Winter Checklist for the Home

Winter Checklist for the Home

It seems like the summers are getting shorter and the winters longer, but then again, we say this every year, and it may just seem that way as we get older. Nonetheless, winter is just around the corner, so it is time to start thinking about winterizing your home. Some things can wait, while others cannot.

1.) Garden hoses can be damaged if left exposed to the cold, so start thinking about storage places. In addition, if you have freeze proof spigots, hoses have to be uncoupled to allow the water to properly drain from the spigot to prevent freezing and bursting the line.

2.) Cover outdoor spigots with insulated covers as an added measure to prevent freezing.

3.) Lawn sprinkler/irrigation systems must be drained to prevent damage to the system.

4.) Crawl space vents will have to be closed or covered to keep cold air out of the crawl space. In warm weather, of course, the vents are opened to reduce moisture buildup which can lead to mold and mildew problems, not to mention moisture attracts insects in particular certain termites.

5.) Have your heating system checked before you need it. Heating and air conditioning service companies experience high demand for services during the first cold snap of the season, so get ahead of the rush.

6.) Make sure your gutters are cleaned out. Stopped up drain spouts will allow water to build up and if it freezes it can damage the roofline, soffits, and the guttering system itself.

7.) Prune back any branches that overhang the roofline. Snow and ice can weigh down even healthy limbs that right now do not seem to be a hazard, but once under strain from the weight of snow and ice could snap and damage the roof or walls of the home.

8.) Stock up on ice melt now, because as you know, the minute the first snow or ice is predicted people rush to the stores and clean out the supply. Retail stores never seem to have their act together when it comes to inventorying certain items, because if they order too much then they have to inventory a product that has only one use for a short period.

9.) Service your generators and stabilize the fuel. Make sure they work properly and that you have fresh fuel going into the colder months. Inspect your electrical cords for serviceability and if you had purchased appliances over the summer months, make sure you have electrical cords rated for the appliance and ensure your generator can handle the additional load.

10.) Check your water pipes insulation, and if you use heat tape make sure it is working by testing it before it gets cold.

11.) Inspect your hot water tank blanket, and if you do not have one it is recommended you do get one if your tank is located in a non-heated part of the home such as in the garage, basement, or crawlspace.

This may also be a good time to drain your tank to clear out the sediment. Too much build up in the bottom of the tank can have an effect on the efficiency, and may even cause damage, and in some cases the sediment may build up to the point you cannot drain the tank, because of a clogged spigot. In addition, if you need to use your hot water tank as an emergency water supply, you want it as sediment free as possible and of course you want the drain to work.

12.) If you have a wood burning fireplace or wood stove have your chimney cleaned and inspected for damage before your first fire. Creosote buildup as you know is dangerous and over time it will build up even if you only burned well seasoned wood. Seasoned wood will still have up to 20 percent moisture content which will cause a buildup.

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Urban or Rural EDC

Urban or Rural: Everyday Carry (EDC)

Everyday Carry or EDC, you have read the articles and have seen the posts and then realized that everyone has their own ideas on what to carry. Everyone’s situation is different, however. Geography, threats, weather, local laws, and your own personal preferences will help determine what you carry every day.

You Can Break Up Your Gear in to Zones, Levels or Tiers, or Whatever Term Suits You Best

The first level would be the minimum needed to get through a normal day. Your normal work day, or any day away from home, and of course tailor the gear for the environment you expect to be in throughout the day.

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The Syrian Refugee Crisis: Will It Affect You

Syrian Refugee Crisis

President Barack Obama has directed his administration to prepare to take in at least 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year, the White House said on Thursday September10, 2015 (Edwards, 2015).

National security is of course a major concern when considering Syria refugees and others from neighboring countries. The areas in question are rife with anti-American sentiment and with people that seek to do us and other western countries harm. The screening process as the refugees arrive can take up to 18 months according to the report.

There is no guarantee any screening process would be effective however. U.S. Intelligence Agencies simply do not have the human and signal intelligence assets on the ground in many of the areas from which the refugees are arriving.

A wolf in sheep’s clothing, and how many will there be, no one knows. No doubt many of not most of the refugees are families looking to escape war and persecution, but it doesn’t take many bent on destruction to create a catastrophe. We would likely see small attacks against soft targets, malls, schools and other institutions that do not traditionally have any measurable security in place.

The United States and the President are under pressure from various humanitarian groups and from members of the President’s own party to do more to help. However, we as a country need to consider the security nightmare this would cause.

What Can You Do To Stay Safe

The short answer is not much. It not as this is a piece of machinery that needs new brakes or hydraulic lines to make it safe, there is no clear solution, no fix that can be pinpointed.

The only thing you can do is to reduce your risk, and unfortunately this means you will have to change some of your habits. You will have to adapt to the new normal. You would have to avoid certain public holiday events, large crowds, and prominent symbolic events, because they can become targets, but as recent events have shown, anyone, anywhere can become a target.

It would be difficult, if not impossible to predict when a person might go on a rampage and shoot up a recruitment center or military base. However, once the dust settles people come out of the woodwork to proclaim that they thought that person was odd or that he or she dropped a comment or had made threats against this country or particular people, and the list of attention seekers goes on and on as people seek the limelight.

Any social media sites that a person that commits an act had used are gone over with a fine toothed comb, and there are clues there many times, if not outright proclamations stating that person planned on something. Who is responsible for keeping track?

In some sense we all are, but if we responded to every comment, every word written or shouted in anger we would be speed dialing 911 24/7. It is nearly impossible, and that is why it is difficult to predict anything. As stated earlier all you can do is to reduce your risk by avoidance.

People use the Internet to vent frustrations, to say things without reprisal and this can be a good thing, but there is a darker side as well, and then there is our constitutional right to free speech.

You have to be alert, and you simply cannot let yourself be trapped anywhere. Exits and places that provide cover must be noted wherever you go. Defending yourself from an active shooter in a public place, is far different than defending yourself in your own home, so going out well armed may not provide much protection if any at all in a crowded area, especially if terrorists use explosive devices.

You have to consider different routes, and plan when to go shopping and when to take trips out of town.

We all have to assume that there will be terrorist mingling with the refugees, and without a doubt some will arrive here. Once here they will melt into the shadows to plot their acts.

Edwards, J. (2015, September). Retrieved 2015, from https://news.yahoo.com/obama-wants-u-prepare-10-000-syrian-refugees-172337928.html

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Collecting Rain Water Runoff Legal or Not

Rain Water Collection

The following is for informational purposes only. The advice and opinions are just that, and in no way should be seen as conclusive. Laws and regulations are continually changing, and it is up to you to stay informed as much as possible on your local and state laws as well as any applicable federal laws.

Currently Colorado prohibits the collection of water runoff, except in certain cases where permission is granted, and how you get permission is still a mystery. Otherwise you cannot collect rainwater runoff even in small amounts for personal use.

Nevada has some very vague language in their regulations that leads many, if not most, to believe it is illegal.

A spokesperson for the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources states however, that water collection is subject to existing water rights per NRS 533.030. The interpretation is that you cannot collect water in rain barrels without the benefit of a “water right”. However, the spokesperson goes on to say that the Division of Water Resources does not police nor will they police rain barrels. You have to decide what this means if you live in Nevada (Robison, 2015).

Some states like Minnesota have restrictions on the amounts, but for the normal household you would never exceed the amount you can collect without a permit.

You would need a permit called a “water appropriation permit” for use that exceeds 10,000 gallons in any one day or 1,000,000 in one year with the exception for domestic use if less than 25 people are being serviced. Again you have to decide how this affects you.

{See Minnesota Statutes, Section 103A.201, and Section 103G.271, subd. 1, and Minnesota Rules, Part 6115.0600.}” ( State of Minnesota, Department of Natural Resources, n.d.)

As for the rest of the country no state specifically prohibits the collection of water runoff from your roof, but the wording is again vague in some cases, and there are certain regulations in place. You can collect in barrels in most instances for your own use, and in some states people are encouraged to do so.

In most jurisdictions you cannot divert the flow of so-called public rivers or streams or dam such waterways or collect water in a containment pond/receptacle that may overflow onto public lands or contaminate public use waterways.

The headlines came out and the hue and cry went out as well, people being jailed and fined for water collection on their own property. In one particular case a landowner diverted flowing surface water and created a containment problem. He was in clear violation and was given numerous warnings to cease without penalty but he refused.

Some states heavily regulate water collection and it takes some reading to figure it all out, as is the case in California. However, in 2012 the state legislature made it legal to collect rainwater from your own roof in barrels. Assembly Bill number 1750.

(https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201120120AB1750)

The problem many face is the wording in most laws. What does water containment mean to you and what does it mean to regulators.

Unless it specifically states you cannot collect runoff such as in Colorado, you can collect rain water off your own roof in barrels.

What you cannot do is dam up rivers or streams, build ponds, and let them overflow and do certain other things to contain runoff from other than your roof. Some of the regulations do protect you and the rest of us. Suppose your neighbor dug a containment pond and let rain runoff fill it. You may have a private well on your land, and if your neighbor were careless about his or her farm equipment and let oils and fuels run into the pond what would this do to your private well. You really do not know what might be leaching into the ground water when there are large containment ponds that are not regulated close to your well.

Read the laws carefully, but the bottom line it is unlikely that if you have a few or even a dozen barrels under your gutter spout that anyone is going to jail or fine you. This of course is an opinion based on research, and it is up to you to do your due diligence before moving forward.

Anything you do has to be tempered with some common sense. There are regulations and there always will be. You can accomplish a lot as a Prepper if you do not draw attention to yourself and keep your plans to yourself. Neighbors and others with too much time on their hands always seem to want to have their nose stuck in everyone else’s business at times. Do not give anyone a reason to look to closely at what you are doing by keeping your plans a secret.

State of Minnesota, Department of Natural Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved 2015, from http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/publications/waters/water_law_questions_and_answers.pdf

Orpheus. (2015). Retrieved 2015, from http://www.enlight-inc.com/blog/?p=1036

Robison, M. (2015, May). Retrieved 2015, from http://www.rgj.com/story/news/2015/05/26/ask-rgj-can-nevadans-collect-rain-barrels/27983037/

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Survival Uses Tarps

5 Survival Uses for Tarps

If you have ever researched bug-out-bags, wilderness survival, and survival articles in general, you will find tarps listed as a survival must. There is a reason for this of course, because they are versatile. Emergency shelters usually come to mind, but they have other uses as well, many other uses.

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Open Carry and Swatting

Open Carry and Swatting

The gun control lobby and certain citizens at large who do not believe that anyone should own, or carry a firearm are putting legal gun owners, police and citizens in danger (Chiaramonte, 2015).

It is called “swatting” when people see you carrying a firearm or even suspect you are concealing one, and then call the police (911). People with an agenda in most cases, falsely report you are doing something illegal just to get the police to show up, and hope they drag you off to jail. In some instances a person is reported as a “suspicious person” and is acting in a threatening manner and of course has a gun on them.

Most of the time the reports have been exaggerated to inflame the situation. For example, stating a person is brandishing a firearm or a person has threatened another with a gun when this is simply not the case. Some do this in hopes there is a confrontation (a violent one possibly?) between the police and the gun owner.

This of course puts the police on high alert and can get the gun owner, the police or citizens in the area injured or killed. Any confrontation would be tense to say the least, because the police are responding to, in many cases, a 911 call about someone with a firearm, a so-called emergency, so the only information they have is what the caller wants them to have. The anti-gun lobby is doing this to incite the police to essentially harass gun owners who are doing nothing wrong.

Should You Open Carry If It Is Allowed In Your State

First, just because your state does allow open carry per the constitution does not mean that those that cannot legally own a firearm can carry one openly or otherwise.

Police unless they ask for and check your identification do not know if you can legally own a firearm or not just by looking at you. Like it or not there are laws that prohibit certain individuals from owning a firearm. Everyone has an opinion on who should be able to own one, and we will leave it at that for now, that is an argument for another day.

Of course there are those people that openly carry just to incite a response from others. They want to provoke others, to make a point, a statement, or whatever the case may be, and this is their right to do so if your state allows open carry, but also expect the police may want to check whether you can legally carry a firearm, if you draw enough attention to yourself.

Unfortunately, there are citizens that simply do not know the laws in their state concerning the carrying and possession of firearms. As often is the case, if they see a person who cannot be identified as a police officer carrying a firearm then the overly concerned citizen may call the police.

Openly carrying a firearm could in some instances deter crime. If someone, who plans on robbing a convenience store, sees an armed citizen, that person may think twice about robbing the store. However, those on drugs may not notice, nor care, they are not in control of their actions, and so may forge ahead with their robbery plans. In some rare cases a person may be targeted simply because someone wants his or her firearm.

It is a personal choice. However, if you know that the police in your area routinely stop those that open carry to check identification, then you have a decision to make. You can stand on principle, or blend in so you do not become a target every time you step out.

The reality is that those not trained in the use of a firearm are scared of them. They do not want to see them and they immediately judge those that carry or own a firearm, usually in a negative way. There are groups so radical that they believe that even sworn law enforcement should not be allowed to carry firearms.

Chiaramonte, P. (2015, September 1). Retrieved 2015, from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/09/01/gun-control-groups-accused-swatting-open-carry-permit-holders-putting-lives-at/

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Preppers Seasonal Inspection

Preppers: Seasonal Inventory Inspection and Cleaning

Closer and closer to fall and then winter, so this means the seasons will change from oppressive heat to cooler and eventually to bitter cold in some parts of the country. In other parts of the country, the change will not be as dramatic, but change it will.

Changes in the weather means you have to change some of your gear out, or add some things to your emergency packs, things that may have been packed away all summer, and then you may have to pack certain other items away for the winter.

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Cotten Swabs Q-Tips

5 Survival Uses for Cotton Swabs (Q-tips)

For cleaning your ear canals right, well doctors do not recommend you put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear. Q-tips and ear canals do not mix well, because you can rupture your eardrum, and besides, ear wax plays an important role in protecting your ears. Why do they have two ends then, for two ears right.

There are various types of cotton swabs, one with wooden rods, and those with short plastic rods. Medical ones typically have the cotton swabs attached to a wooden dowel, and these do come packaged sterile, and they are considerably longer than swabs that are normally found in home medicine cabinets. Then you have cotton swabs designed to be used in model making and those specifically for cosmetic applications.

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Preppers: How Well Suited Are We for Different Environments

Preppers

Somewhere along the evolutionary trail the human brain became bigger. Bigger brains meant less physical work. We were able to fashion tools, weapons and build things like shelters. This meant we needed less physical attributes, because we could think and reason and to some extent figure out what the future held, by events occurring today.

If a hurricane struck relatively at the same time each year, early humans that lived in coastal areas, figured out that maybe they should prepare for next time, or pack up and move further inland until the crisis abated.

Humans are the only species on earth that can to some extent change their environment. If a mountain is in the way we do not build around it, we move it, and yet if exposed to the cold unprotected we could lose fingers or limbs or even die because of it just after a few hours in some cases.

A disease carried by tiny lice that hitched a ride on rats killed millions of humans during the dark ages. Too much sunlight can burn our skin and cause it to peel, and we can die just after a few hours exposed to blazing sunlight.

We cannot see in the dark and compared to other species our hearing and eyesight is poor. Our sense of smell is weak compared to other predators. We cannot drink the water unless it has been treated, or otherwise we may get sick or even die, meats have to be cooked to destroy bacteria or we could get sick and die, and while we can eat plants, many that we would find in the wild would kill us if consumed. We have big brains however.

Our brains were so big in fact; that we could not figure out that raw sewage dumped in the streets would find its way to the rivers, where we drew water for drinking and cooking, but not so much for bathing in Europe just a few centuries ago. We have killed ourselves off in record numbers, because we failed to see what was right in front of us.

What we do not always see is that nature has a system, and as big as our brains are we still think we can trick it, change it, and survive in it regardless of the situation. The will to live, to survive is strong, so strong that we can sometimes overcome the odds, but it is a hard slog and in some cases unnecessarily hard, because we failed to prepare.

We fail because of our bigger brains. Once you start thinking you are the smartest thing on earth then everything and everyone else is, well less smart, which only stands to reason right. Google makes everyone smart, but what happens when Google is gone, can you survive.

What Does All of This Have To Do With Being a Prepper?

Technology, and the fact we all think we are smarter than nature, has lulled us into thinking we have all the bases covered. It gives us all a false sense of security and for some this is needed so they can sleep at night. You can fool yourself for awhile, but when the crops fail to come on, when the rains stop and the snow begins and Google is just a faded memory what will you do. The tornado headed your way does not care about technology. It barrels on sucking up everything in its path mindlessly doing what it has done for millenniums.

Many of us have to stop thinking that someone or something mainly the government is going to come along and fix things for us, or have the answers we seek. It is not going to happen for most of us. Once in the midst of a crisis you are on your own, and you had better have your game face on to survive.

We need “stuff “to put it bluntly, because most of us cannot raise enough food to feed our own families even during the best of times. We do not have cattle, goats, chickens and dairy cows out in the barn, or acres of corn, beans, and peas always ready to pick. Crops need a growing season, so what will you do for food in the middle of winter.

We need supplies stockpiled and we need a lot, and if you do not know how much, you may have already lost the battle for survival. Remember, you cannot just go out and start gulping whatever water source is close to home, you need to know how to purify it first, you cannot just start eating plant life you find in the wild. You cannot just sit down and start gnawing on raw meat; it has to be cooked to kill the parasites and bacteria.

We need heavy clothing for the cold weather, we need protection from the hot sun and we need artificial light at night, we glasses and binoculars to spot threats around our camps or home, and we need to be alert because remember, we cannot hear well. We need a defense plan, and weapons to defend ourselves against stronger predators out there, and we need tools to survive.

We can hear well enough to talk on a phone, have a conversation if people are close or to listen to the radio or television, but can we hear a skilled predator stalking us in the wilds, most of us cannot until it’s too late. We cannot smell the threat unless the gnashing teeth are inches from our face, unless the meat tearing incisors are sunk in our necks.

All and all we humans are frail in comparison to other species. Our stomachs revolt when we change our diets. Our feet blister and sometimes give out after just a few miles of walking, and our backs are really only designed so we can walk or run upright. They are not designed for heavy loads. We are not load bearing mammals. We have back problems, we wear braces and we take pills and we have to be careful how we lift, how and where we walk and we have to control how much sugar and salt we can have.

We cannot bring down game with our claws and teeth, and then drag the kill to a safe spot to dine on it. We have to have weapons and tools in which to butcher and we need a means to cook that kill and we need refrigeration because we cannot eat rotting meat. We have to be smarter than the animals, and even when we are, we often times come home empty handed.

We have to hoard essentially, and have things at the ready for when disaster strikes, and if we do not, we may not survive. We have to think ahead as our brains are designed to do, because essentially that is the only advantage we have in this world, the ability to look ahead and say “you know what, if disaster struck tomorrow, we would need this, that and a few other things”.

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Water Security When Living Off Grid

Water Security Off Grid

Going off grid is the desire of many Preppers, and some have successfully done just that. It requires planning and hard work however, and furthermore, it requires you keep an eye on the future.

Some Internet bloggers and self-proclaimed survival experts predict a so-called golden hoard. Some believe, and possibly there is some credence to the theory, that a mass exodus of people from urban areas will flow across the land once the SHTF. People, according to the theory, will migrate mainly into rural areas seeking solace and a safe haven from the apocalypse.

The untrained and unprepared will swarm like locust trampling wheat fields, fouling fishing spots and shooting Bambi. The woods will ring with pleas for help, for food, and medicine and did we mention pleas for water. Yes your water will be at risk. Will it be safe?

Whether you believe in the golden hoard or not, is not really the point. The point is that water is a precious commodity even during times of peace and prosperity, and it needs to be protected at all times.

Wells

The early settlers in this country banded together behind the walls of forts for protection, and in the middle of the enclosed settlement there was usually a public well protected by the fort walls.

The well was cased with stone, and generally had a small well house built over it to keep animals out, to prevent contamination from ground runoff, and to keep humans from falling in as they stumbled about in the dark after too many pints of ale at the tavern. The well house was usually set up so a bucket could be raised and lowered.

Today, however, your well needs to be properly cased to prevent contamination, and to prevent tampering. If your cabin comes under siege, do you have access to water from inside the structure? Can your well be purposely or accidentally contaminated, can the flow be disrupted by anyone trying to force you out.

Typically, the deeper the well the cleaner the water, and the less chance of the well going dry, but this requires drilling. Drilling is expensive, but once the expense of it is out of the way, you would have a sustainable and renewable source of water likely for the rest of your life.

Of course you would need a pump and the means to supply that pump with power, by either solar, wind or hydro energy. A well 20 or 30 feet deep in the front yard is simply not secure. It can run dry in a minor drought, and essentially can be commandeered by anyone if you come under siege.

Cistern

Along with the well, you can collect rainwater and the most efficient way is by utilizing a cistern, so water runoff from your roof can be collected in sufficient amounts. A cistern is nothing more than a water container.

Native Americans and others took advantage of natural formations that could easily be converted into a cistern. It is much easier to collect water from a natural spring, for example, if the water is allowed to collect in a cistern. Once collected it can be dipped out or pumped to another location.

Cisterns today are typically manmade and they can be under ground or above ground. Typically runoff is collected off a roof. If you plan on this method consider clay tiles or a metal roof, because there would be less contaminates than if you used typical architectural shingles.

For security the cistern should be buried well under ground. It can be concrete or fiberglass or even other materials, and it has to be buried below the freeze/frost line for your area. The piping to the home would have to be buried to the proper depths as well, to prevent freezing, and to prevent tampering that would disrupt your water flow. A filtering system would have to be put in place and you may even need a system for water purification.

A cistern underground will require a pumping system, and this means a power source. A cistern aboveground would have to be higher than your faucets so gravity could feed water to the user points in the house, so a pumping system in most cases would not be needed.

For a cistern to make sense you need to be in an area that gets enough rain and the cistern would have to be big enough to supply your needs. Smaller cisterns could be used in conjunction with other water sources, and if for nothing else the water collected could be used for irrigation of crops, toilet flushing and for livestock, saving the well for drinking water, bathing, laundry and for cooking.

An Eye on the Future

That bubbling brook that flows close by the house is ideal right now as a backup source, but what happen if others move into the area. Do you own the water up stream? What if some other homesteader buys or occupies land 10 miles upstream and decides to dam the stream for his or her livestock or diverts the stream, or otherwise disrupts the flow.

Surface water will become a public source, a public commodity, in which everyone believes he or she is entitled to in a crisis. People will pollute, disrupt, try to take over, and may even purposely contaminate the water during a calamity. It will not take a mass exodus of people from the cities, all it will take is a family living upstream that has goats, sheep or a herd cattle or other livestock to pollute, disrupt, or even stop the water flow.

Redundancy

Backup, backup, and another backup system, you always have to be thinking about what ifs. Solar powered pumps are wonderful inventions, but what happens if it malfunctions. What happens if someone tampers with your solar panels, what happens when the creek runs dry, and your hydro power stops? Stockpiles of water are always recommended regardless of the situation, and the stockpiles must be secure.

A thousand gallons of water in the basement is a backup plan that would get you through an extended crisis. You cannot move it but you can draw water from it if you feel you had to abandon your homestead. Large water tanks outside the home, not buried can be damaged by nature and by humans. Backup water sources and backup power sources are critical and they must be protected.

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