Submissions     Contact     Advertise     Donate     BlogRoll     Subscribe                         

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Why Should I Learn Map Reading?

Original Article

map1This probably should have been the first post on the orienteering series, but it fits well here too.  The next post or two deals with some concepts that are a bit tricky and you’ll actually have to put your thinking caps on and maybe do a few examples of your own.
Map reading is hard.  You have to remember stuff.  You have to practice.  Hell, you even have to do some math.
Why should I learn it when I’ve got a GPS in my pocket that will tell me exactly where I am and give me directions on where I need to go?
Let’s go to a pretend world for a bit…
The grid is down.  The global economy went to hell three months ago and despite all the promises by the government and news media things aren’t getting better.  After the first month food deliveries were sporadic at best and despite a police presence outside most of the supermarkets in town there are very few supplies left.  Rioting has been reported in some of the larger cities.
After the first month of not getting paid a growing number of people stopped showing up for their jobs and without skilled engineers and workers the power plants supplying electricity slowly went off line.  It’s not out completely, but with rolling brown outs and black outs electricity just can’t be depended on.
It wasn’t like everything crashed at once.   It was more like the frog in the pot where the water is slowly brought up to boiling.  Things deteriorated slow enough that it prevented you from triggering your bug-out plan and now you’re stuck in your apartment with your wife and two sons.  Luckily they’re old enough to walk long distances and you feel like you’ve raised them right and can rely on them in case of an emergency.
Well, now it’s an emergency.
You’ve decided to head for the doomstead you have set up with two other families and you kick yourself for not going right away.  There’s no more gas for vehicles, so that means you’re going to bug out on foot cross country.  Your GPS tells you your destination is 88 miles northwest as the crow flies.  You figure you can do it in four days with your family if you push them hard enough.
Three days later you realize you’re still at least four days away.  Nothing has gone right.  You had to ditch some gear from the packs because they were too heavy for walking.  There have been roadblocks not mentioned by the media and you’ve had to take the family off the road and circle around them praying you don’t get spotted.
And this afternoon  the batteries in your GPS died and you discover the spares you packed in your BOB two years ago are dead too.  Didn’t the manufacturer claim these batteries would last ten years in storage?  You make a mental note to write a strongly worded letter to the company.
Now what?  You’re a little more than halfway to the doomstead, food is running low, and now you’ve lost the only means of navigation you had.
You break the bad news to the family, but your 16 year old son – the boy scout – does something strange.  Instead of panicking he grabs his pack and pulls out a map and compass.   You show him where you are on the map and he plots a direction to your bug-out location.  Then he picks up the compass and declares he’s going to take point and leads the way.
Four days later you arrive.  Hungry, tired, and foot sore, but you made it.
You tell your son how proud you are of him and thank him for saving the day.
Oh, maybe the story is just a little dramatic, but you get the point.  GPS batteries only last for so long and if you’re trusting your life to a piece of electronic wizardry you’re gambling with your life and the lives of whoever is with you.  If you think you won’t run out of batteries in an extended emergency you are dead wrong.  Just don’t get dead because of it.
And what happens if the satellites fail?  Oops.
GPS is Cool!
I was on a mountain with my smart phone recently using it as a GPS and it was fantastic.  When you can look at a device and know exactly where you are and what’s over the next rise it doesn’t get better than that.  But I was using it heavily and after just a few hours the battery was very low.
Of course I had a map and compass and went back to doing it the old fashioned way.
I’ve read many stories where someone has followed GPS directions blindly down back roads only to wind up stuck for days and sometimes even got themselves dead because of it.  Always have a manual backup and the knowledge of how to use it.
Like I said earlier, map reading is hard and it will take some work to get proficient at it.  You don’t have to get to the point where you’re looking for a ten meter square clearing in a huge forest, but if you can point a compass and follow an azimuth there’s a good chance that you’ll eventually get to where your going.  And you don’t have to worry about the batteries dying.
Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying don’t use a GPS.  They’re awesome devices.  What I am saying is learn the skills necessary to stay alive in case something happens to your device, whether you drop it in water, break it or the batteries die it’s always good to have a back up.
Just in case.
Next week we’ll talk about direction and how to shoot an azimuth on your compass.
How about it, Prepper?
Questions?  Comments?
Sound off below!
-Jarhead Survivor

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Paranoia or Prepping - Maintaining a Proper Balance

Original Article

Everyone prepares to a certain degree but there are those that sometimes let their prepping activities go to extremes. Try as you might, it is almost impossible to prepare for every possible scenario. If you maintain a proper balance in your prepping activities, you will have a better state of preparedness than you might think. Sometimes the simplest things are overlooked because we don’t see them as obstacles until it is too late
You’ve got a bug-out bag, a bug-out vehicle and a bug-out location but do you have the skills to put your bug-out plan into action. Can you change a flat tire? It’s a simple process but it is also one which many people have never done. Can you change a drive belt on the motor if it breaks? These are simple skills that are easy to practice and develop but which can leave you stranded and vulnerable at the worst possible time if you lack these simple skills. Simple skills can go a long way in helping you be better prepared.
A box of survival seeds won’t do you much good if you lack the gardening skills to make them grow. A stockpile of canned goods and freeze-dried foods won’t last forever and you will need gardening skills to properly balance your food storage program. You will also need to stock your food items accordingly. Excess food storage can increase your chances of having items that expire or go bad before you can use them. Simple gardening skills can help you be better prepared.
Don’t forget to have a plan to maintain the safety and security of your family. Don’t sacrifice your family’s safety or security because simple items were left unattended. Realize that maintaining security should also be a part of your preparedness plans.
Include plenty of family activities that can help to strengthen the trust and loyalty among your group or family members. Make sure to include both younger and older members of your group in your activities. While their knowledge and skills may vary, they can only help to strengthen your efforts. Remember that everyone is capable of making a contribution to your preparedness efforts.
There are numerous aspects to proper prepping and maintaining a proper balance will be critical. You may be unknowingly increasing your costs and utilizing resources you may need elsewhere if you don’t maintain a proper balance in your preps. Know how many in your family or group you are preparing for and adjust your preparedness plans accordingly. Know which skills you are lacking and make an effort to learn them and continue to practice those skills you already have. Balance your prepping efforts with the actual needs of your family or group.
Got balance?

Staying above the water line!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Being In Good Physical Condition as a Prepper

Original Article

photo by Ed Yourdonphoto by Ed Yourdon
Being in good physical condition is one area of preparedness that is often overlooked.  Physical fitness cannot be purchased like toilet paper or a jug of water when there is a forewarning of impending disaster.  Nor is it something like sealing food in a bucket that can be done once and it will be ready for you when you need it twenty years later.
Physical fitness is a preparedness area that needs constant attention.  It is something that needs to be worked on and kept up on.  Just because you were a long distance runner on the high school track team doesn’t mean you can outrun the zombies at age 35.  And you do want to be able to outrun the zombies, right?
Actually, outrunning the zombies is only one reason to be in good physical condition.  In a grid down situation, there will be plenty of manual labor to be done.  Everything from clearing debris, to building shelter, to hiking yourself and your family and all your gear to a safer location.
I’m not saying you need to be a marathon runner or super body-builder (unless you already are–then you’re ahead of the game).  But being out of shape will not help you a bit when your physical abilities are being tested in what could be a life and death situation.
There are a few things to consider when you are thinking about conditioning your body for work harder than sitting at a desk in a cubicle eating jelly doughnuts.
1.  Start slow.  Especially if you haven’t been doing much physical activity in the recent past.  If you have health considerations, you may need to consult your physician about which activities and exercise programs would be best for you.
2. Don’t quit.  Exercise is only good while you are doing it regularly.
3.  Just because someone is lean doesn’t mean they are in shape.  I have a crazy fast metabolism, so rarely look like I’m out of shape.  However, I know that I have been.  And I know there are people who look out of shape that could outwork or outrun me pretty easily.
4.  “Good physical condition” is not the same for everyone.  It is not the same for me now as it was when I was 19 or as it will be when I’ll be 65.  Our bodies give us certain physical limitations depending on age, genetics, etc.  The idea is to be in as good a physical condition as you in your present circumstances can be.
5.  Is a little fat good?  Maybe so.  It could act as a buffer against disease, or lower the food intake you will need.  But don’t go believing an extra 100 lbs of weight you don’t need on you qualifies as “food storage”!
6.  You will lose weight as you begin exercising.  If you are exercising before a disaster, you can go buy new clothes that fit!  But if you don’t start exercising until after the disaster (or even if your exercise level intensifies–especially if your food intake decreases), you’ll probably shrink out of your clothes.  Consider stocking smaller sizes of clothes, overalls (they always fit, right?) or suspenders.  Another option is having the skills to alter clothes to fit your new smaller size.
Your physical condition could be one of the most important parts of your preparedness efforts.  It won’t do you any good to have lots of supplies if you’re going to keel over from a heart attack when you need to relocate it all quickly.  And the extra energy and strength you will have will help you even if disaster never strikes.  So go ahead and get off the computer and go for a walk.  If it’s just too cold out there for you, there are plenty of exercise videos available online, or you can even probably check some out for free at your local library.  Find something that you enjoy and stick with it!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Being Street Smart

Original Article

Being Street Smart
Whether you are set to travel into a bad neighborhood or if you are preparing for a societal collapse in which most neighborhoods will turn bad, knowing how to be street smart may save you trouble or your life. You cannot just learn it by reading about it and then saying to yourself that you will do those things if and when you have to… instead you must practice it in your daily life and apply it in appropriate degrees of purpose for your given location. It should be part of your situational awareness and response thereof.

Know Where You Are

It is quite easy to pick out someone who is a tourist, lost or confused. These people will be targets. Know the streets that you are on, or will be on; the way in and the way out. Look at a map ahead of time so that if you get lost, you will know the direction to get out.
Don’t start a trip without a full tank of gas, particularly if you are planning to go into an unfamiliar area. Never let your gas tank go below half full, for more reasons than just one.
Learn everything you can about the public transportation system in the area, if there is one, because you might need to use it. Understand the routes and fares. Know the hours that station attendants are working, as these are the safest places to wait for your ride. A train, subway, ferry or bus station can be a dangerous place late at night, and not knowing what you’re doing will make the situation more dangerous.

Blend In

Dress to blend in and avoid clothing and colors that may cause you to stand out from the crowd. Plain and neutral colors are often best, worn in an understated fashion. Don’t draw attention to yourself by wearing jewelry, looking ‘too good’, or being individualistic in any way.

Act Like You Don’t Care

While you need to be at peak situational awareness, you need to look like you don’t care… flowing with the crowd. Do not stare. Do not look all around as though gazing at new surroundings. Do not run. Do not engage in loud conversation or laughing or fooling around. Just be quiet and go where you are going in a purposed direction.

Avoid Contact With Strangers

Again, use situational awareness. Look well ahead as you move. If you see that you will be meeting with potentially questionable individuals or a group, then cross the street or change direction if it will not look obvious that you are intentionally avoiding them. If you must cross paths, then stay at your pace. Don’t speed up. If you were talking with a companion, don’t stop talking or suddenly talk real quiet.

Eye Contact

The best way to deal with this in a bad neighborhood is to treat the situation exactly the same as you would in what you consider a safe neighborhood. Don’t stare. Don’t look away too fast. If you make eye contact, then a quick pleasant smile should suffice. Even if you are nervous, you must come across as comfortable.

Responding To A Talking Stranger

You’re walking down the sidewalk and pass a stranger who says “How’s it going?”. Simply respond with “It’s going well, thanks”, and keep on walking at your existing pace. Do not say “It’s going well, how about you?”. Don’t invite conversation in a neighborhood where you feel unsafe. While it is true that some people are being genuinely friendly when asking, unfortunately there are those with darker intentions. Sometimes it is more obvious than others.

Street Smart success begins with situational awareness and going about your business in a purposeful manner that does not attract undue attention. Problems arise when people who have not practiced Street Smarts suddenly find themselves in an environment where they need to be careful… they are usually very easy to identify in a crowd. The next time you are out and about, imagine to yourself what you look like to others as you go about your business. Picture yourself from across the street or someone who is sitting or standing still watching you. What do you look like? Do you fit in with the environment you’re in?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How To: Gather Info on a Local Disaster Fast

Original Article

A few days ago we had a mini disaster in Las Vegas.  Turns out a couple of thugs decided to take their aggression out on the Las Vegas Strip, complete with racing cars and firing guns.  It culminated in an explosion, fire, and three deaths.  Generally when you hear that something is happening--whether from a breaking news announcement on TV, a text from a friend, or a Tweet from the fire department--your first instinct is to find out more.  Is the event happening in your neighborhood?  At a school or workplace of a family member?  Will it impact you, either by changing your route to work or creating the necessity to lock down your home or office?
In all of these cases, you want to find out as much information as quickly as possible.  Here's how:

  • Check Twitter.  I follow a number of first responder agencies in our city, a few news outlets--both local and national--and when in doubt, I simply search the most likely terms in Twitter and can usually come up with people tweeting about what is going on.
  • Check Reddit.  If your city/area has a subreddit, this is often one of the first places that people post "what the heck is going on?" posts quickly followed by others commenting on what they have heard/seen/know.
  • Check your local news services.  This may include tuning in to TV news, checking the local newspapers online, or turning on your car's radio and picking up the local news.
  • Check the national news.  If it is a big enough event, CNN and other national news services will probably pick up on it pretty quickly.
  • Check with the appropriate agency.  If the event has to do with a fire, I can check out our local fire department's website/Facebook page/Twitter account.  If it is something larger--like a storm or earthquake--I would check with NOAA or the USGS website.
  • Text a friend.  If you know an event is happening where you know a friend or family member may be, simply sending them a text may get you the answers you need.  Likewise, check their Facebook page/Twitter feed/Instagram/etc if they are likely to be posting instead of making them take the time to answer you back.
The bottom line is that you need to be able to gather pertinent information about a disaster as quickly as possible so that you will know how to respond.  Using these popular news and information sources can provide just the information you need even faster than traditional news outlets.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, March 24, 2013

New Book From Glen Tate

Another great book (#5 in the series) in the 299 Days series has been released,
299 Days: The Visitors.

If you haven't read this series yet, I highly recommend it.

The Visitors, the fifth book in the 299 Days series, follows Grant Matson, the Team, and other Pierce Point residents as they adjust to a rapidly changing post-Collapse reality. When the Team is summoned to bust a meth lab and protect their neighbors, they find themselves in an intense crime scene that results in the community having to decide innocence, guilt and punishment.

Adjusting to this “new normal” is a challenge to Grant and others as they navigate a world where Pop-Tarts cost $45 a box, neighbors die from easily preventable conditions, and what remains of the former U.S. Government is deliberately choosing who they will and will not help.

As tensions grow in Pierce Point and the Team begins to face organized opposition, they are presented with an incredible opportunity by the arrival of Special Forces Ted and his game-changing proposal. Grant finds himself at a crossroads as he must decide whether he and the Team will formally join the Patriots and train to become guerilla fighters against the growing forces of the Loyalists or standby and watch events unfold. Grant knows one decision could risk his marriage and family, while another would mean letting others decide their fate.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Learn your area of operations

original article

Abraham's Blog 

Learn your area of operations.  I was out the other day strolling about and I realized how well I know my neighborhood and the town that I live in.  I know the streams, ponds, rivers, lakes, creeks and seasonal water.  I know the woods and fields.  I bet you could blindfold me set me down anywhere within a five mile radius and I could point to it on a map.  You should be able to do the same too.
You have to learn you neighborhood well.  You should know what wild foods are edible and where and when they grow. There is only one way to do it.   Walking is best because you see much more than you do driving.  When you are in a car you don’t even notice all of the little hills that you go over.  When you are walking or riding a bike you notice each and every hill.   Similarly, when you are whizzing by at 45 mph you can’t really check out the landscape, flora and fauna (15 points using flora & fauna in the same sentence).

When you are walking you’ll begin to notice what the same plant looks like at different times of the year.  I usually walk a lot, but with the sun setting so early during these short winter days it’s tough.  Still walking is the best way to learn the area.  Take your time. Look around.  Really open your eyes.  When you see something don’t just look at it and take it for what what it is, but ask why or why not.   Zen.  Keep an eye out for where water may be, places to stash stuff or hide if need be, places to camp or forage, keep an eye out for things you can use now or at some time in the future.   When you see those red canes leaning over in the winter remember to come back in the summer for sweet berries.  Figure out where the electrical substations, powerlines, water and sewage treatment, refineries, chemical plants, factories, police, hospitals, fire stations, reservoirs all are.
You should own some map books of your state and the surrounding states. I’m not a big fan of the folding state maps.  They’re ok, but they don’t show enough detail for me.


I like these Delmore maps by state.  They show all the detail you really need, but it doesn’t list the name of every side street and it’s not a real detailed topographic map.  Delorme maps do have topo lines, roads, highways, campgrounds, natural and man made attractions, state parks, recreational areas, lakes, rivers, streams, railroads and trails.  You should own a map book like these Delorme ones for your state and each of the contiguous (5 points) states.  You also need a book for each of the states that your bug out plans call for you to traverse.  Like I said these map books are great all purpose maps, but for going afield I like the the old 1:24000 USGS maps.  The USGS topo maps are what I use when I go hiking.  They show as much detail as you could ever want.  They even show seasonal water.

If you don’t know how to read a map that is one skill you don’t want to delay learning.   Having a map and knowing how to read it can mean the difference between sweet, sweet life and a cold and shivering or gaunt and starving death.  GPS units are great, but have a compass and know how to use it.

I guess what I am trying to say is GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!©
Doing what I now do. Notice all the seals in the water and moi is the only one standing?


The waves are supposed to be 10 foot tall this weekend because of Ida.
Scrapings from a woodpecker.  This stuff id light up pretty well with just a firesteel I bet.  You’d never see this pile of sawdust driving around.