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

bloom-where-you-are-planted-7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moving isn’t always an option.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Assess Your Situation

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

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

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

Survival in a Population Dense Area

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

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

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

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

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

The Priorities

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

Water

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

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

Sanitation

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

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

Food/Cooking

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

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

Heating

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

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

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

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

Security

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

Some ideas:

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

Light

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

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

Increase Your Personal Sustainability

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

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

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

Make a Plan

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

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

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


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

What To Look For When Shopping For Food Storage

Food background

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

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

13 Tips for Shopping for Food Storage

How many calories are needed per day to feed your family

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

Resource:  Free Online Calorie Counter

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

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

Be mindful of the stated “Servings per Package”

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

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

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

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

Shelf life is important but not the be all end all

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

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

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

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

Consider Portability

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

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

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

Be informed of the nutritional value of your food storage

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

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

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

Is the meat in the product real?

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

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

Does it taste good?

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

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

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

What is the quality of the packaging?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The integrity of the company selling the food storage items

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

Avoid fear-mongering at all costs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At the end of the day, trust your supplier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Final Word

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

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

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

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!


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

Finding Your Way Back Home Without A Map And Compass

Compass

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

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

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

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

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

Primitive Navigation

by Jim Cobb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

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

A Compass is a Better Option

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

Compass-Survival-Key-Ring-250

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

Compass-Ring-250

The Final Word

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

Anacortes-to-Roche-Harbor

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

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

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!


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

Smart Survival: This is How You Find Water When There Is None To Be Found (VIDEOS)

water drop on leaf

Three weeks without food is survivable, but three days without water will kill you. With water being one of your main survival priorities, you want to know multiple ways of procuring this vital resource in an emergency situation. There are hidden water sources in your home, as well as in the wild. Knowing how to fine tune your skills in order to make the most of a precarious situation will save you time, energy, and potentially, your life.

Survival Tips for Locating Water

If you find yourself in the wild without water, there are ways to locate it. The following survival tips are common sense, but many forget them when lost in the wild.

  1. Locating contour lines in the earth and following them will more than likely direct you to water source you can use. Keep in mind that all rivers and streams will end up in one central location. For example, if you come across a dry creekbed and follow it far enough, you will find a water source.
  2. Another common sense survival tip to remember is when snow melts, it travels down mountain ridges and creates rivers, streams and lakes. The further you move down a mountain crevice, the more likely you will find water. Therefore, when locating water on foot and near mountains, follow the crevices the crevices of mountain ridges and you will likely find water sources near the bottom.

If you are unable to find water sources, check out these videos on ways to find water in the most unlikely places.

Transpiration

Heavy dew can provide one with an ample source of water. Dew will settle on foliage such as grasses and tree limbs at night. If you have a plastic bag (sandwich bag, trash bag, grocery bag, mylar blanket) in your pack, you can cover the limbs of trees and add a rock to provide weight. Secure the bag to collect moisture from the air. Over the course of the day the plant will transpire and produce moisture that will collect at the low point. Poke a hole in the bottom of the bag and collect the water. The video shows you the classic way of collecting moisture from the air, but it also shows you a quick and easy way of accessing it. Watch the video to see what I mean.

Tap a Tree

The guys over at Sigma 3 Survival School demonstrate a rather primitive way of tapping a tree to procure water. Bear in mind this technique only works in late winter/early spring and when the sap is running high in the tree. As well, this only works with certain trees such as birch and maple. Although I have never tried this method, the video states you can get enough water to fill a canteen and the water is already filtered.

Dew Collection

Here’s another great video from Sigma 3 Survival School and is a relatively easy way to collect a considerable amount of water. Absorbent bandanas, towels or shirts can collect water in a short amount of time. You can also tie absorbent material to your shins and walk through tall grasses to collect morning dew. Remember, you want smart survival tricks in order to conserve energy levels.

Dowsing/Divining

I’ve always been apprehensive on making the suggestion of using copper dowsing rods as a way to find water, but it has been used for centuries to locate underground water supplies. The two main items needed for dowsing is a metal “L” rod and a humble stick shaped like a fork. Click on the video below to see how easy it is to use these simple tools to locate water. Once water is found, all you need is a shovel to dig it up.

Knowing the hidden sources of water in your area and how to procure it will keep you alive. Remember, just because water looks clear and clean, does not mean it is safe to drink. You can chemically treat your water using purification tablets, iodine and chlorine, have a portable water filter such as the Katadyn Pro Hiker or LifeStraw, or distill or boil it. Ensure that you have a means to filter or purify your water in order to avoid water-borne illnesses.


Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists. Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

Survival Nutrition 101: What Is Bio-Availability?

food-storage-shelving-pantry

As someone who has stored a lot of food for long term emergencies, I can easily recognize the temptation to load up on simple to prepared packaged foods.  Many of these food items are highly processed and loaded with chemical preservatives to extend their longevity, past due dates notwithstanding.

All you need to do is pick up a package of Twinkies and you will see what I mean.

How much do you know about survival nutrition?  In an exclusive new article for Backdoor Survival readers, my blogging colleague and friend, Daisy Luther talks about survival nutrition and bio-availability.

Survival Nutrition 101: What Is Bio-Availability?

Have you ever talked to another prepper who has highly processed food stacked to the rafters?   Things like Ramen noodles, mac-and-cheese, canned stew, and sugar-laden desserts, with nary a whole ingredient in sight?

They always say, “Well, it’s better than going hungry.”

Actually, that isn’t really the case.

If the point ever came where you were completely dependent on your long-term food storage, you’d better hope that you have food that will do more than satisfy a rumbling tummy.

A Lesson in Bio-Availability

When you eat heavily preserved foods, your body can’t break them down to use the nutrients in them (if there are nutrients left, after all that processing in the first place.  This is called “bio-availability.”

Compare the ingredients of a pack of Ramen noodles with a pack of plain pasta.

Great Value Ramen Noodles (chicken flavor)

Ingredients:  Flour Enriched, Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron Reduced, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Canola Oil, Cottonseed Oil, Folic Acid (Vitamin aB), Palm Oil, Vegetable(s) Oil Partially Hydrogenated, Potassium Carbonate, Salt, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Caramel Color,Citric Acid, Onion(s) Dehydrated, Disodium Guanylate, Disodium Succinate, Garlic Powder,Soy and Corn Protein Hydrolyzed, Maltodextrin, Monosodium Glutamate, Sodium Alginate,Sodium Carbonate, Soy Sauce Powder, Soybean(s), Spice(s), Tocopherols, Wheat, Disodium Inosinate, Flavoring Natural

versus

Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Whole Wheat Pasta

Ingredients:  Semolina Enriched (Niacin, Iron (Ferrous Sulfate), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid (Vitamin aB) ), Wheat Durum Bran, Durum Flour, Wheat Germ Durum

versus

Homemade pasta

Ingredients:  Flour, water, olive oil, salt

It’s very clear which is the better choice of digestible, bio-available nutrients.  If you can’t make it from scratch, definitely go for the less-processed option. The video below compares how homemade noodles from good ingredients and Ramen noodles go through your digestive system.

It doesn’t get clearer than this:

Do you see how it is impossible for the digestive acids in the body to break down those foods?  They remain recognizable most of the way through the system until they are ready to be excreted.  This means that the few nutrients that may be present are not made available.

This is the reason that North America is full of malnourished fat people – those who rely on processed food must consume far more of it in a vain effort to get the nutrients they need.  They crave food because their body is crying out for vital components.

Think about what the aftermath of a disaster would be like, and then think about facing these challenges with Ramen noodles and a bag of Doritos.

Here Are the Issues You Will Face That Require Readily Available Nutrients

High Stress Levels

Stress is a physical state that can put you at risk for all sorts of medical problems.

When you’re under stress, your body releases the hormone “cortisol” which can absolutely wreak havoc on your body.  Cortisol serves a very important purpose: it inhibits the production of insulin and floods your body with glucose to provide energy for a fight-or-flight response. This is great for the short term, but when it’s dispensed over an extended period of time, it can cause blood sugar issues, diabetes, weight gain, and gastrointestinal problems.  As well, and this is where your diet comes into play, it can suppress your immune system.

You’ve probably dealt with cortisol’s effects on your immune system before.  Have you ever been in a high-stress situation with far too much on your plate, and then gotten sick with a cold or flu? You probably said, “This is NOT the time for getting sick!” because you had so much to do.

Here’s what has happened inside your body:

Cortisol functions to reduce inflammation in the body, which is good, but over time, these efforts to reduce inflammation also suppress the immune system. Chronic inflammation, caused by lifestyle factors such as poor diet and stress, helps to keep cortisol levels soaring, wreaking havoc on the immune system.

An unchecked immune system responding to unabated inflammation can lead to myriad problems: an increased susceptibility to colds and other illnesses, an increased risk of cancer, the tendency to develop food allergies, an increased risk of an assortment of gastrointestinal issues (because a healthy intestine is dependent on a healthy immune system), and possibly an increased risk of autoimmune disease. (Source)

Now, imagine a disaster situation.  You’re definitely going to be stressed and at risk for all of these concerns.  You don’t want to load up on foods that exacerbate blood sugar issues because of high, empty carbohydrates, or foods with high levels of sodium that will increase your blood pressure and thus your risk of heart attack or stroke.

And never have truer words been spoken than “This is NOT the time for getting sick!” In a potentially post-SHTF world, you must also consider that a lack of modern sanitation will lead to more disease. It is possible that less medical care will be available in the near future, as the economy continues to collapse upon itself.   You may not be able to rest and recover, which could lead to a minor illness becoming very serious. A strong, well-nourished immune system will help to fight off illness and keep your family healthy.

Heavy Workload

Most of us aren’t accustomed to a day filled with heavy physical labor. Gone are the days when we plowed fields without the aid of machinery, built structures, or carried buckets of water.

But in a long-term scenario during which the grid is down, we might be faced with those activities once again.  Few of us are physically fit enough to just jump into the lifestyle, ready to go.  Now, imagine, trying to do this fueled only by a box of mac-and-cheese.  Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?

If you are using your muscles, they’re going to demand fuel in the form of protein. Protein is vital for repairing the damage done to muscles during heavy physical activity. If you supply your body with proper protein after a bout of physical labor, you’ll be rewarded with a stronger body. If you try to fuel heavy lifting with empty carbs, you’ll be provided a short burst of energy, followed by a crash of complete exhaustion. Your body will actually cannibalize itself searching for protein for the muscles.

High Energy Demands

This goes hand-in-hand with heavy workloads above, but the nutritional requirements are a bit different.

Think back to a time when you stayed on your feet moving around all day long. (This is especially true if you spend your normal workdays sitting at a desk.) Maybe you went to an amusement park, on a long steep hike, or were on foot in a city, doing some sight-seeing.

Do you recall how tired and hungry you were that day?  You probably wouldn’t have been satisfied with a bag of chips, right? If you’re anything like me, you wanted a steak dinner, complete with veggies and a baked potato. Your body was crying out for fuel.

Now, think about tilling a field manually, or bugging out through the mountains. Such high energy demands will require high-quality carbohydrates such as potatoes, whole brown rice, or oatmeal.

Build Your Food Supply to Meet These Challenges

Stock your pantry with whole foods that the body can break down through ordinary digestive processes.  Look for items that have less than 5 ingredients, all of which are easily pictured in your mind’s eye.  Have you ever seen a TBHQ or a Disodium Guanylate?  No?  Then you shouldn’t eat them.

Keep a wide variety of macronutrients.  Your body requires protein, carbohydrates, and fat to function optimally, as well as a variety of vitamins and minerals.  Your stockpile should contain a wide variety of food in order to supply these nutrients.  It is important to stock whole grains, fruits and vegetables, carefully sourced meats or other protein rich items, and healthy fats.

Buy the best storage foods you can afford. The long-term storage aspect can make it challenging to have good sources of all of these nutrients.  But using home preservation, purchasing the best quality foods you can find, and producing some of your own food can help make your supply far more nutritious.

Your Pantry is Your Lifeline

In a crisis situation, your food storage pantry could become your lifeline, as you begin producing your own food.  The production of one’s own food is a culture shock all on its own.  Think about the tremendous amount of work that goes into a loaf of bread, from seed to flour.  Now, think about trying to perform that kind of hard manual labor with inadequate nutrition.   If we call upon our bodies to do that, we must properly fuel ourselves.

In a potentially post-SHTF world, you must also consider that a lack of modern sanitation will lead to more disease. It is possible that less medical care will be available in the near future, as the economy continues to collapse upon itself.  A strong, well-nourished immune system will help to fight off illness and keep your family healthy.

Many people make the mistake of building a food supply merely meant to keep their stomach from growling in hunger.  That mindset could help you to survive a short-term disaster.  But if a crisis situation turns into a different a way of life, you will need a food supply that feeds and nourishes the systems of your body, not just one that keeps hunger at bay. You must prepare to fuel yourself for building a new, more self-reliant lifestyle.

Otherwise, once the noodles run out, so will your hopes of survival.

The Final Word

As with many of the articles on this website, this one is designed to make you think about the choices you have so you can come to a decision as to which fork in the road you wish to travel.

When it comes to food storage and survival nutrition, sure, a degree of compromise is in order.  But, at the end of the day, wouldn’t you rather lean toward the healthier and more physically sustainable food-source?  I know I would.

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.

What’s Missing From Your Survival Cache Could Be Your Greatest Mistake (VIDEO)

survival storage cache

Each of us has every intention of ensuring our family has what it needs to survive and thrive. Part of your disaster mitigation plan should be planning for the possibility of having to evacuate from your bug out location and living off of stored rations from survival caches. Let’s be very real here and consider events that could cause a total destabilization of our way of life thus forcing us to migrate elsewhere.

Survival caches can help you stay alive while on the road to a safer destination. One of my worst-feared scenarios, is having to evacuate from my bug out location and living exposed in the woods. Doing so could lead to certain death if you are not properly prepared. This is a very real possibility and why it is so important to have necessary contingency plans. One of those being, having necessary survival items buried in a cache on the evacuation path. Items such as:

Multiple buried stockpiles should be set up along your bug out route in order to replenish your basic needs. In each cache, add 3-5 days of supplies in order to reduce the weight of your bug out bag. Setting these caches up in intervals along the route will also keep morale up.

For strategies on how to hide and recover your survival cache, click here.

As you venture closer to your destination point, consider adding a few more caches with items that will help you rebuild your life. Items such as: seeds, building tools, farming tools, long-term food sources (MREs, these foods can last a lifetime, canned foods and freeze dried food). As well, add some of the top 100 items that will disappear first to your cache. Although some of these may not be conducive for burying, there are some great items to consider. Further, consider more weapons and ammunition, binoculars, and even sanitation items.

In the following video, prepper veterans MainePrepper and Patriot Nurse discuss a few fundamental items that are often forgotten items in survival caches and may make your life a little easier during bugging out. This video specifically focuses on the significance of off-grid capable tools in a bug out scenario.

Check out Patriot Nurse’s YouTube Channel and website. There’s some great information there, folks.


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.

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Should-I-stay-or-should-I-go

When disaster seems imminent, there’s one vital decision that preppers have to make: bug in or bug out?  The lyrics from the chorus of a song by The Clash sums it up – you’ve got trouble either way,  but one way will be worse than the other.

Because this song is now stuck in my head, I thought it should be stuck in your head, too.

Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go, there will be trouble
And if I stay it will be double
So come on and let me know

~ The Clash

Bug in or bug out?

First, some definitions:

Bugging In: This is when you shut the gate, lock the doors, and hunker down to weather the disaster at home with your supplies.

Bugging Out:  This is when you grab your bug-out bag and you hit the road to go somewhere else because your home is not safe.

In all but the most desperate circumstances, my personal plan is bugging in.  Being out on the road in the midst of a disaster means you’re a refugee. It means your supplies are minimal and that the things you’ve carefully stored over the years are very possibly going to be lost to you. The personal sustainability you’ve been cultivating at your home is also lost, including your garden, your livestock, and your water plan.

But, this is not a decision that’s engraved in stone. A while back, I wrote about the 3 steps to surviving any crisis:

1.) Accept

2.) Plan

2.) Act

If you are completely married to one, and only one, course of action, it limits your ability to perform the first step: accepting that whatever horrible event is out there, has actually occurred.  You have to be adaptable if you want to be able to survive extraordinary circumstances. Disasters rarely go by a script, and your plan can’t either.

The variables to consider

The answer to this question is hard to come by. There are so many different variables, there can never be a one-size-fits-all response.  Here are the major factors you have to look at.

Will you be safe if you remain at home? Bugging in is my first choice, but there are some situations in which evacuation is a necessity.  Last year, during the King Fire, we were only a few miles from the evacuation line. Had the fire leapt that line, it would have been suicidal to stay home. If you live near an erupting volcano, same thing. Storms like Hurricane Katrina also indicate that evacuation is a wiser course of action. Chemical spills, fires, biological contaminants, and extreme civil unrest can all be good cause to get-the-heck-out. You have to be willing to accept that no matter how fantastic your survival set-up is at your home, there are some circumstance beyond your control that would absolutely require a bug out.

Do you have a place to go? Bugging out to the woods to live off the land is not a good idea for most people. While there are some folks that would be just fine, most of us would not.  Are you going to go live in the woods with your children, your elderly mother-in-law, and your diabetic spouse?  Even though it’s a stretch, it might work briefly in good weather. But what about when the snow flies? What about when your food runs out? What about the fact that every third prepper has the same idea and will be out there shooting at deer, thus rendering your ability to bag one nearly impossible? If you do get one, do you know how to preserve it with only what you carried out to the woods on your back?  That list could go on and on. The point is, do you have a reliable retreat that is stocked with supplies?  Do you have a friend in the boondocks to whom you can go? Is that friend actually expecting you, and have you ponied up with some supplies before the event to ensure that you are welcome? If you have your own retreat set up somewhere, what will you do if someone hostile got there first? If it has really, truly hit the fan, your best bet for bugging out is a well-stocked retreat location where someone in your group resides full time.

Do you have a way to get there? So, you have a retreat, an awesome little compound that is up the mountain, over the stream, and around the bend.  That is a wonderful thing to have. But in a worst case scenario, how will you get to it? How long would it take you to hike there, should the roads be clogged by fellow evacuees, or in the event of an EMP event that takes out the power, including that of most vehicles?  Is it possible to get there on foot with the family members who will be accompanying you?  How far away is your secondary location?  If it is going to take you more than a week to get there on foot, your chances of making it to your destination with a family in tow are pretty slim.  Your secondary location should be less than 100 miles from your primary location if you expect to get there in a crisis.  A 25-mile range is optimal because it’s far enough not to be affected by localized disasters, but not so far you couldn’t make it on foot in a couple of strenuous days.

Can all of your family members make the trip?  It’s important to have a plan, a backup plan, and a backup to your backup. Often, in a bug-out scenario, that plan includes a difficult hike over rough terrain.  Have you thought about who you’ll be taking with you?  If there are children, are they old enough to walk on their own for long distances or will you be carrying them?  A 25-pound child piggy-backing on you will drain your energy very quickly, especially if you are going up and down steep trails.   What about elderly family members? If you have a parent who is frail, has a heart condition, or has age-related dementia, bugging out on foot is simply not an option for you unless you can rig up a sturdy cart with knobby, off-road tires, and pull it. If you have family members that can’t make it under their own steam, you must plan for your on-foot-bug-out to take far longer than it would normally. That doesn’t make it impossible – it just means that you MUST take these things into consideration, in advance, and make modifications to your travel arrangements.

When to go

When to go is every bit as important as whether to go.

If you live in the heart of the city, civil unrest is going down, and the homes around you are getting burned to the ground by rioters, you may have missed your window of opportunity for easy evacuation.

If there are only two roads out and everyone else has decided it’s time to go, you may be too late to get out quickly. For example, places like New York City and San Francisco are accessible by only a couple of bridges.  With the huge populations there, getting out of those cities would be nearly impossible if you wait too long to leave.

This all goes back to the three steps to survival: Accept, Plan, Act.  If the situation has shown signs of going South in a hurry, you need to get a move on. If you are going to go, go early.  You don’t want to be stuck in traffic, sitting in your car, when the hurricane hits.  If the local government gives an evacuation order, that means that everyone else in your area is getting that order at the same time. The roads will quickly become impassable, as traffic becomes gridlocked and unprepared people run out of fuel.

Beaumont, TX August 30, 2008–Hundreds of vehicles line the interstate outside of Beaumont, Tx. Mandatory evacuation orders were made in east Texas near the Gulf Coast in advance of Hurricane Gustav’s landfall.in San Antonio. FEMA is working with State,local and other Federal agencies in a joint operation in preparation for Hurricane Gustav’s land fall. Photo by Patsy Lynch/FEM

Beaumont, TX August 30, 2008–Hundreds of vehicles line the interstate outside of Beaumont, Tx. Mandatory evacuation orders were made in east Texas near the Gulf Coast in advance of Hurricane Gustav’s landfall.in San Antonio. FEMA is working with State,local and other Federal agencies in a joint operation in preparation for Hurricane Gustav’s land fall. Photo by Patsy Lynch/FEM

If you decide to stay…

If you decide that staying home and hunkering down is the best decision, then it’s time to commit to that decision.

You should be set up with the following (at the minimum – hopefully you have these supplies and more):

Be prepared to defend your home. Regardless of the reason you’ve hunkered down, when disaster strikes, vandals, looters, and thugs come out to play.

Defense is two-fold.  You want to stay under the radar and not draw attention to yourself. Some of the following recommendations are not necessary during an ordinary grid-down scenario, but could save your life in a more extreme civil unrest scenario or a situation that has gone long-term. It’s always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. The best way to win a fight is to avoid getting into that fight in the first place. Secure your home and lay low, but be prepared if trouble comes to visit.

Here are some tips to make your home less of a target:

  • Keep all the doors and windows locked.  Secure sliding doors with a metal bar.  Consider installing decorative grid-work over a door with a large window so that it becomes difficult for someone to smash the glass and reach in to unlock the door. Install a door bar on your front and back doors.
  • Keep the curtains closed. There’s no need for people walking past to be able to see what you have or to do reconnaissance on how many people are present. If the power is out, put dark plastic over the windows. (Heavy duty garbage bags work well.)  If it’s safe to do so, go outside and check to see if any light escapes from the windows. If your home is the only one on the block that is well-lit, it is a beacon to others.
  • Keep cooking smells to a minimum, especially if there is a food shortage.  If everyone else in the neighborhood is hungry, the meat on your grill will draw people like moths to a flame.
  • Don’t answer the door.  Many home invasions start with an innocent-seeming knock at the door to gain access to your house.
  • Keep pets indoors. Sometimes criminals use an animal in distress to get a homeowner to open the door for them. Sometimes people are just mean and hurt animals for “fun”.  Either way, it’s safer for your furry friends to be inside with you.
  • Be ready for the potential of fire. Have fire extinguishers mounted throughout your home. You can buy them in 6 packs from Amazon Be sure to test them frequently and maintain them properly. (Allstate has a page about fire extinguisher maintenance.)  Have fire escape ladders that can be attached to a windowsill in all upper story rooms.  Drill with them so that your kids know how to use them if necessary.

If, despite your best efforts, your property draws the attention of people with ill intent, you must be ready to defend your family and your home Firearms are an equalizer. A small woman can defend herself from multiple large intruders with a firearm, if she’s had some training and knows how to use it properly. But put a kitchen knife in her hand against those same intruders, and her odds decrease exponentially.

  • Don’t rely on 911. If the disorder is widespread, don’t depend on a call to 911 to save you – you must be prepared to save yourself.  First responders may be tied up, and in some cases, the cops are not always your friends.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, some officers joined in the crime sprees, and others stomped all over the 2nd Amendment and confiscated people’s legal firearms at a time when they needed them the most.
  • Be armed and keep your firearm on your person.  When the door of your home is breached, you can be pretty sure the people coming in are not there to make friendly conversation over a nice cup of tea.  Make a plan to greet them with a deterring amount of force. Be sure to keep your firearm on your person during this type of situation, because there won’t be time to go get it from your gunsafe. Don’t even go to the kitchen to get a snack without it. Home invasions go down in seconds, and you have to be constantly ready.
  • Know how to use your firearm. Whatever your choice of weapon, practice, practice, practice. A weapon you don’t know how to use is more dangerous than having no weapon at all. Here’s some advice from someone who knows a lot more about weapons than I do.
  • Make sure your children are familiar with the rules of gun safety. Of course, it should go without saying that you will have pre-emptively taught your children the rules of gun safety so that no horrifying accidents occur. In fact, it’s my fervent hope that any child old enough to do so has been taught to safely and effectively use a firearm themselves. Knowledge is safety.
  • Have a safe room established for children or other vulnerable family members. If the worst happens and your home is breached, you need to have a room into which family members can escape.  This room needs to have a heavy exterior door instead of a regular hollow core interior door. There should be communications devices in the room so that the person can call for help, as well as a reliable weapon to be used in the unlikely event that the safe room is breached. The family members should be instructed not to come out of that room FOR ANY REASON until you give them the all clear or help has arrived. You can learn more about building a safe room HERE.  Focus the tips for creating a safe room in an apartment to put it together more quickly.

Even if your plan is to bug in, you must be ready to change that plan in the blink of an eye. Plan an escape route.  If the odds are against you, if your house catches on fire, if flood waters rise, if the levy breaks…devise a way to get your family to safety.  Your property is not worth your life. Be wise enough to accept that the situation has changed and move rapidly to Plan B.

If you decide to go…

Nearly everything to do with bugging out needs to be done ahead of time.  When the time comes to evacuate, you want to be able to put your plans into motion quickly and flawlessly, This reduces stress tremendously.

  • Have bug-out bags prepared . They should contain all of your important documents  in case you have to grab and go.  This is the best bug-out bag article I’ve ever seen – it’s only 25 pounds and has everything you need to survive.
  • Have a list.  Make a written checklist that you can easily access. You might include the location of items that are packed away. Decide on these things now, when you have the time to calmly think about what items are the most important. When we got the first evacuation alert during the King Fire(a notice that evacuation was highly likely within the next 24 hours), a woman who lived down the street was wailing and sobbing as her husband tried to pack up their vehicle.  She was rendered absolutely useless by fear. Meanwhile, my 13 year old was fulfilling her list while I fulfilled mine and we quickly made an orderly stack of important belongings, then turned on a movie to beat the stress. Had our area actually been forced to evacuate, those who panicked would have either been the last to leave, or they would have forgotten important things as they left in a disorganized rush. It’s important to decide ahead of time who packs what, and for each person to have a list. Sit down well before disaster strikes and make an evacuation plan with your family.   Here’s a list of things to pack if you have time.
  • Get organized.  All the lists in the world won’t help you pack quickly if you don’t know where things are. One change we made after the fire is that all of the items we deemed precious enough to pack and take with us are stored in one area so that we won’t have to look for them when seconds count.  Another friend ran into the issue of dirty clothes: he actually had to evacuate with hampers of unwashed laundry. Having your home tidy and organized (and your laundry washed and put way) will help your packing go smoothly in the event of a sudden evacuation.
  • Have multiple evacuation routes planned. Don’t rely on GPS, either – have physical maps on hand in case you need to set out on foot.
  • Have a destination.  Please don’t think you are going to go deep into the woods and live off the land. It’s one of those movie-of-the-week ideas that will get you killed.
  • Keep your vehicle full of fuel.  If you have to evacuate, lots of other people will be hitting the road too. When you’re stuck in traffic, you don’t want to be worried about your fuel gauge dropping to the empty mark, leaving you stranded in a dangerous situation.
  • Get fit.  If you aren’t in shape, bugging out on foot through the mountains isn’t going to go so well for you. When is the last time you hiked even 5 miles?  Did you have a pack on? How much did it weigh? There is a large contingent of armchair preppers who have this idea. However, they don’t exercise regularly. 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. This 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.

These actions are not last minute actions. No matter what Plan A is, you need to have all of the above components in place long before any potential disaster occurs.

So….all of this and I didn’t answer your question

That’s because there is no answer.

Hopefully the information provided here has pointed out the important variables that will allow you to make good decisions should the need arise.

The biggest part of preparedness is being able to adapt to the situation at hand. For us, bugging in is our Plan A. That doesn’t mean we have disregarded Plans B and C, which are bugging out to a friend’s place by car, followed by bugging out to the same friend’s place on foot. We also have a second location should the first one be unavailable, which I suppose would be Plan D.

Don’t just make one plan. Make at least 3.  Try to figure out the shortcomings of all of your plans and solve those issues ahead of time. Whatever your plan is, strict adherence to one course of action is extremely dangerous and short-sighted.

You may get through life never needing to evacuate or hunker down, but if you do, the speed at which you make your decisions could be pivotal in saving the lives of your loved ones.

Resources:

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

The Pantry Primer: A Prepper’s Guide to Whole Food on a Half-Price Budget

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

Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying Put is not an Option


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

10 Ways Hiking Can Help You Be Better Prepared

Female backpacker on Cowlitz Divide, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington, USA

As the weather continues to improve, my daily hikes get longer.  I am so blessed to live in an area with miles of hiking trails, many just a few footsteps outside my front door.  Even if that were not the case, hiking is something I adore so rain or shine, I am out there with my hiking boots and my dog, Tucker.

You might be thinking that this is easy for me to say, living as I do in Western Washington, land of Subarus, down vests and hiking boots.  To be honest, though, even when I lived in the city, and downtown at that, I still made it a point to hike at the local parks and around town, taking in the sights and the sounds along the way.

Over the weekend, as I was enjoying a hike, I thought about all of the ways that hiking can make you a better prepper.  Whether you can hike a mile or ten, here are 10 ways that hiking can help you be better prepared.

10 Ways the Hiking Can Make You a Better Prepper

1.  Become accustomed to carrying a pack on your back

The first time I loaded up my emergency pack and put it on I almost fell over.  It was heavy and it was uncomfortable.  Lesson learned.  I needed a pack that was ergonomically suited to walking some distances and the albatross I had put together was a fail.

I finally settled on what I feel is the perfect pack (Rothco Medium Transport Pack) and learned through experience that 20 pounds was the max I could carry.  Hiking gives you an opportunity to become accustomed to carrying a pack on your back and allows you to adapt to its feel as you travel over a distance with you hands completely free.

2.  Get practical experience using items in you emergency kit

I don’t care how experienced you are, stuff happens and you need to be prepared.  This is especially true when you are in the middle of nowhere.  Stumble and trip?  You need to learn how to get yourself back up on your feet with any scrapes and sprains dealt with.  Need to go potty?  Learn to squat in woods.  Need help?  Learn to signal.

Disoriented or not sure where you are?  Read a map and use your compass.

3.  Break in hiking boots or other footwear

A short hike gives you an opportunity to gradually break in new hiking boots.  Be aware that good socks are important too.

4.  Learn to observe your surroundings and increase your awareness of dangers

Whether the danger is a brewing squall or a wild animal, you need to be ever-alert to potential dangers while out on the trail or in the bush.  After spending time outdoors, you become more attuned to the nuances of sound and the physical cues of nature.

Where I live, the predators are mostly in the form of bald eagles who will swoop down and make a meal of your small pet.  Because of the time I spend outdoors and on the trails, I have developed a sixth sense for danger and keeping a look out has become automatic, requiring no special thought.

5.  Practice reading a map and using a compass

These days we rely upon a GPS to get us from point A to point B.  Not that many years ago, we had maps with compass rose plus a compass.  If you are lost, will you be able to find you way home without using electronics?  Hiking  provides you with ample opportunities for learning to read a topographical map and to read a compass.

6.  Learn to read the skies and predict weather conditions

As someone who boated for 20 years in the waters of Puget Sound and the Canadian Gulf Islands, I know how quickly the weather can change.  There are some rules and some tricks to reading the weather, but once you figure them out, it becomes easy to look at the sky and determine the likelihood of a storm.

7.  Deal with changing elements with aplomb

You only need to be stuck unprepared in a sudden thunderstorm once.  After that first time, you will know to include a poncho, emergency blanket, or tarp to use to protect you from the elements.

8.  Recognizing local edible foliage and berries

Foraging for food is another skill that needs to be practiced and honed.  While hiking, you can observe local edibles and even snap photos or take samples.  Once home, you can research what they are and determine whether they are safe to eat.

9.  Stay in good physical shape and build stamina

It goes without saying that being in reasonable if not excellent physical shape will enhance your ability to survive following a devastating disruptive event.  There is more to being in good shape, though, than height and weight in proportion.

By increasing the length and difficulty of your hikes, you can build up stamina and endurance far beyond what you can do with almost any other type of activity except perhaps swimming.

10.  De-stress and clear you mind of cobwebs

Getting out on the trails and spending some time with nature will make you more relaxed and less anxious.  Being a prepper with the endless list of things to do can take its toll, and for me at least, hiking gives me an opportunity to de-compress and de-stress.

This is the number one reason I hike at least a mile daily, and often three miles or more.  Rain or shine. And always with my dog.

Items to Take On A Hike

While the purpose if this article was to point out ways hiking can help you prepare, I feel that it is useful to point out some items you should take with you when you hit the trails.  Including these items will help ensure your safety while enjoying the outdoors and learning to become a better prepper!

Compass (I have this one)
Topographical Map
First Aid Kit
Signaling Device ( prefer this Windstorm whistle)
Paracord or other Cordage
Water
LifeStraw Water Filter
Food/Energy Bars
Emergency Blanket (this one is fantastic!)
Knife
Flashlight (these Mini-Crees work great; I carry two)
Fire starter
Bandana
Sunglasses
Gloves
Mobile Phone or Two Way Radio

The Final Word

When you think about it, hiking and camping share many of the same skill-building attributes.  The advantage of hiking, however, is that you don’t have to set aside a huge block of time to reaps its benefits.  You do not have to make camp or cook meals.  A single hour or two is all you need along with some basic gear that you most likely already own.

One piece of advice: when hiking with others, set the pace to accommodate the person with the least stamina and lowest capabilities. Save the marathon hike for another time. Being a good prepper means helping those that may not be as strong as you are achieve what they can without endangering themselves.

Regardless of where you live, hiking can be an uplifting physical and mental experience.  There is something about getting out for an hour or two, or even for an entire weekend that will nurture  the soul and give you a renewed focus to keep on doing what you do.

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.

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.