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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Survivalist’s Bucket List

There’s a lot more to being prepared than simply stockpiling a bunch of stuff. It’s knowledge and skill that often makes the difference between being a survivor or a statistic.
Just as in stockpiling goods, in a long-term crisis the more knowledge and skills that you have about how to deal with a wide variety of situations and challenges the better off you’ll be. However, unlike stockpiling. knowledge cannot be purchased. It’s gained through study, learning, and practice.
You may be saying,”Well, I have a bunch of books on how to deal with every type of situation, and if I can read it, I can learn it”. Although I do highly recommend having a Survival Library, having only books on hand — while helpful — is not ideal. You don’t want your family to be dependent upon you learning a skill for the first time in the midst of a crisis and some skills take years to develop.
With that in mind, here’s a Bucket List of skills you may want to consider. This is in no way exhaustive or in order of importance but should get you started:
  • Sewing, Clothes Making and Repair: Learn how to quilt, crochet, knit, sew, spin, weave, and how to make clothes from basic patterns. It might be a good idea to pick up an antique manual pedal driven sewing machine. Many of them sell for quite cheap through Craigslist.
  • Auto Mechanics and Engine Repair: Learn how to change oil, fix brakes, tune up engines, repair common issues (replacing water pump, alternator, etc) and so on. Included in this subject is small-engine repair/tuneups like chainsaws, generators etc.
  • Animal Husbandry: Learn how to raise rabbits, chickens, goats and other animals provided you have the space and your zoning laws allow.
  • Soap and Candle Making: This includes homemade oil lamps as well.
  • Butter, Cheese and Yogurt Making: Be sure any needed ingredients are part of your food storage.
  • Martial Arts: This could be boxing, ground fighting, knife fighting, stick fighting, and other forms of armed and unarmed hand-to-hand combat skills.
  • Marksmanship and Defensive Shooting: There are many excellent top-rate schools that teach marksmanship as well as personal and home defense with firearms. For excellent marksmanship training, I highly recommend The Appleseed Project events that are held nationwide.
  • Wilderness Survival and Primitive Skills: This includes local plant identification and use (edible, medicinal, and utilitarian); shelter building; water collection, storage and purification; fire making (using primitive and modern methods); animal snares; fishing; and much more
  • Outdoor Skills: Separate from wilderness survival (but related) is basic outdoor skills such as knot-tying, navigation, hunting, trapping, mountaineering, tracking and so on.
  • Medical Training: This should really go beyond first aid. Ideally you’ll want to take EMT or paramedic courses.
  • Radio Communication: This includes small-band, CB and other forms of radio communication. Ideally you’ll want to get your Ham operating license.
  • Metal-Working Skills: Learn welding, casting, blacksmithing. Also included in this subject is machining and other fabrication methods.
  • Food Preservation: Here’s where you’ll want to learn canning, smoking, pickling, dehydrating, and curing.
  • Food Preparation: Learn how to use all that bulk-stored food you’ve got squirreled away. Also included in this subject is food preparation off the grid — using wood/charcoal stoves, fire pit cooking, solar ovens etc.
  • Gardening: This is one of those skill you can’t simply pull a book off your shelf, read it, and expect to be very successful at. You’ll want to learn this now to fully understand how to work with your particular climate and soil type. It also takes a bit of time to work up your soil to be its most productive.
  • Bartering: This will be a very useful skill in an extended crisis situation. There are many flea markets and other local venues where you can practice this skill.
  • Entertainment: Learn to play an instrument, sing, or learn other performing art skills . During tough times, moral is low. Entertainment can otherwise lighten a heavy heart.
  • Home Repair and Maintenance: Learn the basics of carpentry, electrical wiring, painting, plumbing, masonry and so on. If you live in a remote area then being able to drill wells, clear land, surveying, and home construction techniques are also ideal.
Looking at this list you’re probably thinking that even a few of these areas would take a lifetime to really learn well — and you’re right. Don’t be so concerned about learning them all yourself. That’s the importance of community. As my friend Kevin Reeve says, “Training trumps gear, but community trumps training”. The more knowledgeable people you can gather in your circle of close friends, the better off you’ll all be.
As far as not having enough time, start now by turning off the television. Or quit waisting time golfing and get out there and practice some skills that can really be of benefit to you and others. Many of these skills can be practiced as a family. If it’s important to you, you’ll find the time.

Related posts:

  1. How Learning Primitive Skills Could One Day Save Your Tail

G.O.O.D. Planning--Did You Remember Everything?

Over the past few years there have been numerous very useful articles submitted regarding bugging out or Get Out of Dodge (G.O.O.D.) as they say, if a major regional or national disaster occurs. The articles focus on a number of issues such as the problems/hazards relating to simply getting home from work, making contact with the spouse who may be shopping or getting the kids from school. Then the writers cover the need for a ready bug-out bag “BOB.“ There are suggestions about having the vehicle already (at least partly) packed with enough supplies for either a few days or to get them to their camp or retreat. Then the writer grabs the kids and spouse and hopefully, with enough fuel, takes off and tries to beat having the highway getting jammed up before they get out of town. This is all well and good and I’ve followed all of this advice. But, I never hear them mention kissing grandma and grandpa good-by on the way.
We preppers/survivalists or whatever, seem to forget that we (almost) all have parents, grandparents or sick or elderly members of the family that really should be included in our plans. They may be living alone, not be ambulatory or simply not really able to take care of themselves. We can rationalize about shooting those “Golden Hordes” when they try to take our food but can we really leave grandma behind? Okay. Maybe it’s time for lazy, and too often drunk, Uncle Joe to forge for himself and we can’t fit all of the cousins in the car anyway, but let’s look at that immediate family.
First, maybe it’s a family member’s house we’re heading for. Do they know and are they in agreement that you might show up unexpectedly and have they been briefed as to what might happen? Can the house handle you size-wise and with emergency power and foodstuffs? Of course, you should have stored much of that stuff ahead of time in preparation for such an event. If their location is so desirable however, might other family members, maybe from the other side of the family tree show up? Now, is the ole’ farmhouse still large enough and with enough food? And remember, those folks are going to think they have just as much right to be there as you. And of course, they’re on board regarding pulling their share of the responsibilities.
But what if say, the wive’s (oops, now there’s two sets), parents or grandparents live as many do, in a small condo or apartment, or group home do your plans include trying to pick them up? If they need special medical care and you won’t be able to provide it at your retreat, well, maybe you’ll just have to swallow and live with it. But what if they just need special medication? Do you have some stocked ahead, along with whatever your immediate family may need? What about something as simple as a wheelchair? Maybe you can squeeze grandpa in the back with the kids and the dog, but what about it? Remember, the trunk is already full with your emergency supplies. Have you given thought about the folks living in a distant city or town? Has someone in the family arranged to have somebody (trustworthy, of course, and even then, if the SHTF, they’re likely to be affected also) look after them and get compensated later?
After reading the book "One Second After" it’s hard not to think about those elderly or sick folks in the hospital or nursing home when the lights went out. They’ve got to be considered or you’re not going to live with yourselves all nice and snug in your shelter up in the foothills if you don’t. Outside of everybody moving out to a safe place ahead of time, which is impossible for those tied to their jobs, there are no easy solutions and I certainly don’t have any real answers except that the whole idea of G.O.O.D. when that threat occurs should take into consideration who you might be leaving behind. - H.B.

What Hapens When You Can't Connect Electronically?

This symbol is presumably recognized worldwide...

I received a short comment on the last blog post I wrote about electronic communications from a reader. Their question was simply, how do you communicate when all communications system go down?
Here's my answer. Note how limited your alternatives are when the communications systems that we have come to depend on don't work.
  • HAM radio. Time and again, when there is a major disaster, HAM radio usually becomes the only way to communicate. I highly recommend that everyone become certified, at least at the most basic technician level, to use a HAM radio and then go out and buy a basic radio.
  • Computer/internet. If you have power to your computer (a laptop with a battery or a generator), and to your modem/router there is a possibility that your internet provider will have a back-up battery system which will allow them to continue to provide internet service as long as the battery holds out.
  • 2-way FRS radios. These are the radios that you can buy in a set at Walmart that have a short one to two mile range. Families often use these for communications when they are on vacation out in the woods, on a cruise ship, or other places where regular cell service isn't available.
  • Cell phone/texting. Even when the power is out, your cell phone may still work. Most cell towers have some sort of battery back-up so that the tower can still work, at least for a few hours after power has been lost. Note that if cell circuits are overloaded, as they probably will be right after a disaster, you may still be able to send a text message through.
  • Your own two feet. I was recently invited to observe a full scale disaster exercise at a large company. The scenario was an earthquake which took out all power and communications among other things. As soon as the exercise started, the phones in the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) started ringing off the hook. People in the EOC would pick up the phone and say "this is a drill, the phones are not working". The people on the other end of the line would then ask how they were supposed to communicate with the EOC if they couldn't call. Simple, the Emergency Management Team members would say, send a runner to the EOC with your information. It hadn't dawned on most of the people in this large complex of buildings that should the power go out and if they didn't have radios, they will be literally walking to get the things/news/information they need.
  • Written messages. Long before cell phones, and even before CBs became popular, our preferred method of communicating with people that we had plans to meet with up in the mountains were simple signs, written with a black marker on a white paper plate, tacked to a tree. If you have no power and no services and no communications for an extended period of time, that may need to be an option for you too. Basic signs can be pre-staged in your home. Messages can range from OK to NEED HELP to NEED WATER, or other messages that you are likely to use during a disaster. The bigger the letters and the more contrast in the color, the easier it will be for others to see.
In an emergency, you can send a runner, or run yourself, to the local fire department/police department/hospital/road department office/other critical infrastructure location which is likely to have emergency communications equipment. Remember, however, that these agencies really do not want to see people flooding their location during a disaster. They will be busy mounting their own emergency response and unless it is literally a life or death situation, your needs will pale in comparison to that of the community at large, so only do this in a dire emergency.

Simply Simplifying

There are times in your life when you realize that things are not as they should be.  A vital component is missing in your day to day life, but you are unsure what it is.  There is so much chaos and clutter spinning around you that nothing seems to make sense the way it used to.
You realize that the lifestyle to which you’ve become so accustomed is a necessary evil, a constant struggle between the life you want to achieve and the life you have to give up right now to achieve it. But you don’t have to live your life dreaming of what it could be – you can stop spinning and start simplifying right now!
It starts with a willingness to change and the willingness to realize that you need to get back to basics and focus on the things that matter most, not at hopefully achieving those things at some time in the future, but right now.

Shifting Your Direction

Those who live a stress filled life tend to be very familiar with the Three C’s: Chaos, Clutter and Confusion.  It does not make for a happy existence.  In fact, it drags you and your spirit down.  In plain words, it’s toxic.  In order to avoid this altogether, start making minor changes in your life to naturally shift your perspective. Peter Holy, founder of 123 Feel Better, calls them micro movements. The key to achieving your goals, according to 123 Feel Better, is to break your goals down into their smallest, most manageable parts. Where you may feel tired or overworked attempting to achieve a single, massive goal in one fell swoop, simplifying that goal into micro movements will seem like you’re hardly working.
Realizing that you want to take this journey towards simplicity requires some preemptive planning on your part.  To begin this, you must find some time to reflect and think about what is important and how to enhance those priorities.  For example, if  family is a main priority, start scheduling a designated family time.  The football game can wait.  Or, if you have been putting off planning your off-grid home, sit down with the family and start planning what you want your homestead to incorporate. Nothing should interfere with those designated priorities.  Here are some additional tips.
  • Sit down and contemplate the priorities in your life.  What matters most in your life? What can you live without?
  • Set short and long term goals to get to your simplified destination.
  • Break down each goal and create micro movements, or mini-goals, that will help you to achieve success
  • Take actionand start integrating your micro movements into your daily life.

6 Practical Tips to Simplify Your Life

After shifting your direction toward simplifying your life, you will find that you only need a few things to really make you happy.  Somehow in the middle of everything, you realize that whatever void you had in yourself before, filling it with superfluous products, services and habits often leaves you feeling just the opposite – unfulfilled.
Many are adopting this voluntary simplicity.  In fact, trend researcher Gerald Celente has been quoted in saying that “between 5%-7% of adults are pursuing some type of voluntary simplicity.”  It should be no surprise, then, that the percentage of those who are simplifying their lives are also the same percentage of individuals who are prepping.  Preppers are already practicing living a more simplified lifestyle.  Here are a few tips to help you begin your road to a simpler life:
  • Simplify your finances - Having debt creates a lot of unwanted stress and uneasiness in your life.  Start making steps to live within your means and start paying off any unnecessary debt.  Do some research into what credit solutions seem right for you.  There are websites available that can give tips on how to reduce debt.  Creating a manageable budget can also be an invaluable tip to reducing credit and stress.
  • Simplify your life-  Get back to the basics and downsize your life.  Start weeding out the areas in your life that cause you pain, suffering and confusion.  Sometimes you have to weed out those toxic friends, stop hanging out late at night in order to get up early, learn to say “no” to people.  Over-committing yourself can also cause a build up of chaos.  Start prepping!  Preparing for emergencies beforehand creates a safety cushion to fall back on in case an emergency arises.  It eliminates the headache of gathering supplies in a high stress environment.  There are plenty of sources to start your preparedness journey.
  • De-clutter Your Home and Office – It’s easy to have those organized “catch all piles” laying in strategic places around the house.  But the more clutter that piles up, the more disorganized things are in your life.  Clutter brings an uneasiness to life.  Make a short term goal to clear these piles out.  If you are not using these items, then throw them away, give them away or sell these items in a garage sale.
  • Simplify your health – Research has shown that stress takes it’s toll on a body.  Those who live a stress free life are more inclined to live longer, be healthier and overall pleased with their life.  So, start getting some fresh air every day.  Additionally, cutting back on those greasy junk food items is another way to clean and detoxify your body.
  • Rely on yourself – What a great concept!  By relying on yourself, you will find freedom.  This is the threshold to prepping.  Once you realize that you can be self reliant, everything changes.  Your goals change, your attitude changes, you change.
  • Feed your spirit – This is often a highly overlooked area.  If you do not feed your spirit on a regular basis, it will not grow. That is the missing component in most of our lives.  We forget how important this is.  Try and do something every week to be at one with your spirit.   Some people meditate, some pray, some go to Nature to be in thought, some climb mountains – find what brings you peace and continue doing it.  Because, without a spiritual foundation, we are lost.

The Time/Energy Yield

In the spin cycle we call life, we spend our time and energy on work and other distractions that keep us from doing what we need to thrive.  Rather than spending our time on what’s important in life and sitting back in quiet thought, we have to entertain ourselves with thoughtless television programming, gossip websites or magazines, etc.  It’s important to relax, but these activities will not relax you.  They will only stimulate you into not moving or thinking.  Your time/energy yield is not a positive reflection of what you are trying to accomplish.  An example of good time/energy yield would be: rather than exchanging your time for excessive work at the office to generate more money to buy more food at the store; take that time, and rather than going to the office, spend that time building and developing a home vegetable garden.  You will use your time and energy to not only fulfill your consumptive needs, but you will be feeding your spiritual, emotional and physical wellness needs at the same time.

Starting Fresh

It’s a new day where anything is possible. Simplifying your life will create more room for you to do what you need to be at peace. I’ve read stories of people who dreamed of living near the water.  So, in order to save money, they sold their McMansion, their gas guzzler truck and bought a boat.  They found a creative solution to their problem that ended up being the right decision not only for their stress load, but also for their spirit.
Making the realization to simplify does not mean that you are giving up your life in order to live a life of poverty.  Quite the contrary, it means to getting rid of the non-essentials that cloud your life.  By ridding yourself of these non-essentials, you begin to clear the distortion and haze, and begin concentrating on the important things in life.  This sensible lifestyle creates a well balanced and harmonious living environment.  Think of it, you are deliberately taking the reins and slowing down your life to actually give yourself the opportunity to look at the beauty and treasures surrounding you.

Hands-only CPR saves more lives in cardiac arrests

By CARLA K. JOHNSON, AP Medical Writer Carla K. Johnson, Ap Medical Writer – Tue Oct 5, 5:10 pm ET

CHICAGO – Hands-only CPR doesn't just eliminate the "yuck factor." A new study shows it can save more lives.

It's the first large American study to show more adults survived cardiac arrest when a bystander gave them continuous chest presses to simulate a heartbeat, compared to traditional CPR with mouth-to-mouth breathing.

"Anyone who can put one hand on top of the other, lock their elbows and push hard and fast can do this. No risk, no fear of causing harm," said lead author Dr. Ben Bobrow of the Arizona Department of Health Services in Phoenix.

"We want to take away all the reasons bystanders do nothing when they witness another person collapse."

With hands-only CPR, advocates say, potential rescuers don't have to contemplate what for some could be the "yuck factor" of putting their mouth to an unconscious person's mouth and breathing for them.

For others, the trimmed-down method simplifies a confusing procedure learned years ago and barely remembered — How many breaths? How many chest compressions? Are you supposed to pinch the nose?

Standard CPR with mouth-to-mouth and chest compressions is still best for very small children and victims of near-drowning and drug overdose, experts say, instances where breathing problems probably led to the cardiac arrest.

Nonstop chest compressions work better for adult cardiac arrest because most people take too long to do mouth-to-mouth, said senior author Dr. Gordon Ewy (pronounced AY'-vee) of the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center.

After cardiac arrest, oxygenated blood can't get to the brain without help. Most rescuers take about 16 seconds to perform two CPR breaths — long enough to starve the organs of oxygen.

"Your hands are their heart," Ewy said. "When you stop pressing on the chest, blood flow to the brain stops."

A 2007 study of 4,068 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in Japan found similar results, but other studies have found no difference between the two CPR methods.

The study, which appears in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association, is also the first to show a statewide awareness campaign can increase bystanders' willingness to try CPR.

Arizona reached 500,000 people through public service announcements, YouTube, free classes, e-mails and inserts in utility bills, all promoting hands-only CPR.

Researchers looked at 4,415 adult cardiac arrests outside of hospitals in Arizona from 2005 to 2009 during the campaign.

The rate of bystanders attempting any type of CPR increased from 28 percent in 2005 to 40 percent in 2009. Bystanders were more likely to use hands-only CPR over traditional CPR as time went on.

And victims who got hands-only were more likely to survive: 113 of 849 victims (13 percent) who received the hands-only method survived, compared to 52 of 666 victims (about 8 percent) who received conventional CPR.

Greg Stewart, a 54-year-old father of five, is one of the survivors thanks to hands-only CPR. His heart stopped at his Scottsdale, Ariz., home as he and his wife, Lu Ann, sat down to watch "Survivor" on television last year. She called 911.

"The dispatcher told me what to do. I got him out of the chair and onto the floor and at that point his face was really, really dark," Lu Ann Stewart said. She fought down panic.

With her daughter taking over the 911 call, Lu Ann began pressing her husband's chest.

"I got up on my knees and just started pressing as hard as I could. By golly, his color started to lighten," she said. She kept pushing hard and fast, ignoring her tired muscles. "He was gone a long time. I kept the blood pumping."

Minutes later — "it felt like hours" — paramedics arrived and took over.

Today, Greg Stewart is grateful.

"She's not a big lady," he said of his wife, his childhood sweetheart. "And yet she kept going and kept going."

His cardiac arrest was the result of a heart attack from blocked arteries; he later had bypass surgery.

The steps:

• If someone collapses, doesn't respond to gentle shaking and stops normal breathing, call 911 or tell someone else to call.

• With the victim on his back, place the heel of one of your hands atop the other on the middle of the victim's breastbone.

• Lock your elbows. With your shoulders over your hands, fall forward using your body weight. Press 100 times a minute. Think of the Bee Gees song "Stayin' Alive" for the tempo.

• If an automated external defibrillator is available, switch it on and follow the instructions.

• If not, continue chest compressions until paramedics arrive.

In 2008, the American Heart Association said hands-only CPR works just as well as standard CPR for sudden cardiac arrest in adults. Later this month, the association plans to announce new CPR guidelines and is keeping them under wraps until then.

Guidelines committee chair Dr. Michael Sayre said the Arizona findings are too new to have been considered.

"Certainly their findings are compelling," Sayre said.

Sayre said he's impressed by the increase in bystander CPR achieved in Arizona.

"The real problem we have isn't the small difference between methods of CPR," he said. "The real problem we have is people doing nothing."



Arizona CPR campaign: http://www.azshare.gov

JAMA: http://jama.ama-assn.org