Economic Collapse – So Very Close

The main reason an economic collapse is a big priority is because it could happen at any time, and it seems like no one even cares anymore that we are trillions in debt.

Politicians don’t care about the national debt, they care about getting reelected, and if you think they are going to be the ones who say “we need to make huge spending cuts” you’re kidding yourself. They would never get reelected because the people in this entitled society that we’ve become would have none of it.

First off, I have to say that I am no economist by any stretch of the imagination. I understand that government economics and budgeting and home budgeting are completely different. With that being said, I am not so naive to think that this business as usual approach, and massive government overspending is just “how government works”, Regardless what they would like is to believe.

According to some experts, when factoring in unfunded liabilities like Social Security, Medicare, government pension plans and Obamacare, estimates put the real national debt somewhere around $200 trillion.

Let me got off my soap box here and just say, at some point, something has to give. How that looks, when it happens, and what the repercussions are no one knows. One thing is certain though, if we continue on this path, something is bound to give.

Not preparing for a potential economic collapse could be catastrophic.  Everything we’ve worked for and saved over our lifetimes could be gone in a flash.

Preparing for an economic collapse should be one of our highest priorities because it encompasses every area of preparedness. As you prepare for a economic collapse, you are inevitably preparing for other disaster scenarios.

Most disasters would be short lived, and you would know fairly quickly whether or not you were going to get through it. A collapse could be something that requires a longer term preparedness plan. How much you prepare depends on your situation, but this could last anywhere from a few months to a few years.

The most important thing is to stay vigilant and pay attention. Watch what is going on in Venezuela right now, and pay attention to how the government is reacting, how the people are reacting, and what the major issues are.

Take a few minutes and watch this video.  It’s hard to argue with the facts.  We cannot say we’ve not been warned!


More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

My Friend – the Station Wagon

I have very fond memories growing up of a special member of our family.  Sure, I grew up with five sisters and two brothers but there was another family member that each of us grew to love and appreciate and was the “vehicle” through which many wonderful and exciting memories were created.  Yes, I’m talking about our nine passenger family station wagon.  We had several versions of this wonderful machine and my dad seemed to favor the Dodge brand.

In the 60’s, this was our SUV – we used our family station wagon for everything.  My dad installed a trailer hitch so we could tow a utility trailer to haul both gear and people (people just on dirt roads).

We owned a cabin in the mountains of New Mexico and one of our traditions was to drive up a steep, rough road near our cabin that led to an abandoned turquoise mine.  Dad would not only load up the station wagon but also pull our trailer full of kids.  It’s an absolute miracle he didn’t burn up the transmission.  Keep in mind; this was during an era where seat belts were seldom if ever used, hauling family and friends in an open trailer in the mountains was normal and my favorite, sitting outside the door windows or out the back window while driving on dirt roads was the best!  We’d hold on to the luggage rack and sing and tell jokes while soaking in the beautiful scenery.

It was the car I learned how to drive, the car I used for my first date, and the car that carried us to exotic places unknown on our family trips.

Sitting in the front seat between my parents was the most cherished and highly sought after position of all.  Not only did you get the full force of the air conditioner, but you didn’t have to fight with your siblings over a myriad of petty issues.

One of the unique features of these station wagons was the folding rear seat.  When it wasn’t needed, it could be folded down to provide more room to haul things.  When needed, it would be lifted up but unlike the other two bench seats, this seat faced backwards.

With the back window rolled down, this provided hours of entertainment for us where we could hang our feet out the window, sing songs, play games and dangle army men on fishing line out the back window (if you’ve seen the movie Napoleon Dynamite, this will make more sense).

There was one uncomfortable side effect of sitting in the back seat.  If we were driving around town and came to a stoplight, it was always embarrassing and uncomfortable to look at the driver and passengers in the car behind us.  Eye contact was always avoided, unless it was a trucker where we would try and get him to blow his horn by making the fisted pull-down movement with our arms.  It was always a relief when we started moving again and there was distance between us and the spectators following us.

Our station wagon was also a university – a place of learning valuable lessons I would rely on throughout my life.  You see, almost every Saturday morning, my dad would spend time tuning up, repairing or cleaning our family station wagon.  He would always include me in that process and teach me valuable lessons about vehicle maintenance.  He would let me do much of the work.  I used to love to use a star wrench to spin off the lug nuts when rotating the tires.

My dad was always prepared for anything that might go wrong on our trips.  I remember a burlap water bag hanging from the front grill in case the radiator overheated.  He had a tool kit with him to repair just about anything and we always felt safe and confidant Dad would take care of us.

I remember helping Dad change the oil, rotate the tires, change the spark plugs and replace the brakes.  Seldom would my dad take the station wagon into a mechanic.  If something needed fixing, it was put on the list for the Saturday’s chores.  Being taught at an early age how to handle most minor repairs gave me great confidence growing up.  I was never afraid to try and fix just about anything.

I have over the years acquired the title of Mr. Fixit primarily because I’m not afraid to try and fix anything.  From cars to computers; I enjoy tearing them apart and figuring them out.  It wasn’t until my twenties that I learned I was really different in that regard.  Many of my friends had no idea how an engine worked or how to replace brakes.  I was really surprised that everyone didn’t know these things.  It did give me a feeling of superiority and prestige especially when others would make reference that “Taylor can fix it”.  It’s now more common to hear, “Grandpa can fix anything” as my grand-kids bring me items of theirs that need repairing.

I believe this is a very important aspect of preparedness.  We need to be self-reliant in every sense.  We can’t plan on having others helping us when something breaks or doesn’t function properly.

Can you repair a torn canvas or a worn out shoe.  Can you replace a broken fan belt or patch a tire?  Do you know how to correctly sharpen a knife or an axe? Do you know what to do if your generator won’t start or how to sharpen or repair a chain saw?  A true hopeless feeling can come from being stranded in some fashion and not knowing how to resolve the situation.

With the countless number of YouTube videos showing how to fix everything from your washing machine to fixing a leaking faucet or replacing the alternator on your car, we really don’t have any excuse not to learn how to become our own version of Mr. Fixit.  Experience is a great teacher and with the help of a virtual dad online, there is no excuse not to become far more handy than you are now.

Your family deserves to feel secure and protected in any situation.  Now is the time to become familiar with and equipped with the knowledge and necessary tools.  Have some basic tools for both carpentry and mechanical work and repair.  A decision I made early on was to maintain a good supply and assortment of nuts and bolts, metal and wood screws and nails.  Seldom does a repair job take place where I don’t dip into my fastener supply.

A multi-tipped screwdriver, a small and large crescent wrench, needle nose and regular pliers, channel locks and a set of metric and US standard wrenches would be a good start.  Add to that a clawed hammer, a hand wood saw and metal hack saw.  Ask for tools for your birthday and Christmas.  Never stop learning how things function and don’t be afraid to take things apart in an attempt to fix them.  You may ruin them in the process but you will have learned valuable information on what to avoid in the future.

In addition, take the time to teach your kids that just because something doesn’t work doesn’t mean you throw it away.  I love the saying, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”  Teaching frugality, how to take care of our possessions and how to repair them will go a long way in teaching our families to become self-reliant.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Are You at Risk of Being Homeless?

There was an interesting article in the Los Angeles Times recently entitled “L.A.’s homelessness surged 75% in six years”.  According to the article, “The number of those living in the streets and shelters of the city of L.A. and most of the county surged 75% — to roughly 55,000 from about 32,000 — in the last six years. (Including Glendale, Pasadena and Long Beach, which conduct their own homeless counts, the total is nearly 58,000.)”

Three out of four homeless people — 41,000 — live in cars, campers, tents and lean-tos, by far the biggest single group of unsheltered people in any U.S. city.  There are plans to utilize city owned parking lots as locations for tent cities for the homeless.  This should help with the congestion problems on the streets and in parks where groups of homeless individuals congregate together for companionship and security.

I had an interesting experience with a family I met with years ago to assist them with updating their food storage.  They related an experience with me of how their food storage helped them save their home from foreclosure.   I was intrigued on how that was possible and was very interested to hear their story.

There was a major steel plant near their city where this gentleman worked for many years.  It was a time when cheap Japanese steel was being dumped on the US market and US steel makers were screaming foul and insisting the US government impose strong tariffs against foreign steel imports in an attempt to keep the playing field level.

As the government often operates, there was a lot of feet dragging, political posturing and red tape that caused many US steel plants to take drastic measures to keep from going out of business.  As a result, there were many lay-offs and furloughs extended by steel plants that aided in maintaining solvency until the government finally stepped in to save the steel industry.

As a result, this gentleman lost his job with the expressed hope by his employer that he would be re-hired as soon as the cheap import issue was resolved.  During this waiting period, unemployment benefits were applied for and eventually granted which provided a meager survival income for the family.  Unfortunately, that income wasn’t sufficient to cover all the family needs as well as their mortgage payment.

This family was very well prepared with food storage – they had been setting food aside for years never really knowing what might cause a need to dip into their supplies.  Little did they know their food storage would provide that extra level of support they needed to keep their heads above water during this trying time.

They decided to rely solely on their food storage for groceries and only go to the store for necessary paper goods, cleaning supplies and hygiene needs.  As a result, the family saved over $800 per month in food costs which allowed them to put their unemployment compensation towards their mortgage, utilities and insurance.  By relying on their food storage, this family was never put in the terrible position of potentially losing their home due to unemployment.

This experience was a powerful reminder to me of how important it is to follow the example of our forefathers who understood the importance of putting food aside in the event of a rainy day.  They didn’t have access to unemployment compensation when things got tough, they had to rely on their own resources and their wisdom in preparing for the time when they may have to rely of what they had stored.

I think it’s very easy to take our current life-style for granted.  We have to admit, we have things pretty easy.  We don’t have to produce or kill our own food to survive, just make it to the grocery store.  We often put more emphasis and importance of the less essential items in life – a nicer or larger home, new cars, recreational vehicles, trips – you get the idea.  I think all of us have at least three basic priorities in common – a home, a car and food.  But, if push came to shove, which would you prefer to go without for 60 days?  A home?  A car?  Food?

As important as a home is, it’s not essential for survival.  Some type of shelter is important but that could come from something as basic as a tent.  It would be extremely challenging for a family to live in a tent, especially during the winter, but it could be done.

A car is really a luxury in many countries around the world.  Here in the U.S., most of us may believe it is essential – we couldn’t survive without that critical transportation.  But, once again, if circumstances dictated, we could indeed survive without a car.  Even if we had to walk everywhere we needed to go, life would go on and we might just get in better shape as a result.  If things were tough enough, the car could be used as a shelter.

Now let’s consider food for a minute.  It doesn’t take long to realize that going without food for 60 days simply is not an option.  It would be impossible – we would not survive.  If fact, food is the most valuable commodity we could own as it’s one of the only ones that provide lifesaving sustenance.

Well, if this really is true, food being the most important of the three, why don’t we spend our time, energy and resources in securing enough of it to provide for our families in time of need?

We do spend our hard-earned money on procuring life insurance in the event of an untimely death.  We purchase health insurance to cover the costs of extreme illness or injury.  We secure homeowners insurance to protect our homes against fire, flood, earthquakes or other potential damaging occurrences.  We acquire auto insurance to cover the costs of accidents and injury.  But strangely enough, far too many of us neglect the most important of all – food insurance in the event of a natural disaster, economic down-turns, unemployment, sickness of deaths, war or terrorist attacks, or a combination of all of the above.

I had a close relative pass away without any life insurance and it was tragic to witness the overwhelming grief of his family and see how it was compounded by the additional financial stress that was caused by not only the ongoing lack of accustomed income, but all of the associated expenses related to his death, funeral and burial.  I remember having an overpowering feeling – almost a strong urgency to increase my personal life insurance just to make sure my wife and kids never had to go through what my relatives experienced.

In a like manner, even though I’ve been in the preparedness industry for well over 30 years, I cannot stop adding to my supplies knowing the time will come I’ll be grateful I did.


More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Broken Bones and Torn Ligaments

I took my daughter to physical therapy today – she’s recovering from ankle surgery.  As I sat in the waiting room, it was interesting to watch all the people checking in with a wide variety of injuries.  Many of the patients were wearing special cast boots or hi-tech splints on their legs.  Some were wearing slings for their arms or shoulders.  There were crutches, knee scooters, wheelchairs and lots of limping and slow, careful walking.

It reminded me of when I fractured my wrist playing baseball.  I slid into home base and collided with the catcher.  I ended up with a fractured wrist but at least I was safe and had scored a run.  Even though it was just my wrist, I had a cast that extended halfway up my bicep.  I don’t think they use those old plaster casts much anymore.  I hated that cast, especially when my arm would start to itch.  I would use a straitened wire coat hanger to reach down inside my cast to get relief from those annoying itches.

I remember what it was like when the cast was finally cut off. The muscles in my arm had atrophied and my arm seemed much smaller that my other arm.  My arm was very weak and moving it was painful and awkward.  In addition, I had to be careful what I lifted.  I remember how frustrating it was not to have full functionality of my arm.  It took several more weeks before my arm started to feel somewhat normal again and a couple of months before my strength returned.  Physical therapy back then didn’t seem to be offered – at least it was never suggested to me.

As I watched these patients enter and leave the physical therapy gym, I thought about the wonderful benefits of such therapy.  This process truly helps people recover from their injuries far more quickly and eliminates much of the pain and discomfort of recovery by appropriately exercising the effected muscles and joints.

I thought about how a similar “therapy” for emergency preparedness would be so very helpful.  Far too many go through the process of purchasing and storing their food storage and emergency preps and then just forget about them – kind of like putting on a preparedness plaster cast.  As a result, nothing is ever done to exercise those preparedness muscles and when the time comes to use those stored preps, those muscles will have atrophied and will not function as anticipated.

Prior to an emergency, physical therapy would apply by our actually using and becoming familiar with the functionality of our preps.  Here are a few examples of what I mean:

Make a meal with your food storage. Prepare for your family several entrees of your food storage to see what your family thinks.  Become familiar with how to prepare the food and how the serving sizes work with your family’s needs.  If you’ve stored whole grains like wheat, try grinding and cooking with it.  Do you have the ability to actually bake bread or will it be too harsh on your family’s digestive tracts?

Experiment with the equipment in your bug-out-bags. Go for a hike with your backpacks to see how they fit and how to best adjust the straps.  Cook a meal with the small portable stove.  How long does it take to boil water?  Take the radio/flashlight camping to see how it works in the woods.  Inventory the items in the first aid kit and check any expiration dates.

Use your water storage. Rotate your water storage and try using it rather than your tap water for a day.  Experiment with how to flush your toilets by pouring water in the bowl.  Use your water filters.  Go to a lake, stream or irrigation ditch and go through the process of filtering at least a gallon of water and then be brave and drink it.

Cook a meal with your camp stove or try and cook a meal over an open fire. I promise you, there will be much learned through this exercise.  Cooking without the convenience of a stove and microwave requires so much more time, especially if you’re cooking with charcoal briquettes.  Practice how to use just the right amount of briquettes to thoroughly cook your food in your dutch oven and not burn it – or worse, burn the outside with the center still raw.

Practice off-grid scenarios. Pretend the power is off in your home and go an evening with nothing but your flashlights and lanterns.  Will they give off the light you need?  How long will the batteries or charge last? How long does it take for your solar flashlights and lanterns to recharge the next day?

Go camping. Even if you’re not a camping family, you should have sleeping bags and a tent in your preps. Try spending the night outside in the backyard in your tent and experience your first sleepless night in your sleeping bags.  Are they warm enough?  Do you have comfortable ground sleeping pads?  If you had to sleep outside for a few days or longer due to a natural disaster, would your preps be sufficient to protect your family from the elements?

There are many other things you can do to practice and exercise your prep muscles.  Now is the time to take advantage of your self-imposed physical therapy so when the time comes for you to use your preps in a real emergency, you will have the strength, experience and knowledge to make a very difficult situation far less traumatic.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Don’t Singe Your Eyebrows!

Most kids have a real fascination with fire.​  There is something magical and alluring about an open flame.  As parents, we’re constantly warning our children not to play with matches stressing the consequences if they disobey.  Nevertheless, it’s an important part of their education to understand the proper use of and correct way to build and lite a fire.

Growing up as a boy scout, learning how to properly prepare and lite a campfire was an important rite of passage.  Understanding how to find and create the proper amount of tinder was crucial.  Then building the structure – a teepee, a log cabin, a pyramid or a lean-to was always a thing of pride.

In our scout troop, one had to qualify to be a good fire starter – it wasn’t something everyone could do well.  It took practice and experience as well as the knowledge that each of the three key components of starting and maintaining a fire cannot be neglected.  These three factors are:

1.  Ignition source
2.  Fuel
3.  Oxygen

Most failures in building a fire come from not properly securing and preparing the right kind of fuel.  Whether it be the lack of flammable tinder or using too large of pieces of wood or trying to ignite damp or wet wood – many boxes of matches have been wasted trying to ignite a poorly built fire.

As a scout leader, one of my goals was to make sure every scout knew how to properly build a fire that could be ignited with just one match. We would have an annual competition to prove each scout could start a fire under adverse weather conditions in simulated survival conditions.  Each scout was given 30 minutes to prepare his tinder by creating feather sticks.

Then the simulated adverse survival conditions – we would hold this competition during the winter, usually in December.  The temperatures were always below freezing and there was almost always snow on the ground.  The boys were required to strip down to just gym shorts and shoes – no shirts, jackets or hats.  They were given just one match and were expected to start their fire and use the heat to keep from freezing.  Just a side note, we did this in our backyard so we were always close to a warm house if needed.

On the count of three, the boys all ran outside, set up their fires and lit them with their sole match.  As soon as their fires got going, each would stand over the flame to benefit from the warmth of their small fires.  As leaders, we would always join the scouts in this competition.  Each year, every scout was successful because we had spent the time to teach the essentials and helped them understand the necessity of taking the time to properly prepare their tinder and build their fire correctly.

One must be patient.  The lack of patience in preparing your tinder and properly building your fire will in most cases result in no fire at all.

In the event you have a limited supply of dry fuel to keep you fire going, you can increase the temperature of your fire by adding more oxygen similarly to how blacksmiths do – by using a bellows.

I learned how beneficial extra oxygen can be in burning moist, difficult to burn wood.  I had a large tree in our yard that was blown over in a terrible wind storm.  I cut most of it up to use as firewood.  When it came to the stump and roots, I figured I’d just need to haul it off to the dump because there was so much dirt compacted within the intertwined roots, I knew it would never burn.

I decided to try an experiment; I was able to start part of the stump on fire and I brought a portable fan outside and placed it close to the burning stump.  When I powered up the fan, the flame immediately increased and I was very curious to see how far the stump would burn.  After a few hours, there was no longer a flame but just bright orange coals glowing as the fan blew on them.

I left the fan going all night and when I went out in my yard in the morning, I couldn’t believe what I saw.  All there was in front of the fan was a pile of dirt, the dirt that had been compacted around the roots.  Every bit of wood from the stump and all the roots had been completely burned – all due to the increase in oxygen.

When working with a campfire that is not burning well, the very inefficient and sometimes painful way we have all tried to add more oxygen is by blowing on the coals at the base of the fire.  For me, this has never been a pleasurable experience.  First, it’s hard to get close enough without getting burned and second, I would always get smoke and ashes in my eyes.

Then I discovered the solution; I learned how to make a portable bellows that solves the problems of smoke and ash in your face plus being much more efficient is getting the additional oxygen right where it’s needed.

You can easily make one these portable bellows for just a buck and it will collapse and easily fit in your pocket.  You’ll need to make a trip to your local dollar store and purchase a “Selfie Stick”.  Then with a hacksaw, cut off the very end that has the attachment to hold your phone.  Then peel back the rubber grip on the end of the handle and cut off the very end of the handle as well.  Voila – you now have a portable bellows.  Check out this video to learn how to make several different sizes:

This will be a fun project for the whole family.  Everyone should have their own portable bellows and become an expert in building and maintaining a fire.  Now is the time to learn and practice – not when you’re in an emergency situation.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Really? That’s Your Plan?

When I was just 15 years old, a relative who lived in another state offered me an exciting opportunity – he said I could stay with them and work at his gas station over the summer.  I was super excited about it and my parents gave the nod so as soon as school was out for our summer break, I was on a plane headed for adventures unknown.

For my first couple of weeks, I shadowed my relative throughout the day trying to learn as much as I could about how to be a gas station attendant.  Keep in mind; this was in the day before self-service gas stations.  We wore a uniform and when a car would pull up, a bell would clang and we would quickly head out to the pump and ask the driver how we could help.  We’d usually hear, “fill er up” so we’d then go to work not only filling the gas tank, but checking the oil, washing the windshield and even checking tire pressure.

In addition to pumping gas, we did oil changes, tire repair, basic engine tune ups (replaced spark plugs), replaced fan belts, alternators and water pumps.  Even if I was in the middle of any of these repairs and the bell clanged, I’d have to drop everything to run out and pump gas.

It was busy work but the money made it all worth it – I was raking in $1.60 an hour (minimum wage back then) and loving every minute of it!  Then the shift work began.  My relative’s station was on the edge of town near the freeway and he kept the station open 24/7.  As a result, there were three shifts each day.  8 AM to 4 PM, 4 PM to midnight (swing) and midnight to 8 AM (graveyard).

Being the new kid on the block with zero seniority, guess who got more than his fair share of graves?  Yep, you guessed it and it was kinda fun for the first time or two then it got a little weird and scary.  I had scary looking guys steal gas and others who took advantage of a young teenager and made me wonder if I’d live through the night.  I would be so relieved when the sun would start coming up over the mountains cause we all know, scary bad guys hate the light.

Since I knew I would be totally on my own during those early morning hours, I decided to make a plan to defend myself in the event any of those scary guys tried to rob or hurt me.  I found an old metal vacuum cleaner attachment in the back room that I decided to make into a machete. It was about 20″ long and almost flat about half of that length.

I proceeded to make it totally flat except for the handle be smashing it in the workbench vice.  I then used a metal file to sharpen one edge of it to where I was pretty impressed with my creation.  Problem was, I couldn’t carry it with me all the time so I had to leave it on the workbench where it really wouldn’t have done me any good.  Of course, in retrospect, it was ridiculous to consider my actually using my homemade machete to defend myself.  Nevertheless, it provided a certain sense of security regardless of how ridiculous the actual application would have been.

Over the last 30 plus years, I have seen far too many examples of this same false sense of security when it comes to providing emergency food storage for one’s family.  There are four basic categories these examples fall into that I’d like to address.

First – The bulk grain solution to food storage.  Yes, wheat is indeed the staff of life and if it came right down to it, wheat would keep you from starving to death.  Unfortunately, there are those who believe if they simply store several hundred pounds of wheat, somehow magically all their future needs for food for their families will be taken care of.

What’s even harder to understand is that most of these folks make absolutely no attempt to become familiar with or experienced at how to actually use their wheat.  They have no practical way to grind the wheat, no additional ingredients to make or bake bread, yeast isn’t even a thought but regardless, this wheat provides them with this sense of security that if things really went south, they would survive – just like my home-made machete.

Second – The macho approach to food storage.  I’ve run into far too many of these guys as well.  These are the guys (predominantly men), who know it all and don’t need anyone else telling them how to provide for their families in times of need.  They consider themselves the rough and tumble type that assume just because they like the outdoors and have bagged a deer or two in their life, they are qualified as professional survivalists and will be able to do whatever it takes to feed their families.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard these macho guys claim that if their family needed food, they’d just go up into the hills and shoot a deer and all would be well.  Even if it really was that easy, I’m sure no one else would have that same idea, right?  I’m sure there would be no other hunters in the woods trying to provide for their families, some of which who might be desperate enough that if they saw someone else with a deer, they might do whatever it took to take it for themselves.  There’s no question, it would be an outright war in the hills for any available game.  But for these tough guys, this plan is their home-made machete.

Third – The moochers.  This is the group that is convinced others will provide for their needs.  The couple who’s food storage plan is to go home to mom and dad in time of need rather than implementing their own game plan and preparing.  There are those who feel secure relying on the possible assistance from their church.  They may have received assistance in the past and assume that if things get really bad, the church will always have sufficient for their family, not considering the church’s resources may be stretched to the limit with an increased demand from many other families.

Then there are those whose intent is to rely on their friends and neighbors.  I remember a Twlight Zone episode where a family was well prepared with food storage and a bomb shelter and how their neighbors tried to break in when there was an atomic bomb scare. Close friends and acquaintances became ugly marauders who, with no regard for their once friends, were doing everything in their power, including stealing from their friends to keep from going without.  I really don’t understand how this group can feel secure with this type of game plan, but they obviously do.

Fourth – Mobocracy.  This is the darkest and ugliest game plan of all.  This plan relies on violence, theft and control by fear to provide for their needs.  Taking one’s belongings and life if necessary are part of the anticipated method of operation of these thugs.  These groups or gangs find strength in numbers and are devoid of any conscience or concern for others.  They truly understand the most valuable commodity is food and will do whatever it takes to accumulate that wealth for both survival and power.  The arrogance and cavalier attitude of this group far exceeds the macho group and they should be considered armed and very dangerous and to be avoided at all costs.  Let’s hope and pray we are never in a situation where we are forced to confront such a gang.

There is nothing sweeter than the peace of mind and sense of security that comes from “knowing” you are truly prepared for most any difficult scenario.  The knowledge your family will be taken care of and not have to go without is indeed priceless.  On the other hand, having a sense of security that is based on false assumptions can be dangerous or even devastating when the time comes all this becomes real.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Cut Off My Feet!

As a kid, one thing I really hated was being cold.  I remember getting wet and chilled to the bone tubbing as a kid.  My hands were so cold, I wanted to cry.  When I got home, I thought running hot water over them would take away the pain – boy, was I wrong!  I couldn’t believe how much it hurt! I learned not to use that tactic to warm my freezing hands in the future but I still hated being wet and cold.  Tubbing was so much fun, but there was always a price to pay.  In addition to tubbing, often hunting was also a time of painful cold.

When I’d go deer hunting with my dad, we’d get up early on opening morning, leave the warmth of our sleeping bags, put on our coats and orange vests and hats and hike out to the edge of a clearing and sit and wait for the sun to come up.  Since it was typically late in October, it was always cold before sunrise in the mountains.  As a young kid, it was hard to sit still for what seemed like forever but it almost always paid off, we’d see several deer as they were looking for a place to bed down for the day.

Problem was, after the warmth of hiking wore off, just sitting there in the dark, I would start to shiver.  My rear would get cold sitting on the ground and my feet would start to get cold.  I hated it when my feet and toes would get cold because it was always difficult to warm them up.  Unless you took your boots off, even sitting close to a fire didn’t seem to warm them up.

I remember being warned as a kid not to rest your feet too close to a fire because once you actually felt the heat of the fire through your boots, they were too close, too hot and you could both burn your boots as well as your feet.  I had a friend who was wearing rubber winter boots, his feet got cold and he tried to warm them by the fire.  He got too close and his boots melted and badly burned his feet before he could get them off.  He was in so much pain he wanted to cut off his feet.

Over the years, I have purchased very warm boots (I personally like the Sorel brand) but they can be heavy and clunky if you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking.  Unfortunately, the lighter weight hiking boots just never provide the warmth once you stop moving around.  Then I discovered the solution!  You’re probably familiar with space blankets – thin mylar blankets that help keep you warm by reflecting your body heat – great in an emergency.  Well, this solution works on the same principle, reflecting the heat from your feet.  The mylar blankets are far too thin and would bunch up if you tried to line your boots with one.  Luckily, there’s another solution – car windshield sun shades.

You can pick these up at your local dollar store for just a buck.  I picked up ten of them to keep with my preps for future needs.  Just remove the insoles from your boots and use them as a pattern.  Trace around them with a Sharpie marker, and cut them out.  Slide the perfectly cut sun shade inside your boot, shiny side up. Now replace your insoles.  You can also try placing the cut out sun shade on top of your insole. You will be amazed how warm they will keep your feet.  Even though the material is thin, it’s rigid enough that they won’t bunch up when you walk.

Here’s a quick video with directions on how to make these great foot warmers.

Put these sun shades on your shopping list and pick up several.  You can fit all your family’s winter boots needs and have extras for when the kid’s boot size change.​

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Death Was So Close

A number of years ago, on an elk hunting trip, my father in law, brother in law and myself came extremely close to dying as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.  It was a very scary experience to look back and realize just how close we came to perishing as a result of our carelessness.

The three of us had purchased a cabin for our families in a remote, high altitude mountain area.  The elevation of our cabin was about 9,600 feet above sea level.  It was high enough that it took several days to acclimate to the altitude and would often cause headaches if you exerted yourself too much.

Since our cabin was located in such a remote, wooded area, there were no utilities available.  We were totally off the grid.  We used a generator for power and propane for cooking and heat.  We also used the fireplace on occasion for heat and light both.  Due to the altitude of the cabin, it was common to have four to six feet of snow on the ground most of the winter.  As a result, our access to the cabin was usually limited to between the months of May and November.

I come from a family of hunters and it was a regular event to use the cabin as a base camp for both deer and elk hunting.  It was common for us to either bring our four wheelers or horses on our hunts as it made carrying our game back to the cabin so much easier.  It was in late September we had planned on elk hunting near the cabin and had trailered our horses up to the cabin to make the hunt easier.

It was an Indian Fall with temperatures in the upper 50’s and low 60’s.  It was beautiful weather for a hunt with the leaves just starting to turn on the quakies.  We were having the time of our life, riding all over the mountainous area near our cabin, enjoying the scenery and weather almost as much as the anticipation of bagging a big bull elk.  We glassed a herd of about 20 elk more than 1,000 yards away but were never able to get close enough for any kind of a decent shot.

The next day out, clouds began to roll in and by mid-day, it began to rain.  We donned our slickers but not before we got wet.  We continued to ride the rest of that soggy day with no luck finding a decent bull.  By the time we got back to the cabin that evening and got the horses put away, we were wet, cold and hungry and anxious to get inside, warm up and get some food on our stomachs.

Ever since my father in law suffered hypothermia on a backpacking trip, he had become hyper sensitive to the cold.  I even have a picture of him sitting on the beach in Coronado, CA wearing his cowboy hat and a jacket with the beach towel wrapped around his legs.  He hated to cold!  Anyway, as soon as we entered the cabin, he asked me to fire up the propane heater even though it wasn’t that cold inside.  So, being an obedient son in law, without a second thought, I lit the heater and turned up the thermostat.

I then went outside and fired up the generator as it was getting dark.  After a quick bite of food, we decided to setting down and watch a video.  We had an old color TV set up on a shelf by the fireplace and used an old full size VHS camcorder (the big ones that would rest on your shoulder when you shot videos) as a video player to watch the limited library of video tapes we kept at the cabin.  That night, the video of choice was “Tremors” with Kevin Bacon.  If you’ve never had the privilege of watching that masterpiece, it’s about these huge underground worms that are eating people and destroying the town.

One of the unique characteristics of our fancy entertainment center was that the TV would occasionally change from color to black and white.  The high-tech method we used to rectify this annoying shift was to smack the TV hard on the side.  This procedure usually solved the problem.

I glanced over at my father in law who was sitting in an over-stuffed chair next to me and he was out – fast asleep which seemed quite appealing to me after a long day of hunting, a full belly, warm cabin and a classic movie.  As a result, I was quickly dozing off to la la land myself.  My brother in law was laying on a couch closest to the TV and was also feeling sleepy when in a critical part of the movie (the giant worm was eating yet another victim), the TV went black and white.  My brother in law, who had become an expert in adjusting the TV and bringing it back to “technicolor”, sat up to smack the TV once again.

As soon as he sat up, he grabbed his head and yelled out to us – “Wake up, were being poisoned!”  It took several seconds to come to but as we tried to stand up, our heads felt like they were going to explode.  We could feel our hearts pounding like we had just run a mile and we felt like we were going to throw up.  We managed to make our way out to the front porch where we quickly sat down with our heads between our legs and tried to keep from passing out from the headache pain we were experiencing.  As soon as I could stand again, I went back inside, turned off the heater and opened the windows and doors to try and air out the cabin.

How could this happen?!  We had never experienced any problem like this before.  The propane heaters always seemed to function properly in the past and we never worried about carbon monoxide poisoning.  Then it came to me – the reason we almost died – we had neglected to take the metal bucket off the furnace flu.  In an attempt to keep squirrels and other critters out of the cabin, when we leave the cabin, we climb up on the roof and put a bucket over the top of the flu.  Because we hadn’t used the furnace the night before, we simple hadn’t thought about the issue of a blocked flu.

As a result, over a period of about an hour, we had been slowing breathing in the odorless carbon monoxide, making us sleepy and gradually and painlessly killing us.  It really is scary to think how close we came to dying that night and I’m convinced that wonderful old color TV went black and white purposely, by a higher power, to save our lives.  Had that not happened – had my brother in law not needed to sit up to smack the TV, our families would have discovered three bloated bodies several days later.  We were that close!

The effects of carbon monoxide poisoning are prolonged – in fact it took about three days for us to feel back to normal.  You see, the hemoglobin in our red blood cells became saturated with carbon monoxide which blocked oxygen from being absorbed and transported throughout our bodies.  So, for three days, our bodies were trying to replace the carbon monoxide with oxygen that would provide energy and stamina.  We were so oxygen deprived; our bodies were struggling to do the simplest of tasks.  Granted, we were at a very high altitude (which didn’t help) but even walking just 20 feet would cause us to be winded and needing to rest.  Nevertheless, like the tough guys we thought we were, we weren’t about to bail on our hunting excursion.

Luckily we had our horses to do most of the work.  Every now and then when we’d be in a really densely wooded area and we’d have to get off our horses and walk them over all the fallen timber and brush, it would about kill us.  It was like trying to run a race breathing through a straw.  I hope never to have to experience that silent killer again (I may not be as lucky the second time).

Unfortunately, I’m afraid many families will be subjected to the potentially fatal consequences of carbon monoxide poisoning in a grid down scenario.  Many who have stored away emergency camp stoves or other alternate forms of cooking, light and heat, due to the stress of the situation, will fail to follow proper safety precautions when using such emergency systems indoors.  Here’s the best safety tip I can provide – regardless of how safe your cooking or heating source may claim to be, NEVER use it in an enclosed area.  I know, I know, there are many heaters that are ventless or fluless and claim to be safe to use indoors – nevertheless, ALWAYS keep a significant fresh air flow when using such a device.

Some may say, “Why would I open a window and let cold air in when I’m trying to heat the room?”  Yes, it is a little counter-intuitive but essential for survival.  Please take my word for it, it’s absolutely not worth it!  Life is far too precious to risk the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

18 Strange Meals People Ate During the Great Depression

I came across this article recently and couldn’t help but think about the difficult conditions the Great Depression caused for many households throughout the nation.  Families had to be very creative in what they ate and wore.  Many families went without basic essentials and many suffered.  Luckily, for each of us right now, we have the option to greatly mitigate any potential future hardships.  Acquiring the appropriate level of food storage now will help alleviate the stress of providing for our families in times of need.

The great depression brought out both the resiliency and ingenuity of literally millions of people. With few options, people had to make do with what was on hand. Clothes were sewn with spare flour sacks and shoes repaired with cardboard.

Food, however, is where things got really interesting. Some foods were still plentiful and reasonably affordable, but others were scarce. How do you make a full meal when half your ingredients are missing?

You improvise and invent a whole host of crazy foods in the process. Here are some strange meals people ate during the Great Depression–meals we might all be eating again someday.

1.  Corned Beef Salad – So corned beef salad doesn’t sound that bad…until you learn that it’s made with mayonnaise and Jello. Well, gelatin anyway. It’s a mixture of corned beef, eggs, mayonnaise, horseradish, and some vegetables, all held together in a loaf with plain gelatin. Yum…beef jello.

2.  Dandelion Salad – These days, the foodie movement has just about everyone open to eating foods foraged from your yard, but back then dandelion salad was just weird. They did it because it was a way to get free food onto the table, and a bit of added vitamins in an otherwise bland depression diet.

3.  Egg Drop Soup – Not anything like the egg drop soup you can order in modern Chinese restaurants, this soup started with fried potatoes and then added water. The mixture was brought to a boil, and then scrambled eggs were stirred in while the water was boiling. The whole thing was served over toast. I’m not sure why they didn’t just have eggs, potatoes, and toast, but perhaps the spirit of creativity took hold.

4.  Frozen Fruit Salad  – This particular dish was considered the ultimate treat for the holidays. There are many variations of this salad, but all have the same basic feel. Start with canned fruit and add whipped cream, eggs, flour, and any manner of other things (marshmallows, nuts, or whatever is available). Freeze the whole thing in trays and then serve.

5.  Hoover Stew – Named after the president that took office right before the crash, Hoover Stew was the name for the cheap slop eaten by residents of shanty towns Recipes varied, but usually involved hot dogs, canned vegetables, and pasta or macaroni.

6.  Ketchup, Mayonnaise or Onion Sandwiches – What do you do when you want a sandwich, but don’t have any meat or cheese to put in it? Put some ketchup between slices of bread and call it good. Mayonnaise sandwiches were also common, and honestly sound a lot better than the last option, plain onion sandwiches.

7.  Kraft Mac and Cheese – Actually invented during the Great Depression, Kraft mac and cheese was advertised as an exercise in frugality. These days it’s commonplace, and it’s still a cheap way to put calories on the table, but back then a shelf-stable box with powdered cheese replaced a traditional homemade meal full of expensive ingredients like cheese and cream.

8.  Loaves – These days, meatloaf is a simple and relatively cheap weeknight dinner. But how do you make it without ground beef? That’s how it became just “loaf” and it was made out of just about anything put into a loaf pan. Cheap foods like liver, peanuts, and raisins found their way into this catch-all food.

9.  Milkorno – Invented by scientists at Cornell University in 1933 when they were looking for inexpensive ways to feed the masses, it’s a gruel made from dried powdered milk and cornmeal. Other variations like milkwheato (using wheat instead of corn) were also invented and were just as appetizing.

10.  Mock Apple Pie – How do you make an apple pie without apples? It turns out there are a number of ways. One popular recipe involved stuffing a pie crust with Ritz and then covering them with cinnamon, butter, and sugar syrup. Other recipes substitute fruits or vegetables, like a mock apple pie made with zucchini.

11.  Poor Man’s Meal – A mixture of hot dogs and potatoes, poor man’s meal was actually quite tasty. Potatoes were fried with onions until browned, and then chopped hot dogs were added. My grandmother made this for me as a child, and my mother had her own version, substituting kielbasa for the hot dogs, which made it much tastier.

12.  Peanut Butter Stuffed Onions – Actually recommended by home economics teachers, peanut butter stuffed baked onions found its way onto tables. Can you imagine eating an onion stuffed with peanut butter?

13.  Potato Pancakes – Potatoes were one of the most widely available foods, and they found their way into many dishes. Simple potato pancakes are some of the more appetizing ways they were eaten. They were made either by frying mashed potatoes or by binding grated potatoes together with flour and eggs.

14.  Prune Pudding – Actually served at the White House as an act of solidarity with “the people who are suffering” in the streets, prune pudding is a simple mix of boiled prunes, sugar, and cornstarch. Sometimes seasoned, sometimes not, prune pudding had to fill in for dessert. It was generally served in small dishes, to prevent disastrous prune related consequences.

15.  Red Velvet Cake – These days you can find red velvet cake recipes on fancy food blogs, but back then it was a cheap way to make an “almost” chocolate cake. Substituting vegetable oil for real butter, and using almost no cocoa, what the cake lacked in flavor it made up for in color.

16.   **** on a Shingle – This is also known as creamed chipped beef, but **** on a shingle about sums up the thoughts of those that had to eat it. In a nutshell, it’s dried beef that’s re-hydrated a bit in a sauce made with flour and butter, and then served on toast.

17.  Spaghetti with Carrots and White Sauce – Eleanor Roosevelt herself recommended this dish for the frugal cook. It involved a casserole made out of intentionally overcooked mushy spaghetti and boiled carrots, covered in a pasty white sauce made from flour and butter.

18.  Vinegar Pie – Though mock apple pie was one option, other pie recipes tried to get a “fruit pie” feel by substituting the tartness of fruit with vinegar. The dessert was made with a pie crust filled with butter, flour, sugar, and vinegar. Sounds horrible to me, but I guess it cant be that weird, even Martha Stewart has a recipe.


More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Hypothermia – It Can be a Killer

It was June 28th, 2001 when I decided to pull the trigger on volunteering for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.  It really never was a question – I always thought it would be a great and memorable experience to volunteer to help with the Olympics – a once in a lifetime opportunity.

The interviews and evaluation process to determine where our talents and abilities could be best used was quite impressive.  I thought for sure they would ask me to either be a bobsled test pilot to make sure the track was in good shape or the guy at the starting gate of the Giant Slalom or Downhill events.  No such luck.  I was given, however, a pretty cool assignment working with the main ice skating events.  I was called to serve as a Photo Marshall overseeing Short Track Speed Skating and all Figure Skating events.

As a Photo Marshall, my job was to keep all credentialed photographers in line, make sure they kept all the rules, manage the “Kiss and Cry” (where the skaters sit with their coaches/trainers waiting for their scores) and make sure they didn’t harass the athletes trying to get a good or unique shot for their publications.  It was kind of neat when friends would say to me, “I saw you on TV last night!”  Because I stood close to the edge of the ice, when skaters would pause during their performance, if the pause was on my end of the ice, I could usually be seen standing in the background.  I kinda felt a little like a celebrity – stupid, I know.

So when the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea started in February, I was really excited to watch all I could and dream of the glory days of 2002.  I must admit, I was a little confused by several news reports stating it was just too cold for the athletes and spectators.  It’s been so cold that several events have been rescheduled hoping for better weather conditions.  Now I get it – for the athletes to have an opportunity to perform at their very best, the weather conditions need to be ideal.  But I can’t help but think, “What part of ‘Winter’ do you not understand?”  Surely, with today’s sophisticated equipment and high tech winter wear, a little colder weather shouldn’t throw some in a tail spin.  I then, of course, began to reflect on the level of my personal preps as it relates to cold weather conditions.

I love being in extreme cold conditions IF I have the proper winter gear, but there is nothing more miserable than not being properly equipped with warm clothing and being chilled to the bone.  Over the years, I have learned the importance of layered clothing to help in assisting the regulation on proper body temperatures as well as allowing moisture to wick off.  Rather than wearing just a large, warm coat, wearing several layers of lighter clothing makes all the difference.  You don’t want to get too hot where you begin to sweat – moisture can greatly reduce the insulating functionality of you winter gear and potentially allow hypothermia to set in.

You don’t want to mess with hypothermia – it can be a killer.  A number of years ago, I was on one of our many backpacking trips to the Wind River mountain range in Wyoming.  The fishing in those high mountain lakes is to die for!  There was a group of six of us and we were on the last few days of our week-long trip.  We would take topographical maps and compasses with us as we seldom were hiking on any designated trails.  We had to cross rivers frequently holding our backpacks above our heads.  On the other side of each river, we would take an hour break, build a big fire, strip down and try to dry off our clothes.  You don’t want to try to hike, especially uphill, with wet pants – it will totally exhaust you as they constantly are pulling on your legs.

On our next to last night, it poured on us all night long.  It was one soggy mess when we got up the next morning.  After breaking camp, we began bushwhacking through the dense forest to get to a specific ridge we needed to climb to find our next lake.  Pushing our way through the rain soaked brush quickly made us as wet as if we had just crossed a river.  We knew it would be several hours before we would be out of the wet brush so it didn’t make any sense to try and dry off.

As we reached the base of the steep ridge we needed to climb, my father in law made a decision that almost cost his life.  Rather than have his wet pants pull on him as we climbed the ridge, he stripped down and put on a pair of nylon gym shorts.  This looked like a great idea but the rest of us decided not to follow suit.

As we began climbing the ridge, heavy clouds moved in and it began to snow.  Keep in mind, its mid-August and we weren’t properly prepared for winter weather.  Even though it was getting cold, the hard work of climbing the ridge was keeping us warm.  The higher we climbed, the more it snowed.  In addition, as we approached the top, heavy fog set in.  Once we reached the top, we knew we were in trouble because the ridge had some steep drop offs and cliff areas and we couldn’t tell how close to the edge we were.  Our maps and compasses did us no good since we couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of us.

We decided we were going to have to bivy on the top of the ridge which was above the timber line as the wind was picking up and blizzard conditions were intensifying.  During this ten minute decision making break, my father in law decided to put his wet pants back on.  The tent we chose to set up was a 4-man North Face dome tent.  As soon as we got it set up, the six of us pilled in to get out of the wind and snow.

After zipping the tent door closed, we all looked at each other wondering how long we would have to hole up in the tent waiting for the storm to pass.  If it was going to be a while, it was going to be pretty uncomfortable in that a 4-man tent really only accommodates 3 men.  Now there were six of us in very cramped conditions.  As we sat there, I noticed that my father in law was shaking uncontrollably.  The rest of us were wet and cold but not shivering anything like he was.  We quickly realized he was suffering from hypothermia.  Hiking up the ridge in the cold, wet conditions in his gym shorts had allowed much of his body heat to escape through his exposed legs.  Then when we stopped at the top, putting on his wet, cold pants just made things worse.

We knew we needed to get his wet clothes off him and put him in a warm, dry sleeping bag to try and raise his body temperature.  Luckily, I had made a big investment just before this trip.  I had purchased a new down mummy sleeping bag that had a Gore-Tex liner.  Due to the previous rainy night, everyone else’s bags were wet.  I quickly unzipped the tent door and went back out in the storm to fetch my sleeping bag off my backpack.  As soon as we got him in the bag, he lost consciousness.  We all tried to lie down close to him to provide as much heat as possible.  The only way we could accomplish this was to lay on our sides due to the cramped conditions.

During the next 18 hours we were confined to the tent, my father in law came to a couple of times and we tried to get some hot soup down him (this almost caused carbon monoxide poisoning using one of our backpacking stoves inside a closed tent). The wind was blowing so hard at times that the tent was being pushed down on us.  We prayed hard the tent would hold up and protect us from the storm.  I happened to be lying on my side closest to the tent door.  I was so grateful at about 3:00 AM when I unzipped the door just enough to take a peek outside and I saw wonderful, bright stars in a clear sky.  The storm had finally passed!

At first light, after getting him dressed, we wrapped the sleeping bag around my father in law and sent him down the hill with two of our group to help him.  The rest of us packed up the tent and carried the extra backpacks back down the hill to where there was some timber.  There we built a huge bonfire to warm everyone up and dry out our clothes and gear.  After resting for several hours and eating the last of our food, we knew we had a big challenge ahead of us.  We had scheduled our Indian guides to meet us at a prearranged pick up location to take us out across the Indian reservation.  My father in law was as weak as a kitten and even carrying his pack for him, it was going to be very difficult for him to hike the 20 miles we needed to go the meet our ride.  Luckily, I was in much better shape back then and I told the group I would go ahead because I was afraid we would miss our ride.

I was late as I entered the clearing where our ride was to meet us.  In fact, they had waited almost an hour and had given up on us and were pulling out of the clearing.  I ran after them yelling and waving my arms and luckily they saw me in their rear view mirror.  It took almost another two hours for the rest of the group to arrive, but we all made it home safely, much wiser about how to handle adverse weather conditions and the life threatening effects of hypothermia.

More than 1,000 deaths occur each year due to hypothermia, most of which could have been avoided had the proper gear been used.  Bottom line – You don’t want to mess with hypothermia – it can be a killer.


More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry