Saturday, September 29, 2012


We're visiting relatives in eastern Kansas right now, and the humidity is much greater than it is at home.  It's been a reminder to me that open-air dehydrating isn't as easy an option for many people as we're used to.

At home I can set a tray of chopped onions on the kitchen table and the next day they're dry enough to pack up.  Same with peppers, olives, and many other fruits or veggies and herbs. 

Some, like strawberry slices, take longer even in our climate and I speed it up by putting them in the oven where the pilot light helps dry them faster.

But I realize now that I'm quite spoiled by how easy most things are to dehydrate in our dry climate.  If I lived in a place like where we're visiting I'd most likely have to use an electric dehydrator to do most of my dehydrating.

We did get one tip earlier on this blog about placing herbs like mint in paper sacks for dehydrating.  Does anyone have other tips for dehydrating food in humid climates?

I've heard of methods used by native Americans in the 'old days' where they hung food around fires, but is that truly dehydrating, or smoking, for preservation?  Or both?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

From the mailbox - Sept.

    Well, the mailbox has been empty most days, but I have heard from two of you.  First was Mary, who mainly wanted to say she enjoyed the books and wanted to share them with her daughter.  She had some questions about that, and it was a pleasure helping her.

    Here's another email I got yesterday, Sept. 25th:

    "I just finished your book on poverty prepping and had a couple thoughts I wanted to share with you.

    Let me begin by saying that I am a beginning prepper, however I would not be considered a poverty prepper. Regardless I was interested in reading your book as I find that I always get useful information from any prepping information I read as I am a novice. Also I am gluten intolerant and due to past health issues (and sometimes current) I am more picky about what I eat. Because of this I find that "standard" long storage products do not meet my needs or desires. Therefore I was curious to your position on prepping as you also were not purchasing or using standard items. Same end result but different driving force and motivation.

    Though I differ on your nutrition stance for health reasons, overall I really enjoyed your book. Your idea of using small glass bottles reminded me that I had kept some of the glass bottles from baby food in hopes of using them again. I like the idea of storing spices, etc. in small bottles expressly for using them in barter situations. By the way, I live in southern California in a city, so bartering will likely be a necessity if something happens.

    Because I do live in the city, we have many ethnic grocery stores. You may want to recommend to your readers to check those places out for bulk purchases as they are generally less expensive then natural food stores and Costco. Many items are imported from those countries. It may only be a problem with someone that has an allergy or intolerance as in some cases they are also packaged on equipment with wheat, dairy or soy.

    I look forward to reading more of your blog.


    Thanks very much for this letter.  I agree about the nutrition, as far as "real" prepping is concerned.  In the book I'm addressing the people who are overwhelmed by the whole thing of "prepping" and storing food, or who are looking for excuses.  I've had friends and neighbors tell me they can't store food because they can't figure out what they should buy.  They don't know how to figure it according to nutritional charts and so forth.

    That does bog down a lot of people.  The other excuse I hear all the time is "I can't afford to store up food".  When I press some of these people a bit it turns out they think the only way to store food is to buy package deals or expensive freeze-dried food.  Yes, if a person has the money, it's awesome to be able to do that.  It takes a lot of the headache out of deciding what to buy, and then figuring out how to store it.

    But if all a person can do is stash away a couple boxes of pop tarts at least they've done something.  Maybe that accomplishment will inspire them to buy something else, or just more pop tarts.  One thing can lead to another.  Sometimes the biggest hurdle is the first one.  Once they get started they do fine.  For some it almost becomes a hobby!

    I had no idea that ethnic food stores are good places for bulk purchases!  That's great information and I hope it's helpful to our city preppers.  I look forward to browing some of those stores next time we're in a city.  It sounds like an interesting adventure in itself!

    Please, readers, share your thoughts and ideas with the rest of us.  Ask questions, and if I don't know the answer, maybe someone will. 


From the mailbox on Sept. 29:

Hello Susan,
I have read your book on my Kindle, thank you for sharing your ideas. I have found when bar soap goes on sale, and to make it stretch, unwrap it, and let it dry in a bucket for about a month or longer. It drys out the extra moisture and and makes the soap work better and last a lot longer.
Have A Blessed Day!
(I've abbreviated his name to initials) J.B.

Thanks for this tip.  It's one I haven't heard before.  How do you store the soap after you let it dry?  Do you use an airtight container, or keep them in something porous?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Water (D.K. Richardson guest post)

(The following is the next installment in D.K. Richardson's guest posts on disaster preparedness)

Chapter One
"Without the taste of water, cool water. Old Dan and I with throats burned dry. And souls that cry for water. Cool, clear, water."  -Sons of the Pioneers.
         A person can live without water for about three days, after that, you face a slow and painful death. Not just any water will do, it must be clean, free of pathogenic organisms to be of use to us humans. As I noted above, bad water has killed more people than all the wars on modern times.
How much water do you need each day?
         You need at least two liters of clean water per person per day, minimum, just to survive. If you are traveling or working, plan on at least gallon per person, per day. For hot or hot and humid weather, plan on at least five gallons a day.
Gathering water -
Where do I find water? What are good sources for water? Is some water too dangerous to use?
         I'll cover this in two parts - urban water sources and water sources you might find in areas away from the city. 
What is urban water?
         Urban surface water is generally not safe to drink without serious treatment. By this, I mean streams flowing through developed areas, lakes, ponds or other water catchment, fountain basins for example, that may be found in or near urban areas. These sources of water may contain a wild variety of contaminants - ranging from animal fecal matter and human sewage to heavy metals, petroleum products or pesticides. For this reason, most 'public' sources of surface water are not suitable for consumption. 
Are there any urban surface water sources that I could use?
         Some surface water may be used, but only with treatment. Privately owned swimming pools, that you know have been well maintained and have no external sources, such as runoff from adjoining land, may be safe to drink after minimal treatment.
         Rainwater collected from rooftops may not be suitable for use owing to contamination from the roofing materials, debris or other contaminates present on the rooftop, however, rainwater collected with known clean collectors, then stored in clean containers is an excellent source of drinking water.
Water collected from hot water tanks, the toilet tank or other internal building water storage areas may be safe to drink with minimal treatment.
         Please note that unless you are certain the water is from a potable source, do not consume the water without treatment.
Outside of developed or urban areas, surface water is still likely contaminated, but these contaminates are within your ability to treat with the simple resources available to you in a disaster. Animal or human waste is still a concern, as are pesticides, but are usually in low enough concentrations to allow treatment.
         Running springs where you can find the source, and steams fed by springs are two good sources of water. Many springs on public land have been tested; these are normally posted by the agency or person who performed the test.
         Clear, free running streams generally make a good water source, as do small ponds fed by running streams. Again, unless you know the source to be tested and deemed potable, treat the water before you consume it!
         Any well water, urban or rural, should be treated unless you know of recent testing showing the water to be potable.
Brackish water, salt water and water with high levels of alkaline as is often found in the Southwest U.S. requires specialized water treatment systems to render the water safe to consume. These reverse osmosis systems are beyond the scope of this series of blog posts. See the book for additional information under "filters".
         In the "Tales of the Chërnyi" book, the character Steven Stone gathers water by putting his empty water bottles under the edge of his shelter, so the rain runoff is captured and is ready to drink. You can do the same.

Okay, I've found a source and gathered the water. How do I store the water? What makes a good storage container? 
         Storage of treated and untreated water must be separate, it does you no good to put treated water into a container that held untreated water, so marking your containers is strongly suggested - P for potable and a D for dirty, for example. Another possibility is clear and colored soda bottles. Use clear bottles for potable, colored for water that has not been treated. You get the idea, make it simple for yourself.
         A good container has a wide mouth, a good, leak-proof cap and is of a size easy to handle depending on your location. By this I mean a one quart container is easier to carry in your backpack, where a five gallon bucket or purpose built container is a good choice for a fixed location where you or your family may decide to camp. 
How can I treat water to make it safe to drink?
        Water treatment and purification can use one of several methods. These treatments are broadly defined as:
Chemical - chlorine dioxide, unscented bleach (sodium hypochlorite), iodine, calcium hypochlorite and while there are other chemicals, they are normally limited to professional applications.
Heat - Pasteurization of water using heat to boil the water is a simple and well known process.
        Filtering in conjunction with chemical use or purifying with an advanced filter system offers a good choice as well.
Before I go further, I have a couple of important notes.
Iodine - The Department of Soil, Water, and Environmental Science, University of Arizona, tested iodine treatment for efficacy in water contaminated with Cryptosporidium oocysts. They found that just 10% were inactivated after a 20-minute exposure to iodine according to manufacturer's instructions; even after 240 minutes of exposure to iodine only 66-81% oocysts were inactivated.         
        These data strongly suggest that iodine disinfection is not effective in inactivating Cryptosporidium oocysts in water. Because this organism is common in all surface waters, it is recommended that another method of treatment be used before ingestion
        Iodine is effective against viruses common to surface water.
Commercial bleach - Bleach (sodium hypochlorite) 5+% or 6%, like you buy in the grocery store, degrades fairly quickly into salty water. Use only new or nearly new bleach to treat water! DO NOT store water in bleach bottles.
How do I use chlorine dioxide tablets?
Always follow package directions!
        These tablets are a shelf-life item. Check expirations dates twice yearly and follow vendor recommendations for time of treatment - usually a minimum of four (4) hours before consumption. Usually the product is used as one tablet per liter of water, more if water is very cold or cloudy (turbid). One brand of this product - Chlor-floc - contains a floccant to remove silt and other debris in turbid water.
        It's worth repeating - Following label directions is vial for correct treatment.
How do I safely use unscented bleach (sodium hypochlorite)?
        For products with 4% to 6% of chlorine by volume, you may treat water by putting the water in a clean container and adding 8 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of bleach for every gallon of water.
        Stir as you add the bleach and then let the water stand for at least 30 minutes. If after 30 minutes, the water does not have a residual smell of bleach, repeat the dosage of 8 drops per gallon and let it sit for another 15 minutes. If no smell is present, discard the water.
        For smaller containers - use 4 drops per 2 liter soda bottle or 2 drops for a 1 liter bottle - if water is clear.
How do I use my iodine tablets?
        First, was the container holding the tablets sealed and within the expiration date? If not, discard the tablets.
        If the bottle is open and was opened more than three months ago, discard the tablets.
        If the bottle is sealed and within the expiration period, follow label directions. As noted above iodine is not completely effective on certain protozoa. Iodine used in conjunction with an appropriate filter can render the water safe to drink. See the filter section for a discussion of filter pore size.
(Iodine is no longer sold in the EU for water treatment, pure iodine crystals have been banned in the U.S.)
What is calcium hypochlorite? 
        Calcium hypochlorite is a dry chemical sold for pool water treatment. I can be found in most 'big box stores' and stores that sell poll supplies. Read the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) BEFORE you purchase or store this dry chemical. Calcium hypochlorite is a strong oxidizer, it will cause corrosion of metal. It is an "energetic reactor" which is to say, mixing with any number of materials will cause a reaction, usually violent. It will "burn' if the storage container is set alight.   
        While the material is, by its very nature quite dangerous, if does offer some benefits. First - a longer shelf life than other common water treatment chemicals. Second - density. For the same storage space, it will treat more water per volume than other choices. Last, for what it does, the price is reasonable.
How do I use calcium hypochlorite to make waster safe to drink?
        The US EPA suggests - Add and dissolve one heaping teaspoon of high-test granular calcium hypochlorite (approximately ¼ ounce) for each two gallons of water, or 5 milliliters (approximately 7 grams) per 7.5 liters of water. The mixture will produce a stock chlorine solution of approximately 500 milligrams per liter, since the calcium hypochlorite has available chlorine equal to 70 percent of its weight.
        To disinfect water, add the chlorine solution in the ratio of one part of chlorine solution to each 100 parts of water to be treated. This is roughly equal to adding 1 pint (16 ounces) of stock chlorine to each 12.5 gallons of water or (approximately ½ liter to 50 liters of water) to be disinfected. To remove any objectionable chlorine odor, aerate the disinfected water by pouring it back and forth from one clean container to another.
        If you choose to store and use this chemical, please obtain accurate measurement devices.
Okay, I'll just boil my water, how long do I need to boil it?
        Bringing water to a boil (large bubbles roiling from bottom of container) and holding that boil for at least one minute, then allowing the water to cool is one method to ensure the water is safe to drink. Boiling kills both protozoa, like Giardia lamblia and cryptosporidium (Phylum Apicomplexa) as well as viruses that pose a heath risk. Boiling DOES NOT remove other contaminates, such as pesticides, hydrocarbons or antifreeze. Ensure your source is free of these types of contaminates before treatment.
I want to buy a filter, which one is the best? How can I tell what product is a filter and what device is a purifier?
        There are many filters on the market. Generally, the price varies on how fine the product will filter water, this is called pore size - the smaller the pore size, the more expensive the product.
         First, let's look at the difference between a backpacking water filter and a backpacking water purifier. Then ask why you might opt for buying one over another?
         Put it in the simplest terms, a water filter removes protozoa and parasites, even some bacteria, but it does not remove viruses. This ability to filter is, again, a function of the filter pore size - that "micron" thing you see in the ads. These will work well with iodine to provide safe water.
         A water purifier eliminates all of these contaminates, plus viruses. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency has set standards that require water purifiers to eliminate a percentage of all viruses. IF the device is a purifier, it will normally be registered with the EPA.
         Chemical contaminants are another story and there is no sure way to remove them, carbon block filters do a good job of removing chemicals from the water, but cleaning up the horror of urban water is not gong to be done by a simple, handheld 'filter'
BTW - about that whole 'log' thing you see in some advertisements -
        There are two different EPA classification standards for water treatment devices.
        The first classification is for a water filter, meeting this standard requires a water treatment device to demonstrate removal of at least 99.99% of pathogenic bacteria. This is known in the water filter industry as a log 4 reduction. The most common pathogenic organism cited in filtering ads?
- E-Coli
- Giardia
- Cryptosporidium
        The second classification is a water purifier, to meet this standard a water treatment device must remove at least 99.9999% of pathogenic bacteria (log 6 reduction). In addition the water purifier must be capable of reducing viruses by at least 99.999% (log 5 reduction). Given that viruses are generally measured in microns, that's quite a feat..
         We are talking very small here - viruses (0.01 microns); bacteria (0.1 micron) and protozoa (1 micron). Most purifiers use an internal carbon block filter with iodine embedded in some kind of matrix. Others actually have pore sizes on the 0.1 to 0.02 micron range. Expect to pay more for these higher quality products.
I hear I can use the sun to purify my water - is that true?"
        Yes, you can use the sun. Called SODIS for Solar water Disinfection. Place clear PET bottles holding your water out in the full sun for at least 6 hours. The solar UV radiation and heat will kill pathogenic agents in the water. This is best done in the Southern U.S., where the sun's UV rays are not as attenuated by the atmosphere. 
What about the UV light pens - are they any good?
        There are several products that generate UV light to purify clear water. I don't recommend them solely because of the need for batteries.
How do I best transport my water?
        Water weighs eight pounds per gallon. Any clean contain may be used, but give consideration to weight and ease of handling. I recommend the common one or two liter soda bottle as both very inexpensive and there are carriers made to transport the bottles that may be obtained for the asking.          Old style military canteens, sport drink bottles, iced tea bottles are all examples of good storage containers. Gallon, two and a half or five gallon water containers found in the grocery store make poor containers as they quickly become brittle and may leak at the seams. Purpose built containers, like the WaterCube boxed water or the Reliance brand Cube containers are good examples of the many products on the market today.
        Home made filters are discussed in the book.
(Thank you, Mr. Richardson.  This is excellent information!  We appreciate having you share this with us.  Readers, be sure to look for more information, as well as good prepper fiction, in books by D.K. Richardson.  Please share your comments with us!)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Disaster Preparedness Guest Column

I like to read fiction as part of my Preparedness education.  It might seem an odd way to learn, since fiction is made-up stuff, right?  Maybe, maybe not.  A book about a fictional disaster usually portrays the characters doing 'real' things for their survival.  You can learn a lot of good survival tecnhiques and tips while being entertained by the story.
One of my favorite disaster, survival, or prepper books is actually 3 books.  It's a series called "World of the Chernyi".  In my opinion it's one of the best sets of books there are, about survivors of the world as we knew it.  Despite the sound of the word "Chernyi" sounding a bit like it's from a magical, fantastical, imaginary land, these books take place in 'nowdays' America.  "Chernyi" is Russian and sort of means black or dark, so putting that with "World" is an accurate depiction of the times after the end of the world as we know it, or "TEOTWAWKI", as some preppers say.
The books are very well written and the characters are great.  In case you're interested in checking it out, here's a link to them on Amazon:
But I'm not writing this to promote the books.  One of the emails I got last week was from Mr. D.K. Richardson, the author of these books.  He likes what we're doing over here on this blog and he's offered to write a guest column, chapter by chapter, of his Disaster Preparedness book!  We are very fortunate to have him share the vast amount of survival information that he has, and I think him very much.
He would like this to be interactive and welcomes your input and questions, so please be involved with this.  It's your chance to find out what you need to know, and to ask an expert directly.
Without further ado, here's the Introduction:

Want to be prepared for a disaster?
        The daily news shows or tells of stories filled with disaster - floods, wildfires, massive snowstorms and even worse, disasters made by man - train derailments, factory fires, riots and the like.
        These stories can be frightening, what if you lose power for days or weeks? What if you have to flee your home? What will you do? Where will you go?
        As a Certified Disaster Recovery Planner, I've spent years advising major corporations and written more than a few Response, Recovery and Restoration Plan set. In those same years, I've found this aspect of life is something that most of us have either overlooked, or frankly, ignored. Being prepared need not be expensive or complicated. Susan has graciously allowed me space on her blog to post the following set of documents - something I hope you not only find useful, but take advantage of to do your own preparation for future disasters.
        This will be a series of 12 guest posts, each covering a specific area. All of this information and more, with photos and "How To" sidebars is in the upcoming book "Homemade disaster kits: A Do It Yourself Guide for low cost preparation for future disasters."

        Here are the book chapters in the order they will be posted. These blog posts are the Clif Notes, the book contains more detail and additional images.

1 Water
2. Shelter and protection from environmental elements
3. Fire and light
4. Nutrition (food & cooking)

5. First aid and medical
6. Hygiene and clothing
7. Communication and signaling
8. Tools and repairs
9. Safety and defense
10. Travel and navigation
11. Morale and mental health

12. Important documents (passports, insurance, license, etc)

Finally, a way to carry this that is both inexpensive and low key.

        These steps are relevant whether you are forced to leave your home or are able to stay in the home to shelter in place.


        You need at least two liters per person per day, minimum, just to survive. If you are traveling or working, make that a gallon per person, per day. This Chapter covers storage, gathering, purification and suggestions for transport. I discuss the difference between water filters and purifiers, and why that matters. More than one type of home made filter will be described.

Shelter and protection.

        An inexpensive tarp and some cordage will go a long way to keep you out of the weather. I show you how to make the most of simple materials to provide shelter from the elements.

Fire and light

        If outdoors, you will need a source of heat to avoid hypothermia, cook food and provide light to perform any work after dark. I discuss a variety of inexpensive stoves, and show you how to make a pair of stoves that burn a common commercial product. I walk you through the choices in flashlights, lanterns, and candle lanterns - showing you how to make a couple of small candle stoves and lanterns. The last part in this chapter will discus the advantage and disadvantages of a campfire and how you might use a so-called Dakota fire pit, a rocket stove and other efficient ways of cooking with wood.

Nutrition (food & cooking)

        This Chapter focuses on putting together your own meal, ready to eat. Using commonly available long shelf life commercial products, you can make your own tasty and easy to cook or heat to eat meals. I discuss several common problems with home-made MREs and show you how to avoid the problems. Finally, since you should store what you eat - and eat what you store, I show you how to incorporate your homemade MREs into your day to day diet so that rotation and out of date foods should never be a problem.

First aid and medical

        As a former licensed EMT and having worked while in the military as a military medic, the focus here is on training. I outline a basic First Aid Kit (FAK) and why this is important. I describe an advanced FAK, one that is layered - so that the supplies you do buy are appropriate and inexpensive. The types of injury you can treat with the FAK is discussed as is the issues of Over the Counter medicines. While you can make a very nice FAK for less than a commercial offering, training is one area where you are advised to obtain commercial training. I list sources for hands on training and give you sources on the 'Web for follow on and self-training.

Hygiene and clothing

        More men were lost in the Civil War to poor sanitation than were ever killed in battle; this is true for the Boer war as well. I cover basic field sanitation, describe ways to wash your clothes in a disaster situation and list several ways to bath while in less than ideal conditions. Being clean isn't about smelling bad, it is a health issue.

Communication and signaling

        Communication is more than a cell phone. In this Chapter, I cover communications planning, alternate means of communication and the 'how it works' of commonly available communication equipment. Specifically, MURS, GRMS, CB, FRS and Ham radio are discussed at length. I even discuss crystal radios for fun and battery free listening.

Tools and repairs
        In this Chapter, I discuss the common, lightweight tools you should have on hand for use in a disaster. The classic saw of "A stitch in time saves nine" is more correct than not. I describe a small but comprehensive sewing kit and a larger tool for use in repairing large tarps, backpacks and the like.

Safety and defense

        This Chapter is a brief discussion of safety issues faced by those displaced by a disaster. I list ways to protect yourself and family members, your valuables and offer suggestions on ways to avoid problems before they impact you. A brief discussion covers the pros and cons of carrying a firearm - since laws in the US vary so wildly, I cannot offer specifics for your area.

Travel and navigation
        If you can't tell the players without a program, you'll find travel far more difficult without a map. I discuss common map products, then provide a listing of where and how to obtain free or low cost map products for your use. I cover compasses, and point you to free, on-line training sources for the use of your compass. While a GPS receiver is nice, it does have some real-world drawbacks - I discuss those drawbacks.

Morale and mental health

        If you have children, you already know dealing with a bored child is almost as bad a dealing with a bored adult. I discuss some low cost and light weight items to carry that can make a difference in the inevitable down time faced when away from home and familiar surroundings.

Important documents (passports, insurance, license, etc)

        It's a fact of life that we all have a paper trail following us through our life. If your home is damaged, or destroyed, having the right papers can make a major difference in how rapidly your life can be restored. I discuss the documents you should have with you, and what other measures you can take to safeguard important documents such as birth certificates, DD-214s from military service, marriage certificates, insurance papers and so on.
        The capstone project for the book is to build a take away 'bag' with the essentials for four days for one person using all of the information covered in the book. In this case, the bag will be a Yukon ruck, made from your tarp and holding the items you need should you leave your home. The capstone project assumes you have transport.

Being prepared doesn't mean you have to break the bank.
Thank you, Mr. Richardson, for sharing this wonderful information with us.  We look forward to the rest of your guest posts!
Readers, please leave comments, or send those or questions and suggestions to:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bug-out bags

"Any such thing as an uncomplicated bugoutbag? Thanks in advance. A real novice at this.
There are about as many ways to put together a bug-out bag as there are people and potential situations.  It doesn't have to be complicated though.
Start with thinking about what sort of things would cause you to need to bug-out.  Do you live in an area prone to flooding?  Hurricanes?  Wildfires?  What about winter snow and ice storms... if the power went out would you stay home or go somewhere else?
If you had to leave home for one of those situations, would you go to a public shelter, or to the home of friends or relatives, or somewhere else?  The answer to that also affects what you pack.
Some people consider the possibility of civil unrest, collapse, or war.  It could become dangerous to stay where they are.  Your bug-out bag would have to be packed according to whether you had a pre-planned place to go or just fleeing.
Those are all things to think about when you pack.  If you have a preplanned place to go you probably have some supplies already stored there, so you'll just have to pack what you'll need to get there.  If you have no idea where you're going to go, then you'll have to consider the things that will keep you alive for a while, and pack with that in mind.
Some basic items should be in every bag.  The necessities for survival are shelter/warmth, water, and food.  Other things, such as medical supplies, are good to have, but start with those first three.
You're probably trying to keep your pack on the light side to make travel easier.  One of the best clothing items for warmth, which is also lightweight, is a fleece jacket or pull-over.  The downside is that they can be bulky.  If you have the space, a fleece jacket and a wind-breaker jacket give you good layering options.  You can wear one or the other, or both.  Another combination is a down vest, compressed into a ball with a rubber band or tie around it, and a wind-breaker jacket.  Try to avoid one big bulky coat because it doesn't leave enough options for temperatures in between warm and cool.
The cheap and small things to put in your pack that contribute to shelter and warmth are the cheap foil "space blankets" and the cheap plastic rain ponchos, both sold at most discount or box stores for about a dollar each.  You can lay the plastic poncho on the ground to protect you from moisture, and wrap up in the space blanket, or do it the other way around.  Lay the space blanket on the ground to keep your body's warmth from being absorbed by cold ground, and get inside the plastic poncho to keep wind from cooling your body.
If you have a larger pack you might be able to keep a sleeping bag tied to it.  However if you find yourself out in the wild in the cold, don't just sit on the ground and shiver.  Sometime I'll devote a whole post to ways to survive in that situation, but just quickly, let me say that you should try to find a sheltered place and cover yourself with leafed branches or pine branches, bunches of tall grass, or even leaves off the ground.  If there are more than one of you, sit against each other for shared warmth.
When my kids were growing up we camped in the woods one night without shelter.  We huddled in a dip in the ground, with leaves piled over us.  The kids also stuffed leaves inside their shirt and pants for extra warmth.  It was quite comfortable.  We watch the show "I Shouldn't Be Alive" on Animal Planet and I can't believe how many people, who are lost in the wild, just sit on the ground all night waiting for the sun to come up and warm them, and behind them is tall grass and bushes. 
In with warmth and shelter is fire making.  Carry at least two things for starting a fire.  Fire can be used for warmth, cooking, and attracting the help of rescuers; but keep in mind if you DON'T want to be seen or found, that the smoke by day and the glow of the flames by night could be seen.
The easiest fire starters for most people to carry are a cigarette lighter and matches.  There are also flint & steel and magnesium fire starters.  Do your homework now.  One of the things you can do is watch youtube videos on firestarting.  There are techniques you can learn, such as bow drill and hand drill, for starting a fire with only what you find in the woods, but unless you get a chance to practice this in real life, you're taking a chance by assuming you could do it if your life depended on it.
That said, watch the videos anyway and learn the techniques, because if you find yourself in a situation where your life does depend on it, at least you'd have the general idea of what to do.
Water is the next item of need.  There again you have to look at your probable situation of bugging out and decide how much water to carry, and how to plan on filtering if need be.  If all you ever expect is to go straight from your home to a shelter or a friend or relative's house, you won't need as much water.  If you're preparing in case you have to head for the hills, you'll need to plan a bit more. 
The weight of water is going to be a big factor.  You can only carry so much.  Look into options for filtering and purifying water.  This could be as simple as boiling it, or as complicated as running it through a filter and purifier.  By the way, once water reaching the boiling point it's safe.  It doesn't need to boil for 5 minutes.  Boiling kills pathogens (bacteria, viruses, etc.), but doesn't remove chemicals and other pollutants.
Filtering and purifying are not the same thing.  Filters just remove the debris.  Some commercial filters will remove SOME bacteria and other pollutants, but find out before you buy.  A purifier does just purifies the water so it's safe to drink.  It can still have some debris in it but be safe to drink.
But I don't want to make this complicated so here's the deal.  Carry at least a couple of those small water bottles.  You can buy a filter straw from places like Cabelas, and water purifying pills from sporting goods stores.   If you must filter water in the wild you can make a primitive filter.  If you can find a can or non-glass bottle, that'll work; or you might have to use one of your water bottles.  Take the pocket knife that you packed in your bag (did I mention that?) and poke holes in the bottom of a can or bottle. 
Now find some sand and fill the bottle/can about a third full.  Look around for charred wood, such as from an old campfire or a tree or stump hit by lightening.  If you can't find some, and you're able to make a fire, you can burn some wood until it's good and charred, then pull it out of the fire using another stick.  Crush this "charcoal" and make a layer on top of the sand in the bottle/can, about as thick as the sand.  On top of that, sprinkle some small gravel or stones.  You can put a little bit of grass on top to help catch and filter debris, but the gravel will do it too.
Pour water into the filtering bottle, holding the other bottle below it.  If you have a way to tie them or brace them on rocks or logs so you don't have to hold them, it's a good idea, because it takes a while for the water to run through the charcoal and sand.  But in the end you should have water that is safe to drink. 
If you're ever lost in the wild and don't have a bottle with you, keep your eyes open.  Mankind has left a trail of garbage behind for centuries, and even the most remote place can turn up old cans.  Hopefully you'll be in a place with abundant water.  Finding water in dry or desert areas is a whole other subject.  If you expect to be in an area like that, learn about solar stills, how to find springs, and how to look for pockets or water in rocks or trees.  Staying hydrated by 'drinking' cactus juice is more likely to give you diarrhea.
Moving on to food, at the very least we keep a couple of granola bars in our packs.  A few hard candies can be good for keeping energy levels up while you walk.  If you're expanding to add more food, think 'calories' and 'fat'.  This is the time when you want as much of both as possible.  They'll give you more energy for the size than foods with less of either.  Something with peanut butter or coconut oil, or other fats, plus sugar, is good.  However, if they're in a candy bar like Peanut Butter cups, you run the risk of it melting.  Peanut butter M & M's are a good one to carry.  You can nibble on one or two at a time and stretch them out for hours.
If you have the space and can carry the weight, a jar of peanut butter is good to have.  Change it out twice a year so it doesn't get old and rancid.
In addition to our packs we have 2-gallon plastic buckets with airtight lids from a local bakery.  My husband and I each have one and we call them our "Bug-out buckets".  Inside is a jar of peanut butter, a jar of coconut oil, and a can of sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk).  These are all high in calories and fat.  Peanut butter has protein and the condensed milk has carbs, in addition to the calories and fat.  We also packed a bunch of odds and ends like hot cocoa mix, hard candies, matches and a lighter, bandaids, small LED flashlight and a set of extra batteries, a pair of socks, an emergency poncho, and a space blanket.  I think there's a few odds and ends like a tube of chapstick and a small comb.
These buckets are pretty lightweight and easy to carry.  Depending on the circumstances we'd grab those in addition to or instead of our packs. 
For the possibility of being in the wild long-term it's a good idea to learn foraging.  Get a good book on edible wild plants for your area and study it.  Go out and look for these plants, harvest and eat them.  Make sure you're picking the right plant.  If you can find a mentor that's the best route to go, or take a class.  You can stretch the food you carry and survive longer.
This is a good thing for everyone to learn.  Once you master the wild plants of your area, study up on the edible wild plants of places you might travel to.  It increases your odds of survival if you get lost or have to flee into any wild area.  Keep a whistle on a string attached to your bag.  It's easier to blow the whistle to attract help than to shout for hours.

Read about, or watch youtube or other videos, on making a survival shelter.  It doesn't take much knowledge to break off and gather branches, the leafier the better, pile them up and get underneath or in among them for warmth or shelter from the wind.  Enough pine branches can shed water too.  Find a fallen tree and lean branches up against it to make a small shelter you can crawl into.  Have another pile handy to pull into the doorway after you get in, to further contain your body heat and keep out wind.  You won't suffocate.  Enough fresh air will filter into your shelter to provide you with oxygen.

If it's winter, dig a hole in the snow, line it with branches and pull more in over you.  Even a snow cave with no branches to put in it will be warmer than the outside air, plus provide protection from the wind. If your car gets stuck in the snow and it looks like it'll be a while before you're rescued, or it's so cold you won't survive even a short stay, rip your seat covers and pull out the stuffing.  Put it inside your clothes for added 'warmth'.  I realize this isn't bug-out bag information but it's still good survival information.

You can make your bug-out bag as complicated as you want. Here's a website that specializes in survival kits and packs, and carries a wide line of things you can put in your bug-out bag: 

But this post is about the uncomplicated bug-out bag; the simplest bag you can put together.  For a simple, uncomplicated bug-out bag that you can assemble with what you have on hand: a layered combo of jackets, a spare pair of socks, a spare pair of underwear, matches and a lighter, a couple of water bottles, a handful (or more) of hard candy (mints, butterscotch, whatever you like), a big bag of peanut or peanut butter M&Ms or trail mix.  That is the basid stuff that will keep you going for a few days.
You can add whatever you want to it.  You can get the space blankets and emergency poncho, and you can put in more food, more clothes, maps, compass, small pair of binoculars, a deck of cards, a book or a kindle/e-reader, whatever you want.  Just don't over-burden yourself and end up struggling to carry the bag.  If you require medicine, try to keep some in the bag and rotate it.  Add things like tylenol, a pair of reading glasses if you need them, nail clippers, and a small bar of soap.
If you have the money and the time, you could buy a spare kindle (or other e-reader) and fill it with books that will help you survive in the wild.  You could get medical books, foraging books, how-to build books, whatever you think you'd need.  Check it from time to time to make sure the battery is charged, and keep the wifi feature turned off unless you're adding more books, to save on battery life.  You can also buy a small solar charger for things like Kindles and cell phones.  They're pretty inexpensive, starting around $15 last time I looked.
These are just some ideas to help you get started.  No one is completely immune from the possibility of having to leave their home, so it's a good idea to toss a few of these things into a bag and have it ready. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

New Book - Food Self-Sufficieny: Reality Check

It's here!

    More great information for preppers, homesteaders, and others who have a goal to work toward food self-sufficiency!  Find out what you'll need and how much, to produce and store your own food!  Read great tips from my own experiences.  A great deal, for only .99 on Amazon!

Here's a list of the chapters in the book, so you can see if there's a subject of particular interest to you:

Table of Contents

Chapter 2 Jars
Chapter 3 Chickens
Chapter 4 Other Domestic Meat Animals
Chapter 5 Grains
Chapter 6 Foraging
Chapter 7 Hunting
Chapter 8 Fishing
Chapter 9 Conclusion

And here's the Introduction, copied and pasted from the book file.  It'll might help you decide whether to buy the book.


     Often in conversations the subject comes up about growing or producing our own food. Some people want to move to the country and get into small-time farming, and some just want to have a garden. Others want to have a few meat animals around, such as chickens or rabbits.
    There are also those who want to work toward producing most or all of their own food. Some like the independence and some worry about future hardships, either from natural disasters or man-made events.
         But if you're going to grow a garden or crops, what do you need to do that? How much land? What type of land? How will you preserve and store the food you grow?
Animals need shelter and food. Do you have a place to put your chickens, rabbits, goats, calves, or other animals? What will you feed them if times are hard? How will you feed them now, if your goal is self-sufficiency? Will your plan include buying feed, or growing it yourself?
         In addition to gardening and raising animals, other sources for food self-sufficiency include foraging, hunting, and fishing. What supplies or equipment will you need to do these things? What laws will you have to follow, and do they allow you enough plants or animals to meet your needs.
         This books is about the numbers. It's not a how-to book, it's about what you need for the “how to”. We'll look at how to figure out how much space you need for gardens or animals, how many jars you'll need if you plan to get into canning, and what other options there are for storing food.
         I'll talk about animals and their needs, and suggest ways to feed and shelter them that won't break your bank account. I'll try to point you the right direction to find out what you need to know about foraging, hunting, and fishing, plus share some tips from my own experiences.
        This book is geared toward those with limited funds, but will also be helpful to more prosperous readers who are considering growing or otherwise providing for most or all of their own food. The 'how-to' may vary but the numbers are the same, whether you're rich or poor.
         Some people are 'preppers' and have been buying and storing food in case of hard times. It's a great plan, but knowing how to produce your own food is real security. Hand in hand with that is knowing what you'll need to produce, preserve, and store that food. That is what this book is about.
This book kind of snuck it's way from my mind and out my fingers on the computer keyboard.  It's not the second book I'd planned to write, and still plan to write.  But now that one will be Poverty Prepping, Volume 3, and whatever subtitle I give it.
So keep those stories and comments coming.  The winners of our prep items contest will be in the third book...the one that was meant to be the second book!