Being Prepared Isn’t About NOT Dying!

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Recently, I had a brief conversation (as I sometimes do) with a few folks about why I prepare and why I bother spend so much time and money on it. Rather quickly, someone said it was because I “didn’t want to die” or something like that and, while true, I suggested preparing isn’t about THAT.

Honestly, very few Americans actually die from disaster. We’re talking in the hundreds (and occasionally thousands) per year. Here’s a list of disasters by death toll, if interested. (The biggest in recent history was 9/11 by the way, though Hurricane Katrina was a close second.)

In my opinion, being prepared isn’t about not dying. It is, however, about one thing: having OPTIONS!

It’s simple math, really. Having nothing to rely upon and no plans to deal with disasters means you’re more likely going to be forced into a bad situation, one that you probably do not want to be in.

Having No Supplies Means…

If you have no supplies or gear to rely upon then it means you’re forced to rely upon other’s generosity. It means you’re forced to search out the basic necessities which we all need to live on or really ration what you do have, if you have anything at all.

Having no supplies could mean you hope your neighbors are feeling generous or that FEMA shows up with a jug of water. In a long term situation it could mean that you stand in a bread line and hope you’re not too late for your daily loaf or that you’re forced to ration like they did in WWII.

None of this sounds like a solid plan to me. 🙁

Having No Plans Means…

If you have no plans for disaster it could mean that you and your family literally panic. You could still choose to panic even though you have plans laid out but at least you’d have a place to start… even if it means throwing the plans out and starting from scratch.

Having no plans could mean you’re forced to leave (bug out) but choose to go the wrong way or take a bad route, for instance, when maybe you didn’t have to. If you’d sat down and thought about where to go, how to get there (including multiple routes), what supplies to take, and so on then at least you would have a place to start, even if you’re still forced to reconsider the original plan.

You See…

You could seek assistance from your neighbors or, more likely, help them because you can… or not.

You could seek assistance from FEMA or stand in a bread line each day… or not.

You could choose to bug out if things look too bleak at home… or not.

You could choose one bug out route or another… or not.

It’s the “or not” here which is important because when you have supplies, gear, knowledge, and plans you then have options.

Yes, it’s possible that some scenarios could throw the proverbial “monkey wrench” into your plans but, by and large, I’d like to think if you’ve chosen to prepare then things are covered… for the most part, that is. 🙂

Preparing is about many things including NOT dying but, for me, anyway, it’s about having options.

What is it for you?

How to Trick Your Family And Friends Into Becoming Preppers (video)

This is a question nearly any prepper has once they’ve been prepping for long enough. After all, once you realize everyone you know is going to look to YOU when SHTF then it becomes imperative to get your family and friends to choose to prepare themselves! Personally, I’ve had a hard time with it over the years, likely only truly converting a few close friends/family.

Regardless of my success, he suggests using YouTube as a way to “break the ice” and redirect the focus from you telling them to get prepared to others doing so in a unassuming manner, specifically using his channel and videos but, honestly, you can and should choose YouTube videos that are best suited to your conversations no matter who made them.

Skip to about the 0:45 second mark to get to the heart of the video and realize there is some foul language throughout if you have little ears around…

8 Effective Steps To Get More Prepared For SHTF Today

This is a guest post by John Lewis of Epic Wilderness. He’s got a lot of good things going on over there, you should check it out today.

Introduction

Prepping for the next SHTF situation can be quite costly if you are aiming to purchase the most sophisticated gear to keep you alive. In actual fact, I believe that knowledge is a much more sophisticated “tool” than gear because having sufficient knowledge can be the reason for your survival.

If you get into debt just for prepping I would advise you to rethink your strategy now! It is not likely that an economic downturn will happen and all the banks in the world will go haywire. [Editor’s note: I have to disagree, this is completely possible.] Although that is possible, you do not want to take the risk of going bankrupt and cause a SHTF situation in your own life.

In my opinion, it would be great to know some of the more frequent disasters in your area and start preparing for them. This is because you have to start off small first and build a foundation before you prep for the big ones which are much harder to prepare for and probably only happen once in a blue moon (or will they ever happen?).

[Editor’s note: John makes a good point here. Start with the smaller, more likely disasters, then work your way up to the EMPs and economic collapse scenarios; in doing so you’ll be better prepared for whatever comes your way regardless.]

1. Make a prepping budget and stick to it

Although this may seem like common sense, the act of budgeting is not common practice among most families. The act of budgeting requires a huge amount of disciple to be implemented for any length of time. If you were to record your everyday expense and budget accordingly, it can go a long way from bankruptcy to financial freedom.

Having a prepping budget can be divided into three courses of action: budgeting for financial concerns, budgeting your time for preparedness and having a good plan.

First and foremost, budgeting for the financials is a serious matter and it would be wise that you only use excess money to spend on preps each month. Try to save as much money as you can by reducing your bills and find ways to increase the active income you can get.

[Editor’s note: It’s all about prioritizing, do you want that new bug out bag or a plasma t.v.? Most American’s choose the latter.]

Furthermore, as for budgeting your time, you need to create time with your family to prepare for the most likely SHTF situation first.

As for having a good plan, you have to develop several plans because there are many kinds of SHTF scenarios out there. For example, you can have a plan for preparing during hot weather but some of this plan obviously won’t work if SHTF during winter.

In addition, you have to keep up with the current events so that you know which disasters to prepare for while making a fool-proof plan that will be practiced intensively.

I would like to share more examples how different plans is a necessity for different kinds of situation. If your house is located in a low-lying area you will need a bug out plan when flood strikes your home. How about living in high ground? There would be higher probability of you having impact from an EMP strike which can totally wipe out your grid.

2. Prioritize your needs and don’t buy unnecessary things

Since every individual has different needs you would need to prioritize your family’s wants and needs and work steadily towards them. This is especially true for food storage because you would want to know what your loved ones are allergic to, what they love to eat, and what they often eat.

But be warned, you should also take into consideration the shelf life of the food and how nutritious the food is. Think carefully what kinds of staple food can provide the most energy while your family loves it. Is it potato? Rice? Or do they simply love bread? Have a discussion with them and prioritize your food list and don’t waste unnecessarily on other food items that just cannot be stored or eaten by you and your family.

[Editor’s note: This is a classic example of the “store what you eat, eat what you store” mentality.]

Another type of priority is that of basic needs. Does shelter come first before food? A rough list of the needs of you and your family would be shelter, warmth, food, water, medicines and sanitation.

3. Be extremely frugal in shopping

After you come up with a budget, it is time for you to make a list of items that you really need to buy and where to purchase them from. Buying in bulk can help you to save money but buying too much of any one item may not be the best strategy.

In addition, I would recommend that you actually take advantage of Craigslist or even garage sales to get the cheapest gear.

It is awesome if you already started collecting coupons because it shows that you already have a head start towards saving a considerable amount of money. For those who have not started, do not fret because you can start now and still save a ton of money. I can confidently say that many people who take coupon-cutting to the extreme are really successful in stockpiling items that are not perishable.

Furthermore, you should make an inventory list of what you already have and avoid buying such items again. It would be better if you can get the things which you need but still do not have before you purchase more of what you currently have at home.

[Editor’s note: this is a tough one, I must admit! My wife often complains that I keep buying stuff we already have, lol.]

4. Learn survival skills seriously

You have to take your learning to the next level when contemplating the best survival skills you can use.

The skills that you have acquired can also save you money in the short-term as well. For example, will you have to call a repairman when your house has a leaking roof or can you fix this yourself?

No doubt that you can have loads of supplies but if you do not have the right knowledge, such as being able to store it for a longer period of time, will do you little good. Being ignorant on the subject of proper food storage, for example, such as keeping the food out of direct sunlight, the food that you store will quickly spoil.

The skills also include gardening which is also a part of the preparedness journey. Not only you get your very own free supply of food, the food that you get is all organic and extremely fresh!

5. Practice with the plan you currently have

At best, most preppers should actually practice with their family members once a week, or at least even once a month. During a bug out, where will your family meet up? Do they know how to go there in the shortest time possible? How about alternative roads to your bug out location?

More importantly, you can also get considerable insight about how flawed your plans are. I am not saying that your plans will definitely not work, I am just stating that plans not practiced may lead to failure. Since failure in your survival plan may mean certain death, how can you afford that mistake? Get excited about prepping, use the art of deliberate practice to improve your survival plan. If you are not enthusiastic and your practice is not structured, it will not be efficient.

[Editor’s note: Practice does make perfect. It may be one thing for YOU to know your plans but if your family doesn’t know (and practice them too) you could be in for a rude awakening during disaster. I know I need to work on this more myself.]

6. Make simple switches in what you purchase

Instead of rewarding yourself with that ice-cream or treating yourself in a fancy restaurant, it would be better if you can reward yourself a bag of rice or food supply.

Just by switching your spending habits from using your money mostly on what is pleasurable to prepping would make a huge difference. I know this is easier said than done, so I think a paradigm shift is needed. Unless you understand how prepping is so much more imperative than instant gratification, it would be very difficult to go against your own impulse.

[Editor’s note: Most of us have this problem… especially my kids.]

It would be wise if you could change the habit of shopping impulsively to shopping with a budget. You have to see through all the marketing gimmick where companies claim that their prepping items are a must-have by feeding you information regarding how well-made their product is.

Also, you should make switches in habits that can actually cut cost such as cutting back on junk food and buying brands which cost less but still provide the same quality of material. It all comes down to discipline and the knowledge to do so.

Changing your lifestyle habit can be a challenging thing, but it can be extremely rewarding down the road.

7. Use preparedness as a way to get side income and freebies

If you are very passionate about the subject of preparedness you can even guest post on blogs to share your knowledge and tips on preparing for the next disaster. The act of sharing the information not only make your current knowledge more ingrained in you, but you have to stretch yourself to the limit to provide readers with the most important information.

Also, you can start giving advice to people too, especially when sharing from the heart. If you are good enough, some webmasters and people are willing to financially reimbursed you because the content you shared is very good.

If you are really passionate about food storage you can even go to Valley Food Storage’s Free Sample and get free food sample delivered to your doorstep! Just squeeze some cash out for the shipping and handling and you can get free survival food while getting new information regarding which is the best food to store.

[Editor’s note: I haven’t tried the free samples but the guest posting idea is a good one to look into. I’ve seen some blogs that will pay $20 or more for a good post if you have the time and inclination to write.]

8. Form a team of like-minded people

You can never be a “Lone Wolf” when it comes to preparing for the next TEOTWAWKI situation. You must have a team of people–be it big or small–to survive. A few principles must be laid down, however, so that everyone in the team knows what to expect, trusts each other, and so that no one will backstab another person, even when he is desperate.

There are two ways to join a preparedness group. Firstly, you can join an already established group but this requires very intense research. You have to read countless survival forums and reviews before you can take a leap of faith because the community you participate in will be your safety net when a disaster strikes. Also, you have to make sure your values and vision align with the group’s.

You can, on the other hand, decide to create your own group, starting with people whom you think you can work with. This is actually more effective because you start from scratch, beginning and growing with the people that you know you can work with. My advice is that you can use Craigslist to start your local survival coalition, gathering like-minded people nearby you.

[Editor’s note: This is easier said than done, particularly if you include friends and family who, no doubt, may have expectations of YOU taking care of them with little in return.]

By joining a group, you not only get to improve your learning process but you also get the latest information which may not be easily available on the internet.

Conclusion

Preparing for a SHTF situation is about being responsible and this means being responsible for your financials as well! Besides being financially healthy, you will also have peace of mind if you are to prepare properly. I hope that the tips shared here would be very useful and help you get a head start in the journey of preparedness. What do you think is the most effective and affordable way to prepare for the next TEOTWAWKI? Please share in the comment section below.

Author bio

I am John Lewis, a blogger, survivalist and outdoor enthusiast. While I believe that everyone should enjoy their lives doing things they love, being financially, mentally and physically prepared to face challenges that may arise is inevitably important. You can follow me over at Epic Wilderness.

A Review Checklist for the Long-Term Prepper (link)

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There’s probably a hundred more checks one can add to a list like this but the referenced checklist certainly has the basics covered. That said, to me this post is more about the idea rather than the actual list provided as your needs and preps may vary substantially. If you’ve yet to make a similar list then by all means, get on it!

Personally, I would also add dates to your checklist, specifically when the action was last performed as well as when it should be done again; you can write it out or just type it up in a spreadsheet. Now, use the following as a thought-starter and make your own checklist…

“Many of us have been prepping for quite a while. We started getting some more food, a few cases of water, and some gear. Then prepping took over our lives and we now have a lot of prepping things and a good size food and water storage.

I have been prepping for longer than five years, but I know that I have areas of my prepping I need to revisit. I bet you do too. As I have been decluttering and reorganizing, I have noticed things getting a little out of date, maybe a little dusty, maybe a little rusty, and some of it definitely being unused. I know our emergency plans are out of date and we have a lot of revisions to make…”

Read the full article here

Lessons From Mega Disasters (video)

This is an interview with “Eve Gonzales of TradingPostInTheWoods.com [who] talks about her experiences responding to the most catastrophic disasters in recent times. She talks about what she has learned and what you should do to get prepared now.” This is part one of a two part series which hasn’t been released yet (scheduled for next week he said).

I find it interesting that no matter where she goes in the U.S. folks just aren’t prepared. They’re complacent. They truly feel like disasters won’t hit their towns, their homes, their families and they simply ignore the possibilities. IMO, you either “get it” or you don’t. There is no other choice when it comes to disaster preparedness.

Skip to about the 0:50 mark to get to the heart of the video/interview…

5 SHTF Strategies For Avoiding The Zombie Hordes

I really feel like we must be heading towards SHTF sooner rather than later. I’d suggest you merely look at all the charts which show we’re heading over a fiscal cliff in the near future and you’ll surely agree. When? I truly don’t know. It could be a decade from now or tomorrow. But it IS coming.

The question is: What to do about it? How do you keep your family safe and avoid the looming zombie hordes? Because you know they are coming and they won’t simply go away when they’re at your doorstep. And by “zombies” I mean the 99%+ of American’s who have failed to do anything to prepare themselves for… anything… yeah, those people.

Though none of these strategies are foolproof and some certainly are better than others, the major problem I see with most of them is that they cost a lot of money to make happen. That and they’re a huge lifestyle change, one that most folks wouldn’t like. Well, that’s my assumption, anyway.

Strategy #1: Make it look like nobody’s home and there’s nothing worthwhile inside

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This is my least favorite strategy because it’s also the least likely to actually work. Of course, we can’t all afford to spend a small fortune preparing for the hordes and so we simply must do the best that we can with what we have.

With that in mind, you can attempt to make your house look like it’s abandoned, rundown, and that there’s literally nothing worthwhile inside. This could include breaking windows, putting holes in the roof or exterior walls, and certainly allowing vegetation to run wild.

You could be more active than that and actually make it look like somebody has already ransacked the house by doing things like kicking in doors, spray painting or otherwise defacing the exterior with gang signs or whatever, and tossing the most obvious rooms to be entered if somebody gets inside. It should go without saying that this is a post-SHTF strategy.

The only trouble is that you probably want to live here too which has two big problems, one of the which is that your presence will give you away regardless and the other is what to do with your family and your stuff. Practicing OPSEC is a good start to combat the first problem but you’ll probably fail any close inspection no matter how diligent you’ve been. The other problem can be combated by caching small amounts of supplies on your property (or somewhere nearby) and even offering up a very little bit of “loot” to be had such as a few cans of knocked over beans in the kitchen cabinet and a small bag of half-used rice or similar.  But they’ll probably come looking for even more… now get ready to defend yourselves.

Strategy #2: Make it look like you’re not worth the trouble to invade

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This is something that Ferfal (the guy who talks about surviving Argentina’s collapse) seems to recommend as it’s what works for his country.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand if you can show that you’re a force to be reckoned with then small groups may well decide to leave you alone but, on the other hand, you’re also telling the world that you have something–maybe lots of something–worthwhile behind those walls.

If/when people are desperate do you really think they’ll just leave you alone and go elsewhere? I would guess not. After all, what do they really have to lose? If they think they’re going to perish anyway why not give it a go?

In this case you really, truly must be able to defend what’s yours and do so with a vengeance. Sadly, you’re not going to be able to do so alone. You MUST enlist the help of other like-minded folks, probably many of them which obviously means you’re going to need a lot more supplies than for just you and your family.

And, of course, there’s the logistics of it all… basically, you’re creating a mini society and then there’s the trouble that will ultimately bring because people don’t always get along particularly during times of strife. Honestly, however, this would be the way I would go if I could (1) afford it and (2) find people I can trust… neither of which are very likely in this lifetime. 🙂

Strategy #3: Go underground and hope nobody stumbles upon you

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Personally, I don’t like this strategy much either but some people swear by it; heck, there’s even a television show, Doomsday Bunkers, dedicated to the idea. Not only is this idea expensive but it seems foolhardy to me to believe that a family could truly ride out the apocalypse–whatever that meas to you–in one.

I think I would go stir-crazy if I were “trapped” in a bunker after only a few days. To survive months on end is wishful thinking for all but the most die-hard among us. Note to “normal” Americans: just because I/we are preppers doesn’t mean that we’re die-hard fanatics, hell-bent on doing whatever it takes to survive SHTF, though, some of us are… just not me.

Expenses and claustrophobia aside, what happens when somebody stumbles upon your bunker?

They’ll probably be able to wait you out, smoke you out, or otherwise force you to abandon your bunker and then what? You’ll fight it out… run… or die. Bunkers are just death traps, IMO. Good luck if you own one. 🙂

Strategy #4: Move far, far away… I mean REALLY far away

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This is probably what I would do if I could afford it. You know people say to “get out of the cities” for when SHTF which makes obvious sense but there’s more to it than that.

The suburbs (where most middle-class Americans live) are nearly as packed with people who are no less desperate than those who live within major city limits… they may even be worse!

For instance, I live in a small city of around 10,000 people and that’s not including the many other “small” cities nearby as well as the large cities nearby too. There are literally hundreds of thousands of desperate people within walking distance of me… and that’s NOT including the many additional hundreds of thousands within potential driving distance should they decide to come this way.

What are the odds that I won’t have to deal with at least a few hundred of these folks? I’d say the odds are pretty good that I would… and so would you if you live anywhere near other people. It’s just the way we humans tend to live.

So, what’s the solution? Move far, far, away. Of course, this isn’t always practical for a variety of reasons too but it’s probably the best solution to be had if you can do so.

Maybe you don’t move to a deserted island but I’ve heard it said that most refugees won’t travel more than ten miles off any major highway. I don’t know how true this actually is but it does make some sense. We humans built roads for a reason and expect them to go somewhere. If it looks like they’re not going to be getting anywhere or have to travel a long distance down a road to do so the odds are that they will go another way.

As such, the further “off the beaten path” you can get and away from others the better off you’re likely to be. Of course, this does have other problems such as not being nearby emergency services, grocery stores, and so on but you simply can’t have everything you want, now can you?

Strategy #5: Combine the above ideas into a cohesive plan

Sometimes just one idea isn’t always the best. Maybe it’s best to bring two or more ideas together into one cohesive plan. For example, you could choose to make it look like nobody’s home yet have a bunker to retreat to should you find the need. Or, you could choose to move far away and make it look like you’re not worth the trouble.

The more solutions you can offer such a problem the better off you’ll be but, no doubt, the more money you’ll spend getting there. Ultimately, there isn’t any ONE solution that is better than the rest because each person’s situation is a bit different and, more importantly, their wants and desires are different too… except the survival thing… that’s fairly common to all. 🙂

What suggestions would you add? I surely hope there are other, better, options to be had…

“Grab-n-Go” Power Outage Kit

A funny thing happened while on the way to write this post: the power went out… again. Just yesterday the power went out due to high winds for several hours and it turned out that I got into quite a few basic survival items this time, including more than a dozen items listed below.

You see, I like to keep things organized, so much so that I actually make it difficult on myself to gather all the stuff I would need for even a basic power outage like we’ve experienced several times over the past few months.

Sometimes I am my own worst enemy. I’ve had enough!

Instead of rooting through various bins and shelves each time to gather these dozen plus items, I figured I would just put them all in one single bin to make my life easier next time. This, of course, contradicts my logical brain because I now have things where they “don’t belong” but I’ll do my best to ignore my incessant need to have things super organized and compartmentalized for sake of laziness. 😉

Here’s the list, adjust as you see fit (photo below):

  1. Mr. Buddy Propane Heater. I really like this propane heater. It’s indoor safe, shuts off if tipped over, can be connected to a 20-lb tank if you get the right stuff (which I have but was being lazy again), and is fairly compact for the heat it puts out. The only major complaint is that there is not “auto off” feature… it runs or it doesn’t which will eat through propane fast.
  2. 1-lb Propane Canisters x 2. One for the heater, one for the single burner stove.
  3. Emergency Weather Radio. I turned this on briefly but we ended up doing other things to kill time (like play cards) and so the radio is merely included as a “just in case” I need it option.
  4. Single Burner Propane Stove. I seem to use this little stove for meals when our power goes out more than anything else I have. I don’t know why I like it so much, but I do. It’s reliable, easy to use, and compact which is great for this little kit.
  5. Cobra 400-watt Inverter. I actually keep this inverter attached to a small deep cycle battery so that I can charge cell phones, ipads, and stuff like that but I didn’t want to include the battery in this kit simply because it’s too heavy and won’t fit; I’ll have to grab it later as needed.
  6. BYB Light Camping Lantern. This is my new favorite lantern because it’s bright, compact, really cheap, runs on AA batteries, and seems fairly rugged since I’ve been using it. Here’s a more detailed review of mine.
  7. Dorcy Lantern. Great for little kids, runs on three (if I remember right) AA batteries, lasts quite a while, and is just bright enough to be of use. Buy them at Target or Walmart and save a few bucks.
  8. D.Light S-10/20 Solar Lantern. Though the least bright lantern I own, the D.Light is unique because it’s solar-rechargeable which makes it capable of lasting indefinitely… or thereabouts.
  9. Dorcy LED Headlamp. I’ve grown really fond of headlamps over the years and tend to reach for a headlamp over flashlights most of the time these days. You can read my reviews of this headlamp (and another Dorcy version) but for the price you’re probably not going to find much better.
  10. Water Barrel Bung Wrench. Although you can get into 55-gallon drums without one, they just make the job that much easier.
  11. Several Feet of Plastic Hose. For some strange reason I cannot, for the life of me, find the Siphon Shaker Hoses that I know I have which I also use to get water out of my barrels so I resorted to using this length of small plastic hose; it worked but was slow.
  12. Whistler 800-watt Inverter. You simply MUST have a quality 800+ watt inverter to power your fridge (or other equipment) and this Whistler does a nice job, never failing me. You can read my review of it here. That said, I’d suspect that most any quality name-brand inverter will work, specifically those made by Whistler, Cobra, or Duracell come to mind.
  13. 50-foot Extension Cord. If you’re going to use an inverter (or even a generator) you’ve going to need a quality, legthy extension cable; 50-foot would be the minimum I’d recommend… 100-foot may be even better depending on your situation. I’d suggest a 12/3 cord (as opposed to the lesser expensive 16/3) because it’s more durable but, honestly, you can probably get away with a lesser quality cable for use with an inverter.
  14. Battery-powered Fan similar to this (not shown). I later added this to the bin as an after-though because the weather will warm up eventually and I figured we’ll want a small fan at times.

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And it all fit quite nicely in a medium-sized tote bin which I’m considering just stashing in the closet in the house:

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All-in-all I think I have the basics covered. I’ve got a small heater and fan, various lights which get used more than anything, a radio should we get super bored, a small stove to cook on (though I have others), the ability to get into stored water (I do need to find my siphon hoses or just dig out my water barrel siphon pump), inverters to power both the fridge and freezer as well as smaller electronics (like cell phones) and the cables to make that happen, and a two full canisters of propane.

I should note that I later added some AA batteries and probably need to remove the batteries from most of this gear to avoid corrosion and leakage but have yet to do so. Speaking of batteries, I would still need to drag in a deep cycle battery too as I like to keep them topped off and NOT stored inside the house.

Again, this is a survival kit as it doesn’t include actual food, water, shelter, weapons and so on. It’s really only for dealing with short-term power outages and was intentionally kept small to make it easy to store and move about. The last thing I should probably do is to label it.

All that said, I am wondering if I need to redo the organizational plan that I have for my survival supplies? Hmmm… maybe I’ll tackle that in the near future.

What about you? What items would you include? Did I get it all or am I missing something important?

Car Cell Phone Safety Tip (video)

The Mrs. Volfie talks about a bad single-car accident she had years ago and how she wasn’t able to get to her cell phone because it flew to the back of the car which she couldn’t reach. To make things worse she was alone! Now, she offers an interesting and easy solution for women.

Another idea, that I like everyone to do as a backup, is to keep a prepaid cell phone in the glove box. This phone should be periodically charged to ensure the battery works but doesn’t need to be activated and you don’t even have to buy a minutes card as you can still dial 9-1-1 from any cell phone (activated or not) assuming, of course, there is both emergency services coverage in the area as well as general cell phone coverage.

Now, I’m not saying the glove box can’t or won’t fly open during a bad accident but it’s just another option to consider for both this particular scenario and general vehicle readiness. Here’s her suggestion…

Magnatek Smart Flares (video)

These Magnatek flares do have some interesting uses, such as not being a potential fire hazard, reusable, use as a flashlight, long run-time, magnetic attachment, and more. That said, there are some drawbacks such as relying on batteries which could go bad and that they couldn’t be used to start a fire if for some reason a flare was your only option. If you’re interested in adding these to your vehicle kit then take the time to watch the video as he demos them at day and night, times their longevity on a set of batteries, discusses potential improvements, and more…

The Power Goes Out And You Would Think Hell Froze Over…

Just yesterday we had another power outage. There’s just something about rain, winds, tall trees, and above-ground power lines that don’t mix. 😉 Granted, power outages are relatively common where we live and though it only lasted for a handful of hours, I swear my family freaks out every time.

My kids, of course, have no access to the internet, video games, or YouTube and now they have nothing to do and their life is boring. Have you heard of reading a book? Playing with your brother or your pets? How about playing outside? In fact, the weather actually cleared up and was fairly nice out by the time I suggested that one. I even suggested they do some schooling for the next day (like reading a book) and that it would count towards their schooling time for tomorrow which meant they would get done sooner… that fell on deaf ears.

My wife decided we couldn’t cook tacos and quickly suggested we go out to eat. “Uh, hello! I am PREPARED for this!” I told here. “We can cook our dinner tonight without trouble; it’s just a matter of getting the stoves out.” That fell on deaf ears as well. Fortunately, she didn’t worry about the food in our fridge and freezer going bad like usual… I think I’ve finally got her convinced I can deal with that too if need be. Regardless, it didn’t take much convincing for me to go out to eat as we rarely do so and it sounded like fun. What a mistake.

We wrongly assumed that the power outage was just our neighborhood and surrounding homes. As it turns out, many thousands of folks were without power (much of the peninsula, it seems) and to make matters worse, we went out during rush hour traffic and since none of the stoplights worked, you can guess that it was bumper-to-bumper.

At each turn we made–now attempting to get home after just venturing out–it was a mess. A trip that should have taken us at most ten minutes just to get back home took nearly an hour. Fortunately, my wife does occasionally listen to me and filled up the gas tank earlier so there was no concern of running out of gas. Later that day my niece (who lives with us) called nearly in a panic because she’d spent hours in traffic trying to get home. Yeah, it sucks, I know. At least she didn’t run out of gas either.

While driving around I noticed people becoming impatient, speeding where they could, making illegal u-turns, driving on shoulders where they shouldn’t. I’m not tossing out blame and I can understand their impatience but I couldn’t help but imagine the same scenario where people were trying to bug out for whatever reason and quickly getting nowhere fast. There was literally nowhere to go! Of course, if this were a mass exodus things would have been far more chaotic with folks attempting passage in any way they could making things even worse… the place would have turned into a virtual parking lot in mere minutes.

Sadly, we live in a VERY bad place if we ever really had to bug out. Living on a peninsula has it benefits but easy routes out are not one of them. As such, I’m far more ready and interested in bugging in… that’s my plan for 90% of the disasters I can envision. Bugging out, however, would be a mess. The only solution I see is to simply get out before the vast majority of folks realize what’s going on. That’s it. Well, for somebody who doesn’t boat, anyway.

This is why it’s so critical to be ready and able to go at a moment’s notice!

While everyone else is fumbling around looking for their suitcase and child’s teddy bear, you should have your family already in the car with your gear and on the road in minutes. I’m ready to do that if I had to but it certainly wouldn’t be fun. My suggestions to help you get this done include:

  1. Have bug out bags ready to go. This may seem obvious but if you don’t yet have something put together, get them together now. Keeping them in the car works too. That’s what we do and I never have to worry about grabbing them.
  2. Have a disaster plan ready. That is, actually put down in writing what it is you plan on doing if “such and such” happens. Your pans may change at a moment’s notice but at least you have a place to start and, more importantly, you’re thinking about it.
  3. Plan out routes and alternate routes and alternates for your alternate routes. I usually suggest having at least two separate routes in each cardinal direction (if possible) but now I’m thinking you should really look for those oddball routes, the less traveled roads, even roads that may not be allowed to the public, and so on. If they’re hard for you to find they’ll be hard for most others too.
  4. Keep the vehicles at least half-filled with gas. You’re simply not going to get anywhere if the cars don’t have gas. It’s a pain, I know, but doing so could save your life one day. Get it in your mind: half-full is now the empty mark.
  5. Have gas cans filled and easy to grab as part of your bug out strategy. Again, you never know how much gas your car will actually have when needed or how much distance or idling you’ll be doing during an actual bug out. A trip that may have taken 50 miles during a normal trip, for example, may take the equivalent of 200 miles after you’re all said and done. Plus, you never know if you’re going to get stranded and need to idle to keep warm (or cool). Extra gas is a must for any bug out plan.
  6. Talk about your plans with the family regularly and ensure they know what to do. It’s one thing for YOU to know your plans backwards and forwards but something much more to ensure your spouse and kids do too. At least ensure they’ve heard what you expect of them once or twice a year… maybe when you change the batteries in your smoke alarms.
  7. Practice your plans. This is something I haven’t been very good at. Most of the time I just assume my family has heard me tell them what they should do at some point in the past and that they understand what to do but that’s a big assumption on my part and likely a wrong one. Seems I need to schedule some disaster planning time real soon and, oddly, I’m probably the only one who will get excited about it too. 🙂

Ultimately, it really is about acting (and being able to do so) before others realize they need to act as well. If this were a real bug out and we’d waited hours to get on the road we would have been screwed.

Of course, I’d like to think I wouldn’t have waited hours and that I would have recognized the need to bug out but who knows? What I do know is that I can give myself the best shot to be as ready as I can be at all times by taking action now… and so can you. Please, take action now.