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Monday, November 30, 2009

How people respond to an emergency situation.

Emergency situations can cause extreme amounts of physical and emotional stress. Understanding how to deal with this stress will help to reduce it’s impact and can greatly increase your chance of survival.

Your response to a Emergency situation:

The worst thing that you can do is lose your will to survive. Statistics show that 95% of people who die with psychological trauma do so within the first three days. How you respond in a emergency situation will determine your chances of survival.

Common Reactions to a disaster:

  • ANXIETY: Anxiety & Panic are both a direct result of fearing what may happen. Once panic sets in you must quickly realize that you are the one feeding the fire. Take a deep breath, tell yourself that your thoughts can’t hurt you, and start to take make a plan of action.
  • DEPRESSION: Depression in a survival situation can be a killer. Once depression sets in it becomes almost impossible to make rational decisions. You must do everything in your power to keep your mind focused on positive thoughts. Take time to congratulate yourself for even small victories.
  • HYPERACTIVITY: In the face of danger some people may become easily agitated. When this happens the victim can become easily distracted and can take actions that will be detrimental to their survival.
  • ANGER – Anger is a common response to an emergency situation. In some cases anger can be your friend. It can give you extra strength and alertness when confronting an immediate danger. In other cases it can cloud your judgment and force you to make irrational decisions.
  • GUILT – It is very common for survivors to feel a sense of guilt for surviving. Often times a survivor will dwell on what they could have done for others or blame themselves for the situation.


  • TRAIN – People who are prepared and know what to expect during an emergency situation are far less likely to fall into the traps listed above. Make sure you train with your equipment so you will feel completely comfortable during a real situation.
  • Read, Read and then Read some more. Knowledge is the key to survival, knowing what to do when the stuff hits the fan will help you keep a level head in any situation.
  • Practice Relaxation Techniques – Learning how to relax in a stressful situation is crucial to your survival. Deep breathing techniques, Yoga, and other relaxation techniques are valuable skills that you should learn.

Things to add to your survival bag or kit:

You might be a survivalist if...

My wife pointed me to this all-to-true list of signs that you might be a survivalist, over at The Survival Mom. Some of my favorites:

Your shopping list includes numbered items like .22, .308., .357 and 7.62

You can’t put your groceries in the trunk of the car because its already jammed full with emergency kits, first aid supplies, and fully-stocked BOBs.

You know what things like ‘TSHTF’, ‘BOB’ and ‘TEOTWAWKI’ mean.

You must open the door to your pantry very carefully for fear of a canned goods avalanche.

Read more >

Note: My wife pointed me to this, meaning she actually perused the site. Point your wives to The Survival Mom blog if they're at all interested--or to help get them interested--in the prepping ways!

How to Use a Solar Oven

By Alexander Sutton

Solar ovens are a superb way to cook food for the do-it-yourself type of person looking to reduce the amount of energy they use in their home and take advantage of the free resource the sun provides. These products are not only helpful to reducing the always-increasing power bills, but they are also great for reducing the carbon footprint of the individuals who use them. Ovens in the home can require an immense amount of energy to heat up and maintain temp, whether gas or electricity is used. Overtime this can mean a small, but important amount of damage to the environment. For anyone looking to lower their bills, do right by the environment, and get delicious food, these products are a great choice.

These products aren't only for the environmentally or cost conscious consumer. They are also great for the camper as well. Many of these products are designed for rural farmers living far from electricity and so they are light and portable. These same design features can be useful to the portable eater as well. Campers often can't get the same great roasted flavors when out in the woods because to carry such a large device with gas would be immensely difficult. Solar ovens solve this problem.

Just because they are solar ovens, doesn't mean that they are solar powered as most people think of it. Instead, these products generate heat by focusing the rays of the sun through special reflecting plates and a glass top. These devices greatly increase the heat inside the oven quickly. This heat is then retained and after a long enough period, the interior of the oven will have a high enough temperature to roast vegetables, meats, and even bake bread. This requires that the oven be set out with enough time to allow both heating and cooking. For many this is simply the process of leaving the oven outdoors at all times or just placing it outside early in the day.

Unlike a traditional oven, these products will not have a simple set temperature. In order to use these products effectively, the oven needs to be carefully monitored and cooking times adjusted to make sure that the food will be ready. Most foods don't require much more than heat and time, but some foods, particularly breads, do require a very specific temperature to bake correctly. This may limit some dishes, however special recipes have been developed to help people work around these limitations.

Alex Sutton lives in San Diego with his wife and two kids. For more information please visit solar ovens.

Article Source:

Related Posts:
Easy Survival Food Storage
Wallet a Little Empty? Time to Go hunting
The Art of Stalking
Americans Just Won't Prepare
3 Steps to Obtaining Maximum Shelf Life
Time to Rethink our Food Strategies?
Storing Food Without Refrigeration

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Getting Clean

something I never see mentioned here is getting clean in such a situation. There is a certain comfort in taking a bath after a day in the dirt. supposing you are bugged out for some duration you'll need to make soap. You are gonna want to wash those dirty stinky clothes too.. I thought I'd start a thread with laundry in mind, because it's what we've done so far. We are learning things about soapmaking, I mean, not just recipes, but the science behind it. I thought some of you might have knowledge to share, too, so lets stop talking about getting dirty for a while and talk about getting clean.

This recipe does call for items that are purchased, but the economy of the purchase is outstanding. This one is great for anyone looking to cut corners on the budget.. we did it and even my grody clothes come clean. We used half this recipe and made enough washing powders for 144 loads, vs. the 48 loads in a $10 bottle of liquid. We bought enough ingredients to make the whole batch for $12, but only did half to "test the water" so to speak.

12 cups Borax
8 cups Baking Soda
8 cups Washing Soda
8 cups Bar soap (grated)

Mix all ingredients well and store in a sealed tub.
Use 1/8 cup of powder per full load.

It's recipe 9 here.
and there's some good FAQ there too.

there are certain things that need to happen and some ingredients that can be found occurring naturally. I'll be exploring natural sources of this stuff in coming months.
We're also gonna be making some lye soap soon. Gonna try different fats and flower oils, like gardenia, camelia, and banana-shrub, as well as working with the wood ashes.. you gotta get dirty to get clean ;)
we have also harvested some chinaberries for making soap. they contain saponin but apparently don't make suds. You can also make a solution from them to spray on garden plants.

so lets get clean. if you have some soapmaking info to share post it up!

I'd like to primarily focus on the science of it and finding natural sources. What makes soap "soapy"? Yucca solution will get dirt off your hands and skin but doesn't make suds... this kind of info will help you more in a long-term survival situation moreso than any single recipe with no knowledge of how it works. maybe the recipe and the money savings will get folks interested tho. Try it.. you'll save money.

I put some in a spray bottle and have been using it as a scent killer. our laundry has that "airy" clean smell. I like it.

If my posts seem wildly out of place at times, stop me please lol.


Washing soda is Sodium Carbonate Decahydrate. Baking Soda is Sodium Bicarbonate. No they are not interchangeable and results will vary if substituting one for the other.
You don’t want to use a bar of soap heavy with perfumes or oils since this may transfer to your clothing (stains). They may also cause a chemical reaction with the other detergent ingredients.
You can use any soap that lists sodium palmate, sodium cocoate, sodium tallowate, etc. Just be sure you are using real soap and not detergent beauty bars with added free oils
...from that site, this is the kind of info we wanna get in here ;)

Audio Podcast: Episode-317- 18 More Overlooked Items or Skills for Preppers

icon for podpress Episode-317- 18 More Overlooked Items or Skills for Preppers: Hide Player | Play in Popup | Download

Today we discuss 18 items that I think should eventually be in the home of every modern survivalist. Some are common items that we talk about often, others are items that are often over looked or not considered “prepper items”. The key is this is NOT a complete list or even a punch list, just a group of items we should all be aware of and think about. Today’s show is a follow up to Episode 306 and we will continue to do new shows as your suggestions create new lists for this topic.

If you have items that are not on the list (other then food or guns because no one leaves those out ever) please chime in with your suggestions in the comments area.

Tune in today as we discuss the following 18 items, with few bonus items you have to tune in to hear about…

  • Baking/Cooking Skills
  • Yeast Cultivation Skills
  • Pruners/Loppers
  • Chain Saw
  • Scythe
  • First Aid Gear and a Blow Out Kit (blow out NOT bug out)
  • Cast Iron Cookware
  • Tarps
  • Nails, Screws and Lumber
  • Wheel Barrow or a Good Garden Cart
  • Manual Air Pump
  • Insect Repellent
  • Baking Soda
  • Medications (tune in to see exactly what was meant by that suggestion)
  • Traps and Trap Making Material
  • Spices and Seasonings
  • Sets of Spark Plugs and Wires for all Motors
  • A Wired Phone and Phone Book

Resources for today’s show…


Free Download - USMC Winter Survival Course

It’s that time of year and the weather has already started getting colder in many parts of the country, mine included. So take some time before you head out on your hunting trip or that last camping trip for this year and take a refresher course on winter survival.

One of the best available resources for information about cold weather survival is the USMC Winter Survival Course. This is packed with great information that everyone can benefit from and by having a copy you will be better prepared to handle a cold weather emergency. It is a large download. If you are on dial-up services you may need a friend to download the copy for you.

You can get a copy here via a secure download:

USMC Winter Survival Course (4.2MB)

Staying above the water line!


Simple Survival Tips - Pine Needle Soup

Our very existence relies heavily on a foundation that is almost entirely dependent on modern forms of transportation, electricity for power, and synthetic chemicals. Should we ever suffer a major disaster or catastrophe, many people may suffer more from simple malnutrition than anything else.

One of the simplest things to help you avoid one of the basic problems of malnutrition is to have a good source of vitamin C. Most people are aware that many dark, leafy green vegetables contain significant amounts of vitamin C and usually in amounts that are 5 to 6 times that found in lemons or oranges. But where do you find a source that is available year-round, including winter, and can be procured almost anywhere in North America?

The answer can be found in the simple pine tree. Pine trees are in a class known as “evergreens” and can be a significant source 365 days a year. They are generally resistant to the effects of drought and have few natural enemies to affect their growth. They are also very widespread throughout most parts of North America. This gives you a significant source that will be around when you need it!

By making a simple soup (or tea) from pine needles you can have a significant source of vitamin C. A small handful of fresh, green pine needles chopped and steeped in a cup of boiling water will furnish you with most of your daily vitamin C requirements. Pine needle soup is also quite tasty but the flavor will depend upon the variety of pine tree you have available in your area. You should also use the lighter colored, new growth at the end of the needles for best results. It can also be flavored with a dab of honey. It has another great benefit for you as well. Pine needle soup also makes an excellent antiseptic wound wash.

Got pine needles?

Staying above the water line!


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dealing with Waste During an Emergency Part 2

via Wikipedia

Composting Toilet

A composting toilet is an aerobic processing system that treats excreta, typically with no water or small volumes of flush water, via composting or managed aerobic decomposition. This is usually a faster process than the anaerobic decomposition at work in most wastewater systems, such as septic systems.

Composting toilets are often used as an alternative to central wastewater treatment plants (sewers) or septic systems. Typically they are chosen (1) to alleviate the need for water to flush toilets, (2) to avoid discharging nutrients and/or potential pathogens into environmentally sensitive areas, or (3) to capture nutrients in human excreta. Several manufactured composting toilet models are on the market, and construct-it-yourself systems are also popular.

These should not be confused with pit latrines, all of which are forms of less controlled decomposition, and may not protect ground water from nutrient or pathogen contamination or provide optimal nutrient recycling.


Manufactured composting toilet systems

Self-contained composting toilets complete or begin the composting in a container within the receiving fixture. Remote, central, or underfloor units collect excreta via a toilet stool, either waterless or micro-flush, from which it drains to a composter. Vacuum-flush systems can flush horizontally or upward with a small amount of water to the composter. Micro-flush toilets use a small amount of water usually 1 pint (.5 liter) per use.

Self-contained composting toilets are slightly larger than a flush toilet, but use roughly the same floor space. Some units use fans for aeration, and optionally, heating elements to maintain optimum temperatures to hasten the composting process and to evaporate urine and other moisture. Operators of composting toilets commonly add a small amount of absorbent carbon material (such as untreated sawdust, coconut coir, peat moss) after each use to create air pockets for better aerobic processing, to absorb liquid, and to create an odor barrier. This additive is sometimes referred to as bulking agent. Some owner-operators use microbial starter cultures to ensure composting bacteria are in the process, although this is not critical.

Remote, central, and under-floor models each feature a chamber below the toilet stool (such as in a basement or outside) where composting takes place. These are typically used for high-volume and year-round applications as well as to serve multiple toilet stools. Several systems are available as well as many build-it-yourself options. (See Youtube Video Below)

Build-it-yourself, site-built, and owner-built design

Site-built indoor composting toilet designs vary, ranging from rollaway containers fitted with aerators to large concrete sloped-bottom tanks.

These are not to be confused with direct outdoor composting, which typically uses a collector bucket, where each deposit is covered with sawdust or other dry organic material, with the collector periodically being hand transported to an outdoor composting bin, where it may be added to yard waste or other organic material being composted.

Operating Process

Although there are many designs, the process factors at work are the same. Rapid aerobic composting will be thermophilic decomposition in which bacteria that thrive at high temperatures (104-140 °F) oxidizes (breaks down) the waste into its components, some of which are consumed in the process, reducing volume, and eliminating potential pathogens.

Drainage of excess liquid or leachate via a separate drain at the bottom of the composter is featured in some manufactured units, as the aerobic composting process requires moisture levels to be controlled (ideally 50%): too dry, and the mass decomposes slowly or not at all; too wet and anaerobic organisms thrive, creating undesirable odors. This separated liquid may be diverted to a graywater system or collected for other uses.

An approach that is becoming more common is the dry toilet, or urine-separating toilet. Where solar heat is used, this might be called a solar toilet. These systems depend on desiccation to achieve sanitation safety goals features systems that make use of the separated liquid fraction for immediate area fertilization.

Urine can contain up to 90 percent of the nitrogen, up to 50 percent of the phosphorus and up to 70 percent of the potassium present in human excreta. In healthy individuals it is usually pathogen free, although undiluted it may contain levels of inorganic salts and organic compounds at levels toxic to plants.

The other requirement critical for microbial action (as well as drying) is oxygen. Commercial systems provide methods of ventilation that move air from the room, through the waste container, and out a vertical pipe, venting above the enclosure roof. This air movement (via convection or fan forced) will vent carbon dioxide and odors.

Most units require manual methods for periodic aeration of the solid mass such as rotating a drum inside the unit or working an "aerator rake" through the mass. Composting toilet brands have different provisions for emptying the finished product, and supply a range of capacities based on volume of use. Frequency of emptying will depend on the speed of the decomposition process and capacity, from a few months (active hot composting) to years (passive, cold composting). With a properly sized and managed unit, a very small volume (about 10% of inputs) of a humus-like material results, which can be suitable as soil amendment for agriculture, depending on local public health regulations.


Dealing with Waste in an Emergency

One subject that probably isn't talked about enough is sanitation. As preppers we are preparing for the likelihood of being without a food and water source. We have our water stored for cooking and drinking but what about sanitation? All the conventional ways of getting rid of human waste rely on electricity and most importantly, running water. Without these sanitation is going to become a real issue in an emergency situation, especially if it's a situation that's going to last a while.

This is something that homeowners should be concerned with. How are you going to get rid of your waste without being able to flush the toilet? Probably the best option for homesteaders and preppers alike is building a working outhouse. People used outhouses for years. They could be a good thing if the grid ever went down. To build an outhouse you first want to choose a location that is 50 - 150 ft. from your home. This is to keep the smell at a minimum. A hole should be dug around 5 ft. deep and up to 3 ft. in diameter. A small building should be constructed on top of the the hole. Vent pipes should be ran from the pit to on top of the roof to vent the methane gas that would build up.

It might seem pretty primitive but if the grid went down it's going to be one of your only options to get rid of your waste. A well built outhouse would last years and with a 5 ft. deep pit your going to always be in a constant cycle of decomposition which shouldn't ever fill up. The outhouse would need to be well built and sealed up good around the pit itself. Outhouse specific toilet seats can be purchased to seal the pit and keep bugs and the smell down as much as possible. When people used outhouses they would sprinkle lime into the pit to aid in decomposition along with keeping the smell down. If you are a homesteader, you might want to look into building one of these if you expect the grid to go down for any length of time. Below is a diagram of an outhouse to give you an idea of how to build one.


Wrapping Up, With Blankets

As snowflakes begin to frequently drift down, my wife begins her odd seasonal transformation from warm, to cold-blooded being. I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with this process, but it is the true mark of seasonal change around my home. Appendages seem to have ice permanently on them, and thus have an odd habit of always finding their way to me, which is cause to no small amount of distress.

With that in mind, we have discussed what else we can do in my family to increase our ability to stay warm inside (because my wife sure doesn’t want to go out). Beyond just comfort in the dark months, my southern CA native wife is petrified of the idea of being without power/heat, and our ability to deal with that.

So among our Winter preparation (and Christmas present) plans, we’ve been looking at improving all things snuggly in the house. We want to focus on making sure we can stay warmer during the night, especially since our home does not have any form of off-grid heating beyond our portable means. With three children, we want to make sure they are well covered, and avoid the need to share our bed.

With that in mind, I figured it would be good to make a post about some of the factors we’ve considered in outfitting our home with more blankets. From purchasing to fabricating, there are several things you need to look at when selecting yours.


One of the first things to discuss about blankets is the material they will use. Different materials can make a lot of difference in how well they work, how much they cost, and whether you are willing to use them.


Most of us likely have cotton sheets on our bed, and for good reason. It’s really comfy, and often cheaper (unless you are buying something really fancy). You also likely have blankets that incorporate some amount of cotton exactly for those reasons. Whether it’s the outside of a comforter, or making up a quilt, cotton is common, and very useful to have something comfortable. There are some cons to cotton however; the main being that it does not work well if it gets wet.


Modern textiles such as Polyester, Acrylic, and others are attempts to reproduce many of the features of cotton, at a cheaper price. They often avoid problems such as shrinking when washed, but are not always as nice as the real thing. The main liabilities I’ve seen to these are often fragility because of cheap construction, or that they can melt if they get too close to flame. This of course is more of an issue if you think about candles or lanterns being used in an emergency.


Microfleece, Polarfleece, and related fabrics are a modern synthetic material that was developed as a synthetic alternative to wool. While it might not surpass wool in all areas, it does very well in a lot. It also has several advantages in it’s own right. Fleece itself is comparatively inexpensive to wool, is Hydrophobic, very lightweight, and allows perspiration to pass through even when wet.

However, it is not perfect. Being a petroleum-based product, it is flammable so make sure you get something to treat it for fire resistance. It also easily generates a lot of static electricity, so be careful when wearing it and dealing with any fuel sources. Also there are varying qualities of material, and cheaper ones can easily tear, pill, and generally fall apart.


Wool has been the king of cold-weather gear forever, for very good reasons. Nature has created a perfect form of winter protection from each of the animals we might get wool from to protect the wearer. Wool can keep you warm even when wet, if frozen can be the best wind protection you can get, and more. As for cons, I know my biggest one is that most wools, especially cheap ones cause me to itch until I’m losing skin, and of course the cost for good wool is astronomical.


One thing we’ve done to help our blanket situation is make some of our own. Now we don’t have the room to set up for quilting, much less the long time to dedicate to it. But if you do, that’s one of the amazing skills that could do your family a lot of good. Barring the quilting lifestyle, we’ve learned some other types of blankets we can make with our lower skill level. My wife has a favorite type of ‘no-sew’ fleece blanket that she has produced for several of us, and quite a few Christmas presents. And seriously, there isn’t much better on a nice snowy Christmas morning that opening up a warm comfy blanket! For the cost of whatever size and type of fleece she wants to get, she can quickly make something that our kids can each keep on their bed (and do they ever love theirs), and keeps them quite warm for just a single blanket.


One of the more popular types of often homemade blankets that I remember from my childhood in the Afghan blanket. These are crocheted or knitted blankets of yarn. While they don’t score points on the windproof scale (large holes in the design), they are wonderful additions when layering on a bed, or having around on the couch.


Mrs. Bill Stagg with state quilt, Pie Town, New Mexico (via WikiMedia Commons)

Mrs. Bill Stagg with state quilt, Pie Town, New Mexico (via WikiMedia Commons)

Now quilts, these scare me. Why? Because have you ever encountered quilters talking shop? Listen, I’m one of those hard-core computer geeks that loves to get into the details of what he does, and I’ve got nothing on some of the quilters I’ve known. If my wife got the quilting bug, my office would be quickly taken over to make room for the construction of quilts.

That said, this old-world craft is an amazing skill, producing some of the best blankets there are. In my non-quilting-certified summary, a quilt is basically a sandwich of material, a shell filled with ‘batting’ (the nice stuffing inside). They can be sewn or tied together following a couple different styles, and the work going into them tends to drive people to really invest some quality time in creating wonderful patterns and designs in the quilt itself.

And for any of you readers that are of the quilting lifestyle, hey, we’d love your article submissions about it!

Our youngest daughter has a beautiful quilt given by her grandmother, it’s an excellent example of how a blanket (quilt in this case) can be a practical gift.


While we *love* our homemade blankets, we do want more. Just a single blanket is nice in the winter when the thermostat is still keeping things at that point where my wife just *grumbles* about the temperature. However in a time of need we will require more. So we’ve been shopping around for potential family Christmas presents with blankets in mind. Here are a few types to consider.


The armies of the world have been making various types of wool blankets for years to keep the troops warm during the ‘cold’ war. And of course, these are now all available throughout the internet, and the various catalogs and surplus stores everywhere. Prices have gone up over the years on these, but there are still many types around in the sub $20 range, but they can vary greatly. Most of these will be the common twin size, perfect for an individual bed, stuffing in your sleeping bag, or similar usage. I took one with me to college and kept it under my fitted sheet, keeping the underside a little warmer.

What you need to look for in a surplus wool blanket is first, how used is it. Some are new, some, not so much. And it is wool, so you have to be careful cleaning it. After that, check out what type of blend it is. Different countries used different amounts of wool, from 50%, to some even 100%. What makes up the other amount? Some are cotton, some might be synthetic. If you are planning on taking this camping in the snow, avoid a cotton one of course. The price of the blanket will often reflect the wool percentage, which then also effects the overall weight, form 2.5lbs, up to 4 on a single twin sized blanket.

But maybe you want something a bit larger, or like me, you really want something a lot more comfortable. The wool quality in the surplus blankets sure isn’t Cashmere or anything nice. So while we have some of these blankets, we want a little more. This goes doubly so when my wife explains that ‘dirty gray’ surplus colors just don’t go with the decorations she has planned.

Hudsons Bay

4 point hudson Wrapping Up, With BlanketsThe king of the wool blankets is the legendary Hudsons Bay blanket. These blankets were created by the Hudsons Bay corporation, and used by mountain men when trading with natives. They are the ones who came up with a standard point system that is still used today. Each blanket would have a series of bars sewn into a corner defining what size/weight the blanket was.

Nowadays the blankets are a licensed brand, made in the US by Woolrich. You can pick from the original colors, or they of course have fancier newer designs to fit every form of chic my wife wants. What is nice though, is that with the shockingly high price tag that I see, I can always remember that they actually use those really nice types of wool that aren’t cheap enough for the military. As somebody who gets hive’s from wrapping in a surplus blanket, I like that I can cuddle with one of these, and actually feel comfort. They also last forever, of a quality level that you can have with your through the years, much like good quilts can get handed down between generations.

31H%2B8N6xlGL. SL110  Wrapping Up, With Blankets

Woolrich Hudson’s Bay Multi Wool 4 Point Blanket


While Hudsons Bay brand is a well known name, there are some other manufacturers creating blankets of similar quality (but also price) out there. Reputable manufacturers such as Pendleton have equally comfortable coverings in a variety of styles. Before buying from a different manufacturer than one of these well-known brands I would try to find a local source to get an actual feel for the blanket. If I’m spending that much money, I have to make sure it’s worth it, and not just slightly above surplus material, steel wool, or carpet feel.

Down Comforters

Another important addition to the blanket world is the comforter. From the ultra-cheap, purely synthetic, to fancy down-filled these puffy bags of air are important. Why? because they work, that air in there is holding in the heat, which is why sleeping bags have used them as a basis for years. Down, like wool, has been used because it is what nature created for the purpose. It was a natural resource that farmers could harvest each year to get warmer. Modern synthetic versions can improve in certain respects, by providing less expensive alternatives for those of us with realistic budgets, as well as being able to clean them at home.

Electric Blankets

I can’t go without mentioning this. This is one blanket that my wife considers one of the greatest gifts I ever gave her. Every Winter night I get a nice reminder of how amazing the blanket is. Now, is an electric blanket something we can just count on for emergency preparedness? Of course not, if the power goes out, then it’s just a slightly thin fleece blanket. However, the blanket is very useful for the preparedness-minded person in other ways. First off, with the blanket on our bed we are able to lower our thermostat to a much lower level than we used to, heating only our bed itself is a far better deal than heating the whole house. This practice is something that is very good to get used to, because it helps you conserve your resources far better in the event of a real emergency.


Of course most of our blankets wind up covering us on the bed during the winter, but remember to always have some extras. If you are comfortable with your blankets when the heat is on, you’ll obviously need more when there is no power. But there are also other uses you might want some for. I keep an extra surplus blanket in my car kit during the winter, in case I get stuck. Not only is it great to keep you warm if you are stuck in the car, but a cheap surplus blanket is a great thing to kneel down on when changing a flat tire on the side of the road. I’ve even wound up using one for extra traction on a very stuck car, and while very hard on the blanket, it actually stood up just fine to the abuse.

The blankets are also great to help cover windows, or doorways to enclose rooms in your house to retain heat during a power outage. This segmenting/partitioning lowers the actual area you need to heat, and the thicker the sheet (like wool), the more efficient it is.

After spending so long typing this, I think I now hear the ominous sounds of the jaws-theme, as my wife approaches with ice-clad hands and feet. So before their more than magnetic attraction to my natural heat production causes me to shriek in pain, let me finish by encouraging you too to look into adding to your selection of warmth retaining bedding. From surplus blankets, to ultra-high-end wool blankets, homemade fleece, to large quilt projects, there is a vast selection of blankets that you can add to your bed. Or in this season of giving, why not consider a blanket. An emergency preparedness item that can go well even with the most uptight person you know.


Friday, November 27, 2009


A couple of weeks ago, my dear friend Kris shared this wonderful recipe for Dutch Apple Pie, made entirely from food storage ingredients. With a ten year old can of dehydrated apples already sitting on my kitchen counter


and my twelve year old hungry for an after-school treat, I thought this was a perfect recipe for Lizzie to try. Now, you may notice that the apples look a bit odd, after 10 years of storage, but don’t be scared. These babies are supposed to last 30 years…even if their appearance and texture has changed a bit. TMI?


Storage Ingredients


4 cups dehydrated apples, firmly packed

4 cups water

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Bring water to a boil in a 3 quart pan. Add apples, stir and let stand for 5 minutes. Add sugar, flour and cinnamon to apples. Cook, stirring constantly until thick and bubbly. Pour into an oiled or sprayed 7 x 11 inch pan. (We buttered our pan, because we could.) The main difference I noticed about this recipe was that in preparing the apples this way created a very VERY luscious, almost caramel-like, filling.



1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup butter

Cut butter into flour and sugar until crumbly.


Sprinkle crumb topping over the apple filling.


Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 55 minutes.


Serve hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or half and half.


WE LOVED THIS DUTCH APPLE PIE!!! If you have dehydrated apples in your storage you should definitely try this recipe. If you don’t have dehydrated apples in your storage,

get some.

Forth Half - Water

This is the forth half of the post on water. You will find links to other bloggers and websites about the subject for this week.


Everyday Prepper - Water Storage

Everyday Prepper - Water Purification

Wretha's Adventure Living 100% Off Grid - Pix of the Water System, Concrete Walls, ...


Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E. - How to Find Water and How to Make Water Safe to Drink

Emergency Treatment of Drinking Water at Point-of-Use

Oregon State University - Chlorine Disinfection

Scribd - Importance of Water in Survival Situations

WELL - Fact Sheets

Well - Household Water Treatment, Storage and Handling

Third Half - Water


This is the third half of the post on water

Primitive Methods of Finding Water
Some folks are planning to bugout. Depending on the threat, that might be a good or bad choice. Either way, you are going to have to have water.

Since water weighs 8.5 pounds (18 kilograms) a gallon, you can't carry all of your water for a multi-day trip, if you're walking, so you are going to have to find water on your journey.

Hopefully, you have preplanned routes, so you can get a map, ahead of time, for your route. These maps will show you ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers.

If they don't, you will have to find them then mark them on the map. Once you know where these water features are located, you will be able to use them as you travel.

More Later


How Stuff Works - How to Find Water in the Wild

Wikibooks - Outdoor Survival/Water

Second Half - Water

This is the second half of the blog about water. You will find videos/podcasts, instructions, and other information about the subject for this week.


Disaster Preparedness-Water Supply

Water in the Wilderness - Part 1

Discussion on Water Filters:

How to Build a Rain Barrel:

Rain Barrel-Three Minute Gardener


Make a Funnel out of a 2-liter Bottle:
Take a sharp knife and cut around the outside. Ta Da! You have a funnel to fill smaller containers from bigger containers.

Boiling Water with a Piece of Plastic:
First, you need to build a fire.

Next, place rocks that you can easily lift with a forked stick or two sticks into the fire. Make sure the rocks were collected from a place that does not hold water or is covered with water. The rocks will exploded if taken from a stream, river, pond or lake.

Let the rocks heat for awhile.

While the rocks are heating, dig a hole then line the hole with a piece of plastic. Next, fill the plastic-lined hole with water that has been allowed to settle.

Once the rocks have been heated; take the rocks out of the fire with the sticks. Be careful, the rocks are very Hot!

Place the rocks in the water, and step back real quick. Once the rumbling has stopped the water should be boiling hot.

Make sure the hot rocks do not touch the plastic sticking out of the water. It will melt the plastic. The reason the hot rock doesn't melt the plastic, below the waterline, is because the boiling water keeps the rock off the plastic until it has cooled.

Other Information:

Another Method of Making a Water Filter
Alpha Rubicon has an article on making a Home-Made Berkey Water Filter by Daire. It is a variation of the gravity filter; I talked about in Week Four-Water. The article can be viewed at

Daire's pictures are excellent. Notice the nuts to hold the filters tight while the filters are still laying on the bucket lids. One change I would make, would be to put two blocks of wood between the upper and lower buckets. I would do this because I don't want the nuts to have to hold 40 pounds of water.

Drinking plain water can become boring, especially for younger members of your family. To help them, and you, to drink enough water, you want to store some drink mixes like Kool-Aid, Crystal-Lite, Propel, Gatorade, and hot chocolate.

We are not coffee drinkers, so we don't store coffee even for barter. If you are, you might want to store some for youself and other coffee drinkers in the family.

Week Three - Water


Obtain 1, 2, or 3 liter plastic soda bottles from your friends and/or family. Rinse well inside and out with tap water, make sure you rinse the bottle cap too. Then fill with tap water. Put the cap back on the bottle then store in a dark place, like a closet or basement. You need six 2-liter bottles, for one person, for a three day supply.

Blog Post:

O.K., you did your homework and made a threat analysis. Now look at the list; you will notice most of the situations/problems will require the same basic supplies to survive.

The most important is breathing. I will be covering this subject in a couple of weeks, so I will be writing about the next most important, water.

Humans are made up of about 75% water. Start losing water and you begin to feel thirsty. If you lose more water, you feel lousy, run-down, irritable, etc. Lose enough and you die.

Depending on the weather, how hard you are working, and other conditions, you have about 3 to 5 days before you die from lack of water.

One way to prevent this untimely death is to store potable water. Potable water is just a fancy term for water that you can drink and put in a pot to cook with.

One way to store water is to throw money at the situation/problem. The way to do that is go to the local store and buy a few cases of bottled water.

Another way is go to a discount retailer or sporting goods store and buy water containers.

You will need at least one gallon of water for each person; each day you are planning to have supplies for an emergency. An example: One person preparing for a 3 day emergency needs at least 3 gallons of water.

Remember me writing about opinions. FEMA says you should have supplies for at least three days. Some people advocate having enough supplies for at least two-weeks. Me, I say to have 30 to 60 days of water for each person, but this amount depends on how much space and how much money/effort you are willing to spend.

A second method of storing water is to save your money and use recycled containers. The preferred containers are 1, 2, and/or 3 liter soda bottles. These bottles work great, easy to carry by almost everybody, rugged, and easy to obtain. Avoid using plastic milk jugs.

Don't believe me.

Take a water-filled milk jug and a filled 2-liter bottle, hold at head height, and drop. Make sure you do this outside on the concrete and backup real quick.

Another recycled container you can use is used 5-gallon buckets. Many different items come in these buckets like cake icing, berries, pickles, sauces, and other food items. You can get these buckets from school cafeterias, bakeries, or grocery stores.

Do Not, Don't, Never use buckets that have contained non-food items like asphalt, paint, and chemicals. The same goes for buckets that you don't know what has been in the container.

Another used container for water is the 55-gallon barrel. They come in a variety of colors. I try to stay with the blue, white or natural plastic colors.

No matter which type of container, new or used, you use; you will need to clean the container and treat the water.

To clean the bottle, bucket, or barrel just rinse with tap water using a garden hose and spray nozzle or your kitchen faucet. Insure all solids and residue are removed from the inside and outside of the container, don't forget to clean the lids.

Some people say to use a power washer for cleaning your containers.

I disagree!

Unless it is your brand new, never used, power washer, unknown chemicals such as soaps, waxes, or other cleaners have been used in the power washer.

Some used 55-gallon barrels have had soda drink syrup in them. Try as hard as I can; I can't initially remove the taste. I have found rinsing then filling the barrel with water and letting sit for a few weeks then emptying then rinsing and filling again helps.

Make sure you store your water supplies in a dark place or covered with a tarp, this prevents algae growth in the water.

To pretreat the water, I use unscented chlorine bleach. Clorox brand bleach with at least 5.25% sodium hypochlorite has been the standard for years, but Clorox changed the formula. I now use a different brand, but it still has at least 5.25% hypochlorite with no scents or soaps. You will have to read the label to find this information.


Using bleach, that is newly purchased, with at least 5.25% hypochlorite, to treat your water.

4 drops per liter/quart
An example: one 2-liter bottle gets 8 drops of bleach

1 teaspoon/5 mL per 5 gallons
An example: one 5 gallon bucket gets 1 teaspoon of bleach

1/4 of a cup/50 mL per 55 gallon barrel
An example: A 25 gallon barrel gets 1/8 of a cup of bleach

The above recommendations are used to pretreat the water for storage. Some people will tell you it is unnecessary to pretreat tap water. Remember the opinions.

Storage water should be rotated at least once a year. Rotating insures that you have a reasonably fresh supply of water. I like to do this in the summer. It is warm outside and there is extra chlorine in our municipal water supply (tap water).

The next step is to decide on what type of storage containers you are going to use. The #1 plastic, the recycle code found on the bottom of plastic containers, soda bottles are lightweight and anyone can carry one, even small children. 5-gallon jugs or buckets weight about 40 pounds/20 kilograms, and a 55-gallon barrel weights over 400 pounds/200 kilograms when full.

I have found placing 2-liter bottles in cardboard boxes is a great way of storing water. The boxes allow me to easily stack the bottles and protects the water from light.

Some of the 5-gallon water jugs you buy at the sporting goods store have little stacking ridges on the top and bottom of the jug to allow them to be stacked one on top of the other.

The 55-gallon barrels allow me to store a lot of water, but once you decide where they will be stored and are filled, you have to empty the barrel before you can move it again.

If you decide to store water in a 55-gallon barrel, you will need a way to remove the water, remember 400 ponds of water! If you decide to buy a pump for the barrel, there are a variety of them.

One pump, least expensive, is the siphon pump which is a piece of plastic hose with a small colored finger pump on top to start the siphon. There is a faucet pump; it looks like a faucet with a push down handle. This pump screws into one of the opening on top of the barrel. The last one I know about is the pitcher pump. The type you see next to the sink in older rural homes.

If you don't get a pump, you can siphon from the barrel using a length of garden hose. Cut a piece about 6-8 feet long. Place one end of the hose in the barrel and suck on the other end. When the water starts to flow, quickly move the end you were sucking on to the container on the floor. Make sure you put the running water in another clean container like a bucket. If you plan to do this, make sure you practice, and you have a dedicated piece of water hose for using to siphon water.

All of your storage water should be placed on pallets. Pallets allow air to circulate around you storage items. For water, the pallets also allow you to see if a container is leaking. I put a piece of cardboard with a layer of aluminum foil over the cardboard on the pallet before placing my bottles/barrels of water on the pallet. Just because.

Before I start writing about collecting water, I want to tell you about water bladders. Bladders are flexible containers that hold anywhere from 30 ounces to thousands of gallons. Some people know about water bladders because they use Camelbacks or Platypus bags. I have used bladders that held about 500 gallons.

Yes, just like barrels, you set the bladder in place and don't move it until the bladder is empty. I tell you this because you could put a bladder under your bed; additionally, there is a bladder that will fit into a bathtub. It is to be filled during the early stages of an emergency.

Another way to prevent dying from lack of water is to collect it. There are many ways to collect water, solar stills, plastic sheets catching rain, dedicated rain catchment systems, etc. I will write about a few of them. If you do a key-word search on the internet, You can find other unique ways of collecting water.

One method of collecting water is to collect water from sources within your home. These sources are your hot water heater, toilet tank, not the bowel, and the water pipes.

To collect water from your hot water heater, turn off the heating element (electric or gas) and your water at the main shut-off. Let the water cool; it can be hotter than 120F. Open the spigot and catch the water in a clean container.

To drain the water from your pipes, turn off the main water shut-off valve, then open a faucet at the highest point in the house. Find the lowest water spigot in the house and open, allowing the water to run into a clean bucket or other clean container.

If you have a water bed, to bad, the plastics used make the water non-potable. You will have to treat the water, but there is only one way I know of to treat this water. You will have to construct a water condenser/distiller.

The water bed's water is removed and the water is heated. The water evaporates leaving behind the chemicals as water vapor is produced. The water vapor condenses on a piece of glass, smooth metal, or plastic sheeting. The water runs down the collector and is collected in a clean bucket or other container. The set up is similar to a solar still.

Solar stills are a classic way of collecting water. You have probably seen it in most survival manuals. You dig a hole. Put a container to collect water in the bottom of the hole, then form a piece of plastic sheeting into an inverted cone that covers the hole. The sun shines and evaporated water collects on the plastic. The water very slowly runs down the plastic and drips into the cup.

The survival manual usually forgets to tell you to put a small stone in the bottom of the plastic to hold the plastic in a cone shape over the cup and a length of clean tubing, rated for potable water. The tubing sits in the cup and runs out of the solar still. This set up allows you to drink the collected water without disturbing the solar still.

Solar stills work, but you have to remember; you are looking to produce one gallon of water a day, just for you. I have heard it takes about 20 of these for one person.

The solar still can be supercharged by urinating into the hole, avoid peeing into the drinking cup, adding green plant material in the bottom of the hole, or putting non-potable (can't put in a pot to cook with or drink it, the opposite of potable) water in the hole before covering with the plastic.

If you supercharge the solar still insure the non-potable water or plants never touch the plastic. If it does, the water collected will be contaminated.

I can't urge you enough. Don't contaminate your clean equipment and potable water. One drop of non-potable/dirty water can cause severe medical problems.

A modified method is skipping the hole and just putting green plant material in a plastic bag. Set the bags in the sun and water will form on the plastic. If you use this method, make sure you use food-grade bags and avoid poisonous or harmful plants like Poison Ivy.

Another method of collecting water is from rain. The simplest method is putting out plastic sheeting just before a rain shower. The rain collects in the plastic and you put the collected rain in a container. If everything is clean, before you start, you don't have to treat the water, Maybe. Remember about opinions. I have used this method. I didn't get sick, but maybe you will.

So you should treat the water you drink. "Emergency Water Purification" in the links below has the accepted methods of treating collected water.

Lastly, you can purchase a water filter. Below are pages of evaluations on portable water filters. The best portable filter, in my opinion, is the Katadyn Pocket. It has problems, but it filters almost everything, for a price.

The best, once again in my opinion, base camp type filter is the Katadyn Drip Ceradyn. The Swiss designed it, manufactured it, and tested it. They planned to use the filter to help survive a nuclear war. Need I say more.

Second up is the British Berkefeld filter. It works on the same principle, but doesn't filter as well as the Katadyn filter, according to test results.

If you don't want to spend the money to buy a Ceradyn or a Berkefeld, you can jerry-rig a work around.

Buy two to four Katadyn Ceradyn filters, the British Berkefeld filters also work. Take three food grade buckets and three lids.
Cut out a hole in one lid so a bucket will fit a litle less than half way in the lid. Put the bucket through the hole then caulk, using food-grade silicon caulk, around the seam of where the bucket goes through the lid. Let dry. Label this set up, on the bucket, Untreated/Dirty water.

Next put the lid and bucket combination on a bucket. Label the bottom bucket Potable Water, Treated Water, or Clean Water.
Now here comes the hard part. Take the untreated/dirty water bucket and drill two to three hole in the bottom of the bucket. (Depending on how many filters you are going to use) The holes should be the same size as the treads on the filters.

Put a tight gasket, from a hardware store, on the treads of the filter then screw the filters into the holes of the bucket. Put another gasket on the treads sticking through the bottom of the bucket then a washer to compress the gasket and then add a nut to tighten everything up.

Test for leaks using potable water! If it leaks redo the washers and gaskets.

Label the third bucket Non-Potable/Dirty Water. The third bucket and lid are used to settle and/or transport collected water to the filter. The extra lid is used to cover the clean water bucket when filled with treated water.

To use, fill the third bucket (Non-Potable/Dirty Water bucket) with dirty water and let the water settle. Pour the settled water into the top bucket, don't let the junk in the bottom of the third bucket get out.

When you are pouring the water into the top bucket, make sure you don't overfill the top bucket, it may spill over contaminating the clean water bucket; additionally, fill the top bucket one-quarter to halfway full. This prevents the filtered water from touching the bottom of the top bucket.

Once the non-potable/dirty water goes throught the filters, the water is ready to drink. Some people say to put a few drops of bleach in the filtered water, just in case.

When the bottom bucket is full, remove the top bucket with the caulked lid and cover the bottom bucket with the lid for that bucket. Use a dipper or ladle to take water out of the potable water bucket.

When pouring water into a drinking container, such as a glass or canteen, don't let the water fall back into the water bucket because the water might get contaminated from a used glass or cup.

Make sure you read and download the rain water catchment manuals. After you do that, I'll ...

See you next week!



Fact Sheet: Water Storage Before Disaster Strikes:

New Information from the American Red Cross:

An Example of Some Water Bladders:

A Source for Water Tanks:

A Source for Buckets, Barrels, and Other Plastic Items:

Hawaii's Rain Catchment Manual:

Texas' Rainwater Harvesting Manual

Emergency Water Purification

Portable Water Filter Reviews

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Hiking – Tips For a Great Hike With Your Dog

Most dogs love going for a walk and they will love hiking as well. Dogs are an important part of your family so why not bring them along on your next hike too.

There are some tips to consider when hiking with your dog:

• First, start taking your dog on longer and ever longer walks in your neighbour and local parks. Some dogs may be a little overweight and will take a little conditioning prior to the first hike and to toughen up the paws.

• For your first hike consider the terrain (how rugged the trail is), distance along the trail. During the hike keep a steady and not overly fast pace.

• Bring along a toy, ball or something familiar to the dog which can provide comfort. While some dogs like the new scents they will discover during the hike others can become nervous.

• Your dog will need to be trained how to behave in the outdoors. No jumping on the other hikers or barking at whoever you meet along the trail.

• Bring along a leash, it may be required or recommended in some rugged, busy sections.

• Be aware of any plants and wildlife you may encounter along the hiking trail. You do not want the dog running through a patch of poison ivy as the oil can stick or chasing a fox or bear.

• Your dog must respond to your voice commands for the dogs safety.

• A good idea is to dress your dog in a brightly coloured coat so they can easily be seen in the woods

• Make sure their rabies inoculations are up to date.

• Be sure to pack some plastic bags and scoop up after your dog keeping the trail clean.

• Also in your pack carry water and food for the dog, they need energy for the hike too. Do not permit your dog to drink water from the streams and lakes along the way as the water may contain microscopic contaminants.

• In your first aid kit carry items for cuts and other emergencies that may arise.

Finally, respect that many other hikers are looking for a wilderness experience so carefully consider which trails for your hike. Hiking with your dog is best on trails located near populated areas. Respect any “no dogs allowed” signs you see along the hiking trail.

Have a fun time with your dog during your next hike!

Tom Oxby loves to play outdoors. A former travel agent he now leads bicycle tours and hikes across Europe and North America. He has found that proper planning is essential to get the most from your trip.

For more information about hiking and walking holidays visit his website at

Article Source:


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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hiking and Backpacking Tips: Lighten Your Load

The lighter you go the better you feel.

Reducing the load in your backpack by even just a pound can have a positive effect on your body and spirits. Your shoulders will benefit. Your hips will benefit. Your knees will benefit. And your feet especially will thank you for reducing the load that you make them to carry.


Here are some tips on how to take off that pound and many more:

1. Take only what is essential for your hike. This is not easy to follow through on. So, with every item that you consider putting into your backpack ask this question: What is the worst thing that could happen if I didn’t take this? If the answer does not include some terrible consequence, leave it out.

2. Make everything you can do double duty. If you are considering a plate and a bowl, leave out the plate. A bowl can be used for cereal, soup, drinks and anything else you might want to eat or drink. The same goes for a spoon. It can replace a fork. So leave the fork at home. But, you might say: “A fork is so light. It only weighs ounces. So, I’ll just throw it in.” Saving ounces on many items adds up quickly to saving pounds. So, goodbye fork.

Another multitask item is a candle. It can be used to produce light, help start a fire, and do some waterproofing. Beside that, it is much lighter than a lamp.

Parachute cord is one of the most versatile items that you can take. It can serve as a clothesline, a guy line for your tent or tarp, emergency shoelaces or a whole list of other things.

3. Buy light versions of items that you really need. Titanium cookware is lighter than stainless steel or even aluminum. Purchase light sleeping bags, backpacks and tents. Or consider using a tarp instead of a tent.

4. Benefit from the land. Cut down on the water that you carry by including purification tablets or a very light water filter. Of course, you must be sure that you can find water on your route.

5. Reduce the weight of containers. Reject anything that comes in a can. Take dehydrated meals.

6. Take along foods that are energy rich and have a high nutrition-to-weight ratio. Energy bars are a good example of this type of food.

Put emphasis on foods that provide longer-lasting energy. Sugary snacks will give you a burst of energy but will leave you hungry in a short time. Nuts, on the other hand provide energy over a much longer period of time. A mixture of nuts a dried fruit is ideal for energy.

Leave behind foods that are nutrition poor.


Be kind to your body parts. Lighten up while hiking and backpacking.

by Richard Davidian, Ph.D.


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