Another “Survivalist” Makes The News

In case you haven’t heard the reports yet, a gunman being described as an anti-government “survivalist” has kidnapped a young boy in Alabama. The stories state he is holding the boy hostage in a homemade bunker of some sort on his property. Police have been able to make contact with the gunman through some sort of PVC tube that runs into the bunker. They’ve sent down medications the boy needs, as well as coloring books and crayons.

As of this writing, the reports seem to indicate the gunman does not know the young boy. He took the boy from a school bus after shooting dead the bus driver.

Make no mistake, this is a tragic situation and one that we can only pray ends well.

I do find it interesting how much the media is focusing on this guy being a supposed survivalist. Well, really, I don’t know that it is incorrect to use that term, to be honest. He dug out a bunker in his backyard, supposedly stocked it with food and gear, and feared some sort of major collapse was coming. Assuming those are indeed facts and not suppositions, kind of hard to argue that he isn’t a survivalist.

My point though is the media is using the term “survivalist” in a very disparaging way. Like anyone who is a survivalist should immediately be thought of as being a loony whack job with violent tendencies, prone to paranoia.

I hate the fact that this guy snatched a young boy. I also hate that the media taking this situation as yet another opportunity to try and sway public opinion against preppers.

The Emergency Instructions Folder

In this day and age, most of us are aware of the importance of having a will, including instructions on cremation/burial, last wishes, and how we want our assets disposed of. But how many of us are the primary persons in our homes who handle the bills, banking, all that fun stuff? Does your spouse or significant other know where to find those financial records? Do they know how to log into the various online accounts?

Further to that point, a lot of us have made close friends online. People we may never have met in person but yet you’d want them to know if something were to happen to you.

It doesn’t even need to be a fatality. Could be you’re in an accident and unable to pass along necessary information until you recover.

Sit down and assemble a folder or notebook with this information. Start with a list of all your online accounts — banking, credit cards, utilities, and email addresses. Your family will need to know how to log into each of those accounts. For financial accounts requiring regular payments, be sure to note any special instructions, such as due dates and whether the payments must be made in a certain way.

Include a list of people you want notified if something happens to you. One friend of mine even has gone so far as to draft emails to close friends, saving them in a special folder in her email program, with instructions to send them out upon her passing.

Don’t forget your social networking accounts, such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as your regular online hangouts like Yahoo Groups or message boards.

Also good to have is a list of all bank accounts (checking, savings, money markets, etc.), including the names of the banks, account numbers, and any information necessary for your family to access the accounts. Without that information, it can take several weeks to months to get through all the legal red tape.

If you have supplies or valuables stashed somewhere, you might want to note that as well so your family knows where to look.

Naturally, with all this private information, you’ll want to keep this notebook or folder locked up or otherwise very well hidden from prying eyes.

The New York Times Talks Prepping

An interesting article appeared in The New York Times over the weekend. Titled “The Doomsday Preppers of New York,” it talks about the development of the prepper movement in NYC.

The reason I call the article interesting is the mostly positive spin it puts on prepping. Very little gloom and doom and not much ridicule at all. In fact, the writer, Alan Feuer, reveals his own concern for embarrassment as he was starting out with putting together a bug out bag.

What I find troubling though are the inevitable negative comments posted after the article appeared online.

“Douglas Skopp” from Plattsburgh, New York, posted:

Escape to what? Survival for its own sake is absurd. Do these people really want to live in a world that’s been destroyed?

I’d counter that by saying one needs to first survive before any remedies to problems may be applied. Further, few of us are really in a position where we can effect positive changes regarding the things we are concerned about to begin with.

I’m heartened though by seeing so many other comments that talk about prepping in a positive light. Many, many people posted about their concerns about natural disasters and wanting to be better prepared for things like Superstorm Sandy.

All in all, while it is only a drop in the proverbial bucket of media coverage, I am happy to see such a positive article about prepping in such a well-read publication.

The Importance of Vitamins and Supplements

An item that is often overlooked in long-term prepping is supplements like multivitamins. For short-term emergencies, such as a blizzard trapping you at home for a few days, proper nutrition is generally not a huge concern. In fact, I often suggest that having comfort food like chips and other junk can help keep family members from going crazy. Forgetting the diet for a couple days can make a stressful situation a little easier to handle.

But when we look at long-term situations, such as epidemics or major natural disasters that result in substantial YO-YO time, we need to plan ahead for nutritional needs. This is particularly important to prevent illnesses like scurvy, which is indeed a real thing and not just something pirates talk about in the movies. Scurvy results from a deficiency in vitamin C and symptoms include lethargy, depression, spongy gums, and even bleeding from mucous membranes. The reason it became so associated with pirates is during long voyages at sea back in those days, sources of vitamin C were few.

I would encourage you to shop around and stock up on vitamins and supplements to help offset any nutritional deficiencies during long-term disasters. Depending on the nature of the emergency, you may not have unlimited resources for food. While it is important to keep bellies full of calories, you’ll need proper nutrition to keep your body running.

Day-To-Day Life of a Prepper?

I recently received an email from yet another casting company looking to do a show about preppers. Here is a direct quote from that email.

I’m currently working on a new documentary series all about the day-to-day life of people who focus on preparedness.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that sentence since receiving the email. The day-to-day life of a prepper as the focus of a TV show? That sounds like a yawn fest, if you ask me.

Are preppers really all that different from other folks? If anything, we’re pretty boring compared to other people.

Preppers come from all walks of life. We’re elementary school teachers, doctors, laborers, lawyers, and waitresses. We’re wealthy, we’re dirt floor poor. We’re crop farmers, we’re gardeners. We’re Conservatives, we’re Liberals.

The day-to-day life of a prepper? For most of us, we just call that living. I mean, what, they think preppers spend every waking moment cleaning firearms, digging out the new bunker, and conducting evacuation drills? Sure, we might get involved with that sort of stuff here and there. But, we’re largely just going about the same day-to-day routine as everyone else. We sleep, we eat, we love, we laugh, we work, and we play.

About the only glaring difference I see between preppers and non-preppers is we tend to have been gifted with a large degree of common sense.

Think You Have Enough Bandages?

Something that is often overlooked in the prepper first aid kit is an adequate supply of bandages of all types.

Adhesive bandages are fairly inexpensive, which is a good thing because you can easily burn through a ton of them in short order after a disaster. Remember, it is critically important to avoid infections so even the smallest cuts and scrapes should be cleaned and covered. It is easy to keep them clean today since we have abundant supplies of clean water and access to a wide range of over the counter medications, such as antibiotic ointment. That can change in a heartbeat after a natural disaster. Small injuries we would more or less ignore today could be disastrous down the road.

Just as important are the larger gauze bandages and the like. If there is a serious injury, it may take a while to get the bleeding under control. Once that happens and the patient is stabilized (more or less), frequent changes of the bandages are needed to prevent sepsis. A single gash in the arm or leg could require several boxes of gauze bandages by the time it is healed.

Bandages are one of those things that we may not think much about because they are so mundane. People get excited when you start talking about suture kits but they do nothing but yawn when you talk about adhesive bandages. Honestly though, which are you more likely to need?

My suggestion is to pick up a box or two of bandages every time you stop at the dollar store or your favorite discount retailer. Cost is only a couple bucks but those boxes will add up quickly in your medical supplies.

Dollar Store Survival Supplies

Dollar stores can be great places to pick up survival supplies, as long as you realize that in many cases, you get what you pay for.

Here are a few things I’ve seen at my local dollar store that might make for decent supplies:

Food: They typically have a variety of canned and boxed food, such as veggies, instant potatoes, and sweets. Be sure to look at the expiration dates on these things. At my local grocery store, I can usually pick up canned veggies on sale for $0.50 each so be sure to shop around and don’t overpay. Just because it is at the dollar store doesn’t always mean it is a great price.

Soda: Yeah, I know, soda is terrible for you. But, for a measly buck, I can get 3L bottles of it and refill ’em with water from the tap when the soda is gone.

Sunglasses: Something I recommend be in every bug out bag and other kits, yet often overlooked. Pick up several pair at the dollar store, that way if you lose or break a pair, you aren’t out a ton of dough.

OTC meds: Things like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin. Again, watch the expiration dates as well as the number of doses in each package. I can pick up a bottle of 500ct ibuprofen for around $4 at other stores, so I’m not going to pay a buck just for ten or fifteen tablets.

Hand sanitizer: I like to have several bottles of this on hand as it helps in cutting down the spread of illnesses. I frequently see little travel size bottles sold in a three pack for a dollar.

Feminine hygiene supplies: I don’t use these myself so I can’t speak to the quality of them. But, having a few pads in your first aid kit to use as compression bandages isn’t a bad idea either way.

Sewing kits: I sometimes see little travel size sewing kits at the dollar store. Comes with a few needles as well as several bundles of thread of varying colors. Not a bad idea for expedient clothing repair but I do wonder about the quality of the thread.

Ice packs: These smallish instant ice packs work well on bruises and similar injuries.

Toilet paper: Probably not the softest brand around but it’ll still be better than leaves.

Aluminum foil: Check the square footage of the package and compare it to your other local stores to make sure you’re getting a decent price.

Glow sticks: Great additions to any survival kit, come in a wide range of colors and sizes.

Even though the price seems right, I’d never buy hand tools at a dollar store. Not unless you want to impress your friends by showing them you can bend a wrench with your bare hands.

Same goes with anything electronic. Even something as simple as a book light just falls apart the first or second time I’ve tried to use it.

Dollar stores can save you money, as long as you’re careful.

Requesting Info From Readers

I don’t know how to set up a poll here on the blog so we’ll do this the old fashioned way. As I’ve always said, this is YOUR blog and I’d like your input, please. I’ve put together just a small handful of questions below. Please take the two minutes it’ll take to answer them in the comments. The answers you give will help me focus in on the topics that matter the most to you.

1) Would you classify your residential location as urban, suburban, or rural?

2) Are you a beginning prepper, somewhat knowledgeable, or very experienced?

3) Are you prepping mostly for potential end of the world scenarios or are you more concerned about the run of the mill sorts of emergencies, like power outages and blizzards?

4) For most situations, is your primary plan to shelter in place or to bug out from home?

My goal here is to tailor the blog content to reflect the needs of my readers. While I’ve always tried to cover a wide range of topics, I want to try and focus on the information you guys and gals want and need.


Baby It’s Cold Outside!

We’re in single digits here today, with wind chills well below zero. It is the kind of cold that seeps into your core and just won’t let go. Most of the week is supposed to be like this.

If you have to be out and about when it gets cold like this, here are some things to keep in mind.

First, while modern vehicles don’t really require being warmed up for more than a minute or two, plan ahead and allow yourself time to let your car’s interior to come up to a reasonable temperature before traveling. Personally, I just think it is safer to drive when you’re not shivering uncontrollably.

If you have a cell phone, make sure it is fully charged. If you break down, that’s not a great time to discover your phone has less than 1% battery left. Having a batter charger to plug into the car dashboard is great but don’t leave it plugged in overnight, lest you drain the car battery.

Always make sure you have plenty of blankets to keep you warm if you get stranded. A couple emergency blankets work well, but I’d go a step further and use a wool blanket over them.

Make sure you let people know when you’ll be on the road and when you expect to arrive at your destination.

There is always a danger of frostbite when the temps dip so low. Be sure to bundle up and keep skin covered as much as you can. Don’t be an idiot and use your bare hands to grab the gas pump handle or the air hose to fill your tires.

The best way to deal with cold snaps like this is to cuddle up with a good book or movie in front of a roaring fire, with a cup of hot chocolate in one hand and a loved one in the other.

New Book Announcement

While I may have mentioned a bit about this, or at least hinted at it, I wanted to make a formal announcement about the book I’m working on right now.

The working title is The Prepper’s Guide to Complete Disaster Readiness. It will be published by Ulysses Press, the same great folks who brought you Prepper’s Home Defense. We’re looking at a publication date sometime early this summer. While I’m still working on the manuscript, here’s a peek at the current Table of Contents.

Foreword by Scott B. Williams
Chapter 1 – Why Should We Prepare?
Chapter 2 – Survival Mentality
Chapter 3 – Survival Kits
Chapter 4 – Bugging out vs. Sheltering in Place
Chapter 5 – Pantry Organization and Storage
Chapter 6 – Foraging for Food
Chapter 7 – Water
Chapter 8 – Health and Wellness
Chapter 9 – Miscellaneous Emergency Gear
Chapter 10 – Security
Chapter 11 – Special Considerations
Chapter 12 – Building a Survival Retreat
Chapter 13 – Survival Groups and Intentional Communities
Chapter 14 – Long-term Disaster Recovery
Chapter 15 – Survivalism in Pop Culture
Appendix A – Additional Reading
Appendix B – Checklists
Appendix C – Recommended Suppliers

Some of those chapter titles may change as we move forward through the writing and editing process but the above should give you a good idea of what to expect.

As you can see, in addition to the basic stuff like food and water storage, I’ll cover topics rarely discussed in any great depth in other books like this, such as forming survival groups and long-term recovery planning.

I’ll be sure to keep y’all posted as we get closer to publication.