Stores and Just In Time Inventory

I was working in retail management back when “Just In Time” inventory management programs first began rolling out. Prior to that time, many stores had large stock rooms where they’d keep extra product, ready to roll out to the sales floor as needs warranted. As shipping times decreased as technology improved, it became unnecessary to keep such large inventories on hand. If a product sold out on a Monday, they could have it replenished by mid-afternoon the next day in many cases. Plus, retailers noted that these large stock rooms meant less square footage that could make money.

Over a period of just a few years, many retailers drastically reduced the size of those stock rooms, investing in massive remodeling efforts to expand the sales floor. The end result is a dramatic reduction in the total product on hand in a given store. For the most part, what you see on the store shelves is pretty much it.

Honestly, it makes good business sense.

For quite some time, prepper literature has focused on a three day limit on available product in stores. Meaning, the theory is the average grocery store or discount retailer has an average of about three days worth of product in the store at any given time, and that three day guideline is predicated upon “normal” shopping patterns.

The reality though is if there were a massive run on products, say in the face of a coming disaster, that three day guideline will be significantly reduced. How much reduced?

11 minutes or so.

That’s how long it took a Walmart in the area affected by Hurricane Katrina to get pretty much wiped out, from what I’m told.

So, if your plan is to hit the store one last time before disaster hits, think again.

Treating for Shock

Any sort of traumatic injury can lead to shock. What happens is the body’s system starts diverting blood to the vital organs, lessening the circulation to other areas. Ultimately, this can be fatal if not treated.

The symptoms of shock include a quickened pulse and a gray or blue pallor to the skin, particularly in the face and lips. The skin can feel cold to the touch and may be clammy. Trouble breathing and feeling sick to the stomach can also occur.

Keep the victim lying down, with their legs raised. (Do not elevate the legs if the victim has a head injury.) Be careful in elevating legs if the legs are injured, of course. Loosen their belt and clothing. This helps them breathe easier. If the victim has vomited or seems likely to do so, keep them on their side so fluid drains out of their mouth. Otherwise, keep them on their back and as comfortable as possible.

Keep the victim warm with jackets, blankets, or other clothing. Try to keep them conscious and alert by speaking to them reassuringly.

Give fluids only if all the following conditions are met:

1) There is no abdominal injury.
2) The victim can hold the cup themselves.
3) Surgery is not likely to happen in the next six hours.
4) Evacuation is not likely in the next six hours.
5) There is no downward change to their consciousness level.

Seek medical attention as soon as possible.

An Unusual Tool for the Bug Out Bag

If you grew up out in the sticks, you’ll probably recognize this tool. On the other hand, city folk might be puzzled by it at first.

Commonly called either a fence tool or fence pliers, it is typically used for, well, putting up fencing. The tool is like the bastard son of a pair of pliers and a hammer, with a bit of wire cutters tossed into the mix.

Around 10-11″ long, it isn’t tiny but could well be worth the space it will take up in a pack. The tool features a hammer head, wire cutters, staple pulling jaws on the top, and a spike opposite the hammer.

While you could use a rock or possible the butt end of your knife to pound in stakes for your emergency shelter, the hammer part of this tool will do the job easier. In a pinch, either the hammer or the spike could serve as a weapon.

The wire cutters can trim up your snare wire when needed. The staple pulling jaws could serve as a vise as you cobble together makeshift tools in the field.

New, these go for around $15 but you can often find them used at rummage sales for far less. While it is obviously too large for a minimalist kit, odds are you can find room for it in any larger bug out bag.

Gifting a DIY Bug Out Bag

For Christmas this year, I’m giving one of my family members a bug out bag. Don’t worry, they don’t read this blog so it will still be a surprise to them. The family consists of two adults and two young children.

I’ll start by picking up a decent small backpack at a thrift store. The idea with this kit isn’t to be able to live for weeks on end out in the wilderness but rather endure a night or two stranded somewhere. So, no need for an elaborate kit inside a giant backpack.

Inside the pack, I’ll have the following:

Two of the HeatSheets 2 person emergency blankets.

A fire starting kit consisting of fire straws, strike anywhere matches, a butane lighter, and a fire steel.

Two survival whistles.

Paracord and duct tape.

A small first aid kit.

A Mora Companion SG knife.

A couple small LED flashlights.

There will also be instructions as to additional items they should add to the kit. One of the kids has a number of food allergies so it will be far easier for them to add the appropriate types of food, enough to last a couple days. Two or three blankets to be rolled up and kept next to the kit. They should have a few regular water bottles as well. Both the parents have cell phones so they should already have at least one with them in an emergency. Extra hats and gloves for each family member will help keep everyone warm.

All told, I’ll be able to put this together for under sixty bucks or so. A rather modest investment, really, considering the potential benefits.

Reference Books for the Long Haul

If there does come to pass a total collapse, folks are pretty much going to be on their own for quite some time. With a collapse will probably come a lack of Internet access so you’re going to want at least a few basic reference books on hand to guide you through unfamiliar procedures. There’s also the problem of educating kids, which will fall onto parents much more than it does today.

Here is a short list of topics that should be addressed in your home library reference materials.

Home repair: You’ll want one or more books that detail how to effect basic carpentry, plumbing, and even electrical repairs. Sure, common sense can probably guide you through some of it but it will be nice to see how things “should” be done. There are a ton of great books out there, such as the ones published by Home Depot. After a collapse, these books may end up being worth their weight in gold.

Medical: Into this category fall both traditional medicine as well as herbal and other so-called folk medicine. Where There Is No Doctor, Where There Is No Dentist, as well as the phenomenal Doom and Bloom(tm) Survival Medicine Handbook By Joseph Alton M.D. and Amy Alton ARNP are all highly recommended.

Bushcraft: If you aren’t well experienced with wilderness skills, pick up a few good books on the subject so you aren’t totally lost. Naturally, I’d suggest you go through those books and learn the skills, rather than just hope you’ll be able to pick it up on the fly when needed.

Educational: Give some thought to picking up at least a few basic texts on language, math, science, and history. Given how popular homeschooling has become in recent years, you should have no trouble finding some great books out there on these subjects. Keep in mind the ages of your children and plan ahead to provide for their needs in the years to come.

Haunt used bookstores and rummage sales frequently and you’ll be able to put together a fairly extensive reference library at little cost. The benefits may turn out to be enormous!

What I’m thankful for

Being that tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I thought it appropriate to talk a bit about what I’m thankful for today.

I’m thankful for my loving wife and my awesome kids. We’re all in reasonably good health and that is truly a blessing.

I’m thankful my Dad is still around to talk with and learn from. I have pretty cool in-laws too.

I’m thankful I have a day job I mostly enjoy. My bosses are pretty decent and treat me well.

I’m thankful for the success I’ve had with my writing career. Two book contracts and a small handful of magazine articles in one year is nothing to sneeze at, that’s for sure. I’m particularly thankful that Steve lets me do these blog posts every day.

I’m thankful for having the most awesome group of readers and fans on the planet. Seriously, you guys and gals rock!

I’m thankful to live in the United States, where we still have the freedom to express our opinions freely and openly.

I’m thankful we have men and women in this country who sacrifice every single day to protect those freedoms.

I’m thankful to have a roof over my head, a kitchen stocked with food, and the means to keep warm and safe.

Most of all, I’m thankful to even be here doing this. If you’d have asked those I graduated with all those years ago, they’d have probably given me a life expectancy of about age 25 at best. I figure each day I’ve outlived that expectation is a blessing and something I shouldn’t take for granted.

What are you thankful for this year?

Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone!

Lose a Tail

As I’ve mentioned a time or two, my day job is working as a private investigator. I’ve been working in this field for close to twenty years now. While I don’t know all there is to know about surveillance and such, I’ve learned a few things over the years.

Today, we’ll talk about how to lose someone who is tailing you in a vehicle. Why in the world would someone need to know that, outside of a movie or thriller novel? Well, one ploy criminals use, particularly this time of year, is to watch for a car all loaded up with gifts and follow it home. They then know a great house to hit with burglary later. Some sex assaults happen this way as well.

If you think you’re being followed, make four consecutive left turns. While there’s a chance someone might legitimately make a couple of those turns with you, the odds are about nil that someone who isn’t deliberately following you would make all four of those turns.

You can also speed up, slow down, and change lanes at irregular intervals. Do not do anything that is dangerous or hazardous to other drivers though. There’s no sense in putting innocent folks at risk. Just keep an eye on the vehicle you think is following you and see if they mirror your movements here and there.

If you still feel you are being followed, drive directly to the closest police department. Do NOT go home or to your workplace. If they don’t already know those locations, you don’t want to clue them in. If you have a cell phone, call the police and explain the situation. Try to stay in well populated areas, rather than heading off into the boonies.

Remember, it is better to feel a moment of embarrassment if you’re wrong rather than lose your stuff or your life because you didn’t want to look stupid.

Bugging Out Should Be Your LAST Option

Reading posts on several message boards and on Facebook, I’ve grown concerned about people planning to bug out at the drop of a hat. Except for in a handful of specific scenarios, bugging out should be your last option, not your primary plan.

The vast majority of time, you’ll be far better off hunkering down at home. Unless you have a separate survival retreat, your home is where your supplies and gear are located. Why in Heaven’s name would you want to leave all that behind unless you were essentially forced to do so?

Another aspect to this is — if you bug out without a solid plan for routes and destination, all you are is a refugee. Granted, a refugee with hopefully a well stocked bug out bag, but a refugee nonetheless. It is vastly more difficult to protect yourself and your family while on the road than it is in a home.

Look, if you are living in a location where you feel you’ll be better off post-disaster heading out on foot to new digs, then maybe you should think hard about moving now, rather than later.

From what I’m reading, entirely too many people have their primary plan to be heading out on the road at the first sign of trouble. I just can’t seem to make logical sense of that. The average person in the U.S. is far more likely to have to deal with some sort of natural disaster such as a tornado or earthquake than they are with enemy troops knocking on the door.

Now, with that said, if you learn a hurricane is going to hit your area in the next few days, by all means I’d encourage you to head out of town for a bit. That’s not what I mean by bugging out though. Generally speaking, the term bugging out refers to striking out on foot or in a vehicle with little to no plan of returning.

In the face of a major disaster, that just doesn’t sound like the best option to me.

Making a Bola

The bola has been used for hundreds of years in hunting and in warfare. Deceptively simple in design, it consists of three weights at the end of cords that are attached to one another. It is held where the cords join, spun around the head, then thrown at the target. The weights wrap the cords around the target, immobilizing it for dispatch.

Here is a simple way to make a bola at home.

Take three tennis balls and, using a razor knife, cut two Xs on each ball. The Xs should be on opposite sides, one across from the other. These Xs need not be very large, perhaps the size of a nickel or so.

Cut three lengths of paracord or clothesline about 3-4 feet long. Tape the end of each cord to a pencil or a straightened out metal clothes hanger and push it through the holes you made on the tennis balls, one cord for each ball. The cord should run through the ball. Tie a large knot on the cord to keep it from pulling back through. You might find it easier to thread the cord through a metal washer first as that will prevent you from having to make an enormous knot.

Once you’ve done this for all three balls, tie the loose ends of each cord together. You may want to wrap duct tape around the cords at that end as well, making something like a handle.

Now you’ll want to add some weight to those tennis balls. Push pennies, small rocks, or nuts and bolts through the holes you made on the balls. You don’t want to add too much though otherwise the bola won’t be easy to control. You want just enough weight to give each ball a bit of heft.

To use, grasp the bola where you made your duct tape handle and begin twirling it around your head. When you have it spinning at a good clip, throw it at your target as you would a lasso. It will take a bit of practice but you’ll get the hang of it. Your target should be the legs of the animal or bad guy. To practice, use a fence post.

Avoiding “Get Prepped Quick” Schemes

We are deep in the throes of a prepping renaissance, the likes of which I don’t think have ever been seen before. The plethora of survival related websites, products, and services today makes the Y2K flap look like just a bump in the road. This isn’t a bad thing as it has gotten lots of folks interested in prepping. As I’ve said before, the more people who prep, the fewer who will be knocking on our doors looking for help when something major happens.

However, the downside of this popularity is it naturally brings out the greedier and seedier folks looking to make a quick buck. Spend much time surfing the ‘Net and you’ll no doubt run across ads like:

Buy my book and learn the 59 foods you MUST stockpile!


Buy my DVD and you’ll find out how to prepare for the end of the world in just three easy steps!


My online course will teach you how to survive a zombie attack using just a ballpoint pen!


For just $99.95, we’ll send you 17 different ebooks on homesteading and emergency survival, after which we’ll certify you as being an official Prepper!

Countless books, websites, and magazines have started up in the last few years, many of them written or edited by people who have not the first clue about what prepping really entails or what survival is really all about.

This is very frustrating for those of us who have been around a while. Time and again we see bad information put out there and repeated over and over. I’m talking about things like the Triangle of Life, which I’ve discussed before.

More and more, I’m seeing websites and book proclaiming they hold the secret to successful prepping. It is very much like fad diets, really.

The unfortunate reality is, there just ain’t no quick-n-easy way to be prepared. You have to do the work to get results. If anyone tells you otherwise, they’re just trying to sell you something.