Notes About reThinkSurvival This Coming Week (and in the future)

If you read my recent post about “bad things happen” then you know the past handful of days have been rough and besides we’re going to have a lot of family in town too. As a result, I’m not sure how much writing I will get done so if the coming week is sparse that’s why. I will try to keep the “daily youtube” and “quick reference” posts coming as best as I can.

As for the future, I’m not sure what I intend to do on Sundays but today I’m taking it easy. Traditionally, they’ve been sun oven posts but with it being winter I haven’t had any interest. I tried to fill the void with infographics but they’re not taking off much at all so I’m losing interest there as well. If anyone has any bright ideas I’m all ears.

The same goes for Saturdays. They’ve traditionally been quizzes but I’m not sure people are very interested (recent polls bear that out for the most part) so I’m doing my egg experiment instead. Maybe I can make Saturday’s an experiment day? I don’t know.

I’m still strongly considering changing how I do things, especially my “quick reference” links. I really feel like they’re not timely enough as I often schedule these posts (and most others) up to a week later, which might as well be a year late on the Internet. 😉 The same can be said for my “daily youtube” videos. Maybe we’ll give a few changes a shot here, maybe not. I know you guys and gals don’t seem to like change too much but it might be a good thing. For now, however, I don’t see me doing much differently.

 

Egg Storage Experiment – Week 4 Results

Here’s where we’re at in week 4…

This is the mineral oil egg (doesn’t float and didn’t smell funny):

egg1-wk4

This is the control egg:

egg2-wk4

Notice anything different? Yes, it’s floating. So, I cracked it open on a plate:

egg2-wk4-open

I know the plate is red so it’s not really easy to see but everything looks perfectly fine. There was no smell either. If I hadn’t done the float test I would have had no inclination that the egg was bad. Needless to say, I didn’t bother to eat even though I was working up the nerve to do so.

Here’s the mineral oil egg being cooked up (it tasted fine):

egg1-wk4-cooking

I’m not sure whether to keep the control eggs or not since I now have zero intention of eating them. If anyone has a good reason why I should keep checking them I will do so otherwise they’re going in the trash before next week. I will, however, keep checking the mineral oil eggs to see how long they’ll last.

Bad Things Happen, Life is Short, Prep Hard Anyway

Bad Things Happen

Things have been rough around my house the past few days since we found out that my brother-in-law passed away in a freak fishing accident. Long story short, two of my brothers-in-law were fishing off a cliff edge in Hawaii (they live there) when the one fell off the edge and drowned. The other brother actually jumped in to save him but couldn’t do so. Needless to say, my wife, her parents, and her siblings are taking it hard and our lives have been very stressful with a lot of tears shed. As he was younger than I (in his early 30’s) his passing on does put death in my thoughts lately.

Yes, bad things happen.

Life is Short

It’s amazing how short life is. Even if you live to be a ripe old age of 115 it’s still not nearly enough time to do God’s work. That said, it does also make me think of so many people that I’ve known who have passed away far too early, from people literally dying while exercising, to friends and family younger than I who suffered fatal heart attacks to a friend who, on his last day of work before retirement, had a massive heart attack and died right there in the cafeteria lunch line.

These are just a few personal examples, though, there are plenty more including the Sandy Hook tragedy, the Colorado movie theatre shooting, soldiers dying on the battle front every day, or even a myriad of individuals I don’t know who die from any number of fatal diseases. None of it makes much sense to me… never has, never will.

Yes, life is short.

Prep Hard Anyway

A week or two ago I wrote a post about What if the Mistake is With Preparation? where I questioned why in the world I spend so much time, effort, and money on my preps. I probably knew the answer all along and some of you so graciously commented explaining WHY I should prep. I know that I should prep and I doubt I will ever change my ways but I do occasionally question my sanity. 😉

It seems to me that there is so very little we can control in the grand scheme of life, from untimely deaths such as that of my brother-in-law to whatever our lawmakers and those who actually pull the strings have in store for us. Fortunately, one of the few things that we really can control in our lives is our preps…

For example, while I can’t control the stock market (and I’m certainly not smart enough to figure it out) I can control where my money goes which, in my case, is occasionally to equipment and food that my family can use in hard times. Likewise, though I may not be able to control whether there’s any food at the grocery store I can control my ability to feed my family should that ever happen, at least, for a short period of time. Certainly, there are plenty of other examples as to why prepping can prove useful.

The point is to realize that, though much of life cannot be planned for or even remotely controlled, those few things that we can do we are obligated to do in order that we stick around for as long as we’re supposed to and, apparently, not a moment longer.

Yes, prep hard anyway.

Wilderness Survival Skills to Keep You Alive – Part 2 of 2, by Jerry Ward

[Editor’s note: Today we finish up our feature post by one of our sponsors, OzarkMountainPreparedness.com. If you’re anywhere nearby Arkansas then I encourage you to attend a class to brush up on skills or even learn new ones like me. You may read his author bio at the bottom of this post.]

Shelter

Shelter is needed to protect and regulate core body temperature; 98.6F. The inability to regulate core temp will lead to death through either hypothermia or hyperthermia. Without spending a lot of time on these conditions, suffice to say that a body temperature swing by roughly 10 degrees in either direction will kill you. Look for a shelter location that is safe and the most conducive to comfort and survival. Avoid areas on ridges and in canyons due to weather conditions such as lightning and flash flooding. Always look overhead for aerial hazards like widow makers and loose rock. Choose the geographical aspect that will offer you the appropriate temperatures for the season. South facing slopes offer more sunshine and warmth whereas the north face tends to be shadier and cooler. Adding a large trash bag, USGI poncho, space blanket, or small tarp to your kit will go a long way in getting you out of the elements. One hundred feet of 550 Cord rounds out a way to secure your tarp/poncho. Another recommendation is to always have a wool or fleece jacket and a poncho liner in your pack/bag; even in the hot, humid summer. If you are unprepared or have the inclination, constructing a debris hut, wikiup, or leanto is an option. These shelters rely on natural material for the structure and the thermal insulation needed to regulate body temperature. The more leaf litter and pine duff, the more insulation and weather resistance. Whatever shelter system you choose, ensure that it will be effective in staving off the wind, rain, intense sun, and other weather phenomena that can compromise life.

wilderness-survival-4

Medical

Medical concerns need to be addressed in the survival kit as well. A medical emergency can happen at any time and may be the reason for the survival situation in the first place. Couple that with the usual bumps and knocks from living outdoors and can see why it is so important to prepare for injuries. Therefore, a well-stocked first aid kit is a must for anyone heading to the field. Most pre-packaged first aid kits are basically just a few adhesive bandages, some tape, and a packet or two of pain reliever. Skip them and assemble your own using high quality components and tools that will actually perform should the need arise. First aid supplies to treat trauma and deal with the everyday injuries of blisters, sprains, minor cuts, burns, etc. should be included. Don’t forget to add prescription medications if there is anyone in your party that requires them. If you are dead set on purchasing a premade kit, there are a few outfits that specialize in backcountry medicine and offer quality kits tailored to emergencies in the field. The two that come to mind are Atwater Carey and Adventure Medical Kits. In conjunction with a quality first aid kit, I highly recommend seeking professional wilderness medical training. There are several national organizations that offer courses in wilderness medicine and nationally recognized certifications. The two most popular are NOLS and SOLO. The Advanced Wilderness First Aid certification is the minimum standard I recommend.

Signaling

Signaling is an often overlooked component of survival education and survival kits. It’s all fine and good to have a plentiful wood supply stacked neatly next to your roaring fire, a lake full of clear water and easy to catch fish, a veritable garden of edible plants, a picture perfect debris hut and tarp shelter, and be in good health with no injuries. But this is a survival situation and you want to go home! You need to have the means to signal for help and let people know you would like a little help getting out of the predicament you are currently in. I like low-tech devices/methods to get someone’s attention. Signal mirrors, whistles, hot pink surveyors tape, smoke grenades, flare pistols, etc. Spreading your collection of gear out around the camp will also draw attention to your location. It was once common knowledge that anything in a cluster of three meant “Help”, but not so many people adhere to that practice anymore. Give it a try though because the aviation and marine communities are still packed with the proverbial old guys who abide by those standards. Three whistle blasts, gunshots, mirror flashes, signal fires, etc. all indicate the need for assistance. Do anything you can to attract attention and lead a rescue party in.

wilderness-survival-5

That about covers the basic techniques and equipment needed to make it through a short-term situation. Combining those skills and tidbits of gear with a positive mental attitude and a good knife ensures a high probability of coming home alive. Of course this has been a very condensed view into the world of wilderness survival. There was no talk in depth talk about knives, dangerous wildlife, seasonal weather patterns, navigation, xyz gizmo whizbang gear, etc. Don’t fret because this is just the first of many articles to come in which I’ll delve deeper into the many facets of survival and bushcraft; from foraging for wild edibles to brain tanning hides. I’ll discuss the good and bad of certain pieces of equipment, fire by friction, land navigation techniques, flint knapping, water procurement and purification, and other topics of interest to folks looking to lead a more self-reliant and prepared lifestyle. If you’d like to participate in professional survival training, please visit the website of Ozark Mountain Preparedness, LLC for more information at www.ozarkmountainpreparedness.com. Until next time, take care and God Bless! Jerry

Jerry Ward Bio

Jerry Ward is the owner and operator of Ozark Mountain Preparedness, LLC located in Berryville, Arkansas. He has been teaching survival skills since 2004 and opened Ozark Mountain Preparedness in 2010. Before becoming a full-time survival skills instructor he worked as a rock climbing guide, wildland firefighter and gunsmith. Jerry studied wildlife biology at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He is an avid fur trapper and student of history. His outdoor pursuits have taken him all around the United States and abroad, including fur trapping in Alaska, fighting wildfire in the American West, researching primitive cultures in the Desert Southwest, trekking the rainforests of Belize, and exploring the Highlands of Scotland. He has been featured in numerous publications, including Currents and American Survival Guide magazines. Jerry is a member of The Wilderness Medical Society and The Society of Primitive Technology. He can be reached via the web at http://ozarkmountainpreparedness.com or phone at (870)350-6995.

jerry-ward-bio

The Top 5 “Top 50 Lists of Prepper Web Sites”

I was just made aware that Survivor.com complied a “list of lists” of top 50 prepper website lists and guess what? We made the list! The Top 5 “Top 50 Lists of Prepper Web Sites” starts with linking to sites/pages that have a top 50 list (our “top 50 rss feeds” page is here) and follows with hundreds of the best preparedness blogs out there… we made that one too. Happy Days. 🙂

Review of Thermos Stainless King 16-Ounce Food Jar

I’m a fan of vacuum thermos jars and have always stuck with larger (1 quart or more) Stanley brand jars. This particular Thermos brand food jar is simply a smaller option that seemed like a better idea for our bug out bags or short term emergency because it takes up less space and is lighter-weight. At 16 ounces (one-half a quart) it is really a one meal per person (at least per adult) food jar.

According to the Amazon product page: “The stainless king food jar has thermax double wall vacuum insulation for maximum temperature retention, hot or cold. The unbreakable stainless steel interior and exterior keeps the food jar cool to the touch with hot liquids and sweat proof with cold liquids. Wide mouth is easy to fill, serve from and clean: lid doubles as a compact and insulated serving bowl. Full-size telescoping stainless steel spoon included.”

When looking for a food jar such as this one, double-walled vacuum insulation is the way to go. This design can keep foods hot (or cold) for several hours. In fact, one of the best reasons to have a few of these thermos jars is for the fact that you can heat up food to a boil and then transfer it directly to the thermos to finish cooking over the course of a few hours or even overnight. This fact alone is the single most important reason to have these vacuum jars around. Just think about how much fuel you can save if all you have to do is heat up the food and NOT finish cooking it! This is the beauty of thermal-heat retention cooking at its best.

Though most thermos jars that are meant for food are wide-mouth jars, just ensure that they are wide-mouth as it makes eating from and cleaning out quite a bit easier. There are also “classic” vacuum jars that are not wide-mouth and are not necessarily meant for food, just liquids. Since this unit has an all stainless steel interior, it’s easy to clean, won’t rust, smell funny, etc.

Of course, the food jar is designed so that you won’t burn yourself when holding the jar (due to the vacuum insulation) which is obviously a good idea. This food jar also includes a fold-able spoon that fits conveniently atop the screw on lid, which is a nice plus. And, last, you could use the snap on lid as a small bowl if you like but I just tend to eat from the thermos itself.

To test this one, I decided to heat up two servings of oatmeal (just to a boil) and then let it finish cooking for a few hours in the thermos. As it’s smaller than I’m used to, I found that two servings didn’t quite fit but I got most of it inside and screwed on the lid with no problem. I should point out you need to be a little careful with foods that expand a great deal (rice and dehydrated foods come to mind) so be sure to leave a little head-space for meals that expect to expand while cooking. The best thing to do is to simply experiment a few times and you’ll get the hang of it.

That said, this Thermos brand food jar is something that I expect to last for many years on end is a perfect addition to your short term emergency preps or bug out bags.

Wilderness Survival Skills to Keep You Alive – Part 1 of 2, by Jerry Ward

[Editor’s note: Today and Wednesday we feature a post by one of our sponsors, OzarkMountainPreparedness.com. I will attend one of Jerry’s wilderness survival classes in Arkansas this coming March as my wilderness survival skills need A LOT of help! If you’re anywhere nearby Arkansas then I encourage you to attend a class.]

Wilderness Survival! The phrase conjures up visions of plane crashes in the deserts of Africa, shipwrecks in the South Pacific, tragic miscalculations of direction in the South America rainforest, and expeditions gone wrong in the Arctic. While these situations are all found in the annals of history and plausible, the bulk of survival situations befall folks in less exotic locales under less glamorous circumstances. Usually Work-a-Day Joe and/or Jane get lost on a hunting trip, stumble and suffer a mechanical injury while out for a day hike, has car trouble on a back road, or has any other run-in with Mr. Murphy. These events can turn a simple afternoon of recreation into a potentially life threatening situation. Hopefully Joe and Jane have had some professional survival training and have with them a kit to help them deal with the priorities of survival.

wilderness-survival-1

Statistically, you have an 80%-85% chance of being rescued within 72 hours here in the lower 48. The two major factors of contributing to those numbers are the invention of the helicopter and the cell phone. The helicopter came into its prime during the Vietnam War where it was used heavily as a platform to extract and evacuate wounded military personnel. Pilots and Search and Rescue (SAR) units here in the civilian world realized there was a place for that same mobility and speed during SAR operations. Cellular phones, love them or hate them, have also led to the advancement of rapid rescue these last few decades. The “smart” phones of today can not only be used as a communication device in order to activate SAR, but also as a navigational tool capable of providing rescuers the exact location of the party needing help. That being said, neither of these tools should be relied upon or used as a crutch. SAR teams need notification of a rescue situation. Team members are human and are prone to mistake, illness, etc. Helicopters and other mechanical machines are just that, mechanical. Anything mechanical has limitations and will fail eventually. Cell phones in particular are prone to all sorts of mishaps; loss of power, little or no coverage, a dunk in the creek, breakage due to a fall, and loss. They are nice to have on station and fun to play with, but not something to count on when the chips are down.

Because you can’t count on others for your safety and security, I recommend seeking formal survival training and carrying a basic survival kit that has been cleverly thought out and stocked with practical components. This kit is designed to mitigate the hazards to and help in the preservation of life. It covers the Big 5 of survival: Fire, Water/Food, Shelter, Medical, and Signaling. Let’s take a brief look at each of these categories.

Fire

Fire is a simple chemical reaction called oxidation in which the oxygen in the atmosphere reacts with the molecules of a substance to produce energy in the form of heat and light. Fire requires three components to begin and sustain that reaction; an initial heat source, fuel, and oxygen. I’ll save the deeper explanation for a future article, but basically when all three of these components are in the right mixture you have a fire. In a survival scenario, fire is a critical element that cannot be overstressed. It provides a way to purify water and cook food, is an instant signal from the flame and smoke, is a tool to process wood and create containers, provides light at night, helps to maintain core body temperature, and is a companion requiring interaction and providing feedback. I recommend my students carry a minimum of three ways to make fire in their kits and on their person. The methods I prefer are the ferro rod, flint and steel kit, and a Bic lighter with a piece of bicycle inner tube wrapped around it. Toss in a waterproof container with a half dozen petroleum jelly covered cotton balls and you can be sure of a fire in almost all conditions!

wilderness-survival-2

Water

Water is critical to life. You will die in about three or four days without it. That being said, being able to find water and render it safe is a definite need in the kit. Natural water sources include the obvious: creeks, rivers, ponds, etc. There is also precipitation, transpiration, condensation, sub-surface water pooling and the like. Here again, the source of a future article. Treat all collected water as suspect and purify to ensure safety. There are all sorts of water purifying devices on the market today. I have two I’d like to recommend. The first is some sort of chemical treatment that will kill the microbes swimming around in the drink. Chlorine and iodine are the most common and easy to obtain. Unscented chlorine bleach and 2% tincture of iodine from the pharmacy are the two I prefer. Add two drops per quart of either the chlorine bleach or 2% iodine tincture, shake thoroughly, and wait 30 minutes before drinking. Medical note- if you have a shellfish allergy do not use iodine. The second method I recommend is the Lifestraw. The Lifestraw is a straw you simply place down into the contaminated water source and drink through just like a soda straw. When you are finished, simply blow through the straw to remove the excess water, close the caps on each end, and toss back in your gear. The Lifestraw filters down to a size of 0.2 microns and has a service life of 250 gallons. It weighs mere ounces and is built to withstand the rigors of life in the field. Boiling is always an option, so be sure to include a stainless steel container to place in your fire.

Food

Food is another thing to consider when constructing a survival kit. The human body can make it for around 30 days without nourishment, but why be hungry when you avoid it. After just a few days without food, your energy level will be greatly diminished. A decreased energy level will manifest itself as a decrease in work around camp; which could lead to your demise. Always include some high-fat/high-calorie foodstuffs in the kit. Things like peanuts, meal replacement bars, trail mix, chocolate, etc. will give you an energy boost and help with the overall morale of the survivors. Also, a little training in primitive trapping techniques and wild edible plants will increase your chances of survival should the situation go from short-term to Robinson Crusoe.

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Wednesday we focus on shelter, medical and signaling. Stay tuned!

Jerry Ward Bio

Jerry Ward is the owner and operator of Ozark Mountain Preparedness, LLC located in Berryville, Arkansas. He has been teaching survival skills since 2004 and opened Ozark Mountain Preparedness in 2010. Before becoming a full-time survival skills instructor he worked as a rock climbing guide, wildland firefighter and gunsmith. Jerry studied wildlife biology at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He is an avid fur trapper and student of history. His outdoor pursuits have taken him all around the United States and abroad, including fur trapping in Alaska, fighting wildfire in the American West, researching primitive cultures in the Desert Southwest, trekking the rainforests of Belize, and exploring the Highlands of Scotland. He has been featured in numerous publications, including Currents and American Survival Guide magazines. Jerry is a member of The Wilderness Medical Society and The Society of Primitive Technology. He can be reached via the web at http://ozarkmountainpreparedness.com or phone at (870)350-6995.

jerry-ward-bio

Outdoor Condensor Microphone Plans and Trip Wire Alarm System

The more I think about prepping for the long term the more I realize how important early warning can be. I should point out that I have no experience whatsoever with such concepts as I never served in the military or brewed up a batch of moonshine–I just watched the last episode of Moonshiners. 🙂

Anyway, two interesting things were recently brought to my attention that may prove useful to you:

  1. An article on Outdoor surveillance with condenser microphones – for those with some electronics background this project is probably a breeze. The purpose is to build your own microphone to monitor your property. I like the idea but only wish it didn’t seem to require a amplifier to work… maybe there’s something else that can be done?
  2. A Trip Wire Alarm system – placed strategically around natural points of egress (that’s nerdy talk for places like walkways) this alarm system will not only alert you to a problem but quite possible cause the bad guy to run the other way since it fires off a .22 blank when tripped! The price might seem a little prohibitive at first glance but maybe it suits your particular situation.

 

If you have any experience with these products or something similar, I would enjoy learning what you know.

Egg Storage Experiment – Week 3 Results

My how time flies… we’re already to week 3 of my–possibly–18 week experiment of egg storage without refrigeration. Here’s where we’re at (click images to enlarge)…

Here’s the mineral oil egg (doesn’t float and no smell when opened):

egg1-wk3

And this is the control egg (also did not float and no smell when opened):

egg2-wk3

Here’s what they look like on the same plate (the left egg is the mineral oil egg):

eggs-wk3

Pam had asked a bunch of questions last week so I’ll try to answer them for this week:

  1. Did I crack the ‘control’ egg? Yes. I cracked both eggs (and smelled both before and after cracking).
  2. Any changes in the consistency of the whites? None that I noticed except that MAYBE the control egg whites are more yellowish.
  3. Was the yolk still more or less in the center? A picture’s worth a thousand words… so, yes. 🙂
  4. Was the yolk already broken when you cracked it? The yolk doesn’t look broken to me even after cracking.
  5. Do I think the shells will deteriorate over time? I haven’t a clue but I would assume they do at the microscopic level.

Overall, I would say that if I didn’t know which egg was which, I couldn’t have told them apart. This is still a bit surprising to me as I would have anticipated the control egg to have gone bad by now, but that’s just the ignorant suburbanite in me speculating.

And, since I had already eaten lunch before checking my eggs, I cooked them up and fed them to the dog as per Bev’s suggestion.