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.]

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!

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.)

BioScarf – Cold Weather Scarf with Built-in N95 Protection

I’d never heard of such a thing as the BioScarf until today. Interestingly, it’s like a typical scarf but with an N-95 mask built into it. Apparently, it can filter out all sorts of airborne pathogens, from bacteria to smoke and plenty more. Plus they come in a variety of colors, including camo, olive drab, black, and white. Check it out below and consider grabbing one as an early Christmas gift…

7 Things You Should Never Burn in Your Fireplace (and why)

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I have a bunch of old papers that I need to get rid of and it occurred to me that I could just burn them in my fireplace one day, but I got to wondering if that was really a good idea as I’d never done so before (I’d always done this outdoors).

Well, it turns out that “it depends” on precisely what I’m burning, but I did find this article on several items I should never burn in the fireplace and wanted to share it with you, too, so you’re aware as well…

“The fireplace looks like a handy place to dispose of unwanted combustibles, but it’s safest to burn only dry, seasoned firewood.  Many items you might innocently pop into the fireplace create serious hazards.

  1.  Don’t burn colored paper.  The inks used in wrapping paper, newspaper inserts, and magazines contain metals that can give off toxic fumes when burned.  Paper burns very quickly, so there is also a danger that flames may enter the chimney and ignite the creosote deposits in the flue.  Balls of paper can ‘float’ up the chimney on the hot air that is rising through the chimney and ignite flammable materials outside the home.

  2. Never burn painted, stained, or treated wood or manufactured wood such as plywood and particle board.  Chemicals in ‘salt treated’ wood, paint, or stains can produce toxic fumes when burned.  Likewise, burning manufactured wood products produces toxins and carcinogens…”

Read the full article here

What If We Regulated Driving Like We Do Guns?

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Yesterday I shared a brief video about Washington’s I-1639 passing that seriously restricts gun ownership, and I clearly wasn’t happy about it. I’m still not happy about it passing and, like the guy said in the video, most of the law won’t directly impact me whatsoever. Regardless, it’s still the wrong way to go but first…

Today I woke up at about 3 am still thinking about it… and still upset. Then, this morning I turn on the news to hear about another shooting, this time in a California bar.

What a shame. I simply don’t understand what these shooters hope to gain by doing this; it must be the infamy of going out in a blaze of glory. Odds are this guy had mental problems that weren’t properly dealt with, but only time will tell.

The thing is that we always seem to blame the gun for such deaths, but that’s just not the case. Now, I’m hesitant to use the saying, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” but it’s true.

Saying that guns kill people because they exist would be like saying that cars kill people because they exist. Literally. But we both know that’s not true. Cars don’t actually kill people… it’s the driver’s behind the wheel who do. There may be extenuating circumstances (such as poor road conditions) but it’s still up to the driver to drive safely.

The statistics are staggering

According to these CDC stats, America averages between 30-40 thousand deaths by firearm (homicides and suicides combined) each year, give or take a few thousand, and it appears to be rising. I’ll certainly agree that’s a lot and the trend is moving in the wrong direction.

And if firearms didn’t actually exist then, yes, these deaths in this manner would not have occurred. Would they have occurred in another way, say, with suicides? Well, Japan has very strict gun laws and a relatively high suicide rate… you do the math.

What about deaths on the road? Although motor vehicle fatalities were trending lower over the past decade, the trend seems to be on the rise again, totaling as many or more deaths per year as firearms at about 37,000 per year, according to Wikipedia.

Clearly, firearm deaths and motor vehicle deaths are not equal. People certainly use a vehicle in their daily lives far more than a firearm. I get that. But the fact still remains that as many or more people die from vehicle-related deaths as they do with guns.

And if we’re truly interested in reducing preventable fatalities then we should consider all major causes of preventable death, including firearms, vehicles, drug overdoes (many of which are prescriptions and cause more deaths than either firearms or vehicles), and so on… but only firearms get vilified day in and day out.

Initiative 1639 highlights

So, what would it be like if we treated your car just like Washington state want’s to treat guns?

Let’s find out…

Washington Initiative 1639 includes quite a bit. Once enacted, the law would:

  • Raise age limits for purchasing certain firearms
  • Require waiting periods after purchasing a firearm
  • Impose additional fees when purchasing a firearm
  • Require proof of firearms safety training
  • Increase background checks before purchasing a firearm
  • Require firearms to be securely stored or disabled by use of trigger-locks
  • Require approval from local police or sheriff to own a firearm

I’m sure there’s more in there that I missed, but these are the biggest problems I see. Now, on the surface, they sound reasonable enough. But, let’s substitute the word “firearm” for the word “vehicle” and see how reasonable it would be if this were your car and your lifestyle that we’re legislating…

Raise age limits for purchasing certain vehicles

One thing the initiative does is to raise the age limit on purchasing certain firearms from age 18 to 21: “This initiative would make it illegal for a person under 21 years of age to buy a pistol or semiautomatic assault rifle. It would make it illegal for any person to sell or transfer a semiautomatic assault rifle to a person under age 21.”

What if we applied this same logic to a car? What if we said that a legal adult at age 18 couldn’t buy a sports car, such as Ford Mustang, until they were age 21 because of the perceived risk a sports car brings? Would that be acceptable?

Or, better yet, why not say they can’t buy a sports car until age 25 when insurance rates tend to drop even more? After all, young male drivers are known to be most at risk for making poor decisions behind the wheel, especially when speed is involved. A sports car surely makes it easier to speed, I can attest to that.

Why not apply the same logic to motorcycle purchases? After all, most motorcyclists I’ve seen on the road tend to speed or weave in and out of traffic, and they’re certainly more at risk of dying from an accident than the driver of a vehicle.

Let’s target SUV’s while we’re at it… most of “those people” drive poorly too, particularly in bad weather.

And if I kept trying I’m sure I could figure out how to target almost every car or group of drivers out there. Eventually nobody will be driving!

What about upper age limits?

Here’s another take that’s just going to upset quite a few people: what if we had an upper age limit on who can purchase–or even drive–certain vehicles?

What if, for instance, we said anyone who was retirement age couldn’t purchase specific vehicles or, worse, once you hit age 70 (an arbitrary number I just made up) that you couldn’t drive anymore?

Would you be fine with that? After all, older drivers may be just as much of a hazard on the road as the younger ones. Don’t get mad at me, though, we’re just trying to do everything we can to stay safe on the road!

Require waiting periods after purchasing a vehicle

Another requirement of I-1639 is to “…require a dealer to wait at least 10 days before delivering a semiautomatic assault rifle to a buyer.” Of course, this could take much longer due to background check backlogs, lost paperwork, or who knows why.

What if we did the same thing with vehicles?

What if, instead of being able to drive off the new car lot with your shiny new sports car (now at age 25) you had to wait? Possibly for weeks? You wouldn’t be very happy at all!

Now, what if we made everyone wait before they could take possession of any new car they buy, even from a private seller?

Dealerships wouldn’t be very pleased, that’s for sure. It kind of ruins their whole sales pitch and there may be a few “buyer’s remorse” returns too. That may hurt the economy a bit.

Insurance companies may not be very happy either, especially if there’s damage to a vehicle during the interim period where the dealer still holds a car due to the waiting period and when the owner takes possession. Though I’m sure they’re figure out a way around that or, more likely, they’ll charge you a “new vehicle holding” fee.

And, of course, new car owners won’t be very happy either.

Impose additional fees when purchasing a vehicle

The initiative would also “…allow the state to impose a fee of up to $25 on each purchaser of a semiautomatic assault rifle. This fee would be used to offset certain costs of implementing the initiative. The fee would be adjusted for inflation.”

Wait, we already impose new car fees, lol.

That’s just more money for the state to grab and do whatever they want with. Granted, the fees probably wouldn’t amount to very much, but it’s still YOUR money that they’re taking.

Require proof of vehicle safety training

The initiative states that: “Buyers would be required to provide proof that they have completed a recognized firearm safety training program within the past five years.”

What if we made anyone who wants to purchase a new car show proof that they completed a vehicle safety course within the past five years? Would you want to take a safety course every five years? How quickly would this become redundant? After a handful of these safety courses you could probably teach the course yourself.

Firearms are no different; once you understand the basics of firearms safety and familiarize yourself with the firearm (assuming it’s new to you) there really isn’t much else you need to reeducate yourself about. Requiring proof of training every five years is just silly.

Increase background checks before purchasing a vehicle

Continuing their intrusive behavior: “Background check and record keeping requirements that currently apply only to the purchase of pistols would also apply to the purchase of semiautomatic assault rifles. The same requirements for collecting and maintaining information on purchases of pistols would apply to purchases of semiautomatic assault rifles.”

What if dealerships were now required to pull your DMV record to determine if you were fit to drive? Would you be fine with that?

Granted, I know we have laws in place to revoke your driver’s license if you’ve had too many violations (or specific ones such as a DUI) but what if we did the same thing before purchasing your next car? Who gets to decide precisely what makes you a bad driver? And how far back to they get to look? I know I’m a very different driver today than I was in my youth; I’d suspect you were too.

Require vehicles to be securely stored or disabled by use of trigger-locks

I-1639 continues: “The initiative would create new criminal offenses for the unsafe storage of a firearm if a person who cannot legally possess a firearm gets it and uses it in specified ways. These crimes would apply to a person who stores or leaves a firearm in a place where the person knows, or reasonably should know, that a prohibited person may gain access to the firearm.”

Basically, it’s saying that you, as a legal gun owner, are now responsible for the actions of another should your firearm be stolen (or taken without permission, such as by your child) and then commits a crime with your stolen gun if you failed to “reasonably” secure it.

So, what if we make the same requirement of your car? Should you be required to not only lock up your car each day at home, but to securely store it in some fashion? What about at work or while you’re at the grocery store?

Maybe you’re only required to “lock up” your keys. Would you be willing and able to do that each and every day, every time you use your car? And if you didn’t, you could be charged with a felony in some cases!

In fact, just yesterday I heard about this 11 year old kid who stole his parent’s car and led police on a high-speed chase. Fortunately, nobody was seriously injured and, while they’re filing felony charges against the child in juvenile court, according to this law they may also be able to file felony charges against you in some cases when you had nothing to do with it. Is that fair to you?

What if, for instance, you locked up your keys in a gun safe like you’re supposed to, but a thief stole the safe, eventually broke into it, subsequently stole your car, and ended up getting into a fatal accident? Are you responsible then? What’s reasonable in this situation?

That said, the initiative does state that: “Those crimes would not apply if the firearm was in secure gun storage, meaning a locked box, gun safe, or other locked storage space that is designed to prevent unauthorized use or discharge of a firearm.”

We’ll see how long that wording stays in or how much wiggle room a prosecutor wants to apply to the law.

The initiative does attempt to clarify: “The crimes would not apply if the person who gets the firearm is ineligible to possess it because of age… [or] in cases of self-defense… [or] if the person who is ineligible to possess a firearm obtains it through unlawful entry, if the unauthorized access or theft is reported to law enforcement within five days of the time the victim knew or should have known that the firearm had been taken.”

Right. Like I said, we’ll see how judiciously such wording gets used and abused when there’s an overzealous prosecutor or judge involved.

Require approval from local police or sheriff to own a vehicle

“Finally, the initiative would require [law enforcement] to verify that people who have acquired pistols or semiautomatic assault rifles remain eligible to possess a firearm under state and federal law… [and] to take steps to ensure that persons legally ineligible to possess firearms are not illegally in possession of firearms.”

What if we did this with your car? What if authorities went so far as to track what car your’re driving and were able to revoke your driver’s license if they found out you were driving the wrong type of car for whatever reason?

Think this can’t happen? Nearly everything can be tracked these days, especially with the use of smartphones, GPS, and other smart devices. If they wanted to track which car you’re driving, they can figure it out.

Then it’s just a matter of tracking you down physically and revoking your license… or maybe they’ll just send you a text, lol.

Concluding thoughts

I get the purpose behind the law. I do. And on the surface it sounds like a good step towards solving the problem, but we always have to remember that criminals don’t care about the law. Initiatives such as this really only hinder law-abiding citizens.

We also need to recognize that we already have laws in place to prevent or remove access to firearms from those who are most likely to harm themselves or others, specifically the mentally ill.

Of course, there’s also the duty of gun owners to recognize situations where easy access to your firearms may be a bad idea. If, for instance, you have a teenager (especially a male teen) who is showing signs of depression, lock up your guns!

Statistics consistently show that suicides are the primary cause of death by firearms, year over year, and that firearms are the chosen tool here in America. We cannot ignore this fact. But it shouldn’t be up to the government to tell us responsible gun owners how to act.

It’s up to us to take the initiative (no pun intended) and to do the right thing where we can, and if that means locking up your firearms when you never have before because your teenage son is now moody little shit, then do it.

Bad things do happen, but they can happen a lot less if we, as law-abiding and responsible gun owners, take the initiative on our own… pun intended.

Washington Passes I-1639…Time to Move

I woke up this morning and watched this video about I-1639 passing which immediately ruined my day since I also live in Washington state.

So, thanks Washington voters, from the bottom of my heart, for making my life–and that of other law-abiding gun owners–that much more difficult because you’re a bunch of idiots!

Apparently, however, “The Yankee Marshall” is taking the news better than I am, lol…