Odds and Ends

Just a few quick notes and such.

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Last night, I taught a short class on family disaster planning. It was a fairly small group but several great questions were asked throughout. I know they were probably sort of overwhelmed with all the information but I think they each walked out of there having learned at least a few useful things.

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I’m hearing some good things about the movie Contagion. We rarely ever get out to see a movie in the theaters so we’ll probably not get to it until it hits DVD. Any of my readers seen it yet? What did you think?

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Tonight’s guest on Survivalist Radio will be James Wesley, Rawles, founder of SurvivalBlog.com. This is the same Internet radio program I’ve been a guest on a few times. Great people, them.

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Most of my regular readers here know I’m also a writer for Survivalist Magazine. The new issue that came out last week contains the first entry in my new column — The Frugal Prepper. To help celebrate, I’m running a promotion on my Survival Weekly Facebook page. Obtain a copy of the new issue and take a photo of yourself with the magazine. Post that pic on my Facebook wall before October 7. I’ll pick one person at random to win a year subscription to Survivalist Magazine.

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Have a great remainder of your week folks!

Banned Books Week

We are smack in the middle of Banned Books Week. What in the world does this have to do with survival, you may ask?

Well, what child has read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and NOT thought about how cool it would be to drift down the Mississippi River on a raft, living by his wits?

Both Brave New World and 1984 deal with dystopian societies that sometimes seem to mirror current events.

Call of the Wild is a perennial favorite among those kids who love stories set in the wilderness.

Lord of the Flies illustrates a somewhat realistic view of what could happen when a bunch of kids end up stranded on an island.

Personally, I abhor censorship in all forms. I don’t believe you can be selective with censorship; it is an all or nothing proposition. Sure, you should monitor what your kids read and make sure those books are age appropriate. Remember too that once you make something “forbidden” to a kid, it suddenly becomes extremely interesting.

I don’t know about you but I neither want nor need some individual or group deciding for me what I can or cannot read.

Celebrate Banned Books Week by reading (or rereading) one of the classics. Consider it an expression of one of the freedoms we still enjoy.

Weekly Assignment — Power Consumption

A while back, I read an article that stated in the last twenty years or so, individual power consumption in the US has something like tripled or more. Between all the various and sundry gadgets, smart phones, i-everything, and not to mention the ever increasing computer usage, we are using power like never before.

Naturally, all these creature comforts comes at a price. Power ain’t cheap. Setting aside all the environmental impacts, it just flat out costs more out of our pockets today than it did five years ago, hell even a year or two ago.

I’ve often said that every dollar you can save somewhere else in your budget can be put towards prepping. So, have you taken a good look at your utility bills lately? I’d be willing to bet many of you could probably cut a little energy usage and never notice it, except on your bills.

This week, I want you to take a good, hard look at your energy bills. Compare them to the same time frames last year. Most utility companies allow you to do this online if you don’t have the paper copies available. Then, challenge yourself and your family to decrease the bills as much as possible.

Here are some easy ways to cut down your energy consumption.

–Be hyper-aware of lights being left on when no one is in the room. Get everyone in the habit of turning off lights when they aren’t needed. Further to that, look at how much lighting you really NEED. If you’re the only person in the room, do you need the overhead light as well as task lighting at the same time?

–Invest in power strips and use them to control energy usage. Many appliances draw power even when they aren’t being used, such as TVs, video game systems, DVD players, and stereo systems. When not in use, turn off the power to them via power strips.

–Watch your thermostat settings. We keep ours at about 65 in the winter and are comfortable. We don’t walk around in T-shirts and shorts but we’re not wearing winter parkas either. In summer, we only turn on the A/C when it is just brutally hot out and even then, it usually gets set at 79.

–Turn your computers off when you’re not using them. Many people just leave them up and running 24/7. It only takes a few minutes for most computers to boot up.

–Turn off the TV when no one is watching it. This was a huge one in my house when I was growing up. My Dad used to win new TVs about every other year through his job, so we had them in all the bedrooms, the living room, the dining room, the kitchen, and the garage/shop. Invariably, at least three of them were going at any given time, with no one watching them. Even now, when I visit, I’ll find them on in several unoccupied rooms. What an incredible waste of energy.

This week, make a plan to reduce energy usage in your home. Stick to the plan for a month or two and see how it impacts your wallet. I think you’ll be happy with the results.

Get Home Bags vs Bug Out Bags

For quite some time now, I, along with many other preppers, have been talking about the importance of Bug Out Bags (BOBs). Quite often, assembling a BOB is one of the first recommendations we give folks who are new to disaster readiness. And for me at least, that hasn’t changed.

It is the philosophy behind putting together these portable kits that has changed, at least to a degree.

See, words have power. I don’t necessarily mean that is some weird, esoteric or mystical sense. What I mean is, the words and phrases you use often convey specific meanings, right? A dining room table, for example, isn’t just a random table but one that is specifically used for meals. Sure, you might use it for other tasks but dining is the intended purpose.

When you use the term bug out bag, what is the conveyed meaning? Well, bugging out is generally accepted to mean leaving the area, usually rather quickly. So, it seems that a BOB is assembled so if you need to evacuate your home immediately, you have enough supplies to last you a few days. Makes sense, at least on the surface, right?

Ok, but think about this for a second. What kinds of disasters might happen that would require you to vacate your home at the drop of a hat, possibly never to return? Let’s walk through this. Weather related disasters rarely occur without warning, particularly ones that would entail evacuation. Trail derailments or other immediate emergencies of that nature are usually very temporary situations. A few hours, perhaps a day, and you’re back home.

A far more common scenario would be you are somewhere other than home when disaster strikes. You’re stranded in your car due to a blizzard. Or your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. Or something happens at work, requiring you to evacuate the building and possibly hoof it at least part of the way home (think 9/11).

In other words, it is far more likely that you are trying to get home than you are looking to leave your home for somewhere else, right?

Instead of assembling a BOB, put together a Get Home Bag (GHB). Change your way of thinking from living off the contents of a BOB for days on end to focusing on getting you from work (or elsewhere) to home.

What’s the difference? Well, for starters, look at the amount of food you’d need in your kit. A week or more of high-calorie food takes up a lot of space and adds a fair amount of weight. Instead, look at how long it would reasonably take you to get home from work if you were on foot. Most folks live within an hour’s drive from home, so let’s say 50 miles on the high end. At a walking pace of even two miles an hour, you’re home in a couple days. You’re not looking at a week or two living in the rough.

Give some serious thought to changing your mindset from BOB to GHB and you’ll quickly see how different the kits will be.