Barter Skills

It has been said before that knowledge weighs nothing when discussing Bug Out Bags and the survival. This is very true in this sense, but this knowledge and skills can go far beyond this. In a Red Level scenario you will need much more than you could ever stockpile. This is where these skills can really come into play.

One way these can be used is to become part of a team or community. People banding together will be looking for some type of value in those they allow in. Those with valuable skills and a willingness to contribute will be welcomed in.  Someone seen only as a warm body that can only do the most basic labor will seem more like dead weight.

The second way these skills can benefit you is directly as a bartering item. If you do not find a group, you can trade this skilled labor for other things you may need. This could be anything from a single meal up to room and board for the duration of your work. It all depends on what you need and the others have to offer.

There are several skillsets that jump to mind when discussing skills to barter in a emergency situation. Medical knowledge, food preservation experience, animal husbandry experience, and mechanical skill. These skill sets do not have to be at an expert level, but you you should be proficient. For instance medical knowledge does not mean being a doctor or even a paramedic. It can mean that you have taken first aid courses, first responder training, know types of medications to use, or have studied natural remedies. Naturally the deeper this skill goes, the more it may be worth to others.

Food preservation and animal husbandry come to mind because they are skills that have fallen out of use in many areas. These skills will be needed when the grid is a down indefinately and no more refrigerated food trucks deliver today’s dinner in the nick of time. With this you can assist with producing food stores. This can be as simple as canning vegetables or as complex as keeping the herd of cattle alive. Both are food for the future. The cattle are simply beef “on the hoof” until they are needed. The upside is that they can reproduce and generate more food via calves or milk.

Mechanical skill is a very wide set. It can vary from construction experience up to all types of engineering. With the construction experience you can design and build structures, repair existing ones, and fortify if necessary. This is not as simple as “I built a bird house..once.” There needs to be enough experience that you know the good ideas from the bad. As far as engineering, this can range from equipment repair, to manufacturing, to extensive architectural design. This can be a great help for people’s survival.  Vehicles need upkeep and guns need repaired. Systems to provide clean water, alternate fuels, or localized electricity need to be designed, manufactured, and installed.

While these barter skills may not come into play immediately in a disaster,  they can be the key to long term survival. And that is the key to rebuilding. So be certain that you carry with you more than a full backpack when disaster strikes.

Is your car ready for the cold?

If you are not ready for the cold that is coming to many parts of the U. S., now is the time to prepare. This may seem like the most basic level, but something as simple as a small bag of supplies can be a literal life saver if you get stranded.

Some items seem pretty standard to keep in your trunk in the winter. A sturdy pair of shoes, a blanket, extra warm clothes, a flashlight, and a small amount of food and water. These will help you in the event your car breaks down whether you need to stay put or walk to get help.

If you are stranded and can’t leave your vehicle, there are some additional items that can come in handy. A candle with matches and/or lighter is one. A simple candle can warm the air in your car several degrees. Just be sure to crack a window to allow more air in as the candle uses up oxygen. If handled properly it is safer than running the car which might build up carbon monoxide inside.

A car charger for your cell phone is another item. If your car is not totally disabled, you can charge your phone to call for help. The last thing you want is a dead cellphone when you need it. Depending on the severity of the situation, it can also allow you to occupy yourself and others while you wait for help to arrive.

Some additional items can assist you in helping yourself. A small shovel is one. With it you can clear snow and ice from around your wheels to free them or clear a path to allow you to get moving. A metal one would be prefered. It will serve you better than a plastic one. In addition sand, road salt or non-clumping cat litter can be used to gain traction if you wheels are spinning. If you really want to be self-rescuing, a Come-along tool (here is a well reviewed example: TEKTON 5547 4-Ton Dual Gear Power Puller ) would allow you to possibly winch yourself into a more advantageous position.

The items above are in addition to some items that really should remain in your car all year long. This list includes booster cables, a tow strap or chain, emergency flares, safety reflectors, and a well stocked first aid kit. These items and a little planning can help you to stay safe and on the road all year long.

Happy New Year!

As we begin 2018, lots of people will make resolutions. That is not necessarily a bad thing, if you follow through.

Make the new year a productive one in regards to your planning. Look for ways to expand your knowledge and skills. Whether by taking classes or by trial and error.  First Aid, food preservation, self defense, fire starting, and orienteering (map and compass use) skills are worthy investments that can be used any time.

Make a list of items that you want to add to your supplies and equipment. Then set a plan in place to aquire them as your  budget allows. This can be saving money every week until you have enough for an expensive item or buying a few small items a week until you have as many on hand as you want.

Improving your health is a common resolution for a good reason. Emergency preparedness planning is no different. Whether it be losing weight, building endurance, stopping smoking, or lowering your cholesterol, these all benefit you during an emergency. Having a great plan and equipment is useless if you have a heart attack just carrying a heavy pack.

So make the best of your resolutions and plan for a great 2018. Despite what may come a good plan can make it that way.

Know your disaster.

Knowledge is key. That is an overriding truth in a lot of things you may be involved in.  Fixing a broken pipe? Knowing about plumbing makes it much easier. This can extend to your preparedness too. While there is not a course to teach you more information about certain situations, there is a wealth of information if you examine present and past disasters.

No one has time to research every disaster that has ever happened. You can use your preparation levels to prioritize.  There are things you will already know. If you live in a location that gets extreme blizzards, you have already experienced the issue and can learn from it. This is a pretty basic level. Next you may look into the effects of major flooding that might happen in your area. You may have never experienced it, but may be in a 100 year flood plain.  Take a lesson from those that deal with this much more frequently. For example, some of these people prepared by placing an ax in their attic. This allowed them to chop through and climb onto the roof to await rescue. Quite a good thing if surprised by flash flooding in the middle of the night. Continue to move up the levels to examine situations you want to prepare for.

Some of the disasters that exist on the top of the levels may be a widespread EMP, massive social upheaval, war outbreak, or nuclear attack.  Knowing how to respond to these will greatly increase your chance to survive them. For instance, knowing the signs that point to an EMP will let you respond quicker so that you can be ahead of those that stand around in disbelief trying their cell phones over and over.  Even if this is only a slim margin saved by knowing that modern cars, cell phones, and computer will be useless, this may be enough to get you home.  This will increase your safety level before others begin to panic. Alternately, if caught in a social breakdown, you may have to employ tactics like “The Gray Man” to move out of the worst effected areas. These are just a couple of examples.

This short post cannot cover all the issues and situations you may want to look into. It is simply to provoke thoughts as to the specifics you may need to evaluate as you plan for your levels of survival. Knowledge weighs nothing, yet may be your best tool.

EDC: What’s in your pocket?

Closely behind  Bug Out Bags, discussions of E.D.C. are very popular in emergency preparedness circles. E. D. C. stands for Every Day Carry. These are the items that you have with you at ALL times. These are in your pocket or purse normally. It can extend to include a sling bag or such, but that begins to become questionable. That bag could get left in your car, at your desk, or anywhere that prevents you having it in the event of a sudden emergency.

There are some items people carry without thinking about it. Your phone, keys, and wallet/purse. All this stuff is with you every day. A few small changes can incorporate some possibly life saving items.

First, let’s state that if you plan on flying or going into a government building, you will need to adjust what you are carrying at that time.  What you carry will vary widely based on whether you tromp around in the woods daily or if you are more boardroom than boondocks. The ideas are still the same for all scenarios. You need tools than can be used daily, but also be your first line of defense in an emergency.

Knife:

It has not been so long since every man, woman, and child carried a knife of some kind. They were used for cutting twine, carving sling shots, peeling apples, and whatever else needed to be done. These were tools, not weapons. This is something that will be essential no matter the nature of the emergency. A basic type can be a small and carried in the pocket. It can be single bladed, multi-bladed, or containing other tools like a Swiss Army Knife. There are also larger fixed blade types that can be carried on your belt. Your daily environment may dictate the type you chose. A folding knife can be concealed easily and is more accepted in many areas. While a Swiss Army or Multitool type offers a lot of extras, the knife itself can be lacking in a lot of these.

Lighter:

The vital skill of making fire has fallen out of common knowledge. That does not mean you have to perfect it before you can be prepared. A simple disposable lighter is one of the most reliable fire starters you can carry. There is nothing wrong with using conveniences like this. The best scenario is to carry a lighter, but also know more traditional methods.

Flashlight:

There are many daily situations where a flashlight can be handy. A power outage, finding cables below a desk, and changing a flat tire at night all are easier to deal with when you have a light. A small, but bright pen light fits into most pockets. With led versions, these can be all you need without being heavy and bulky.

Pencil and Pad:

There is a lot of information we need to keep up with each day. Grocery lists, appointment times, numbers, and addresses all need to be written down. Most people can use their phone to store this, but a dead phone negates this. In an emergency, this can be used to record meeting addresses, to leave notes telling family where you went, drawing maps to find your way,. A pen is good, but a pencil can be resharpened easily with your knife and has no ink to dry up.  A permanent marker would be a good second addition. It could be used to mark buildings to show contents, mark items to show your path in case you need to retrace your steps, or leave messages that the rain and wind will not remove.

List of important documents:

As noted above most people keep lots of information on their phone.  In an emergency your phone may not have power or get damaged. This is a reason to carry a list of important phone numbers,  addresses, identification numbers, and personal information on paper. In addition you can include copies of ID, birth certificates, pictures to identify family, and medical records in case of chronic illness. When picking pictures include recent ones showing the entire family. This let’s you prove your relation to authorities. This can be important in the case of small children or an incapacitated family member. Keep all this information in a waterproof container on your person.

This is a very basic list. There are lots of other items you may choose to E. D. C. based on your needs. Some that come to mind are a length of paracord, a strip of duct tape, a multitool, a firearm, a compass, a small first aid kit, and a separate stash of cash. What you carry will be an entirely personal decision and may evolve over time.

 

Halloween Special: Don’t let planning scare you.

Today is about haunted houses, costumes, and pumpkins full of candy for many people. While we enjoy this holiday, let’s remember that planning can seem a scary proposition when taken as a whole. It can be be like a haunted house to begin with. From the outside it can seem terrifying. The closer  we look though, the more we see that it is just a bunch of animatronics and masks. Similarly in planning, once we look close we see that it is not such a scary task. Taking your planning in smaller pieces can make it more manageable. Instead of thinking of stockpiling months worth of food, start with buying a few extra items on each grocery trip. Or for bigger items,  put back a little money each payday until you can buy it. This way you can can manage each goal until you have fulfilled the level of planning you desire. So have fun out there tonight and remember the only thing zombies want tonight is chocolate.

Hiding in Plain Sight

You are just going about your day when things fall apart. You are forced to move from Point A to Point B. This could be getting from work to home or from home to a more secure location. You strap on your trusty pack of supplies and head off.  Unfortunately, now you are in a very vulnerable position. While you planned and gathered your supplies, you might be in the minority. Others may have realized that things are bad and only going to get worse. This may lead them to desperate measures and your supplies may look like their lifeboat.  Alternately,  you may have to travel through areas that are far from friendly on a good day. This can put you in contact with violent individuals or groups.

In these instances, it may be very beneficial to use “The Gray Man” strategy. This strategy is all about blending in. The idea is to not draw attention to yourself. This prevents the desperate or predatory individuals from focusing on you. The hope is that you can avoid conflict and reach your destination without incident.

The first part of this involves your physical appearance. Dressing like you are an elite commando might keep trouble away in some areas but in others it may invite conflict. Those that are desperate may only see your gear and feel the risk is still worth it. Others may see you as a challenge and a way to assert their dominance. There is no one “best” way to dress. It will depend on your environment. Some general rules can cover the basic strategy. Dressing in the most common clothing of the area will help. Obviously used jeans and a T-shirt could blend you into a college campus or suburb neighborhood.  A book bag is going to fit in more here than a full blown tactical pack. This would be a different story if traveling through Kuwait. Each area is somewhat different and you must decide yourself. Avoid logos and branding that is flashy or may offend.  You need to not only pass, but not be memorable.

The second part of this is the way you act. If you are traveling along in a crowd of evacuees, downcast eyes and a tired look will make you out to be just another face in the crowd. Avoid making eye contact, keep a steady pace, and don’t get involved in the drama around you if possible. If traveling through areas prone to crime, walk with purpose and be alert without looking arrogant or nervous. Just be another passerby too alert to offer an easy score.

In regards to your gear, as stated above, your pack should look common to the area. If necessary, distribute as much gear as you can around on your person. This will let you either hide your pack on you, such as under coat, or ditch it if the risk is too high.  Weapons should be concealed if at all possible. It is better to use them as a surprise if needed than to try and ward off danger by flaunting them.

While this skill may be as much art as science, it is well worth mastering. Be observant of those around you and learn who goes unnoticed by most. These may or may not be people who have homed this skill and use it daily. Either way you can learn from these people how to perfect your own “Gray” self.

Water Everywhere – None to Drink

Watching news footage of recent flooding brought up a very important question. When you see relief efforts arrive the first thing they hand out is water. Why is that? People are literally swimming around so the casual observer might think water is not an issue.

The first issue is that few of those people have made plans to sustain them in case of such an emergency. They are forced to rely on the charity of others. That is a large chance to take.

The next issue issue is contamination where the flood waters overload sewage systems that then mix with the flood water. In rural areas, the water can also pick up animal waste as it flows through barns and other livestock housing. That is dangerous enough, but nothing that some minor filtering and boiling will not fix. The more dangerous contamination is chemicals that mix in with the water. These come from a lot of sources. Every vehicle that is flooded has the chance to spill oil, antifreeze, wiper fluid, brake fluid, and transmission fluid. In addition,  industrial buildings caught in the path of the flood can contain hundreds of types of deadly chemicals. These contaminates are a much greater danger because normal filtration and even boiling will not remove them. These can remain in the water table for long periods and contaminate wells.

This brings to the forefront that planning should not only include means to filter and sterilize water, but if possible, a store of clean water. Unfortunately stored water does have a shelf life. Many jugs and other retail containers are not meant for long term storage. Some may fail over time spilling their contents, some may let water slowly evaporate, and others may allow growth of bacteria. Planning should involve investigation into long term containers and stability additives. This store will allow you to not have to rely on the kindness of strangers. Depending on the scenario,  that kindness may be far too little, far too late.

Bug Out Bags: Do you need a B.O.B.?

Anyone who has even causally looked into preparedness has seen references to “Bug Out Bags”  or B. O. B.s.  Why is there such an emphasis on these? This is because the term has come to be used to cover multiple kinds of kits. People use it for kits you keep in case of car trouble, a bag to get you home if things fall apart, bags to survive a certain number of days in a crisis, and full blown bags to permanently bug out to your secret mountain hideaway. Really these should all be divided up. A bug out bag really refer to a kit used to leave home to go to a predetermined remote location stocked with supplies. These should be much more elaborate than some other types of kits. They should prepare you for a long trip over (possibly) rough terrain where you may need to hunt, fish, or gather food. Most people do not need this elaborate of a kit unless you are planning for the very worst. Most people need to break things down into smaller kits. The most basic kit is your every day carry (E. D. C.) items. This is what you have on you during your normal day. A few choice items in your pocket or purse can go a long way. The next level  would be the items you keep close to you. They may be in your bag or car. These are more aimed at sustaining you for longer. Sometimes they can be called “72 hour” bags if they are aimed at giving you a few days cushion to overcome issues. These can also be called “Get Home Bags” because they are aimed at getting you to your home where your larger kit or supply stash is.  Basically what you call the kit is not really important when you plan and understand its purpose.

Guns in your planning

People seem to put very variable amount of emphasis on guns in your preparedness plan. First, it depends greatly on your location. Obviously certain countries will greatly restrict what you can have. Even in countries that allow you to own guns, there are still varying laws in different states and cities.

If you can legally own a gun, then there is still the issue of cost. If you have the funds and feel it fits into your planning, then ensure that you get appropriate training. Like any other tool you need to know how to use it.  The best gun in the world will not make you a sniper overnight. Train and shoot regularly to keep up your skill and ensure your gun is functional. So many people buy a gun, put it in a drawer, and hope it works when it is needed. Don’t be the one that finds out your gun fails when you need it most.