You’re ready for a disaster! Even in your car??

We put a lot of thought in our preparations for emergency and disaster.  A lot of us keep food on hand, have a flashlight handy, and know where our first aid kit is.  Hopefully we feel ready to tackle any problems that life throws at us. Do we have that same feeling in our vehicle when we’re driving around or commuting to work?  A basic car kit can go a long way toward gaining that same feeling of security.

I find myself in a position that’s different from what I’m used to.  For years I’ve driven a big diesel pickup everywhere I go.  If you know anything about diesel pickups, you know they can carry a lot of stuff.  When I’m in my truck I feel comfortable to face situations ranging from having to overnight on the side of the road to heading into the woods and starting society over from scratch.  You might think I’m joking, but I really do carry a LOT of stuff in my truck.  I literally have the equipment and tools to do major motor work, hunt large game, build a log cabin, and communicate with the outside world by a host of different means.  I even have solar battery charging capabilities.  My truck truly is a rolling bugout location.  The only downside…  it’s not my daily driver any more.  When I took a job 45 miles away, the price of fuel was draining my budget.  I opted to buy a little used car that gets excellent mileage.  I now spend 10 times less on fuel, but at the cost of that peace of mind I have in my truck.  I’ve really started to put a lot of thought into what the perfect car kit for emergencies would be and I’m starting to put this kit together.

 

One of the most important aspects to consider is what you might need this kit to do and what situations you might face.  Some of these will be unique to your circumstances, but some items will be universal to all vehicles.  The first, and most likely scenario I prepare for is being stranded.  There can be a few reasons why I might get stranded, but the result is the same.  I might be there for a while, and want to make the best of the situation.

We know that we have basic needs in any survival situation.  I could go as basic as possible and say that the most important is air, but unless you drive your car into a lake, that shouldn’t be a problem.  Water, as basic as it sounds, is very important.  The old standby advice is one gallon per person per day.  Generally, we won’t need to store a lot of water since we aren’t planning on multiple days in the car.  One gallon per person should be more than enough.  I personally keep a few 20 ounce bottles of water in my little car.  Having water in the car saved me from a major inconvenience just recently.  I didn’t need the water to survive, but when my car decided to spring a leak in a hose I was able to repair the leak on the side of the road and top the radiator off with some of my storage water.

Another consideration is protection from the elements.  It rarely gets really cold here in Texas, but we do see some cold winter weather.  Cold isn’t really an issue when we can keep the car running and the heater on full blast, but if we can’t for some reason, that cold can become a serious problem.  Every year when we get ice on the roads, there are people that skid off in the ditch and can’t get back on the road. And it seems to happen at night more often that not.  Some will probably be waiting hours for help to come get them.  In a situation like this, running out of gas can make for a very uncomfortable night.  It might even be fatal.  A simple solution would be a blanket of some sort.  Wool blankets are pretty inexpensive and will help you stay warm in some pretty low temperatures.  Emergency blankets work too, but they aren’t very comfortable and you have to cocoon into them for them to work well.  If this breakdown is in the Summer here in Texas, there’s not much that can be done.  It’s going to be hot.  Be glad for that water!

After the initial stress of ending up in this predicament fades, you might start to get a little hungry.  Some snack foods might come in handy to make the time go by a little easier.  I know I certainly function better when I’m not focusing on an empty stomach.  Any non perishable food will work for the vehicle, but you have to apply common sense.  What works in the house for food storage might not work well in the vehicle.  Temperature is one of the biggest concerns.  Where I live and drive the most, temperatures can range from 5 degrees in my vehicle all the way up to close to 200 degrees in the truck or passenger cabin.  Freezing or extreme heat can break glass containers, and the heat can certainly turn an aluminum or tin can into a food grenade (ask me how I know!)  Plenty of options are available that will handle these temperatures.  Cookies and crackers come to mind first.  Beef jerky is another.  I know these aren’t the healthiest choices, but we’re in a survival situation that hopefully won’t be lasting too long.  Besides, you can go weeks without food before you die.  These are here as a comfort item more than anything.

Now that we can make sure we aren’t going to be miserable or die from lacking basic needs, we can look at other items.  Sanitation needs might want to be covered.  If you are stranded on the side of the road away from everything when nature calls, a roll of toilet paper in a ziplock bag is about to become your best friend.  Keeping it in a ziplock bag will keep it clean and dry while it rides shotgun with you waiting for that moment of need.  Some basic hygiene items tossed in might round out the package and come in handy even if you aren’t forced to stay in your car.  There has been more than one occasion where I’ve stayed the night somewhere unexpectedly and having a few items in my car saved a trip to the store so I could brush my teeth and apply deodorant.

Once these needs are all met, lets figure out how to get ourselves out of the situation.  Communication is key.  Most all of us have cell phones these days, and they make life more convenient than ever when they work.  Its a good idea to make sure you have a way to keep it charged in the car.  A dead battery makes the smartest of phone as useful as a rock in no time.  For most situations, a working phone will get word out and get help on the way.  But in true prepper fashion, I like to have redundancy.  CB radios and other two way radios can get word out in emergencies, and they don’t rely on the wireless network that cell phones depend on.  Handheld CB radios can be had for almost nothing and make an excellent source for secondary communication.  Remember, channel 9 on the CB band is for emergency use only.  Channel 19 is known as the “trucker channel” and generally has a lot of traffic, especially near major highways.  I go a step further and add HAM radio to my arsenal, but this isn’t practical for everyone.  For one, its a licensed band, meaning you have to take a test and get your license to transmit.  This rule doesn’t apply in an emergency.  In a true emergency, you can use any band or frequency available to call for help.  Make sure it is a real emergency (defined as threat to life or property).

Now on to the stuff every car should have before it ever gets on the road.  A lot of these will seem obvious, but I’m shocked at the people that don’t have any of them.  Make sure your vehicle has a spare tire.  Make sure it’s aired up!  Even if you aren’t much of a mechanic, you should keep a basic tool kit in your car.  It will come in handy for minor repairs. If you can’t perform the repairs, that good Samaritan that stops to help might be able to if only he hadn’t forgotten his toolbox.  You can fix that at least!  We all forget to turn off the lights or we leave something plugged into the cigarette lighter.  Then we have a dead battery.  Its much easier to get someone to give you a jump start if you have your own jumper cables.  Most people are willing to help their fellow man, but no one seems prepared to these days.  If you want to go all out in being prepared, there are power packs available that allow you to jump start your own vehicle.  Here are some examples. 12 volt air compressors can be had on the cheap and will save your bacon in case of a flat.  I bought one in new condition at a flea market for $7 and its paid for itself a dozen times over.   All of us understand the need for a good first aid kit.  Have a better one in your car at all times.  You never know when you might be the first to respond to an accident or need to use it for yourself.  Having a good flashlight really comes into play if you are stranded after dark.  Not being able to see might have you believe you are stuck when you really aren’t.  It will also help with those minor repairs and avoiding that rattlesnake if you need to use that toilet paper.

I could continue this article for pages about other survival items you might need; like matches and lighters, signal mirrors, emergency whistles, etc.  Those are items you will have to decide if they are worth keeping in you car.  Look at your bug out bag and see if there are items that would serve you well if duplicated in your vehicle.  I didn’t really cover much about vehicle safety in this article because I’m planning in covering that in a separate article in the near future.  In the meantime, use your head and practice common sense around traffic and vehicles.  Also, stay tuned for articles about vehicle self defense, and bugging out in your vehicle.

 

 

Concerned about bug bites?? Maybe you should be!

Because of the popularity of the First Aid articles I’ve put up here, I decided to write another before getting into other survival subjects.  This one probably won’t be as eye opening as the article on being shot, but it covers a subject that you are a lot more likely to encounter.  A lot of this information might seem be a refresher for a lot of people, but it never hurts to refresh on the basics in case we need to use the knowledge we have.  As always, I’ll start out by saying that I’m not a medical professional so consult a doctor when the need for medical care arises.  We’re going to be covering insect and spider bites.  I’m going to break it into two parts because treatment is very different for a simple mosquito bite and a person going into shock from multiple bee stings.  At its most basic, an insect or spider bite is simply an allergic reaction.  Some will result in mild reaction and some can result in a serious reaction that can be fatal if not treated promptly.

Mild Reaction Treatment:

A mild reaction to a bite or sting can range from a small red bump on the skin to an extremely painful bee sting.  Most of us have experienced these types of reactions more than we would like.  Mosquitoes moving in at dark on that perfect day at the lake or fire ants inviting themselves to that picnic in the field are a nuisance, but isn’t really a serious medical concern.  A bite or sting of this type usually just results in some discomfort, itching, and a little redness.  An ice pack or a topical creme like Cortisone or a paste made of water and baking soda can take care of it in a jiffy and get you back to having a good time.  Even a single bee sting, though painful, isn’t something to be concerned about for most of us.  There are some folks that can have a severe reaction, but its not common and we’ll cover it in the second part of this article.  Bee stings might require a little bit more attention because bees leave their stinger imbedded in the skin.  You can take solace in the fact that bees can only sting once and after that they fly off to die.  They’re the Kamikaze bombers of the insect world.  Additional treatment for a bee sting includes using something with a sharp edge to scrape across the skin to remove the stinger.  Resist the urge to squeeze the stung area since this will push more of the venom out of the stinger and into the skin.  An old home remedy to help with the stinging sensation and swelling is to apply freshly chewed tobacco to the area.  I had this done as a kid and it does work, but I will understand if others aren’t keen on the idea.  Something a little more medical (and sanitary!) would be a Benadryl creme.  Of course it is a good idea to monitor anyone that gets a bite for signs of a more serious reaction, but for the most part nothing else should be required.  If the discomfort isn’t bad, you can just wash with soap and water and go on your way.  Soap won’t do much for the venom, but it will help prevent infection from the inevitable scratching the area might receive.

 

Serious Reaction Treatment and Poisonous Spiders:

Serious reactions to insect stings or bites are just that, SERIOUS.  This type of reaction generally occurs when a person is extremely allergic to the venom or when a person is stung multiple times.  In these cases, the body produces a very strong histamine reaction that can be fatal.  The proper name is anaphylaxis. Symptoms of anaphylactic shock include:

1. Nausea

2. Difficulty breathing

3. Swelling

4. Reduced blood pressure (shock)

5. Dizziness

6.  Rapid heart rate

If you are treating someone with these symptoms after an insect sting or bite you should seek medical attention immediately.  Some immediate first aid includes administering an anti-histamine drug such as Benadryl if they are able to swallow.  You should also have the person lay down and elevate the feet.  If the person is wearing anything that could become restrictive because of swelling, it should be removed.  If the person has a history of allergic reactions, they might be carrying a kit with an EpiPen.  Now would be the time to administer the Epinephrine.  Some of you might be thinking that it would be a good idea to have one of these EpiPens on hand just in case.  On the outside its a good idea, but these things are available by prescription only and are very expensive, one time use devices.  It is best left for a doctor to determine if someone should carry one and have it administered to them if needed.  These injections can have side effects that can adversely affect the patient, and you could be in serious trouble if you administer someone a prescription medication without being qualified.  Benadryl is a much safer way to treat someone for an allergic reaction.  I carry Benadryl capsules and children’s liquid in my first aid kit for this very reason.  The goal, as it always is with FIRST aid, is to stabilize someone until they can receive medical care from the professionals.

Spider bites are like other stings and bites in that they can go one of two ways.  The normal spider bite can be treated like a mild reaction insect bite.  I don’t have any idea on the number of different spiders that bite, but only two will fall into the serious category.  We’re all familiar with them as they are all over the place.  The Brown Recluse and Black Widow are the ones to look out for.

Brown Recluse bites are rarely noticed when they happen and it can take several hours to a day for the onset of symptoms.  These include fever, chills, nausea, weakness, and lesions and necrosis (dying tissue) at the bite location.  Black Widows bites are a little more likely to be felt when they happen, but they aren’t always noticed. These bites share most of the same symptoms as a Brown Recluse bite, but the victim might also have difficulty breathing and lose consciousness.  In case of bite by either of these spiders, you need to seek medical attention as soon as possible.  First aid doesn’t really come into play since there isn’t much that can be done outside of a professional medical environment.  Apply an ice pack to reduce swelling until medical help can be reached.

Brown Recluse Spider:

 

Black Widow:

 

Bugging out to the woods? Hope you don’t starve!

Anyone that has given much thought to what would happen during a societal collapse has surely had the fantasy of bugging out to the wilderness and carving a living out.  Its a noble thought, and exciting to contemplate.  I know I’ve spent more than enough time thinking about it and playing out scenarios.  It really isn’t our fault that we dream about it. Countless books have been written about it, and a lot of them geared toward children.  One of my favorite books as a kid was My Side of the Mountain.  In this book, a boy runs off to the Catskill Mountains and manages to live off the land.  He even survives the harsh winters of upstate New York.  If it was so easy for this kid, why can’t we?   The realm of fiction rarely has to deal with the harsh realities of life.

Over the past two years, I’ve had plans to preserve some of nature’s bounty here in north Texas.  We are blessed with an abundance of wild fruits, berries, and nuts.  It should have been easy to do with all of the means I have at my disposal.  I have access to abundant energy to run a pressure canner and a dehydrator.  I have a truck to get me to the growing location, and plenty of room to haul these food home.  I’ve had visions of huge sacks of dried plums and pears, dozens of jars of preserves and jams, and big bottles of Mustang grape wine.  In reality, I don’t have any of this.  It wasn’t from lack of trying.  I was primed and ready to go gather everything up and get to work preserving.  Mother Nature decided otherwise both years.  Last year, we had a very late freeze, late enough that most of the fruit trees and vines had already bloomed.  The results were heart wrenching.  Blooms dropped from everything. To say that fruit was scarce is a massive understatement!   This year the entire state of Texas has been in the grips of a drought.  It’s been hotter and drier than anyone can remember.  There was a little bit of fruit that made it, but a very little bit.  Grapevines that would normally be heavy with beautiful purple grapes only put on a fraction of what they did in years past.  Those few grapes quickly cooked into raisins in the 105 plus heat.  The plums didn’t do much better.  I can’t even remember what a wild blackberry tastes like.  Overall it was a dismal year for wild fruit production.  Had I needed to rely on fruit production to make up any real percentage of my diet, I would be on the brink of starvation.

I know what a lot of people are thinking at this point. Fishing and hunting!!  On its surface, its a really good idea to supplement the diet.  Supplement would the key word in that last sentence.  We’ve all been out for a fun day of fishing only to come back with an empty stringer.  Its been even more depressing this year.  All of the lakes are low and stagnant.  There have been some algae blooms, but we’ve been lucky that we haven’t had massive fish kills.  Even Lake Texoma, a very large lake fed by a very large river has been deemed unsafe for swimming because of water quality issues.

So no fruits and pretty poor fishing.  Hopefully we haven’t starved to death already!  Hunting season is getting ready to kick off, and I certainly hope it does better than our other means of living off the land.  I’ve had some friends already partake in dove season, and they are reporting a mediocre season so far.  They are bagging some birds, but they are smaller than normal and there aren’t as many.  As cooler temps move in, there should be birds coming in from Kansas and Nebraska.  We can hope they have been well fed and watered up there.  Deer season will be opening up in a couple of weeks, and hunters all over Texas are hoping for a great season.  I fear the drought will have taken its toll on the deer populations as well.  I’ve even noticed a decrease in cottontail rabbits and squirrels.  But I suppose if we were living off the land, hunting season won’t matter.  We probably starved back in July when the land turned brown and dried up.

 

Luckily, we weren’t required to live off the land these past couple of years.  Resources and been meager, and that was with no competition.  In a massive collapse (and I don’t see one coming soon), competition for any resource will be intense.  When someone is starving, they’ll do anything to feed themselves and their family.  Distances will be traveled, on foot if necessary.  Fights will be fought for anything available.  All in all, it would be an ugly time even in bountiful years.  As fun as it is to dream about, hacking a living out of the wilderness isn’t very likely.  Hopefully you are prepared so that it wouldn’t be necessary.  In upcoming articles here at Surviving Modern Life, I’ll be covering food storage and preservation, as well as producing our own food.  If things go bad, our goal should be to still maintain a decent lifestyle, no matter how the rest of the world is doing.

You’ve been bitten by a zombie??? I can help with that!!

Since the article about tactical medical treatment was well received, I thought I should continue in that same area. Penetrating wounds can be very ugly, but one of the ugliest wounds a person can receive is a bite from a zombie.  Zombie mouths are very unclean, and these bites almost always result in secondary infection.  Treating the initial wound is pretty straightforward.  This type of first aid is covered in the most basic kits, even the ten dollar “Band-Aid and Aspirin” kits available at the big box stores.  We’ll cover primary and secondary treatments in this article.

Primary Treatment:

Bite wounds can be pretty minor all the way to serious injuries.  Luckily, humans don’t have really sharp teeth or long canines.  It takes a lot of force to break the skin.  Typically the result is bruising more than cutting or tearing.  For bruising, simply wash the affected area with soap and water and administer a pain reliever for pain.  You can also apply ice to reduce pain and swelling.  Remember, you never want to apply ice directly to the skin.  If there is some bleeding or torn skin, the area will still need to be washed well with a good anti-bacterial soap and water.  Once the area is cleaned thoroughly and dried, you can proceed with basic first aid.  A simple bandage should do nicely to keep the wound covered.

 

Secondary Treatment:

The good news about these types of injuries is that they most often occur on hands and/or limbs.  The likelihood of the actual bite being fatal is pretty slim.  The bad news is the potential for infection.  Bites from humans or animals are nasty enough, but if that bite is from a zombie, the resulting infection is bad news.  If you are treating a victim for a zombie bite and the skin has been broken, your victim is almost certainly infected.  The incubation period is 12 to 24 hours.  After this time, your victim is technically deceased, but is probably still moving, moaning, and trying to violently bite you.  At this point, treatment involves destroying the victim’s brain.  Firearms work best, and I prefer .40 caliber handguns and .30 caliber rifles.  Use what works best for you.

 

 

*Disclaimer: While the section on primary treatment of bite wound is sound advice, the secondary treatment is written for comic purposes.  I do not condone shooting anyone in the head.  However, if the person really has become the walking dead, please handle the situation as you deem necessary. And please let me know as soon as possible so I can bug out to an undisclosed location away from population centers.

You’ve been shot??? I can help with that!

A while back I was at a tactical shooting event with some friends.  The shoot was incredible and well hosted, featuring all sorts of scenarios where zombies are trying to kill you before you shoot them  Needless to say, we had a blast.  One of the gentlemen there was offering some informal but insightful tactical medical training.  A concept was presented that was sobering.  We were asked if we carried a firearm. Of course there were a lot of “ayes.”  Then we were asked if we were prepared to shoot someone if our lives depended on it.  Another round of “ayes.”  “Are you prepared to BE shot?”  I hadn’t really thought about that part of it.  If I have to shoot at someone, there’s a good chance I might be shot at.  None of us should have the illusion that if things go bad, our shots will always hit their mark and the bad guy’s will always miss.  Needless to say, he had our attention.  Now it was time to learn what to do if we encounter one of those nasty penetrating wounds in a human body.  A penetrating wound is one of the more serious traumas to the body, and one that must be handled quickly.  Internal damage and bleeding can become fatal very fast.  A lot of basic first aid training we’ve received at our job or from the Red Cross is inadequate for these injuries.  Our basic “Band-Aids and Aspirin” first aid kits start looking a little too basic.  We need to have better knowledge and equipment to render aid.

Before we go any further, I want to point out that I’m not a medical professional. In fact, I’m not even that officially trained and I’ve never had to aid to someone with a serious penetrating wound.  It is up to you to get proper training and instruction before employing any of the equipment I’m going to discuss.  The concepts are simple, but they really are life and death.  I also need to point out that short of dealing with a gunshot in a properly equipped operating room with a surgeon on standby, this is exactly what the name implies… FIRST aid.  Your goal is to provide lifesaving treatment until someone with a lot more experience and better equipment can take over.  You might save a life, but you won’t make that person well.

Any serious wound that is bleeding is something that needs immediate attention.  The products we’ll be looking at deal almost exclusively with getting an uncontrolled bleed under control.

The first is the pressure bandage.  We’ve all learned that when bleeding won’t stop, bandage it and apply pressure.  There are a lot of options on the market today for bandages that will apply the pressure for us now.  One of the most popular is the Israeli Bandage, commonly known as the Izzy.  Its been around for a while and is very effective.  You can see it in action here.  My complaints with the Izzy are that its hard to use with one hand and it can unroll while you are trying to wrap.  I’m not knocking them, I just think there is a better option available for the same price range.  I personally carry the OLAES bandage system from Tactical Medical Solutions.  It has velcro retainers to keep the bandage under control and maintain pressure as you wrap. Check out the instructional video here. It doesn’t require a fancy device to change directions on the wrap to maintain pressure.  Also, packed inside is a LOT of gauze and an occlusive layer for chest wounds.  Overall, I think the OLAES offers better value and better capability.

Next we move on to clotting agents.  These are used to create a very rapid clotting effect when regular means don’t work.  There are several offerings available that include both granulated powders and gauze impregnated with the clotting agent.  My experience is limited, only having used the QuikClot Sport for a hand laceration that wouldn’t stop bleeding.  It wasn’t a serious bleed, but one of those over a joint that wouldn’t stay closed up.  For more serious first aid, I like the QuikClot Gauze. Having a gauze impregnated with the agent removes the chances of powder spills or being blown by the wind.   Celox offers similar products and has a great reputation as well.  Either will do well to help stop serious bleeding.

Last but not least, we have the tourniquet.  It is by far the oldest technology to slow bleeding and for good reason.  By applying pressure to the artery feeding the area that is bleeding, you reduce blood flow.  The less blood that flows, the less that can leak out.  There are a lot of misconceptions about applying a tourniquet that claim loss of limb or killing off parts of the body, but these are not really an issue for modern medicine.  There  is the potential for some long term damage but it is slight, and it certainly isn’t as risky as letting someone bleed out.  A tourniquet can be improvised from just about anything from a shoelace to a belt.  One of the more popular methods is a triangular cloth bandage and a pencil.  You can simply wrap the bandage around the pressure point and use the pencil to twist it up to apply pressure.  Its cheap and effective.  There are some available that can apply serious pressure and hold it well.  Of all the ones I’ve handled, I prefer the SOF T Tourniquet.  This thing is impressive with the pressure it can generate.

Putting together a kit that contains these items might seem like a bit of an investment at first, but if the need ever arises for use they will be invaluable.  I’ve intentionally stayed away from going into much detail about procedures to use these products.  I’m neither willing nor qualified to give medical advise.  Information about when and how to use any of these is widely available, so please learn to use them if you are going to carry them.  The best first aid kit on earth is useless to someone that doesn’t understand how to use it.

UltraFire Flashlight Review

I’ll preface by saying I’ve developed a flashlight addiction over the past couple of years.  I love knowing there is a light handy wherever I am that can turn night into day.  I especially love lights that are really bright that I didn’t have to spend a ton of money on.  There are some incredible lights on the market from some very reputable companies, but they can quickly get crazy on price.  I would love to have a top end Streamlight or Surefire in every vehicle and all over the house.  Spending thousands on flashlights just isn’t going to happen though!  I’ve found a few good LED lights that have found a home in my preps, but this new one from UltraFire (model WF-606A) is quickly becoming my favorite.  When you pick it up, you can tell its well built and strong without being too heavy.  This thing is metal and glass.  I may be old fashioned, but I like things built from materials known for strength and durability.  The LED module is made Cree, which is an industry leader in LED technology.  The light also has o-ring seals where it should.  I don’t know how waterproof it is, but I’m comfortable calling it very water resistant.  Another feature (that I’m sure was unintended by the designers) is that the body of the light will fit right into MOLLE webbing on your pack, bag, or vest.  The only drawback I see is that the rear clicky push button is not recessed.  This could lead to the light being turn on by accident, but I haven’t had this happen yet.

One of the coolest features is its’ multiple settings.  It burns at 230 lumen on full power, but has 4 other settings.

1. Full power (230 lumen)

2. Medium power (150 lumen)

3. Low power (60 lumen)

4. Strobe at full intensity

5. S.O.S at full intensity

I’ve had it out at night and to say its bright is an understatement.  It has a narrow beam so it can really reach out and illuminate things at a distance, but it throws enough light out to light up a good portion of the front yard.  There are some cottonwood trees down the road several hundred yards.  You can make out individual branches with this light.  Even on low power, there is plenty of light to see well enough to walk around or work on something after dark. I was told to expect an hour of battery life at full power, so the lower power settings will probably get used quite a bit.  The strobe is a feature I probably won’t use much other than for showing off or playing around.  Some self defense experts say that it can be useful to disorient a would-be attacker, but I would much prefer to hit them with pepper spray or employ a firearm in extreme situations rather than hoping for disorientation to save my life or that of a loved one.  The SOS is a neat little feature that could have a very practical application.  I’m sure the light could be seen for a long way at night and having the light automatically key out an SOS signal means it could be pointed in whatever direction you wanted to signal and let it signal for help while my attention is on the emergency.

I purchased mine from a gentleman running a flashlight table at a local gun show, but they are available online in the $20-25 price range.  My take is that you won’t find a better light for even double the money.  I plan on picking up enough to have one on the nightstand, in the BOB, and one for each vehicle.

The very real need for the BOB

For some, this will be preaching to the choir.  For others, it will be a rehash of what you hear from other sources.  The reality is that no one can refute the need to have a bag ready to grab and go in case of an emergency.  It used to be the realm of the die hard preppers and survivalists, but its quickly becoming mainstream.  Even the government puts out information on how to put together a GO bag or Bug Out bag (commonly known as a BOB).  BOB is the name I use because its easy to say, and on the blog, its certainly a lot easier to type!

There are so many great information resources available that I won’t give step by step instructions on how to put one together.  I’ll include a few links at the end of the post you can check out.  I do want to share some of my thoughts on the subject, and a few things I’ve learned.

 

It would be easy to list a hundred reasons on why you should have a basic bag put together, but one obvious one is being realized all over the state of Texas right now.  We are in the midst of a horrible fire season, and it seems to be getting worse.  The town of Bastrop is going up in flames with over 500 homes destroyed and countless others in the path.  Every one of these homes contained people and their possessions.  The people are out and safe for the most part, but everything they owned is now gone.  Some only have the clothes on their back.  I saw his firsthand when my grandparents lost their house to a wildfire many years ago.  The had just a few minutes to run through and grab what they could.  In the panic, not much was saved.  Heirlooms, pictures, and documents and several pets were lost forever.  I’m not saying that having a BOB will save all of your possessions, but having access to documents after a fire is important.  Being able to save the most important pictures is invaluable.

A lot of the info on how to put a BOB together covers the basics of survival.  Every list is going to include:  A change of clothes, 3 days of food and water, firemaking supplies, flashlight, batteries, portable radio, communications, etc.  Most lists include everything you would need to survive for 3 or more days in the wilderness.  That’s all good, but in reality most of us won’t be in a situation that requires surviving in the wilds of Montana or the deserts of the southwest.  Its probably more realistic that a disaster won’t be so widespread that we are going to have to take to the woods and wait it out.  The fires in Texas, while huge, only impact a small area.  Tornadoes are ruthless in their destruction, but don’t wipe out entire states.  If you are forced to leave, you’ll most likely be heading to a shelter, hotel, or a family member’s house.  Once the acute effects of the disaster are over, you’ll be going back in to start rebuilding what was destroyed.  A few items that make this stressful situation a little easier are good items to have with you.

1. Copies of document (or originals), including birth certificates, Social Security cards, passports, insurance policy information, and important contact information.  These can be digitized and stored on a CD, DVD, or thumb drive.

2. Important family photos.  These can be digitized and stored on electronic media as well.  Photos are impossible to replace if lost.  Having them backed up in multiple locations is cheap and easy.

3. Cash. I know some people will say that they keep credit or debit cards, but those don’t always work if the power is out. Cash will spend, even in the dark.  You don’t have to have thousands, but having enough for a couple of days including lodging and meals is always a good idea.

4. Cell phone or PDA chargers.  An extra charger for your communication is invaluable.  In a disaster, letting loved ones know you are well will put their mind at ease.  A dead cell phone is a paperweight.  Having a spare battery might not be such a bad idea either.

5. Some form of entertainment.  This is especially important if you have kids with you.  A couple of small toys, a deck of cards, or even a few crayons with some paper can keep the little ones entertained.  This will be really important during stressful situations.  Your kids know when your stressed, and it stresses them out too. A paperback novel will go a long way in passing time if you need a distraction yourself.

6. Small heirlooms.  Anything small that can’t be replaced should find a spot in the BOB.  Nothing would be more heartbreaking that frantically searching through the rubble looking for that ring your grandma gave you before she died, or that watch that your dad gave you the day you graduated high school.

7. Personal toiletries. A familiar tasting toothpaste and your normal deodorant will maintain some level of normalcy.  We can be very picky about the brands we use, and having that with us will do wonders for our morale.

The point is to not only survive a disaster, but to come out the other side with some semblance of our sanity and dignity.  I would much rather end up staying in a hotel and going through a few heirlooms and pictures while the kids play a game of Old Maid than be sitting on a cot in a school gym hoping someone will donate some clean underwear before morning comes.

 

Here are some links to help you get started.

Here is a good list, but leans toward being prepared for all out collapse.

This is a very thorough list.

One of the better articles I’ve seen on BOBs

FEMA has some thoughts on how to prepare.

Zombie defense on the cheap!

Sarah and I made the trip over to Fort Worth for a gun show this weekend to check prices on a couple of things, and just see what was going on in the wide world of weapons.  Wow, the place was packed!  Not quite like the month before the last presidential election, but pretty close.  We were walking the aisles looking at all of the wares being peddled, and I had an old wish come back to mind.  I’ve always wanted a pistol cartridge carbine chambered in 9mm.  So I start looking around and find a few that are way out of my price range.  Really, 900 bucks for something that shoots 9mm???  No thanks, for that cash I would have a sweet ass rifle that could send a lot of .308 rounds downrange!    I originally wanted the Kel-Tec Sub2000, but after handling it again, and seeing the $80 price increase, I wanted to shop around some more.  Enter the friendly fellow under the HiPoint banner.  Yeah, I vaguely remember handling the HiPoint carbine at one time.  It was cumbersome and the stock looked like it was designed by a student of Picasso.  Surely I couldn’t like something like that…

I was pleased to learn that HiPoint realized their gun looked like a joke (and had that reputation in the market), and redesigned it to look better. Much, MUCH better.  Reintroduced as the 995TS (TS means target stock), the 9mm carbine now looks sweet.  Sweet in that, “I’m gonna bust the hell out of some zombies while wearing full tactical gear” way.  I was pretty shocked looking at it there on the rack.  I ask the guy to handle it and pick it up.  It has some real weight to it.  I like that in a gun.  I shoulder it and look down the sights.  Now I’m really starting to get interested.  Check the price tag.  Sold.  I want this bastard in my arsenal!!  Sarah was picking up on this and recommended walking around for a bit to avoid an impulse buy.  It was weird, the further I walked away, the more it called out to me. “Pick me up again, take me home!  I’m a zombie slayer!!”  Now I’m not one to refuse on that!  We walk back over, and its time to fill out the wonderful 4473 form and pay the man his money. This gun is going home with me, and for way less than MSRP. Damn I love a good deal!

I’m sure by now you want to know the nuts and bolts, and probably ask me one question…  “A HiPoint?  Are you on crack? Those things are made of plastic and will break the second you shoot it!”   Yeah, so I’ve heard from a thousand people that have never shot one.  The folks that have them love them, so I have to go with experience on this one.

 

 

This all American made gun features a 16.5″ barrel and 31″ overall length, which makes it pretty handy to handle and move around with.  Its covered in Picatinny rails for mounting scopes, lasers, lights, pistol grips, toasters, you name it.  Mine probably won’t get much, but its nice having options!  The biggest drawback is the ten round magazine capacity.  There are aftermarket 15 rounders I’ll try, but for now I guess I’ll actually have to aim and place each shot to make those ten count.  Speaking of aiming, this thing has a peep sight that is easy on the eye, and taking a few shots to check the point of impact verify its dead on at 25 yards from the factory.  The trigger was much better than I expected as well.  I was shooting at dusk, so I noticed a dark target with blued metal sights isn’t exactly easy to acquire, but that is easily fixed with some tritium paint or a dab of white metal paint on the front sight.  Even in the poor lighting this thing puts the bullets right where you tell it too.  I didn’t set up to shoot 5 shot groups, but there is time for that later.  Its safe to say its more than accurate enough for carbine ranges.

I look forward to really putting this thing through the ringer in the coming days and weeks, but for now I’m extremely happy with the results I’ve gotten.  If you are on a budget but still want to be able to drive back a small hoard of the living dead, I can’t recommend this little gun enough.  From general plinking to serious power for home defense, you can’t go wrong here.

 

I suck at the Internet.

I’ll start out by apologizing for not getting a post up on the site sooner.  Apparently, I’m not nearly as internet savvy as I originally thought.  I managed to lock myself out of my own website and had a little trouble setting up the email account through my hosting company.  That’s the trouble with the DIY mindset.  Sometimes, you don’t actually know enough to do it yourself, but that won’t stop someone as stubborn as me from pushing on!  I could have resolved the issues a lot sooner if I had called tech support, but I knew I would figure it out on my own (by the way, I didn’t figure it out and had to call tech support).  I’m still winging it for the most part, but the important pieces are coming together.  I haven’t deleted any files that make my webpage work since the second day.  I’m pretty sure I’ve learned enough about WordPress to make this post available.  I might even be able to get pictures uploaded and in posts soon.  If you check back and get some awful error, rest assured I will be working to get it fixed, even if I have to make a dreaded call to tech support!

 

I’d like to point out that there is a “blogroll” to the right of where you are reading right now.  Blogroll is just a cuter, bloggier way of saying “Links”.  If I knew more about code language, I would change it to “Links”, but that might result in a very poor looking webpage.  We’ll leave it alone for the time being.

On that blogroll, I’ve added a few links that I visit often.  These websites have been a great source of information for me.  Of particular note are the Backwoods Home link, and the Ask Jackie Clay that is a part of BWH.  Backwoods home is a print and online publication that specializes in homesteading and self reliance.  They have some of the most knowledgeable writers out there on anything related to homesteading.  Jackie Clay is one of their more popular bloggers.  To say that she is an expert on food storage would be the understatement of the year.  I’ve learned more from reading her blog and reader questions than I’ve found in a dozen books.

Two more of the links are for the Survival Podcast and AgriTrue.  The Survival Podcast is by far the most popular podcast relating to survivalism and self reliance.  It is done by Jack Spirko, and he is one of the sharpest guys out there.  He’s been podcasting for over three years, and has built an awesome community.  AgriTrue is a new concept of his that is just getting off the ground.  I could go into detail about it, but that would take up a lot of space, and it would rehash what is waiting for you if you click that link.

Zombie Squad is a group based in St. Louis, with chapters all over the world.  At their core, they are an emergency preparedness and survival group that focuses on education.  It draws a younger crowd than normally found with groups of that type.  I’ve met a lot of great people through Zombie Squad and I’ve learned a LOT.

Last but not least, there is a link for the Freedom Feens podcast.  It is hosted by Michael W. Dean and Neema Vedadi.  I met Michael a few years ago through a message board and have been keeping up with his many projects since then.  The Freedom Feens are libertarian while still being fun to listen to.  Its not a lot of the same monotonous drivel that seems to permeate the liberty movement.

Please take some time to visit these sites.  I’ve learned a lot of great information, and hope that everyone else can too.  I’ll be adding more links as time goes on, but these folks are near and dear to my heart so I wanted to give them special attention.

Now that I’ve got the basics figured out on this new world of websites, I’ll be getting stuff posted more frequently.  I’m going to start with some gear reviews, then venture into subject that interest me.  A little gardening, some food storage, energy, the potential for flesh eating hoards to come shambling down my road.

-Justin

Introduction

A little while back I realized that I spend too much time thinking about a few specific subjects.  I’m constantly pondering emergency preparedness, self reliance, homesteading, and self defense.  I also spend way too much time considering the outcome of a full out zombie uprising.  While it would be nice to have a large homestead that is fully self sufficient and fortified against the hordes of the undead… time, finances, and normal life seem to be in the way.   This website is a public outlet of working toward these goals, however lengthy the journey may be.  I believe that the mind is the most powerful tool in any survival situation, so I focus on learning as many skills as possible.  I still have a lot to learn.  I also believe knowledge is best shared, so I’ve created this website to share what I’m learning with anyone interested.  I’m by no means an expert on survival or homesteading, so take this as a disclaimer.  There are many out there with a lot more knowledge and expertise on these subjects.  I’m not trying to become the next Bear Grylls or Dave Canterbury.  I also won’t focus on one specific area, like wilderness survival or homesteading.  I like the “Jack of all trades, and master of none” approach.

Another subject dear to my heart is liberty.  We have become a society that is more than willing to trade freedom for security.  So long as our routines are not upset, we will submit to just about anything that encroaches on our individual rights.  We will go where we are told, eat what we are told, and live the way we are told.  We are told who to vote for.  Sure, we are given two choices, but those choices are for essentially the same thing.  We have become completely dependent on these systems that take our freedoms and offer us comfort and entertainment in return.  I’ve been unplugging myself from as many of these systems as possible, and being self reliant is a natural step in that direction.  I’ll try not to turn this site into a political rant, but some of the content will be political in nature.

Thanks for taking time to read this and I hope to have you back soon! Please feel free to jump in and comment on any content, or offer suggestions for content or improvement.

Thanks,

Justin