How to Survive Getting Stranded in the Snow

Winter is here, and the temperatures are falling fast. One thing no one wants to think about is the possibility of getting stranded in the snow. How will you survive if you get stranded in the woods during a blizzard, or your car gets stuck in a snowdrift on the side of the road? What about getting snowed-in when the power goes out? Here’s a comprehensive guide that will help keep you alive if you get stranded in the snow.

Stranded in Your Car

You’re heading over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house when the unthinkable happens — you hit a patch of ice and drift into a snowbank, getting your tires stuck. You can call AAA, but you’re stuck with the task of surviving until they reach you. How can you survive getting stranded in your car in the snow?

Car survival starts with proper preparation. You should keep a survival kit in your car at all times, which should include supplies like:

  • Food: Keep some high-protein,non-perishable snacks in your survival kit, like nuts and protein bars. You’ll need more calories to keep moving if it’s cold.
  • Water: Store plenty of drinking water in your kit. If you can, store them upside-down so that the tops don’t freeze. You can still get dehydrated even if it’s snowing outside, so make sure you drink plenty of water.
  • Extra clothing and blankets: You need to stay as warm as possible. Keep an extra set of clothes and some blankets in your car so that you can layer up or change clothes if you get wet.
  • Flares and flashlights: Emergency flares can help rescue crews see you even if it’s snowing heavily. Flashlights will keep you from draining your phone battery trying to see in the dark.
  • A spare phone battery and charger: Keep your phone charged so that you can contact emergency services.
  • A shovel: A military e-tool (folding shovel) is ideal because it takes up very little space when folded. You’ll need to keep your tailpipe clear of snow and other obstructions if you’re planning on running the car to stay warm. If the exhaust pipe gets blocked, it can cause carbon monoxide to back up into the car.

The key is to stay warm until the tow truck or other rescue services can arrive. You can run the car to keep warm, but make sure that the tailpipe is clear. Car interiors aren’t very good at conserving heat, so if you’re worried about running out of gas, just run the car until it’s warm, then shut it off. Turning the car on for short periods will conserve fuel while helping to keep you warm.

Try to remove the snow around and underneath your tires, as well as the snow in front of your car, as much as you can. Then, try to move the vehicle forward and back slowly, a few feet at a time, to see if you can get enough traction to get yourself out of the snow and back onto the road. If you’ve got a few people in the car, you may be able to get yourself un-stuck with some old-fashioned elbow grease.

You can give yourself more traction with sand or kitty litter too. Just make sure you’re using something natural — you’re not going to be picking it up afterward.

[Editor’s note: A come-a-long could be a useful tool for this very purpose.]

Keep snow chains or other traction tools in your survival kit as well. It might be cold outside, but adding chains to your tires is a lot better than staying out in the cold for hours or days on end.

Stranded in the Woods

Camping or hiking in the winter can be fantastic, but getting stranded in a blizzard can be dangerous. The key to survival here is to have the right equipment. You’ll need four primary things to survive if you’re stranded in the wilderness— food, water, shelter and warmth. If you’re camping or hiking, chances are you have at least two of those things. If you don’t have water, melting snow over a campfire is a useful alternative.

You should know that shelter is essential if you’re hiking or stranded without a tent. A proper shelter will help protect you from the wind and keep you a little bit warmer while you ride out the storm. If you find yourself stranded in the wilderness, building a shelter should be your first priority. Look for downed branches, especially those from coniferous trees that still have a lot of foliage on them. You can use them to build a lean-to in a sheltered area to protect you.

If the snow is deep enough, don’t hesitate to start digging. Snow insulates and can help keep you warm and out of the wind. Just make sure the roof of your snow structure is strong enough that it won’t collapse and trap you inside. You can even dig a trench in the snow just large enough for you and top it with the branches you found.

Your second priority is to build a fire, which serves two purposes: to keep you warm–which is vital in these situations–and the smoke from your fire can help rescuers or passers-by narrow in on your location.

Doing so can be difficult in the wintertime because most of the dead wood is wet from the snow, but if you can get a good fire started, you should be able to dry out most anything. You’ll need a firestarter (the Swedish Light My Fire firesteel is good). If you smoke and have a Bic lighter in your pocket, you should be covered. If you don’t usually carry a lighter, starting a fire with wet wood can be nearly impossible. It might be a good skill to practice when you’re not in a survival situation.

Significant Health Hazards in the Winter Woods

Be aware of the two most significant health hazards that come from wintertime survival situations — hypothermia and frostbite.

Hypothermia is the condition that occurs when your body temperature drops too low. You’ll start to shiver uncontrollably — it’s your body’s natural way of trying to warm you up — and you may begin to get confused or have trouble thinking. You’ll know it’s progressed to severe hypothermia if you stop shivering. At this point, your body has used up your energy reserves and can’t keep you warm any longer. At this stage, medical intervention is needed.

Frostbite occurs when the tissue in your extremities or any exposed areas freezes. The water in your cells turns to ice crystals, causing the cells to burst. Severe frostbite can even require amputation. Stay as covered as possible, and take the time to warm up your fingers and toes, especially if they start to tingle or the flesh starts to feel hard.

If you know you’re going to be out in the woods, investing in some self-heating clothing which can help keep you warm no matter how cold it gets. If you’re going to be out in the snow fora while, or you find yourself stranded, this gear ends up being worth every penny.

Once you have a shelter and a fire, it’s time to start thinking about food and water. There are plenty of foods you can forage for in the winter time. Just be sure you double and triple check anything you harvest to be sure that it’s not poisonous.

Stranded at Home

Weathering a winter storm at home might not seem like the hardest thing in the world to do, but if the power goes out and with it your heat, it can quickly become a survival situation.

Keep a storm preparation kit in your home at all times. It will be similar to the one that we listed above in the section about getting stranded in your car, with a few notable differences:

  • Water: You might be able to get by with a few water bottles in your car, but at home, you’ll need more. Plan on one gallon of water per person per day for the duration of the storm. Half of that is for drinking, and the other half is for hygiene needs.
  • Battery or crank-powered weather radio: Keep track of the storm and changes in the weather with a radio that’s tuned in to your local NOAA station.
  • Diapers, formula and other infant supplies: If you have a baby in the home, keep everything they’ll need in your emergency kit.
  • Pet supplies: The same rule goes for pets. Make sure you have everything they could need for the duration of the storm.
  • Prescription medications: If anyone in your household relies on prescription medications, make sure you have a sufficient supply on hand before the storm hits.
  • Flashlights and lanterns: If the power goes out and it’s storming outside, these tools can make it easier to see.

The most important thing to do during a winter storm–especially if the power goes out–is to stay warm, fed and well-hydrated. In most cases, all you can do is wait it out.

If the power is likely to go out, consider investing in a generator to keep your lights, heat and other appliances running until power is restored. Always place the generator outside, and make sure it’s clear of snow and other obstructions before starting it up. Don’t plug your generator into your home’s main power though as doing so can create dangerous feedback for linemen who are trying to restore power after the storm.

Further Steps to Take While Waiting at Home

Unless you have a fireplace, don’t start a fire in the house. If you do have a fireplace, make sure the chimney isn’t blocked by snow for some odd reason. Otherwise, the smoke and CO2 can start building up to dangerous levels inside your home since it will have nowhere else to go.

[Editor’s note: ALWAYS have a quality battery-powered CO2 alarm if you have a fireplace or any gas appliances… it could save your life!]

Keep each room closed, primarily if you’re relying on a fireplace or portable space heaters to keep warm, and try to avoid going outside if at all possible. Homes are designed to maintain their internal temperature, but opening doors let in more cold air which then must be needlessly heated. Besides, it’s usually safer to stay inside during a winter storm anyway.

Remember to be aware of the signs of frostbite and hypothermia even at home. Make sure to stay dry. You might sweat or get wet from moving snow away from the door or generator. If you do, change your clothes immediately upon coming inside! Wet clothing pulls more heat away from the body, increasing your risk of hypothermia.

When you’re sheltering at home, the best thing you can do is stay warm, stay hydrated and wait for the storm to pass. Electric companies sometimes can’t work to restore power until the storm is over, so be prepared to remain in place even after the sun comes out and the storm dies down.

Take the time to check on your neighbors once it’s safe to do so as well. Young children and the elderly are more at risk during a winter storm, so if you can safely walk to the neighbors’ house then it might be worth it to check on them and make sure they’re warm and have plenty of food and water.

Staying Safe in the Worst Circumstances

No one wants to think about getting stranded in the snow, but it does happen. The best thing you can do, in any of these situations, is to be prepared for it. Set up an emergency kit in your car and home. Keep a small survival kit — with supplies like matches, a knife, a saw and some high-protein snacks — on your person or in a vehicle at all times. If you’re heading out into the wilderness, be prepared. Have proper clothing, and remember the four most important things that you need — food, water, shelter and warmth.

Winter is here–ready or not–and the snow has already started to fall. Being prepared for such a situation can quite literally mean the difference between life and death. Take the time to prepare now, before you need any of these supplies or survival skills. Wintertime is beautiful, but without the proper preparation, it can also be deadly. Stay safe out there.

[Editor’s note: This was a guest post.]

Why A Ferro Rod May NOT Be Worth Having In Your Pack

I’m really starting to like this guy a lot because he offers good, solid advice and clearly knows what he’s talking about with respect to wilderness survival. Today he’s discussing whether or not those trusty ferro rods every prepper–including me–tends to include in their packs is worth having… and stick around to the 12:00 mark to see his “trick” for fire starting.

Why A Mylar “Survival” Space Blanket Is Worth Having In Your Pack

I’m generally VERY against the cheap mylar “survival” space blankets mostly because there are better option and, honestly, people don’t use them right. I’m a much bigger fan of the SOL Heatsheets (two person version) which are discussed in the following video. That said, any such blanket has limitations and must be used appropriately as shown below…

Beware: 5 Dangers You May Encounter in the Woods (and what to do about it)

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Who doesn’t love a good trip into the wild? Whether you’re hiking, kayaking down a river, camping for the night, or doing some other manner of outdoor activity, it can be therapeutic to unwind in the great outdoors. Many of us crave that escape from society to spend time out in the quiet, desolate expanse of the world. There are no loud noises and bad smells… well, for the most part. There’s no dealing with light pollution, so you can get a great look at the stars. The air is clean and fresh.

Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe. Although the human race has collectively spent millennia outdoors, it’s no secret that many have lost their lives due to poor planning and mistakes. Problems like running out of food or water, or dealing with extreme temperature changes — read hypothermia — can lead to severe bodily harm if not death.

If you’re not careful, the wilderness is not a forgiving place, and it’s relatively easy to make a mistake that can put you in danger. Make a wrong turn during a hike, and you could end up lost for days or running low on supplies. Forget to pack the supplies for a fire, and you could be forced to endure a long, cold night. It’s even worse dealing with a cold night if you’ve slipped and fallen in some water. Forget to dispose of your food scraps properly, and a bear could wander into your camp.

We could drone on for days about how many potential dangers you face out there in the wide open expanse of the wild. However, it makes more sense to discuss the most common dangers — things you may very well come face to face if you spent enough time out in the woods.

1. Snakes, Bears and Wolves — Oh My!

Although it certainly feels like it when there are few humans around, you’re never alone in the woods. There’s always a chance you might come across an animal. There are plenty of small ones like porcupines, skunks and possums out there, but there are some big ones that can be dangerous too.

Bears are incredibly dangerous. If you don’t bury your trash, leave half-consumed foods laying out and do not follow proper hygiene you might have one stumble into your camp. The same is true of wolves and coyotes, especially at dusk and late at night.

If you come across a large animal, don’t panic. Do your best to keep your distance, try not to attract their attention, and always keep them in sight.

Depending on where you’re hiking or visiting, snakes may also be a concern. Some, including rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths and water moccasins, are poisonous. Always check your sleeping bag before climbing in, even if it’s inside a tent or sealed area.

If you are bitten, stung or attacked and you think the creature might be poisonous — usually, you’ll see some discoloration at the wound — it’s important to get to a hospital as soon as possible. While waiting for help to arrive, follow proper poison protocols. Clean and cover the wound, but don’t flush it with water. Remove all tight clothing and jewelry before you begin to swell, and keep the wound at or below where your heart is if possible. Don’t cut the wound, try to suck out the venom, apply a tourniquet or apply ice to the area. Don’t drink alcohol or caffeine, as they can speed up your body’s absorption of the venom.

2. Plants, Berries and Mushrooms

Berries often look downright delicious at first glance, adorned in vivid red and purple hues. But some are incredibly dangerous if eaten. The same is true of mushrooms and a variety of other plants you might come across.

Unless you’re expressly trained in spotting these types of foods, you should avoid them altogether. Foraging can be dangerous if you are inexperienced.

It’s entirely possible something you eat won’t hurt you in the short term, but mess with the wrong poison, psychotropic or chemical, and you could find yourself debilitated in the middle of nowhere with no help and no motor skills to seek it.

Oh, and let’s not talk about how foraged foods can sometimes contain parasites. That’s nightmare fuel for sure.

3. Insects Can Be More Than a Nuisance

Bugs can be annoying, but there’s a lot more out in the wilderness than just bugs that are a nuisance. Even some common insects can pose a risk. Mosquitoes, for instance, can carry deadly diseases like malaria, West Nile Virus and Zika.

Other potentially danger insects include spiders — some of which are poisonous — ants, fleas, ticks, hornets, bees and wasps. If you’re allergic to any of these insects, which you may not be aware of before you come into contact with them, those dangers increase tenfold.

It’s hard to believe but bugs can be and are one of the most dangerous things you’ll experience in the great outdoors, and they also happen to be incredibly common. That’s why it’s vital you take the necessary precautions regardless of where you’re traveling or visiting.

Insect repellent containing DEET or picaridin can help considerably, but you must remember to reapply it regularly throughout your trip. You can also apply creams, essential oils and several forms of mint to deter insects more naturally. Before climbing into your sleeping bag check it and your body for insects — ticks are easy to miss. If you do find a tick burrowed in your skin, remove it immediately. If you get insect bites, clean and protect them as soon as possible. If a poisonous insect bites you, you need to get to a hospital as quickly as possible.

Smoke also helps deter insects. Some outdoors enthusiasts will light a cigar or use smoke-creating plants and materials to scare off the bugs. These are sometimes useful strategies, but they also come with significant risks. Both of these methods have the potential for creating a wildfire and causing severe damage to the surrounding forest. It’s probably best to stick with the tried and true methods for deterring insects — liquid or cream based repellents.

4. Dangerous Weather and Temperatures

One of the most common mistakes that people make when visiting the wild is that they do not properly prepare for the local temperatures and weather. In certain places, for instance, the temperature can drop dangerously low after dark, despite being comfortable enough to wear shorts and a t-shirt during the day.

It’s always essential that you pack the appropriate clothing and protective gear, even if you’re not expecting inclement weather. Hypothermia can set on quickly, even after something like a cold rain. It doesn’t have to be the winter, and there doesn’t have to be any snow present. Having your body exposed to the wet and cold can have serious repercussions.

The opposite is true, as well. In areas where extreme heat is present, or where there’s constant exposure to the sun, it’s important you stay hydrated and properly rested. Take a few moments here and there to sit down in the shade, and be sure to continue drinking water — not sugary drinks, alcohol or other beverages. Drink at least one liter of water an hour, more if you’re sweating profusely. You should also cover your head and face and wear sunscreen if you’re going to be in the direct sunlight for an extended period. These practices will go a long way toward keeping your body cool and comfortable in the hot climates.

Furthermore, be mindful about your surroundings at all times. For instance, when setting up camp try to avoid placing your tent in low-lying areas or near water. It’s possible during a storm that the water will rise, and if you’re sleeping inside, that could prove deadly. Try to find camp areas that are on relatively high ground and ensure you have ample space to build a fire and remain dry.

If you do fall in the water or get wet, be sure to dry off as soon as possible. You should change your clothes and then sit around a fire or get into a sleeping bag or under a blanket. Worst case scenario, you can huddle next to someone in your party to share body warmth.

5. Watch Out for Fire Hazards

In a thick forest, fire can be absolutely devastating. When a fire spreads, it can happen fast — so fast that you have little time to react. We’ve seen this happen in some of the recent major fires like the one in Tennessee that consumed 100 acres or the ones raging in California right now.

You might not be the source of the fire, so keep that in mind. Also, it’s entirely possible to plan a trip, and visit a location without ever knowing there’s a potential threat. You could set up your camp or hike through an area only to find yourself trapped by a wildfire.

Of course, it’s also important that you follow proper safety measures when building campfires. You don’t want to cause a wildfire, which happens more than you might think.

Always build your fire at a safe distance from flammable objects like your tent or underbrush. If you can find an existing campfire ring or location, it’s best to use that space instead of creating a new one. If none are available. Surround your fire with stones or dig a small pit to keep it contained. Never use accelerants or fuel in the fire, and try to keep papers, liquids and other debris away.

You should also inspect the area thoroughly, checking for overhanging branches, trees and dry foliage. Store any extra wood and other materials you plan to use at a distance from the fire.

As for what you use to light the fire, paper is out. Never use paper as a fuel source. If you do light the fire with a match, be absolutely sure the match is out before disposing of it. Never throw a spent match into the underbrush or nearby foliage. If you have extra water handy then spread it around the edges of the fire to keep the nearby ground moist. This helps contain the flames. You should also use water to douse the fire when you’re all finished.

Never leave a campfire unattended, as a breeze or wind could easily blow embers and debris into the surrounding area and spark a larger flame.

After dousing a fire with water, use a stick or pole to stir the embers and ashes. This helps ensure that any stray coals are not still lit.

Ultimately, if you have a small camping stove or cooking station available, it might be better to use that instead of a conventional fire. But it’s not always possible to have these tools handy, so just be sure to stay safe and attentive.

Have Fun, But Don’t Be Reckless

By now, you’ve surely noticed that many of the dangers discussed are fairly common and would be easy to avoid or prevent so long as you are vigilant and careful. While having fun and enjoying the great outdoors should always be the focus of any trip, that doesn’t mean you should be reckless. Often, the people that are careless when spending time outdoors are the ones that either find themselves hurt and in danger or lose their lives altogether.

In addition, there are also many tips that haven’t been discussed here including packing the right amount of food and water, staying aware of your surroundings so you don’t get lost, choosing the appropriate hiking and camping locations, and wearing clearly visible gear to alert any hunters in the vicinity of your presence.

Be smart and careful when you’re out in the woods so that you can enjoy your trip and get home safe.

[Note: This was a guest post.]

Top 3 Considerations For Carrying A Firearm During A Grid Down Disaster

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There are an abundance of articles online that provide you with critically important tips on carrying a firearm.  But far fewer of those articles cover how to properly carry or use your firearms in the event of a grid down disaster.  

Fortunately, that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about today.  Here are the top three considerations for carrying a firearm during a grid down disaster:

1 – Conceal Carry A Handgun

Carrying a handgun on your person is wise so that you always have a defensive firearm within quick and easy access. That is, you shouldn’t have to run into your house or car to grab a gun if you are ever attacked by looters or criminals during a disaster.

Instead, you should be able to draw your pistol or revolver right away to engage your attackers the moment they attack!

At the same time, the last thing you want to do during a disaster is to draw attention to yourself, whether it be from law enforcement or by other people.  This is why it is crucial to keep that firearm concealed on your person. 

Therefore, you’ll want to invest in a high quality concealed carry holster and to carry at least one spare magazine with you as well.  Even if you don’t have to reload due to running out of ammunition, the number one cause of failures in a semi-automatic weapon is due to an issue with the magazine rather than the weapon itself, so packing a spare magazine or two is always a smart call.

2 – Keep A Rifle or Shotgun Within Easy Access

A handgun may be a great self-defense tool, but it’s still not as effective as a rifle or a shotgun in certain situations.  It just isn’t. Handguns don’t have as much stopping power or velocity, and they lack the range of a rifle, in particular.  If your home or property comes under attack by multiple assailants, defense will almost always be easier with a long gun than it is with a handgun.

If anything, handguns are either backup weapons when all other options have been expended or weapons that you use until you can get to your main weapon, and they should be treated as such.

This is why you want to also keep a rifle or shotgun within easy access.  No, you don’t want it to be out in the open, but you want it to be somewhere that you can reach it quickly, such behind the front door of your home or in your car. [Editor’s note: follow all state and local laws regarding proper storage.]

3 – Keep The Rest of Your Guns Hidden

Do you want to know what a real possibility will be during a grid down disaster? That’s right: the government declaring martial law, even if not officially in name.  

Martial law simply means that the Constitution and all regular laws will be suspended as the government takes direct control via the military and law enforcement.  All of the rights that you’re accustomed to having, from free speech to a right to privacy to the right to keep and bear arms, will be treated as if they never existed.

In an effort to control the population, the government will be going door to door confiscating firearms.  It’s what happened during Hurricane Katrina, even though martial law was not formally declared.

In order to keep as many of your guns as possible, you’ll need to get very creative about hiding them. A gun safe won’t be good enough because it will be the very first place confiscators go to look, so you’ll need to hide them around your house instead or, better yet, completely off site.

Conclusion

Contrary to what many folks think, it’s not necessarily like people are going to be walking around with a pistol on their hip and a rifle slung over their shoulder when the grid goes down.  On the contrary, you’ll want to be very careful about how you go about carrying a firearm during a disaster.

And remember: just because the grid has gone down doesn’t mean that the laws will no longer be enforced.  Be sure to comply with laws regarding storage, concealed carry, and defensive use of a firearm in your area even after the grid has gone down because people have been and will be prosecuted when society does return to normalcy.

[Note: this was a guest post.]

Here’s One Time You May Not Be Testing Your Smoke Alarms

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So I was downstairs in the basement this morning getting a fire going and I was having a hard time of it. Reason being is that this particular fireplace has a 90-degree bend in the flue which makes getting it going a bit challenging and takes some patience.

I wasn’t feeling very patient today and so I just “went for it” using kindling that was a bit too large and more than I should have started with, knowing full-well that I would probably smoke out the basement as a result. And, of course, I did have to open the doors to air the basement out while I was getting the fire going.

The thing is that I wondered why the smoke alarm nearest the fireplace didn’t go off because I was sure that it would have. And I knew for a fact that the batteries were good because I just recently replaced them a month or two ago.

Clearly, I wondered what was wrong, so I took the smoke alarm down and pressed the test button… nothing. I then opened the battery cover, removed the 9-volt, and my problem was obvious: I’d put the battery in backwards… literally 180-degrees the wrong way!

No doubt THAT smoke alarm was going to do me no good should I have ever needed it. Fortunately, I probably go overboard with my smoke alarms throughout the house, so I was likely covered by another–relatively nearby–smoke alarm but, regardless, I made an easily preventable mistake that I don’t believe I’d ever made before. And it was a mistake that could have cost lives.

Now I get to go check the rest of the smoke alarm batteries just to be sure they’re all installed correctly and, of course, I should be pressing the “test” button to ensure each of them works as expected… especially after I replace the batteries.

What To Do If Your Oven Catches Fire

Last night I was making two pizzas in the oven like I’d done many times before. When they were done I pulled the oven rack toward me as far as it would go so I could slide the pizzas out easier; I got the first one out no problem, but when I returned to get the second pizza, it was missing. I thought to myself, “Where in the world did the second pizza go!?” Turns out, the second pizza was now sitting atop the oven burner catching on fire and making one heck of a smoke signal!

My guess is the second pizza got stuck to the back of the oven wall and stayed attached as I pulled the oven rack out without me realizing it. Eventually, I fished out the second pizza and still need to clean it out, but that got me to thinking that we ought to remind ourselves what to do should the oven or a pot on the burner ever catch fire…

Oven Fire

Here’s what to do if the oven catches fire:

  1. “Leave the oven door closed!
  2. Turn off the oven and allow the fire to burn out on its own.
  3. If it does not go out on its own, leave the house and call 911.
  4. If it does go out, then open your windows.
  5. Carefully open the oven door (it will be smoky!) and remove the hot pan.
  6. Allow the smoke to clear before determining the cause of the fire and possibly resuming cooking.”

Burner Fire

Here’s what to do if a burner ever catches fire:

Never Use The Oven to Heat Your Home

This article explains why you should never use an oven to heat your home: “Do not use a gas or electric oven or surface units for heating. A gas oven may go out or burn inefficiently, leading to carbon monoxide poisoning. An electric oven was not designed for space heating.”

The article also explains important safety considerations regarding keeping warm during the winter in an unheated house… all of which are good reminders for everyone to read.

Toaster Ovens

I also want to quickly point out that toaster ovens are particularly susceptible to fires for a few reasons, so keep a close eye on them. And if you ever choose to makeshift a candle-powered tea light oven because, why not, then REALLY keep an eye on it, lol!

Lock Pick Beginners Box Review

I was sent this Lock Pick Beginners Box from LockPickWorld.com in exchange for an honest review and, honestly, I really had no idea what they were going to send because I basically said “send whatever you like” as I had no experience with picking locks and, thus, no expectations either.

Anyway, the box arrived a few days later and was smaller than I’d anticipated at about 7″ x 5″ and not a whole lot bigger than most cell phones these days, lol:

After opening the box, everything was well-contained and included the lock pick set, a smaller concealed credit-card-sized pick set, and two different see-through training locks:

Here’s what I found after taking it all out of their respective packages, with the 15-piece lock pick set lined up along the top in the photo below, the credit-card pick set at the bottom left, and the two practice locks shown on the bottom and bottom right:

Scratching my head at everything, the first thing I looked for was a set of instructions, yet I found none. Truth be told, I typically ignore instructions, at least, until I get suck, but this time I really had no idea what I was doing.

After heading back to the product page I realized that I should have received an ebook to go along with the pick set, but since this was a review product I guess I didn’t get the appropriate email. No big deal, I got my hands on the book and actually found it rather interesting… and I even read most of it too.

The problem I found was that reading how to pick a lock was far different than actually seeing it done. And, so, I headed to YouTube and found this video which helped me get started:

I watched a few others which I won’t bore you with, but I can attest that picking locks is much harder than I thought it would be!

I tried for a while to use the lock picks like I thought I should on the practice padlock without any success. Then I tried the “raking” method discussed in both the book and shown in the video above using a “triple peak” pick and I quickly picked the training padlock! Uh oh… I might be hooked.

It was neat to get something to actually work, so I tried the double-sided lock using the “raking” method but was stumped again.

Long story short, I went back to using the tension wrench and “short pick” on the double-sided lock and, after fiddling with it and watching the tumblers move I actually got the lock to open, but that took some time and more patience than I tend to have.

Regardless, it was neat to accomplish. I actually went around the house and tried a few door locks using only a tension wrench and short pick, but had no success.

And, if I’m being honest, the rest of the lock pick set looks like Greek to me. I also tried to use the credit-card set on the training locks and eventually got them to work as well.

I briefly considered adding the credit-card set to my wallet, but it’s already filled to the brim with other stuff and, knowing my luck, I would probably get arrested the next time I tried to board a plane with them, lol.

Ultimately, I was pleased with the lock pick beginners box set. It’s an interesting skill that I never tried before and, whether or not it may come in handy during any sort of disaster scenario, the tools are certainly fun to practice with and may just make an entertaining gift for the upcoming holiday season.

Top 10 Places To Hide A Gun In Your Home

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There’s simply no question that a firearm is one of the very best home defense weapons you can have.

There’s also no question that leaving your firearms out in plain sight is a bad idea, and for more reasons than one. The last thing you want is someone with unauthorized access to get their hands on one of your guns, and that’s why you need to take action to keep your firearms hidden.

Now the obvious solution here is to invest in a strong, affordable gun safe, which has the added benefit of protecting your firearms from fires and other elements.

But this may not be a viable solution for you if you don’t presently have the funds to invest in a safe, or at least not in one that can hold all of your guns for you. (Editor’s note: be sure to follow any local laws regarding proper storage, even if you’re generally against more regulations, like me.)

So what are you supposed to do now? Simple: you need to find other places throughout your house to hide your guns in instead.

Here are the best places to hide guns in your home:

1. Food Boxes (i.e. Pizza Boxes)

Yes, any random food box such as a pizza box will be a perfectly viable option to hide a handgun, because it would be one of the very last places a criminal would even think to look.

The added benefit here is that the kitchen is a good place to have a firearm hidden anyway for defense against home intrusions.

(Editor’s note: be sure the box is thoroughly cleaned, otherwise it will get smelly!)

2. Pottery Pieces

Besides food boxes, you can also try to hide your handguns inside pottery pieces throughout your house as well. Take note that criminals will definitely think to look inside pottery pieces before food boxes, so it may not be as secure of an option. You’ll also definitely want to wrap the pistol in a towel of some kind before placing it into the bowl, just in case if a guest to your home peers inside out of curiosity.

3. Nightstand

It’s always a good idea to keep a firearm on the nightstand for quick access should you wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of something breaking downstairs. That being said, nightstands are also places that burglars would be sure to check for jewelry, electronics, money, and other valuables, so you’re definitely taking a risk here.

The best solution here may be to invest in a small pistol safe that you can drill into the bottom of the nightstand, where the pistol will be kept both concealed and secured.

4. Under Furniture

Who says that you only have to drill a pistol safe underneath a nightstand? What’s to stop you from drilling one underneath other pieces of furniture, such as office desks, chairs, sofas, and so on?

5. Under The Floors

Underneath the floors is another great location for hiding firearms.  You can also hide long guns here such as rifles and shotguns besides handguns only.  Just be careful about where you choose to cut into your floors. In a hallway that’s commonly used wouldn’t be as strategic as say underneath furniture.

6. Concealment Shelves

There are a variety of concealment shelves on the market that you can buy as well for hiding handguns.  Many concealment shelves are designed as everyday home furnishing items, such as drawers, clocks, picture frames, and so on.

7. Air Vents

Air vents are another location where you can hide firearms.  Granted, burglars may think to look there for money or other valuables, but children and anyone else curious probably will not.

8. Fake Books

This is one of the oldest tricks in the book (pun intended), but hiding a small pistol in a realistic looking fake book ensures that the firearm is kept both hidden and accessible. For larger pistols, you made need a real page turner. Try a dictionary, old Bible, or maybe your favorite edition of Harry Potter.

9. Closet

You’re taking a major risk by hiding your guns in the closet, because it’s often the very first room where burglars will go.  But it’s still an option for you. Just be careful and strategic about how you choose to hide your guns in the closet (i.e. underneath a pile of shirts or pants isn’t very strategic).

Editor’s note: get a good handgun safe if you’re going to use the closet for this purpose… thieves will go straight for the closet every time.

10. Underground

Last but not least, you can also always hide firearms underground, such as in a PVC pipe, pelican case, ammo can, or anything else that can keep the firearms shielded from moisture.  This is a topic that you’ll want to research much more careful to keep your firearms fully protected from moisture damage.

Conclusion

Hopefully this article has given you a solid idea of a variety of different places where you can keep your firearms hidden.  But of course, these aren’t the only viable options for hiding guns, so  if you put your creative cap on, you’ll no doubt think of a number of other hiding places as well.

(Editor’s note: This was a guest post.)