Monday, November 28, 2016

Why Survival Requires Community

Many preppers, survivalists, and even religious folks are looking to form communities to foster their prospects for long-term survival. This may mean building an intentional community from scratch, or simply creating a community of like-minded friends and neighbors for mutual assistance. This is a great idea. However, I still find some resistance to the idea of community by those folks who seem to favor the lone-wolf or small, isolated family retreat modes of survival. In this article, I want to explain why I think forming or creating a larger community is the better path to survival.

The first reason is that humans are social creatures. We are designed (by God or evolution, depending on your worldview) to need interaction with other people. This is why solitary confinement is considered such a severe form of punishment. We suffer mentally and emotionally when we are cut off from other people. Loneliness, depression, and mental illness will result from long periods of isolation, whether as individuals or even in very small groups.

The second reason is the fact of physical limitations. We get tired. We get sleepy. We can typically only do one task at a time. Some tasks require more than one person. And there are time factors to consider. Security, for instance, will require full attention. You are not going to be able to pull security duty AND work in the garden or do other chores at the same time. You are not going to be able to pull 12-hour security shifts for any length of time. Try to do so, and you will become tired, distracted and ineffective. (I'll do a future article in which I'll posit that an absolute minimum requirement for a survival community is at least six healthy adults, probably more.)

The third reason is limited skill sets. A truly self-reliant survival group will need a large variety of skills sets. Yet, we all have a limited number of skills as individuals. Remember, there will be no outside help of any kind - no fire departments, EMTs, police departments, hospitals, grocery stores, pharmacies, tailors, electricians, plumbers, mechanics, or repairmen of any kind, except for that which we have within our community. We will have to provide for all our needs ourselves. Of course, we should all work towards becoming as self-reliant as possible, but no one person, no one family, will ever be able to truly do it all.

The fourth reason is safety in numbers.  The idea many have is that a family in an isolated rural area will survive by hiding. But reality tells us something different. Fernando Aguirre in his book,  The Modern Survival Manual, writes about the experience during the economic collapse in Argentina during the early 2000s. Far from being safe, small isolated farms were actually hunted down and targeted by well-armed gangs. This experience has been mirrored in other historical, real world examples, such as during the Bosnia War in the 1990s.  A small retreat with only two or three adults to provide security will be an extremely tempting and easy target for large, well armed groups during a collapse in the USA. No, I wouldn't want to live in a large urban center, but small retreats aren't safe either.

This is the second in a series of articles on Community. The first article in the series is Building Community - Evaluating Potential Members. Additional articles will be posted in coming weeks.

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Looking for Christmas gift ideas for the Outdoorsmen on your list? May I suggest two books by Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty: The American Fisherman: How Our Nation's Anglers Founded, Fed, Financed, and Forever Shaped the U.S.A. and his earlier book American Hunter: How Legendary Hunters Shaped America. Purchases made through these links help finance this website. Thank You.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Survival 101: Stockpiling as a Preparedness Strategy

In my article, A quick, no frills, down & dirty guide to preparing for the End, the first step I suggest is to "stock up on food, water, cleaning & hygiene supplies, first aid supplies, medicine & medical supplies, flashlights, radios, batteries, tools, sturdy clothes & shoes, etc."

Storing food and supplies is a hedge against inflation, economic chaos, disruptions in the supply chain and the modern just-in-time inventory & distribution system. It also a safety issue, making it less likely you will have to venture to the market to buy needed goods during dangerous times (bad weather, civil unrest, violence). 

A disruption in the supply chain for food and other goods will mean the shelves at Wal-mart, Target, Lowe's, Home Depot, and your local grocery, hardware, and clothing stores will quickly be emptied. Depending on the cause of the disruption, those shelves may not be re-stocked for months, if ever. Stock up now for an extended period of time in which you will not be able to buy what you need.  

My recommendation: As soon as possible, acquire at least two weeks worth of food & supplies, then work towards building a month's stockpile, then six months, then a year, then two years worth of food and supplies.

You'll avoid the affects of hyperinflation (at least while your supplies hold out) and you will be spared any shortages that may occur.  Food, water and medicine are the obvious choices to stockpile, but just about anything can be stocked up on.


Cleaning supplies, first aid supplies, batteries, clothing and shoes, as well as personal hygiene products such as toothpaste, razors, soap, shampoo, and deodorant are other good choices to stock up on. You might even want to get your next set of tires now instead of during an environment of hyperinflation and shortages.

Wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove can be stacked up in your backyard. Don't forget matches. Composted cow manure, bone meal, hummus and other soil amendments can be stored and used to improve your soil for future use. Most non-GMO seeds have a shelf-life of 3 to 5 years (possibly longer if stored under the right conditions).
 

Basic Guidelines for Stocking Up
The following comes from an earlier article I wrote, with some minor changes.
 
1) Don’t stock up on items you won’t use. Don’t stock up on cans of tuna fish if you hate tuna fish. Stock up on cans of chunk chicken instead. If you are allergic to tomatoes, don’t stock up on tomato soup. If you don’t eat English peas, then it doesn’t make sense to buy extra cans of English peas no matter how cheap they are. Only stock up on items you actually use.


2) Decide what you actually use on a regular basis, and then buy extra. Stocking up really isn’t complicated. In fact, it can be quite simple. If you normally buy two cans of tuna every week, simply buy four cans a week instead. If you normally buy two five-pound bags of sugar a month, buy four bags next month. If you normally by a can of baked beans every week, buy two. And so forth. In a few months will have accumulated a nice extra store of food for the tough times ahead.

3) Remember: Food eventually goes bad. Most canned goods have a shelf life of anywhere from two to six years. Properly stored (kept airtight in a dark, dry, cool place), most dry foods can last even longer. Frozen foods last only two to six months in most cases (besides, you don’t won’t to stock a freezer full of food and then have the power go out for a couple of days after a bad snow storm). Refrigerated goods typically last only few days to a week or so at most. Therefore, concentrate on canned and dry foods for your long term storage. Develop a rotation method to make sure you are always eating your oldest food first (I use a black sharpie to mark the purchase month & year on the top of every can or box of food I buy).

4) Stock up on ingredient foods. When stocking up, most people remember the main veggies and meats, such as green beans and tuna fish. But don’t forget the items you often use as ingredients in recipes – chicken or beef broths, tomato sauce, tomato paste, canned mushrooms, cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, herbs & spices, and so on… Go through the recipes you make on a regular basis to see what ingredient foods you need.

5) Stock up on condiments.
Catsup, mayonnaise, mustard, salad dressings, vinegar, peanut butter, jellies & jams, jars of pickles, peppers & olives, soy sauce, salt, pepper, and spices can all typically be stored (unopened) for long periods of time. Many of these are often among the first and hardest hit by inflation, so make especially useful items to stock up on.

6) Don’t forget coffee and tea. Tea, and especially coffee, are both typically hard hit by inflation, so stock up on them if you are a big coffee or tea drinker. Also, they could become scarce if the worldwide supply chain gets disrupted for any length of time.

7) Stick to the basics. Your kids might want you to stock up on pop-tarts and chocolate syrup, but they really can do without them despite their whining to the contrary. Stocking up is about surviving. Surviving means basics like tuna and beans, not luxuries like chocolate syrup and pop-tarts. Stick to the basics.

8) Stock up on non-food basics, too. Personal and hygiene items like toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, soap, feminine products, razors, shaving cream, and mouth wash can usually store indefinitely and therefore are great items to stock up on. Same goes for sanitation and cleaning supplies. You should also stock up on basic home first aid supplies (bandages, rubbing alcohol, anti-bacterial ointment, aspirin, etc.), and batteries (for flashlights, radios, smoke detectors, etc.).

9) A little at a time goes a long way. Most folks don’t have $500 that they can use to stock up all at once. But most can probably scrounge up $10 a week. At that rate, they will have accumulated over $500 worth of food & supplies in only a year.

Smart Shopping Tips for Affording Your Food Storage

  • Use coupons.
  • Shop sales.
  • Compare prices.
  • Make, and stick to, shopping lists.
  • Give generic and store brands a try.
  • Avoid impulse purchases. Think before you buy.
  • Sam's Club, Costco, and BJ's Wholesale Club aren't always the cheapest option. Often times a generic or store brand elsewhere will be just as good and less expensive than a name brand at the warehouse store.
  • Don't be a "Store Snob" - shop stores like Wal-mart, Aldi's, Ollie's, Big Lots, and even Amazon.com, in addition to your regular grocery store.
  • Don't use credit cards to stock up. Going into debt creates a host of other problems. Reduce your expenses in other areas, or make some extra money with a yard sale, if you need to come up with extra cash for your purchases. Need help with your budget? Check out my Finances - Get Back To Basics article for lots of great info and tips. 
Emergency Food Storage and Survival Handbook 

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A great book on this topic that I recommend is Peggy Layton's Emergency Food Storage and Survival Handbook. I wrote a review of it in 2104.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Special Needs Prepping

In our preparations, we need to make allowances for those people within our family or preparedness circle who may have special needs. Here are some ideas of who might have some special needs and how to deal with those needs.

Babies - Babies, of course, are totally dependent upon others, especially their mother. A mother of a young baby will not be able to help out much with security or other chores at the homestead or retreat. Make sure you are not counting the mother in your security or other plans. Her attention will be focused on the baby.

Babies also may need special foods, medicines, formula, bottles, diapers, etc. Don't forget to stockpile these items and to include them in the mother's bug-out bag. Because they will be growing rapidly, you will also have to take into account their future needs for different sizes of diapers, clothes, and shoes.

Young Children - Somewhat less dependent on others, young children still have special needs. Don't forget to include entertainment (non-electronic) and education in their list of needs. Once they are walking on their own, they can carry their own (light-weight) bug-out bag, which might include a bottle of water, a change of clothes, an emergency poncho, a favorite stuffed animal or other toy, coloring/activity books (don't forget crayons & pencils), and maybe a card game or flash cards. Remember and plan for the fact that young kids grow fast, so think about their future needs for larger clothes and shoes.

Children should be expected to do chores to help out around the homestead or retreat. Of course, those chores should be age & maturity appropriate. Young children can start off doing personal chores such as brushing their own teeth and picking up after themselves, then expanding those chores as they grow older.

Pregnant Women - Depending on the individual woman and the stage of her pregnancy, pregnant women may be less physically able to participate in the security of homestead/retreat, may be less mobile, and may be limited in what chores they can do. Take this into consideration when making your plans if your family or group contains a pregnant woman.

Pregnant women may also have special needs such as medicine, vitamins, special/larger clothing, etc. If you will not be able to give birth in a hospital due to a SHTF situation, be sure to plan ahead for giving birth at home, including training and special supplies.

Medical Issues - Chronic and long-term illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and high blood pressure, are commonplace these days. You might also be unaware that a member of your group has a chronic illness unless you ask. Special needs of this group might include special foods, vitamins, supplements, prescription medications, medical equipment, etc. It may also limit the kinds and amount of chores they can do. Ask everyone in your group if they have a chronic or long-term illness, and then listen to thm about what special needs and restrictions they have.

Mentally Handicapped - Depending on the type and severity of their mental handicap, some folks will have special needs and limitations, and may even be highly dependent on others, which will restrict the ability of their caregiver to fully participate in the homestead or retreat. Be aware of this as you make your plans.

Physically Handicapped - Depending on the individual and the type/severity of their handicap, physically handicapped folks may (or may not) have certain limitations or special needs. Issues of mobility or physical limitations on the type/amount of chores they can do will be of particular concern. However, don't assume that just because someone is physically handicapped, don't just assume they cannot do certain things. Talk to them about there needs and abilities, and plan according.

The Addicted & the Mentally Ill - Alcohol and drug addiction, including tobacco, will prove very problematic. Address addictions NOW, before any SHTF situation. In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that you tell any folks with severe addictions that they MUST overcome their addictions or be removed from the group.  The mentally ill also will have issues, particularly if they are dependent on medication. Find out what medications they are on, and what to expect if they cannot get those medications. Plan accordingly. Those suffering from addictions or mental illness will likely NOT want to discuss these issues, but you must find out and deal with these issues before any SHTF situation.

Elderly - Depending on their age and health, the elderly may have a number of different needs and limitations, but please never discount their knowledge and experience. Talk to them about their needs, limitations, knowledge, and experience, then plan accordingly. Pay special attention to issues of mobility and endurance. Some may still be able to help with security and other physical chores. Others may serve well as advisors, educators, baby-sitters, running communications, etc.

Pets - Pets are often seen as valuable family members.  I certainly look at my dog that way, often joking referring to her as my doghter (sounds like daughter). So, don't forget to take their needs into account - food, water, toys, leashes, collars/harnesses, medications, and so forth. Pack a small bug-out bag for them. Be sure to include copies of any licenses and ownership & vaccination records, which may ease any dealings you may have with remaining authorities. Don't forget about first aid for your pets. You can get pet-centered first aid handbooks or first aid kits.

 
http://amzn.to/2eUTOIs
Available on Amazon
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Available on Amazon


Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Future of the Second Amendment

Now that the election is over, and we know that Donald Trump will be next next President, what is the future of the Second Amendment? Is our right to self-defense secure? Are our guns safe from government's power-hungry grasp? 

The answer, with a couple of caveats, is that our guns rights are safe for the next four, maybe eight, years. However, here are those important caveats:
  • Donald Trump must keep his promise of appointing Constitutionalists to the Supreme Court, such as those on the list of possible nominees he made public before the election. The court is precariously balanced at 4 to 4, and the replacement for Justice Scalia will decide the future of the Second Amendment. 
  • The progressives have not given up their desire to disarm Americans. Not just gun control, but gun confiscation, remains one of their most important goals. Even if blocked on a national level, they will continue the fight on the local and state level.
One big concern on a state level is that progressives won three out of four gun control measures on state ballots in this year's election. Gun control measures won in California, Washington, and Nevada. In Maine, another gun control measure was only narrowly defeated by a razor-thin margin. Even if Trump holds true to his election promises, your rights as a gun-owner are still under threat, especially if you live in a blue state. 

Gun owners and other pro-Constitution folks can breathe a bit easier with the defeat of Hillary Clinton, but the fight is far from over. We must remain eternally vigilant in defending our rights. It is when we feel the safest that our enemies can make the most progress against us. 

We must watch Obama closely, and insist that he keep his campaign promises regarding his judicial appoints. We must pay close attention to our state and local governments, and fight efforts to curtail our rights on those levels. One of the best ways to do this is to join forces with others to defend the Second Amendment:

A) National Rifle Association (TwitterWebsiteYouTube)
B) Gun Owners Association (TwitterWebsite, YouTube)
C) Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (TwitterWebsiteYouTube)
D) National Association for Gun Rights (TwitterWebsiteYouTube)


If you are in Law Enforcement or the Military, please join Oath Keepers.  Even if you're not, you can support them by joining as an associate member. You can also sign up for their free email list. Website: https://www.oathkeepers.org/    
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Did you like this article? You may be interested in these:

Fight Back! -- Defending the Second Amendment

A Long-Term Way to Protect the Second Amendment

Jesus, Self-Defense, and the Pajama Boy

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Last Minute Election Preps?

The election is Tuesday. Are there any last minute election preps we should make? Here are three things I will be doing on Monday:

1- Grocery shopping. I have a nice store of food for the long-term, and hopefully you do to, but I will go to the grocery store Monday to pick up a few items that I would be buying this week anyway - particularly perishable items such as bread, milk, cheese, butter, eggs, and fresh fruits & vegetables. The idea is to stock up so I can stay in my home for at least a week. think of it as last minute shopping that one might do right before an approaching winter storm hits. NOTE: You will want to make sure you have at least a week's worth of water stored at home. The general rule of thumb is at least one gallon per person per day, plus additional water for any pets.

Why? Although I don't expect a civil war to break out over the election, in the current environment there is the possibility of some demonstrations, protests, and even sporadic violence. This is especially true if Donald Trump wins, which I expect will lead to some prearranged organized demonstrations by groups like Black Lives Matter and others. These demonstrations, mostly in predictable urban areas, have the potential to turn violent with looting, arson, or worse. There is also the possibility for some "lone wolf" violence which could happen anywhere. Add to this the possibility of terrorism, and it would be nice to have the ability to hunker-down at home for a week or so.

2- Refilling prescription medications. My Mother has a prescription that she would have to get refilled next week anyway, and my diabetes medication run out early next week.  I will get both of these refilled Monday for the same reason I will do some grocery shopping. In case any civil unrest or violence does break out, I want to be able to hunker-down at home for week or so, without having to go out just to get a prescription refilled. 

3- Visit my local gun shop. I do plan on buying some more ammo on Monday. Why? Again, not because I'm expecting a civil war to break out. But, if Hillary wins, I do expect her election to trigger a run on guns and ammo from folks expecting her to try to push for more gun control (which she will do). This will likely lead to ammo shortages and spikes in prices over the short term. 

This isn't a complete preparedness & survival plan, of course. You should already be working diligently on such a plan. But these are a few good ideas to do, ASAP.
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You might be interested in checking out my Election Analysis: Trump Wins 319 To 219 for a current state polls based prediction of the election outcome. I give my methodology and assumptions below the election map, so be sure to check it out. We'll see if I'm right on Tuesday night!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Things you can do for FREE to get prepared...

Having been around the prepper/survivalist world for over a decade now, the number one complaint I hear from folks is that they "can't afford to get prepared." Having a lot of spare cash to spend on food, gear, and other stuff would be nice, but the fact is there is a lot you can do for FREE to get prepared. Money is simply not an excuse for not preparing for the bad times that are ahead. Here are some things you can do to get ready without having to spend any extra money:

Improve your health and fitness. Improving your health and fitness doesn't require gym memberships, special exercise equipment, or expensive "health foods." Here are some FREE health & fitness tips you can start doing today:
  • Drink water instead of sodas. You don't have to buy bottled water, as tap water works just as well (and the dirty little secret of most bottled waters is that they really are just tap water).
  • Skip the desserts. You'll lose weight and save money at the same time.
  • Skip the late night snacks. You'll lose weight and save money at the same time.
  • Eat healthier. This doesn't mean buying special health foods or more costly organic foods.  Instead, it means eating less junk foods, fast foods, & sweets, and more veggies, especially leafy-greens and cruciferous vegetables. Don't know what cruciferous vegetables are? Google it for FREE. Drink water or unsweet tea with your meals instead of sodas or sweet tea. 
  • Go for a walk. Walking is great exercise. Try to start with a 15-minute walk each day, and over the next several weeks try to work your way up to 45-minutes to an hour. Walk around your neighborhood, in your local mall (great way to walk on a rainy day), or at local parks or greenways. Don't quit. The key to walking for fitness is consistency. 
  • Be active. Yard work - such as cutting grass with a push mower, gardening, raking leaves, chopping wood - makes great FREE exercise. In fact, anything that raises your pulse rate and causes you to lightly sweat counts as exercise. 
  • Check out your local parks. Local parks often have walking paths, tennis courts, basketball courts, obstacle courses (sometimes called fitness courses), and other opportunities for FREE exercise. 
  • Calisthenics are FREE. Stretching exercises and calisthenics are FREE. Jumping jacks, sit-ups, toe-touches, leg squats,  push-ups, etc., require no special equipment and cost nothing. 
  • Stop smoking. Yes, this is hard. But it can be done for FREE and it will even save you hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dollars a year. 
Use your library card. Libraries are a great source of FREE entertainment and FREE information. You can check out a wide range of books gardening, country skills, health & first aid, home improvement & DIY, fishing, hunting, nature field guides, edible wild plants, wilderness survival, personal finance, and so forth. Entertainemnt, too, can be had for FREE at your local library, and not just books to read. Many libraries today have DVDs, board games, puzzles, and other types of entertainment that you can check out for FREE, as well as story times for kids and lecture series for adults.

Improve your finances. This will take some time and hard work, but it can be done. Many of the tips I give in my article Prepping 101: Finances - Get Back to Basics don't cost anything to do, and will help improve your finances greatly over time. Get on a budget or make out a spending plan. Avoid impulse purchases by using a shopping list and sticking to it. Cancel any unnecessary newspaper or magazine subscriptions. Use coupons, compare prices, and shop sales. Shop around to see if you can save money on your home or auto insurance, cell phone plans, etc. Consider cutting back on your cable or satellite TV subscriptions. Avoid overdraft or late payment fees by keeping close track of your spending and bills. Have a yard sale to raise some extra cash and declutter your house at the same time. 

Work on your relationship with God. I believe in the One True God, and that He can and does answer prayer. Perhaps non-religious folks will try dismiss that aspect of faith, but there are aspects you cannot dismiss. My faith, my relationship with God, provides me with great comfort, hope, peace, and joy. It relieves my anxiety and fear. Its help me stay calm and focused by providing me with inner strength, clearly defining my priorities, and providing an ethical framework for my decision making. All these are extremely useful benefits during times times of high stress, confusion, and turmoil. Even the most non-religious among us must recognize the importance of a good mental attitude to surviving difficult times. I suggest praying and reading the Bible daily. You may be interested in my weekly Patriots' Prayers series, posted on my website every Sunday, which includes both prayers for America and suggestions for daily Bible reading. 

Store some extra water. Again, tap water works just fine. You may already have some water jugs & containers with your camping or picnic gear. Use them for your emergency water storage. If you don't, there are other FREE options such as using 2-liter soda bottles (ask friends to save you some if you don't drink soda). Glass wine bottles also work. I buy one or two 3-liter bottles of table wine every month anyway, so I've been saving the empty bottles (they have screw-on tops) and using them to store water. (If you do buy water storage containers, please avoid the Ozark Trail 6-gal water jugs, which are defective - see my article Prepper Alert! Defective Product Design).

Putting together a survival or bug-out bag? Don't let a lack of money stop you. You don't need to buy a new backpack, which could easily run you $100+ for a high-quality heavy-duty bag with features like molle webbing. Those are great, but costly. Instead, make do with old backpacks, bookbags, duffel bags, or even tote bags. You likely already have some of these around your house. If not, ask your friends if they have any extras they are not using. As far as the gear you put inside, you don't need to buy brand new stuff to put inside. Make do with what you find around the house. For example, matches and lighters work just as well (actually, better) than celebrity-branded fire starters. VikingPreparedness (Pastor Joe Fox) has a YouTube video on making a quick, no-cost survival bag out of stuff found around the house.

Have a discussion. Having a discussion and making plans with your spouse, kids, friends and relatives costs nothing. You need to make some decisions and plans before the SHTF, and make sure everyone involved is on the same page in knowing what to do. I suggest you start by reading my short article Disaster Planning: Understanding Potential Disasters. Then, consider your particular situation and circumstances carefully. What are the potential disasters that may occur in your area? What disasters may require you to leave your home (bug-out) in a hurry? Where would you go? Do you know how to get there without using gps or google maps? What if the main route to your bug-out location is blocked for some reason? What happens if the disaster occurs when the family is separated (kids at school, parents at work, etc)? Do your kids know what to do? What communications plans do you have in place? What if the disaster requires you to "bug-in" for several days or even several weeks? Do you have enough food, water, and other supplies on-hand? What special circumstances does your family face (very young children, elderly members, disabilities, medical issues such as diabetes)? What plans do you need to make to meet those special needs? Think through and discuss these and other questions. Make written plans. Make lists of what you need to do or buy to put those plans into action. 

Exploit FREE information from the web. If you are reading this, you're on the Internet anyway. There are a lot of great websites and YouTube channels full of useful information for you to read or watch. This website is full of prepping & survival information. Other websites and You Tube channels I like include:
There are, of course, lots of other great websites and You Tube channels. The above list is just a few of my favorites.