The Lights Don’t Work – Now What?

I remember when I got my first set of high quality solar rechargeable flashlights, I was so excited, I couldn’t wait till the power went out so I could see how well they worked in a legitimate power outage.

Sure, I tried them out at night by turning all the lights off but it just wasn’t the same.  It’s such a habit to flip the light switch when you walk in a room, it was too easy to forget we were pretending all the power was off.

I’ve upgraded my solar lights over the years and now prefer the Goal Zero Torch 250.  It has a very efficient solar recharging panel as well as a USB cable and hand crank to assist in charging.  I keep these solar flashlights in almost every room in the house.  I put them in the window sills so they are constantly being charged every day – even when it’s cloudy outside.

Having access to a reliable source of light is not only essential for safety and preparedness but it’s also important to help keep one’s spirits and mood elevated.  Being in the dark can be a very scary, stressful and depressing event.  Especially for younger ones – it’s the night-light principle.

I wanted to spend a little time discussing options as they relate to providing light during a power outage.

Lightning is probably the most common thing people normally associate with power outages. You are sitting at home and you are cast into darkness. The TV silences. As a child, during summer thunder storms that would knock out power, I was excited. I would run to get the flashlights and candles; it was just like indoor camping!

During the summer, long days would allow you to still have light for reading or board games until close to bedtime.  However other parts of the year (or the globe), a power outage can mean many hours of darkness before sleeping.

As you may never know how long the power will be out, do you have a plan to provide light in your home or learn to do without?

Lights without Power

1)  Flashlights

For most of us, this is the go-to light source the minute the power goes out. Small battery powered LED flashlights are great to have around the house but should not be relied upon for your primary source of light.  As I mentioned above, a good quality solar rechargeable flashlight is your best option for long-term lighting solutions.

We’ve all experienced the frustration of grabbing a flashlight only to realize the batteries are dead or they go dead after using the flashlight for just a couple of minutes. So if you choose to keep several of these little guys around the house, you have to be vigilant and check the batteries often – especially if they use AAA batteries.  These flashlights are convenient but just don’t have the staying power to keep things eliminated very long.

2)  Reduce your need for lighting

While it may not be necessary at first, aligning your daily schedule with the sun will reduce your need for light.  This may include aligning your sleep schedule. Normally you may wake at noon and stay up until 3 am, but this will require much more additional lighting (in whatever form), then if you went to bed closer to sunset.

Also, do activities as a group. Rather than having everyone sitting in different rooms with their own lights, bring everyone together and share the light source.

3)  Candles

Your average taper candle will burn an inch an hour. So your 10-12 inch candles equals to 10-12 hours. How many candles are in your home, and how long will they last form? Taper candles are portable and tall, great for casting gentle light for moving about.  A box of 30, 10″ candles which would give you 300 hours of light.

Then there are the 100 hour candles. You can also find liquid candles that claims to burn for +100 hours. These are not as portable, and more expensive per burn time then the standard taper candles.

Don’t forget last year’s Christmas gift candles. Those Yankee candles and other odd-ball candles in glass jars can also be burned as a light source, even if you don’t consider them part of your survival gear.  And there’s an additional bonus, your house will smell nice.

With any candle, be sure to stock fire starting supplies like matches and lighters. I find the best matches are cheap, but I splurge for the Bic Lighters when it comes to reliability.

4)  Mini solar lights

Small portable solar lighting can be a great light source that doesn’t require batteries or won’t burn down like a candle.

Garden solar powered lights can a greater renewable source for light. Leave them in a sunny window during the day and have a small portable light for walking around at night. They can be found at most Walmart’s or even the Dollar Store.  They’re not very bright and won’t stay on all night but they are a cheap way to provide some light around the house.

I learned another great application of these solar garden lights – that of showing where you tent ropes are.  If your tent requires ropes to keep your tent from blowing away or to keep your rain fly on, put a garden solar light next to each staked rope and you’ll never have to worry about tripping over the rope when you get up in the middle of the night to go to the bedroom.

5)  Large lanterns

Large lanterns can be used for lighting up a whole room, a tent or outside area.  Solar powered lanterns provide a renewable source of energy (assuming it’s sunny). LED lights do provide bright light for less energy than traditional lights, which pushes it’s capabilities further.

More traditional camping lanterns run off oil or propane. The length of burn-time will depend on the flow of propane and how bright you set it to be. This is a bulkier option as you also need to store extra propane tanks. If you are storing propane for heating and cooking also, adding a lantern may not be as cumbersome.

6) Headlamps

Headlamps are great for quick trips to the bathroom at night as well as any chore that requires using both hands and direct focus of the light. While large headlamps are great when the power is flowing, smaller battery powered ones may work better during a power outage. Small LED ones are inexpensive and can provide hands-free light.

7) Fireplace or campfire

For situations where it is safe to be outside with a campfire, enjoy sitting around a campfire at night rather than sitting inside burning candles or your propane lantern. Likewise, a home fireplace could also provide light for reading or playing games. For those who have gas fireplaces, this is a great source for light and heat when the power goes out.  The flow of natural gas is not effected by a power outage.

Steps to Take Today

1)  Evaluate you home for your current lighting options.
2)  Invest in candles, lanterns and headlamps.
3)  Stock up on basic supplies: batteries, matches and lighters.

In Conclusion

There are many options for providing light during a power outage beyond candles. The first step is always to try and minimize the amount of light you need in the first place, and then ration your options in case the power outage lasts for a long time. However there are many solar rechargeable options that work well and don’t use up resources.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Complacency Can Be a Killer

While driving down a local road, I was sad to see that a long-time preparedness company had closed its doors and their store space was vacant with a “for lease” sign on the building.

As I did more research on this company and others, it was very evident that the preparedness industry has taken a real dive.  I’ve read many comments and blogs that reflect a real level of complacency and lack of concern by the previous customer base.

I wanted to share one such post regarding this issue by a concerned prepper, Frank101.

“My observation is that with the election of Trump, two odd things have happened:

1) 80% of conservatives completely stopped being attentive of world/economic conditions. In other words, the 250 trillion in U.S. liabilities does not bother them, NSA surveillance that has been ramped up during Trump is fine, the seriously overvalued stock market is now a good thing, the fragile situation in the middle east is not a concern, etc etc etc etc etc.

They’ve gone brain dead because they see Trump as their savior just as the left considered Obama to be theirs!  It’s laughable.

2) 90% of preppers are now sitting on their laurels because ‘all is well now Trump is here’.

Trump has done nothing truly substantial…..but not because he is ‘evil’ it’s because he CAN’T.

He’s only put new paint on a broken down vehicle.

Employment numbers mean nothing due to the fact that the majority of workers had to take lower paying jobs after 2008.

60% of those employed are making less than 15 bucks an hour.  It takes at least two people per household to pay the rent or mortgage… and they barely get by at that.

Personal and corporate debt are both at all-time highs! Higher than 2007!

It’s crazy how people have become pacified and dulled down to total ignorance because Trump is in.  His budget is just as bad as Obama’s was!  Idiot conservatives think that Trump can do no wrong!  Exactly as the left did with Obama!

The ship is still sinking at the same rate as it was during Obama and everyone is inside the galley eating cookies and smiling!


I don’t agree with everything Frank101 posted but I do believe there is some truth in what he says.  Indeed, ever since Trump was elected, the preparedness market has been heading down a dangerous slope.

I don’t believe in being a doom and gloom person, sitting on my front porch in a rocking chair with a shotgun across my lap waiting for the end to come.  I do however believe it’s important to be informed to help make the best decisions on how to provide for my family during difficult times.

A strong positive attitude based on “if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear” is also important.  I love the quote, ”Things will work out.  Keep working, praying and trying and things will work out, they always do.”

Unfortunately, it’s so easy to be complacent. To be confident or satisfied that all is well and all will be well. “It’s all good”, “chill out”, “no worries”.

A positive attitude is one thing, however complacency and letting your guard down is another. That way of thinking can be dangerous.

I know some people who are 100% optimistic, all the time, no matter what, to the extent that they’re seemingly not seeing reality. Rose colored glasses.


It’s good to have balance. A positive outlook along with a ‘wary eye’ on reality. If you keep a wary eye on something, you are cautious while watching to see what will happen or what could happen.


It seems to be human nature to wait until the last minute. Not everyone is afflicted with this, but there’s no doubt that most are. Waiting until the last minute is especially slipshod for those who see it coming but do little or nothing until “it” is upon them. That’s called procrastination.


In the context of preparedness, it’s easier to prepare for a crisis if we know that the process of getting there is going to be slow. That said, a crisis may come suddenly, unexpectedly.  It happens.

You might know or believe that a given crisis is indeed going to eventually happen but it’s going to be awhile before it hits. But then Wham! Out of nowhere ‘it’ happens. And you’re not prepared as you had planned to be.

The best and most valuable preparations are those you accomplish BEFORE crisis hits. There may be little you can do AFTER. Meaning, what you have may be all there is.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

“Beaver Fever” – Avoid it like the Plague!

I’ll never forget my first backpacking trip into the Wind River mountain range of Wyoming.  It was a week long trek covering over 100 miles of the most pristine, beautiful, high-mountain trails and seldom seen or fished lakes.

I’ve never caught and released so many large rainbow trout and never lacked for my fill of trout for dinner.  Many of the lakes were tucked away in high-mountain box canyons or very remote areas where the snow never completely melts all year.  These lakes are fed by pure mountain water, mostly from the melting snow.

We didn’t give much thought or concern to purifying our drinking water as most of the time we were above the tree line and we felt comfortable the water running off the snow melt was clean and pure.

As we would hike from one lake to another, we would keep our sierra cups hooked on our belts so we could easily grab it and reach down in a stream we were crossing and get a cold drink of water.

As our backpacking trip neared its end, we began hiking at lower altitudes, down in the trees.  That’s where I was foolish enough to continue scooping water out of the streams for a quick drink.  As a result, I was contaminated with “beaver fever”, also known as Giardia, known to be especially abundant near beaver dams.

Luckily, this happened on the last day of our trip so the full effect of Giardia didn’t hit me until after I returned home.  What a blessing!  Had I experienced the full effect of Giardia in the middle of our trek, they would have had to bury me in a shallow grave along the way.

I was so sick and weak as well.  I had to crawl to the bathroom over and over again.  It was an absolutely terrible 10 days!  I never want to repeat that experience again!  Now days, I make absolutely certain I always take an approved water purifier with me whenever I hike in the mountains.  Experience is a great teacher – unfortunately, the lessons can be very costly.

What is Giardia?

Giardia lamblia is a protistan. That makes it a single-celled organism, similar in size to one of your cells. This protistan lives in the intestines of mammals. Many of the microbes that live in our guts are harmless, but this one provokes diarrhea, gassiness, and other gut malfunctions.

It not only reproduces itself in the gut, but can form cysts.  Cysts are basically the hibernating form, much tougher than the active microbe but not able to do anything until it goes active again. Giardia cysts are shed in feces, and when swallowed by a different mammal they can go active once they reach the lower gut.

Giardia can form cysts, which is an inactive form that can survive a long time in water and re-activate when it’s swallowed.

How does one get Giardia?

Drinking water with Giardia cysts is the usual way to get the infection.  Some people have gotten it by swimming in infected waters; but they were very small people and may not have been careful to not drink the water.

The insidious part of it is that it takes very little fecal contamination of water to make it infective. It can be a clear mountain stream, melting off a glacier just half a mile away, but if an infected marmot or raccoon or person pooped by the streamside last week, drinking the water may earn you a Giardia infection.

Giardia occurs in most states too. Nor is it limited to the United States; Giardia infection is one of the most common parasitic infections worldwide.

In the cyst form, it persists somewhere from months to days, depending on temperature, etc. It lasts better in cool, moist conditions.

How does one “not” get Giardia?

Consistently purifying drinking water is a great protection from Giardia. Yes, there have been cases from more casual contact, but they are far more rare.

The good news is that being a protist, Giardia is pretty big. Any filter of reasonable quality will remove it. All the other standard water purification methods such as boiling and various chemical treatments do it too. That’s no accident: Giardia is so widespread and common that you could hardly call something a general water purification method if it didn’t catch Giardia.

How do you know if someone’s got Giardia?

If a person develops yellow, bad-smelling diarrhea that is frothy (with bubbles) but without blood or mucus probably has Giardia. The diarrhea may be a constant thing or may come and go. The person’s likely to be bloated and gassy too, and the gas will smell and taste like sulfur.  Weight loss and lethargy show up after a while, to no one’s surprise.

The most reliably occurring symptoms are abdominal pain and cramping (usually without fever). Since that’s true of most gut disorders, it’s not terribly helpful for diagnosis.

Sometimes people or other animals will have and spread Giardia without showing any symptoms themselves, as well. Their immune systems are controlling it well enough to keep them functioning, but not to eliminate the parasite. Such cases are relevant because of their ability to spread the disease, and because they can develop symptoms at a later time when something else interferes with their immune systems or their gut function.

Fecal smears looking for cysts are effective and pretty easy. However, most preppers won’t have the means on hand; and due to fluxes in microbe populations and such, any given smear from an infected organism is only about 70% likely to show positive though, so persistence might be required.

What can you do about it if someone’s got Giardia?

Most doctors suggest metronidazole (trade name Flagyl). If it’s a recent infection, it’s given 3 times a day for 5 days. People over 8 yrs old get 250 mg (1 tablet) per dose; children 3-7 half that; younger children 1/4 of a tablet per dose. It’s not suitable for pregnant women, especially in the first trimester, and breastfeeding women on high doses shouldn’t give their babies their milk for 24 hrs after a dose.

Giardia infections that have lasted six months or longer should be treated with doses three times as big for 10 days; and quinacrine as well.

Quinacrine (brand name Atabrine) is another option, but not as good because it can cause headaches and vomiting. It’s given as 3 100 mg doses (1 tablet each) per day for a week. Half the dose size for children under 10. If it’s being used for the long-standing infection with the metronidazole, use the same dose but give it for 2-3 weeks.

If you don’t have these … well, the person’s immune system sometimes wins without chemical help against Giardia. Good nutrition will help.

Pets get Giardia too

Many kinds of mammals get Giardia; both suffering symptoms and spreading the microbes. Dogs and cats are at higher risk than people … ever try to stop a dog from taking a lick at a stray puddle when he’s thirsty? Cattle and other food animals also have problems with it, and it can spread very well in their shared water sources.

Symptoms in dogs are very like those in people. Treatment with metronidazole is used for dogs as well as people, and fenbendazole is used in dogs too.

The Bottom Line

Take my word for it – it’s not worth the risk.  Don’t ever drink from any mountain stream or lake without the use of a good water purifier.  Giardia is not something you ever want to get!


Werner, D. 2011. Where There Is No Doctor: A village health care handbook. Hesperian Health Guides, Berkely, CA. Available for download from

Ventura, L. L. A., Oliveira, D. R., Viana, J. C., Santos, J. F. G., Caliari, M. V., & Gomes, M. A. (2013). Impact of protein malnutrition on histological parameters of experimentally infected animals with giardia lamblia. Experimental Parasitology, 133(4), 391.

Ehsan, M. A., Akter, M., Ahammed, M., Ali, M. A., Ahmed, M. U., Leveck, B., & Claerebout, E. (2017). prevalence and clinical importance of cryptosporidium and giardia in human and animals. Bangladesh Journal of Veterinary Medicine, 14(2), 109.

Ward, E. (n.d.) Giardia in dogs. VCA Animal Hospitals.

CDC. 2015. Giardia & Pets.…trol-pets.html


More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

What Happens When You Run Out?

Recently, during a strenuous long hike, I caused a stress fracture in my left foot.  It wasn’t severe enough that I couldn’t finish my hike but by the next day, it swollen and very painful.  After x-rays and the doctor’s confirmation that it was a small fracture on the outside of my foot, I was told to just try to say off of it, keep it elevated and take ibuprofen to address the pain and inflammation.

This was a real inconvenience and the pain was no fun but I knew I need to do everything I could to try and speed along the recovery process.

The ibuprofen was especially helpful when I went to bed as the pain was intense enough that it would keep me awake.  Then one night, I was in trouble.  I had run out of ibuprofen!  I tried Tylenol but it just didn’t do the trick.  I could hardly wait for my wife to go to the store the next day and pick up some more ibuprofen.

But what if the circumstances were such that there wasn’t a store to go to?  What if we didn’t have access to the typical over-the-counter medications we’ve all become so accustomed to?

Luckily, there are several alternatives to such medications that we most likely have in our kitchens or bathrooms right now.  In fact, more and more people are turning to home remedies rather than using pharmaceutical medications that may contain harmful ingredients and synthetic chemicals.

Some of these remedies might seem very strange to you, especially if you’re used to popping a pill for every ailment, but people have been using them for decades–in some cases, centuries–to great effect.

Before you laugh at these home remedies and consider those who use them crazy, try them out for yourself. You’ll quickly discover that they really work! Here’s a list of unusual remedies and how to use them.

Hydrogen Peroxide for Ear Infections

Ear infections are painful and disruptive, but hydrogen peroxide can help clear up the infection. Lie on your side and pour a cap full of hydrogen peroxide into your ear. Let it sit and bubble in your ear for 5 to 10 minutes. It feels strange, and you’ll hear popping sounds.

The popping you hear is the peroxide softening the wax and killing bacteria in your ear. Place a tissue on your ear and let the hydrogen peroxide drain out. Earwax will easily come out with a Q-tip. You can use this remedy just to clear out your extra earwax, but the hydrogen peroxide works quickly to remove any bacteria or stop a virus from growing.

Lemon Balm Tea for Cold Sores

Lemon balm contains antiviral properties that can help cure cold sores that are caused by the herpes virus. You can make lemon balm at home with some dried lemon balm.

All you need to do is add 2 to 4 TBSP of dried lemon balm herb to a cup of boiling water. Let it cool a bit, and then dab the cotton ball into the tea. Apply it to your cold sore several times per day.

Sugar for Hiccups

Hiccups aren’t bad for you, but they’re really annoying! They’re caused by a spasm in your diaphragm. A simple, but unusual, home remedy is to swallow a teaspoon of sugar.

Scientists don’t know exactly why this works so well, but it’s speculated that sugar affects the vagus nerve which connects your brain and stomach, stopping the diaphragm from spasming. Now every time you get the hiccups, you’ll have an excuse to eat pure sugar!

Yogurt for Bad Breath

Halitosis is the official name for bad breath, and no one enjoys it. Believe it or not, the cure isn’t chewing on a pack of gum – it’s yogurt. You need at least two servings per day of yogurt because it contains probiotics, but make sure you purchase yogurt that doesn’t contain sugar.

Eating yogurt will change the environment on your tongue so that bad bacteria doesn’t continue to grow and stink.

Baking Soda for UTIs

Urinary tract infections (UTI) are painful, and it’s best to cure them sooner rather than later. A UTI can turn into a bladder infection. Baking soda is a home remedy because it makes the bladder environment more alkaline, which prevents bacteria from multiplying.

Simply mix 1/4 TSP of baking soda into an 8-ounce glass of water. Drink this solution as soon as you notice the starting symptoms of a UTI.

Olives or Lemons for Motion Sickness

Motion sickness, or any nausea, leads to the extra production of saliva, which makes you feel even more nauseous. If you notice motion sickness, eat a few olives.

It works because the tannins in the olives stop nausea by drying out your mouth. Lemons are a quick fix for motion sickness as well.

Olive Oil for Eczema

Eczema can cause you to itch and feel uncomfortable, and it can flare up anywhere on your body, even your hands! Olive oil is an ingredient in many skin creams and products, and it’s full of antioxidants.

All you have to do is rub the olive oil on the area of your body with the eczema flare up. Olive oil is wonderful for many ailments.

Chocolate for a Cough

Finally, a reason to eat more chocolate! Dark chocolate can help you stop coughing if you’re having a coughing spell.

2 ounces of dark chocolate contains theobromine, the same ingredient found in OTC cough medicines. Theobromine relaxes the nerves that are responsible for the cough reflex.

Garlic for Allergies

Garlic is one of those things every home remedist knows is a godsend. Instead of using OTC antihistamine medication, you can use garlic to eat and cure up allergy problems.

It works because garlic contains a lot of the antioxidant quercetin, which is said to reduce allergy symptoms. Onions work as well.

Cloves for Cuts

Cloves are a fantastic home remedy for tooth pain, but did you know that cloves can help heal cuts and skin wounds?  Sprinkling clove powder over the cut can stop the spread of bacteria.

Another option is to apply clove oil to the wound. This remedy works because clove oil has high levels of eugenol, which is pain-relieving and has antiseptic properties.

Honey for Chapped Lips

Raw honey belongs in every home remedy kit because it contains dozens of healing properties. If your lips are chapped, don’t turn to Chapstick! Instead, dab a bit of raw honey on the chapped area.

Make sure you rub it on just like you would Chapstick. It will nourish and hydrate your lips, plus everyone loves the taste of honey. Make sure the honey you select is raw and organic.

Duct Tape for Warts

Wrapping warts in duct tape is one of the best ways to get rid of them.  Make sure you clean the area well and put a slightly bigger piece of duct tape over the wart.

Remove the tape every three days. Remove any dead skin with a nail file or pumice stone. Keep repeating this procedure until the warts are gone.

Vinegar for Swimmer’s Ear

Ear problems can ruin your day because the pain radiates into your jaw and throughout your entire head. You will want to get rid of swimmer’s ear quickly. An old home remedy for swimmer’s ear is to put a drop or two of vinegar into your ear.

Grandma will swear to you that this remedy works because the acidic properties inside of vinegar can kill off the bacteria inside your ear. To use this remedy, you need to dilute white vinegar in distilled water. Then, add three drops into the ear giving you problems three times per day.

Pine Syrup for Sore Throats

Making pine syrup is easy, and it works wonders for sore throats. All you need to do is gather up a cup of freshly-washed pine needles and blend them. While you’re doing that, boil some water, corn syrup, and a bit of salt. Mix in the needles and let them steep for a few hours.

Make sure to keep it in the fridge for at least a month. Then, you will have it when you need it.

Beets for Constipation

You’re probably thinking this remedy seems a bit far out there, but give it a try. Take some fresh beets and steam them. Then, eat them when you feel constipated. Don’t drain the water you used to steam the beets. Instead, drink the water because it contains vitamins that help your body process out the waste.

Just be aware that it’s possible your urine or stools may turn bright red. That can be scary if you aren’t expecting it! It’s nothing to worry about; it’s just the natural dyes in beets.

Toothpaste for Bug Bites

Bug bites are itchy and annoying. One simple home remedy is to put a small amount of toothpaste onto the bug bite. Toothpaste has a cooling effect because of the peppermint oil that lessens the pain and inflammation. You can also try applying peppermint oil to the bug bite if you don’t want to use toothpaste.

Unusual home remedies are worth a try, especially because you’re used to pharmaceutical medications. These remedies might seem strange, but they work really well!

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Treating Wounds without Antibiotics

Should the time come that requires evacuating one’s home for an extended period of time and living off-grid, there are a myriad of potential health issues that could become as deadly as any gunshot or knife wound.  One of the greatest killers of all time is that resulting from untreated infections.

It’s hard to imagine with today’s medical treatments, medicines and antibiotics that basic wound infections could be any kind of threat.  But, remove your access to such treatments and antibiotics, a simple cut on your hand or leg, once it becomes infected, can kill.

Penicillin was discovered by Scottish chemist Alexander Fleming in 1928.  It’s estimated that penicillin has save the lives of more than 200 million across the globe.  It saved the lives of 12 to 15 percent of Allied Forces during WWII.  Since that time there have been many additional antibiotics discovered that have equally saved the lives of many hundreds of millions around the world.

So what does one do when antibiotics are not available?  Are there any alternative treatment methods that could save lives and eradicate wound infections?

Treating wounds using alternative healing methods will become a vital skill when there is no doctor around.  Besides providing you with the much-needed food, your pantry also holds two items that will help you treat wounds:  honey and sugar.  These two ingredients are beneficial for cleansing and healing traumatic wounds.  Treating wounds with honey and sugar is an ancient method of healing that has been tested over time.  The ancient Egyptians were the first to document this process.  The healing proprieties of sugar and honey are mentioned even in the Bible, Koran and Torah.

People around the world have used honey and sugar to cleanse and heal traumatic wounds; in particular gunshot wounds and battle injuries where a loss of flesh leads to infections.

How does honey and sugar work for treating wounds?

Sugar is a short chain, soluble carbohydrate composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.  It has many names and it’s also known as glucose, dextrose, fructose, galactose, sucrose, maltose, and lactose.  Sugar has high osmolality, and it’s able to draw fluid out of the wound.  It reduces water content in the injury and inhibits the growth of bacteria.  It is also helpful in removing dead tissue while preserving the tissue that is still alive.

Honey is a viscous, hyper-saturated sugar solution made from 75-80 percent sugar and 20 percent water.  It is very effective at killing staphylococci, including the community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, within a few hours.  Honey also has anti-inflammatory activity and its ability to absorb water provides antiseptic action.  Scientists believe that the healing proprieties of honey are derived from its ability to produce hydrogen peroxide from the glucose oxidase enzyme found in its composition.

Treating wounds step by step

You first have to make sure the wound has stopped bleeding and that it’s very clean.  Cayenne pepper can be applied to stop the bleeding, but I must warn you that it will sting like hell.  You will then have to clean the wound with a mild soap and warm water or a saline solution.  Pat the area dry until there is no moisture inside the wound.  Honey and sugar react and bind with calcium and if calcium is not available because of bleeding, no clot can form.

Pour granulated sugar directly on the wound and make sure it gets down as deep into the wound as possible.  The sugar shouldn’t just be sprinkled on the surface and outer rim of the wound. If the wound is too large, you need to apply honey first and then add sugar on top (you can mix sugar and honey until you make a thick paste).

Cover the wound with a clean bandage and secure it with tape. The dressing will prevent the honey and sugar from leaking out and it will keep the wound protected from external debris and bacteria.

Change the bandage and repeat the cleaning and sugar application once a day. You will have to do it more than once per day when you notice the bandages are wet from the removed fluid.

Alternative to using honey and sugar

Although there are many reasons one should store honey, the chances are that not everyone has this fantastic food at hand. There is an alternative to honey for treating wounds and it involves using cooking oil.

You will need to combine three parts of powdered sugar and one part of cooking oil and mix the ingredients until the mixture is uniformly smooth.  A thick layer (1/2 inch) of this mix will have to be applied directly to the wound. This alternative works just as well and science backs it up.

Sugar will dehydrate all bacteria and prevent it from reproducing.  If the bacteria die, no infection can occur.  The oil coats the outer bacterial membrane and prevents water and foodstuff from entering the cell.  It also prevents egress of cellular waste products.  As a result, the bacterial cell withers and dies.

A few words of advice:

1)  CAUTION – This is a homemade remedy.  Therefore I recommend you should research anything you read.  You will be assured of its use and the accuracy of the information provided.

2)  Commercial honey is not as effective at treating wounds as raw honey.

3)  If you apply cayenne pepper to the wound to stop bleeding, be prepared to experience pain.  It does sting and some people cannot tolerate this pain.

4)  Manuka honey is the best type of honey that one can store and it’s even being used by the New Zealand army forces.

5)  You should avoid using this treatment for infants as they can develop botulism from honey.

Mixed together, honey and sugar or sugar and cooking oil can provide a healing alternative that is available for anyone.  The paste resulting from mixing these ingredients can be applied directly to an open wound.  It is a healing method guaranteed to stave off infection and hasten the healing process. This healing method has been used for centuries and it won’t fail you when the need arises.


More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Do Animals Know Something We Don’t?

I find it quite interesting, even entertaining at times, how some groups get all worked up over very minor changes in our climate.  It’s as if a half a degree rise in temperature over the last 100 years somehow is both our fault and catastrophic as well.  There are natural cycles that have occurred and will continue to occur for as long as the earth will exist.

The thought that the world population is significant enough to somehow affect the climate is very hard to imagine.  Yes, there are a lot of people on this planet but relative to the size of the earth, not that many.  In fact, if you took all 7 Billion of the world’s population, they would fit in the state of Hawaii – not shoulder to shoulder but each on 25 square feet of space.

So yes, the world’s population can indeed affect specific areas and regions of the earth but there is an ebb and flow on our planet and no matter what we humans do, we are subject to that cycle.  Now, it’s not one simple cycle that we must deal with.  Instead, there are a vast number of cycles on this planet that affect habitability.

One cycle is the rotation of the earth itself and the correlation between it and seismic activity.

Scientists have warned there could be a big increase in the number of devastating earthquakes around the world next year.  They believe variations in the speed of Earth’s rotation could trigger intense seismic activity, particularly in heavily populated tropical regions.

With all this science and intelligence on our changing planet it seems we have muddied our own natural survival instincts.  Did you know that there are signals given off by our planet to warn us of impending disasters?

We have so wrapped ourselves in distractions that we cannot take advantage of these signals with our physical body.  Animals still react to these signals though, and while we have muted our own senses, we can rely on theirs as a natural ‘tell’ for what’s coming.

The Earth’s Natural Signals

There are many ways that our planet and its atmosphere convey approaching disasters and changes in the weather.  Some of these signals can be measured by sophisticated human instruments, but they are also picked up and acted on in the animal world.

One of the most well-known is barometric pressure.  You probably hear about this on the nightly news. Barometric pressure drops as storms approach.  This is how animals know things like major storms and hurricanes are nearing.  Hydrostatic pressure is similar, but affects the water pressure, and this is what sends fish to deeper water when the pressure drops enough.

Lesser known but just as important, infrasonic impulses are another sign the earth gives us.  These low vibrations are emitted by natural disasters and can be early warnings for tidal waves, earthquakes or even volcanic eruptions.  They all send the same message to animals that can sense them – trouble is coming.

Animal Signals

There must have been a time when we were just as perceptive as the animals on this planet, since we have lost much of that ability.  Here are some signs and signals that you can observe from the animals around you that may clue you in to when a serious situation is heading your way.

Remember, we may not always have the weatherman to tell us when a massive hurricane is bearing down – but who needs a weatherman when animals give clear signals that trouble is coming?

The Birds and the Bees

Both of these animals are going to seek shelter if a disaster is imminent.  You could watch your own bees or bees from another area head into their hive.  Bees will take shelter before disaster.  Birds may also be migrating in a new pattern before a serious storm.  Birds typically fly south in the winter and north in the summer.  Use this information to look for strange migration patterns.

Henry Streby of the University of California, Berkeley, and his colleagues discovered that golden-winged warblers take off from their expected locations more than 24 hours before storms hit.  In this case, the storm in question produced tornadoes that killed at least 35 people.

On the Water

A lot of fish behavior can tell you about what’s coming.  It’s a great fishing trick to get out on the water just before a storm.  The coming front often turns fish on and makes them aggressive.  When the storm is very close the fish can shut down.  Jumping fish can be a sign of electric impulses in the air and water, or even of pressure changes.

Frogs often head for higher ground, and can actually be seen climbing away from water bodies, before storms.  They will also get quieter at night.

Down on the Farm

It is common for cows and other herd animals to head for higher ground before a storm.  They sense the same pressure changes we discussed earlier.  Horses and other pets might refuse food as well as exhibit agitated behavior.  Chickens also feel the threat, and can slow or stop egg production as a result.

Man’s Best Friend

Dogs become agitated and aggressive before a natural disaster.  They may bark more and be more anxious before a major weather event or other disaster.  They could be wary of certain locations in the yard or on walks that they normally frequent.

Some scientists think dogs and other animals can sense the preliminary waves that signal an earthquake ahead of the destructive seismic waves.  Humans can’t detect P-waves, but most animals have more acute senses than we do.

Picking up on how your dogs are acting can give you last-minute warning of an earthquake.  You might not get a lot of warning, but it could be all you need to run outside where it’s safer.

Dogs are one of the best examples because you can observe them very closely for strange behavior.

A few other strange animal behaviors that could signal disaster are things like:

●  Bats flying during the day;

●  Lady bugs gather just before a heat wave;

●  Monkeys can refuse food and become very agitated before a disaster.  This is also true of human babies.

●  Elephants have been seen to head for higher ground before a tsunami strikes.  Tsunamis are caused by earthquakes, so it’s likely the elephants are picking up warning signs of the seismic shock.

A mixture of our pompous attitude towards our short-lived dominance of the earth, and an overwhelming reliance on technology, has put us at greater risk of falling victim to major disasters.  We do silly things like filming tornadoes and storms rather than seeking shelter.  We rely solely on the news to tell us when things are going wrong.

Of course, the biggest failure that has come from our muting of the earth’s warnings is our lack of preparedness.  While animals stow away food for the winter and head to higher ground in times of disaster, the human animal is so bold that we hardly react till disaster is on the doorstep.

It is this terrifying lack of preparedness that forces so many of us to be the antithesis.  Preppers use this unique time of massive technological advantage and resource access to build powerful systems that help them survive anything from a powerful thunderstorm to the world-changing disasters that will come.


More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Did Hollywood Get it Right?

I came across an interested video clip on YouTube recently that I found quite entertaining.  My wife didn’t think so and I know there are those of you who after watching this video will also question how I could enjoy watching such events.  Nevertheless, I’ve always enjoyed seeing Hollywood’s depictions of end-times scenarios.  I get a kick out of seeing just how overwhelmingly devastating they can create each scene with the aid of today’s super CG effects.  It really is quite amazing and realistic.

This video has taken clips from twelve such movies and put them together.  There’s very little voice-over during the video, but the first sentence you’ll hear is what I would classify as a very accurate statement.  Something I struggle with constantly and wish I had the answer to.  A young girl is heard saying, Everyone was warned, but no one listened.  A rise in temperature, ocean patterns changed and ice caps melted.  They called it extreme weather.  They didn’t know what extreme was.  In the year 2019, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and droughts unleashed a wave of destruction upon our planet.”

First of all, based on many of these clips, living near a coastline doesn’t appear to be the safest place to reside.  That solar flare deal didn’t look too appealing as well.  Not sure where you could find safely in a situation like that!

But back to the underlying reason I wanted to share this video.  I believe that such movies actually have the opposite effect you may think on the surface.  One might think that the viewers would be incentivized to evaluate their preparedness levels and possibly commit to doing better to be prepared to confront and mitigate the effects of such devastations.

I believe it does just the opposite.  I believe such movies, in spite of their entertainment value, have a tendency to marginalize such potential events.  In the movies, these events are depicted on such a grandiose scale that it becomes very easy for viewers to believe such events will never really happen – it’s just the movies.  These events appear so over-the-top on the reality scale that’s it’s somewhat like old time cartoons where one character is constantly being shot, blown up, smashed or thrown over a cliff just to reappear in the next scene as if nothing ever happened.

That’s the underlining problem – these films foster the belief that such things will never really happen.

So such movies simply turn potential future events into a wild roller coaster ride that temporarily scare and excite the riders.  Then it is all quickly forgotten as other interesting and distracting activities present themselves. Nevertheless, I hope Hollywood keeps making such films – I really enjoy them!

Now let me be clear – I personally don’t believe that such major natural disasters will present themselves in the manner depicted in these films.  If they did, there would be basically no need to prepare as everyone would be totally wiped out.  I do believe however, the frequency and magnitude of earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and droughts will increase.

It’s been concerning to watch the increase of wildfires this summer.  I can’t remember a time when there’s been so many large and devastating wildfires in the western states.  California alone has had 18 such wildfires with many deaths of fire fighters reported along with millions of dollars of property damage and loss.

I believe such events will become more and more prevalent.  Even though I don’t believe California will fall off into the Pacific Ocean as a result of a major earthquake, I do believe earthquakes will present themselves is a fashion that could cause power, gas and water disruption for many weeks or months.  The same could happen with hurricanes and tornadoes as well.

What if the water lines had been broken or the water supply contaminated, how would you survive?

Just think about what it might be like if you couldn’t flush your toilet for a month.  What would you do?

Once the shelves have been cleaned out at the local grocery store, where are you going to go to feed your family?

If there’s a medical emergency and calling 911 or heading to the hospital isn’t an option, are you prepared to provide the medical care needed?

I’ve talked with people who have the attitude of “just let me die” or put the target on the roof of my house so if bombs are dropped, one will fall directly on me and I won’t have to deal with the aftermath.  I do believe there are those who are serious about choosing death over tribulation.  But when it comes right down to it, I also believe the overwhelming desire to survive will trump such feelings.  That’s why water-boarding is so effective.  People will do anything to avoid the feeling of drowning.

The facts are that most of us will survive the initial effects of natural disasters or other catastrophic events.  The question of survival really hangs on how long after the event we will survive.  When food, water, shelter and medical supplies are limited in supply or are used up in the first few weeks – then what?

Military experts in the field of a potential EMP attack (electromagnetic pulse caused by a nuclear explosion at high altitudes) have calculated that within one year after the national grid goes down, 80% of the U.S. population would have perished, primarily due to starvation.  It wasn’t the EMP that killed them, it was being unprepared for the after-effects.

So it will be for the majority of natural disasters, wars, conflicts and collapse scenarios – the events themselves will indeed cause much damage and some deaths but it’s the weeks and months thereafter that will prove far more catastrophic in deaths and disease due to basic unpreparedness.

So please, enjoy Hollywood’s end-of-the-world movies but view them as entertainment, not accurate predictions of how things will unfold in the last days.  Yes, things will continue to get worse and more problematic as it relates to our day to day lives.  It may unfold like the old fable of how to boil a frog.  If you put the frog in cool water to keep him from jumping out and slowly turn up the temperature, eventually the frog will get cooked, simply because he becomes comfortable and complacent with his surroundings until it’s too late.

Let’s not be like the frog, let’s allow ourselves to be uncomfortable enough to take action now before such action is no longer an option.  Remember the statement, “Everyone was warned but no one listened.”  Let’s both listen and then act.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Surviving a Dog Attack

My wife has had several encounters with attacking dogs.  She likes to walk/run early in the morning and has had the unfortunate experiences of dogs coming after her during her exercise.  She’s had two little yapper dogs attack her.  While one distracted her, the other came up from behind and bit her ankle.

She had a very scary experience while visiting our family in Washington.  While walking through a neighborhood, a large dog ran after her and tried to take her down.  He bit her several times mostly just tearing her clothes.  My wife ran to the door of one of the nearby houses pounding and screaming for help.  It just happened to be the owners of the dog and they were able to control him and then acted like it was no big deal.  Needless to say, my wife is now very aware of the potential dangers of lose dogs roaming the neighborhood.

Later that week, my wife came across an older man walking through the neighborhood carrying a large walking stick.  He chatted with my wife and mentioned how dogs were a real problem in the area and he kept this large walking stick with him as a weapon to fend off dog attacks.

Dog attacks are far more frequent that one might think.  In fact, the CDC documents just under 5 million dog bites annually in the United States.  Over 800,000 of dog bite victims annually will require medical attention, nearly 400,000 of those victims are children.  Up to as many as 34 people have died annually as a result of a dog bite.  Even with the laws today about leashing your dog, there are still plenty of dogs that run free no matter where you live.

Though you can be attacked by a dog on any day, think of what will happen to dogs if there’s a major collapse and food becomes scarce.  Many dogs will be left behind when their owners die or when their owners leave in a panic in an attempt to save themselves and their children.  Other dogs, who may have been strays but were being fed at least occasionally by the kindness of strangers, will now be left to find their own food.

What You Need to Know

Upon initial confrontation, all dogs want to know three things, who you are, why you are in their space, and who is in charge.  Knowing how to act when confronted by a dog may be the one thing that can prevent the dog from attacking you or at least minimize your injuries.

There are two positions an aggressive dog can take, offense or defense.  A dog that feels threatened will growl and bark while moving away from you.  If this is happening, he is hoping you will also move away.  A dog that is tense with their ears flat against their head is definitely not happy with you.

Dogs will bite for many reasons, but typically they bite in reaction to stress or because they feel threatened or cornered, and scared.  A dog that isn’t feeling well or is surprised can bite.  Dogs bite to protect themselves, their owners, or their puppies.

Tips for Dealing with a Strange Dog That Approaches You

Stand still and stand up straight, keeping your eyes on the dog at all times.  Remain calm.  Try firmly telling the dog to sit or stay.  Slowly step backwards away from the dog.

Talk in a gentle, soothing voice.  Turn to stay facing the dog if he circles you.  Do not let him get behind you.  Do not shout.  Limit your body movements and keep your arms down at your sides.

In a closed space, never make a dog feel cornered!  Gaze at a spot on the dog’s body but not in their eyes.

A dog that appears aggressive is NOT trying to scare you away. They are issuing a challenge for you to come closer or run away so they can chase you down.  Smiling at a dog and baring your teeth can actually be seen as aggression by the dog.

Typically, wild dogs by themselves will shy away from humans, they are simply looking for food.  But in a collapse scenario, wild dogs may form packs and roam the streets.  Packs of dogs become more dangerous and in a collapse scenario, the prey they normally would feast on will be dwindling due to hungry humans hunting in large numbers.

Keep in mind that many dogs can run faster than you. Pull your gun and prepare to shoot as soon as you become aware of a strange dog in the area. The average person can run nearly 20 feet in the time it takes to pull your holstered gun and fire. Dogs run faster than people!

Always carry several weapon options including your firearm, pepper spray, a baton, or even a small stick.

If a Dog Attack is Inevitable

If your attempts to calm the dog are not working and the dog is bent on attacking you, then you will need to be prepared to defend yourself.  This is especially true for a dog that is clearly very hungry.  Look for any kind of weapon to put between the dog and you.  In a frenzied attack, a dog will bite just about anything.  Items you can try include a stick, backpack, book, rake, baseball bat, your knife, etc.  Pretty much anything you can put between you and the dog will work, including your purse or a trash can lid.

If you have nothing else, wrap one arm with a jacket or shirt to protect yourself and hold that arm up as you signal for help or retreat.  Target the throat, face, or eyes of a dog with your knife for maximum impact.  The best way to try to disable a dog quickly and prevent a serious bite or injury to yourself or a victim being attacked by a dog is to attack the throat, face, or jaw muscles.  If you carry a gun, aim for the head or face when firing a smaller caliber gun.  Only aim for the dog’s body if you carry a larger caliber gun.

Try to avoid ending up on the ground with the dog.  You have the advantage while you remain standing.  If you do end up on the ground, protect your throat and face by covering your head with your arms. Roll as quick as you can back and forth along the ground.  This should result in throwing the dog off of you and give you time to get to your feet.

If the dog continues to hang on even after you’ve rolled several times, aim for an eye socket with whatever you have, your thumb or any object will suffice.  Depending on how confident you are in the strength of your hands, you can also put both hands around the dog’s neck and attempt to cut off blood flow to the brain.  If you choose to try this, do not let up until you are positive the dog is dead or it could re-energize and continue attacking you.

Regardless of the type of dog, the best method for surviving a dog attack is prevention.  In a post-collapse scenario, try to avoid places where you have seen wild or feral dogs.  Stay close to camp or inside your home once it gets dusk and avoid going out at night if you can help it as that’s when feral dogs are more likely to be out.  Avoid any areas where trash has accumulated or is being stored.

It is possible to survive a dog attack if you stay alert and follow the precautions outlined for you above. Above all, stay calm, don’t scream, and signal for help if you can do so safely.  If possible back away slowly until the dog no longer seems interested or until you can get inside or get on top of a vehicle or into a tree.  If an attack seems inevitable, do what you can to minimize your injuries and prepare to fight the dogs with whatever resources you have.


More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

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 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 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.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

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.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry