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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Home Canning Basics Part 2

Urban Survival Tip - Finding Emergency Shelter

Urban Survival Tip - Finding Emergency Shelter

Many people fail to realize that the vast majority of homeless people are very smart. They know how to survive and have become masters at the art of survival. Finding emergency shelter is one of the practices that many homeless people are very good at finding in an urban environment. Learning some of their simple tricks can help you to adapt to your urban surroundings in an emergency or crisis.

The most common form of emergency shelter in an urban environment is the clothing donation box. Many look like little houses and most even have a pitched roof. Homeless people have known about and used these for shelter for a long time. In larger cities they are everywhere and can provide a ready-made shelter from the cold and the rain. They can also provide a source of additional clothing if needed. Even in smaller towns they can be easily found and work great as a form of emergency urban shelter.

Got emergency urban shelter?

Staying above the water line!


When GPS goes Bad

“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.”
-Robert Louis Stevenson

I love GPS; my wife does not. She does not trust it and would rather use a paper map. And she's right. GPS is a great tool but never trust it 100%.

When we drove from NY to Winnipeg, Canada, last summer, the GPS led us to a bridge that no longer exists. We could see that there was once a bridge but it had been torn down and replaced by a new bridge perhaps a mile away. This was a case where we had to trust our eyes and overrule the GPS.

A similar event occurred to a man in Spain but with tragic result. Man Drowns After GPS Guides Him Into a Lake. "The driver was following the GPS directions when the car fell into the water, sinking in just a few minutes. Apparently, it was a very dark night in a bad rural road. The man was a foreigner who didn't know the area. When he saw the end of the road, it was too late. He didn't have time to stop the car."

The day before in Switzerland, a van became stuck on a "glorified goat trail" while following GPS instructions (pictured above). The van was air-lifted out.

A friend of ours said no one would believe that her GPS sent her on to dirt roads during a trip. We replied that we understood perfectly. The same happened to us last summer as we experience many dirt roads in the farm country of Wisconsin.  Many new GPS have a travel setting to exclude dirt roads from trip routes.

Another thing to keep in mind is that GPS positioning is not 100% accurate. We often find our GPS is about 100 yds off in predicting when to turn. Once I was on an access road adjacent to and parallelling a highway and the GPS thought I was on the highway and was not helping us in finding an on-ramp.
Bottom Line

Trust your eyes, not the GPS.

If you speed on strange roads at night or in fog you might not be able to brake or stop if the road suddenly curves or ends. I recall two such incidents. Once in the fog I was cruising down an empty road I'd never driven before when suddenly there was a barrier and the road ended without warning. (maybe I missed the warning?) Another time I drove nearly the entire North-South length of Idaho on a mountain highway. I thought the speed signs on curves were mostly for trucks and that I could safely do 10 mph higher than the suggested speed in my car. And I could, usually, except once. There was one very sharp curve that got my adrenaline pumping as I had to fight for control to keep my car within my lane and not drifting in to oncoming traffic. Lesson learned - don't speed on unfamiliar roads.

2-Way Radios for Emergency Kit or Preps



Communications. It is an integral part of modern life, and the number of electronic communication gadgets that are available to us today is staggering.
During an emergency survival situation, our common methods of communication might not be available to us. The power may be out, or we might not be located near enough to a cell phone tower to get signal.
Having a pair of 2-way radios is an excellent survival preparedness measure that will serve you during an emergency, and will provide you countless uses during normal times.
2-way radios do not rely on anything external like cell towers or network service providers to provide communications between radio units. They are used as a stand-alone system that can be used anywhere.

Uses for 2-way radios

  • Road trips – where two cars are traveling together
  • Camping – keeping in contact while others are out and about
  • Boating – staying in touch with your group on the shore
  • Hiking – emergency comms if you get separated
  • Security – comms between locations
  • Home – numerous use-case scenarios
  • Emergency – stay in contact while someone needs to venture away from home base

The FCC has allotted specific frequency bands for 2-way family radio service and there are quite a lot of associated 2-way radios to choose from on the market. Prices and features vary a bit, but overall, there are very good radios available for not too much money.
The radios transmit on two sets of frequencies, FRS and GMRS.
FRS is for Family Radio Service, it does not require a license, and is limited to half a watt transmitting power.
GMRS is for General Mobile Radio Service, it does require a license from the FCC if you intend to use the specific GMRS channels, and transmitting power up to 5 watts is allowed.
  • Channels 1 – 7 (FRS and GMRS) no license required
  • Channels 8 – 14 (FRS) no license required
  • Channels 15 – 22 (GMRS) license required
An FCC license can be obtained online by using their website, FCC Form 605

Having searched through many choices, prices, and features, here is an example of two 2-way radios that are very popular and highly reviewed compared to others, and are priced at two different price points because one model has more capabilities than the other (which not everyone will need or want). This will give you an idea of what is out there.
Both the Motorola MH230R (pair) and the Midland GXT1050 (pair) are best selling products. The MH230R in this example is a more simple radio that would fulfill most needs, while the GXT1050 is loaded with more features and may be desirable to those that could take advantage of them.

This feature list includes what I felt to be important if choosing between the radios.

Motorola MH230R and Midland GXT1050 feature comparison


One important note, when looking at the transmitting range that these manufacturers claim, you should know that they never are even close in the real world. Their measurements are under ideal conditions which do not exist in the real world. Hills, trees, buildings, or any obstacle will reduce range. You will get the best range on open land or over the water. Having said that, you could probably expect to get a mile or two in fairly poor conditions and many more as you transmit over the clear (your mileage may vary).
There are lots of 2-way radios out there, do your own due diligence, while the two examples given above are simply examples of two quality radios with slightly different feature sets and price points. I believe they should be part of everyone’s survival preparedness kits or preps.

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