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Wildfire preparedness and mindset – How to evacuate quickly, safely

In July 2018, I wrote two articles for an online news magazine, “East County Magazine”:  “PEACE OF MIND” 3-10 MINUTE EVACUATION PLAN FOR WILDFIRES PART 1, and “PEACE OF MIND” 3-10-MINUTE EVACUATION PLAN FOR WILDFIRES PART 2

Thirteen months later, much of the “Peace of Mind” I’d written about in Wildfires Part 2, was greatly reduced when I received a Non-Renewal Notice from my insurance company.  I was, however, able to obtain government mandated insurance of last-resort for homes in areas prone to wildfires via the California Fair Plan insurance.  (Twice as much money, and much less coverage.)  

Expensive or not, insurance is critical to your peace-of-mind if you live in a wildfire-prone area.  On the news, you’ll see distraught people after every fire saying “We’ve lost everything!”  In my opinion, there are two categories of importance:   stuff and people.   Stuff can be replaced, people cannot.  

The mindset of the importance of Stuff and People needs to be considered BEFORE a catastrophic loss.   Nothing is worth the life of a family member or friend who stayed too long to protect Stuff from burning.   In the 2003 Cedars wildfire in California, 15 people lost their lives.  In the 2018 Camp Fire in Butte County in California, 88 people lost their lives.  

The information learned since I wrote those articles in July 2018 is the same.  To distill the articles:


People on have a different mindset about catastrophic events.   The definition of preparedness is “a state of readiness, especially for ___________”(fill in the blanks).    In this case, it’s wildfire.  

If there is a possibility of wildfire near you, fill your car with gas, park it next to your front door pointed out in the direction of travel, review your exit roads (use the Paper Map of the area you bought earlier).  Take the hour or so to pre-pack the car.    Then DO NOT WAIT FOR ANYONE TO TELL YOU TO EVACUATE–LEAVE EARLY.  It may cost a family $200 to $300 for a hotel room and about 2 hours work to pack and unpack if no fire reaches your home.   Money and time well spent.

I could spend hours providing specific information about wildfire dynamics, insurance in urban-interface areas, and the many, many reasons why you need to leave early.    However, if you follow the advice provided in Wildfires Part 1 and 2, AND if you pre-prepare your mindset and that of your family to leave everything behind and drive to safety–you’ll be ready.

I have completely evacuated three times and been ready to leave about 5 times.  My home only burned down once.   

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Storing emergency cash in a car safe

We’ve been pondering the best place to stash a little emergency cash, and we’ve come to the conclusion that our new car may be the best place, if we can protect the money from smash and grab types.

I’ve found a safe by Tuffy that is made specifically for our vehicle.  It would be screwed in (to plastic, I confess) and covered by the console lid.  It is legal for safe gun storage (not my issue). It doesn’t depend on a cable to secure it.

We live where burglary is a very low likelihood, and we never go anywhere, except to the grocery store mostly, so the vehicle has little exposure to theft or vandalism.

I would very much appreciate opinions on this idea!

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What’s the likelihood that I will be able to live into my 80’s with the increasing number of disasters?

It seems there is a new disaster every week that is topping all previous records and it is getting me kind of freaked out. I’m only 18 and am wondering what’s the chance that I will be able to live well into my 80’s and die of natural causes. I haven’t been around too long, but from what I have seen, these man made and natural disasters are ramping up in frequency and intensity. 

We have:

Global warming Pollution Over population leading to less resources Food and water scarcity War Civil unrest Pandemics Extreme heat or cold Drought and lots more

Things just don’t seem to be on a positive trend and I’m wondering if I will ever get to my 80’s or if I do will it just be pure survival and a struggle the whole time?

From you older generations, did you share similar viewpoints about the situation you and the world was in when you were my age? Am I over reacting? 

Sorry to be the gloomy one over here, but it is something I’ve been struggling with lately. From what I have learned so far, it seems that being prepared will help increase my chances of survival and make life more enjoyable. So I am glad that I found this way of life.


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Community Discord/Slack

Does a Discord or Slack server exist for the community? I like forums since they’re asynchronous communication, but real time discussion has its perks too.

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Austere First Aid video course trailer + 50% off preorders are live

Excited to share that we’ve just released the trailer and preorders for the Austere First Aid online video course we’ve been working on the last few months!

Check it out and preorder for only $59. Similar in-person courses cost $300-500 and take 5-7 days. Includes 90+ lessons, 7+ hours of video, downloadable references, and lifetime access with free future versions.

It’s the only online course of its kind, and there just aren’t many classes anywhere that teach you how to handle medical emergencies when you can’t depend on professional help to save you. 

Is this something you’re interested in? 

Full course will launch later this summer.

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AFA trailer thumb

‘Ten Acres Enough’ – A book on self sufficiency

I was just recently recalling this book, which was much touted in Small Farmer’s Journal a few decades ago.  The full title is Ten Acres Enough, A Practical Experience Showing How A Very Small Farm May Be Made To Keep A Very Large Family.

It was published in 1866.

I found the book for free on Google Books.  It’s also been reprinted in this century.  I used to have a copy of it.  All I can remember of the book is how exceedingly intense the work seemed to be, but it was quite a slice of reality.

I thought it might be interesting reading for those striving to become self sufficient.

Just go to Google Books and enter Ten Acres Enough to read it for free. I’m going back for a read with much older and wiser eyes.

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Intro article for types of injections

Good morning,

Above link is a good intro to injections. Ideal for some preppers to have some familiarity.

Ref para 1; They’re also known as “jabs” – at least in Hong Kong and UK. A non-health care person can also administer vaccines in some circumstances.  It’s been done before. Don’t do any of this self-help stuff without getting some actual in person training with the required education involved in your particular situation.

Not too sure which is which – auto versus jet – but the spring-leaded stringes are great when out in the thorns, sticks or elsewhere out of reach of an ALS – Advanced Life Support – clinic (ie more than Boy Scout/Girl Scout, CERT care.

Some big city fire departments, besides their EMTs, EMT-Ps and Para folks teach “intersseod” (spelling – the bone marrow delivery type). Personally speaking, I’d trust them no less so than what passes for physicians nowadays.

Didn’t know that root canals were “complex”  dental procedures. For some years in retirement, I’ve been doing volunteer work with dentists and perhaps it’s a calibration matter. The dentists I have breakfast with when out in the field, don’t refer to root canals as “complex”. Perhaps with dangerous pain involving prevention of shock/loss of vital sign(s), it’s deemed “complex”.

If considering self-administering anything with a string, do get some formal, in person training and education.

The Army used to issue 3 (memory fading) auto-inject stringes along with gas mask in case of nuclear war of some sort.

Again, I consider link to be a good intro article for preppers. 

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“Grey Man” vs “Hard Target”

It’s been brought up before in several discussions already but I figured it would be good to have an entire thread dedicated to it. So let’s hear your thoughts on Grey Man vs Hard Target strategies and when each should apply.

My personal opinion is that they are entirely subjective and depend on your scenario and surroundings as to which will be more effective. I will say I believe that whichever you choose to do in the moment you need to go all the way to one side or the other. If you’re trying to go Grey Man, you need to completely blend, nothing that will stick out in the slightest. I personally think the molle on backpacks is a pointless argument for anything over a typical school sized backpack, anything bigger than that is likely to draw attention no matter what it looks like. People are used to seeing small to mid size backpacks every day, they are not used to seeing full size rucks, no matter what kind. My personal “Grey Man” loadout if I had to do any sort of urban evasion (which hopefully I wouldn’t) would be jeans, a hoody, nondescript ball cap, sunglasses, and my Swiss gear mid size backpack. No visible weaponry or other gear whatsoever.

Curious to hear what everyone else’s thoughts and ideal loadouts would be.

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The need for insecticides in your survival garden

I’m a long time gardener that has a small vegetable garden, that provides lots of great food for my wife & myself, plus we have a rather large orchard (over 150 trees).  As a prepper, I plan for an extreme scenario, where possibly for a year or more, we might have to become self sufficient to survive.  Obviously, to rapidly become self sufficient, the number one thing you need is lots of garden seed, so I keep several hundred pounds in cool storage and add approximately 50lbs per year.  Most seed will become much less viable after 3-5 years, so it is important to add new seed to your stores each year.

Sounds great, but there is something many preppers don’t plan on… battling insects when you just might need every plant to survive.  My many years of gardening has taught me one thing and that is, at least where I live, there is no such thing as organic growing for many foods.  This year has been especially bad for critters wanting to eat up my garden.  Beetles of all sorts have been especially bad from the tiny ones you can barely see to the big ones.  Squash bugs will kill any squash (or similar) within a few weeks.  Now we have army worms attacking the grass all around this whole area.

Picture this.  We have a crisis & all good preppers pull out their hoes & seed & put in a nice, big garden.  The plants start off great, but then your squash starts dying and most of your other plants’ leaves start looking like swiss cheese… full of holes.  What good are those seeds & implements if you can’t control the bugs?

My solution is insecticides.  Yes they have all sorts of bad connotations, but if you really want to protect you food, and possibly your life, you will need them.  Some insecticides are much safer than others.  Spinosad is my go to insecticide, as it is one of the safest & some folks consider it organic.  If applied properly, around dusk when the pollinators have left, it will only kill insects that bite into the plant… the bad guys.  Once dry, it doesn’t harm the other insects & pollinators… the good guys.  I purchase a quart of Conserve SC, which has a very concentrated amount of Spinosad for under $200.  1 oz of that makes 10 gallons, so that single quart can make over 300 gallons of insecticide.

Another rather safe insecticide is Cypermethrin, is a very concentrated synthetic pyrethroid that kills insects on contact.  It is considered very safe & safe around animals.  That same chemical is used in my fly spray system in my horse barn.  I’ll be spraying that tomorrow on my grass to kill the army worms.  It only takes 3 oz per acre.  Another contact killer I use in my garden is BioAdvanced Vegetable and Garden Insect Spray Concentrate.  I use this as little as possible.

My point is not to push any specific insecticide.  I too keep lots of insecticide soaps & oils, such as Neem oil.  I’m just letting you know some of what I use.  My point is to remind any prepper that plans on growing their own food, that they really need to have insecticides on hand… and a lot of it.  Besides having it on hand, it would be nice if you have some experience using it prior to a crisis, where a mistake can mean you and yours going hungry.  I’ve found soaps & oils can be effective but sometimes you need something a bit stronger, at least IMO.

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Twenty minute dry beans

Dry beans are a really important staple in food storage, but preparing them is really fuel and water intensive.  Over time, I’ve been experimenting with making “quick cook” dry beans, based on this blog post: I’ve noted she’s made some revisions to the instructions I read some years ago.  Lots of pictures and explanations in the article.

Anyway, I’m in the midst of a dehydrating frenzy, with the unit going nearly every day, and this week I’m preparing a stash of dry beans for quick cooking. So nice to use the cooking resources when they are plentiful!

The basics:  Soak dry beans 8-12 hours, or use the “quick soak” method. Rinse the beans, cover with fresh water, bring to a boil and boil ten minutes.  Drain and rinse.

Dehydrating is “tricky” unless you don’t mind bean crumbles.  This method prepares the beans so they remain intact, and make nice additions to soups, etc.

Dry the soaked and rinsed beans for about 5 hours at the lowest setting.  The article says 95 deg F, my unit doesn’t go lower than 105 and that worked.  At higher heat, apparently the quick-drying skin will “curl” the softened inner bean and cause it to split and crumble. The lower temp seems to “set” the inner bean and make it more crumble resistant.

After about 5 hours, I went ahead and cranked the heat up to 125 and dried the pinto beans hard.  They are almost 100% intact and virtually look like raw dry beans. This morning I rehydrated by pouring a normal cooking amount of boiling water over them and left them to soak a couple of hours.  Then without draining, I brought the beans to a boil, then reduced to simmer.  They were al dente within 10 minutes, and mash-able within 20.  Tacos and refrieds tonight! I’m about to vacuum seal the rest, and I expect to have “20 minute pinto beans” in storage for years to come.

Currently I’m drying great northern and navy beans.  I have a great recipe for bean soup that uses mashed potatoes as a thickener. 

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How do you safely store an emergency kit in a pickup truck?

I, like a lot of folks, drive a pickup truck. Specifically a Nissan Frontier. I don’t have a trunk, and there isn’t a ton of extra room in the cab for a locking cabinet. I’m not planning to keep any firearms in my car kit, but I worry that an obviously full backpack will be an extra tempting target.

How do folks store their car kit to prevent theft? I have a wire rope bag and I guess I could padlock that to one of the seats, but I can see potential disadvantages to doing that. I didn’t find any articles that talked about it. Maybe everyone just brings their kit inside when they aren’t driving?

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Thought I’d post two articles I had published by FMG several years back. “Knives for the Field” and BMBG “Bare Minimum Go Bag”

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Heard The Prepared on NPR this morning in an interview titled “Doomsday Prepping Goes Mainstream”

I listen to NPR every day as part of my daily news sources and entertainment and was surprised to hear a friendly name, The Prepared!

The interview was well done and goes over how prepping is becoming more popular and isn’t just for the old white guys in their underground bunker. 

If you need something to listen to on your drive into work here’s the link:

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🏠 Home buying with preparedness in mind

Put yourself in my shoes. You’re currently renting, but eventually want to buy a home for the sake of financial and physical security? What traits do you look for in the home itself?

My general thinking is we’re heading towards some sort of climate apocalypse (and maybe with some broad state repression too). Not soon, but perhaps decades down the road, which is very pertinent to me as a twenty something.

Here’s some examples I can think of, but I’m very curious to hear what y’all have to recommend!

Roof conducive to solar panels. Ideally South-facing and in a shape that’s easy to cover in panels. A basement, for passive insulation during heatwaves, among other reasons I’m sure. A location with multiple exit routes, so like not an island (like Mercer Island in Seattle) or the tip of a peninsula (like Alki in Seattle). I figure a standalone house is ideal, rather than a condo or townhouse. Perhaps some minimum distance between the home and property line on all sides.  Elevation above sea level, and perhaps even relative elevation to avoid flooding.  Read More

A report from a non prepper from South africa.

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Flood Barriers: alternatives to sandbags

With more and more flooding situations happening, and having grown up in a costal area, I’ve been thinking about alternatives to sandbags.  They don’t seem very practical, as you have to have access to a lot of sand or dirt, they are a lot of work to fill, and they are heavy.

One option I found was water-activated flood barriers.  You lay them out and the flood waters activate the material inside and soak up the water to create a barrier.  They are relatively compact, lightweight, can be ready to go in minutes, are stackable, and do not need to be pre-filled.  The downside is they take months to dry out, but I’d rather have that problem versus water damage.  An example is at  I was able to buy some in 2020 at half priced.

You could also go commando like this guy did.  He saved his home from  over $100,000 in repairs.  Reminds me of someone else long ago who did something a little different before a flood.

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Whole house water filtration system

Tried looking at previous posts, but most just deal with portable filtration or Berkeys, which is great but not big enough. Looking to service the whole house. We are on creek water. So besides sediment, we also have to deal with diseases and other natural unwanted chemicals. The previous owner installed a filter and then a UV filter as well, and that system works just fine, but the system is getting old and would like to update it so we’re safe for the next 20 years. I’ve seen things like Aquasana, and that’s more what I’m going for, but wanted to see if anyone here had any recommendations. Thanks

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Thoughts on creating a diy sleeping bag

As the reviewed gear is well out of my price range, I either have what I can afford or make my own. The one I can afford (locally) is rated 8°C, but in winter overnight can go lower. The other option is diy. The filling option are standard polyester, polyester wool blends or pure wool. Outer will be ripstop nylon which can be treated to waterproof it. The polyester and poly blends are what is available for craft work like quilting.  I would appreciate viewpoints on these options.

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How to harvest amaranth seeds

If you’re growing amaranth in your garden this year, you might be wondering how the heck to harvest the grains. Our pal David the Good published a video on how to harvest them.

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Self-care in a pandemic stressed world

Good afternoon,

This article has some good points to get through this somewhat new environment – especially those working from home.

I think it’s a valuable tip listed in 2. to start one’s day … whenever one’s day starts. Mine starts early even prior to the Greenwich meridan waking up … .”with things that we enjoy…”. We preppers can survive the rattle snakes and more deadly mosquitos but it’s the STRESS showing up in the many reports: medical, insurance, all of ’em. Can’t think of exceptions.

Number 3 is understood by some of us – especially senior citizens who did not start out this journey of life with the web. What is deemed “news” is frequently enough an opinion article.

Place max time into health, safety and preparedness.

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Life on Redneck’s homestead

I figured I’d create a new discussion topic, where I can post pics of what goes on around the homestead, as opposed to posting a lot of individual topics as I’ve done in the past.  I have 20 rural acres in northern Mississippi with most in yards & pastures.  I have a smallish garden in the back yard and an orchard in my upper pasture.  In my bottom pasture I have around a 1 acre pond with grain fed catfish.  As a prepper, my intent is to become self sufficient during a severe crisis.  With my small garden, it provides my wife & me with all the fresh veggies we can eat thru the year.  I test different varieties to find the best ones for my area, and then store large quantities of that seed.  Fruit & nut trees take too long to reach bearing age, so you can’t wait for a crisis to start them.  Thus I have much more fruit that I can currently use, however when I retire in a couple of years, I probably will sell it a farmers markets.

So today my main chores, after grooming horses, are to turn on the drip irrigation in the blueberry patch & in the muscadine grapes, spray the apples & peaches in the orchard & to drag the horse paddock with the chain harrow.  Here I’m filling my 50 gallon sprayer at my upper barn, which is in my front yard.  That is a crabapple finishing blooming out front.  Today I’m spraying myclobutanil fungicide (concentrated version of Immunox available at hardware stores) plus a bactericide to fight fire blight.

I have other fruit & nut trees in my front yard, such as Asian persimmons, pecans, apples & pears.  Here is a pear in the side yard.  Can’t really see here but it is loaded with baby pears.  The pears that come off this tree are absolutely amazing.  I also have climbing roses in multiple locations out front that also get sprayed.

Now headed down to the orchard.  The house & front yard are up on top of a hill.  I’m entering what I call my upper pasture.  The orchard, paddock & horse barn are to the left.  In the bottom is my lower pasture, with the catfish pond to the right.  The little group of trees behind the pond is actually a large berm.  My metal targets are in front of that berm & that is my shooting range.  The blueberries & muscadines are at the very bottom of the orchard, next to the paddock.  I enter both thru gates in the paddock.

Turned on the drip irrigation to the blueberries & muscadines and verified there are no leaks or busted joints from the winter cold.  Here are the blueberries.  They are so danged easy to grow & put out a tremendous amount of food.   Note the bird netting, which also covers my muscadines.

Not much to see here, but this is the muscadine area.  There are three trellises using high tension wire.  The muscadines are just starting to leaf out.

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Emergency toilet – bedside commode chair

While I’ve seen a number of options for an emergency toilet, I’ve never seen using a bedside commode chair.  An image of one is in the link below:

Most affordable options are a bucket with a toilet seat.  I would think the advantages are:

More comfortable – as it is purpose-built.  It also has a frame and handles to make it more stable for the user. Cost-effective – the cost is not much more than a 5 gallon bucket and a bucket-specific toilet seat. Portable – can be folded up.

Any thoughts on why a bedside commode chair is not being recommended?  What are the downsides?

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Insulin cooling case for field environment

Good morning.

The company Frio Case has a relatively new method and product to keep insulin within required temperature range during field work. Their basic website is Frio case . com

Rather than post link directly to their insulin cases, the top link is their good pdf intro on disaster prep that leads into the insuin cases.

Hope this proves of value to some forum members.

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Hydrogen peroxide and the prepper

Good morning,

Above article is informative and encompassing.

Under section titled “Alternative … for uses” at subsection “Wound Cleaning”, I believe a secondary definition of “sterile” is being used.

As a disinfectant or for oral hygiene, do get preliminary guidance from a colleague EMT, DDS.

Not in article but Walmart’s on the counter H2O2 is 3% USP and the 7-11 brand small bottle is also 3% USP.

Hopefully link is of value for preparedness. 

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