Reader Poll Request

I’ve just put up a reader poll and would appreciate a brief moment of your time to answer the questions posed. The poll is located in the left-hand sidebar below my sponsored ads and featured blogs list. I’m looking to make this blog more functional and useful for you and would like to know your opinion about many of the posts and pages that I either update daily or that require a lot of TLC on my part. Until you speak, I won’t do anything differently. Thank you!

Are Preppers Hoarders?

I’ve never considered myself a hoarder. In fact, I do my best to remove clutter and keep things organized, after all, I do have an interest in organizing too. But, before jumping to conclusions, it would be helpful to know the definition of a “hoarder” as per Dictionary.com:

noun

hoarder1. a supply or accumulation that is hidden or carefully guarded for preservation, future use, etc.: a vast hoard of silver.

verb (used with object)

2. to accumulate for preservation, future use, etc., in a hidden or carefully guarded place: to hoard food during a shortage.

verb (used without object)

3. to accumulate money, food, or the like, in a hidden or carefully guarded place for preservation, future use, etc.

Well, when you put it like that… I’m definitely a hoarder!

The thing is that when I think of a hoarder I envision scenes like these (click images to enlarge):

epicdolls.com
epicdolls.com

izismile.com
izismile.com

autographhellbook.blogspot.com
autographhellbook.blogspot.com

hoarding-4
hoarding.theplan.com

That’s more like it. 😉

I would say pictures are worth a thousand words, so I’ll let them speak for me. I will say, however, that hoarding is only a problem when (1) your stuff dramatically affects your ability to live–especially with regards to health and safety concerns–and (2) when it takes you more than a minute to routinely find what you’re looking for, which is more likely a simple lack of organization rather than a hoarding problem.

Well, what do you think? Are (we) preppers hoarders or not? Does it even matter?

A Simple Prep Saved The Day Today (I’m So Proud of Myself!)

I thought I would quickly mention that even the smallest of prepping acts can pay off. I’m referring to the fact that my wife locked her keys in the car while at her office (about a 45 minute drive one way) which would have required me to either drive down there to unlock the car or pay someone to do so… can you say “bye bye $100 or a few hours of my time?”

Fortunately, I’m such a wonderful husband that I had the foresight to include a spare key in her day planner for just such an occasion. Of course, if she had locked her day planner in the car as well then it wasn’t so much of a great plan… will have to fix that too… argh!

An OPSEC Get Home Bag by MorrisB, Editor-at-Large

Many articles have been written regarding Get Home bags (GHB) but for the sake of providing a different option I’ll share what I use. First-off, one must obviously have the bag accessible to be of any benefit if things suddenly start falling apart.

So, how do we have them accessible? Well, we carry them to work in the car or on the train or subway. After we arrive at work we leave the GHB in the trunk or carry it into our work area where we hang it up or place it in, or under our desk. So let’s review where we’re at, at this point.

In the car. Locked in the trunk. That’s where I used to store my GHB en route and while at work along with some good walking shoes, extra outerwear to accommodate the weather, extra food, a walking stick (to deter dogs and other undesirables), a firearm and ammo and other items I might need.

Problem. What if I can’t get to the car when that bad thing happens? I’m up the creek. So I carry it into work. You may have already surmised that I want to be as prepared as possible so I had a full back pack (day pack size) and filled up with as many emergency supplies a possible, remember two is one and one is none. The difficulty here is that you’re setting yourself up for co-workers to razz you about whether you’re getting ready to go camping in the middle of New York City or “What are you prepared for, the end of the world?” In any event you are standing out or profiling yourself when you don’t want to.

Further, and I am so lucky to live in New York State (Hi Chuckie Schumer, all those other liberals and high taxes, to boot) and have occasion to take a train into, or out of Grand Central Station. Whenever the stuff hits the fan that place is loaded with cops, state troopers and even, when they deem it appropriate, soldiers. Now imagine them on high alert for something and picture me trudging through there with an overloaded back pack jammed full of emergency supplies. Not good. Now, admittedly, many others also wear day packs but they always seem half full and are not anywhere near as conspicuous as mine.

Solution, at least for me. I have taken a neutral colored, un-insulated outdoor or photographers vest, the one’s with a hundred little pockets and filled them up with my multi-tool, powerful LED light, l/t raincoat and other appropriate gear. I fold it up and along with a couple bottles of water and sandwich bars, place them all in a computer carrying bag. It’s got a shoulder carrying strap should I want to keep my hands free at some point. It can be carried anywhere without attracting attention AND, when things starting falling apart I step off to the side, slip the vest on, but under my work or sport jacket and it becomes both unnoticeable and helps provide a little warmth if needed.

I then grab whatever extras I might need from my work area, hallway or cafeteria and stuff them in my now, almost empty computer bag and book out. I’ve accomplished my need for a carrier that I can have with me at all times, that doesn’t attract attention and meets my needs to enable me to get home safely. That firearm that you might want to have? That depends on your local laws.

Good luck.

[NOTE from millenniumfly: I’ve taken the liberty in assuming the type of vest MorrisB is referring to is shown below.]

Welcome to New Sponsors! (JM Bullion and Adventure Survival Equipment)

JM Bullion

jm-bullion-ad First, I want to welcome JM Bullion to our list of wonderful sponsors:

  • wide selection of gold and silver products, all physical and delivered straight to customer
  • lowest consumer rates online, including a price match if they find better
  • quick, secure, discrete shipping through UPS or USPS
  • accept credit/debit card, paper check, and bank wires

I think I’ve found my newest source for gold and silver. 🙂

Adventure Survival Equipment

ase-ad I would also like to welcome Adventure Survival Equipment to the sponsors group as well. To be honest, I wasn’t even aware this site existed until recently and the more I browse their offerings the more I like them!They sell all sorts of emergency preparedness gear, including lighting, signaling, medical, food prep, fire-starting, and plenty more.Check them out today!!

Sealskinz Waterproof Socks by T.R., Editor-at-Large

Hello Guys/and gals, When planning what clothing to take with you, when space is limited. I found an item called Sealskinz, they are basically waterproof socks, the manufacturer also makes other items, but I have not tried them and in all honesty, am not going to order them, so if anybody has something other than the socks, feel free to chime in here. I live in AZ, not the best place to try out cold or wet weather gear, but I did live in Maine for a few years and remember the conditions there, that is what prompted me to buy a pair. You never know where you will end up in your travels. These socks have a strange feel to them and seem to be multi layered in different fabrics sewn together………I’m not a scuba diver, but that is what it reminds me of. They are thick and not at all like regular fabric socks we are used to. The only ” field test ” I have done is to fill the bathtub up part way and get in with the socks. I walked around in the tub for good amount of time, and my feet were dry as a bone. The manufacturer claimed that your feet will be able to breath wearing them, so I kept them on all day…….they do indeed wick moisture. they do stretch to a limited degree, but not a whole lot, so its important to order the right size. The only thing that is a downer is that these are on the pricey side. That’s why I only own one pair………………why only one ? because I’m cheap! that and I intended them to be packed in my BOB, along with 1 pair of winter socks and two pairs of regular socks.

Think Twice Before Bringing Your Gun to Bed

cat-sleepThis post is neither meant to ruffle any feathers with regards to a person’s gun-toting rights nor does it have anything to do with the recent school shooting tragedy. I’m all for a person’s second amendment rights and my heart definitely goes out to all those affected by such a senseless act.

Rather, it’s meant to get you to re-consider your actions and assumptions with respect to firearms safety when you lay your head down at night. While I strongly believe in proper firearms safety for those families that have young children (like me) that’s not what this post is about either.

Instead, it’s about something I hadn’t fully contemplated until I began to wonder about the unlikely probability that I could actually get my hands on my firearms in the middle of the night if/when I really needed to, considering that they are currently in a gun safe (check out these top gun safes under $1000). In fact, it would likely take me a minute or more to get to my weapons if I really had to. Certainly, in a life or death situation that’s an eternity, but that’s my current reality considering my children are still young enough to see weapons as toys. I know I need to educate them and will begin doing so when I see fit.

Anyway, I understand that many people choose to keep handguns, in particular, outside of a safe, perhaps in an end table, behind the headboard, or for the more paranoid among us… right under the pillow. Really anywhere that is readily accessible at your bedside and not in a gun safe is what I’m talking about. You know, ready to point and shoot! Now, with the expectation that many of us have not been in the military and are not police officers, my assumption is that we may not have been fully trained to function with a firearm in split-second situations. Certainly, appropriate training is in order.

So, my question to you is this: would you be competent, awake, and cognizant enough to be able to function properly enough to make a split-second life or death decision in the middle of the night? Not when you just laid down but literally in the middle of the night when you’re fast asleep and in Never Never land? And let’s not forget that many people either consume a few adult beverages before bed or may be on any number of prescription medications that can affect or impair their judgement… I assume all those medication warning labels mean something.

Think about that last paragraph for a brief moment. Can you answer “yes” to your abilities with certainty? If you truly can, then great!

Still not sure?…

Take me for example. I’m a very light sleeper. You would think this quirk about me would be a good thing if you expect to be able to defend your family and home from something like a home invasion or robbery. Personally, I think it’s a bad thing because, although I wake up at the slightest of noise, it’s a restless sleep at best. And, as a result, I’m often quite groggy and not very with it whenever I have to get up in the middle of the night to deal with something out of the ordinary, such as a sick child or funny noise I may have to check out. In other words, it takes me some time to get going and figure out what I’m doing!

My wife, on the other hand, can wake up at a moment’s notice and be ready to function for hours on end without even flinching (part of being a midwife, I guess). I have no idea how she does it. But that’s a glaring different between us that shows how different a person can be with respect to being able to function when they otherwise wouldn’t anticipate doing so.

I can hear you saying “ok, just put the gun on her side of the bed.” That might be a good plan but (1) she has zero interest in firearms which means it’s up to me or nothing and (2) I like to keep obviously deadly weapons away from her side of the bed lest I not wake up in the morning. Really, I’m just kidding here. Honestly, she’s a saint and wouldn’t hurt a fly… I’ve got nothing to worry about… I’m almost positive, anyway. 😉

Really, what I’m trying to ask you is what kind of person are you, really, in the middle of the night? Do you (not *can* you) function with a clear mind at a moment’s notice like my wife can? Or, are you more like me and need some time to clear your head?

You might think that a pure rush of adrenaline would be enough to overcome any grogginess but I’m not so sure about that. You are who you are and without significant training I would find it difficult to believe that you can be anything else, even when you most need to be. Remember, it’s the middle of the night, perhaps pitch black, your head may not be in the game, and you want to bet that you’ll make the correct decision? Hmmm… I wouldn’t be my family’s lives on it… who knows, I might have thought my kid standing at the doorway is a burglar or worse.

As for me, I’m thinking that the time it takes for me to physically retrieve a handgun from my gun safe is the best thing for our situation right now. It gives me time to clear my head and figure out what’s going on. That said, I certainly understand that in a situation where seconds count, fumbling to retrieve a weapon from a safe may very well be too late. Unfortunately, that’s a chance I’ll have to take considering my quirks and knowing myself. After all, the last thing I want is to be wrong and end up shooting my kids because my head wasn’t in it… my dog… he’d better duck. 😉

An Expedient Long Term Lighting Option (Easier Than I Thought!)

I’ve been into lighting lately. I’ve compared popular lanterns recently, tried my hand at a Crisco candle (and again here) but one thing I haven’t figured out was how to provide expedient long term lighting that could work with my small solar setup. In fact, when I originally attempted my solar setup, I bought two 8-Ah (amp-hour) batteries but later decided that they were simply too small for running a laptop, our portable DVD player, and so on. But then I had an idea when I was going through some of our camping supplies and came across an extra LED camping light.

The setup was about as simple as it can get (pictured right). I clipped off the plug end of the camp light, split the positive and negative wires to give me something to work with, and attached two female (spade?) connectors to the wires. I used these connectors because the small 8-Ah battery that I wanted to use had male ends. I should point out that you do need to know which wire is positive and which one is negative. I guessed (sort of) and got it right but I decided to test the setup with the wires on opposite terminals and the light didn’t work, so that confirmed I was right. It’s probably best NOT to do that but I honestly didn’t know how else to be sure!

Anyway, I then decided to try it out and left the light on for a little over four hours. After taking some voltage readings (using a basic multimeter) and then doing some research I realized that I had discharged the battery WAY too far! Oops. 🙂 Here’s what I found:

  • All 12-volt batteries should read right around 12.7 volts when fully charged. When I measured my battery I found it to read about 12.75-12.8 volts (depending on at what time after charging that I measured it) which is a little higher than the expected 12.7 volts; this is likely due to me not letting the battery set long enough for everything to “settle down” because I had just finished topping the battery off using my trickle charger.
  • I then let the light stay on for slightly over four hours. Learning my lesson, I waited several minutes before taking any readings and found the voltage to read right around 11.7 volts. After consulting this deep cycle battery FAQ (and referencing a table in the State of Charge section just below in the link) I found that I had actually discharged my little 8-Ah battery to less than 30% charge… yikes! Nearly everyone says never to go below 50% charge. I went way past that and didn’t look back.
  • Only after I realized this did I choose to do more research–that I should have done beforehand–on the LED light I was powering and found it to be a 15-watt bulb. The math says that a 15-watt bulb uses 1.25 amps at 12 volts (where volts x amps = watts). Now, multiplying 1.25 amps by 4 hours means I used at least 5 amps of current out of my 8-Ah battery, which is obviously less than the 50% thresheold. While it doesn’t quite line up with the table mentioned, it is fairly close and I did run the light longer than an 4 hours I used in to do the math above.

I was actually very impressed with the setup. Here’s a comparison of what a bedroom looks like with this setup and others (click images to enlarge):

OVERHEAD LIGHTS: This is the bedroom with the overhead light on (4 lights total). NO LIGHTS: Believe it or not, this is the bedroom with the lights off (it’s not really THAT dark but the camera isn’t picking up the very little light coming through the window.) CAMP LIGHT: And here is the bedroom with the camp light setup. It’s quite bright and I’m sure I could read by the light provided. RAYOVAC LANTERN: As another comparison, here’s the bedroom lit up with only my Rayovac LED lantern.
       

In my opinion, it’s hard to tell a difference between my camp light and lantern. Since I happen to have a second 8-Ah battery and another camp light (it’s a bit different in design) then I could essentially provide descent light in more than one room. The only major problem I would have is needing to rely on my solar panel and enough sunlight to properly recharge my batteries each day. Certainly, this is not going to happen but even if I could get proper sunlight half of the time then I have effectively doubled my other lighting options. That’s worth it to me.

Comparison of Lanterns: Propane vs. Kerosene vs. Battery-Powered

Since I’m into lighting options these days, I figured I would compare the three most commonly used lanterns: propane, kerosene, and battery-powered to see how they stack up to each other. In this case, I’m comparing a Coleman Two-Mantle Propane Lantern, Stansport Kerosene Lantern, Rayovac Sportsman LED Lantern, and I threw in another small battery-powered the Dorcy Mini Brite Lantern as it’s been a camping favorite with the kids for quite some time. Pricing ranges from under $10 for the Dorcy to about $35 for the Coleman propane lantern.

I figured the easiest way to compare them is to put them in a table and list the following attributes: costs (for unit and others besides fuel), anticipated working times (according to manufacturer estimates or my best guess), fuel to working time cost (comparing cost of fuel to estimated burn time as cost/hour of use), relative brightness (via my own pictures), and my comments at the end.

Image / Brightness (click to enlarge) Costs Working Time Fuel/Time Cost
($/hour)
Unit = $34.99

 

OTHER COSTS:

Additional Mantles=$6.99

Safety Post=$39.99 (used to connect and raise lantern to 20 pound tank)

  • Using one pound canister:
    -7 hours on high
    -14 hours on low
  • Using 20 pound *tank:
    ~130 hours on high
    ~260 hours on low

*assumed tank is never 100% full

Prices vary by geographic location and more:

  • One pound canister ($3 per assumed):
    -$0.42/hour on high
    -$0.22/hour on low
  • 20 pound tank ($50 assumed*):
    -$0.38/hour on high
    -$0.19/hour on low

*if you already own a tank then cost should be less than half those stated above

Unit = $16.48

 

OTHER COSTS:

Additional Wicks=$7.99

Can’t find data but from my experience using 32oz. bottle of kerosene I found:
~5-6 hours on med/high per one 8 oz. fill
~10-12 hours on real low per one 8 oz. fill
  • If using lamp oil ($10 per 32 oz. bottle assumed per Amazon price):
    ~0.50/hour on med/high
    ~$0.25/hour on low
  • If using kerosene* ($6 per 32 oz. bottle assumed):
    ~0.30/hour on med/high
    ~0.15/hour on low

*price can be significantly less if buying kerosene in larger quantities/bulk

Unit = $29.19

 

OTHER COSTS:

NONE

Using 3 D-cell batteries:
-40 hours on high
-90 hours on low
Using 12 pack of *Rayovac ($12.59 per pack or $3.14 per 3 batteries):
-0.07/hour on high
-0.04/hour on low

*Using Duracell or Energizer will cost more but not too much

Unit = $8.99

 

OTHER COSTS:

NONE

Using 4 AA-cell batteries:
-4 hours (only one setting)
Using 24 pack of Rayovac ($11.20 per pack or $1.86 per 4 batteries):
-$0.46/hour

I would say the two biggest concerns would be cost to use and brightness. Granted, there are other potential costs but these are the biggest. In the cost to use category the Rayovac battery-powered lantern wins quite easily, though, a close second could be the kerosene lantern if you can buy lamp oil or kerosene in larger quantities. The other concern, brightness, is obviously relative in the pictures provided but I would say that the Coleman propane lantern is the winner followed by the Rayovac. All-in-all, therefore, I would say that the Rayovac is the clear winner, in my opinion. To be fair, however, I do not own a good quality kerosene lantern so it could still turn out to be a close second.

Crisco Candle Success

I decided to try make my own Crisco candle the other day. I was surprised at how easy it was to make and, more importantly, how long it seems to last. I actually let the candle burn two separate times for a total of about seven hours and it barely made a dent in the level of the Crisco. Granted, it’s not the brightest of lights but if I can get many dozens of hours out of it, I’m not complaining.

I did choose to use materials made for candle making, specifically candle wick and wick tabs, both of which can be had quite inexpensively from Amazon. I think I got both for less than $15 shipped and I can easily make 150 of these small Crisco candles if I wanted (I would need to buy the cans of Crisco, of course). Maybe I could use cotton string and skip the candle wick holders (or makeshift something in their place) but I figured why not buy the right stuff?

Anyway, it was fairly easy to do. I followed the simple directions here, but I should warn you that the video shows the Crisco to fairly viscous, which was not the case when I made my candle:

Here are the parts that I used (click to enlarge):

Obviously, I need the Crisco, and in the middle you’ll note a strand of candle wick (cut to about 1/4″ longer than the height of the Crisco can using the small scissors shown), a small wick tab (used for holding the wick in place at the bottom of the can), and a pair of pliers to crimp the wick tab, a lighter, and a screwdriver that I intended to use to push the wick down into the Crisco (it didn’t work out like that).

This is what the wick tab and candle wick look like when put together (click image to enlarge):

Simply insert the candle wick into the wick tab until flush and crimp with a pair of pliers. Then, push the wick tab into the center of the Crisco until is sits flush with the bottom of the can. The video made it look really easy; he must have heated the Crisco somewhat before doing this because it didn’t work out for me like shown. I had to push the wick tab down with my fingers because the Crisco was not cooperating and, thereby, made a big mess and a gaping hole in the middle. I then had to fix the hole by mushing Crisco around to fill it while holding the top of the candle wick. Like I said, I made a mess.

After seven hours this is how much of the Crisco was used (click to enlarge):

From the measurements taken, I used about 1/2″ of Crisco over 7 hours of use, which is barely a dent in the 3″ tall can. If I extrapolate, I could easily get over 40 hours of light from this single small can and that’s being conservative because I know the Crisco didn’t fill completely to the top and I had actually used some when baking saltine crackers the other day. In reality, I would imagine I could get 50-60 hours using a single wick with this can.

The cool part is that if you choose to use a large 3 pound can of Crisco (the can I used in this experiment was a 1 pound can) you could get 100+ hours of burn time without a problem. That said, the light was fairly dim. In order to use this light effectively, you would probably want to use multiple wicks which, of course, would reduce the burn time. All-in-all I would say the experiment worked out pretty good. I’m not sure if it’s worth the cost and effort to make dozens of these considering that you can still purchase candles fairly inexpensively, but at least I know I can do it.