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Monday, April 5, 2010

From the Archives: Cash is King

Below is a post from way back in 2007, with a few updates.

How much cash do you have on hand--right now?

Imagine your favorite personal disaster scenario. The power is likely to be lone-gone. No power, not ATMs, no credit or debit cards. All of our electronically held wealth becomes completely and utterly inaccessible. Sure, for the first little while, stores might still accept credit cards (writing down your info) or checks, but after the disaster situation becomes clear, you can forget that.

Cash talks. It's fast, anonymous, no-hassle. It works--for anyone, anywhere. Everybody takes cash. It's not dependent on a computer, electricity, the weather, phone lines, incompetent employees, or anything else that "plastic wealth" can fall prey too.

Some people imagine an immediate descent into anarchy and chaos. Sorry, but the world won't devolve into 'Mad Max' over night. Your horde of ammo, medical supplies, and precious metals will have to wait a while for their true "survival value" to surface.

Until it becomes apparent to the average person that the government will not recover from a given disaster and that the dollar is little more than worthless paper, cash will hold some value. Not the same value as pre-disaster--the laws of supply and demand work overtime after TSHTF, inflating prices drastically. But it will hold some value. Yep, if things get bad enough, it may become worthless, but you will have spent it long before then. And hey, it doesn't cost you more than a few percentage points of interest (or less) to have some cash stashed safely at home.

Having a supply of cash at home is a no-brainer, but far too many people overlook this. Have as much on hand as seems prudent to you--a month's worth of expenses is a good goal. Stash is away carefully--under the mattress or in your nightstand are not the best places to do so. A diversion safe, built-in hide or a real-deal home safe would be a wiser.

I also recommend packing some emergency cash with you, as part of your every day carry gear. Stash it somewhere in the back of your wallet and forget about it. I have $100 sealed in a little baggy hidden deep inside my wallet, just in case. Stash some in your BoB as well. Also think about carrying a roll of quarters for use in pay phones, vending machines, etc. Quarters are always handy to have, but they can add a little bulk. I have $10 worth in my EDC bag, and they come in handy fairly often.

How much cash you carry with you is your decision. Everyone has their own opinions, income and lifestyle. I've heard some people recommend keeping $1000 in your wallet, while I've heard others recommend just an emergency $20 or enough cash for a tank of gas. I'd sure like to have $1000 to stash in my wallet, but enough for a tank of gas is a lot more plausible. $50 can buy you enough gas to get home, enough food for several days, or a low end hotel room. It's a good place to start. More than that and you give yourself more options. For example, $1000 cash could buy you a plane ticket halfway across the world, a month's rent (in most parts of the U.S. at least), plenty of food and supplies, or pay to fix your car.

If you're horrible about spending your emergency cash, there are a few things you can do. Seal it up in a very small zip lock, or better yet, vacuum seal it. This will not only protect the cash from an accidental soaking, but it creates a mental barrier that will help keep you from spending the money except in time of emergency. Another tip: use $2 bills. For some reason, they are just a bit harder to spend than the normal greenbacks.

5 Survival Skills I Learned in Scouts

Guest Post by Lucas: Eagle Scout, aspiring survivalist/prepper, and blogger on his site SurvivalCache where he writes survival gear reviews, tips, and ideas.
I’m not a life long survivalist. In fact I just recently got into prepping. I don’t have a basement full of food and gear, though at the rate I’m starting to collect stuff, that’s not far off. What I do have is a background in outdoor experience.
While I have been reading and learning about the survivalist and prepper lifestyles, I’ve learned a ton, but it also made me remember how it feels to dive into a culture where everyone you hear from seems to know more than you. So I thought I would share a few basic and useful survival skills from my years in Scouts, all life lessons learned the hard way.
1. Cut Away!
Whenever you are using a knife, saw, hatchet, ax, tomahawk, or any other item that has the slightest semblance of a blade cut away from yourself. Imagine missing what you are aiming at.  Where will the blade go?
knife 300x211 5 Survival Skills I Learned in Scoutsimage by Analog Weapon
I’ve seen enough young scouts nearly lop themselves off at the ankle, and watched my brother run a small pocket knife the better part of the way through his palm to know this is a very real concern. This sounds like childish safety, but in a survival situation an infected cut or a large gash could be the worst mistake of your life.
2. Dark Starts at Noon
People, especially people inexperienced with the outdoors, inevitably underestimate the amount of daylight remaining.  A good rule of thumb is, dark starts at noon. In everyday life 3 p.m. is the middle of the afternoon, but outdoors it’s high time you were selecting a camp site and starting a fire. Setting up your shelter in the dark is not fun, cooking even less so. I’ve done this more times than I can count. In a survival situation, what if you don’t have an immediate food source? If you have to scavenge,daylight is infinitely better.
3. Pyromaniac
There’s no two ways about it.  Fire is fun. The bigger the better. Bug Spray fireballs? Sure! There are few things as manly as building a massive campfire just because you can, but in a survival situation you need to carefully consider just exactly how much fire you need and go no further.
First, wood collection and preparation is a serious calorie expenditure that you cannot be wasting on a big fire just to look at. Second, a fire of any size is easy to see from miles away. Since you should be trying to avoid unwanted guests, the smaller the better. If you can boil water and be warm, it’s big enough.
3. Clean Now
As you might imagine,a bunch of 12-16 year old Boy Scouts who have been on the trail all day, set up camp, cooked dinner, and are relaxing around the fire might be even less apt to do the dishes after dinner than at home. If that is possible. Yes, it is extremely temping to jump into your warm sleeping bag and worry about boiling water and digging out the soap tomorrow, but you need to do the dishes now. Aside from the obvious get-it-over-with, in a survival scenario the strong possibility of growing bacteria in something you will be eating out of indefinitely is stupid and not worth the risk. Not to mention the threat of attracting wildlife you really don’t want.
4. You Sweat
Even if it’s 12 degrees and snowing, you are perspiring. In a cold weather survival situation, you need to conserve body heat or it could mean your life. So, when you crawl in your bag for the night, strip off everything, I mean absolutely everything, you were wearing. Even if you can’t feel it all of your clothes are sweaty. Throughout the night that sweat (water) will get very cold and make you even colder. Put on clean dry clothes right before bed. If you have a decent bag, you can sleep naked as long as you are dry and cover you head and feet. I know how terrible that idea sounds when you can see your breath inside your tent, but it’s worth it in the long run. I spent several long cold nights before I learned that one.
5. Ventilate
Inside your shelter, especially a tent, you need ventilation. The more the better in fact, and it works for both weather extremes. Obviously, in the summer a breeze through the tent is going to keep you cooler. The one that’s hard to believe is ventilating your shelter in the winter. It’s temping to think that you can bundle all of your warmth by keeping the tent closed up tight, but it doesn’t work like that. Throughout the night your breath and body heat will condensate, and without ventilation will leave the inside of your tent wet, and thus colder. I know it seems backwards, but waking up really damp and wet is not a fun way to start your day. Again, in a survival situation that could be the start of hypothermia, which you cannot afford.
If you are looking for some some gear ideas, tips, or advice you can check out my site SurvivalCache – The Gear Site for Survivalists or follow on Twitter
© 2010, thesurvivalmom. All rights reserved.


This is a great list - the website is at the bottom of the article.
Electric can openerManual can opener
Manual wall mounted can opener
GI K-9 emergency can opener
Pocketknife can opener blade
Wire whisk
Martini shaker
Egg beaterKnife
Food chopper
Handcrank blender
Rechargeable portable blenderElectric mixerWire whisk for thin batters
Large wooden spoon for thicker batters
Egg beater for whipping
Hand crank mixerBread mixer or bread machineStrong arms and hands!
Hand crank mixer
Food processor
Pastry blender
Two tableknives
Wire whisk
Egg beater
Food chopper
Manual food processor
CrockpotSolar oven
Norwegian stove
Wonder Box
ropane slow cooker
Campfire or stove top toaster
Campfire forks
Egg cookerSaucepan of water
Solar oven
Add a poaching insertGrain mill
Manual grain mill
Coffee grinder (for small amounts)
Popcorn popper
Campfire popcorn popper
Stove top popcorn popper
Waffle ironCampfire waffle iron
Stove top waffle iron
Sandwich maker
Camp cooker or pie iron
Hand juicer
Citrus press
Cooler with ice
Portable thermo electric cooler
Portable gas refrigerator
Propane, natural gas or kerosene refrigerator
Solar electric refrigerator
Cool gardie safe or bamboo iceless refrigerator
Pot-in-pot refrigeratorCold streamRoot cellar
Gas stove/oven/rangeL
iquid fuel camp stove
Portable collapsible oven
Propane camp oven
Lantern cooker
Gas or charcoal grill
Dutch oven
Wood burning fireplace
Solar oven
Canned heat stove
Tin can stove
Butane, propane or kerosene stove
Chafing dish
Propane skillet
Apple Box oven
Rocket stove
Hot water and soap
Garbage disposal
Compost pile
Domesticated animals
Sad iron (heavy metal iron heated by another source)
Butane iron
Clothes washer
Washboard and tub
Washing plunger and tub
Pressure hand washer
Clothes dryer
Drying rack
Sewing machine
Needle and thread
Treadle sewing machine
Vacuum cleaner
Broom and dustpan
Dust mop
Floor sweeper
Electric razor
Safety razor
Strap razor
Electric toothbrush
ToothbrushStick with shredded endFinger
Curling iron
Butane curling iron
Hair rollersBlow dryerCordless hair dryer (still in patent approval)
Alarm clock
Battery operated clock
Wind-up clock
Door knocker
Manual door bell
Computer/word processor/printer
Pen, pencil and paper
Manual typewriter
Electric typewriter
Pen, pencil and paper
Manual typewriter
Electric pencil sharpener
Small knife
Hand held pencil sharpener
Manual schoolroom pencil sharpener
Wireless telephoneLand line telephone
Battery operated fan
Hand operated fan
Hand held fan
Wind blowing through wet sheets
Battery operated television w/car adaptor
Battery powered radio
Hand crank radio
LightsCandles and matches
Flashlight and batteries
Hand crank flashlightLantern – battery powered, oil, propane, kerosene, candle, gas
Lamp –
oil, paraffin, kerosene
Battery recharger
Solar battery rechargerCell phone chargerDisposable charger
Battery operated charger
Hand crank charger
Solar charger
Car charger
Water heater
Any stove
Portable solar shower bag
Wood burning (or other fuels) stove
Propane or kerosene room heater
Extra clothes and blankets http://www.simplyprepared.com/alternatives_to_electrical_appliances_and_tools.htm

Self Reliance and Gardening

It seems like people are thinking about things a lot differently in today's economy than they have in the past. Self reliance has become a hot topic all of a sudden. Instinctively people know that we can't depend on the government or any other organization to just 'take care of us'. We must take the initiative to provide for our families and be prepared to provide for them NO MATTER what happens in our communities. One of the most important ways to be self reliant is to be able to grow your own food.

Shocking was the response of a 3rd grade girl to the question her teacher asked her, 'Where do vegetables come from?' She replied, 'The store'. There are many children who don't even know the plants that vegetables and fruits come from!

Education is the first step, but there is another relevant problem: The Growing Season.

I live in Idaho which means our last frost happens about Memorial Day and our first one in the fall is about Labor Day - that gives me 3 months to garden. Depending on your climate zone, most likely you won't always be able to grow food whenever you want. So we must go to battle with Mother Nature! The solution to be able to grow food year round is simple: a greenhouse. A greenhouse is something I am adding to my supplies this summer. I am so excited about it. I am learning about "greenhouse gardening" and add this to my preparedness skills.

As I have done the research and studied I have found there are so many benefits of owning a greenhouse, here are a few:
1. Grow food year round. No matter what your zone is you can produce year round. Many greenhouse owners have extended their growing season from just July and August to March - November without any heat supplement. What a huge difference!

2. Grow in any climate conditions. In a greenhouse YOU control the environment, not Mother Nature.

3. Added benefit for your family. A family who works and plays together stays together. Teaching, working and having fun in a greenhouse provides for added stability in your children. It also teaches them that vegetables do not come from the store. This is a video about greenhouse gardener's talking about the benefits to their families HERE
4. Basic Skills. Being self reliant also means that you have the skills necessary to survive in various situations. Knowing you have a method to provide food for your family, no matter the current conditions, decreases your stress level.

5 - Decrease in stress. Let's get real, digging in the dirt while in a warm greenhouse, even if the temperatures outsid are cold, heals anyone's stress level!

So next Christmas when I get to go out to my greenhouse and pick tomatoes and lettuce for our dinner, just wave at me as you drive by - well really slide by - I live in Idaho!

For more info on the greenhouse I am using you can e-mail brent@tuffgreenhouses.com