Will the Shaking Ever Stop?

It can be a terrifying experience to feel totally at the mercy of Mother Nature.  Whether it be a tornado, hurricane, tsunami, lightning strike, wildfire or an earthquake, there is absolutely nothing you can do to keep the event from happening.  It all comes down to riding it out and surviving the effects of the disaster and creating a plan of survival dealing with the after effects.

Just a few days ago, a 7.0 earthquake hit the Indonesian tourist island of Lombok leaving thousands homeless and resulted in 98 dead with that number expected to climb.  There were more than 230 who were seriously injured primarily by falling objects.

One report by the Associated Press quoted a tourist experience when the quake struck, “We were sitting there having dinner at about 7 o’clock last night, we just felt a really big sort of shaking and the lights went off and everyone just ran,” Australian tourist Kim Liebelt said as he waited with other travelers for a flight out at Lombok’s international airport.

“And then the roof started falling down on us, rocks and rubble and then just everyone running to get away,” he said.

Unfortunately, this is how most earthquake related deaths occur, objects falling on individuals.  Death or injury can come from large furniture of appliances toppling over or items falling off the walls or shelves.  Or in more severe cases, buildings falling or collapsing on those inside.

Fortunately, for most of us who live in a first world country like the United States, most home construction in the last fifty years with wooden framed walls would be far more resistant to collapse in an earthquake when compared to rock or brick homes in third world countries.

Nevertheless, the threat of serious injury or death still exists in our homes if a significant earthquake strikes.

There are three primary causes of injury or death in the event of an earthquake.  Let’s discuss each and how we can mitigate the potential of injury.

Falling Objects

As we furnish and decorate our homes, most of us don’t give much thought as to the potential of furniture or appliances falling over or items falling off the walls.  We simply want our homes to look nice and feel homey.  This doesn’t have to change but it would be extremely beneficial if a few extra steps were taken.

This should be a family affair – get everyone involved in the process of making your home earthquake resistant.  It will significantly help the younger ones understand the importance on thinking ahead and preparing to avoid possible injury.

The family should go into each room of the house and together analyze the items in the room imagining that the room was being violently shaken.  What would fall, what would topple over, what would break?  Make a list of these items of concern and then determine how to keep the item in place.

Anything with a high profile will surely fall over.  If it’s a large book shelf or entertainment center, there would be a significant amount of weight from additional objects that could crush a small child.

Any of these items must be anchored to the wall.  One method I’ve used is with cabinet screws and large fender washers. I’ve driven screws through the shelves into studs in the wall.  I’ve positioned the screws about three fourths the way up the shelf in a place where they can easily be covered by books or other items.

Mirrors and large pictures hanging on the walls can also create a real hazard in an earthquake.  Taking the time to make sure these items are anchored into a stud and not just on a nail through drywall will help keep them from falling.

Then there are all the smaller items we us to decorate or homes, many of which are glass.  Even a small vase falling off the top of a shelf could cause serious injury or death to a child.

There are solutions to this as well.  I’ve used museum putty to securely attach such items to shelves, mantles and counters in our home.  This putty is very sticky and never dries out.  Just a small amount around the bottom rim of the item and then firmly push it down where you want to place it and it’s not going anywhere.

Fires

Fires are very common as a result of an earthquake primarily due to natural gas lines being ruptured.  Now there’s not much you can do to keep this from happening outside your home but inside is where you need to focus.

The primary culprit of a home fire resulting from an earthquake is the water heater.  Filled with water, a typical 55 gallon water heater can weigh up to 700 lbs.  As a result of its small foot print and tall profile, even though it’s attached to both water and gas lines, if it starts rocking violently, it will break both the water and gas lines.

Now, the slightest spark will ignite the open gas line and the potential of the house burning to the ground is very high.

On most new home construction, anchoring straps for the water heater are required.  If you water heater is not strapped to the wall, go to Lowes or Home Depot and purchase the straps and get them installed right away.  It’s an east DIY project.

Also, knowing how to shut off the gas and electricity to you home could save your home from burning.  You should show and teach every member of your family how to accomplish these tasks.  You will want to attach a gas valve wrench to your gas meter so you will always have the necessary tool to shut off your gas.

Flooding

Flooding comes primarily from three different sources.

1)  Ruptured water lines, both inside and outside your home.  There should be two shut off valves for the water lines that come into your home.  One should be out in your yard by the street where your home line attaches to the main water line feeding all the homes on your street.  You will typically need a long water key or a wrench to shut off the water at this location.

Then there is the hand valve located inside your home typically right where the main water line enters your house from the outside.  Both of these valves can become difficult to close over time with mineral deposits building up.  You should close and open these valves every year or so to keep them easy to for any family member to shut off.

2)  Ruptured dams on lakes and reservoirs that are upstream from your home.  This scenario would typically affect a much smaller number of families.  Nevertheless, in the event of a severe earthquake, immediate evacuation to higher ground is the only way to save lives.  Saving one’s home should not be a concern – saving lives should.

3)  Liquefaction of the soil.  In sandy, loose soil, when the earth shakes, it brings water to the surface.  This is called liquefaction.  Depending on the soil condition of where you live, this may or may not be a concern.  Back in 1964, there was a 7.6 magnitude earthquake in Niigata, Japan.  Due to the poor soil conditions, liquefaction caused major flooding and some building simply toppled over as the soil underneath them was displaced by water.

Earthquake preparedness should be a family affair.  Simple awareness and a few minor Saturday afternoon projects will go a long way in providing the safely and peace of mind you and your family deserve.

You’ve Got Ten Minutes!

Experience is an excellent teacher but often the cost of such experience can be extraordinarily high and even catastrophic.  So rather than having to personally deal with each potentially devastating consequence of every possible personal experience, we can show true wisdom and learn from the experiences of others.

Unfortunately, far too often we catch ourselves saying, “That would never happen to me” or “I’d be smarter than that” or “What’s the big deal?  Can’t people just take care of themselves?”

Even though there is an overabundance of examples of individuals and families experiencing terrible consequences of their poor decisions or lack of good judgement in the preparedness aspects of their lives, far too few of us take heed and try and learn from such experiences.

One prime example of this deals with the devastating wildfires that are sweeping through many areas of California.  As of the date of this blog, there are 16 wildfires raging throughout the state of California.  The city of Redding has been hit especially hard where 90,000 residents have had to evacuate due to the wildfires.

According to local officials, “Thousands have fled a terrifying wildfire, the so-called Carr Fire, as it tore through an area of northern California after tripling in size to 28,000 acres.  Late yesterday, crews found the body of a bulldozer operator, who had fought to contain the fierce blaze.  The wildfire crossed the Sacramento River and now threatens hundreds of homes on the western fringes of the city of Redding. ‘It’s just chaotic. It’s wild. There’s a lot of fire, a lot of structures burning,’ said Scott McLean, a Cal Fire spokesman for the crews battling the wildfire.”

As individuals, there’s not a whole lot we can personally do to stop a wildfire.  It is far beyond any one individual’s ability to control such a devastating event.  So what can we learn from the experience of others who are caught in such a difficult situation?

According to some reports, “Roads out of the city were jammed with motorists trying to escape the flames, social media postings showed. Thousands of residents were forced to flee the blaze.

Residents of western Redding who had not been under evacuation orders were caught off guard and had to flee with little notice, causing miles-long traffic jams as flames turned the skies orange.

‘When it hit, people were really scrambling,’ McLean said. ‘There was not much of a warning.’”

That last line should cause us to evaluate our preparedness levels.  “When it hit, people were really scrambling. There was not much of a warning.”

In most cases, there is very little warning that extreme danger is imminent.  We usually assume such events would unfold like the forecasting of an approaching hurricane where one might have several days to prepare.  I happen to live in earthquake country and unfortunately, there will be no warning before an earthquake strikes – one must simply be prepared assuming it could take place at any minute.

Many of those who fled the wildfires in the Redding area lost everything as their homes were consumed by the fires.  Even though “things” can be replaced, there are items of sentimental value as well as medications, important documents and survival essentials that could all be lost if proper preparation and practice are ignored.

What would you do if you had only ten minutes to evacuate your home?  What would you take?  What would you leave behind?

Under stressful, panic circumstances, ten minutes may feel like 60 seconds and as a result, precious lifesaving preps may be left behind never to be used.  Now there is little that can be done to alleviate or remove the stress that will naturally occur when such a sudden event takes place but one can make the few available minutes far more productive in taking the items that are most important and potentially lifesaving.

There are two basic levels of emergency evacuation preparedness that each individual and family need to understand and embrace if we are to learn anything from the experience of others.

1)  Essential life-sustaining bug-out-bag.  This is a project where you can take the time to make sure all the essentials are safely packed away in a backpack for each family member.  The items would include water, food, emergency light and heat, shelter and first aid just to name a few of the basics.  Each kit should have enough food and water to last for at least 72 hours.  Personalize each backpack to the needs of the individual.

What is equally critical is where you keep your bug-out-bags.  If you store them away somewhere in the basement or garage where they eventually get covered up by stored Christmas decorations or miscellaneous “junk” we accumulate over time, under a panic scenario, we may not be able to locate them.

Make sure they are in a closet or room close to an outside door and check them often to make sure any expired items are replaced and they are easily accessible to everyone in the household.  Now everyone knows exactly where to go to get and take the essentials of survival.

2)  Important and meaningful documents and items.  This area can be quite a bit more involved and time consuming depending on the number of items you choose to include in this category.  This is definitely an area that cannot be left till the last moment of you will potentially spend all your precious little time trying to locate just one or two items.

The best method I’ve seem is an old-school approach that can easily be modified or updated to reflect what’s most important to you.  It all revolves around the simple 3X5 cards we’re all very familiar with.

This is how it works:  Enter each room of your house and list on a 3X5 card the items in that room that if possible, you’d want to take with you.  Now you have to be careful and keep the list very brief.  Remember, almost everything in your home can be replaced.  So on you 3X5 card, list only the critical items in order of importance so if there’s only enough time to grab one item, the most important one is at the top of the list.

Make this a family project.  Get everyone’s input and make sure everyone’s in agreement as to these additional important items.  Review the location of each item.  It may be helpful to list the specific location of each item on the card as well.

Now it’s essential to keep this card in its specific room in a location where’s it’s easy to find by everyone.  Over time, you want need to update the items on each card.  Every three to six months, it would be wise to go through a dry run with your family to make sure everyone not only knows where the bug-out bags are but understands how the 3X5 card system works.

Now, should a stressful emergency evacuation be required, you can with confidence assign each family member to be in charge of one or more rooms of the house and gather the items on the list.  This will significantly increase your ability to remove all the most precious items from your house in the most organized fashion possible.

Don’t forget the gear bags! The last thing you want to have to deal with is how to carry all the additional items out of your house.  You shouldn’t have an issue with your bug-out-bags as all of your survival gear is neatly packed inside a backpack.  But what about all the other miscellaneous individual items you’ve listed on your 3X5 cards.  You need a way to easily pack them up and haul them out of your house.

Keep an appropriately sized empty gear bag in each room that is designed specifically to hold the items listed on the 3X5 card.  This will greatly speed up the process of gathering and removing everything that’s important to you.

Through the tragic events of these wildfires, we have one more opportunity to learn from the experience of others so we don’t need to deal with the painful consequences of not being properly prepared ourselves.

Are You Considered a Fanatic?

If you’re reading this blog, I’m assuming you have some level of interest in preparing for uncertain times.  You may not consider yourself a “prepper” but none the less feel it’s prudent to carry a food insurance policy the same way you have life, health and auto insurance.

Even though inside you may feel yourself leaning towards becoming a prepper, the unfortunate sometimes negative connotation that term congers up in some people’s mind may be dissuading you from ever wanting to identify as such.

You don’t want to be looked at as a fanatic or a doomsayer.  You simply want to do what you feel impressed to do by way of preparing for the potential of very difficult times ahead.  If this is your goal, you must get the rest of your family onboard if you want your prepping to truly make sense.

Here’s a very important fact: you might think that you can take care of your family by yourself, but you can’t.  At least, you can’t do it without their help.  One person by themselves, trying to take care of a family of four or five people who don’t have a clue about how to survive is too much for anyone to take on.

What this means is that when that survival situation comes, family members have to actually help, not just sit around complaining because their smartphone isn’t working or because the Wi-Fi is out.

They’ll need to become active parts of your survival team; preferably active parts who actually know how to do something.

It’s About Attitude

Survival is more about attitude than anything else. If you look at any military manual on survival, it’s going to start out with a chapter or two talking about attitude. Think about that for a moment. The US military, which can spend whatever they need to in developing survival manuals, starts out by talking about attitude.

Why is that?  Because they recognize the importance of attitude in survival.  We see this in elite military forces as well, such as the Navy Seals.  While Seals are superbly trained and honed to a fine edge, their biggest asset is that they don’t know how to quit.  The Seal motto of, “The only easy day was yesterday” enshrines this attitude. They know that they go into the hard situations, because it takes a team with their dedication to get the job done.

Granted, you can’t make your family have the attitude you want to.  That’s just not possible.  Their attitude comes from their innermost being, and you can’t control that.  But you can influence it; and you should.  You should do whatever you can to impress the importance of survival and being ready to survive on them, without going so far overboard that you shove them away.

Start with a Family Meeting

A good place to start is with a family meeting, where you lay your cards on the table.  This is where you want to make sure that they understand why you are a prepper (or maybe still a closet prepper).  They may not like it; they may not want to be part of it; but they need to understand why.

Avoid getting overly dramatic in this meeting.  Talking about simple disasters, like hurricanes, is much more effective than talking about the end of the world as you know it.  Your goal is to get them on-board with the idea of being ready when any disaster strikes.

Train Them

You may never be able to convince your entire family to make the financial commitment necessary to start prepping.  I seriously doubt that there are many teens in America today who would rather receive a survival kit or bug out bag for Christmas, than their favorite video game.  You might get them excited about a new gun or even a hunting bow, but I doubt you’ll get them excited about a month’s worth of freeze-dried food.

But that’s not anywhere near as important as getting them interested in learning the necessary skills for survival.  The right skills trump a huge stockpile any day, even though that stockpile can be very useful. In the long term, survival is more about knowing what to do, than having the stuff to do it with.

Many survival skills are actually fun and interesting to learn. Hunting, fishing, camping – those are all things that people enjoy doing.

Get Them the Gear

As I mentioned earlier, your family might not be as excited about you giving them survival gear and supplies as a gift.  I’m not going back on that.  But there’s nothing that says you can’t give them the survival gear and something that they’ll like as well.

I’ve given all my adult children emergency kits to keep in the trunks of their cars.  I’ve also given them various small pieces of survival gear as stocking stuffers every year. In doing so, I’m getting them a little closer to being prepared.  But I also give them other things, that I know they want, so that it’s not just about giving them what I think they should have.

Get Them Involved

I said something earlier about avoiding the drama.  I’ve always tried to do that.  Yes, prepping is a big deal and if we are ever faced with another disaster we have to survive, that will be a big deal too.  But that doesn’t mean I have to make it a big deal before the fact.  All that will do is alienate people who I need to get onboard.

My softer approach has gotten everyone in my family involved in prepping.  We’re all in this together.  It has taken time, but bit by bit, I’ve gotten them involved.

There are many interesting things in prepping; things that can even interest the non-prepper.  Gradually, they’ve all been bitten by the prepping bug.  It has taken time, but thank the Lord, we’ve had that time. Now I don’t have to just depend on what I’ve got here in my home to take care of my family, they’re starting to get with the program too.

When Will Your Family Be Ready?

Let me wrap this up by saying something you may not like.  That is, your family is never going to be fully ready for a disaster.  There’s really no such thing as being totally ready.  Part of that is because none of us know what disasters we’re going to face.

All you can do is work on getting ready and getting your family ready, hoping that when the time comes, you will be ready enough.

Real life isn’t like an adventure story. You can be sure that when the time comes, you’ll find that there are key items you didn’t stockpile.  But with enough training, you’ll be able to overcome that lack and still find a way to do everything you need to do.

So don’t worry; just do the best you can.  That goes for your family as well.  Don’t worry about how ready they are or how much onboard they are.  Just do whatever you can to get them ready.  The rest will happen, when it need to happen, whenever that might be.

My Feet are Killing Me!

I love going backpacking, especially long backpacking trips that last a week or so.  Even before the actual adventure begins, there’s a lot of challenging aspects of trip prep that can at times be frustrating as well as rewarding when solutions are worked out.  Making sure essentials are packed without taking any more than is necessary can be a real challenge.

There have been times when I though I only packed the essentials and ended up with a backpack that weighed 70 lbs.  Hiking up to 20 miles a day with a backpack that heavy truly takes the fun out of the adventure and one learns very quickly that there are certain items that were once thought of as essential that indeed can be left behind.

I’ve learned by sad experience that there’s one specific category that one cannot afford to skimp on, ever! That’s the topic of foot gear and proper attention paid to avoiding blisters.  There is not a “one size fits all” approach to this critical aspect of proper foot care – there are many conditions and factors to consider based on the type of terrain one is covering.

There have been several trips I’ve been on where my feet were constantly wet.  Crossing river after river often times up to my waist, made it virtually impossible to keep my feet dry.  There are other times when I’ve hiked through narrow canyons for many miles where the only route is hiking in the water running down the canyon.  One such trip was hiking 16 miles down Zion’s Narrows where the entire stretch was like walking on greased bowling balls.

So based on the specific conditions of your planned hike, having proper foot wear is absolutely essential unless you want to be held up with major blisters and open sores that are so painful you may not be able to walk for a period of time.  If one ever needs to bug out on foot, the last thing one would wants to deal with during such a difficult time is painful, blistering and possibly infected feet.

Here are a few tips that should help you properly prepare and avoid the debilitating pain of blistered, infected feet.

Tip 1. Find the Right Shoes to Prevent Blisters

Your shoes are often the source of your blisters. You get a blister due to friction where your toes, heels, and the sole of your foot rub against the shoe. Everybody has feet of different shapes and sizes, and there is no single shoe will be right for everyone. Getting the right size and shape of shoe can help prevent blisters.

New Shoes: If you take new shoes out for a long walk, you may get a blister as it rubs different areas than the last pair of shoes. Any shoes can give you a blister in its first few wearings before your feet have grown accustomed to them.  So take it slow and only go on short walks with new pairs of shoes, even if they are same brand and model you have been wearing.  Build up your mileage and speed in each pair of shoes.

Cramped Shoes: With a cramped toe box, your toes rub against sides or end of shoes. This can even lead to blackened toenails or losing the toenails after a long walk. Your walking shoes should have a finger’s width of length between the end of your toe and the end of your shoes to allow your feet to expand while walking.  Select shoes of the proper width for your foot so that toes have enough room. Do you need bigger shoes?

Feet Sliding Around in Shoes:  If your shoes have a sloppy fit and your feet slide forward and back within the shoe with each step, you are adding extra blister-causing friction. You may also get a black toenail.   You want your feet to have enough room to expand when you walk, but not enough to slide around. Wear a thicker sock to take up some of the extra space. Learn how to lace your shoes to keep your heel in the heel cup with each step rather than sliding forward. If you still seem to have too much space, buy shoes that fit better.

Rough Edges in Your Shoes: The seams and the edge of the insole can rub against your foot or toes.  You can change styles of shoes or insoles.  Some shoes are designed to be seamless inside. But, generally, the solution will be to lubricate or cover the area that is getting rubbed.

Tip 2. Prevent Blisters by Toughening Your Feet

They don’t call a newbie a tenderfoot for nothing!  Your soft, pink feet will have fewer problems with blisters if your skin gets a little tougher.

Calluses are your friends:  As your feet get more of a workout, they build up calluses. These are your friends. You want calluses, which act as a natural pad against the friction that forms blisters. Do not give in to beauty and shave off or pumice down the calluses—at least until after the long walk.

Tannic acid to toughen:  Marathoners and long distance walkers may want to toughen the feet with 10 percent tannic acid or a tea soak (tea contains tannins).  Apply the tannic acid to your feet, or soak in strong tea, twice daily for two to three weeks.

Moisturize Away Heel Cracks:  To keep your calluses from drying out too much and developing painful cracks, moisturize your feet after each bath or shower with a good foot cream or hand cream.

Tip 3. Prevent Blisters by Wearing the Right Socks

Forget the cotton socks, stick with synthetics.  That’s what the experts say when it comes to preventing blisters.  Cotton retains your foot sweat, which then softens the skin and leaves it more prone to breaking with friction, and blisters form.

Wick it Away:  Synthetic socks made of acrylic, polypropylene, or CoolMax fabric wick moisture away from the foot, keeping it dry. These are available at sports stores.

Double layers:  Double-layer socks may be the answer to preventing blisters. The inner layer should be of a wicking fabric. The two layers work to prevent friction on the foot itself.  Some double layer socks, such as WrightSocks, even come with a no-blister guarantee. You can also wear two pairs of socks.

Padded Socks vs. Thin Socks:  From a blister standpoint, experiment with the thickness of your socks. If your socks are so thick that your toes have no room, you need bigger shoes or thinner socks. When having shoes fitted, bring along the thickness of sock you plan to wear to ensure a correct fit.

Change Your Socks En Route:  Many marathoners recommend changing your socks whenever your feet get wet due to rain, or at the halfway point of a marathon.

There’s the Rub:  Check where the sock seams are hitting your toes. Is that where you are getting blisters? Some running socks are specially designed to keep the seams away from the feet. Tube socks are not recommended as your feet are not tube shaped, and they simply won’t fit right.

Socks as an Investment:  With some athletic socks running from $7 to $20 a pair, it can be painful to stock up. But good socks can last much longer than the cheap ones and save you money in the long run.

Tip 4. Prevent Blisters by Lubricating Your Feet

Friction—the rubbing motion between foot, sock, and shoe—creates heat and tearing forces, which make the skin prone to blisters. Reduce the friction, reduce the blisters. One way to reduce friction is by lubricating your feet so they slide rather than rub.

Petroleum Jelly:  Vaseline or generic petroleum jelly is an inexpensive lubricant. It’s one that has been recommended for marathon runners and walkers and it is even offered on the course of some races. The cautions are that it won’t easily wash out of your socks, and it makes the dirt cling to your socks. That can mean there is more grit in your shoe to irritate your foot, which could, in turn, cause more blisters.

AD Ointment:  This preparation is thicker than petroleum jelly, yet still available wherever baby diapers are sold. It’s another inexpensive way to lubricate your feet.

Body Glide, Run Goo, Sports Slick, Sport Shield:  These products can be found at running stores and go on like a stick of deodorant, or come in a handy tube. They vary in their formulations, with some of them being petroleum-free. Most of them are less likely to gunk up your socks permanently compared with petroleum jelly. It would be a good idea to re-apply them during the walk. But keep these around to use to prevent chafing of other body parts.

Teflon:  Some socks are incorporating Teflon to prevent friction.

Tip 5. Prevent Blisters by Keeping Your Feet Dry

Keeping your feet dry starts with wicking socks, but you can also use other strategies.

Corn Starch and Talcum Powder:  First, plain old corn starch (yep, just like you use in cooking) in your socks and shoes can keep your feet dry. Reapply it at least once in a long distance event. Baby powder or talcum powder both smells nice and also acts to keep the feet dry.

Antiperspirant:  A military study showed that using a special heavy-duty antiperspirant on the feet reduced the incidence of blisters. While regular antiperspirant is less concentrated, it might be worth trying.

But Drink Up:  Keep your feet dry, but don’t let the rest of you get dehydrated. Keep drinking water for the first hour, then a sports drink with electrolytes (salts) to keep your body fluids in balance.  Getting dehydrated can contribute to blisters.

Tip 6. Cover the Problem Spots on Your Feet

If you have a spot that is prone to blistering, or have developed a hot spot while you are out walking and running, covering it can help protect it. There are several options, including sports tape, moleskin, gel bandages, and special patches. In a pinch, you might even put duct tape to work. See a variety of solutions for blister bandages and cover-ups.

The drawbacks of covering the area is that often these bandages and pads don’t stay where you’ve put them, especially as you continue walking or running. You may have to try various kinds to find the one that sticks best for you.  As always, prevention is the best solution for a blister.

Tip 7. Stop and Readjust When You Feel a Hot Spot

You will often feel a hot spot developing that can turn into a blister.  While you may want to keep going, the best thing to do is stop immediately.

If you are carrying a blister kit, place a blister bandage or other cover over the spot.  Readjust your socks and shoes to try to eliminate places where your socks may have become bunched up.  If your socks are damp, change to a dry pair if you can.

While it’s best to just end your walk or run when you get a hot spot, these tactics might keep a blister from developing if you have to keep going.

Sources:

American Academy of Dermatology. How to Prevent and Treat Blisters. https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/injured-skin/blisters

Hoffman MD. Etiological Foundation for Practical Strategies to Prevent Exercise-Related Foot Blisters.

Current Sports Medicine Reports. 2016;15(5):330-335. doi:10.1249/jsr.0000000000000297.

Knapik JJ. Prevention of Foot Blisters. J Spec Oper Med. 2014 Summer;14(2):95-7.

Yikes! We’re Out of Toilet Paper! Now What?

Several years ago, I was a scout leader and loved to take the scouts on campouts.  My son was not old enough to be a scout yet but I would take him with me regardless.  I loved having my boy with me and felt it would be a great learning experience for him to associate with the older scouts and learn skills both from me and them as well.

Along with shelter building and starting a fire, there was another skill that was critical at every campout – latrine building.  I know, typically for boys there is no need to build anything fancy – any bush will do.  But in an attempt to keep the area clean and sanitary, building a proper latrine was critical.

I remember the first time I took my son on a campout with a friend of mine and his boys; he was around 4 years old.  My son informed me he needed to go to the bathroom.  I simply told him to go find a tree and take care of business.  His response kind of surprised me – he didn’t want to.  I guess he’d never gone to the bathroom in the woods before and the thought it was not appealing.

After a little coaching and encouragement, he got the hang of it and it’s been hard to stop him ever since!

Then there are those occasions when you’re in the hills and your digestive tract lets you know you have very little time to get prepared for what is about to happen.  That’s when you realize you didn’t prepare for such an event and you don’t have any toilet paper.  Such events can be quite uncomfortable but they can also teach you valuable lessons.

It’s been said that toilet paper will be worth its weight in gold when it’s in very short supply. I don’t think this is far from the truth. Toilet paper is a modern luxury that people tend to take for granted until the moment they reach for it and find nothing but a cardboard roll. When that happens, they would gladly pay top dollar for a few squares.  I remember having to pay several dollars to a toilet paper scalper in Tijuana, Mexico when my young daughter insisted she couldn’t hold it any longer.

You know you’ve been there. Of course, all you have to do is waddle around the house until you find some more toilet paper or at least some paper towels. But what if you don’t have any more? What would you do then?

This is why it’s important to store plenty of toilet paper. But that’s not enough. What if the crisis lasts a long time and you run out? What if you have to abandon your home? What if your toilet paper is destroyed by flood or fire? In case that happens, you’ll need to consider some substitutes for toilet paper.

Here’s a list of possible alternative to our beloved toilet paper.  It wouldn’t hurt to try these out so you’ll know what to expect.

1) Any Kind of Paper

We’ll get the most obvious one out of the way first. If you don’t have any toilet paper, just use another kind of paper. Paper towels, newspapers, phone books, notebook paper, printer paper, envelopes, etc. Look around the house and see what you can find. (By the way, most magazines don’t work very well because of the gloss coating.)  It’s always best if your crinkle up the paper first by wadding it up a couple of times.  This will make the paper softer and more absorbent.

2) Wipes

Before you start yanking paper out of your printer, wrack your brain and look for any wet wipes or baby wipes in the house. If you do, they make great toilet paper.

3) Sponge

These were used in Roman times. When the people finished, they would wash the sponge with water and vinegar so they could reuse it later. But even if you do this, damp sponges are still breeding grounds for bacteria. If you go this route, you’ll need to either boil the sponge or soak it in bleach water before rinsing it out and using it again.

4) Rock (Yes, a Rock)

But not just any rock. You’ll have to find a smooth, flat (but not sharp) rock like the one in the picture (it’s not as big as it looks). With it you can do what’s known as the “scrape method,” which was very popular in ancient societies. Stir the rock in water to remove excess debris before scraping again.

5) Water

In many countries, toilet paper is unheard of, and instead, people wash with water. To do this, use a plastic cup or another pouring device. Fill it with warm water, pour it into your cupped left hand, and do the necessary cleaning.

Obviously, you’ll want to wash your hands thoroughly when you’re done. You could also use an irrigation bottle so you can spray the area clean without having to touch it as much.

6) Cloth

This method is more accurately referred to as “family cloth” and is used by people who are trying to be as frugal and/or eco-friendly as possible. The idea is to use cloth rags to wipe yourself, and then wash them afterward so you can continually reuse the fabric.

Soft fabric from old flannel diapers or nightgowns works best for this, but you can also use towels, washcloths, or even old T-shirts. Whatever you chose, simply rip the fabric into suitable sizes and trim them with pinking shears to prevent fraying.

Used in connection with the water method mentioned above, this could be an effective way to get by without toilet paper indefinitely. Just make sure the fabric doesn’t accidentally get flushed down the toilet.

Instead, put it in a sealed container next to the toilet and once you have enough for a load of laundry, wash them. But don’t mix them with your regular laundry.

7) Corn Husks

Because the pioneers grew and harvested so much corn, corn husks were one of their most popular toilet paper options. The leaves, when green, are relatively soft and a good size for bathroom or outhouse use. They can be dried for using during the winter months, and if that’s too rough you can always soak them in water to soften them again before use.

8) Plant Leaves

If none of the above options are available, or if you have to bug out to the wilderness and use up all the toilet paper in your bag, you may have to turn to nature’s toilet paper: leaves.  There are several types of leaves that are large enough that they can be a great alternative to toilet paper.

Maple Leaves

Specifically from the broadleaf maple. The leaves are large, don’t have irritable hairs, and are easily identifiable in the woods. Maples also produce an abundance of leaves, as anyone who has had to rake up after a maple tree can testify. Broadleaf and Sugar maples have the largest leaves, but in a pinch a mountain or vine maple could also be used, though the small leaves of these varieties would be awkward for an adult to use.

Mullein Leaves

This low growing, biennial plant flourishes in dry and sandy soils. Its leaves are a fair size and coated with a soft fuzz. The fuzz can be an irritant or a benefit, so use caution when using this plant and wash with water if irritation develops.

Large Leaved Aster

Also known as “lumberjack toilet paper,” and for good reason. The large, smooth, heart-shaped leaves are perfect for wiping, and the plant can be found in abundance across the eastern United States and Canada.

Cottonwood Leaves

Specifically, the larger leaved variety. It has smooth leaves that would make the perfect emergency toilet paper. The leaves are a little on the tough side, so they won’t tear during wiping. Cottonwood also has a bit of an anti-pain effect, and the leaves can be used for things like emergency bandages as well.

Hazelnut Leaves

Hazelnut also makes good emergency toilet paper, though they’re slightly on the small side. Also, they have a bit of fuzz on them which could potentially be irritating for people with sensitive skin. They’re very soft and completely non-toxic.

There are several other types of leaves that could be used for toilet paper such as dandelion and others, but before you use them or any of the leaves mentioned above, make sure you have real-world experience identifying them in the wild.

Battle of the Bugs

I love the summer time and being outdoors in the mountains.  Unfortunately, one of the sad consequences of being in the wild is dealing with the ravenous flying, stinging and biting bugs that can drive you crazy!

I remember being on a hunting trip in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico on horseback one summer and I thought I would literally lose my mind.  Especially in the evening, the mosquitoes were so thick it was ridiculous!  The only thing we could do as we rode through the hills was to break off a quaky branch that had lots of leaves and constantly swat ourselves all over in an attempt to keep the critters from devouring us.

It’s not that the actual mosquito bite is painful in any way – if fact it often happens without you even knowing about it.  It’s the after effect that will drive you crazy.  And if you cave in to the itch and scratch the bite, it only makes things worse.  And as the itch intensifies, even brushing against your bed sheets as you try and sleep will wake you up wanting to scratch the itch in a futile attempt to alleviate the non-stop announce.

I learned a simple trick to take away the itch of a mosquito bite for several hours.  Heat up a cup of water and dip a spoon in the hot water.  Then press the hot spoon against the bite and hold it there for 15 seconds.  You want the spoon to be as hot as you can stand it without actually burning your skin.  I wasn’t careful enough with one particularly annoying bite on my ankle and still sport the burn scar today from using too hot of a spoon.

Your best bet is to do all you can to avoid the bite in the first place.  There are many home remedies and repellents that have been tried and successfully used over the years.  To help determine what might work best, it’s helpful to first review what attracts mosquitoes in the first place.

Mosquitoes are attracted to:

●  Lactic acid
●  Type O Blood
●  CO2
●  Metabolic rate (high resting metabolic rates are more attractive)
●  Heat
●  Movement

Drinking alcohol and exercising both raise metabolic rate and make you more attractive to mosquitoes. Movement and sweating will make you more attractive to mosquitoes.  But have no fear, there are a number of ways to prevent bug bites in the wild. Here’s a list of a few.

1)  Avon’s Skin So Soft with an active ingredient called IR3535, is considered a biopesticide repellent by the EPA. It works, but in most cases will only provide protection for about twenty minutes.

2)  Don’t Eat Bananas female mosquitoes bite and they love sugar. It’s said that when the body processes bananas it attracts the mosquitoes.

3)  Eat Garlic to repel ticks and mosquitoes.

4)  Lemon Eucalyptus Oil can help ward off ticks and mosquitoes. It’s a very effective chemical. Not safe for kids under 3 years of age. Can cause skin irritation and problems with vision so keep away from eyes.

5)  Seek Shelter or Keep an Insect Net in your bug out bag to keep mosquitoes from being able to get to you. Exercise indoors and shower before going outside.

6)  Deet Repellents of at least 15% DEET will provide protection from insects for about 90 minutes.

7)  Avoid Scented Hygiene Products as some people believe that smelling like flowers will attract bugs that are attracted to flowers.

8)  Catnip Oil was proven to work 10 times better than DEET as an insect repellent according to a study done in 2001.

9)  Citronella Candles work only for short periods of time. It’s the smoke from the candle that keeps mosquitoes away.

10)  Get Your Vitamin B to alter your scent and keep mosquitoes away. The Mayo Clinic suggests that 75|-150 mg of Thiamin (Vitamin B-1) could be enough to get mosquitoes to leave you alone.

11)  Find the Breeze (Use a Fan) and point it in your direction. Mosquitoes cannot fly in breezes over 1mph. In the wild of course you’ll need a solar powered fan.

12)  Protective Clothing can keep mosquitoes off of you or at least prevent them from biting if they land on you. Wear long sleeves, pants, and socks to cover exposed skin. Light colored clothing will blend into the surroundings and make you less noticeable to mosquitoes. Clothing should be tight not loose and should be smooth, breathable fabrics that are tightly woven. You can also buy clothing treated with permethrin which is a proven insect repellent. Look for brands such as Nobitech and Insect Shield. Or buy permethrin spray and treat your own clothing.

13)  Use Soybean Oil Repellents which work a little better than products containing 7% DEET but not as well as products with 15% DEET. The difference is that soybean oil repellent is all natural and much safer.

14)  Avoid Mosquito Havens when you are camping or in the wild. Things such as areas with standing water where female mosquitoes (the ones that bite) lay their eggs. Around your home, empty standing kiddie pools, tires, buckets, or anything else that has filled with water. Avoid bushes, long grasses or tall weeds.

15)  Times of Day can also affect mosquito behavior. They generally feed as the sun is rising and just before it sets in the evening. This is because humidity goes up and the breeze dies down, perfect flying weather for mosquitoes.

16)  Mosquito repellent plants are one of the ways to prevent bug bites. Basil is said to be toxic to mosquito larvae. Rosemary can be burned, and the smoke will help repel mosquitoes. Lavender repels flies, moths, and mosquitoes. Peppermint kills some bug larvae and repels adult mosquitoes. Marigolds work to keep mosquitoes and aphids away. Marigold roots are believed to repel a type of roundworms called Nematodes.

17)  Bat Boxes are one of the great ways to prevent bug bites. Bats eat bugs and can be very helpful in keeping the bug population low. Bat boxes can be built around your home or property to encourage bats to live in the area.

18)  Vicks Vapor Rub when rubbed on exposed skin can be very effective at repelling mosquitoes. The only problem with this method is that the smell of menthol may be unpleasant for you and those around you. If

19)  Cinnamon Leaf Oil has been said to be a natural insect repellent. Combine cinnamon leaf oil with a small amount of water and spray or apply to the skin. Most bugs don’t like the smell at all. If they do land on your skin, the oil can be deadly for certain insects.

20)  Vanilla Extract (Clear) and Olive Oil combined into a spray can be effective in repelling mosquitoes and it’s an all-natural method.

21)  Citronella Soap used when bathing or showering can help give you an odor that will repel mosquitoes instead of attracting them.

22)  Picaridin is similar to the chemical compound found in pepper. More natural than DEET. Levels of about 20% picaridin should be effective.

23)  Make Your Own Insect Spray by combining lemongrass oil, vanillin, citronella, and peppermint oil. It’s safe and can be more effective than products with 100% DEET.

 How to Treat Bug Bites

Although many of the ways to prevent bug bites in the wild are effective, chances are one of the little buggers will get to you at some point. Fortunately, there are a number of great ways to treat bug bites too.

You can use a variety of different natural herbs and plants such as lavender, aloe vera, cinnamon, tea tree oil, calendula, and basil to treat the itchiness. You can also use heat or ice to ease the swelling and pain of bug bites or stings. Witch hazel combined with baking soda can be effective as a treatment for bug bites as well.

No matter where you are, you can prevent bug bites fairly effectively if you plan ahead. With the list of ways above, you should be able to find something that can keep the annoying little pests away from you, so you can either enjoy that backyard picnic or focus on accomplishing the survival tasks you need to get done in the wild outdoors.

Declare Your Independence!

If you’re like me, it’s really irritating when you know how to do something and someone else is assuming you don’t.  As a result, they are constantly trying to instruct, correct and warn as if you just fell off the turnip truck.  Even as a kid, I felt like I already knew how to do things and I didn’t need my parents or teachers telling me what to do.  Boy, was I wrong!  At that early age I definitely needed guidance and instruction but oh how I looked forward to the day when I would be truly independent.

This issue continues as an adult.  Most of us have experienced this when a back-seat driver tries to take over the control of the vehicle by verbally assaulting the driver.  This reminds me of a BBC English sitcom called “Keeping Up Appearances”.  Hyacinth Bucket (she insists on pronouncing it “Bouquet”) is the quintessential back-seat driver as her husband, Richard desperately tries to drive.  Check it out on Netflix, you’ll get a real laugh.

The bottom line is, we all want to be independent and prefer not having people tell us what to do.  As we approach the 4th of July, Independence Day, It may be worth your time to consider areas of your life where you might not be fully independent and consider what you can do to come closer to complete independence.  Let’s consider 10 ways to declare your personal independence.

1)  GET OUT OF DEBT.  Declaring financial independence isn’t easy and will take time, but every little bit helps, even if you save just $1 a day or use something like this 52 Week Savings Plan.  Debt will definitely keep you a slave to interest and your debtors.

2)  COOK FROM SCRATCH.  There’s no need to ingest ingredients that food production companies decide to add to their products when those ingredients are unhealthy. Growing your own food, learning to preserve it by canning and/or dehydrating, and even raising chickens and bees (both are entirely possible in the suburbs) are all ways of declaring independence and increasing self-reliance at the same time.

3)  CONSIDER HOME SCHOOLING.  Take a long, hard look at how you might get your children out of the public education system.  When you homeschool, you remove your kids from “the matrix”, as I call it. They are free to become their own, independent-minded individual, free to explore their God-given interests and talents, free from daily, intense peer pressure (and sometimes bullying), and this sets the entire family free from the demands of public school.

4)  REDUCE YOUR GROCERY BILL. Can you imagine spending just $200-400 a month on groceries? Well, some families do just that by cooking all meals from scratch (this is almost always cheaper than buying processed foods), starting and expanding a backyard garden, raising chickens and other small livestock, buying in-season produce at farmers markets, and basic meal planning focusing on the most frugal meals possible.

You may not have much control over your rent, mortgage, or car payment amounts, but you have a ton of control over how much you spend on food! Check out this article about planning meals to get started. Knowing ahead of time what you will be cooking and serving several days in advance alleviates a lot of stress and allows you to shop the grocery store ads and clip coupons in order to save even more.

5)  GET OVER MATERIALISM. Wow, will this one set you free in more ways than one. There’s no need to keep up with the Joneses, especially when you think about how much the Joneses are spending. They may very well be in debt up to their eyeballs, as this old commercial reminds us. That sure doesn’t look like freedom or independence to me!

6)  LET GO OF THE PAST.  Some of the most miserable people I’ve ever known are tied to past mistakes, past grievances, past relationships. They have never let go and moved on to see what the next chapter of their lives might hold.

This Independence Day, forgive yourself for mistakes you’ve made and learn from them.  Be kind to yourself as though you were your very best friend. Give yourself grace, forgiveness, and mercy.

Seek out people who are positive, happy, and excited about life. It’s been said that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. If that’s the case, be purposeful and selective about who those 5 people are! Married to a perpetually grumpy spouse? Then determine the other four people will be rays of bright, shining lights in your life!

7)  STOP WORRYING ABOUT WHAT OTHERS THINK.  If you’re a prepper, you may already have set yourself free from worrying about what others think, but if not, this is something you need to make a habit of today. Nothing will bind you down more than worrying about what other people think, when the truth is, they really don’t think about you very often at all.

8)  TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR TIME.  Declare your independence by taking charge of your time. You do realize that time is life, right? As those seconds and minutes tick away, that’s your life ticking away, so why squander it by saying “yes” to commitments you really don’t want or need in your life? Spending it on mindless video games and forms of entertainment that have no value at all. When we don’t manage our time, we give control of our lives over to everyone and everything else, and there’s certainly no independence in that!

9)  ELIMINATE SOCIAL MEDIA.  If you do nothing else, set yourself free from SOCIAL MEDIA!! What a scourge this has become. On Twitter and Facebook, I have never seen so much rage, hatred, disrespect, and pure meanness on display every single day. Sometimes it’s aimed at “friends” but more often at total strangers.

10)  FINALLY, REDUCE YOUR DEPENDENCE ON OTHERS. Preparing for emergencies and being ready for things like power outages, bad weather, and unexpected expenses. Simple things like clearing your home of clutter and unwanted/unnecessary belongings and getting organized, setting aside some money each week, and developing practical skills will all help you become independent and able to face challenges without total reliance on others.

I think we’re different. We were drawn to the idea of preparedness exactly because we reject the thought of being controlled and ruled over by others in a time of crisis and seek independence in ways that are often small but gradually accumulate to something of real significance.

Enjoy your Independence Day, not just this July 4th, but on every day of the year!

Why You Shouldn’t Wait for the Government to Save You

Back in 2005 when hurricane Katrina hit the New Orleans area with a vengeance, my son and I happened to be in the area for business.  Are we experienced the devastating force of that hurricane, we learned firsthand many valuable lessons of how to survive as well as the dark side of human behavior.

There were several miracles that occurred that made it possible for us to escape the area after the hurricane hit.  One of the very sad images I still can clearly see is a group of people huddled in a hotel lobby waiting for the government to rescue them.  We had a hard time understanding why these people didn’t just take the matter in their own hands and figure out a solution to the problem as my son and I were doing.

I came across this article I wanted to share that does a great job in addressing why one should never rely on the government to save one’s family in the event of a major disaster.

“Hello, I’m from the government and I am here to help…”

If these words sum of your survival “plan,” you should go on ahead and start kissing your loved ones good bye right now. The government is NOT prepared, and by the time their underlings start rolling down your street, it will likely be to take and not give, supplies.

The government is not prepared to render aid to all American people immediately after a national disaster strikes, and beyond. The massive stockpile of food, potable water, and medicine you might think the government has to distribute, simply does not exist.

The aftermath of natural disasters in 2017 alone proves that the problems with getting aid to emergency sights is not just a lack of available stockpiles, but also involves budgetary and logistical hurdles as well. Local and state governmental entities will be as overly taxed as federal agencies, and equally hampered by a lack of resources, funds, ability to reach areas in either the immediate or surrounding, disaster area.

In all likelihood, when the government does arrive in your neighborhood, it may be to find more essential resources to keep itself and “top priority” areas going. Your guns could be the first thing to go, especially if martial law has been declared. The redistribution of vital materials, “for the public good” should be something we all are thinking about as we prep….and covertly store our preps.

Disaster Warnings

How much of a warning the government has before disaster strikes will directly impact both the amount of aide that can be distributed and how long it will take to deliver. Having time to coordinate with state, regional, county, and local governmental entities and businesses that sell fuel, food, and water, will increase the possibility that aide could arrive within days or weeks, if the disaster is not a nationwide event.

The chance of having more than a 24 hour warning before disaster strikes is likely only going to happen if the incident is sparked by a weather related event, like a hurricane, tornado, or flooding. The ability to detect solar flares before they happen has only existed for about two decades and is still not perfected.

Do not count on the Emergency Alert System (formerly known as the Emergency Broadcast System) to utter more than a single warning before a SHTF incident – if that. The once simplistic emergency response system went high tech about a decade ago…making it incredibly vulnerable to cyber hackers.

Terrorists who are able to hack into the EAS could potentially send out false information to not only the general public, but to the first responders who would be rushing into ground zero to help in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. Ponder for a moment, how much more devastating the 9/11 attacks or the Boston Marathon bombing could have been had the first responders intentionally been given false information – or instructions designed to lure them to an area for stage two of a terror attack to take place.

If the power grid goes down, as would happen during a solar flare, EMP, nuclear attack, or catastrophic natural disaster near Washington, DC, the ability to enact the Emergency Alert System might not exist.

The change over from the Emergency Broadcast System to the high tech Emergency Alert System permits the President of the United States to tap into a direct link to the EAS to issue an alert. To date, no president has conducted a live test on the new system, so whether or not it works or how hard it would be to hack, is basically unknown. Some security tech experts maintain hacking into the EAS system would not take the skills of a seasoned cyber hacker. If a hacker garners access to the root server of the Emergency Alert System, the ability to thwart or alter warnings messages, has been gained.

Governmental Priorities

The government’s first priority will not be to feed, house, and render medical aid to the American people. Maintaining order will be the number one priority of all levels of government during and after a SHTF disaster. If our freedom must be infringed upon to get the task completed, that is what will be done. One of the most revered presidents in the history of the United States did just that, and we now celebrate his birth with a day off of work every year.

President Abraham Lincoln has long been heralded for saving the union during the Civil War. He may have done that, but the Constitution was trampled upon to achieve the lofty goal. There is a distinct reason many Southerners refer to what happened between 1861 and 1865 as the “War of Northern Aggression,” and they do not have anything to do with cherishing the abhorrent act of owning other human beings.

Contrary to what most public school history textbooks tell you, the Civil War began brewing not over slavery, but after more than a decade of tariffs being levied upon the South alone. Politicians of the 1800’s were no different than their modern counterparts when it came to holding onto power and money to spend that was not their own. Prior to taking a vote on secession, President Lincoln had the entire Maryland State Legislature arrested.

To keep America intact and collecting increasingly high export tariffs, the Constitution was violated in the following ways by Lincoln during the Civil War:

1)  The Navy was ordered to blockade domestic ports. Such an act must be ordered by Congress, but during the Civil War the president usurped the power of the governing body in an effort to starve the South into submission.

2)  President Lincoln ordered the military attack on Fort Sumter without congressional approval and refused to call Congress back into formal session after the attack has taken place. Sumter was not just any fort, it was a primary tariff collection depot.

3)  General William Tecumseh Sherman was issued an order by President Lincoln to embark on his march to the sea – burning down whole towns (including hospitals) and “requisitioning” food and other goods from Southern residents, as he saw fit.

4)  Lincoln again circumvented Congress when he suspended the writ of habeas corpus. This allowed the arrest of Americans without bothering to file a criminal charge against them – and to hold them without the benefit of a trial indefinitely. When ordered by the United States Supreme Court to immediately restore the writ of habeas corpus. Lincoln not only ignored the mandate without consequence, he ordered the arrest of the justice who dared to issue it. Approximately 20,000 Americans were arrested after the writ was suspended during the Civil War.

5)  More than 300 newspapers, the only form of a free press at the time, were either commandeered and then shuttered, by order of President Abraham Lincoln. Some of the publishers and editors of the newspapers who reported negative articles about the handling of the Civil War, were arrested for merely exercising their right to free speech.

The very protections our Founding Fathers wrote into the Constitution to forever prevent a loss of freedom or for tyranny to rear its ugly head in America, were cast aside by a single man and then soundly forgotten by the history books.

If you think such a thing could not happen again, for the sake of keeping order, you would be delusional. The government will once again be acting in the ends justify the means mode during a SHTF scenario.

What We Should Expect The Government To Do In An Effort To Maintain Order

● Declare martial law
● Impose a curfew
● Restrict movements of Americans – enter the definite possibility of FEMA camps here!
● Requisition all functioning vehicles, or even horses, if the SHTF disaster was caused by an EMP or solar flare.
● Take control of the food supply
● Suspend the writ of habeas corpus…again
● Shut down the free press

The effective mission statement on FEMA’s own website should be viewed as a harbinger of what to expect during a large-scale disaster:

“A secure and resilient nation with the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk.”

I can just about guarantee you folks that rural areas will not be anywhere near the top priority list for recovery aid during and after a doomsday disaster. When the agents from the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA show up in rural areas where most preppers live, they will be looking for food – because this is where is grown and raised, and for guns, because we have the highest percentage of ownership on a geographic scale.

Who will be the government decision makers after a SHTF disaster? That question has far too many variables to offer even an educated guess. We could be way down the presidential line of succession after a doomsday disaster. The HMIC could be the director of the Department of Transportation or the deputy director of Bureau of Land Management – in essence, an unelected appointee with less experience than a small town mayor, when it comes to managing a population of any size

I am not one prone to conspiracy theories. My description of the typical government response is based upon past precedent, agency priorities, and logic. The government will not think it’s out to get you, but protect you while maintaining order for the “public good.” That, my dear fellow preppers, is the recipe for a freedom-infringing and very dangerous scenario, indeed.

Source:  https://modernsurvivalonline.com/dont-wait-for-government-to-save-you/

What Do You Need to Just Survive?

There’s no question, if things got really tough and it all hits the fan, we’d want access to all of our preps to help mitigate the trauma of a very difficult situation.  Unfortunately, the odds of something difficult taking place as we sit in our comfortable homes with all our food storage and preps at hand is very unlikely.  Chances are, we will be away from home, either at work or away on vacation or maybe in the hills hunting or fishing when an emergency hits.

And we all know, there’s no way we’re going to carry a large backpack with us wherever we go with a bunch of survival gear and food “just in case” (even though many of us wish we could).  So what happens?  We go off completely unprepared.  This happened to me and my son when we were caught in Hurricane Katrina more than a thousand miles away from all our preps.  It’s an extraordinarily vulnerable feeling knowing the only thing you have to rely on is your survival knowledge and your courage.

So what’s the solution?  It’s really quite simple.  We all need to assemble small, easy to carry survival kits that we keep with us where ever we go.  If it’s not possible to keep your survival kit on your person, then it needs to be very close by, like in your briefcase or desk at work or in your car or in your RV.  These kits are not designed to replace your 72 hr. kits, these are exactly what their name describes, “survival” kits.

Every survival expert seems to have their own list of what they feel is most important to have on hand so I’m going to show you several options so you can decide what makes most sense for you.  Each of these survival kits consists of only 10 items that can easily be kept in a small gear bag or small backpack.  Here are some of the suggestions.  Keep in mind, these are just the essentials.

Todd Smith, Outdoor Life Magazine
Personal locator beacon (PLB) or cell phone
Map of area
Compass
Small first-aid kit
Water bottle
Flashlight/headlamp
Lighter and fire starters
Space blanket/bivy sack
Whistle
Signal mirror

Doug Ritter, Equipped To Survive
HeatSheets brand space blanket
Gloves
Chlorine dioxide water-purification tablets
Nylon braided line
Whistle
Lighter
Waterproof matches
Tinder (for fire starting)
Signal mirror
Personal locator beacon (PLB)

Mike Forti, United States Air Force Survival School
Large knife (machete or hatchet)
Cell phone
Bic Lighter
9 x 12 foot plastic painter’s tarp (0.35 mm thickness)
Mylar survival blanket
Mini LED flashlight
Water purification tablets
Water Container of some sort
Small roll of fishing line or dental floss
Fifty dollar bill (“After a few days lost in the woods eating bugs, it would be a real shame to emerge next to a 7-11, and have no money for food,” Forti said.)

I then came across Dave Canterbury who came up with the 10 C’s of Survivalability.  His list makes the most common sense to me because it lists categories rather than specific items.  I see a lot of lists including cell phones.  I would say probably more than 50% of most states have NO cell phone coverage in remote areas, making these new model GPS’s with text capability subscriptions far more practical and very popular.

So here is what Canterbury says:

DAVE CANTERBURY’S 10 C’S OF SURVIVAL

Dave Canterbury of the Pathfinder School, LLC developed the “10 C’s of Survival” as a handy list of the most essential tools for staying alive in a wilderness emergency. The 10 C’s of Survival should be taken to heart by anyone who spends any time in the back country—indeed, even the front-country.

After all, a day hike can quickly become a situation of perilous stakes. Weather can rapidly turn, bringing frigid rain or wet, heaping snowdrifts where ten minutes before was blazing sunshine. You may stray from the trail and become entirely disoriented, or become suddenly hobbled by a twisted ankle.

The 10 C’s of Survival are best thought of as divided into two batches: a core of five absolute must-have pieces of survival gear rounded out by an additional roster of highly useful, if not essential, tools.

THE FIRST FIVE C’S OF SURVIVAL

Never head into the boonies without these first 5 of the 10 C’s of Survival.

(1) Cutting Tool: Ultimately, this means a sturdy, full-tang survival knife—something that should always be on your person in the backcountry. A design with a four to five-inch carbon-steel blade and a flattened back edge is typically the most dependable and versatile. Well-made survival knives allow you to do everything from clean fish to split kindling.

(2) Combustion: Being able to spark a fire is critical in a survival situation. In inclement weather, it’s the first order of business—fundamental to maintaining your core temperature. Additionally, a blaze can help you advertise your location to potential rescuers. Carry spark-catching material such as the Pathfinder Mini Inferno tinder or Gorilla Tape alongside a ferro rod and a good lighter.

(3) Cover: A common mistake committed by plenty of outdoor recreationists is neglecting to include an emergency shelter in their go-to hiking packs. Even if you’re simply setting out for an afternoon trail hike, you need the ability to quickly erect a precipitation and cold-resistant covering to keep you dry and warm in the event of an unforeseen night out in the backwoods. A poncho, wool blanket, tarp, or even a plastic garbage bag will serve you well.

(4) Container: An ideal container for wilderness use is a 32-oz. stainless-steel water bottle. Staying hydrated is fundamental in an emergency, and you want a durable vessel for storing and carrying water. The high-quality metal additionally allows you to boil water—or melt snow—to render it safe to drink: You don’t want to be dealing with a gastrointestinal malady on top of your other worries.

(5) Cordage: Sure, you can fashion rope from plant materials in the back country—but why expend that time and effort if you don’t need to? Carry a good 100 feet of 550 cord, which can assist in a dizzying array of tasks.

THE SECOND FIVE C’S OF SURVIVAL

In the event of contingencies in the wilderness, the remaining five items of the 10 C’s of Survival can be immensely helpful to have on hand.

(6) Candle: It’s all too easy to forget about an illumination source when preparing for a day on the trail. If you’re stranded for whatever reason, the onset of night is a real threat: You can quickly hurt yourself fumbling around in the dark for kindling or water. Having more than one source of light is best—a headlamp is particularly convenient, but bring candles along as well.

(7) Cotton: It’s no weight or space burden to stuff a few cotton cloths or bandannas in your pack—a level of convenience that belies the versatility they display in the backwoods. From bandages to signaling flags, from fire-starters to head coverings, cotton bandannas are deceptively multi-use.

(8) Compass: There are plenty of methods for orienting yourself in the wilderness, from keying into the wheel of constellations to tracking the sun’s shadow. But bringing along a durable compass with a sighting mirror gives you an unfailing tool for precise navigation—one that readily doubles as a signaling mirror.

(9) Cargo Tape: From injuries to pack malfunctions, a roll of duct tape serves as many functions in the backcountry as it does in the garage.

(10) Canvas Needle: Also called a sail needle, this little tool can be employed to repair clothing or shelters, act as a makeshift compass, dislodge nasty splinters, and for other delicate, high-precision operations.

Remember, the “survival weapons” of the 10 C’s of Survival only work when combined with the knowledge and presence-of-mind to put them to use. If you can stay calm and ward off panic—commonly your greatest threat in the wilds—you can use this basic equipment to keep yourself alive, healthy, even contented, until help arrives.

Is One First Aid Kit Enough?

One of the most important parts of preparedness is having the right first aid supplies. Because food storage and bug out bags always seem to steal the show, first aid sometimes gets overlooked. Having at least one first aid kit around the home is great, but if a disaster strikes, you may find yourself wishing you had spent more time and effort preparing with the right kinds of first aid equipment and supplies.

You should always have some sort of medical kit with you at all times, and that includes your family members.  We should all have first aid kits in our cars, our bug out/in bags, as well as in the home.

Our children need to know how important it is to properly prepare and it’s not a bad idea to give prepper gifts for birthdays and Christmas.  Not only does this make gift giving decisions easier but you will also be giving a gift that has real value and can even save a life.

The Basic First Aid Kit

Here is a list of the basic first aid supplies from the Red Cross that you would want in every kit.  After you have these, you will need to customize your first aid kits. What you add to them will depend on where they will be used, who will be using them, and their skill level.

2 absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches)
25 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
1 Tube Silvasorb Jel
5 antiseptic wipe packets
1 bottle of aspirin/Advil
1 blanket (space blanket)
1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve)
1 instant cold compress
1 box of non-latex (Nitrile) gloves
2 hydrocortisone ointment packets
Scissors & Tweezers
2 roller bandage (4 inches wide)
10 sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)
Oral thermometer (non-mercury/non-glass)
2 triangular bandages
First aid instruction booklet

Your Skills Will Determine Your Supplies

Before you begin to customize these first aid kits, you need to think about your skill-set first.  There is no reason to spend money on chest seals and tourniquets if you don’t know how to use them.  This doesn’t mean forget about them, it means learn how to use them.  If you are like me, you see all these trauma supplies and say, “I need/want this, I need that, I gotta have that too!” Along with having those supplies comes the responsibility to learn how to use them correctly.

First Aid Kits at Home

The first aid kit in your home should contain the bulk of your supplies.  This kit should be able to cover a wide range of injuries that could occur.  Because the size of your kit isn’t as much of a factor in the home, you should add all the extras you might need.

Extra supplies to practice with.
Less typical items like Steristrips, Mastisol and Xeroform.
Specialty dressings such as Medihoney and Mepilex. [Read More Here]
Tapes & Wraps such as Vet Wrap, Ace Wrap, Hypafix tape etc.
OTC Medications.
Prescription Medications.

First Aid Kits at Work

Most of us spend 8 hours a day at work, and depending on your job, some accidents are more likely than others. Having a first aid kit at work isn’t for minor injuries, that’s what workman’s comp is for. Your first aid kit would be for larger events like active shooters, terrorist attacks and earthquakes.  It should have supplies that could help until the medical professionals arrive.

Most places of employment have basic first aid kits. Because sometimes these get ransacked and never restocked, it might be a good idea to have your own. Check your work’s first aid kit and see how well it’s stocked, and what you might need.

First Aid Kit’s For Your Car

The average American spends around 2 hours per day in their car. Injuries while driving are likely to be more severe than injuries working around the home.  As you are thinking about what to add to your car first aid kit, think about likely injuries from a car accident.

You might want more trauma supplies (if you know how and when to use them) in your car kit. Broken bones and severe bleeding are common in car accidents. Having 100 band aids in your car would be unnecessary, but having SAM splints, extra gauze and dressings would be.

There are items you wouldn’t think are first aid supplies, nevertheless are important to have as part of your kits. Note pad and a pencil, road flares, a heavy duty solar blanket, regular blankets for comfort, headlamp, etc.  It’s very important to note, NEVER do anything you aren’t ABSOLUTELY positive about. Always wait for the medical professionals when available.

Don’t forget about putting first aid kits in your children’s cars as well. This is something our kids just don’t think about until it’s too late. Unless your child it training to become an EMT, a basic kit will work. If they are training to be a first responder, they probably know what to do anyway.

Too Much is Never Enough

We hear the saying all the time that 2 is 1, and 1 is none. With first aid supplies it should be 10 is 1, and 1 is none.  In most trauma situations, you are likely to use far more supplies than you thought.

Most first aid supplies have a very long shelf life, and some can even be used after expiration. The last thing you want is to run out of gauze or dressings when you are trying to stop severe bleeding.

Is There a Place For Pre-made Kits?

Unfortunately, most pre-made first aid kits are a waste of money.  They are typically filled with just band aids, gauze and tweezers.  For this reason, for the most part, I would say steer clear of pre-made kits. You can put together a much better kit yourself than most of the generic pre-made first aid kits.

A “quality” pre-made first aid kit would be good for putting in your children’s cars, and even a jump start first aid kit. You could take the items out you didn’t want, and add the supplies you need. Some people get these kits and use the supplies to practice with, and use the bag or container to build their own kit.

There are some websites that put together good first aid kits but make sure they use good supplies, and it has what you need in it. Keep in mind, a good kit with 100 items is going to be far more than $25. A 100 item kit for $25 probably has 75 band aids in it.

What to Store Your Kits In

Not all of your first aid kits need to be in bags or containers designed specifically for first aid. I would however make sure they are clearly labeled, or it’s obvious what it is. You want these supplies to be readily available, without having to search through boxes to find what you need.  Here are a few ideas that we have used to store first aid supplies in…

My main first aid kit is in a red backpack
Small cardboard boxes for extra supplies (labeled)
Old plastic bins
Old tool box
Sterilite bins with drawers
Ziploc Bags
Old cordless tool cases
Tupperware containers
And anything else laying around the house you can put stuff in.

The bottom line – don’t scrimp when it comes to your first aid kits.  Just like having extra food on hand in the event of an emergency, having extra first aid supplies on hand can literally save lives.