Tag - Self-Reliance

Creating an At-Work Emergency Bag

Creating an At-Work Emergency Bag

Like many other preppers all over the world I find myself in daily situations where I feel less than fully prepared. While you can never be ready for everything, and yes this includes when you are hunkered down in your bunker with the Fort Knox of dried foods and more guns and ammo than the Israeli army, there are some things that we can do to help minimize this. One of the biggest holes in my preparedness plan is work. Like almost everyone else I spend the majority of my time at work, specifically a school. While the school does have standard emergency provisions such as emergency blankets, medical supplies and enough salvageable materials and resources to at the very least, coupled with my EDC (everyday carry), put me in a very good position to head home to re-evaluate the situation. However, it could be better. As preppers we also have a moral responsibility to aid others when we can. Having an emergency bag, or preferably several, at work could make the difference for not only you but for the unprepared as well.

So what would this emergency bag or kit contain? In this article we will look at several points of consideration and areas that will need to be explored for you to make your own at work emergency bag. This is by no means a how to guide or my own personal opinion, more an aid in helping you, the reader, evaluate and create your own kit specifically tailored to your situation and the legal requirements and regulations in your area.

Some Big Questions

The first thing to ask yourself is what is the purpose of your kit? Is its purpose to get you to a specific place? To manage the immediate situation? Or to equip you and your co-workers with the means of effecting self rescue. If you are looking to get to a specific place you will be needing something lightweight and comfortable to wear even if you have sustained injury. If you are staying put you will be more concerned with medical supplies and provisions. Also, you will require materials and ways to secure your surrounding area. I.e clearing debris and checking for immediate threats like water, gas and electrical lines. If self rescue is your goal then a means of reaching help quickly and safely will be your main points of concern.

Mini bolt cutters can be carried easily and cut though locks or metal in an emergency.

Mini bolt cutters can be carried easily and cut through locks or metal in an emergency.

The next big question is how many people will be in your group and how many kits will you have? While safety in numbers and the additional manpower can be a big advantage, will everyone share your point of view or plan for survival? Will you have a set hierarchy or chain of command in place if an emergency does require it? An emergency situation is only made worse with the chaos of panic. Looking into or addressing these situations now will directly affect your gear and plan of action.

Let’s say you will go it alone or with a very small group. This will mean you will need gear that is lightweight with more weight and space being taken up by necessities such as water or medical supplies. On the other hand, if you go with a larger group you will be able to transport more gear and will have more options for what you can do in your situation. For example, you could carry a range of tools that could help you bypass obstacles easier, such as a crowbar or bolt cutters. You may also have more chance of people having access to a functioning vehicle or medical/emergency training.

Finally, and in many ways the most important question and without an answer to this, even your best laid plans will never leave the drawing board. How will you fund and start this endeavor? Can you get permission from your boss to store gear at your place of work? Will your co-workers be on board or just go with it when the time comes leaving you with stressed out, unprepared, possibly dangerous people to have to handle? Training or including others in your preps is a necessity if you plan includes others. See How to Make a Prepper by Benjamin Burns for more information on this.

If you have a single kit you will limit options for space and weight, if you have several the storage space and price may go up, one for everyone it certainly will. So before reading further these questions need to be answered.

Gear, Gear and More Gear for your Emergency Bag

Paratus 3 Day Operator’s Pack has a lot of features for less than $100.

Paratus 3 Day Operator’s Pack has a lot of features for less than $100.

Onto the matter of the gear. Like all good BOBs (bug out bags) a good emergency bag relies on the same principles. With that in mind let’s look at the first aspect: the bag itself.

You have a wide variety of options to consider here. You could go with durable military bags with ample padding, strapping and webbing for gear or a more discreet civilian bag that doesn’t draw attention. Others prefer high visibility bags with attached lights and whistles for easy access similar to the design of airplane life jackets or flame retardant bags that while not all too well designed will ensure your gear remains safe from fire and is partially waterproof. Each has their pros and cons and should be chosen when and only when the rest of your kit has been assembled. One of the golden rules of BOBs: buy the bag to fit the kit not the kit that will fit in the bag.

Next, clothing and protective gear. Most everyday office buildings, schools or company work spaces are built of similar materials, concrete, re-bar, steel (possibly corrugated) and plywood. These materials while dependent on size can be moved if blocking an escape route. However, doing so without adequate hand and eye protection would be a mistake. Strong work gloves,goggles and masks can be extremely useful. Be sure to take in mind the amount of protection verses dexterity you will need. If working with wires and fine tools is what you expect bulky industrial work gloves may not be the best choice. In regards to goggles and masks the standard N95 mask and standard full eye and nose goggles should suffice for keeping dust or smoke at bay.

Onto the case of footwear. While work boots are preferable don’t underestimate a comfortable pair of dress shoes. Try yours out on a long distance walk in the city or on a short jog. It may sound strange but it could save you time, money and space on gear you may not need. While helmets may be unnecessary they are a fair consideration depending on your place of work, but be sure to make sure you can wear it with your goggles and mask with good visibility.

fireman-100722_640

The next main concern in any kit is signalling and communications. For this aspect of your kit you should be looking at mid/long-range ham radios, solar/kinetic emergency radios, flares and glow sticks. The reason for this is that you can keep in contact with whoever is in the area, keep track of emergency broadcasts and signal for rescue. Replying on cell phones and land line communication is a gamble in a survival situation and should not be relied upon. If you are going to rely on ham radio then you first have to learn how to use it and all the relevant emergency frequencies. A good source of information for that is Grid Down Communications by Pat Henry.

Now let’s move onto medical matters. If any of your party are injured leaving them untreated can only make matters worse. Having a basic knowledge of first aid can prove invaluable and as the saying goes: Knowledge doesn’t weigh anything.

A small axe can make survival in many situations much easier.

A small axe can make survival in many situations much easier.

However basic supplies don’t hurt. Having a standard trauma kit in your pack can provide you with. A kit I would recommend is the Bighorn Sportsman Medical Kit, or at least one which contains similar provisions. That said, the best medical kit is always one you put together and tailor yourself.

The last but by no means the least important is food and water. While having a store at work for several days a head would be great it unfortunately isn’t possible most of the time. Having cooking gear and fuel, while they double as a heat source are, for most, quite unnecessary. Dried long life foods such as Datrex bars which are well suited to a small lightweight kit. While they are by no means gourmet but they will get the job done of sustaining you until rescue or self rescue occurs. Water, like food, does not need to be stored in great volume. A one liter bottle of water per person should be sufficient for 1 – 2 days. While glass containers will allow you to store water for longer periods of time and should be considered for at home stores, plastic is the best choice here due to its weight, durability and flexibility. Cooking equipment and food that requires such should be avoided to save weight and space. That said if it is within your capability to do so a hot meal can go a long way in regards to boosting moral.

Locked and Loaded

The last aspect of a kit to talk about is weapons and tools. While carrying a small axe, firearm or full tang knife is something that most, if not all, survivalists consider essential it may not be safe nor permitted in the work place. While it is tempting to simply conceal these items from people in your personal belongings it is also worth talking to your boss or manager about these things with the aim of having all your gear approved. Depending on where you work you may be faced with different rules, restrictions and regulations for what you can carry. Always make sure that you have the right permits and documentation. Who knows you may even make a Prepper out of them.

 

Creating an At-Work Emergency Bag was written by Mike Turner with Prepper Journal and can be viewed here:

http://www.theprepperjournal.com/2016/01/06/creating-an-at-work-emergency-bag/

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The Easy Way to Start a Wood Fire

The Easy Way to Start a Wood Fire

Fire, and all it represents, is one of the building blocks of survival along with food, water, and shelter.  Fire will cook the food, purify the water, and heat the shelter.  For that reason, it should come as no surprise that fire starting tools and paraphernalia are one of the first things newbie preppers acquire when they are first getting started.

Acquiring tools is all well and good and not to be discounted.  The real test, however, lies in the ability to actually start a wood fire. To that end, there are as many ways to start a wood fire as there are preppers.  Everyone has their favorite method, even if it is inefficient and poorly executed.  Most likely, they simply do not know of a better way.

Help is on its way. Ron Brown, friend of Backdoor Survival and author of the Non-Electric Lighting Series of books and eBooks, knows how to light fires.  He has been doing it for over 50 years, and he is here today to teach us how.

Ron Brown’s Easy Way to Start a Wood Fire

Intro

I’ve probably started upwards of 10,000 wood fires in my life. My parents heated with wood when I was a child and I, myself, have heated with wood most of my adult life.

Still, 10,000 sounds like a lot.

I keep a box of strike-anywhere wooden matches beside the stove. I use about one box a year. The boxes hold 250 matches (though some hold 300). At that rate it would take 30-40 years to light 10,000 fires. Then again, I’m 75 years old.

The purpose of this article is to share with you what I’ve learned; to share with you the easiest way I know of to light a fire.

Objective

At the onset, we need to recognize that your objectives and my objectives might not be the same. My objectives are simple: (1) to start a fire, (2) as easily as possible, (3) with as high a success rate as possible, and (4) as safely as possible.

I feel no obligation whatsoever to start a fire the way grandpa did. Or how the American Indians did. Or how the aborigines in the Australian outback still do it today.

I have a camping buddy who feels that if it takes more than one match to light the campfire then it is not a proper fire. It’s his Boy Scout religion. I’m sure he constantly fights the urge to dump a bucket of water on my campfire and force me to start over and do it right this time.

In his heart of hearts he knows that my fire is inferior to his. It’s like new math. Okay, so I got the right answer. But I didn’t use sanctioned methodology so, in his eyes, my answer doesn’t qualify as an answer even though the result is correct.

How about you? Do you want a fire? Or do you want to play primitive? Only you can answer that. For my part, my aspiration is to keep my fanny warm and cook supper. I just wanna get the fire going. How can I say this politely? Screw primitive.

So Here’s How You Do the Doin’

In general terms, we’re going to:

(1) assemble a stack of firewood ready for burning
(2) insert, into the stack, a patch of cloth soaked in kerosene
(3) light the patch with a match

Done. The fire is started.

For “insertion into the stack” I, personally, use some long-nose needle-nose pliers from the Dollar Store. Cheapies. They work great.

The Easy Way to Start a Wood Fire

Basically, that’s all there is to it. Lesson over. (Although the devil, as they say, is in the details.)

Firewood. The firewood needs to be seasoned, dry. Not green. Not wet. It should be split so that it has sharp edges, something for the flame to bite into. Split wood is easier to start than round wood (i.e. round like wooden pencils).

The Stack. You can skip the so-called bird’s nest, the tinder, and the kindling. If the wood is both dry and split, you can start out with wood the size of your wrist. Starting out with “real” firewood saves mega time compared to starting out with newspaper and wood shavings and building the fire up with successively larger pieces.

The pieces in the stack can be parallel to each other (just like you would carry them in an armload of firewood). The stack does not need to have successive layers crisscrossed. Nor must it be set up teepee-fashion.

The Cloth Patches. Cotton works better than synthetic fabrics. Synthetics will not absorb and hold as much kerosene as cotton. Discarded blue jeans, T-shirts, sweat shirts, and athletic socks will all fill the bill.

A patch of cloth 4″ x 4″ is a good size but please realize that a 4″ x 4″ piece from a handkerchief will not soak up as much kerosene as a 4″ x 4″ piece from a Turkish bath towel. Of course, when you get to the actual fire building, you can always use two pieces.

  • Safety. Here I need to add a word about spontaneous combustion. I started out as an industrial arts teacher. I learned that all of the high school industrial arts shops in New York State have a red-painted metal can with a spring-loaded cover labeled “oily rags.” Why? Because oily rags are subject to spontaneous combustion.

It’s a fact known to everyone of my grandfather’s generation but to no-one of my children’s generation. I invite non-believers to Google for “spontaneous combustion oily rags” and do their homework before scoffing.

Consider this from back in the day:  “Spontaneous combustion [is] . . . the ignition of bodies by the internal development of heat without the application of an external flame. It not infrequently takes place among heaps of rags . . . lubricated with oil . . .” – Encyclopedia Americana, 1919

Storing Patches. When I tear up my rags into 4″ x 4″ pieces, I start with the used (and oily) shop clothes in my workshop. I do this in the fall and spend a couple of hours cutting up enough rags to last for the whole upcoming year.

Starting with the shop cloths means that many of the pieces I’m cutting up will be oily right from the get-go. So, after tearing or cutting my rags into pieces, I store them (before use) in empty metal paint cans (one-gallon size). I can tap down the lid with a rubber mallet and make an air-tight seal. When needed, I can pry open the lid, just like opening a gallon of paint, with a screwdriver.

Four or five one-gallon cans of cloth patches, tightly packed, are enough for the whole upcoming year.

Marinating the Patches in Kerosene. Gallon sizes are fine for on-the-shelf storage but are not convenient for day-to-day handling so I buy pint-size cans of wood stain from the Dollar Store. “Stain cans” are much easier to clean out than paint cans.

These pint-size cans are metal so there’s no danger of breakage. They’re air tight so they don’t leak on other gear. They’re easily pried open with a screwdriver and easily resealed with finger pressure.

I pack a pint-size can with dry patches (taken from a gallon can) then pour kerosene into the pint-size can, letting it saturate the cloth all the way to the bottom. I prepare a couple of pint-size cans at a time. In use, when the first pint-size can is empty, I start using the second. In the days that follow, before the second can is empty, I refill the first.

Matches. The source of ignition can be matches or a cigarette lighter or sparks from a magnesium/flint striker or steel wool touching both terminals of a 9-volt battery. Your choice. The easiest technique (and “easy” is the theme of this article) is to use a strike-anywhere wooden kitchen match.

Diamond (brand) still makes strike-anywhere matches. They are for sale today in mom-and-pop grocery stores as well as eBay. Interestingly, although strike-anywhere matches can be purchased on eBay and sent through the mail, “strike-on-box” is all you’ll find in the big-box stores like Wal-Mart. And don’t bother searching for Ohio Blue Tip. Diamond bought them out years ago.

Gaye’s Note:  Our local supermarket in Friday Harbor told us that they do not stock the strike-anywhere matches because they self-combust.  Urban legend or CYA?  Who knows.  Amazon sells them.

Incidentally, if the tiny white tip (the “strike anywhere” part) breaks off the head of the match, the match will still light if you rub it against the “sandpaper” panel on the side of the box. But you already knew that, right?

AND, don’t forget that you can carry fire from another source. A twig, a splinter, or a rolled-and-twisted sheet of paper can be used to carry fire from a stove burner, a candle, or a kerosene lamp to the fire you are building.

Still, the EASIEST ignition source is a strike-anywhere wooden kitchen match.

The Easy Way to Start a Wood Fire

Kerosene. Throughout this write-up I’ve said “kerosene” because it’s something everyone is familiar with. Actually, diesel fuel is the better choice.

The odor we associate with both kerosene and diesel fuel comes from the sulfur content.

There are two grades of kerosene, K1 and K2. The K2 grade is intended for use in appliances that are vented to the outside (a home-heating furnace with a chimney, for example). K2 kerosene contains 3000 ppm (parts per million) sulfur.

K1 kerosene is intended for appliances that are not vented to the outside (kerosene lamps, for example). K1 kerosene contains 400 ppm sulfur. You can confirm this with online MSDS sheets. Just Google for “k1 kerosene sulfur.”

In the bad old days, before 1993, diesel fuel contained 5000 ppm sulfur. Between 1993 and 2006, “low-sulfur” diesel fuel with 500 ppm was introduced. Since then, diesel fuel with “ultra-low” sulfur (15 ppm) has been mandated for on-road use.

Sulfur in Diesel

Point is, if you use my fire-starting method but want to avoid a kerosene smell inside the house, then today’s diesel fuel with 15 ppm sulfur is a better choice than K1 kerosene with 400 ppm.

“But what if I don’t have any kerosene or diesel fuel? What if the stuff really does hit the fan? OMG. Armageddon is here. The sky is falling. The sky is falling.”

Easy there, big fella. There are lots of materials you can substitute for kerosene. They might not smell good. They might smoke. They might be flammable (e.g. gasoline) rather than combustible (e.g. kerosene). In which case you must exercise some brain cells to avoid – POOF! – losing your eyebrows. But you can start a fire, no doubt about it.

Here are some alternate fuels with which to saturate your cloth patches:

Coleman fuel
Gasoline
Mineral spirits
Paint thinner
Turpentine
Linseed oil
Vaseline
Vicks VapoRub
Preparation H
Motor oil
Brake fluid
Power steering fluid
Mineral oil (laxative)
Baby oil
Hydraulic oil
70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol
151-proof rum
Everclear (brand) 190-proof grain alcohol
Sierra Silver (brand) 150-proof tequila
Denatured alcohol (used as shellac thinner and as fuel in marine stoves)
Heet or Drygas (methanol)
Charcoal lighter fluid
Cigarette lighter fluid
Automotive starting fluid (ether)
Lacquer thinner
Acetone
WD-40 (penetrating oil)
Cooking oil (olive oil and similar)
Lard
Margarine
Butter
Hoppe’s 9 (gun cleaning solvent)
Oil-based wood stain
Many kinds of cologne, after-shave lotion and perfume

Many aerosol spray cans (for insect repellent, paint, and hair spray) contain a flammable propellant. Here you’ll have to experiment to see what works; you cannot trust what it says on the label. Spray a postage-stamp-size cloth patch and see if it will light with a match. (TIP: When lighting, hold the patch with tweezers or needle nose pliers.)

Candle wax dripped onto a cloth patch works well. You can also rub (firmly) a candle or a bar of soap or a bar of paraffin canning wax into your patch (both sides, please). If you have a choice, avoid the soap. Scorching soap does not smell good.

Have I, personally, tried all these things? Yes.

“But that’s not the way grandpa lit a fire. Or The Waltons. Or Little House on the Prairie. That’s not how the Boy Scouts do it.”

Sorry ’bout that. You want romance? Nostalgia? A merit badge? Or a fire? Come on. The kids are starting to shiver. Wouldn’t you settle for a fire?

Russian Fireplace

My “Russian fireplace” in action.

The photo above is my “Russian Fireplace”.  It’s all ceramic (no metal parts). In use, you close the stove door (thereby hiding the flame). The brick soaks up heat from the fire and then then radiates heat out into the room. You do not feed in one piece of wood at a time. This kind of stove runs at top speed or at zero, nothing in between. It runs flat out until only ashes remain. Then you start again.

That means starting two or three fires per day from scratch. Five months x 2 fires/day = 300 per heating season.

The Final Word

Why is it that humans seek out the challenge of doing something easy in a complicated fashion?  I know that I do.  I don’t know about you, but going forward I want to embrace easy.  I want to embrace simple,  I want to do the least amount of work necessary to get the job done with the fewest number of tools, implements, and gizmos.

I don’t know if it is even possible to back away from technology and incorporate the simplest of pioneer skills into our daily lives.  We can try, though.  Starting a wood fire the easy way will give us a good start.

Once again, I would like to thank Ron for his contribution and support of Backdoor Survival.  If you are interested in learning more about what he has to say, be sure to check out his books in the Non-Electric Lighting Series and also his real claim to fame, The Amazing 2000-Hour Flashlight.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
Gaye

Bargain Bin:  Below you will find links to the items related to today’s article.  Of course, in addition to these items, you will want to check out Ron’s Non-Electric Lighting Series of books and eBooks.

Diamond GreenLight Kitchen Matches – 3 Pack (Strike anywhere):  Our local supermarket in Friday Harbor told us that they do not stock the strike-anywhere matches because they self-combust.  Urban legend or CYA?  Who knows.

BIC Disposable Classic Lighter With Child Guard:  This six pack of Bic lighters is reasonably priced but check around since these often go on sale locally.  BICs just work – every time.

Zippo Street Chrome Pocket Lighter:  Zippo has been creating virtually indestructible, windproof refillable lighters for more than 75 years. The Zippo Street Chrome pocket lighter is no exception. This lighter features a classic textured chrome finish and carries the same lifetime guarantee–to either work or be fixed by Zippo free of charge–for life. This lighter uses butane fuel. All wearable parts including flints and wicks are replaceable.  Every prepper should own at least one Zippo!

UCO Stormproof Matches, Waterproof and Windproof with 15 Second Burn Time – 25 Matches:  A ZIPPO or BIC lighter are always good to have but it would not hurt to have some stormproof matches as well.

Fire Cord 550 Paracord, Black:  This is really neat stuff that I am putting through its paces right now.  Basically, it is 7 strand Paracord + 1 strand of Fire Cord added as fire tinder.  Like I said, need stuff.

Live Fire Starter

Live Fire Starter

Live Fire Original Emergency Fire Starter: This emergency fire starter is compact and a cinch to use. Completely waterproof! I know because I tried to drown my tin in salt water.  The Live Fire Sport is the same product, but in an even smaller, 1 inch by 2 inch tin.

Light My Fire Swedish FireSteel:  This “Scout” is the one I own. Using this basic pocket fire-starter, you can get a nice fire going under almost any conditions. This is a small, compact version and is my personal favorite.

The NEW 2000-Hour Flashlight:  The first edition of this book (“The AMAZING 2000-Hour Flashlight”) contained 54 illustrations. This edition (“The NEW 2000-Hour Flashlight”) contains 128 illustrations.  Using off-the shelf supplies costing less than $10, you can modify a lantern-style flashlight to run for 2,000 hours!  Only 99 cents for the eBook version.

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Need something from Amazon (and who doesn’t)? I earn a small commission from purchases made when you begin your Amazon shopping experience here. You still get great Amazon service and the price is the same, no matter what.

Amazon has a feature called Shop Amazon – Most Wished For Items. This is an easy tool for finding products that people are ‘wishing” for and in this way you know what the top products are.  All you need to do is select the category from the left hand side of the screen.

The Amazon Top Most Wished For and Best Selling Outdoor Items
Emergency Preparedness Items from Amazon.com
Shop Amazon Tactical – Great Selection of Optics, Knives, Cases, Equipment
Amazon Gift Cards

Help support Backdoor Survival. Purchases earn a small commission and for that I thank you!

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This article was written by Gaye Levy from Backdoor Survival

Gaye Levy started Backdoor Survival so that she could share her angst and concern about our deteriorating economy and its impact on ordinary, middle-class folks. She also wanted to become a prepper of the highest order and to share her knowledge as she learned it along the way. On Backdoor Survival you will find survival and preparedness tools and tips for creating a self-reliant lifestyle through thoughtful prepping and optimism.

To read more from Gaye, visit her website, Backdoor Survival. You can also follow Gaye on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ and Pinterest or purchase her eBook, The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage on Amazon.com.

This article was written by Gaye Levy and can be viewed here:

http://www.backdoorsurvival.com/easy-way-to-start-a-wood-fire/

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Preppers: Be Careful What you Wish for

Preppers: Be Careful What you Wish for

“Let it all burn to the ground! I’ll be up in the hills with my survival group, two years’ worth of food and a ton of supplies. You can stay here and die. In fact, I hope you all die so I can walk back down here when you are dead and take all of your stuff that you were too stupid to protect.”

Have you ever heard someone talk like that about the end of the world as we know it? I have many times. It is usually on survival forum posts or in the comments of prepper blogs that we hear this vitriol spewed from people who seem to eagerly anticipate a horrible SHTF event. I can’t even grasp the stupidity of comments like that and have to believe that anyone who says anything remotely similar is suffering from a serious lack of intelligence, maturity or both.

How could anyone in their right mind want chaos and anarchy? Who would wish destruction on our entire civilization?

There is another side to this topic though and that is a connected, but slightly different yearning I believe on the part of some preppers, who secretly hope in some small way for TEOTWAWKI in their lives also. This desire isn’t to see anyone harmed although they are probably aware this possibility must come with the territory. It is also not to take advantage of anyone like the comment above. Some preppers might be looking forward to “the big reset” caused by some global catastrophe, not because they are anarchists who want destruction, but are instead searching for something more personal and intimate to the human experience.

I believe that some people are secretly OK with the prospect of TEOTWAWKI because of how our society has become pathetic on some fronts, due to technological advances and nanny state bureaucracies. With all the advancements of science and industry, we have forgotten some of our native abilities and our lives are devoid of the challenges that strengthened and tested our forefathers. When the biggest fear is losing electricity, what has our life as human beings become? When everyone gets a trophy just for showing up, what is the point of striving in the contest of life? If your social life is plunged into a panic due to a brief outage on Facebook, how meaningful is that life? If even sledding must be banned due to the fear of lawsuits, how screwed up are our priorities? If the only answer to getting what you want is to riot, protest or a court battle, how weak have we become as a species, or perhaps more accurately; how much control have we willingly given away?

The Pioneer Spirit is not lost, it is searching for you

This thought has been bouncing around in my brain for some time, but it took another show on NatGeo to bring the concept to the front of my consciousness. I so rarely watch TV and if I do it is almost always National Geographic and that is why so many of my articles feature thoughts gleaned from that network. I do not own stock in them, but I watched the first episode of a show called The Pioneers. This show isn’t radically different from a lot of other reality based shows out there; camera crews follow people carefully selected, no doubt to get along and argue with each other at all the right times, but the premise is “a social experiment that follows four couples for three months as they trade in their 21st-century comforts for covered wagons, campfires, and the harsh reality of life on the American prairie.”

Pioneer Preppers

Cast of the Pioneers on National Geographic.

The main motivation for the couples interviewed generally was to get back to the spirit of the pioneers, our ancestors and see if they could complete a wagon voyage across the prairies of America. This would be without any modern conveniences naturally and the only survival toolsthey are given in the show were common to the 1800’s. In watching that first show I realized that so many of us are yearning for the same type of challenge, but most of us could not and would not appear on any reality show to see how we actually fared. I think that pioneer spirit is in our DNA somehow and our modern society doesn’t give us many chances to exercise this deep down yearning, so that, almost unconscious desire, manifests itself in a tacit longing for a return to a more challenging time.

Sure, you could go off the grid, drop out of society and hike up into the woods but most of us wouldn’t do that willingly unless our lives depended on it and even if we did, the rest of society wouldn’t follow along so it wouldn’t really be the way the pioneers lived life would it? A TEOTWAWKI event would be the great impetus, depending on the disaster, for a mandatory return to a simpler, harsher life. If a great calamity happened, you wouldn’t have to quit your job or turn off your cell phone. You wouldn’t have any choice about growing a garden or trying to repair holes in your jeans. Life would be completely different and you would finally see how you are able to stand up to the challenges of a world that doesn’t come with so many shortcuts.

You don’t have to wait for the end of the world

I can relate to the thoughts I mention above because in some small way I would like to see how I could rise to the challenges faced by our pioneer relatives. I fully understand that life was much harder back then so I don’t want to foolishly wish a return to the 1800’s on any of us, but a big reset would seem to be the quickest, maybe not the least painful way to start over on a lot of things.

If you have similar thoughts there are things you can do now though to try to make sure you are prepared if something happens that does cause us all to lose the modern conveniences that we love and rely on so much to make life easier and more entertaining. You can not only be more prepared, there are ways to test yourself in the process, they just require some effort and planning.

  • Turn off the power – This is the easiest thing you can do to experience a little pain without really sacrificing too much. Just flip the main breaker on Friday night and go all weekend, maybe even a week to see how you handle living without power. How will youcook when the grid is down? What will you do when the lights are out? How will you stay warm or cool?
  • Go hiking for a month – Always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail? Plan a month-long hiking excursion without the benefit of resupply points along the way. This would bebugging out without the roving bands of looters to worry about.
  • Stop buying anything for a month – Could you go without buying anything for a month? We have plenty of food stored, but still make weekly trips to the grocery store. If you had to go without leaving your house for a month could you do that?
  • Turn off the water – This is much harder than electricity at some points of the year. When you have to haul your water and filter it every time you need it, you will appreciate what those pioneers had to do. You might take fewer showers.
  • Try using the bathroom outside for a week – Nothing says ‘I’m a Pioneer’ like pooping in the woods on a cold dark night. If that isn’t enough for you, lose the toilet paper also.
  • Walk or ride a bike everywhere – The new car you have is not very ‘Pioneer’ is it? Try walking the kids to soccer practice for a week. I bet that traveling league wouldn’t work out so well.

I understand the allure of wanting to be tested – to go back to a world without so much noise, where you have to be self-reliant or else you die, but the downside is we easily forget just how difficult that life was. Sure, an EMP for example could send us back to the 1800’s without killing a lot of people immediately, but there would be a large loss of life as the lack of electricity affected people in so many ways. Many people, maybe your own children or spouse could die from simple infections if they were unable to receive antibiotics. Women would die in greater numbers during childbirth. There wouldn’t be a 911 to call if your house caught fire. Retirement? The only way you would get to retire is when you died.

Living like the Pioneers for us wouldn’t be anything like Little House on the Prairie. Your home town would probably look more like a third world slum for generations. Don’t believe me? Have you seen the garbage that piles up after only 10 days? Do you know anyone with horses? Wood-working tools that don’t require power? Wagons for the horses to pull? Steam locomotives or the knowledge to build any of these things?

We may all get to see what it is like living like the Pioneers one day but if I am being honest, I don’t want to go through that turmoil if I have a choice. I don’t want it for myself or my family or anyone in the world. It is one thing to think about it from my sofa watching a reality TV show drinking a cold adult beverage, but if the 1800’s came knocking on my door I know that eventually, probably faster than I like, I would regret the loss in a very real way. As a prepper I do try to plan for scenarios like this but I always try to remind myself that my preparations are for worst case scenarios and that I would really be much happier if these plans I make never saw the light of day. As a society, I might think we need a big reset, but I for one don’t want to go through the death and destruction to get there. If it happens, I’ll deal with it, but I am not wishing that on anyone.

Preppers: Be Careful What you Wish for was written by Pat Henry with Prepper Journal and can be viewed here:

http://www.theprepperjournal.com/2015/01/08/preppers-careful-wish/

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