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27 August, 2014

Product Review: Utilitech LED Lantern

Not a great deal to say about this product. How much can one really say about a lantern? The label lists it as producing up to 300 lumens of light, and one thing I can say about it: it's bright. In fact, the highest setting is almost too bright. I actually can only imagine a few very extreme situations in which you would need the high setting in an emergency... like intense reading or medical triage. It's seriously *THAT* bright. It hurt my eyes; I couldn't look right at it.

Runs on three D batteries. I purchased it at Lowe's Home Improvement yesterday for $16. Definitely worth the cash for your emergency preps, in my opinion. See additional pics below, and please excuse the mess. I just got my desk moved, and I'm still partially living out of boxes.

My very dark home office. Those strange, multi-colored lights you see aren't aliens; that's a hibernating computer and the power on my UPS backup system.
Same home office, illuminated on the Low setting. Please excuse the mess.
Again, same space but this time on High.

Don't You Believe It

05 May, 2014

Medieval Survivalism: One Small-Scale Single Family Option

Previously, I laid out an idea for the construction of a hill fort that a few families could band together to build in the event of an all-out TEOTWAWKI scenario. Unfortunately, it was a bit too industrious to be tackled by a single family, trying to survive alone WTSHTF. Reader Mike Tharp, however, gave me an idea of another option that may work better in the small scale.

A simple square tower made from cinder blocks would be doable for even a single family. My advice would be to then fill in the voids in the blocks with soil and gravel, which would improve the insulation factor as well as make your shelter ballistics resistant. Make the only access lead to an upper floor with a retractable ladder, and face the door with sheet metal to keep it from catching fire. The roof would need to be metal for the same reason. Be advised: the weight of the blocks dictates that you'd need to pour a fairly substantial footer as a foundation, and you'd be crazy not to use some rebar to make things more structurally sound. 

Essentially, I'm talking about building a tower house or bastle house, such as were often built in earlier times. These were small but stout fortifications that dotted the countryside in areas that were often plagued by reivers.

To save money, a family could even build one of these as a shelter or holdfast to retreat to in times of trouble. That way, you keep living in your current home, and you don't need to build the stone structure as large. How high you want your tower built is up to your own preference, but it should basically just be sleeping space (think sleeping bags) with a small woodstove for heating and cooking, in case you must shelter inside for a few days. The bottom floor of the tower should only be accessible by ladder or stairs from the second or third floor - you don't want an entry on the ground floor, so nobody can break down that door. This bottom floor should be a storage place, kept stocked with food, fresh water, firewood, weapons, and an all-weather sleeping bag for each family member. This would layout, of course, would apply mostly if the structure is being used as a refuge, rather than a residence; and one must be prepared to emerge and discover that everything not within the holdfast has been destroyed or carried off by the marauders.

This is a small-scale idea, meant to save lives and allow you to rebuilt, not a fortified community homestead like a hill fort.

Any thoughts?

03 May, 2014

Medieval Survivalism: Why Is This Not Already A Thing?

Many of us in the Prepper / Survivalist community believe in taking care to prepare for the worst case scenario, the time we know will probably never come, but we know in our hearts that to prepare for it simply means we will be better positioned to survive and thrive in whatever lesser disaster might actually occur. What I'm speaking of, of course, is a total TEOTWAWKI situation where TSHTF in a *BIG* way and things aren't going back to normal anytime in the foreseeable future. And, in such a situation, I advocate a philosophy I'm calling Medieval Survivalism

So much of Prepper / Survivalist philosophy revolves around the idea of a family and/or a small group banding together and, basically, trying to keep a low profile, while they attempt to survive on a small, isolated retreat property. The main reason such philosophies have never really sat well with me is that you're essentially just hoping for the best. You'll keep your head down, tend the garden, and feed the chickens, and you'll be armed in case there's trouble. And, if you've practiced shooting and you have a good group, this might even work as long as you've fending off a small-scale attack, but the first time you're faced with a larger attacking force - say, 20-30 MZBs - you're going to be dead and your wife and daughters are going to be raped and enslaved and someone else is going to be living in your nice retreat house and eating from your stored food. Period. 

We are spoiled by force multipliers - electronic sights and perimeter alarms, etc. - that we believe (falsely) make us safe. I'm sure you're firearms are a great comfort to you, but the marauders who will be coming for you have guns too, and they won't be constrained by Christian morals that might lead you to, for instance, allow a wounded, retreating attacker to escape alive. That may seem like a moral action to you, but, in reality, all you're doing is allowing someone to live who knows where your retreat is located, has gauged your strength, and who is now free to return in a month leading a larger force. And what about when the ammunition is all gone and/or there are no easily-obtainable parts for repairing firearms?

In the old world, people had better sense. Even in good times, some settlements were sufficiently isolated so as to be outside regularly-patrolled areas and therefore could fall prey to bandits, etc.  And, in harsher times, any village near the sea or a major river lived under constant threat of ships full of wild, heathen Danes and Norsemen, who would go viking to pillage and rape as they pleased. In a full-scale TEOTWAWKI scenario, that's what it's going to be like again, so we would be wise to take lessons from the people who lived through those times.

Hill fort in England
What I'm referring to, of course, are fortifications. Target Hardening. If we could all build castles, that would be awesome, but none of will have the money to do that. Even poor folks like us could band together, however, and build a hill fort. Maintaining the high ground has been an essential part of military strategy throughout all of history, so my ideal retreat property would be atop a hill.

First, you dig a defensive ditch around the base of the hill. In modern times, I would suggest it be sufficiently wide and deep to be able to trap a car someone might try to use to ram the wall you're going to build around your settlement. The earth removed from the ditch is transported to the top of the hill and used to create an earthen berm. This is basically an earthwork wall as wide as your ditch and as tall as your ditch is deep that surrounds the settlement, effectively doubling the height of the hill from the perspective of someone who might try to climb it. If the property allows, you can even create multiple concentric lines of these barriers, so that any attacker must fight through multiple levels that essentially becomes a killing ground. 

One of these ditches could even be a dog run: put a bunch of big mutts in there - between your walls and the outside - feed and water them by throwing food scraps over the wall and lowering water vessels by rope. These dogs then become both part of your defense (because they won't be accustomed to people being in the ditch and will be, basically, a feral pack) as well as an alarm system. If someone tried to sneak over the walls at night, the dogs barking and growling would alert those patrolling the walls. Mind you, the dog isn't foolproof. The beasts make noise even when nothing is going on, but nothing like they would if an intruder was in their ditch. You'd have to be mindful of the difference in the sounds. Also, your dogs could be poisoned, so they do not replace the need for guards walking the walls and standing posts in the watchtowers. 

Atop the earthwork wall, you then build a wooden palisade wall or a sturdier wall of cut logs, if you possess the means to fell them and haul them into place. You can actually place a wall atop each concentric earthwork, if you've built multiple levels and if you have the means to do so. You then build a fighting platform behind the wall, which your defenders stand upon to look down on your attackers (and shoot them, throw molotav cocktails, etc.). Obviously, they'll be shooting back, but logs will stop most bullets, and even a simple wooden palisade wall can be rendered ballistics-resistant by utilizing sand bags or building the wall with fronting and backing (a hollow, enclosed box) and filling the center with gravel and rocks. 

 If you've built your fortress with multiple rings of concentric ditches, earthworks, and palisade or log walls, you can use retractable wooden platforms to move defenders between levels, allowing each concentric level to be defended then abandoned in a retreating action if overwhelmed during an attack. This would allow you to bleed an attacking force, decreasing their numbers and their morale and making their eventual retreat more likely. Remember, this is all about Target Hardening. Even a vicious gang of marauders won't want to lose men and would much rather move on to softer prey than tangle with a strong adversary. 

Leave only one narrow approach up the hillside and into your fortress, protected by a sturdy gatehouse. Making it so you can only be attacked by a few invaders at a time, and a small force could defend that approach indefinitely. Personally, I would keep a large van or bus parked inside the wall behind the gatehouse that runs just well enough to be parked in front of the gate when closed to protect your only vulnerable position from being rammed by an attacker's vehicle. The interior of the van or bus could even be modified with a woodstove install and the removal of some of the seating, creating a place where those on guard duty can get out of any inclement weather. 

Now, the area atop the hill and within the final level of earthwork and walls can thrive as a peaceful settlement. It will look like an empty bowl with the earthwork rearing probably ten feet above the ground and the palisade or log wall rising another ten feet above that, but within that space will be a secure (through probably muddy) place to raise children, garden, and thrive. 

The best sites will already have a well or a natural spring on the hilltop, and I would suggest building storehouses for food (granaries) on stilts to discourage vermin. Build cabins to live in and a communal longhouse for meals and community meetings. Build a one room schoolhouse, like the ones seen as recently as a hundred years ago, and a small church, if you are so inclined. Add a barn for tools, vehicles, ATVs, and even horses and to house the breeding pairs of livestock you keep alive through the winter to repopulate your herds in the Spring; and several tall observation towers to allow you to keep a watch over the surrounding area. Build storehouses for firewood.

Several greenhouses and chicken coops (great protein - eggs and meat - in a compact space), and small gardens can be located within the inner fortress (grow potatoes in vertical planter boxes to maximize space), but the lion's share of your crops and livestock can be grown and reared on the lands around the hill crested by your fort. Your watchtowers will provide you with sufficient warning to drive livestock into the fortress in the event that marauders draw near. You could even encourage others to live around your fort and offer them protection in return for a third of everything they grow, rear, and/or make and an oath to fight beside you in the common defense against any invaders. 

What I've described is the basis of an idea I'm currently forming to represent a new school of thought on survivalism based on the time-tested concept of Target Hardening. And, to be clear, this not something a single family would tackle (though, I suppose, it would be doable on a smaller scale).  Rather, this would be something a few families banding together might best accomplish. Building what I've described here would provide you with a fortress that 20 defenders with another 10-20 in support (ready to haul water to put out fires, etc.) could hold against 200 invaders. That's not me making a bold statement; it's a known military fact that a medieval army needed greater than 10-to-1 odds to storm and take a castle, which is why sieges were far more frequent. But you and I won't be facing besieging armies, content to sit outside our walls and starve us for months until we give up. They will be marauders, looking to rape and pillage and most of them won't fight at all, unless they think they can overwhelm you quickly and with little threat to their own lives. A biker gang or other group of thugs facing a killing field like the one I've described will, quite simply, move on to easier prey elsewhere. And, if they are stupid enough to fight, you will maul them in the meat-grinding widowmaker that is your defenses until they are no more, and people for a hundred miles around will hear of it and know you for a strength in the land that is not to be victimized, but rather feared and respected.

NOTE: For a smaller-scale family option, click here.

Both pics above are a 3D model of a hill fort that once overlooked the Danube river to guard that avenue of trade

03 March, 2014

30,000 Year-Old Virus Awakened From Siberian Permafrost

You should understand, prior to reading this, that I'm a big fan of science. I was never all that good at it in school (I'd be a Doctor right now, but I'm afraid I'd end up killing somebody), but I always enjoyed it. 

That being said, sometimes scientists are stupid. Not dimwit-standing-for-ten-minutes-pushing-a-pull-door stupid, but, rather, more a kind of oh-boy-that-was-a-bad-idea-but-now-it's-too-late-to-fix-it stupid. And, unfortunately, that's the particular brand of stupid that could end up being the end of the flippin' human race one day. 

It also just happens to be precisely the kind of stupid that came immediately to mind when I recently read about a bunch of scientists reviving a 30,000 year-old virus that was safely frozen in the permafrost in Siberia until someone decided they wanted to show off. Luckily, this particular virus is not a threat (it doesn't infect humans - until it mutates, that is), but what happens when one of these morons decides to flex his big brain to impress everybody and unthaws something truly noxious to which we have no acquired immunity?

Game over. That's what happens. Prepare accordingly.

26 January, 2014


Yeah. Because artificial trash, created in a mad scientist's lab, is safer for you than a plant. The hypocrisy is mind-numbing. They don't want you off drugs; they just want them and their buddies to have a monopoly on being your dealer.

Honor Our Heroes

24 June, 2013

Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide, Part 2

Read Part 1

Chapter 2
How Much Food to Store

When starting their food storage people commonly ask: How much food do I need? There are a few considerations to make when deciding on quantity. Each food storage type has its own characteristics so included below are some things to keep in mind when determining how much to store.

Pantry/Canned Foods:

If you decide to include pantry/canned foods such as the grocery items that you consume regularly, calculating this can be fairly simple. First figure out how much you and your family go through in a typical week. Take that number and multiply it by the amount of time you would like to have food on hand and strive to obtain that amount. Thirty days is a good initial goal.

Taking advantage of grocery store sales is a great way to quickly build up this portion of your food storage. Remember: eat what you store and store what you eat. This means don’t buy foods that you don’t normally eat just because you see them on sale. By purchasing and preparing the foods you normally eat, rotating out the oldest items in your pantry first and then replacing these items regularly you ensure that this portion of your food storage is always fully stocked and up-to-date.

Bulk Items:

When it comes to bulk foods, remember that these storage items are excellent for extending meals that you make with your other storage foods or making meals from scratch. Adding rice, pasta or beans to any meal will stretch your food dollar regardless if the meal is canned, freeze-dried or a long-term storage food, Bulk foods are also great for having everyday essentials on hand such as salt, sugar and flour. For example, you will want to store sugar if you are used adding it to your daily coffee.

When determining how much to purchase consider your family’s typical serving sizes and then buy the items based on how many times a week you plan on needing them. Having a surplus will never an issue because bulk foods can last a very long time if properly stored. Note that when purchasing bulk food items you may need to repackage them in order to extend their shelf life sufficiently for your needs.


If you plan to include MREs as part of your food storage, keep in mind their limited variety and high cost; they are best suited for short-term emergencies. MREs don’t require any cooking so put them in your go bags or evacuation packs. A case of MREs contains 12 meals. Each MRE contains 800-1200 calories so you only need about two per day. A smart goal would be to have one case of MREs per person; this will provide approximately 1 week of meals for each family member.

Dehydrated and Freeze Dried Foods

Dehydrated and freeze-dried meals are much lighter and can come in small packages for portability. These, too, could double as a bug out supply with the understanding that extra water would be needed for reconstitution.

While you can get individual food items that are either dehydrated or freeze dried, one advantage of these foods is that you can buy prepackaged meals and then all that you would need to make a tasty meal is hot water. These complete meals may not be as convenient to eat as MREs but they provide a much greater variety of meals from which to choose.

Unlike pantry food and MREs, calculating how much freeze-dried and/or dehydrated food you will need is not easy so we will guide you through it.

How much Long-Term Food is Enough?

When deciding how much freeze-dried and dehydrated foods to add to your emergency supply, the most important rule to remember is to go by calories not by serving size. Emergency food companies have different definitions for what constitutes a serving and emergency food kits are not one-size-fits-all even though they may be advertised that way. The first step is to figure out how many calories you and your family consume on a daily basis. Next multiply that by the number of days for which you want to be prepared. This becomes the minimum number of calories that you need to have in your food storage program.

Once you know how many calories your family requires you can figure out how much dehydrated and freeze-dried meals you need. Keep in mind that your daily caloric requirement changes based on what activities you are doing. For example, a hard work day cutting down trees and moving storm debris will require more calories than sitting around playing cards while waiting for a storm to pass. Its best to assume you will need more calories than less. In general teenage and adult males need 2800 calories per day, teenage and adult females require 2200 and children 13 and under use 1400. Infants require special food so plan and purchase food accordingly.

Once you have the total daily calories needed decide how many months’ worth of food you want. This is influenced by your personal comfort level. The longer period of time you can supply for the better but most people can’t afford to go out and buy a year’s worth of food without some prior planning and budgeting. The best recommendation is to start where you can. First build up a 2-week supply and then move to 30 days’ worth. Once you have that, work up to three months, then six and then a year. Build up your food storage supply as big as you need in order to feel safe and to be able to provide for your family in any disaster situation.

Watch out For Serving Size

Remember when choosing an emergency food supplier to look at the total calories in what they call a serving. Similar with our everyday food, a single serving is not enough calories to be considered a complete meal. Instead consider the total number of calories in the package. Going by our figures above an adult male needs about 2800 calories a day or 933 calories per meal.

Many people make the incorrect assumption that a serving size should contain enough calories for a complete meal. In truth, there are no standards for serving sizes; they are only suggested portions by the manufacturer.

Serving sizes are recommendations that also assume that you will also be eating other foods. Focus on the amount of calories in the whole package instead of the number of servings per package. Don’t expect an entrée meal to complete your calorie intake. Look into having snacks, drinks, fruits, vegetables, rice and other food items to help increase your daily calories. Having a variety of foods to eat creates normalcy in an emergency situation.

SUMMARY: Deciding which food storage option you need and how much to secure can be overwhelming. We have included a worksheet at the end of this document to help you develop the best food storage plan for you and your family. We will help you ask the right questions, provide you with answers and help you make the best choice.

Chapter 3
What To Store...Ingredients Matter

One common misconception about emergency preparedness is that food storage quality doesn’t matter as long as you have some food stored that will last for a long time without spoiling. Having something stored is better than nothing but it is also crucial to fill your body with nourishing ingredients during an emergency. This will keep you satisfied and in top form. Eating lesser-quality foods can leave you susceptible to sickness and diminish your mental and physical health. You are storing food to protect your family against starvation but you also want to protect them from sickness and diseases caused by harmful ingredients. Do this by knowing what goes into the food that you buy.

Long-term emergency food storage is made to last a long time. Some companies in the industry cut corners and add a variety of artificial preservatives, dyes and flavors in order to lengthen the shelf life of their foods. If you are committing to protect your family be sure to make the best, healthiest choices possible. When selecting your food storage beware of artificial ingredients. Here are other red flags to consider as you look around.

Avoid Hydrolyzed Yeast Extract and Similar Flavorings

Hydrolyzed yeast extract is a controversial ingredient found in many packaged foods and is common in food storage items. It is primarily used as a flavor-enhancer and is created by breaking down yeast cells. The FDA classifies yeast extract as a natural ingredient but according to many health experts, yeast extract is a cheaper alternative to monosodium glutamate (MSG) and actually does contain some MSG.(1) Some health and consumer advocates say that labeling something as containing yeast extract is the way food companies avoid saying that a product contains MSG.(2)

MSG has many negative side effects. Consumption of MSG has been linked to a variety of scary conditions including headaches, numbness in the face and neck, heart palpitations, chest pain, nausea, weakness, appetite control problems and other negative symptoms.(1) Whether or not you have had a sensitivity to MSG in the past, it is best to avoid this ingredient in your storage food altogether.

For a good list of other additives that are linked to MSG check out the following articles:


Consider GMO-Free Foods

When looking for emergency food it is equally important that the ingredients are free from genetically modified organisms or labeled GMO-free. The use of genetically modified foods is another controversial topic in the world of food and nutrition. It is best to avoid GMOs while the debate is still going on, particularly if this is a long-term purchase.

Genetically modified organisms are created by taking the genetic material of one organism and inserting it into the genetic code of another. This bold practice is becoming more and more widespread despite being widely acknowledged as a risky and understudied process. Many experts opposed to genetically modified foods argue that there has not been adequate testing on human subjects. Despite the increasing insertion of GMO ingredients into mainstream foods there are still too many unknowns about the health effects these human-engineered foods could have. Some health groups like the Center for Food Safety have gone so far as to claim that genetically modified foods can increase the likelihood of antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and even cancer.(3) Why put your family at risk with untested ingredients when you will have other worries to contend with in a survival situation?

Because the use of GMOs in manufactured foods is becoming such a widespread practice, very few emergency foods are free of GMO ingredients. However, there are a few companies that produce foods that are GMO-free. If this is an issue that is important to you, be certain that the emergency food is certified GMO-free. Some companies may claim to be free of genetically modified ingredients but without the certification have no proof.

Other Health Considerations

Other health considerations include checking amounts of cholesterol, trans fat and sodium in the food storage. Packaged foods often have high amounts of these three things and emergency foods are no exception. High-quality emergency food brands limit cholesterol, trans fat, and sodium amounts but you need to read the labels to be sure.

Make Sure Your Food Storage Ingredients Will Stand The Test Of Time

Emergency food should be able to last and still be healthful. As you look for the right emergency food be aware that some food storage companies haven’t done their research on ingredients that spoil versus those that keep. As a result they incorporate ingredients into their emergency food that go bad after a relatively short period of time. Canola oil, for example, will only last a year before it goes rancid, thus spoiling whatever food storage in which it is used. Novice food companies use canola oil in their granola to make the clusters stick together and uneducated food buyers end up with a worthless product after just a year.

Bottom line: it’s important to know what goes into your storage food. Take the time to do some research on the food you are buying; be sure it will contribute to the health and well-being of you and your family in a disaster.

23 June, 2013

A Rare and Precious Awakening to the True System of Control

I was talking to a family member the other day, and I had a rare opportunity to congratulate him on the very beginning stages of his awakening to the truth.

He was talking about the whole Paula Deen scandal and saying that, while what she said was wrong, it shouldn't be getting nearly as much attention as the fact that we are all being systematically spied upon by our own government and treated like criminals, without so much as a warrant being issued.

I told him that he was speaking my language; and I proceeded to explain to him that such distractions are, not only quite common, but are also done by design.

As I explained to him, the logical next step should be to pay attention to how much broadcast time or publication space is devoted to stories like that one, while more important things only get a brief mention or very small space in the publication. You can actually sit down with a stopwatch and quantify that what I'm saying is true. 

Then, research who owns all of the parent companies of all of these media outlets. Here's a hint: everything you see or hear in the media comes back to only a small number of families who control it all. These are the same people whose huge political contributions end up deciding who wins both major political Party nominations, ensuring that, no matter who you vote for, you are voting for a preapproved candidate. Whichever candidate brings in the most money is the one who always wins, and so these people just funnel their money to the ones that fit their agenda. They don't need to actually control the person in the Oval Office. They only need to make sure that whoever is elected President already has views that align with theirs. That's why Obama has continued so many of Bush's policies, and it is exactly why Romney would have done the same thing if he had been elected. They use their monetary influence to give you a false choice, and, either way, they win. 

And they they use their media to further that agenda and distract the masses in the same way Bread & Circuses were used to distract the citizens of ancient Rome. A Big Brother police state benefits the Elite, and so they don't want us talking about the kinds of things we're talking about. They'd rather we all talk about Paula Deen instead.

Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide, Part 1

Emergencies Are Real

With all the modern conveniences we enjoy, it’s easy to forget how dependent we are on these technological advancements. Most of us have free-flowing water at our fingertips, electrical power that feeds directly into our homes and 24-hour grocery stores filled with endless supplies of fresh food. This is a luxury; without warning one disaster could delay or destroy our entire food supply.

World news tells us how fragile this dependence is. The world has natural disasters that are occurring with increasing frequency and severity; continuous political unrest rages in countries across the globe; economies are failing all around us. We are constantly reminded that our fragile system is not guaranteed from failure. This system is similar to an elaborate structure made out of dominoes: the shifting of one piece can cause the whole thing to come crashing down.

As the world becomes increasingly less stable, more and more people are choosing to become educated on emergency preparedness. Like those of us at Legacy, people are learning that in an emergency situation or other devastating life event (job loss, severe illness or unanticipated disability), we cannot always rely on government or other people to step in and provide for the needs of our families. Should incident occur the only way to assure ourselves that our loved ones will be taken care of is to get prepared on our own.

If we want to take care of our families’ needs in a crisis, having a sufficient store of emergency food is the crucial first step. Food storage options seem endless. Anyone who wants to start a food storage plan may feel overwhelmed by the large amount of conflicting and confusing information on the web regarding what to store, how much you need and how to store it.

In this guide Legacy Foods outlines some basic information to help you make the best choices as you build your family's emergency food storage supply. We will specifically discuss the benefits and disadvantages of different types of food storage, common questions about how much food to store, the importance of storing healthy and tasty food and how best to store what you have. When planning your food storage you have many considerations to make; this guide will help you get started.

Chapter 1
Food Storage Types Compared

With many food storage options, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. When planning your food storage there are many questions to answer: Are cans better? Should I have bulk foods? Are MREs really a feasible food storage option? What’s all the hype about freeze-dried foods? How do I know which is right for my family?

As you navigate your options many factors will weigh in your decision. This includes: nutritional content; ease of storage and transport; cost; shelf life; taste; ease of preparation. All types of storage food have benefits and you should have some of each in your supply. Below is a summary of the different types of food storage options and their relative benefits and drawbacks.

Pantry/Canned Foods

Pantry foods are probably the most familiar type of food storage. Cans are a simple and easy way to start storing food because you can find a wide variety in any grocery store. This group also includes boxed items and other packaged foods. Filling your pantry with foods that you eat every day makes great short-term food storage because these foods are convenient to use and easy to prepare. Weekly sales are a great way to quickly build up your food supply fairly inexpensively. One added benefit of cans is that they do not require cooking and can be eaten cold if needed. These foods are ready to eat with minimal-to-no preparation. Wet-packed cans contain water or juice with the contents of the can making them beneficial if water supplies are low during an emergency situation.

Pantry goods typically have expiration dates from one to five years so they need to be rotated more frequently than other types of food storage. Many pantry foods are not packaged for long-term storage and are more susceptible to bugs and rodents. These are foods that you should eat and rotate on a regular basis; simply put the newer food behind what is already on your pantry shelf. Make sure to check for dents in cans and only buy non-damaged items so the food is not compromised. Make sure to have at least one manual can opener in case of a power outage; it would be a challenge to open canned food without one.

Cans are not a great portable option because they are heavy and bulky, making them difficult to store and pack. Boxed items are lighter but typically require other ingredients to prepare. When buying canned foods make sure to get the appropriate size. Large #10 cans are a common food storage option and seem to be a great value for your money; however, they can be a bad idea because once opened you have to consume the contents within a short amount of time or it will spoil. Choose your #10 cans wisely our you could be eating the same food item for several meals in a row, finding a way to store leftovers or dealing with spoilage. In summary, pantry foods are the first you will use in an emergency because of the easy preparation and limited shelf life.

Bulk Foods

Bulk foods are another conventional way to store food. When properly stored these dried items have a long shelf life; some will virtually last forever. Typical bulk foods are wheat, powdered milk, corn meal, dried potatoes, dry beans, corn, pasta, and white rice. Many people like bulk foods because it can be a do-it-yourself method of storage. Other items available in bulk include vegetable oils, baking powder, coffee, tea, cocoa, salt, sugar, honey, bouillon and vinegar.

Storing bulk foods is not an ideal food storage option because it takes more preparation and creative cooking to produce a variety of meals. On the other hand, bulk foods are a fantastic way to stretch out any meal and will allow you to make things from scratch. Adding rice, pasta or beans to a meal can bulk up the meal and stretch your food dollar. With wheat, yeast and salt you can make a loaf of bread. The downside to bulk food is that you will need to have an alternative cooking should you lose power or gas. You won’t be able to make much from these food items without the ability to cook, bake, boil or simmer.

Bulk foods can be difficult to store because they come in large, heavy packages or containers, some of which might need to be repackaged for long shelf life. This is not the type of food you want to carry with you if you need to evacuate your home. The biggest disadvantage of bulk food storage is that you will need to cook mostly from scratch. Keep in mind that though bulk foods may provide more food per pound, they also require longer planning and preparation in order to have a wide variety of meals.

A significant drawback to having only bulk foods in your food storage is that you are unable to make a quick meal. During the immediate aftermath of a disaster you won't have time to stop and cook for 3 hours; you will be focusing on other things and will need something you can quickly eat with little preparation.


Meals, Ready-To-Eat (MREs) are military rations. The name says it all; these full-course meals have everything in one package: entree, side dish, dessert, drink and condiments; these often include a small heating device. MREs do not require water and are the most convenient food storage option. Some people like the taste but others do not. This is what our military uses because of their high calorie content and because they are shelf stable. MREs also include a spoon, toilet paper, wet nap and salt with every meal. Because of the high calories they are an excellent choice for a bug out or evacuation situation.

Though they can be on the heavy side, MREs are a good option because they are very portable. They are the perfect food to put in your evacuation bag. MREs a great short-term, zero-preparation food to live on until you are able to get to a more secure location. The shelf life of MREs can be 5 to 10 years if stored well; after that, palatability can be affected. The greatest disadvantage of MREs is that they are very expensive and have a limited variety. They are best reserved for short timeframes.

Dehydrated or Freeze-dried /Long-Term Storage 10-25+ Shelf Life

Another emergency food option is freeze-dried and/or dehydrated foods. This type of food storage is convenient because it is delivered already packaged for long-term storage. Some foods are better preserved using the freeze-drying process; others are better dehydrated. Some companies may stick to one method while others use a combination of both in their prepackaged food storage options.

Dehydration is a long-standing method of preserving food. During this process foods are put through a low temperature chamber where up to 98% of the moisture is taken out and then the food is packaged. This dehydration process reduces both the size and weight of the food while maintaining flavor. Tests have shown that texture and color can be affected with this process. Some experts believe that nutrients are reduced during the dehydration process but others do not agree.

Dehydrated foods are lightweight and can be ideal for quick mobility in the event of an evacuation. These foods are typically not full meals but are the foods you use to make meals such as: fruits, vegetables, jerky, eggs, pancake mix, butter, tomato and cheese powder.

Dehydrating can be done at home but can be very time-consuming; storage life will be shorter without the right packaging. Dehydrating food at home can be a cost-effective way of adding to your food storage if you incorporate these foods into your everyday cooking. Professionally dehydrated foods are properly packaged and can store for a much longer time.

Freeze drying is a process of preserving food that requires high-end equipment that flash freezes fresh or cooked food. The food is then put in a vacuum chamber that remains as cold as -50° F. Minimal heat is applied and the ice evaporates without ever going back into the liquid phase. This removes almost all of the moisture from the food. Freeze dried foods make for better tasting meals because the process preserves the color, flavor, shape and texture of the original food. Because water has been removed it weighs less, making it a great portable option. One downside is the slightly higher cost than dehydrated food. Another is that since it retains the shape of the food it is also slightly bulkier to store.

Both dehydrated and freeze-dried meals have many advantages over other food storage options. Overall they are easier to store, are light-weight, take up little space and do not require refrigeration. They do require water for reconstitution so you will need to increase your water storage accordingly. These foods are properly packaged for long-term storage and easier mobility. These foods save you time because they are quick and easy to prepare. They are also nutritious and great tasting.

The main disadvantage of these types of foods is the cost. Due to the intense processes these foods undergo as well as being pre-packaged for long-term storage, the cost is higher.

SUMMARY: Study these options and decide which types can fit into your plan. Each level of food storage has advantages and disadvantages. Because of this many people choose to have a combination of the food storage types for the most comprehensive plan. Consider all the factors and store what is right for your family.

To Be Continued...

22 June, 2013

ATV Survival Guide: Increase Your Chances of Survival

You drove to go hunting in the middle of nowhere, dozens of miles from a gas station or paved road, confident you made the right decision last year when you bought your all-terrain vehicle. The electric power steering was so good that you were able to move your way over large rocks and through several muddy streams.

But now you’re stuck. Your machine has broken down and the parts are acting up. Fortunately, your pre-trip research, quick wits and all the resources at your disposal will exponentially improve your chances of survival.

Cutting Wood - 1 November 2008

Photo of ATV by Marion Doss via Flickr

Preparing To Survive

It’s easy to say, “don’t panic,” when the unthinkable happens, but this is a fundamental key to survival and often begins far before ever entering the wild. Your preparation and consideration is about to pay off.

For starters, you have an ATV survival kit which includes a diverse set of tools. Serious ATV riders who have been stranded in desolate locations knows the value of an emergency kit.

Pack a survival kit including a winch, portable air compressor, wrenches, jumper cables, a tire repair kit and extra fuel, recommends CampingATV.com. Your kit may not be identical, but chances are you've packed some, if not all, of these for your outing and now they'll become vital for getting you back home in one piece. In a best-case scenario, your kit may contain “personal survival” items including:

  • aluminum foil
  • blanket
  • compass
  • water container
  • fire starter, lighter and waterproof matches
  • first-aid kit
  • magnifying lens
  • map
  • multi-tool that includes a knife blade
  • nylon cord
  • signal whistle
  • water purification tablets

In addition, Tread Lightly! recommends bringing high-energy food, 16 to 32 ounces of bottled water per person, biodegradable toilet paper, a rain jacket, a pen or pencil, paper, a portable CB radio or cell phone, and a flashlight or high-powered penlight with a spare bulb and batteries.

How long will you be stranded? Of course, it’s hard to know, but preparing for an extended stay in the woods is essential.

ATV Survival Tips

Surviving with your machine is easier than surviving without it, even if the vehicle isn’t working.

For starters, CampingATV.com recommends that you stay with the ATV because of its size and useful components, namely the headlight which can be double as a signaling device.

Position your ATV so it will block the cold and wind. However, you should not rely on your ATV as shelter. Building a small overnight shelter is preferable to building a larger one because a smaller shelter minimizes your body’s loss of heat as the temperature drops. The ground could also lower your body temperature. Thus, you should use leaves and/or pine needles as bedding rather than the grass.

Any extra fuel can also be beneficial. Obviously, starting a fire is important to keeping you warm, but starting more than one fire could increase the chances that you will be seen. Exercise caution when starting signal flames, as a forest fire could place you in more immediate danger than your current breakdown. The rubber compound in the tires may also create thick plumes of distress smoke and flag down potential rescue teams.

Furthermore, you may be able to salvage your Honda ATV parts by using the chain and engine to craft makeshift saws, perfect for cutting through wood you may need for your shelter or fire.

Survival is all about composure and ingenuity. Keep your wits about you, prioritize your strategy and get creative; when the engine fails, the horn may still work.

5 Most Common Problems with Home Security Systems (and their Easy Fixes)

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/donsolo/4652427872/
Installing a new home alarm system is a means of escaping the anxiety of not being able to attend to the safety of your home and belongings while away or asleep. It’s not surprising then that having a security system that fails is a frustrating experience; but overwhelmingly, the causes of security breaches are absolutely preventable. Below are the five most common problems that inexperienced home security system owners encounter − along with the easy fixes to each of them.

1. Incomplete home coverage is a crucial flaw in many peoples’ security systems. Most people fail to account for all possible entries because security companies usually have tempting low-cost packages that provide a bare minimum of coverage − usually limited to a door and a few windows at most.

The Easy Fix:
As tempting as it is to be economical with your security system, it is better to make sure your system is more reliable than affordable. If a system can be easily bypassed, it may as well have never been installed. Consider all possible entries: is there a balcony accessible via ladder, or maybe a tree? Is there a crawlspace that can be exploited? Is there an entrance through the garage that isn’t secured? Consider every possibility and tailor your system accordingly.

2. Improperly calibrated and poorly maintained equipment is another common failure of home security. In order to avoid the dreaded false alarm, many people calibrate their equipment too leniently. Alternatively, equipment can fall into disrepair and become useless. Motion sensors, for example, are often programmed to exclude a few feet of crawling room so that pets cannot trigger an alarm; criminals are frequently aware of this. Sound sensors are sometimes set at too high of a threshold and can completely ignore the sounds of breaking glass. Contacts at windows and doors can be prone to failure, which may either make them highly sensitive and sound at the slightest budge or never sound at all. But surprisingly, one of the more common problems is that people simply forget to change the batteries on their equipment.

The Easy Fix:
Have a specialist calibrate your equipment and test it so that your equipment is in order and functioning at its best. If you’re experiencing false alarms for no apparent reason, it is most likely due to an equipment failure of some kind. This can be avoided with regular inspections and, when necessary, maintenance. And always keep a few extra batteries so that you’re never left without a system. Turning on a security system while the battery voltage is low is a surefire way to trigger a false alarm.

3. Using passwords for security that are easily guessed or well-known is a reckless habit. If your password is easy enough that any acquaintance can guess it, consider changing it immediately.

The Easy Fix:
Your password should only be given to people who live with you. Or, if you have frequent visitors, share only with the most trusted. Never distribute the password to people who you don’t know unless you can supervise their stay, and change the password promptly afterwards. Refrain from leaving the password written down anywhere common. Resist making the password relevant to your personal information, such as incorporating birthdates, loved ones, or hobbies. If your password can be guessed by someone who browses you on a social network, consider changing it immediately (and change your social media habits!)

4. Buying and installing security products that aren’t compatible or effective together is a bad practice that may compromise your security entirely. A tracking security camera may disrupt a motion detector; placing two pieces of equipment near each other might result in electromagnetic interference, which could disrupt either piece’s function.

The Easy Fix:
As tempting as it is to purchase something that might be on sale to contribute to your security system, it’s better to stick with one provider unless you have expertise in installing equipment or your security provider approves the addition. Hire a specialist to help you plan your system if you’re the DIY type and would rather not deal with a provider.

5. Not turning the system on to avoid false alarms is one of the more unfortunately common no-brainer ways a security system fails. 80% of calls made through security systems are estimated to be false alarms. This can be undoubtedly frustrating to families inexperienced with security systems, and the decision is frequently made to leave a system off because of the inconveniences of false alarms.

The Easy Fix:
It bears repeating: correct installation and maintenance is absolutely necessary in keeping security systems functioning properly. Investing in a security system is not the ultimate answer in defending your home, but it is a very powerful tool in your efforts. Owners of systems who responsibly manage their equipment can prevent false alarms without sacrificing their peace of mind. Following the tips above will reduce – and even eliminate – your false alarm incidents. It will also ensure that your system is working correctly when you need it most.

Author Bio:
Ben Thatcher is a DIY home security guy who blogs tips and tutorials about home security systems. He currently writes for Protect America.

21 June, 2013

Tips for Long Term Storage of Survival Gear and Food

Preparing for a natural or manmade disaster is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family in the event the unthinkable happens. While many things need to be taken into consideration when selecting survival food and supplies the importance of one aspect of the process that absolutely cannot be minimized is storage. Nothing else will undermine your efforts faster than improper or poor storage of survival gear and emergency food supplies. Here’s a list of storage best practices that you should follow to make sure your gear and food remain in top condition in case a day comes that you need them.

Keep Your Food Where You Live
Perhaps the most important thing to remember about food storage is that you need to keep it close by. I’ve seen some people suggest renting a self-storage unit to store food, but this isn’t a good idea. For starters many facilities do not allow food to be stored in their units for obvious reasons. Second, in the event of a disaster (whether natural or manmade) you may not be able to leave your home to visit an offsite location. And third, keeping your food close means you’ll have 24/7 access to it. In addition, storing your food where you sleep provides you with the best opportunity to protect it from thieves and rodents, as well as prevent it from spoiling due to heat, sun, or humidity.

Instead of utilizing a second location for food storage you should make use of a second location to store your non-essentials. If you’ve considered converting a spare room into storage for food, but realize you have too much stuff, why not utilize an offsite storage unit for that purpose? Doing so will free up space where you live and give you the option of keeping your personal belongings at the same time. Regardless of what you may think right now, I can assure you of one thing: your bin of wrapping paper or light up Santa statues won’t help you if a disaster occurs.

Store Gear in Multiple Locations
Storing your survival and preparedness gear in two locations will give you the biggest advantage if and when something happens. The first place you should consider for gear storage is your home’s garage. If you don’t have a garage, an attic or spare bedroom will do nicely. Another suggestion that I highly recommend is utilizing the aforementioned self-storage unit to store some of your gear. Having two locations to store your gear gives you an advantage because it prevents you from losing all your supplies if one location is compromised for any reason.

Additionally, if you do choose to rent a storage unit, you’ll have the option to store the larger and more difficult to move items there in case you need to leave your home in a hurry. It’s also worth mentioning that you should keep the essentials in both locations. This means purchasing two tents, two portable water purification systems, two first aid kits, etc. Although it may cost a little extra up front, the peace of mind you’ll get from the added security is well worth it.

Keep it Clean and Dry
Nothing will reduce the longevity, readiness, or quality of your food and gear faster than improper storage. Whether your main storage is at home, in the garage, or offsite at a storage facility, the best way to prevent your stuff from being damaged is to keep it clean. This means cleaning your storage area prior to placing items there, but it also means checking up on it regularly. Wherever food is stored, rodents will be a concern. Check for signs of rodents every couple of days. Place traps nearby and be sure to regularly vacuum areas of the storage room that aren’t easily accessible by broom or mop.

Aside from rodents, another destroyer of food and gear is heat and humidity. For at home storage, consider purchasing a small dehumidifier and leave it plugged in in the same room (with the door closed) as your food and gear supply. This won’t be necessary during the summer months if you run the AC constantly, but you will want to monitor the temperature of the room during the cooler months to make sure your heater isn’t making things too hot.

If you plan to utilize an offsite self-storage unit be sure to look into a unit with climate control as this will ensure your gear stays in optimal condition should you ever need to use it. An additional benefit of a storage facility is that they are specifically designed to keep your stuff in, and the weather out. Rodents are also of little concern at a storage facility so that will be one less thing you need to worry about.

While it’s true you can never be too prepared for a disaster or survival situation, you can most certainly be underprepared. Utilizing the tips above will give you peace of mind that your food and gear will be ready should the day ever come that you need to use them. Do you have experience with food and gear storage? If so feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Author Bio:
Jenny Young is a freelance writer working with Uncle Bob's self storage facility. She enjoys beautifying her home with organization projects and keeping things uncluttered through efficient storage.

20 June, 2013

A First Aid Kits’ Most Important Tool, Knowledge

One of the basic staples of your survival gear is a first aid kit. But with so many choices available from small kits that can fit into a pocketbook to expedition sized kits, choosing the right one can be overwhelming. As a result, many individuals make their decisions based on two factors, size of the kit and price. But neither of these two factors will guarantee you will have what you need in a medical emergency, for the most important tool in your first aid kit is your knowledge.

Sure, the majority of these over the counter kits will suffice for minor non-life threatening injuries, but in the event of an extended disaster, as parts of the country have already experienced, trained medical help may be a day or longer away. In such a case it is smart to follow the old adage “Plan for the worst and hope for the best.”

The intent of this article is not to list out every sort of bandage or tape that you should include in a first aid kit. You can find any number of articles online to help you with that. As mentioned before, any number of medical supplies can be found online or at your local drug or outdoor store. This article is meant to make you think seriously about your ability to use the contents of a first aid kit. Because when a serious disaster hits, it may become your only aid kit.

Educate Yourself

Even our federal government has encouraged us to have enough emergency supplies on hand to last us for several days until they can get organized and provide relief. Beyond that we are left to fend for ourselves. In the military, they say that in a stressful situation you don’t rise to the occasion, you drop to your level of training.

That frame of mind is important to consider should we ever be faced with a life threatening medical emergency. We may possess the most complete first aid kit available, but without the proper training and confidence it may be useless to us.

We wouldn’t buy a weapon and then store it away without learning how to use it effectively. No, the prudent gun owner will spend time at the gun range improving his skill and becoming familiar with his weapon. The same should be true of our first aid skills.

For starters, apply yourself to learning basic first aid and CPR. Take a class. Many are inexpensive or even free. Buy a first aid book or read through and make sure you understand the first aid manual that comes with many first aid kits. If you are inclined, take an advanced course in first aid. The knowledge and confidence you gain will well be worth the time and expense of the course.

Preparing for a medical emergency means more than having a well-stocked first aid kit, it means having the knowledge to use it. If called upon, could you wash out a deep cut and suture it up? Do you know the signs of hypothermia? Heat stroke? Such knowledge is an indispensable part of your first aid kit.

Author Bio:
Frank Nielson is a retired medical researcher who enjoys writing about being sufficiently prepared for medical emergencies. Through his writing, he is keen on helping individuals find the best wound care supplies at an affordable price.

7 Realistic Instances of SHTF Moments: Reasons to Prepare

There are a lot of people out there who poke fun at those of us who prepare for the worst case scenario. Although many of us can take it to obsessive compulsive behaviors, what is the problem with preparing for various situations that require survival to the extent of its meaning? Although a zombie apocalypse may not happen and being attacked by aliens is a remote possibility, there are many situations in which being prepared can save the lives of yourself and your family.

1. Earthquakes - While scientists continuously try to predict the nature of earthquakes, we are still a long way off from knowing when and where a quake will happen. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster is prime example of how nature can knock us down a peg. The quake shook Japan and then launched a tidal wave that consumed a great portion of the island and it happened without warning.

2. Volcanoes - There are tell-tale signs of volcano eruptions that can give us a bit of a warning before they erupt. However, Mt. Saint Helens didn't give much of a warning when the mountain disintegrated the top of its peak in 1980. One of the most feared of today is the inevitable eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera.

3. Solar Flares - The Sun sends great plumes of radiation out into space on a regular basis. If one of these larger eruptions was sent our way, it could knock out a great deal of our means for generating power and communication. As the telegraph lines were disrupted in the 1800s, imagine how an EM blast like that would affect our satellite system today.

4. Tornadoes - Every year, tornado alley experiences various tornadoes that usually wind up wiping out a small town. In some cases, these magnificent swirling vortexes take a portion of larger cities and reduce it to rubble. Even areas that were previously thought to not experience tornadoes have been affected at some point.

5. Hurricanes - Some of the most deadly of storms, hurricanes can devastate a large portion of landmass from the sheer winds they produce. Storms of this nature can leave an long lasting recuperation by the populace such as seen with Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

6. Man Made - Never underestimate the greed and incompetence of some humans. The aftermath of the explosion that rocked Texas just north of Waco in 2013 left a great deal of damage. Apartments were blasted to pieces from nothing more than the shock wave of the detonation.

7. Extraterrestrial - No, this isn't about an alien race coming down to take our resources. However, space is a shooting gallery of asteroids and meteors. In past years, humans have witnessed close calls by these massive rocks and just one landing in the right place can cause great devastation. While most of these burn up in the atmosphere, a larger and denser meteor could hit the Earth with more power than the most destructive bomb we have.

While it may be greatly pessimistic to prepare for the best and expect the worst, this line of reasoning could keep yourself and your family safe and secure. Never underestimate the incompetence of some people or the power of Mother Nature. No matter how humans try to predict and keep safe from catastrophes, chaos will always find a way to intervene within our lives. It is better to face the situation prepared than to be caught with your guard down.

Author Bio:
This post is contributed by Linda Bailey from housekeeping.org. She is a Texas-based writer who loves to write on the topics of housekeeping, green living, home décor, and more. She welcomes your comments which can be sent to b.lindahousekeeping@gmail.com.