Happy Thanksgiving 2021

I hope this Thanksgiving finds you and yours well. Hopefully most have been able to somewhat resume gathering the family together for a face to face meal. Enjoy the family time, it is all too precious.

Also remember that the origin of this U. S. holiday has a lot to do with survival. The settlers had survived another year and harvest. If they could survive  in the 1600’s with what knowledge and supplies they could bring across on their voyages, how much better off are we to prepare to survive? Just a thought to chew on while you digest that turkey and ham.


Winter is Coming

Well for some parts of the United States, winter has already arrived in the way of snow storms. For most of us at lower elevations though, we still have a bit of time. Now is the time to review your preparations for the cold so you don’t get stuck out in, well, the cold.

First order of business would be to swap out your warm weather car kit for your cold weather kit. Don’t have a car kit? Now is a great time to make one and you don’t really NEED two different kits. You can get away with just swapping out or adding some items. Some items that could be part of a cold weather car kit would be blankets, a change of warm clothes, cold weather boots, a jacket, candles, an ice scraper, a shovel, and cat litter. The shovel and cat litter are for self-rescue if you end up off the road in the snow. The candles can be for light or to heat up the car if stuck or broken down. You might already have them in a year-round kit unless it gets hot enough to melt them in the summer. An alternative heat source, like a portable propane heater, might be a good addition also, but would have to be used carefully. Unless you live in an area that gets very cold or could possibly be stuck for an extended time, a few candles would probably keep you from freezing.

Next, I would evaluate your home preparations to ensure nothing needs topped off. If you use propane, ensure the tanks are full and give each a basic safety check. If any look damaged, replace them. Also, check the batteries in flashlights, radios, etc. If you have a generator, it is a good time to test it out and rotate out fuel. If appropriate, work on whatever winter weather proofing you need. Some people seal windows with plastic and/or foam board to reduce lost heat.  Others use caulk to seal up any areas that need it. Also, ensure that any plumbing that could freeze is protected by heat tape, a space heater, or other appropriate means.

Lastly, take a look at your day to day cold weather gear. Many people overlook taking stock of this for you and the family. Is your favorite winter coat on its last leg, do your gloves have more holes than you have fingers, does your 13 year old’s coat fit more like a mid-drift shirt since they added 4 inches over the summer? Making sure your coats, gloves, hats, boots, and such are in good condition will provide a first layer (pun intended) of protection from the cold. I have developed a routine that keeps at least gloves and a hat in my main jacket. That way I do not end up needing them only to find I left them in the other car or on the kitchen table. I also make sure to pack items directly in my kid’s bookbag. They may be covered in goldfish cracker crumbs, but they still keep them warm when needed.

Obviously, this is a very high-level look at some of the things you may need to do to get ready for colder weather. Since everyone has a different situation, it is hard to have a one size fits all checklist. I hope this give you some place to start if you are just getting your plans together for the cold. Stay safe and warm out there.

Happy Halloween 2021

Well we have made it to the end of the spooky month again. I hope everyone had a good one and has a treat filled Halloween. Be safe and remember that some of those zombie trick or treaters might be looking for finger food.

Gift Ideas to Help Family and Friends Prepare

While the holidays are not looming, a lot of us like to get started early looking for gifts for those on our list. This can be an opportunity to help those people be a little more prepared for what might be thrown at them. In many cases these might be family or friends that have not made plans. A thoughtful gift could ensure they are a bit more prepared and maybe cause them to think over other ways to ensure they are planned for a disaster. I am listing just a few items of the many out there
One item that I am always surprised to see people not owning is an Emergency Roadside Kit for their car. These are not just for winter either. Most of us spend a good deal of time in the car and potentially far from home. Having jumper cables have been a life saver for me a lot of times. This Kit contains some basic tools to help if you are stranded due to a stuck or dead vehicle. Of course, these could also be used to offer a helping hand to others. Plus, those tools could be helpful in emergencies not related to their vehicle. Sort of like sneaking in a bit of preparation under the radar.

Emergency Roadside Toolkit

Car Tool Kit






Another item that can be helpful in the car and at home is Power Pack that allows you to jump start your car, charge or run electrical devices, and even air up your tires. This could be put to use to “self-rescue” if you had a dead battery or flat tire. If you are unable to use it for that, you could charge you phone to call for help. It could even be put to use in a cheerier scenario to pump up those inflatables for the lake. The only thing that the giftee must do is to charge it periodically. While this tool would not be classified by most as “prepping”, it can very useful in short term disasters and requires very little training to use.

Portable Power Pack Jumpstarter

Schumacher SJ1332








Another very practical gift that can be given but is a more deliberate attempt to help them prepare for disasters is to give them some type of emergency food stores. These are very important in lots of potential scenarios such as blizzards, economic collapse, floods, and long-term power outages. They are even a good standby in case of potential financial issues in the household. Explaining to them that this food is aimed at a longer shelf life than their average grocery store fare can help them to start to think about rotation of stored food and having sufficient stock on hand in case resupply is unavailable. While these kits are far from a complete solution, they provide a good base to build off of.

Harmony House Trail Ready Gourmet Soup and Chili Pack

Harmony House Trail Ready Gourmet Soup and Chili Pack









Augason Farms Long Grain Brown Rice Emergency Food Storage Pail

 Augason Farms Long Grain Brown Rice Emergency Food Storage 24 Pound Pail





Augason Farms 5-20100 72-Hour 4-Person Emergency Food Storage Kit

 Augason Farms 5-20100 72-Hour 4-Person Emergency Food Storage Kit 14 lbs 7 oz





Along with this food, you might find that an alternate way to prepare it would be a good idea. I find that the best overall option for a wide variety of people is a camping stove. They are small. easy to store, easy to use, and portable. Plus, you can always use them for their intended purpose, camping.

Coleman Gas Camping Propane Stove, 2 Burner

Coleman Propane Camping Stove





Another benefit of this stove is clean and easy to use fuel.

Coleman Propane Fuel Case of 6

Coleman Propane Fuel Case of 6





Another item that is good to pair up with food and a stove is cookware that is safe to use on the stove. Lots of coated pans and pots are not suitable for this use. A good basic kit would be a great help since it is also more portable than standard pots. The stove, fuel, and this take up very little room and can be a life saver.

Camping Cookware Set

Camping Cook Kit





There are some “stocking stuffers” worth a mention in this article too. Even if someone has some of them, often they find keeping them in handy places calls for multiples of each. One in each car, one in the bedroom, one in the kitchen, and one in the garage might be a good dispersal so they are at hand.

Multi Tool

Gerber Suspension-NXT Multi-Tool














Fire Starters





Candle Lantern

Candle Lantern





Wool Blankets





Water Purification Tablets











Lastly, for those that want to give someone a prebuilt kit to have on hand, we have one of those too.

EVERLIT 250 Pieces Survival First Aid Kit





Whatever you decide to go with, hopefully it is received well and it help prepare the receiver for whatever challenges they may face,

20 Years since 9/11

Today marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11. If you are old enough to remember that day, you understand how big of a deal it is. If you are not, take a minute to familiarize yourself with the event. I am not sure there was a real way to prepare for such an event on a personal level.  We can use it as a reminder that we must have plans in place to allow us to respond to disaster when it strikes, be it natural, accidental, or terrorism.

Ground Zero – New York City



Tribute in Light – 9/11 Memorial

September is National Preparedness Month 2021

Once again, we roll around to September and the official National Preparedness Month. As we do each year, this can prompt us to reflect on what preparations we have made, which we still have on your To Do list, and any changes that may have occurred that would cause us to alter our plans. I think given that last two years, we should have a much different mindset that we would have in September 2019. Thankfully, we also seem to be in a better place now as far as access to supplies than we were in September 2020.

As it does each year, Ready.gov has posted helpful lists and documents. I am going to post some links to a few because I always feel you should use any and every resource at hand to develop the best plan possible.

One new one this year is a simple index card sized checklist. It is very general, but I like the fact that it would be easy to print and hand out to open the conversation about disaster planning. It could be used to educate people in town halls, neighborhood meetings, or church events. I think it would be good anywhere you might want to spark discussion without getting bogged down in complex detail.

Ready.gov – 12 Ways to Prepare Postcard

There is also a download centered on family communication planning. I feel in lots of cases this is a very overlooked item. Most people are so accustomed to being able to grab their cell phone and call/text/Snapchat/etc. the rest of the family that they assume that is enough plan. It is not enough based on lessons learned from past disasters such as 9/11 and Katrina.

Ready.gov – Create Your Family Emergency Communication Plan

Another list to review and refresh as lots of us return to the workplace after working from home during COVID19 restrictions is for commuters, What changes do you need to reflect on this list that are different from last year?

Ready.gov – Commuter Emergency Plan

Another form of disaster, or often a result of one, is related to finances. It often gets overlooked in many discussions, but can be more devastating that a hurricane or earthquake. Many have felt the financial crunch as a result of the COVID19 pandemic. Here is a packet of info posted that discusses this.

Ready.gov – Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK)

They even have a Rainy-Day Fund graphic.

Good luck this month as you review and revise your plans. If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to contact me via the contact page or in the comments.


What Afghanistan can teach up about disaster planning.

Despite your opinion of whether the U. S. should have been in Afghanistan still or even in the first place, there are still lessons that disaster planners can learn from the chaos resulting from the withdrawal. I am not sure anyone would have called Afghanistan a stable country, but there was definitely some structure in place with the U.S. military on site there. Taliban forces were unwilling or unable to take over locations held by those forces. That all changed when the military withdrew. The timing and aftermath are where we can find lessons to be learned.

The first lesson is that things can happen quickly. Many areas were seemingly taken overnight by the Taliban as U. S. forces withdrew. This left those who would be targets for Taliban persecution in a panic. Many simply fled in fear for their lives. While most would say this could never happen here, you simply have to look at concrete examples that dispute that. During Katrina many who choose not to evacuate were displaced immediately. The water literally rolled in as a wave covering areas.  Another example is the occupation of the supposed “autonomous zone” in Seattle by protesters. This left anyone with homes or businesses in the area at the mercy of protestors. While luckily widespread violence did not occur, there were 4 shootings in 10 days and a large amount of vandalism and property damage. This is all while the authorities watched from a distance.  The takeaway from this is that you need to be aware of how things around you are unfolding and be ready to hunker down or move in very short order.  Speed is your friend when it means you can get out of an area before things escalate or at least ahead of the masses clogging the way.

A second lesson to learn from this is that any promised aid in the event of a disaster may never materialize. Many of those individuals in Afghanistan that assisted the military either with translation, logistics, or security were promised visas to allow them to come to the U. S. and sanctuary. Only a percentage were granted before the last military flight left. This left those depending on that trip to safety in a lurch. The same again happened in Katrina. Many were promised aid by FEMA and other organizations, but were left to fend for themselves against the elements and criminal activity in the area. The Superdome is a prime example. People were packed in there with little to no supplies and security. The supplies that did arrive were completely mismanaged and many sat unused.  This shows us why it is important to take personal control of the planning and supplies you may need in those situations.

Hopefully most in the U. S. will not need to have alternate identification or illicit routes to leave the country like many may have needed in Afghanistan. Having a full tank of gas and a packed bag of supplies ready to go would be a great idea though.  Anything you can do to take responsibility for your own safety will greatly increase your chances of surviving unscathed. Waiting and depending on someone to save you is not a proper plan.

Preparing Within Your Means

The basic philosophy of Leveled Survival is that each and every person must decide to what level they are willing and able to prepare for. If you read books, blog posts, forum threads, etc. it is very easy to get caught up in an ever escalating “pie in the sky” level of preparation. Somewhat television and movies are even worse. All of these sources tend to tell you that you are never prepared enough. A reality check is to understand that you CANNOT prepare for everything. The possible disasters ranging from a temporary loss of income to complete destruction of all electrical items by a solar storm can require an infinitely diverse set of preparations. No one has enough money, time, space, or skills to prepare for them all. It is important to take a step back and evaluate your priorities within a few parameters.

The first easily definable parameter is disposable income. Preparations generally cost money, but not necessarily directly. Stocking food, medicine, and other necessities directly costs money. You have to evaluate how much you can afford to budget for these items. Things may be tight enough that an extra $10 of groceries a week is all you can do. If so, then that is fine. Better to add to your pantry slowly than to go deep in debt to stock a basement full of freeze-dried food. You also have to determine how much money you can have invested in all your preparations. Very few of them are really liquid as assets and you do not want to be unable to get your car repaired or pay your child’s medical bills because you bought 500 pounds of beans. On the other side, some preparations do not directly cost money, but still affect your disposable income. For instance, if you decide that living in a remote location is a very good way to prepare for certain disasters, you also have to look at how that affects the jobs you have access to. Are you limited to a lower paying job at that location? Even if you can have the same job as before, has the commute greatly increased. That increases your expenditure of gas and time to receive the same income. All this needs to be considered because it affects your quality of life.

The second easily definable parameter is time. Finding, buying, stocking, and rotating supplies takes time. How much do you want to put into it? It is easy to say whatever it takes, but it is another trade off. Is it easy to turn off the television and reorganize the pantry so that you can fit another weeks’ worth of food? For most that is an easy choice. If you are a parent though you have to take into account time for your kids. Maybe your kids are passionate about being prepared too or maybe they are obsessive soccer players. If so, you may be putting a lot of time into practices and games each week. Again, it is all a tradeoff between your level of preparation and your daily life. Some people get so caught up in things that they figuratively hide in a hole with their preps awaiting impending doom. To me that is no way to live.

A last parameter to consider is space. Most of us live in a finite amount of square footage. Some are lucky enough to have a decent amount of land to go with it. There are creative ways to maximize the usage of the space, but still there are only so many places you can stack canned food. This may limit not only how many supplies you stock, but of what type. If you live in an apartment you may have constraints set by your landlord about the storage of firearms/ammo or pets/livestock. Even if you do not have these legal requirements, you may find that certain preparations are just not going to work for you. Take a very honest stock of the space you have and how you use it. This will help you determine what types of supplies and how much you can store. Maybe you can make alterations that fit your space better. I know many may not see themselves filling up their space, but it is easier to get to that level than you think. I mean how much space were the toilet paper hoarders filling up in their homes? I am guessing a lot. Again, it is about finding a workable medium.

Like everything in life, each choice is a trade-off. It is important to evaluate each to get to the spot you are most comfortable. This will reduce stress and help you live well on the days without disasters.

Being Vigilant

While many of us don’t like to think about it, boring things keep us safe. Things like checking your mirrors and blind spots before you swap lanes. When you first begin driving a good teacher will emphasize this. The longer we drive though, the more complacent and distracted we can get. That is until one day we side swipe a SUV because we failed to look. The same principle applies in disaster planning. When we start, we check off all the items we bought and preparations we made. We keep up a good rotation of things like food, medicine, and batteries. The longer we go, the more apt we are to slip on that. If things go wrong that can render part or all of our plan useless.

The first item that most people refer to when talking about rotation is food. All food has expiration dates. It could be argued these are suggestions, but do you really want to gamble on that when things go wrong? It is wise to set up a rotation using a First In, First Out policy. This simply means that you use the oldest items first. This prevents some of them making it to the back of the shelf and expiring before you realize it. It is also a good idea to keep some kind of list of what you have including expiration dates. This gives you a good way to plan meals to use up items BEFORE they expire. Plus, different kinds of food have widely varying expiration periods. Some people also write the expiration dates in large clear text on the front of the container. That is much easier than reading the sometimes-tiny dot matrix style printed expiration date that is somewhere on the package. One other thing to keep in mind with food rotation is that you need to routinely look for spoilage in your stock of items. It is possible that there was an issue with the item causing it to fail, such as a can not being sealed fully and swelling or cracking open. Another possibility is that there have been pests in your supplies. Sometimes things like weevils will come in with your rice or grain. They can hatch and destroy additional supplies such as pasta. Other times you will have rodents compromise your supplies both by eating and soiling them. Finding this quickly can help minimize your losses. You can then take steps to keep it from happening again. The same precautions need to be taken with water. While it does not “expire”, it may be best to rotate it out. This prevents accidents related to degraded retail bottles and risk of contamination.

Another item that should be on rotation is medication. This applies to over the counter and prescription alike. Each has expiration dates based on when it loses potency. It is best to abide by these so you get the full benefit from them. In addition, you should review any new medical conditions that may have come up. That way you can evaluate if any new or alternate medications needed to be added. You may even find that some of your preferred OTC medications are no longer healthy for you to mix with your condition or other medications. This hopefully will assure that you have what you need when things happen.

The last item you should review is your plans themselves. Some plan and sit on that same one for years without thinking how changing conditions may affect it. Things constantly change. The plan you set up when you children are toddlers may be very different than the one you would if they are now teenagers. Things to look at can include who is included in the plan, what supplies are you including, where this plan is implemented, and when this plan should be implemented.

Let’s start with the who. Since your plan was last evaluated you may have had additions, such as new baby, or subtractions such as adult age children moving across the country for work. These not only change the number of people, but may also shift responsibility around. A new baby may mean that the person caring for them is not free to do other things. On the flip side, a child that is now a teenager may be able to take on much more responsibility than they did as a preteen. Also, anyone that is no longer part of the plan may have had skills that you depended on. You will have to decide how to deal with that.

The next thing to review is the supplies you need to include. Changes of circumstances may require alterations. In the instance above of a new baby, you may need to add formula, diapers, and baby specific medications. You may also have added someone that needs specific items such as medications or mobility aids. They could also have specific valuable skills such as ham radio you need additional equipment for. In addition, you may have things you have found that are better suited for your needs. You use them to replace whatever supplies that filled that gap before.

Third, you will need to review how your location affects the plan. Maybe you moved to a new apartment 5 miles from your old one. This might mean you have to draw up new routes for evacuation or to get home from work. There may be streets that flood in your way, where there were not any before. Your new location may also be more susceptible to certain emergencies. If you moved from Florida to Colorado, you will need to worry more about blizzards now than hurricanes. There may also be environmental changes that affect you. It is possible that the bridge you planned to use is no longer there or a new housing development near it means it is much more likely to be backed up like a parking lot. You could also have new stops to make such as picking up your child from daycare or having to go across town to the high school instead of the middle school down the road. Also, this could affect how you deal with supply storage. If you lived in a 2-bedroom apartment alone and then move to a 3-bedroom ranch with a basement with your spouse, you will be able to store far more supplies easily. If things are the other way around, you may have to get creative in order to fit the same amount of supplies. So not all changes may be negative, but you have to evaluate that routinely to keep from getting surprised.

Lastly, you will need to see if your triggers for enacting your plan have changed. This can be affected by the above items too. For example, if you now work 50 miles from work instead of 10, you may need to react much quicker in order to make it home before the 12 inches of snow come down. It could also be that you now have additional people to include, so a faster reaction ensures everyone has time to grab their gear and go. Alternately, maybe you have finally moved to your dream location with a mountain of supplies, solar and generator backup power, 10 acres of garden, and all the farm animals you could ever want. In this case, you may not need to trigger anything or go anywhere. Sadly, most of us are not in that boat and we have to walk the line between jumping for nothing and acting too late. Taking an honest calculated look at this can ensure you know when it is appropriate to enact your plan for that scenario.

So, while rotating boxes of pasta and reviewing maps may not be the most exciting thing, it can be a very vital part of your planning. By keeping your supplies and plans up to date you avoid being surprised and having everything fall apart right when you need it the most. I have often referred to this review in my September posts related to National Preparedness Month, but depending on the situation yearly may not be often enough. In the end, as with all this, you must be your own judge on this. Just don’t allow yourself to become complacent and let all your planning be for naught.