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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Thoughts on Bics

Thoughts on Bics

An inexpensive and effective fire kit. Ziploc with Bic lighter, two
Wetfire Cubes, a bag of PJCBs, ferro rod and striker.
This great post over at BFE inspired me to do a quick post on Bic lighters, which seem to get dumped on by a lot of people in survival communities. Yes, they do have their shortcomings, but they're also pretty awesome. Here's a few reasons why:
  • Bics are cheap; $1-$2 a piece
  • Bics last a long time. I have 5 year old Bics that are still working fine.
  • Bics are reliable. Most of the malfunctions you hear about with Bics (wet, cold) can be resolved. I recently dunked a Bic in water and left it submerged for 10 minutes. After about 30 seconds of effort to dry it (working water out of the mechanism), it lit and worked fine. I've also found old Bics, left outside in the elements for who knows how long, that worked fine.
  • Bics are source of flame. Flame is better than sparks, even hot ferro-rod sparks. You can't melt paracord, sterilize a needle and so on with a ferro rod. Starting a fire with a functioning Bic is easy stuff; starting a fire with a ferro rod requires good dry tinder. If you don't have any tinder and can't find any, you're SOL.
  • Bics are one-handed. You can operate a Bic with a busted arm. Ferro rods require two hands.
A Bic (or a pair of Bics) kept in a water-proof container (Ziplocs work fine) is a cheap and effective firestarter. Throw in some tinder and a ferro rod for backup and you've got a good little firestarting kit.

Guest Post: Firestorm Chapter 9, by Christopher Young

Ring Out The Dead

About 7 AM, the sun rose in the East. There is a certain comfort to know that regardless of what mankind does to each other, there are some things which remain the same from day to day. At Sam's house, Gomer was on watch. He had taken over from sam, a couple hours into the night. Sam was ready for sleep, heis leg had been painful. He spent much of his watch time hopping around on crutches, to keep his circulation going. However, after a few hours of that, Gomer couldn't sleep with all the noise. So, Gomer volunteered to take the rest of the shift. Sam hopped slowly up the stairs, using one leg. And headed for bed. He took a Vicodin, and then lay down on top of the bed without boterhing to take off his clothes.

A bit farther East than Ohio, Faith's van was still along side the road. The two girls had long since stopped trying to wake their Mom. They had taken what clothes they had, and wrapped Faith, to keep her warm. Mom was covered with size five and size seven shirts, pants, and socks. The girls had gone to the back seat of the minivan, and had lay down together. They were used to sleeping in the same bed, but this time was more important than ever to stay warm. Intuitively, the knew they had to stay with the van. And with their mother. They fell asleep some how.

Some what further East than that, Heather woke about 7 Am, and wiped the dreams out of her eyes. In her dream, she was about 18, and was the prom queen at her high school. Gomer had been her companion, though a bit younger looking. Heather put on her bath robe and slippers. She had been sleeping in a warm bed, in a heated building. She went to the kitchen, and turned on the shortwave rdio to get the news. She turned on the television, by force of habit. Flipped through the channels, and found nothing on. no surprise, there was nothing yesterday, either. The short wave radio found Voice of America, broadcasting out of Florida. There was some cheeful music, and perhaps a German polka or two. Some early Beatles, and then the news announcer came on.

About 7:30, Heather wondered idly what had happened to Faith. Probably got home safely, and was warm and dry at her apartment. Heather knew her kids would be waking soon, and she put a couple slices of bread in the toaster. Opened the refrigerator, and got out a dozen farm fresh egges, from the local farm a half mile down the road. Last of the eggs, she'd have to drive there and see if the farmer was still selling eggs. But, plenty for today The kids did't eat that much, and Gomer was the big egg eater in the family. As long as they were cooked solidly through, Gomer would eat any egg known to man. And with all these eggs, Gomer still had a low cholesterol. Must be good genetics, and the extreme missions he served for the military. Lots of exercise.

Heather turned on the scanner, on the shelf next to the sink. There wasn't much action.

Action. Well, not a good kind. That's what was going on at Bill's. Connie and the kids had slept in the closet, in the cellar. Connie had gone out for a look, and found David on the floor, not responsive. She knew some how, there was no use. So, she went to go take care of her kids. In the morning, Connie had to go to the bathroom. Well, the kids also needed a potty stop. So, they went as a team, to the bathroom.

Breakfast was what was on everyone's mind. Sam had woken from a long night slumber, and found himself still dressed. Not a good sign, the last time that happened was after a party during his teen age years. Chris woke, with a sore side. He'd also slept in his clothes, he wasn't used having a revolver pressing him in the side. As Sam's family and guests reached the kitchen table, Chris asked how were everyone, and what's the plans for the near to medium future.

In Tenn, Connie knew the kids would be hungry. She told them to wait, for a moment. Don't come upstairs till I call. She went to the bedroom, and got a blanket. She went upstairs, and threw a blanket over David's remains. Figured that was better than nothing. And then called for the kids to come upstairs. Slowly, they did. Trying not to look into the other room. They both knew.

Connie looked through the kitchen. There wasn't much that she could cook. The camp stove was sitting on top of the electric stove. She used the camp stove to cook up some coffee, and a pot of tea for Bill. A couple of eggs for the kids, and some warm orange juice for the kids to drink. Breakfast was somber, and quiet. No one spoke. No one looked at anyone else. The kids ate about half what they usually ate. After breakfast, Connie decided to check, to see what was still OK. She tried the FRS radio, but everyone knew from the sound of her voice that there was no hope. Figured if Bill hadn't called in by this time, he wasn't likely to call in. Should she call the police? The phones weren't working. Maybe the cell phone. But what could the police do?

Sam called another family conference, which was a bit of a useless gesture, as everyone was at the table already. Still, it was nice to formally anounce that the family conference was in session.

The question that Sam posed was what to do with the next couple weeks. They had food and water for a couple weeks, and figured that the folks at the compound at Gomer's would be all right for a few days while the rest of the family was away. But what then? It didn't look like the economy in the US was going to bounce back into shape any time soon. Didn't look like the regular channels of business like gas stations and grocery stores would come back to action. Time to look at the resources, and see what is available. to use, and what to do. Figuring for a year of shut down before the nation rebuilt itself.

San opened the "floor" for comments. Gomer chipped in, that he had a good supply of rations, some good neighbors who were farmers and other useful people. That his house had a well, and a good supply of fuel. Both solar, and wood based fuel. They could heat with wood in the witner, and good shade from trees for the summer. Now, they had not only the Model A for transportation, but also the Mitsubishi with part of tank of gas.

Gomer suggested that they ought to do a detail job, and some body paint on the mitsubishi. Some of the other Mussies might recognize the car, and kill whoever was driving it. There was general agreement, that the car could not be left lookign the same as it was. Even if it was just to clean it out, and put some bumper stickers and some paint for the body.

Since Sam was good for several weeks, there is no big rush to move any where.

Chris mentioned that Bill was far better equipped. And a more temperate climate, being in Tenn. It makes good sense to go to Bill's, as a gathering point. That Bill would have plenty of bunk space, and a good supply of necessary supplies. Warmer in the summer, but less need of heat in the winter. And that in passing, more or less literally, Chris had some supplies at the trailer, if the trailer is still standing.

The discussion went back and forth. Chris was in favor of going to Bill's, but Gomer had plans only to go back to his place. They decided to check if the cell phones were working, and see what was going on.

Gomer pulled out his cell phone, and rang up Heather. Learned that it waas a fairly routine morning there, that the three kids were just waking up from their night sleep. What? three? Gomer thought there were five. Well, Faith had gotten upset and stormed out. so, there were only three kids at Gomer's compound.

Chris used his cell to call Bill's, and got no answer, again. That was really strange. Chris then called Faith's cell phone, and Savannah answered. Which was even more strange. Chris could hear them fighting over the telephone, and finally Savannah came onto the line. Savannah wasn't all that clear, but Chris was able to make out the important parts. That Faith had wrecked the van, and she wasn't able to answer the phone. Chris repeated back what Savannah said, so that the other adults aound the table could hear what was going on. He told her to stay with the van, and don't go any where. They would be there as soon as they could, to see if they could help Faith out.

Chris disconnected the call, and then slowly looked around the room. Gomer, Sam, Brenda, Sammy, and Sam's daughter all looked back at him. The baby started to cry, it was so quiet.

After a few seconds, Chris spoke. "Well, looks like Faith needs another rescue mission. Who's coming along?" Gomer muttered something that sounded like "Trucking idiot." Chris wisely didn't ask him to say it louder. Sam spoke next. "Guess you boys are on your own, I can't do much to help out, even if I wanted."

Chris said, it sounded like since they had to go up that way anyway, that they ought to check on Faith's girls, and see what's doing with that. No way to know where Faith is, except that they are between Gomers and Faith's, on route 5. It's several miles, and can't expect the girls to walk the entire way. Hmm. Now, what? Heather is a lot closer, wonder if she can get there some how? When he said that, Gomer's eyes lit up a bit. Heather had an old car, that she'd used many years ago, before they got married. Gomer had it in the barn, the battery was disconnected. But it should run, if the battery were hooked back up. Gomer pressed redial on his telephone. Heather wasn't going to be happy to hear this.

Chris auto dialed Bill's cell phone, but got the voice mail again. Tried David's cell phone, and got the voice mail. What he didn't know, was that David's phone was under a blanket. And both kids were staring at the phone. Or at the sound it was making. Connie had taken a thermos of tea, and gone to the OP to see if Bill was still there. Connie figured that Bill would be needing some breakfast, soon. And a pot of iced tea was Bill's habit. She'd best be there, just in case Bill was wanting breakfast.

The Unprepared Population: A Statistic You Don’t Want To Be a Part Of

The Unprepared Population: A Statistic You Don’t Want To Be a Part Of

I have suggested to readers that setting aside 10% of your monthly budget and using it for emergency preparation is an advantageous investment for your future well being.  Many have remarked that with the economy on the down slope, they simply cannot afford to use a portion on their budgets towards preparations.  My response back to them is, “Can you afford not to be prepared?

FEMA  Wants Every Home To Have 2 Weeks Worth of Food

As a whole, most of the population is not prepared for an unforeseen disaster.  Many emergency websites such as FEMA has stressed how important it is to be prepared.  Specifically, FEMA  has suggested that each family should have at a minimum a two week supply of food.  Statistics state that the average family household has only 3 days worth of food in their homes.  With that knowledge in hand, it is safe to say that most of the population is ill equipped to handle an unforeseen emergency, and the result is a formula for epic disaster.
Simply put, when human beings basic needs are not met, their once passive natures dissolves and a more aggressive side replaces it.  When an entire population’s needs are not being met, what do you think will happen?  4 words. Complete and utter pandemonium.  The unspoken truth is there is simply not enough food in the stores to supply a large population all at once.  As a result, many families will go without food and chaos will ensue.
 Point and fact, many who live in areas where extreme weather occurs knows that when a storm is imminent, there is a mass rush to the stores to stock up on supplies.  Some people are able to buy a surplus of goods (if they get to the stores in time), and some people get there too late and walk home empty handed.  The supply of food has run out because everyone is buying the same types of foods.  Foods such as basic food pantry, canned goods, bread, condiments, water, batteries, flashlights, emergency supplies, etc.  Having these supplies at home will eliminate the stress of fighting the hoards in the stores.

Preparing Provides Peace of Mind

Accumulating an emergency food supply can be acheived even on the most modest of budgets.  This author bought a 6 month food supply for 1 person with $115.  If this amount is too much for your budget, try breaking up the emergency food list up into different categories such as breakfast foods, grains, water, baking needs, etc.  Each time a person goes to the store, they can buy a portion of their food supply and store it away for later use.  As a result, in a matter of a few weeks to 1 month’s time, a modest amount of food has been stored.  To find how much food a family needs, many preppers use this food storage calculator.  Although, many of our budgets are dwindling due to the bad economy, there are ways of stretching your budget and changing your lifestyle in order to prepare.
Being prepared can put a person way ahead of the game.  While many who are unprepared for disasters will be battling the lines at the grocery stores, those that have prepared can concentrate on other matters at hand: their families well being.

Trail Mix

Trail Mix

"Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't."
- Almond Joy candy bar ad

As a Cub Scout Leader, an article with the title, "Create the Perfect Trail Mix", naturally caught my attention. It begins with an emphasis on nuts,
"Here’s the truth about the fat found in almonds, walnuts, pecans, and other nuts: It’s as healthy—or healthier—than anything else in your diet. It fills your belly better than any other snack on the planet while decreasing your risks of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, smoothing your skin, pumping you full of antioxidants, and helping you stay thin."
Then a simple recipe:

 Choose a Nut (1 cup)
 Choose a Seed (1/2 cup)
 Choose an Extra Crunch (1 cup)
 Choose a Sweetener (1-2 cups)
 Mix It Up

Nuts to consider: Almonds, Brazil nuts, Macadamias, Peanuts, Pecans, Pistachios, or Walnuts.

Seeds: Sunflower, Pumpkin, Hemp(?!), Sesame, and Chia. (What's a Chia?). Sesame and Hemp seeds are both small and will slip through fingers. Use them only in mixes intended as a sprinkle atop yogurt or cereal.

Crunch: Hard cereals like Fiber One, Grape-Nuts, Cheerios, or Kix; Soy nuts, Wasabi peas, Pretzel bits, Sesame sticks

Sweetener: Dark chocolate chips or dried fruit like raisins, apricots, blueberries, cranberries, goji berries, cherries, banana chips.  (We use Peanut M&Ms)

Bottom Line

Experiment with the ratios in the recipe. Personally I'd use less sweet and more crunch. Also watch out for the moisture in your dried fruit. Combine dried apricots with a cereal like Chex and the cereal will go stale in a few days.
And remember that trail mix is not just for hiking. We always make a trail mix for long driving trips.

Do You Know How To: Turn Off The Electric

Do You Know How To: Turn Off The Electric

Hi everyone!! A few years back I read a post on a preparedness blog discussing things that the blogger thought everyone should know how to do: turn off electric, gas, and water, plan an escape route, etc. I copied the page and stuck it on the fridge so that hubby could go over those things with me. Well, it's a few years later, the paper is thrown out, and I still didn't know how to do the things it discussed.....until today! The sun is shining, the snow is melting and I wanted to be outside DOING and LEARNING! So, I had hubby show me how to turn of the electric, gas, and water and now I'm going to show you! In case of an emergency, knowing how to accomplish these tasks is a very good thing. If there are leaks due to earthquake, floods, or any other disaster, you don't want the gas or water running into your home and possibly causing more damage!

So, I'm going to start with the easiest 'to-do' for today....Turning off the Electric. I'm assuming you already know this, but we're going to do a refresher course. See the picture above? That's the electric box in my house. In order to turn off the electric to the whole house, I would flip the switch at the very top (you can't see in the picture, but it says MAIN above it) and I would pull the switch down to the 'off' position. That's it! Easy-breezy! Your house, if you're on a standard city electric system, should run the same way. (If you run your own electric system through wind or solar I hope you know how to operate the system, because I'm not going to even pretend that I would know how to show you!) Now, you might have more of these boxes if your barn or garage have their own systems. Double-check with your spouse/significant other/landlord about any other electric boxes that would need to be turned off in the event of an emergency.
Today's lesson was easy, and the implementation of it would be easy. In the next few days, I'll have posts about shutting off the gas and the water to your home. We're on a need-to-know basis here, and we ALL need to know!!

Prep On!
Gen-IL Homesteader

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