Monthly Archives - May 2016

Survival Kit for Not Quite the End of the World

Preppers are a resourceful group of people and there aren’t too many dire situations we don’t have some type of prepared response for ready in our minds. Our plans and preparations for survival are expansive and limited in most cases only by our imaginations or our paycheck. You name the disaster and we have got the bases covered in terms survival kit, our basic needs, bug out plans and tactical DEFCON 1 defensive measures.

But there is still a large number of people in the world who simply don’t see the same value in preparing as preppers do. I personally think that number is coming down, but like everything else, there are degrees of urgency based upon your own situation and each individuals’ views of likely risks as you see them. I know friends who 4 years ago would laugh at the mere suggestion that our country could have anything approaching an economic collapse but who now, at least in conversations, agree that the future looks a little dimmer than even they had imagined. They can now freely admit that they have a sense that there will be bumps ahead, but disagree on how much you should worry about or prepare for any ‘potential’ disaster. They can acknowledge increased risks but they don’t feel inclined to do too much about it.

Then there are other people who never in a million years believe anything bad like economic collapse, pandemic, war or outright tyranny could happen in this our enlightened society. They also believe that the mere thought of bad people getting together to do bad things and not tell anyone (conspiracy) is a sign of mental illness. Sure they will agree that monstrous atrocities have happened in our collective past but rationalize that away because people were less educated, or concede it is limited today to a few violent places in third world countries. They will tell you that as a modern, interconnected world we are so much more thoughtful and considerate now. Rational discourse rules the day.

They have no doubt seen far too many Oscar award-winning, tear-jerking movies about bad people and bad situations to believe that any tragedy on a similar scope could befall us in these progressive times. These bad stuff deniers seem to have this view of the Star Trek ‘United Federation of Planets’ utopia where everyone gets along (usually) and there is peace and harmony across the cosmos if only the smart people (elites) are in charge. Sounds nice doesn’t it?

Well, even these people who have watched far too much TV and rely too heavily on the wizards of smart can admit that even if we don’t have Klingon battle cruisers outside our Solar system, you can have storms, both literal and figurative that wreak havoc with our peaceful civilization.

Even Prepping Deniers want a backup plan

Understanding that there are people like those I mentioned above out there, some of whom we are even related to, I wanted to try to put a less ominous spin on Prepping for the benefit of those who need some additional encouragement. You can still have some level of preparedness without going to the lengths that others of us choose to do. Granted, you are only going to be as prepared as the level of time and energy you put into it, but something is better than nothing.

Even if you don’t believe anything bad can or will ever happen, wouldn’t you feel better with a just-in-case survival kit of items on hand?

Even if you don’t believe anything bad can or will ever happen, wouldn’t you feel better with a just-in-case survival kit of items on hand?

To that end, I wanted to put together a list of common sense survival items to have on hand just in case, barring all logic and the goodwill of your fellow enlightened souls, something bad does happen and you are forced to rely on your own self for survival. These survival items are multi-purpose should be non-threatening to anyone out there. I won’t mention camouflage or firearms of any type today but I thought a simple list of items to go into a survival kit for not quite the end of the world could still come in handy to you out there someday.

This survival kit and the items below should be something that anyone can store in a closet of your home, nicely out-of-the-way and hidden from all your friends who would react with horror and derision at the mere hint you were taking any of this ‘prepping nonsense’ seriously. It may not be enough to keep you alive if we really do have a SHTF event, but it will help in many situations where it’s not quite the end of the world.

So for those of you who can foresee some minor inconveniences in life that are worked out shortly, but still want to be prepared, a little…. This list is for you.

Simple Survival Kit List

Backup Power – When the power goes out, it’s good to be able to replace that electricity isn’t it? You can do this in many ways according to how much you want to spend, but let’s assume that a whole home generator is not what you had in mind. Neither is a noisy portable generator. You can still have a fairly reliable source of backup power with a solar panel charging kit like the EnerPlex Kickr IV Portable Solar Charger. This set of panels allows you to roll it out and charge up your cell phone. Add something like Generatr S100 Portable Battery and you can charge a larger battery that will in turn recharge more devices. Another thing to consider with this is having extra batteries on hand should the power go out. I have Sony Eneloop rechargeable batteries but there are many other types of rechargeable batteries that I can use in almost all of my devices like radios and flashlights. I also have spare USB type batteries like a portable RavPower 16750mAh USB charger that sits fully charged. With this one unit, I can charge my iPhone 6 times.

Blackouts happen all the time.

Blackouts happen all the time.

If all that fails, you can also purchase a simple 1000 W inverter to plug into your car’s adapter to provide power to larger appliances or recharge your batteries much faster. Just make sure you have extra fuel stored for your cars too.

Lighting – Even during the bright hours of the day, if you are stuck inside, you could be in the dark, literally. Flashlights are a must have for power outages even during the day. You can choose from a lot of options like a bright tactical flashlight to something you attach to your key-chain but for the best of both worlds I like a headlamp. This way I can have the light automatically shine where my eyes are pointed and my hands are free to do whatever task I need to. Have one source of light for every family member.

Money – When the power goes out, so too usually goes your ability to get money out of the bank or ATM or make purchases without cash. Almost all point of sale systems rely on electricity and now the internet. so having a small stash of cash on-hand makes pretty good sense. Just a couple hundred dollars could buy your family food, get a hotel room in another state or purchase gas to power your car. Make sure you keep some on you and some hidden at home. You can hide some spare emergency cash in between your phone and the phone case and always have a backup. Have at least $200 in cash where you can get to it. Smaller bills (20’s) are better.

Food – Who wants to go hungry during a power outage or short-term emergency? You can eitherkeep more food stored at home, or purchase food for emergencies. The former will give you better tasting food, but the later requires a little less discipline. Storing extra food in your survival kit keeps everything in one place, but it does take up additional room. Ideally we wouldn’t lose that space to something you already have storage options for, but it may work out better this way.

Along with actually storing and having access to food to eat, you need a way to cook it unless you want to eat a lot of cold canned food. One of the better options I have found is simple freeze-dried camping meals. All you need for these is hot water which you can either heat over a fire outside or with a small camping stove like the JetBoil. Sure the freeze-dried meals aren’t going to be the healthiest options but for short-term situations like this they store nicely, pack a pretty decent amount of calories (make sure you check first) and are filling. I would much rather eat a warm packet of Mountain House Chili-Mac than eat a cold or even warm can of beans. Have enough meals for 5 days for each family member.

Water – Water is one of the trickier items if you consider it. It is all around us usually, but clean drinking water may be hard to come by at times. If the water isn’t coming from the faucet, you might need to find a source. Fortunately, in most climates, there is water around us in lakes, pools, hot-tubs, water heaters and streams. You should store one gallon of water per person per day. We have been going with 5 days so far, so plan accordingly.

Having water on-hand is the best, but just in case, you need a water filter too. For the most basic needs, you can boil water for a minute to kill any bacteria. Filters like the gravity filters from Platypus allow for a lot of water filtration plus carrying capacity in a short time. LifeStraw makes an individual option too that is cheaper, but you can’t filter a large amount of water using one of these easily. Compared to boiling, purification tablets and the LifeStraw, I prefer the gravity fed options best.

Do you have a supply on cash just in case the banks don’t let you in or the ATM machines aren’t working?

Do you have a supply on cash just in case the banks don’t let you in or the ATM machines aren’t working?

Shelter – We will assume that you have shelter since this is not quite the end of the world and heat isn’t something you can easily plan around without power. Cold is something that can be easily addressed with a little more preparation. For this a good three season sleeping bag is a nice item to have for each member of your family. Optionally, you can go with something like thepuffy blanket from Rumpl which packs down small and will keep in body heat. Hats and gloves are good also.

Communications – A simple weather radio will help you stay in touch with what is going on and you can even use some of these to charge your portable devices and also see in the dark with the included flashlight. No, you won’t be able to communicate out, but you can stay informed.

How do you store your survival kit?

For most of the items mentioned above,  they will easily fit in a good-sized plastic tote. Something like Rubbermaid’s 48 Gallon Action Packer will allow you to store these items neatly away. You may need additional options for water since that takes up so much space but the rest of these items should fit fine.

That will get the most basic needs out-of-the-way, but what else could you store if you were really hoping to cover more bases?

Miscellaneous tools and gearA good sturdy knife is important as well as a multi-tool or at least a decent set of tools to work on items around the house. A nicely stocked first aid kit would be a good addition. Disposable lighters are always handy and are much easier to use that a fire striker.

Security – I said I wouldn’t mention guns, so you can use something like pepper spray or a tazerif you feel that your security would be helped by having something. I would tend to agree.

Mobility – The ability to pack all your gear into a bag would be another nice to have, but if you are talking about evacuating, we have moved well past the simple survival kit mentioned above. If you do decide something more robust is necessary, we have lots of articles on the Prepper Journal that can help you with that. Bikes are another consideration.

Hopefully the simple items above can help you out if you find yourself in an emergency that isn’t as dire as The End of the World As We Know it. As anyone who regularly reads this site should know, I strongly advocate much more serious and comprehensive methods, skills and supplies, but that isn’t for everyone. Maybe this will help or inspire those out there who still can’t see the point, but nevertheless want a little insurance.

Survival Kit for Not Quite the End of the World was written by Pat Henry with Prepper Journal and can be viewed here:

http://www.theprepperjournal.com/2016/05/19/survival-kit-for-not-quite-the-end-of-the-world/

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Navigating Without a Compass

Navigating Without a Compass

In a discussion the other day concerning the GPS, I opened my big mouth and mentioned “the proper way to do that would be…”.  An additional comment got me to thinking about how reliant we have become on modern technology and the pretty much lost or dying art of navigating using celestial bodies, including the sun, moon, and stars.  Our ancestors used the sky to guide them day or night, across oceans and deserts.  Sure, our ancestors got lost from time to time or maybe they did not hit the exact point they were aiming for with pinpoint, GPS accuracy, but they did manage to get where they were going.  Like any other survival skill, navigating takes some practice and it is best practiced when you have other items (like a compass or GPS) to rely on in case you fail the first couple of times you attempt it.

If you happen to be navigating with a map but without a compass and you do not find yourself lost in the flat desert or on open water, you should be able to orienteer yourself out of trouble.  This is probably the quickest and easiest form of navigation to master when you have a map and visible terrain features or landmarks that are also marked on your map.  Where most people go wrong with orienteering is they do not take the time to determine where they are on the map.  They get in a hurry, guess, and days later find out the hill they thought that they were standing on top of was actually 10 kilometers north of where they were actually standing.  Finding your location without a compass will require you to place yourself on top of or next to a landmark that you are certain is the correct landmark from which to start navigating.  Finding that landmark may require some extra walking on your part but that extra walking will probably save you thousands of “lost steps” later.

Once you have determined where you are on the map, you will need to orient the map to the North.  This is where using the sun will come into play.  The quickest and easiest method to determine North, anywhere in the world, using the sun is the stick and shadow method.  You will need to find a reasonably straight stick approximately three feet long, a reasonably level, open spot on the ground, and a method for marking two locations on the ground.  Place the stick upright in the ground and mark the first shadow point.  Wait ten to fifteen minutes and mark the second shadow point. Now, stand with the first mark on your left and the other mark on your right and you will be facing North.  The first mark you made will always be West and the second mark you made will be East, creating an East/West line.  Naturally, behind you will be South.  Most maps are printed with a North Arrow in the legend, so orient the map the direction you are facing.

Navigating Without a Compass

The Stick and Shadow Method

Once you have oriented your map to North, determine which direction on the map you need to head to find safety, and the approximate distance to that location.  In most cases, you will not be able to see where you ultimately want to end up from the point you are standing on the ground, so study the map and identify natural or man-made terrain features that are visible from your location AND between where you are and where you are trying to navigate to.  Determine the distance to the terrain features (orienteering points) and  keep an accurate pace count as you walk.  From that point you simply navigate from terrain feature to terrain feature, orienting your map to North as required to keep yourself on a reasonable course.  If you stop to camp for the night, I would recommend stopping early enough to get your East/West line established before the sun goes down and making a permanent mark on a tree or lining up rocks pointing North and the direction of travel you need to head at first light.  Orienteering works best in the daylight when you can see things and even the most experienced navigators/orienteering experts tend to walk in circles in the dark.  If you do not have clear visibility of the night sky and the knowledge to navigate using the stars, I would always opt for stopping for the night.
If you do have a clear view of the night sky, you can use the stars and moon to guide you.  It is important to note, that the stars and moon can and will be obscured by clouds and canopy, so if you are attempting to navigate at night and lose sight of them, it is always best to find adequate shelter until they are visible again.  Many people have been fooled by the thought that they can continue to walk the necessary course with no visible navigational aids and find themselves right where they started at first light.  Doing this will only waste precious energy and mean the difference between life and death in a survival situation.the night, I would recommend stopping early enough to get your East/West line established before the sun goes down and making a permanent mark on a tree or lining up rocks pointing North and the direction of travel you need to head at first light.  Orienteering works best in the daylight when you can see things and even the most experienced navigators/orienteering experts tend to walk in circles in the dark.  If you do not have clear visibility of the night sky and the knowledge to navigate using the stars, I would always opt for stopping for the night.

Personally, I find determining North at night easier than determining North using the stick and shadow method during daylight hours.  If you are in the Northern Hemisphere, finding North is as simple as finding the “Big Dipper” (Ursa Major), determining the pointing stars (the two stars that make the side of the Dipper opposite of the handle), and estimating five times the distance between the two stars in the direction they point.  There you will find the North Star (Polaris) and visualizing an imaginary line from the North Star straight down to the horizon will give you North.  The North Star does not move in the night sky, so once you locate it, you will always be able to reference it.  The “Big Dipper” does rotate around the North Star throughout the year, but the pointing stars always point to the North Star.  As an additional reference in the night sky to locate the North Star, you can find Cassiopeia, which is directly opposite of the “Big Dipper”, and is a five star constellation which forms a “W”.  The center star of Cassiopeia, or the middle peak of the “W” points to the North Star.

Facing the North Star, West will be on your left and East will be on your right, with South at the rear.  As a reference on East/West, locate the constellation Orion.  Orion’s Belt, the three bright stars that form a straight line across the middle of the constellation (the only three bright stars that form a straight line in all of the night sky)  rise in the East and set in the West no matter where you find yourself in the world.  Since Orion moves through the night sky, you will need to establish a good visual on where it rose and where it will set, by observing it as you navigate.

Once you have determined North, East, and West, stand facing the North Star and visualize yourself standing on the dial of a compass.  The North Star will represent “0 degrees” on the compass, if Orion’s Belt is rising it will represent “90 degrees”, and if it is setting it will represent “270 degrees”.  With an idea of which course you need to take from your current location, rotate away from the North Star until you are facing that general direction and reference your viewpoint of the North Star and Orion’s Belt from where you are standing.  If you can make out an identifiable terrain feature or other recognizable feature as a reference point mark it and start walking toward it.  If you find yourself without terrain features and can maintain sight of the North Star and Orion’s Belt, you can keep yourself on course by referencing them as you walk.  It is important to keep in mind that stars, including Orion’s Belt, move through the night sky.  The North Star is really the only constant here, so unless you are plotting a course due North, I would not recommend picking a star on the horizon as an orienteering point.

Now, unless you keep a sextant in your pocket and know how to use it, orienteering or navigating using celestial bodies will never get you within plus or minus 50 meters of an eight digit grid coordinate.  It should not be looked upon as an exact science and before you even attempt it, you need to go ahead and prepare yourself for some frustration.  However, it could, with some practice now, save your life one day when you do find yourself without modern technology.

As with any other survival technique, there are plenty of other ways to determine North and navigate without a compass, map, or GPS.  I only discussed a few here, but there are modifications to the stick and shadow method that take more time and are more accurate or you can use an analog clock/watch to determine North with the sun.  There is a whole host of other means of determining direction using stars or the moon.  I selected the methods that are easiest for most people to grasp, understand, and implement for this article.  If you are interested in discovering other methods, there are entire books dedicated to this very subject.

Navigating Without a Compass was written by Pat Henry with Prepper Journal and can be viewed here:

http://www.theprepperjournal.com/2013/05/08/navigating-without-a-compass/

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Medical Planning for Disaster Scenarios

Medical Planning for Disaster Scenarios

If disaster strikes, you may find yourself on your own, without recourse to the infrastructure we use to stay safe and healthy.

So you prepare for the worst. Food, water and clothes can be easy to stockpile, but what about medicine? First aid kits are available, but what if you need more? What if you or a loved one have specific, unavoidable medical needs? Medical planning should be part of your overall preparedness plans for disasters.

How to Get Started:

“Meeting medical needs during a longer term disaster can be a challenge, but having a plan is an important first step,” Mary Casey-Lockyer, senior associate of Disaster Health Services with the American Red Cross, told Healthline.

She suggests starting by talking to your doctor.

“Discussion about emergencies with the individual’s provider of medical supplies, such as an oxygen provider is also a very important proactive step,” Casey-Lockyer added. “If an individual is on a dialysis regimen, finding out what is the emergency plan for their dialysis provider is lifesaving.”

Learn Your Area’s Plan and Plan Accordingly:

Learning about community-wide disaster plans in your area can also be good idea, Casey-Lockyer and Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior associate of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for Health Security, said.

“One should become familiar with the local hospitals and health departments response plans, stockpiles, and recovery planning as well as their own personal needs in the context of the likely disasters that could occur in the specific geographic area they are located in,” Adalja said.

Casey-Lockyer said visiting your community’s website and speaking with your local government can tell you more about regional disaster planning.

It’s also a good idea– many agencies recommend it — to have your own comprehensive disaster plan. Having necessary medicine is only part of that planning. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provide advice about communication, food and water, and meeting other needs for your family during a major emergency.

For the medical component of your plan –based on what the experts told Healthline, and suggestions from federal agencies– ask yourself a few questions:

  • Who might you have to care for in a disaster?
  • What are their medical needs?
  • How often do they need it and in what quantity?
  • How do you normally obtain it and store it?

How Much Medicine Should You Have On Hand?

For specific prescriptions, having a month in reserve is a good rule of thumb, Casey-Lockyer and Adalja said. Getting it, however, can be a challenge.

Elite First Aid Fully Stocked GI Issue Medic Kit Bag, Large

Elite First Aid Fully Stocked GI Issue Medic Kit Bag, Large

Prescription limitations depend on insurance coverage, they said.

An insurance company might cap at 30-, 60- or 90-day amounts, Casey-Lockyer said. Your pharmacist should know the number of doses you’re allowed.

“(Gathering a 30-day reserve) can be difficult if your insurance coverage only allows for a 30-day supply,” Casey-Lockyer said. “If that is the case, renewing your medication at the 28-day mark of the prescription might allow an individual to stockpile a couple of doses a month to build up a reserve. Even a week’s worth of reserve would be helpful.”

She said you could also request a paper prescription for emergencies, but some regions only allow doctors to write electronic prescriptions.

Keeping a written health history, current list of medications and copy of your insurance coverage with your reserve supplies is also good, Casey-Lockyer said.

Other Additions to Your Reserve:

When building your reserve, also consider more general medical needs that can be treated with nonprescription medications: pain, swelling, colds and other day-to-day discomforts.

Again ask yourself questions: what you/your family use, how much and how often, how you get it and how you store it.

If you get a first aid kit, it should have items that address these needs. They might cover fewer days or people than you want, though. Planning for long-term emergencies might require a shopping trip for some additions.

Casey-Lockyer had some suggestions for over-the-counter medicines to add to your reserve:

  • acetaminophen
  • ibuprofen
  • aspirin for heart attack
  • cold meds
  • allergy relief
  • antacid
  • Pepto-Bismol- type medication
  • anti-diarrheal med
  • daily multivitamin

Keeping it Ready/Keeping it Safe:

Rubbermaid ActionPacker Storage Box – Store your emergency preps and they are ready for travel.

Rubbermaid ActionPacker Storage Box – Store your emergency preps and they are ready for travel.

The DHS recommends storing your whole disaster kit in a few easily transportable containers — even unused garbage cans! — with individual items in airtight plastic bags.

But Adalja and Casey-Lockyer warned that the medicine’s needs must be remembered while storing a reserve.

“Medications should ideally be stored in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendation which will vary with each medication,” Adalja said.

Since you’re planning for possibilities, not certainties, your supplies may sit for a lengthy period before use or, hopefully, never be used in an emergency at all.

This means you’ll have to periodically replace supplies with a finite shelf life.

For the medications, Casey-Lockyer and Adalja said the expiration dates will be your guide.

Special Cases:

So what if you are faced with disaster, and you need medicines like insulin, which can require refrigeration?

Casey-Lockyer again said your healthcare providers can help.

“Many newer types of insulin coverage do not need refrigeration and the local pharmacist will have that information,” she said. “Individuals taking biologic medication should discuss with their pharmacist how (they) might store the medication during a loss of power.”

If the medication does need to be kept cold, there are products available that can do the job, she said.

The site diabetesselfmanagement.com  suggests as an option the FRIO insulin cooling wallet or other device that use evaporation to keep drugs cool and has other helpful suggestions.

Having an emergency source of power to keep medications like insulin cold is vital in some homes. The Honda EU2000I 2000 Watt Super Quiet Inverter Generator is a good choice.

Having an emergency source of power to keep medications like insulin cold is vital in some homes. The Honda EU2000I 2000 Watt Super Quiet Inverter Generator is a good choice.

Adalja also suggested emergency generators or battery-powered cooling containers as way to protect medicines that must be kept cool.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has specific tips for using insulin during a disaster:

  • U.S. insulin manufacturers recommend refrigerating insulin between about 36 degrees Fahrenheit to 46 degrees Fahrenheit.  If unopened, this insulin will remain effective until the listed expiration date.
  • Insulin should be as cool as possible, but do not freeze it. If it does freeze, do not use it.
  • Insulin in the original vials or cartridges can be unrefrigerated between 59 F and 86 F as many as 28 days and remain usable. This is regardless of whether the container is opened or still sealed.
  • If the Insulin has been “altered for the purpose of dilution or by removal from the manufacturer’s original vial,” the FDA recommends disposal inside of two weeks.
  • Extreme temperatures will cause loss of potency. The longer the exposure to temperature extremes, the greater the loss. Do not expose insulin to direct heat or direct sunlight.
  • “(Exposure to extreme temperatures) can result in loss of blood glucose control over time,” the FDA states.  “Under emergency conditions, you might still need to use insulin that has been stored above 86 F.”
  • When a fresh supply of appropriately-stored insulin becomes available, the supply subjected to extremes should be thrown out as quickly as can be safely done.

Some Last Thoughts:

You’ll have a lot of questions when disaster planning and that’s to be expected. Fortunately, reliable resources exist to help you.

Use them, and remember basic needs like access to vital medicines. Those are a good place to start looking for the right answers. Doing so will help you develop a solid, common-sense plan on which you can depend should the worst occur.

About the author: Anthony Watt is a writer based in Illinois. He writes about health, science, nature and just about anything else that catches his interest.

Sources:

http://emergency.cdc.gov/preparedness/plan/

https://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan

https://www.ready.gov/maintaining-your-kit

http://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/managing-diabetes/general-health-issues/disaster-preparedness/

http://www.healthline.com/diabetesmine/frio-insulin-cooling-case-review

http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/EmergencyPreparedness/ucm085213.htm

https://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit

https://www.ready.gov/faq-details/Medications-in-an-emergency-kit-1370032125843

http://emergency.cdc.gov/preparedness/kit/disasters/

http://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1390846764394-dc08e309debe561d866b05ac84daf1ee/checklist_2014.pdf

Self-Storage Survival: Cache Option for Preppers? was written by Anthony Watt with Prepper Journal and can be viewed here:

http://www.theprepperjournal.com/2016/04/15/medical-planning-disaster-scenarios/

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