my own engineering business until I got fed up with the taxes, regulations, crime and congestion that came with living in Baltimore, so I sold my portion to my partners and ‘retired’ to a farm.  I have tried to have some small artisan business income from the farm activities, but (redacted) is not very friendly to that sort of thing.  So now I do my thing under the radar, not legal but not illegal as long as I don’t get into ‘public commerce’.  <sigh>

I can, I make cheese, I bake and am still learning new things.  The latest is that I’m raising rabbits for meat.

I’ve got food and water stored, am finishing my rainwater collection system for sustainable water, I’ve got my self-defenses set up and a plan for what to do if family shows up on the doorstep.  For the last few years I’ve been experimenting in the garden to improve yields and reduce labor (mostly to reduce weeding).  I’ve got manual tools and know how to use them when the power or fuel runs out, and my fuel tank holds almost 2 years of diesel with current usage.

When the SHTF, we may not make it out the other side, but we’ll be here long after most others are gone.

15.) Anonymous

Y2K. Thank goodness it didn’t happen, nor did I lose my faith in the preparedness mentality. Best thing thing that ever happened – getting me off my chops and being proactive.

16.) Theresa

My desire to protect my family from H1N1 started my prepping journey.  It started out gradually by purchasing N95 face masks, bio suits, gloves/booties and lots of sanitizer.  That led to purchasing supplies in case we needed to quarantine ourselves.   Finally I gave up my stand against firearms and adopted the mindset of beans, bandages and bullets, with one as none and two is one.  My family has slowly come around.  As a joke, my oldest sent me a picture of an emergency/camping port-a-potty as a possible Christmas gift for me.  Imagine his surprise when I told him I already had one.

For others, it was the influence of another person that woke them up.

Occasionally, something that doesn’t affect others with the impetus to prepare speaks to you in a different way. Sometimes it’s popular culture, and other times an influential personality.

17.) Crystal

Ok my story is going to sound a little ridiculous but it happened and now I prep. My husband was a prepper before I came along. He would always try to talk to me about it by I would shut down the conversation because I didn’t want to hear it. I was scared. Scared to think of what could happen. Scared of the tough decisions I would have to make for my kids. My husband and I came across The Walking Dead on New Years. They had a marathon on and my husband and I sat down to watch from the beginning since we had missed so much. It was like the hand of God slapped me and said you will do this and there will be no fear. That was 5 years ago. I haven’t looked back and I have no fear. My kids are on board and we prep as a family.

18.) Mickie

Reading Ron Paul.

19.) Vanessa

Finally listening to my husband. He’s been prepping for a while. I just didn’t want to believe it. I think I really understood once we had kids. Between dealing with schools and pediatricians and just how much the Government had their hands in my life is very unsettling.

Extreme weather is also an eye-opener.

20.) Walt

An ice storm here in (redacted) left us without power for 8 days. No power meant no well water. We cooked & heated with our woodstove but had to collect snow, ice & cold water from nearby creeks for water–in the cold. We began storing water for non drinking uses in milk containers after that event. Good thing. The following summer, freakish hurricane-force winds knocked out power for a week. By that time, we had managed to store plenty of water. That was 7 years ago and now we collect rain water in large containers & continue to store in gallon containers. Drinking water is stored, we own filters as well. We have also found alternative water sources in our area. What began as a survival mentality has become routine for us with water, food, medical supplies etc.

21.) Gregg

2011 tornado outbreak brought me back to it. I was raised being prepared, but became lax.

There’s a common element in these stories.

Nearly all of these situations could happen to anyone. None of it was extreme or a stretch of the imagination or the culmination of a conspiracy theory.

  • Bad weather.
  • The loss of a job.
  • A natural disaster.
  • An accident resulting in serious injury.
  • A power outage.
  • A financial downturn.
  • A nearby industrial accident.
  • A terrorist attack.

No one shared a story about a comet hitting, the overthrow of the government, or a Mad Max scenario. These were everyday situations that happened to everyday people, just like you and me.

Sometimes, we face the mockery of those who don’t understand our need to be self-reliant. The mainstream media never fails to put the word “prepper” in quotation marks, as though it’s a delusional term used by people who also believe in unicorns. But when we look to stories like these, it’s obvious that learning to live a prepared, self-reliant lifestyle isn’t “crazy.”  It’s actually the height of common sense.

What inspired you to get started?

For those of you who shared your stories for this article, thank you. You may never know it, but your story might just be the gentle push someone needs to get started.

How did you get started with preparedness? Please share your story in the comments below.

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor who lives in a small village in the Pacific Northwestern area of the United States. She is the author of The Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy writes about healthy prepping, homesteading adventures, and the pursuit of liberty and food freedom. Daisy is a co-founder of the website Nutritional Anarchy, which focuses on resistance through food self-sufficiency. Daisy’s articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, and you can email her at [email protected]

10 Reasons To Add Glow Sticks To Your Survival Kit


Whenever I think of glow sticks, my first thoughts are of kids’ sleepovers or rock concerts. Despite the visions of the Dollar Store party supply section that are probably dancing through your head, the bright tubes are actually a great addition to your preparedness supplies.

Glow sticks are also known as light sticks or chemical lighting.  Here is how they work:

A glow stick is made from a plastic sheath or tube that houses a mix of chemicals. Basically, the way it works is that you bend the sheath to crack the capsules that hold the different chemicals separate from one another,  then you shake it up to mix the contents, creating a chemical reaction that emits energy with only a teeny emission of heat. This is called chemoluminescence).

The diagram below provides some detail.


Source: Wikipedia

1. Plastic casing covers the inner fluid.
2. A glass capsule covers the solution.
3. Phenyl Oxalate and fluorescent dye solution.
4. Hydrogen Peroxide solution.
5. After the glass capsule is broken and the solutions mix, the glow stick glows.

The result is a brightly colored, diffused light that is good for short term illumination (about 6-12 hours).  There are several variables that affect the length of time the stick will stay lit: the length of the stick, the chemical composition in the sheath, and the ambient temperature.

What are the advantages of glow sticks over flashlights and candles?

Normally, when you think of emergency lighting, you think about candles and flashlights.  While both have their place in the survival kit, there are some downsides.

Here are the cons to these standard light sources:


  • Candles can be dangerous if extreme care is not taken in their use.  The National Fire Protection Association reports that candles cause 29 house fires per day across the country. Their statistics show that candles caused 3% of the reported home fires, 4% of home fire deaths, 7% of home fire injuries, and 6% of direct property damage.  Furthermore, the Red Cross warns against any emergency use of candles in the home due to severe risk of fire.
  • Candles are not wind and waterproof and cannot be used outdoors.
  • Candles should not be left unattended. They should not be used as all-night lights, or by children or the elderly.
  • Candles consume oxygen and should not be used in confined spaces.
  • Candles go out when dropped and are not a mobile light source.
  • Candles are risky to use when natural gas or other fuels are present


  • Batteries lose power and may leak or corrode when stored for an extended time. This damages the internal mechanism of the flashlights, rendering them useless even with new batteries.
  • Flashlights are great searchlights but give poor room illumination.
  • Light bulbs and lenses are breakable. When broken, they are useless.
  • Only very expensive flashlights are truly waterproof.
  • Flashlight internal circuits are subject to corrosion if there is moisture where they are stored.

What kind of chemical lighting should preppers stock up on?

Glow sticks come in various lengths, with 6 or 10 inches being the most popular. A stick of this length can have a duration of anywhere between 30 minutes to 12 hours, based on the factors we discussed above.  Whereas duration is determined by the chemistry of the formulation, brightness is affected by temperature: the warmer the temperature, the brighter the light will appear.

Some of the sticks are flexible and have a connector on the end that allows you to turn them into a bracelet or necklace. This is ideal if you want to give them to children. These are usually lower quality sticks, so you won’t want to rely on them for adults.

There are also small and compact mini 4” light sticks which are great for handbags, medical kits, and glove boxes in vehicles.  They can provide up to 4 hours of illumination.

The shelf life is at least four years especially when packaged in foil packaging.  Plus one popular brand, the Cyalume Snaplight, is manufactured in the United States.

Here’s why you need light sticks in your kit.

Glow sticks are far more useful than their inexpensive origins might indicate.

1.  They are safe in all environments, including those where questionable or even undetectable gases may exist.

2.  They are waterproof and can be used in the rain.

3.  They are weatherproof and windproof

4.  They are non-flammable, and non-sparking, eliminating the possibility of burns or the ignition of other flammable substances.

5.  They have a long shelf life.

6.  They are very inexpensive.

7.  Most light sticks can be seen from a mile away in the right conditions, making them ideal for indicating your location in a rescue situation.

8.  The bracelets can be worn by children who are afraid of the dark.

9.  By clipping them on a jacket or placing it around a wrist, they can help you keep track of children when you’re out camping.

10.  They can be placed around the house in Mason jars during a power outage, safely lighting your home to prevent accidents without the risk of a fire.

What’s not to like?  There are just a few bug-a-boos.

Depending on your needs, the standard 360-degree illumination may be an annoyance.  Also, the longer rated 8 to 12 hours light sticks will definitely start to dim after a few hours and dim considerably towards the end of their rated life.

The ambient temperature strongly affects the brightness at each end of the heat spectrum, with overall brightness starting to dim in cooler temperatures below 40 degrees and temperatures over 80 degrees.  Also, once activated by breaking the internal glass vial and combining the chemicals, they cannot be turned off, which could be a security issue if you were in a situation during which you needed to hide.

Military Grade vs. Industrial Grade:  What is the difference?

The cheapo sticks from the dollar stores are just that: cheap.  It’s very worthwhile to spend a small amount of extra money and get higher quality sticks.

There is no discernable difference in either light output or duration between these two grades. It seems that the only difference between the two is that the U.S. military, for reasons best known to it, requires a slightly different formulation for their light sticks.  This formulation has a four-year shelf life while the Industrial Grade formulation has a five-year shelf life.

Go figure.  The bottom line is this: the Military Grade version is a good light stick but not worth the 25% extra you pay over the Industrial Grade light stick, which produces the same amount of light and lasts just as long.

The Final Word

Glow sticks are a safe and inexpensive addition to your home, your vehicle, and your gear kit.  They have a myriad of uses. A pack of 10 will cost between $10 and $15, and even less on a per unit basis if you purchase a larger supply of 30or more.  They will last for 4 years at a minimum, and if stored properly, even longer.

Chemical light sticks are readily available at Lowes, Amazon, and many outdoor stores.  The only caveat is to know that those sold as a consumer item ( such as those sold as toy and party items at the dollar store)are not the same quality as an industrial grade or military grade light stick.  That said, for the kids, these inexpensive party-like glow sticks are terrific.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Gaye Levy, also known as the Survival Woman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and has moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle through her website at BackdoorSurvival.com. At Backdoor Survival, Gaye speaks her mind and delivers her message of prepping with optimism and grace, regardless of the uncertain times and mayhem swirling around us.

How To Prep When You’re NOT An Epic Wilderness Survival Guru


Did you ever read a blog post on a prepper site and sigh, because the person writing the post seemed to have been born a survivalist?

In your mind’s eye, you could envision them at the tender age of six, weaving a snare from some vines that they wisely assessed not to be poison ivy, catching a rabbit, skinning and gutting it with a pocketknife, and cooking it over a fire they started with two sticks that they rubbed together, while wearing their little elementary-school-sized camo outfit.

Discouraging, isn’t it?

But not everyone can be Daryl Dixon.

In fact, I really don’t believe that the majority of preppers actually are rugged survival gurus. Most of us had to make a conscious effort to learn. Most of us aren’t wilderness guides or professional hunters or military special forces operatives.  We don’t regularly pop a deer in the backyard with a homemade bow, we don’t have a bunker with 30 years of storable food and an aquifer we can access from within the safety of its walls, we don’t isolate our children from all forms of popular culture, and we don’t live in the middle of nowhere, so deep in the woods that we have to carefully climb a tree while clenching a laptop in our teeth to get an internet signal. We aren’t all off-grid homesteaders that weave our own fabric from the sheep we nurtured through a Himalayan winter.


We are regular moms and dads. We are grandparents or teenagers. We go to the movies, grab an occasional coffee at Starbucks, and shop at Safeway. Our kids have friends whose parents would have no clue what to do in a disaster. We have Golden Retrievers, Pomeranians, parakeets, and cats.  We have jobs with officemates who have no idea we possess a year’s worth of beans. We live in downtown apartments, Victorian cottages, and raised ranch homes in the suburbs.

The thing that sets us apart – and sets you apart too – is the willingness to accept that life is not rainbows and lollipops. Not only do we accept it, but we do our best to take responsibility for our families should a disaster strike, whether that disaster is something on such a grand scale that it affects the entire region, or so small and personal that it only affects those living in your home.

So don’t read that stuff and sigh anymore. While there are those people who truly have been born to the lifestyle, most of us aren’t that way.

And that means we all started somewhere.

Maybe it was the realization that it was better to buy more of the sale stuff so we’d have it on hand for lean weeks.  Maybe a week long power outage occurred and we didn’t want to be caught with our drawers down again. A storm, a job loss, a devastating illness – whatever the reason we started, chances are we didn’t start out by moving to a yurt in the wilderness and living off the land.

Anyone can do this.  Anyone.

All it takes is the willingness to learn and the enthusiasm to practice.  Preparedness is an evolution, one that we all begin at a different place.

Here’s an example.

I grew up a pampered city girl. My family was reasonably well-to-do, and when we went on vacation, we usually stayed at resorts or nice hotels. We didn’t ever go rough it in the woods, and the one time we “camped” (when I was about 6 years old) it was in a luxury trailer with a bedroom and a functioning bathroom. Needless to say, very few wilderness survival skilled were learned. In fact, my mom didn’t even want me to walk out into the woods because she was worried I’d be bitten by a snake.

Fast forward to adulthood, when I was a single mom with two girls. I had been prepping for years, building stockpiles, learning to can, and doing all of the stuff city preppers do. I decided to up the ante, and when my oldest went off to college, my youngest and I moved out to the boondocks of Ontario, Canada. It was then that I realized I had no freakin’ idea what I was doing. None. I couldn’t even build a fire in the woodstove that would stay lit, and the woodstove was the only heat in the cabin. I thought, “What the heck have I done?” I wanted to bail, but I didn’t have enough money to scurry back to civilization.

So I learned.

I learned to build a fire, stack wood, deal with 5 feet – yes, 5 feet – of snow, avoid attracting bears to our cabin, paddle a canoe (once I finally learned to get in the canoe without flipping over), cook on  a woodstove during a blizzard power outage, live with intermittent running water and electricity – all sorts of stuff.

And I didn’t do ANY of it right the very first time I did it.

I broke things, froze wood to the wall of my cabin, shivered when the fire went out, freaked out when there was a bear on my porch, climbed out a window and dug my shovel out of the snow with cooking pots because I had left it outside and snow had blown against my door, burying the shovel and trapping us inside. Seriously, no one ever would have made a cool show about us living in the woods, not unless it was a comedy.

But I learned.

I am MUCH better prepared after the year we spent doing that stuff. Now, that stuff is easy for me and I could flawlessly demonstrate many skills while people looked on, impressed, but it didn’t start out that way. I often meet people who are far more skilled than I am and I welcome the chance to learn from them.

I’m not writing this so you think, “Wow, why would I take any advice from her, ever? She didn’t even know how to build a fire a few years ago.”

I’m writing this so that you don’t become discouraged. So that you remember that preparedness is an evolution. It’s a journey that starts when you do.

Wherever you are right now is a great place to start. The best! If you are willing to research, learn, and practice, in 6 months you’ll be amazed at how much your skills have improved. If you start building your supplies now, no matter how slowly, in 6 months, your stores will have increased.

So get a few good books, find some good websites, and tackle some skill-building.

There are some awesome epic wilderness survival gurus and some off-grid families that truly want to help and teach. I know some of them. And there are some arrogant jerks who think that their way is the only way, and that anyone who is unlike them doesn’t stand a chance.  I know some of them, too. If a so-called teacher makes you feel like you don’t stand a chance because of your current point in the journey, get as far away from that person as possible. Whatever they have to teach you will be drowned out by the noise of their derogatory and discouraging attitudes.

There are many positive places to learn, places where you can feel free to ask questions without feeling embarrassed.  There are warm and inviting places on the internet where people aren’t judgemental and where they gladly share their knowledge with newcomers.

You don’t have to start out as an epic survival guru.

No matter who you are.

No matter where you are.

All it takes to improve your chances of survival is the willingness to learn and the courage to try.

Check out these warm and welcoming preparedness websites:

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor who lives in a small village in the Pacific Northwestern area of the United States. She is the author of The Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy writes about healthy prepping, homesteading adventures, and the pursuit of liberty and food freedom. Daisy is a co-founder of the website Nutritional Anarchy, which focuses on resistance through food self-sufficiency. Daisy’s articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, and you can email her at [email protected]

The Natural Pantry: A Long-Term Storage Guide For Honey


Raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized honey has been a pantry staple for centuries. In the far stretches of human history, honey was stored for food, making wine and used for medicinal purposes. Theystored raw, unfiltered honey in porous, sealed jars and stacked them in cold caves. In fact, recently, scientists examined five-millennia-plus-old jars of honey unearthed in Georgia and declared that the artifacts contain the world’s oldest honey. This only proves that honey can stand the test of time – but there is no guarantee it will. If improperly stored, honey can crystallize or ferment. This article will explain the what, when and why’s of how to perfectly store your honey for long-term use, as well as explain what mistakes to avoid.

There are more than 300 different types of honey in the United States, each with a unique flavor and color depending on the blossoms visited by the honey bees. In fact, the coloring of honey is largely dependent on which flower pollen it collects. For instance, honey is a darker color when nectar is collected from blossoms of avocado and buckwheat, while nectar collected from blueberries, alfalfa, clover and sage are lighter in color.  In general, the lighter the color of honey, the milder the flavor.

Shades of honey

Shades of honey

Where to Find Bulk Honey

Buying honey at the store can be expensive, especially in bulk quantities. For years, my husband and I were purchasing five pound containers of honey for over $20, when we could have purchased it for much cheaper from local distributors. I was lucky to find a local honey supplier in my area that sells us 20 pounds of honey at a time for a better deal. This is enough for a year supply of honey for my family. We usually end up purchasing one to use for the year and another for long-term storage. As well, farmers markets are great for finding local produce, meat and honey. I have also found locals selling honey through Craigslist. If you plan on purchasing honey from a local supplier, make sure they can answer these questions:

  1. What are the kinds of flowers the bees have been foraging on?
  2. Is it organic honey?
  3. Do they mix the honey with any additives?
  4. Has the honey been filtered to remove pollen?

Read more about the importance of buying raw, unfiltered honey and where to find it.

Properly Storing Honey

As dependable as honey is in a crisis, it can be finicky if not stored properly. Where and how you store honey makes a huge difference. If honey is stored in the wrong place, it’s viscosity, color, texture, aroma and flavor can change.

Like most of your pantry items, honey should be stored in a cool, dry area avoiding sunlight. The best storage temperature for honey is between 70-80°F, and is best if kept at a constant temperature with minimal fluctuations. Therefore, try to avoid storing honey near “hot or cold spots” in the home or by air conditioning or heating areas. If the temperature drops below 65°F, honey will begin to crystallize.

Interestingly, did you know that honey can be frozen? Liquid high-glucose honey that is frozen, will never crystallize and never lose vital nutrients. Although most preppers prefer not to concentrate their preparedness stores in the freezer, it can be used.

The main two points to keep in mind:

  • Honey should stay at a constant temperature with minimal fluctuations. Erratic temperature fluctuations can quickly cause the honey to stay in a perpetual state of crystallizing or liquefying. According to a Master Beekeeping Program hosted at Cornell University, if honey is stored at 77°F for 40 days, it will incur as much damage as honey heated to 145 °F for 60 minutes. The constant cool temperatures of root cellars (55°F) are perfect for storing creamed honey and will minimally affect the viscosity and texture.
  • Moisture can also greatly affect honey. Too much moisture, and it begins to ferment. If you see clear liquid floating on top a more solid brown honey mass, then the honey has started the fermentation process. While fermentation does not necessarily pose any health risk (mead by the way is fermented honey), it could destroy the integrity of the honey. As well, because honey absorbs moisture, it should be kept it in a tightly lidded container.

Best Containers for Re-Packing Honey:

  • Plastic food grade buckets – I have my long-term honey stored in 2-gallon containers. I avoid storing honey in 5-gallon containers for long-term storage because of the possibility of crystallization and fermentation. I’d rather lose a jar of honey than a pail of honey. Make sure that your containers are BPA free and food grade.
  • Glass canning jars – My short-term pantry is stocked with honey filled quart-sized (wide mouth) canning jars. These also make great gifts!
  • Plastic containers – Plastic containers and jars that once held honey are great for short-term storage, as well. However, if honey ferments, the pressure could pop the top off and cause a big mess.
  • Repurposed glass jars –  Glass jars can also be reused for other purposes. Make sure that the jars are thoroughly washed before reusing. If you do not have any jars to repurpose, these make excellent honey containers.

Keep in mind that because crystallization can easily occur, many suggest that if you purchase large quantities of honey for long-term storage, you should distribute it into smaller, more usable quantities to minimize any issues that may occur. That way, if it does solidify or crystallize, you can scoop out honey in smaller containers easier than the larger 5-gallon pails.

A Word on Crystallization

As much as we try to prevent crystallization in honey, it is a natural process. The higher the glucose/fructose level in your honey the faster it happens; as well, temperature fluctuations can also increase crystallization.

If your honey crystallizes, it is still edible – just not in the way you were expecting. Many suggest adding the crystallized honey to a double boiler and heating it up. While you can do this, it will destroy any health benefits honey offers. Crystallized honey is delicious in tea, on yogurt, on a toasted bagel, and on oatmeal. It can also be used as a glaze for cooking meat or vegetables. Moreover, you can make granulated or creamed honey by mixing one part of crystallized honey with 9 parts of liquid honey. Store it at 55 degrees°F until it becomes firm.

To conclude, those who are making attempts at storing natural foods in their pantry can do no wrong by storing honey. It is one of the most versatile preps you can have on hand and a viable investment in long-term preparedness planning. Use the above listed storage tips to make the most of your investment so you can enjoy this liquid sweetener for years to come.

Additional Resources:

‘Honeytime, Anytime’ booklet

USDA Honey Labeling

National Honey Board

Tess Pennington is the editor for ReadyNutrition.com. After joining the Dallas chapter of the American Red Cross in 1999, Tess worked as an Armed Forces Emergency Services Center specialist and is well versed in emergency and disaster management and response. Tess is the author of The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But by following Tess’s tips for stocking, organizing, and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months, or even years.

San Andreas For Preppers: 12 Earthquake Survival Lessons From The Movie


Okay, sure, there was some pretty unrealistic stuff like when The Rock was driving a boat through post-tsunami San Francisco and just happened to find his daughter that he was looking for. The last time I went to San Francisco, my daughter and I had trouble finding each other on the first floor of Forever 21, for crying out loud.

But, when you only have two hours for a movie, you have to be willing to suspend your disbelief somewhat and put that kind of stuff aside.  So. putting that aside, I enthusiastically recommend the movie. We live about 4 hours from San Francisco and go there occasionally for educational outings to the excellent museums, so the setting was quite familiar to us, as was the premise of what would occur if an earthquake happened there. So familiar that my daughter was the frequent recipient of my elbow, as I whispered, “See!!!! I told you this was what would happen if the Big One hit that time we went to the Science Museum!”  Trooper that she is, she said, “Yes, Mom, I know, you were right about that too.” Since she’s a teenager, she probably also rolled her eyes each time, but it was dark and I can’t be absolutely certain of that.

As I’ve said before, you can’t overestimate the value of finding entertainment that enhances your preparedness mindset. A movie is like the prepper version of a sporting event, where we can cheer, jeer, and scheme our ways through some imagined event. It engages our love for critical thinking while allowing us to take a break from our everyday activities. (Here’s my list of 40 prepper movies you can find online.) I know that some folks don’t go to the movies or engage in any form of popular culture, which is certainly a matter of personal choice. It’s not an everyday thing for us to go to the movies, but I’m of the firm belief that a prepared lifestyle doesn’t have to be bereft of fun, especially if you want your children to get involved.  I try to enjoy outings like this with my kids every once in a while.  We really liked the movie, and the special effects were incredible in 3D.

Here are 12 things that interested me, as a prepper, about San Andreas. I’ll try really hard to be vague enough that I don’t spoil the movie.

  1. People panic and behave badly.  In every disaster movie, there’s always someone more concerned with his or her own skin than the skin of a loved one, and this is no exception. Life-threatening terror brings out the worst in many people.  As shown in the movie, some first responders will bail to take care of their own families. The bottom line is, you can’t rely on others to save you. Also, it helps to have some knowledge of engineering and basic physics, too.
  2. People panic and behave stupidly.  During the panic of the aftermath of The Big One, people do the dumbest things.  This is true of real life too, and part of the reason for this is cognitive dissonance. People are so complacent about the stability of their everyday lives that it is difficult for them to function when something horrible and out of the ordinary occurs.  Having a mindset that plays through potential disasters ahead of time makes it far easier to accept it when something terrible happens, which in turn, makes it easier to act in a manner that will aid in survival instead of running around like a chicken without a head. (Check out How to Survive Anything in 3 Easy Steps for more on this.)
  3. Drop, cover, and hold on. The seismologist guy repeated the same information over and over, but most of the time, people failed to listen. When huge chunks of cement are flying at you, running down the road is not always the best course of action.  The very best thing you can do is get down under something big and stable and hold on tightly.  According to the US Department of Labor, the quake itself doesn’t cause injuries, the aftermath of structural damage causes injuries: “Most earthquake-related injuries result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects as a result of the ground shaking, or people trying to move more than a few feet during the shaking.” Structural damage to buildings would be vast in a quake like the one depicted. (Here’s more information on potential structural damage.) PS:  Your car is not a big, stable place to go to for cover. (source) Knowing what to expect in the event of an earthquake is very important.  This is a great article about earthquake survival.
  4. The ability to communicate is vital.  In the aftermath of a major disaster, your cell phone is very unlikely to work. Partly because everyone else will be trying to use their phones at the same time, and partly because local towers may also have been affected by the disaster. If you live in (or are visiting) an earthquake prone area, a secondary communications device is essential.  This article about an earthquake preparedness kit has some excellent suggestions. Remember that landlines often work when the internet and cell phones do not.
  5. Also vital: basic first aid skills.  Remember above, where I quoted how must injuries come about from the destruction of buildings?  After the earthquake in Haiti, the CDC reported that the most common injuries were fractures/dislocations, wound infections, and head, face, and brain injuries. Doctors performed wound debridements, amputations, and treatment for orthopedic trauma from crushing injuries. You need to know how to remove debris that might cause further damage, immobilize an injured limb, stop bleeding, apply a tourniquet, and clean a wound at the very least. It also helps if you have some supplies on hand or know where to find them.
  6. You should always have a plan for the family to meet.  In the movie, the family has a meeting place planned. This is not something that should be left for the day of a horrible event. You should always have a plan for your family in the event that you can’t communicate.  It helps if you can fly (and steal) a helicopter like The Rock, but since most of us don’t have access to that resource, we have to make other plans. My family always sets up meeting places in case we get separated and my kids know to go there and wait. Actually, we did this from the time they were little and my oldest daughter got in the middle of a clothing rack to “surprise mommy” and I couldn’t find her.
  7. You always need a backup plan. In the event that Plan A isn’t going to work, you need to have a Plan B. (And C and D and so on.) It’s really helpful if your family knows what Plan B is so that you are able to meet up and not hope to just randomly find one another. Again, this goes to thinking things through BEFORE a disaster occurs.   You MUST be adaptable to survive.
  8. When one disaster happens, others soon follow.  This is a frequent truth of disasters.  When one thing goes wrong, some other horrible event is often triggered by that. This was true in the movie, with things like looters, instability of structures which collapsed later, rifts in the roads, and oh yeah, a tsunami.
  9. Don’t forget tsunamis. For the love of all things cute and fluffy, if you are anywhere near the coast and an earthquake happens, GO UP. Do not wait until you see the ocean draw outward or you see the gigantic wave approaching. You aren’t going to be able to outrun it, no matter how fit you are. Immediately seek the highest point around if an earthquake occurs when you are near the coast.  We take this a step further when we visit the coast and map out the high points beforehand.  I was gratified that my two San Francisco high points were the ones noted in the movie. There is also some good advice if you just happen to be out boating when a tsunami is approaching.
  10. Don’t take the closest evacuation route, take the safest evacuation route.  Because San Francisco is the point of a peninsula, it’s most directly connected to the rest of the state by long bridges. I’ve always thought it would be a terrible idea to attempt to evacuate over those bridges in the aftermath of a disaster, since a) everyone else will be doing the same thing, resulting in gridlock and b) the structure of the bridges is likely to be weakened or damaged by a huge quake and c) a tsunami coming into the bay would sweep vehicle right off the bridge even if it held up.  Oh – and d – there are sharks in the water below – lots of them, which is why Alcatraz is in the middle of the bay. I’m sure they’d just love an all-you-can-eat bridge collapse buffet. But I digress – my personal evacuation route out of the city is south, to where the peninsula joins the mainland. On foot, in a car, doesn’t matter – that is the safest route, although further. Anytime we go to San Francisco, I set up a rally point south of the city for a friend to come and pick us up should such an event occur.
  11. Bring sensible shoes.  Ladies, no matter how nice we look in heels, fleeing for your life in them doesn’t sound like much fun to me. In the movie, my daughter and I both cringed thinking about how awful it would be to have to climb out of debris in general and how doubly awful it would be to have to do it in non-sensible footwear. If you have to wear heels, at least have something sensible in your bag.
  12. Gather supplies whenever you see them. While everyone else is panicking, if you have your wits about you, you’ll be able to gather up supplies that will help you survive. Look for things like bottled water, communication devices, first aid supplies, tools, knives, lighters, and food.

Have you seen the movie yet? What did you think? Do you have any survival lessons to add?

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor who lives in a small village in the Pacific Northwestern area of the United States. She is the author of The Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy writes about healthy prepping, homesteading adventures, and the pursuit of liberty and food freedom. Daisy is a co-founder of the website Nutritional Anarchy, which focuses on resistance through food self-sufficiency. Daisy’s articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, and you can email her at [email protected]

How To Succeed At Prepping: 11 Tips That Will Help You Survive

Helpful Tips

These days, you can barely turn around without someone giving you advice on what you should or must do to succeed at prepping.  This is all good news because four or five years ago, most advice you found would likely be highly militaristic, political, or simply over the top unreasonable.

I can recall the days when the #1 survival tip was to establish a remote bug-out-location and prepare to live permanently off grid.  Now really, how practical is that for most of us?  Don’t get me wrong.  There is nothing wrong with permanently bugging out; I am just saying that except in the most dire of world circumstances, doing so will not be practical or probable for most of us.

That brings me to today’s topic: how to succeed at prepping.  I have been thinking about this for awhile and whereas this list is not infallible, it may help you to foster a road map leading toward a positive prepping experience.

How to Succeed At Prepping

1.  First and foremost, evaluate the risks and prepare for that

Let’s face it.  We all have risk tolerances that vary with our geographic location, age, health, and economic condition.

Sit down and make a list of the top five things that worry you the most and prepare for those things.  I am not going to give you a laundry list to choose from, you know what keeps you up at night!

2.  Build a stockpile of food, water, medications, first aid supplies, and cash

The stockpile you build is your “survival” insurance plan.  Build up a modest stockpile in each category and add to it over time.  You do not need to do it all at once.

Resource:  20 Items to Kick Start Your Food Storage Plan and Survival Basics: Water and Water Storage

3.  Decide what skills are needed to meet the risks in #1, and learn them

Once you have your list of probable and/or worrisome risks, back into the skills you need to acquire and hone in order to meet those risks head on.  They may include old-fashioned pioneer-type skills, fire-making, or simply people skills.  Or something else entirely.

Your list, your skills. Don’t be tricked into adopting a skill set that does not address your needs.

Resource:  5 Uncommon Skills That Will Be Useful After the SHTF,

4.  Develop various emergency kits for varying purposes.

Putting together a big kahuna survival kit when you first start to prep is often number one on the priority list.  Before you jump in with both feet, consider putting together a minimum of three or more smaller, more basic kits instead.

Most likely you will need a Get Home Kit, Every Day Carry Kit, and Three Day Kit.  You may also need a vehicle kit, a trauma kit, and a carry on your back and get out of dodge bug out kit.

The nice thing about kits you build yourself is that you can pick and choose the gear according to your needs and budget.  That is not to say that there are not some excellent all-in-one kits out there, because there are.  Just be aware that one size does not fit all and after starting with a modest all-in-one kit, you may want to customize and update your kit over time.

Recognize that your emergency kit will always be a work in process.

Resource:  8 Essential Items: The Perfect Portable Survival Kit

5.  Learn extreme coping skills

You may have noticed that I have not said that survival following a disruptive event will be easy.  There is no way that I, or anyone else, can guarantee that being an extreme prepper will ensure your that you make it through a horrific disaster.

On the other hand, you can learn coping skills and you can learn to take things in stride and roll with the punches.

Resource:  13 Ways To Roll With the Punches

6.  Develop a survival library and store it in a format that is comfortable for you

No matter how good your memory, during times of stress, it will be humanly impossible to remember everything.  Acquire and maintain a survival library and do so in a format that makes sense to you.  Print books are great, but with today’s inexpensive solar charging devices, you can also maintain a portable library of eBooks.

As with everything I have addressed so far in this article, you want to stay within your own personal comfort zone.

Remember those risks?  If an EMP is high up on your list, then perhaps an eBook reader or tablet will not be the best option for you.  On the other hand, if you live in a flood plain and are worried about losing everything to the rising waters, print books may not be your best option.

The message should be clear:  you decide.

Recommended Books:

The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Through Any Disaster
Preppers Long-Term Survival Guide  and other Survival/Prepping Books by Jim Cobb
Doctor Prepper’s Making the Best of Basics Family Preparedness Handbook

7. Organize your preps in a manner than makes sense

I am guilty of stressing over a lack of organization when it comes to my own preps.  As much as I try, I do not have list upon list of everything I own.  As difficult as it is for the perfectionist in me to not know exactly what I have, spending the hours, days and weeks it would take to get everything perfectly organized is not something I am willing to do.

Choosing the “good enough” method is what I recommend.  There are a number of inexpensive planners out there (here is one) that you can use, or you can use an old-fashioned pen and paper or even just the “walk-around and visually inspect what you have” method.

No one can (or should) judge you by the method you use to keep track of your stuff.

8.  Take a periodic prepping break

This is easier said than done.  I get that.  But that being said, burnout comes easily within the prepping world.  I have suffered extreme prepping burnout myself and for that I have been both embarrassed and ashamed.  Like there is some prepping-god out there judging my efforts – not!

Don’t fall into a trap where you live and breathe prepping 24/7.  If you do, you will suck at prepping for sure.  Take a breather.  It can be a day, a week, or a month.  When your prepping sabbatical is over, you will resume refreshed and renewed as well as more focused.  Trust me on this one.

9.  Run, don’t walk, from websites, videos, periodicals, and books that foster fear or attempt to shame you into spending your hard-earned cash on some over-priced turkey

Nothing makes me angrier than the greed I have seen within the preparedness niche.  Pick and choose the items you feel will be useful.  Spend wisely on quality where you feel it will do the most good, and be mindful of the budget with the rest.

10.  Have faith and confidence in your own ability prevail in a survival situation

Someone once reviewed this website and made a point of stating that I often dealt with the mental aspects of preparedness.  And so it is that I unequivocally state that in order to succeed at prepping, you need to have confidence in your ability to think on your feet, make decisions, then carry those decisions through to their logical conclusion.

Call me a cheerleader if you want, but I know that when push comes to shove, setting insecurities aside will ensure your ultimate success at preparedness.

11.  Do not be afraid to ask for help if and when the time comes.

As much as you may be confident in your stockpile of food, water, supplies, gear and skills, the time may come when you know in your heart of hearts that you can not do it all.  Do not be afraid to ask for help.  There is no shame in saying, “I need help” when you have gone as far as you can in taking care of your own needs.

The Final Word

With preppers, two things commonly occur.  First, you start out like gangbusters then later give up in frustration because of the time, cost and effort involved.  Or, in another scenario, you prep for awhile, totally burn out, and decide to stop.  In both cases, you end up feeling a sense of guilt and failure.

I am not saying this happens to everyone, but I know it happens a lot.

What I suggest today is that you step back, take a deep breath, and start anew.  Perhaps the pace will be slower and the fervor a bit less animated.  So be it.  Preparedness is a lifestyle and there is no rule book I know of that says you have to be perfect.

The goal of this website is to help you evaluate your options then move them forward with grace and optimism.  The very last thing I want is for you to suck (aka do a bad job) of prepping.  We are, after all, in this together.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Gaye Levy, also known as the Survival Woman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and has moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle through her website at BackdoorSurvival.com. At Backdoor Survival, Gaye speaks her mind and delivers her message of prepping with optimism and grace, regardless of the uncertain times and mayhem swirling around us.

How To Escape A Sinking Vehicle (VIDEO)

Ireland - Warning! Car Over Cliff

According to studies, over 10,000 water immersion auto accidents occur each year and over 300 people on average, perish before getting out. How many of you know what to do? Do you wait until the car has filled up with water so the car is pressurized and you can escape more easily? This is a common answer, but could get you killed. Many die because they have received the wrong information on how to escape a sinking vehicle. Breathing from a bubble of trapped air, kicking out a window or waiting until the car touched bottom all yields a less than 10 per cent survival rate.

Here’s the Facts:

Stay Calm: When an emergency arises and no plan is in place, things get tricky pretty fast. Stress or anxiety, especially after an unexpected event, leads to a short term imbalance of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and norepinephrine, and inevitably leads to physical and emotional reactions to stress such as disorientation, increased breathing, panic and heart palpitations. Knowing how to curb these natural reactions can reduce the emotional and physical reactions.

Have a Plan: In a one minute period, a car will completely fill with water. Having a plan in place is the best way to improve your chances of survival and those with you. If the water if filling the car, quickly talk to your occupants and let them know what needs to happen. It is paramount that you keep as calm as possible because you have very little time to act. Survival Systems USA, has found that it takes about 20 seconds to escape through the door of a submerged car. A calm, relaxed person can hold their breath for 30 to 45 seconds underwater. So, if your pulse is pounding, you don’t have much room for error.

Make Your Escape: In many cases, a vehicle will actually float on top of the water for 30-120 seconds before sinking. Use this time to first undo your own seat belt and then, undo older children first so that they can help you with others or at least help themselves to safety. Once seat belts have been undone or cut, open the driver-side window and escape, first pushing children out ahead of you.

Do not wait until the car has completely filled with water. As well, do not open the door and try to escape. While you might be able to get out, the car will quickly fill with water and sink more rapidly, possibly trapping your passengers. Breaking a window is your best bet in making a quick exit. Because the windows are made of strong, tempered glass, it is important to have an accessible tool, like car safety hammer or the Tactical Auto Rescue tool, to easily cut through seat belt materials and break the window. If you have no tools or heavy objects to break the window with, use your feet.

Don’t waste precious seconds calling for help. Wait until you are safely out of the water before attempting to call 911.

In the following video, Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht, who specializes in cold water immersion has tested controlled sinking scenarios in vehicles using different strategies. “Bottom line, you have to remember four words, “Giesbrecht said. “Seatbelts. Windows. Children. Out.”

Cast Iron Cooking: One Of The Best Investments A Prepper Can Make

cast iron skillet

Years ago, I made an investment into cast iron skillets to use in an off-grid environment. We frequently went camping and I needed to find cookware that could be used indoors, as well as outdoors. Additionally, I had just started reading about all of the health risks related to non-stick cookware and the perfluorocarbons (PFCs), a chemical linked to liver damage, cancer, developmental problems. PFCs are released from nonstick pans in the form of fumes when pans are heated on high heat. They can be inhaled and even ingested when the surface of the pan gets scratched. After reading about this, I made the decision not to gamble with my family’s health. I was introduced to the Lodge brand cast iron ware and have never looked back.

At first, I started out with the very basic 3-quart combo cooker. It comes with a Dutch oven with a handle and a skillet that can be used as a lid. I have made everything from my famous (well, my family thinks it is) cornbread, to braising tough pieces of meat, to baking cakes – it really is that versatile. As my fellow cast iron cookers will probably understand, I fell in love with this type of cookware and quickly added onto to my meager collection and purchased a 5-piece set.

There are two types of cast iron cookware sets – the enamel coated and the traditional cast iron cookware. This article is based on cooking with the traditional set. There is nothing wrong with the enamel coated sets, but I have only used the traditional.

So, Why Are Cast Iron Pots So Great?

Cast iron pots are built to last! They are made from pouring molten iron into molds.

“The molten cast iron is poured down between two sand molds to create each piece of cast iron, then the formed cookware is shaken and tumbled to remove molding sand. The cookware is shot blasted with a fine steel shot to remove any residual molding sand, then it’s ground, polished, rinsed, and hung to dry with a steam dryer.”  Source

Once the pots are formed, the iron pot will have tiny pores that absorb flavors and grease, which, over time create that natural, non-stick “seasoned” surface we all love.

A quick note about Dutch ovens

Did you know that a Dutch oven was among the gear Lewis and Clark carried when they explored the great American Northwest in 1804–1806?  Perhaps they brought it because you can cook or bake virtually anything in them. As well, Dutch ovens are called ovens because they utilize convection heat transfer like an actual oven does. Dutch ovens are built with heavy walls and lids so the heat is trapped inside creating a circulating convection wave that evenly cooks the food.

Many suggest not to fill your Dutch oven over two-thirds full in order to create proper convection throughout the food. Over the years we’ve modified old family favorites for use in a Dutch oven as well as finding new ones.  Here are a few recipes that we have come to love, especially when cooked in our Dutch oven.

Cast Iron Cookware is Highly Recommended in the Prepper/Survival Community

Those preparing for long-term emergencies where power could be disrupted for days, weeks or longer should consider investing in cast iron pots. The reason being is this type of cookware was made to last! As well, they are a suitable alternative cooking source to use in preparing food in an off-grid environment. Because they can take a beating and be used with large amounts of heat, they can be used over hot coals, on a grill or oven an open flame. As well, they are easy to prepare food in. Many underestimate how stressful an off-grid emergency is and you will want convenient cooking methods at your disposal.

Read about the 10 Rules For Your Emergency Food Pantry

You will literally want a way that you can quickly add foods and not worry about them burning. The main drawback to cast iron is the sheer weight of this type of cookware. Therefore, I suggest you have them already at your bug out location or, if you decide to bug in, have them on hand.

Here are some other great reasons why cast iron would be a great investment for preppers.

10 Reasons Why Cast Iron Cookware Is So Awesome!

  1. Can last a lifetime. The folks over at Lodge Cast Iron Manufacturing boast that “Because you create, maintain, and even repair the “seasoning”, your cookware can last 100 years or more. Chemical non-stick coating cannot be repaired, limiting lifespan.”
  2. Off Grid capable
  3. Retains heat and evenly distributes it more efficiently
  4. Perfect texture in foods. crispy/moist
  5. Best bang for your buck! While nonstick skillets have to be replaced over time, cast iron products gets better over time.
  6. If seasoned properly, cast iron has a natural nonstick coating and will not need as much oil as other pots would need to cook food on.
  7. Efficient for all types of cooking. One aspect that I love about cast iron is I can start a meal on the stove and finish it in the oven. That means less dishes to clean.
  8. It’s chemical-free! So you do not have to worry about chemicals leaching into your food.
  9. Easy to clean
  10. It can double as a deadly weapon. Have you ever known anyone to get up after being hit with a cast iron skillet? I didn’t think so.

As well, there are health benefits attributed to using cast iron cooking sets. While cast iron do not leach chemicals, it can transfer some iron into your food. Since iron deficiency is fairly common worldwide, (especially among women), this is not a bad thing. In fact, 10% of American women are iron-deficient. Cooking food, especially something acidic like tomato sauce in a cast-iron skillet can increase iron content, by as much as 20 times. If you suffer from too much iron in your body system, consult a physician about whether or not to use cast iron cookware.

Caring for Cast Iron

To soap, or not to soap. There is some controversy in applying water and soap to cast iron. Some feel that soap will break up the tiny oil molecules that are embedded on the pan and make it not-so-nonstick and ruin all of your seasoning efforts. It’s also possible that the next thing you cook will have a slightly soapy taste to it! According to Lodge Cast Iron Manufacturing, these are the proper steps to take when cleaning and seasoning your cast iron cookware:

For Minimal Cleaning:

  1. Hand wash. Dry immediately—even before first use.
  2. Rub with a light coat of vegetable oil after every wash.
  3. How much oil? Enough to restore the sheen, without being “sticky”.
  4. Why? To keep the iron “seasoned” and protected from moisture.


Tips of Cleaning:

As well, avoid using abrasive cleaners, steel wool and putting your cast iron cookware in the dishwasher as this can strip the sacred seasoning off. These are cast iron cooking no-no’s. If there is bits of food stuck to the pan, use coarse salt and gently scrub until the food comes off. As well, many recommend that you clean the skillet immediately after use, while it is still hot or warm. This isn’t the type of cookware that you can fill with soapy water and set it on the counter overnight. Doing so could cause the cast iron to rust.

Tips For Seasoning:

That lovely sheen on cast-iron cookware is the sign of a well-seasoned pan, which renders it virtually nonstick.

To season your cast-iron skillet: 

  1. Rub it with a relatively thin coat of neutral cooking oil, such as vegetable oil.
  2. Place the lightly-oiled cast iron pan, upside down, in the oven, with a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom to catch any drips. Heat the pan for 30 minutes in a 450 to 500 degree F. oven. Once done, turn off the oven, and let the pan cool to room temperature in the oven. Repeating this process several times is recommended as it will help create a stronger “seasoning” bond. I usually do this process 3 to 4 times. NOTE: Seasoning cast iron pans does generate smoke similar to cooking in a dirty oven.
    Note: The oil fills the cavities and becomes entrenched in them, as well as rounding off the peaks. By seasoning a new pan, the cooking surface develops a nonstick quality because the formerly jagged and pitted surface becomes smooth. Also, because the pores are permeated with oil, water cannot seep in and create rust that would give food an off-flavor. Your ironware will be slightly discolored at this stage, but a couple of frying jobs will help complete the cure, and turn the iron into the rich, black color that is the sign of a well-seasoned, well-used skillet or pot.
  3. Never put cold liquids into a very hot cast iron pan or oven. They will crack on the spot!
  4. Be careful when cooking with your cast iron pans on an electric range, because the burners create hot spots that can warp cast iron or even cause it to crack. Be sure to preheat the iron very slowly when using an electric range and keep the settings to medium or even medium-low.


Also,  if the pan does get rusty or lose its seasoning at any point, you can always re-season it and get a fresh start. Learn how to refurbish and re-season rusty cast iron.

To conclude, cast iron pots and Dutch ovens may seem old-fashioned to some, but for those who are looking at making long-term living investments for sustainable living, this is the cookware of your dreams. They are dependable and are cooking work horses suitable for indoor cooking or in off-grid environments and are easy to care for.

Tess Pennington is the editor for ReadyNutrition.com. After joining the Dallas chapter of the American Red Cross in 1999, Tess worked as an Armed Forces Emergency Services Center specialist and is well versed in emergency and disaster management and response. Tess is the author of The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But by following Tess’s tips for stocking, organizing, and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months, or even years.

The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide: Are You Ready For A Long-Term Water Emergency?


Are you truly prepared for a water emergency?

How long could your family survive if the water stopped flowing from the municipal supply and none was available at the store? If the answer is not “indefinitely” then you need to check out my new book, The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource.

This comprehensive book contains life-saving information about how to:

  • Store fresh water
  • Collect rainwater
  • Purify water from lakes and rivers
  • Dig a well for groundwater

In addition to harvesting water, you’ll gain the tools to keep large stores untainted for long periods of time, test the water you collect for dangerous toxins, and treat water-related illnesses that are commonly contracted during a disaster.

This book is very research heavy, with the latest in-depth information about the contaminants lurking in our water supplies and water-borne illnesses, as well as tips for conservation and sanitation during times when your lifestyle is decidedly off-grid.

I hope you enjoy this excerpt from the book.

The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide

If you’ve been prepping for a while, you’ve probably heard of the survivalist’s “Rule of Three.”  You can survive:

Three minutes without air.

Three days without water.

Three weeks without food.

If a disaster has hit and you’re still breathing, then your next concern has got to be water.

Have you ever watched any of those survival shows on the Discovery Channel where people are dropped off in the middle of nowhere and left to survive with limited tools and supplies? In nearly every single episode, the biggest issue is finding and purifying water. Often, they wait so long that they become desperate and engage in risky behavior, like drinking water from a stagnant pool. In one particularly notable episode, the contestants had to be rescued because they became too weak from dehydration to seek water.

  • You don’t have to be a contestant on a survival show or a survivor of a major disaster to require a water supply or a way to acquire it. There are a myriad of smaller issues that can spiral into a personal disaster if you don’t have supplies on hand. What if:
  • Your car broke down when you were driving through the desert and you had to wait or walk for help? Without water you could dehydrate very quickly in hot temperatures.
  • You forgot or didn’t have the money to pay the water bill and your utilities were cut off for a week?
  • Your community was under a water restriction due to contamination of the water supply?
  • The power went out and your home was on well water, thus halting your running water until the electricity was restored?
  • You were out hiking and got lost, then were forced to spend a few nights in the woods with only the supplies in your daypack?

As you can see, those random occurrences that happen out of the blue can strike anyone at any time.

When Water Is Limited, Chaos Erupts

It’s easy to say, “Oh, I’ll just go to the store and grab a few bottles,” but when everyone else in your area has the same idea, it doesn’t take long for the shelves to clear, potentially leaving you and your family without water.

Back in 2010, a water main broke in Boston, Massachusetts. The resulting leak flooded into the Charles River, and officials were forced to use the untreated backup reservoirs. A state of emergency was declared, a boil order was announced, and absolute chaos erupted as more than two million people suddenly found themselves without running water. A local news outlet reported:

The run on bottled water caused near panic at some stores throughout the Boston area Saturday night.

At the BJ’s in Revere, the crowd got so big and the rush for water so intense that police were called in. In order to maintain control of an unruly crowd, the store was shut down for the night.

Shortly after residents in Boston received an emergency call warning them of the water crisis, supermarket aisles stocked with water were quickly wiped out.

“They are fighting over it, literally fighting over water,” said a customer at the Roche Bros. in West Roxbury. “I just had to fight my way through the aisles ’cause it’s crazy in there.”

“Not since Blizzard of ’78 have I seen something like this,” said the store manager. “New shipments that arrived were gone within seconds.”

In Coolidge Corner in Brookline, long lines formed at Trader Joe’s, CVS, and Walgreens for any kind of bottled water, including sparkling and pricey designer bottles.

The Governor of Massachusetts was able to lift the boil order a mere three days later, but during that short span, the National Guard was dispatched to deliver water, businesses were called upon to increase the water inventory brought to the local stores, and many restaurants were forced to close their doors due to the lack of safe drinking water.

You’re Going to Need More Water Than You Think

Even if you are able to jostle your way to the front of the line and victoriously snag the last 24-pack of individual water bottles, if the situation lasts longer than expected, that paltry amount is not going to see you through it.

Why not? Because on average, the expected rate of consumption is one gallon per person per day. That doesn’t include consumption for pets or what you’ll use for sanitation. If the situations persists for more than a couple of days, you’re going to need to bathe, clean, and wash dishes. Not only that, but you’ll have to figure out a safe way to dispose of human waste.

The water that you store for your family should be enough to see all members of the household through a two-week period without running water. This is the bare minimum supply you should have on hand.

What If the Situation Persists for More Than a Few Days?

Sometimes, even an abundant stored water supply isn’t enough. In more dire situations, water supplies can be interrupted indefinitely.

Do you remember the earthquake that devastated Haiti? That unexpected natural disaster took place in 2010, and some areas still do not have running water five years later. Five years. There’s no way a person could store enough water to last for that long, so the people affected have had to completely change their way of life. They’ve had to learn how to acquire water for their needs, how to purify it so it doesn’t make them sick, and how to conserve the limited amount they have available.

 Finding Water Isn’t Enough

Did you know that oftentimes, more people die in the aftermath of a disaster than in the disaster itself? And the number one cause of death? Contaminated water.

If you are thirsty—truly, desperately thirsty—it’s human nature to drink whatever is available because your imminent demise from dehydration is more concerning to you than the pathogens in that dirty water you are gulping down.

But drinking contaminated water can lead to a host of dreaded diseases like dysentery, hepatitis A, viral gastroenteritis, cholera, shigellosis, typhoid, diphtheria, and polio.  Just one person handling personal waste improperly can contaminate the water supply for hundreds, even thousands, of other people downstream from them.

Fresh Water Is Your Most Vital Prep

Whether you are just getting started in the preparedness lifestyle or you’ve been at it for a long time, there’s always something new to learn about water. There’s just so much information about water that it deserves its own book, instead of just one chapter in a general preparedness guide.  Aside from air, it is the most vital element of human survival. In this essential guide, you’ll learn that:

  • You must store a substantial supply, but it isn’t enough to just store it.
  • You must know how to acquire it in case your stores run out.
  • You must know how to make it safe to drink.
  • You must know what could be lurking in your water in order to combat it.
  • You must know how to conserve the water, because you have to make the water you acquire last until you can get more.
  • You must know enough about basic sanitation to keep you and your family safe and healthy.

What’s more, a water supply and source aren’t only important during disasters. It’s vital to know about the things that could be lurking in your water even if it assumedly flows safely from your taps. Municipal water supplies and wells can contain things you’d rather not consume. Sometimes these contaminants are mild and only cause issues when consumed over a long period. Other times, the contaminants can make a susceptible person ill almost immediately.

There is nothing you can store that is more valuable than water or the means to purify water. There is no greater preparedness measure that you can take than that of securing a safe, abundant source of water. Without this one vital element that makes up 50 to 70 percent of your body, you’re as good as dead.

This could be the most important preparedness information you ever read.

The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource is a #1 new release on Amazon and is also available at Barnes and Noble.

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor who lives in a small village in the Pacific Northwestern area of the United States. She is the author of The Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy writes about healthy prepping, homesteading adventures, and the pursuit of liberty and food freedom. Daisy is a co-founder of the website Nutritional Anarchy, which focuses on resistance through food self-sufficiency. Daisy’s articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, and you can email her at [email protected]

Bloom Where You’re Planted: Prepping To Survive Where You Are Right Now


Have you ever heard anyone utter some variation of one of these comments?

“I’m going to start prepping as soon as I can move.”

“I can’t prepare because I live in a tiny apartment.”

“Well, once we are able to get moved to our farm in two years I’ll start prepping hardcore.”

“I’m saving the money for moving instead of using it for preps.”

“There’s no point in prepping here because if the SHTF I’ll be dead.”

Maybe you didn’t overhear someone else saying it. Maybe you said it yourself. One of the most common excuses that people use for prepper procrastination is the unsuitability of where they currently live.

This is the kind of thinking that will get people killed.

While your current situation may be less than ideal, you have to remember that very few locations are actually perfect for prepping. Nearly anywhere you live will be subject to some type of extreme weather, be it crippling cold, blazing heat, drought, tornadoes, or hurricanes. Chemical spills can taint water supplies anywhere. Riots and civil unrest can occur outside of the big city.

The point is, to borrow an old saying, you just have to bloom where you’re planted.

There are many things you can do to create a viable preparedness plan wherever you happen to live.  Apartment dwellers at the top of a city high rise, folks in the middle of the desert, those in a beachfront condo, and people in HOA-ruled suburban lots all have to examine their situations, figure out their pros and cons, and work towards resolving what they can.  With some pre-planning, there is a lot you can overcome if you have the right mindset.  I suspect there are just as many (and probably far more) preppers living in the ‘burbs than there are living in perfect rural locations, with a lake, 10 acres of cultivated farmland, and an off-grid house.

Stop waiting until you move to the perfect location. Make preparations for the situation you have, not the situation you want.

Moving isn’t always an option.

One of the most ridiculous quasi-solutions you will hear is this one:  “Oh, you should just move.”

Preparedness forums are rife with this off the cuff advice from people who haven’t thought it through.  And if you’re one of the people giving that so-called advice, you need to consider how completely impractical this is.

There is no “just” when it relates to packing up everything you own; abandoning job, family, and friends; and relocating like money is no object.

“Just” picking up and moving isn’t that easy.  People have obligations and ties that some Joe-Blow on the internet shouting out advice can’t even begin to understand.  Some in the prepping community have a complete disconnect with the realities of everyday people.  There are reasons like:

  • Not enough money to leave
  • A good job (increasingly hard to come by these days)
  • Family members in the area that you don’t want to abandon
  • No work opportunities where you want to go
  • Custody orders that require you to remain in a certain area
  • A spouse who is not on board
  • A house that won’t sell or with an upside-down mortgage

The list goes on and on.  There are as many reasons to remain in one place as there are people living in cities.  While we could sit here and logically refute each and every reason a person has chosen to remain, it is only philosophical. It still doesn’t address the practical reasons that people have for staying put.  Sometimes people who are interested in preparedness  are alienated when it seems that everything is black and white or like their personal decisions are somehow less valid than the decisions of some random person on the internet.

So, if you are interested in getting prepared but feel your current situation is hopeless, ignore the naysayers and forum curmudgeons. Take your current situation, warts and all, and work with it.  This doesn’t mean that you should abandon your plans for a better location sometime in the future if such a move is warranted.  But it means that you shouldn’t put off important preparedness steps until after that move is made.

Assess Your Situation

You don’t know where to go if you don’t know where you are.  The first and most vital step is an honest assessment of your current situation.  The situation that you have right now, this very minute, not the one you will have in a month or in a year. Assess your needs regarding the following:

  • Water
  • Sanitation
  • Food/Cooking
  • Heating
  • Security
  • Light
  • Long-term sustainability

Once you know exactly where you are with these things, you can begin to look for solutions that will work for you, today.  Dig in and make a plan
for the survival of your family.

Survival in a Population Dense Area

A little note to those who say, “It doesn’t matter, I’m in midtown Manhattan. I’ll die anyway.”

No, you won’t.  You won’t be that lucky. You will be absolutely thoroughly miserable, breathing foul unhealthy air.  You’ll be thirsty enough to drink unsanitary water, which will cause bowel issues to worsen problem #1.  You’ll be hungry, but not hungry enough that you die of starvation.  You will be at the mercy of thugs better armed than you.  You won’t die, not right away, and neither will your children.  You will live like I just described, and it will be horrible.  Look at the residents of Manhattan during Hurricane Sandy.  They didn’t die but they were absolutely miserable, they were terrified, they were eating from dumpsters,  and much of it could have been avoided with some basic preparedness.

Before I relocated to the boondocks, I lived in a very metropolitan area.  I was lucky: I had 1/10th of an acre.  I did everything I could come up with to make my little house as sustainable as possible should the poop hit the oscillating device before I could get out.  A disaster in the city IS survivable.

I planted every inch of the backyard (and some of the front) and grew enough food that the home-canned and frozen produce lasted until Christmas.  I stockpiled groceries.  I had plywood cut and pre-drilled to cover each window of the house. I had printed official looking quarantine signs to hang on the door of my house as a deterrent should the city fall into civil unrest. I put together a little outdoor fireplace in the backyard behind my fence.  I got  a big dog.  I collected rainwater from downspouts at each corner of the house.  I purchased an antique oil heater in good working order, and stockpiled heating oil.  I had enough seeds to plant for the next 4 years.  I located nearby sources of water, wood, and nuts.  I got a wagon for hauling stuff if the transportation system was down.

In short, I did everything possible to make the best of a potentially terrible location.  It wasn’t perfect, but we were determined to resolve as many of the concerns as possible.

The Priorities

The major challenges that you face in an SHTF situation are the same no matter where you are.  Of course, the issues will vary from one situation to another – these lists aren’t meant to be comprehensive.  This is a starting point to get your wheels turning, so that you can figure out how you and your family can best survive, exactly where you’re planted right now.


Water preparedness should be at the very top of your list.  You can only survive for 3 days without water (and you’ll be weak and suffering way before that). A water preparedness plan is essential for survival, even in a short-term scenario. Here are a few ways you can prep for a water emergency, no matter where you live:

  • Store a  month supply of drinking water (plan on a gallon per day, per person and pet)
  • Acquire a non-electric water filtration system (with spare filters)
  • Scope out local water sources that are within walking distance
  • Stock up on buckets and be prepared to transport them with a sled, wagon, or wheelbarrow (this depends on the season and climate).
  • If you have a house instead of an apartment, set up a water catchment system
  • Stock up on water purification supplies (bleach, pool shock, tablets)
  • Figure out a system for catching gray water to be reused for flushing, washing, etc.


Figure out how you will go to the bathroom in the event that the public sewer system goes down. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in New York, it was reported that people were defecating and urinating in the hallways of apartment buildings once the sewer system stopped working.  Lack of sanitation is not only unpleasant, but it spreads disease. Figure out ahead of time if any of these suggestions will work in your situation, and then stock up on the required supplies:

  • Get a porta potty – there are camping ones that will hold several days worth of sewage. (Caveat: You have to have a safe place to empty this should the disaster persist.)
  • Make a human litter box using 5 gallon buckets lined with heavy duty trash bags (get the kind designed for contractors).  Scoop in a small amount of kitty litter each time you use it. Don’t let it get too heavy to carry outside – you don’t want the bag to rip and spill several days worth of human waste in your home.
  • Stock up on water for flushing if you have a septic system
  • Learn how to shut off the main valve so that city sewage cannot back up into your house or apartment
  • If you have enough outdoor space, keep on hand the supplies to build an outhouse. (Don’t forget the lime!)
  • Keep these extra personal sanitation supplies on hand: baby wipes, antibacterial wipes (for cleaning food preparation areas), white vinegar, bleach,  hand sanitizer, extra toilet paper.


Not only should you stock up on food, but you need to consider how you’ll cook it. Most preppers have a food supply, but in a down grid situation, food that takes 4 hours to cook will use a prohibitive amount of fuel. If you’re new at this, you might not yet have a food supply. Here are some considerations:

  • Have a minimum of 1 month of food for each family member and pet. (Here’s how to build one immediately, and this book will help you learn how to build one over a period of time.)
  • Figure out some alternative cooking methods for indoors: a fondue pot,  a woodstove or fireplace, or a gas kitchen stove
  • If you have outdoor space, look at cooking methods like a barbecue (beware of tantalizing smells and hungry neighbors), an outdoor fireplace or firepit, a rocket stove, or a sun oven
  • Be sure to keep abundant fuel for your chosen cooking method.
  • Stock up on foods that don’t require cooking or heating.


If you live in a place with cold winters, a secondary heat source should be a priority. Of course if you rent or live in a high-rise condo, installing a woodstove is unlikely to be a viable solution. The cold can kill, so this is a necessary part of your preparedness plan. Consider some of these options for a secondary heat source:

  • Use your wood stove or fireplace (if you’re lucky, your house is already equipped with your secondary source!)
  • Acquire a personal heating unit.  Look for one of the following: an oil heater, kerosene heater, or propane heater (We have this propane heater)

If you absolutely can’t get ahold of a secondary heating system, prepare with non-tech ideas like:

  • Arctic sleeping bags
  • Winter clothes and accessories
  • Covers for windows
  • Segregating one room to heat
  • Setting up a tent in the warmest room to combine body heat


In a disaster situation, the risk of potentially violent civil unrest always goes up.  Used a two-fold approach: try to avoid conflict by keeping a low profile, but be ready to deal with it if it can’t be avoided.

Some ideas:

  • Have firearms and know how to use them. (Here’s why I believe you MUST be armed.)
  • Secure heavy doors with reinforced frames.plywood or gridwork to cover the windows, keeping lights off or low, thorny plants around the perimeter of your house and yard, hardening access points, a big dog, an alarm system, and visual deterrents such as warning signs and quarantine signs.
  • Cut plywood or gridwork to cover the windows, making them difficult to breach.
  • Keep the lights off or low.
  • Nurture some thorny plants around the perimeter of your house and yard.
  • Harden the access points to your home.
  • A dog can serve as both a warning system and a deterrent
  • Install an alarm system
  • Use visual deterrents such as warning signs or quarantine signs.
  • Create a safe room to which vulnerable family members can retreat. (You can do this, even in an apartment or rental home.)


Don’t underestimate the value of light in a dark world.  Most city dwellers don’t consider exactly how dark the night can be without streetlights and lights from houses.  Emotionally, having a bit of light can help soothe frazzled children (or adults) and help the night seem a little less scary.  Use caution that your light cannot be seen from the outside.  Like moths to a flame, people will be drawn to the only brightly lit house on the street.  Keep some of the following sources on hand.

  • Solar garden lights
  • Candles
  • Kerosene or oil lamps (and extra fuel)
  • Flashlights (and extra batteries)
  • Headlamps
  • Battery operated LED lights,
  • Solar camping lanterns
  • Glow sticks for children

Increase Your Personal Sustainability

Of course, all of the above are solutions for a short-term situation. There’s always the possibility that a crisis could persist for a longer period of time. You should include in your plans as many ways as possible to be personally sustainable. This might include some of the following strategies:

  • Set up a permanent water catchment system at your home.
  • Grow food on every possible space available: balconies, windowsills, courtyards, backyards, front yards, flower beds.
  • Consider raising some micro livestock: rabbits and chickens take up very little space and can be raised in most backyards. If your city has an ordinance against backyard chickens, rabbits are quiet and multiply…well…like rabbits.
  • Learn to make things from scratch and practice your sustainable skills rather than relying on storebought goods.

This website and this one both have great solutions for preparing in apartments and small spaces.  Here is an excellent series about how to homestead when you rent.

Make a Plan

So, if you’re reading this and you’ve been putting off preparedness due to your location, what’s your plan?

If you’ve been feeling disheartened by all the folks grimly telling you that your home is a death trap, what can you do over the weekend to improve your chances, right where you are?

And if you are fortunate enough to be in an ideal location, please share your ideas about overcoming some of these difficulties in a less than perfect place on the map. As a community, we can all help one another solve problems that could otherwise seem insurmountable.

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor who lives in a small village in the Pacific Northwestern area of the United States. She is the author of The Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy writes about healthy prepping, homesteading adventures, and the pursuit of liberty and food freedom. Daisy is a co-founder of the website Nutritional Anarchy, which focuses on resistance through food self-sufficiency. Daisy’s articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, and you can email her at [email protected]

What To Look For When Shopping For Food Storage

Food background

With all of the varying complexities of food storage and food storage companies, it may be difficult to sort through and prioritize what is important and what is not.  I don’t know about you but with the dizzying array of things to take into consideration, you just might want to throw you hands up in dismay and yell “help me!!”.

I do not claim to be an expert but over the years, I have learned some things about food storage and food storage companies.  Setting aside the very real concern of where to store everything which is a separate topic altogether, today I want to break down what you should look for when shopping for food storage.

13 Tips for Shopping for Food Storage

How many calories are needed per day to feed your family

Before you even begin to investigate specific food storage products, you need to do some homework.  How many calories per day will it take to sustain the caloric needs of your family?  You may already know the answer but if you don’t, try one of the many online calorie calculators.  I happen to like this one on the American Cancer Society website.

Resource:  Free Online Calorie Counter

All you need to do is answer a few question based upon your age, current weight and lifestyle, and you will get an approximation of what you need to maintain your current weight.  Do this for every member of your family.

Two things to keep in mind are that if you are currently robust in size,  you can use your optimal weight instead.  If you do however, keep in mind that if you are ever called upon to use your food storage, you might transcend for a moderate activity level to a high activity level.  Your calorie needs will increase accordingly.

Be mindful of the stated “Servings per Package”

This is important.  If a meal packet states that it contains 500 calories total and is contains 3 servings, then know from the get go that is probably not realistic.

Say your calorie needs are 2,100 calories per day.  That would break down into 700 calories per meal.  Will 500 calories adequately feed 3 people in that situation?  Doubtful.

Of course add-on items such as beverages and snacks will add to the overall calorie count.  So, using this example, a 500 calorie meal packet or pouch is not a bad thing but rather something to be mindful of.

Note:  for the purpose of this article I may refer to a meal packet but the same principal applies to servings per tin, per box, per package or whatever.

Shelf life is important but not the be all end all

There is more to food storage than shelf life.  Sure, it is great to purchase items that are already packaged for the long term but don’t get caught up with purchasing 25-year food items.

Price, the availability of space, and the environmental aspects of that space may dictate a more aggressive rotation of your food stores.  Also, the ages of your family members will play a role as well.  Remember that tastes, eating habits, and calorie need will change over time.

All that being said, unless it has turned rancid or is contaminated by vermin, most foods are still edible well beyond their stated shelf life.  This, by the way, applies to canned goods used day to day and not just food storage.  So, although a consistent food rotation program is a good practice, don’t beat yourself up if that can of peaches is 5 year beyond the “best eaten by” date.

Survival Basics: The Six Enemies of Food Storage
16 Food Storage Tips for the Space Challenged Prepper

Consider Portability

Do you plan to shelter in place, head to a well-stocked retreat, or bug out?  Or combination?  If there is any possibility that you will need to evacuate your home, consider portability for at least of portion of your food storage.

Consider a a minimum, a three day provision of freeze dried meals in lightweight pouches.  The last thing you want to have to do is cart around a 40 pound bucket of food as you bug out following a disaster.

Compromise and find a happy medium.  Purchase the more pricey freeze-dried meals to stow in your emergency kit.  You may also want to store a three to five day supply of freeze dried meals for post-disaster bug in use.  But beyond that?  Consider the value of having beans, rice, oatmeal, instant powdered milk and other bulk food items.

Be informed of the nutritional value of your food storage

During times of stress, you want food that is as wholesome as it can be given the circumstances.  Seek out nutritious calories from many different food groups.  An occasional treat or sugary dessert will help mitigate food fatigue, but at the end of the day, protein, vitamin and mineral rich foods will be better for you and help you keep a leg up on sickness.

Another question to ask is are the nutritional claims verified?  If you are seeking non-GMO foods, are they Non-GMO Project Verified.  Likewise, if organic foods are important to you, are they USDA Certified Organic?

There are a lot of claims companies make that take advantage of loopholes or unregulated area in food law. The GMO-Free one especially. If it is not Non-GMO Project Verified, and they claim GMO-Free, then you know they aren’t doing it correctly. Go in with your eyes wide open to ensure that you get what you pay for.

Is the meat in the product real?

Does the food advertising and packaging imply meat content but lack a USDA mark? I recently learned that you can track down the final company of origin of a meat product from the number on the USDA mark on the packaging. The mark is only there for foods that contain real meat or poultry.

Resource:  How to Find the USDA Establishment (EST) Number on Food Packaging

Does it taste good?

This is often perceived as a stumbling block.  That said, many food storage companies offer sample packs for very little cost, and sometimes for free.  If you have any doubts, purchase a small quantity and do a taste test.

Is the taste acceptable?  Or is it too salty or too bland?  How does it smell?

Before making a huge investment in food storage, if you have any doubts, try before your make any large quantity purchase.

What is the quality of the packaging?

Food packaging is something very near and dear to my heart because the last thing I want is for my food storage to spoil.  For this reason, I often repackage food myself either in Mylar bags and buckets or more recently, in large mason jars stored in a cool, dark location.  Regardless of how I store the food, I always include an oxygen absorber.

When purchasing packaged food for long term storage, make sure the company states that oxygen has been removed from the packaging by using an oxygen absorber or by nitrogen flushing.  If you are purchasing a bucket or bulk food, ensure that the product is sealed inside a metalized bag.

So how do you tell if the food is packaged correctly?  One test is smell.  If you can smell the food when you open the pouch or bucket then you know that the packaging is not properly protecting the food. The molecules that cause smell are bigger than oxygen molecules. If smells get through the packaging, you know for a fact oxygen can too.

Recently there have been some studies of the various packaging methods used by different food storage companies.  The results, to me were surprising.  Although some companies fared better than others, I feel that regardless of the company or manufacturer, our overall reliance on Mylar or metalized bags by itself may be faulty.  More and more I am recommending that we place such bags or pouches in buckets or sealed tubs not only to decrease permeability, but also to keep out pests.

That brings up another point:  pests such as mice are attracted to smell.  If they can’t smell it, they don’t know its there.  As far as I am concerned, this is another reason to package food items in bags, and then in a bucket of plastic tub.

Survival Basics: Using Mylar Bags for Food Storage
Survival Basics: Buckets, Lids and Gamma Seals
Survival Basics: Using Oxygen Absorbers for Food Storage

The integrity of the company selling the food storage items

This may be one of the more difficult aspects of food storage to evaluate.  One of the first questions to ask is “How long has the company been in business? Are they looking to make a quick buck?”  Be weary of a new company that pops up with weeks of a major, public disaster or disruptive event.

Avoid fear-mongering at all costs

You might be surprised at the number of companies that started up right after Katrina, Sandy, and the more recent Ebola scare.  These companies used (and continue to use) fear-mongering to promote their products.  If you examine their web sites, you may find no mention of a physical location or corporate presence.

If a companies advertising is based on fear or you feel any sort of pressure, run for the hills!  There are plenty of credible choices out there both online and locally.  Move on.  Please.

Don’t ignore price but don’t become obsessed with it either

The only saying “you get what you pay for” does not always hold true when it comes to food storage purchases.  As stated above, some companies will prey upon your fear and charge you way too much for too little of an inferior product.

A better way to approach price is to look at price per meal or price per serving.  Just be mindful that the price per service will be based upon your own calorie calculation and not those of the company selling you the product.

After narrowing your choices, identify the other factors that are important: tastes, shelf life, packaging, and special nutritional considerations such as non-GMO, organic, or gluten free.

Be sure to also scrutinize shipping and handling costs and make those costs part of the total price proposition.  Free shipping is sometimes truly free and sometimes not.  You need to compare apples to apples and look at total costs.  The results might surprise you.

On the other hand, most companies have fantastic monthly sales.  Shop those sales and even with shipping costs, you will save a ton of money.

Resource:  Shop the Emergency Essentials Monthly Specials (as an example)

At the end of the day, trust your supplier

Read reviews, try small quantities before you make a large purchase, and most of all ask a lot of questions.  Any reputable food storage vendor will have knowledgeable staff on hand to answer your questions by phone or by email.

There are no dumb questions.  If at all in doubt, ask.  One other thing: ask about their satisfaction guarantee.  Look for a 30 day guaranteed and again, take advantage of it by taste testing a small portion of your purchase.  Just remember that once you open a can, bag or bucket, it must be property resealed with O2 absorbers unless it is going to be consumed within a year.

Free Food Deal – Get a 100% Free Sample from Mountain House

So here is a free food deal that is a little known secret.  Did you know that you can request a free sample meal from Mountain House (officially OFD Foods Inc.) just by asking?  I have confirmed this with my contact at Mountain House, and now want to share it with you.

To request your free sample, all you need to do is call 1-800-547-0244 and ask.  Or, if you prefer, reach out online via their customer service form here.  A hint though?  Calling is a lot simpler!

That’s it.  This is a free lunch. There are no shipping charges and no handling charges. Free is free.  I was specifically told that they would love to have Backdoor Survival readers new to freeze dried foods call them up and request a sample. Thrilled, actually.  Of course it does not hurt that Mountain House has received top scores in independent third party testing of emergency survival meals.

Why do they do this?  Their attitude is that companies can talk all the marketing speak they want but what really sells is the product itself.  I could not agree more.

Note:  I have no financial relationship with Mountain House and am sharing this information with you because I love their products. MH Chili Mac?  That is my number one freeze dried meal favorite!

The Final Word

If you have made it this far, congratulations.  You now know more about shopping for food storage than 95% of the population.  Just keep in mind that as you shop, taste preferences differ from person to person.  What is good to one person, may be mediocre to another.  Make an evaluation of what is best for you and your family based upon the tips I have outlines and you really can’t go wrong.

Finally, I do want to put a plug in for the many fine food storage companies and purveyors that support Backdoor Survival with their ads.  Because of them, this website is and will always be free for everyone.  I do not accept donations but instead, ask for your support by shopping with my sponsors.

Whatever you decide, please know that building food storage is an individual thing.  Three months, one year, two years?  How much is enough?  Go with your budget and your comfort level.  You really can not go wrong as long as you just do something!

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Gaye Levy, also known as the Survival Woman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and has moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle through her website at BackdoorSurvival.com. At Backdoor Survival, Gaye speaks her mind and delivers her message of prepping with optimism and grace, regardless of the uncertain times and mayhem swirling around us.

Finding Your Way Back Home Without A Map And Compass


When it comes to getting out of dodge, my hope is that I will never have to bug out. Ever. On the flip side of things, I also hope that I will never have to find my way back home following a major disruptive event.  Realistically, however, turning a blind eye to the realities of a disaster requiring a trek on foot to or from my home would be foolhardy.

The logical thing, of course, would be to have maps and a compass on board at all times. The first reality is that a disaster, whether wrought by Mother Nature or man, can happen when we least suspect it.  The second reality is that unless you are the exception to the rule, you probably do not have a compass and map with you at all times.

That begs the question: how do you go about finding your way back home without a map and compass?

Primitive navigation is not my thing.  I can find my way home with a chart and a compass rose, or an old Loran C (does anyone else remember those?) no problem.  And of course, a GPS is a cinch.  But I need to do better.

For this article, I called upon my friend and fellow blogger, Jim Cobb, to answer the question of finding our way back home when all we have with us is are wits and will to get there.

Primitive Navigation

by Jim Cobb

We’ve all been there at least once or twice.  Traveling through an unfamiliar area and realizing you have absolutely no idea where you are or how to get back on track.  It can be rather frightening, especially if you’re in a questionable urban area or perhaps out in the bush and the sun is setting.

Fortunately, over the past centuries mankind has learned a thing or two about determining direction using indicators found in nature.  We can use these naturally occurring clues to help us find our way.  We all know, or should know by now, that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.  So, if it is early morning or late afternoon, you should be able to orient yourself that way, if nothing else.

Perhaps one of the easiest primitive navigation tips to start with is to learn how to locate the North Star.

Many of us were taught this when we were kids but perhaps have forgotten it over the years.  Find the Big Dipper, which is usually pretty easy.  Look at the two stars that make up the outer edge of the “cup” on the Big Dipper.  Draw an imaginary line connecting those two stars and extending out beyond the “open” end of the cup.  That line will lead you to the North Star, which is also the last star in the “handle” of the Little Dipper.

Knowing where the North Star rests in the sky will help you find all four compass directions.  But, that only works at night, what about during the day?

Find a reasonably straight stick and jam it into the ground.  If you’re in the northern hemisphere, the shadow created by the stick will point in a northern direction.  Not precisely north, of course, but with a little time, we can improve on this primitive compass a bit.  Place a golf ball size rock at the top of the stick’s shadow.  Come back in 15-20 minutes and you’ll see the shadow has moved a bit.  Place another rock at the new location.  Do the same thing 2-3 more times and you’ll have a line of rocks that follows a generally east-west direction.  The shadow still points north so the rock line to the left points west and the line to the right points east.

If you’re lost in an urban area, you might not want to take the time to find a good spot to jam sticks into the ground and wait an hour to figure out compass direction.  There are, however, a few tips and tricks you can utilize to at least get yourself to a better location.

For starters, and this is sort of a “duh” type of tip but bear with me, building numbers increase as you travel away from the city center.  Now, the “city center” might not be the exact middle as seen on a map, it depends on where they started their numbering system.  But, in general, the numbers go up as you travel toward the outside border of the city.  In many areas, though this isn’t any sort of rule that applies everywhere, three digit numbers indicate you’re within city limits, four digit numbers mean you’re in the city suburbs, and five digits mean you’re out in the sticks.  Again, there are a ton of exceptions to that but it follows true more often than not.

If you pass a cemetery, it might be useful to know that gravestones generally face east.  The reason for this is that in Christian doctrine, when Jesus returns He will do so in the east so those who are buried and will rise again will do so already facing in His direction.

Along those same lines, most Christian churches, especially the older ones, were built along a west to east line.  As one sits in the church and faces the altar, one is facing east.  Given that many churches are built such that it is a straight line from the front door to the altar, you can surmise that facing the front door means you’re facing east.

Most satellite TV systems utilize satellites that sit in geosynchronous orbit above the Earth’s equator.  Therefore, most satellite dishes in the United States will face in a southerly direction.  Might be southeast, might be directly south, might be southwest, but knowing that much might be just enough to get you moving in the right general direction.

Now, all of that is quite fun and interesting but is meaningless unless you know the compass direction in which you should be heading.  Therefore, it is important to have at least a general sense of where you are and where you’re going.  For most of us, this isn’t too big of an issue in the grand scheme of things.  In our regular daily lives, while we might be in a hurry to reach our destination, it is rarely ever a true life-or-death situation.

Lost in the woods, though?  That can go from worrisome to downright scary pretty quick.  Evacuating an urban area ahead of a coming danger and getting lost along the way could also be problematic.

Knowing how to find basic compass direction in either of those situations could be quite crucial.


Jim Cobb is a recognized authority on disaster readiness. He has also been a licensed private detective for about 15 years. Previous to that, he spent several years working in loss prevention and security.

Jim’s books include Prepper’s Home Defense, Countdown to Preparedness, and Prepper’s Financial Guide (coming March 2015). He can be found online at http://www.SurvivalWeekly.com/ and http://www.DisasterPrepConsultants.com/. You can connect with him on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jimcobbsurvival/.

A Compass is a Better Option

Having a compass and knowing how to use is always a preferable option.  I keep a mini-compass on my survival key ring, which, now that I think about it, I have not shared with you.


I also have a prismatic sighting compass in my Bug Out Bag but shame on me for not putting it to practical use.


The Final Word

I live on a island offshore the mainland US.  If a disruptive event happened here, I would be able get home without too much difficultly by following the shoreline.  Hopefully there will be roads.  But off-island?  That would not be as easy. Setting aside getting a boat ride home when the ferries are not running, finding my way along an unfamiliar route would be difficult at best and impossible at worst.


Finding my way from the mainland back home without a compass and a map will not be easy.
And now you know where I live!

 This summer, while hiking about, I plan to practice my primitive navigation skills plus bone up on the use a compass. Most assuredly, I do want to find my way home, no matter what.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Gaye Levy, also known as the Survival Woman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and has moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle through her website at BackdoorSurvival.com. At Backdoor Survival, Gaye speaks her mind and delivers her message of prepping with optimism and grace, regardless of the uncertain times and mayhem swirling around us.