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Friday, January 15, 2010

COA Analysis of Common Survival Strategies, by JIR

Having spent a lot of years on military planning staffs, I can't help war-gaming scenarios. In short (as you know well) Course of Action (COA) development is a big part of Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB) and is a fairly reliable way of looking at possibilities and choosing likely sequels, given scenarios. In effect, a way of war-gaming out the future. There are a number of horror scenarios that seem to me to be fairly probable and they keep going around and around in my head as I try to sequence them and assign probabilities to each one. I am haunted by the possible future, an occupational hazard for a professional planner. I sincerely hope our civilization outlives me because it's failure could be truly horrible.
I agree completely with you on relocation to safer areas and stocking a remote retreat in the hinter-boonies. That's the optimum solution and in worst case situations, it's really the only solution likely to work long term. Any of your readers stuck in less than optimum situations are going to make a valiant effort to survive, but their odds are not as good. I am one of these folks. I worry about the golden hoard more than anything else. I would like to pass on some thoughts on the subject of what the unwashed masses will be doing after TEOTWAWKI. I am only guessing, but my guesses are made using history as a template. If anyone disagrees with my analysis, I would love to hear about it.
What about those totally unprepared? What are they going to do? There are many survival strategies open to the unwashed masses other than sitting down and starving to death. We all need to compare our own plans with these other strategies because I guarantee some of these strategies will be used by the teeming masses. When the power grid drops and the food shipments end, the average citizen is going to get a huge shot of reality. Guessing what they are going to do WTSHTF is central to all other survival planning, especially in the Eastern US or Europe.
I am talking here about a total collapse situation, not a slow slide decline or regional disruption. You can pick your own favorite cause from an EMP event to a finance system failure. They all cause roughly the same sequence of events. The results of any catastrophic collapse could easily be worse than any fiction you have ever read. The worst case scenarios all result in disruption of services and quick spiral into anarchy, but leave most of the population alive and hungry. This is the stuff of nightmares.
To recap our unprecedented bad situation: The vast majority of people live in urban or suburban areas near large population centers. They are poorly prepared for any emergency and completely unable to live self sufficiently. The food production systems that currently supply their food are fragile and subject to catastrophic failure. Most people's very lives depend on a fragile triad made up of the transportation network, power grid and finance system. All three of these systems depend on the other two and they are all three unbelievably fragile. (There are many dependencies, but I see these as the three key points of failure.)
Most people currently live shoulder to shoulder in unthinkable crowding. Once the triad of services breaks down, the vast majority of people will suddenly be living on a very limited amount of capital in the form of the tiny amount of consumables on hand in each city. Once the Evian is gone and the toilets don't work, they will have no way to get drinking water or even dispose of their own sewage. They are literally less than a week away from serious acute hunger.
This situation will not get better unless the government is able to restore critical systems very quickly. The odds of restoring order get worse the longer the crisis lasts as the teeming masses start migrating and civil order disintegrates. Assuming the government fails, the countryside cannot feed the population of the USA without modern fuel, finance, power and distribution systems in place. Using 19th century techniques (where that is possible), the farmland in the USA cannot begin to feed everyone. (Europe has the same problem). In short, people are living where there will be no resources and farmland (and farmers) will be overtaxed just to support locals. We don't have the capital goods (horses, tack, hand plows, tools, seeds etc ) or skills to go back to old farming methods quickly. The math points to a die-off larger than anything recorded in history. Did I miss any main points?
People are not going to starve to death quietly. They never do unless there is a government to enforce it. Every last one of them is going to try something to survive or even just hang on one more day. Humans are survivors. They are intelligent, ruthless and deadly omnivores. We use the terms "sheeple", or "Joe Six-pack" pretty flippantly, but even the most stupid human is very dangerous and many of the "sheeple" are not stupid or incompetent. They are, in fact, the most dangerous predators on earth. You are much better off surrounded by hungry tigers than hungry humans. On the other hand, these are real people that used to be your neighbors, mothers, fathers, daughters. When you look them in the face it's going to be very hard to pull a trigger.
This is not an all inclusive list. People are going to try all of these concurrently. I expect to see a general sequence of strategy choices, but it's not iron clad. While you would expect it much later in the crisis, you might run into a professional army on day one! The interplay of each strategy with the others is also hard to predict. People are going to try other things too (That I haven't thought of). Local variables will effect how each strategy plays out and what events are likely to occur. The interplay of all these activities is where my analysis breaks down in complexity. You have to evaluate them with local variables, so generalizations can only go so far. I believe people will try all of these strategies. Some of them will work, but most of them will fail. There are only so many resources.
1. Begging/bartering. This is probably the first strategy you will encounter. Begging will go on until the very end. This strategy is open to everyone. It will work better for weak individuals, but ultimately, charity is going to dry up as resources get tighter. The vast majority of people who depend solely on begging will ultimately starve to death. (Unfortunately, most people will beg, barter, steal and kill, in that order. Even a single mother may cut your throat to save her children.)
PLANNING NOTE: In a total meltdown, the numbers will crush you if you let them. You have stored a finite amount of food, but there is an almost infinite number of beggars out there. Can you turn away a family with children who only want a bite to eat? You better think this out carefully and steel yourself for whatever you decide to do. If you give too many of your supplies away you will starve. If you turn everyone away, you may feel really bad. Think about it. How are your wife and kids going to react to begging? Watching a die-off is going to be tragic.
a. Bartering services. This could be prostitution or offering to act as security guard. This is actually a viable strategy for anyone with end-of-the-world useful skills. Find someone (or preferably a community) with food and sell yourself. If you have military training and equipment or specific skills, this could work. I don't expect all the doctors to starve.
b. Bartering goods. Rich people may try to buy basic supplies at scalper's prices. You might get a great deal on a Rolex or Mercedes.
2. Stealing/looting. This is a no-brainer once law enforcement breaks down. Even while there is some order, people are going to steal anything they can get their hands on, even at the risk of being hurt or killed. If we drop into anarchy, expect crowds of hungry people or "professional rioters" to sweep the city streets. As the public-access shops and warehouses begin to empty, crowds may move into residential areas for a while, but I don't expect this to last long. Big crowds will probably disband completely when resources become more scarce or they have to travel further to get to them. A warehouse of food or shopping center near the inner city may support this behavior, but a suburban neighborhood 10 miles away won't. Residential areas within cities may be in serious peril. The closer you are to densely populated areas and/or poor areas, the more peril you face. Once the big flash-crowds disappear or people start to forage in the suburbs,
small groups will splinter off and begin raiding (see item #5 below).
There will also be a lot of solitary (or small groups) burglars and sneak-thieves. If you keep chickens in your yard, watch your neighbors closely. If you plan to go to work and leave your house empty, it may be looted while you are away. Gasoline tanks without locks will be prime targets for night visitors. Suburban gardens are prime targets. This applies to slow-slide declines too.
Beggars can turn into looters quickly if nobody is watching. If nobody answers a door, they may try to break a window. The suburbs may be swamped with beggar/looters. As they get more desperate, looters will get bolder and more dangerous. The further out of town you live the safer you will be from this group. Of course, the more isolated you are, the more vulnerable you are to raiders.
3. Some people will sit tight and wait for things to somehow return to normal. Most people who have food and other resources will try to live on them and wait it out. If they stay in small family groups, they will be easy prey for mobs or raiders. Still, I expect most urbanites will do this until they are almost out of resources...then they will join the beggars and looters. This group will grow smaller every day and swell the numbers of looters.
4. Banding. Almost all people will band together for mutual protection and support. How well this works depends on many factors, but ultimately the only safety anywhere will be provided by numbers. Single survivors will get swallowed up quickly.
a. Banding by family unit. This is the basic family group and will be the the first and most common grouping. These groups are small in size but very cohesive. Most families will quickly band with other families into larger groups. The ones who don't will be easy prey.
b. Banding by geography. Neighborhoods will try to form bands for mutual protection. Neighborhoods will try to do this, but historically, this is often not very effective, especially if the distance between neighbors is large. Sharing of resources within neighborhood bands is spotty and as individuals run low, they tend to leave. Rural neighborhood watches are doomed by small numbers, and urban neighborhood watches are doomed from having too many people.
Populations of small towns will band together to put up road-blocks and keep from being overwhelmed. This is the only way most small communities will be able to survive, even if they are capable of supporting themselves by farming. Unless they band effectively and very quickly, they are doomed to be overrun by refugees or raiders. Even the communities who quickly band together may get soft hearted and let in too many people to support. I think pitiful refugees are more dangerous than raiders. It's a rare American who can watch genuine suffering and not try to help. This is especially dangerous if it looks as though the situation could improve and things go back to normal. If there is hope of getting help from outside the community, most people are inclined to save as many others as possible. I feel that this issue will doom many small communities.
PLANNING CONSIDERATION: If your plans include banding with a farming community, you must take steps immediately to close off the flow of refugees into the area. Convincing others to take steps this drastic will be hard or even impossible, especially early in a crisis. Closing your community and isolating it may very well be impossible. If it is, you are at the mercy of fate and geography. You had better have a plan-b.

c. Banding by profession. Cops, medical workers, emergency workers, soldiers, and perhaps factory workers may band with co-workers. You will especially see this behavior with professional military groups. Beware of military installations in a total breakdown! You have a lot of very young, very scared and highly trained young men with no families there. It might get very dangerous to be near a military town if the government totally disappears. (In a slow slide disaster or regional disaster Army Towns are perhaps the safest places to be, but once the chain of command disappears, watch out.)
d. Banding by religion. This is perhaps the easiest, most effective band to join, since the churches already congregate groups of like-minded people within a small area. Religious bands will probably be the basis for "small community group banding" and are usually the strongest bands possible to form on short notice. All the church groups in an area or a town will likely band together and put on the mantle of "local government". I anticipate local churches forming the backbone of most local governments. They will be equipped with arm bands and represent "legitimate" government when they come to loot your supplies. Joining one of these bands will be a good survival strategy for many people, but in a total collapse, they are very likely to keep as many people alive as possible until they run out of resources and then starve together. Expect to see local polities formed from church groups going to war as resources get scarce. They will go
after both looters and hoarders. Fascism in America will probably arrive carrying a cross.
e. Banding by racial or ethnic group. You will see racially or ethnically pure groups in some regions. This could be very important factor in places like Los Angeles or New York almost immediately and may take precedence over geography or religion. It's an ugly thought, but being the wrong color may be a death sentence some places. (Ironically, I don't expect any serious racial tension in the deep South.)
f. Banding by gang or club affiliation. Not only urban gangs and bikers, but also gun-clubs, country clubs, and survival groups fall into this category. Some clubs will obviously not band effectively in an emergency (like a yacht club for instance), but you can bet the Aryan Brotherhood will cleave together like real brothers. Your survival group, can form a strong group if you have like minds and have clear plans for how to band, where to meet etc.
(PLANNING NOTE: Unfortunately, you are very unlikely to be able to form a survival group large enough to defend yourselves. You may have more success joining your survival group with a local church group or community group or some other band to increase your numbers. The only way you will be able to do that is to store enough food. Plan this out carefully. How big is your optimum band size and how will you feed everyone? Remember, you can use the same tactics other groups will confiscation of warehouses, if your numbers are large enough and you are quick enough. But, If your ultimate size gets too large it will become unwieldy and impossible to control or feed. This is a conundrum you need to give some thought to now.)
Consider this topic well because your group belief system will vary depending on how you form the group and who you let in. A church group will have to use different tactics than a biker club or a neighborhood watch. This will limit or shape your options and set the tone of everything you do. No church group is going to seriously consider cannibalism, for instance.
5. Raiding/Banditry. Raider bands are going to spring up everywhere. Some will start as low level looters and graduate into larger scale violence. Some, however will start out as systematic raiders. There are some very bad perpetrators out there and there will be even more once the prisons empty. In the short term, violence will be very lucrative.
Raiders will take casualties over time. They will also replenish their numbers somewhat, but fortunately these are mostly anti-social types and may have trouble integrating new members. The further you are from them at the start, the safer you will be, but they can hit you anywhere, anytime. I don't see a good solution for this other than sheer numbers or good OPSEC. They won't attack an obviously hard target. and of course, they can't attack what they don't know about. They have to win to stay in business, so they won't attack unless they feel they can win. Distance will spread out the number of groups and allow other survivors to thin their numbers in numerous gun battles. True raiders may not last long, but they are going to be a real problem in the short term.
I expect raiding to take two main forms. The roadside ambush and the home invasion. Home invasions are always dangerous and often brutal. If the raiders attack your home, they will try to take you by surprise and kill every combatant in the house before anyone can react. They will force every more at a very fast pace to prevent you from reacting. They may use some kind of distraction or disguise to gain surprise. Home invasion, carried out with professionalism and gusto is fairly
safe and easier than you would think. Expect to see some of them wearing body armor, dressed in police uniforms and carrying
badges. (Some of them will have professional entry SWAT and military). Failing at a stack entry, they may use CS gas to drive out the occupants. Failing that, they will use fire.
Waylaying travelers on the roads is very easy and safe. Cars are just too vulnerable to gunfire. The roads outside small communities could be very dangerous to travel.
Don't ever underestimate the vile depravity of human beings. Anarchy is the dirtiest word in the English language. Rape and torture may be common. I believe as food gets harder to find, many people will turn to cannibalism to sustain themselves. (I wish this were not true, but historically, it's very common.) I am not advocating cannibalism in any way, but In all fairness, cannibalism can greatly extend a group's supply base. There are a whole lot of people out there and people are made of meat. While easy targets are available, some groups may prosper for some months eating human flesh. It could be a fairly successful strategy for some groups. Beware. History of other collapses warns us that this may be common.
A longer term problem you should watch for is what I call "part time raiders". Historically, most raids have been conducted by young men in one community raiding a nearby community. This phenomenon won't happen overnight in most places but it will probably happen eventually unless somebody forms a central authority within a year or two.
6. Extortion. Outlaw bands will give way to professional armies in some places. Possibly with a core of military trained personnel, a hundred or more killers traveling together can extort more than smaller groups can steal. These groups will get larger as time goes by but they are doomed unless they can take over someone else s farmland and extort "taxes". You may see groups like this move in to agricultural areas and set up shadow governments, taxing all the farmers nearby...or selling protection. Anyone who doesn't play ball will be burned out. Expect them to use classic tactics like assassination, kidnapping, and terrorism to cow the locals. Local governments are going to probably hire many thugs and enforcers too. Telling the good guys from the bad guys might get difficult. Anyone trying to take your food is probably a bad guy, but it might be worth your while to pay him off.
7. Hiding. Some people are going to try to hide from the die-off.
Hiding inside a city or suburbs (in my opinion) is not going to work. People are going to systematically search every building for food. You could conceivably scare off or outfight wave after wave of looters and finally be looted by a local government or burned out by a large gang or rioters. The fact that you are living there will be impossible to hide when they try to search your building, If you are there, you will eventually have to fight or surrender your supplies. Hiding in the suburbs is just not possible and staying in an apartment building (even if you band with the other occupants for mutual protection) will eventually get you killed.
Hiding in a rural area is possible, just because of the distances involved. The number of hungry mouths will be less in the country, but local citizens are still going to confiscate your "Hoarded" food if they need it. Your best hiding place is in an area that will be defended by well-fed people. (but if you have a well-fed community defending you, you should really help them defend it, don't you think?)
The second best hiding place is a wilderness area with no roads or natural resources that someone will want. A wilderness hide site takes a lot of skills to pull off. Also, it is not sustainable without some planning and a lot of discipline. Essentially, this is hunkering down in a remote place and eating supplies you brought with you while you wait patiently for the teeming masses to die off. Living quietly in the wilderness, mostly underground is a hard way to live, especially in bad weather, but it could be your best chance to miss the die-off if you are healthy and have a solid set of outdoor tactical skills.
8. Bug out (presumably to a safe place).
This is going to be very popular, even for people who have no place to go. Once the power is off and the sewage starts backing up, the cities are going to start losing people. The exodus may begin immediately or be delayed several days (depending on the scenario). Either way, the refugees will generally try to leave in family groups. They will mostly follow interstates, highways, state roads, and farm roads, in that order. Nobody (almost nobody) is going to just start walking in a random direction and go cross country. They will drive until they have to walk and try to re-supply along the way.
While there is order, the roads may be jammed with cars leaving the cities going nowhere. In practice, almost everyone is going to be driving out of the city with a definite destination in mind. Some relative, some small town they know of, etc. Most of these destinations are going to be just as bad as the ones they just left, but these will be desperate people. Many of them are going to seriously overestimate their vehicle range. (Traffic jams eat a lot of fuel, probably more than most people will plan for).
Most of those thousands of cars on the interstate are going to run out of gasoline in a matter of hours and wherever they finally run out, that's where the occupants are going to start walking. Of course most of them are going to pull off the highways and interstates just before they run out and mob every town along the highway. (This is a historic fact, proven by every hurricane evacuation we have ever attempted). I expect people to turn very nasty when they run out of fuel. When they cannot buy fuel or food, the towns along America's highways will be filled with armed, hungry desperate people who may kill for a gallon of gas or a drink of water. Sound like fantasy? Don't bet on it. It's happened even during regional crisis with help on the way. In a general meltdown, I expect lots of violence in small towns and strip communities along highways and especially interstates.
There may be long columns of desperate refugees walking the interstates, but I don't foresee this. Most people will congregate in towns along the route. It's difficult to predict what desperate people will do without knowing local variables. If there is a hopeful destination within perceived walking distance, I would expect a lot of foot traffic. Of course, there will be a large number of breakdowns, but probably no mass migrations on foot unless they are being chased by something like a fire or chemical spill etc.
PLANNING NOTE: If you wait too long to G.O.O.D. you won't make it. I believe G.O.O.D. movement of any kind is going to be very dangerous. Moving vehicles are just too vulnerable, and there are going to be a lot of desperate, armed people stranded on the roads. This specifically includes law enforcement. They are not going to let you drive by with a load of gas cans in the back when their patrol car is sitting empty. Get out early or don't try it.
9. Going on with your life and ignoring the crisis.
I think this will be a very popular early response. Some people will still try to make it to work, just like they always have. Until the crisis really gets bad, you will probably see shopkeepers, lawyers, bankers etc trying to commute to work. I really hope the police and firemen do this for as long as possible--and garbage collectors and power workers too! In fact, this is probably our best defense against a general melt-down. If everyone would stay calm and keep trying to make the system work, our society could survive almost anything. (I am betting on the exact opposite).
10. LaMOE (LAst Man On Earth) of the wilderness.
Some people will grab their outdoors gear and head for the woods planning to live out of a rucksack and forage or hunt for their food. I include fishermen in this category. I expect the wilderness areas to be absolutely stiff with "sportsmen" who are going to try to camp their way out of trouble. Maybe not, but I have heard a lot of people talk about it. This is a losing proposition, but that's not obvious to everyone.
PLANNING CONSIDERATION: If you attempt to hide in a wilderness location, you are going to have to avoid these knuckleheads. Choose your hide site well.
11. Throw yourself on the mercy of the government.
Another VERY popular option. America has become the land of the entitlement. This generation seems to believe the government is there to take care of them from cradle to grave. I expect lots of folks to gather around anything even remotely resembling government. This will only last while government offices are open, but it might allow formation of groups or bands that will later loot and burn the city.
12. Go nuts and start burning everything in sight. It's happened before and will probably happen again. For some reason, arson seems to be some kind of release mechanism for unstable personalities. These folks are yet another reason to avoid urban areas. They won't last long, but they can cause a lot of damage in the short term.
13. Something else. This is only a partial list of all the possible strategies people will use. If you can think of something, expect someone to try it. Look at your local variables and think about it.
Tricky, but in general terms, I expect urbanites to hang onto their city as long as supplies hold out and then attempt a bug-out. Some, of course, are going to bug out almost immediately. Some will never bug out.
Most people are going to sit tight until they get hungry and then either attempt a bug-out or try to barter/beg/or loot food.
Looters will start looting as soon as they can get away with it. Their numbers will be fairly small in the beginning, but will grow as more people get hungry. They will continue until there is nothing to loot...then they will have to change strategies. The next strategy up the scale is raiding.
Most people will never make that transition to violence, but I estimate up to 5% of the total population will easily make that transition and another 10% are capable of doing it if they have more time to get used to the idea (and get hungry). These numbers are not really supportable historically, but I feel that they are very close to reality...just personal opinion. If I am right, that means even a city of 100,000 people could produce 5,000 potential murderers in a few days. That's a lot of bad guys.
Raiders, bandits and bad guys are going to prey on the weak until somebody establishes order or they run out of easy targets. This order will probably be in the form of locally formed polities (local governments and committees, neighborhood watches, and church groups.) Once we reestablish real order, most remaining raiders are going to try to change strategies. Some of them may join your church.
Unfortunately, the horrible die-off will encompass multiple years. It won't end until local communities reach equilibrium and produce as much food as they consume. That could easily take more than two years. (The first harvest after a major crisis is going to be a disappointing time for some communities.) Some of the starving polities (probably after the first harvest) may choose war over starvation and attack neighbors. Sounds really grim, but I call em like I see em.
Livestock mortality the first two years is going to be astronomical. People are going to have to literally allow other humans to die while they feed livestock. Also, they are going to be very valuable commodities and prone to theft.
Wildlife and fish mortality will also be very high. Everybody who sees a deer will attempt to kill it. After a year or two, I expect deer, bear and wild hogs to be nearly extinct in the Eastern US. Small game will also suffer huge losses to poaching and so will fish.
I live in a nice suburban neighborhood of a small town within 45 minutes of a large urban area. The area surrounding us is a poor rural agricultural area in Southern Georgia. My town is near a secondary line of drift from Savannah. Not the worst place to live, but not good either. In a slow slide scenario, I will stay in place, participate in the neighborhood watch and go to work every day. I even have plans to set up a soup kitchen, field bakery and water purification plant at a local church if needed. My plan is to make myself valuable to the community. If things get really bad, I have the ability to arm up to 6 others. I have enough spare stored food, equipment and weapons to do this and still be postured for plan-B.
Plan-B. In the event of a TEOTWAWKI I intend to use several options. I intend to Bug out with a truck-load of supplies to a pre-selected wilderness area (within 15 minute ride of home), establish a hide site and wait out the carnage. (I have about seven months supplies for my family plus a couple of caches with extra food and weapons nearby for a total of roughly nine months of rough living. I believe our odds of remaining unnoticed for six or more months are very good while maintaining a fairly high standard of living. (Living this close to Savannah, this is the best plan I could come up with).
Why hide out? first, I have the skills, equipment and a good area. But mostly, I know myself. Having seen real hunger in Africa and the Balkans, I don't believe I have the emotional hardness to watch people suffer and die without joining them by trying to help. Hiding out and missing the die-off will be hard, but watching it happen (for me) is just impossible. I can't watch.
When things cool down, I will scout the area and attempt to barter my skills to local farmers or whoever is in power. (I have acquired quite a few barterable skills over the years). So, if I show up at your retreat door six months after a collapse looking for work: don't shoot! It's just me! - JIR
Sections of tooth undergoing development.

Survival Dentistry, by Dr. Dent

There seems to be a lot of talk among the survivalist community regarding dental care and particularly dental extractions.  I am a practicing dentist at an urgent care facility and have addressed thousands of patients in varying situations that have had abscessed teeth that require extraction, and have subsequently extracted thousands of teeth.  I would like to provide some insight on dental care and in particular on the subject of tooth extraction and the materials required to perform a successful extraction without complicating the existing dental problem.  Also note that many medical problems particularly those relating to bleeding, stress, blood pressure, etc will additionally complicate things.
First, I will point out the obvious due to a nagging sense of professional obligation.  Prevention is the best medicine.  Topical application of fluoride is critical to preventing a cavity that may put you in a bad situation.  Brushing your teeth with an abrasive (toothpaste or otherwise) that does not contain fluoride will be of marginal benefit, however, the real bulk of the cavity prevention will be significantly diminished.  If your retreat location is supplied by a natural water source (spring, pond, well, etc) it might be prudent to have it tested for fluoride content.  If your water is high in fluoride then you could utilize it as a topical mouth rinse (i.e. hold it on your teeth, the longer the better) .  If not consider stockpiling fluoride containing toothpaste or mouth rinse.  I know this is stretching it a bit, but flossing: would it really kill you?  The natural reduction in the amount of refined sugar that you consume will also benefit you.
Now that that is out of the way, here is a list of the things I would consider necessary for taking out a tooth.
  1. Anesthetic-  Obviously this is not “necessary” but will make the experience must more enjoyable for all parties involved.  Lidocaine and septocaine are both common local anesthetics and sufficient for all dental work.  Septocaine is my preference because it comes in 4% formulations that just plain work better.  Upper anesthetic is applied to both the check and palate side of the tooth in question.  For the lower numbing is much more difficult.  Anesthetic must be applied high in the jaw bone.  As a general rule, have the patient open as wide as possible and you should see a fold on the cheeks posterior to the teeth.  Put the needle just anterior to that fold and aim toward the TMJ.  Injecting adjacent to the tooth is also helpful but will not be sufficient for complete anesthesia.  Assuming you have access and intend to stockpile these things (a syringe, needles, and anesthetic) I would recommend reviewing and perhaps printing for your survival library the following web pages (not mine, just nice pictures):
  2. Dental mirror- being able to see is good.
  3. Bite block- This is just a piece of rubber that is designed to prop the person’s mouth open.  It will come in especially handy if you don’t have anesthetic.
  4. Straight elevators- One with a small tip (2mm-3mm wide), one with a medium tip (3mm - 4.5mm wide)
  5. Extraction forceps- #150 – Universal upper, #151 Universal lower, #23 Cowhorn
One additional thing you could do to potentially make your life easier.  Have every member of your retreat group obtain a copy of their latest panoramic x-ray from their dentist.  This is the big x-ray they take that images all of your teeth and the jaw bones.  In particular take note of any upper teeth that have roots that approximate the sinuses, any teeth with extra or curved roots, or any teeth with bulbous roots.  Don’t worry too much about keeping these records up to date.  What you are concerned with is the root structure of the teeth which doesn’t change over time.
With these basic tools you should have the equipment required to extract almost any tooth. 
Dental Assessment
When one of your retreat members presents with a dental problem first evaluate your situation.  Teeth with large cavities, cracked, or broken teeth will likely require extraction.  If you try to put off extracting a tooth because it “just isn’t that bad yet” it will likely be abscessed and be exponentially worse (with or without anesthetic) when you actually do get the tooth extracted.  As much as you won’t want to do it at the time, act early.  When a tooth starts to hurt and no dental care is available, take care of it before it gets infected and threatens your life rather than just your tooth. 
If, however, you miss the early action window and are presented with an abscessed tooth (and here be abscessed I am referring to draining puss/visibly swollen) consider a course of antibiotics or making a small incision into the swelling to allow the infection to drain before attempting tooth extraction.  Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t because there is an increased risk of infection (the chance of infection is 100% it’s already infected).  The real reason is twofold.  First, it will be a lot less painful to have the tooth extracted.  Second, if the patient is more comfortable it will make it easier for the operator to get the tooth out.
Once you’ve decided there is a problem (whether you are early or late) the first step is to decide which tooth is the problem.  Sometimes it will be obvious to the patient via pain when pressure is applied to a particular tooth.  Sometimes it is obvious to the operator via swelling or a small “blister” on the gums beside the tooth.  However if it is not obvious, the most convenient way to decide which tooth is the problem will be to apply cold to each tooth individually.  A tooth that is dying or dead will either give intense pain which lingers for ten or more seconds or will have no feeling at all.  Whatever the result of this test is, compare to known healthy teeth to verify your result is indeed abnormal.
Extraction Procedure
When you are ready to begin tooth extraction, get your tools ready by sterilizing them (in this scenario boiling may be the best you can do).  Always clean your mirror, elevators, bite block, and the forceps required for the particular tooth in question (for upper teeth you will be utilizing the 150 forcep only, for lower teeth that are incisors, canines, or bicuspids you will be using the 151 forcep only, for lower molars you will be using either the 151 or 23 forcep). 
All teeth extractions will begin the same way.  Prop the patient’s mouth open.  Insert the small straight elevator between the tooth and the gum in the space between the tooth to be taken out and the tooth in front of it.  While applying firm downward pressure, slowly turn the elevator and begin to move the tooth to be removed.  Do not use excessive force at any point.  When you can get no additional movement switch to the medium elevator and repeat.  The key to easy tooth extractions is getting them loose before you grab them with the elevator.  Be careful not to put pressure on other adjacent teeth, your elevator should leverage the tooth to be removed against the bone.  If the tooth does not loosen at any point you may consider peeling the gum tissue back on the cheek/lip side a bit and chipping away some of the bone on that side only (the small straight elevator can double as a half decent chisel).  When the tooth in question has a little movement to it you are ready for the forcep.
For removing an upper tooth: Use the 150 forcep and place it as far down the tooth as possible (well above the gum).  Slowly wiggle the tooth back and forth while putting pressure downwards (toward the bone).  Every few wiggles choke the forcep up on the tooth.  The tooth should be really moving at this point.  Rotate it towards the cheeks/lips with firm pressure and remove it. 
For removing a lower incisor, canine, or bicuspid: Use the 151 forcep and use the same technique described for upper teeth. In addition to the rocking motion described above you can also typically (meaning as long as these teeth have no extra roots) rotate these (twist rather than rock) to remove them more easily and less traumatically.
For a lower molar:  Examine the x-ray.  If the molar has two separate roots the 23 forcep would be appropriate.  If the roots of the tooth are fused together then use the 151 and follow the instructions for removing an upper tooth and disregard what follows.  Note that the vast majority of the time there will be 2 separate roots.  Place the points of the forcep in the middle of the tooth as far below the gums as you can get them.  The attempt is to get the points right into the area where the tooth roots separate.  Once you believe the forceps are in place, lightly squeeze the handles together while moving the forcep up and down.  If it doesn’t slip it is probably in the right place.  Next, continue light pressure on the handles together and move the forcep in a figure 8 [motion].  As you move it, you should naturally feel that every so often, the handles will close slightly.  This will slowly lift the tooth up.  Continue this motion until it feels like the handles are closed together, then rotate the forceps toward the cheek (twist) and remove the tooth.  If you have difficulty with the 23 try the 151 and follow the directions for removing an upper tooth.  Having said that, the denser bone in the mandible will be harder to chisel away, and slower to loosen the tooth.  Take your time and don’t break it.
Always examine the extracted tooth!!  Make sure the tooth looks like it does on the x-ray and that none of the roots broke and/or are missing.
Only one thing remains, what if it breaks?
First, don’t feel bad, you are in good company.  Even if you do everything right, you still have a decent chance at breaking the tooth.  If you act early and it’s a small portion that broke you may choose to leave it and see if it heals.  If the tooth is really abscessed when you act, the broken piece will perpetuate infection if not removed.  In order to remove a residual root, some bone may need to be removed.  If this is attempted it should be done from the cheek/lip side only.  Often a forcep (150 or 151) can be used to grab the bone adjacent to the root on either side crush it, grab the root, and remove it.  This is a difficult technique, but if it’s that or dealing with infection, give it a shot.
Post op
After 24-48 hours rinse with warm salt water a few times per day.  Don’t spit, smoke, or perform any serious chores or exercise for several days.
Note that in most jurisdictions it is illegal to do any of these things to another person unless you are a licensed dentist, but in TEOTWAWKI that probably won’t matter to you.
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Dental hygienist flossing a patient's teeth du...

Dental Preparedness, by Pat

You and your group are sitting around a roaring campfire enjoying the end of a long days hunting. You bite down on some trail mix and suddenly get a shooting pain in your mouth. You’ve just broken your first molar and are four hours from the nearest dentist. Now what? Believe it or not, this happens more often than we would like to believe. In a survival scenario, it may be days or weeks or never that you get to a dentist. So, what do you do? 
The most important thing to do is to prepare for a dental emergency, just like you have prepared for food, electricity, shelter and self-defense. Prevention is the key to avoiding these situations.   What does that mean? We have heard it since we were kids, “Brush twice a day, floss, and see your dentist twice a year.” Routine visits to the dentist can often times prevent those emergencies from happening. Often times those small cavities can be taken care of before they get out of control requiring crowns, root canals or extractions.
Brushing and flossing regularly make the difference. When under stress the body will tend to develop inflammation more easily, including gingivitis, an inflammation of the gum tissue. So, when prepping for the worst-case scenario, be sure you have multiple toothbrushes and plenty of floss. In a pinch, you can use your finger or a washcloth to wipe the teeth clean.  Even a twig can be used to stimulate the gums and clean the teeth.
So, what should you pack in your medical kit for dental emergencies? Here are some basics that need to be included:
  1. Dental floss- also good for tying things down in a pinch.
  2. Dental wax- can be melted down and used to make a candle if needed. Should be a soft type of wax.
  3. Some type of Temporary filling material such as Cavit
  4. Temporary dental cement such as Den-temp for re-cementing crowns.
  5. Cotton pellets for use with;
  6. Oil of cloves, which is a substitute for Eugenol
  7. A set of dental tweezers
  8. Tight fitting latex or vinyl gloves. The mouth carries more bacteria than any place in the body.
What causes a toothache and what should you do about it? A toothache is the result of injury to the nerve of the tooth. This can be the result of trauma or a deep cavity. If the nerve becomes infected, it can result in an abscess, which is an infection of the bone around the tooth that can be extremely painful. Often times an abscess can cause swelling around the tooth. The infection can spread to other parts of the head and neck resulting in difficulty swallowing and even in the ability to breath.  This type of infection, if left untreated, can eventually cause an infection of the blood, which can lead to death. Don’t mess around with it.
How do we treat this on our own? First, figure out which tooth is causing the problem. Be sure the area in the tooth  is cleaned out.  Take a cotton pellet and soak it in Oil of Cloves, and place it in the cavity. Be sure you don’t get it on the soft tissue because it can burn.  Other products you can use include Dent’s Toothache Drops, Orajel and Red Cross Toothache Medicine. When you have the cotton in place, cover it up with some Cavit or other temporary dental filling.
For pain, I highly recommend using 400mg of Ibuprofen taken with 800 mg of Tylenol at the same time, every 4-6 hours. If that doesn’t do the trick then a narcotic such as Codeine or Vicodin can be taken every 4-6 hours. Be sure to take these with food. If infection is present, an antibiotic should be taken for 5-7 days. Under no circumstances should you place aspirin on or next to the tooth. It can cause serious burns to the gum tissue.
What about treating gum inflammation, commonly known as gingivitis? This is usually the result of poor oral hygiene. Proper brushing and flossing can prevent it. If pain and bleeding are taking place, increasing your brushing and flossing can often help.  Be sure that you are getting enough Vitamin C in your diet, a deficiency can also have a negative impact on the gums. A side note on gum inflammation: Studies have shown that people with bleeding gums have a substantially higher incidence of heart attack and stroke.
So, you bite into a nice leg of venison and break off a filling, what now? If you have access to a dentist, get to them as soon as possible. If that is not possible, you can use a small amount of temporary filling material such as Cavit to fill the hole. Be sure to bite down on the material while it is soft so it will not interfere with your bite after it hardens. In a pinch you can use some soft dental wax to fill the cavity.
Crowns (caps), inlays and onlays can come out when you eat sticky foods such as caramels or taffy. If the tooth isn’t sensitive, save the restoration and take it to a dentist as soon as you can. If that is not possible, or the tooth is sensitive, it may be necessary to try and re-cement the crown temporarily. To do this, clean out any material on the inside of the restoration.  Mix a thin layer of temporary dental cement such as Den-temp and place it inside the restoration.  Carefully align the restoration with your tooth and gently bite it down all the way to place. Since the crown is only in temporarily, be very careful about chewing on it, so that you don’t jar it lose and swallow it. See a dentist as soon as possible.
What happens to a tooth if you fall or get hit in the mouth? Usually this can result in injury to the upper front teeth. The teeth can be knocked out of position, either forward or backward. They can be loose or hanging out of their sockets. Or they can be knocked out completely. If possible, see a dentist immediately. If this isn’t possible, the tooth can gently be repositioned to line up with the other teeth. Be aware that this process can be extremely painful.  Biting on a piece of gauze gently can help hold it in position.  Get to a dentist as soon as you can so that the tooth can be splinted to other teeth. 
A tooth that has been completely knocked out is known as an avulsion.  The first 30 minutes of a knocked out tooth are the most important. If treated correctly, the tooth can often be saved. If the tooth can be replaced in the socket within the first 30 minutes, there is a good chance that the body will accept it. After about 30 minutes the body will treat it as a foreign object and reject the tooth. 
Once the tooth has been found, pick it up by the crown, not the root and gently clean it off using sterile water or milk.  Use gauze to stop any bleeding from the socket in the mouth.  Gently place the tooth back in the socket and using steady pressure, push it back into place.  Have the person use gentle biting pressure on some gauze and get to a dentist ASAP to have the tooth stabilized. If for some reason the tooth can’t be immediately placed back in the mouth, place it in a container of Hank’s solution, designed specifically for this situation. If this is unavailable, use a container of sterile saline or milk and get the person to the dentist immediately.
As with any other type of prepping, preparation for dental emergencies is extremely important and needs to be well planned out. The nice thing about preparing for a dental emergency is that it is not very expensive to do. See your dentist regularly, brush and floss, and Keep Smiling.
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Felix the Cat

Six Survival Necessities That Don't Fit in Your Kit

Here's something from the I found to be interesting.

So it's the end of the world. No problem. Don't panic. Just grab your handy bug-out kit, sit back with some popcorn, and try to make the most of Armageddon. I just have one question for you: what in the world did you put in that bag that makes you so confident you'll do any better than the unprepared masses around you? (Don't answer that... it's a trick question!)
Do you remember that old cartoon “Felix the Cat”? There was a line in the theme song that went, “...whenever he gets in a fix, he reaches into his bag of tricks!” Those were the good old days, huh? Well the sad truth is that we often approach survival preparation just like that. If you think you can pack a bunch of gear in a bag and call yourself “survival ready”, then you are in for a world of hurt. If being prepared were that easy, we'd all just pick up a FEMA-approved survival kit from Wal-Mart and wait out the next disaster in duct-tape-and-plastic shelters. The truth is, there is no magic bullet, and if it's TEOTWAWKI out there, there's no guarantee you'll even make it home to your bullets. There's one thing that I will guarantee though: In an emergency, your survival kit will not contain everything you need, no matter what you've packed.

Now before you get too bent out of shape defending the $15,000 you spent on Bisquick, whiskey, and ammo, here's what I mean: Packing a bag is not the same as being prepared. Regardless of what gear you've decided you need for survival, I'd like to offer you six important things that won't be found in your kit:

#1 Questions (BE SPECIFIC!) - Survival is a mindset, and questions can be powerful when preparing for the worst. Ask them now while life is easy. You might not like the answers you come up with when the pressure's on. Below are a few good questions to ask yourself. These questions are not rhetorical. It's up to you to come up with your own answers, but I did include a few of my own in italics. Now on with the questions:
-Can I really be so cold-hearted as to hunker down with a year's supply of food and firewood while my neighbors are starving outside in the cold?
Be specific:
Do I have the mental toughness to turn strangers away? What about my neighbors? How would I explain that to my kids? Is isolation the answer? Is there some better approach that still protects my family? If not, am I willing to stand firm?

-What gear am I putting too much faith in?
Be specific:
What if I lose the key to that lock or forget the combination? (More on lock-picking later...)
Is my flashlight waterproof?
What if my GPS is dead when I go to get my secret cache in the woods?
I'll answer this one for you. All you need is a decent compass with clear angle markings. Standing at the cache site, carefully record the angles (from North) for at least two objects nearby. Now you can find the spot again as long as you can find your reference objects. You may want to pick more than two references just in case the view to any of them is blocked. Avoid things like trees or buildings that might not be the same when you go back. back to the questions.

-When is my kit going to cause more problems than it solves?
Be specific:
Did I leave anything in my hidden cache that could compromise my security (or the location of my other caches)?
Am I going to get in trouble if a state trooper finds my [fill-in-the-blank] hidden in the woods? What if a teenager finds it?
Could I stand to carry that heavy bag all day? On the run? Quietly?
Could there ever be a situation when it's safer to be unarmed? Last year a man was killed in my neighborhood when he threatened a gun-toting punk with a rock... not smart and ultimately tragic. If you are outgunned, it's probably best if you are not seen as a threat.

-What about creature comforts? Sure, I can survive using X,Y, and Z, but can I make my life easier by preparing better?
Be specific:
Am I willing to use nothing but a Leatherman to open canned goods for several weeks or months?
Can I stand to sleep on/in [fill-in-the-blank: my packable hammock, cot, sleeping bag, truck bed, back seat, etc.]? How will poor sleep affect my ability to keep up with the daily tasks required for survival?
Do I have to wipe with 80-grit toilet paper just because it’s WWIII outside? Wouldn’t the soft toilet paper be okay for emergencies too?

-What if X,Y,or Z doesn’t work?
Be specific:
Will I starve in my own Y2K bunker because my can opener fell apart? Probably not, but if you buy a cheap-o can opener and it breaks, you might do something stupid like cut yourself while trying to get into your can of beans with a knife. Seriously, get a reliable tool for the important things like food.
What if the batteries/generator don’t work?
What if the water supply dries up?
What if I run out of cartridges? What if the slingshot breaks and I run out of arrows too? How will I hunt?
What if there are no animals to hunt? Where will I go? What will I do?

-Have I printed out all of the manuals and instructions I might need just in case the computer gets fried? Do I honestly expect myself to remember all this info without any printed manuals?

…And so on and so on. You get the idea. Ask the hard questions. Expect the first, second, and third plans to fail, then learn how to improvise and adapt today while learning is not a matter of life and death.

#2 Understanding Physical Security – Physical security is more than owning a gun or putting a lock on the door. It requires careful thought. Think like a thief. Think like a desperate, scared, and hungry soul just trying to find the next meal. What would you do? Where would you hide if you wanted to ambush someone on the road? Physical security means thinking like your opponent and staying one step ahead:

Locks: A lock is only as good as the door it’s attached to. Sure your door has three locks on it, but this is the end of the world, and that guy is hungry. Why wouldn’t he just break the window or kick in the doorjamb or smash through the wall with a car? Locks keep honest people honest. For everyone else, it just slows them down a little (“a little” may be all you need). A good lock will at least make life harder for looters and thieves.

Lock-picking: When used responsibly (and legally), lock-picking can be an extremely valuable skill. Even if you don't use the skill often, it will give you a better understanding of how much trust you can put in any given lock. There’s a ton of info on the net about locksport (see: MIT Lock-picking Guide by Ted the Tool), but learning takes time and practice. In an emergency, you will have neither the internet nor the time to practice, so you'd better learn to do it now. And don't bother spending $100 on some fancy “professional” pick set. Some of my favorite picks have been cut from a dull hacksaw blade. If you buy a set, get a cheap one that you don't mind losing or breaking.

When you practice lock picking, don't get cocky. Remember that there's a big difference between a file cabinet lock and the deadbolt on your house. Remember that lock-picking takes time, so don't expect doors to just fly open if you're on the run. Also remember that it can be a useful self-protection scheme to honestly say: “I don’t have a key to that lock.”

One more thing: don’t lose sleep over thieves picking locks. If they can’t cut the lock, kick the door in, or break a window, then they probably won’t bother picking it. Even if they do, that's what alarms are for.

Alarms: Alarms are the second line of defense when your locks and physical barriers have failed. Ideally, the alarm gives you notice before they fail so you can decide whether to take a stand or run. An alarm can be as simple as a few pebbles in a can on a string, but my emergency alarm system of choice is a sophisticated mobile listening device that I like to call “my dog”. She just happens to have a very handy set of teeth on her too.

Camouflage and Deception: Sometimes that big padlock just screams “Something valuable is in here”, so you really need to disguise it. When you do, remember that “almost perfect” camouflage is usually worse than an okay disguise. Most people have a knack for noticing when something is “not quite right”, and inappropriate camouflage may draw attention rather than hiding your treasures. In other words, it's better to make something look like useless trash than to make it look like a weird rock. To really understand what I mean, try going geocaching. Not only is it fun, but it will also expose you to a wide variety of both well and poorly disguised containers in all sorts of unusual hiding places.

Show of Force: You may scare off the lone thug, but be wary of scouts who may come back with a group. If you put your biggest gun on display, someone will find a bigger one or come at you in some way you don't expect. You must balance the element of surprise with deterrence. This is a judgment call.

Use of Force: If you have a CCL, you know all about this. This has been covered elsewhere on SurvivalBlog, so I won't say too much about it. It is a last resort, but you need to be willing and capable of using whatever weapons you own instinctively and effectively. Just be prepared to live with the consequences.

#3 Staying in Shape – 24-hour gyms don’t take new members during the apocalypse. Just play it safe and get in shape now. If you don't already have a fitness plan, I would recommend using the US Army Physical Fitness Manual. It provides basic exercises with and without gym equipment. The Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) at the back of the manual also provides an excellent baseline for determining how in-shape you really are. If you are fit enough for combat, you are fit enough for emergencies.

When you exercise, push yourself. You'll be mentally and physically tougher for it. Hard exercise teaches you to endure and overcome pain and discomfort like nothing else. This is especially true of long-distance running. If you are not a consistent runner, you will find yourself rationalizing shortcuts before you've reached your goal. Learning to recognize and overcome these head games in sports will help you deal with them confidently in life too.

#4 Having Fun – You don't have to study the psychology of survival to know that your mental state can determine whether you live or die. Have a plan for keeping spirits up and especially for dealing with boredom. You can't afford boredom-induced mistakes, so have something on-hand in case you are stuck in one spot for a long time. At the very least, throw a deck of cards in your kit. A harmonica or an Irish whistle can be great portable morale boosters if you know how to play them (but very annoying to others if you don't). Likewise, a football, hackey-sack, or Frisbee might take up valuable space, but they may be well worth it when you need a physical distraction from the stress of survival.

#5 Clothing for Daily Use – Think about the Virginia Tech shootings or other “going postal” scenarios. More than anything else, the shoes you are wearing right now could determine whether you survive the first thirty seconds of such an event. You may not have the luxury of showing up at the office in your jungle boots, but there's still a good chance an emergency will happen during working hours. If you can't run in your work shoes, then at least keep a set of tennis shoes nearby.

As far as outfitting for work, here's what I do: for my shoes, I wear what amounts to a leather tennis shoe. They look professional enough to go with my slacks, but they're comfortable, and I can run in them if needed. Even on Fridays I prefer slacks to jeans, because they are lighter, more comfortable, and easier to run in. I always carry a pocket knife, an LED key-chain light, a pen with a metal clip on the cap (the clip makes a good flat-head screwdriver in a pinch), and a small lock pick set. I also keep a light jacket and a pair of boots in my work locker. You may want to add a few things to your own list, but the main point is that you should wear and carry whatever makes sense for your own environment.

#6 Practice and Experience – You can't train for every situation, but constant survival practice will build confidence in yourself, and it helps you keep a level head when the time comes. Practice will also build your confidence in the gear you carry and teach you how to improvise when something is missing or goes wrong. Only experience teaches you what gear is trustworthy and which things are going to need routine maintenance.

“Survival training” doesn't have to be unpleasant. Try to have fun with it. I already mentioned geocaching, and camping is an obvious way to practice, but be creative. There are countless ways to hone your survival skills that won't make you miserable in the process. If you don't enjoy it, you won't do it often enough, and that means you will rely too much on unproven equipment when an emergency comes along.

Conclusion - If you ask 100 survival-minded individuals what items you should keep in an emergency kit you'll get at least 100 different answers. For myself, the answer is simple and yet not so simple: pack your brain. No matter what gadgets you may pack away, you can't predict what you'll need, what will break or get stolen, or what will be in short supply. So do your best when picking and packing, but be prepared to make the most of whatever you can find around you.

Trust (in yourself or in your gear) should be earned, so don't give it out blindly. Ask questions, then try out your solutions in practice. Have fun with it, but don't take it too lightly. We are still dealing with life and death. Only you can decide the best way to prepare, but remember that you will be the same person five minutes into an emergency that you were five minutes before. Be the best person you can be today, and you won't regret it tomorrow.
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Author: Vaughan Weather Coleman Campfuel Date:...

Stockpiling In Moderation

Stockpiling in Moderation. Sometimes it’s hard to do. There seems to be a tendency to go to the extreme for some people. Personally, I believe wholeheartedly in preparing, but I don’t want to be an alarmist and conspiracy theorist. Do you think that those who go to the extreme give survivalists a bad name? Do you think as we try to spread the word, we would often be better served by doing things in moderation? The are a few simple things I'm working on stocking up on, moderately that help us through any emergency and really make good sense to accumulate whether something happens or not. In moderation of course, without hoarding them.

I've read numerous posts on forums and blogs about this and I've taken all of the information and this is what works for me. I did a podcast recently on this if you care to listen in more detail. So, here's what I'm working on.

* Water Filters/Purifiers:
* Firewood:
* Portable Toilets:
* Lamps and Oil
* Coleman Fuel:
* Self Defense Tools: ( Pepper Spray, Knives, Clubs, Bats, Slingshots
* Hand-Can openers & hand egg beaters, whisks:
* Rice, Beans and Wheat:
* Honey, Syrups, white and brown sugars:
* Charcoal & Lighter fluid:
* Vegetable Oil:
* Water storage containers:
* Baby Supplies:
* Washboards and Mops:
* Cookstoves:
* Vitamin supplements:
* Hygiene products:
* Bow saws, axes and hatchets & Wedges:
* Gas containers:
* Aluminum foil:
* Garbage bags:
* Paper products:
* Gardening Seeds:
* Milk:
* Clothes pins, lines and hangers:
* Canned Meat:
* Fire Extinguishers:
* First aid kits:
* Batteries:
* Baking supplies:
* Matches:
* Writing paper, pens and pencils,solar calculators:
* Work Clothes:
* Insulated ice chests:
* Flashlights, light sticks, and torches:
* Cast iron cookware:
* Fishing supplies and tools:
* Pest and Insect repellents:
* Duct Tape:
* Shelter building equipment:
* Backpacks & Duffle bags:
* Candles:
* Sewing supplies:
* Knives:
* Bedding:
* Games:
* Lumber:

.....And last, but definitely NOT least… Guns and Ammo: While many so-called emergency preparedness experts tend to shy away from discussing this need, it’s na├»ve and frankly reckless in my opinion to do so.

What works for you?
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Cast iron pan

The care and feeding of Cast Iron Cookware.

Everyone knows that a good seasoned cast iron skillet is a treasured possession, you can fry, saute and bake in them.
There are some steps to take to make sure your cookware is seasoned properly.

1. Wash utensil in hot, soapy water. Use soap this time only.(this is the only time you should use soap) Rinse utensil and dry in 350` oven for 5 min.

2. Apply a thin, even coating of melted shortening (Crisco, Wesson, etc.; do not use butter or butter flavored shortening, or vegetable oil for seasoning) to the utensil with a soft cloth or paper towel. Apply inside and outside ( If your cookware has a lid, make sure you season it as well.)

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place utensil on top shelf of oven, upside down. Place aluminum foil on a baking sheet and put on bottom shelf of oven to catch any drippings. Bake in oven for one hour, then turn oven off and let utensil remain in the oven until cool.

4. To clean utensil after use, use boiling water and a plastic scrub bun or brush. Do not use soap, unless you are going to repeat the seasoning process. Do not put in dishwasher.

5. Always wash immediately after use, while still hot.

6. After washing utensil, dry thoroughly, then spray lightly with vegetable oil, (Pam, for example), wipe with a paper towel, and store. Never store utensil with lid on. (Cast iron needs air circulation.)

7. Do not use utensil as a food storage vessel.

8. To remove heavy food or grease build-up, scour with steel wool, SOS pad, etc., then re-season.

9. Deep fry in Dutch ovens at least six times prior to cooking beans of any kind. Re-season utensil after cooking acidic foods, such as beans or tomatoes.

10. Follow these simple steps Cookware can last a few lifetimes.

Seasoning is an on-going process. The more you use your cast iron, the better seasoned it gets.
Well seasoned cookware should have a shiney black surface to it.
Try to avoid using metal utensils in your cookware, to avoid scratching the seasoned nonstick surface.

Also if your pan has alot of crusty build-up on the outside of it, run it through a cycle in a self cleaning oven to burn the scale off, then you can use a wire brush or light sandpaper to clean it up, and make sure you season it a couple of times befor cooking in it.

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First Aid Sign/Label


Keep in mind I differentiate “trauma” vs. “first aid” as being a trauma kit is for saving lives and a FAK is for dealing with annoyances, boo-boos, irritations.

Before I itemize my kits, keep in mind I know what I'm doing and have the professional associations in place to operate at my skill level in a legal and proper manner. I can't recommend strongly enough that you stay within your scope of practice, and/or get more training. SHTF is one thing, operating at a higher skill level before the SHTF will land you in prison or just very broke.

The FAK can be part of your trauma kit or separate. I separate the two. In the event I need an antidiahreal, I'm not having to sort through trauma dressings. Likewise If I have an ABC emergency, I don't have packets of aspirin falling out of the pouch and getting lost/wasted. They are separate because of the two very different purposes of each.

The idea behind a “blowout kit” or “gunshot kit” is great. I really don't think I'll ever have to deal with that, because I will try my damnedest to avoid contact with whom ever I might get into a shootout with, YMMV. If I do need such items, they are well addressed in my trauma kit.




bug repellent

Gold Bond body powder, can be used on feet or body. Gold Bond-live it, learn it, love it.

blister kit, second skin or the like. 2 inch wide curasilk tape or moleskin is good for hot spots,.

meds- You can be taken out of action or just plain miserable in the field. A few meds in a well thought out FAK will save the day. I prefer the smallest unit doses, like 2 pills to a foil pack instead of a small bottle. The bottles, even with cotton in them allow the pills to bounce around and turn onto powder. Keep to small quantities and resupply after use.

aspirin, tylenol, ibuprofen, aleve, anti diarrheal, anti emetic (kaopectate, pepto-bismol) antifungal spray, anti itch stick, anti itch topical cream like cortisone, bug bite stick, these are the “comfort items” if you will, that will allow you to stay operational in the field. I've seen grown men, (myself included) reduced to tears from monkeybutt, sunburn, headache, etc.

wound care- cleaning a boo-boo can make a huge difference between a scrape and a septic wound that will hospitalize you. I cant stress hygiene enough. Wars have been won or lost because of battlefield hygiene producing diseases that decimate the troops. Disintery, typhoid, cholera, etc. handwashing, basic wound care, is key to stopping these diseases from taking hold.

hand cleanser spray or gel
8 ounce normal saline irrigation, good for wounds, eye wash, etc.
tape for butterflys and superglue
asst'd bandaids
splinter kit
eyeglass repair kit
toothpicks (comfort item)
dental kit (walgreens, great for lost fillings, broken teeth, etc.)
anaphylaxis kit (see below)

SHTF trauma kit. This fits into my alice pack and is carried wherever. I use a roll-out, trifold “unit one” medic bag from a surplus store. About 8x10x10 inches.

Bandages- St 4x4s, st 5x9s, MTDs or multiTraumaDressings (diaper sized, 9x16 and really thick), these can be cut down if smaller dressings are needed and the FAK is unavailable. You don't need eye patches, 3x3s, 2x2s, abd pads, non stick, etc, in a trauma kit.

paramedic scissors. I shudder when I hear the term “paramedic” “tactical” or “survival” as a prefix to any equipment I need. It just adds to the cost. The “cuts a penny” scissors are great, get several sets for all your kits, buy em on ebay for .50 cents each by the gross.

Chest seals like the asherman, or be ready to improvise. For the money, i'll improvise. Vaseline gauze is cheap and good to have.

An assortment of Oral airways. NOT EVERY size, every other one, no more than 4. A few Nasal airways if you feel the need. Pocket Mask that can be used w/ a BVM. Turkey Baster as a suction device.

Flashlight, a good one, like a pelican 4 aa cell or minimag. Cheap ones tend to disintegrate in the bag. Samll LED headlamps are great too.

Cravats or triangle bandages, several,

roller gauze. Basically enough to splint a leg to a spine board, plus enough to splint someone in c-spine to a spine board. Roller gauze is multi purpose, straps are not.

2 inch wide curasilk tape
Maybe IV fluids if it's hot. BTW, you can drink LR, but not NS.

What is NOT in my SHTF trauma bag.

BP cuff. Too heavy/bulky, its a one job tool. Don't need it. The info obtained would be academic. I can judge a patients status with other things besides a BP cuff. (PULSE, RESPS, SKINS, loc, ETC)

anything carried in my FAK. See the rest of the list for what is excluded from my SHTF trauma kit vs. my POV trauma kit.

My other trauma bag: This is one that is in my POV.
Gloves, BP cuff, stethoscope
O2 d-tank, mask, nasal cannula
OPA's, NPA's,ETT's,Cric kit,thoracotomy kit
IV fluids (NS and LR), tubing, catheters, etc.
assorted dressings as mentioned above
Adjustable c-collar.
Handiwipes and alcohol gel, in a ziploc bag
highway blanket
M-118 smoke grenade
Skyblazer xlt popflare
pelican light
traffic vest
signal mirror/compass
4 pair scissors (i tend to lose them)
small aluminum clipboard w/ forms, pens, pupil light, ems guidebook
anaphylaxis kit in pelican box (for me, bees) epi- 1:1,000, benedryl chewables or injection, tagamet
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Office Depot at 4001 Durham-Chapel Hill Boulev...

SHTF: Strange places to stock up - Part Three

SHTF: Strange places to stock up - Part Three

Here's the deal. You are away from home, let's say in a strange town on vacation or business trip. Maybe you are across town in a neighborhood you are not familiar with. Anyway, the radio comes on and says "The end is here". Nuke attack, martian invasion, zombies, you name it.

You know you need food and water if you are going to get home. Also, you want to build some stocks for what will happen in the coming days. However, you don't know where the closest grocery store is. What to do?

You need a list of alternative and strange places to get supplies when you need them in a scenario like this. Today's idea - the office supply store.

Office Max, Office Depot, etc. Now bigger is better, but a FedEx/Kinkos will do in a pinch.

For instance, go to the office superstore and check the back section. There are cases of water, snack foods, coffee, tea, sugar and other stuff offices put in the break room.

There is also trashbags, paper towels, toilet paper, soap and cleaning supplies out the wazoo. Same idea. They are for stocking the office. However, they are also survival supplies.

And then the batteries, flashlights, fire extinguishers. Some stores even sell tools for fixing stuff around the office. There may not be any tents or foul weather gear, but there are often plastic sheets and related material for covering desks or furniture. These can be doubled as emergency shelters if need be.

What if FedEx Kinkos or UPS store is available? My F/K store has snacks, candy, even beef jerky at the check out counter. They also have a limited supply of bottled water and energy drinks for late night presentation cram sessions.

An office supply store can be your best friend if the poop hits the fan unexpectedly. Keep it in mind.
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SHTF: Strange places to stock up - Part Two

SHTF: Strange places to stock up - Part Two

So, the poop has made the fan smelly and everyone else is heading for the grocery stores or Sam's Club to clean them out. Where can you go? Yesterday, we considered the toy store of all places, today we look at another, yet less off the beaten path place for stores after the SHTF.

The drugstore.

Sure, there will be folks piled up at the subscription counter to get another 30 days of anti-anxiety meds or blood pressure pills, but today's drugstore is a great place to get lots of other goodies.

Food - The CVS, Walgreens or Rite-Aid always has a huge stock of food, including canned and other shelf stable foods on hand. There are lots of those little cans with pop tops which can come in handy if one is on the move on foot and traveling lite.

Besides the food aisle, there are edibles throughout the store; at the check out line, gift rows, etc. Get a handbasket rather than a bulky cart and load up.

Don't forget; drug stores have a huge diet section. That means protein bars and some things not found at a traditional grocers like body building supplements - lots of calories and proteins.

Water - Water, the staff of life, is in the drug store as well. Bottles and jugs. But there is also bleach and iodine handy in the drugstore, useful for sanitizing more down the line.

Hardware - gloves, basic tools, batteries, flashlights and other basics can be found now at the modern hardware store.

Obvious - take advantage of the hardware store for a large selection of things found there in large amounts; multi-vitamins, first aid supplies, OTC (over the counter) medicines, baby supplies, and of course drugs (with prescription).

So, the poop hits the fan and you are on the road or five miles from home and need to resupply. Rather than deal with that panicking mob outside the Safeway, go two doors down to the drug store and get what you need in short supply.

Good luck,
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Toys "R" Us

SHTF: Strange places to stock up - Part One

Strange places to stock up - Part 1

Ho Ho Ho! Christmas is now behind us and the New Year is on the way. While taking part in the great consumer grab over the holidays, I was in several different types of retail establishments which gave me time to make some observations which may come in handy.

If the Shumer his the fan, most of us might jump in the sled and head to the nearest grocery store or warehouse club for food, water, etc. However, we all know that the Safeway or Kroger is the first place to get hit hard. It helps to have some alternatives!

Here is the first in my suggestions of alternate places for supplies off the beaten path.

Since it was Christmas - the toy store. "Huh? The toy store? What good is a Monopoly game or Barbie doll going to me?" you ask in disbelief.

Try the mega Toys R Us toystore. The front of the store has a huge snack and candy section. I found bottled water, snack food, candy and better yet, protein bars. Apparently, some brainiac in marketing realized they could get some impulse buys on overpriced junk in this section from their shoppers.

Don't forget to see the check out line where they have even more edible junk.

Also, most toy stores now cater to babies as well. Besides valuable diapers, wipe and relate paraphanalia, there is almost always baby formula, food and jugs of sterilized water (for the over protective mothers in the crowd).

And there are batteries out the wazoo in the toy store. Can't have enough of those.

In the toy section, look for Easy Bake Ovens. They contain baked goods and there is usually a section of refills for those things as well. In a pinch, this is food.

The toy store is just one "off the beaten path" for supplies like food to keep in mind should the balloon go up when you least expect it!
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