The latest posts from American Preppers Network
Tunnel Vision by K.R. French
As Preppers, we tend to have tunnel vision. I include myself in this statement. We tend to concentrate so hard on preparing for the immediate results and impacts of the SHTF that we lose sight of other important things for the longer term. Our planning takes us out right after the event, whatever it turns out to be, to 6-months to 1-year past it. This is a good thing and we definitely need to have a plan in place for it. We are so intent and active in looking at that chosen time period that we put thoughts of the time beyond that first year out of our thoughts. We need to at least acknowledge that if our initial Prep’s are effective, we will be on this earth beyond that time.
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By Stephanie Dayle
Soap making is a great "self-reliance" skill that enables a person provide something for themselves that they would otherwise have to depend on a store to get.
Homemade Soap and Emergency Preparedness
Making soap is one of those old skills that used to be really common and now is nearly unheard of. If soap makers are ever again needed, learning it would give you a valuable skill that could help your family and community.
However, for prepping purposes I prefer keeping a stock of 'pre-made' ready-to-use soap or even store bought soap rather than prepping 'soap making supplies' (click here for Five Great Soaps to Prep). While I always have a good supply on hand, soap making fats and oils do not store well, so it is difficult to keep them for longer than a few years.
The only exception I make to this is lye, I stock plenty of lye as it consumes time and fuel to make. I am not aware of a shelf-life on lye, and have personally used lye that was nearly 20 years old. The store bought version is inexpensive, and has many uses - this makes it very easy for me to prep.
Soap Making Facts
Soap is actually a salt (source). It's the result of a chemical reaction between fat (an acid) and lye (sodium hydroxide (NaOH) or potassium hydroxide (KOH) a base. Lye is also commercially sold as a plumbing solvent for clogged drains and is also used to preserve food like in the Norwegian dish lutefisk. Lye is not a scary man-made chemical, it occurs in nature and with a little knowledge can be handled very safely.
Soap cannot be made without lye. It is possible to create a cleansing substance without lye, but it will not be soap. Sodium hydroxide is often used to make solid soap while potassium hydroxide is usually used to make softer soaps and liquid soap. For this article we will be using sodium hydroxide (NaOH) for a harder bar of soap.
The amount of lye needed to react with the fats and oils will vary depending on the chemical makeup of the fats and oils you are using. This is why it is important to use either established soap recipes or a lye calculator, when you make soap. A cup of olive oil may not need as much lye as the same amount of a different type of oil, so if you swap oils on the recipe you may end up with too much or too little lye. Too much lye means the soap will be caustic (capable of burning, corroding, or destroying living tissue) too little lye means the soap will contain too much fat, which will go rancid in time.
Cold Processed Soap vs Hot Processed Soap
Cold-processed soap still requires some heat but not much. This soap making process requires exact measurements of lye and fat amounts and computing their ratio, using saponification charts or a lye calculator. With cold processed soap, the bulk of the saponification happens after the combined oil and lye solution is poured into molds, usually over a period of two to six weeks. Because of this, cold processed soap still contains glycerine which is generally considered good for human skin.
Hot-processed soaps are created by encouraging the saponification reaction by adding heat to speed up the reaction. Unlike cold-processed soap, in hot-processed soap, the oils are completely saponified by the end of the handling period. Therefore hot processed soap is ready to use right away. In the "fully boiled hot-process" technique the glycerine and most of the impurities in the fat, lye, and water (which gives cold pressed soap its color) are completely cooked out of the soap and drained off as a liquid to be repurposed, leaving a pure hard white bar.
For the purposes of this article I will go over cold processed soap. But you can click here to learn more about each process.
- Scale that weighs in pounds and ounces (digital is preferred in soap making for precision but a manual scale will also work)
- One large stainless steel or enamel pot (do not use aluminum for soap making, aluminum is reactive)
- One large stainless steel or enamel bowl (use this if you are splitting a batch for different scents or colors)
- Hand stick blender (you can stir by hand if you want, it just takes more time)
- Plastic measuring cup (for weighing out your oils and anything else)
- Two cooking thermometers that must read over 100 degrees
- Two wooden or plastic spoons (if using wood or plastic, here on after, use this equipment ONLY for soap making)
- Rubber gloves
- Safety goggles
- Clear half gallon plastic container - like a juice pitcher
- A Soap mold (a couple of cardboard boxes lined with freezer paper, chunks of PCV pipe, or a clean kitty litter box will also work as a mold)
- Old bath towel
- Rubber spatula (for scraping the pot and/or bowl after pouring)
There are many different types of soap; like goats milk soap, pine tar soap, castile soap, and coffee soap, but I will cover those in future articles. Once the equipment is obtained and the process is learned these new types of soaps will be fun and easy. For this article I will include two simple recipes (below) the instructions are universal and can be applied to most cold pressed soap recipes.
Simple Cold Processed Soap
This recipe will make 25-30 nice bars of soap that will be kind to your skin, that you could gift to friends and family. The lye is discounted at 7% (this means there is more fat in the recipe than the lye can convert to soap, the extra fat is good for your skin). You can make it as fancy or as simple as you want and it stores really well. I recommend that people learn how to make soap with this recipe then move on to other recipes that may peak their interests.
First gather your equipment and pre-measured ingredients. Wear a long sleeved shirt, rubber gloves, eye protection, keep your hair pulled back and wear shoes. Keep some vinegar nearby, so that if you get some lye on you (it will start to itch before it burns) you can treat it. Wash with plenty of soap and running water *first* and then rinse with vinegar. Same with surfaces, wash and rinse in case of spills then spray with vinegar and then repeat when you are finished making soap. If you get some on your clothes, immediately throw them in the washer.
- 32oz Cold Water
- 12oz Powdered Lye - pure sodium hydroxide (NaOH)
Add 32oz of water to the plastic container. In a well ventilated area slowly add the lye into the water, stir gently trying not to splash. Never the other way around - you will get a violent volcano reaction. Always add lye to water. Set aside with one of the thermometers to cool to around 100° F - this could take several hours, to speed the process along set pitcher in an ice water bath or on a cold cement floor. If the lye has cooled too much vigorously stir the mixture, this will heat it back up.
In the large stainless steel or enamel stock pot add following solids, then place over medium-low heat on the stove until all are liquified:
- 24 oz Coconut Oil (coconut oil gives soap its bubbles and gives hardness to the bar, this is why most soap makers will tell you that bubbles to do not necessarily equal cleaning power).
- 28 oz White Shortening (Crisco will work)
- 10 oz Rendered Bacon Grease, or Rendered Tallow (click here to see How to Make Your Own Tallow) unsalted butter will also work. I don't do vegetarian soap, I live on a farmstead so I use animal fat in all my soaps.
Remove melted solids from heat (from here on out you are done with the stove, turn it off). Check your lye water temperature.
- Add 24 oz of Olive Oil or vegetable oil
This will start lowering the fat temperature, you want it at 100° F as well (you can combine lye water and the oils anywhere between 125°F -100°F as long as they are the same temp or within 4 degrees of each other). Use the other cooking thermometer to check the temp. Once the temperature of the lye water and oils are the same, slowly stir the lye water into the melted fats and oils. Watch as the mixture begins to change color, get cloudy and thicken as the chemical reaction starts. You just made soap!
Stir the soap for 10 minutes, then let it rest for 15 minutes, set a timer if you need reminding. Some people say to stir continuously, I have found this has no effect on how fast the soap finishes, so you might as well do something else for 15-20 minutes. Continue on this way until a thin layer of oil remains and the surface thickens to the point where you can see a trail where you just stirred (see picture below). This is called "trace," and it indicates that the soap is ready to be finished.
Hand stirred soap can take several hours to achieve "trace," to speed things along use a stick blender. Be sure to run the blender for a few minutes and then let it rest. Their cheap little motors will burn up if they are run continuously. Don't lift the bender above the liquid level, doing so will mix in a bunch of air into your soap. Trace can be achieved in as little as 5-10 minutes using a stick blender, but it can take longer.
- Add 3 oz of any desired essential oils, or any colorants and desired botanicals (like corn meal or oats for scrubbing power) an mix well at this point.
Finishing the Soap
Stir thoroughly, then pour into molds. If the mold does not have a lid, place a piece of butcher paper over top of the soap. This will help prevent soda ash from forming on the soap. Wrap with the towel, and place in an undisturbed dark area for 24 hours. Do not check on it. Leave it alone. After 24 hours remove the towel and let it sit for *another* 12 hours.
Cutting the Soap
After that point it should be a nice block of soap that you can pop out of the mold. Continue to wear gloves, at this point the soap is still caustic. Once out of the mold you may want to let it firm up for another day before cutting. A mitre box can be used to cut straight bars. It's important to do this fairly early in the game, because if the soap firms up too much it will cut poorly and flake.
Collect the soap trimmings after cutting soap bars and press them together with your hands to make soap balls.
Set the bars some where dark to cure and harden uncovered for 2-6 weeks. Like wine, the longer cold pressed soap sits the better it will be. If you jump the gun and use your soap too soon it may burn you or it may just be too harsh, so its important to let it sit.
Long Term Emergency Basic Soap Recipe
(recipe credit - Millersoap.com)
This recipe makes about 9 pounds of pure, hard, smooth no-nonsense soap suitable for hand washing, cleaning, laundry or soap flakes, follow this simple recipe:
- 13 oz of lye
- 5 cups cold water
- 6 pounds clean fat (tallow or lard or some combination of both)
Follow the above procedures of making lye water, melting the fats, combining the two, stirring until trace, then adding to a mold. If you are in a cool area and it looks like the fat is starting to set up before the lye can convert it to soap (this is known as a false trace), apply some gentle heat to the bottom of the pot. A false trace may present itself as a really grainy texture. Stirring continuously and briskly for this recipe is better, when it starts to trace for real it will start to stick to the side of your pot.
There is nothing fancy about this recipe, the soap it produces will not lather real well, and may dry your skin - but it will get things clean. You may want to give this a try some day, and/or print the recipe out and keep it on hand just in case.
Stay tuned to my articles for future adventures in soap!
Visit my blog, The Home Front by clicking here!
We all know the story … the pretty little red-headed-chick named Henrietta invites her neighbors over to the house to discuss a possible neighborhood co-op of emergency survival food, water and protection in case of a disaster in their area.
“Not I.” said Horace Horse. “I haven’t got the money to take care of myself let alone take care of others.”
“Nor I!” said Gail Goat.
“Well don’t look at me, I am waaaay too busy with my own projects to take on another!” said Catherine Cat.
“Ah, come on Henrietta, nothins’ gonna happen here.” said Doug Dog chortling out loud. “And besides, I’m not gonna have anyone calling me a wackco for stockpiling food and water”.
So, they part ways and Henrietta begins her mission of gathering survival food, water and protection for herself.
Then one day ‘it’ happens, and there standing on Henrietta’s doorstep were Horace, Gail, Catherine and Doug begging for food and water. “Nope.” said the little red-head to her neighbors “you made your choice.”
Or did she? ...
Have you considered this scenario? Having unexpected visitors after a disaster or catastrophic event show-up at your home?
I personally have put emergency survival preps aside for my extended family should they make the trek to my doorstep – preppers or not. But beyond that … I have to be honest, it’s questionable.
So, where do you draw the line?
If you are sitting there reading this series of articles and thinking, boy it sure would be nice if I had a place for an adequate food storage system, I am here to tell you that everybody can store food. Just because you do not have a spare room, a giant pantry or a roomy basement it is not an excuse not to have a food storage. Where there is a will, there is a way.
Please note; those fabulous 10-pound cans of food designed for emergency food supplies boast extremely long shelf lives. Unfortunately, those claims are based on that dream storage situation that the majority of us do not have. If that can of dehydrated beans says it is good for 15 to 25 years in “ideal” conditions, you can assume it will be good for about 5 to 7 in typical conditions where the containers are likely to get very hot during their time on the shelf.
First let’s address what makes a place ideal for food storage.
Throughout your life you may have heard of or seen people buying gold and silver and holding on to it. To many, this act makes little sense as gold and silver are not the paper money or credit cards we use to purchase goods such as clothing and food. The reality is that in the event of any type of crisis, especially financial, gold and silver are of much more value than paper money will ever be.
His Name is Romeo. For what it’s worth, he lives up to his name and has fathered a good many offspring, but that’s a tale for another day. Romeo is a Mediterranean Donkey, usually called Miniature Donkeys in this country.
Romeo is one of the most important residents on our little Sub-rural (between the suburbs and rural America, I think I invented the word - humor me if I didn’t) homestead. He protects our livestock from predators, he babysits the young animals so their mothers can graze, and from the photo, you can see that he also serves as a living jungle gym.
All Romeo asks for in return is some fresh grass in the summer, hay in the winter, the occasional apple and a scratch behind his ever so long ears. That’s what I call value for money.
Our little grey man plays another valuable role as our home defense early warning system. He is better than ADT could ever hope to be.
Rom is always on duty. He never takes a day off, and nothing on two or four legs or on wheels comes onto our property without grabbing his attention; especially after dark. Coyotes, dogs, cats, raccoons, possums and even lost motorists have all learned that you don’t sneak past him...ever. Depending on the kind of intrusion, he handles it himself, or sets off a chain reaction that would shake the very foundations of Hell.
At the first recognition of someone or something entering the property without authorization, Romeo will let out a bray. The volume and length of the bray will be determined by his assessment of the seriousness of the threat.
If the intruder is of the four-legged variety, he will take matters into his own hands, er, hooves and either chase it off or stomp it into submission. Most would be predators head for the hills when they hear him or see him charging after them. At least one unlucky or overly stupid coyote met his maker by deciding to stand its ground. Anything smaller than a mountain lion would be foolish to mess with a LGD (livestock guardian donkey) in the administration of his protective duties.
If the ‘guest’ is of the two-legged or motorized variety, Romeo will be particularly urgent in his call, but will keep his distance. The bray will alert the collies, at which time Rom’s work is finished.
The collies will raise the dead with the decibels they create when taking over the warning system. They will not attack an intruder, but will certainly make someone think twice about continuing their quest if he/she/ has come with Mal-intent.
The incessant, eardrum shattering, barking of the collies than alerts the Mastiffs who reside in the house with the humans. The Mastiffs take up the baton at this point. Lucy, the smaller of the two at 100 lbs (and part bull-mastiff) will take the lead in discouraging anyone from proceeding in a forward manner without the express permission of a human resident. Should no such permission be granted, I pity the fool who presses his/her luck.
Tuck, the larger dog, with sharper teeth, will be a step behind, wagging his tail and waiting to join in the fun, should Lucy need backup or should his extra size and strength be required. Tuck can take our 4 foot fence in an easy bound, so running wouldn’t do a soul one bit of good; although Tuck would dearly love someone to try.
In the unlikely event that an intruder should still be moving, or even standing erect, at this juncture, the collies will join the action. They would never start a war, but they have no problem piling on.
By this time, either my wife or I will be on the scene with selected armaments chosen specifically to deter or end the confrontation, but I will leave the details of those toys for another post.
As for Romeo, while the fanged members of the defense team are cleaning up the situation, he will probably be peacefully grazing, stopping long enough to raise his head, watch the dogs at work and think, “God, I’m good.”
Admittedly, our Early Warning System is not typical, but I bet some of you out there have some creative arrangements, too. Please do share.
Natural rainwater can provide an excellent resource for any extra uses you may need in your everyday life. It can be used for irrigation, livestock water, garden uses and even drinking or bathing water if necessary and proper cleaning practices are ensured.
However, when collecting rainwater it is important to be sure that no regulations are in place and that you are going about it the right way.
Benefits of Rainwater Collection
There are various benefits of collecting falling water, rather than paying for water from another source. For instance, rainwater is soft and therefore doesn’t need detergent in order to be used for general needs.
An additional obvious benefit is the price. You will usually have to pay for the collection or harvesting system itself; however, these expenses are generally fairly cheap and setup is easy.
These systems are primarily being used in countries, such as China, Brazil, Bermuda, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Senegal, etc. and provide clean water for basic needs.
Rainwater Restrictions and Regulations
It may seem silly that certain countries welcome large rainwater harvesting stations and even have laws that ensure they are installed on all buildings, while others regulate the amount of water that can be stored.
For instance, in the United States, laws and regulations are strict for how much rainwater you are allowed to collect without a permit. Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Ohio are among the most regulated. However, the majority of states have some type of regulation in place and some have even made it illegal to collect at all.
Tips for Catching and Harvesting Rainwater
With all the regulations, you may decide that is just isn’t worth it to go through the hassle of permits in order to collect rainwater. However, if you do decide to go forward with this, here are some tips to help make it easier and more beneficial for you.
- Be aware of the toxins that leach off of roofing materials. I would avoid asphalt shingles if you are planning on using the rainwater for watering or growing purposes.
- Choose your collection canister wisely. Barrels made specifically for collecting rainwater can withstand freezing, expansion and distortion, while trash cans and other garbage collection containers generally won’t.
- Be safe. Keep the rain barrel away from spots where children may consider it a fun water play spot. Don’t place it near stairs, etc. Additionally, mosquitoes and other pests bring disease, so it is essential to either install some kind of system to keep these pests out or purchase an updated system with these blocks already installed.
- Set it up off the ground. This isn’t necessary, but will make it easier to get to the spigot, which is normally located on the very bottom of the barrel within a few inches of the ground. Using cement blocks to prop the barrel up will make distribution easier.
- Keep gutters cleaned out. The leaves, dirt and other materials that often sit in the gutter can cause rainwater to become contaminated and unsafe. It is especially important to clean the gutters before a big storm comes through if you are planning to collect water during that time.
- Use the collected water wisely. For instance, you could use it for laundry or bathing if it is cleaned and stored properly.
These are just a few of the tips that you can employ to keep your collected rainwater safe from toxins and within the bounds of legality.
By Heidi Rothert
[guest-author]Heidi Rothert writes content for companies such as Utah Disaster Kleanup, a restoration company that works with fire and water damage restoration. Cleaning up a flooded basement is just one of the many services they provide. She also works with the beauty, collision repairs and even plumbing and electric industries to drive marketing.[/guest-author]
It is that time of year again!! Fleas and ticks are starting to be reborn just to terrorize us and our beloved animals. They can be very dangerous giving your animal heart worms or lyme disease and just like with our own bodies we may not want to put harsh chemicals on our animals or our yards. (Some of those chemicals have been known to kill dogs/cats.)
There is good news!! You do not have to go broke treating your animals, yourself or your yard to repel these nasty boogers. You can make your own using natural ingredients at half the cost. Below are a few ways to keep the ticks off you, your pets and your yard.
- Ticks HATE garlic so as my Grandmother and Ben Franklin use to say.... "An ounce of prevention is greater than a pound of cure." Plant garlic in your yard, around your yard or anywhere you do not want the ticks to live. Not only will these deter them from your yard, you will also have fresh garlic when you need it. You can also eat raw garlic or take garlic tabs so it is in your blood. They can smell it and will not attach themselves, if garlic is in your system (garlic tabs are safe for your dogs as well).
- You can either use neem oil or soak neem leaves in hot water and then apply this on the skin.
- For Pets: Prepare a general flea and tick spray by mixing 2.5 ml (1/2 ounce) of organic neem oil with 1-2 ml (1/4-1/2 ounce) of mild soap or detergent and 2 cups water. For a stronger solution if there is a problem or the dog will be going into deep bug country, mix 5 ml neem oil, 2 ml mild soap or detergent and 2 cups water. Use warm, not hot, water to dissolve the oil. Mix water and soap first and then slowly add neem oil for flea and tick control. Add to sprayer and use immediately. Discard after use. Neem oil is unstable and breaks down after 8 hours. Mix new each time.
- Place a few drops of neem oil on palms and simply rub hands through your pet's fur for effective flea and tick control. Neem oil is best used this way for dogs, only, not for cats. For sensitive dogs, dilute the neem oil 1:10 in a light carrier oil like almond or jojoba and rub palms first. Then run hands thoroughly through the dog's coat for natural, effective flea and tick control.
- Warnings: Caution is advised when using neem oil on animals that are breeders or about to be bred. Use neem oil at half strength for flea and tick control. Do not treat cats with concentrated neem oil that is left on the skin. Using neem leaf tea is far safer for felines.
- Tea Tree oil is a great repellent. Once mixed, you spray it on the skin or fur and rub in. I also make sure and pray it on our shoes and pant legs if we are going camping or into the woods so we don't carry home any piggy back riders.
To make: Mix two ounces of tea tree oil in water and pour it in a spray bottle. Spray this regularly on
- You can also spray your yard area with this mixture.
Other effective natural remedies
- Natural herbs: Lavender oil, lavender plants, lemon Grass, peppermint or citronella are all very effective in keeping fleas off your yard. We make sure to have some every year and we have not had to use chemicals on our yard/ house or body for fleas, ticks or mosquitoes in 3 years now.
- A few more ways to repel fleas and ticks; eucalyptus, myrrh, rosewood, or lemon.
- Lemon: Take 6 lemons and cut in half. Boil these in a quart of water and steep for a few hours. Strain the solution and pour it into a spray bottle. Spray the solution on the pet’s fur but avoid the eyes.
These are just a few of the simple ways you can prevent an infestation of fleas or ticks in your living area and make the family pet a happy-go-lucky Fido instead of a miserable, itchy one.
Please feel free to leave ideas and other remedies in the comment section below!!
Having a supply of fuel is very important for emergency situations and disaster preparedness alike. You never know when you might need emergency fuel for transport, heat, or cooking. With the importance of fuel comes the importance of fuel storage. Storing a surplus of fuel requires careful handling, planning, and an understanding of different kinds of fuel.
Different fuels have different shelf lives and necessitate different storage procedures. As a general rule, always color code and/or label containers with different fuels. Also, store fuel only in sturdy, durable containers with good seals. Here is a breakdown of some large scale fuel storage tips for different kinds of fuel.
Gasoline can be optimally stored for about two years. After this time petroleum tends to go ‘stale’ and may not be ideal for motors. There are, however, stabilizing agents you can buy and add to the gasoline to keep it better for longer. Always store gas in a durable, sealed, preferably red, container out of direct sunlight in a ventilated space.
Diesel fuel has a short shelf life--anywhere from 6-12 months. Because diesel fuel oxidizes after it leaves the refinery and sediments form that can clog motors, stabilizers should be added to the fuel to slow this process. Diesel should not be stored for more than two months, so use up the supply in a vehicle or generator then rotate your supply.
Propane should always be stored outdoors in a well-ventilated area. Place the propane tank upright on concrete away from any other flammable objects or liquids. Storing away from wet areas or places where large amounts of water won’t fall on the tank is also a good idea to prevent rust on the tank cylinder.
Kerosene doesn't evaporate as quickly as gasoline and can remain stable while being stored without any extra treatments. Because of this, kerosene is an easy and popular fuel to store. Make sure kerosene containers are well labeled and possibly stored in a different colored container than gasoline or other fuels. Kerosene has a shelf life of about 3 months and there is a risk of mold forming in the containers for longer storage, so rotate your kerosene.
While less popular in large scale fuel storage than propane or kerosene, butane has a variety of uses in heating and cooking. If you need to throw on a pack and take to the woods, butane can be your companion for cooking and starting fires. Store butane in a cool, dry place out of direct sun. The canisters have a high resistance to heat, but always keep them out of extreme temperatures for good measure.
Dry Fuel (Charcoal, Coal, & Wood)
The dry fuels are the easiest to store since they are not extremely volatile compounds like most liquid fuels. Most of the time having canisters, waterproof containers, and a dedicated area for the fuel is the best storage plan. Keep firewood away from the house and covered to prevent it getting wet if left out in the open. Both coal and charcoal should be kept dry and in some kind of container or bin. Make sure to keep these fuels separate from any flammable liquids.
by Ben Vaughn
[guest-author]Ben Vaughn is a contributing writer for Regency DKI Fire Restoration and writes on fuel storage tips, disaster cleanup, and disaster preparedness.[/guest-author]
The greatest motto for any organization was trademarked by the Boy Scout, which is, 'Be Prepared.' I spent a combined total of 32 years in the Marine Corp & the Boy Scouts (BSA). My experience has taught me a thing or two about being prepared. Regardless of all the over-nighters I've been on, my education did not come over night. Correct principles of preparedness are discovered through long and uncomfortable situation and mistakes, and sometimes it's down right painful. The painful lessons usually came from my beloved Marine Corps. The sum of the experience can be restated as a quote from a former platoon sergeant,
"You may love the Marine Corps, but some time she won't love you back!"
In preparing for the worst and hoping for the best, you will discover that preparedness does not come in a "one size fits all" label. The perfect solution is defined with experience & balance to achieve your specific mission (goals, purpose).
The Bug Out Bag | 4-Key Points
Over the years, I have considered the best balance of critical points to cover. I've come up with 4 key points to the bug out bag. I put them in the order of importance to what I have found through my own experience and time in the field.
Bug Out Bag | Hydration
The three critical principles of hydration are collection, purification & storage. As your day and activities unfold, hydration will be one of the most important items to continually consider. An Infamous Marine-ism from an old Gunny of mine states,
"If you don't need to pee, you're wrong. Drink!"
Hydration is second only to personal safety while in the field or just being out and about. An adage of the Israeli Special Forces Instructors is to hydrate every three kilometers. A body in motion needs water, continually! Those headaches or migraines the morning after camping, hunting, or patrolling is from dehydration; especially if there is any consumption of other types of beverages that are enjoyed after the fermentation process.
Bug out Bag | Prepared to Survive
This is a broad sweeping point that could cover everything from an emergency Mylar blanket to a Bic lighter. Here is a list of the survival items I carry:
- 3 different methods for starting a fire, I also carry 2 types of catalyst for sustaining the fire
- Small Gerber hatchet
- Leather-man Tool
- Pair of leather palm, light weight, work gloves
- 'Head Light' hands free flash light
- 1/2 dozen instant hand warmers
- 550 cord, mil-spec
- duct tape, small roll
- military lensatic compass
- Sun screen
- Bug spray
- Jet Boil stove
- Freeze dried food packages
- Combat Application Tourniquet, called a CAT
Note: I may only keep some of the freeze dried food in the bag that I think I'll need, or just an emergency ration instead of meals for days. You can live with out food if you have to, but you CAN NOT live with out water for very long. Some of the meals I may remove for weight consideration, I substitute other items that I will cover in the last section I labeled Personal/Extra Stuff. I have learned that a water proofed bag, with water proofed gear inside, makes for a less miserable experience while in the field. So I have learned which store bought zip-lock plastic bags work best for water proofing your gear. About 90% of all my gear in my bag is water proofed to some extent. My lighters, extra socks, sun screen, and even my bug spray is a plastic baggy.
First aid equipment should always be water-proofed, and using ziplock baggies is inexpensive, light-weight & easy. If I go any where, first aid items are always with me:
- EMT Sheers (1)
- Ace Bandage (1-2)
- 2 in. Coban wrap, 2+yards in length
Gauze Wrap (5)
- individually packaged, then all in their own larger water proof bag
The items below are in their own large water proof bag, some items are grouped together in smaller baggies for ease of use and for organizational purposes. This is the ziplock bag I carry everywhere, it never leaves my Bag.
- Moleskin and Blister bandages
- Extra pair of boot laces
- Small bottle of Tylenol
- Medium mixed bottle of Ibuprofen, Naproxin, and Excedrin
- A couple tabs of Sudaphed
- Gold Bond body powder (travel size)
- Blistex lip balm
- Butterfly bandaged
- Super Glue (liquid bandage)
- Assorted Band-Aids (20)
- Alcohol wipes
- Eye drops
- 1/2" water proof adhesive tape
- Folding toothbrush (travel size)
- Tooth paste (travel size)
- 1" Coban wrap, 2+ yards
Bug Out Bag | Personal/Extra Comforts
These are items that I would consider optional, for reasons of weight or the dictation of the terrain. Situation and terain will usually dictate what you have, how much of it you have. Know that even though I have labeled this fourth and final point as extra gear, I usually roll with everything I have listed. It's rare that I'd omit anything from this list:
- Wet Wipes; I like the Huggies, 16 count, slim hard case, which also happens to be sold sealed in plastic (water proofed)
- Extra socks, water proofed in a plastic bag
- Note pad and/or 3X5 cards, plus writing utensils (gel pens don't freeze as easy, black sharpie markers are great for the field too)
- Bandanna and a wash-cloth, sealed in their own baggy together
- Long sleeve, Thermal type, under shirt for an extra DRY base layer if needed at night
- 2, short range, walkie-talkies; with weather reception capability
- Extra batteries, for head lamp and walkie-talkies, both take AAA batt (not a coincidence)
- 20' of 1" webbing
- 5' dog leash
- Appox. 8 carabiners (3 diff sizes and types)
- Pelican Case 1010 (this is my camera case, I use our old model digital camera when in the field, Iraq-tested & approved)
- 3-5 cans of Vienna Sausages (they are small and light weight, perfect poggie-bait)
- Boonie hat
- Empty and folded plastic Wal~Mart grocery bags, for trash or whatever (light-weight; no bulk)
- Black stretchy gloves (Wally World, 2 pair for $1.50. And they are in their own little plastic baggie for water proofing purposes)
Bug Out Bag | Avoiding Gear Bombs & Ensuring A Safe Return
I have been out and about in inclement weather. It was a crap shoot if I knew the weather was going to turn bad on me, but I always planned for the worst and hoped for the best. I always had a few essentials that turned the miserable, to tolerable. Sometimes I'd end up giving my gear to a junior Marine who had not yet learned how fickle Mother Nature could be.
Questions I plan around are below. Safety & returning home are always the end goal.
- What items will my family need?
- What items will I need?
- What is the Terrain?
- What types of immediate problems that may occur?
I believe in water proofing as much as possible. I've got a great system for individual water proofing items in baggies. I have also found that combining a lot of my small first aid items into a larger baggie, for organisational purposes. I don't want a gear bomb going off at the wrong time and have to find & collect my gear. Keep it simple, keep it organized. My last Marine-ism sums up this thought, and one of the great lessons I learned in the Corp - It comes from a Master Gunnery Sergeant,
"There is no reason to practice being uncomfortable and miserable, those opportunities present themselves often in the Corps, and at regular intervals."
I am grateful for the difficulties I have faced, they have taught me and I hope to pay it forward.
Semper Fi - Be Prepared. Out here.
Helping Others Help Themselves:
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By Tom Martin
Listen to my podcast with Kurtis Daniels from WaterStep.org as we discuss the mission of WaterStep, what they do to help people find water independence, and how Preppers can get involved. In the middle of the podcast Kurtis offers two opportunities to win. The first opportunity was for live listeners (that chance has already passed), but you still have one last chance to win by downloading this podcast and following the simple instructions that he provides in the podcast.
[caption id="attachment_13904" align="alignleft" width="225"] My wife and I[/caption]
Introducing the WaterStep water filter to my wife's family and her community in the Philippines.
While I was visiting my wife and her family in the Philippines, I had the opportunity to make my first attempt at a humanitarian effort by introducing a water filter to her community from a company called WaterStep. I wanted to bring one of these water filters with me because I believe in this organization and their products. While water in the Philippines is very abundant, clean drinking water is not. Municipal water, where available, is not as good of quality as in the U.S. I even did a water test myself and it showed bacteria in the water. Most people in rural areas don't even have access to municipal water so they either pump their water from shallow wells or get it from rivers and streams that are full of microorganisms. Bottled water is out of the question for people who are extremely poor.
The filter that I brought with me is a 0.02 micron drip water filter. It's capable of filtering microorganisms, bacteria, and even many viruses. What's great about the filter is you don't have to replace it. It could conceivably last a family a lifetime. You simply open a valve on the filter and use a small hand pump to back wash it out. It is a drip filter so it doesn't work really fast. With this type of filter it's best to have a tank or water source connected to the inlet of the filter, then have the filter set up to drip into a large clean water tank and have it set up to drip over a period of time. I drilled a small hole in a tank that holds the source water, from there the water travels through a flexible hose to the water filter and then from there the water flows through the filter and drips it into a clean water tank. If every family had a simple system set up like this in their home and communities, virtually all of the water borne illnesses could be eliminated. I encourage you to get involved in WaterStep, either to get involved in humanitarian efforts or to get a water filter of your own.
Corn tortillas are a simple food to make using your food storage supplies. They’re cheap, they’re easy, and they are plentiful. They're also a main stay for those with a wheat or gluten intolerance!
Here are the basic proportions:
1 cup of masa harina (corn flour, but treated with lime and then ground)
¾ - 1 cup of water
The proportions are very nearly equal – you want to put in *just* enough water to make the dough moist, but not enough to make it tacky. The dough will begin to look smooth, rather than grainy. This is the point to stop adding water.
The next step is to divide the dough. For every cup of flour, you should end up with 8 balls of dough. It looks like this in succession:
When done, each dough ball should be approximately the size of a teaspoon.
The next step is to line your press with either plastic wrap or wax paper. If you choose not to, the dough will stick and be miserable to get off.
Take one dough ball and press. Spin the plastic wrap 180 degrees and press again. This will give you a flat tortilla with this press. Otherwise, they’re lopsided!
Carefully, peel your new tortilla off of the plastic and set on a plate or directly into the hot pan. Repeat for the rest of the dough.
Next, pull out your cast iron frying pan. Heat it up good and hot. Carefully, as to not rip your tortilla, pick up the one on the top and put it onto the hot pan. It will smoke a little as it cooks. Wait until the edges start to lift up, so it looks a little crown-like, and flip it.
When you flip it to the second side, you’re looking for the tortilla to stand up in the opposite direction, on its edges before you pull it off.
This takes some practice and you’ll probably burn a few before you get the timing right for your stove and your pan. This is ok – count it up to practice and set them aside for enchiladas!
When it’s done cooking, pull it off the pan and drop it on a waiting plate.
Mmm…the house smells SO good after you home-cook tortillas! Eat, drink and be merry, knowing you’ve got the best tortillas ever at your fingertips!
For those who have spent most, if not all of their lives trapped in a decidedly more efficient, but no less primitive urban landscape, the idea of chopping down a large tree and turning the fallen timber into perfectly cut pieces of firewood was probably not something you had to confront. But perhaps you always had a void within yourself and the time has finally come to fill that hollow with a chainsaw and an axe.
There is a precise technique to properly chopping down a tree. This is hard work and can be dangerous if not done right. Depending on the size of the tree--width and height, this process can take mere minutes to many hours. You’ll first need a good pair of comfortable shoes, protective eye-wear, work gloves, and a good chainsaw. If the notion of felling a tree with an axe entered your mind, you should rid yourself of that idea rather quick after a couple swings against a well armored tree trunk. Buy or borrow a chainsaw!
Depending on the context in which you’re felling the tree, you will either have an experienced companion assisting you, or you will undoubtedly be prepared to dispatch the tree on your own accord with all the necessary equipment and a very specific reason. If neither of these are true, what are you even doing in the woods? Just get back in your car and drive home; you’re probably doing something illegal anyway.
Once you’re ready to initiate the first step in your Natty Bumppo wilderness fantasy, it’s important you follow a few critical points in assessing and making cuts in the tree. First, determine the direction of fall and make the first cut a third of a way into the tree, parallel to the ground on the side you want the tree to fall.
Next, make a 60 degree angle downward cut until you meet the first cut. This should take out a large triangle of wood from the tree. At this point you’ve made the face cut that will guide the tree as it falls. You can now move to the opposite side of the tree and set the blade parallel to the ground a couple of inches above the bottom of the face cut. Cut horizontally into the trunk until there is just a strip of uncut trunk. This should keep the tree from kickback as it falls. Finally, cut the strip until the tree begins to topple. Turn off the saw and retreat. Don’t look back until you are a safe distance away and hear the thud.
Perhaps the quintessential act of rustic manliness, chopping wood is an artful labor. This isn’t to say that the work is gender specific, but let’s face it, chopping wood just appears brutish. The trick one aspires to achieve chopping wood is working with the wood rather than against it. In general, properly cutting wood is as precision oriented as felling the tree beforehand. Fortunately, chopping wood is a simple and easy to hone technique, you will chop cleaner and faster with practice.
First, gather the need the tools. Good work gloves, a sturdy axe, and some splitting wedges to initially crack open the wood. Also, a short chopping block for resistance is needed to chop the wood into smaller pieces. This is also necessary to protect the blade of your axe from damage when it breaks through the wood.
Set the piece of wood on the block and stand back with feet apart and arms extended. Then line up the axe over the wood, raise it, and strike. This will take practice to get right and may require adjustment to determine the best parts of the wood to strike. Look for well-formed cracks to hit and let the weight of the axe do most of the work. This will usually cause the wood to easily come apart, but sometimes you may need to strike along the sides to avoid getting the axe struck in a thick log.
For the toughest pieces of wood, you can use the wedges to facilitate the splitting. Tap one of the wedges into the log and strike it in until the wood begins to split. You can also whittle away the log around the sides until the log is small enough to split down the center more easily. With practice, you can become a highly efficient wood-cutter. The best part is that you can take this skill anywhere. You’ll soon be the go-to firewood source. Just remember your flannel shirt and steel-toed boots!
By Ben Vaughn
[guest-author]Ben Vaughn writes for Skyline DKI storm damage cleanup and covers topics like disaster cleanup, restoration, and the merits of felling trees and chopping wood.[/guest-author]
We all know our basic cost of living is increasing. Despite the increase and the knowledge, at some point, we are going to be stuck at home with no way to get to the grocery store. We just assume tomorrow will take care of itself, right?
What about when things get rough, whether it is after a natural disaster or some other unforeseen circumstance? Can you feed your family without running to the convenience store or the pizza parlor? If a giant light bulb has just went on and you want to know what you can do to prevent that tragic situation from happening, read on. I am going to help get you started on the road to a more prepared lifestyle. There is no time like the present to get started.
Let me clarify something first before you chalk this up to a person who is fretting over something that may never happen. There are plenty of reasons you would want to have a nice food storage on hand.
The EDC (Every Day Carry) By Gear2survive and Ontario Limited Ceramic Knife is a great knife for preparedness because it is corrosion proof, meaning it will not rust. It is light weight, easy to carry and conceal.
This knife is built with a small 1 1/2: blade and overall length of 5 1/2" it is solid black and stout. Keep in mind a short ceramic neck knife for EDC has to be stout to keep together and remember ceramic is glass.
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