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.

Taking Your Preps to the Next Level With the P.A.C.E. Concept

A while ago I read this article from Survivalttp.com that got me to thinking about how robust my emergency preparedness plans really are. And, after a short deliberation, I concluded that they really are not as robust as they can be. Granted, we’re better off than most American families, but not yet good enough in some areas and perhaps woefully inadequate in others.

The P.A.C.E. acronym stands for Primary, Alternate, Contingent, and Emergency. I think it has origins in the military–maybe special forces–but I’m not sure about that. Regardless, I feel it’s a great way to look at your emergency preparation plans. The idea is simply this (definitions taken from Survivalttp article):

  • Primary – The normal or expected method or means used to achieve the objective
  • Alternate – A fully satisfactory means or method of achieving the objective
  • Contingent– A workable means or method of achieving the objective
  • Emergency – A brute force means or method of achieving the objective

As preppers, we understand the need for a backup plan. For example, if the power goes out we pick up a flashlight and set out lanterns. If the heat goes out we start up the wood stove or propane space heater. If the stores are out of food we’re eating from food storage. Certainly, the list can go on. But, even as preppers, perhaps we don’t take this quite far enough.

Let’s look at a simple example: adequate area lighting when the power goes out. I would suspect your primary means of area lighting will be lanterns of some sort, be they battery-operated, liquid-fueled, or propane. If those go out or fail then your last resort is probably candles, right? That’s my plan, anyway. While there are other forms of light that I keep around, suchas flashlights and patio solar lights, that I can use if need be, the very specific need is adequate area lighting… not just any form of lighting that I might have.

If I apply the P.A.C.E. concept to area lighting, for example, I’m really only fulfilling two of the four requirements and, honestly, probably the contingent and emergency aspects. I’ve never really fulfilled the primary or alternate aspects at all.

The question, therefore, is: what other options do we have? Well, for starters, a small solar setup with DC lighting might be a good start and if I worked it properly could be my primary means of indoor area lighting. As I already have a basic solar setup I could easily connect a set of RV lights or string lights to illuminate a room, I just need to buy them. There are other DC lighting options that I could explore so long as I have a basic renewable power source.

What about an alternate option? I’m not so sure about this one. If I were desperate I could consider my current supplies (lanterns and candles) as alternate and contingent aspects and then I could throw in something like a hand-crank light or cyalume light sticks as emergency options, but I consider this as “cheating” a bit. I really need to come up with a better alternate option and I don’t honestly have one.

That’s just one example. Here’s another: fire in a bug out situation, an area I actually feel like I have covered well. The original article gave their own suggestions, but I might consider the following:

  • Primary – butane/bic lighter
  • Alternate – waterproof matches
  • Contingent – magnesium/ferrous rod
  • Emergency – fresnel lens

The concept sounds easy enough to follow, right?

Well, think about all of the aspects that emergency preparedness entails:

  • shelter
  • water (storage, procurement, treatment)
  • food (storage, procurement, cooking)
  • personal safety/security
  • area heating/cooling
  • area/tactial lighting
  • communications (receiving information and among group)
  • home security/defense
  • personal defense (weapons, martial arts, etc)
  • hygiene
  • sanitation
  • first aid
  • chronic medical concerns
  • alternative health options
  • entertainment
  • financials
  • and more

…now, multiply this by what may be covered for when you’re at home, in the car, on foot, at work, and the P.A.C.E. concept can seem overwhelming! No doubt I’m not even close to being as prepared as I thought I was. 😉

But, to be thorough we need to think this way. We need to take our preps to the next level and the P.A.C.E. concept can help get us there. So, the next time you consider your preparations, decide exactly how and where said preps fit into your P.A.C.E. system and what other preps you have (or need) will fill the rest of the plan. Heck, make a list and write it down. That’s probably the easiest way to decide where any holes might be.

EDIT: I’ve created a one page worksheet [PDF File] you can use to get started with this concept. It’s easy to create your own too and rename the categories as you see fit. Right-click on the link to download it.

How to Avoid Computer “Emergencies” Part 2 of 2

Last week, in How to Avoid Computer “Emergencies” Part 1, I pointed out the need to include a Network Area Storage device (such as this one) as part of your overall computer plan in order to avoid personal data loss, including music, pictures, documents, and everything else.

This week we discuss the other critical aspect to avoid such “emergencies” and that is to avoid the possibility of power surges and power failures. If you’ve ever been the victim of a power surge or lighting strike, then you well know the devastating effects it can have on sensitive electronics such as a computer. I’ve never had this problem and I’m working to keep it that way, here’s how you can too…

In order to minimize the effects of a power surge (and power failure) there are two things you need: a surge protector AND battery backup source. As for the surge protector, you don’t want just any device; the cheap devices that are found just about anywhere are NOT what you want; they are likely nothing more than an outlet expander.

Surge Protection That You Really Want


What you really want is a real surge protection device. This model, the APC Pro-7 SurgeArrest, is what I use for our computer protection. There are other APC devices, including ones with more outlets, protection for coax, network, and phone cables, as well as different configurations for accepting more transformer. You will certainly find one that fits your needs.

There are other manufacturers, but APC is what my computer buddy uses, recommends his clients use, and obviously suggested I use. I’m no computer techie so I don’t fully understand the details, but suffice it to say that the better devices are more likely to do what they’re expected to do: prevent damaging power fluctuations from reaching your expensive computer!

It’s really that simple.

Battery Backup is Important


Equally critical to your computer health is a battery backup unit, such as this one: the CyberPower CP425SLG battery backup power source. It is a 225 Watt device capable of connecting up to six pieces of equipment and is what I bought a few months back. To be honest, the only reason I have it is to protect the NAS from losing its configuration settings which, according to my buddy, can be bad for my NAS. Since I could do so, I also connected my PC tower to the battery backup as well.

If you’re unaware, the purpose of a battery backup is to allow you enough time to properly power down equipment in order to avoid potential damage. Most of the time when the power goes out unexpectedly nothing bad ever happens, though the possibility does exist.

Anyway, since I’ve had the NAS, we have lost power a few times (more so recently), it got unplugged a few times and, since I don’t like to press my luck, I figured it was past due time to do something about it. As luck would have it, the power went out a few days after my battery backup arrived and it worked flawlessly. And, because the NAS can be configured to power down on its own when that happens, everything worked as I expected.

There are other, more powerful and fancier units than this one, which may be worthwhile if you intend to connect computer peripherals (monitor, printer, etc) but since I ONLY have the NAS and PC tower connected, this works fine.

Concluding Thoughts

To me, it makes sense to spend a few extra dollars if it means protecting several hundred to thousands of dollars in expensive equipment. (All total I spend about $65 between the surge protector and battery backup.) Sure, you could file an insurance claim but who wants that hassle and, of course, there is the deductible to pay. When it’s all said and done, you’re just about better off buying a new computer instead of filing a claim.

As with most anything in life, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. After all, isn’t that what prepping is all about!? 😉

How to Avoid Computer “Emergencies” Part 1 of 2

As preppers we pride ourselves in preparing our families not only for the tough times (hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes) but possibly even the unimaginable times (EMP, economic collapse) and we do it with steadfast enthusiasm. What we seem to gloss over in doing so is to also prepare ourselves for everyday emergencies, such as a dreaded computer crash.

Not what you were expecting? Yes, I do consider a computer crash an “emergency” of sorts. Given our society’s reliance on computers and the internet, I figure most people would agree.

Besides malware and internet connectivity issues, one of the more devastating computer “emergencies” is the temporary or even permanent inability to retrieve your personal data due to hard drive errors or, worse yet, a hard drive crash.

“That’s not a problem,” you say! “It’s not like anything on my personal computer is necessary information like business files.” Oh yeah!? Ignoring the presumably hundreds of dollars in operating software and office suites, take a moment and contemplate all of your personal files, pictures, videos, music and more. More importantly, contemplate all of your WIFE’S files, pictures, videos, and music! There’s probably quite a bit there. More than you might realize at first.

A little over a year ago we had one of those “uh-oh” moments with our computer (not the first one either) and after some frustrating moments and realizing that I needed some help, I finally decided to call a buddy of mine who specializes in these problems. After deliberation, he finally convinced me to change my strategy. No more relying on a single computer and lonely hard drive… I had to upgrade my computer preparendess.

Unfortunately for our pocketbook he suggested the “nuclear” route, as I like to call it, which consisted not only of a complete computer rebuild (actually a new computer) but a Network Area Storage (NAS) device as well.

“What in the heck was a NAS,” I asked? And more importantly, “why do I need to spend money on one?”

Long explanation short, a NAS is simply a device that stores data. In this case our personal files, music, pictures, and videos. It is not intended to store or run computer software such as Microsoft Windows or Microsoft Office. Just data.

With regards to personal data, why is a NAS more reliable than a regular computer hard drive? The answer is two-fold. First, depending on the unit you purchase you may have anywhere from two to six redundant hard drives that will store your personal data. In fact, it is the NAS’s job to ensure each hard drive is perfectly in sync with up-to-date copies of all your files at all times. Second, the only job the NAS needs to do is it access and update personal files, not operating system files, internet cache, and whatever else goes on in the background. This takes a huge load off of the NAS hard drives, drastically improving their lifespan as well as to lessen the likelihood of a hard drive failure. And, even if one drive did fail there will be at least one redundant drive to save the day.

Re-read that last paragraph if this is your first exposure to the NAS concept. It’s important to fully grasp WHY having one is really a good idea.

But that’s not all that a NAS does, not by a long shot. Depending on the NAS you choose to purchase you may find that your NAS can do A LOT more than expected. Take, for example, the NAS that I purchased (pictured left).

The QNAP NAS TS-259 Pro+ is a seriously cool device. Yeah, I know, I know… don’t let the price give you sticker shock; it’s actually one of the lesser expensive models they make AND has come down in price by at least $100 since I purchased mine a year ago.

Anyway, this QNAP NAS can do a lot if you let it. It can act as a server to your home network for music and movies, stream media directly to your television when properly connected, act as a surveillance station, download files automatically from the internet, act as a website server, and more that I don’t even understand. 😉

The beauty is that the NAS is pretty self-sufficient and requires very little (if any) intervention from you once setup. And, yes, there is some initial setup required as well as the purchase of two identical internal hard drives. At the time I went with 500GB drives, which my friend told me was a mistake. I should have purchased at least 1TB drives for expansion. Eventually I’ll need to swap out my drives for something larger but they work well for now.

After over a year with my NAS I’ve had no problems with this unit. It’s performed flawlessly, quietly, and reliably. Even if you don’t purchase this unit, I firmly believe that a NAS is a must-have for most home networks.

Now, what if a NAS is too costly? What else can you do?

If a NAS isn’t the solution for you right now there are other options that can be utilized to avert such a catastrophe, including automatic online backup services (both free and paid for) as well as manual backup options such as Google Docs as well as external hard drives. While these alternatives are a possibility, they depend on one of two potential failure points: internet connectivity and human action, neither of which will be as reliable as a NAS.

Look for Part 2 to come next week where we discuss the other computer “emergency” topic: power!

First Look! Review of The Survival Doctor’s Guide to Burns and Guide to Wounds

I was given the privilege of reviewing two new interactive eBooks: The Survival Doctor’s Guide to Burns and The Survival Doctor’s Guide to Wounds by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. (a.k.a. “The Survival Doctor”) who is also the owner of TheSurvivalDoctor.com, a site that I recommend.

I should point out that I have no medical training whatsoever. In fact, I’m notorious for telling my kids to “go see your mother” anytime they mention a potential health problem, unless I have no other choice!

Since I was planning on purchasing these books  anyway, I was ready to dig in. Because I have the attention span of a gnat most of the time (especially with respect to medical issues) I decided to start with the shorter eBook, The Survival Doctor’s Guide to Burns

The book starts out as I would have expected–with some added benefits–in that it explains how to treat burns, the types of burns, and complications; generally what you would get from most burn treatment resources.

Unfortunately, most publicly-consumable medical texts stop right there. The Survival Doctor knows that’s not what we, as preppers, are looking for. We need something that goes a bit further because we understand that medical attention may not be readily available when needed the most.

As such, the book discusses a variety of additional topics such as wound debridement, making burn dressings, using natural resources such as aloe vera and honey, sterilizing instruments, and more. I actually feel like I learned something!

I do also appreciate The Survival Doctor’s ability to share his thought processes on burn treatment. In particular, he makes it plain as day what you should do, step-by-step, to properly treat and assess any burn. In my opinion, a calm and direct approach goes a long way to proper treatment from a layman such as myself.

Now, for The Survival Doctor’s Guide to Wounds

This book is laid out similarly to the Guide to Burns book. As you would expect, it starts with an easy to follow outline for proper wound care, including stopping the bleeding, determining if it’s life threatening, assessing damage, and cut treatment.

Additional critical topics are also covered, such as bite wounds, punctures, and stab wounds. The Survival Doctor discusses exactly what should be done in each of these situations. Other topics covered include pressure dressings, tourniquets, and special situations (e.g., mouth cuts, scalp wounds, etc). He also explains the differences between blood from arteries and veins, why it’s important, and what to do.

One thing that is a bit different from the Guide to Burns is that this book includes a “Quick Overview for Emergencies” that can be used as an easily referenced decision making tool; I would have preferred this page to be at or near the beginning of the book for faster access but I understand the need for some education before being able to use the quick reference sheet.

I have yet to cover the interactive aspect of these books. The Survival Doctor intentionally included many dozens of links (both internal and to his website) that allow the reader to immediately jump directly to another location in the book that expands on the topic without interrupting the flow of thought. Oftentimes online videos are also referenced in the book where pertinent. I must say that at first I did not think I would like the interactive features at all; after working through each book they have started to grow on me.

Overall, I particularly enjoyed his candid speak, something that is desperately missing from the medical community. The Survival Doctor does a good job of relaying his train of thought to these issues and the books are easy to follow. I did notice, however, that the Guide to Wounds book tends to include the “get medical help ASAP” statement more often than I would have preferred. The concern, of course, would be what to do if I simply can’t? I guess I was hoping for a bit more of the austerity knowledge, but I understand that the book is about dealing with wounds and not about dealing with the aftermath of serious infections from some wounds.

Anyway, I also liked the idea of referencing his videos (there are even a few that exclusive to book readers) but I’m concerned that these references may not be available if/when they are really needed due to internet outages. It’s a nice plus but they aren’t going to do me any good when the Net is down. Instead, it would have been nice to include a few pictures or diagrams directly within the book that illustrated critical actions such as would debridement, for example.

The last consideration is the cost. Are the books worth it? I would say so. At $3.99 each, you gain a wealth of information that can be accessed on your computer, smart phone, and even printed for later reference. Heck, that’s about the cost of a cafe latte at Starbucks. 🙂 You can’t go wrong for the price.

Again, it’s really the decision making steps and candid speak that are the true benefits of the books. Find out more about his survival books here and let me know what you think after reading them.