Solar Lantern Charges Your Phone (link)

Image Credit

Solar powered lights are all the rage these days, aren’t they? I know I have a few myself and even one made by the folks who created this new inflatable solar lantern that charges your cell phone too.

I know the post talks about this being a prototype and that you can back it as a kickstarter here, but it sure looks to me like you can purchase one on Amazon (link removed because I was wrong) and for a reasonable price too…

“A few deep breaths inflate LuminAID‘s latest lantern. Hang it up and illuminate your entire tent. When the sun rises, the lantern packs down small and recharges with solar energy.

LuminAID has been making portable inflatable lanterns since 2011. The company’s Kickstarter campaign launched February 7 for its PackLite Max Phone Charger. This lantern boasts the same power output as the PackLite Max but now has the ability to also charge your phone…”

Read the full article here

Best Candles For Power Outage (video)

While candles aren’t the best option for power outages due to the potential fire hazard (look for inexpensive LED lanterns and LED flashlights instead) if you must stock candles consider these prayer candles since they’re self-contained and relatively inexpensive. Of course, there are a wide variety of survival candles available which may burn just as long or longer and be better suited for your needs; I keep a variety of survival candles as well but these prayer candles should work great for most situations…

One Item NOT to Stockpile for SHTF (video)

I mostly agree with this video in that candles should not be the main item to stockpile for your lighting needs. My biggest reason being something he glossed over about halfway through: fire safety. House fires are one of the biggest problems folks unexpectedly run into after a disaster and candles are a big reason for that.

Why? Because there’s a big difference between lighting a few candles for a romantic dinner and literally having them scattered around the house, perhaps unattended, with dogs, cats, and children running around and potentially knocking them over left and right… ok, I’m being a little over-dramatic here but you get my point.

When we start doing things we’re not accustomed to (lighting entire rooms with candles, in this case), bad things tend to happen. No doubt, candles can be useful and I certainly have some stockpiled but they are my last-ditch lighting option since there are many far better ideas as he suggests…

Sunjack CampLight USB Light (video)

I’ve reviewed the Sunjack Camplight previously but figured it would be a good reminder that camping season is coming up (yeah!) and that this particular setup has something new: an on/off switch so you don’t have to unplug the light and the ability to daisy-chain multiple lights together which I think is a good idea and something I wish they had when I reviewed the camplight.

Here’s a link to buy the daisy-chain bulb but pay attention as there are different versions of the bulb you can buy like he says. Finally, here’s the video review…

BYB 300 Lumen Collapsible Lantern Review – What a Nice Light!

I was sent this BYB 300 Lumen Collapsible Lantern a while back for review and I can start by saying that, for the price, I was very impressed. In fact, this light *may* end up being my go-to battery-powered camping and emergency light from hereon out.

Although I’ve long been a fan of the Rayovac Sportman lantern for it’s longevity and relative brightness, this BYB lantern has several distinct advantages over the Rayovac, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

As with any review it’s best to have some comparisons, so here’s the BYB lantern next to a few of my other battery-powered lanterns I keep around:

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You’ll notice it’s relatively small, about the size of the smaller “kid-friendly” lantern on the left. It’s really no much bigger than a typical can of vegetables:

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At first, I wasn’t too keen on a lantern that didn’t have an on/off button or switch. Instead, you just slide it up and after it’s raised about a half inch or so the lantern comes on. Pull it all the way up to get maximum brightness, like this:

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Or, just crack it if you don’t want so much light:

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I should point out that this feature is about the ONLY thing I’d prefer to see different in this lantern. That is, the fact that there is NO option for a low power setting to both reduce light emitted but also to conserve battery power. In other words, the light seems to use as much battery power whether it’s cracked or all the way extended.

The manufacturer’s description does state that it has “low power conservation”, whatever that means, but I would have preferred the option to dim the lantern myself.

How does the light stack up against the others?

Compared to the small kid-safe lanterns you can get at places like Walmart and Target for about five or six dollars, there is no comparison. The BYB lantern outshines them by far and it’s obvious:

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Though I’m a fan of the d.solar s10 lantern for the simple fact that it’s rechargeable and super lightweight, again, there is no comparison in brightness:

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Perhaps the only battery-powered lantern I have which can compare is the Rayovac Sportsman (at about 240 lumens compared to 300 lumens with the BYB):

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What are the advantages of the BYB Lantern?

For starters, it’s relatively lightweight. It weighs about as much as the little kid-friendly lanterns but significantly less than the Rayovac (especially when the batteries are inserted).

Which reminds me, the BYB lanterns runs off only 3 AA-batteries, a huge plus when it comes to having to scrounge for batteries to keep it running. 😉 The Rayovac, on the other hand, uses D-cells which can be a pain to stock and/or find in a pinch.

And, did I mention the BYB lantern is waterproof? Well, almost waterproof…

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I submerged it in my sink for a good hour to test that claim and, yes, the lantern still worked just fine after pulling it out. However, the globe was half-filled with water so I won’t say that it’s watertight but it’s certainly good enough to not worry about the lantern functioning out in the rain or if it takes an unexpected dip in the lake.

I was going to take a picture of the globe half-filled with water but by the time I’d thought to go grab the camera the water had mostly drained out and so I didn’t bother.

Anyway, after the water drained I popped the batteries back in and the lantern worked great. I did notice, however, that condensation remained inside the lantern that refused to go away so I had to remove that with some air and heat. No big deal.

Also, being that it collapses in on itself there’s no worry about the globe breaking. I was slightly hesitant that, because it simply slid open to turn on, one *might* inadvertently turn on the lantern if jostled but after playing with it for a while I’d say it’s no more likely (perhaps less so) than accidentally pressing a button or flipping a switch on any of my other lanterns. Besides, a rubber-band or two around the handles would help to keep it from opening… and I could just take the batteries out while in transit.

How long does it run?

That’s about the only question I’ve yet to fully answer. I couldn’t find anything online about battery life so I ran the lantern 24 hours straight on a set of batteries that I doubt were fully charged and it was still going strong. That’s good news because it seems I could easily run this for a week on a set of batteries if I ran it for 4 or 5 hours a night.

So, we’ve covered that it’s relatively compact (a bit larger than a can of beans), fairly lightweight (among the lighter options), uses AA batteries (which are easy to scrounge), is quite bright (the brightest lantern, in fact), runs for a long time on one set of batteries (I still don’t know quite how long)… did I mention it’s affordable?

At a current price of $14, the BYB Lantern is nearly half the cost of the Rayovac Sportsman. That’s hard to beat.

If you’re looking for a solid camping lantern, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this one…

 

OxyLED Q6 Smart Rechargeable LED Flashlight Review

I received this OxyLED® Q6 Led Lamp / Lantern for review and I can honestly say that I was surprised at how useful of a light it’s turning out to be.

Thought I have many lights–in the form of flashlights, lanterns, and headlamps–I’ve never had a flashlight like this, in that, it’s sort of like a lantern but it only illuminates 180 degrees. The best I can describe it is like a self-contained handheld fluorescent light that you would otherwise hang from the ceiling of a garage or workshop… that’s how I see it, anyway.

For starters, here’s some specs on the light from Amazon:

  • 4 brightness settings (dim, normal, bright, and supernova) + a blinking flash mode
  • High-power natural spectrum led provide 200 lumens of illumination, CRI(color rendering index)>70
  • Built-in long life rechargeable battery with Mini USB cable
  • Durable, drop resistant construction; Long Life, Energy saving, Rated for 36,000 hours of use

Now, the OxyLED came delivered in a rather sturdy box that reminds me of a long-neck matchstick box. In fact, it makes a good carrying case:

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The first thing I noticed when I removed the light from the box was how lightweight it was. The stats say it weighs in at a mere 4.2 ounces which is among the lightest (if not the lightest) flashlight I own. I think it weighs even less than the d.light LED Solar Area Lantern which is without a doubt the lightest actual lantern I own (mostly since it doesn’t use any batteries). Overall dimensions are 8″ x 1.3″.

There really isn’t much to the light. On one side is the light, the other side is shielded. There’s also two lanyards that you can attach to the ends of the the light:

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On one end you’ll find a mini USB port for charging the light and a small button that acts as the on/off and brightness selection button:

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Battery / Charging

The battery is expected to last 3 to 72 hours depending on mode selected. The life of the light is expected to be >36,000 hours but that’s assuming 2% brightness and/or 500 charges. Honestly, this light should last for years of use camping, hiking, or for preparedness.

If it wasn’t clear, the light is mean to be rechargeable and does NOT use or take external batteries. To charge the light simply plug into a computer/laptop or portable powerbank and a few hours later you’re back in business. While charging there’s a small red led that blinks next to the USB port. When fully charged the led stays solid red. If the battery is getting low the red led will blink fast three times when cycling during use. It’s all really easy.

Cycling Through Modes

As for use, you simply cycle through the settings using the on/off button. These settings are: dim (2% of full brightness), normal (50% of full brightness), bright (75% of full brightness), and supernova (100% of full brightness). There’s also a flashing mode which, like all lights that include them, is annoying. I still have no idea why anybody thinks that’s useful… unless you’re a bicyclist perhaps.

I do want to point out that I feel there’s at least one cycle that’s not needed, most likely the 75% brightness mode as it just makes you have to cycle through one more setting than needed. Again, I would do without the blinking mode too. Now, I do like the dim (2% brightness) mode quite a bit and I do like that it’s the first mode when cycled on.

The difference in brightness between modes is readily discernible, a problem that many LED lights seem to have. In other words, some lights are difficult to tell if it’s on low, high, or something else… this one is easy to tell.

You can also hold down the on/off button for two seconds to get it to turn off rather than cycling through the modes.

Handling

Overall, it’s quite comfortable to hold. With a lanyard around your wrist you shouldn’t drop the light but it would have been nice if the lanyards were adjustable. Beyond that, you can slip it in your pocket and probably have a bit of it sticking out but not too bad. With the provided lanyards you can even hang it easily. Here’s the light hanging from a hanger in my boy’s closet (the darkest room in the house) and on dim mode:

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Some Concerns

I can say that I was at first concerned that the on/off button was so small and barely sticks out beyond the end of the light. After days of use this is no longer a concern as it’s easier to push and cycle than I originally feared but I’d imagine that if you’re in a hurry to turn on the light it’s not the easiest of buttons to find simply by feel.

If for some reason a lanyard breaks the small attachment points are not wide enough to, for example, fish paracord though as a replacement. You would have to remove a single strand of paracord and fish that through. I can see why they made the eyelets so small (to keep them from snagging) but it would have been nice to somehow make them larger and/or include a folding attachment option to one or both ends. No big deal, just something I noticed.

It’s not rated for getting wet, even in the rain. In fairness, none of the lanterns I own are rated for that. With that in mind, the OxyLED is put together in such a way as I would be surprised if it couldn’t withstand a good amount of rain before giving out. I haven’t tried it, that’s just a guess.

Brightness

This is where the  OxyLED® Q6 Led Lamp / Lantern really “shines” through, if you will. I compared it to a few other lanterns that I have, including an inexpensive Dorcy Mini LED Lantern which runs on 4 AA batteries and is great for kids, the d.light LED Solar Area Lantern which is solar recharged, and the Rayovac Sportsman LED Lantern which runs on 3 D-cell batteries.

Overall, I was quite surprised at how bright even the dim setting was. In fact, it was as bright as the AA-cell Dorcy if not brighter (Dorcy is on left, OxyLED is on right):

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I did other comparisons, even comparing full brightness modes to the Rayvac D-cell (Rayovac is on the left, OxyLED on the right):

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Granted, the OxyLED disperses light differently than a traditional lantern and I know it’s a bit difficult to tell but I’d say the OxyLED might even have been brighter than the Rayovac. Technically, that’s not true (the OxyLED is 200 lumens whereas the Rayvac is 240 lumens) but it sure seems that way. Beyond that, the OxyLED isn’t going to last nearly as long as the Rayovac on a single charge but I was surprised at the brightness nonetheless.

Overall, I currently have no problem recommending an OxyLED® Q6 Led Lamp / Lantern  to you for the price. It seems to be a well-built, compact, rechargeable light that I’ll happily take camping and hiking time and again.

oxyled-featured

How to buy a Police Scanner Radio for your Go Bag

Go bags are a critical part of any survival plan. While there are many components that make up a successful go bag, a communication device is required. While there is no shortage of emergency communication devices on the market, in this article we’ll review what a police scanner radio is, how it works, and what to consider when buying.

What is a Police Scanner Radio?

A scanner, commonly referred to as a police scanner radio, police scanner or scanner radio, allows users to listen to real-time, unfiltered radio communication. A scanner operates similar to an AM/FM radio in that it receives signals but cannot transmit.

Why do I need a Police Scanner Radio for my Go Bag?

A scanner is a great addition to any go bag as it provides users access to real-time information during an emergency. Popular things to listen to during emergencies include:

  1. NOAA (weather)
  2. Police, fire & other EMS communication
  3. Military communication
  4. Emergency responder communication
  5. Marine communication
  6. Ham radio communication

Police Scanner Radio Types

There are three types of police scanner radios

  1. Handheld
  2. Mobile (vehicle)
  3. Base (home or office)

For an emergency, you will want to purchase a handheld scanner as you can put in your go bag and bring with you wherever you go.

Police Scanner Radio Format

Scanners pick up three different frequency formats:

  1. Digital
  2. Trunked
  3. Analog

Similar to how an AM/FM radio picks up either AM or FM frequencies, scanners pick up either digital, trunked or analog frequencies. For emergencies you will want a digital scanner because:

  1. If you have an analog or trunked scanner, you will not be able to hear digital signals.
  2. Digital scanners can pick up trunked and analog signals in addition to digital so you will be able to listen to all emergency communication regardless of format.
  3. Frequency formats are different all over the US and vary depending on state, county, department and federal agency which can be very confusing.
  4. If your area does not require a digital format currently, in an emergency ,federal communication may be set which will use digital format or you may be moved to an area that uses digital.
  5. All emergency communication will be digital at some point.

Programming

Programming police scanner radios use to be a daunting process but new digital scanners are able to scan all frequencies in your area and save them into your scanner in minutes. You will want to buy a scanner with ‘quick scan’ capabilities which almost all newer digital scanner have.

Things to buy with a Police Scanner Radio

Batteries
Handheld scanners can operate for 6-8 hours on a single charge. As most scanners take 4 AA batteries, you will want to have ample batteries as charging anything in an emergency may not be an option. We recommend at least a one week supply of batteries or 224 AA batteries.

Antenna
A scanner antenna can increase what you can pick up on your scanner. While most scanner antennas are for vehicles or homes/bases, you may want to consider one for your handheld device.

What Police Scanner Radio to Buy

To be prepared for every emergency you will want to buy a phase two digital police scanner radio. There are several to choose from but we recommend either the BCD436HP or the HomePatrol-2 which are both excellent scanners and a great addition to any go bag.

About the Author

Luke Huebner is the founder and owner of Zip Scanners which specializes in police scanner radios, scanner antennas & scanner accessories. Zip Scanners hosts a large Scanner Resources & Learning Center to educate consumers about scanners.

Additional Information

• URL: www.ZipScanners.com
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/zipscanners
• Google+: https://plus.google.com/+Zipscanners
• Twitter: https://twitter.com/ZipScanners

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Baofeng Handheld Radio 72% OFF List Price, Best Time to Buy!

If you’ve yet to purchase yourself a Baofeng UV5RA Ham Radio now is the time to buy one since it’s currently at the best price I’ve ever seen! In fact, when I bought mine a year or two ago I swear it was at least double the price now and I’d say it was a good price then, which means you can buy two and be that much better prepared. 🙂

Or, if you would prefer, you could take a chance on the newer BaoFeng BF-F8HP.

Regardless, you’re going to want a Baofeng Programming Cable and to know how to program it step by step as well as keypad programming.

You may also want to upgrade the antenna with a 14.5 inch antenna, here’s why.

Obviously, you’re going to also want to get the proper licensing and training too. For less than $100 you can get two Baofeng radios, two antennas, and the programming cable… virtually everything you need to get your comms up and running in no time! That sounds like the perfect Christmas gift to me. 😉

Baofeng UV5RA Radio
Baofeng UV5RA Radio

Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern for Camping, Hiking, Preparedness

Perhaps by now you’ve seen the Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern by Mpowered. I was sent one for review and so I’ll offer my opinion on it for emergency preparedness here…

The solar lantern comes in a small package and, in fact, collapses down to a very small size which makes it nice for tossing into a bag, the back of your car, or as part of camping gear:

Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern

Since it includes a built-in solar panel all you have to do to recharge Luci is to set it in direct sunlight for up to eight hours and it will be fully charged. Granted, I’m sure the battery doesn’t last forever without being charged so expecting to rely upon it for a disaster without having been charged recently isn’t a great plan. Consider it an alternative long-term light source:

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Use couldn’t be much easier. Just pull on the provided handle to stretch it out a bit and then inflate using the included valve. It even holds air with the stopper plug out which is nice. Deflation is the reverse and doesn’t take much effort except to keep pressure on the valve to let the air out:

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Luci has two brightness modes (low and high) as well as an emergency blinking mode. Sadly, there isn’t much difference in the low and high settings but the high setting is bright enough to light up the sink area in our kids small bathroom and to read by if necessary:

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Just to be sure it floated I filled our kitchen sink and let it sit in there for a while. In fact, I forgot about it and found it still floating about an hour later still working and not otherwise “sunk” which was nice… and expected:

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I later tossed it in our backyard pond (the following is with the camera flash on) and actually choose to leave it out all night (it was still floating but OFF):

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In fact, I took a few pictures with the flash OFF but it didn’t show up well. Ultimately, it’s not going to light up that much other than the surrounding few feet at best and the camera didn’t pick that up.

Why (and Why Not to) Choose a Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern?

Well, the Luci Solar Lantern is very compact, lightweight, requires no batteries, is waterproof, and can be recharged again and again using the power of the sun. It’s also relatively inexpensive at less than $15.

That said, I find it hard to say that an inflatable solar-powered lantern is a must-have for emergency preparedness. While a neat idea and one that can be fun for around the pool, hot tub, or at the lake, I don’t see any huge benefit over a typical lantern for at-home preparedness. On the go, it could be useful to toss into your bag but it wouldn’t be my first choice.

Buy this Luci inflatable solar lantern for it’s real purpose: fun times around the water. If you want a better option for a solar lantern consider the d.light LED Solar Lantern which provides quite a bit more light and is quite rugged too… not waterproof, mind you, but if you’re that worried about water protection for a solar lantern then you have bigger concerns to deal with first. 😉

Don’t be Afraid of the Dark! SHTF Lighting Solutions

SHTF Lighting Solutions
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As preppers we like to be prepared for nearly anything and that includes life without electricity… a wonderful invention that has reliably lit up the dark of night for generations now.

But, as preppers, we also know that the power grid is relatively fragile and certainly won’t be there (at least not reliably) during an lengthy SHTF event.

We need to plan for this or at least be aware and be willing to adjust our lifestyle and perhaps even our expectations. We NEED SHTF lighting solutions we can rely upon.

Fears are hard to overcome

It’s hard, however, to overcome well ingrained fears such as a fear of the dark. I’ll admit it… complete darkness still freaks me out on occasion. It’s a natural fear and one that nearly all of us experiences to one degree or another, especially children.

Perhaps there’s good reason for such fears, particularly so during any extended disaster scenario. Fortunately, most of us have yet to experience prolonged periods of darkness. The most that we’ve likely experienced is the occasional blackout for a few hours to a few days or weeks at most. Most people–even the relatively unprepared–can deal with these situations with a minimal amount of flashlights and batteries.

But what happens if those weeks turn into months and months into years? Unless you’ve REALLY prepared yourselves then you’re probably going to end up living in the darkness eventually.

Remember we didn’t always have lights

Believe it or not there was a time in life when we tended to go to bed when the sun went down and got up when the sun rose. Yes, we may have had the capability to make fire and even had candles but we DIDN’T have the myriad of flashlights, lanterns, glow sticks, and whatnot that we do now.

In fact, I’m willing to bet that you and I are so accustomed to ambient lighting–such as lights from city streets even a long way away to glowing LED lights from electronics such as your cable box–that we don’t even know what it’s like to NOT have them in our lives.

It’s ONLY when we experience a true blackout (or a serious removal from society) that we can even remotely begin to understand what a SHTF pitch black scenario might feel like. Granted, we currently have a variety of light sources at our disposal but there will come a time when they no longer work or we don’t have fuel/batteries to run them. Then, and only then, will we feel the ominous pitch black much like our ancestors did.

Yes, yes, I know that moonlight can provide some good light at night and that our eyes will eventually adjust to having minimal light but there are situations where even this won’t do much good…

OPSEC is a double-edged sword

I’d assume that many of us–me included–fully intend to board up our homes (or at least a room) so that no light escapes in order to protect our OSPEC from potential passersby.

That’s a good thing but doing so also means that NO light can get in from the moon or any other source… even the sunlight during the day. If/when we no longer have our own light source then we’re back to living in complete darkness and in our own homes no less!

Of course, I shutter to think what life might be like if we’ve sadly run out of fuel and batteries for lighting (among other uses) yet are still boarded up in our homes like prisoners. The question, regardless, is: what can you do in this situation? That is, to better prepare yourself for a SHTF situation long down the road?

Here’s a few thoughts…

What to do about long-term SHTF lighting solutions

  1. The first thing you can and should do is to stock more fuel and batteries… duh! It’s not THAT hard or expensive to do. In fact, I once did a calculation that you could purchase enough D-cell batteries to run my favorite battery-powered lantern (the Rayovac Sportsman LED Lantern) for about two years at five hours a day for around $100 in D-cell Batteries, if I remember right. The original post was, regrettably, apparently deleted in one of my overzealous cleanups of old posts. 😉
  2. The second thing you can do is to invest in a quality rechargeable solar lantern or two. The d.light LED Solar Lantern (reviewed here) is a good option but I’m sure there are plenty of others. Do realize that you’re going to need to place the lantern outside most days in a prominent spot so that it gets enough sunlight to recharge which could also blow your OPSEC.
  3. A step-up would be to utilize a small solar panel to recharge a deep cycle battery and then run any number of DC lights. I posted about an experiment I did a while back with an extra tent light. This option could result in fewer times that the battery needs recharged which is a plus to your OPSEC. In fact, you could even get tricky with it and figure out how attach panels in an inconspicuous spot on your rooftop (but still well exposed to the sun) and wire them permanent to your batteries. Of course, there are limitations on this but it might be worth considering for SHTF.
  4. Another option is to learn to live with it. Yes, as “crazy” as it may sound, you could learn to do as our ancestors did and rise and sleep with the sun. Granted, this doesn’t much help if you’re inside a boarded-up home/room during the day but it can certainly reduce the need for artificial lighting at night.
  5. You could, alternatively, choose NOT to board up your home thereby ignoring OPSEC rules, at least, not during the day. Yes, this may seem to be the CRAZIEST suggestion yet! Honestly, I don’t think I could live cooped up inside my home 24/7… not for very long anyway. Moreover, this would mean lesser security if/when something happens.

I’m not saying I have all the answers here but the topic has crossed my mind a lot lately. What thoughts do you have? I’m all ears…