P.P.P.P.P.

The 5 P’s is something a ex-Marine told me years ago that still resounds with me. He said his commanding officer had drilled it into them – “Proper Planning Prevents Piss-poor Performance”. In the same vein, it is just a different expression of the Boy Scout motto of “Always Be Prepared.” While this is true in disaster preparedness as we discuss here, it can also apply to your daily life. Applying these ideas daily will help you to be in a better position to limit stress. Living with less stress will make you stronger and healthier to deal with large life events.

On a daily basis I honestly struggle with organization. Things just get out of hand and then you can’t find your shoes the next morning. This in itself wastes time and causes undue stress. Compound this over weeks and years and all the little things build up. This can lead to a constant state of stress dealing with even the most basic things. This impacts you both physically and mentally.

Some things you can do to combat this apply to both daily life and disaster preparedness.  Some of these may sound cliche, but they work.

Everything has a place – Ever run late looking for your keys? Not if you designate a place for them and habitually put them there. Having organized locations for everything is not OCD. It is a manner to remove one more variable that can cause stress from poor performance. The same goes for your emergency supplies and bag. Having things organized saves precious time when you may only have minutes to evacuate from a disaster situation. A handy thing to have is a label printer. With it you can label shelves to organize where items belong. This works anywhere you can stick a sticker.

DYMO LetraTag LT-100H Handheld Label Maker

Another option are erasable labels such as these dry erase ones. Then you can adjust them whenever needed.

Dry Erase Magnetic Labels

Plan Ahead – Anything from laying out tomorrow clothes beforehand to a complete color coded family weekly schedule can fall under this. Depending on your situation, it may be more complex that other people’s. Planning out your day, week, and month can avoid conflicts, delays, and , again, stress. Planning will allow you to consolidate things such as having appointments that are in the same location on the same day if possible. This will avoid multiple trips and additional time away form home or work. Planning well in advance can also help you save money as in the case of booking a vacation. Earlier booking can let you find better deals on accommodations or transportation, pre-order tickets to attractions or events, and avoid forgetting items you must replace while away.  With all of this done you can actually be relaxing instead of planning each day while there. Planning out your emergency strategy can help you to have everyone one up to date on what to do in particular circumstances. This again saves time you need to evacuate or enact the plan to hunker down. Organizing the rotation plan of perishable items such as canned foods you are storing can help you to avoid wasting items and money due to expiration. A good way to keep up with this rotation is an inventory log. It can help you know what you have to avoid over buying or forgetting something.

Inventory Log: 100 8.5 x 11 inch pages

You can also use color coded stickers to assist in keeping up with the rotation.

Pack of 1020 1/2″ Round Color Coding Circle Dot Printable Labels

Know your limits – Everyone must face that they are not an expert at everything. Also, based on age, lifestyle, or illnesses, physically you may not be able to do certain things. Admitting these ahead of time will allow you to find ways to adapt to these parameters. If the limiting factor is skills you do not have, you can study or train to build those. For instance, your financial situation may keep you from upgrading your car that is giving you mechanical issues.  In this case, studying how to do some of the repairs yourself can improve the car’s reliability at a much lower cost. This more reliable transportation then relieves stress on you and your finances. Similarly, studying and practicing skills like fire building and water purification can  help you to better mitigate issues in a crisis.  In the case of physical limitation, you can find ways to accommodate or alleviate them. If you suffer from arthritis that causes you to have less strength in your hands, simply buying pop top style canned goods versus screw off lids can help the issue. When emergency planning, you may also do something like including a cart to transport your supplies if you must evacuate on foot. You may do this because you know that the weight you need to carry exceeds your personal limit for the necessary time period.

Practice – You often hear people in different sports talk about muscle memory. Basically it means that you repeat a task or motion enough that you can repeat it without thought. Some examples include shooting a basketball, firing a gun, and riding a bike. You can apply this to help out in your daily life. Repetition of tasks such as chopping vegetables will lead to you having consistency and  speed. This can make preparing dinner a less stressful task. The same can be said for emergency plans. Maybe you want to improve your skill with a firearm because you want to protect your family during a crisis. Then practice loading the gun, firing the gun from different stances, and resolving malfunctions. Again, this will improve speed and consistency because you do not have to think about it, you just do it.

These are just a few examples of strategies you can use in both daily life and disaster preparedness to limit stress and be more prepared for whatever may come. If you have any personal tips that you think might benefit others, please share them in the comments.

Surviving the Heat

Summer can be a time of great fun. School is out in a lot of places and lots of people take their yearly family vacation.  Unlike when it is cold though and people take precautions to avoid frostbite, people seem to forget about the dangers overexposure to sun and heat cause. These dangers can be multiplied exponentially if you are in the midst of a disaster rendering you without electricity, clean water, or shelter. Some natural disasters that might affect you in this way during the summer are tornadoes, wild fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and tsunamis.

Here are some tips to employ to help out if you end up caught in a disaster with no electricity during the hot season in your area.

If it is safe to remain in your home, keep it cool by doing the following:

Cover windows with drapes or shades. Dark colored sheets or multiple layers of lighter colored ones would work as temporary stand ins.

Weather-strip doors and windows before hand. Duct tape could be used as a temporary option around doors and windows you do not need to use. This works best if you do still have some type of cooling option, but can still be a benefit if you cannot open windows.

Use window reflectors, such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat back outside. Mylar emergency blankets would also work in the place of foil.

Add insulation to keep the heat out. This is hard to do unless you do it before hand, but it can save you heating and cooling costs on a daily basis in addition to helping out in a disaster.

Take precautions when you have to be outside:

When possible, find shade. Wear a hat wide enough to protect your face. A boonie hat is a popular option. A large cloth can also be used to cover your head and neck. A scarf like this shemagh is a helpful option. A dangerous sunburn is the last thing you want to add to your worries.

Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.

Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. If you or someone you care for is on a special diet, ask a doctor now how to deal with it now so that you know. Water is good, but also make sure you have something to replace salt and electrolytes such as a sports drink.

Avoid high-energy activities during the heat of the day. If you must travel on foot a considerable distance to get away from danger, do so at night or in the early morning hours. Rest in a safe cool area during the day.

Keeping these tips in mind will help you make it through the extreme heat even if you do not experience a disaster.

 

But I don’t want to be a Prepper

The media often times plays up extremes. A good story is the guy building a 20,000 square foot bunker with 300 years of food and more ammo than the Soviet Union had in the 80s. They tend to ignore the family preparing extra supplies to take with them while evacuating ahead of a hurricane. While the flashier story may bring good ratings, it tends to skew the view the general public has (on whatever subject). In turn that view tends to be applied to anyone that very vaguely fits the typecast.  This can bring a certain negative connotation and labels. People who plan and prepare for emergencies must be preppers, right? No, not in the way that the term has come in to common usage. The Red Cross stockpiles supplies for disasters, so does FEMA. Neither of those organizations are deemed to be zealous preppers. You should not not be labeled negatively either.

I bring this up to highlight how people who truly desire to protect themselves and their loved ones can feel pressured into not doing so. No one wants to be labeled as the “crazy prepper” next door. Sometimes this pressure can even come from the very family members you want to protect. This can be hard to overcome but it cannot be the reason you are found vulnerable when emergencies strike. The very reason you want to plan for whatever eventuality is so that you are not at the mercy of others.

There are several ways people deal with this situation. Some keep their plans as private as possible. Some ignore the stereotype and try to educate others. Most fall somewhere in between though. How you handle it is entirely up to you. Maybe you want to discuss it with a few close friends, but not with the neighborhood at large. As with most things in life though, don’t let others dictate your actions. Rarely are those same people there to help you when issues arise.

Hidden Water

One thing that humans cannot live without is water. On a normal day we can turn on the tap and fill our glass over and over. When disaster strikes, we will have to rely on what we have stored or can find. If public utilities are out, then municipal water or the electricity to pump water from your well will not be an option. Depending on the disaster, sources like rivers and lakes might be too dangerous or polluted to drink from. Flood waters can pick up many types of pollutants. Rainwater might also be contaminated in cases such as a nuclear explosion or a volcanic event. Given this, you may need to look for less obvious locations.

Some locations that may have clean water (Though treating or boiling might still be needed)

Water heater – Every home or business has one and they can be as large as 100 gallons

Garden hose – This might not be a huge amount, but you might find upwards of a gallon just sitting in the hose from its last use.

Toilet tank – While it seems unsanitary, the water in the back tank of a standard consumer toilet is clean. Just be sure that it does not have a toilet cleaner tablet in it. These contain more than just bleach and can poison you.

Silcock connection- The faucet found on the outside of commercial buildings needs a silcock key to open properly, but due to its low location on the building, it should gravity feed out whatever is left in the building’s pipes.

Retention Ponds – Most housing and retail developments are required to have a retention pond to capture run off water. Some larger ones are even stocked with  fish to combat mosquito breeding. It is suggested you filter this water because it could have contaminants picked up as it drained from yards or the pavement.

With water being one of the most vital keys to survival it might become the most important item to resupply. In a true disaster stocks of bottled fresh water will disappear quickly. It will be your responsibility to find places to supply yourself and your family or group. As stated before, thinking creatively will be the key to finding what others overlook.

Urban Resupply a.k.a. Scavenging

Despite the best laid plans and stores of supplies, if a disaster lasts long enough you are going to have to resupply. If you are in an urban setting there are potentially lots of supplies left sitting around. Let me make a distinction between scavenging for supplies in a very long term disaster and looting. Looters tend to take advantage of the chaos in short term to break in and steal things they want or can resell. Things like money, electronics, cars, and jewelry interest them. They are not trying to survive, just profit from the disaster. They don’t care that the owner might be back in 10 minutes or a few days. In the case of long term scavenging, you are looking for items like food, fuel, and medical supplies. You are also not taking items from someone. In this case, the original owners are probably not ever coming back. This is not to say that you would not gather something like jewelry for barter purposes later on, but that is not the main goal. Your goal is to provide supplies to keep your group fed, sheltered, and protected.

Develop a Plan

There a several things to plan before even unbolting the door or gate to head out. Good planning will hopefully net you the most supplies with the least risk. Simply heading out blindly will only endanger you and waste valuable time and energy.

First, plan on what you are looking for and prioritize. Items such as food, medical supplies, and fuel are obvious first priorities. Things such as plumbing pipe, building materials, or tools may also be on the list. Depending on the scenario, your group, and your location you may have other needs. Items to allow you to collect and purify water, plant and grow food, build defenses, and sufficiently house your group could be necessary. Those in charge of different areas of the group’s infrastructure should discuss what they need and why. This will bring to light what is truly needed to keep the group going.

Second, plan where you are going beforehand. If you have them sit down with a map and a phone book. Pick an area and look for places that might hold the supplies you need. You might have to get creative if you expect the normal places to have been picked clean.  Doing this you can prioritize places based on what supplies you have the most urgent need for.  You can also begin a list of places you have been with notes as to other items still there or potential dangers to avoid.  Let the ones that stay behind know the details. Others knowing your plan will also mean that if you are injured there is a chance someone may be able to come assist you.

Next, plan who is going. Depending on your group and needs you may have to go alone with little time for recognizance. If time and numbers do allow, scouting in a small team of 2 or 3 will let you identify dangers such as possible traps or locations controlled by other, possibly hostile, groups. Unless you are desperate, starting a war with another group by raiding their camp would not be beneficial. Scout teams need to be armed and supplied with enough to allow them to observe target locations as long as necessary. A radio, if possible, should be included to allow them to contact home base regularly or in case they need assistance. Also look at the skills of people going. Not just skills to help them scavenge, but skills that mean they should stay behind. For instance, sending your only member with medical knowledge out to scavenge might not be a good idea if it can be avoided.

Gather the Tools

Scavenging teams should also be equipped with tools to get in and out of locations where supplies are at. They also need to be able to disassemble items too difficult to transport otherwise or because only parts are needed. Some to possible include

Pry bar – Stanley Wonderbar Pry Bar

Hacksaw – Stanley Hack Saw Junior

Roofer/Shingle/Plumb hatchet – Plumb Half Hatchet

Lock picks (if you have someone that can use them)  – LOCKSET Strong Pick and Hook Set, 24-Piece

Bolt Cutter – WORKPRO Bolt Cutter

Socket/Wrench/Pliers/Screwdriver Set – Apollo Tools 95 Piece Tool Kit

Knife – Morakniv 4.1” Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife

Para cord – Para cord Planet 100′

Zip Ties – 15″ White 120lb (100 Pack) Zip Ties

Trash Bags – Heavy Duty Contractor Bags

Pack – 55L Internal Frame Backpack

Maps (preferably in a waterproof map case) – Map Case

2 Way Radios – BaoFeng 2 Way Radio 5 pack

Fuel Containers – 5 Gallon Gas Can

Siphon (water or fuel) – Siphon Fuel Transfer Pump (Be sure to keep a separate one for fuel/oil and water)

Spray Lubricant (help disassembling items) – WD-40 Lubricant Spray

Items to Look For

As stated before, the exact items you need will depend on your exact situation. Here are some items in no particular order to keep in mind that might find use in a lot of situations.

Plumbing pipe – Metal or plastic for water collection, sanitation, and could be used for making weapons.

Clothes – Either to wear, cut up for material, or trade (such as winter coats)

Fuel – gasoline, kerosene, used cooking oil, and cooking stove fuel (propane or liquid)

Water

Guns and ammo

Ammunition reloading equipment and supplies

Medical Supplies – Medications, bandages, surgical equipment, and sterilization items

Books – Both for entertainment and education

Farming items –  Tools, seeds, and plants/trees

Maps – To plan future routes and distribute copies

Communication equipment – Walkie talkies, Ham Radios, antennas, and (if electricity is out) possibly a manual typewriter to allow long term record keeping (unless you have GREAT handwriting, unlike mine)

Sanitation items – Toilet paper, tissues, feminine products, and such can be used or traded.

Shipping Pallets – If you have a way to transport them in mass, pallets can provide a lot of building materials or be used as is to fashion sheds for shelter.

Where to Look

Some places others may have missed where you might look for items

Manufacturing plants – Break room vending machines, maintenance shop tool box, first aid station, and janitor closet

Distribution warehouses – What is there might be hit or miss, but these will not be picked over as quickly as retail stores and usually will have larger quantities. If you get really lucky, you might find a shipment going from a gun, ammo, or MRE distributor to retail stores. Make sure you include shipping depots like UPS. Lots of stuff will be sitting there if things fall apart quickly. Most things you think of ordering online go thorough one of the major home delivery shippers.

Schools – Generally there will be some types of food in cafeterias or vending machines. The library and shop classrooms might also have useful items. Paper, pencils, maps, and first aid kits are usually stored there.

Veterinarian Offices – Many of the medications and surgical items are just the same as used on humans. If you have started farming animals, then there may be stores of animal food there that you could use for them. Dry dog and cat food, canned wet food, bird seed, and small animal hay/feed are some of them. There may be cages there that would also work.  The food and cages would save a lot of work feeding and housing animals such as rabbits, chickens, ducks, pigs, or goats.

Marinas – Boats should have supplies stored on them. Tools, guns, fuel, food, and water are possibilities.

Churches – Lots of churches run a food bank or organize clothes drives. These supplies might still be locked in a closet there. In addition, candles, toilet paper, paper towels, and such will be stored there in some quantity.

Self-Storage Facilities – While these may not contain food, one would expect an abundance of clothes and household items. Other items like tools and spare parts would not be out of the question either. Given enough relative safety and time even the roll up doors and metal walls could be disassembled for use. This location would be a second or third level location though due to the time needed to open and search each unit.

You can see that there is a lot more to scavenging in a long term scenario than just going and getting things. Resources will become scarce and dangerous to acquire. The ability to plan and think creatively might mean the difference between living and dying.

 

Packing..and I don’t mean heat

In all of the planning discussions packs and bags are brought up a lot. The type of bag and the contents are discussed at length. Rarely though do you see a good discussion of PACKING the bag. Anyone that has carried a pack for any length of time can tell you that things needs to be organized in a particular way to carry it comfortably.

An often recommended way is to divide the pack into 3 sections. Gear should be packed based on weight, bulkiness, and how frequently it is used.

The Bottom Section

Bulky items that are needed less frequently should be placed here. Things like sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and extra layers for occasional use are some examples. These are light and can provide some cushion to carry the load of the heavier items.

The Middle Section

This section should be reserved for heavy gear that you do not need immediate access to.  Cooking kits, stove, fire kit, crank emergency radio, and your main food supply generally fall into this. If you have a larger store of water, it should go here too. Just wrap in in some soft items to prevent it from being damaged by other heavy gear. Placing the heavy items in the center helps to keep it from tipping back or sagging down on you. Either will cause you to have to work harder without a stable center of gravity.

The Top Section

This section should be reserved for items that you need quickly or more often. Rain gear, first-aid kit, water filter, and toilet paper.  For the most part it should be lighter items to keep the pack stable.

 

External pockets

These pockets should also be used for quick access items. They will be smaller items and based on pocket location should also follow the same weight pattern as the interior.  Items that fit this could be your compass, map, pack rain cover, sunglasses, headlamp/flashlight, water bottle, snacks, and hand sanitizer. Not only will this help you get to these items quicker, it will prevent them from being lost in the interior shuffle.

Lashing points

Many packs built for hiking or tactical use feature lashing points at different areas. These can be used to affix tent poles, hiking sticks, axes, or machetes. Some even have points at the bottom designed to be used for a sleeping bag or pad. Just be sure things are lashed so as to not swing around.

What not to pack iN your pack

There are some things I advise to not put in your pack. These would be personal documents, ID, at least part of your cash, your main knife, a flashlight, and basic fire kit. In addition if you carry a handgun it should not be buried in your pack. The reason these should not be packed, but on your person, is that a point could arise that you must ditch your pack. You may need to flee from danger, it might be taken from you, you may lose it in a water crossing, or many other scenarios. In these cases you need these very important items on you so that there is less chance of losing them completely.

It is important to test out the packing plan of your pack and how it carries. This will give you a chance to rearrange and perfect your load. Better to do it now than when your safety depends on it.

 

The list I thought I would never make

When I set out on designing Leveled Survival’s philosophy related to emergency planning, I wanted to emphasis how personal the plan should be. Everyone is different and their family and geographic location play a huge part in forming that plan.  In light of this I did not want to post any lists of items you “must have” in your bag. I have made a post listing the types of items with explanations and links to examples though. This list has lead to a lot of requests for me to offer a ready made shopping list of items. I have put this off for a while because I feel it is impossible to make a kit that is a good fit for everyone.

After talking to many people, I have come to realize though that  some people with very limited experience are looking for a starting point. Items to fill the major categories that they can use to improve their skills. Along the way they can specialize their kit by adding, removing, or swapping out items. In light of this I have put together a list with links to exact items that can be purchased. Whenever possible I have listed items I have exact experience with. If not, I have listed items that are as close to what I use as is reasonably available.

Suggested Buying List

I hope this list is helpful to novice and experienced planners alike. Feel free to comment or contact us with questions or comments.

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Making Due

Anyone reading this is obviously interested in being prepared at some level. The issue is that at times you may end up in a situation where either you cannot have your supplies with you or they are lost/damaged.  This is when the the real level of preparation you have done will come to light.

Preparation for almost anything is less about the items you have than the skills you gain and hone. Once a skill is learned, it cannot be lost or taken away. Sure it can get rusty, but the knowledge and experience are still there. One skill that is talked about a lot is adaptability. This post is going to focus on examples of how you can adapt and use nontraditional items to equip yourself with the basic items you may need to survive.

Lets set up a scenario where you might be without most, if not all, of your gear and supplies. This is a good exercise to generate constructive thinking about your surroundings. In this case, you have flown to distant city where you are staying in a hotel by yourself for work. Due to flight security and space you do not have anything except a few sets of clothes and toiletries. A large scale disaster (take your pick) strikes that prevents the emergency personnel from responding in the foreseeable future. You have little info beyond the total chaos you can see outside. You know that you need to try and evacuate the area to avoid danger. Hanging around in such a unknown densely populated area does not seem like a healthy idea.  You look around your hotel room for supplies to assist you in hopefully getting home or at least out of the danger zone. You hope that you can resupply with better supplies, but you want what you can get right now.

Items you could collect:

Shower curtain:  This can serve as a ground cover, makeshift tent, or  rain poncho depending on your needs. If available grab a few, they are light and not especially sturdy for the long term.

Bed Sheet/Blanket:  This can serve as a sleeping bag, cold weather poncho, bandages, slings, or be cut to strips for cordage. The sheet could also be tied into a hobo bundle to carry your items more easily that the standard luggage you came with.

Water Bottles:  Beyond the obvious use, these can be packed with cloth, charcoal, and sand as a basic water filter. the top could also be cut off to use as a container to use while foraging.

Soda Can:  Very easily these can be used to create a small alcohol stove to cook or boil water. A second can can act as a pot. They could also be used as a mirror signaling device. In a desperate situation these could be cut into a flat sheet and formed into a crude cutting tool.

Ice Bucket:  If this is the lighter plastic type you can use it to carry water, foraged food. If it has a lid you can use it to keep your tinder dry to help with fire making. While you are at it grab the plastic bag that is usually with it. Again it can hold or protect different items.

Mini Bar Items:  While most of us normally avoid these items due to the insane cost, they are not something to leave behind. The food is obvious, but also take the coffee, tea, sugar packets, and liquor. The tea and coffee will provide caffeine to help you keep moving. You may have a long trek before you feel safe enough to stop. Even just soaking a coffee or tea packet in water can accomplish this on the go. The liquor is best reserved for sterilization and other medical needs.

This list is not to say that you need ALL if these items. You may not have all of them at hand or may have better alternatives.

In addition, when you make it to the lobby, there may be some things you can scavenge.

Every major hotel has a breakfast of some kind. It might take a bit of force to get into the storage area. In a true disaster, you breaking in might be the least of anyone’s worries.

Food/Water:     You can gather a variety of food for short and longer term here. Fruit, baked items, and refrigerated items would be great for the short term. Items such as peanut butter packs, individual cereal boxes, and oatmeal packs would be safe for the longer term. Water bottles or at least a container of water will be stored there. Stock up to augment what you took from your room.

Knife:  Most of these food prep and storage areas would have some type of knife or box cutter. Having a cutting tool is a real necessity. It can be used to make tinder, cut cordage, and if desperate as a defensive tool. You can use cardboard and tape to make a improvised sheath. If no knife is there, scissor might be a good fallback.

Utensils:  While most of what hotel guest get is plastic, there would be a variety of metal utensils in this area for prep. A couple of them could be very helpful if you need to cook or boil water over an open fire.

Cookware: While there is not anything here that would pass for a full set of cooking pots and pans, there is something. Any metal container that you could use to boil water but is still small enough to not hinder your travel would work. Starting a file and boiling water takes time and effort, so it is best to do it in the largest volume possible.

Bleach:  Either in the food prep area or the laundry room you have a good chance of finding a bottle of bleach. Plain unscented bleach can be used to purify water.  It needs to not have any additional cleaners, colors, or anything in it. From 6 to 8 drops per gallon will purify the water depending on bleach concentration.

First Aid Kit: Normally safety procedures would warrant a first aid station in this area. If there is not a kit here, then the front desk is a good place to check also.

Lighter: A lot of these breakfast setups use Sterno to heat the containers they put eggs, sausage, or such in on the serving line. That means a lighter should be available. In addition if the Sterno is there, it would be a great option to use instead of a full blown fire.

As you can see, with a bit of creative thinking, you can supply yourself with some basic tools. They may not be best option given alternatives, but they may also make a difference in your survival. You do not know what you will have access to after you leave the hotel. Nothing stops you from swapping off for better equipment as you travel either.

While this scenario may be very contrived, it is to point out how those items around you can be put to use when you are a bit creative. Thinking and identifying potential items in your location that could help you in an emergency is a very good habit to build. It is very similar to people who, due to training, habitually identify exit points when entering a room. The time saved in ether of these cases could help you escape to a safer area ahead of the crowd.

 

 

Legality matters..until it doesn’t

Watch any good apocalyptic movie or television show and you will see “ordinary”  people running around with full auto guns, suppressors (often referred to as “silencers”), and explosives. While that makes for a good action flick, it is far from what I would expect to see if things really fell apart.  I very often see posts where people advocate ignoring current laws because they feel they need such equipment if things go wrong. This is a a very slippery slope that rarely ends well.

One thing that you must be cognizant about is the laws related to the plans and preparations you are making. Even in the worst case scenario, there will be a time period when law enforcement and the military will still attempt to enforce the laws. Being locked up or worse would put a real damper on your survival plans. In addition, some of these items come at a trade off as money is invested in them instead of other items.

While having some of the advanced hardware might help you after the world transitions to total chaos, it does comes with extra cost and risk. Legally you can apply and own a lot of full auto guns and suppressors, but they cost a pretty penny by the time you pay for permits. Without those permits, you risk hefty jail time and fines. The cost involved with these permits could be better spent on standard guns, ammo, and other supplies. On top of this, full automatic  guns tend to  burn through more ammo (read “money”) as you practice. One other factor is that more common guns such as handguns and hunting rifles will be in much larger supply if things totally deteriorate. This means more spare parts or replacement items will be available for something like a .30-06 hunting rifle than a fully automatic HK MP5.

Explosives such as grenades, refereed to as “destructive devices” by law enforcement, put you at even greater risk. No only can they cause legal issues, but they can be a physical danger unless you are trained to handle them.  So if you have visions of creating pipe bombs to ward off violent attackers, you had better rethink it. In today’s legal landscape stockpiling items for this is easily branded as terrorist no matter how loud you shout your good intentions.

Other items that you should thing carefully about as you plan  include alcohol production equipment and stockpiles of prescription drugs. I have seen many people discuss making alcohol as a trade item, medicinal use, or consumption. This is a highly regulated item and has limits on what you can produce without falling under additional guidelines. Beer is the least regulated as far as “home” production. As much as I see this a  potential benefit, I also see that it could draw undue attention. Also the necessary equipment is not extremely mobile. So not knowing the exact details of future emergencies, there is no way to know if you will have to abandon this in favor of mobility. Stockpiles of certain prescription drugs will also draw attention because normally this can be associated with intent to sell. Even if these are your own, it again is a risk if someone decides to falsify a report against you or they are found during some unrelated events.

So while you plan for all levels up to the worst, you must carefully navigate the laws that govern us whether you may agree with some of them or not. The consequences  of ignoring them can affect your family, friends, and ultimately your survival.

Thanksgiving – A Celebration of Survival

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday here in the U. S. there are lots of things that come to mind.  Fall leaf colors, family, turkey, football, and over eating are just a few. While this can be a great holiday for time with family and friends, we can look back at its origins for inspiration.

The first Thanksgiving was a celebration of survival. The Pilgrims had survived the voyage to the colony and the harsh winter that followed. Of the 102 that sat sail on the Mayflower, only 53 still survived at this point. They had managed to collect enough food to survive the coming second winter. This is a feat when you know that most of the Pilgrims were not farmers or woodsmen. Many came from the cities of England and carried with them more household goods than survival gear. In fact one passenger is  listed to have had 126 pairs of shoes in his luggage. While these were probably items to be sold or traded, there surely would have been many better items to bring. Part of the central issue is that few of them knew what to expect. They came from a specialized society dependent on having a wide range of different vocations to complete certain tasks. It is true that a tailor might be able to erect a palisade wall just fine, but by no means would he be as efficient as someone with experience. So starting from nothing to build homes, erect fortifications, and secure food was not something they had experienced before.

Most people today are at a very similar disadvantage. We specialize for the most part in a limited field. It is the way our society works. No one can know everything. We do have many advantages though. We have access to unprecedented amounts of information with almost no effort. If studying about something is not good enough, many places offer classes in survival training from first aid to total off the grid living.

So as you do whatever you prefer on Thanksgiving, remember where the holiday originated. Remember that despite the lack of planning and the hardships they endured, there were individuals that were determined to survive. Also, remember that even the most basic planning and provisioning can make sure you never end up in the same situation. That will be a reason to celebrate in itself.