When’s The Last Time You Actually Checked and Replaced Critical Batteries?

replace-batteryBatteries are important to so many things we rely on as preppers, from flashlights to headlamps, weather radios, two-way radios, and even portable heaters, fans, and more. They’re even more critical for bug out bags and vehicle kits for the simple fact that these are the only batteries (and resources) you have to rely upon when you need them the most.

Of course, the only way to actually know if batteries are good or not is to check them regularly. While I do have my lists, I can’t say I’m perfect about checking them and can let things go too long. And, sadly, there’s Murphy’s law that says it things can go wrong they will. In fact, not long ago I went to grab a flashlight from my bug out bag that I keep in our vehicles and found that a battery had leaked and ruined my flashlight. I wasn’t happy at all because I LIKED that flashlight! And, worse, I couldn’t salvage it… in the trash it went.

And it’s not like I didn’t know better. I know batteries can and will leak in extreme heat and I usually keep batteries out of most of my equipment but my thinking was that if I needed a flashlight then I certainly did not want to be fussing around with inserting batteries and so choose to keep the batteries installed in this particular flashlight and without any trouble until recently. And, as luck would have it, these happened to be the only batteries in my bug out bag that leaked. 🙁

Obviously, I couldn’t have this problem again so I replaced the damaged flashlight and choose to keep the batteries OUT of the flashlight this time, but what to do about being able to insert them when I needed them? Well, I had two options: (1) get a dummy-proof flashlight where the batteries only go in one way or (2) include a very temporary light solution so that I can see well enough to insert the batteries. I choose option two because I happened to like the new flashlight I added to my bug out bag. The idea is to include a cyalume light stick or two with your flashlight and batteries so that you have enough light to see to insert the batteries properly. I opted to tape them all together so that I didn’t have to fumble with finding anything in the dark. That said, it’s equally possible the light sticks might not work when I need them to or that the batteries will leak even being out of my flashlight but these are the chances I’ll have to take.

But, this problem got me to thinking that batteries really do wear out especially when subject to extremes like those in my car, which sits outside in the sweltering Midwest heat and freezing winters… neither of which are very good for batteries. So, I thought to myself, “self, maybe I really need a more rigorous approach to replacing critical batteries?” This is something more than just replacing them if they wear out or by their expiration date. I’m thinking that maybe I need to replace such batteries like it or not each or or perhaps twice a year? After all, it’s not like I have hundreds of batteries in my bug out bags so I could probably afford to do this without too much trouble. And, besides, any batteries that I find still useful could certainly be put to use inside the home, in remotes and my kids’ toys.

I should say that there’s more to this than just common alkaline batteries too. There are certainly proprietary batteries that might be found in equipment like two-way radios, funny watch style batteries for things like headlamps, and larger batteries such as deep cycle batteries. None of these will last forever. So, the question is what schedule are you keeping to ensure these batteries will be there when you really need them?

8 Things That Are Darn Hard to Make Post-SHTF

number eightWhen I think about preparing for a SHTF event I think about many things, from security protocols and group dynamics to gardening and livestock (even though I don’t know a thing about animal husbandry). I also think about those many, many supplies that we’ve come to rely upon that would be darn hard for the average Joe like me to make on my own.

That said, I do understand that there is plenty of information on the Net that will show you how to do and make darn near anything if you’re so inclined. Heck, I’ve got several hundred or more links in the “How to” Knowledge Base dedicated to it and, of course, there’s YouTube. But, to be honest, I probably will never attempt 95% of what I have listed… not because I’m lazy but because I don’t have to!

More importantly, I’m probably better off not trying to make most things myself. After all, should I really try to make my own aspirin if I can simply purchase plenty of what I might use for years on end right now? That’s not to say I should never learn how or that I shouldn’t bother to understand which herbs, essential oils, or foods can be used as a replacement for aspirin, I certainly should.

Regardless, I’m of the opinion that if I need an aspirin then I NEED an aspirin and I don’t want to be messing around with grinding up an herb concoction if I don’t have to. Again, I’m not saying we shouldn’t bother with learning a wide assortment of skills that could come in handy post SHTF+1. I am saying that there are plenty of supplies we should have on-hand that, for the average person like me, would be darn hard to make. With this in mind, here’s my list:

1. Medications (both OTC and especially Rx) – Like I mentioned above, I know there are plenty of alternatives to modern day medications–perhaps even better options in some cases–but I wouldn’t want to rely on most of them if I don’t have to. This is especially true for those who rely on life-sustaining medications. The obvious problem is that you simply cannot purchase years worth of many prescription medications. You can, however, slowly build up a stockpile and even talk your doctor into your way of thinking so that you can purchase more medications you rely upon. Work both of these angles and you’re at least on your way to being better prepared for SHTF. Over-the-Counter medications, on the other hand, can be readily had and purchased at dirt-cheap costs relative to their usefulness in a post-SHTF world. I suggest you get plenty… and then buy more. And if you store them in foodsaver bags or mylar bags they will last that much longer.
2. Glasses, contacts, hearing aids, etc – Our senses are something most of us take for granted, at least until they no longer work properly and then then become absolutely precious. More importantly, the ability to see and hear, for example, are critical for emergency situations and just trying to stay alive in a SHTF situation. This is so true that I’ve even contemplated purchasing an assortment of inexpensive prescription glasses for SHTF even though I don’t currently wear any… who knows what my situation might be like twenty years down the road. If you do already rely on glasses, contacts, hearing aids, or dentures then it behooves you to ensure you have backups for backups and whatever supplies you need to keep these things in good working order.
3. Clothes and shoes – Yeah, I know there were cobblers and seamstresses once upon a time, but I would say these are becoming lost skills… I know I couldn’t sew a shirt properly to save my life. 😉 Besides, it’s not like the fabric that you need to make clothes comes out of thin air either… that has to be gathered and processed too and I don’t have a clue how to do that. Likewise, shoes are a big deal too. I’d imagine they’re a bit easier to piece together than actual clothing but I really have never tried. That said, I could probably makeshift sandals relatively easily but good quality boots are another story altogether. And let’s not forget those of us who have growing kids, do you have enough clothing and shoes for them to grow into for years to come? I don’t.
4. Ammunition – I know it’s quite possible to reload ammo but that sounds like tedious work to me and, of course, you’re going to need all the equipment and supplies to do it. Eventually this is something I will want to get into but not right now. In my opinion, it’s best to have plenty of what you could expect to use already on-hand since ammunition can last a lifetime if kept dry. While I’m at it, you may as well include firearms in the “darn hard to make” category too. How much? You’ll have to decide that. Besides, can you really have too much?
5. Gasoline, diesel, propane, kerosene – I know people will learn to utilize alternative fuel sources and there is such a thing as biodiesel and even a wood gasifier but I don’t honestly see me successfully utilizing any of those without some serious help from somebody who knows what they’re actually doing. To be honest, I see reliance on most anything that uses any form of fuel for the long term to be difficult for the simple fact that these fuels will either run out, be cost-prohibitive, or perhaps both. That’s not to say you shouldn’t rely on an wide assortment of equipment that runs on fuels in the short term, I certainly do, but if your entire life is built around their existence (like most of our lives currently are) then you and I are going to be in for a world of hurt when they’re gone. For the short term you can stockpile quite a bit of fuel to see you through and be better off than 99% of those who failed to stockpile any.
6. Batteries (of all kinds) – Do you know how to make a battery? One that is honestly useful, that is? Again, I don’t. If you expect to be able to run a mini-fridge to keep your home-brewed beer cool or even to run a few LED lights so you feel slightly normal when times are tough then you’re going to need some serious battery power, most likely in the form of deep cycle batteries. Sure, solar panels and wind turbines are necessary too but it’s the batteries that smooth everything out. Have plenty for your needs.
7. Tarps and plastic sheeting – I don’t think one could have enough tarps or thick plastic sheeting as they seem to come in handy so often, from creating makeshift shelters to temporary home repairs, blackout shades, and even as part of solar projects. They can be turned into makeshift awnings or be used to cover your garden during potential frosts and protect firewood. Tarps are a good thing and ever so versatile.
8. Hand tools – Tools like quality hammers, screwdrivers, pliers, axes, and plenty more are always needed and will last a lifetime if treated properly. And the best part is they’re the right “tool” for the job. For example, I could eventually hammer a nail with a rock but why cause myself such grief when I can simply have a few hammers around to do the job right? Or what about removing a basic bolt without a wrench, a screw without a screwdriver, and so on? The same could be said for any other typical hand tool as well. Look at local garage sales I’m sure you’ll find plenty to choose from if you don’t already own what you need.

Obviously, the above list isn’t exhaustive but should be considered more of a good start to get yourself thinking in the right direction about what things we often rely upon that not only make a job soooooo much easier but are just darn hard to make post-SHTF.

What items would you include?

290+ Ways to Use Four Basic Supplies for a Healthier Life

4-basic-suppliesThe more I’m exposed to prepping the more I feel like it’s about re-learning how to live a healthier lifestyle every bit as much as being prepared for emergencies.

These days, we’re programmed to go to the store and purchase whatever products are prominently displayed on the store shelves without giving it a second thought. Granted, more and more people are opting for organic alternatives, but the funny thing is that we’ve had the most “organic” products available all along, we just needed to see that they can be used to create what are probably the healthiest options for us.

While there are many basic supplies we could mention, I’ll focus on four: vinegar, baking soda, borax, and epsom salts. With these four basic base supplies one would be hard-pressed not to be able to replace nearly anthing we currently purchase for household use. Obviously, there are additional ingredients that may be needed to complete some recipes but you really can’t make most things without these four basic supplies… you had best stock up.

Vinegar

Vinegar is a non-toxic substance that many people use for a variety of tasks. In fact, I was shocked at how many uses vingear actually has. According to VinegarTips.com, it has more than 1000 uses! Ok, they don’t have that many uses listed (I counted just short of 200) but it’s a lot for sure.

Typically, when we talk about vinegar as a basic supply to stock we mean distilled white vinegar, though, there are many other types. In fact, you can even make your own vinegar if you like… just search for it. The question here is what can you do with vinegar? Well, according to the above website, it can be used in the garden, as a cleaner, in the laundry, for your health, some automotive uses, for your pets, and even as a cooking aid.

Specifically, vinegar may be used kill weeds, deter ants, wash vegetables, as a general cleaner, window cleaner, remove lime deposits, polish brass, copper, and chrome, remove odors, as a toilet bowl cleaner, remove clothing stains, as a laundry rinse, reduce itches from insect stings, whiten teeth, bathe pets, kill fleas, and so much more. It’s probably the most versatile of the four base supplies listed here. Note that oftentimes a vinegar solution should be diluted appropriately for many of the aforementioned uses so be sure you follow recipes closely.

Visit the complete site: VinegarTips.com for plenty more information and recipes.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is probably second on my list of must-have basic supplies of the four listed here. Specifically, baking soda seems to be found in recipes that require more abrasive cleanings, from bathroom and microwave cleaners to hygiene needs like toothpaste. It can also be used as a deodorizer in laundry and certainly in the refrigerator… is there a fridge in American that doesn’t have a box sitting in the back? It can also be used for first aid to soothe insect bites, reduce heartburn and soothe tired feet… I know I’ve tried a few of these ideas with some success. Here’s a snippet from the article referenced below:

“Ancient Egyptians were the first people known to use a rudimentary version of baking soda called Natron.

Over the last few hundred years, Natron has been purified and synthesized down to the familiar baking soda we know today.

Since it’s discovery the name may have changed but it’s uses have not. it has been used for thousands of years as a cleaning product for both the home and body.

Blended with oil, it was a very early form of soap. It softens water while removing oil and grease. It was used a cleanser for the teeth and an early mouthwash. It was also an ancient household insecticide, was used for making leather and as a bleach for clothing.”

There’s plenty more uses (53 in total) to consider…

Read the full article: Pharaohs Secret: 50+ Ways to Use Baking Soda.

Borax

Borax is an abrasive cleaner very similar to baking soda. It can be used in a variety of cleaners and as a deodorizer, similar to baking soda, but also finds use as a bug killer (ants, fleas, bed bugs) and also as a remedy for weeds and other garden troubles. It can also be used for various laundry and dishwashing tasks as well. Here’s a snippet:

“Sometimes I’m shocked at how expensive typical household cleaners have become. Recently my wife and I decided to do some spring cleaning. We went to the store with a rather long list of cleaning supplies: tile cleaner, drain opener, bleach spray, air freshener, mouse traps, bug spray, floor cleaner, dish soap, spot remover… You get the idea. When I realized just how expensive all this was going to be, I decided to look for alternatives.

It wasn’t long before I discovered the many household uses for borax. The beauty of borax is it’s so affordable that you can stock up on it right now and have plenty after the next disaster or (God forbid) economic collapse. During disasters and long-term depressions, sanitation and hygiene can become a serious problem. Here, then, are 20 uses for borax.”

The article goes on to list 20 uses but I’m sure there are plenty more if you only choose to search them out.

Read the full article: 20 Uses for Borax.

Epsom Salts

Epsom salts also have a variety of applications, from in the garden deterring pests like raccoons and slugs to home cleaning tasks as well. In addition, Epsom salts have found their way back into the health market in a variety of ways, including as a face mask, foot bath, for stress relief and even as a laxative. Here’s the first part of the article:

“Although its not actually salt (the name is from its chemical structure and the location of its discovery) Magnesium Sulfate, aka Epsom Salt, is one of the worlds hidden wonders!

“Epsom salt is made up of magnesium and sulfate, which can help improve health in numerous ways. A lack of magnesium—which helps regulate the activity of more than 300 enzymes in the body—can contribute to high blood pressure, hyperactivity, heart problems and other health issues, doctors warn. Sulfate is essential for many biological processes, helping to flush toxins and helping form proteins in joints, brain tissue and mucin proteins.” Epsom Salt Council

Think its just for bath salts and in-grown toe nails – think again! This is little sprinkle of natural goodness is as versatile as MacGyver.”

Read the full article: 25 Uses for Epsom Salts.

Again, obviously these aren’t the ONLY ingredients you’ll need but they are basic four that get it all started. And the best part is that they can be stored for years on end without trouble. In the case of borax, baking soda, and Epsom salts, you’ll want to avoid moisture so pack them in mylar or vacuum sealed bags (with desiccant if you like) and you’ll have little to worry about. The vinegar will probably be ok in the plastic bottles they typically come in but it can’t hurt to at least keep them out of the sunlight and away from extreme heat.

Last, be sure to visit each website listed about and print out the recipes for later use. Enjoy!

CONTEST POST: Two Camp and Pack Tools Worth Getting by T.R., EAL

Today I would like to mention two camping and backpacking tools that are inexpensive, yet worth the purchase. Sometimes the simplest piece of gear, can give you the most use on a day to day basis if you have it on hand out in the woods. Bothe are small, relatively light weight, and are multi-purpose. I’m talking about the “Spetsnaz” shovel and the pipe hawk, both made by Cold Steel.

cold-steel-shovelFirst, let’s talk about the shovel. This little thing is very well balanced, it feels like an extension of your arm, and even though small, is larger than the junky army folding E-tool. It has a wooden handle, which means that if you manage to break it, you could make a replacement handle from a branch fairly easily, or even if you wanted to make a full size handle in camp.

The spetsnaz shovel comes sharpened on three sides! This is one thing that will come in handy in a pinch. I have chopped down small trees with ease, when used as a chopper, it cuts deep for what it is, and the good balance of the shovel, makes for fast and easy work. It also makes a very nasty weapon, it can be thrown like a knife, I also have done this………it will stick into wood pretty hard.

Because of its balance and size, it’s very fast if you were to use it as a slashing weapon, you can tell this was made by a knife company. Oh! I almost forgot! it will dig a hole! Its blade is decent quality for all kinds of abuse. I have two of these, one stays in the truck, and one is on my backpack.

cold-steel-hawkThe next tool I have is almost as old as the outdoors itself. It’s the tried and true, tomahawk. I picked the pipe hawk because the “Pipe” is actually a hammer pull, and find that if I have a hammer out there, it solves a lot of problems fairly quickly. This is what they call a traditional tomahawk, as opposed to a tactical hawk, which is mostly a weapon and of little use as much of anything else.

Here I should give you a warning, cold steel’s traditional hawk line come to you pretty crude. They are 1055 carbon steel, which is a good quality metal, known for being able to take abuse and hold there edge for long periods, however, when you get it, it’s not very sharp at all (unlike the spetsnaz shovel).

The other thing that you will need to do is remove the set screw in the side of the blade piece that holds the handle in place……….remove it, then throw it away!!!. Cold Steel puts it on there, I think because most people don’t know how to use a traditional tomahawk and don’t understand that the blade is tension fit, and is SUPPOSED to come off the handle! This is where you will have to do a little work. You will need to sand a bevel in the handle where you see the line where the top of the blade piece stops.

Like I said, the blade of traditional hawks are supposed to be able to come off. Frontiersmen used the blade as a scraper, a hand cutter, etc. That’s why, unlike a hatchet or ax, the tomahawks handle is tapered from high to low, so when you need to use the blade for other things, it’s a simple matter of just holding onto it, and giving the handle a quick tap at the bottom.

The hammer pull is great for opening and breaking things, the chopping ability of the pipe hawk is very good. It has a long narrow profile, so it tends to cut into things pretty deep, which is what you want in a chopper. It can also be used as a weapon, just like our ancestors did, however, it wouldn’t be my first choice as a weapon, even though its small, it’s still in the ax family, which means is unwieldy compared to other things. I would be much more afraid of the guy with the spetsnaz shovel than a tomahawk as the shovel is lightning fast and able to slice huge gashes in you without a lot of effort (Just sayin).

Between the shovel and the hawk on my pack, there are not too many things you will not be able to handle. Both are inexpensive, both will give you many years of good service, both are multi-purpose.

Here’s a video of the pipe hawk in action:

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To enter your own article please email me at rethinksurvival (at) gmail (dot) com with your submission and review the rules here.

Please visit these fine sponsors and learn more about the prizes below…

Fortunately, we have some very gracious sponsors who are willing to sponsor this fun contest. Please visit their sites and review the products being donating as they are certainly good people doing good things for our community. Here’s the prizes…

nano-striker-fire-starter CampingSurvival.com is donating an Exotac nanoSTRIKER XL Ferrocerium Fire Starter in Olive Drab.The description says “We created an evolutionary derivative of the original nanoSTRIKER with a larger rod and striker handle. It utilizes the same innovative design as the original, but with just enough extra size and heft to improve its ease of use without making it too big or bulky for key chain carry. The striker handle is 46% bigger, making it easier to grip. The XL version also sports a 33% larger ferrocerium rod, which improves the durability and lifespan of the rod even beyond that of the original nanoSTIKERs. Slowly scrape shavings off the rod into a small pile. Use these shavings on top of your tinder bundle for even better sparks! Use the nanoSTRIKER? to light gas stoves, alcohol stoves, fuel tablets, BBQ grills, etc.”
guardian-first-aid-pack MayflowerTrading.com is donating an The Guardian First Aid Fanny Pack. Contents include: 1 – Fanny Pack, 1 – Eye Wash, 2 – Instant Ice Packs, 1 – 3″ ACE Bandage, 1 – Bandage Scissors, 1 – First Aid Guide, 1 – CPR Mouthpiece, 3 – Iodine Prep Pads, 6 – Pair Nitrile Gloves, 3 – 2 x 2 Gauze Pads, 4 – 4 x 4 Gauze Pads 1 – Tissue Pack, 6 – Alcohol Prep Pads, 2 – Water Gels, 1 – 1 x10 yds Adhesive Tape, 1 – Bio-Hazard Waste Bag, 1 – Box 3/4 x 3 Bandages, 1 – Tweezers1 – 4 ounce Hand Sanitizer, 2 – Eye Pads, 6 – Wet Naps, 1 – Hydrogen Peroxide, 1 – 5 x 9 Combine Dressing Bandages
ozark-mountain-gift-cert OzarkMountainPreparedness.com is donating $100 Gift Certificate to any of their wonderful survival courses.”Our mission is to provide the highest quality instructional courses to people who desire to pursue a self-reliant lifestyle; whether in the wilds or right at home. By blending both modern and primitive methods into our curriculum, we offer a comprehensive and practical view of survival and preparedness. Our course topics include wilderness and urban survival, fur trapping, bushcraft, primitive skills, long-term wilderness living, land navigation, home disaster preparation, outdoor cooking, food procurement and storage, foraging, wild edibles, and others.”
grow-buckets RifleStock.com is donating a set of five Self-Watering Grow Buckets. I recently got a set and will review them soon. What is a grow bucket? “It is a 4, 5 or 6 gallon bucket altered to grow vegetables and flowers using a water reservoir in the base. Growing plants in self-watering buckets has been around for quite a while now, but our design has improved on the old method of using two buckets, one inside of the other, to create the water reservoir.”
I figured my sponsors shouldn’t do all the work, so I’m throwing in a McNett Tactical Aquamira Frontier Pro Ultralight Water Filter:
•Military edition portable water filter system with straw-style design
•Attaches directly to water bottles, cups, or bladders
•Removes 99.9 percent of Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and other contaminants
•Activated carbon improves taste; universal connectivity adapter system
•Filters up to 50 gallons; removable bite valve doubles as hanging drip filter

CONTEST POST: Prepping on an Extremely Small Budget by G.R.

money-coinsFor the last 18 years, I have supported a family of 6 to 10 people on under $18,000 a year, an extremely small budget, but through it all I have managed to be a prepper. Until the last couple of years, I did not know I was a prepper, it has always been a way of life for me. My prepping has always been a means to feed my family in case of job loss or natural disaster or just for day to day life.  Recently my oldest daughter, now the mother of 2, asked me how I was able to always have plenty of food. This is what I told her.

The main thing is to start small. Just $5.00 a week will buy a lot. There are three stores within 10 miles of my home, I shop at all three on a weekly basis so I know the prices of most of the things I buy on a regular basis.  This is the first thing to know so you can shop for deals. Most things are much higher at my local store, the only store in a small tourist town, but they have very good sales on a weekly basis. The nearest store outside of our town is HEB, a chain store here in Texas, their prices are comparable to Walmart, the other store I shop at, but HEB has several items that are lower priced than Walmart and they have better sales.

So here is a short list of what $5.00 will buy you.

  • 15 7oz bags of pasta @ 3 for 1.00
  • 4-5 1lb bags of beans @ .88 to 1.29 each
  • 10 lb of rice @ 5# for 2.42
  • 5 cans of Chef Boy-Ar-Dee pasta or ravioli @ .86 each
  • 3 Jars of Pasta Sauce @ 1.69 each
  • 7-8 cans of vegetables @ .62 to .66 each

This is just a small list of the items that $5.00 will buy in my area. I am sure that anyone who wants to prep food on a budget can find similar deals in their own area. By prepping in this way, I have enough food now for a good 6 months, maybe more. My daughter has followed my advice and is well on her way to being just as prepared.

Don’t think that food is the only item that I prep. I also keep an eye out for deals on other daily items like personal hygiene, laundry, household and other items. I recently picked up 20, 9 LED flashlights for .99 each. Last year, after hurricane season, I picked up 15 oil lamps on clearance at my local store for $1.00 each. A couple weeks ago when bad storms came through the area and the power was out for 5 hours, I was glad I spent the money. This is why I prep for every day, you never know what might come up and what may be needed. At the present time, I have 8 alternate means of cooking, three grills, a large homemade solar cooker, two rocket stoves, one homemade, the other bought and two parabolic cookers, one homemade and one bought. I have many alternate means of doing almost anything that needs doing, from laundry, large tubs and clothes lines, to getting water, three shallow wells, without pumps, on the property. We dug the wells ourselves, luckily we have sand to dig through and water starting at 4 feet. We use a Waterboy or a manual slide pump to extract the water.

The point of all of this is to show everyone who says “I can’t do it!”…Yes you can!

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To enter your own article please email me at rethinksurvival (at) gmail (dot) com with your submission and review the rules here.

Please visit these fine sponsors and learn more about the prizes below…

Fortunately, we have some very gracious sponsors who are willing to sponsor this fun contest. Please visit their sites and review the products being donating as they are certainly good people doing good things for our community. Here’s the prizes…

nano-striker-fire-starter CampingSurvival.com is donating an Exotac nanoSTRIKER XL Ferrocerium Fire Starter in Olive Drab.The description says “We created an evolutionary derivative of the original nanoSTRIKER with a larger rod and striker handle. It utilizes the same innovative design as the original, but with just enough extra size and heft to improve its ease of use without making it too big or bulky for key chain carry. The striker handle is 46% bigger, making it easier to grip. The XL version also sports a 33% larger ferrocerium rod, which improves the durability and lifespan of the rod even beyond that of the original nanoSTIKERs. Slowly scrape shavings off the rod into a small pile. Use these shavings on top of your tinder bundle for even better sparks! Use the nanoSTRIKER? to light gas stoves, alcohol stoves, fuel tablets, BBQ grills, etc.”
guardian-first-aid-pack MayflowerTrading.com is donating an The Guardian First Aid Fanny Pack. Contents include: 1 – Fanny Pack, 1 – Eye Wash, 2 – Instant Ice Packs, 1 – 3″ ACE Bandage, 1 – Bandage Scissors, 1 – First Aid Guide, 1 – CPR Mouthpiece, 3 – Iodine Prep Pads, 6 – Pair Nitrile Gloves, 3 – 2 x 2 Gauze Pads, 4 – 4 x 4 Gauze Pads 1 – Tissue Pack, 6 – Alcohol Prep Pads, 2 – Water Gels, 1 – 1 x10 yds Adhesive Tape, 1 – Bio-Hazard Waste Bag, 1 – Box 3/4 x 3 Bandages, 1 – Tweezers1 – 4 ounce Hand Sanitizer, 2 – Eye Pads, 6 – Wet Naps, 1 – Hydrogen Peroxide, 1 – 5 x 9 Combine Dressing Bandages
ozark-mountain-gift-cert OzarkMountainPreparedness.com is donating $100 Gift Certificate to any of their wonderful survival courses.”Our mission is to provide the highest quality instructional courses to people who desire to pursue a self-reliant lifestyle; whether in the wilds or right at home. By blending both modern and primitive methods into our curriculum, we offer a comprehensive and practical view of survival and preparedness. Our course topics include wilderness and urban survival, fur trapping, bushcraft, primitive skills, long-term wilderness living, land navigation, home disaster preparation, outdoor cooking, food procurement and storage, foraging, wild edibles, and others.”
grow-buckets RifleStock.com is donating a set of five Self-Watering Grow Buckets. I recently got a set and will review them soon. What is a grow bucket? “It is a 4, 5 or 6 gallon bucket altered to grow vegetables and flowers using a water reservoir in the base. Growing plants in self-watering buckets has been around for quite a while now, but our design has improved on the old method of using two buckets, one inside of the other, to create the water reservoir.”
I figured my sponsors shouldn’t do all the work, so I’m throwing in a McNett Tactical Aquamira Frontier Pro Ultralight Water Filter:
•Military edition portable water filter system with straw-style design
•Attaches directly to water bottles, cups, or bladders
•Removes 99.9 percent of Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and other contaminants
•Activated carbon improves taste; universal connectivity adapter system
•Filters up to 50 gallons; removable bite valve doubles as hanging drip filter

CONTEST POST: 7 Survival Tools for Camping with Kids by T.L.

Camping-Kids
Image Source – dparks.com

The tools I pack for a camping trip may seem unorthodox or a too extensive, but I believe you need the proper preparation to handle any drastic situation in the wilderness, especially with children.

I was always the younger brother that older siblings took to baseball games, waterparks, and other events. I never got the chance to be the older brother until I started taking my nieces and nephews on camping trips.

Perhaps my survival kit for camping with kids will inspire your preparation. This list doesn’t include the basic items such as first aid kits, utility knives, waterproof matches and lighters since they remain as essentials when packing a camping survival kit.

1. The Tent

The tent establishes the base camp of your trip. Don’t choose any old thing when considering purchasing a tent. You need to conduct the research behind camping tent features. These benefits will either make or break the camping experience.

A lightweight and easily compactable camping tent makes hiking and travel purposes less burdensome. Who wants to lug around a huge heavy tent, especially when carrying other gear and supervising young children?

Also, camping tents that are capable of quick set up and break down create a more efficient camper. You never know what unforeseen weather, accidents, or wildlife will force you to breakdown the camp site quickly and move. It’s a tougher task when managing children who move slowly, get distracted, and don’t understand emergency situations.

2. Baby Wipes

There are no babies on my camping trips or children in need of diaper changes, but baby wipes, small and big, reserve a spot on the survival list for good reasons. You can pack hand sanitation wipes as well, but either product gets the job done.

Whatever mess you encounter, baby wipes clean it up. They maintain a sanitary camping environment. Keeping children clean, especially in the summer season, is very important to prevent diseases and illnesses that plague campers.

Children, as clumsy and careless as they are, tend to make messes that usually end up all over themselves. Every kid loves to play in the mud, but do parents like to clean them afterwards?

You don’t want them tracking dirt and funky smells from whatever they discovered into the tent. Consider a camping tent with breathability features to reduce this issue if it arises.

3. Hand Sanitizer

This survival tool reinforces the concept of cleanliness while camping. You’re constantly touching things outside with germs. Handling food in a sanitary manner maintains healthy bodies.

Hand sanitizer limits the transfer of germs and illness among you and other campers. It’s also convenient to carry and pack.

4. Two Way Radios

Kids love walkie talkies. They prove to be one of the best communication survival tools while camping. In the unfortunate occurrence a child or you gets lost or separated for any reason, the two way radio maintains contact.

This tool lessens the anxiety you might experience if you lose a niece, nephew or your own child. It lets you keep your cool in a scary situation.

Teaching children about constant forms of communications shapes them into excellent survivalists and campers.

5. Bright Reflective Tape

This tool fortifies communication between you and the little campers. Sometimes technology fails. I usually pack extra batteries for the walkie talkies, but they could break or disappear at the worst moments.

For that reason I either supply the kids with a roll of reflective tape or wrap a strip around each of their limbs. It really depends on their age because some older children don’t want to look like a walking bike reflector.

Brightly colored reflective tape allows for a form of visual contact between campers. When people get lost they might pass out or fall asleep. It’s possible to see reflective tape from greater distance, specifically when lights scan areas.

Reflective tape made me choose a camping tent with bright colors as well.

6. Water Purification Bottles

Children need to know the importance of hydration and drinking plenty of fluid. This not only applies to camping survival, but life in general. Hydration keys a healthier, more active, and energized individual. Drinking plenty of water ensures this.

When camping you must pack fresh water in bottles or coolers. Large water containers tend to slow you down often due to their weight and awkward shapes.

Water purification bottles established themselves as my new favorite survival tool. If you get lost or run out of available clean water, these bottles allow you to have access to clean water.

If you don’t stay hydrated when camping, then you’re more susceptible to heat exhaustion, stroke, and other related illnesses. Providing each young camper with a water purification bottle provides a foundation for practicing hydration.

7. Duct Tape

I can’t write a post about survival tools without including duct tape. From an early age my father taught me, “If you can’t duct it…,” well you know the rest.

What if you have a cut and no access to bandages? Clean it out with hand sanitizer, hydrogen peroxide, or vodka. Then wrap it with duct tape. It seals the wound temporarily with its adhesive powers.

Maybe you discover a hole in the camping tent during a rain storm. Apply a little or a lot of duct tape to stop or prevent leakage.

Author Bio

Ted Levin is a natural outdoorsman, camping enthusiast, and proud uncle who enjoys sharing any helpful survival tips. You can connect with him on Twitter and Google+.

Image Source – dparks.com

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What Did We Ever Do Without Plastic? …The Many Plastic Preps We Rely Upon

Plastic BottleI’m still amazed at how pervasive plastics are–in all of its forms–in our modern society. The most amazing part is that the plastics we’re accustomed to using really didn’t become mass produced until around WWII or so. In just a matter of a few generations, plastics have become so ingrained that you simply cannot get by without them… well, most of us anyway.

Believe it or not, there are many, many types of plastics most of which are made from petrochemicals (oil), can be natural or synthetic, and include classifications like bakelite, polystyrene, PVC, nylon, rubber, and more… you know, the nerdy stuff. 😉

Plastics are literally everywhere and I’m not talking about in our televisions, microwaves, computer equipment, half of your car, or even the refrigerator that we rely on day-in and day-out. Rather, I’m thinking about those many preps made of plastic (wholly or in large part) that we’ve come to rely upon or may need, including (in no particular order):

  1. Soft drink bottles – good for water storage and especially SODIS.
  2. Large plastic jugs such as laundry detergent bottles – use for water storage, as a makeshift hand wash, etc.
  3. PVC pipe – for plumbing, solar heated applications, etc.
  4. Gutters – catches rainwater, can plant seeds, etc.
  5. Foodsaver rolls – keeps many things from spoiling or protection from water.
  6. Plastic rolls in 4 or 6 mils – useful for many reasons including home repairs.
  7. Disposable utensils, plates, cups, etc – keeps from transmitting diseases or using water to clean.
  8. Toothbrushes, floss – maintain proper dental hygiene.
  9. Bic lighters – the “easiest’ way to start a fire… most of the time.
  10. Fishing line – it’s hard to use your trusty fishing pole without it.
  11. Security window film – useful for good times and bad.
  12. Contact lenses or eyeglass frames – perhaps the most important faculty you have.
  13. Cell phones – undoubtedly one of the most important modern day preps for communications.
  14. Reusable plates, cups.
  15. Gas masks – hopefully we’ll never need these!
  16. Flashlights and patio solar lights – though not as durable as a trusty Maglite they still get the job done most of the time.
  17. Buckets… how could I forget those!? – so many uses, I wrote about them recently here.
  18. Bins of all shapes and sizes – great for storing and toting gear for evacuation.
  19. Duct tape (part of it’s plastic, anyway) – do you really need anything else? 😉
  20. Garden hose – errr… it waters things.
  21. Apparently portions of polyester clothes and tennis shoe soles are made of plastic (or so it appears).
  22. Some tent fabrics and tarps are derived of plastic.
  23. Trash bags – many uses such as a makeshift rain poncho, including other obvious ones.
  24. Camp shower and garden sprayer – may make for the best shower you’ve had in years if that’s all you’ve got.
  25. Safety glasses, hard hat, etc – you’ve got to remember your safety at all times too!
  26. Water barrels and IBC totes – I can’t imagine storing water without them these days.
  27. Dehydrator – I need to put mine to work again soon.
  28. Gasoline storage cans – metal cans are better but these are ubiquitous and fine for most of us.

Obviously, the above list is probably just touching the surface of items made from plastic that can be utilized for survival… just open up your imagination and think a little.

Regardless, plastics are here to stay and most definitely have a place in your survival preps… make use of them as much as you can.

Why Buckets Should be a TOP Priority Purchase

bucketsIf there’s one supply that I feel people tend to overlook in their preps for long term survival, it’s buckets. Yup, buckets. Buckets of all sizes and shapes, from larger five and six gallon buckets to simple pails. Heck, why not throw in large drums while I’m at it, but that’s not what this post is about. In fact, I consider buckets a top priority purchase.

Ok, maybe buckets shouldn’t be THE top priority purchase but definitely one of the top 10. Why? Because they’re so incredibly versatile and certainly add to your ability to care for yourself in any long-term emergency situation.

Here’s the way I see it…

Buckets can be used for things like:

  • protecting food storage in mylar bags
  • containing any number of supplies for emergency preparedness for ease of movement (such as in a bug out situation)
  • as a temporary toilet (with appropriate toilet lid and other supplies, of course)
  • to haul and/or store water or any other liquid you like
  • to contain and grow food (such as a grow bucket or to plant tomatoes upside down)
  • as a makeshift wash system (to be used with a laundry plunger)
  • to wring out clothes (using two buckets and drilling a few holes in one is all you need)
  • to create a Big Berkey clone (just insert the filters and be done with it)
  • as a biosand water filter (gravel, charcoal, and sand… and voila… filter)
  • to cache equipment (sealed and buried or just at a relative’s house)
  • to hide supplies inside the house (a five gallon paint bucket should be overlooked by all but the most zealous thief)
  • as a makeshift stove (ok, I’m stretching this a lot but I’m sure a steel bucket could be fashioned into one)

I’m sure there are plenty of other uses but the above are off the top of my head. Just to be thorough, here are several ideas from FiveGallonIdeas.com that I didn’t mention:

  • as a makeshift sink (such as for camping but great for emergency situations too)
  • as a greywater catchment
  • as a seed vault
  • as a mouse trap
  • to irrigate crops
  • as makeshift heating units
  • workout equipment (try moving five gallons of water any distance!)
  • as building material
  • worm farm
  • grain thresher
  • swamp cooler
  • chest freezer organizer
  • refrigerator (similar to the zeer pot)
  • wine or cider press
  • a simple seat (who would have guessed?)
  • bathtub (for very small children) – [editor’s note: not so sure this is a great idea due to drowning concerns]
  • brewing beer or wine
  • soil sifter
  • toolbox

Really, buckets are so incredibly versatile you can’t go wrong with stockpiling dozens in an assortment of sizes but my favorite is the ubiquitous five (or six) gallon bucket. While I hear you can often get these for free from restaurants I’ve never tried. Instead, I buy mine from hardware stores and make quick use of them. I suggest that you begin to stockpile your own buckets… they don’t “go bad” and I guarantee you’ll find a use for them.

Oh, and remember the lids. 🙂

What else might they be useful for? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

What Makes More Sense: Stock the Supplies or Stock the Ingredients?

choicesI’ve been thinking a lot lately about making more and more of my own supplies. While I’ve made things like toothpaste, deodorant, laundry detergent, and a few other cleaning products in the past, I’ve been contemplating going “all in” if you will, and attempting to make as much as I can. My reasoning is for cost savings, healthier products, and maybe just because I can.

The question here today is: does this make sense from a preparedness stand point? As an example, should I be stockpiling a year or two worth soap or the ingredients to make the soap? And, of course, all of the other supplies we might use such as toothpaste, lotion, deodorant, cleaning products, and so on.

I would imagine the obvious and immediate answer is “yes” because being able to make your own supplies means less and less dependence on others… and I would tend to agree with that assessment. The problem, however, is the fact that you would then need to make your own supplies. And, in an emergency scenario, the last thing you need to be doing is spending time making deodorant. 🙂

So, here’s how I see it…

Advantages and disadvantages of stockpiling supplies

Everything you would need to rely on is already on hand and ready to use, which is a huge benefit when you’re already stressed and likely very busy doing other things such as pulling guard duty, tending the garden, chopping wood, and who knows what else needs to be done. But, this also means a finite amount of whatever we’re talking about. That is, if you only have ten bars of soap on hand to see you through the next year or two then that’s what you’ve got and then you’re in the same boat as everyone else. But, like I said, you don’t have any work to do here.

The disadvantages would be that you (1) have no ability to make more of what you need and (2) probably have no knowledge of how to make supplies. For example, if you know that you can make toothpaste using baking soda as a primary ingredient and you can get your hands on a bag of it but not toothpaste, then you’ll understand that it’s worth your time and effort to procure the bag of baking soda. Make sense?

Advantages and disadvantages of stockpiling ingredients

Here you have the supplies to make what you need. There’s no wondering if you’ll have more soap since you’ll have the base ingredients to make it. Of course, it’s expected that you’ll have a finite amount of base ingredients too (just as if you were stockpiling supplies) but the assumption is that you’ll be able to stock more of the base ingredients (at less cost) so that you can then make more supplies. Another benefit is that oftentimes base ingredients are used in a variety of recipes so you can make many supplies from just a handful of base ingredients (e.g., baking soda, vinegar, etc).

The disadvantages are that you would need to make supplies as needed. Obviously, you’re not going to make a single bar of soap at a time but I doubt you’re going to make enough for a year or two at a time, so there is the need to do the work. And, when multiplied by the many hygiene and cleaning needs that a typical household needs over the course of a year, the work needed to make supplies from scratch will become serious work.

There is some common ground

Certainly, I’m presenting you with an “either/or” situation. In reality, it makes sense that you’re not going to be presented with one option or the other. In fact, it makes sense that you can and should do both. If you have both the supplies you need to see you through a year, for example, and the base ingredients to make more of what you need then you’re in the best position possible to see you and your family through hard times. That, in my opinion, is the best strategy of all.

…but, if you HAD to choose, which would it be?

8 Smart Ways to Save Money on Preps

moneyA buddy of mine sent me a link to this article on how a family of four lives on 14K a year and said I should write a post about it because apparently I’m cheap or maybe just broke (FYI, he’s always been much more frugal than I). Likewise, I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on other blogs lately that suggest ways to save money on preps, be more frugal, DIY products and so on and I thought I would throw in my 2 cents.

In my opinion, you don’t have to pay retail for everything you buy nor do you have to live life like everyday Americans (in debt up to their eyeballs from huge house payments, car payments, college loans, maxed out credit cards, etc). I won’t try to mention all of the DIY projects that are out there, tell you how to live on pennies a day, or even give personal financial advice but I will suggest a few ways–most of which should be obvious–as to how you can be smarter about your preps without breaking the bank (in no particular order)…

  1. Buy bulk foods (and use them!) – Look at your local Sam’s Club or COSTCO and if you have a nearby LDS cannery visit them and start buying bulk foods. Then, learn how to use them. Not only will you be better prepared for when times get tough but you will learn to save yourself money day-in and day-out when cooking meals. It’s a win-win.
  2. Shop garage sales, thrift stores – I know it’s the wrong time of year for garage sales but both thrift shops and garage sales are great ways to get good gear at great prices, you just have to be patient. So, with the coming spring make a concerted effort to hit a handful of garage sales this year and come back with a heap of supplies.
  3. Use Google Shopping – Although I’m a huge fan of shopping for my survival gear on Amazon (and occasionally eBay) Google Shopping searches not only these sites but hundreds of other as well… and sometimes finds better prices on specific equipment. Often it’s a long shot but if I can save a few bucks then it’s worth the effort.
  4. Buy Kindle books (instead of hard copy) – I just recently reviewed my first Kindle book and I think I’m hooked. While I know there are obvious reasons to want hard copy books I also see how electronic books will soon become the easiest way for preppers to stockpile information. And because they’re always cheaper than hard copy books (sometimes at a fraction of the cost) you can add to your survival library that much faster.
  5. Create bug out kits that double as vehicle kits – A while back I wrote a post about saving money by combining your bug out bag and vehicle kits that is a way to skip duplicating efforts. I’ve kept both bug out and vehicle kits for many years and eventually I’m going to stop fussing with both and just combine them because it makes economical sense.
  6. Go in on expensive preps with trusted family/friends – I’m sure there are plenty of reasons why this can be a BAD idea but in some cases it might make sense such as going in on a large generator, food co-ops, a desalinator, or whatever else is rather expensive but potentially useful. Of course, then there’s the question of who gets to keep it but I’m expecting that you’ll be able to talk them into your home as being the best option. 😉
  7. Coupon, coupon, coupon – I’m really beginning to be a huge fan of HealthyPrepper on YouTube. Though, I don’t post the majority of her videos, I do rather enjoy watching about her most recent couponing hauls from CVS or wherever she’s been recently. If there’s a way to directly save money on your preps, this is it.
  8. Use technology – We live in a technologically-drive society and, in my opinion, you should take full advantage. I’ve written in the past about how you can use an iPad to download and view hundreds of PDF files that can later be used as a survival library. I’ve mentioned that there are plenty of smartphone disaster apps but there are plenty that can be used to help you save money. I also recently showed how you can download YouTube videos for free using Real Player that can also be used as a part of your survival library.

The point is that there are plenty of ways to save yourself money when prepping. What about your suggestions? What did I miss?