Tag Archives: preparedness

Survival Medicine: New Wound-Closure Method That Could Replace Stitches (VIDEO)

topclosure

In a world without medical facilities, open wounds can invite serious, life threatening infections. To the untrained eye, it could cause death. For thousands of years, stitches have long been a part of closing wounded tissues. One of the main concerns with this archaic method is air can inadvertently become trapped inside a stitched wound and cause further inflammation and infection.

A new invaluable medical tool could be the answer to safer and improved wound closure. This innovated wound closure system, developed by Israeli doctor, Dr. Topaz is already being applied in Israeli hospitals. “TopClosure works by first stretching out the skin around the wound to avoid the need for skin grafts, and second by ensuring that the wound scars in an aesthetic and healthy fashion.” More cases are being performed and studied of TopClosure being applied to different types of wounds and getting excellent results.

The TopClosure tension-reduction system consists of two main parts: fastening cables and attachable clasps. The cables come in a variety of lengths to accommodate the size of the wound, and each clasp contains an adhesive bottom to mount onto the skin, as well as hole for staples if additional support is needed. The two clasps are placed facing each other on opposing sides of an open wound, much like two supporting ends of a bridge. A cable is strung through the clasps, drawing the skin tissues together until they eventually close. Stitches are then applied over this temporarily facilitated enclosure as the final seal.

This non-invasive wound closure system could be a lifesaver, especially in a SHTF world. Dr. Topaz believes it’s time to bid farewell to skin grafts, surgery and stitches for complex wounds, and to welcome a new method that he hopes will soon become the standard in severe wound treatment.

Read the article here


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.

Cover The Basics: 8 Prepper Tools To Get You Through A Disaster

prepared

Many of us made the stark realization of just how dependent we are on our modern conveniences quickly following a disaster. It seems that only when the lights go out and the stove won’t turn on, or the air conditioner doesn’t cool down the house do we even think about being more prepared for these setbacks. The above mentioned was my personal realization eight years ago when my family and I went through the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. I had three small children under the age of 5 and had to deal with the municipal water being questionable, not having a way to prepare food, having to use flashlights as a way of getting through the night. I’ll be honest, we couldn’t even maintain our basic needs continuously for two weeks. This was my husband’s and my “ah ha” moment. After that event we made the decision to never go through a disaster under prepared again and quickly began prepping for disasters and found ourselves on a life-changing path.

As many of you know, when you first begin prepping, you start small by preparing your family for short-lived events. As you continue on, you acquire more skills and preps that will undoubtedly see you through longer-term disasters. In the eight years that I have been prepping, these are the eight preparedness products that I would recommend to any beginner prepper. With the exception of the food dehydrator, many of these items are off-grid compatible and will meet your most basic needs.

Assuming you are planning to shelter in place, these suggested products will encompass your very basic needs and provide you with the beginnings of a solid collection of prepping tools. Not included in this list are other essentials like storable bulk pantry foods, emergency communication, necessary bug out tools, emergency medical needs and home security. For a full list of preparedness items, I encourage you to purchase The Prepper’s Blueprint. It is one of the most comprehensive and easy-to-follow preparedness manuals out there.

8 Prepper Tools to Get You Through a Disaster

1. Water Purification System

First and foremost, you need a dependable water source following a disaster. During the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, I remember being so thirsty, but we didn’t trust the water sources and had to be very careful with rationing the bottled water we had. Years later, we purchased a Berkey water filter to use for any future off-grid emergencies. The Berkey filtration system is top of the line and the filters that Berkey uses exceed EPA NSF/ANSI standards for filtration and are rated as water purifiers. As well, another reason we invested in a Berkey Water Filtration system is because it removes bacteria and parasites, heavy metals like lead and mercury, VOCs (endocrine disruptors) and toxic chemicals like benzene, chlorine and chromium-6 to levels higher than 99.99%. As well, the fluoride/arsenic filters remove 95% of fluoride and arsenic. You can make your own filtration system or you can purchase an always ready, dependable purification system.

2. Excalibur Food Dehydrator

This food dehydrator is probably one of the most used of all of my preparedness tools. This tools is a great way to quickly amp up your food storage pantry with dried goods and prepare for the likelihood of living in an off grid environment. When you dehydrate food and meals, all you have to do is add water and viola; you have an instant meal. I originally purchased a Nesco dehydrator when I first started prepping and quickly invested in an Excalibur food dehydrator. Mark my words, this product is built to last and is a great investment for your preparedness efforts.

3. Hibachi Cast Iron Stove

Admittedly, I first read about the cast iron stoves when I was reading Little House on the Prairie to my kids. Of course, some changes have been made since that time. These grills could be a great way to cook your food without using precious propane or other fuels. Charcoal briquettes are typically used in heating these grills, but you could use hot coals from a fire or biomass briquettes. These small grills run for about $100 and if need be could be placed in a fireplace to cook indoors. Just make sure to use a indoor friendly fuel source (not briquettes) and open the flue to let the smoke out.

4. Hand Crank Wheat Grinder

You’ll be the talk of the neighborhood when you’re the one baking fresh bread when the lights go out. But grinding wheat isn’t the only use a wheat grinder has. You can grind legumes, nuts and other bulky grains and dry goods into fine flours, grind up spices and even grind up your favorite coffee beans. Read more wheat grinder uses here. Investing in a hand crank wheat grinder, like the Wondermill Jr. is a sound prepping investment and will ensure that you have the capability of using this tool in an off grid event. (And, don’t worry. I’ve used hand crank grinders before and they aren’t as hard as they look.)

5. Wonderbag

Essentially, this is a non-electric slow cooker. This cooking source utilizes heat retention cooking methods which are a very fuel efficient method and allows you to cook inside your home. It’s been known to save between 20-80% of the energy normally needed to cook food. It does so because after the food has been heated to the cooking temperature, it is placed in an insulated box where it will continue to cook until it is done. Essentially it’s like a crock pot, but it’s double insulated.

6. Sprouter

When an extended or longer term emergency occurs, you will need to find a fast way to produce vitamins in order to maintain proper functioning in your body and avoid malnutrition. Pound for pound, sprouts are the way to achieve this. Sprouts provide the highest amount of vitamins, minerals, proteins and enzymes of any of food per unit of calorie. Enzymes are essential because they heal the body, cleanse the body, prevent diseases, enhance general functioning of bodily organs, aid in digestion, and remove gas from the stomach. Don’t forget a good non-gmo seed combination.

7. Non-GMO Heirloom Quality Seeds

In a true shtf-event, you will run out of your food stores and will need a back up. Seeds are your salvation. Not only can you grow them for future food sources, but you can also use the above listed sprouter and sprout most of them (never sprout nightshade family seeds like tomato and eggplant) for further nutrients. Make sure the seeds you choose are suitable to grow in your area. Learn how to properly store seeds to keep them fresh.

8. Portable Toilet

Well, the you-know-what has hit the fan! It is a documented fact that more people die after a disaster due to poor sanitation than from the disaster itself. This is due to individuals not knowing where or how to properly expel waste. Fly infestations also pose a problem, and if waste is left out in the open, then it will only lead to the susceptibility of epidemics such as cholera, typhoid or diphtheria. Having a means dispersing of human waste will ensure that in times of disaster, your family and neighbors will stay healthy. Further, create a sanitation kit with the items listed here.

To conclude, when you get to the point of wanting to take a more self-reliant approach in your prepping endeavors, you see the need to invest in tools that can help you meet your basic needs. I will admit that preparedness is an investment, but a necessary one. You do not want to be in a situation where you cannot meet your family’s basic needs. These fundamental preparedness products will help you thrive in a time of chaos and may see you through darker days.


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.

How To Deal With Open Wounds When Help Is Not On The Way

injury

If there is one area that I feel singularly unprepared for it is with dealing with physical trauma following a disruptive event.  Basic first aid?  Sure, I can handle that and have a decent first aid kit to back me up.  But serious wounds, broken bones, and other physical traumas? Not so much.

The thing about physical traumas, and especially open wounds, is that they can occur anytime including right in your own home.  An accident in the kitchen or the yard can begin with a bloody mess and end with an unwelcome infection.  Who wants that?

As far as I am concerned, the moment is now.  It is time to become educated and to start learning how to deal with more serious medical matters. To help us along, I welcome contributing author Joe Alton who is allowing me to share his expertise on how to deal with open wounds.

The Open Wound

Years ago, we held the first suture class for non-medical people in the preparedness community. Our purpose in doing this was to provide education that might be useful in a post-apocalyptic setting. We felt that teaching people medical skills may save some lives in long-term survival scenarios. To us, any unnecessary death in times of trouble is one too many.

Nowadays there are a lot of folks that put on these classes.  The main goal, however, is not simply to learn the mechanics of throwing a stitch but to develop the judgment necessary to understand when a wound should be closed and, more importantly, when it should be left open.

When the medically-responsible person evaluates a wound, the following question must be asked:  What am I trying to accomplish by stitching this wound closed?

Your goals when performing wound closure are simple.  You close wounds to:

  • Repair the defect in the body’s armor
  • Eliminate “dead space” that can lead to infection
  • Promote healing.
  • Provide a pleasing cosmetic result (less scarring).

Sounds like every wound should be closed, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s more complicated than that.  Closing a wound that should be left open can do a lot more harm than good, and could possibly put your patient’s life at risk.

Take the case of a young woman injured in a “zipline” accident.  She was taken to the local emergency room, where 22 staples were needed to close a large laceration.  Unfortunately, the wound had dangerous bacteria in it, causing a serious infection which spread throughout her body.  She eventually required multiple amputations.

We learn an important lesson from this tragic case: Namely, that the decision to close a wound is not automatic but involves serious considerations.

Infected Cut

The most important of these is whether you are dealing with a clean or a dirty wound.

Most wounds you will encounter in a wilderness or collapse setting will be dirty.  If you try to close a dirty wound, you sequester bacteria and dirt into your body.  Within a short period of time, the infected wound will become red, swollen, and hot.  An abscess may form, and pus will accumulate inside.

Here’s an article I wrote about infected wounds: Infected Wounds

The infection may spread to the bloodstream and, when it does, you have caused a life-threatening situation.  Leaving the wound open will allow you to clean the inside frequently and observe the healing process.  It also allows inflammatory fluid to drain out of the body.  Wounds that are left open heal by a process called “granulation”; that is, from the inside out. The scar isn’t as pretty, but it’s the safest option in most cases.

Other considerations when deciding whether or not to close a wound are whether it is a simple laceration (straight thin cut on the skin) or whether it is an avulsion (areas of skin torn out, hanging flaps).

If the edges of the skin are so far apart that they cannot be stitched together without undue pressure, the wound should be left open.  If the wound has been open for more than, say, 6-8 hours, it should be left open; even the air has bacteria, and the injury may already be colonized.

IF you’re certain the wound is clean, you should close it if it is long, deep or gapes open loosely. Also, cuts over moving parts, such as the knee joint, will be more likely to require stitches.

Remember that you should close deep wounds in layers, to prevent any un-approximated “dead space” from occurring.  Dead spaces are pockets of bacteria-laden air or inflammatory fluid in a closed wound that may lead to a major infection.  An exception to this is a puncture wound from an animal bite.  These are loaded with germs and should never be sutured.

If you are unsure, you can choose to wait 72 hours before closing a wound to make sure that no signs of infection develop.  This is referred to as “delayed closure”.  Some wounds can be partially closed, allowing a small open space to allow the drainage of inflammatory fluid.  Drains, consisting of thin lengths of latex, nitrile, or even gauze, should be placed into the wound for this purpose.  Of course, you should place a dressing over the exposed area as it can get messy.

Improvised Butterfly Closure with Duct Tape

If you must close a wound, use the least invasive method.

If you can approximate the cut edges of skin with butterfly closures, it is better than puncturing the skin again and again with sutures or staples. Use an adhesive such as tincture of benzoin to hold the tapes in place. Even Super-Glue may be a better option in certain cases, and is used routinely in underdeveloped countries like Cuba with good effectiveness.

Irrigating the Wound

The safest method, though, is to leave that questionable wound open.

Using a 60-100cc irrigation syringe, flush the area aggressively with a dilute solution of Betadine (Povidone-Iodine) or sterilized saline solution. If you don’t have commercial sterile solutions, studies show that clean drinking water can keep a wound clean in an austere environment.

Place a sterile moist (not soaking wet) dressing in the wound and then cover with a dry sterile gauze dressing. Replace the dressing at least daily, more often if possible.

If you have antibiotics, this may be a good time to use them. Check out the link in this article about infected wounds to see which are most useful.

About hydrogen peroxide, undiluted Betadine, or Alcohol as a cleaning agent for open wounds:  If it’s all you have, it’s ok for the first cleaning before you place the dressing.  These substances, however, tend to dry out newly forming cells and may actual hinder healing.  As such, stick with milder solutions or clean drinking water for long-term wound care.

Learning how to suture is a useful skill. Knowing when to suture, however, is much more important.

Joe Alton, M.D., aka Dr. Bones “Doom and Bloom” Survival Medicine

Takeaway: Many Wounds Should Be Left Open

Before now, I was under the false impression the all serious wounds should be closed up or sutured to prevent infection. Little did I know that closing a wound, especially while out in the field, should be carefully evaluated if there is any hint of dirt or bacteria. Sometimes, closing a wound will foster an infection and make it worse.  Who knew?

Here is the takeaway for determining whether a wound should be left open:

1.  If the wound has been open for longer that 6 to 8 hours, leave it open.  During that period, bacteria will have had time to work its way through the body, potentially causing a massive infection.

2.  If the flaps of the wound cannot be closed without using a lot of pressure, leave it alone.

3.  To repeat: dirt and bacteria will cause an infection if allowed to fester in a closed up wound.  If there is any suspicion of such, leave the wound open!

The Final Word

After digesting Joe’s advise on open wounds,  I pulled out my copy of his book, The Survival Medicine Handbook (written by Joe and his wife, Amy) to see what else it had to say on the subject.

Note: this is a big fat book of over 500 pages.  I keep in next to my desk and use it as a reference, but I have not read it cover to cover.

In chapter six, I found lot of information on open wounds including photos and extensive details on the use of commercial hemostatic agents (such as Quickclot and Celox) and suture instructions for those hopefully rare times when suturing will be needed.

The book also mentions something I already knew and that is that it is a good idea to apply some triple antibiotic ointment to a healing wound or, as I prefer, raw honey, lavender oil or to Melaleuca (tea tree) essential oil.  Lavender, especially, is something I always carry with me in my portable survival kit (see 8 Essential Items: The Perfect Portable Survival Kit).

At the end of the day, I am more than a little bit discouraged by how ignorant I am about wound control and other physical traumas.  That said, as with everything preparedness related, there is always something new to learn and of course, it is never too late to start.

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 Set-Up And Master Ham Radio Without Going Crazy, Part 2

ham radio

For the new ham radio enthusiast, setting up the gear can be a challenge.  This is especially true for starter radios that are known to be high on features and design but low on intuitive usability.  Documentation?  Unless you can read broken English written by a Chinese national who has never studied the  language, you are out of luck.

Like many prepper’s, I understand the importance of communication following a disruptive event.  To that end, I took the easy road and purchased a couple of portable Baofeng radios so that I could communicate with the rest of the world when the grid is down.

Long story short, I spent six frustrating hours attempting to set up my radios for listening mode.  I did not have a license, so “transmit” mode was not at option at that point.  After failing to get much farther than loading some weather channels, I gave up and did what many of you have done.  I set my radios in a box and hid them in the garage so I would not feel guilty about not learning to use them.

Mistake #1.  Get the technician class amateur radio license before attempting to understand your physical ham radio device.  With my tech license exam coming up in just a few days, you can bet that I now know a whole lot more than I knew months ago when I purchased the radios.

Mistake #2.  Not enlisting a friendly “Elmer” to show me the ropes.  (An Elmer is a person who teaches, mentors, and nurtures the newbie ham radio operator.)  The crazy thing is that my BFF, George Ure has been a ham for as long as I have known him – over 40 years!  He would become the perfect Elmer.

A couple of months ago I sent my two Baofengs plus some accessories (a programming cable, antenna, and external mike) to George’s Uretopia Ranch down in Texas. Since then, George has kindly set up my radios, plus he has written a tutorial on getting them so you can get yours set up too. What a guy!!

Note: This is Part 2 of How to Set Up a Ham Radio Without Going Crazy.  If you missed part 1, your can read it here.

Up a New 2-Meter Ham Radio, Part 2

In our last get-together, we looked at setting up a ham radio just like you’d prepare a nine course meal.

A “course” in a fancy-schmantzy dinner has one or more “recipes” to it.  So we:

(1) got the radios and accessories,
(2) figured out what we want them to do, and
(3) collected all the information needed to program the radio.

Today we’ll continue with putting the information we want into the radios using a programming cable and software.

You’ll next…

1. Have the radio, well charged. Nothing throws a wet blanket on festivities like putting the radio back on a charger because you didn’t charge it up first. D’oh!

2. Hook up the programming cable and driver. Install the driver FIRST! The driver is usually unique to the cable manufacturer and is determined by the chip installed in the USB cable. I tried to let Windows Update find something that would work, but that was a waste of time. Install the driver that comes with the cable. Make sure you have an available USB port you can access because we will be plugging the cable in shortly.

Note:  The cable used for this set-up does not come with the radio.  Not to worry.  It is an inexpensive, $5 cable from Amazon.

While Baofeng – great radios in the under $50 class – do have their own software for programming available, I prefer to use a ham radio community project called CHIRP. You can download it free over here: http://chirp.danplanet.com/projects/chirp/wiki/Home

When you click on this link consider going down to the “daily builds” and hitting the “Click here”.  Also, you will want to install CHIRP for whatever OS you have – Linux, Mac, and of course, the Windows 32 versions.

Now an explanation.

I used to prefer manufacturer software, but the ham community (as invariably happens) came up with a better idea. Why not set up a kind of standard, put it into a comma delimited file (.CSV) so if you have a great selection of channels on your Baofeng, you can simply email me the CHIRP image file, and I can load it into my Wouxun or my Kenwood FT-6F?

Hams are very big on cross platform interoperability!  Furthermore, sometimes, you’ll find a ham club that has a decent selection of CHIRP files and that can save a lot of work.

Installing Some Test Frequencies

When you first open CHIRP you might get something of a start: There’s almost nothing to look at.

Ham-Radio-1

No worries – CHIRP is just waiting for you to tell it to do something. So when you click NEW under File, you’ll be treated to a blank pallet – just itching to be filled in with your favorite radio hang-outs.

Ham-Radio-2

Notice that the first frequency shown is 146.010000. You will be able to add all kinds of channels easily through a simple copy and past system.

To show you the process, let’s go ahead and toss all the weather channels onto the radio. You won’t have to do anything to get there – simply click on Files and drop down to Open Stock Config. All the weather channels will crop up as a new tab at the top of CHIRP – like so:

ham-radio-3

Now we will click on the NOAA Weather Tab and select the channels we want.  Click NOAA1 and you’ll see it turns blue (meaning it’s selected).

Hold the CTRL key down and click all of them. It should look like this:

Ham-Radio-4

Now press CTRL: + C (control plus C copies all this onto your clipboard).

The last step to take is click back over to the Untitled file tab (in the new file we’re building) and click on the first unused line.

All it takes then is a CTRL+ V (to paste in the clipboard) and you’re done. It should look like this:

Ham-Radio-5

Last, but not least, we’re going to SAVE this sample file. Give it any name you want. Close that file and any others that are open.

Uploading the Data to the Radio

Now comes the fun part. We will plug in the serial programming cable into the empty USB port. If you got the driver installation right, you’ll hear the little “ready for use” dinger. Plug the cable into the radio and turn it on.

Now we go to the Radio menu item in CHIRP and select Download from Radio. As soon as you do this, the driver will challenge you about where the radio is located with a message like this:

Ham-Radio-6

Your COM port may vary, but it should show the radio name if the radio is turned on and your cable was firmly plugged in to the microphone/headset jack. Care to guess what 55-years in electronics whiz didn’t push his cable in hard enough?

Next, you will get this next challenging warning, but don’t fear this late in the game – go for it!

But be sure to click the checkmark to end this timewaster (lawyers have to make a living, too).

Ham-Radio-7

Next you’ll see a checklist of things you should already have done, if you’ve been following along closely.

Open the file you just saved with the weather channels on it, highlight the channels we want to move (I moved all of them) and paste them into the tab called Baofeng UV-5R (Untitled)*.

One last trip to the Radio menu on CHIRP and click UPLOAD to upload everything to your radio. During read and writing on the radio, a little green light under the red VFO button will blink.

Is this cool, or what?

Genius, Gomers and Gotchas

The Lazy Man’s Chirp List

On the Genius side, go sign up for a FREE account at www.repeaterbook.com as soon as you get a ham ticket.

Here’s why: They have a very solid repeater list of almost everything that you’d be interested in working (talking on) as a newly minted ham. They also provide for direct downloads of CHIRP files. So to load up Gaye (and Survival Hubby’s) radios, I simply downloaded all of Washington State’s frequencies for the bands I wanted.

Popped open in Excel, it took about 20-minutes to build a perfect list for Gaye for both 2-Meters and the 440 band.

Don’t Load DV Repeaters

You will see that most repeaters are FM but a few are marked DV. DV repeaters are supported on some radios – it means digital voice. The Baofeng is not the high-end radios, so delete these from your list.

Use Logical Names

The Baofeng radios (and almost all other newer ones) provide for three modes of operation.

1) VFO [variable frequency oscillator] settings is where you put in the receive frequency and then declare the transmitter offset. It’s usually plus 600 KHz or minus 600 KHz.

2) When you have set up a frequency pair for a repeater (don’t forget to set the right PL Tones!) you will then save it to a memory number.

3) When a frequency is shoved into a memory number, it can also have a logical name.

So with Gaye and S.H.’s radios, the first two channels are simplex (no repeater needed) so they can talk back and forth around the neighborhood. “Honey, pick up a quart of milk…”

As programmed, their CHIRP file looks like this at the top:

Ham-Radio-8

So when they turn on the radios, the display will look like this:

Ham-Radio-9

By the way, that red button is the VFO/Memory Recall button. The radio is set to display names.

Use the up and down arrows to select which repeater you want.

A Word about FM Stations

CHIRP isn’t perfect – just really good. For example, when I tried to put in some local FM radio stations, even though the radio specs say it should work, CHIRP declares it out of the radio’s range.

Too bad…but I’m sure someone has squawked it for another build to come. Remember: Daily builds, eh?

Freshly Programmed and Ready to Go for Gaye

In the meantime, as our newly minted hams get their licenses, they will not only have freshly programmed radios with good selection of local 2-Meter and 440 ham radio repeaters, but they will also have all the NOAA weather channels, all the GMRS, FRS, and even a few local cops and police agencies. Oh, and did I mention the Vessel Traffic System for boats at both ends of Puget Sound and….

Once you get the hang of programming with CHIRP into one of these little low cost radios, you can build up image files for anywhere you want to go. Business or pleasure taking you somewhere new? Channels for Orlando, Phoenix, or NYC all work out exactly the same. And once you build the image file for what you want, reloading a radio is nothing more than a 3-minute upload process to complete.

Almost like having a different radio for every city you plan to visit! Next time we go up to visit friends of ours in Oklahoma, I will junk the image off my Wouxun and pipe in the new image for Oklahoma…simple as that.

Testing the Radios

We wrap up our coaching session with a couple of final “how to get started” notes.

First, you’ll want to test the radios and see how they work. This is why I always like to have pairs of radios to program…makes testing a piece of cake. And since the program upload is the same, they should always operate the same.

To begin with, I would put both radios on 146.52 – the National 2-Meter Simplex Calling frequency. If nothing is heard, I’d transmit briefly – and listen on the other radio. Even with small “rubber ducky” antennas, several miles minimum – LINE OF SIGHT – is what to expect.

To get more distance, add a better antenna.

Antennas – Just the Bare Basics

The ideal length for any antenna may be calculated by simply dividing the desired frequency into 234.

Since we know from the study of the ham radio materials, that a typical 2-meter frequency is 147 MHz, we can figure that the right antenna length would be 1.592 feet.

We’ll set aside the 1 foot (because we know that’s 12-inches) and multiply another 12 inches time 0.592 which pencils out to 7.1 inches. Don’t forget we need to tack our first 12-inches back on, so it comes out to be that a perfect one quarter wavelength antenna would be about 19.1 inches.

Rubber ducky antennas are always a compromise in design. The shorter they are, the more convenience is implied. But, on 2-Meters, they are quite a compromise. Less so on the 440-band.

In ham radio, the longer the antenna, the more efficient it can become, but there’s always an asterisk in ham radio. The problem with super long antennas is they become more directional. There are some sweet spots. Probably the best simple antenna over a quarter wavelength would be the 5/8ths wave.

This 2-Meter antenna would be about 47 ¾-inches long. When mounted vertically, it would radiate about 3 decibels better than a quarter wave antenna.

If you live out in the boonies, there’s nothing like a serious 2-Meter mobile radio. I have a 50-watt radio and a ¼ wave antenna mounted on my old pickup truck and we can talk upwards of 40-miles on that set up. I’d be able to kick it up even more with a 5/8ths wave antenna but we don’t spend that much time off the ranch.

The next better antenna is something called a colinear. It’s a mish-mash of engineering terms that would make your ears bleed, but the antenna is a combination of curled wires that forms a vertically phased array that has tremendous gain.

If Gaye can’t get out well enough with the rubber ducky antenna that comes stock with the Baofeng, (or the upgraded longer rubber duck she purchased), then it would be time to brace for a zoning fight and go for a serious antenna. Something like the Diamond Antennas X-510HDM carried by Amateur Electronic Supply.

A little smaller than this 17-foot megalithic powerhouse is the Diamond X50A which will get some solid gain, isn’t portable, but is almost a hundred bucks cheaper. This one you can get via Amazon from Gigaparts.

Your Work Plan Going Forward

The trained operator part, well, I could wax on for hours about that.

But the best way to get experience is to actually get on the air, talk to people, go to club meetings, participate in Field Day – sponsored by the American Radio Relay League (www.arrl.org) in June every year. Details about this year’s events are over here.

Then you could sign up to become active in your state RACES organization, and there’s always a club volunteering to provide communications for big projects like street fairs, and the like.

The starting point is the testing of the radio to see what repeaters it can hit along your typical daily wanderings or commute.

With a simple to follow approach adding and deleting frequencies in CHIRP, in hardly no time you will have a perfectly adapted radio for your travel and use habits.

Close your radio into the spousal unit and first thing you know, you’ll have free family communications without a monthly bill, although I think we contribute $50-bucks a year to our local ham club. Beats the heck out of paying huge monthly cell bills and, as an added bonus, the wee ones might actually learn a thing or two along the way.

The Final Word

I am so very grateful that George, my personal Elmer, has set up my two Baofeng radios so that Shelly and I can hit the air waves running when we get our licenses.  I am even more grateful for his willingness to share the various steps involved so that everyone who has a ham radio festering in the closet and get it set up and running.

Even if you are not licensed, you can still listen to radio transmissions without a license.  Better yet, initiate steps to get a license.

For study materials, I am using Dan Romanchik’s free study guide The No-Nonsense, Technician Class License Study Guide.  In addition, I am taking practice exams at www.AA9PW.com as on my iPad using this free Ham Radio app: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ham-radio-examtech/id601991935?mt=8.

Whatever tools you use, please do get started.  After attending my first local ARRL club meeting, I can assure you other friendly and like-minded folks that be there to help you become an expert at emergency communications using Amateur Radio.

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.

When It Hits The Fan Most Won’t Be Able To Take A Warm Shower… But Here’s How You Will.

woman in shower

The lack of sanitation following major disasters can quickly escalate and create secondary problems in a post SHTF situation. If the water lines are damaged, or if damage is suspected, do not use the water. Having an alternative to indoor bathing would be advisable if you believe there are questionable water sources.

Sanitation-Related Diseases are Common Following Disasters

Keep in mind that poor sanitation conditions is one of the most likely ways a person could die following a SHTF event. As well, a woman’s personal hygiene and ensuring children are clean is essential in making sure sanitation-related illnesses do not occur. Contaminated water, poor sanitation and/or lack of hygiene leads to diseases such as hepatitis A, viral gastroenteritis, cholera, shigellosis, typhoid, diphtheria and polio. If these diseases affect enough of the population, an epidemic will ensue. Taking proper precautions and stocking up on sanitary items will help eliminate most issues regarding poor sanitation.

  • Soap/shampoo
  • Antibacterial lotion
  • Bleach
  • Sanitary napkins
  • Disposable bucket or luggable loo
  • Toilet paper
  • Rubber gloves
  • Garbage bags with twist ties ( for liners of toilets or luggable loo)
  • Bathroom cleaner
  • Cat litter or absorbent material such as saw dust or dirt
  • Baby wipes
  • Baking soda can be used to help eliminate odors
  • Vinegar
  • Shovel

It is important to continue regular hygiene habits during an emergency. Habits such as brushing your teeth, washing your face, combing your hair and even washing your body with a wet washcloth. This will help prevent the spread of disease and irritation, as well as help to relieve the stress brought on by the disaster.

In a pinch, water can be heated outside using a solar visor for a vehicle. Use filtered potable water or fresh rainwater during times of emergencies. To prevent sanitation-related diseases, do not use standing water.

Heating Water Outdoors

The following video, shows how easy it is to construct a solar heating element for water. This method can also be used during times of drought in order to cut back on water usage.

Other sanitation considerations to consider in an extended emergency are outlined in week 26 of the 52 weeks to preparedness series. For a longer-term showering solution, check out this video on how to create an outdoor gravity-fed shower using a 5-gallon bucket.


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.

8 Reasons Old Cookbooks Are Important

cookbooks

A couple of months ago I was going through some old boxes tucked into the hidden recesses of my garage and I stumbled upon a box of old cookbooks.  Since I learned to cook long before the age of computers, most of my self-taught efforts came by way of these cookbooks.  I started to collect cookbooks in high school and little did I know then what I know now: old cookbooks are important.

As I flipped through some of the pages, it became evident that these old cookbooks are real treasures.  They were written before microwave ovens and Cuisinart’s, and before many of the processed foods that are now commonplace were available on grocery store shelves.  These were the days of scratch cooking, often with just a handful of local, readily available ingredients.

Today I walk down memory lane and explain why you should keep your old cookbooks and why, if you don’t already have them, you should scout some out on the cheap cheap at garage sales, thrift shops, and eBay.

8 Reasons Old Cookbooks are Important to Preppers

1. You can read printed cookbooks books off-grid.

With a printed cookbook, you can learn to prepare food without needing a computer, iPad, Google, or allrecipes.com. This will be important if the time comes when power is not readily available, or, if it is, it is difficult to come by.

Taking this one step further, the food that we have available to eat following a disruptive event may be different than what we normally eat. Learning to prepare unfamiliar foodstuffs is an important survival skill and one we want to have in our back pocket.

2. Learn to cook totally from scratch.

Before the early to mid-20th century, most people cooked from scratch because there was no other option.  At the same time, chores and household duties kept housewives busy with cleaning, laundry, sewing, and child-rearing.  Cooking had to be simple, and time efficient.  Old cookbooks – the types intended for housewives of the era – focused upon simplicity and efficiency.

3. Old cookbooks make no assumptions about your kitchen.

Kitchens of years gone by included basic pantry staples as well as bowls, spoons, knives, some cast iron pots, a stove and an oven.  Stand mixers, Cuisinarts, microwave ovens, blenders, and bread machines did not exist or, if they did, were mostly tools for the newly rich and the wealthy.

As a result, recipes in older cookbooks required very little in the way of specialized equipment.

4. Old cookbooks focused on the virtues of thrift, wholesome eating, and elimination of waste.

This is true whether they were written in the 1800s, early 1900’s, pre WWII, or the 50s and 60s.  One thing to keep in mind is that the older the book, the more likely its focus on fuel economy, be it coal, charcoal, wood, or something else.

5. Ingredients in the recipes are commonly found and are typically basic, pantry items.

When you read a modern, 21st century recipe, you may often come across oddball ingredients you never heard of before.  Chances are these strange and obscure ingredients will not be available if the stuff hits the fan.  With older cookbooks, you do not need to search for exotic ingredients at a gourmet grocery or online.  Not only that, you will recognize them by name and not need a dictionary or Google to figure them out.

6. The number of ingredients to cook a particular dish are nominal.

The ingredients required to prepare the various recipes (in really old cookbooks they were called “receipts”) are far fewer than the recipes of the current era.  This is likely due to the fact that most cooking supplies were procured locally, limiting the availability of items from the far-flung reaches of the world.

I don’t know about you, but when I see a list of 10 or more ingredients, I give up.  In older cookbooks, it is common to find recipes that use six ingredients or less.

7. The recipes are practical with the intended goal of putting food on the table.

These days, cookbooks include gorgeous photos that entice and entertain you.  (They also cost upward of $20 or more.)

Older cookbooks focus on the job at hand:  putting breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the table along with some snacks and dessert items.

8. Old cookbooks provide a glimpse into times past.

Todays world is fast-paced and technology driven.  It is both fun and educational to look back to simpler times.  Granted, folks living through those times may not have thought times were simple, but without a doubt, a world without email, Facebook, the Internet and a myriad of other distractors was definitely slower and kinder.

By looking into the past, we get a glimpse of what life, in the kitchen at least, might be like if a catastrophic disruptive event such as an EMP throws us back 150 or more years.

What Constitutes an Old Cookbook?

I am glad you asked!

My-Old-Cookbooks

To my way of thinking, an old cookbook is one that was published before the 1970s.  I have quite a few from the 60s, including a 1969 Betty Crocker that is literally coming apart at the bindings.  In addition, I own a 1939 Boston Cooking School Cookbook that was my father’s when he was in the Navy.  It is interesting that both made use of canned goods but very few other processed foods.

Moving back in time, pre-WWII cookbooks are especially interesting because they utilize extremely low, cost, depression-era ingredients.  In addition, they emphasize the use of home-grown vegetables to supplement the meager fare that was available at the time.  Although published in modern times, my favorite depression-era cookbook is Clara’s Kitchen which I reviewed in the article Depression Cooking: A Visit to Clara’s Kitchen.

Really Old Cookbooks – Resources

For a close look at cooking the old-fashioned way, you will want to seek cookbooks from the 1800s and early 1900s.

The good news is that many if not most are in the public domain.  Many have been digitized and can be viewed or downloaded for free online.  The bad news is that if you are in an off-grid situation, they will not be readily accessible unless you have solar or some other means for charging your electronic devices.

That said, here are some links where you can download copies of some really old cookbooks to get a feel for what old-time food preparation was all about.

GH-Womans-Home-Cookbook

The Good Housekeeping Woman’s Home Cook Book, Arranged By Isabel Gordon Curtis, Chicago: Reilly & Britton, c1909.

Toward the end of the 19th century and throughout the 20th various forms of media – newspapers, magazines, radio, the movies and TV -all became involved in the publishing of cookbooks. This volume represents the many and diverse types of books in this category. It well represents a cookbook published by a national magazine.

The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook, By Fannie Merritt Farmer, Boston, Little, Brown And Company (1896).

The Settlement Cookbook, By Lizzie Black Kander, Milwaukee: [S.N.], 1901

And my favorite, The Frugal Housewife, Dedicated to Those Who Are Not Ashamed of Economy, By Lydia Maria Francis Child, Boston: Carter and Hendee, 1830.

The Frugal Housewife was first published in Boston in 1829 and was reprinted at least four times in the next two years. By the eighth edition of 1832, the name had been changed to The American Frugal Housewife to differentiate it from the English work of Susannah Carter(See The Frugal Housewife – 1803). The book went through at least 35 printings between 1829 and 1850 when it was allowed to go out of print because of the publication of newer, more modern cookbooks and also because of Mrs. Child’s increasingly public work in the cause of anti-slavery.

The strong emphasis on the virtues of thrift and self-reliance and on frugality, a continuing theme in American cookbooks, reflected Mrs. Child’s New England heritage and her concerns for the nutritional effects of the 1820’s depression in the United States.

For more really old cookbooks, visit the Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Project.

The Feeding America project has created an online collection of some of the most important and influential American cookbooks from the late 18th to early 20th century. The digital archive includes page images of 76 cookbooks from the MSU Library’s collection as well as searchable full-text transcriptions. This site also features a glossary of cookery terms and multidimensional images of antique cooking implements from the collections of the MSU Museum.

The Feeding America online collection hopes to highlight an important part of America’s cultural heritage for teachers, students, researchers investigating American social history, professional chefs, and lifelong learners of all ages.

The Final Word

For most of us, storage space is precious and what extra storage we do have, is filled with extra food, water, ammo and first aid items.  In my own home, space behind doors, under beds, and under the living room sofa and chairs is crammed with all preps of all kind.  If someone were to look, they would think me a packrat.

Still, with space at a premium, I have pulled a few of my old cookbooks from the garage and set them aside with the rest of my “stuff hits the fan” preps.  I may not need them to teach me how to cook beans and rice, but sure as day, I will look to them to come up with ideas for using the food that I do have to create palatable, if not tasty and interesting meals.

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.

10 Reasons To Prepare For An Economic Collapse

Global-Money

It was not that long ago that the country of Greece suffered a devastating collapse of their economy.  At the time, there was a lot of blame game going on but, at the end of the day, it was years of irresponsible and unrestrained spending that took them down.  That, coupled with questionable accounting practices and misstated economic indicators left the Greek citizens befuddled and angry when the reality of a depression hit.

Could the same thing happen here?  Not to be depressing but in going through my own thoughts as I answer the question “What am I least prepared for?”, I realized that it was time for a wake-up call and time to re-evaluate my own preps within the context of an economic collapse.

Looking back at what happened during or our own Great Depression, I have come to realize that an economic collapse, if it were to happen, would have the compound effect of combining all woes we so diligently prepare for into one huge mess – a mess that may take decades to resolve.

I worry about this, because, as prepared as I may be, I find it difficult to wrap my head around a mega collapse that will result in food and water shortages, power outages, civil disobedience, medical anarchy, and worse.

A global economic collapse, unlike a natural disaster which, as tragic as it may be, is a short term event, will change our lives forever.

Time for a Wake-Up Call

Back in 2012, Michael Snyder wrote about the lessons we can learn from the financial melt-down in Greece.

At the time, being a prepper in the United States typically branded you as an nut job.  Now that preparedness has become more mainstream, I feel that we should review those lessons and take another look at the ramifications of an economic collapse.

Here are the 10 lessons along with my own thoughts as they might apply to an economic collapse in 2015 and beyond.

10 Reasons Why We Need to Prepare for an Economic Collapse

1.  Food Shortages Can Actually Happen

Most people assume that they will always be able to run out to their local supermarket or warehouse club.  Those of us that prepare, know better. It is those folks that do not prepare that we need to worry about.

2. Medicine Is One Of The First Things That Becomes Scarce During An Economic Collapse

When credit systems and distribution channels are compromised, medical supplies will not make their way to the local pharmacy.  Any medicines and supplies that are available will likely be diverted for use by the power elite.  Sorry to be such a cynic but we all know that there are privileged classes that have the power and the means to get whatever they want, even if it means denying the rest of the population with their fair share.

3.  When An Economy Collapses, So Might The Power Grid

No money to pay workers and no fuel to fire the grid translates into no grid at all.  Going without power for a week or two is one thing but going off grid for months or even years?  We are a soft society accustomed to our comforts.  Without the grid, our lives will be quite different than the life we live today.

4.  During An Economic Collapse You Cannot Even Take Water For Granted

When the grid goes down, so goes the water treatment facilities that ensure that clean water flows from our faucets.  I survived 12 days without running water.  Do-able yes.  Fun? Hardly, but I knew the water would come back on eventually. What if the water never came back on?

5. During An Economic Crisis Your Credit Cards And Debit Cards May Stop Working

Same thing.  If the grid is down, our banking system will basically be down too.  This means that credit cards and debit cards will be useless to transact business and make purchases.

6.  Crime, Rioting And Looting Become Commonplace During An Economic Collapse

This is not a maybe.  The haves will need to defend their property from the have-not’s.  I also suspect that the “haves” (aka preppers) may have to defend themselves from government looters.  It will be every man or woman on their own; defending what is theirs.

The young and healthy might be able to handle this but what about the elderly, the sick, and the disabled?  Even if they prep, how will they defend themselves?

7. During A Financial Meltdown Many Average Citizens Will Start Bartering

Without credit cards, debit cards, and quite possibly currency, a barter economy will emerge.  By the way, the best description I have read relative to how such an economy will work was is James Wesley Rawles book, Patriots.

Things will definitely fall apart during an economic collapse. Having supplies and especially skills to barter with not be an option.

8. Suicides Spike During An Economic Collapse

This happened in the 30s and it will happen again. When people no longer have hope, they feel that life is not worth living.  My guess is people will start jumping out of buildings and may take family members with them in a suicide pact.

9.  Your Currency May Rapidly Lose Value During An Economic Crisis

Let me take this one step further.  Your currency WILL lose value during an economic collapse.  It happened in Germany during the Weimar Republic and it has happened more recently elsewhere around the globe.  We are not immune to runaway inflation coupled with devaluation of our currency.

10. When Things Hit The Fan The Government Will Not Save You

If you think that the government will come to the rescue of those that are suffering think again.  Remember the aftermath of Katrina?  Remember Super Storm Sandy?

It is foolhardy to believe that government assistance of any type will become available following a collapse. History has demonstrated over and over again that governments cannot be counted on when things hit the fan. You will be on your own so you better be ready mentally to accept that reality and the tough times that will ensue.

The Final Word

If you have made it this far you might be thinking “Gaye, we know all of that.  That is why we prep.”.

Agreed; I am preaching the choir.  But, that being said, the overwhelming ramification of having all of these things happen at once will be a blow to the psyche that is of greater magnitude than anything you can imagine.

Think about it.  To prevail following a collapse you will still need to get up in the morning, go about your chores, and go about the business of living.  This is going to take a level of fortitude that I can not fathom.  Heck, there are some days, during these modern, comfortable times, that I can barely face the day and all of its challenges.

So where do we go from here?  What solutions are there to get you through to that mental place you know you will need to go to?

Three things you need to remember are:

1.  Only you can be counted on to take care of yourself and your family.
2.  Leaning coping skills during times of calm will give you a heads up on coping during times of crisis.
3.  Give yourself permission to worry, to be concerned, and to be a bit afraid.  This will keep you alert and on your toes at all time.

At the end of the day, those that prepare will be in it for the ride.  The real question is whether we have the mental fortitude to get there without losing are path along the way.

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.

12 Bad Strategies That Will Get Preppers Killed

12-Bad-Strategies-That-Will-Get-Preppers-Killed

If you’re involved in the preparedness lifestyle, you’re probably into planning. Most likely, you research and study the excellent preparedness strategies put out by experts. Whether we prepare for incidents small or large, we all ponder what we’d do if something world-as-we-know-it-ending went down.

The trouble is, a lot of the plans that get made are more likely  to get you killed than to save you. And people post these plans online, then new preppers read them and think, “Wow, what a great idea.”

I really love being involved in the preparedness lifestyle. I get to meet and correspond with lots of like-minded, down-to-earth people.  We have those awesome conversations that you just can’t have with the checker at the grocery store cash register.  I get to engage in email and social media discussions too, the likes of which would never occur with my second cousin who thinks that missing a pedicure appointment is a disaster worthy of government intervention. But sometimes, I kind of cringe. Not all preparedness plans are well-thought out and practiced. In fact, there are several recurring themes that I hear or read that are not good ideas for most preppers, and I bet that many of you reading have also privately rolled eyes at one of the following strategies. (Or maybe even  publicly.)

I’m truly not trying to be mean when I share them with you here, nor am I trying to say that I’m the Queen Prepper of the Universe, who knows absolutely everything.  I’d just like you to consider the variables if one of these plans happens to be your default strategy.

Bad Strategy #1: “I’ll just hunt and live off the land.”

Oh my gosh. No, you probably won’t. You might try to hunt, but guess what? Loads of other people have this same idea.  Unless you live hundreds of miles from civilization, the population of deer and wild turkeys will be quickly decimated in an event that renders the food delivery system inoperable.

Furthermore, hunting is not as easy as simply wandering into the woods, taking aim with a rifle, and popping a wandering buck in the head. Have you ever hunted? Have you done so recently, and by recently I mean within the past year? Have you ever field dressed an animal? Can you hit a moving target? Do you know how to set up snares? Do you know how to butcher and preserve meat? Are you in good enough shape to drag a 200 pound carcass through the woods?

If you can’t say yes to every single question listed here, hunting should probably not be your go-to plan for feeding your family.

Bad Strategy #2: “I’ll go into the woods and live there.”

This is closely related to Bad Strategy #1.

But it’s worse. Living in the wilderness is not going to be a marshmallow roast. First off, there are no marshmallows out there. Just lots of predators and food that has to be killed and skinned before you can eat it.

In this strategy, people like to talk about their proximities to a national forest. “There are thousands of acres, just on the other side of my fence.”

Okay. But when is the last time you went into that forest more than a few miles on foot?  Did you spend more than a couple of nights there? Was the weather inclement? What are your local predators (not including the human variety)?  Do you have a camping kit that you can carry in on foot? Will your children and spouse be able to also carry supplies? Are you planning to build a house with some tarps and a Swiss Army knife? What will you eat and drink? Are you adept at foraging in your area? For how long can you actually survive on what you can carry?  How are your First Aid skills and what supplies will you have?  Can you handle the loneliness? And what about the other, perhaps less than moral, individuals that have the same idea? Have you ever lit a fire with wet wood?  Have you ever camped, outside of a campground area? What if it rains? In many climates, getting wet is a death sentence.

Bad Strategy #3: “I’ll bug out on foot for 73 miles through the mountains, even though I don’t regularly exercise.”

If bugging out on foot is one of your plans, I’d like to suggest you pick a clear day, put on a loaded backpack and some hiking boots, and go for a practice hike to your location. Go ahead. I’ll wait here.

This one really bothers me. There is a large contingent of armchair preppers who have this idea. However, they don’t exercise regularly. They look back 20-30 years to their high school or military glory days, when they played football, ran track, or had a drill sergeant screaming right behind them as they ran. Just because you were once very physically fit, that doesn’t mean you are still able to hike up a mountain in bad weather with a 50 pound kit on your back.

This is a classic recipe for a heart attack, by the way. Extreme over-exertion. High-stress situation. High-sodium, easily packable food. Out-of-shape person. A few miles into the journey, particularly if it includes a steep climb, the person will experience a pounding heart, dizziness, and faintness, as the body tries to shut down to protect itself from the unaccustomed demands.  If the physical stress continues, the heart won’t be able to keep up with the demand to pump blood. Game. Over.

Embarking on an overly ambitious bug-out journey can endanger not only you, but the people making the trek with you.  What if you have a heart attack half way up the mountain?  What if you have an asthma attack? What if you injure your out-of-shape self? Who is going to help you? If the situation is bad enough that you’re bugging out, you aren’t likely to be airlifted to a hospital for medical care.  Will someone put their own safety at risk to hang out with you while you recover, thus forcing the family to divert to Bad Strategy #2?

I’m not trying to talk anyone into staying in a bad situation when bugging out ould be the wiser course of action (like in Bad Strategy #11). But if your bug out route is a long distance or over difficult terrain, you need to get out there and start training before you put the lives of everyone in your team or family at risk.

Bad Strategy #4: “I don’t need a group. I’m going to go it alone.”

Ah, the rugged loner.

This is not a winning plan for many reasons.  Being with a group, even a small one, has many benefits. As Scott, from Graywolf Survival, wrote:

Humans started banding together to survive millions of years ago. They did this for one thing: because there’s safety in numbers. If you live by yourself, you can’t collect food, improve your fighting position, patrol the area, chop wood, filter water, and be on all sides of your property – all at once. Plus, you have to devote a large amount of your day to sleeping each night. And besides, who are you gonna bitch to about your day if you’re all alone?

…Even a small group of 12 has a HUGE advantage to defending an area and continuing on with other operations at the same time. With an adequate number of personnel, not only can you have a rotation of assignments to support 24 hour operations, you can afford people to specialize in certain tasks. This specialization increases the efficiency of the group overall (synergy) and was one of the largest reasons why we developed into a society.

It isn’t just enough to have a team, either. You need to train with your team, tactically, with an expert if possible.  And by training, I’m not talking about going out to play paintball in the woods. Max Velocity, author and founder of a combat school in West Virginia explains:

‘Tacticool’ training is not only designed to simply make you look and feel good, but more insidiously it will give you the idea that you are tactically trained and proficient, when you are not. It is the sort of training that will give you enough to really get yourself in trouble. For example, basic marksmanship and square range training have a solid place in the training progression, but you must move beyond the static range to tactical field firing training in order to be tactically trained. You have to understand how to operate your weapons ‘out in the wild,’ and to maneuver in real environments. Often the problem with ‘tacticool’ training is that among the instructors there is not the experience or facility to move beyond the square range, and there is only so much you can do, so instructors make stuff up that may in fact be disadvantageous to your heath. At Max Velocity Tactical the tactical ranges have been designed out in the woods and utilize electronic pop-up targets, bunkers and other such training aids to bring a realistic tactical environment, This allows a certain amount of stress and battle inoculation to be brought to the students in training. And critically, this is all done in a safe and practical manner. (You can read the rest of his interview HERE)

Maybe you only have a handful of people you trust. Maybe you only want to be with other military dudes. Keep in mind that there are things that you will need in a SHTF scenario that are a bit kinder and gentler.  It’s not just about brute force and protecting the camp or retreat. It’s about food, building a future, farming, sitting down, and  even relaxing from time to time. Not every moment in a situation like that will be like a scene from an action-adventure movie.  We’ll still eat dinner, read a book, talk with others, sleep, and have relationships.

Bad Strategy #5: “I don’t need to store food, I’ll just take everyone else’s because I’m a bad-ass.”

Who can forget that episode of Doomsday Preppers that was shared all over preparedness social media and websites, in which a redneck and his team of merry marauders discussed their plans to take everything that preppers living nearby had stored away?

I wrote about Tyler Smith and his plan a couple of years ago:

Most preppers, Smith says, are concerned with marauders taking their supplies. It’s not an unfounded fear, he says.

“We are those people,” he says. “We’ll kick your door in and take your supplies. … We are the marauders.”

We’re not in it to stockpile. We’re in it to take what you have and there’s nothing you can do to stop us,” Tyler Smith says. “We are your worst nightmare, and we are coming.”

Smith, 29, is the leader of Spartan Survival. The group has more than 80 dues-paying members. Smith founded the organization in 2005 to train and prepare others on survivalism.

Smith (a paroled felon who incidentally went back to jail shortly after his televised waving around of firearms) might be a joke, but you can’t ignore the danger of groups with similar plans.  This yahoo had 80 people on board with him, for crying out loud. And if you happen to have such a plan, you should probably realize that those of us who are really prepared won’t stand around wringing our hands and crying when you come to attempt to relieve us of our supplies. We’ve prepared for people like you, too. The post-SHTF life expectancy of those who plan to survive using Bad Strategy #5 will probably be a short one.  You might manage to raid a few people’s retreats (particularly those using Bad Strategy #4, but if the situations is WROL (without rule of law), it’s pretty much a given that the justice which will be meted out by the intended victims will be swift and final.

Bad Strategy #6: “I have lots of weapons and tools. I’ve never used them. But I have them.”

Do you have prepper tools that are still in the box?  How often do you make it to the shooting range?  When’s the last time you actually felled a tree then chopped firewood?  When did you do it without a chainsaw?

There are loads of different examples that I could give about tools that just sit there in their boxes, awaiting their moment of glory when it all hits the fan. For the purposes of Bad Strategy #6, I’m including firearms as a tool.  Skill with an axe is not a given.  Accurate aim doesn’t stay with you if you don’t practice. Have you ever attempted to pressure can over an open fire? Even building a fire is not easy if you’ve only done it once or twice. (See Bad Strategy #9 for details.)

Not only is it vital to practice using your tools during good times, when you have back-up options available, but you need to test your tools to be sure that they operate as intended. I once purchased a water filtration system for use during off-grid situations. It was missing an essential gasket.  Without that gasket, it would be totally useless. Sure, I could have tried to MacGuyver something, but the point of buying all of this stuff is to save your MacGuyvering for things you don’t have. Because I checked out my tool before I needed it, I was able to send it back and get a replacement.

Bad Strategy #7: “I don’t store food. I store seeds.”

I really love gardening and have stored an abundance of seeds. Seeds are a very important thing to store. However, if you store them to the exclusion of food, you’re going to have a really bad time.

The problem with depending on seeds for your food supply is that Stuff Happens. Stuff like droughts. Stuff like aphids. Stuff like blossom-end rot. Stuff like the thrice-damned deer that managed to get past your fence.

Furthermore, if this is your plan, have you grown a garden recently? Have you produced food on your current property or your retreat property? Do you have a compost system? Have you developed your soil?  First year gardens almost never produce what you expect them to. Do you know how much produce your family will consume in a year? How are you at food preservation? What about off-grid food preservation?

Because of these concerns, a garden should not be a stand-alone survival plan. It is a vital part of a long-term preparedness scenario, but you must also be prepared for the potential of failure.

Bad Strategy #8: “I’ll just run a generator and continue on like nothing ever happened.”

Generators are loud, smelly, and finite.

If you want to bring attention to yourself in the midst of a down-grid scenario, the surest way to do it is to be the only house in the area with lights blazing in every window. Generators are commonly stolen, because they’re impossible to hide, rumbling away beside your house. A person following Bad Strategy #5 would be likely to think that if you have a generator with extra fuel, you might have some other awesome stuff that they’d want too.

It goes further than simply drawing attention to yourself though.  Gas, diesel, and propane generators can be dangerous. They can produce high levels of carbon monoxide very quickly, so if the plan were to enclose it to deter thieves, it could be deadly. Trying to power your entire house by backfeeding while still hooked up to local utilities could endanger the lives of neighbors or utility workers. Refilling a generator that has not completely cooled is a fire hazard. Make sure that your generator doesn’t fall into the category of Bad Strategy #6.  There’s more to it than simply flipping a switch and having  power.  You need to learn to operate and maintain the generator long before you have to rely on it.

Keep in mind, if you do opt to use a generator, that this is not a long-term solution. There’s only so much fuel that anyone can store. Eventually, it’s going to run out, and if your plan was completely dependent on being able to run a generator, what will you do then? My personal preparedness plan is to revert to a low-tech lifestyle that doesn’t require electricity.

Bad Strategy #9:  “I’ll just use my fireplace for cooking and heating.”

This is one that I learned about the hard way, myself. A few years ago, my daughter and I moved from the city to a cabin in the north woods of Ontario, Canada.  I figured that with a giant lake at our disposal, a well, our supplies, and a woodstove, we’d have all we needed to surive an extended power outage.

Unfortunately for us, born and raised in the city, lighting a fire and keeping it going was not that easy. The mere presence of a fireplace or woodstove does not warmth create. It took me an entire month of daily trial, error, and frustration to master a fire that would warm the house. I also learned that cooking on a woodstove was not as easy as sitting a pot on top of it. Dampers had to be adjusted, heat had to be increased, and the food required far more monitoring than expected. The year we spent there taught us more than we ever imagined about what we didn’t know.

If using your fireplace or woodstove is part of your survival plan, how much wood do you have? Is it seasoned and dry? Can you acquire more? Have you actually chopped wood before? Recently?  When is the last time you prepared food using your stove or fireplace?

The good news is, you can make this strategy work, as long as you don’t go all Bad Strategy #6.  Ramp up your wood supply and begin using your fireplace or woodstove on a regular basis to work out the bugs in your plan now.

Bad Strategy #10: “I’m going to hunker down in the city and scavenge what I need.”

This is a terrible idea on so many levels it’s hard to know where to start.

First of all, when utilities are interrupted, those in large metropolitan areas are left with few options. It’s hard to dig a latrine in the concrete jungle. Remeber when New York was hit by Superstorm Sandy? People were defecating in the halls of apartment buildings to try and keep their own apartments moderately sanitary. Unfortunately, sewage built up in the pipes and spewed into apartments, filling them with deadly human waste.

Store shelves will quickly be emptied before and after disasters, leaving little to scavenge.  If you happen across the wrong place, you’re likely to be shot by a property owner defending his or her goods. If you wait too long to evacuate, roadways will be blocked, and you can end up being a refugee, with no option but camps. Cities will be populated with desperate people, some of whom were criminals before the disaster struck. Even those who were friendly neighbors before the disaster can turn on you, because desperation can turn anyone into a criminal in order to feed their families.

Highly populated areas without outdoor space will quickly become death traps in the wake of a disaster.

Bad Strategy #11: “I’ve got my supplies, and now I don’t need to think about gloom and doom.”

Some people like to stock their goods and then forget about preparedness.  They don’t like to consider the threats they might face.  But mentally preparing for disasters is a very important step. I recently made a list of prepper movies (you can find it here) and suggested that they be used to run scenarios in your head.

This very vital step can help you to do the most important thing when a disaster occurs: accept that it has actually happened. The prepper mindset is one of problem-solving and flexibility.

It’s a unique way of looking at a situation, assessing the options, and acting that defines the prepper mindset. Think about any stressful situation that has ever happened to you.  Once you accepted the fact that it had happened you were able to set a course of action. Once you had definitive steps to take, you probably felt much calmer. You took control of the things you could, and you executed your plan.  Only by taking that first step – accepting that this mishap had indeed occurred – could you take the next two.

By refusing to consider the things that could happen, you run the risk of being unable to immediately accept it when it does happen. This sets you up for a very dangerous period of hesitation that could mean a death sentence for you and those who depend on you.

Bad Strategy #12: We’ll set up a perimeter and shoot anyone who breaches it.

With folks like the ones who intend to practice Bad Strategy #5 around, it’s no wonder that some people intend to practice Bad Strategy #12.

However, there are a few reasons that this is a bad idea.

First, instead of just protecting you, this can actually make you a target. Less than ethical people may start to wonder what you are protecting so stringently, and may work to develop a plan to overtake you. Alternatively, more ethical people may decide they don’t want a group like yours in the area and plan to forcibly evict you.  If the situation doesn’t start off like the wild west, people who adhere to this Bad Strategy will turn it into that scenario.

And finally, the real kicker: those who survive some life-changing event will be the new founders of our society.  Do you really want to live in a place where people have to shoot first and ask questions later?  How we choose to live will set the course for how we continue to live.

There’s time to adjust your plan.

There’s good news, though, if I just peed all over your favorite plan.

There’s still time to make adjustments to make your plan more workable.  You can brush up on your hunting and foraging skills. You can start an exercise plan so you don’t die when hiking.  You can test out your tools and find your weak points. You can adjust your plan to be more ethical. You may not need to chuck the plan altogether, but merely test and modify it.

The key with all things preparedness is to practice, to drill, and to make it your lifestyle. Work out the bugs now, while back-up is as close as the hardware store or grocery store.  Get yourself mentally prepared to accept the situation and change your plans on a dime if necessary.

Finally,  consider the kind of world you want to live in. If there was a giant reset, those who survive would  pave the path for a different society. By our plans and actions, we can create a different type of world. One with justice, kindness, ethics, and freedom.

Right now, our society is led by criminal corporations, sell-out politicians, and thugs, both in and out of uniform. I’d like to believe that we can do better.

Resources to help you build a better plan:

The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Through Any Disaster

Contact! A Tactical Manual for Post Collapse Survival

Rapid Fire!: Tactics for High Threat, Protection and Combat Operations

The Organic Canner

The Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months

Prepper’s Home Defense: Security Strategies to Protect Your Family by Any Means Necessary


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]

Ultimate Guide: 131 Survival Foods

survival food

By: PrepperZine

When it comes to preparedness and survival, knowing what food to store is key.

There are lists out there that cover a few survival foods, however, none of them explain why you should stock up on ‘grains’ for example. Or even what you can do with them when TSHTF.

This article will detail 131 Survival Foods, and you can use it as your guide​ to preparing. If you’re looking for ideas on which foods to add to your preps, you’re in the right place.

“STORE WHAT YOU EAT AND EAT WHAT YOU STORE” 

The motto above is one the team at PrepperZine live by. It is pointless stocking up on oats if you can’t stand eating them.

The key to choosing the right survival foods is to only purchase what you eat TODAY. If you don’t like a food item today, you’re not going to like it in a disaster scenario.

Pay attention to what your family likes to eat. Each time you prepare food, write down what items you used from your pantry or store cupboard.

After 2-3 weeks you will start to see a pattern emerging – you can then use that list of foods and combined with the other 131 survival foods listed in this guide, you will be well on your way to a survival store to be proud of!

How To Use This Guide

This guide has been broken down into 3 chapters to make it easy to navigate. Being over 13,000 words long, we have placed each survival food item into one of 8 categories. They are:

You can use the navigation featured at the top of each chapter to go directly to your food of interest.

Where possible we have included how-to videos and hand written steps so you can have a go at home and do-it-yourself. Fancy making, drying and storing you own powdered butter? How about ​fresh egg pasta and dehydrated sauce? We’ve got 131 different survival foods for you to browse and decide what’s missing from your survival stores.

A recommended way to read this guide is to download a PDF copy and print it out. You can then use your hard copy as a checklist and even take it on your next visit to the store.

Do I Need To Stock All Of These Items?

By no means do you need each survival food item in this list​.

It is best use as a guideline. Heck, we’ve even included some fun to have items such as wine and beer yeast.

The thing is, we never know what our own personal SHTF will be. For some, if could be running out of beer and for others it could be marshall law lock down. We are all different and we believe it’s best to prepare for every eventuality.

So tick off the items you already have, learn how to make some prep meals from scratch and have fun whilst you are doing it.​ You can use the navigation featured at the top of each chapter to go directly to your food of interest.

How To Survive Anything In 3 Easy Steps

How-to-Survive-Anything-in-3-Easy-Steps

You can have enough food to ride out 15 years of Armageddon. You can have a fully stocked retreat or a bunker. You can have so much ammo stashed that your floorboards are groaning.  You may have followed your favorite preparedness book’s guidelines to the letter, and thus have all of the physical aspects of survival in place.

But regardless of this, you may not be fully prepared.

Because surprisingly enough, none of these is an indication of “the prepper mindset.” Those items are a great start, but until your head is fully involved in the game, you’re not actually prepared.

To me, the pinnacle of preparedness is a way of thinking about pretty much everything you encounter. It’s a unique way of looking at a situation, assessing the options, and acting that defines the prepper mindset. Think about any stressful situation that has ever happened to you.  Once you accepted the fact that it had happened you were able to set a course of action. Once you had definitive steps to take, you probably felt much calmer. You took control of the things you could, and you executed your plan.  Only by taking that first step – accepting that this mishap had indeed occurred – could you take the next two.

There are 3 steps to handling any crisis with aplomb. While the execution isn’t always easy, making these steps second nature will greatly increase your chances of survival, no matter what kind of disaster you are facing.

1.) Accept.

No matter what situation comes your way, the first step is to accept that whatever the event is, it really happened.  This is tougher than it sounds, because our minds are programmed to protect us from emotional trauma.  Cognitive dissonance means that when a reality is uncomfortable or doesn’t jive with a person’s beliefs, that person may opt to believe in something false just to assuage his desire for comfort. Psychologist Leon Festinger, who identified the principal of cognitive dissonance, suggested  “that a motivational state of inner tension is triggered by logically inconsistent ways of thinking.”

If you’re wondering exactly how powerful cognitive dissonance can be, check out Amanda Ripley’s book, The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – and Why.  Ripley, a journalist, covered many disasters of immense scale: plane crashes, natural disasters, and 9/11.  She became curious about the difference between those who survived, and those who did not, wondering if it was dumb luck or if there was some other quality that made survival more likely. She interviewed hundreds of survivors and got her answer.  The ability to immediately accept what was occurring was the quality most of the survivors possessed.

The story that stands out in my mind the most was the one about the people in the World Trade Center on September 11. They described the last time they saw some of their coworkers.  There were many people who simply could not accept the fact that a plane had crashed into the building and that they must immediately evacuate. They gathered their belongs, tidied their desks, finished reports. They didn’t feel the same sense of urgency that those who survived did, because the situation was so horrible that they just couldn’t accept it. Their inability to accept the scope of the danger caused many of them to perish in a tragic incident that other people, who acted immediately, survived.

When disaster strikes, you can’t spend 5 minutes thinking, “This can’t actually be happening.”  It is happening, and moving past accepting that propels you through the first step into the second one.

2.) Plan.

Once you’ve accepted that this incident is indeed going down, you must devise a plan. It’s a whole lot easier to come up with a plan if you’ve spent just a little bit of time doing that previously.

This is where more mental preparedness skills come into play. Last week I put together a list for “Prepper Movie Night.” To build your prepper mindset, develop the habit of watching situations unfold and thinking through them.  What would you do in such a situation? What are the potential pitfalls? What is likely to go wrong?

Watching movies and reading books with survival situations is like a dry run for actual events. Obviously, it’s not the same as having an actual experience, but it’s a good way to practice the skills of assessing a situation and making a plan.

You can also work on building your awareness.  My friend Graywolf told me about “Kim’s Game“.  He said,

Groups including everything from the Boy Scouts to sniper schools to government spy agencies and surveillance teams use a simple game to teach situational awareness and develop your memory. This is a fantastic game that you can play with your kids or your team to get them to be much better at noticing and remembering details.

The game is based on a book by Rudyard Kipling, and it teaches you to immediately observe your surroundings and commit these observations to memory. I have played a version of this with my kids for years, asking them questions like:

  • What are 3 things you could use in this restaurant as a weapon?
  • Can you find 3 ways out of this building?
  • Can you close your eyes and tell me how many people are sitting at the counter? What do they look like?

The habit of observing and absorbing information before a situation occurs will help in the creation of your plan. You don’t have to spend the extra time taking in the specifics, because you’ve already done so automatically.

When you make your plan, don’t stop at just one.  The best-laid plans are at the mercy of a fluid situation, and disaster often comes in bundles. If your Plan A doesn’t work, you must immediately go back to Step 1 and accept that it didn’t work, then move on to Plan B.

3.) Act.

Finally, this is the step that will save your life.  You’ve accepted the situation, and made your plan. Now, it’s time to act.

This sounds easier than it is.  Many people freeze in a disaster situation.  The ability to break this paralysis is paramount to your survival.

“Freezing” is called “tonic immobility” in behavioral science and it is a biological impulse.  A study exploring the “freeze response” to stressors, describes the reaction:

Part of Barlow’s (2002) description of an adaptive alarm model suggests that a freeze response may occur in some threatening situations. Specifically, freezing — or tonic immobility — may overwhelm other competing action tendencies. For example, when fleeing or aggressive responses are likely to be ineffective, a freeze response may take place.

Similar to the flight/fight response, a freeze response is believed to have adaptive value. In the context of predatory attack, some animals will freeze or “play dead.” This response, often referred to as tonic immobility (Gallup, 1977), includes motor and vocal inhibition with an abrupt initiation and cessation… Freezing in the context of an attack seems counterintuitive. However, tonic immobility may be the best option when the animal perceives little immediate chance of escaping or winning a fight (Arduino & Gould, 1984; Korte, Koolhaas, Wingfield, & McEwen, 2005). For example, tonic immobility may be useful when additional attacks are provoked by movement or when immobility may increase the chance of escaping, such as when a predator believes its prey to be dead and releases it.

Some of our data suggested that reports of freeze were more highly associated with certain cognitive symptoms of anxiety (e.g., confusion, unreality, detached, concentration, inner shakiness). This leads to some very interesting speculation regarding whether freeze responses are also manifested cognitively (i.e., the cognitive system, together with the behavioral system, being shut down). There has been some speculation that a form of cognitive paralysis occurs due to immense cognitive demands that occur in the context of life-threatening situations or stressors (Leach, 2005).

So, in the context of this particular study, the freeze response could be related to an overload of stimuli because of the demands of creating your plan.  By having thought through various situations and getting into the habit of quickly developing plans, you can override your body’s natural desire to “freeze” and you can take definitive, potentially life-saving, action.

In an emergency, hesitation can kill you. The faster you can move through steps one and two, and then act, the more likely you are to escape many situations.

Please keep in mind that sometimes, your action actually seems like inaction. For example, a person who is aware they would have little chance of victory in a direct combat situation against a stronger, more experienced opponent might take the action of hiding and being very still. Sheltering in place in some situations is a better course of action than proceeding out into more danger.  The key is to think clearly and assess each situation on its own merit.

Here are some examples.

You don’t have to be in the midst of a terrorist attack or on a crashing plane to apply the three steps above.  Here are a few examples of apply the three steps above to other situations:

Job Loss: In this economy, the possibility of job loss is not that far-fetched.  If the primary bread-winner in your home became suddenly unemployed, here’s how the 3-step Survival Method would apply:

  1. The job is gone. The income source is gone. You can’t go out to an expensive dinner like you’d planned, or take that pricey vacation, because as of now, you have no income. You must not act as though your income is the same as it was yesterday.
  2. You go through your bank records.  You check how much money is going out, how much you have, and figure out what expenses you can cut. You check your pantry and calculate how long the food will last.
  3. You take decisive action, immediately cancelling cable, pushing back the family vacation indefinitely, sending out newly-rewritten resumes, and dialing back the grocery bill. You sell some stuff just sitting in your basement and you fill out the paperwork for unemployment insurance.

Car Accident: Sometimes the aftermath of an accident is more dangerous than the accident itself.

  1. Your car is halfway down a ravine, held in place by a groaning tree that could give at any moment. Below you is a sheer drop off. You have to get your kids out of the car before it plunges further down, because no one could survive that.
  2. You assess the kids and it seems everyone is conscious and relatively uninjured. The car, however, is not so great and could tumble the rest of the way down at any moment. The electronics on the car are working. You speak calmly to them and explain that they will be going out the back window  driver window one at a time. They are to immediately run to the left and get as far away from the vehicle as possible. You will be right behind them. The meeting point is the top of the hill by the big rock.
  3. You roll down the window, cut a jammed seat belt with the knife from the console, and wait for the kids to get out and clear of the vehicle. Then, you make your own escape.

Convenience Store Robbery:  Occasionally, you’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  1. As you’re browsing through the cooler checking the price of a bottle of water, you hear a crash, then shouting up near the cash register. It’s not a movie, a robbery is actually going down.
  2. You listen and realize the criminal is armed. You are, too, but you have your small children with you, so taking aggressive action is not an option. You decide that your best bet is to hide, but be ready to defend if necessary.
  3. You duck down and whisper to the kids to be quiet. You direct them to a hidey-hole, you pull your weapon, and you get between them and anyone that might come down the aisle. Then, you wait.

Evacuation Order: This almost happened to us last year during forest fire season.

  1. There is a giant fire drawing near. It is entirely possible that everything you own will go up in smoke. You have 15 minutes to get out.
  2. You grab the bug out bags, the safe full of documents, the pet carriers, and the photo albums. You also get swim goggles for the whole family and respirator masks out of your kit.
  3. Pets, kids, and important items are loaded in the vehicle. You’re already down the road in 10 minutes, while other people are still trying to put together an overnight bag.

Have you ever had to use your prepper mindset to survive?

Studying situations in which others have survived is a valuable way to develop your prepper mindset. Have you ever been caught up in the midst of a situation where your preparedness mindset was helpful?  Want to tell us about it?


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]

 

Survival Basics: Using Oxygen Absorbers For Food Storage

food storage oxygen absorbers

When I first started getting serious about food storage, I found myself facing an entirely new vocabulary of food storage terms.  It should come as no surprise that one of those terms was “Oxygen Absorber”.

Now I am pretty sure that you have heard about oxygen absorbers.  But do you know what they are and that they are a necessary component when sealing up dry goods for the long haul?  Oxygen absorbers are a mystery to many so today I will provide you with the basics – just enough to get you started on the road to storing your bulk foods for the long term.

Learning about Long Term Storage

The very first item I purchased for my food storage pantry was a 25 pound sack of pinto beans.  Of course back then, I thought I would simply store the big bag in the garage and let it sit there until I needed it – you know, set it and forget it.  Luckily, I did my research and learned first and foremost that beans indeed have a shelf life and will turn as hard as rocks if not properly packaged and maintained in a cool, moisture free environment.  Who knew?

The light bulb really came on as I was reading John Hill’s book How to Live on Wheat.  It was this little book that taught me not only about wheat (living and dead) but about storage containers, Mylar bags, desiccants, and yes, oxygen absorbers.  Seriously, I wanted – no, I needed – to know what was in these little packets and how could I learn to use them effectively for long term food storage.

What are oxygen absorbers made of?

Oxygen absorbers are smallish little packets that hold an iron powder.  Through the magic of technology – or so it seems to me – the outer wrapper lets oxygen and moisture in. At the same time, the outer wrapper is strong enough to prevent leakage of the the powder back out into the packaged food.

How to they work?

In the process of sucking up moisture, the iron in the absorber starts to rust.  This creates oxidation and before you know it, in a well sealed container, 99.99% of the oxygen is used up.  Any space or air left in the container is nitrogen – not oxygen – which is not a bad thing because insects can not thrive in pure nitrogen.

So, in simple terms, the little packet sucks up all of the oxygen from the air within the container in which it is placed.

Factoid:  Air is about 21 percent oxygen, 78 percent nitrogen and 1% other gasses.  Did you know that?

What about storage containers?

Still with me?  We are getting to the hard part.  As you do your research, you will hear over and over again that you should use oxygen absorbers in sealed Mylar bags.  And yes, it is true that they work extremely well when used with sealed Mylar bags.

But – and this is a big but – they can be used successfully to block out oxygen with other types of packaging, too.  All of the following will work:

Metal cans with sealed lids.  Great if you have access to a canner or a local community kitchen.  For most of us, however, this is not a realistic and cost effective solution

Mason jars with proper canning lids.  This is one of my favorites especially since I have a special attachment for my food saver that allows me to vacuum seal the mason jars quickly and easily.  And, just a personal thing, but I love looking at all of the products peeking out of those glass jars.

Mylar bags. These are heavy duty foil bags lined with a special plastic.

Vacuum sealed bags (such as the Food Saver bags).  While not as heavy as the Mylar, these are much easier to handle especially if you already have the Food Saver machine itself.

Plastic buckets with gamma seals.  These can be used alone or in combination with other Mylar or other bags such as those from the food saver.

PETE plastic bottles with airtight, screw on lids.

What is the proper way to use oxygen absorbers?

There are just a few precautions that you need to be aware of when using oxygen absorbers.

The most important precaution is to limit the unused packets from exposure to the air.  Take out only what you are going to use in the next 15 minutes or so and seal the rest up in a jar with a screw top lid.  Don’t put them in a zip lock bag because they will immediately suck up the residual oxygen and become useless.

A good rule of thumb is to use one 300 cc oxygen absorber for each gallon of product.  For larger containers, you can purchase larger, 2000 cc oxygen absorbers which are ideal for 5 or 6 gallon buckets.

Be mindful of the little pink pill.  Most reputable vendors will include a little pink pill with their package of absorbers.  If the pill is blue, the absorbers are toast so don’t use them.  However, if they are just starting to turn – not quite pink and not quite blue – they are probably okay since the change of color can happen in as little as 10 or 15 minutes.

Another good test of their viability is to pick one up an hold it.  It may feel warm.  It will also feel soft and powdery, like a little pillow.  If it gets real hot and uncomfortable, it is in full out working mode and has probably been exposed to the air for too long to be usable.  In this case it may also start to feel hard and brick like.  Toss it.

Oxygen absorbers themselves have a limited shelf life, even when sealed.  Only purchase an amount that you will use within a year.

Help Me! I Am Confused!!!

If you start to do some research on your own, prepare to be confused.  You will find that some sources feel you should use a larger quantity of oxygen absorbers when packaging dried pasta and beans versus packaging grains, flours, and rice.  The reason for this is that the latter are more dense so there is less oxygen to get rid of.

You can come to your own conclusion but the overwhelming advice I received from respected vendors was that 300 cc’s per gallon or 2000 cc’s per bucket would do just fine.

A few other pointers

Almost anything can be packaged using oxygen absorbers and they are so inexpensive, there is no reason not to use them.  There are some things, however, that should be packaged without them.  They are sugar and salt.  Why?  Well the sugar will turn to a brick of concrete and the salt simply does not need anything special to keep it preserved.  It too may clump.

In addition, sprouting seeds need oxygen to stay alive (and ultimately germinate) so you would be defeating your purpose if you sealed them up with an oxygen absorber.

A bag sealed with product plus an oxygen absorber may or may not turn brick like in a day or two or even up to a week.  The ability to fully compress is dependent upon factors such as head room and the amount of air that was sucked out during the sealing process.  This is not a problem in spite of what you may read on the internet.  If you have used an oxygen absorber sufficient for the size of your packaging, the oxygen will be gone.  The extra air is simply nitrogen and it will not harm your food.  Of course, if it makes you feel better, you could open the package and start all over again but that is not really necessary for anything but your peace of mind.

The Final Word

Using oxygen absorbers (or Mylar bags, a FoodSaver or even buckets) does not have to be a big mystery.  All you really need is someone to explain it to you, right?

Seriously though, my eBook, The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage, covers what food to store, how to store it and a whole lot more.  For the basics, though, keep checking back as I will do my best to explain the mysteries of food storage – in very plain terms – here on Backdoor Survival.

For an interesting technical discussion of Oxygen Absorbers, read A Guide to Oxygen Absorbers.

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.

If You Are Not Thinking Tactically You Are Not A Survivalist

tactical training

I am taking a short break from my latest series on the real numbers behind our failing economy to address an issue within the Liberty Movement that I find a bit disturbing; namely the issue of inadequate strategic thinking and common sense amongst a certain new crop of survival writers, “gurus”, and their fans. I have only been a survival and prepping enthusiast for ten years, and I have been training in tactical methodologies for six years, but I think the near constant saturation of training I have received over that time makes me at least moderately qualified to discuss survival philosophies. During my work in the alternative media, I am also exposed to all of the undercurrents and trends within the movement, including many negative and destructive trends.

The following article is only a summation of my personal observations. I am sure some people will disagree with my conclusions and claim that the exact opposite reality is true for them, and that’s great. If they don’t see the same problems around them that I see, then they are lucky. I can only relate my experiences based on my dealings with hundreds of thousands of liberty proponents on a monthly basis.

Survivalism has become in some ways a mainstay of popular culture over the course of the past few years. The mainstream still calls us “paranoid kooks” and “doom and gloomers”, but they can’t seem to get rid of us. Survivalists are a fact of American life now. However, survivalism as a philosophy remains in the infant stages of its progression.

Most of us have never lived through a full spectrum crisis event. Most of us have not lived through the peak damage of an economic collapse. Most of us have not been trapped in a war zone (except by choice through enlistment). Most of us have NO real world experience whatsoever in terms of surviving a true catastrophe. Therefore, it behooves us to NOT make detrimental assumptions where such an event is concerned.

Every once in a while, a person who claims to have survived a collapse event in a foreign nation gives instruction to the movement. Sometimes this instruction is based on true insight, but sometimes the instruction is so amoral and dishonorable it becomes clear that the person only survived because they embraced their inner psychopath (see my article ‘A Moral Code For The Post-Collapse World’), destroying others in order to subsist rather than having any actual sustainable skills, and they lucked out in the fact that no one had the chance to visit revenge upon them. This is, of course, piracy, not legitimate survivalism; for without other people to plunder resources from, the pirate is useless and dies.

What the world needs are producers and intelligent innovators in order to function or rebuild. The problem is, the existence of “pirates”, looters, thugs, and in some cases corrupt government funded murderers, makes life for the average producer rather difficult. I would say that for some survivalists destiny will require them to risk their lives in order to protect and defend producers, not to mention the very values and morals they hold dear. Unfortunately, it is not enough to have “sheepdogs” around, and anyone who thinks the sheepdog is the end all be all of a thriving post-collapse society is living in a fantasy land.

The reality is, EVERY GOOD PERSON, young and old, man and woman, producer and protector, gardeners, engineers, doctors, etc., MUST become tactically proficient in order for free civilization to survive post crisis. Every good person must become as dangerous a human being as possible, and they must organize as dangerous human beings, if they hope to have any chance of facing the terrors ahead.

I’ll say it again; the post-collapse world will require honorable men who are also incredibly dangerous men. If you are not both of these things, then you are useless to the future.

To become incredibly dangerous, average Americans and liberty champions must train in tactical methods, and they must be willing to organize in a tactical manner. If you are not training tactically, if you are not thinking tactically, and if you are not organizing locally, then you will not survive a large scale calamity, and you are thus, not a survivalist. I really wouldn’t know what to call you. A “faux survivalist”, perhaps…

Here are just a few of the obstacles I see stopping good people from adopting a necessary tactical mindset:

Fear Of Public Perception

This is often the worst hindrance to training and organization within the Liberty Movement, and I blame it partly on the militia movements of the 80’s and 90’s. Open training was common during the golden era of the modern miltia movement, including rifle proficiency, team tactics, communications, and asymmetrics. This is not to say that their training was especially advanced, but at least they had the balls to do it within the public sphere despite the rabid propaganda attacks of the federal government.

The Oklahoma City bombing changed everything, and within months, the once vast and growing militia movement mostly vanished. Group tactical training immediately became taboo – a methodology survival adherents would not touch with the business end of their M1 Garand. For all intents and purposes, they ran and hid when they should have stood their ground, leaving future generations without a breathing example of tactical knowledge within the civilian world or an outlet for training aside from joining the military.

Even today, some people within the new survival movement cannot seem to shake the Oklahoma City induced fear of what others might think if they train in high grade tactical methods, or train as a neighborhood, church, veteran’s hall, town, or county. Surely, only insane bombers and right wing extremists have any interest in such activities, right?

Now, some folks might say that because I was not involved at that time, I would not understand what it was like, and I might have acted in a similar fashion. I say this is nonsense. In my work with groups like the Oath Keepers Community Preparedness Team, I will NEVER stop training others and helping to organize others. Another Oklahoma City-style event could happen tomorrow and it would have absolutely no bearing on what I know to be the right thing to do.

Public perception is as meaningless as it is changeable. Frankly, the kind of public that shrieks about honest citizens training for self defense is not the kind of public I take very seriously. The “public”, as it were, can kiss my ass.

Delusions Of OPSEC

A lot of faux survivalists throw the term “OPSEC” around without having any real understanding of what it means. They seem to think that it is a two syllable argument that invalidates any rational call for organization. This is simply naïve. In a true collapse, there is no such thing as a “lone wolf” or a “gray man”. These are fictional musings common only to the imaginations of cinema and the minds of inexperienced preppers.

If you look at the actual proactive survival responses to breakdowns in places like Argentina or Bosnia, or the survival response to the cartels of Michoacan, Mexico, or the survival response in Rhodesia, or even the Kurdish response to the horrors of ISIS, the same scenario always presents itself – common citizens banding together for mutual aid and self defense. There is no denying this tactical response, nor the fact that in most cases it increases the survivability of all those involved.

Yet, again and again the Liberty Movement is cursed with delusions of “Operation Security” in which no one talks to anyone. No one organizes their neighborhoods because their neighbors “might” turn on them. No one organizes past the two or three man “secret cell” because corrupt government might identify them and put them on a “red list”. I think OPSEC has become an all encompassing excuse for faux survivalists to remain lazy and afraid.

First, if you think you are going to go “gray man”, and remain stationary, think again. Hiding who you are from your neighbors will not stop your neighbors from looting your house anyway as soon as the inclination strikes them. And, it certainly will not stop more aggressive pirates from simply moving house to house at random through your neighborhood until they get to you. Gee, in that situation it sure would be nice if the neighborhood was working together rather than huddling like rats in the dark corners of their tract homes.

Second, if you really believe you have no neighbors with the moral fortitude to work with you rather than against you during a crisis, then you should be planning to leave the area anyway. Again, this is tactical common sense that is being suffocated by the idiocy of the OPSEC argument.

Third, if you have ever visited a liberty website on a regular basis, then you are probably already on a government list. Sorry, but that’s just the way it goes. I prefer to make that list so big it becomes useless to the establishment.

Finally, there are many levels of OPSEC. There are public institutions and there are private institutions within any activist movement; both serve vital purposes. You don’t have to tell the whole world who you are and where your supplies are stored, but you do have to work with other people if you want to live. Period. No one has the ability to do everything. No one has every skill set needed to ride out a violent social storm. No one. Either you work within a structure of people you have trained with and you trust, or you die.

Invalid Assumptions Against Military Equipment

There are as many opinions on survival gear as there are survivalists, but, some opinions are utterly wrong. These opinions are often based on assumptions of use, rather than experience. For example, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a faux survivalist think himself brilliant for admonishing the use of camouflage.

“Camo makes you a target!” they claim, without any context as to why. And yes, if you throw on your army digital while trotting down mainstreet during the initial stages of collapse, you’ll probably stand out like a sore thumb. But the issue here is one of context of use. Most environments you will encounter across this country are rural, not urban. If you have ever practiced camo tests as I have with multiple survival groups, even a half-assed keyboard survivalist would be able to see the difference between a person wearing normal clothing (even in muddled colors) verses camouflage. In fact, most of the time you will not see the person in proper camo until he is right on top of you.

The root of the anti-camo argument is rather hilarious. Essentially, this crowd is stating that one should not wear camo because camo is a red flag for training, and training makes you a target (if you are seen). So, their solution is for you to wear less effective clothing which makes you easier to see, leaving the potential bandit the option of deciding whether or not you look like a threat (in which case he might shoot you regardless). Why not have clothing for both urban and rural situations? People who do not think tactically often try to make discussions on gear an all-or-nothing proposal.

Another problem common to the new survivalism is that some survivalists simply do not have the money to purchase certain pieces of kit, and so they badmouth said kit so that they don’t have to admit to themselves that they want it but can’t have it. I can’t afford a Barrett semi auto 50 BMG rifle system, but I’m not going to pretend that it’s not a useful tool or that a survivalist might not find an occasion where he could apply it.

I see faux survivalists downplay all kinds of useful gear from night vision to ballistic armor, gear that is infinitely useful in all kinds of situations, based on the assumption that the average survivor “won’t ever find need for it”. This is like Dianne Feinstein’s claim that no one “needs” a mag capacity of over ten rounds because when will they ever run into a problem where eleven rounds are necessary?

For those who are tactically minded, ALL gear, especially gear in common military use, is also useful to the survivalist, and if they can afford it they will buy it. Why limit one’s own tactical potential because of a blind assumption?

Real Survivalists

This is the bottom line – tactical training matters, and strategic organization saves lives during terrible times. If these two things are not a priority for you, then do not call yourself a prepper, a survivalist, or any variation of the term. If you want a real chance at survival for yourself and your family, then you must:

1) Master the operation of your weapons system, whatever that system may be. This means daily dry fire practice, weekly live fire practice (even if your ammo is limited – training is more important than a large stockpile), shooting from multiple positions, reloading drills, transition drills, and speed drills. This isn’t advanced training, it is the very basic fundamentals you need. Going to the shooting range once every three months to sight in from a bench is simply not going to cut it.

2) Build a team. Organize starting with family, friends, church group, neighbors, and then outward. Without a team, there is little chance of survival.

3) Train in team tactics. This is where the majority of people freak out and scurry away to avoid being labeled “paramilitary” or “extremist”. It’s time for the movement to get over these meaningless labels and get some work done.

4) Learn to operate as much gear and kit as possible, regardless of who says it is “useful” or “not useful”.

5) Maintain a practical level of operational security, but do not let it prevent you from organization. Without organization, you will probably fail, and all your carefully planned “OPSEC” will have counted for nothing.

6) Push yourself to the best of your abilities. In the end, survival is about force of will; the will to endure, the will to fight back, the will to stand by one’s principles no matter the state of the world. Will and training trump all other deficiencies and enemies.

This article might seem critical, and it is, but there is a purpose here. I want people to live. I want good liberty minded activists to carry on. I want a future where the best people rise from the ashes, not the worst. In order for this better future to become a reality, a number of deluded conventions and poor judgments will have to be changed. Survival, at its very center, is about identifying one’s weaknesses and turning them into strengths. If the Liberty Movement is not willing to do this, then we do not deserve to survive.


Brandon Smith is the founder of the Alternative Market Project, an organization designed to help you find like-minded activists and preppers in your local area so that you can network and construct communities for barter and mutual aid. Join www.Alt-Market.com today and learn what it means to step away from the unstable mainstream system and build something better. You can contact Brandon Smith at: [email protected].

 

10 Ways To Stay Calm And Prepare For A Disruptive Event

Caught in the Storm

Over a recent dinner at my place with like-minded friends, the conversation turned to the state of the world, our country, and society in general.  While this was supposed to be a fun evening and a much needed break from long work-days, the conversation became quite sobering as we started to rattle off all of the disruptive events that the four of us prepare for.  Events that may happen tomorrow or events that may never happen.

I began to squirm in my chair as I realized that each of us felt challenged both by the need to keep our preps up (meaning stuff and skills) and the need to live a joyful life.  The two, it would seem, do not always mix.  We want it to, and most assuredly I write about it, but believing and doing are two different matters altogether.

Since then, I have given some thought to coping while living in a world where a disruptive event could turn life upside down.  Today I want to throw down the gauntlet and tell you that even for me, it is a extremely difficult.  And  if I am feeling it, you must be too.

What the Heck is a Disruptive Event?

Do you like that word?  Disruptive Event? For the past year that has been my catch-all phrase for the myriad of things that could happen to alter life as we know it.

I use this term to describe any event that could potentially transform our personal lives into one of chaos, distress, confusion, or all of the above.  Interestingly enough, today I could not find many references to this term using Google so the how, where, and why I started using it most likely has to do with my own thoughts on TEOTWAWKI.

Note:  TEOTWAWKI = The End of the World as We Know It

TEOTWAWKI was a commonly used acronym in preparedness and survival circles until the end of 2012 when various predications of the end of times did not materialize.  The term is still used today, in a much broader sense.  At Backdoor Survival, for example, TEOTWAWKI refers to anything that disrupts our normal way of life.  This could be something as devastating as an EMP taking down the power grid, to a more mundane (but equally devastating) job loss or loss of a family member.

Disruptive events are common and that is why we prepare.  In 12 Months of Prepping, as I have defined it, we are preparing for short term disruptive events and in doing so, we are better prepared than 95% of our friends and neighbors.

But honestly and truly, that is just a start.  What about after that?

The trite answer is that we focus on skills and projects that foster self sufficiency without modern conveniences.  We also focus on defensive tactics and how we will defend not only our homes, but our person, and our rights under the Constitution.  More difficult is that we prepare our mental state so that we will be level-headed and calm when our world becomes a sea if chaos.

The Plight of the Prepper Who Carriers the Burden of Truth

The past four years have been rather remarkable in that on the surface and to the naïve and uninformed, they have appeared outlandishly normal.  Those in the know, however, have been able to peel away the layers of deceit and recognize that information coming from so-called official sources changes daily to suit some unwritten agenda.

While living in the moment, everything appears copacetic.  But in truth, for me it almost feels as though we are entering twilight zone.  Does it for you?

Plenty has already been written here an elsewhere about being prepared but precious little is written about how you overcome the personal sense of being alone and lonely in your preparedness quest.  That, to me, and I suspect for you, is the plight of the prepper who carriers the burden of truth.

So, without resorting to doom and gloom, today I am sharing my take what we need to do to prepare for a “disruptive event” or tipping point in a reasonable and calm manner.  This is a mixed bag of both practical preps and lifestyle choices.  I hope this list helps you, as it is helping me.

10 Ways to Stay Calm and Prepare for a Disruptive Event

1.  Have a frank and unemotional discussion with a close family member or someone you trust about your concerns.  Share with them the specific disruptive event that will constitute your own tipping point.  Even if they are not a prepper (and many times, a prepper goes the journey alone), it will be good to share your concerns out loud.

2.  Relieve stress with laughter.  Don’t be afraid to have fun.  Tell jokes, do something goofy, play stupid games and try your best to have a good time.  If things get bad, you will undergo extreme stress.  Plan for that by thinking through some fun activities now, while your mind and focus are still clear.

3.  Having an abundant back stock of food will give you peace of mind.  Fill your pantry with enough food to eat during an extended lockdown. How much is enough?  I am not one to quote specific quantities as it relates to time because individual calorie needs vary.  That said, here is a list to get you started:  20 Items to Kick Start Your Food Storage Plan.

4.  Go the extra mile when it comes to clutter, cleanliness, and sanitation.  If a disruptive event happens, your own personal ground zero will be clean and tidy.  Your personal space will be much easier to maintain going forward and besides, when the disruptive event occurs, doing routine housekeeping chores will be the least of your worries.  Store fresh bleach (no more than six months old) or pool shock.

Print out instructions for disinfecting surfaces and purifying water.  Stock up on hand sanitizers, alcohol, and purifying essential oils.  Read Survival Basics: Water and Water Storage and How to Use Pool Shock to Purify Water.

5.  Nail down access to water within your home.  By that I mean within your living space and not outdoors in the carport or an out-building.  If there is a disruptive event and you are required to hunker down, you will want plenty of drinking water in your home, not outdoors,  Start filling repurposed juice and soda bottles with water and tuck them away so that they will be accessible.

Learn how to remove water from your hot water heater and if you can, keep a hose nearby so you can get the water out of the tank and into your living space.

6.  Stay informed by reading news from a variety of sources.  Take the time to visit a variety of websites in addition to tuning in to mainstream media reports.  If something you watch or read sounds like fear-mongering, move on.

7.  Protect your immune system with healthy eating including lots of antioxidants in the form of colorful fruits and vegetables plus plenty of high quality protein foods.

8.  Practice saying “no” in everyday life.  This, for some, can be extremely difficult.  I am someone who has difficulty saying no to people and as a result, I often find myself in a pickle as I become overworked and burdened with things I have promised to do for others to the exclusion of my own task and chores.  You are going to have to say “no” to those that come knocking on your door asking for help if the SHTF.  Better start practicing now!

9.  Prepare a written plan of action detailing what you will do if a disruptive event occurs.  Start with one type of event then later, create a plan for a second type of event.  Speaking from experience, having a plan helps even if, when the time comes, a portion of the plan has to be tossed.  The added benefit is that if you are a solo prepper, you can share the plan when your non-prepping family starts to come around (as I guess they will if things get bad enough).

10.  Continue to live  your life normally.  Go to parties.  Enjoy family events.  In the back of your mind you my think or even know that a mess of a freight train is heading your way.  But while you are waiting, just live!

The Final Word

Now is the time to be calm and to mobilize your energy so that you will be mentally prepared for a disruptive event that we hope will not happen.  More than anyone, I realize how difficult this is.  It can be lonely, depressing, and tiresome.  Trust me, I feel your angst and your weary spirit.

Hang in there and know you are not alone.  As I said in point #1, sometimes it helps to just talk about it and to share your feelings.  That has worked for me and I hope it works for you.

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.

Cash After The Collapse: How To Make Moonshine

moonshine

Collapse currency is a necessary shtf insurance policy we need to invest in for our long-term longevity. With this idea in mind, when we look at the concept of investing and wealth preservation for uncertain times, we want to employ a strategy that will provide as much coverage as possible so that if we are hit out of the blue with something totally unexpected, we’ll at least have the basic necessities to survive.

One of the most popular shtf currencies many have invested in is gold and silver. While these are the currencies of kings, many believe it may not be the only form of currency in a shtf scenario to prepare for. In this type of scenario, you must take into account to our everyday lives will have changed. We will longer have access to our modern conveniences: medicine, clean drinking water, food and, in desperate times, we will do what we can to trade or barter for it.

If we are facing an event where there is a capacity of millions of lives killed and take decades to recover from like a nuclear war or an EMP strike, then things like gold and silver may go on the back burner for a while. It’ll still have some value, but when survival consumes your every thought, your priorities tend to change. Valuable commodities like medicine, sugar and salt, seeds, knives and tobacco are a few of the six kinds of currency that will be tradable in a long-term emergency. Another important item to stock up on is alcohol.

SHTF Uses for Alcohol

  • Alcohol has long been used in place of antiseptic and can clean wounds, sterilize needles, knives and other instruments.
  • This barter items can also be used as fuel for engines (use as fuel on small equipment, generators, etc).
  • Alcohol can also be added to medicinal herbs to make tinctures and elixirs.
  • Use alcohol as a solvent to use to clean guns, razors and other tools.
  • In a dire situation, alcohol can also be given to an injured person as a numbing agent so medical or dental procedures can be performed.

When all else fails, knowing how to make your own distilled spirits could save your life or provide you with a handsome barter item. Knowing how to make your own alcohol will ensure you have a tradeable item for future currency exchanges.

Alcohol is made with two simple ingredients: sugar and yeast. Yeast, should be stored in a cool, dry place. If kept in its original packaging it can last for two years. If stored in the freezer, it can last up to five years. Learn how to make your own yeast for long-term sustainability. Sugar is a forever food item and can last indefinitely.

Steps to Make Your Own Moonshine

  1. Boil water and add cornmeal. Don’t go beyond boiling point or you’ll kill the yeast. It should just be warm enough to touch.
  2. Now that you’ve made the mash, add sugar and yeast. If there are 2 ingredients you need to appreciate, it’s these. These are the very two things in charge of providing that special kick.
  3. Ferment it for 5 days or until the bubbles stop forming. Now, you have the sour mash. Don’t let the name fool you because this mix is designed to make life sweet!  Heat the sour mash in your pressure cooker and set it at 173 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes the alcohol rise to the surface.
  4. Attach one end of the copper pipe into the pressure cooker vent and dip the other end into a container filled with cold water. Make sure the pipe doesn’t touch your precious mash.
  5. As the vapors course through the cold copper tubing, the alcohol formed is now what we call the moonshine.
  6. Filter the drink through charcoal and remove gunk.

See graphic below for detailed reference:

(click to enlarge)

moonshine

Keep your alcohol in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight. Keep the bottles upright and do not open them. Once opened, the liquid will evaporate and lose its flavor after six to eight months.

Read more on distilling your spirits here

Related Article:

45 Survival Uses for Alcohol


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.

Shakespeare: Tax Dodger And Food Hoarder?

shakespeare

Food has always been a form of currency, especially during times of economic strife. Over the last several years, we have witnessed the drastic shifts of food prices, causing many of us to prepare for future times of hardship. As we live through these unprecedented times, we bear witness to not only economic uncertainties, but political shifts, environmental changes, and societal upheavals. All of these events shape how we perceive the world. That said, if our environment shapes and influences our perceptions of the world, wouldn’t it make sense to prepare for this uncertainty? It’s common sense, I know. Yet, there have been times in history when preparing during times of strife was frowned upon and had the potential to cause imprisonment, as a result.

Was Shakespeare a Man of His Time or a Product of His Environment?

Most notably, William Shakespeare, arguably one of the greatest writers who lived, lived during his own time of strife. He lived and wrote in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, during a period known as the “Little Ice Age,” when unusual cold and heavy rain caused poor harvests and food shortages. Surviving during this time was a struggle, and food insecurity was at the forefront of problems.

William Shakespeare is quoted as saying,

Famine is in thy cheeks,
Need and oppression starveth in thine eyes,
Contempt and beggary hang upon thy back;
The world is not thy friend nor the world’s law:
The world affords no law to make thee rich;
Then be not poor, but break it, and take this.

Romeo and Juliet (5.1.76), Romeo to the Apothecary

Shakespeare’s insights into famine were because he lived amongst it. As a wealthy landowner and successful businessman, he saw those around his struggling to survive. He invested some of his wealth into storing large amounts of grains and later sold it for inflated prices. Whether it was to prepare for long-term famine or to make a quick buck, no one really knows. What we do know is that it was illegal during the time.

Academics at the University of Wales claimed they have uncovered court documents that, during his lifetime, threatened Shakespeare with fines for illegally stockpiling food during a famine and imprisonment for tax evasion.

According to the article:

Court and tax records show that over a 15-year period Shakespeare purchased grain, malt and barley to store and resell for inflated prices, according to a paper by Aberystwyth University academics Dr Jayne Archer, Professor Richard Marggraf Turley and Professor Howard Thomas.

The study notes: “By combining both illegal and legal activities, Shakespeare was able to retire in 1613 as the largest property owner in his home town, Stratford-upon-Avon. His profits – minus a few fines for illegal hoarding and tax evasion – meant he had a working life of just 24 years.”

Source

While some may deem Mr. Shakespeare as a businessman for selling food at inflated prices during a time of famine, others would consider him an opportunist. He saw an opportunity in storing grains for a long-term famine and also realized it meant he could profit off of the business venture, as well. These days, one would be more likely to call Shakespeare a capitalist rather than an illegal food hoarder.

What Can We Learn From This?

As preppers, we know that when a population’s basic needs are not being met, a person will do anything to keep their family fed – even pay inflated prices. So, I ask you, what side of this scenario do you want to be on: The one who has the grains to barter and sell, or the ones begging for it at the mercy of the seller?

The only way to change how severely these types of debacles can affect us is by recognizing them for what they are and preparing for them beforehand. Knowing the possible storms that are on the horizon and preparing for them will help us stay better insulated from them. This concept is gone over in great detail in The Prepper’s Blueprint, and focuses on the importance of keeping a vigilant watch for potential hazards that are in our field of vision.

Whether or not Shakespeare was a ruthless profiteer and food hoarder, he can teach us a valuable lesson. In dire times, our food sources are a lifeline and something we should all prepare for. With the concern that many of our main food sources have peaked in productivity, in the future, we could be facing a famine of our own. Calculating how much food we will need for a long-term disaster is essential in ensuring we have everything we need for our family. While others are investing in worthless nickknacks, investing in goods can help us invest in our wealth.


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.

How This Nutty Article May Save Your Life

acorns

In a long-lived emergency, our food stores can quickly be depleted. If this occurs, we must rely on our knowledge of native food sources growing wild in our area. One such wild edible is found in great abundance in many parts of the country and is a food source that is long forgotten. We are talking about the acorn.

Acorns can easily serve as an efficient way of pulling together a large amount of food. Many indigenous tribes and groups from around the world have utilized the acorn for its ability to give us nutrition and sustenance. In fact, it is estimated that in some regions of California, where the natives used them, fifty percent of their yearly caloric intake came from the humble acorn.

Acorns Serve Multiple SHTF Purposes

Native Indians used acorns as a huge source of their nutrition. As well, acorns should be looked at as a staple foods and can replace our dependence on corn and wheat. Acorns of white and black oak trees are readily available in many parts of the country and have a wide variety of uses.

  • Acorns can be used to make a variety of different foods sources ranging from coffeeflour, soup thickeners, alternatives for oatmeal or just eating the nuts as a protein source.
  • The vegetable oils in acorns are comparable to olives, corn and soybeans and can be used as a cooking oil or biofuel source.
  • The nut meal can be used as animal fodder after the acorns have been shelled and ground.
  • The shells can be used as a heat source, garden mulch, or added to the compost pile.
  • Acorns are a complete protein and nutrition source.
  • Acorns possess many medicinal properties.
  • Acorns can be scattered around an area to lure wild game for additional food sources.

Health Benefits of Acorns

  • Help control blood sugar levels.
  • High in complex carbohydrates.
  • Lower in fat compared to other nuts.
  • Rich in vitamins B12, B6, folate riboflavin, thiamin and niacin.
  • Good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, sodium, copper and zinc.
  • Good source of fiber and protein.

Medicinal Benefits of Acorns

The water used to remove the tannins in the boiling process from acorns can be saved and refrigerated to use for various medicinal applications. Over time, it will develop mold on the surface. Before using, bring it back to a boil which will kill the mold and continue to refrigerate for future uses.

  • Sooth skin rashes, burns, and small cuts
  • Use externally to help treat hemorrhoids
  • Soothes and heals the blisters and helps reduce the itching
  • Brown water ice cubes helps to soothe inflamed tissues
  • Use as a gargle to soothe your sore throat
  • A mild tea can be made to reduce symptoms of diarrhea

Important Points to Consider When Harvesting Acorns

  1. The amount of tannins present in the acorn can play a role in the taste factor. Like most nuts, lightly toasting them in an oven can help the taste improve. Toast on a cookie sheet in an oven at 175° F.  Stir acorns around to prevent scorching. Tannic acid is water-soluble and can be removed by boiling or flushing them out.
  2. Collect healthy acorns that have right type of kernel. Avoid acorns that are still firmly attached to the cap were shed early and are defective. As well, acorns that have streaks indicate a fungus is present. Also acorns that have holes had an acorn weevil present in the acorn and should not be eaten. Throw out any acorns that have already begun to germinate.
  3. Investing in a durable hand crank type grain mill and oil expeller would be beneficial in extracting the meat and oils of the acorn.

If you have access to a running stream, to save on time and energy, some have added their acorns to a mesh bag and secure it in a stream for two days to help naturally leach out the tannins. If you cannot do this method, see the following video for to learn how to effectively leach out tannins and make acorn meal and flour.

The acorn flavor is slightly nutty, very hearty and can last as long as regular flour, as long as it stays dry. Store your acorn flour in a cool, dry place.

Here are some great recipes to practice using acorn flour:

Acorn Pancakes

  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salad oil
  • 1 teaspoon of honey or sugar
  • 1/2 cup of ground and leached acorns (see video)
  • 1/2 cup of cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup of whole wheat or white flour
  • 2 teaspoons of double action baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup of milk

Mix all ingredients together. If the batter is too thick to pour, thin it with milk. Pour pancakes into a hot, greased griddle and cook slowly until brown on both sides.

Prepper Pemmican

  • 1 lb. lean stewing meat, cut quite small
  • 1/2 cup dehydrated wild plums
  • 1/2 cup acorn meal

Boil the lean stewing meat. When it is tender, drain and allow it to dry in a bowl. Grind all of the ingredients together in a meat grinder using a fine blade. Grind again, mixing finely, distributing the ingredients very well. Place in a covered dish and refrigerate overnight. (Or you can eat right away, but like many foods, the refrigerating allows the flavors to blend nicely.) You can serve this on any flatbread, such as a tortilla. It is best served warm, or you can reheat it in the pan in the oven like a meatloaf.

Cornmeal and Acorn Mush

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup acorn meal, ground
  • 1 cup cornmeal

Bring salted water to a boil and sprinkle the acorn meal into the boiling water, stirring briskly with a wire or twig whisk. Then add the cornmeal. Add just enough cornmeal to make a thick, bubbling batch in which a wood spoon will stand up fairly well. Place the saucepan in a larger container holding two inches or more of boiling water. (Use a double boiler, if you have one.) Simmer the mush until quite thick, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep it from lumping.

Cornmeal and acorn mush is very good for breakfast on a cold morning. It can be served with sweetened milk and a dab of wild fruit jam or homemade butter. But it is also great as a main course lunch or dinner. You can also add salsa or bacon bits and grated cheese on top to get great variety. This mush is very filling and will stick to your ribs.

Apache Acorn Cakes

  • 1 cup acorn meal, ground fine
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • pinch of salt

Mix the ingredients with enough warm water to make a moist, not sticky dough. Divide into 12 balls. Let rest, covered, for 10 minutes or so. With slightly moist hands, pat the balls down into thick tortilla-shaped breads. Bake on an ungreased cast iron griddle over campfire coals or on clean large rocks, propped up slightly before the coals. If using the stones, have them hot when you place the cakes on them. You’ll have to lightly peel an edge to peek and see if they are done. They will be slightly brown. Turn them over and bake on the other side, if necessary. Add butter, if necessary.

Recipe Sources

To conclude, the mighty oak tree is a symbol for strength, longevity and durability, and their seeds are no different. Understanding how underutilized this food source is can give you an upper-hand for a time when food may not be as readily available.

Related Articles:

Acorn Nuts: The Grain That Grows on Trees

Acorn: The Perennial Grain


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.

How To Homestead When You Rent: Part Three

apartments

Most prepper-types are also homesteaders but do not know it.  I say that because we “Homestead in Place” which is a term I defined back in January 2014.  Perhaps others are now using that term; I have not checked.  None the less, it still applies.

By my own definition, to “homestead in place” means that you take what you have – be it a downtown condo, an urban apartment, a suburban tract home or a cottage home in a seaside community – and choose an assortment of traditional homesteading activities to apply to your unique environment.

Taking that up a notch, homesteading seems to imply ownership. But wait.  Renters can homestead as well!

For this series of articles, I have asked LeAnn Edmondson aka the Homestead Dreamer, to coach us on the tactics needed to homestead if you are a renter.  If you have already read parts one and part two, you will begin to recognize a common theme.  Homesteading, whether you rent or own, is 90% mindset!

Here, in part three, learn to pick a task then assess the resources you need to accomplish that task. Surely you can do that, right?

How to Homestead When You Rent – Assess Your Resources

It is 100% possible to homestead when you rent and it amazes me how few people realize this simple fact. The days of pioneering people moving West may be over, but the ideals and lessons they left behind are there for those who feel the tug that pulls us to follow in their footsteps. To be more self-reliant and produce more of your own food and comforts is usually at the heart of it. Look up modern homesteading and you may be very surprised at what you find.

It is reassuring to know that there are others just like you with similar (or even less) living space than you have and the amazing things they are doing with it. You define what homesteading is for yourself. There is no right or wrong answer.

Let’s say you have chosen to focus on growing herbs because you want access to fresh more often and don’t want to pay the high prices for dehydrated spices. You have your focus! Now it’s time to gather your resources. This is where we really get into the meat of your mentality shifting from ‘consumer’ to ‘producer’ and homesteader!

No one can do it all alone but I would rather do some of it instead of none.

Let’s assume you live in a large apartment building and have a very small balcony, say 12-15 total square feet. (We also assume the rules allow for plants on the balcony). You have a limited budget along with limited space. These are usually the excuses given for not even starting something anything considered homesteading.

Break through the reasons you can’t do what you want and problem solve the ways you can.

Assess Your Resources

You know you will need containers to plant in, soil, seeds, and some good fertilizer or plant food. For the preservation of your harvest, you will need to learn which method suits you, best given what you have available and how to do it.

Because of your budget restrictions, you might be able to buy a couple bags of soil, but cannot afford to buy everything new. Honestly, you shouldn’t have to! You already have 50% of what you need just lying around your house. The soil and seeds can also be gotten for (almost) free if you are willing to do the legwork.

Containers. Save your milk jugs, soda bottles (if you drink it), and go through your cupboards for any plastic containers that have seen better days. These are wonderful for getting your starts going! Function first, looks second!

Fertilizer. Do you drink coffee? Eat eggs? If not, chances are you know someone who does. Coffee grounds are a wonderful source of nitrogen for your plants. You can sprinkle them over the top of the soil, work it into the top few inches, or simply steep some in the water you use for your plants. The eggshells can be crushed down and mixed in with the soil as well to add back calcium and other trace minerals into the soil. Neither method should be done all the time, only as needed for a nice boost. The egg shells will take several months to absorb (depending how finely they are crushed).

Soil. Due to the space given in this scenario, you won’t need very much. If your budget is zero or you can’t get some from a local store, there are other ways! Social media is a great way to get the word out there. You could barter (another very homestead thing to do) some of your time or skills for a bag of extra soil someone has. Hit Craigslist and check for people in your area who may have some they need to get rid of. Don’t forget farmers and farmer’s markets!

Seeds. Seeds are incredibly inexpensive for the amount you get. Again, because you may be dealing with an extremely small space, a whole pouch of lettuce seeds may be too much. There are ways to get a variety of seeds without spending a lot of money.

You can buy a few different packs (for around $4-6 total) of seeds, take out what you want to use and take the rest to a seed exchange! Check your local agricultural extension office for information about seed exchanges in your area. Also check farmer’s markets and Craigslist.

There are people who have so many extra, they give them away. Asking for packets from last year on social media is another way to get free seeds. Their germination rate may be lower but it was free and you still reap the rewards of the harvest!

Preserving the Harvest. There are many methods that you can choose from to suit your needs and capabilities. Since what you have grown in this scenario are things like sage, oregano, chives, and rosemary, all you really need to do for preservation is to dry them out and store them!

There are dehydrators you can buy that will speed up the process and ensure everything is truly dry but you can also simply use your oven on the lowest setting possible with the door opened a crack. Not the most energy efficient but it will do in a pinch. See if your friends have a dehydrator you can use or research different ways to dry them in the house. Most homes have some sort of humidity in them which runs the risk of molding due to the leaves not being fully dried. To combat that, you can have a small fan blowing air around.

You can also preserve your fresh herbs and spices by making an olive oil infusion. Place the herbs into a bottle with olive oil, cork it tightly and let it sit for a few days until the flavor has worked through it. This method requires you use it sooner rather than later.

Another longer term storage idea is placing herbs into ice cube trays and pouring olive oil over them. Freeze the tray until everything is solid and then simply pop them out. If using a plastic bag, make sure it is freezer grade. This is recommended for the hardier, thicker herbs such as rosemary. Other people will also place herbs into the ice tray and simply fill them with water. When they are making a soup or stew, they just grab a few cubes to add ‘fresh’ herbs to the meal!

As you can see above, all you have to do is shift your mentality.

Look at what you have around you that serves the same purposes as a “flower pot” would, for example. Just because it isn’t a certain shape or color doesn’t mean it can’t be turned into one! These are the first steps to seeing items that others would view as trash and repurposing them to fit your needs.

Function First, Looks Second!

One of the most common questions I get asked by new gardeners is “What should I grow?”

My answer is, “Grow what you eat.” I usually get a surprised look in response because it really is just that easy. Do you like a lot of green salads? Grow a jungle of different greens! My only caution here is to focus on a few different things you most commonly enjoy eating. If you try to plant two or three of each vegetable you enjoy eating, you will get overwhelmed and your results will likely suffer for it. Start small.

Remembering that there are people around you who are into the same thing and building your network of like minded people will bring you knowledge, new resources to tap into, and increase your chances for success. You will likely make some great new friends in the process. No matter what ‘homesteading’ project you decide to tackle first, the basic steps are the same. Decide what you want to do, figure out what you need, assess your resources, and then implement the plan!

We will cover that in Part 4 of How to Homestead When You Rent.

This is part 3 of a 5 part series on “How to Homestead When You Rent.” If you missed part 1, click here.  Part 2 can be found hereFor more about LeAnn, see About LeAnn Edmondson.

The Final Word

I keep going back to the concept of “Homestead in Place”.  The tactical steps in doing so are so in-your-face simple that none of us has an excuse for not making a concerted attempt to achieve a homesteaders level of self-sufficiency.

Renter or not, having a positive attitude and a forward-thinking mindset will reap you many rewards as you move forward in both your preparedness and your homesteading journeys.

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.