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Friday, October 8, 2010


I finally took a flying leap into the 21st century and picked up a smartphone. This thing does everything. It's a cell phone! No it's a GPS! No it's a kindle! No it's a mini laptop! If it's electronic this thing can do it or keep tabs on it. I'm liking it a lot. So what does it have to do with survival?

Smart phones have a generous amount of storage space and they come with a slot for mini sd cards. Get one of those SD card adapters and you can plug them into just about any modern computer or laptop. I can also just plug mine directly into my computer and use it as a flash drive. Load your phone up with all of the survival .pdfs and maps that you've got on hand and you don't even need cell phone reception to have useful information handy. Having hard copies of important manuals, maps and papers is a great idea but that can get prohibitively expensive, they take up a lot of space and they're extremely bulky and heavy to take with you.

There's an app for that. These things can do everything from scanning barcodes to make sure that you're getting the best deal on a product to giving you the lowdown on a business just by taking a picture of it. Hit a button and it will tell you about all of the local businesses in the area. Hit another button and you've got a homebrewing calculator that will tell you exactly what you need to make the kind of beer you want. They make accessing anything on the internet extremely simple and easy no matter where you're at. I thought that my netbook was convenient until I got this smart phone. It still doesn't quite replace a real computer but it's close. There are a lot of things that a smart phone can do that a computer can't but there's just no replacing a large screen and a full size keyboard for some applications.

Anyone will tell you that it's a good idea to have a phone with you when you go out to the woods. Take one of these with you and not only do you have a phone but you also have maps, gps, compass and any other information that you had the foresight to load onto it before you left. The less you have to carry the better. Whether you're bugging out cross country or just going for an afternoon hike all of the information that you need to get you to where you need to go is wrapped up in this little package.

There are some cons. The screen is small and can be hard to read. The virtual keyboards are getting better but they can be a pain, too. The battery life is also very short. You can buy extended batteries (as long as you don't have an Iphone) but you're still only looking at a day or so of battery life. You can also get a solar charger. There are some good, compact ones out there. Obviously, if the big disaster ends up being an EMP then you're likely to be stuck with a paper weight. If anything else goes down, though, it will be very helpful as long as you've already got the information you need saved on it. There are a lot more disasters that could disrupt cell phone service and the internet so have the information you think you'll need on your phone beforehand.

Perhaps my biggest issue with smartphones is that they record and track your personal information, usage and habits. When I start hearing about people getting rounded up for political views, race or religion then it's going in the trash. For right now, though, I'm not that paranoid about what they're doing with my information. There are apps that will allow you to remotely delete all personal information in the event that you lose your phone or it's stolen. The privacy issue really is my biggest concern but what can you do about that? If you do anything on the internet you're being tracked. If the government really wants to come after you they can already tap into your cell phone and listen to you even if you turn your phone off. There are complicated ways to get around this (or you can just stop using a cell phone or the internet) but for most of us they can find out what websites you visit, your buying habits who your friends are and even where you live without much trouble. If SHTF I'd rather have this extremely useful, compact, powerful tool with me. Until then it's quickly becoming my favorite item for day to day use.

Free Download - Safe Home Food Storage Guidelines

Having a long term food storage program is one of the essentials of being prepared but it should be done safely and properly. Here is a free download that can help you in your efforts to maintain a safe home food storage program.

The guidelines are available in a secure download here: Safe Home Food Storage (428 kb)

Staying above the water line!


My Family Preparing for TEOTWAWKI, by Peter B.

Mosin–NagantsImage via Wikipedia
Five years ago I really started watching the economy and the way the whole world was going. I started preparing then. I recently purchased two of JWR’s books. Both are great resources for those who have no idea of how to do things in a back to basic scenario. Being a former Eagle Scout, military man and a current Law Enforcement Officer (LEO), I already have skills to rely on. I never thought that being high tech was good, so I have centered on a low tech plan. “KISS” (keep it simple, stupid) is my motto. The easier the better and most unskilled people can learn quickly. My budget is not huge so I have to really think about what are important and needed verses wanting to have. Here is what we did to prepare for TEOTWAWKI.
First have a plan. If you have other like minded people talk about it, then decide on what you will do, stay or bug out. I prefer the bug out as there will likely be a lot of panicked people out there. Second have a set point to meet, preferably way outside the urban setting. A lot of states have a gazetteer map of you state. These are good because they offer both topographical, city, and land maps with easy to find reference points along top and bottom. Make sure each one of your groups has one and has the area remarked so it is easy to find in the chaos. If you have a retreat that’s the best. Make sure its rural and away from the big cities. If your like me because money is tight, have an area picked out where you can build something and regroup. Someplace to hold up that is defensible until other plans can be made or you meet someone willing to let you stay and hold up. Good field defenses can be made out of logs and dirt. Its inexpensive and easy to find. A good book on making field defensive fortifications can be found in most US armed forces manuals and can be found at most guns shows, half price book stores etc. Earthen retreats are also naturally camouflaged. Even with that said be prepared to move if its compromised. Have an alternate spot picked out and ready to move into.
Second is food. MREs are good because they don’t need water. Have a good supply (we personally have a three month freeze dried emergency food supply outside our normal stocked pantry) of bug out food. I used a company called “Daily Bread”. They had here three-month supply based on a family of five instead of the usual 1 person supply. The price was comparable and they took split payments making it affordable for a public servant's salary like mine. Water is also a must as much as you can stock. We have a small two burner propane stove with a small stock of propane (we live in the desert and it gets hot so we don’t store a lot) for it. I also bought two folding metal back pack stoves. They are easy to use and can burn anything, wood, coal heat tabs etc. Water also can be gotten from outside sources, creeks, streams etc. These can be boiled and clarified for human use. There are several good books on this and other skills so I won’t suggest any. Having said that I also got each one in my family two (cause two is one and one is none) US military canteens with cups. They fit on a belt easily and take up less space than a mess kit. So with freeze dried food I can use the folding stove to heat the water from a canteen or other source and in some cases boil it to kill bacteria in the metal canteen cups. Then add the food and in 10 minutes your meal is done. Afterward, you have one cup to clean, fold up the small stove and your off. I also found a three piece interlocking silverware set sold as a four pack. So each member has silverware. All easily compact and easy to carry.
Three is a good vehicle. I currently own a 1994 Chevrolet 1500 4x4 Suburban. It was a former Forestry Vehicle (cost me just $2,000) so it was well maintained. It has 82,000 miles on it now. Its our only vehicle at this time (went through some hard times lately with wife being sick). I keep up the maintenance on it so it’s ready to go. I don’t leave the tank under 3\4 full (We are currently looking to secure a diesel crew cab pickup truck. With dual tanks and possibly a third. Keeping those tanks full and having a lot of non-perishable stuff pre-loaded in the bed, better choice of fuel and range with three tanks). It’s a good tough vehicle and has been around a long time and is reliable. If you don’t own a good SUV or truck I would suggest highly securing one. Trucks and SUVs are a lot tougher than cars and most have four wheel drive and can go anywhere. And if you need to push through something you have a lot more weight than a car. With my Suburban I have a 42 gallon tank and with the third seat removed I can reliably store all our G.O.O.D. gear. My vehicle is a pretty simple 350 4 bolt main Chevy engine. I bought the Haynes manual for the whole vehicle and the engine and electronics manual. Most repairs on this can be made from the top of the hood. I do most of the maintenance myself so I learn how to work on it. When I was younger I hung around my grandfather a lot. He was a self educated man having grown up in the depression. He had a natural skill at figuring things out and knowing how to fix them. So I got a good hands on education at fixing stuff. When I don’t know how to do something I call a good friend of mine who was a mechanic by trade . He comes over and helps me, shows me what to do. In trade my wife usually feeds him well. As far as tools go I usually go to Harbor Freight. They are decent tools at lower cost.
Fourth are firearms. I have heard a lot of people talking about whether to have or not to have. I am a firm believer in the “right to bear arms”, but I also have a lot of training with guns. So if you have never used one get trained on safe handling and use of them first. Don’t just go out and buy one and think you can shoot. Having a gun is serious business and requires a lot maturity, safety and practice. Over the past five years I have tried to minimize having too many different calibers. I suggest finding out what you are comfortable shooting and what works for you. Go to the local indoor shooting range and spend a little money and time renting different guns to try. This way you can figure out what works for you before you dump a ton of cash on something you can’t shoot. Secondly again “KISS”, don’t go out and buy the most expensive gun with all the toys. Nothing makes up for the skill of being able to hit what you are shooting at. Example…Mr. Weekend Warrior with money to blow has never shot a gun but he goes out and buys an AR-15 for lets say $2000 that has all the latest and greatest gadgets. He rarely shoots it and has it for just in case. Now Mr. Middle Class has let’s say a Russian Mosin Nagant M-44 bolt action rifle that he purchased at Big 5 Sporting goods for $99. He goes out and shoots regularly and knows his gun. He doesn’t have all the bells and whistles on it but he knows how to shoot it and can really reach out and touch whatever he wants if he needs to. It severs dual purposes, defensive and hunting. Ammo is inexpensive for most old military rifles and there is a large surplus on the market. Whatever you choose to do make sure you know how to use the tool you are carrying. I personally have two Mosin’s and they are quite accurate. Ammo is inexpensive. I can buy 440 rounds [of corrosively-primed ammunition] in a sealed tin for roughly $85. I also suggest a good .22 handgun or rifle. They are inexpensive and you can carry a lot of rounds on you. A good caliber pistol is essential as a secondary weapon (Most LEOs carry two on them for this reason). I would suggest also a good shotgun, pump action preferred. You can hunt and defend yourself at the same time. With so many rounds for these guns it is so multipurpose. I would suggest if you decide on a shotgun get one with a turkey barrel. They are usually a little heavier barrel and are straighter than a smooth bore. I personally have made accurate body shots at the target range with slugs at 100 yards. So if I had one long gun to choose from it would be a pump action shotgun with a turkey barrel and rifle sights. You can hunt small game, large game, have close in protection with buckshot or reach out and touch something if you had to. Over the past two years I have tried really hard not to have to many calibers. I have three Glock 9mms. All have interchangeable parts and can use the same ammo and magazines. I have two Hungarian PA-63s in 9x18 Makarov. I got these in trade but they have turned out to be a simple robust pistol. Again they use the same mags, interchangeable parts and ammo. I have two Mosin Nagants. These are simple robust bolt rifles. Again, interchangeable parts, and commonality of ammo. I also used the "buy in pairs" .22 caliber pistols, rifles, shotguns and AK-47s. Do you see a trend here? Most Eastern European weapons where built with more loose tolerances than US made weapons. They are simple to use, very robust and less expensive than a lot of US made weapons. They work, and keep on working.
Fifth is gear. You can buy so many different types of gear. There is so many to choose from. And the prices range from cheap to I wouldn’t pay $2,000 for a backpack. If you have a family like me and a civil servants pay, you got to get the most from your dollar (not that it will be worth anything anytime soon). I personally bought good quality used ALICE packs and frames for my family. They are tough, roomy and work. I have carried one before and you can’t kill them. There are a lot of sites that have wholesale bargain prices like my personal favorite the sportsman’s guide. I have found a lot of things there that were discounted and if you’re a club member you usually get 5-10 dollars off the price and discounted shipping. The products I have ordered are good quality surplus items that are battle tested and work. Again learn your gear, try it out cause if you don’t know how to use it its worthless. Also look around your house first, you can find a lot of useful stuff to put in your gear before you go spend a lot of money (have personally went out and bought stuff then found something similar at home I could have used and saved money) so check first then go out and buy. You can find good quality new and used BDUs and sometimes you can find deals like 5 sets for $25. They are durable and have lots of pockets. Good quality boots are essential so here you will spend a little money. I like Bates LEO boots. Lace up fronts with side zippers. I have a pair that I bought five years ago. I still wear them for kick’in around in. I also had a pair that I was wearing at work and had to get real wet to save a family from drowning. I let them dry for a day. I still use them for duty use and they have shown no ill effects from getting wet. Socks are also essential you can find 12 packs at Costco for a low price. Good folding knives and sheath knives also a must. Again you can find them a most sporting goods stores like Big 5 when they have sales. Medical kits are important. I put together my own in a back pack that has a portable stretcher inside. Has two side zip detachable pouches that hold medicines, surgical tools, bandages etc. I also like the Medic M17 bag. You can get them for around $150 to $200, depending on which site you go to. One kit has pretty much everything you need. Dental temporary fillings and picks are important too. You can find temporary dental filling at Wal-mart for about $2.50. Most surgical tools and Dental picks you can find inexpensively at your local gun shows. You can also find a wide array of medical supplies there also, trauma bandages, sutures etc., that you can’t find in the local drug store. Costco is a great place to find big packs of pain relievers, vitamins etc. So finding good discount gear is affordable, you just have to look. 
The most single important thing you can do in my opinion though is learn. Train to survive. Take classes on firearms, self defense and living on little to nothing. No one can prepare for every scenario. I live everyday life not knowing what I am going to walk into being a LEO. So because of that I have taken every course I could, first aid, dealing with stressful situation, self defense, combat handgun, rifle and shotgun etc. In the end your mind is the most dangerous and best weapon you could ever have. I believe in being a jack of all trades master of none, so I am well rounded. Be prepared for stress it’s going to happen. There are a couple of good books on the psychology of combat and killing by a great man, Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman. I have personally attended his seminars and read his books they have great insight on what to expect and how to deal with it. Any good books you can get your hands on, and I mean good reputable authors not some fly by night writer, read them and then read it again. It’s not necessarily the ability to remember but rather the ability to recall what you learned when you are presented with a situation. When it happens it’s like a file in the back of your head that surfaces and you go, wow I remember reading this somewhere and I can do this. Believe me there are so many things that I do day to day that people ask me how do you remember all that stuff, how can you multitask without thinking about it. Well for one I read a lot, two I train all the time so it is instinctive, three I have a mindset that I am going to get through this and survive. It becomes instinctive. Think about it everyday you do things without having to think about it. So add survival skills, combat skills and mental preparation to your every day life. Before long you won’t even have to think about it, you will just react. You have to believe in yourself and be confident that you can do this. If you panic your no good. Be a sheep dog…..be a warrior." Be a leader, not a herd animal. There’s an old saying amongst warrior types…"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I shall fear no evil….For I am the biggest baddest guy in this valley”. Usually there are some colorful metaphors added but I will keep it clean. Having a winning survival mindset is imperative. If you believe it, it will happen. If you believe you can do it you will. Just remember to temper it will common sense. Get your spouse and children involved too. You can teach your kids valuable skills without making it look gloomy. Take them camping, learn to build fires, pitch a tent, cook over a fire. Take them to a shooting range, my kids love to go as a family and learn the skills to shoot while having fun. Changing the oil in the car, etc. Anything you can do together is valuable and good family time.
Oh and don’t forget to buy silver, probably the only currency we will have to fall back on. Be safe, prepare, be a good Christian, help others when you can because in the end we will rebuild and carry on!

Where do I Store it?

There are many places to store food storage even when space is tight. It may take some ingenuity but it can be done. Here are a few suggestions:
  1. Under beds: One sister replaced her bed frame with number 10 tin cans. She said the bed frame was easier to collapse and store somewhere else.
  2. In a closet: Build and extra shelving if possible or extend shelving that is already there. Place water/ food storage under your coats in your coat closets.
  3. Decorative ledges: If you have high vaulted ceiling with decorative ledges that is another source of storage.
  4. Food Storage Furniture: Make end tables out of food storage and cover with a decorative cloth.
  5. Garages or Decks: Caution make sure you don’t put you heat sensitive material out there. We do live in a hot desert.
Remember to label your food storage with content and dates. It will save time in the future and make it easier to find and use.

Here is a video that was done a couple years ago. Here are various ways and places to store your food storage.
Kim lives in an apartment and has found great ways to maximize her space!

Rachelle and Holly both use their guest rooms as the housing place for their food storage.Popout

There is nothing really special about how or where I (Lisa) store my food storage (it's just in a closet), however... last year I had NO food storage or 72 hour kits. I started coming to the Self-Reliant meetings that Tonya, Holly and Rachelle started, and it got me inspired AND smart about shopping. All the food storage that I have is from shopping smarter during my weekly shopping trips (and once a month Cannery). My grocery bill has actually gone down AND I have food storage!Popout
This is my updated 2009 video with more food storagePopout
Tonya uses the unique spaces in her house for food storage.Popout
Amy converted part of her 3rd car garage into a food storage room.

Make your own Bug Out Bag

One of my first postings here on California Preppers Network was what I stored in my wifes Bug Out Bag.  Below are some considerations when preparing to put one together.

The world seems to be growing more dangerous with each passing day. That’s not to say we’re on the verge of descending into barbarism or a return to the Dark Ages, but there are times in your life when you need to be prepared for the unexpected … a time when you may need survival kits.

There are survival kits that cover different specific needs and this article will describe some of the most common of these kits that you can build with little or no difficulty. It’s a good idea to do so because if you leave home for days or weeks at a time – for any number of different reasons – you may find that you will need a survival kit when a sudden, unanticipated crisis affects you directly.

Here is a short list of some of the most important survival kits and what items they need to contain … for your well-being and for that of your family as well.

Start with the Every Day Carry (EDC). Consider this Every Day Carry kit (EDC) something that you need to have with you at all times. As you’ll note, many of the items are obvious and are things that you should already carry with you daily. The entire list, based on your personal needs and likes, should include all of the following: personal identification … credit cards … hard cash … a cell phone, if you use one … small, but necessary, tools such as knives and similar items … personal protection … keychain-based tools, if you have them … and more. Obviously, it can get cumbersome if you carry too many items so stick with what you know you need to have with you … items that can fit in your wallet or on a keychain.

Move on to your very own Personal Survival Kit (PSK). If you’re not a “survivalist,” you may think that this “kit” is unnecessary. If you believe that, you are wrong. Personal Survival Kits can prove to be very useful. In fact, they can become critically important if you engage in such outdoor activities as hunting, fishing, hiking, or off-road trips into wilderness areas. It’s possible that in any of those outdoor adventures, you may suddenly find yourself stranded, separated from fellow adventurers, injured and/or isolated, and you will need “the basics” in order to survive for a couple of days or, perhaps, even longer. What items belong in this kit? You need to start with many of the personal identification items listed in the EDC Kit. And then you need more. When traveling for adventure, you would be wise to fill a backpack with items (of your choosing) that help you address these needs – water … food gathering … identification … navigation … signaling ability … and more. These items need to be compact so that they can fit into your backpack or military duffel bag (another option).

Next … the 24-Hour kit (GHB/Get-Home-Bag). This somewhat large “savior” fills the gap for you between the first two survival kits. Call it the Get-Home-Bag. It should be about the size of a standard school backpack and should hold such essentials as: food and water … emergency, dry clothing … a warm blanket … an oversized tarp … and personal hygiene products. This kit will serve your needs if you find yourself stranded, perhaps hurt, and about a full day from home. It will sustain you for about 24 hours, even longer, until you are able to overcome your difficulties. The best place to keep this kit is right in the trunk of your vehicle so that it will always be available when you need it.

A Traveler’s Essential … the Car kit. If you drive (anywhere) you need this kit. It should include items that will help you overcome unexpected car troubles: jumper cables … fix-a-flat …an air compressor … a flashlight … a fire extinguisher … coolant … and anything else that you can store neatly and conveniently in a toolbox in the trunk of your car.

For big problems you need the 72-Hour kit (the Bug Out Bag). It has been said that three days is about as long as a person can anticipate waiting to be rescued. If that’s true, and statistics bear it out, this 72-Hour kit, also known as the Bug out Bag, includes everything you and your loved ones will need to survive until help comes to the rescue. An important aspect of this kit is that it should be portable so that you can carry it with you if the crisis that victimized you and your family requires evacuation. Three days can be a long time, of course, and as such, this kit should begin with a large backpack and contain such items as sleeping bags, cookware, food and water. If room permits, include sweets and toys, too, if children will be with you.

At home or away, you need a First Aid kit. This is, of course, a no-brainer. Cuts, bruises, scrapes and other small injuries happen all the time. A First Aid kit, whether purchased in a store or one you’ve put together on your own, is essential. Moreover, it belongs everywhere you go … in your car and in your home, as well.

There are many other survival kits you can put together to meet your specific needs, all based on the lifestyle you lead. The kits mentioned here, as I stated earlier, are among the most common … easy to put together … inexpensive … and, because you like the outdoors life, necessary.

For more fun and interesting stuff, come visit me at Prepare to Survive in California.

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