Jun 172013
 

Whether you’re lost in the woods or out for a night on the town, it is important to plan ahead and anticipate needs before they arise. This, to a large degree, plays into situational awareness.

For example, let’s say you went out hiking and somehow lost your way. As you try to puzzle out the correct path to take, part of your mind should already shift into survival mode. Mentally inventory the gear you have with you. Begin looking for a good place to bed down for the night, should it come to that. Gather seed pods or other tinder as you go along, stuffing it into a pocket for use later. Earmark potential sources of water so you can come back to them if need be. Pay attention to the flora and identify some wild edibles you might add to the cook pot that evening.

On the urban side of the coin, any time you enter a building, make note of where the emergency exits are located. Get in the habit of mentally planning an escape route. Given how frighteningly prevalent mass shooting incidents have become, this is just common sense. Keep track of your walking route so you know how to get back to your vehicle in a hurry. Look for places where you might be able to hunker down for at least a short time, long enough to collect your thoughts and make solid plans.

Anticipating needs and making plans to meet them is just part of survival.

Jun 142013
 

Spend much time on the more heavily-trafficked survival message boards and you will inevitably see posts come up regarding mini-kits, like the kind you make out of the ever-popular Altoids tins. Frequently, what happens is someone posts a picture of one they put together, which is all well and good. But then, you’ll see several posts saying how it is a stupid idea, what possible use would such a small kit have, that sort of thing.

Part of the problem is that those who build these kits are often inexperienced with survival skills in general and perhaps feel these small kits are all they’ll need. At least, that’s how it sometimes comes across.

The reality is, these mini-kits are great.

But they certainly aren’t intended for long-term survival by any means. They are a backup, perhaps even a backup to your backup gear. They are not, or should not, be seen as the end all, be all survival kit.

The idea behind having a mini-kit is that, no matter what, you can always have at least some survival gear with you at all times. They are small enough to toss into a pocket or purse and not make you feel overburdened by the size or weight. If something happens to your primary gear, you’ll still have some of the basics at your disposal.

Typically, these Altoids tins and such have things like:

–Strike anywhere matches
–Tinder (Fire Straws, anyone?)
–A button compass for navigation
–A signal whistle to help rescuers find you
–A small razor knife or other blade
–Water purification tablets
–Some adhesive bandages
–Duct tape
–Maybe even some paracord

No, a mini-kit isn’t going to keep you living high on the hog for weeks on end. But, it just might be enough to keep your butt alive for a day or two, at least long enough that you can work to improve your situation. As I always say, skills trump stuff every time. So, while you work on assembling all these nifty kits and whiz-bang gear, please be sure you know how to use all of it!

Jun 132013
 

One of the things I truly enjoy is coming up with ways to take common items and repurpose them as survival gear. I can’t say I’m always the first guy to come with a given idea as, more often than not, I’ll later see it or a variation mentioned somewhere. Still though, ’tis fun.

Alcohol swabs are pretty cheap. They are great to have in your kit to help clean small wounds, of course. But, they are also excellent for getting a fire going. Tear open the package and pull the swab out about halfway, then light it using any of your typical means of doing so. You may not see much flame as alcohol burns very cleanly. It also is pretty damn hot so be careful!

This one comes courtesy of survival expert and author John McCann. Toss a few small balloons in with your survival fishing gear. They work great as improvised floats. Who doesn’t have room in their kit for a couple balloons?

Glue sticks don’t need a glue gun to work. Just heat up one end over your fire, then smear the glue where it is needed. Great for making expedient repairs in the field. But, watch your fingers as the glue is obviously hot and will stick to the skin.

A simple, inexpensive rat trap baited with peanut butter will work well in keeping you fed. Spray paint it first with a neutral, flat color like gray or tan. Screw in an eye hook on one end so you can tie it to a tree so you don’t lose the trap if the critter isn’t killed instantly and instead tries to crawl away while “caught.”

Take a look around you. Think about how you could use everyday common items in a survival situation. Get creative!

Jun 122013
 

We’re looking at some pretty severe weather here in the Midwest today. This includes a term that is rather new to many of us here — derecho.

A derecho is a widespread, straight-line windstorm. The winds can exceed 100mph. While I’m told we’ve experienced them here before, the term is new to me.

The weather conditions that bring about a derecho can also cause tornadoes and other severe weather.

A derecho moves quickly, as one would expect with those high winds. But, they can do a ton of damage in a quick time frame. Toppled trees, high intensity rainfall, and flying debris all make travel dangerous. Not to mention the lightning.

In July, 2011, a derecho struck Chicago and almost 900,000 people ended up losing power.

If you live in the Midwest, take extra precautions today. Clean up the yard of anything that could end up flying through a window, like lawn chairs and patio umbrellas. Don’t make any plans to be out and about tonight either. Stay home, monitor the weather, and be safe.

Jun 112013
 

Here in the Upper Midwest, it seems like winter ended just last week. Given that we were still seeing frosts at the end of May, that’s not too far off, I guess.

As I mentioned yesterday, we’re still working on our main vegetable garden. Oh, we have some smaller garden beds with strawberries, asparagus, and some herbs as well as planters with taters doing quite well, actually. But, until recently the ground was just too saturated for us to do much with the main vegetable garden. We needed to redo the retaining wall before we could do much else.

Now, truth be told, my wife is the gardener in the family. I’m just the grunt labor. I dig where she tells me to dig. Some people have green thumbs? My wife has green fingers, hands, and arms. Seriously, we have more plants than Carter has pills.

Anyway, I bring this up to illustrate a point. Due to drought, many places had poor growing seasons last year, right? Garden production was way down so even those who normally are able to grow most of their own food were in a bind. Then, this winter seemed to last forever and gardens are going in much later than normal, at least around here. While many people plan to expand their gardens in the wake of a crisis so as to grow more of their food, what if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate with that plan? Any number of factors could come into play and result in a poor growing season — drought, floods, infestation. You can have all the heirloom seeds in the world and they won’t do you a darn bit of good if you can’t get them to grow.

Yes, you should absolutely have seeds and supplies to grow your food. But, that shouldn’t be the ONLY plan. You should also have an extensive pantry and long-term storage foods to provide for your family in bad times.

Jun 102013
 

I feel like I’ve been rode hard and put up wet. We got a lot accomplished this weekend though. Saturday, we restacked all the firewood, roughly 1.5 cords. Over the last winter, we went through about a half a cord in the wood stove. We obviously don’t use it as our primary heat source, otherwise we’d have gone through a lot more. Until this weekend, we had two different stacks of wood. One was seasoned stuff and the other was newer from a tree that came down last year. Both piles were rather disheveled so we took it all down and restacked the entire lot. My wife devised a really cool cover for the pile using tarps, PVC, and some metal tubing we had lying around. It took about six hours to remove and then restack the piles into a nice, orderly stack.

I also got a fire going in the fire pit (using the opportunity to teach one of my sons how to use a magnesium striker) and we burned a few of the large stumps we had that were infested with ants and rotting away.

Then, on Sunday I redid the retaining wall on our vegetable garden, expanding it by a few feet. We have this garden located in the back corner of our yard. There’s a moderate slope in this area so we built a retaining wall to level it out for the garden. Over the last couple years since we first built it, the bricks began to tilt a little as they weren’t quite level. The cinderblocks we used are just dry fitted, no mortar or anything. That normally would work fine for our purposes, provided they start out level. I reinforced them this time with metal bars driven into the ground. A couple weekends ago, we took down an old set of monkey bars. As a result, we had about twenty or so metal pipes about an inch thick to repurpose for the retaining wall reinforcement.

It now measures about 4 feet by 22 feet. The next step will be to put in landscape fabric against the inside of the bricks to keep the dirt from sifting out. Once we get the tree removed that is in this corner, we’re going to built another garden plot there too. That one will be around 4 feet by 16 feet or so.

It was a lot of work but we’re happy with the results.

Jun 072013
 

[Note: The following does not necessarily represent the views of Survival-Gear.com, the owners of it, or any other human being on the planet for that matter.]

Rant mode is firmly ON.

So, many news agencies are reporting how the U.S. government has been collecting phone records, online activity records, and other information on Americans for the last seven years. This, somehow, is being treated as “breaking news.”

That’s like issuing a news alert that the sun rose in the east this morning, with a special report talking about how the sky is blue.

Quite frankly, we’ve all known, or suspected, this for years now. And if you think it only goes back seven years, you’re likely wrong. I used to work in retail security, many moons ago. As part of my job, I investigated internal theft and I was pretty damn good at it. When I’d speak with an employee about their stealing from the company, they’d always admit to something small…at first. They know you have them dead to rights so they’ll cop to doing something but never everything, not right away. Police officers see this every time they pull someone over for drunk driving. With very rare exception, the driver will admit to have two drinks. Not one, not three, not a dozen, always two.

By admitting they’ve been collecting this data for seven years, they are probably on the hook for double that time.

Honestly though? All they are doing is following the handbook for how America solves problems. Time and time again, we go way overboard when trying to get a handle on something.

We see a weight problem with significant percentages of our population so we ban large sodas instead of offering the hefties some sort of incentive to lose weight.

We have a problem with kids struggling in school so we lower the standards rather than give educators the tools they need to truly help.

We have violent incidents so we want to ban all weapons for everyone rather than take common sense actions to prevent whack jobs from shooting up theaters.

So really, combating terrorists by placing every single American citizen under surveillance is just the American Way.

I know many people point the finger at Obama and blame him and his administration for this debacle. While I’m no fan of our current President, I can’t agree that all of this falls on his shoulders. As I said earlier, this has likely been going on for a long time now. Well before he was elected, possibly before it was decided that he’d even run for his first term in office.

The fact remains, we are being watched. Everything we say on the phone, everything we do online. From a call to your wife asking if there’s anything she needs from the store on your way home from work to your Google searches for porn featuring one-legged clowns with eye patches, it is all being collected, analyzed, and archived.

If this somehow surprises you, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you…cheap.

At the end of the day, we can complain all we want but it likely isn’t going to do much good. My suggestion? Watch what you say, watch what you do. Pay close attention to the world around you.

And stop with the clown porn, it is just plain creepy and you know it.

Jun 062013
 

On one of the more popular survival-related message boards, this question was recently asked.

I’ve heard of a lot of people having two separate supplies – one kit for bug out purposes only and another for long term storage. Is it in my best interest to have both?

To my way of thinking, this is sort of like asking if you need both a smoke alarm and a fire extinguisher. While they have related purposes, to keep your butt alive if there is a fire, they serve two entirely different roles.

A bug out bag is a portable collection of food and gear, designed to sustain you for a short period of time as you try to get to a safe location. This could be getting from work to home or it could be traveling from a home that is no longer safe to a secondary rallying point. For most people, the bug out bag won’t have enough space to include food to last more than perhaps a few days to a week. Some could rely upon their skills to augment that food by hunting, fishing, trapping, and wild edible plants, of course. But even so, the idea behind bugging out isn’t to go off and live in the woods forever. You should have a destination in mind and work towards getting there quickly and safely.

On the other hand, home is where you want to be if at all possible. No matter how great your bug out bag is, all it does is turn you into a well-equipped refugee for a time. Home is where you should have enough food and supplies to get you through at least a few weeks, preferably longer. Hard to take all that with you during a bug out.

Do you need both a bug out bag and separate supplies stored at home? Absolutely!

Jun 052013
 

I wanted to follow up a bit on the post I did last week about the MERS-COV virus.

According to recent news reports, in addition to cases in the Middle East, we have reports of infected patients in the UK, France, and Italy.

Someone has taken the time to make a Google Map plotting all the cases known thus far. I don’t know who this person is but he or she has my thanks for doing this.

Map of Novel beta2c coronavirus (MERS-CoV) cases and sequences.

I’m also hearing rumblings from the fringe that perhaps this is a man-made virus. The theory, as I understand it, is that terrorists in the Middle East developed this MERS-COV to be a weapon and it leaked out into the populace. Personally, I’d need a lot more info before I could buy into this theory. I’m not saying it is impossible and I’m not discounting it entirely. But, terrorists thus far haven’t really impressed with me with their technological expertise. Developing a new virus isn’t something that I think could be done in a cave somewhere.

I remain hopeful the CDC and other agencies can get this under control before it spreads much further.

Jun 042013
 

If you didn’t make it to Atlanta this past weekend, you missed one heck of a good time! Here’s just a sampling of what you missed.

–The great guys at Martin Knives unveiled the designs for the knives being featured in the new books in The Survivalist series by Sharon Ahern and Bob Anderson.

–My good friend Chance Sanders had his new knife, produced by Mission Knives, featured at their booth. It is a heavy-duty blade, made for tough work whether you’re homesteading or out in the bush.

–There were great learning sessions put on by folks like Creek Stewart and his compatriot Clint Jivoin (both from Willow Haven Outdoor), Charley Hogwood from P.R.E.P., Paul Purcell (author of Disaster Prep 101), Lucinda Bailey (The Seed Lady), and the always lovely Stacy Harris (author of Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living). Of course, there was also a short presentation by me on the subject of home defense and security.

–The great folks from Living Ready Magazine had free copies of the current issue for everyone. There were also copies of Blade Magazine for folks too.

–Hundreds of vendors featuring custom knives, survival gear, dehydrated and freeze-dried foods to sample, and lots of great conversation and tips being shared.

–There were all sorts of demonstrations going on, from battle skills to throwing knives.

I can honestly say I did not meet anyone at the show who wasn’t exceptionally friendly and knowledgeable.

Click here for video and photos from the Living Ready Expo.

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