Dec 032014
 

For many of us, our pets are truly members of the family. They aren’t employees that are only there to perform a duty. Instead, they are much more like children, albeit with fuzzy faces and a lack of a command of the English language. It stands to reason, then, that we need to consider their needs when we go about our disaster planning.

Now, I’ll warn you in advance that the information here is primarily applicable to those who own dogs and cats. For you folks with other critters, the basic topics covered below will still apply, you’ll just have to adjust accordingly based on your pet’s particular needs.

Food and Water

If you’ve had the pet for any length of time, you should already have a pretty good handle on how much food and water it consumes daily. After all, you’re probably the one filling the bowls, right? Yeah, I know the kids promised they’d do that. Kids promise a lot of things, don’t they?

Extra Cans of Dog FoodStrive to always have enough food on hand to last at least three full weeks. If need be, consider adding some cans of food to the storage in case you run out of kibble. I would strongly caution you to do away with any thoughts of just feeding the animal table scraps. First, there might not be many scraps to be had. Second, human food isn’t easily digested by many animals, leading to upset stomachs, vomiting, and other unpleasantness.

As for water storage, obviously the animals can drink the same water you do. That said, while animals can often tolerate dirty water, such as mud puddles, with no ill effects, include their hydration needs when you determine how much water you should have on hand for you and your family.

Medications

If your pet has to take certain medications on a regular basis, make sure you have extras socked away in case you can’t get to the vet for a refill. Even vitamins and supplements should be included. If need be, talk to your vet about keeping a small supply of medications at home, just in case. Many vets will be happy to help however they can.

Waste Disposal

For cats, keeping some extra kitty litter is a no brainer. Few cat owners let that supply run too low. Your dog can probably still run outside and do their business quickly in most disaster scenarios. But, should something arise where that isn’t a viable option, you might consider keeping a supply of newspapers in a box in the basement. Use these to lay out a spot where Fido can do what he needs to do. I would, of course, highly suggest the newspapers be placed on a hard surface, such as a concrete basement floor, rather than carpet, if at all possible. If you lack a bare floor, you might consider picking up an old kiddie pool at a rummage sale and keeping it in the garage. Line it with newspapers and you’re all set.

Newspaper for your Pet

You might also want to pick up an extra bottle of bleach and several rolls of paper towel to help clean up the messes as they happen, which will help reduce odors. A box of garbage bags will also help in this regard.

Health Records

While you’re at the vet talking to them about medications, ask them to print out a complete copy of your pet’s health record, including immunizations. While we would hope we’d never have to go knock on the door of a community shelter for a place to stay after a disaster, if that becomes necessary they will probably want to see proof your animal has been vaccinated against rabies and such.

Gear

Again, in the event you need to hit up a shelter of some sort for a place to stay, and you have an animal with you, you’ll likely need to keep it contained or confined in some way. For smaller animals, this means a crate. For larger ones, a leash and possibly a muzzle will be required. Be sure to have these items in or next to your home evacuation supplies. What we’ve done is use duct tape to attach a plastic bag to the back of a crate. In that bag is a leash, muzzle, and vet records for our dog. She likes to hang out in the crate from time to time so we don’t want to just leave the stuff in it.

Current Photo

Keep a photo of you with your pet on your phone or stored in some way you can easily retrieve it. Should you and Killer get separated, this is a quick and easy way to prove ownership. Plus, that way you’ll have a photo you can show people who are helping you search for the animal should it get lost.

Our pets rely upon us to provide for their needs. In return, they are there to comfort us (or, in the case of cats, to remind us constantly of their superiority). Take steps now to make sure you are able to keep them healthy and safe, no matter what happens..

Survival Kits for Pets

Emergency Planning for Your Pet

You can also pick up a prepackaged emergency kit specially designed for your pet. The commercial packs are a good start in getting your “ducks” in a row when planning out your disaster plan.

Nov 272014
 

Perhaps more than any other point in history, paperwork rules our lives. Sure, we’ve made some strides in saving trees by using electronic media rather than actual paper in many cases, but the fact is, red tape often seems to conspire against us. This is readily apparent in the aftermath of disasters.

House in Flood WaterYou have insurance, you’re up to date on your premiums, yet no one can seem to figure out how to locate your policy because you don’t know the policy number.

Since your copies of the policy are now drowning underneath several feet of water from the flood, you’re at a standstill. You know who you are, everyone around you knows who you are, except for this bean counter who won’t do a darn thing for you unless you can produce a photo ID. Unfortunately, your wallet went up in flames along with everything else you own.

Storing Your Important Documents

Do yourself a favor and take steps now to preserve these documents and other critical information in such a way that you can easily retrieve them should the worst happen.

Here’s a list of the documents and other information you’ll want readily available.

Copies of all insurance policies (home, auto, health, life).
Copies of photo ID cards (driver license, student ID, etc.) for each family member.
Lists of all prescription medications you and other family members take regularly.
Names, addresses, and phone numbers for your primary physician, dentist, attorney, and insurance agent(s).
Information relating to bank accounts (name of bank, account numbers).
Photocopies of all credit cards (front and back).
Copies of vehicle titles.
Copies of property ownership records (deed, land contract, mortgage paperwork, etc.)

If you have pets, snap a photo of you and Fluffy together. Should you become separated, this is a great way to prove ownership of the animal.

Electronic Storage of Documents

Start by purchasing a thumb or flash drive. These small USB sticks store a ton of information. You’ll want to password protect the contents of the flash drive, of course, given the sensitive nature of the contents. You can buy flash drives with this feature built in, but they tend to cost considerably more than the average USB sticks. There are programs available, some are even free, that allow you to install password protection on any flash drive. Here’s just one article with more information about those options.

Once the USB stick is ready, either download or use a scanner to make electronic copies of all of these documents, as well as any other information you feel may be necessary to have. Be sure the file types being saved are common ones that can probably be opened on any computer, such as DOC, PDF, or JPG files.

You might also consider scanning in copies of treasured family photos, though I’ll admit that project can be a massive time suck. But, should there be a fire, a flood, or any other disaster that destroys the originals, you’ll appreciate having had the forethought to make copies.
As you go along downloading these documents and such to the flash drive, print out hard copies if you don’t have them on paper already. By having two sets of the information, you’re in a better position to ensure at least one set will be available to you.

Okay, so now you have two complete sets of all this critically important data. Where do you store it? Depending on where you work, one set could be kept at your office. Stick it in the back of a drawer and just bring it home once every six months or so to update the information. Another option is to make an arrangement with a trusted family member or close friend. They’ll keep your stuff and you’ll do the same for them. A fire safe isn’t a bad option, either, though they aren’t infallible.

What I do myself is keep a password protected USB stick in my EDC bag that goes everywhere I do. I have a set of hard copies stashed with someone I trust as a backup to the USB data.

Having copies of this information outside the home but readily accessible can be crucial in expediting insurance claims and cutting through the inevitable red tape that comes along with disaster recovery.

Nov 242014
 

How much food do you have in your home right now? If you had no way to buy more, for how long could you feed your family using only what you have at this moment?

What’s in Your Pantry?

What's in Your Pantry?If it is anything less than a couple of weeks, you really need to consider stocking up. Sure, you could subsist on bagged popcorn and nachos for a day or two, if you really had to do so. But, there are many relatively common types of disasters that could strand you and your family at home for several days. A few years ago, this happened to a friend of mine. A huge ice storm hit her area. It caused widespread power outages that lasted for weeks. While roads were relatively save to travel after a couple of days, there just wasn’t anyplace to go as stores weren’t open due to the lack of electricity.

Storing Food for Home Emergencies

I’m not suggesting you go out and buy a couple of pallets of freeze-dried food to squirrel away down in the basement. In fact, I would caution you against any action like that. Instead, follow a couple of proven caveats when it comes to food storage.

Store what you eat, eat what you store

Instead of purchasing a ton of stuff you’ve never had before, stick with the foods you and your family enjoy, just keep more of it on hand. That said, concentrate your long-term food storage on items that, well, last a long time on the shelf. Things like rice, pasta, and canned goods like veggies, fruit, and soups.

Look, the fact is that our bodies grow accustomed to eating certain foods. Toss in something new and our digestive system sometimes gets…confused. Often, the result is we feel sick, sometimes only mildly so but other times it can get pretty bad. If the power is out and the water pressure is sketchy at best, do you really want to add stomach upset to the mix?

Rotation, rotation, rotation

Rotate Your Food SuppliesStoring the foods you regularly eat helps with rotating the supply so things don’t go bad before they’re used. There are various systems people use to keep their long-term food storage up to date. Some create massive spreadsheets on the computer and religiously change the quantities as items are purchased or consumed. Others just have a notebook kept in the pantry and pencil in changes as necessary. Another tactic is to use a marker to date every item put into the pantry so they can be sure to always use the oldest stuff first.

However you accomplish it, the important thing here is to use and replace food before it gets stale or goes bad in some way. Having a massive pantry won’t do you much good if the food is only marginally edible by the time you need it.

Can you cook without a nuke machine?

Bear in mind that if the power is out, your microwave oven, as well as your electric stove top, won’t be options for cooking your emergency food supplies. With that in mind, there are several options available, from charcoal or propane grills to camp stoves. If you have a spot to make one, even a campfire will work. Whichever methods you plan to utilize, and note the plural there, as you shouldn’t rely on just one single solution, be sure to have plenty of fuel on hand. Personally, I keep a minimum of two propane tanks for my grill filled at all times, rotating them out and refilling them as needed. I also have several bags of charcoal for my kettle grill. On top of that, I have a camp stove and a patio fire pit.

Pocket Stove with Fuel

Emergency food storage is important, as is having plenty of water, first aid supplies, and other gear on hand in the event of a crisis. Even the U.S. Federal government is requesting citizens to have enough supplies on hand to meet their own needs for up to three days, at a minimum. As we’ve seen in the wake of disasters like Hurricane Katrina, that three days can stretch out to several weeks rather easily.

Sep 042014
 

With the recent beheadings by the terrorist group calling themselves ISIS, the world has received a wake up call to the most extreme of extremists. Their ultimate goal is to create a caliphate in the middle east and then to spread its reach to the entire world.

These are not cave dwellers with a half baked plan and delusions of grandeur. They’ve already militarily taken over a large portion of Syria and a large swath of neighboring Iraq. The humanitarian bombings of the US to help stranded civilians has done little to nothing in stopping their advances. Indeed, they are holding major cities and towns within Iraq and have kept them for some time now.

ISIS terrorists

Given the world’s timidity in doing any actual fighting, these brutal religious nuts see nothing that is going to stop them from achieving their goals. An insider who defected from ISIS, but still holds their beliefs, has told us in no uncertain terms that their ultimate goal is conquest. His plain and simple statement gives clear intentions of their goals:

“The main and principal goal of the Islamic State that they tell their new members is to establish an Islamic state that will encompass the Arab world,” the man said in Turkey. “And after that, we go to other countries.” Source: CNN

Other countries, including Britain and Australia, have stated they have credible information on impending threats of attack. The US, thus far, has not raised it’s threat level stating they have no specific information on any imminent attacks.

With the southern border easily infiltrated, it won’t be any surprise when an attack occurs on US soil either by someone who has gotten through the border or by a cell already inside the country. Large scale targets can be mass casualties in any major city or by simply disrupting the electrical grid system causing massive power outages across the country.

Experts have been saying for years how vulnerable our country is to this kind of attack. A major impact would be its disruption of the distribution of food and water. Grocery stores would not get restocked, thus preventing people from getting their nutrition in the only way they know how. If there is a large scale power outage that affects a large portion of the country, the food in people’s refrigerators and freezers would not last and citizens would have no way of getting more food to eat. They would literally starve.

While nice to think and try to believe that things like this can never happen, it has already happened.  It’s happening right now in Syria and in Iraq. And if the terrorists get their way, it will happen in other parts of the world as well.

Food Emergency - Wise Company Gourmet MealsStocking up on food and water doesn’t seem so crazy when real threats like this exist. Many of our readers here and those akin to preparing for contingencies such as hurricanes and other forms of natural disaster have most likely already started a food storage program for themselves and their family. It’s like an insurance policy that pays you in food to eat when enacted.

Freeze dried food purchased beforehand gives you that insurance policy that you don’t have to cash in for up to 25 years. That’s how long it lasts and can be there for you when you really need it. Our recommendation is Wise Food Company Gourmet Meals. They are chef designed and pre-prepared. All you need to do is add water.

Jun 122014
 

It’s hurricane season again and time to make sure we’re prepared to get through what Mother Nature dishes out. From June 1st through November 30th of each year, there is higher chance of one forming in the Atlantic basin and reaching the US.

Preparing for Hurricane SeasonNow that we’re relocated in Florida, the hurricane season takes on a bit more significance. It’s more than just a slight possibility that we’ll be affected by a tempest now, than it was when we were further up the east coast and more inland.

Even during regular rain storms here, power goes out. Usually it comes right back on but it’s already went out for over an hour one day this year. So I can predict with near certainty that if a hurricane were to hit this area, we’ll be out of power for who knows how long.

Getting Ready for a Hurricane

Hurricanes bring torrential rainfall and extremely dangerous high winds. The combination can be damaging to homes and businesses yet they don’t come without warning.

With today’s technology, we know when they transform from a tropical storm into the real McCoy and even the projected path they’ll follow with relative confidence. Knowing all this beforehand lets us know its coming and to get ready to either evacuate or hunker down and ride the storm out.

Preparing for either option is best and it goes without saying that you should already have a survival or emergency kit inside your vehicle at all times. Your home should also have some things on hand to help make life easier when Mamma Earth comes a knocking.

Assuming your home is structurally sound enough to withstand the abuse of the gale force winds (or else you’d evacuate, right?), you can pretty much expect to be without power. Without electricity, you can’t flip a switch and have the lights come on. You can’t cook on your electric stove or use your microwave to heat up food. Your freezer and refrigerator won’t have the power to keep your food from spoiling for very long.

These things will happen. If it’s only for a short period of time, it’s not a big deal. But as time goes on, the longer it takes to get the power restored, the more life will be more difficult. There won’t be hot water to take a shower and there may not be any running water at all for toilets to even flush.

Think about how you’ll adapt to these conditions beyond the having extra batteries for your flashlight. If your refrigerated food goes bad, what will you eat? How will you heat up your canned goods that you have in the cupboard? You may not need to heat it up, but a warm meal is a major comfort in a situation like this.

Above all, a clean source of water is necessary. Having a supply stored for such a “rainy” day is a good idea so you’ll be set when you need it. In the case of a hurricane, you’ll have warning so you can fill up your bathtub and as many containers as you can before it hits. Just be sure to have thought this out so you can get into gear as soon as you know it’s coming.

Jun 282013
 

This weekend, I’d like for you to take a little time and put together a mini survival kit. Nothing elaborate nor fancy is required. Just a kit that will satisfy most if not all your basic needs in a survival situation, yet be small enough to fit on your belt or in a purse.

To review, here is a list of basic needs:

–Water
–Food
–Shelter
–Fire
–Light
–Security
–First aid
–Hygiene
–Navigation

Preppers are some of the most ingenious people around. This is often highlighted when it comes to building survival kits. People figure out all sorts of great ways to save space and not sacrifice quality.

So, show me something! Get creative! Send me a pic or two of your creation, along with some info about what you included in the kit. I’ll pick the best ones to feature here on the blog in the next week or two.

Send the pics to: Jim@SurvivalWeekly.com.

Jun 272013
 

Most of us have felt it at least once or twice. We’ve devoted so much time, so many resources, toward planning for what might come someday, we get burned out. We feel overwhelmed by how much we still feel we need to do. It feels like there will never be enough time, enough money, to accomplish our goals.

This is normal. This is a natural emotional reaction.

When it happens, it is your mind’s way of telling you that you need to take a break for a bit. Really, it isn’t healthy to spend all of your waking hours doing nothing but prepping, thinking about prepping, reading about prepping.

Take the well-deserved break and do something fun. Spend some time with the kids. Go on a day trip to see something exciting.

Take a Saturday night and hit the movies with your significant other. Even better, just grab something from Redbox or find something on Netflix. Pop some corn and veg out for the evening.

Get together with some friends and go to a ball game. Or a live band. Or a play.

The point is to take some time to take a step back and enjoy life. The prepping will be there when you return.

Jun 262013
 

A few weeks ago, Lisa Bedford, The Survival Mom(TM), asked several survival and preparedness bloggers for a short essay detailing how we’d know it is time to bug out, or as she put it, that the “balloon had gone up.” Here is my contribution.

One of the most common questions I get, just behind What kind of gun should I buy? and just ahead of Who sells the best-tasting dehydrated food? is “How will I know it is time to bug out?” Variations of this include “How will I know this is the event?” and “How can I get out before the crowd?”

It is very difficult to give any sort of concrete answer to these questions because they are, at least in part, very subjective. For almost all potential scenarios, my pat answer is to remain at home until such a time that home is no longer tenable or safe. But, I’ll readily admit that is side-stepping the actual question.

Here, then, are some indicators, “red flags” if you will, that things are likely to get much worse before they get better.

Stores aren’t seeing stock coming in. We’ve all heard the statistic that grocery stores only have about 3 days worth of stock at any given time. While that figure varies depending on the item, such as they may have enough toiletries to last a typical month but enough fresh meat to only last a couple days, the average for the store on the whole is likely stock levels to last a week or less. If something causes disruption to the replenishment process, that not only makes it difficult to purchase food and other supplies, the secondary result is people begin to panic. In our modern society, most people are accustomed to immediate gratification. They want something so they go to the store and buy it. Now, how often have you run to the store to pick up something and upon arriving you learn they don’t have it in stock? It makes you feel frustrated, maybe even angry. How dare they not have the new season of Justified on DVD! Now, imagine that instead of a set of DVDs, it is canned vegetables, milk, or bread and your family is already getting pretty hungry. One of the first things we’ll see in the wake of a major event is store shelves not being stocked. The disruption may only be for a few days but you don’t want to be around when people find out they can’t get food from their normal sources.

You hear eyewitness accounts of looting in your area. I want to stress the “eyewitness” part of that. In chaotic situations, rumors are guaranteed to be flying left and right. Case in point – think back to all the rumors you heard about what went on inside the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina. No doubt about it, there were bad things going on but, as far as I know, the rumors about infants being killed were never proven to be anything but stories. So, if you hear that a neighbor was told by a friend of their cousin who heard from a guy down their block that their uncle saw some looters, you might take it with a grain of salt. However, if said neighbor instead tells you he saw a band of ne’er do wells going house to house as he was coming back from scouting the area, that’s a sure sign things are likely to be heading south quickly.

Emergency services are overwhelmed. As we’ve seen in the aftermath of major disasters like Hurricane Katrina and various tornadoes in Oklahoma, law enforcement agencies as well as other emergency services can easily become overwhelmed. Please do not take this as a gripe against them. Thousands and thousands of good men and women work in those fields and do the very best they can to respond to emergencies large and small. However, they are only human and they have limits. They can’t be in two places at once and there’s only so many of them to go around. At some point, triage will have to take place and decisions made as to which emergencies are more important than others. This happens every day, actually. Police dispatchers routinely need to determine which 911 calls get priority when things get really busy. A traffic accident with possible fatalities on a major highway takes precedence over a complaint about an out-of-season campfire in a backyard (yes, people call 911 for such inane complaints). However, after a major event, staffing levels may drop due to officers having been injured in the disaster, being ill, or just plain wanting to remain at home with their families and this will result in many calls for assistance going unchecked for longer periods of time, if responded to at all. Even if attendance at roll call is 100%, the sheer volume of requests for help may become too much for any department to fully bear. In the event that takes place, you really don’t want to be one of the people standing around, waiting for a squad car to arrive and hopefully resolve a problem for you.

Above all else, trust your gut. If that voice in the back of your head is telling you it is time to head out, do so. You may only have one chance to get out ahead of everyone else and make it to your secondary destination rather than end up in the middle of an interstate that has become a large parking lot.

Jun 252013
 

Part of the problem with becoming rather active with prepping and such is you sometimes find yourself butting heads with other people who don’t think like you do. Preppers, particularly those fairly new to the lifestyle, are very passionate about their beliefs. It usually takes a little longer for us seasoned pros to get our dander up but it does happen from time to time.

Here’s the thing — You can lead a person to knowledge but you can’t make them think.

One of the worst approaches is to immediately start talking about end of the world scenarios and how they should have stored enough food and water to last at least a year. That’s not a very good sales pitch, let’s be honest. All you’re doing is coming off as some sort of extremist, using a scare tactic to make a point. That’s not going to work with most people.

Start small, talk about weather emergencies that have been in the news. Bring up the need for having a little extra on hand in case someone in the family gets laid off or loses their job completely.

Sometimes though, we can talk until we’re blue in the face and some folks just aren’t going to budge. That’s ok, that’s their problem. You did your part by broaching the subject and presenting them with (hopefully) practical and factual information. If they choose not to pursue it, like the grasshopper compared to the ant, so be it.

Pick your battles wisely. Don’t get so involved that it stresses you out.

Jun 242013
 

I know this is going to sound sacrilegious but I am rather on the fence about multi-tools in general. Now wait, before you start chucking rocks at my head, hear me out.

As we go along here, please understand that I’m fully aware there are individual exceptions to these points. I’m speaking in general terms here.

First, I don’t know that any multi-tool can ever fully replace a good knife, whether we mean folding or fixed-blade. As most of us know by now, a good quality knife is a critical part of any survival kit. Personally, I haven’t found too many multi-tools that have a really good knife blade and are also easy to open and use with one hand. Quite often, if I need to cut something, I’m holding that something in my other hand and putting it down might be inconvenient.

Second, about the only time I’ve ever truly needed a needle-nosed pliers out in the field is when I’m trying to remove a swallowed hook from a fish. And, I have to say, the multi-tools I’ve tried that with haven’t worked too well. (A better solution, for me at least, was to pick up a couple hemostats at a surplus store and toss them into my tackle box.)

Plus, when trying to squeeze down on something with the pliers, many multi-tools are designed in such a way that the spines of all those other accessories dig into your hands. Sure, if you’re wearing gloves that issue is mitigated but, c’mon, how many of us really wear gloves as often as we should?

Most of the other common accessories on multi-tools aren’t always the greatest options either. Saws don’t cut very well. Wire cutters, provided the wire is thin enough, are ok. The screwdrivers work well enough, IF the screw head is open enough to get at it.

Now, with all that said, I’ll never say a multi-tool is a worthless addition to a survival kit. I think they are a valuable asset, but more as a backup than as a primary use tool.

Who knows? Maybe I just haven’t found the right one yet.

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