Preppers: The Less You Know the More You Need

Packed Mule

Skills You Need To Lighten the Load

Fear caused by lack of knowledge will cause some people to rush out and literally grab up things they likely do not need, or know how to use. If you were to gather everything that you thought you might need, or were told you needed in a survival situation, you would need two mules and a wagon to haul it all.

You have probably seen some of the advertisements for survival, or bug-out-bags and emergency kits and may have wondered how you would carry all of the items. Well most people would not be able to. Some may think they can, but carrying 50-70 pounds around the house or up and down, the sidewalk is different than carrying it for 10-12 hours a day over uneven terrain.

Some kits have tents, sleeping bags, portable stoves and the list goes on. Do you necessarily need a tent, no but you need shelter, do you need a sleeping bag, no but you need protection in cold weather. Of course, you need water but you can only realistically carry 2-3 days supply at a time in a backpack.

There is no question about what you need to survive, but the question is, has fear and lack of skills driven you to carry it all on your back. Facing your fears means gaining the knowledge and skills needed to survive, so you can lighten the load.

Practically anyone can survive if they have an endless supply of food and water and if it is always within reach. Anyone can stay warm with propane heaters to warm the tent, as you crawl into your sub-zero rated sleeping bag, but can you carry it all and if you cannot how do you survive.

You know or should know that you cannot always pack a tent, heaters, sleeping mats and sleeping bags along with food and water to sustain you for indefinite period, so you need skills to replace or find what you cannot carry.

Humans sailed around the world hundreds if not thousands of years ago. Their ships landed and they begin life in a new world with nothing more than tools, knowledge and certain skill sets. They likely had enough provisions to get them started but when the salted fish and dried apples ran out they had to have certain skill sets and knowledge to survive long-term.

Water weighs roughly 8.5lbs/3.8kg per gallon. The average person during the normal course of a day will use approximately 80 to 100 gallons of water (United States Geological Society, 2014).

Obviously, during a survival situation you will not use near the estimated daily usage per person, but you will likely use more than you had estimated. You cannot carry enough water for any extended period.

If you try to stockpile it at home, weight may become a factor unless you have adequate storage space. At 8.5 pounds per gallon 50 gallons of water weighs 425 pounds. How long will 50 gallons last you? If you live in an apartment, can you store several thousand pounds if you live on an upper floor? If your home is built with sub-floors how much weight, will the floor hold?

If you have the ideal situation, you can store unlimited amounts but rarely is any situation ideal. You need to be able to find a source, wherever you may be, and make it safe to drink. You need this skill to survive.

Skills you need are not specialized, in a rural environment you need to know how to dig a well or find natural sources that will not be compromised by others. In an urban environment, you will need to know where public sources such as reservoirs and public swimming pools or fountains are as well as private pools and hot tubs. Once collected you will need to know how to filter and purify.

In an urban area keep in mind, you will be competing with others for water sources, so moving quickly to gather water is essential and any source will be limited depending on the number of people collecting it. You may have to search outside the city for a water source.

Hunting, trapping and fishing skills will allow you to eat, as well as knowing how to forage for edible plants, nuts and berries.

Basic construction skills along with tools will be needed for you to make a shelter in any environment. In many cases, you will not be able to pack a tent around with you but you can certainly carry the tools and materials needed as long as you have the basic skills to use those tools.

The only way to gain the skills you need is to practice. Work into it slow in a controlled environment. Set goals, and start filling a knowledge pack instead of trying to fill a backpack with material things.

United States Geological Society. (2014, March 17). Retrieved 2014, from http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/qa-home-percapita.html

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Bugging Out: Can You Will You and Should You?

Bugging out

Bug-out, to withdraw rapidly from a position that is about to be overrun by hostile forces to another more defensible position. In most cases, hostile forces could mean any catastrophe. One major point is that to bug-out, you must know that you need to bug-out, this means you will have some type of warning, so paying attention is crucial. To consider bugging-out you have to be expecting something to happen. Those caught unaware will not be able to bug-out.

The tornado sirens are going off. You look out the window, and see a funnel cloud. Do you grab your bug-out-bag and head for the front door? No, you do not unless you live in a mobile home. If you had been paying attention, you would have known hours in advance, a storm was coming and that the conditions were right for a tornado outbreak. If it caught you by surprise then bugging-out is not an option.

If things like storms, catch you by surprise, it is not likely that you prepared for a disaster anyway. You should have headed for the local storm shelter hours ago or be nestled snuggly in your own tornado shelter underground, or be prepared to shelter in an interior room of your home.

What disaster would happen so fast that you could not prepare, by packing your car and evacuating ahead of the crisis. Hurricanes are predicted with a great deal of accuracy days in advance, giving you ample warning to prepare for staying or for evacuation. Setting out on foot during a hurricane carrying a 50-pound pack on your back is not an option.

You know when there is a wildfire headed your way, you have time to weigh your options. Leaving well ahead of time in your vehicle is the only sensible course. You cannot bug-out when the flames are licking at the back door. Knowing what the crisis is you are facing will help you decide.

Do you think that you will wake up one morning to see thousands of people out in the streets overturning cars because the financial market collapsed, will civil unrest catch you off guard. It may if you have not been paying attention.

It takes time to get people worked up to the point where they take to the streets. You would be aware, if you are paying attention, of the catalyst days or weeks in advance, that would create civil unrest. You would see it in larger cities first and could reasonably expect it to happen in your community at some point. You have time to get ready. The well informed would have been gone long before the crowds got to the point they started tearing the city apart.

Do you grab your bug-out bag and try to push your way through the angry demonstrators. No, at this point, you would be safer sheltering in place, getting in the middle of a mob with supplies on your back is asking for problems.

Pandemics can happen and one is likely to happen in your lifetime according to some experts. What do you do, when should you leave, and where would you go. Diseases can be in Europe in the morning and in the United States in the afternoon.

Medical experts can predict a pandemic or give some warning of a rapidly spreading virus or some other type of disease. You would have some warning; an example is the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). It is now in the United States, in Indiana to be more precise. It is here and will be here from this point forward, because someone else will come down with the disease and spread it to someone else headed for Atlanta or Miami and points yet unknown.

Do you grab your bag, because it can develop into a pandemic? No one has stated it is a pandemic, yet, and when it is classified as such is it too late. Where do you go that there are not humans? Any human you meet could potentially be carrying MERS. The only protection, the only chance you have is to get away from heavily populated areas, the more people around the greater chance someone has a communicable disease.

Essentially, however, you cannot outrun a pandemic, so it is back to, do you stay or do you run, and frankly, there is nowhere to run to in the event of pandemic.

A nuclear war or a single occurrence of surface nuclear detonation, the country would have warning of an upcoming strike, unless it was a device smuggled in by individuals and detonated in a city somewhere. If you knew, a large metropolitan area was going to be hit because the missiles have been launched and they (the government) knows the target, do you “bug-out” if it is not your city?

In theory, because it has never been tested, the plan is to bring down the missiles before they can strike, one may get through but a counter attack would have been launched to prevent any more attacks. At this point, is there any need to bug-out, and where do you go?

A smuggled in device could be detonated without warning, but those that would have needed to bug-out, because they were close to ground zero will not be able to. Will you need to, the device would likely be small, may even be a dirty bomb, and it only affects a small radius, you do not know, so what do you do.

In any attack or SHTF scenario, you are going to be killed, injured or simply come through unscathed. In the first too cases you cannot leave and if unharmed do you need to leave.

Bugging-out during a terrorist attack would be dangerous because typically the attacks are two-fold. The first attack kills and maims scores of civilians and gets everyone’s attention and then the second one is launched to kill first responders such as law enforcement, firefighters and paramedics along with those panicked civilians fleeing the area. Staying put may be the safest option.

It is not this articles’ intent to decide one way or another about bugging-out. The information is merely presented to get you thinking and to point out the odds are stacked against you actually bugging out in many instances.

If you have a family with children, it is not as simple as grabbing your bags and hitting the front door. By the time, you decide the situation warrants evacuation then it is possible it is too late. You will always think there is “one more thing I need”. The children will not be ready at a moment’s notice and time will slip away. Most people will not realize that the time to bug-out is before the crisis reaches its peak, in other words you evacuate when you do not think you need to. Otherwise, it may be too late.

Fear is real and it may keep you from heading out on foot with children or elderly family members. The pack will be too heavy, you are not conditioned, and the children certainly are not. Your bug-out-bag is likely to look like a suitcase packed for vacation. Too many clothes, toys for the children, and the list will have grown to the point you may be wavering by the time you are ready to leave.

Be realistic, have a bag ready because it is the prudent thing to do but always stay informed. Make the decision based on relevant information, because you do not want to flee one crisis only to find yourself in a far worse situation.

The whole point is to show that because of the Internet people are convinced they need a bug-out bag for every occasion. You can have one for everyday of the week but the point is there are alternatives.

If you have ample warning, you can pack the car and leave or fortify your shelter, if you do not have any warning and the city collapses you are not going anywhere, whether it is on foot or not. Consider all alternatives, bug-out bags are merely one alternative they are not the end-all to surviving a crisis, so do not use them as a crutch.

Becoming too dependent on the bag sitting by the front door may mean you have overlooked or discarded other alternatives for surviving the situation.

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7 DIY Ways To Make Gardening Easier

DIY Garden Water Reservoir

Growing your own plants, fruits, and vegetables are crucial for any prepper. Having easy access to fresh food can make your daily cooking so much better. Not to mention the benefits of growing plants for medical use.

All of these can be maintained from your own garden, but we all know it can get a little stressful. These tips will make your gardening days run a little smoother. Check out these 7 excellent tips below to make your gardening a bit easier!

Read more at… 7 DIY Ways To Make Gardening Easier

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Bug out bags for beginners

Bug Out Bags for Beginners

You finally decided it was time to get serious about preparedness, so buying a quality backpack was your first step. You have it home and are wondering what now, it appears to have a lot of space, and yet seems small when you consider what you may need to pack in it.

What you think you may need to survive could fill a two-car garage. What you will need to survive can easily fit inside your rucksack. What is needed and what is wanted are two vastly different things when it comes to survival.

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Build Your Own Survival Kit or Buy One Already Packaged?

pre-packaged survival kit

There are plenty of options when it comes to picking up a survival kit, a kit that supposedly has all the latest and greatest survival gear all in one place. “Grab and go” was one advertisement, “buy now and never be caught in a survival situation again” was another marketing slogan. The marketers need a little help in some cases.

You can of course, be caught in a survival situation regardless of whether you have a kit or not, but once in a situation your survival may depend on whether you have a kit and does it have what you need.

Some experts consider a survival kit the “go to as a last resort kit”. It will contain what is needed to survive after you have exhausted the normal supplies you had packed.

The facts are hunters and anglers as a rule become lost or stranded more often than other groups of outdoor enthusiast. Campers and hikers make up the rest, along with people being stranded in a motor vehicle and so on.

The point is it would be extremely rare to find yourself waking up in the middle of a wilderness environment with no clue as to how you got there. Typically, a trip is planned and provisions are packed for the time you expect to be gone. In other words, you had every intention of heading off into the great unknown, and whether you prepared properly may mean the difference between surviving and not.

People do not plan to become lost, so they only pack for a few hours or a few days depending on the time, they expect to be gone. Once your supplies are depleted, your survival kit is there so you have the means to obtain what you need from your environment, when you do become lost.

The key word is environment, building your kit and keeping your kit relevant allows you to adapt to any environment in which you expect to find yourself. You will outfit your kit accordingly. If you were heading into an arid environment, for example, the focus would be on water collection and storage whereas if you know the area has an abundance of surface water then the focus is on, filtration and purification. It is assumed you would have started out with a supply of water regardless of travel destination.

The so-called off the shelf kits are well stocked but just how many button compasses do you really need, and then the quality is always questionable. You need a quality Lensatic compass and maybe one more in the event you lose or damage one. You need a compass regardless of your geographic location.

Retailers will “throw in” a survival knife. A survival knife is a priority and allowing someone else to choose it is akin to letting someone else load your firearm or pack your chute. Some things you just have to take care of yourself. The knives in most kits would be low quality, while any knife is a good knife if it is the only one you have, but why allow yourself to be stranded with a cheap one if you can help it.

Do you really need a wire saw and do they work? You have to decide but keep in mind they are probably only good for sawing through rope or plastic restraints if you happen to have one taped to your body where you can reach it if you do become restrained by some cannibalistic family living in the backwoods.

As for sawing wood, they generally do not get the job done and a good survival knife will do a better job of cutting through the log or limb. Pick up a good folding saw if you feel you need a saw.

Safety pins are ideal for fishhooks and pinning up your pants, if that is all you have. Is there a need for them however, if you have a survival fishing kit you put together yourself, and Paracord makes a great belt?

The retailers of survival kits will provide you with a dozen or so to increase the number of survival items they claim to be providing you, it sounds good in the advertisement.

The retailers will advertise their kit contains 101 items and this makes you think you are getting a bargain along with everything you need. What you are getting is a handful of safety pins, button compasses, 12 band-aids, cheap folding knives, poor quality Ferro rods advertised as magnesium sticks, and other things that you probably do not really need like a pencil stub and writing paper, and a few razor blades along with chewing gum.

Granted there is a psychological advantage to having what you think is a well-stocked survival kit but reality dictates you make sure you have what you need by doing it yourself.

Build your kit based on actual need. Do not be afraid of changing things up depending on your situation. If you are an angler and are looking forward to a few hours on the river or lake then your kit does not necessarily need to be overloaded with fishing tackle. Take the tackle out and add other items relevant to the situation. The ability to create fire and to signal for rescue personnel is important for example.

Hunters may think all they need is their firearm if they get lost and some may tend to think a weapon is all they need to focus on in the wilds. First off, having one does not mean you will not become lost or stranded. Once lost however, they can be used to obtain food, but then what, you still need shelter, fire and a clean source of water and other tools to find your way back or be prepared to shelter in place. “Survival in a tin” kits probably will not get the job done.

The off the shelf kits will have items that you do need but again the quality is a factor and why buy an expensive kit knowing most of the items cannot or will not be used. Put your own kit together, adapt/update it by keeping weather, geographic location and your own skill level and knowledge in mind, and never leave home without it.

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Common Yarrow

Yarrow and Its Many Medicinal Properties

Achillea millefolium or common yarrow
“Millefolium” literally means a thousand leaves and it is said that its name, Achillea, is derived from Achilles the Greek hero of the Trojan wars. Myth has that it was given to him by a Greek God to carry into battle to help treat battle wounds.

The herb has been used according to experts for over 3,000 years, and was first used on the battlefield to treat wounds, primarily to stop the flow of blood.

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Marigolds

Six Plants That Repel Mosquitoes

Nothing is more annoying than a pesky mosquito, especially when your trying to get work done in your garden. Did you know there are certain plants you can grow that are natural mosquito deterrents?

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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Bugging Out

Bugging out

Photo Credit: Tin Hat Ranch

Most topics on “bugging out” revolve around gear lists. Having the proper gear to survive and a plan to get you to your destination is important. Understanding what can happen to you during the journey and preparing for contingencies will greatly increase your chances of success. So check out this excellent article below by our friends at tin hat ranch.com on 10 things you didn’t know about bugging out:

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Bugging Out

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Tomatoes

Tomatoes: Yes, It is Almost Time for Planting

In some areas of the country, the last frost may be behind you and if it is, you can now transplant outside any tomato plants that you started indoors. Ensure you know with a reasonable amount of certainly when the last frost date is in your area.

Want to know when to plant in your area, please visit http://www.almanac.com/content/planting-moons-phase-gardening-calendar

Tomatoes are quite easy to start indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost. Once the plants have developed their third leaf, you can thin the plants and prepare for transplanting outside. Tomato plants need to be “hardened” off before transplanting outdoors however.

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Char Cloth What Is It and How Do I make It

 char cloth

Most people know it as char cloth but it is also called “charpaper”. Char cloth is made using vegetable fiber and the most common fiber used is cotton but it can also be made from linen and jute.

The process to covert the cloth to carbon form is called “pyrolysis”, which is nothing more than the decomposition of molecules by heat to break a chemical substance down into a simpler form. The making of char cloth causes a chemical reaction as it forces most of the gases out of the material, but not all of them, otherwise you would end up with a pile of black ash.

Synthetic materials would not reduce to carbon form when heated, synthetic material is not organic and would essentially melt away. Burning of this type material may also produce toxic fumes.

The process reduces the material to its carbon form, however if heated too long it will reduce to ash form. It may take a bit of practice to get the cloth to where it can be handled without crumbling apart and yet has achieved the low ignition point.

One hundred percent cotton tee shirts are ideal for making char cloth and some have had luck using cotton balls as long as they say 100 percent cotton.

The cloth once converted correctly is slow burning with a low ignition temperature. The material can be ignited with a single spark, which in turn is used to ignite dry tinder. Once you have char cloth all you need to create an ember is a spark.

Always make your char cloth outside where having a fire is not a safety hazard. The process will create fumes/gases.

Making Char Cloth

Materials Needed

1.) Small metal container than can be sealed tightly such as a mint tin, (altoids) or other container.

2.) Cotton, linen or jute fabric

3.) Tool (s) to cut the material to fit into the container

4.) Fire source, open flame is recommended

5). Heavy gloves to handle the hot container or metal pliers/tongs large enough to grasp the container

6.) Tool (s) to create a small hole in the container lid, use a small nail, or drill a hole

The hole is essential. It is needed to allow the gases to escape and yet is not so large as to allow oxygen to reach the material. Use a finishing nail end and just puncture the metal with the tip of the nail.

Cut the cloth to fit into the can and you can roll or layer the material. Seal and place close to the flame, you just want heat applied to the bottom or one side, in other words do not allow the flame to lick up the sides or over the top of the container. You want slow partial combustion.

Once on the flame you will see, smoke/gas escaping from the hole after a few minutes. The gas is flammable. Once the smoke stops flowing out the hole or is reduced dramatically, you can flip the can over to make sure the entire material has been charred, and then look for more smoke. Remove if you do not see any.

Leaving the container on the heat after the gases have stopped flowing out the hole will allow oxygen to enter which will accelerate combustion, and this of course will burn up the material. The gases exiting the hole prevent oxygen from entering.

Let cool and then remove the cloth. Check your work by creating a spark to see if the char cloth will take the spark and form an ember. Once lit char cloth can be difficult to extinguish. You may have to seal it in a metal container to deprive it of oxygen; otherwise, it will burn up the entire piece and can be a fire hazard if left unattended.

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