Living Without a Fridge

I have one of the most wonderful mother-in-law’s I could have ever hoped for (and I’m not just saying that because I fear she may read this).  She loves having her family around her and has always treated me as one of her own sons.  She runs a tight ship and insists on having everything in its place and order is paramount.  This is why there’s been one thing that’s been very difficult for me to reconcile through the years, namely that of warm milk!  Yes, you heard me right, warm milk.

You see, my wife has six siblings and now that they’re all married, when we get together there’s quite a crowd.  Whenever we eat as a group and milk is part of the buffet, often the milk jug is left out on the counter for hours.  Now I don’t know about you, but when I pour a glass of milk, I expect it to be ice cold.  I love cold milk.  Now on the other hand, for me there’s nothing worse that expecting a crisp, cold swig of milk and end up with a mouthful of room temperature milk.  If I were alone, I would definitely spit it out.

Now with today’s technology, we’re very accustom to our dairy, produce and meat products coming out of the fridge cold.  But what if we didn’t have a fridge or our fridge didn’t work, how would we keep our food cold and keep it from spoiling?

Well, one way to address this problem is to look at how our forefathers kept things cold.  In England in Victorian times and before (and probably in other countries too) not everyone could afford the luxury of delivered ice – and anyway poorer people could only afford to shop for the bare necessities every day and these got quickly gobbled up by the much larger households of the time!

What people needed was a safe place to store food overnight or until mealtime. This was usually called a ‘cool pantry.’ The pantry was often located on the coldest (North) facing wall of the house/cottage, and often had a tiny window high up. This window was often protected by a sort of metal sieved screen to keep the flies out. On the inside, the walls where shelved, and on the shelves were kept perhaps a jug of milk or cream, cheese in a specially shaped china wedge, perhaps a ham or other cold meat, rashers of bacon, a pot of butter or a few slices of cold pie or brawn. The cooler temperatures in there would have been enough to keep the food cool for 2/3 days (we probably wouldn’t risk it nowadays!)

Before electricity, there were a few different ways of keeping food before refrigerators. Most recently (just before modern refrigerators became very common) people used iceboxes.  These were like refrigerators but instead of being cooled electrically, they were cooled by having actual ice in them.

Before that was available, people had cool cellars and some had ice houses where ice could be stored (under sawdust or straw) and kept cool for much of the year.  These places could keep some food cool.

But mostly, in those days, food was preserved some other way – by smoking, salting, or drying it.

Most houses used to be built with cellars. A cellar was dark and cool, and food could be kept there so it wouldn’t spoil. People also canned fruits and vegetables, and preserved meats in barrels with salt. The wealthy had ice houses, where they stored ice and they were also cellars. They would have an icebox in the house, and put the blocks of ice in there.

If one lived close to a stream, placing some food items in a screened container in the cool stream water would offer the refrigeration needed to preserve many food items while keeping animals from eating the food.

But what if you don’t have a cool cellar or access to ice or a cool stream, how then could you practically keep food at least cool if not cold.  The answer is evaporation.  Check out these videos on how you can make your own evaporative cooler called a Zeer Pot to help preserve your food.

It may be worth your time to spend a few dollars and pick up some unglazed terracotta pots and experiment with your own Zeer Pot refrigerator now so you’ll know what you options and limitations are in the event of an off-grid survival situation.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

I Don’t Want to Know

I noticed something strange today at the gym.  I was on my favorite treadmill when a woman came in and got on the treadmill on the row in front of me a little to the right.  Normally I don’t pay much attention to those who come and go while I’m working out but this woman did something I didn’t expect.  As she was starting, she took off her jacket and laid it over the display of the treadmill.  I first thought she didn’t know where else to put her jacket then I noticed her peeking under her jacket to adjust the incline and speed.

Then it dawned on me – this woman didn’t want to see her stats showing in bright red numbers on her display.  From what I could tell, she wanted to work out by just the way she felt, not by what the numbers on the display were telling her.

I don’t know if this is a good or bad approach, but I did think it was interesting but also potentially misleading.  I’m one of those who likes to know all the details and to be able to compare my performance with my last workout.  Some days I do better than I anticipated, other days not so much.  Nevertheless, I want to know.  For me, knowledge is power.  Knowing all the details of any specific event is something I crave.  I want to be one of the first to know and have as much time as possible to act on that knowledge.

I haven’t always felt that way.  I’m sure most of us have gone through a stage where ignorance was bliss.  I know as a newly-wed starving college student, there were times I didn’t want to balance my checkbook just because I didn’t want to know how bad it was.  I must admit, there were times when not knowing gave me a small measure of peace until the returned check notices started to appear in the mail.  It was then that I wished I’d been more pro-active and could have avoided the return check charges.

As I started to learn about the importance of preparedness, I became more and more interested in learning about all the potential events that could occur that would require prior preparation to avoid unnecessary suffering by my family.  I would war-game every possible scenario I could think of and try to prepare in a fashion that would mitigate most adverse consequences of said event.

This exercise gave me so much confidence and empowerment that I wanted to convert all my friends and extended family members to the same level of belief and subsequent preparedness.  Boy, was that ever a mistake!  I learned very quickly that most didn’t have the same belief level as I did and many though I had turned into a real fanatic or even a nut job.

Even some of my close friends and family members asked me to stop discussing the potential “doom and gloom” scenarios with them and that they really didn’t believe such things would happen.  I must admit, I felt I was so well prepared that I was almost routing for the disasters to happen so I could put my preps to use.  I didn’t look at the possible traumatic events as something to avoid, but embrace and I enjoyed talking about them.  This really turned off many friends and family members.

As I try and analyze the reason why individuals don’t like to talk about or even hear about such potential events, I get the sense that once again, ignorance is bliss.  It’s seems as if somehow if they ignore it, it’s not real.

I’ve learned over the years that if I want to continue with a good relationship with these friends and family members, I have to simply not discuss preparedness issues.  It really is an awful shame and something these good folks will surely regret but as the saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink”.

So what should we do?  We can’t prepare for everyone and we shouldn’t feel as if we have to.  Each of us has to make the personal decision as to how to handle such a dilemma.  I can’t imagine what it would be like if loved ones who had not prepared came to my door in dire need of food and supplies and I wasn’t able to help.  So for me and my family, we have simply made the decision to never stop preparing.

Every week we continue to add to our preps even if it’s something as simple as a case of Ramen Noodles.  I’ve had the impression many times as I carry another bucket of wheat or case of pinto beans to the basement – I will never personally eat this but that it will someday save someone’s life – and that’s good enough for me.

When the time comes we need to rely on our food storage, none of us will ever say, “Dang it, we’ve just got too much food here!”  We will just be glad we put aside what we did because the moment it’s needed; it’s too late to get it.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Do You Have an Escape Route?

I live in a small community where the city struggles with collecting enough tax revenue to maintain the infrastructure, especially the roads.  Just recently, a bond was passed to address the terrible state of disrepair many of our roads have fallen into.  There were so many pot holes, cracks and uneven surfaces that many times one feels as if it would be a smoother ride if it was a dirt road.

Well, just a few weeks ago, the road repair began.  Orange cones appeared everywhere with road construction signs on almost every street.  Then the heavy equipment showed up and the process of tearing up the old roads in preparation of laying a new road base and a fresh layer of asphalt.  Then things began to get tricky.

You see, so many of the roads were being worked on at the same time that it created a real challenge to drive just about anywhere.  Then when they chocked down certain roads to one lane with flagmen stopping traffic every few minutes, things got really frustrating.  In an attempt to bypass much of this construction, I took the time to map out alternate routes that were longer in distance but much quicker in time.

Now everyone in the community agrees, these roads desperately needed to be fixed.  It’s just the inconvenience of not being able to use the roads for a period of time (since we’re all such impatient people), really gets under our skin at times.  I made the mistake the other day of not remembering my prior though out route change to avoid much of the construction and turned onto one of the most highly congested one lane roads under construction.  When I realized my mistake, I quickly looked around to see if I could make a U-turn to get out of there but no such luck – I was locked in.

I spent almost 20 minutes on a stretch of road that normally would take less than 3 minutes and I was ticked.  I was in a hurry with what I felt were important errands but the construction workers just didn’t seem to care.  They made me wait just as long as everyone else.

I think we’ve all been on roads where there was either construction or an accident or just far too many cars (I hate rush hour).  It can be really infuriating dealing with stop and go traffic and average speed limits of under 20 mph.  There’s no question, this can anger a lot of people and road rage can take an uptick in these situations.

I remember going to a huge 4th of July fireworks celebration at a university stadium some 20 miles away.  There were 60,000 attendees inside the stadium and another 30,000 outside the stadium.  We knew traffic and parking would be a nightmare so my wife and I decided to take my motorcycle.  My wife’s not a huge fan of riding on my bike, especially in traffic so I always try and drive a little more conservatively when she’s on board.

From previous years’ experience (when we drove a car to the event), I knew the worst time would be right after the event when everyone would be trying to get out of there.  We had been stuck in traffic for hours in previous years.  My plan this year was to avoid most of that by being able to drive on the shoulder passing all the cars stuck in grid lock.

What I didn’t expect is how some drivers would react to my plan.  Now keep in mind, I wasn’t driving very fast on the shoulder so drivers could see me coming.  There were those who were so upset about my passing everyone by, they actually would steer their cars over to the right blocking the shoulder.  I’m not sure why they felt they were personally be hurt by my passing them by, but nevertheless, there were several who tried to keep up from passing.

This of course was so very comforting to my wife – the thought of people trying to run us off the road.  Needless to say, it was the last time we rode my motorcycle to this event.  These experiences have caused me to reflect on the utter chaos that will exist should a mass evacuation be required or necessary.

The 1998 movie, “Deep Impact” comes to mind as I think about such potentially massive traffic gridlock.  A comet is on a collision course with the earth slated to strike in the Atlantic Ocean generating a 3,500 ft. high mega-tsunami.  Everyone is on the road trying to get to higher ground.  Problem is, there are so many on the road, traffic is at a complete standstill.  Tempers are flaring and desperate actions taken.  Unfortunately, I believe this scene could repeat itself in real life for many of us.

One of the most dramatic examples I personally experienced was related to hurricane Katrina.  A little more than a day before Katrina hit, I was in New Orleans and watched as they changed the traffic flow on all the freeways in the area.  It’s called contra-flow and the direction of the flow on all freeways was headed out of the New Orleans area.  Even though the vast majority of the residents of the New Orleans area did not evacuate, still the freeways were a mess!  I can’t imagine what it would have been like had EVERYONE tried to evacuate using the freeways.

So you may be asking yourself, “What’s the solution?”  There isn’t a blanket solution for every circumstance but there are some common sense precautions one can take to greatly reduce the risk of having to deal with such difficult and potentially life-threating situations.

First – Take the time now to map out several different routes out of your area using less traveled roads.  You should have at least three escape routes planned out.  Using Google Maps and Google Earth, it should be fairly simple to map these routes.  You then must drive them.  Make notes of any potential bottle necks or concerns that may have you choosing another escape route.

Second – Make sure you always have enough fuel in your car.  My wife has the bad habit of running her car down to the empty mark before she lets me know she needs gas.  I try and help her avoid this issue by always filling her car whenever I drive it.  Ultimately, we should drive off the top 1/4 of a tank, always filling up when you get to 3/4 of a tank.  This is not always possible but I seldom let my tanks drop below 1/2 (unless my wife’s driving).

I also feel it’s important to keep at least 5 gallons of gas in a red plastic gas can in the garage that could easily be thrown in the trunk in a bug-out scenario.  Better safe than sorry.  Back in August, a friend and I decided to drive up to Idaho for the solar eclipse.  Knowing there would be tens of thousands of others also driving up there and not knowing what the traffic conditions would be, especially right after the eclipse, I decided to take two 5-gallon gas cans with us.  We ended up not needing to use them but it really gave us that extra sense of security that if things got dicey, we’d be able to make it out.

Remember, the last thing you want is to be stuck in traffic with an impending disaster looming.  Please take the time now to ensure you have your escape routes and fuel secured and I promise you will sleep better.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Cooking During a Blackout

The power has just gone out. You find the flashlight and light some candles. You realize its dinner time and the kids are hungry, now what? Going out to dinner might not be an option if the power is out in the whole city. Crackers and a jar of peanut butter might be okay for one night, but what if the power outage lasts for longer than that? Power outages can happen at any time. They could last a few hours or even a few days.

Order of Operations  It is important to start by using what is in your refrigerator first. When the power goes out, the fridge will be able to keep food cool for 24-48 hours. Don’t open your fridge more than you absolutely have to. Know what you are looking for, open and close the fridge quickly and efficiently. If the power is still out, eat what is in the freezer next. Food will remain frozen for 2-3 days as long as the door stays shut.

Alternate Cooking Methods  Our ancestors have used fire to cook food for millions of years. Learn from their ingenuity and adjust your own cooking methods.

Fire Starters Fire has come a long way in the last several years. Products like EasyFire make building and maintaining a fire as easy as ever.  Using nontoxic inert minerals, paraffin wax, and recycled wood, you can create more than enough heat to safely cook any meal. Use a firepit, fireplace, or other safe, ventilated container to maintain an easy fire.

Cooking Outdoors A functional and fun trend is the backyard firepit. This is a great area for cooking during a blackout. Take a note from the Boy Scouts of America and make a good old fashioned tin foil dinner. A tin foil dinner can contain just about anything. Take a sheet of aluminum foil and fill it with meat and potatoes. Add a few herbs and some salt and pepper. Roll the edges of the foil together and toss it in the fire for a while. Bury the tin foil dinner in a bed of hot coals so it cooks all the way through. Check to see if it is done, if not roll it back up and put it back on the fire until everything is tender and cooked.

Barbeques, grills, and camp stoves are ideal for the 4th of July, they are also the most obvious ways to cook during a power outage. Since they run on propane or charcoal they won’t be affected by the blackout. DO NOT grill indoors on a charcoal or gas grill. It will produce lethal carbon monoxide.

Emergency Stove Candle or Stove-in-a-Can stoves use wax hydrocarbon fuel. Chafing dishes use the same principle to keep food warm. You’ve probably seen the blue flames under trays at parties or other catered events. These little cans are great for heating up food during an emergency. They won’t be able to cook a full course meal, but they are able to heat up a can of beans just fine.

Use Your Food Storage People sometimes protect their emergency food storage, assuming that a bigger emergency is around the corner. In reality, events like blackouts are exactly when you should use your food storage. It provides convenient, easy meal prep.  For instance, MREs have built-in MRE heaters to cook without needing any other cooking method.  If you have more freeze-dried food, that’s almost as easy. Freeze-dried meals only require hot water to produce a full, delicious meal.

Use Your Car Your car engine gets hot enough to heat food. Simply wrap your food in several layers of aluminum foil, open your hood and place the foil on the engine. Close the hood and turn on your car. (PLEASE make sure your garage door is open so you have plenty of ventilation.) Cook your food until the internal temperature is safe (usually 160 degrees for meat). You may need to flip the foil back and forth to ensure even cooking.

Alternative Cooking Methods 

  • Backyard BBQ
  • Camp Stove
  • Firepit
  • Fireplace
  • Chafing Dish
  • Sterno Stove
  • Self-heating MREs
  • Just-add-water freeze-dried-foods

Do you have any advice for cooking without power? We’d love to hear from you.


Russia Prepares for Nuclear War with the U.S.

Russia Prepares for Nuclear War With U.S., Instructing Citizens to Buy Water and Gas Masks

By Cristina Maza

Russian state-owned television is urging the country’s residents to stock their bunkers with water and basic foodstuffs because Moscow could go to war with Washington.

Warning that the potential conflict between the two superpowers would be “catastrophic,” an anchor for Russia’s Vesti 24 showed off shelves of food, recommending that people buy salt, oatmeal and other products that can last a long time on the shelves. Powdered milk last five years while sugar and rice can last up to eight years, the newscaster explained before showing videos of pasta cooking in a bomb shelter.

The channel’s newscasters also displayed charts explaining how much water people need to store for drinking, washing their face and hands, and preparing food every day—and how that amount changes depending on the temperature of a person’s bomb shelter. The program also recommended that people stock up on gas masks and read guides on how to survive nuclear war.

The program aired just one day after sources told Newsweekthat “there is a major war scare” in Moscow, as President Donald Trump prepares to strike Syria in retaliation for the use of chemical weapons against civilians over the weekend. The Trump administration has said it believes Syria’s Russian-backed President Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the attacks, and it plans to ensure that Assad pays the price. Russian military forces have responded by saying that Moscow would meet fire with fire and said that it will shoot down any U.S. missiles.

If there is a strike by the Americans, then the missiles will be downed and even the sources from which the missiles were fired,” warned Alexander Zasypkin, Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon, during an interview on Tuesday with a television station linked to Hezbollah.

The increasingly bellicose rhetoric has sparked fears that a conflict could break out between two nuclear-armed superpowers.
On Wednesday morning, Trump took to Twitter to issue a stark warning to Russia, which he accused of partnering with “a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!


More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Know Your Limits

I qualified for a learner’s permit when I was 14 years old and received my driver’s license when I turned 15.  My dad had purchased a brand new 1969 Ford Bronco and it was his pride and joy.  Moving beyond our family station wagon, we now officially had a SUV rather than trying to make the old trusty station wagon act like a SUV.  I had learned how to drive with our automatic transmission station wagon so the manual transmission Bronco posed a new, exciting challenge.  Four-wheel drive was a new thing for me and I just couldn’t get enough of testing the limits of what a 4X4 could do.

My younger brother and I were always coming up with new and bizarre adventures that would put our dad’s Bronco to the test.  The Bronco was powered by a 302 V8 with three on the tree.  For those who don’t recognize that terminology, if was a 3 speed manual transmission with the shifter mounted on the steering column.  It had both a high and low range four-wheel drive shifter on the floor that was often temperamental.  If everything wasn’t just right, it was almost impossible to shift into four-wheel drive or move from high to low.

One of our creative adventures was to drive out to the mesa where there were several old, abandoned cars.  We would hitch a tow chain between the Bronco and the old vehicles, put the Bronco into four wheel drive and pull the old car around the mesa, usually with my brother in the driver’s seat of the old car.  We all got a real kick out of this and the cloud of dust we would leave was always huge (seeing as these cars seldom had any tires or wheels).

On one of these adventures, we found an old car that was partially buried in the dirt and sand.  This didn’t worry us because we knew we had four-wheel drive.  We hitched the chain up to the vehicle and I jumped back into the Bronco while my brother climbed into the old car.  As I shifted into four-wheel drive I had a thought I should probably shift into four-wheel low since the old car was partially buried.

I pushed the buttons in on the shifter handle and was able to shift into four-wheel high but I could not get it to go into four-wheel low.  I tried and tried but no dice so I made the decision to try and make it work in high. I dropped the tranny shifter into first gear, revved up the motor and began to let out the clutch.  I was just barely able to move the old car before the motor stalled.  I started it up again and revved the motor even more and began to do something very stupid.  I began to slip the clutch trying to artificially create even a lower gear.

It worked.  I was able to pull the old car out from being partially buried but because there was still a lot of sand and dirt inside the car, I had to keep slipping the clutch to keep the Bronco going.  As I looked back to see how my brother was doing, I saw him climbing out the driver’s side window swinging his arms and yelling at me to stop.  I didn’t know what the problem was so I stopped and jumped out of the Bronco.  It was only then I could understand what my brother was yelling – I was on fire!

I had been slipping the clutch so much that it created enough heat to ignite the clutch plates.  Flames were coming up from underneath the Bronco so we started throwing dirt up underneath the Bronco until the flames were extinguished.  I jumped back in the Bronco and depressed the clutch pedal and there was nothing there.  I began to sweat thinking about what I would tell my dad.

I’m grateful to this day my dad was somewhat understanding.  I think in spite of it all, even though he wouldn’t openly admit it, he got a kick out of our creative adventures.  Not only did I learn the lesson of compassion, but I also began to understand how important it is to understand the limits of your equipment and make sure you have the right tools for the job.

Having the right tools and knowing the limits of your equipment are essential for you and your family’s safety sake.  I took my wife and two small kids snowmobiling one winter thinking we would have a great afternoon.  I had a special snowmobile trailer/sled where we set the kids and my wife and I rode on the snowmobile.  After driving for about an hour on a remote, snowy mountain road, we stopped to have a picnic lunch in the snow.  I spread out a tarp and we had a great time having lunch and playing in the snow.

When it was time to turn around and head back, I got the kids loaded up in the sled and my wife and I climbed on the snowmobile ready to go.  I grabbed the pull starter and gave it a good yank and POP, the pull started rope broke.  I couldn’t believe it – really?!  After unloading the kids, I spread a tarp beside the snowmobile, lifted the hood and went to work fixing the pull starter.  I guess I should rephrase that – I attempted to go to work fixing the pull starter.  I quickly realized the only tools I had with me was a small crescent wrench, a small Philips screwdriver and a rusty cheap pair of pliers.  Not the tools I needed!  I tried for about 30 minutes to take off the pull starter with the pitiful tools I had but no dice – it just wasn’t going to happen.

Now what?  We’re miles away from civilization, the kids are starting to get cold and we’re dead in the water (so to speak).  I ended up making a fire for the kids while we hoped and prayed another snowmobiler would come by.  I knew there was no way the kids would be able to hike out and I was not about to leave them and my wife alone while I hiked out.  In a few hours it would be getting dark and I really started to pray hard that someone would come by.

Fortunately, our prayers were answered.  About an hour later two guys came by on their snowmobiles and I flagged them down.  They were properly prepared with all the tools I needed to take the pull starter off, repair it and reinstall it.  After just a couple of pulls, the motor was purring and I knew we’d make it home safe and sound.  Had those two snowmobilers not taken the same trail that day, the end of our Saturday afternoon adventure could have been significantly different, possibly even tragic.

Please take the time now to ensure you know the limits of your equipment and make sure you always have the correct and necessary tools in the event things break down.  This type of preparation can literally be lifesaving.

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

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

The Government’s Role In Your Safety

CBS New’s headline today warned of more Ohio River flooding after extreme weather had already taken human lives in the Midwest. Areas in Houston, still recovering from flooding 6 months ago, are now watching their rivers as poorly developed neighborhoods recognize their increased risk of future floods. Vulnerable people are looking for aid wherever they can find it.

Government Aid
In a world where states are requesting money to accommodate their water needs, what are your personal responsibilities for your personal property and well-being? Are you willing to wait for government money and help to cover your needs? Of course not.  If we’ve learned anything in the past decade, we’ve learned that we can not and should not use the government as a safety net when it comes to covering our needs, especially our water/safety needs.

Avoiding Flooding
Federal money is going to cities with poorly planned housing in flood zones. The question is, where is the responsibility of the citizens? When making possibly the biggest financial decisions of their lives, did anyone look at maps? Did anyone consider proximities to rivers, canals, etc.?  What about positioning inside neighborhoods?  The higher you are, the less likely you’ll have to deal with devastating flooding.  While states may ask and beg for federal dollars, chances of individuals seeing any financial relief from damage to a poorly placed home are slim.

Take Control
So what does that mean? It means, you do what you need to do to be prepared. If you’re able to move to higher ground, of course, do so. If you’re not able to move, what are your options?  Are you doomed because your mortgage has tied you to a house that may betray you? Not necessarily. There are things you can do. While you are high and dry, it is time to prepare. It’s time to stock up on sandbags.  It’s time to build up landscaping to minimize flooding. Research diverting water, landscaping, and other options for flooding prevention.    In other words, it’s time to assume you’ll receive nothing from the government and take control of the situation you are in.

Part of taking control is understanding your vulnerability. Store your food and water. Store physically high and low, spread out your resources so you can use them in different types of emergencies.  But have enough resources for you and your family to ride out any storm that comes your way.  If you have to ride out a flood, make sure you have enough clean water and food to do so. Even better, get away before you become stranded. Grab your Bug-Out Bag and go. Go before traffic stalls and before you can’t get out of the city.

The takeaway?  Your preparation is your responsibility. It’s not the government’s responsibility. It’s not your community leaders’ responsibility.  If you’re reading this, you probably already understand this concept.