Archive for : August, 2014

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8 Common Prepping Mistakes

Avoiding Common Preparedness Mistakes

 

Starting out with preparedness need not be complex or expensive.  It takes a little organization and planning.  Unfortunately, too many people think that they need to spend a truckload of cash to buy all the latest gear and shelves filled with dehydrated and canned food.  If you do all your pre-planning before you start you can use your time, money and storage space to make the best of your preparations.

  1. Overspending on gear.  This is common.  So much so that I’m guilty of it from time to time as well.  The variety of available gear related to the many areas of survival and preparedness is staggering.  Unfortunately there is a majority of available products which are too cheap to be reliable.  Cheap in this case means poor quality junk which is not dependable.  I’d recommend spending the least you can for the best quality you can afford.  Don’t buy for the sake of buying, buy with purpose and buy quality.
  2. Improper food storage.  If you are going to start storing food, learn how to do it.  Food can spoil if not properly stored.  Factors such as moisture, heat, cold, pests, oxygen, etc.  Make sure the food you store is properly packaged for the desired duration to maintain freshness and to be edible when needed.
  3. Not storing food you already eat.  If quinoa isn’t something you eat now, then why do you think you’re going to eat it during a crisis?  Store what you eat so you can eat what you store.  Radical changes in diet can cause digestive problems; not something you want when you’re without power or running water.  Streamline your non-perishable pantry and stock up on that.
  4. Not rotating your stored food. You’re better off slowly stocking up the non-perishables you already eat than investing in a pile of canned goods with the same expiration date.  If you slowly add to your stock, and rotate foods in and out, you’ll always have fresh stock.  As you add, take a permanent marker and write the purchase & expiry dates on the package and put it at the back and move the older stuff to the front.  That way you’re less likely to waste.
  5. Not planning for likely scenarios.  There are people out there who plan for a massive event, like societal collapse, but haven’t prepared for something which is far more likely to occur.  Seasonal weather (like floods, storms, freezes, droughts) are far more likely to happen that something global.  If you can’t handle a black-out for 12 hours, how can you expect to handle the end of the world?
  6. Never doing a dry run.  How do you get to Carnegie Hall?  Practice, practice, practice.  Why does the military train, train, train?  So that when they get to doing the “real thing” it’s well rehearsed and when things go sideways, they have practiced enough of their “actions on” that they can deal with most eventualities.  The same applies to preparations.  Practice breeds confidence.  Confidence dispels fear and panic.  Make a plan and practice it until you’re comfortable with it.
  7. Not acquiring skills or taking training.  I would bet on a well-trained person over a well-equipped person any day.  Training trumps gear.  Gear can break, malfunction, jam, get lost, or otherwise fail you.  It also takes up space and weighs.  Knowledge weighs nothings.  Knowledge and training, backed by experience, enables flexibility and improvisation in a time a crisis.  It also expands your perspective and gives you the ability to manage a situation in different ways.  Invest in quality training.  Then gear up accordingly.  Being prepared means more than just having stuff.  Learn and develop new skills to become more self-sufficient.
  8. Believing that weapons alone are the end-game.  People who believe that a closet full of guns and ammo is answer to disaster preparedness are wrong.  Period.  The reason is two-fold.  First, preparedness and survival depend on knowledge and skills.  There are so many varied tasks required to make it through an even that you can’t just rob or shoot your way through it.  It’s hard to steal skills from someone, right?  Second, simply owning a gun does not make you a Hollywood Special Forces commando.  You need training.  Lots of training to be effective.  Otherwise your shiny new tricked-out AR will be someone else’s new AR, because they’re better than you are.  And there will always be someone better than you.

Keep the above list in mind.  By avoiding mistakes in the beginning, you give yourself the opportunity to build upon a firm foundation.  Make contact with people.  Learn from one another.  Practice skills.  Invest in quality training and equipment and practice your plans.  Practice builds confidence.  Confidence keeps fear in check.

 

Be well,

 

Ghost

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Your Vehicle Emergency Kit

Be Prepared on the Roads.

By: Ghost – August 14, 2014

Owning a car and driving around is a fact of life for many people.  Either commuting to and from work, driving to the mall to run errands, road trips, meetings, and the usual family commitments, we spend a great deal of time in our cars.  Rushing around, we often take our vehicles for granted.  We just expect them to turn on in the morning when we turn the key, even if it’s freezing outside, and to get us to where we need to go with little more than the occasional fill-up.  The truth is we never know when something in that complex machine is going to break and we will be left somewhere alone and in a situation without any support.

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Enter the emergency kit for our vehicle.  There are a few things you can do to mitigate the risk of a breakdown and preparing yourself for self-sufficiency when stranded in your vehicle.

 

❖    First off, maintain your vehicle.  Take your vehicle for regular maintenance, oil changes, diagnose and repair problems as they happen so that your car is in top shape whenever you head out on the road.

❖    Second, you want to keep at least a half-take of gas at all times, with a small can (approved for trunk storage) of fuel in the trunk.  If you’re uncomfortable with fuel in the trunk, keep an empty can at least.

❖    Third, put together an emergency kit appropriate for your vehicle and season you’re in so that you can survive a night in your car if stranded.

Finally, use common sense.   Stay informed about driving conditions, communicate routes with trusted people in case something happens and postpone trips if hazardous.

 

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Road conditions can go from clear to treacherous very quickly and being caught unawares can put you at risk, especially if you’re on a lightly-travelled route.  Whenever you leave your home, hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

What You Should Carry in Your Car

 

Like any other preparations, tailoring the items you will cary should be measured agai
nst your needs, climate and road conditions, as well as the size of your car and possible amount of passengers you may be traveling with.  I also like to prepare to render assistance to those I may find in need on the side of the road, so I pack a few extra things as well

 

Lets go over Here is a list of what I recommend you have in your bag:

    • A short, full-tang knife and/or multi-tool
    • Jumper cables
    • Full-sized spare tire (and can of fix-a-flat tire repair)
    • adequate jack (and a piece of wood for a base)
    • Tow strap (2″ x 24′)
    • Bottles of Water
    • Method of water purification (tabs or filter – Aquatabs? LifeStraw?)
    • Small roll of duct tape
    • Can of WD-40
    • 25+ feet of 550lb paracord
    • Heavy-duty garbage bags
    • Small flashlight (reliable w/ extra batteries if required)
    • 2-4 chem-light glow sticks and/or road flares (red/white, or blue/amber if winter)
    • A few food sources (energy bars, GORP, ramen noodles, soup packets, granola bars,etc.)
    • Small vehicle tool kit (pliers, wrench, screwdrivers, hammer, shovel)
    • Bag of gravel or kitty litter (for traction in snow or mud)
    • Selected medications (Tylenol, Gravol, Caffeine, Ventalin?)
    • Warm blanket
    • Small stash of cash and change (including tokens or tickets for public transit)
    • Spare set of keys (for vehicle and house)
    • Spare charger or battery for your cell phone (ready to go in the bag at all times)

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    • Change of clothes appropriate for the possible weather, terrain and duration for your trip home. (This is HUGELY important.  You should keep tough, climate appropriate clothes and footwear to change into if you have to make the trek home.  You don’t want to not make it because of injury due to terrain or death from exposure).
    • Extra socks (preferably wool)
    • Map (with primary, secondary and tertiary routes marked) and compass.
    • Small pad of paper, black permanent marker, pen and pencils (mechanical and plain).
    • A lighter (simple, Bic) & candles in a metal holder
    • Personal Care items (a few tampons/pads, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, travel toothbrush & toothpaste, metal cup for boiling water, etc.)
    • First Aid Kit: (a few gauze pads, band-aids, nitrile gloves, CPR mask, Quik-Clot, N95 mask, EMT shears, extra maxi pads for pressure dressings, splint material, triangular bandage )
    • Work gloves
    • Fire extinguisher
    • Spare napkins, toilet paper, kleenex.

 

I would suggest this as a well-rounded minimum.  Also, be prepared to leave a lot of things behind.  If the situation is dire enough, you may have to leave your vehicle at work or on the way home.  Be sure to regularly rotate the food and water in your Bag, check expiry dates on any medications, check batteries and refill consumables as necessary.  Change or add items as required, according to changing seasons or approaching weather.  Being aware helps you to be prepared.

 

If caught in a storm, you may be forced to stay in your vehicle if it’s bad enough on the roads, so if you add an extra sweater and socks, you will have more insulation to keep you warm.  A candle lit in your car through the night (especially one of those ’36-hour’ 3-wick candles) can keep you alive until help arrives. Also, stay in your car!  Most people who are injured or killed on the roadside are struck by passing cars. Your vehicle will protect you. It’s a steel cage which will provide protection from the elements and on-coming traffic.

 

Another thing you may want to consider is to purchase a membership to CAA/AAA because they can assist you should your vehicle break down.  They can give you a boost, bring a spare tank of fuel, unlock your car if you lock yourself out, and provide a tow to a mechanic.  It comes in handy.  They also provide other benefits such as maps, trip planning, insurance and travel guides; not to mention discounts on all kinds of things.  My membership has helped me out many times.  I think it’s well worth it.

 

Having your Vehicle Kit stocked and in place  promotes confidence and reduces fear in the face of a crisis.  If you know what you have and how to use it when under stress you will be able to stay calm and deal with the situation.

 

Be prepared, be ready, be free from fear.

Be well,

Ghost

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Basic Survival Priorities

Starting to Cover Your Bases.

 

By: Ghost – August 13, 2014

 

I am often engaged in conversation about Survival or Preparedness by people who want to learn, but have no idea where to start.  I am often asked; “How much food should I stockpile?”, or “Is it best to just buy the most expensive ‘whatever’ and I’ll be okay?”. I help out by providing the best advice I can and passing on some resources to start them on their way.  My favorite is when I encounter someone who says something like “What you’re talking about is such a waste of time and money.  I live downtown, I’ve got all I need.”.  Those people always pop back into my mind when I’m comfortable while the rest of the city looks like this:

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Or this:

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How are you supposed to keep on living when you have no power, no access to running water, no stores to shop for food in, and no way to cook it even if you did?  That’s where having a few emergency preparations in place can make dealing with a potentially dangerous situation a lot more manageable.  In Winter 2013 I was exposed to the full force of the ice storms brought on by the Arctic Vortex at the time.

My family and I did just fine.  We had food, fuel, shelter, heat, light…everything we needed…except Internet and TV.  The kids grumbled, but less gaming was good for them for two days.  Some of our friends did not.  They spent Christmas in the cold and dark.  It was an affirming event for me:  I had prepared in advance and my family was okay.  I’d done well.  Any worry or fear I had previously had from the unknown were eased.

 

So, what should you start with?  Let’s discuss some of the building blocks of emergency preparedness and survival.

 

***DISCLAIMER:  This is an introductory guide, not the end-all, be-all of preparedness planning.  This should give you a foundation to build upon.  Everyone’s situations, geography, budget, abilities, climate and knowledge are vastly different.  Do what you can and aim to constantly learn, improve and grow.  We have all been beginners at some point, and we should all help one another become as self-sufficient as possible.  That way when disaster does strike, strength in numbers can prevail.  Thanks.***

 

1)  Recognize the Rule of Threes:  These are general guidelines:

 

*You can survive about 3 seconds without blood flow to the brain;

*You can survive about 3 minutes without air;

*You can survive about 3 hours without shelter (in extreme conditions);

*You can survive about 3 days without water, and;

*You can survive about 3 weeks without food.

 

This order of priority, within the context of your particular circumstances or environment should determine the priorities you set in beginning to establish some emergency preparations for yourself.  For most people, only minor preparations would be needed to get something basic in place.  If you live in an apartment or condo, you may have to modify your plan to fit your dwelling.  Before you even start to plan, think about what level or scale of disaster you want to prepare for.

 

*1 – Minor (Local area, up to a few days)

*2 – Minor (Regional, 4-15 days)

*3 – Major (National – 15-60 days)

*4 – Catastrophic (Global, 60+ days)

 

You can also do some research on the types of emergencies your area is more prone to (i.e. floods, storms, earthquakes, etc.).  You can ask your local fire department or local emergency management office for more details on this.

 

2)  Put Your Priorities in Order of Importance:  Which are your weakest points?

Go over the following categories and, with the above chart of the Rule of Threes in mind, categorize which priories should be in which order.

 

*Shelter  (Keeping you protected from the elements, security from animals/people)

*Fire  (Heat, cooking, psychological boost)

*Water  (Hydration, sanitation, cooking)

*Food  (For hunger, barter)

*Medical, Sanitation & First Aid (Dealing with medical issues and injuries when help is not available)

*Power, light and back-ups  (Extra batteries, light, generators, etc)

*Communications  (Receiving information and updates, communicating outwards)

*Security  (Protection from wildlife and hostile people)

 

 

3)  Make a Plan.  Make it Happen:  Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance!

 

*Establish your priorities.  (Taking into account all factors)

*Take stock of your available assets.  Create lists of what you have and what you need.

*Dedicate supplies or equipment in an easily accessible place to be staged for immediate use should it be needed.

*Practice, Evaluate, Assess, Modify.  Repeat until you’re familiar and confident.

*Practice builds skill and confidence.  Confidence and skill help control fear and stave off panic.  This
is of key importance.

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(An example of a home emergency preparedness kit, ready to be used.)

 

What You Should Have in Your Home Emergency Preparedness Kit

There are a few things that will help you out.  If you camp/hike then you should have a lot of things you can use.  Sleeping bags, stoves, flashlights, etc.  Also, many of the items you have around your home already will do double-duty in an emergency.  The one thing you should have, however, is some dedicated supplies for each member of your family or group to ensure everyone is adequately able to make it through the event.

 

  Wondering what?  Here is a list of some things I recommend you have in your kit:

 

  • A short, full-tang knife and/or multi-tool
  • Bottled Water (1 gallon – or 3.75 litres – per person, per day)
  • Method of water purification (tabs or filter)
  • Tools (for repairs, digging, clearing debris, snow, ice, run-off, branches, turning off gas, water)
  • Heavy-duty garbage bags (they double as a toilet bowl when paired with a 5-gal pail)
  • A few manual, hand appliances (coffee grinder, can opener, coffee maker)
  • Camp stove and fuel (or charcoal if you will use your bbq)
  • Flashlight for every member of your group (reliable w/ extra batteries if required)
  • Bottle of unscented bleach and some hand sanitizer.
  • Food & can opener (non-perishable, dried goods, energy bars, jerky, hard cheese, oatmeal, canned fish, meat and vegetables, soups, etc)
  • Back-up battery pack and solar panel for re-charge during daylight hours
  • Portable battery or wind-up powered radio (with plugs to charge cell phones)
  • Selected medications (Additional prescriptions, Advil, Tylenol, Gravol, Caffeine?)
  • Small stash of cash and change (including tokens or tickets for public transit)
  • Spare set of keys (for vehicle and house)
  • Spare charger or battery for your cell phone (ready to go in the bag at all times)
  • Sleeping bags or extra wool blankets  (for each member of your group)
  • Map (with primary, secondary and tertiary routes marked) and compass.
  • Pad of paper, black permanent marker, pen and pencil.
  • A lighter (simple, Bic), matches & several candles
  • Personal Care items (a few tampons/pads, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, travel toothbrush & toothpaste, etc.)
  • Non-electric games for morale.  Books, magazines, art supplies, etc.
  • Sturdy boots, work gloves and tools for keeping the area around your home clear from snow, ice, fallen branches, debris, etc..
  • First Aid Kit: (a few gauze pads, band-aids, nitrile gloves, CPR mask, Quik-Clot, N95 mask, EMT shears, extra ma
  • Weapon for home defense (baton, pepper spray, firearm – personal choice and only IF LEGAL! to do so.)

xi-pads for pressure dressings, )A dedicated container or place in your home to organize and dedicate to preparedness supplies.  These can and should be accessed for non-emergencies, just be

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sure to rotate and replenish your supplies so you don’t run out.  (Garbage pail, plastic tote, duffel bag, etc…)

I believe the list above is a solid foundation to build upon.  Be sure to regularly rotate the food and water in your Kit, check expiry dates on any medications, check batteries and refill consumables as necessary.  Change or add items as required, according to changing seasons or approaching weather.  Read, research and learn as much as you can.  If you haven’t yet, take a first aid course.  Being aware helps you to be prepared.

In closing, many people are afraid of what may happen.  Be prepared, be ready, be free from fear.  Get a kit, make a plan, stay informed, be prepared, don’t be afraid.

 

Be well,

Ghost

 

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The G.H.B. (Get Home Bag)

Why You Should Consider Assembling One

By: Ghost – August 6, 2014

 

A lot of time is spent on preparing for emergencies with focus on being at home when it occurs.  The fact is that most people work 40-plus hours a week and chances are when some emergency strikes, you’ll be at work.

Enter the G.H.B. (or Get Home Bag).  This is another version of the “grab and go” bag or “bug out bag”.  However, the aim of this bag is to get you from your place of work to your home or pre-established safe zone.

What You Should Consider Packing

Keep your bag in your desk or some other place safe.  It must be rapidly accessible and

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should attract no attention from a boss, co-worker or other passer-by.  I would recommend something appropriate for your workplace.  (i.e. if you wo
rk in an office setting, people might notice your BlackHawk tactical 3-Day assault pack in camo, whereas a simple messenger bag or plain knapsack would be commonplace.) Your GHB can also double as a mini personal-support kit at work when you need it.  There are many times when I need something from my GHB at work and it saves my butt.  Wondering what?  Here is a list of what I recommend you have in your bag:

  • A short, full-tang knife and/or multi-tool
  • Bottle of Water (or an empty bottle you can quickly fill)
  • STURDY footwear (to support you on the hike home)
  • Method of water purification (tabs or filter – Aquatabs? LifeStraw?)
  • Small roll of duct tape
  • 25+ feet of 550lb paracord
  • Heavy-duty garbage bag
  • Small flashlight (reliable w/ extra batteries if required
  • 2-4 chem-light glow sticks (red/white, or blue/amber if winter
  •  A few food sources (energy bars, GORP, granola bars,etc.)
  •  Sewing kit (small, travel-sized)
  • Selected medications (Additional prescriptions, Advil, Tylenol, Gravol, Caffeine?)
  •  Small pry bar
  • Small stash of cash and change (including tokens or tickets for public transit)
  •   Spare set of keys (for vehicle and house)
  • Spare charger or battery for your cell phone (ready to go in the bag at all times)
  • Sturdy, rugged footwear
  •    Change of clothes appropriate for the possible weather, terrain and duration for your trip home. (This is HUGELY important). You should keep tough, climate appropriate clothes and footwear to change into if you have to make the trek home.  You don’t want to not make it because of injury due to terrain or death from exposure).
  • Extra socks (preferably wool)
  • Map (with primary, secondary and tertiary routes marked) and compass.
  • Small pad of paper, black permanent marker, pen and pencil.
  • A lighter (simple, Bic) & candle
  •  Personal Care items (a few tampons/pads, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, travel toothbrush & toothpaste, etc.)
  • First Aid Kit: (a few gauze pads, band-aids, nitrile gloves, CPR mask, Quik-Clot, N95 mask, EMT shears, extra maxi pads for pressure dressings, )
  •  Weapon (baton, pepperspray, firearm – personal choice and only IF LEGAL! to do so.  I’d sooner recommend taking some self-defense training.)

 

 

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This is a great foundation to start with.  Also, be prepared to leave a lot of things behind.  If the situation is dire enough, you may have to leave your vehicle at work or on the way home.  Be sure to regularly rotate the food and water in your Bag, check expiry dates on any medications, check batteries and refill consumables as necessary.  Change or add items as required, according to changing seasons or approaching weather.  Being aware helps you to be prepared.

 

If your family needs you but the way is impassable by car, you may have to get there on foot.  On a less-serious note, you may be forced to stay overn
ight in a hotel or even in the office if it’s bad enough on the roads, so if you add a change of underwear, spare shirt, pants, extra sweater and socks, you could be back at work and be none the worse for wear.  The good thing about it is your GHB resides at your work, so it’s an out of the way fixture but always there if you need it.  Having your GHB in place at work promotes confidence and

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reduces fear in the face of a crisis.  If you know the contents of your GHB inside and out and are proficient in their uses, you will be able to better handle a crisis thank those around you.  Your piece of mind will quell fear and panic, allowing you clear thought and a better chance of making it home safely to your family.  Be prepared, be ready, be free from fear.

Be well,

Ghost.

 

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