Thursday, June 26, 2008

SHTF: Emergency Survival Kits

Do you have an emergency survival kit in your home, office and car? The goal of an emergency preparedness kit is not to live indefinitely from the bag, but rather to have enough supplies to get you home or to another safe location.

Let's explore some of these options for you and you family.

Emergency survival kit for the office.

After 9/11 and the World Trade Center, I started keeping emergency preparedness supplies close at hand. First in my car, but working in an office building, I began keeping one in my desk. If you do not have the luxury or room to have your own locking desk, keep your emergency survival kit as your everyday carry bag for work or as a substitute for a purse.

Here is what I keep in my emergency survival kit:
1) I use a medium sized backpack which fits in my office desk drawer.
2) 4 .5 liter bottles of drinking water
3) 1 nalgene water bottle with filter
4) 4 protein bars
5) 4 bags on snack foods like cookies or nuts.
6) 1 flashlight with fresh batteries (check often).
7) 3 N95 air filtration masks (available at any hardware store).
8) 3 pairs of nitrile gloves.
9) 1 bottle of hand sanitizer.
10) Toiletry kit including travel sizes of soap, shaving, etc.
11) 6 tea bags
12) 2 packets of instant cocoa
13) 50' of rope
14) battery powered cell phone charger.
15) One pair of cheapo shoes for backups.
16) 2 pair of socks.
17) One pair of sweat pants.
18) Swiss army knife
19) Gerber-knockoff multi tool.
20) 2 inexpensive FRS (family radio services) walky talkies with batteries.

There are several more things I could add to my emergency survival kit for the office, but it is a work in process.

Next, what is in my car emergency survival kit!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Quick tips for the SHTF garden

You hear this a lot...

"We are going to put in a garden on our property and grow our own veggies and fruit once things go downhill.."

"Just put in a garden and grow your own food in a small space!"

"Anyone can put in a container garden and have their own food once the SHTF, right?"

I have bad news for the novice gardener, it is not that easy to plant a producing garden if you have never done it before. What's more, there is no worse time to learn how to grown your own food if the poop has hit the fan.

So, the time to get started is now. It is summer in most parts of the country and there is no reason to not start growing at least some of your own food now. Be prepared: it will take some work and effort to get your garden underway and producing.

- The fastest way to start is with containers and already sprouted plants like the ones sold at the garden stores and big box retailers.
- Avoid using the black plastic pots the plants are sold in. They capture too much ambient heat which stresses the plant and evaporates the moisture in the soil faster.
- Replant only in high quality soil. I cannot stress this enough. Do not use any soil sold in a bag or worse, unfortified soil from the yard.
- To make your own potting or bed soil, use a high quality base soil for your area, add compost and vermiculite.
- Raised beds work better than planting direct into ground.
- Water in the morning. Water in the heat of the day burns off before it can help the plants. Water in the evening can produce mold on some plants.
- Water deeply container plants daily and raised beds a couple of times a week.
- Use natural fertilizers like fish emulsion and green sand. Make insect repellents from hot peppers and garlic.
- Work natural compost into your beds and containers often; it replaces the nutrients in the soil.
- Mulch beds using friendly bedding material like alfalfa grass. I purchased a bail at the local farmers market and had enough for my entire tomato bed.
- Grow what works local. For instance, tomatoes, corn and melons grow well in my area while asparagus, broccoli and lettuce does not. Post-SHTF is not the time to experiment with potential failed crops.
- Camouflage your garden space. Surround the borders of your yard with weeds, overgrown bushes and native plants. Grow food as landscaping. Grow herbs in the front or side yards where passersby will think they are wild growth or weeds.
- Fruit trees take 3-5 years or longer before they produce edible fruit. Plant dwarf versions now. If possible, put in large containers on wheels so they can be brought in during cold weather. I have a producing orange tree I keep in this manner and have done so for over 10 years.
- Experiment with seeds only after you have successfully grown from plantings. Start with small pots filled with top quality soil and replant in beds or larger containers. Herbs are best to start with.
- Corn is an excellent and fast grower, however it rapidly depletes the soil. Be ready to grown rye or another nitrogen replacement crop during cooler months in your corn patch.
- I have never had much luck with fruits or vegetables grown in doors. Maybe your experience is different.
- Certain food crops can be grown during the winter months like garlic, onions, and kale.
- Finally, don't bother gardening if you have not learned how to store your surplus with canning, drying and dehydrating!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pre-1964 silver coinage AKA junk silver

This should make the silver bugs happy out there. I have added the Kitco silver price widget to this blog for your enjoyment, education and amusement.

On a related note, you will also be happy to hear that I obtained a few silver coins recently. Yes, the are pre-1964 silver coins. Namely, dimes and quarters. Just a few mind you.

No, this is not a good investment. For the armchair Warren Buffets out there, the rule is "buy low, sell high". Silver and pre-1964 silver coins are at an all-time high, (well since the 1980 Hunt Brothers fiasco). Thus, if you are buying now, you are buying at the high point. Better to have invested in 1999 when silver was trading for fifty cents a pound of something like that (kidding, I don't know what the price was then, just exaggerating).

I located my pre-1964 silver coin finds not through a coin shop but through the tried and true "pocket change search". It might work for you too. I think it is more fun as well.

Monday, June 23, 2008

SHTF: The coming food riots

So you have heard all about the looming, powder keg in the making, soon to be shown in an urban area near you, Food Riots?

Sure you have. Read any of the survival message boards or what not and you KNOW they are just around the corner, right? Soon, there will be little if any foods available in our grocery stores because of floods, global warming, global food demand, a shrinking food supply and the ever weakening fiat currency, the U.S. dollar, right?


In my opinion, I don't think widespread rioting in the United States is likely. In fact, I think there will be very little in today's man made, limited crises world. Let me explain.

First, food shortages will affect restaurants long before the grocery store. No, not that little boutique restaurant downtown. We are talking about the big box, mega chain fast food complex. When your average American cannot get a Big Pounder and bucket of fries to go along with that 55-gallon diet caca because the McRonaldary is out of food, they will know something is afoot.

Will they riot then?

No, they will then tramp across the street to Booger Royalty and see if the same situation applies there, and then on to Taco Heck and Was-Once-Beef before realizing "Hey, there ain't no food here!".

Now will they riot?

No they will call the local news station, ACLU, and BBB and demand a mini-cam come out and record their grievance. After all, food is a right, right?

But no riots not when there is a complaint department and an eager and compliant mass media.

Okay what about when there's no food at the local Kroger or Piggly Wiggly?

When food shortages finally reach the grocery stores, the real miff is going to be due to the shortage of ready-to-eat-and-die convenience foods, beer, candy, and cigarettes. The average American has no idea where food comes from and most have no idea what it looks like until it's wrapped in bright colored paper and has a serving suggestion airbrushed on the cover.

Never will they walk out of the frozen food section and see if there is any fresh meat, vegetables or fruits available and if there were, most would not know what to do with the ingredients much less be able to read a cookbook above the third grade level. So nope, no riots then either.

OK, what about when the REAL groceries start to disappear? Will there please be riots then?

When meat, vegetables, fruits, potatoes, pasta and what not starts showing up missing, there won't be riots then either. Rather, a bunch of entitlement freaks will stand in front of the store and want passers by to sign a petition, then they will protest and plan a boycott of the Big Evil Corporation which owns the grocery store. Someone will provocatively blog about it and another will build a web page to raise awareness. Then they will blame the president and want someone to bring them fast food, debit cards and a habitat for polar bears.

Nope no riots then either. However, there will be plenty of soundbites from "angry consumers" and "community activists". Yet, there will be very few riots.

The majority of American people no longer have riots in their veins.

The average American is deathly afraid of direct confrontation. Sure, they will vote for anyone who will promise to "get" the greedy corporations and and raise taxes on "that greedy rich guy". But this same angry consumer is a heck of a lot less likely to march over to the wealthy guy's house and demand that rich guy hand him a couple of hundred dollars and a bag of groceries because he feels he is somehow owed it. Better to use a faceless nameless proxy to get that which he is afraid to work for.

Nope, there will be no food riots. Rioting over basic necessities is no longer part of our plush, fat lifestyle. Rather, we are willing to riot over important events like aircraft seat assignments, concert tickets and exclusive pre-school enrollment.

And when the crowds finally wake up, and do become agitated because there is no fuel for the car or body, you should hardly care.

When the food shortages start, you should have already had a supply of food at home by carefully shopping and stocking up now.
You should also have had a back up plan for additional food from a garden in the backyard.
Further, you should be well aware how to get your mitts on more food from unorthodox supply locations.
Never should you be ready to hit the loot lines and hope to obtain a few choice canned goods and left over bags of pinto beans amidst the destruction. Those that join in the final fray of looting will find themselves injured, dead or herded off to a interment camp.

Nope, there will be no riots. Because by the time the average American wakes up and finds out there are no Ding Dong Donots or McStuffins available, it will be too late. So stop waiting for the food riots on TV. Instead, pop in a copy of Red Dawn on the old DVD player (or similar fine fair) and enjoy yourself this evening.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Food and Stress

Everyday I read the same thing on all the survival minded websites...

"When the SHTF your body is going to demand more fatty foods to deal with the stress.." or something like that. This is the rational to start stockpiling processed canned meat products and fatty convenience foods - as a hedge against mental illness post-apocalypse.

Crazy. The concept from this prepper mentality is that once the balloon goes up, all of us will be sitting in our retreats or bug out locations gorging on cans of Spam and Hormel Tamales in order to deal with the stress life has handed us. Our bodies will demand loads of fat, cholesterol and processed lard or we simply will collapse mentally.

Here is the real deal..

Take a real stressful situation and different people deal with it in different ways.
Remember when you lost a job? Had a sick child? Worried about that mid-term grade? Or maybe how you were going to pay that stack of bills? Bet you dealt with each of these in a variety of ways.. anger, depression.. The whole 7 Stages stuff we learn in psych 101..

My wife for instance, will probably get real grumpy, depressed and want to sleep long periods of time.

I am the opposite. I will suffer from insomnia and eat hardly anything for days.

I base this upon personal experience with things like death, financial problems, work stress, child rearing, birthing and sickness. I know when I am stressed, the idea of popping the top on a can of Vienna Sausages makes me want to hurl.

I know some people, when faced with insurmountable stress, do stuff their faces with sweets, or alcohol or chain smoke. Some will pop pills and others will go catatonic. The deal is all of us will handle things differently.

The way I see things, the first few days of a SHTF situation will have each of us concentrating on staying alive and keeping our loved ones safe. After a long period of incredible stress and worry, we will then settle down and adapt to the situation as it plays out.

Once we adjust to living without electricity and running water for instance, or the sounds of random gunfire and round the clock watches, then our bodies will begin to adjust as well.

We will work more manual labor doing tasks such as putting in a garden, harvesting, gathering wood and water and shoring up the home. That sort of physical work will push our bodies to demand more calories and fuel naturally.

However, I don't believe everyone has a sudden and universal physical demand on our bodies and minds which forces all of us to start consuming two times our normal caloric intake in fatty, processed foods the day after the end of the world. Some people may, others will not.

My own nasty belief about this mindset is the people who have it can't wait to dig into those cans of chile con carne, spam, tamales and the sacred, beef stew; they are merely making a pseudo-scientific nutritional and mental health case to do it sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Post-TEOTWAWKI: Where to fill up?

Subject: Where can a fictional hero get fuel in a post-apocalyptic world?

I am writing a fictional story. Basically, the "poop has hit the fan" in the U.S. Our fictional hero has squared himself away quite well with a rural retreat BUT has found himself caught in a large urban area with the tanks on his BOV sorely low on fuel. After slapping himself in the head numerous times, he checks his list of handy-dandy spots to get gasoline or diesel after the end times are upon the land and all the gas stations are empty or burned to the ground.

So here are a list of places any imaginary survivor might find fuel after the lights are out and the stores are closed indefinitely!

- Places of business. How many companies have fuel pumps on site? Lots. Think trucking companies, commercial delivery services, parcel services, couriers, and taxi companies. And what about the mega car sales lots? Most have to have gas and diesel pumps and storage tanks on site.

- How about government facilities? Police and fire stations, ambulance services, and some federal offices all have their own pumping facilities.

- Truck depots and warehouses. Any place an 18-wheeler or two or a few dozen have been left for loading and unloading. Those tanks might be full or hold only a few gallons. Beggars cannot be choosers.

- Forget vehicles, what about generators? Some run on gasoline, others on diesel. Find generators behind office buildings or any other facility which must have redundant power. In a SHTF situation, nobody will be going to work at the local high rise, but the generators out back probably still have a few choice gallons left. Did you think of this gem? Cellular towers and phone switching stations both have backup generators.

- Been working on the railroad? Train engines, (diesel pushers) have massive tanks which can hold hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel. Train on siding and not running? You have a filling station.

- Odd ball places. A golf course might have a gas pump in the maintenance shed at the course. A funeral home might as well. Why? Both have multiple pickup trucks and tractors which are used exclusively on the grounds. Having the vehicles licensed and tagged to drive the city streets for fill ups is an extra expense. Better to keep the fuel on site.

- The obvious. Parked cars. Now before our hero runs next door to siphon someone's Subaru, he should be aware that the owner of the vehicle may still be around and may take offense at his lack of discretion. Rather, where might one find lots of vehicles and potentially plenty of unclaimed fuel? Why the airport of course in long term parking! The owners are somewhere else faraway. If our hero can make it to the airport, he can find numerous vehicles containing rapidly degrading fuel.

Remember, this is purely a fictional situation which I have been mulling over. If you find yourself someday writing your own story, perhaps your hero and mine will run into each other.

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