Archive for the ‘Survival Tips’ Category

Inch bag

“…At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? — Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never!–All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”

–Abraham Lincoln
(January 27, 1838)

All of us in the prepper arena constantly talk about having a bug-out bag (B.O.B.) or sometimes called a get-home bag (G.H.B.). It’s accepted that this is a staple to have in your prepper arsenal. The intended purpose of a B.O.B. and a G.H.B. is to give you the basic necessities to sustain you on your trek from point A to point B. When stocking your bag, it is recommended to prep or gear-up these bags for a 72 hour window (depending on your situation). High-calorie food, water storage and filtration, change of clothing, fire starter and rudimentary shelter is typically what you’ll stock in your bag. The point of limiting your gear to these essentials is to keep the weight down so it doesn’t slow you down. With that, you have already planned on a more long-term survival plan at your “point B”.

But speed isn’t everything when it comes to survival. And since some people don’t have a dedicated bug out location (that “point B” in your trek), after 72 hours your B.O.B could turn into a S.O.L bag. This presents a problem if the only plan you have is to “just survive.” The need to have a lot more gear than what can fit in a B.O.B. becomes necessary after that 72 hour mark…Enter the I.N.C.H.

I.N.C.H stands for “I’m Not Coming Home” or “I’m Never Coming Home”. The I.N.C.H is basically a large, long-term survival kit that is self-contained into one mobile carrying device. It contains all the items that are critical to your survival following a disaster or other SHTF scenario. The difference between an I.N.C.H. and a B.O.B. is that an I.N.C.H. can sustain you (at least theoretically) indefinitely. If you’re that person without a “point B” in your plan, it’s time to gear-up your I.N.C.H.

There are a few things to consider before building your I.N.C.H. bag. First of all, keep in mind that the B.O.B. is based on the 3-day rescue rule. So, no matter what happens…flood, fire, civil unrest, snowstorm, hurricane, or other catastrophic disaster…you should be able to survive the first 72 hours on your own and then, sometime within that window, be able to locate assistance (be it professional or otherwise) or just be able to return home. The concept of the I.N.C.H. bag is much different. When stocking your bag you need to consider a few things: First, you’re assuming that the disaster that you are prepping for is going to be of such magnitude that you will be totally independent even after the 72 hours has come and gone. Second, you have to assume that, regardless of the disaster, civil unrest will follow. This means that there will not be any way to restock your supplies. Third, you have to assume that there may be no home to come back to. With that in mind, let’s step through some of the major items that you will need to add to your I.N.C.H. bag:

  1. The bag itself needs to have a frame along with major back support. A long-term hiking pack is the recommended style. Make sure that it has a rain cover to protect everything that you own and that it fits your body’s frame.
  2. Take everything you would normally put in a B.O.B. and add it to your I.N.C.H. bag. This is a good start. We’ll be replacing and adding to it next.
  3. Add at least 3 more changes of clothing. You may even want at least one set to be a size larger to wear as an extra layer. Also, start thinking “barter” as means to obtain more of what you need to survive. That extra outfit could be worth food or water to someone else.
  4. For colder climates, add a heavy-duty jacket and cold weather boots along with gloves and a hat. You really have no idea how long you could be stuck outside and what time of year. Even summer months in the north can get chilly at night.
  5. Add a high quality hiking sleeping bag and sleeping mat. A tarp or small tent (possibly a hammock-style tent) would also be practical if it isn’t weight prohibitive.
  6. Now take everything from the B.O.B. and start multiplying the quantities of the items that you’ll be consuming (food, water, toiletries, and fire starter). Aim for a week’s worth but assume that you’ll need a lot more. When doing this, consider weight vs. reward. You’ll need to be able to carry all of this.
  7. You can replace some of the high-energy bars from the B.O.B. with MREs and dehydrated meals. A safe number to pack food for is 7 days. At some point you should be able to obtain potable water for cooking. You’ll also be able to “acquire” edibles from places such as abandoned stores and homes.
  8. (I can’t stress this enough) Purchase and pack a rifle. While most States have some type of restrictions on handguns, rifles are not nearly as restricted. Even the most liberal of States should allow you to purchase a 22LR rifle. This can be used for self-defense as well as hunting (more accurate than a handgun). The ammunition for a 22LR is very small and lightweight. You can carry a lot of ammunition in a small space.

This is not an all-inclusive list but it will give you a good jump on building your perfect I.N.C.H. bag.

Let’s be clear though…of course at some point you will be able to go home. The fires will burn themselves out. The earthquakes will stop. The hurricane will blow over. The great flood will recede. And the civil unrest will end…it just may take longer than you think. However, putting a time frame on when you can go home is never a good idea. It’s this sense of optimism that can get you in a lot of trouble. Preppers are known to be “pessimistically optimistic”. Which means that we hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

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5 Cs of Survival

If you’ve been in or among the prepping community long enough, you’ve probably heard of the Five C’s of Survival. But unless you actively practice your prepping and survival skills (like anything else) you can easily forget them. With that in mind, we thought it was a good idea to revisit the basics and also introduce anyone who is new to survival and prepping. So here we go with the list and their explanations.

  1. Cutting Tool: The best choice for this would be a sturdy, full-tang survival knife. But ultimately a tool that can be used for anything from cleaning fish to splitting kindling. You may also want to consider a multitool to accomodate several other needs.
  2. Combustion: This can be anything from a magnesium stick to a blow torch. But practicality should come into play here. Being able to spark a fire is critical in a survival situation. Since most fire starting tools are small and lightweight, it’s not a bad idea to have multiple options with you…say, a lighter and waterproof matches and a magnesium stick.
  3. Cover: We’re not talking about a hat here. An emergency shelter is a necessity in a survival situation. You need the ability to quickly erect a precipitation and cold-resistant covering to keep you dry and warm in the event of an unforeseen night outside. The good news is that almost anything will suffice. A poncho, wool blanket, tarp, or even a plastic garbage bag will serve the purpose.
  4. Container: In a perfect world a 32-oz. stainless-steel water bottle would be your best bet. But we’re talking about survival so any device that can hold water without leaking and survive over an open fire will work. Staying hydrated is fundamental in an emergency, and you want a durable container for storing and carrying water. You also need to have the ability to boil the water to kill any microbial organisms.
  5. Cordage: Now, if your one of those people who can fashion rope from plant materials in the backcountry, great. But for the rest of us, make sure that you have a good 100 feet of 550 cord (paracord). From stringing together a shelter to bundling up your bug out bag to hanging your wet clothes up to dry, the number of uses are almost limitless.

pantry

So you’ve decided to stock up a bit on your next grocery store run? Great! Welcome to the world of prepping. Joking aside, most people don’t even realize that there’s a little ‘prepper’ in all of us. Every time someone feels the need to take advantage of a 10-for-$10 sale or a buy one get one free deal, they’re actually stocking up for the “just in case” scenario. But what a lot of people do for the bargains, preppers do on purpose. While there is some logic to stockpiling grocery items, we do need to address a few concerns:

First, while most grocery-store-grade canned goods have added preservatives, to help with shelf life, most of them are just sodium-based (i.e., salt). This method of food preservation dates back to biblical times when salting was the preferred method for preserving fish for long water voyages. Now, while sealing up the cans helps extend the life of the food way further, it really only lasts about a year from the time that the cans were sealed at the factory before the food begins to break down its raw chemical structure. At this point the food is no longer edible. Unless you’re very diligent about rotating these items, there’s a good chance that they’ll expire long before you can eat them all. And nobody should want to take a chance with tainted food during an emergency.

Second, most canned goods are in a “ready to eat” status which means all you have to do it heat it up and enjoy. With the exception of concentrated soups, most canned food does not require the addition of water to prepare it. This means that you are storing the water with the food. While some might argue that this is a good thing, it could also be the difference between having a couple weeks of food on your shelves and having several months of food. Water takes up A LOT of space. It also weighs a lot. One (US) gallon of water weighs over 8 pounds (8.35 lbs. = 3.79 kg.). Adding that much bulk and weight to your prepper pantry can really take up a lot of space. And when you think about it, isn’t the goal to have as much food on-hand as you can possibly store the bottom line?

Third, while most people who stock up on food, they also plan to have it at their fingertips should the need arise. We can’t ever rule out the need to abandon our fortress of solitude. Bugging out requires a lot of planning. It also can require a lot of food. Grocery store items don’t exactly scream “lightweight and portable”. If you consider a typical bug out scenario you need to assume that most people will have to move their food (along with everything else that they’re taking with them) either up or down stairs and probably into a vehicle of some kind. It makes sense to limit items that already contain moisture to a very, very small amount.

So, what’s the alternative? I doubt most are ready to go out and eat sticks and bugs that they find in their back yard. That’s why my motto, “Always have a plan C” comes into play. Three plans that cover many solutions. Plan A: Have enough ready-to-eat (grocery store sourced, if desired) food on hand for every member of the family for 3 to 5 days. Plan B: If the crisis still exists, you should plan a few days of MRE’s (meals ready to eat) and cook-in-the-pouch meals. While they may not be as tasty as plan A, they are just as nutritious and they require virtually no prep time and very little water. And plan C: If you’ve exhausted the first two, you should have many days’ worth (some would argue years’ worth) of long-term freeze-dried food storage and water on hand.

What, exactly, you should stock for plan C is another story (and another article that we’ll address later). But you should think about how handy you are in the kitchen. And keeping the water stored as a separate item gives you far more versatility than the grocery items. Stabilizing the water in dedicated, sealed containers ensures up to 5 years of freshness before rotation is required.

As you build your stockpile of edible gold, keep preparing for “Plan C”. But make sure that logic follows every step. Consider the worst case scenario and use the logic and reasoning skills that God gave all of us.

Ashcloud

So you have your bug out bag(s) set to go…great! You’ve taken the time to pack enough supplies to last for 72 hours and you check it every 6 months to make sure everything is up to date. But what do you do now? Preparing for bug out isn’t just about the bag…it’s also about the plan to actually bug out. We’re going cover some of those points.

Create scenarios

While most people don’t like thinking about doom and gloom, most preppers don’t have a problem with it because they know that this is how they prep their gear. But war-gaming should also take into account what you should do if you are on the losing side of the equation. Depending on where you live the scenarios will be different. Northern states will need to plan more around winter emergencies. Southern states will need to plan more around summer emergencies. Consider the typical weather patterns in your area. Also, consider your location to water sources. Those who live near flood-prone areas need to consider which direction they may need to travel to get away from the rising water levels.

Don’t just focus on natural disasters though. Man-made disasters can be just as deadly as natural disasters. Civil unrest, biochemical hazards, and nuclear disasters are quite probably in today’s world. Keeping you and your family safe during your travels is extremely important. Just like money, the weakest defensible point is during the transportation phase between banks. Take precautions and be prepared to defend yourself and your family. Make sure that you are trained in some form of self-defense.

Consider your location

Since most of us don’t sit at home all day, every day to wait for the end of the world, we need to establish meeting points or rallying points. Most of us have jobs that take us away from our homes and our families. We also have children that may be in places such as school. A typical family where both parents work and the kids are in school needs to be well planned out in the event of a disastrous situation. Questions like: How will the adults communicate if the cell phone network is down? Who is responsible for picking the kids up from school? Do we go home from there or do we have a rally point? If we don’t go home, who will have or have access to our bug out bags?

Also, in regards to location, think about how many other people may be trying to flee the area where you live. Depending on the scenario, some roads may become impassable (snow, flood, road block). What if you are limited in the number of routes to your destination due to man-made or natural obstacles? Experts will tell you that 36 hours is the magic number during any emergency before panic can start to set in. How long should you wait until you bug out?

Plan A, B, AND C

Once you have these scenarios defined look at your plans carefully. Which plan is the best? Which plan is the easiest? Which plan could be easily foiled? Prioritize the plans that you think are the best ones. As the prepper saying goes, “Always have a Plan C.” Everything preppers do should be in at least double-redundancy. 3 plans to evacuate your home and head to greener pastures.

Drill baby drill

So you have it all figured out? Great! Now test your plans. You might be surprised at the obstacles that you find. If your plan includes densely populated areas, consider the amount of traffic that would be multiplied if everyone decided to do the same thing at the same time. Be prepared to adjust or re-prioritize your plans as you go along.

Finally, run real-time drills with your entire family on a regular basis. Now this may feel a bit weird the first time you do this but, trust me, it can save your life later. Use these drills as time to work out the kinks. Time your drills (what we can measure we can improve). When driving, don’t take into account things like stops signs and traffic lights as there is a chance these may not be working during the actual emergency and nobody is really going to care much about getting a citation. But don’t break any laws during the drill either. Assume places like gas stations and grocery stores will be without power so don’t expect to be able to fill up your gas tank or grab a bite to eat. Try to make the drill as realistic as possible without getting into trouble. You should also consider adding stress and antagonism to the drill. Because if the SHTF, the adrenalin will surely be flowing.

When all is said and done. Have a meeting will all of the participants. Discuss what worked and what didn’t. Discuss how to change or improve your steps. Think about things that you took with and consider if you need to make changes to your equipment list. You will thank yourself later.

Image

A bug out bag or sometimes referred to as a 72 hour bag is probably at the core of all preppers plans. Everyone should consider these bags as an investment in your health and safety. Natural disasters are a reality that can occur almost anywhere leaving you without electricity, running water, and sometimes without shelter. Being prepared is the best thing you can do to maximize your chances of survival…and one of the first steps is to have a fully-stocked bag that you can take with you. So what should you have in your bug out bag?

Well, without going into too much detail, a bug out bag, or B.O.B. should contain everything you NEED to sustain yourself for 72 hours. Every member of the household (including the family pet) should have their own bag ready to go. While the variations of its contents are almost infinite, we put together a list of everyday items you can find in your grocery store to get you started. As you are able to grow your investment you will slowly replace these items with others specifically designed for long-term storage.

Food (Think ‘portable’ and ‘high nutrition’):

  • Protein & Granola Bars
  • Trail Mix/Dried Fruit
  • Crackers/Cereals (great for eating on the go)
  • Canned meat and beans (“pop-top” cans that open without a can-opener)
  • Canned juice
  • Candy/Gum

Water:

  • 1 Gallon/4 Liters Per Person

Bedding and Clothing:

  • Change of Clothing (short and long sleeved shirts, pants, jackets, socks, etc.)
  • Undergarments
  • Rain Coat/Poncho
  • Blankets and Emergency Heat Blanks (that keep in warmth)
  • Cloth Sheet
  • Plastic Sheet

Fuel and Light:

  • Flashlight/head lamp
  • Extra Batteries
  • Flares
  • Candles
  • Lighter
  • Water-Proof Matches

Equipment (think ‘camping supplies’):

  • Can Opener
  • Dishes/Utensils
  • Shovel
  • Radio (don’t forget batteries)
  • Pen and Paper
  • Axe
  • Pocket Knife
  • Rope
  • Duct Tape

Personal Supplies and Medication:

  • First Aid Kit and Supplies
  • Toiletries (roll of toilet paper- remove the center tube to easily flatten into a zip-lock bag, feminine hygiene, folding brush, etc.)
  • Cleaning Supplies (mini hand sanitizer, soap, shampoo, dish soap, etc. Warning: Scented soap might “flavor” food items.)
  • Medication (Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, children’s medication etc.)
  • Prescription Medication (for 3 days)

Personal Documents and Money (Keep in a water-proof container):

  • Scriptures
  • Legal documents (certified copies of if possible) such as birth/marriage certificates, will, passport, etc.
  • Vaccination papers
  • Insurance policies
  • Cash/Gold/Silver/Barter items
  • Pre-Paid Debit Card
  • Pre-Paid Phone Card

Small toys and/or games (especially for the kids)

When all is said and done, make sure you can lift and carry your bag. Place emphasis on lightweight items.

Here’s an important tip to remember – Update the contents of your bag every six months (put a note in your calendar/planner) to make sure that:

  • All of the food, water, and medication is fresh and has not expired
  • Your clothing still fits and is appropriate for the upcoming seasons
  • Your personal documents and pre-paid cards are up to date
  • Batteries are fresh or have been charged (if rechargeable)

Try to get everyone in the family involved in packing and updating their bags. Older children can be responsible for their own bag of items/clothes too. Make sure that you include any other items in your bag that you feel are NECESSARY for your family’s survival.

Once you are done with preparing your bag, try to store it in a location that is located near your home’s exit. All of this should fit into a space about the size of your average garbage can. Try to minimize exposure to extreme temperatures (do not store it outside). Also make sure that it is kept away from any source that may try to open it (like the family pet).

When storing water for emergency use you need to think about:

How much should I store?

Any good source of information will tell you to calculate your water storage by taking the number of people and multiply it by the number of days to equal the number of gallons to store. Ex: 4 people X 30 days = 120 gallons. However this is a minimum recommendation and only includes water for drinking and sanitation. It does not include water to rehydrate the now-famous ‘just add water’ meals. Most of the freeze-dried meals need between 1 and 4 cups of water to rehydrate before you can eat them. You can also use water as a bartering tool (if needs be). Bottom line: Pad your estimations.

Select an appropriate container

Make sure that you use a container(s) that is appropriate for your plan. For example: A 55 gallon drum may not be very practical if your plan is to eventually bug out. You would need something more portable. An item that I recommend is the 3.5 gallon stackable container by WaterBrick. These are U.S. manufactured and BPA free containers that can interlock as you stack them. By adding a water preserver and storing them in a cool and dark place, the water will last for up to 5 years before you need to rotate the water. You can also add the optional spigot when you need to use water for a convenient dispenser.

Plan “C”

Remember if/when you run out of your stored water, you will need to source more in order to survive. In the event of SHTF, you may need to obtain your water from less-than-credible sources. Make sure that you have a water filtration method ready to go. We will discuss that on a later article.