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Monday, July 27, 2009

Keeping Your Valuables Safe, Part 2

Did you read yesterday's article? (http://colorado-preppers.blogspot.com/2009/05/keeping-your-valuables-safe-part-1.html). Did you make your list of items you can't insure but want to hide? Er, keep safe?


Next, let's reduce the risk of being burglarized. When you leave home, whether it's for 10 minutes or 10 days, make it look like you'll be right back.
  • Leave the TV or radio on, louder than usual if possible. We set the TV on one timer, and have the radio go on after the TV shuts off.
  • Close all curtains so anyone watching won't know whether someone's moving around or now.
  • Set a timer for lights. Have your living room light come on and turn off at different times than the kitchen light and the bedroom light. These lights should be seen from the street. To figure out the pattern, someone will have to stake out your house for at least a few days, risking someone seeing their vehicle out in the street.
  • Take your phone off the hook. That way people won't know whether you're home and just not answering your phone, or what.
  • If you'll be gone even one day, don't let your newspapers and mail pile up. Have a neighbor pick them up, or cancel/hold them.
  • Never EVER announce you're leaving on a trip, whether in a blog or in the newspaper (like a honeymoon). That practically invites people to come and shop in your home.
  • Get a sticker or decal that lets the criminal know you're armed and dangerous. Try the NRA - for a small membership fee, you'll get a decent decal. You don't have to keep the membership, if that's not your thing.
  • Install motion detector lights at all entrances. There are some cheap ones that run on solar charges. You might not be home, but the light going on might catch the attention of someone passing by the house.
  • Trim shrubs around the immediate perimeter of your house. Install thorny rose or blackberry bushes, and other prickly plants. Be sure to keep a little area clear for you to escape in case of fire.
  • Check your locks. If you have a flimsy lock, you need to have it replaced with a good solid deadbolt that will take some time to break past.
  • Check your doors. Those with glass panes are a bad idea for two reasons: (1) they allow people to see in, even with curtains, and (2) they can be broken out and a thin arm can easily reach the lock from that broken-out pane. Replace with solid doors and, if possible, cross-bars.
  • Check your windows. Double-pane windows means someone has to break through 2 layers of glass to gain entrance. Caulk around the edges so it will be harder to remove the windows themselves. Ask your local home improvement store for special locks and other ways to prevent people from gaining entrance. DON'T nail the windows shut tho because of the safety problem presented by fires.

Don't advertise what you have in your home. When bringing your newly-purchased guns home, be sure to wrap them in a blanket before lifting from your vehicle. Never brag about what you have because there is always someone listening.

If someone breaks into your home with no knowledge of when you'll be returning, they won't know if they have 10 minutes to look around or 10 days. They'll be working "under the clock". They'll have to check the bathroom and the basement to make sure you aren't home before they can start looking around. They'll miss things that are hidden, and won't bother following around with breaking into even a cheap safe.

Anything you can do to make their job harder will reduce your losses and might even make them decide it isn't worth the chance of getting caught breaking into your home at all.

More tomorrow...

Original: http://colorado-preppers.blogspot.com/2009/05/keeping-your-valuables-safe-part-2.html

20 Ways to Legally Protect Yourself

When it comes down to it, common sense in our society is nearly gone. Today we have lawyers and courts to tell us what is right and what is wrong even if what a normal person would consider wrong is considered right and what is right is considered wrong. It's a sad state of affairs which means you have to work overtime to protect yourself in a manner that the powers that be understand. This means you need to cover your ass legally in any situation that could even possibly arise. Before a handshake would suffice, these days it won't. Here's how to legally take care of yourself:
  1. Get everything in writing. Memory doesn't count and heresay doesn't count either, legally speaking. If it isn't written down, it didn't happen. This means everything from saving receipts to writing up sales agreements when you sell your junker car, to documenting instances of domestic violence. Any negative incident, any transaction, needs to be documented.

  2. Obviously if you buy or sell a house you will get the transaction written out in triplicate (a simple mortgage can entail a three inch stack of paperwork, doublesided!). The same goes if you rent a place to live in or if you rent your place to a tenant. I am working with a client now who fell for a sob story and let a young woman and her children move in to his empty duplex after she promised to pay in week or so. Over a month has gone by and apparently this woman knows the system because she refuses to leave (which is legal) so he has to go through a complex eviction process (which is lengthy and spendy).

  3. Have a Will and keep it updated. Probate is lengthy and expensive and relatives can fight like hyenas over the most minuscule things when the person who was holding the family together dies. Make your death easier on everyone by having a valid, recently updated Will.

  4. Never loan people money. Never borrow money. This includes making loans to friends/family, borrowing money from friends/family, co-signing loans for others, or borrowing from credit cards or a lender for anything except for a home. Once you get entangled with money, you may need a lawyer or financial expert to get you out of it, therefore, don't put yourself in such a situation to begin with!

  5. Keep your documentation up to date. Never let your driver's license, passport, or concealed carry license expire--people get tickets, fines, and even denied entry into their own country when this happens.

  6. Any time you drive a vehicle ensure #1 you are licensed to drive, #2 the car is registered to you or you have written permission from the owner to drive the car, and #3 you have valid car insurance. Not having in place even one of these items can cause you a bundle of legal trouble.

  7. Pick a good spouse. This is kind of a crap shoot because while most people are decent human beings, others can be closet sociopaths and can make your life hell. Should you not pick the best spouse and your married life implodes, again, get everything in writing and follow legal orders to the letter. Parenting plans, marriage dissolution papers, valid pre-nups...you'd be surprised at how many people are dragged through the legal system for years because of a marriage that falls apart. The financial costs can also be staggering.

  8. Stay away from situations that could cause you legal problems. If I'm at a nightclub and people start fighting, I'm out of there. I also stay away from people I know are trouble makers, drug dealers, et al. You are only as good as the people you hang around with and if the people you hang around with are perpetually going to court for domestic violence, DUIs, assault, or worse, stay as far away from them as possible as no good can come from this. If you do happen to get a ticket, pay it immediately. If you have a warrant, clear it up immediate even if it means some time at the local jail. You never want the legal system hanging over your head.

  9. Have a medical power of attorney, legal power of attorney (if necessary), and Living Will. These documents will protect you when you are unable to protect yourself. Note that anyone you elect to have power of attorney for you should be someone you could trust with your life.

  10. Have plenty of insurance, you never know when the worst is going to happen. Car insurance, house insurance, life insurance, health insurance, disability insurance...insurance makes the world go round these days and at the minimum it will keep you from going bankrupt if something horrible happens.

  11. Ensure that your legal, financial, and medical records are both accurate and kept private. It's amazing how one little incorrection in an important record can have a (very negative) ripple affect in your life. You also want these records kept private--they are no one else's business but yours.

  12. Keep your personal information private. I was listening to a talk radio show and the guest speaker was saying how people will post their driver's licenses online just to show how funny their picture looks. The picture may be funny but what an identity thief can do with the information on the license (full name, address, birth date, and occasionally social security number) is not so funny.

  13. Shred everything. Unless the information on a piece of paper is advertising or the like, it gets shredded in my office. This goes for papers in my home as well. I never want my personal information waiting in the garbage can for an identity thief to pick up and use to steal my identity and I certainly wouldn't want to compromise my client's information either. Get a quality cross-cut shredder and use it religiously.

  14. If you are ever picked up for questioning by the police, and you are asked to provide anything but the most basic information, ask for a lawyer and QUIT TALKING. People seem to forget the "everything you say can and will be used against you" part of the Miranda Rights and even if you haven't been arrested and Mirandized, what you say still can be used against you. If in doubt, ask for a lawyer.

  15. Protect your stuff. This means having insurance (either homeowner's or renter's insurance), securing your stuff (with a good home security system), and making your stuff easy to identify should it be stolen (keep documentation for expensive items, engrave identifying marks on lower cost items and install RFID chips on very expensive items).

  16. Be careful what you say, write, text, email, or post to your website. If I had a quarter for every time people incriminated themselves with what they emailed to their enemies, what they texted about others, the nude pictures that they posted online, etc. I would be wealthy. Everything you send into the public domain becomes totally out of your control and can show up years later in a court case against YOU so be careful!

  17. Be aware of the trail you leave. Many criminals are either found, tripped up, or convicted because of the paper trail they leave. They didn't stop to think that every cell phone call is recorded in detail, that the things they buy with their customer loyalty card at the supermarket can be traced, that every time they use their credit/debit card they leave a record, that their cell phone pings local towers whether the phone is in use or not, that every item they looked up online was duly recorded on their hard drive, and that their EZPass for toll roads creates a perfect time stamp of their every movement.

  18. Know that more and more government systems are able to be cross-referenced. If you cheat on your taxes, the IRS can use your bank records to figure this out. If you are in this country illegally and apply for an ITIN number, the Department of Homeland Security will be able to compare records and figure this out. Note that FUSION Centers were created just to collate all of your info to make sure it jives.

  19. Keep control of yourself at all times. Committing assault, stalking, embezzlement, et al. are clear signs of a weak person. You must be strong enough to control your actions at all times no matter how hard others are trying to push your buttons or how tempting a situation is that you KNOW can not turn out well. Rise above the situation and let things pass. Never let yourself react in a way that will create legal problems for you far into your future. Note that when defending yourself in a life or death situation, control goes out the window and your one goal is to survive the situation and sort the legal mess out later.

  20. Don't become a target. While this will never happen to most people, some people become targets for whatever reason. Live a low profile life, be congenial and likable but not to open with personal information, don't make enemies if at all possible, and if your work/personal life makes you a target take precautions to protect yourself. Take care when you travel to foreign countries. There are plenty of people in prisons who have been framed or set up. There are tourists who were obliviously obvious targets and are now waiting for someone to pay their ransom. There are people with a lot of money and much less common sense who set themselves up for burglary, robbery, and other schemes meant to separate them from their cash.

The bottom line is that you, as stated in previous posts, are responsible for you. It is a legal jungle out there so take common sense precautions to help yourself out.

Original; http://codenameinsight.blogspot.com/2009/06/20-ways-to-legally-protect-yourself.html

Where to Access Services

I was finishing up my last blog post when a friend called and needed help with his elderly mother in law who was recently widowed. A sister-in-law that the father was also supporting now needs help too because the main breadwinner for this family is no longer around to provide the finances that kept this family afloat. While I strictly advocate against relying on Welfare and social services, when a crisis happens, I strongly advocate FOR getting any benefits you can qualify for in order to give yourself a bit of time to collect up yourself and put yourself back on track. Here were my suggestions:
  • Get thee to the local welfare office and sign up for anything you qualify for (food stamps, housing, medical benefits, cash assistance, etc).
  • For older people or those with disabilities, check with Medicare and see if you qualify.
  • Get a list of the local food banks, Salvation Army, and free meal providers in your community. You never know when you will have more month left than food.
  • For older people, check with the local senior services agency. This office usually has lots of information on resources that are available for seniors in the community (free meals on wheels, job re-training, home care, etc).
  • If you have kids, sign them up for free or reduced lunch programs (which are also usually offered in the summer).
  • For legal issues, contact the closest legal aid office (these go by various names so Google free legal services and your closest city).
  • Check out the local community resource center (and/or campus resource center if you are a student). Our local community resource center provides a huge range of services--everything from paying for utilities, to help with eviction notices, to job training.
  • If anyone in the family has served any time at all in the military or reserves, contact the local Veteran's service center and see what programs you qualify for.


  • Make a list of all of the free things in the community you can think of (the library, free night at the museum or art gallery, free outdoor movies in the summer, free outdoor concerts, etc). If you are in a depressing situation, putting a little free fun back in your life is a good thing.
  • Round up some cash. In the midst of trauma it is hard to part with things but if necessary, cash to survive the current situation is much more important than stuff. Have a garage sale, list stuff for sale on Craigslist, etc. then put the money that you earn away for an emergency. Some people like to spend when they are sad or depressed but obviously if you are in dire straits, the money can be used for better things than more consumer junk.
  • Downsize immediately. A cell phone may be necessary but the $100 plan probably isn't. Get a basic plan for around $30 a month. Cut cable, cancel magazines...basically if it isn't a necessity then it isn't necessary, at least until you get back on your feet.
  • Get a job. Anything will do if you are unemployed. While you are waiting to find a job, volunteer somewhere in order to develop contacts and job skills.
  • Check with the local community college. Some colleges have free or very inexpensive job training courses for those who are unemployed or low income. Note that this isn't the time to take out a huge student loan and go back to school. You're trying to save the money that you don't have not put yourself deeper in debt.

That was about all I had at the moment. The main point was to stop, review your resources, find out what other resources you can access as quickly as possible, then move forward with earning money, cutting spending, and trying to get your life back together.

Original: http://codenameinsight.blogspot.com/2009/07/where-to-access-services.html

Edible Plants

The forests are full of edible items. I wouldn't dare to give you information about this. There are a lot of books on the market that have pictures. This is a MUST to invest in if there's a possibility of needing to eat while out in the wild.

Do keep in mind, though:
  • Dandelion leaves, before the plant flowers, are good eaten raw or steamed

  • Wild Chives, good eaten raw

  • Blueberries, and many other berries

  • Rose-hips (high in vitamin C)

  • Mushrooms - a book is MUST - too many edible mushrooms have toxic look-a-likes

  • Spruce and fern needles are good for a tea

Get a book for your area. You could eat like a gourmet in the bush!

Original: http://colorado-preppers.blogspot.com/2009/06/edible-plants.html

Gear Review: Fire Starters

Author: Mathiasj

Making a fire is the most important thing in a survival situation. It can provide you with warmth, food, and a huge moral booster. Fire is also useful when camping and for fellowship of friends and family. There are many different ways to start a fire and knowing different ways to start a fire is important whether you're in a survival situation or not. A fire needs 3 elements to burn (fire triangle) heat, fuel, and oxygen. Sufficient heat is needed to start any fire, and the proper fuel to oxygen ratio is needed to keep a fire going.

First off is the trusty lighter or matches. Every prepper should have a few packs of quality Bic lighters put back, and a few thousand matches. This is the easiest way to start a fire. When starting any fire you will need something to burn to get the wood going. Newspaper is good to use to start a fire, and those free want ad papers at gas stations are great to have on hand. You want to stay away from using fuels to light a fire, especially if you plan on cooking over the fire. You run the risk of getting those chemicals on your food.

The next best thing to a lighter or matches is a firesteel. A firesteel should be part of every preppers survival kit. Whether it's your get home bag, everyday carry, bug out bag, or camping supplies; a firesteel is invaluable. If you're lighter runs out, or your matches get wet, your fire steel is your last line of defense so to speak. A firesteel works by moving a metal blade across a magnesium alloy to create sparks that can get up to 5,500°F. Those hot sparks can be thrown on a number of different types of tinder to start a flame that will light your fire. Firesteels can even be used in the rain or snow and will last for around 12,000 strikes.

Here are some ideas for tinder:
-Vaseline Soaked Cotton Balls
-Hand Sanitizer Soaked Cotton Balls
-Dryer Lint
-Pine Needles
-Dried Grass
-Unraveled twine

There are a lot of ways to start fires in the wilderness if you don't have a lighter or firesteel. I will do a part 2 to this post detailing some ways to start a fire without them. This post is to show that you need to have these things on hand so you don't have to rub sticks together to try to keep yourself warm at night. A firesteel can fit in your pocket and is a crucial part of your everyday carry.

Discuss this at the KPN Forum

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