Archive for the ‘Scenarios’Category

How Very Les Stroud! – Blizzard Tree Shelter

Quick survival tip on how to survive a blizzard if you’re stuck in the woods.TreeShelter_29


02 2014

Lifehack – Removing a Stuck Ring

Bookmarked this page a while back, thought it was a cool survival tip on removing a stuck ring without brute force or cooking oil!





02 2014

Back to Basics – Prepping 1, 2, 3

When I started this blog, my intent was to give the very basics in terms of advice.  Meaning, exactly what should one do to prepare, and in what order.  Over the 2 years we’ve been here, I hope I’ve at least mostly done that.  Because we have had several thousand new folks stop by in the last couple of months, likely do to an increased awareness of preparedness (thanks to shows like Doomsday Preppers, Doomsday Bunkers and Independence, USA), I want to revisit these basics.

At the lowest level, a good preparedness plan includes both information and resources.  Information preparedness includes ‘what will me and my family do if there is X’, with X being whatever scenarios you consider important to prepare for.  So for example, if X = Tornado, then you and your family need to know how the weather service and your town will announce a Tornado Warning or Watch, the difference between the 2, and what you should do in the event of either.  These types of scenarios can be as few as you feel are probable in your area, such as:  Blizzard, Tornado, and Wildfire.  Or they can be as complex as some of the ‘Doomsday’ shows are highlighting, such as an EMP, Economic Collapse, Legions of the Undead, or Nuclear event.

Other items in the information category include a fire safety and evacuation plan for your home, knowing and securing your important documents, and a communication plan to ensure everyone knows how to get in touch.  Something simple like making a laminated list with every important phone number your family can have is something you could do in the next couple of days to increase your families level of preparedness.

When it comes to resources, I’ve stuck to 5 principal categories:

1:  Water

2:  Food

3:  Shelter

4:  Fire

5:  Light

Again, as this is more of a refresh, how much you keep in each category depends on what types of events you are preparing for.

For the first category, I recommend at the very least what FEMA does, which is at least one gallon of water per person, per day for at least 3 days.  So for a family of 4, you need at least 12 gallons of water on hand.  Preferably, you would have on hand as much water as you can reasonably store, plus the knowledge and ability to make more potable water, whether through boiling (pasteurization), filtration, or use of bleach (sodium hypochorlite/pool shock) or iodine.  Or, as many in the preparedness community, having all of the above available let’s you use whichever is most appropriate for your circumstance.  Having all of the above methods available is really not that expensive; however, make sure you use each method ahead of time to avoid confusion and stress in a time of need.  Sodium hypochorlite, for example, comes in several purities, and knowing how much to use is vitally important to prevent underutilizing, which can lead to drinking bad water, to overusing which can cause poisoning.

In the second category, food, I would also recommend at least 72 hours worth of food that can be eaten and enjoyed without cooking, whether that is MRE’s, canned meats and fruits, or something as simple as peanut butter and crackers.  There is a whole category of ‘survival food’ that can set you back a pretty penny, but if you are only looking to be able to survive a long weekend, avoid the expense and pick yourself up some cheap canned goods.  If you choose to move into medium and long term food storage (part of the reason many folks find their way to the blog), check this post first, as its been the most popular post on the blog since very early on.

In many (or most) cases #3 on the list, shelter, will simply be your own home.  Those events which displace us from our homes are also the most devastating.  There is an entire blogging industry dedicated to the ‘bug-out-bag’, so type it into Google and spend a week reading.  Any good car bag or 72-hour kit will have some sort of portable shelter, which can be as simple as a tarp, bivy sack, or tent.  Shelter can also be a friend, neighbor or family member who has agreed to take you in should something occur.  While we may assume our in-laws will be thrilled to have 4 additional family members in the house, it’s still a good idea to broach the subject of what would happen during a personal disaster so you know where you will and won’t be welcome.  To ease shelter concerns, also keep a few hundred dollars in cash on hand in your 72-hour kit or vehicle so you can potentially stay at a hotel temporarily as well.

Fire, as everyone from the caveman on can attest, is man’s most powerful discovery.  Knowing how to safely build, use, and put out a fire is a critical skill every man, woman and (depending on how early you teach your children things) child should know.  For those who think children shouldn’t know how to build a fire don’t understand that boys at least, will learn either the easy or hard way.=)  While a fire won’t come into play in every disaster scenario, knowing how to cook, boil water, and use one for warmth will be very handy during many.

Light is one of those items not found on every real prepper’s list.  However, from a well-being standpoint, I consider light crucial to maintaining some semblance of normalcy in otherwise stressful circumstances.  At our house, we have several on-demand light sources such as Mag-lites (and a box of D-batteries neatly stashed right next to the flashlight) and a hand-crank flashlight, as well as candles and several oil and propane lanterns/lamps.  You can pick up some nice oil lamps at many tag sales for a dollar or two, so never pay retail for one.  My wife had a run of about a half-dozen tag sales where she came back with over a dozen, several of which we ended up giving away!  With new LED technology, you can also get some great light sources now that use very little in terms of battery power.

While there is a ton more that goes into preparedness, from storing your irreplaceable documents to learning how to prepare for an extended event, having the above in place will give you something to build on.  Most importantly, it gives you something simple that you can (and should) DO RIGHT NOW.  Do not get stuck in ‘research paralysis’ land, which I have watched many people do.  In order to not do anything wrong, I’ve seen some folks not do anything at all, and that is a shame.  If you have this type of paralysis, many times it will go away as soon as you do something.  Pick up a couple of gallons of water, some long-lasting food, a good flashlight, and some cool stormproof matches tomorrow, and realize that preparedness is just another part of life, like going to the gym, paying your bills, and going to school.  If you don’t over-complicate it, you might even enjoy it!

Good luck y’all!


03 2012

Crazy Prepper Non-Spending Challenge 2012

I remember reading Robinson Crusoe as a child, and being fascinated by the constant counting of things.  The protagonist (the way I remember it) kept perfect track of his supplies.  Bullets, food, nails, boards, everything.  He realized the rationing of his goods was the key to his survival.  I think many of us probably feel the same way, and it is one reason we are drawn to survival fiction, post-apocalyptic movies and the like.  We live in such a time of abundance, that even our poorest could be ranked as royalty in many places of the world today, let alone among our forefathers.  A little bit in the back of our heads, we wonder if we could survive in such bleak situations with just what we have on hand (or worse still, without anything on hand).  And perhaps we even wish to (not realizing the privation many of our ancestors really faced):  to be able to turn off the iPods, throw out the cell phones, the computers, and just exist with nature without all the noise of a 21st century existence.  While my wife and I won’t be going to any Crusoe-esque extremes, we are going to extremely limit our intake of new goods in the first half of 2012.

So what spurred this?

Late last year I found some Grand Canyon sized holes in our monthly budget.  I noticed toward the end of the year we weren’t able to put as much toward the principal of our home as we had been, and that our savings hadn’t grown at all since autumn.  If anything, it had shrunk.  Part of that was the ginormous COBRA check I wrote in December; I pre-paid it until it expires in September 2012.  I did that mainly because I don’t like worrying about forgetting it month to month and it is such an important item.   Plus, because of my wife’s Fibromyalgia, I have been unable to find other coverage for us, which had been my hope.  (Because it would have provided some tax benefits.  We’ll end up getting an expensive guaranteed-issue policy once our COBRA expires.) Part of it has been additional competition in the marketplace.  While the overall ‘prepping’ marketplace grew in 2011, the number of businesses entering the market far outstripped any new revenue.  (A small warning to anyone who is thinking of entering the market this year.)  And part of it, when looking honestly at our budget, was a large chunk of discretionary spending; things like eating out, going to the movies and the like.  We have always been fairly frugal even in the best of times, but we hadn’t really been controlling our spending well since we have both been working from home.

Coming up next  is tax season, and I really don’t have a good handle on what that will bring.  As a small business owner I’ve been paying quarterly taxes, and I do have some withholding from my previous job.  However, due to having to pay both SS and FICA on top of regular income taxes, I’m worried we’re going to have to write a huge check to the IRS in April and that it could wipe out almost half our savings, putting us right back to where we were when I quit my previous job.  Nearly a year into this, that is the last place I want to be. 

So after some long discussion with my wife, she suggested we try to put our preps to some additional use, and to cut our discretionary spending to $0 for the first six months of 2012.  This will give us a better handle on our overall budget, help us determine what our preps are missing, and force us to re-evaluate our needs in terms of nutrition and entertainment.  For example, we have board games on the shelf we’ve never played, so why are we buying new ones?  We have books we’ve never read, blogs we haven’t written and projects we haven’t completed, and this will give us a chance to get to many things we let slip for too long, while allowing us to spend quality time together.

So the rules of the game are we’re only allowed $20/week for fresh food and random expenses, and a tank of gas every 2 weeks (unless the business necessitates otherwise).   While we still have preps in the basement and anything in the pantry, we’re not to spend anything except for business expenses.  This is made a little more complicated due to the impending demise of our $100 Craigslist dishwasher (it’s lasted 2 years, so I still think it was a deal).  Right now it’s making some horrible racket while it washes, so we’re guessing its only a matter of time before it dies.   Hand-washing dishes certainly won’t kill us, but that is time we won’t have available to do other things. 

More importantly, over the holidays we broke the oven portion of our range (The filament cracked, and we’ve been unable to find another for this make and model.), making cooking a little more challenging.  We still have the use of the top burners.  This might actually be a small blessing in terms of ‘learning to live without’.  We’ll be cooking on our Bubba Keg (probably the best cooking device ever invented), in a small portable camp oven my wife bought at Costco last year (propane), and on our propane grill.  We have 4 tanks of propane and a bag and a half of lump charcoal.  Rationing those two items will probably be the most challenging, and is what made me think of Robinson Crusoe. 

So we’ll keep you periodically updated as to how things are going.  My wife is already doing some crafty stuff while watching TV (she’s making pompom rugs, whatever those are), and I’m working on some business stuff and a little extra blogging.  If any of you have any prepper related goals, drop me  a line, I’d love to hear about them!


01 2012

The People We Don’t Want to Be

I saw this (The link has been removed…it basically offered a bunker spot for $200,000 for a single and $400,000 for a family, and to contact him right away) on Craigslist today, and it says ‘scam’ all over it.  It makes me wonder at the motivation of the sellers of these ‘bunker condos”.  For $200k or $400k, any one of us could buy a rural piece of property, bury our own bunker, and (based on back of the napkin math) fill it with several years worth of food, water, and fuel.  So why would I want to entrust my future to others, crammed in an underground complex with 50 other scared families, raising the possibility of mental breaks, diseases, and random violence?

Sounds too much like the setup to a bad horror movie for me!




08 2011