Shelter in Place, Isn’t that just Bugging In?

There are lots of areas around the world right now where orders to “Shelter in Place” have been issued. In others, people have been requested to stay home by “Safer at Home” campaigns. Some people seem upset by this. Unfortunately, just like a lot of people refuse to plan for any type of emergency, it seems like lots of people refuse to recognize this pandemic. Moving about for anything but the most essential things puts you, your loved ones, and those you encounter at risk.

I prefer to think of this as a bugging in scenario. While there may be no zombies or nuclear fallout, traveling around unnecessarily is still very dangerous. So, the best option is to avoid that contact with others so that we can let the virus burn itself out.

Unfortunately, those with no planning panic at the thought of isolating themselves. Realization that they have no store of essentials to sustain them causes several different possible reactions. Some panic and rush to hoard whatever might spontaneously leap to their mind as “essential.” This results in chaos and some odd buying patterns, like the toilet paper hoarding. Many rushed past food, water, and medical supplies, to grab the most toilet paper they could heap on a cart. I hate to inform them, but without food and water there is not much need for toilet paper. Besides, as much as our germophobic hygiene obsessed society would hate to think of it, humans survived for a long time without toilet paper.

Others react with anger based on this panic. They say that being told to stay home is a violation of their rights. In my eyes this is just a knee jerk reaction. I am a very big proponent of individual rights. This is a public health situation and has to be treated as a threat. Mandates to shelter would have never been needed if people just used common sense and paid attention to the warnings. Instead people still go about like nothing is going on. While statistically this is not anything like the 1918 Spanish Flu, it does have the potential to be very devastating. With much larger numbers of people traveling much more and farther on normal days, one infected person could set off a chain to infect thousands. Limiting contact limits the spread and is the only 100% effective precaution.

Still others react with panic driven by fear based on a lack of control. These people tend to insist that the government is not doing enough and must help them. This is due to the fact that they have been totally dependent on these support systems beforehand. They are used to having things just magically taken care of for them. They don’t care to know how it happens, just that they don’t have to bother with it. They are happy as long as they can get up every day, swing through a drive through for breakfast, go about their morning, get take out for lunch, and then stop on the way home by to pick up a pizza for dinner. When this is interrupted, they have nothing to fall back on. Most take no responsibility for the issues. They just point fingers and place blame on others for not fixing it so that their lives are not inconvenienced.

Fortunately, if you have even done basic planning, isolating should be less of a  shock. While you may not have everything you want, you should have what you need in quantities that keep from making unnecessary trips out. You are probably much more likely to be adaptive and make due. If beans and rice are all you have until your order at the local grocer can be filled, then you make the best of it. If you can’t get the brand you like of an item, you take the brand you can. That attitude is one of the best tools to get you through this.

One other things to take from this is that this is a great soft run for your planning. It will expose some weak points that you need to remedy. Luckily, things should begin to stabilize as supply chains catch up and health care providers find out more info on COVID-19 treatment. So during this time that you may have a bit more free time to use, review things and make notes as to what needs to be beefed up or changed. If it is more supplies you need, go ahead and order them if you can. If it is revising how you react to certain situations, sit down with your family or group and hash out how to amend the plan.

Lastly, let me just say that there is a bright spot in this that some people may pass up. On normal days families are in such a frantic rush to get to work, school, and activities that it is hard to squeeze in time to bond. During this time, lots of those commitments will be eased up. Take some of that extra time to prepare and enjoy  a family meal,  play games, have a long phone conversation, or whatever brings you you closer to those you love, even if they are far away geographically. The technology is there to talk to, see, or even play games with them no matter how far they may be. So make use of it and hopefully we will all emerge from this better for the shared experience.

Stay prepared and stay safe out there…. bugged in.

 

Great things to do while stuck at home

It seems for many people either forced to shelter-in-place by government orders or just personally isolating themselves cabin fever is setting in.  Here are some suggestions and links to help out.

Read

Reading is a great way to pass the time and keep your mind occupied. If you are short on books, Kindle Unlimited is free for the first month

Sign up here: Kindle unlimited

If you need something to read on, Amazon has a special going

Listen to Audio books

Audible is giving away free streams of kids’ books while schools are closed.  If you want you can sign up or even give a gift subscription to someone to allow them access to the entire library.

Audible

 

Play Games

Board games are a great hit in my house with the adults and kids. There are many types to choose from.

Some popular ones

LIFE

Battleship

Monopoly

Clue

UNO  – Not necessarily a board game, but a card game good for all ages.

If you don’t have Amazon Prime, you can sign up for $5.99 a month and get those games shipped free 2 day shipping.

Amazon prime for $5.99/month

Or you could do a 30 day Free Trial if you haven’t in the past.

Amazon Prime 30 day Free Trial

 

Fire Up the Grill

Around our house if always seems so rushed that we never get to take time out on the deck to cook out and hang out. Get fresh air, good food, and family time all in one.

Grilling supplies

Go Outside

I know that sounds kind of against the isolation, but I mean if you are fortunate enough to have a decent yard where you can relax without coming in close contact with neighbors.

Some games I recommend for outside

Corn Hole toss

Ring Toss

Yardzee

I know the change of routine and sometimes seemingly cramped quarters can cause a little bit of insanity. Try to make the best of it with everyone home by looking into some outlets above. The alternative (going out) could keep the world fighting COVID-19 much longer as people infect and potentially re-infect others. If you have preparations already in place, take the time to relax a bit. Whether things get better or worse, you will need to be ready to get back to the routine or implement your disaster planning. Lastly, stay safe wherever you are and stay prepared.

Relax – You can’t eat Toilet Paper – COVID-19 Blind Panic

Right now, it is almost impossible to go an hour without seeing or hearing about COVID-19. It is running amuck in most of the world right now causing shortages and fear.

Please watch out for yourself and your loved ones.  Maintain good hygiene by washing your hands well (soap and warm water for 20 seconds) and using other sanitation item you may have. Practice isolation from the general public to whatever degree you can. Just to be safe. If you are in areas that do not have mandatory shelter-in-place orders, halting the spread of the virus might help to keep it that way.

The key is to be safe and prepared but not to panic. Panic is driving the toilet paper shortage (for no good reason). Those loading up on toilet paper, but not any other essentials, may find themselves very hungry if this lasts an extended period of time. Stocking up on things like canned soups, crackers, peanut butter, and protein bars are a good idea. All of these have an extended shelf life and most can be eaten without heating them.

As an alternate to toilet paper since it does seem to be hard to track down, flush-able wipes can still be found some places. I suggest using Amazon so you can avoid the stores.

Flushable Wipes

They also have toilet paper, though not as cheap as before and not a common brand

Toilet paper

Pick up some protein bars and peanut butter while you are there if you need to stock up.

Cliff Bars

Peanut Butter

Again, stay safe out there by using common sense to limit your exposure and avoid the panic that the unprepared seem to be having.

If you have questions or concerns feel free to contact me on the Contact page

Contact Leveled Survival

Coronavirus: Pandemic or Panic

Unless you live under a rock, you will know that Coronavirus is a very hot issue in the world right now. It is almost impossible to visit a news site, turn on the television, or listen to the radio without encountering a story about it. It is so overwhelming that it is difficult to discern what the real facts are and what is hype to get better ratings or political clout. It is important to examine the details to determine the best course of action.

First, what is the coronavirus? According to the World Health Organization (WHO)

“Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.”

Common symptoms that occur with COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Less frequently people may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. For the vast majority of patients these symptoms are mild and begin gradually. Some people who become infected don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell.

About 80 percent of the people that become infected actually get better without any special treatment. Only about 1 in 6 that get the illness will have serious issues. Lots of times this is due to other already present medical issues. Of all those that get ill, only 2 percent die according to currently reported numbers. Some sources theorize that this percentage may even be too high since some people that would fall into the mildly ill category might just get well and fail to report it. It might be chalked up to a mild case of the flu or a bad cold. As you can see from this data, Coronavirus is far from a Black Plague type illness.

While localized, the virus can spread fairly rapidly, globally it is very limited. Right now only about 5 percent of the verified cases are outside China. This means with proper medical response and quarantine those already infected should be able to get well without infecting others. Globally this makes a huge difference. While a vaccine would be great, stopping the spread from person to person will begin to snuff out the virus.

So, the biggest question might be “How do I prepare for this?” In all honesty the first step is common sense. Practice good hygiene to avoid the possibility of picking the virus up from your surroundings. This includes properly washing your hands, keeping your hands away from your mouth and eyes, and not sharing drinks with anyone. These will go much farther toward keeping you healthy in most surroundings than a mask. Another part of this is limiting your interaction with others if you become ill. As much as possible, avoid interactions with family, friends, and coworkers until you are well. This will contain the spread if you do have the coronavirus and possibly keep you from catching it a second time from those you infected.

As far as more traditional preparation, the need to possibly secluded yourself means you should make sure that you are stocked up on essentials. Food, water, toilet paper, prescription medications, and cold/flu medications to help with the symptoms is a good starting point. This will mean you can stay at home and limit exposing others or being exposed. This may well be enough if the virus progresses as it is now.

There are two other possibilities that you may need to ponder when deciding your level of preparation. The first is that due to either an explosive spread of the virus or a viral mutation that makes it much deadlier, the situation globally becomes much worse. The second is that public panic sets in causing social upheaval that exceeds the danger of the virus itself. If either of these were to happen, you may need to prepare at a higher level. In this case, depending on how bad it gets, you might need longer term and more elaborate food and gear stores. Gear such as flashlights, a camp stove, water purification systems, and hygiene supplies should be stocked in case power goes out and cannot be restored quickly. Longer term food in larger quantities could be needed since you may not know when you will be able to get more. Panicked people (for good reasons or not) can pick the stores clean very quickly. That is already happening in some areas. Also, transportation of goods might be limited as a precaution and that would isolate you from online sources. In addition, proper personal protection equipment (PPE) should be on hand to protect you at times you have to interface with people, animals, or locations that might infect you. Proper masks and gloves would be the most basic. Face shields, hazmat suits, and disinfecting chemicals might be in order if you plan for the worst.

Planning and gathering supplies should be done soon if you plan to. An amount of panic has already set in for certain people and areas.  This is causing your selection of certain items to be thinner than normal. One example is N95 masks. These are almost impossible to get through normal channels and auction sites are seeing them sell for ridiculous prices. It is simply the law of supply and demand with a hefty dose of opportunistic greed tossed in.

If you are looking for more specifics on items you might need, my previous post The list I thought I would never make is a good starting point. The items listed there are aimed at making a family prepared for longer term survival in uncertain situations.

So, in this changing situation, remember to stay calm and plan ahead in order to stay on top of the situation as the level increases. As always, if you have specific questions, feel free to contact me.

OPSEC for Civilians – Keeping Secrets

The word OPSEC can be heard in a lot of discussions of survival preparedness and apocalyptic stories. A lot of individuals do not understand what that means because it is a primarily military term. As with lots of military vocabulary, this is an abbreviation for a longer phrase. OPSEC began as the phrase “operations security.” Operations security is defined on Wikipedia as

“a process that identifies critical information to determine if friendly actions can be observed by enemy intelligence, determines if information obtained by adversaries could be interpreted to be useful to them, and then executes selected measures that eliminate or reduce adversary exploitation of friendly critical information.”

In layman’s terms this means that you keep vital information related to planning out of the hands of anyone you do not trust completely.

This can be traced back to some concepts developed in World War II. One example is this World War II poster by Seymour R. Goff. It is the early example of the “Loose lips sink ships” phrase.

 

Another is this poster that comes from the Women’s Army Corps anti-rumor propaganda (1941–1945).

This may seem like a purely military idea, but it is not. The planning that you do is in order to protect yourself and loved ones. Some other people are not of the same mindset though. I have even seen people boasting online that they don’t need to stock supplies because they will just take what they need when the time comes. Sadly, this is a real possibility.

This is not to say that all your planning needs to be done in a whisper in the backroom or by using invisible ink. You may feel that no one should know you have any plans set up. That is fine. At the least though, it means that certain details may be restricted to your family or group. These details might include how many supplies you have set aside, where they are stored, any bug out locations you have planned for, or weapons you may have. Basically any details that could be used to derail your plans should be protected. No one wants to have the worst-case scenario happen and then show up to your bug out location to find it occupied by your heavily armed coworker.

So, to finalize, don’t hesitate to discuss planning if you feel safe in doing it. The free exchange of ideas is what improves planning and creates relationships that may be vital in an emergency. Letting everyone in earshot know how much food you have in your garage might not be a good idea though. Use common sense when deciding what to discuss and with whom.

Alternate Communications

Lets face it, most of us are used to picking up our phone and calling or texting someone at a moments notice. On a day-to-day basis it is very easy to communicate. This is the marvel of modern technology. I highly recommend that you have a cellualr phone with you at all times. For most people, signal will be good enough to call for help in an emergency. Even with very low signal a text message can often still be transmitted. Keeping the appropriate chargers and a power bank handy is also advisable. In a large percentage of situations this will be enough to call for help if you have a medical emergency, auto accident, become lost, or face a natural disaster. There are times though that the cellular networks will be overwhelmed or down completely.

These situations where cell phone access is unavailable require a bit more thought to plan for. This has been see multiple times in the recent past. On 9/11 cell networks in the surrounding area were crippled from the immense load of the calls. They became unusable. I even experiened some of this hundreds of miles away as the cellular providers attempted to reroute call traffic through secondary routes to lessen the load. Ironically, when being able to make a call is the most important is when it is most likely to be jammed up. This means that we must plan alternate methods to communicate with family, group members.

One of the easiest ways to set up an alternate communication plan over a moderate distance is handheld “walkies.” While these could be susceptible to breaking down from an EMP or simple age, they are simple to aquire, train on, and deploy.  Most of these require standard batteries and additional ones can be stored with it. Rechargable batteries and a solar or crank charger would be a nice addition. Also many models have weather alerts built in. You do need to remember a few facts though. First, these have a limited range that greatly decreases with obstructions. Second, most if not all of the channels on these are public and not secure. A personal set of code words would be advisible in case things become hostile. Lastly, often different models and brands may not be set up with the same channels. This can also vary with the ages of the units. Decide on and test channels ahead of time.

Here is an example of a unit that is rated well and affordable

Midland – GXT1000VP4, 50 Channel GMRS Two-Way Radio

A second option that is similar is CB or Ham radios. I will not go over all the differences, but basically CBs are lower powered and not regulated where as HAM radios require a license but have much more power and bandwidth. These units would allow for a much larger range than hand held 2 way radios. The trade off is that these normally require more power to run. Ham radios do come in handheld models, but many of the more powerful are a fixed location affair. Another plus though is that you can communicate with groups such as emergeny responders in yoiur area via HAM.  Most 2 way walkies cannot do that. There are many great online resources about HAM radio and most areas have a “club” where you could meet some experienced HAM operators.

In the event that the use of electronics is not possible, there are still ways to communicate with others. This can require a bit more preplanning if you feel that there may be the possibility of others misusing the information. It would be smart to come up with some “code” with your group members. It does not have to be hard. Something as simple as refering to Grandpa’s house as “The Farm” or using a symbol for each member to securely sign the communication. It may sound a bit like an old spy movie, but if things are really bad, nefarious individuals might use intercepted communication to track or ambush you. On the up side, as long as everyone knows the “code”, there is no harm in it and it might even simplify things.

There are several ways you can use this code. You could write a note and place it somewhere out of sight that others know to check. This could let you confirm your status, travel desination, and who is with you. Another way to leave communication might be to paint something on the side of a building along your route. While this would not be good to do in normal times, during a forced evacuation or worse cases it might be the best way to catch the eye of others in your group traveling the same route.  Sharpie style markers are also useful to do this on a smaller scale. These coukd be used to write on windows, street signs, or abandoned cars.

While I know some of this may lean toward the apocalyptic level of disasters, it will hopefully give you something to think about for all levels of planning. Because of things such as long commutes, children away at school, and simple distance between towns, we may find ourselves far flung when disaster strikes. This communication is important because it connects you to your most valuable resource, family and friends.

National Preparedness Month 2019

Yet again we roll around to September which is National Preparedness Month. It is a great time to reevaluate your planning and update it based on situation changes. Life events that change your geography, add or remove household members, or affect your health are all things that may cause a need for changes. In addition, social, political, and environmental changes may also warrant revisions in parts of your planning.

FEMA’s site Ready.gov is using the theme this year of “Prepared Not Scared.” It is a great theme because fear should not be the driving factor in your planning.

The different focus for each week also highlights important topics to consider. I have touch on each of these topics in past posts, but visiting them again periodically is a great idea.

Saving early is not just good for disaster preparedness, but is great overall. Sometimes putting money back can be very hard, but there are many great strategies out there. From putting all your spare change into a savings account to brown bagging lunch, it is not hard to save something. Even if it is not a lot each week, small amounts add up. When disaster happens, whether it be a blown out tire, roof leak, or hurricane, not having any cushion of funds can leave you in a perilous situation.

Planning for a disaster is, well, why you are reading my page I hope. Planning is a definite way to take control of the situation so that you are not paralyzed by fear when things do happen. In worst case scenarios, those that act early will have a better chance to come out of it successfully. Time is a precious commodity whether you are evacuating ahead of a hurricane, gathering last minute supplies to ride out a blizzard, or outrunning everyone else escaping the zombies (just kidding).

I did an entire post on including your kids in your planning. No one is too young to understand some part of the plan. Things as simple as “meet at the mailbox if you have to escape the house” are a great place to start. Plenty of five year olds dial 911 in an emergency every year. Even if they can’t explain the issue to the operator, the call will alert emergency personnel.  This teaching also sets the precedent to allow you to expand their part in your plan later. Plus, spending time with your family on a shared activity is always a good thing.

In addition to your own planning, I do agree that everyone should be a part of their community planning. On the up side, you have input to try and get the most effective plan in place. You will be able to form bonds with other like-minded people that may help you to band together in times of need. On the more selfish side, you will know what others plan so that you can adjust appropriately. Plus, hopefully some sound advice offered to others might help you lessen the number of unprepared people around you. That possibly means less people to clash with over resources if you cannot leave or no assistance can get to you.

So take this month as time to plan or revisit existing plans. Read up on what others suggest and find how their ideas apply to you. Most importantly, decide what level you want to plan for and how your specific life affects your plan.

Day 2 of the Apocalypse

Watch any apocalyptic themed movie and you will see a very common trend. Your happy go lucky neighbor will turn into a raving psychopath as soon as whatever event happens that makes it apocalyptic. While this tends to add drama and move the story along, it is not very realistic. Aside from a pandemic disease that alters the mind of those infected (i.e. 28 Days Later) or a nuclear incident, most people will not even realize things have hit the fan at first. Even if a widespread EMP event happens, most people will assume things will be back to normal in a few days. Authorities will tend to reassure people of this in an effort to not incite panic. While it may actually vary in time period, I refer to this as Day 1. For the most part this can be a quiet time. Some less than desirable individuals will try to leverage that law enforcement is stretch thinner than ever to ramp up criminal efforts. Most ordinary people like our neighbors, members of the PTA, and the college girl that babysits your kids will be either in a state of shock or disbelief though. This period unfortunately is when the decisions you make can very well be life or death.

In this lull, unless the situation is instantaneous cataclysmic, most people will feel more inconvenienced than anything. They will follow their normal patterns as much as they can. They will go to work or school if it is open, come home, have dinner, do chores, and repeat the next day. They will discuss news tidbits they have heard with their friends and neighbors and theorize about when this will end. Most will feel that their community services, government, and relief organizations will take care of the problem in due time. You can’t really blame them for wanting to believe that. Most have no idea how to react if that is not true. The longer this period lasts, the thinner the veneer of society will be stretched.

It will begin to dawn on some slower than others that this is not going to end any time soon. That is when the transition will begin to what I refer to as Day 2. Again the actual time period may vary greatly depending on the actual events. This is when the full implications of a large scale disaster will sink in. Panic is very likely to ensue. Essentials like food, water, and fuel will become points of conflict as people try to hoard what they can. Both targeted and random violence will begin to break out. The uncertainty will leave most in a high level of stress and panic. The longer the population remains high, the more resources will be burned up or willfully destroyed. Possibly within a matter of hours of the light bulb going off in their head, those in densely populated cities will begin to migrate outward in hopes of finding the quiet little farm or a section of woods where they can hold up. Millions of unprepared and ill-supplied bodies will tear across the land ravaging it worse than a wildfire. As the situation becomes dire, people will become desperate to feed themselves and their loved ones. Desperate hungry people often feel they have nothing to lose and will not act logically. This will make for a very dangerous horde trampling towards wherever they may see as glimmer of hope.

As someone making preparation for various disasters, you might already see that Day 2 is too late to be making your move to relocate and secure yourself. Like has been seen in so many evacuations, traffic will be at a standstill on any road but the most remote. Initially the volume of traffic will be the issue, but as hours pass roadways will become long parking lots of crippled and abandoned vehicles. Any vehicle that is not trapped in this will become a target for anyone with questionable morals. The only way to avoid this deathtrap that many will fall into is to identify Day 1 and have plans in place to move quickly or already be at a location that allows you to hunker down safely.

When planning take this need for swift and decisive action into consideration. Wasting precious time mulling over your options or going shopping for essentials might put you directly in the middle of the rush to leave. While there are some item you may need to acquire at the last minute, make those as few as possible. Also, in many situations credit cards will be useless, so having cash on hand will help you get the last minute items you need to round out your supplies. Additionally, be sure to plan how everyone is to get to the desired location. Waiting for your entire party to get home may take much longer than meeting them at a central randevu location.

While this scenario goes well beyond localized flooding, snowstorms, or even lower end hurricanes, there are many precedents to look at in recent years. Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Andrew, the Mendocino Complex Fire in California, and others show that it does not take an EMP, government collapse, or a pandemic to cause you to need to put your plan into action. So plan well, review it often, and be prepared to stay ahead of the crowd.

Let’s talk about shoes

On the average day most people worry more about the look of their shoes than the comfort. Women take the brunt of the jabs about preferring looks over comfort in footwear, but many men operate on the same principle. Whether it be Jimmy Choo high heels, wingtips, cowboy boots, or Converse Chuck Taylors, people abuse their feet daily by what they wear. Blisters, corns, callouses, broken down arches, and hammer toes all come from wearing the wrong shoes for your feet. Wearing the wrong size, be it too large or too small, is just as bad. People in certain occupations have specific footwear requirements that limit their choices. They may need safety toes or chemical resistant soles to protect them. Outside of this scenario, I strongly urge you to reevaluate the emphasis on shoes that keep your feet healthy.

Keeping your feet healthy on a daily basis just requires making some good decisions. First, different shoes are needed for different activities. You might be able to get away with almost anything if you are just sitting at a desk all day. If you walk, stand, or run then footwear with better support and soles are necessary to prevent fatigue and damage. On the flip side, a pair of running shoes with foam style soles is not going to be a good choice for hiking mountain trails.  Second, buying the right size is imperative. Different brands are cut to different specs, so you may not always wear a size 10 medium width in every shoe. If you need help determining the best fit, visit a shoe store that has staff to help you find a fit and not just salespeople to sell you the most expensive pair. Third, remember that shoes have a lifespan. They may be “worn out” long before the soles fall off or they get holes in the uppers. Replace shoes before they lose the support your feet need. Fourth, recognize if your feet need special care. Some people have foot issues that require special shoes or orthotics (insoles) for their normal shoes.  This can be because of a physical foot issues, results of a past injury, or simply age. Lastly, recognize that cheap shoes are rarely good shoes. A pair of $1 Old Navy flip flops can be expected to have about $1 worth of support. A good pair of boots or shoes will cost a bit, but watching for sales and such can help to lower the cost. Just remember that cost is not a pure indicator. Lots of high heels are really expensive but work better as zombie killing weapons than shoes.

Now you may be wondering how this relates to disaster preparedness. It has everything to do with it. I assume the worst when I plan for things. In that case, you will be on foot. That means you need to have healthy feet and appropriate footwear.  The middle of a crisis is not the time to be shopping for shoes. That footwear should also be broken in to avoid finding out at the wrong time that they cause blisters or worse. Now planning for a range of disasters means you need to cover several specs in footwear. I find that a sturdy waterproof pair of boots does that. That being said, I avoid rubber or duck style boots. They just do not do well when walking long distances. Unless it is rather cold, they can make your feet sweat. In the cold, most do not have much insulation. A laceup or zip side boot is a good choice to allow for adjustments based on thin or heavy socks.

Obviously, there are hundreds of options that would work. Here are a couple of examples of good boots for men and a couple for women. These are reputable brands that have a proven track record of both durability and customer service.

Men

Timberland Men’s White Ledge Mid Waterproof Boot

Wolverine Men’s Floorhand 6 Inch Waterproof Boot

Women

Columbia Women’s Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Boot

Timberland Women’s 6″ Premium Waterproof Boot

Another good thing to pair with these is a good pair of socks. Wool is best because it wicks moisture away better. Merino wool is not your old fashion wool and these socks generally last a long time.

Merino Wool Midweight Hiker Socks – 4 Pack

If you have issues finding pairs that work for you and would like to try different pairs, Prime Wardrobe from Amazon is a good option. Without spending money on returns or driving from shop to shop, you can  try shoes and clothes free. You only pay for what you keep and have free Prime returns for what you don’t.

 

If you have any favorite examples to share, please leave a comment. The pair you prefer might just be what others are looking for.

Feeding yourself – Learning to garden

Not that many generations ago every family in the United States kept some type of garden. Sometimes it was the 50 acres out in the Midwest or sometimes a 5 foot by 5 foot mini garden in the backyard of a suburban house. People grew a wide variety of different vegetables, fruits, and herbs. They used this to supplement their grocery purchases, share with family or friends, sell, or trade for other goods. Their dependency on these garden products ranged from absolute necessity to a quaint hobby. Today things have changed for many people. Due to access to store bought produce year round, lack of space in many areas, and distance from a heritage of farming many people do not even know how to begin gardening.

No matter the level of disaster you are planning for, knowing how to grow food is not a bad skill to learn .  No one knows when a financial disaster might happen to your household.  The rest of the world may go on, but you may find that feeding yourself and loved ones by ordinary means is impossible. In this case, if you have access to dirt, be it ground or in pots, you can produce food for a tiny percentage of the retail cost.

As with most things, knowing how to do something and having done it before are quite different. The “green thumb” attributed to some people is usually a culmination of many trials and errors.  Through these they learn the nuances of what certain plants like and don’t like. Maybe despite their rampant desire to grow carrots, they find that the ground they have access to is just not a good fit for them. That is not saying that they could not improve the ground to match what carrots like, but they know that that effort is better spent growing other items. Sometimes you pick your battles with mother nature.  In light of this, practicing gardening now is better than later when it might be a dire situation.

Your garden can be as simple or as elaborate as you desire. Pots, buckets, straw bales, and hydroponics can replace traditional tilled earth gardening if you desire. If you are new, start small. Five tomato plants can provide a bounty, thirty can produce a lot waste. That is if you do not have anyone to share with, sell it to, or have a way to preserve it.  Instead of just one type of plant, you might plant a few different ones. That way if some types fail you still have others to fall back on. If you do a bit of research you may also find some that are ready at different times to allow you to have produce from spring until fall. The options are endless. Just remember that it takes time to perfect this skill like any other.

Don’t be frustrated if you have difficulty. The best gardeners have bad seasons.  Sometimes it could be a bad batch of seed, lack of rain, too much rain, excessive heat, not enough heat, etc. If one particular plant give you trouble try another. For instance, you have no luck with vine type plants, try potatoes, cabbage, beans, or corn. Considerate it a chance to try new varieties of vegetables.  Tomatoes alone have over 3000 varieties that are currently actively cultivated. Who knows, you may find that you love some of the varieties one thousand percent more than store bought.

There are many wonderful books out there about gardening. One I can recommend is

Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times

 

Here is also a list of free Kindle ebooks that I have compiled that can also help you get started. You simply need the free Kindle app to read them. Click here to get it: Free Kindle App

A to Z Gardening for Beginners

Vertical Gardening:The Beginner’s Guide To Organic & Sustainable Produce Production Without A Backyard

Easy Container Gardening: 5 Steps to Grow Fresh Organic Vegetables in Small Urban Spaces: Beginners guide to patio gardening (Easy gardening essentials Book 1)

Gardening 101: Friendship Gardens