Saturday, December 29, 2018

Soft Skills Preppers Need to Develop

Soft skills are general skills that are often seen as part of our personality, and as such are typically self-learned without realizing it while we are growing up. Examples include listening skills and getting along with others. Hard skills, on the other hand, are technical skills that are intentionally taught to us by others, usually in the classroom or on-the-job. An example would be computer skills.

In prepper and survivalist circles, most talk centers around the hard skills we need: first aid, water purification, bushcraft skills, shooting & self-defense skills and so forth. But soft skills can also be very important, and fortunately they can be developed if we realize the need.

Communication and Listening Skills

More than just the ability to talk, good communications skills include both active listening and the ability to explain ideas to others in a way they can understand.

Social Skills / Networking 

A huge complaint I often hear in the prepper community is the difficulty in finding or forming community. Networking and social skills are about finding, meeting, and getting along with others. (Related Article: Why Preppers Have a Hard Time Building Community)


Are you a team player, or a lone wolf? Do you follow the rules, or do you insist on doing things your way and only your way? Is cooperation and compromise in your vocabulary, or do you see them strictly as "dirty words?" Working together with others to achieve goals, such as security and survival, is important.

Leadership Skills

Leadership is very different from just being the boss.  And it has nothing to do with forcing others to do what you tell them to do. (Related article: There's a Major Difference Between Being a Leader and Just a Boss)

Creativity / Creative Thinking

Creative thinking is especially valuable during the chaos and confusion of a disaster or crisis. Disasters are unpredictable in both their nature and their consequences. The ability to think outside the box and to come up with solutions for unexpected problems could easily be the difference between life and death.

Logic / Critical Thinking 

Disasters cause confusion and panic that can lead to purely emotional responses, which are usually not the best responses. The ability to remain calm, think clearly, and use reason in responding to the disaster is critical. (Related article: How To Not Panic In An Emergency)

Organization / Time Management

There's so much to do in terms of planning and logistics that it can be easy to get overwhelmed and let things "fall through the cracks." The ability to manage your time and to be organized is a highly underrated skill. (Personal note: This is one of the soft skills I most need to work on myself.)


Adaptability, the ability to recognize, accept and deal with change in a positive way, doesn't come easy for most of us, but fortunately it is a skill that can be learned. (Related article: Adaptability - The Key to Urban Survival)

Responsibility / Work Ethic

Taking responsibility for your own life and having a strong work ethic are closely related. The single most important thing you can do to survive any future chaos is to start taking responsibility for your own life now. Having a strong work ethic is a major key to success in life in any situation, not just in survival situations.

Learning and developing these soft skills can be done. Start by realizing the importance of these skills, then make an honest assessment about your own skill level for each of these categories. Decide which skills you need to develop and start researching those skills. There are lots of articles and videos about these skills on the Internet, and entire books have been written on each. You might even be able to find courses on soft skills being taught at your local community college. Most importantly, soft skills are best learned the same way hard skills are - through practice.

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Saturday, December 1, 2018

There's a Major Difference Between Being a Leader and Just a Boss

This article is a response of sorts to several articles I've read recently on leadership and survival. My concern is that those particular authors don't seem to understand the important difference between being a leader and being a boss. What they describe isn't actual leadership, but rather ways of establishing themselves as the boss of their survival group or post-SHTF community. 

First, let me say this: If you want to be your group's or community's leader, you should be a leader now. Not just in your eyes, but also in the eyes of those you lead. You will not magically turn into a leader once SHTF happens, no matter how you plan to exert your dominance. If folks don't already see you as a leader, you have a lot of work to do before you actually become one. The good news is that leadership skills can be developed. Start by understanding the difference between being a leader and just a boss. 

A leader and a boss have the same starting point. They both have a purpose, goal, or mission that they want to accomplish. They both set about accomplishing their mission by utilizing others. That is where the differences start.
A boss drives others by depending on his position (authority) to make them obey his orders. This is often accomplished through fear and intimidation. It is Do as I say or face repercussions. At work, the repercussion might be public chastisement, a bad evaluation, the withholding of a pay raise or promotion, or even being fired.. In a survival situation, the repercussions may range from public criticism  to being thrown out of the group. Worse are those who seem to want to maintain their "leadership" by showing favoritism to "good" followers and disfavor to "bad" followers. Establishing your dominance by withholding food & supplies from "bad" followers while doling out favors to your preferred followers will keep people in line. Sure...  More likely, it will cause resentment and an eventual uprising against your tyranny.  

By contrast, a real leader depends on the goodwill he generates in others to get them to join him in his mission.  He develops this goodwill by inspiring others with his example and generating enthusiasm in them for his vision. People follow a leader not out of fear of the consequences, but rather because of their respect for him and their belief in his vision. Rather than punishing "bad" followers, he works with others to develop them and to find the best way to use each individual. Even in large organizations like a multinational corporation or an army, the top leader does this to the next rung of leadership under him, who in turn develop the next rung of leaders, who in turn develop... and so on until even those at the very bottom are being developed and utilized according to their individual abilities. 

I once worked for a man who was a truly great  leader. He reluctantly had to fire someone not just because of their incompetence, but actual criminal activity on the job. It was how he handled the firing that demonstrated true leadership. The firing was a last resort after trying hard to help this individual. The day after he fired the person, he called the rest of the staff together and apologized to us for having to do so.  He accounted for it as his failure - first for hiring the wrong person, then for being unable to successfully develop him. He also took the opportunity to express his vision for the company, using words like "we" and "us" much more than words like "I" and "me."

A boss would never have apologized or taken the blame upon himself. Instead, most bosses would have used the fired worker as an example to the rest staff as to what could happen to "problem" employees. It is the Do as I say or face repercussions method of establishing their authority and dominance

In early 2017, I wrote a well-received article entitled How To Be a Survival Group Leader. If you are interested in this topic, please read (or reread) it. It goes into a lot of detail on how to be a good leader, as opposed to just a boss.

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Friday, November 30, 2018

Book Review: Foods That Harm, Foods That Heal
Foods That Harm, Foods That Heal, is a popular health advice book from the editors of Reader's Digest, that is now in its Third Edition (released in April 2018). I have all three editions, which is an indicator of how much I like this book.  This book takes the approach of connecting the foods we eat to the ailments that they cause/worsen or help heal. This food-health connection is extremely important, and is a natural way to deal with our health issues. 

The book is set up like an encyclopedia, with alphabetical entries for various foods, ailments, and conditions. The third edition has 170+ foods entries, 100+ ailments, 50+ healthy recipes (the first edition lacks these recipes), and a number of special features covering topics like GMOs, pesticides, high-fructose corn syrup, and food & drug interactions, among others. 

Each food entry starts with a summary of how that particular food may cause harm, and how it may heal. For example, the entry for grapefruits list possible harms as allergies, canker-sores, and drug interactions, and with healing benefits to high cholesterol, cancer, inflammation, and for weight control.  The remainder of the article fills in the details. It also gives tips for eating, buying, and storing the foods.

The enteries for ailments follows a similar format. For example, under Eye Problems, the summary list foods that harm as those with high saturated fats, and foods that heal as carrots, corn, leafy greens, and fish. The rest of the article then fills in the details. Ailment entries close with a section called Beyond the Diet. In the Case of eye problems, this section mentions shading your eyes from the sun, maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, not smoking, and controlling your blood pressure as important steps to take to protect/heal your eyes.

Our healthcare system will only continue to get more expensive, and government intervention will likely lead to problems such as rationing and doctor shortages. Taking care of our health so that we minimize our need for professional medical care is the best solution to an expensive and increasingly dysfunctional system. This book will help you accomplish that goal. 

Foods That Harm, Foods That Heal is available on Amazon for about $14. It is well worth that price, in my opinion.

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Friday, November 23, 2018

Urban Survival: Twenty-Two Practical Tips

Many people live in cities, obviously. This is a choice for some, a necessity for others. Regardless of why you are in the city, here are some tips to help you survive whatever the future may being.

1) Live as near to where you work as possible. There are many advantages to living near your workplace - you can save time, gas money, and wear & tear on your car. In an emergency, you can "get home" quicker and more safely. You might even get a discount on your auto insurance, saving money you can spend on your preps, paying off debt, or building an emergency fund. Walking distance from work is ideal. Or only minutes via car or public transport.

2) Practice OPSEC regarding your preparations. You don't want a bunch of neighbors and co-workers showing up at you apartment demanding food in a crisis because they know you are a prepper. I've written a three part series on OPSEC (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) you might want to read.

3) Know your way around your city, particularly the areas in which you live, work, shop, worship, and go to school. Also, know where the bad neighborhoods and high crime areas of your city are, and how to avoid them.

4) Know several escape routes from your city should bugging-out ever become necessary or even mandatory. Have paper copies of directions and maps, in case GPS & Google Maps are down when you need them. If you are bugging-out on foot, abandoned train tracks may be your best option. Most cities have many of these, and some have already been turned into greenways and walking/jogging trails. Learn these now. Acquire or make maps, especially of the ones leading out of town.

5) Maintain a vehicle in very good condition, should you ever need to bug-out. Keep the gas tank topped off, and if possible to safely do so, keep at least one 5-gallon can of gas on hand for emergencies (rotate it on a regular basis). Even if you can't store the gas safely, keep an empty can on hand just-in-case. Make sure you have an emergency kit in your vehicle, including items such as some food and water, first aid kit, flashlight, extra batteries, extra oil, and jumper cables or battery starter. For winter, include extra gloves and head/neck coverings. A warm blanket is also a good idea, as is a power bar for your phone.

6) Know how to be a "Gray Man." The gray man knows how to fit in with his city, especially among his neighbors and co-workers. He doesn't stand out as anything particularly special or noticeable. He and his house, vehicle, and family blend in with their community. They look and act like they belong, and don't draw unnecessary or unwanted attention. 

7) Know how to not look like a victim. This is somewhat similar to being the gray man, but not exactly. Don't make yourself a target by wearing expensive, flashy clothes & accessories, or driving an expensive car.  Don't make yourself a target by appearing easy prey - wear practical clothes and shoes, pay attention to your surroundings, and walk confidently, head up.  Don't bury yourself in your smart phone or IPod. Practice situational awareness.
I use Aqua-Tainers.
8) Stockpile water. Water takes up a lot of space, but try to keep at least one weeks' worth on hand at all times. Two weeks is even better. At the first sign of trouble - a blackout, riots, a major storm or whatever - start hoarding water any way you can. Fill up your sinks, tubs, pots, pitchers, bottles, etc.

9) Have a way to filter/treat water.  Tap water may still be available, but not safe. You may also need find other sources of water, and will want to filter/treat that water, too. Rain water, and local streams and ponds, may also be source for water after your supplies run out. Another source is water sitting in hot water heaters (learn how to access that water now, before you need it). A sillcock key, also known as a water key, may allow you to access water spigots on commercial buildings, and at parks and golf courses.

10) Avoid trouble, especially after the trouble starts. What I mean by this is don't go looking for trouble. Don't join in the riots or looting. Don't even go watch out of curiosity. Don't "cowboy up" and start patrolling the streets during a riot (you'll be outnumbered and out gunned). If at all possible, avoid entirely the areas experiencing trouble. Hide, keep quiet, and stay invisible. Be prepared to use self-defense, but remember self-defense is a last resort. Avoiding the trouble in the first place is always you safest option.

11) Take commonsense precautions to secure your home and vehicle. Find ways to harden your home and vehicle. Keep doors
Wedge Door Alarm
and windows locked. Make use of steering wheel bars and door alarms. Have working smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. Install a steel security door. Consider a security system or a doorbell with camera and monitor. Consider owning a handgun or home defense shotgun (legally and safely, of course, and get well-trained!). The Shooter's Bible Guide to Home Defense may provide more information.      

12) You can grow food in the city. In fact, I've written an article on that you should read:  Urban Survival: Apartment & City Gardening.

13) Keep some cash around the house. Hide it well, and don't tell anyone except your spouse about it. ATMs may be down and banks closed during an emergency. Some junk silver may also be good to hide at home. If you ever have to bug-out, don't forget these stashes!

14) Stockpile as much food, water, and other supplies as possible.  Need room to put all those supplies? Get creative. Raise
Water Bricks
your bed on blocks to get extra storage room under it. Create overhead storage areas. Use water bricks to store water, dry foods (beans, rice, pasta, dog food), or even small supplies (batteries, first aid supplies, ammo, etc.). They are made to stack easily, and can even be turned into tables, nightstands, and other pieces of furniture (thereby serving a dual purpose).  Another possibility is to rent a nearby storage unit.

15) Be smart when out in public. Pay attention to your surroundings. Be wary of people who look out-of-place, are loitering, seem to be paying close attention to you, or who act nervous. Shop in groups. Let people know where you are going and when to expect you back. Keep your phone fully charged. Use well-light and highly visible parking spaces. Before getting out of a car or walking out of a building, look out a window first to identify possible dangers. Don't get so involved with your smart phone or IPod that you ignore your surroundings. Always be alert.

16) Yip-yip dogs are great for city dwellers. Yip-yip dogs are the small breeds of dogs that tend to be very nervous and bark (yip) quite readily. These make great early warning systems for people trying to break in your home, or messing around your property or vehicles.

17) Bug-out bags and get home bags are a must for city dwellers.
You never know when an emergency will rise, and you probably won't have time to pack. A bug-out bag already packed and ready to go may be the only thing you have time to grab on your way out of the city. It should be designed for three-days use at a minimum, but longer is better. A get home bag is one you can keep in your vehicle to help you get home in an emergency should you have to go on foot, and should contain things such as a flashlight or headlamp, extra batteries, bottled water, and practical walking shoes, especially you you normally wear dress shoes or heels at work.

18) Sanitation & hygiene are especially important considerations for city dwellers. High population density means cities are breeding grounds for all sorts of disease and pestilence. This situation will only be worse during and after a SHTF situation as the city's infrastructure breaks down (sewer system problems, no trash pick-up, lack of running water, and so forth). Plan on dealing with sanitation and hygiene, and stock up on supplies such as large trash bags, cleaning solutions, soap, detergent, bleach, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, and even disposable earloop face masks. Have a way to wash clothes and bed sheets, such as a washing wand, even if the power is off. Also, consider pest control for after SHTF (rat poison, roach motels, mouse and rat traps, etc.). 

19) Have a communications plan, and designate a contact outside the city. See my article Do you have a Family Communications Plan? for more details. 

20) Take a good non-lethal.self-defense course. A good self-defense course won't just cover self-defense, but also give info on avoiding dangerous situations. These 

21) If you can carry a gun legally, do so. Know and obey the laws, get all the proper licenses and permits, get well-trained, and practice gun safety, of course. But carry if you can.

22) Have plenty of batteries, and go solar. The power grid may go down completely, or it just may be weak, unreliable, and inconsistent. Be prepared to power your gadgets (phones, radios, flashlights, headlamps) with batteries and/or solar power. 


Kaito KA500 Emergency Radio. This one has is all: AM/FM/SW/NOAA (weather alert) bands; powered five ways (electrical cord, USB port, AA batteries, solar, and hand-crank); plus flashlight, reading lamp, and cellphone charger.


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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

3 Steps to Take Now Before the Next Recession

Things seem to be working  well with the economy right now. Unemployment is at record lows.  Consumer and business confidence is at record highs. And wages are rising. The economic times are good.

But, there are some blips on the screen.  Although wages are rising more than in recent decades, they are not rising as much as we would like or expect given the current state of the economy. Government spending is still at insane levels, with the national debt continuing to expand. The middle class tax cuts still have not been made permanent. The stock market is very volatile, with large swings spooking ordinary (and professorial) investors. And the overall state of both international and domestic events is creating a lot of uncertainty, which makes companies, big and small, less likely to make major investments in property, plants, and equipment. 

Regardless of when it happens, one thing is for sure: There will be another recession or economic crisis at some point. Maybe it happens in a couple of months or maybe it happens a few years from now.  But it will happen. Here are three things you can do NOW to prepare for Next Great Recession.

1) Reduce Your Consumption of Everything - Adopt a much simpler lifestyle. Live well within your means. Be a Saver, not a Consumer. If you had to, could you survive on half your current income? You may have to one day, so start living that way now. This will take some will power and a willingness to put aside the need for instant gratification. But it can pay great dividends. Use the money you don't spend now to prepare for the future, such as building an emergency fund, paying off debt, paying off your mortgage, finally buying and starting that homestead you've always wanted, stocking up on food and other supplies, or maybe even buying some silver or gold.

2) Get Out of Debt and Stay Out - Use the savings generated by reducing your consumption of everything to pay off your car loans, credit cards, student loans, payday loans and other consumer debt. If at all possible, pay off your mortgage or at the very least refinance into a fixed rate.
Being debt free will give you lots of breathing room and flexibility in dealing with future economic downturns. 

"The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender." -- Proverbs 22:7 (ESV)
3) Secure Your Current Assets - There are a number of ways you can secure your current assets. Make sure the banks and insurance companies you use are sound (there are rating services you can use, but most importantly ask questions and pay attention to the news). Put a portion of your savings into silver, gold and/or other hard assets. Pay off your mortgage if at all possible, or at least refinance into a fixed rate. Pay off your vehicles, and anything else that you are making payments on that you don't want to loose. Guard against identity theft. Pay your taxes on time and in full (the government has extraordinary powers to seize your savings, paycheck, investments, and property to collect back taxes).

The Bottom Line: The economy works in cycles. The best time to prepare for the bad economic times that will come is during the good economic times. Start today, and secure a good future for yourself and your family. 

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

How To Not Panic In An Emergency

Probably the single most important survival skill is the ability to not panic, to stay calm in the face of danger, adversity, and intense stress. No amount of other skills, gear, supplies, cash, gold, silver, or guns & ammo will save us if we panic when we face a true SHTF event. Panic, and all our preparations are for naught.

So, the most important preparedness question we can ask ourselves becomes How can I remain calm and regain control when under extreme pressure? Although we can never be certain what our reaction to extreme pressure will be until we face it, there are things we can do, and practice, to increase our odds of remaining calm and in control.

A Navy Seal Technique: Box Breathing

You should practice Box Breathing often under normal conditions so you'll be able to remember the technique under pressure, which won't be as easy as you may think. Instructions for Box Breathing:
  • Inhale deeply for 4 seconds
  • Hold your breath (lungs full) for 4 seconds
  • Exhale for 4 seconds
  • Hold your breath (lungs empty) for 4 seconds
  • Repeat as needed
More than just a psychological trick, there is actual medical science behind this technique. By using it, you are increasing the nitric oxide levels in your blood, increasing your blood flow, and reducing your blood pressure. These are physical changes that will help you regain or remain in control of your emotions.
Know, Practice, Memorize What To Do In a Crisis

Not knowing what to do, or not remembering what to do, in a crisis can be a cause of panic for many people. Learn now, practice now, and memorize now, what to do in a crisis, and what your priorities should be. I am emphasizing the word now because this is a skill you can learn, but you must learn it before a crisis hits. Its not a skill you can learn "on the fly" during a crisis. 

Two things that are important to learn are the STOP Plan and a set of ordered priorities for any emergency. I've written about both of these in an earlier article, DISASTER!! Tips & priorities for dealing with emergencies. Please read that article for more details, but for now, here are the basics:

The STOP plan (Stop. Think. Observe. Plan.) has been around the emergency preparedness field for a couple of decades now. It is an effective and easy-to-remember method for getting people to think through any emergency situation they are facing, rather than just reacting emotionally. 
>>>Stop. Don't panic. Stay calm. This is a good time to use the Box Breathing method.

>>>Think. Take a moment think about what is happening. You need to make rational decisions, and not react emotionally.

>>>Observe. Look around. What is your situation? What are the threats you face? What resources do you have available to deal with those threats? 

>>>Plan. Decide how you are going to deal with the crisis. Make a plan, share your plan with others with you, and stick to the plan, making changes only in relation to changing circumstances.

Depending on the circumstances, you may have only seconds to do the above. Or you may have hours, days, or even longer. Do the best you can do in the time you have. Thinking through possible scenarios ahead of time helps.   

Knowing the order of priorities in any emergency allows you to focus one step at a time on what is really important, rather than just being overwhelmed by everything at once. Here is a suggested order of priorities:

1) Safety. Quickly remove yourself and others out of the path of immediate danger.

2) Address serious medical concerns. Here is the basic order of concern for most injuries and conditions:
  1. Make sure the person can breathe.
  2. Stop any major bleeding.
  3. Immobilize the neck/back if there is an injury to those regions.
  4. Treat shock, hypothermia, hyperthermia, and/or heart attack. 
  5. Treat dehydration.
  6. Treat broken bones (immobilize/splint).
  7. Treat lesser injuries.
3) Shelter from the elements. This may mean a formal shelter, a tent or other temporary shelter, or just warm clothes, rain gear, and/or a blanket.

4) Water. Clean water is a must in any situation, emergency or not.

5) Food. Last on the list, you can go longer without food than anything else on this list. 

God Helps

A number of people will roll their eyes at this bit of advice. Yet, I know this: My own relationship with God gives me great peace, comfort, and courage, especially in difficult times, as well as a sense of purpose, focus, and an understanding of what my priorities should be. I've adopted Joshua 1:9, "Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go," as my personal motto. And, I really do believe God answers prayers and can work miracles. 

I encourage everyone to "get right with God." This won't guarantee you'll never panic, but you'll be surprised how much it does help you face the obstacles and dangers of life. Pray and read the Bible daily. Commit to live God's way, rather than by the world's standards. Learn and obey His commandments and teachings. Keep the Sabbath and join with others in worship on a regular basis. 

Not Sure About God? Please talk to a Bible-believing pastor or priest about your doubts.

The Bottom Line

This article has given you a set of four very important tools to help you deal with any emergency or crisis without panicking.Please read the two other articles linked in this article for even more details, and practice, practice, practice...


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Friday, November 9, 2018

A Big Mistake Some Preppers Make

Here is a big mistake that some preppers make:  Having an unbalanced approach to preparedness.   

By "unbalanced approach" I mean they put most, if not all, their time, effort & money into one or two (fun) aspects of prepping, while ignoring all the rest.  Some may buy gold and silver; others guns and ammo. Still others may get way into gardening. Which is fine. The mistake they have in common, though, is ignoring all the other (less fun) aspects of prepping to focus exclusively on their preferred prep.Yet preparedness requires attention to a wide variety of potential problems and their solutions, not just the fun ones.

Here is a great example of what I mean: Several years ago when the Doomsday Prepper series was all the rage, a local TV news program did a regular segment featuring local preppers.  One of the "preppers" featured was an somewhat older man (probably early 60s) who showed off his gun collection with great pride. I don't remember the exact number, but it was something like 89 firearms of all types. When they interviewed his wife, she complained that he simply wasn't interested in other aspects of prepping like food and water storage, and they still hadn't gotten those basics squared away yet. 

The gentleman simply wasn't a prepper or survivalist. He was a gun collector. Nothing wrong with that, but simply having a lot of guns doesn't make you prepared, if that is all you are doing.  Being a "prepper" was simply the excuse he gave his wife for buying all those guns.  

I think some folks make be making a similar mistake with gold and silver. The radio and TV ads make it seem simple: buy some gold and silver, then rest comfortably in the knowledge that you are prepared for any economic meltdown or collapse of the dollar. 

Precious metals certainly may have a place in any preparedness plan, but by themselves gold and silver are not a preparedness plan. Once doomsday happens, you are going to need more than just some, or even a lot of, gold and silver to survive.

The solution is simple: Don't concentrate all your efforts into only one or two categories of prepping because they are more fun than other preps.  You need to also do the less fun stuff of getting your finances in order, paying off debt, learning first aid & CPR, learning home repair courses, acquiring hand tools and gardening equipment, learning how to garden, getting you communication plans squared away,  prepping your home security, and accumulating at least a year's worth of food, water, medicine and other supplies, among many other things. 

Here are a couple of articles of mine you may also be interested in:

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Monday, November 5, 2018

What Churches Can Do To Prepare For Bad Times

Should churches prepare for bad times?

I have no doubt the answer is Yes! The Bible makes it clear that preparedness (both physical and spiritual) is not only prudent, but in fact is commanded by God. If you doubt this fact, please read my article Are preppers and survivalists are failing to trust God? which contains many, many quotes from the Bible. 

Besides. believers are a family. We often call each other "brothers and sisters" even when we are not related by blood or marriage. Jesus has taught us to love one another, to help one another. This is what I mean when I suggest churches get involved in prepping - that we help each other as we struggle to survive tough times that may lie ahead.
What can churches so to prepare for bad times ahead?

1) Admit the need for emergency preparedness.  Yes, at some point Jesus will return and establish His Kingdom and we will all be safe. But until, we will face persecution, danger, and difficult times. In the last few years, we've seen mass shootings at several churches and synagogues. We've seen Christians in America fired from their jobs, harassed, bullied, sued, and even jailed, for standing up for their beliefs. In October, a church in Seattle was fire-bombed while service was in progress. Earlier this year, an Orthodox priest in Charlotte, NC was brutally attached in the church's parking lot early on a Sunday morning. The tactics of bullying, intimidation, and violence being employed by the left against anyone supporting traditional values and beliefs are only growing in intensity. 

2) You don't have to call it "prepping" or "survivalism." Those terms have negative connotations for some people, and may meet with automatic resistance. "Emergency preparedness" or "disaster preparedness" are legitimate names for what I'm suggesting, and may be more acceptable to your fellow church members. Of course, you know your church better than I, so call it whatever you feel is appropriate. 

3) Church security is the place to start.  We want our churches to be open and welcoming to the larger community, but recent events have shown we do need to think about security also. Security cameras covering the entrances and parking lot are a good idea. A multi-camera CCTV system with DVR recorder can be had for under $200 (here's one such system on Amazon). Most churches cannot afford paid security, but perhaps they have police officers or military veterans in the congregation who can act as armed security during services. Really, anyone in the congregation with the proper permits and training can be volunteer security.  

4) Create a church communications plan. Many churches have phone trees (sometimes called prayer trees or prayer chains), in which prayer requests and other information can be spread quickly to all church members. Basically, person A calls two predetermined people, who each in turn call two predetermined people. Those four people each call two people, and so forth until the entire church is notified.  if your church doesn't already have one of these, set one up. It can be used to pass on not just prayer requests, but all sorts of news and information.

5) Start a church community garden. If your church has, or can get access to, some open land, then start a community gardening program. There are many ways this can be done, from one massive garden that everyone works and shares its harvest, to individuals & families being provided smaller plots to garden as they see fit. The garden could be limited to church members only, or it could be opened up a larger community. The community gardening program would also provide encouragement and education to folks wanting to garden in their own yards.

6) Hold classes in food storage and canning. Churches could encourage and educate their members to store food and water. Chances are your church has a number of older members who would love to pass on their knowledge of canning and other food preservation techniques. If not, check your your local agricultural extension office.

7) Hold classes in first aid and CPR. Your church could offer its members courses in first aid and CPR. You many have members already qualified to teach those courses. If not, contact your local fire department or EMS. Many will be happy to work with your church to provide first aid training.

8) Hold classes in budgeting and family finance. Encourage and educate church members on personal finances, budgeting, and becoming debt-free. There are a number of ministries which educate and encourage folks in their personal finances, and a lot of free and low-cost programs and bible studies available. Check out Dave Ramsey's website and radio program. Also, Money Matters with Ken Moraif. And Crown Financial. There may be others.

9) Hold other preparedness classes. Churches could provide occasional or on-going classes in preparedness. How to do this and what subjects to cover are limited only by your imagination. Your church members could also work together to buy supplies in bulk, combining your individual purchases to get the best prices possible.

10) Sponsor scout-like youth groups - Your church could host various types of scouting and scouting-like groups, including Heritage Girls and Trail Life USA. Both are great alternatives to the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, which have both now gone all-in on political correctness. Your church can also start its own scout-like group using scouting handbooks (anyone can buy them), but not being connected to the national groups. These programs are a great way to teach young people the values and skills that will help them no matter what life throws their way.

11) Store food and other supplies - A church I attended many years ago had a small room where they stored old coats & jackets, blankets, canned and dried food, baby supplies, and other similar things. These were then given to the homeless or other people in need that would show up at the church from time-to-time asking for help. Your church could do something similar - buying and storing supplies that could be distributed to either church members and/or needy folks in an emergency.

12) Emphasize prayer and discipleship. Our country is in need of prayer. Although we were founded as a nation based on Christian principles, we are no longer a Christian nation. Chances are most of our neighbors are unchurched, many are not believers, and some have never truly heard the Gospel message. It used to be that America took the Gospel to places that had never heard it, such as Africa and Asia. But now, America itself has become a field in need for missionary work. The Great Commission (see Matthew 28:19,20) doesn't just apply to professional missionaries in the far-corners of the globe. It applies to all of us in dealing with our friends and neighbors.

What churches can do to help their members and communities prepare is in no way limited by this short list of twelve things. There are many, many other possibilities, and most also make terrific opportunities to reach out to the unchurched in our communities.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Four Strategies for Surviving a Riot

Regardless of what happens in the election, we are in for a period of even greater civil unrest and political turmoil. Things will get much worse before they get better. Get ready for a chaotic and dangerous few years.

I. Avoid the Riot
The best strategy, of course, is to avoid the riot entirely. If possible, don't live, shop, work, or go to school in riot-likely areas.  Riot-likely areas include Washington, DC, and other large cities and urban areas, especially in inner city areas and near "bad" neighborhoods, or near university and college campuses. 

If you must live or work in these areas, pay attention to current events to know when trouble is brewing. Riots actually are fairly predictable. Pay attention to local news for potential triggers such as controversial police shootings or "racial incidents" that suddenly get a lot of media attention. 

Organized political violence is also on the rise, often attached to planned events - such as political rallies, marches, international conferences, etc. These events are magnets for anarchists, social justice warriors, eco-protestors, ANTIFA, BLM. and other groups looking to cause trouble to make political points, so avoid being in the area during such events. This should be easy to do since these events are announced months ahead of time.

II. Move Away from the Riot

There has been an incident (a police shooting, perhaps) and an angry mob is gathering near your location. It is time to get out of the area. Don't hang around hoping things will calm down. Don't hang around out of curiosity or stubbornness. Get out of the area as soon as possible. This brings up the value of knowing the area, having maps, and a reliable vehicle. 

You meed to know the areas immediately around and between your workplace, home, and schools. You need to know multiple routes out of each location. How do you get home from work (or school) if your main route is blocked for some reason? What if the bridge you have to cross is blocked? What if that major intersection you need to pass through is filled with brick-throwing rioters? Think through all the possible escape routes. Familiarize yourself with them now. By familiarize, I mean actually drive or walk those routes, not just note them on a map.

You need a reliable vehicle to get you out of the area, so make sure you keep up with your vehicles regular maintenance (see my article Preppers' Auto Maintenance Schedule). If you do use public transportation, make sure you know the bus/subway/train schedules for all nearby stops. Leave early enough to get out of the area before things get bad, since public transport may be suspended during the riot.

III. Hide/Shelter In-Place
The situation got out-of-hand more quickly than you anticipated. Or the riot zone greatly expanded to engulf the area you are in. Either way, you failed to achieve the two safest options. Now your best bet is to hide, shelter in-place, or otherwise become invisible to the rioting mob. 

If you live in an area that may be prone to riots (large cities and urban areas,  near "bad" neighborhoods, or near university and college campuses), you need to harden your home now and perhaps even create & supply a safe room that can be completely sealed off from the rest of your home. 

If you work in such an area, you need to maintain a survival kit at your workplace or in your car that will enable you to go several  days without returning home. It should include items such as food & water, a personal water filter, a basic first aid kit, extra of medications you take, flashlight and extra batteries, perhaps a poncho and blanket.Your workplace should have emergency items such as fire extinguishers, a more extensive first aid kit, and an emergency radio. Ask if it does, and where they are located.

Most riots are usually over quickly, often by the next morning, and authorities will begin to retake control. But sporadic rioting may go on for days. This illustrates the need to maintain enough food, water, and other supplies to ride out the danger without having to go out in search of those supplies. Everyone, even non-preppers, should maintain at least two weeks worth of food, water, and supplies in their home at all times. More is better.

While you are in the riot zone, do your best to remain well-hidden. Don't make yourself a target. Time for your best gray-man imitation. Get out of your business suit or fancy dress (keep a change of clothes & shoes at your workplace or in your car). Hide any expensive watches or jewelry. Stay away from windows and doorways. Keep lights off. Don't make noise.

IV.  Self-Defense

Self-defense is always a last resort. It means you have failed to avoid or defuse the situation (perhaps through no fault of your own). It means you may have to take a life. It definitely means your life is in grave danger. And in a riot situation, you will almost certainly be greatly outnumbered. Not a good situation to be in.

But, self-defense may become necessary.  It is why it is important to be armed and well-trained. Well-trained means more than just target practice - you need to take a good defensive shooting course (or several).  So, if it is legal to carry where you are, please seriously consider doing so. Know and obey the laws, get all the proper licenses and permits, get well-trained, and practice gun safety, of course. But carry if you can.

Final Thought:  Although riots often occur spontaneously in response to a particular event, we are seeing a sharp rise in organized violence, often funded through layers of shady organizations to hide the real organizers and their real (typically political) motivations. These organizers will only be emboldened or grow more desperate, depending on the November election's outcome, so expect this trend towards organized political violence to not only continue, but to grow. Stay safe.

You may also be interested in my article Preparing for Civil Unrest and Political Turmoil.
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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

"Beginner Books" for Preparedness

Maybe you're growing uneasy over the recent gyrations of the stock market and concerns over the ongoing trade war with China. Perhaps the sharp increase in civil unrest and political violence, bullying, and intimidation has you worried. Or it could be understandable alarm over the two illegal migrant caravans, including known MS-13 members and potential ISIS soldiers,  working their way towards our southern border. Whatever the reasons, you are thinking about preparing yourself and your family for whatever future chaos and dangers may come. Here are a few books (and one article) I recommend to get you started.

The following books are especially great for beginners and newbies to prepping, but are still useful to more seasoned preppers. They also make great gifts for family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers who may be growing concerned themselves and thinking of prepping.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong??? How To Go From Completely Clueless To Totally Prepared by Survivor Jane. Great introduction to preparedness without the technical jargon or doom-and-gloom that might put off many people. Written by a woman especially for women, but newbie men will benefit , too.  LEVEL:  Newbie - Best for those brand new to prepping or still unsure about it. Food Storage & Survival Handbook, by Peggy Layton, has detailed information and lists for everything from an emergency car kit, to a 72-hour emergency kit (aka "bug out" kit), to building stockpiles of food, water, medicine and other necessities. Included in the book is a section on ideas for apartment dwellers and others with little storage space. LEVEL:  Beginner to Intermediate. I consider this a CORE BOOK for most preppers.
Countdown to Preparedness: The Prepper's 52 Week Course to Total Disaster Readiness, by Jim Cobb. This is perfect for the folks looking for a step-by-step, week-by-week, guide to preparedness. Follow this plan and you will be better prepared than 98% of Americans in just a year. Want to prepare faster? Just double up the weeks and you'll be there in just six-months. LEVEL: Beginner.
How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times, by James Wesley, Rawles. Rawles is a well-known name within the survivalist community, and this book gives coverage of most topics within survivalism and prepping, not just food storage and bugging out. It is slightly more advanced then the other books on the list, but still accessible by those new to prepping. LEVEL:
Beginner to Intermediate.
ACEP First Aid Manual, 5th Edition - Everyone, prepper or not, should learn first aid. This first aid manual of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) is much more up-to-date (2014) than the American Red Cross manual, which hasn't been updated since 1992. LEVEL: All levels. I consider this a CORE BOOK for all preppers.
The Survival Medicine Handbook: THE essential guide for when medical help is NOT on the way, by Dr. Joe Alton and Nurse Amy Alton. This is the second medical book to buy after a good first aid handbook (see above). LEVEL: Intermediate. I consider this a CORE BOOK for most preppers.

There are, of course, lots of other good books for preppers and survivalists, but this is a good list for those just starting the journey.

ARTICLE: A quick, no frills, down & dirty guide to preparing for the End, by Tim Gamble (me). As the name indicates, this is a quick, no frills outline of the basics of prepping and survivalism. LEVEL: Beginner.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Do you have a Family Communications Plan?

Do you have a Family Communications Plan? More than just an address book or contact list with phone numbers. a communications plan let's everyone know how and when to get in touch with each other, and what to do if they cannot. After all,  a disaster is unlikely to happen at a convenient and predictable time when everyone is together. Also, phones and Internet my be down during, and even after, a disaster. The situation will be chaotic and confused. communications plan should not only be about two-way communications between family and group members, but is also about listening - gathering news and information about what is going on around you. (It is a good idea to review Situational Awareness and the OODA Loop when developing a communications plan.)
 Communications plans can be quite detailed and extensive, too detailed and extensive to completely cover in a simple article. My goal with this article is encourage folks to develop a communications plan if you don't already have one, and to cover the basics for those just getting started. A more advanced exploration of communications plans can be found in the book Personal Emergency Communications by Andrew Baze.

Do you have an up-to-date list of family, friends, and other contacts? People move, phone numbers change, and email changes even more often - that list you put together five years ago is unlikely to still be current. 

Who should be on your contact list? Everyone who you might need to contact at some point. A partial list:
  • Family (immediate and extended)
  • Friends
  • Neighbors
  • Group members
  • Church members
  • Employers
  • Your kid's school
  • Your mechanic
  • The Tow Service you use
  • Electricians, Plumbers, and other repair services
  • Your Water, Power, and Gas companies
  • Your bank and insurance companies
  • Local hospitals
  • Your Doctors, Dentists, Eye Doctors, Veterinarians, Pharmacy...
  • Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) and other emergency services

Keep a paper master list of all contact information in your home and in your bug-out bag (and maybe at your office or in a safe deposit box). Keep electronic copies of the complete master list on your computer, smart phone, IPad, USB Key and other electronics, too.  All family members should know where these master lists are. Individual family members should also have paper copies of contact information relevant to them. (Your eight year-old probably doesn't need your plumber's phone number, but probably should have Grandma's and Aunt Ida's phone numbers, as well as your cell phone and work numbers.)

Do your kids know how to call 911?  And when they should? When they do, do they know their full name, their parents' full names, and their address and home phone number? My Mother taught early elementary school for years, and says she was constantly surprised by the number of kids she had that didn't know this basic information.

Make sure your kids know what to do if they can't get in touch with you. After trying your home and cell phone numbers, maybe they should try to reach you at a work number? Or maybe try Grandma, then Aunt Ida? Or maybe a neighbor or even your pastor? It depends on your own situation. Think this through now, and make sure your kids know. Maybe give them a prioritized list of numbers to call - try 1 first, then 2, then 3, and so forth...

Should kids have cell phones? This is up to you. There are both positives and negatives to kids having cell phones.  It depends on your circumstances, concerns, and the maturity level of your kids. I personally see no reason for a young kid to have a smart phone, but a basic cell phone may be a good idea. This is especially true as they grow older and start to take part in various non-school and after school activities without you. Remember, you have a right and a duty to monitor their cell phone activities, and to place limits on the use of the cell phone. I know one parent who does not allow her kids to have their cell phones in their rooms at night. This is okay.

Set Up Phone Trees.  Many churches have these (sometimes called prayer trees), in which prayer requests and other information can be spread quickly to all church members. Basically, person A calls two predetermined people, who each in turn call two predetermined people. Those four people each call two people, and so forth until the entire church is notified. Phone trees can be set up not just for churches, but for survival groups, extended families, neighborhoods, businesses, and schools.  Each could have their own set of rules for when and why the phone tree is to be activated.

Do you have a plan for when the phones aren't working? This gets a bit tricky. Phone calls, text messages, and social media are easy ways to communicate. But what happens when the phones and Internet aren't working? Remember, on 9/11 the cell phone system was overwhelmed, and most calls didn't got through? (Note: Text messaging is less likely to be overwhelmed, and may be working even when voice calls aren't.) Perhaps two-way radios or even CB radios can help facilitate communications during grid-down situations. Figure this out and get the necessary equipment and knowledge for your family/group now, so you'll be ready when you need it. 

Messages may have to be delivered in person. Figure out how your family and group might do this, and when. Who will deliver messages and to whom? Having a code phrase might help verify the authenticity of the message. Make it something simple and silly, so that even kids can remember it ("purple elephants" or "unicorn hamburgers"). This way they can verify that the message is from you when a neighbor or weird cousin Eddie from out of state suddenly shows up claiming you sent them.  Written messages should also contain this code phrase. 

You may need to leave messages. Come up with protocols for this possibility and make sure everyone knows them. For example: The grid is down. You have to leave home unexpectedly for some reason. Leave a message in a predetermined place with the details of where you're going and when you might be back. That way if someone shows up looking for you, they'll know where to look for the note. Another example: You show up at Grandma's house. She's not home. Leave a note for her in a predetermined place (maybe taped to the back door?) in case she comes home before you find her. The code phrase could be written on the note to verify its authenticity.  

Listening and gathering information is vital during an emergency. An emergency radio is a vital piece of equipment. You can get weather reports, school and business closings, road closings, local news, national news, and other important information.  With emergency scanners, you can monitor police, fire, EMT, and other emergency and government bands. More advanced preppers might want to get into shortwave and ham radios.
Kaito KA500 Emergency Radio. This is an excellent one, in my opinion: AM/FM/SW/NOAA (weather alert) bands; powered five ways (electrical cord, USB port, AA batteries, solar, and hand-crank); plus flashlight, reading lamp, and cellphone charger. 

The Ultimate Survivalists Guide to Ham Radio is an article by Alpha Survivalist on their website. This is a very good introduction to ham radios, and I highly recommend reading it if you're interested incorporating ham radio into your communication plans.

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Saturday, October 20, 2018

Preparing for Civil Unrest and Political Turmoil

Regardless of the outcome of November's election, civil unrest and political turmoil in the US will only ratchet upwards.

If the Left loses, meaning that the GOP retains control of both the House and Senate, they will not accept the election results any more than they did when Trump won in 2016. In fact, they will only grow more desperate and turn even more to tactics of hate, bullying, intimidation, and violence. 

If the Dems win the House, expect multiple investigations and even impeachment proceedings against Trump & members of his administration, as well as against Justice Kavanaugh, which will be applauded by most of the media. In turn, this will gin up the anger and hate of the Left even more, and further embolden their Mob, which will see their intimidation tactics as working. Also, expect the Big Tech companies (Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram, Apple, etc.) to feel even freer to shut down Conservative (and even Libertarian) speech on their platforms.

Either way, expect more civil unrest and political turmoil in 2019 and beyond.  Things will not quiet down anytime soon and wiser heads will not prevail. We need to prepare for this inevitability.

What will make us targets?

Of Course, we will be targets of the Leftist Mob if we are exposed as Trump voters and supporters. But it goes beyond that. Even if you are not a Trump fan, but still hold on to traditional (non-Leftist) ideas and values, such as being pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-gun, pro-Israel, or pro-Capitalism, you will be a target. Express concern over open borders or Muslim terrorism, you will be a target. Don't fully accept man-made global warming, you will be a target. Believe in the Constitution as written by our founders, you will be a target.Want small government and low taxes, you will...  well, you get the idea.

Hide or Not?

The first step in our preparations is to decide whether or not to hide our traditional beliefs and values that will make us targets. In other words, to simply attempt to avoid the notice of the Leftist Mob by "flying low," essentially going Gray Man now.  This means not wearing MAGA hats & shirts, not having NRA or pro-life bumper stickers & window decals, and not talking politics at the water cooler (or anywhere in public). It means keeping quiet about our religious or political affiliations, and not posting personal opinions of any significance on Facebook or other social media. 

The benefit of this strategy is that we and our family will be much less likely to be threatened by the Leftist Mob. The downside is that we will have to deny major parts of who we are and what we believe, and give the Leftist Mob exactly what they want - our silence. 

I'm not going to tell you which you should do. I will definitely judge no one for either choice. It is a decision you will have to make for yourself and your family, and will depend on your own circumstances and concerns. 

Situational Awareness

Situational Awareness is essential in dealing with civil unrest and political turmoil. Much more than just being aware of your surroundings, though that is an important start, situational awareness means both knowing what to look for, and how to assess (make decisions about) your surroundings.

The end goal for situational awareness is correct action. The bridge from simply paying attention to taking correct action is the OODA-Loop. OODA Loop is an acronym for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act. The Loop aspect is that one should be constantly looping through OODA since situations and circumstances change constantly. 

See my article Prepper's Guide to Situational Awareness and the OODA Loop for a much more detailed description. My point here is that situational awareness is a skill that can, and must, be learned if we are to be prepared for civil unrest and political turmoil.

Where will the unrest and turmoil take place?

You could be confronted by the Leftist Mob anywhere. But, you will be much more likely to experience civil unrest anywhere the Left is known to congregate: large cities and urban centers, Washington, DC, and college campuses across the country. Also businesses that you know to be run by Leftists and/or frequented by them. Be aware of your own workplace.  Is your your boss a Leftist? What about Human Resources and Upper Management? Your co-workers? Be aware, and adjust accordingly.


Doxing is a tactic that the Left is increasingly using against their opponents. For those who don't know, doxing is the act of digging up personal information about someone and exposing that information publicly in hopes of opening up that person and their family to harassment and intimidation. Some folks have even lost their job due to being doxed. The doxer will expose the names of your spouse, children, grandchildren,  and employers, along with address and telephone numbers. They have even been known to reveal the name and address of their victim's church and even their kids' schools. Doxing is a vicious attempt at intimidation and bullying, with potentially sever and even fatal consequences. Protect your personal information.

You may be interested in my three-part article Operational Security (OPSEC).

Other Considerations

Communications will be especially important. Work out a communications plan with your family, friends, church, and survival groups. Have emergency radios and plenty of batteries. Make sure your cell phones are fully charged at ll times. Keep a spare charger in your car. Pay attention to the news, particularly your local news. 

Please know first aid, or learn it if you don't. Now is a good time to take a refresher course. Make sure you have first aid kits in your home, office, and vehicles.  

I normally don't talk guns out of OPSEC considerations, but I will say this: If it is legal to carry where you are, please seriously consider doing so. Know and obey the laws, get all the proper licenses and permits, get well-trained, and practice gun safety, of course. But carry if you can.

Kaito KA500 Emergency Radio. This one has is all: AM/FM/SW/NOAA (weather alert) bands; powered five ways (electrical cord, USB port, AA batteries, solar, and hand-crank); plus flashlight, reading lamp, and cellphone charger.


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