Tag Archives: prepper

Why Everyone Should Be A Prepper

Prepared ConceptPreparedness is just a matter of common sense.  Your decision to prepare for emergencies doesn’t depend on your political viewpoint.  It depends on your decision to take reasonable actions to provide as much security as you can for yourself and your family, knowing that bad things can happen.

In November, 2014, six feet of snow fell in upstate New York.  Drivers were stranded in their cars on the impassable roads.

In September, 2014, a brush fire in California resulted in mandatory evacuations of all residents living in a 1,600 acre area.

The winter of 2013 – 2014 brought Chicago frigid weather and record snowstorms.  People stayed at home rather than venturing out into the elements.  Many lost electricity for days at a time because wires were downed under the weight of the snow.

In November, 2013, a tornado tore through Washington, Illinois, killing three people and damaging more than 1,000 homes.

And those are only a few examples of uncountable natural disasters that have occurred in the last twelve months.  In each case, real people, with their families, pets, homes, businesses and personal belongings, were put at serious risk.  The snowstorm, brush fire, frigid temperatures and tornado put everyone in their path in danger, without regard to their religion or political persuasion, whatever their age, race or gender, no matter if they are rich folks or poor folks, and no matter how prepared — or unprepared — they were for a disaster.

Maybe you believe in climate change and maybe you don’t, but it’s hard to ignore those six feet of snow.  And the time to prepare for a disaster is not when you hear the tornado sirens go off.

Preparing for an emergency is the obvious thing for a reasonably prudent person to do.  The first thing to do is to prepare a grab-and-go backpack in advance of any emergency.  This is sometimes called a “bug-out” bag.  Stock the backpack with food, water, a first aid kit, a change of clothes, a rain poncho and emergency supplies like a thermal blanket.  Your goal is to have enough to live on for 72 hours.  In the event of an emergency, you won’t have to stop and gather items.  Simply take the pre-packed bag with you if you need to evacuate your home.

The second stage of your preparedness is to prepare your home with supplies for a year.  Do it slowly and methodically over time.  Your supplies should include food and water as well as equipment such as a fire extinguishers, water purifiers and means of cooking and heating your home if you lose power.

Don’t think that preparedness begins and ends with accumulating stuff.  You also need to develop skills.  Having a fire starter won’t help you if you don’t know how to use it.  You may put up foodstuffs to be able to make bread; you’ll also need to learn to bake it.  Don’t just buy a first aid kit.  Take a first aid course and learn CPR while you’re at it.

It takes time and money to become prepared.  Making a plan and gathering your food, water and equipment slowly and steadily puts preparedness within your reach.  But do it.  It’s the only rational response to an uncertain world.

 

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My recommendations for some of the equipment and supplies that you will need are below.

 

Are You Self-Reliant In One Of The Most Important Ways?

Retirees Retirement Piggy Bank AccountNo one who owes money can really be her own woman.  If you are in debt, you are working to rake in the big bucks but have no say over how it’s spent.  People often describe debt as “crushing.”  It’s a good word for it.  Debt can crush your autonomy, your potential and your dreams.  If your goal is self-reliance, you need to get out of debt.

Here is a five-step plan to get out of debt and build a nest egg.

1.  Stop Digging The Hole.  It’s like they always say.  If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.  And if you’re in debt, stop using your credit cards.  I know it hurts.  But you need to stop.  You’ll never be able to climb out the the hole until you stop digging yourself deeper and deeper into it.

2.  Sock Away A Grand.  Give yourself the gift of a little nest egg.  $1,000 is usually enough.  This money is for emergencies.  Real emergencies.  Car repairs, medical bills, broken windows.  That kind of thing.  This money is not to be used when they come out with a new iPhone and you just have to have it.  It’s for REAL emergencies.  Use every gimmick you can think of to save this money.  Collect all your change at the end of the week and deposit it in the bank.  Ask for money for your birthday or Christmas and deposit it in the bank.  Sell your old books and DVD’s or hold a rummage sale and deposit your proceeds in the bank.  Did your heating bill go down when the warm weather came?  Deposit the monthly difference in the bank.

3.    Don’t let the credit card companies get more out of you than you already owe.  In the meantime, pay the minimum amount due of all of your credit cards on time.  By no means do you want to incur another $35 or $50 late fee.  Don’t let ’em have it!

4.  Baby steps.  Make a list of all your outstanding credit card bills, from the lowest to the highest balance.  While you are paying the minimum balance on the rest of your cards, go to war on the card with the smallest balance.  Take every extra dollar you can find and use it to pay down that debt.  And then it will be gone.  Doesn’t that feel great?  To congratulate yourself for eliminating one card balance, you should set about eliminating another one.  Then you can turn your attention to the next card on the list.  Remember the minimum amount you had to pay every month on that first card, the one that’s been paid off?  Take it and add it to the minimum amount you are already paying on the second card.  That’s right.  Double the minimum.  And then take every other dollar you can find and use it to pay down this second card.  Keep going in this way until all of your credit cards are paid off.

5.  Turn Your Debt Payments Into Savings.  When your credit cards are paid off, take the money that you were using to cover your minimum credit card payments and save it.  Build up six months’ worth of expenses in your rainy day fund.

I am not minimizing the hard work and discipline it takes to do this.  Sometimes, people build up a lot of credit card debt by being frivolous.  But more often, it’s just because they are unprepared for unexpected expenses.  They need a root canal, new tires, or a new furnace.  They don’t have the money, so they charge it.

Then, when they are trying to pay the debt off, the emergencies keep happening.  The kids outgrow their shoes, the dog needs to go to the vet, or the refrigerator goes on the blink.  Well, that’s what the rainy day fund is for.  But it sure is hard to add to the rainy day fund, keep up with the minimum payments on all your cards, go to war on the first card on your list, and deal with emergencies, all at the same time.

It may require hard and sometimes painful choices.  Stingy Christmases.  Family stay-cations.  No new iPhones even though everyone else has one.  Not fun.  Or easy.

But the long term gain is worth the near term pain.  Because once you have paid off all of your credit card debt, you will have taken an enormous step toward self-reliance.  Owning your money, instead of owing money, is one of those things that make you your own woman.

 

Prepped In A Year: My Kindle Book

rsz_preppedGetting started prepping can be an overwhelming experience.  Moving from totally unprepared to prepared for any disaster requires so much work, organization and planning that you might not know where to start.  And, worst of all, you may put off starting your prepping because it seems like so much to do.

Well, first of all, let’s adjust that way of thinking a bit.  Taking a step, any step, toward a goal is progress.  So don’t be put off by the thought that there is too much to do to get prepped.  Take your first step and you will already be better prepared than if you hadn’t done it.  Then take another step and you’re even further on your way.

But still, you’d be better off if you didn’t take steps randomly.  Your most efficient way of reaching a goal is to set out a plan and make steady and persistent progress on that plan.

When it comes to emergency preparedness, there are four different areas that your plan should include.  First, you should put together a bug-out bag, or 72-hour emergency kit, for each person and pet in your family.  Second, you need an evacuation plan.  Decide on a place to meet your family in the event your home is destroyed, and decide on how to get out of town if you need to.  Third, you will want to set up long-term food storage for a long-term emergency situation.  And, lastly, you will need to learn skills and develop habits that will enable you and your family to meet challenges that you will encounter in a disaster.

The best approach to these four areas is a systematic, month-by-month plan.  And I have written one for you.  It’s called Prepped In A Year: Your 12-Month Guide to Emergency Preparedness.  In it, I take you through a plan for each of these four areas.  By doing a little at a time every month for a year, you will get to the point where you are well prepared for any emergency in twelve months’ time.

You can find my book on Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TQIAF98.  Now, if you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the free Kindle reader app and read my book, or any Kindle book, on your PC, tablet or smart phone.  A download link to the Kindle reader app is on the same page as my book, http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TQIAF98.

I hope that you read my book and, more importantly, put it to use.  Everyone should be a prepper.  A disaster can happen to anyone, no matter where you live, what your economic status, or what your political persuasions are.  A hurricane, a tornado, civil unrest, an economic disaster that can cause long-term unemployment, a failure of the electrical grid, an earthquake, a drought, a flood — the potential threats are endless.

I sincerely hope that all of my readers assess the possibility of a serious threat to their well-being and way of life and that they all prepare to meet the threat by being prepared.  And I hope that my book, Prepped In A Year: Your 12-Month Guide to Emergency Preparedness, will be a valuable companion on that journey.

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What To Do In An Earthquake – Part II

Hurricane Sandy destructionIn yesterday’s post, I wrote about what to do in an earthquake.  Today, we’ll be talking about what to do right afterwards.

When you first re-enter your home after an earthquake, or you dig your way out from under your desk, your first concern should be to check for fire or fire hazards, broken gas pipes, downed power lines and spilled chemicals.  If you smell gas or hear hissing, close the main gas valve, leave the house immediately and notify the utility.  If you find shredded electric wires, turn off the electricity at its source.  Don’t try to move a downed power line.  Stay away from it and let the utility know.  Remember that water conducts electricity, so stay clear of any standing water near a downed line.

Be in touch with your family members so that you all know where and how you all are.  Check in with the out-of-town friend or relative that you included in your evacuation plan.  Check in with your neighbors and any elderly or disabled friends that may need your help.  Then stay off the phone and free up the channels for use by emergency responders.

Take pictures of the damage to your home before you do much to clean up.  File your insurance claim immediately.

If your power is off, but you haven’t been out of the house for more than a few hours, make meal plans that allow you to finish up what is in your refrigerator and freezer before you start in on your canned goods.  Be careful with your food, though.  You don’t want to add a case of food poisoning to the challenges you already face from the earthquake.

Throughout all of this, listen to your portable radio so that you can keep up with important news bulletins.

Aftershocks

After an earthquake, it’s common to experience aftershocks.  An aftershock is a second earthquake that occurs in the same area as the initial earthquake.  They can be quite serious and can continue for weeks after the initial earthquake.  You should react to an aftershock the same way that you react to the first earthquake — drop to your hands and knees, take cover under a desk or table, and hold onto it until the shaking stops.

Buildings that were damaged in the first earthquake may suffer additional damage, or even collapse, during an aftershock.  You should continue to examine your home, including the foundation, the chimneys and gas pipes and electrical wires, after every aftershock.

Tsunamis

A tsunami is a seismic sea wave caused by the displacement of water which can occur because of an earthquake.  The tremendous force of water of a tsunami can be very destructive.   If you live in a coastal area, you may be at risk and you may need to evacuate.  Monitor your emergency radio and be prepared to hit the road if a tsunami is likely.

Earthquakes can do enormous damage and can trigger other events, such as fire, gas leaks, downed power lines, and tsunamis, which can themselves threaten life and property.  Because it isn’t possible to forecast an earthquake, you need to be vigilant in your general preparedness plan so that you can respond at a moment’s notice.

I hope that the ground always stays steady under your feet.  But if it starts to quake, I hope it finds you prepared.  Have a look at What to Do In An Earthquake – Part I for more important information.

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What To Do In An Earthquake – Part I

Hurricane Sandy destructionA magnitude 7.8 earthquake occurred in Nepal on April 25, 2015.  Although the final death toll is not yet known, the current count stands at over 3,200.  Another 6,500 people have been injured.  As a result of the quake, an avalanche occurred on Mount Everest, causing additional deaths and injuries.

What would you do if you were in an earthquake?  Your survival depends on the choices you make.

Your survival plan should start months before an earthquake ever takes place.  You should prepare now for a disaster by taking care of three items:  your bug-out bag, your evacuation plan and your long-term survival plan.

Your bug-out bag should include food, water, clothes and necessities for three days.  Everyone in your family should have one.  In fact, it wouldn’t hurt for everyone in your family to have three — one for home, one for work or school and one for the car.

Your evacuation plan should include a designated spot for your family to meet up in the event of any disaster.  It should also include a couple of alternative routes to a couple of alternative destinations.  You want the alternatives so that you can maneuvre around the disaster that you are evacuating from.

Lastly, your long-term survival plan should permit your family to survive without additional supplies on a long-term basis.  It should also include an audit of your living arrangements to assess and eliminate safety risks.  In anticipation of an earthquake, be sure that heavy objects are stored on the floor or on low shelves.  Secure large objects to the wall or floor.  For example, strap your hot water heater to the wall.

These three plans need to be in place in advance of any disaster, because you won’t have time to start them once the danger is imminent.

In the event of an earthquake, first get down on your hands and knees.  If you are already on your hands and feet, you can’t fall down when the earth shakes.

If you are indoors, try to shelter yourself under a desk or table.  If you can’t fit your whole body under the table, at least get your head and neck under it.  Hold onto your shelter.  If the earthquake moves the shelter around, go with it.  This technique is known as “drop, cover and hold on.”

If you are indoors but there is no desk or table to use a shelter, lie on the floor against an interior wall, as far away from windows, breakable items and heavy objects as you can get.  Cover your head and neck with your arms and hands.  Better yet, if you can grab a pillow, some sort of large tray or any other unbreakable object that will cover your head and neck, use that.

You may have heard that you should seek shelter from an earthquake in a doorway.  This if not a good idea at all.  For one thing, doorways are not any safer than regular construction in the event of an earthquake.  Secondly, doorways pose their own risks.  You may be hit by a swinging door or even by a door that is torn off its hinges by the earthquake.  And if you are in a public place, you  could be trampled by people trying to get through the door.

If you are in a wheelchair or are unable to get down on the floor for some other reason, move away from windows, exterior walls and heavy or breakable objects if at all possible.  Bend over and cover your neck and head.  If you can grab something to use, use it; otherwise simply use your arms and hands.

If you are in bed, stay there and cover your head and neck with your pillow. Don’t risk getting cut by broken objects or hit by flying objects by leaving the bed.

If you are outdoors when the earthquake hits, drop to your hands and feet.  Move as far away as possible from buildings, power lines, and other objects.  Again, the reasoning is that you don’t want objects to fall on you.  And again, cover your neck and head, using your arms and hands if you can’t find anything else.

Finally, if you are in a car when the earth starts to shake, pull over to the side of the road.  Avoid stopping on or under a bridge or overpass and move away from overhead power lines, road signs, billboards and other objects that may fly onto your car or into your windshield.  Do not leave the car.  Cover your neck and head with your arms and hands or with something else that may be in the car.

Now, it may be that I’ve left out a possible alternative location from the scenarios that I’ve outlined above.  Here are the basic principles for how to ride out an earthquake, now matter where you find yourself.  Get down on all floors or lie down.  Stay as far away as you can from breakable objects, especially windows, or from items that can fall down or fly around.  Cover your head and neck, preferably with a sturdy object.  If no object can be found, use your arms and hands.

One thing that you don’t want to do is leave a building to run out into the street.  Windows and architectural details that are attached to building facades can become detached and fall.  As a result, moving from a building into the street puts you at highest danger.

For more, see What to Do In An Earthquake – Part II, where I discuss what to do immediately after an earthquake occurs.

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Don’t Forget Fido – Keeping Your Pets Safe

dog, cat and mouseHow could you survive an emergency without Bowser by your side?

You wouldn’t want to even think about it.   So be sure to take special precautions to keep Princess safe in a disaster.

Preparedness generally falls into three categories:  preparing a bug-out bag, making an evacuation plan, and setting up a long-term survival plan.  Think of Rover’s needs in each of these three stages.

Tiger’s Supplies in Your Bug-Out Bag

Tiger’s bug-out bag should include food, water, bowls, kitty litter and a cat pan.  Include any medications that she is on.   Your kit should include sturdy leashes, collars, harnesses and carriers, as appropriate for her.  Both cats and dogs should always wear a collar with tags with identifying information.

You should keep a plastic envelope with important documents in your own bug-out bag.  Your important documents should include Buster’s vaccination records and other medical records, notes with feeding schedules and any medical or behavioral problems, the name and number of his veterinarian, and a photo of yourself with him.  This last item will be helpful if you are ever separated from him.  The photo of Buster will make it easier to try to find him; you in the photo will help establish your ownership of him.  (Not that your Buster could ever be owned, of course.)

Spot’s bug-out bag should also include toys, beds, chew toys and other comfy items for him if you have space for them.

Evacuating Lassie

Your evacuation plan will need to be thoroughly researched to keep your Lassie safe.  Any evacuation plan needs to account for the fact that a disaster may block one or more ways out of town, so it will include alternative routes to a few different destinations.  Plan out hotels and motels along each route and contact them to be sure that they allow pets.  If they don’t, find another hotel. If your evacuation routes include stopping points or destinations with friends or relatives, check with them to see if they will allow you to bring Lassie with you.

Note that Red Cross and other shelters that may be available in a disaster usually don’t take pets.

You should practice your evacuation plan with your family a few times a year to be sure that everyone knows the plan and to work out errors or omissions that you may have made preparing it.  Bring Scruffy along in these practice sessions.  Put him in a carrier if you have them for him.  Take him to the family meeting spot so that he gets familiar with it.  And monitor his well-being as you do this, to correct and perfect the plan as much as you can.

The announcement of anticipated emergency situations sometimes happen with enough time to act.  During that time, decide on a particular route to a particular destination.  Call ahead to make reservations, let people know you are coming, and double check that Fifi will be welcome.  If she is an outdoor cat or dog, keep her in the house once you hear that an emergency is coming so that you won’t have to delay your departure as you look for her.

Patch’s Long-Term Survival

After the disaster, as you settle in to a long-term survival situation, you will need to be able to continue to care for Patch.  The disaster may alter her disposition, making her defensive or aggressive even if she never was before.  Prepare for her change of mood as well as you can.  Keep her favorite toys with her if you have the space.  If she is an outdoor pet, do your best to get her out as much as seems beneficial to her.

Even if Boots is ordinarily an outdoor pet, keep him with you.  He may become disoriented after some types of disaster.  There may be hazards on or near the ground, such as sharp objects, chemicals and debris.  Don’t let him wander.

And, of course, long before any disaster, when you are gathering your long-term supplies, stock up on the things you’ll need for Socks.  Food, water and bowls are necessary.  Don’t forget flea and tick treatments, heartworm medicine, ear cleaner, and any other products you use for Socks’ well-being.

I know you love your Cinnamon Doggie and want to take care of him.  Not just for his benefit but for the benefit of your whole family.  During a traumatic time, you will want your ever-loving pet with you.  So use some foresight in your preparedness plan to be sure Cinnamon Dog stays well.

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Does Everyone In Your Family Have A Whistle?

paracord-braceletThere is a child’s toy that can save your life.  Does everyone in your family have one?

Does everyone have a whistle?

Whistles are cheap, easy to carry and easy to find. You can carry one on your keychain, around your neck, or on a paracord bracelet. You should have one in your bug-out bag, your car and the prep area of your home.  But that’s not really enough.  Really, you should carry one on you all the time.

The sound of a whistle can carry further than your voice and with much less wind power and effort.  Especially if you are ever injured, the energy required to blow a whistle for a long period of time is much less than the effort required to scream.  Your wind will last longer than your voice.

A humble, little whistle can save your life . . .

  • if you are buried in rubble after a tornado or earthquake
  • if you are being followed at night by a bad guy or
  • if lost in an isolated place.

Whistles don’t need batteries, so they will work when your cell phone won’t.  Whistles don’t take a lot of skill to operate, so even a small child can use one.  They are so lightweight and easy to carry that you will never be tempted to leave it behind.

And they don’t just alert good guys that you are in trouble and need their help.  They also alert bad guys to the fact that you are ready to fight back and call for help.  Someone is about to grab you or your purse?  Blow a whistle and they’ll flee.

If you don’t have a whistle, you should get one now.  And there’s an easy way to get one in a three-in-one preparedness tool.  This gizmo has a whistle, a fire starter and 80′ of paracord.  It’s called a FireKable and you can get one free — you just pay for postage.  But it’s only available free for a short time, so if you want one, you should get it now.

Click on FireKable to get yours free.

Does everyone in your family have a whistle?  What other safety tools do you carry every day?  Let us know below in the comments. (Or just let us know what else you are thinking.)

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Tons of Uses for Paracord

paracord-braceletWhen you are camping or hiking, or certainly if you are ever in an emergency situation in which you are fighting for your survival, you will need to make do with what you’ve got.  So you always need to be sure that you have versatile, adaptable tools with you.  One of the most versatile — and therefore most helpful — tools you can have on hand is paracord.

Paracord, or parachute cord, is a nylon rope that was developed during World War II for use as suspension lines for parachutes.  It’s lightweight, but strong.  In fact, 550 cord can hold 550 pounds.  It can be used in dozens, even hundreds of ways.  Whenever you need to tie something up, tie something down, or tie something together, paracord may be your answer.

Paracord comes in different colors, which can be helpful for color coding things or people.  And the color of the paracord will of course be crucial if you are using it for crafts instead of survival.

The real genius of paracord is that you can improvise with it to solve the problem you’ve got.  But just to stimulate your imagination, here are some uses for paracord:

Carrying, Toting, Dragging, Hanging

  • Make a lanyard to carry your keys, whistle, knife, binoculars, or other items around your neck.
  • Tie those same things to your belt.
  • Tie bulky items to your backpack.
  • Tie your food or other items to a tree to keep it off the ground and out of reach of animals
  • Tether your dog or use the paracord as a lead.  You might want to braid it to make it more comfortable to hold in your hand.  It’s not inconceivable to use the same technique on small children, but please be prudent.
  • Hang a cooking pot over a fire.
  • Tie a length around firewood or other items that you need to carry.
  • Tie your equipment or backpack to a length of paracord and lower them down the side of a cliff.
  • Tie your stuff down when a storm is threatening.
  • Hack a backpack by weaving a net and stringing a drawstring around it.
  • Use it as a tow cord.
  • Use it to tie your boat to the dock.
  • Just in general, use paracord to fix anything broken that can be repaired by stitching it up using the inner threads or by lashing it back together again using the inner threads or the entire cord.

Makeshift Shelter and Furniture

  • String paracord between two trees and drape a tarp, emergency blanket or poncho over it.
  • Lash poles together and cover it with a tarp, emergency blanket or poncho as a small makeshift tent.
  • Secure a tent.
  • Weave the paracord into a net and tie it between two trees.  Voila — a hammock!
  • Tie a log between two trees and you’ve got a bench.
  • Make a rope ladder or bridge.
  • String up a clothes line.
  • Replace broken cords on things that use cords — lights with pull strings, pull cords for lawn mowers, chain saws or other types of motors.

Clothing Fixes and Personal Care Uses

  • Use a length of paracord as a makeshift belt or suspenders, or a chin strap for your hat.
  • Use inner threads to sew up tears.  (Don’t forget to bring a needle in your first aid kit.)
  • Replace broken shoe or boot laces.
  • Replace drawstrings in hoodies, sweat pants, and backpacks.
  • Replace a broken zipper pull.
  • Use inner threads as dental floss.
  • Replace a broken watch strap.
  • Use it to tie back your hair.  Paracord comes in many colors so you can match your outfit!

First Aid Uses

  • Use it as a tourniquet.
  • Secure splints to keep a broken limb straight.
  • Use the inner threads as makeshift sutures.
  • Lash two poles together to make a stretcher.
  • Make a sling for a wounded arm or shoulder.

Self-Defense and Personal Safety

  • Create a tripwire around the perimeter of your campsite.  Tie cans or other objects to it to make noise to alert you to someone crossing it.
  • Tie someone to a chair with it.
  • While you’re at it, tie his wrists together if you don’t have handcuffs.
  • If that doesn’t work, create a whip, tying knots at the end of several cords and tying the cords together at the other end.

Hunting and Fishing

  • Use the inner threads for fishing line.
  • Make a snare or trap.
  • Make a fishing net.

Entertainment

  • Create a jump rope.  Tie some sort of small weight to the center so that the rope will swing around.
  • Make a tire swing or tie a flat board to a tree branch to create a swing.
  • Crafty folks can make key fobs, belts, dog collars, necklaces, bracelets and all sorts of things.  If you are bored, just think something up, design a plan for it and create something.

So there are tons of uses for paracord.  And, really, the best approach is just to be creative when you have a problem or difficulty.

Now, when you are carrying a tool with you, it’s always a good idea to use a multi-purpose tool if one exists.  And I’d like to recommend a tool that is a paracord bracelet combined with an emergency whistle and a fire-starter.  As I right this, it’s also free.  You just pay for postage.  It’s called FireKable. Go ahead — have a look!

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Preparedness Essentials: Fire Starters

As part of your emergency preparedness plan, you will need to include fire starters.  To state the obvious, fires produce heat, light and a means to cook food.  All of those things are important in your emergency preparedness plan.

The first thing you should have on hand is a box of waterproof matches.  It’s possible to make your own by covering matches in paraffin and storing them in a watertight container.  I don’t bother to make my own, though.  I purchase them.  There is nothing special to know about using waterproof matches.  Simply strike them on the strike strip as you do for other matches.

You should also have a magnesium fire starter as a back-up.  This tool is made of a block of magnesium with a flint strip and a metal rod.  Use the metal rod to scrape magnesium shavings off onto your kindling.  Then strike the flint strip to make sparks, which will ignite the magnesium.

I recommend having both of these on hand in case you have an issue implementing one of them.  You will also be able to use the matches if you run out of flint in the magnesium fire starter, or use the magnesium fire starter if you run out of matches.

It’s also helpful to have fire starter nuggets on hand.  Nuggets are used instead of kindling as the first, small material that is set on fire when you are building a fire.  They can be used in fireplaces and stoves.  Although not essential for starting a fire, they sure make it easier.

As always, you should be sure that you know how to use your equipment before any emergency takes place.  Try the water proof matches a time or two, just to get familiar.  Using the magnesium fire starter actually takes some skill, so you should definitely practice using it until you can start a fire quickly and easily.

Keep these items in your bug-out bag so that you’ll have them with you when you grab your bag and go.

I can recommend the following products:

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Emergency Preparedness: Becoming Food Self-Sufficient

Vegetable gardenStoring food is a crucial part of your preparedness plan.  You need to think of two time horizons:  the first 72 hours and the long term.  Your bug-out bag should include enough food for three days.  Think of cans or pouches of tuna fish, peanut butter, nuts and dried fruits and other nutrient-dense, non-perishable food.  Most if not all of it should be ready to eat without need of cooking or heating.

Your long-term plan can include one or all of a few different approaches.

One option is MREs or meals ready to eat.  These are the same meals that the military provides to service men and women.  They are pre-packaged meals that are usually packaged with a built-in heating device that allows you to heat the meal without any fire or other equipment.  You can buy them by the box.  The advantage to them is that they provide full meals with a certain amount of variety.  It’s more expensive to buy them this way, but it’s also faster to provide for a few week’s worth of meals.  And the meals themselves require no preparation other than the self-heating mechanism.  They have a long shelf life, usually of five years or so. I can recommend Sure-Pak MRE Meal Case Packs With Flameless Ration Heater-Pack Of 12

Another option is to set a plan to collect food that you can store for an emergency.  Dried food can last indefinitely.  They also make good soups.  I stock up on dried beans, lentils and split peas.  I keep rice and pasta on hand.  I also make sure to have plenty of beef, chicken and vegetable stock, cans of diced tomatoes and cans of vegetables.  Don’t forget salt, pepper and some basic herbs and spices.  With those ingredients, you can make delicious, home-made soup exactly the way you want it.  I keep the fixings for home-made soup rather than buying cans of soup or stew because I like the variety and because I think you get less adulterated food that way.  Dried beans don’t contain chemicals, stabilizers, preservatives or large amounts of salt.

Of course, men and women don’t live by soup alone, so you’ll need to construct a plan to ensure that you have supplies to provide a full menu.

In my opinion, though, the best way to be self-sufficient in your food supply is to garden and preserve your harvest.  Start now.  Growing a garden takes time, so you don’t want to wait until the emergency is on your doorstep before you start growing your carrots.  A garden will give you organic, healthful, GMO-free fruits and vegetables for very little money.  The choice of fruits and vegetables is entirely up to you, so you can get the produce you love.  Gardening will also give you hours of peace and quiet as you work in it.

I will admit that preserving the harvest is a set of skills that I have not yet mastered.  Certainly it takes time, and some equipment.  But it is the road to self-sufficiency so I will be learning what I need to know and doing what I need to do.

Plan to become food self-sufficient.  It will see you through all manner of disasters, especially financial ones.

Are you food self-sufficient?  Share your experiences in the comments.

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