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Survival Gardening … Make your own seed vault

When I first started prepping, I knew how important it would be to have plenty of garden seed on hand in case of a severe crisis.  So I would purchase seed vaults online that had lots of seed, could store a long time and had lots of variety.  However the problem with these commercially made seed vaults is that that contain all sorts of varieties that probably wouldn’t do well in my specific climate and location.  I knew a lot of the seed would not do well here.

So about the same time that I started putting staple foods in my own long term storage, I decided to do the same with garden seed.  For me, long term storage means the items are inside sealed Mylar bags with either desiccants or oxygen absorbers inside.  This bag was then inside a sealed 5-6 gallon plastic container.  These containers are stored inside a prepper room I built in my upper barn that has its own AC unit, so the room stays in the 60s or less year round.

Now I understand gardens seed will not last anywhere near as long as my food items.  Things like dried beans, rice, wheat berries, etc. can last 30+ years in such conditions.  Most seed would last only a few years.  So each year, I put up a new container of garden seed.  Each container (seed vault) contains the basic garden seed that could sustain my family for a year, along with fruits & berries from my orchard, catfish from the pond & wild game in the woods.  These seed are varieties I grow each and every year, so I know they do well in my specific location.  I don’t have anywhere near the number of varieties found in commercial seed vaults, but every seed I have are varieties that grow here with minimal to no fertilizers & other garden chemicals… even though I keep more than a year’s supply of such in storage.

My philosophy on survival gardening is to keep it simple.  I also wish to extend the growing season as long as possible, which is pretty long here in north Mississippi.  So my seed vaults all contain cool weather varieties.  Tops for me are collard greens.  They grow early spring & late fall & produce huge crops of nutrient packed leaves.  I normally include some English peas, which also are cool loving, but this year I put them in my freezer in the barn, for very long term storage.  For warm weather varieties, my core crops are the three sisters, grown for ages by native Americans all over this country.  They include corn, pole beans & winter squash.  They are called companion plants because they all assist the others.  Corn grows tall & strong, and provides the support for the pole bean vines to grow on.  The pole beans, being a legume, fix nitrogen on their roots & provide natural fertilizer for the corn.  The winter squash vines stay low to the grown & provide ground cover to help maintain soil moisture & to smother weeds.

I always include amaranth in my seed stores and I feel amaranth is probably the most valuable variety for survival gardening.  It was a staple crop of the Maya civilization in central America.  Its leaves are super nutritious as are its seed.  Each plant can produce a half pound of seed each and the seed are tiny.  A single plant will produce hundreds of thousands of seed.  Amaranth in its native form, which I have growing wild on my property, is a weed.  You almost can’t kill it.  Across the country farmers fight it because it grows so well & reproduces so fast.  This family trait makes the commercial varieties so easy to grow.  They handle drought well, as do most weeds.  Cut the top half of the plant off, and in a few weeks it will have regrown.  These plants can get over 6 feet tall.  The seed can be ground into flour or eaten as a porridge.

So here is what is in this year’s seed vault:

10 lbs Rattlesnake pole beans   5 lbs Tennessee Red Cob corn, 5 lbs Truckers Favorite corn

1 lb Georgia Southern collards      1/4 lb Seminole pumpkins   1/4 lb Green Callallo amaranth

Seed count is as follows:  corn: 12,800     pole beans: 11,000      Seminole pumpkin: 1100

Georgia Southern collards: 100,000   Green Callallo amaranth: 150,000

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How much would you spend for a greenhouse?

I will be setting up a greenhouse in my backyard right now and I am thinking about a portable greenhouse, a glass greenhouse, or something else.
A portable greenhouse doesn’t seem to cost much. Many portable greenhouses cost less than $300. However, I will need to purchase other equipment such as irrigation, ventilation, etc. I don’t know what is a reasonable budget range.

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(EDIT: I’m stupid, BigBlue has an EU warehouse) Looking for a solar panel comparable to the BigBlue 3 (28 wat) in Europe


Hi all,I’m looking to purchase a solar panel comparable to the BigBlue3, which performs ‘well enough’ in cloudy/overcast conditions. So far I could not find any retailer in Europe which does not sell it for a nearly 90% mark-up and was wondering if there are comparable panels available which are in a similar price bracket. Also just curious, but does anyone else have a habit of wanting to go light in weight which ends up succeeding. But then taking in extra things (camera, battery banks, bluetooth speaker/buds, a camping chair)  because there is left-over space/weight? (it helps with slowing me down and walking with the rest of my buddies though) 

Lastly thanks Prepared for all the research they have done, legends that they actually look at stats/data instead of using vague definitions. 

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Will 110 gal of water ruin my foundation?

I just purchased two of WaterPrepared’s 55 gal water tanks: My plan was to store them in a corner of our outdoor shed, which is built on a concrete foundation. When I went to clear out that part of the shed, I noticed that there is severe cracking in the foundation all along the wall. See photo.

I don’t know if this is caused by:

1) the 400 lbs of water that is already stored on that side of the shed in 5 gal containers. But the water wasn’t stored in that corner–the row of 5 gal containers starts on the cardboard on the left side of the photo.

2) the current drought which is drying up our clay soil so that it contracts underneath the foundation. This is a major problem in our area; we have to put soaker hoses around our home’s slab foundation to keep it evenly moist or it will crack. We don’t have soaker hoses around the shed.

It’s only a shed, so I’m not very concerned about the foundation cracks. But I don’t want them to get majorly worse, like having that side of the shed sink 3 inches into the ground! Do I need to find a different place for the two 55 gal water tanks? Maybe putting them on the other side of the shed would be sufficient. I had hoped to be able to stack them in order to save space, which would mean about 900 lbs resting on about 4 sq. feet of space.

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What is a working (i.e., preppable) definition of “civil unrest” or disorder?

One discussion I find less satisfying in these forums is the occasional reference to civil unrest. Obviously these events happen with some frequency, but I don’t see any clear definitions of what this is, what kinds of specific threat it presents, and so on. Of course one of the problems with protests is that they can inspire fear and anger in observers, so one implied definition seems to be “political protests I don’t agree with.” In keeping with the rationalist approach of this site I’d like to have a discussion that’s more specific about the issue. This is especially important given rising social tensions and uncertainties.

Wikipedia has a reference list of events in the US. There’s other info about other western countries on line too.

If you read through a few of the entries within the last 20 years, there are some common characteristics:

– They don’t emerge out of nowhere, meaning they’re usually preceded by a call to protest or other action by the actors, with dates and locations given.

– Spontaneous riots are relatively rare, and even then are often anticipated by police (sports events, controversial criminal cases, etc.).

– They very rarely spread outside a small area (a few city blocks, an industrial site, a politically charged memorial).

– They burn out within a days or weeks.

– Most of the time, they appear larger and worse in media/social media than they do up close.

So, in our recent experience with unrest in the West, there has never been an incident where every region of a city erupted into chaos, where a government collapsed, where vital infrastructure was destroyed, or where large numbers of bystanders were injured. But property damage, especially to non-involved parties has been significant and reprehensible at times.

I’ve taken part in protests myself (environmental) and have never wanted anything to get out of hand. I’ve also observed protests or large disturbances (sports events) that threatened to get out of hand, and just stayed away. I was safe after moving about two blocks away.

I am absolutely not deriding anyone who fears this kind of disorder, but I do think we should have some way of understanding how real the threat is, and how extensive it can be (number of people, geographic scope, amount of damage if any, etc.).

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What three firearms would you have for prepping?

If you could only have three firearms and cared about preparedness, what would you have? Don’t want to start a “the one true caliber” debate (let’s not open that can of worms just yet!), so this is more about platforms/types that work together well if things really get bad in the world.

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Can a carport help me protect my car from the heat?

I always park my car in my backyard. But summer coming, and the temperature gradually increases. Now, it is hot. I found online that a carport can help me protect my car in the summer. It is true? And how should I pick a carport?

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Turn off your WiFi when you don’t need it, and other tips on how to prevent hacking and tracking

A recent article by Bleeping Computer summed up many of the dangers of leaving your WiFi turned on which many people might not be aware of, and the solution of turning off your WiFi before you leave the house is so simple that I thought it inherited a post of it’s own. Check out the article for the full technical explanation but here is my quick and dirty summary:

By default, most smartphones search for available WiFi networks all the time, and connect to them if trusted. About ¼ of the time, your phone searches for a WiFi signal and broadcasts the name of past networks you have connected to which are then stored in WiFi routers you pass. Passwords to previous connected WiFi networks (like your home or work) were also leaked during this broadcast. Having your phone always broadcasting WiFi probes has tracking implications. Your phone is always being tracked by other radios like your cell connection, but why add one more point of tracking? Many stores already use WiFi and Bluetooth probing to track their customers’ position and movement to see what items and areas they are most interested in. Hackers set up fake hotspots with popular network names, like Starbucks, and your phone may auto connect to it and now the hackers can watch all your internet traffic and intercept things you are doing.

What to do to minimize your attack surface from easiest to hardest.

The thing you should get in a habit of doing is to simply turn off your WiFi when you are leaving your home. Not only will it save battery by not constantly sending out probes for networks, but it will reduce your attack surface quite a bit. Turn off your phone, put it in airplane mode, or put it in a faraday bag when you don’t need it. An easy thing you can do is to remove previously connected to networks that you no longer use like that AirBnB you stayed at last winter. Disable your device’s ability to auto-join a network. That way it won’t connect to some hacker’s fake WiFi broadcast under the same name as one you have previously joined. Update your device’s operating system. Newer versions have better security and can offer settings which help minimize some tracking. Turn on MAC address randomization. This is your device’s address on a network so your router knows to send that data you just requested to you and not your kids on their device. If your MAC address is the same on every network you connect to, it is easier to track you than if you have your device randomize that address for each different network you connect to. If you do need to use WiFi somewhere that is not your home and can’t be 100% trusted, only connect using a VPN. So even if you connect to a rouge hotspot or it is being monitored, your internet traffic is encrypted.

I am glad that I read through this article and then did a self assessment. I usually turn off WiFi when I leave the house, have MAC addresses randomized, and use a VPN. But when I looked at my phone I have collected 9 saved networks that are all set to auto-connect when in range. So these are constantly being sent out and probed for. I was able to delete five of them and turn the remaining four to not auto-connect. It will just involve one more step of clicking on the network name when I get in range and want to connect to it, but hopefully it will cut down on the amount of information I am sending out and not allow my device to automatically connect to networks I pass. I wrote down the deleted network names and passwords in my password manager so I can easily access those if I ever need them without having to ask again for the password.

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What are my fellow urban Canadians doing different about prepping? Here’s some of what I have done and worked.

I hope I’m not duplicating an existing thread, but I thought it would be useful to have some discussion specific to Canadian members, given differences in laws, available products, climate, infrastructure, etc. I’m a newish prepper and am interested in how others are setting themselves up. I live a in a city in Western Canada, in a condo, so I don’t have land, a garage, or tons of storage space. Given those limitations I’m still better set up than most people in my city.

First, my perspective. I really only focus on a two-week scenario. I’m assuming my plan would involved (1) bugging in, (2) assisting three elderly family members, (3) contending with overloaded public services, and (4) no “societal breakdown,” partly because that is such a vague concept. I have no problems with guns but don’t own any and don’t plan to (though I might get armor). There are very different laws here regarding weapons, self-defense, etc., and it would be good for Canadians to be aware of those.

My main scenarios are (1) loss of power during extreme cold or heat, (2) water system breakdown, (3) air contamination largely from fires.

I’ve developed my plan by asking, what would I need to get by, and what shortfalls/losses would I find demoralizing. So I’ve planned on the high end for maintaining hygiene and related items. If the water system went down, the prospect of 00s of 000s or millions of people pooping in their yards or plastic bags (ineptly and in a panic) raises concerns about air and water contamination, and obvious panics about supplies. 

I have food and water preps, medical, and air filtration, so far. I’m investigating solar generators and am debating which one I should get (affordable but also useable over 14 days), as well as a panel. I’d prefer to get a large unit and two smaller ones for elderly family members.

For the elderly family I’ll be assisting, the first question is whether they’re safe to remain at home, or join me. In general, I’ll want to stay away from hospitals and any emergency public service centers as they’ll be chaotic and unpredictable, so psychological and medical aid on site is preferable.

Because I have limited space and am not planning for a very extreme scenario, I’m not going into my preps in detail because they’re pretty standard. But I’m curious what other Canadians, especially urban dwellers, are doing.

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Endure: A tabletop RPG for preppers

Heya everyone! I wanted to share something cool I found that we could use to test out or even just play around in hypothetical scenarios. It’s a rules-lite, pay-what-you-want Tabletop Roleplaying Game known as Endure. You can find it here!

The basic idea of it is that you are an average person caught in a Crisis Scenario. This isn’t The Division, where you’re essentially a super soldier putting the world together one city block at a time. No, I’d say it feels more like The Long Dark or The Last of Us. You can also set the game in whatever time period or setting you want, as long as you’re surviving a Crisis.

All you need to play this game is two six-sided dice. No complex character sheets, no battle maps, none of that. I like this because it leaves the game open for Players and GMs to tell the story they want to without being confined to a framework. The only thing I don’t like about it is that combat isn’t explained very well, as they just advise avoiding it if you can. While that makes sense, a little more on the subject would be nice.

Regardless, I hope y’all find this game interesting!

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Happy Fathers Day! What has your dad taught you?

I am not a father or am anywhere near being a father any time soon (just graduated from high school), but I thought it would be nice to talk about ways that our fathers have taught us skills or lessons that can apply to discussions on this forum.

I always enjoyed camping with my parents growing up and learning things like how to start a fire and set up a tent safely while looking for dead overhead branches and making sure you don’t sleep with your head going downhill.

Love you dad!


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Bald eagle photobombs my horses.

I was on the tractor down in the bottom pasture cutting the grass when I noticed my horses at the pond.  I started a video, hoping they would play in the water.  Just then, one of my resident bald eagles decided to photobomb the horses.  I do so love these eagles.

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Budget emergency radio – is this a reasonable option?

I’m looking to get an emergency radio that would be suitable for my go bag, and I’m on a limited budget. This option is turning up on a website where I’m looking for other things, and the $20 CAD price seems great:

Is there an obvious reason it would be a bad choice?

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Seeking ideas for prepper related challenges/experiments

For years I’ve been doing various prepper-type challenges, sometimes with a friend and sometimes by myself, but we’re kind of running out of fresh ideas lately.  I thought maybe this community would have some good suggestions:)

To give an idea of the sort of thing I’m talking about, past challenges have included “a year without a water heater” “cut a season’s worth of firewood by hand” and “a month eating only wild food foraged day by day – no dipping into stored food.”

So please don’t suggest anything as simple as “practice a fire drill” nor as extreme as “walk into the woods and see how long you can live out of your BOB.”  (Which sounds fun, but I have responsibilities at home.)

Right now I’m following a project to use WWII era ration stamps as though it’s 1943, although that’s more historical then truly prepping related, as there’s no reason to think that the same foods would be rationed in the same amounts should a similar program ever be needed.

If anyone has ideas please share them.  Bonus if it’s something you’ve done yourself or would be willing to do, because then we could compare notes on here:)

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How are you doing? Times are stressful, keep an eye on how you are handling things

How are you doing? No seriously… think about it. Take a moment of reflection of how you are feeling. Put things on scale of 1-10 if that will help you. Think about the various areas of your life, finances, physical fitness, job, family life, hobbies, etc… Are you living balanced or is one area out of wack? It’s important to be in tune with your body and mind, we often get so busy and overwhelmed that the ship might be sinking underneath us (our mental or physical health), but we are so focused on the horizon.

I’ve been struggling lately with everything just being so expensive and there isn’t really any end in sight. It’s making it even harder to save money for the future and my “fun money” for hobbies and recreation is smaller than ever. So I guess my main worry is the economy. 

We are all strangers here, feel free to open up and vent to others here on how you are doing. I’m at least here to listen to you if you need it.

Being prepared brings comfort and reassurance. Guess I just need to prepare more. If I had lots of gas and food stored, I might not be as worried about all the rising costs of everything, 

Looking back on old forum posts I came across this one with some good advice: Philosophies for good mental health

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Sanding down a cast iron pan for that “smooth as glass” finish – Awesome results!

Just a heads up, but I am very new to the world of cast iron cookware so hopefully you seasoned veterans (cast iron pun) will go easy on me. I know cast iron people are very opinionated.

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Being new to cast iron, I always wanted to strive towards that “smooth as glass” finish that people seem to get. Where an egg will just slide off not leaving anything behind, but after years of working towards it I never could get it to be as non-stick as I would have liked it to be. There are some techniques that I learned about a year ago that did make a big difference like only using the smallest amount of oil and applying it to a hot pan in between cookings instead of a large amount of oil to a cold pan like I was doing, but I still knew I could get it better.

While watching some YouTube videos of Cowboy Kent Rollins, I came across a video of him talking about using actual sand paper on your cast iron to shave years of wear off of it. He says that you could get to that finish naturally in like 30 years of use, but in just a few minutes you can fast track the process and get to enjoying your pan sooner.

Looking into it further I learned that cast iron cookware is called such because the iron is cast into a mold made of sand, which is why it has that rough texture. If you look close on your pan you will understand what I am talking about and see all the grains of sand that the iron formed around. This texture however, makes for a lousy cooking surface and is why you have to apply layers of seasoning to fill in these holes and pores to get that smooth surface.

You can do this solely by hand, but a cheap $15-$20 electric sander will make it go by much more quickly. There still will be areas that the sander can’t reach that need to be buffed by hand though. I first started off with some cheap sand paper but was going through it very quickly and not much material was coming off. I then switched to my good stuff and it made a world of difference. I highly recommend 3M’s pro grade precision sand paper with Cubitron II technology. For this project or wood working, this is the best stuff that lasts extremely long.

Start out with a course grit sand paper (like 60 grit) and take the bulk of the material down, buff down sharp points, and get it to more or less how you would like it to be. Then follow up with some medium grit (like 120-150 grit) to smooth things out more.

The goal here is just to knock down the high points and not to get it down to a mirror finish. There needs to be some pitting and texture for the seasoning to adhere to.

Here’s a video showing the before and after in better detail than a picture is able to do.

This will strip any existing seasoning on your pan and you will have to start it over from scratch. The bare iron that you have exposed will be very sensitive to rusting so you need to at least put on two layers of seasoning before you start using it. Do this by preheating your oven to 450–500 degrees F. Place aluminum foil on the bottom rack of the oven to catch any excess oil. Apply a very thin layer of oil on your cookware and place it upside down on the center rack. This helps prevent oil from pooling on the cooking surface. Bake for 1 hour. Take it out, let it cool down, and repeat and it is ready for use.

Did it work? Yes! After about a month of regular use, a good seasoning built up again and I finally got that non-stick finish that I was looking for. It is just so much nicer to cook in now. Here’s the residue that was left after cooking some eggs:

Getting that cooking surface to a non-stick finish was great but another benefit of going through this sanding process was that I was able to knock down the sharp edges of the pan and handle. I can’t stress enough how great it feels in the hand now compared to what it used to be like.

I have two more skillets and a dutch oven that I want to apply this finishing process on. This took a cheap Lodge pan and transformed it into a much higher quality pan that functions and feels significantly better.

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Preppers and climate change

I want to raise a question about what a prepping mindset means for prevention, especially in the area of climate change, which is driving so many emergencies and disasters. I realize we have diverse folks here and I really don’t want to start a political fight. To me climate change is an issue that should actually unite all of us, but I realize that some people feel otherwise. If you’re reading this and you don’t believe in climate change or don’t believe that it’s caused by human factors, I would like to respectfully ask you to please just skip this thread.

I’m in California and my prepping has been very heavily driven by the radical increase of catastrophic wildfires in the last few years. It’s no secret that climate change is a major cause of these. In general I’ve been feeling a great deal of urgency about arresting climate change along with all the related issues like large scale species extinction. It seems like the stakes couldn’t be higher and time is very short. I don’t see that our government is moving nearly fast enough to deal with this crisis.

Lately, tired of feeling helpless and anxious, I’ve started wondering what the average citizen can do to help reverse this problem. Of course we can recycle and all that, but truly these individual actions make a very limited impact on climate change. Individuals aren’t the main drivers of the changing climate.  In addition to not knowing what I can do to make a greater impact, I, personally, am not much of a conventional activist —  meaning I personally get de-energized and turned off by marches, slogans, petitions and all that. (I’m not saying these aren’t necessary, it just doesn’t match my temperment.) So, I’m looking for other ways to get involved.

It suddenly occurred to me that here we have a community of folks who are more aware than the average person of the dangers we are facing and I thought I would ask if any of you are also thinking about how to arrest and reverse the problems we are facing, rather than just prepare to deal with them when they come down the pike. It all seems to be part of one holistic outlook to me. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.

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The best faraday cages and sleeves


There are a number of Faraday cages and bags for sale at a wide variety of price points, but it isn’t clear to me which ones are good. Does anybody know what company makes a quality laptop bag at a fair price, for example?

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No Grid Survival Projects book, has anyone tried it?

I’m tempted to order this, but thought I’d see if any of you have checked  it out? Might be pretty basic stuff, but looks like he’s made it easy to complete his projects by referencing exactly where to get supplies.
It might be a good one to have on hand in the prepping library, if his projects seem legit.

Please chime in with your thoughts!

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What to do about a personal data leak or breach – Before and After

This recent news roundup mentioned that the state of California has leaked and mishandled data on thousands of gun owners. This has come up before. Data leaks and breaches always seem frustrating and sad. While I would love to see strict penalties for poor security and mishandling that lead to data leaks and exposure, this also got me thinking – what _can_ we do to prepare for or prevent a personal data leak?

The Prepared site has excellent articles and forum posts on general digital security and preparedness. But what about data breaches specifically? Here are some intro steps from a bit of light research:

What to do before and after a data breach:


Use encrypted text messages. Install Signal – the most secure, open source, encrypted text messaging app. Keep your data private. You can use Signal for all texts on your phone – it will simply use encryption with anyone else who also has Signal, but still send regular text messages to those who do not. Then you can invite them to improve their texting too. Use a password manager. Don’t store your sensitive information inside emails etc. Don’t give out your Social Security Number (SSN). Or other very sensitive info. This may depend on geography. In North America there are usually only two places that need to know about your SSN: Your employer (so you can get paid), and your bank. That is it. Many other places try to ask and get this information. Tell them no. Often you may find them sheepishly admit the information was “optional”, and they will back down. Sign up your email address at . This is an interesting website that monitors data breaches and will email you if it finds that your email address has been included in a data leak. A good way to at least be aware that your information may have been exposed. Get a backup credit card and/or bank account. If you have the ability, having one main credit card but also a backup card can help to ensure you still have a way to operate or pay your bills if your main card is stolen or compromised. Likewise – opening two different bank accounts at different _types_ of institutions with different risk profiles – e.g. one large national bank and one local credit union. Storing some funds in each can help to make sure you still have access to some of your money. Keep some cash on hand. So you can keep operating even if everything goes down. Freeze and set a PIN on your credit file. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion will let you set a PIN – like a password – that must be used to unfreeze your credit account. This should prevent or make it more difficult for anyone to take out a loan in your name or otherwise access your credit. If you want to take out a loan or apply for credit yourself, you can simply call them with the PIN to unfreeze, and then re-freeze your account. Get and read your own credit report every six months. This can be a painful process, but the three firms above should let you get a free copy of your own credit report. Emphasis on free: they are not allowed to charge for it. However, they often make this intentionally difficult and confusing by adding many “upgrade” tiers and options, and changing the name to things like “consumer disclosure report” instead. Checking your report e.g. every six months can help you to spot if anyone used or tried to use your credit account. Consider credit- or identity-protection. I am wary of these services and have never tried them. I am not sure how much they actually help in the event anything happens. Would love to hear from anyone who has had good or bad experiences with identity protection.


Call the company or organization and confirm whether your data was included in the breach or leak. Find out what type of data was affected. If your credit card info was leaked, you probably want to call your credit card company to cancel and replace the card. See if the company now offers help, or offers free identity protection after the fact. They may be able to help you get back to normal. Change the password on any accounts that were affected.

What other ideas or actions can you think of?


Forum post “Getting Weekly Credit Reports”. Thanks to community member Supersonic for posting.,news-18007.html Read More

How to survive a nuclear attack

Many people are talking about the increased possibility of a nuclear attack. Here’s what I learned about how to survive such an attack and what we can do to prepare for one after a few hours of research. 

Nuclear bombs can be deployed in many ways such as from a missile from an enemy country or even in the back of a van driven into a populated area. 

Distances in which you will be safe will depend on various factors such as size of the blast and the amount of material between you and the bomb. With a ten kiloton nuclear bomb, all organic matter (that’s you) will be vaporized instantly, wood structures will be incinerated, and glass will melt within 1/4 mile of the blast. 

At 1 mile out you will be able to survive it. If you do see a distant extremely bright source of light, turn away instantly, close your eyes, lay down on the ground and cover your head. The flash of a nuclear blast is brighter than the sun (can cause temporary blindness if you are looking at it) and emits a 10 million degree pulse of heat called a thermal pulse. Fires will still start and buildings will be destroyed 1 mile away from the blast. The flash of light and thermal pulse will travel quickly and hit you first, shortly after that will be the shock wave. Continue to lay on the ground covering your head, cover as much exposed skin as you can to prevent radiation burns, and keep your mouth open to prevent the shock wave from blowing out your eardrums and lungs. Get as low as you can. The shock wave will feel like a freight train going over you.

At 3 miles out, it will take about 20 seconds for the shock wave to reach you after you see the initial blast. If you are driving, pull over and get down low. After the shock wave passes, you have about 20 minutes before fallout starts raining down. Fallout is the powdered pieces of buildings, and everything caught up in the explosion of the blast combined with radioactive material from the bomb which is sent in the iconic mushroom cloud up into the atmosphere.  This 20 minute window is critical to find where you are going to be spending the next days sheltering in place. Common injuries you and others around you may be experiencing after a blast are burns, lacerations, broken bones, head wounds, people passed out, and car accidents. Quickly cover any open wounds and stop the bleeding, if fallout touches a wound it will enter your bloodstream and that could be fatal. Remember, you only have 20 minutes to find shelter, so do not stay and help all the wounded around you or you may leave yourself vulnerable. 

You are responsible for your life. Seconds after an explosion, satellites will pick it up and alert the pentagon and the president who will put the country into Def-con 1 (the highest state of alert) maximum military and local response will take place to assist in your area if the entire nation isn’t going through the same thing you are, but that will take time. You are on your own for the short term (at least 72 hours), possible long term (never receiving help).

When looking for a shelter, look out for downed power lines, derbies in the road, buildings on the verge of collapse, fires, and other dangers. Move quickly but be aware. Vehicles, computers, cell phones, and other electronics within a 3 mile radius of the blast may be wiped by the electric magnetic pulse (EMP) that is caused when the nuclear bomb ionizes the surrounding air. If you are miles away from the blast and have the ability to escape the fallout, figure out which direction the wind is blowing and travel perpendicular to that. 

A standard wood framed house will only stop 30-60% of the fallout, a well sealed basement will block 90%. Try going to dense concrete or metal buildings when searching for a shelter. When entering a building that you are going to bunker down in, remove outer layers of clothing that might have come in contact with the radioactive dust. Use any water you have to rinse off hair and exposed skin. Fallout emits radiation in three ways, alpha, beta, and gamma rays. Alpha and beta are weak and are dangerous when inhaled or on your skin. Gamma rays are the scary ones that travel through flesh damaging cells and causing cancers. The only way to stop gamma rays is to put as much solid material between the fallout and yourself. Head to the center and or basement of whatever building you are in to create as much material between yourself and the radiation. If the building you are in doesn’t have a basement, go up as many floors as you can to get away from the radiation that will land on the ground, but keep at least two floors above you from the radiation that settles on the roof. (Example, go to the 10th floor in a 12 story building) Use plastic, tape, newspaper, or clothing to seal off as many air gaps of the door and the room you are in to prevent radioactive dust from entering the area. Within the room that you have dedicated to be your shelter, place as many pieces of furniture, books, boxes, and material along the walls. 

If you get exposed to radiation for too long you will develop radiation sickness or die. Radiation damages cells that are normally dividing to make more cells and keep you alive, when they are damaged they may not divide properly and you will feel sick. If the cells can’t figure out how to start working again and dividing you will die. Some of the symptoms of radiation sickness include becoming nauseated, vomiting, or swelling from damaged blood vessels. 

Fallout loses 90% of it’s potency after 3 days, so be prepared to shelter in place for at least that long. Have enough water and food for that time. An emergency radio is helpful to know when rescue teams are nearby and when it is safe to go outside. When it is time to leave the bunker, again cover up any exposed skin you can, wear a cloth or even better a N95/N100 mask to prevent inhalation. 

What are iodine pills that prepping groups talk about and do I need it?

When a nuclear blast goes off, radioactive iodine is released which can be inhaled or absorbed in our food and water. The body can’t tell between radioactive iodine and safe iodine so it will absorb whatever kind it can. Potassium iodide pills can be taken which will flood the body with iodine and accumulate in the thyroid gland. The concentration of this pill is so high that the entire thyroid gland will be saturated and unable to absorb any more radioactive iodine. So if you have these pills, take them ASAP after the nuclear blast to prevent your thyroid gland from absorbing the bad stuff. 

Educational website:

Check out the Nuke Map and see how large an explosion near you could be. 

Will YOU ever have to worry about this and implement these steps? 

My thought is it is incredibly unlikely and you probably won’t. But hopefully you have learned a trick or two from this post that will save your life. My greatest realization was that you have 20 minutes after the blast for the real nasty stuff to start coming down. That is more warning than many other disasters such as an earthquake or tornado. 

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AC Apocalypse. Whatcha gonna do?

20+ year old a/c unit, 90-100º forecast for days… need I say what happened over the weekend? I’ve been around for a while, namely since before a/c was common. Boy, how quickly we forget how pampered is our rich-world life.

On a related note, I saw Texas Reliability forecast blackouts down there and urged folks to turn off the AC, riiight.

So just a thread to think about heat related actions if not preps. According to Wiki in most years, more people succumb to excessive heat than any other weather related cause. Obviously GW is causing anomalous heat waves (like in the PNW last year) and especially prolonged heat events are dangerous because warm nights prevent the cooling respite more fragile bodies need.

Just a few random things:

If you are in a dry climate, evaporating water, however you can get that to happen, is the natural solution. Water changing from liquid to vapor absorbs heat, cooling it’s surrounding. But in humid climes you need other plans. We live in Missouri now, dry in the winter and wet—er in the summer. Here a summer breeze is as likely as not to be so saturated that not only is your efforts to evaporate water for cooling inefficient but your own perspiration is much less effective. Be especially cautious when the dew point is high, 65º ot higher because your natural cooling is less effective.

Warmer air holds more water, to a point. The dew point is the temperature at which the air is saturated, below that temperature the moisture in the air condenses—forms dew. Think of a cold drink glass with beads of water on the outside, the glass is colder than the dew point so moisture from the air condenses on it. But on the flip side, with a high dew point the air is already near-saturation and perspiration or a wet kerchief is less effective as cooling because water won’t evaporate into near-saturated air so won’t absorb heat in changing phase.

So, getting out of those weeds, we live in an old house 150 years maybe. Old houses had lots of cooling strategies we can implement in an emergency. Our house s 12′ ceilings and windows that go up almost to 10′. Open down the top sash and open up the bottom at night and automatically a convection current sweeps out the hot air at the top, pulling in cool air at the bottom—even with no breeze. That is if the air cools off at night. The US SE may not be uninhabitable in a warmed future because humidity holds heat, preventing night time cooling. 

Houses once employed breezeways to, you know, catch the prevailing breeze. Also they did pay attention ot orientation. Here in SW MO the prevailing wind is from the NW in winter but the summer breeze usually comes from West or SW. So the old houses keep their backs to the NW and their sitting porch to the SW—to catch the summer breeze and shade the summer evening sun that is WNW about now. 

Of course you can’t reorient your house in an A/C apocalypse but you can think about those natural angles. Say leaving the drapes closed on the East in the morning and west/north in the afternoon. In the evening, open the windows and go outside as soon as outside is cooler, the SE side will have been in the shade longest at 9P so will be coolest, everything else equal.

Anyway long enough rant for now. I fixed the AC so gotta go enjoy it. What strategies do you have for dealing with AC Apocalypse? 

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Remove rust off your gear and tools with vinegar or ketchup

Did you know that vinegar is a great way to remove surface rust off of metal objects like tools, stoves, or camping gear? I didn’t, but after seeing it done on YouTube I gave it a try and it worked quite well.

I do take care of my tools, but have inherited and found some used tools that were neglected and gathered some rust.

The following two were my fault though. The small pair of wire cutters and the rust on this parang were from me not applying a protective layer of oil on them.

The first step is to scrub everything down with soapy water to remove any grease or oil that is on there. This is an important step because I forgot to do that the first time I put all these in a vinegar bath and not very much rust came off. After washing them properly and then soaking in vinegar again, it worked much better.

Because it would take quite a lot of vinegar to submerge the parang, I opted to try spraying it and the wire cutters down with some ketchup on just the areas that have built up rust.

The rest of the tools I submerged in vinegar for 24 hours. Without even touching them, look at the rust that has just flaked off.

Taking a brass wire brush, I lightly brushed off the remaining rust and the tools are looking much nicer now!

Some of the files and punches still had some of the 20+ year old rust on them, but they do look much nicer now and I’m happy with the results. Another soak or two with additional brushing probably could get them back to new.

The parang however didn’t show any signs of improvement. I’m not sure why, because the ketchup worked great on the wire cutters. Maybe it is the type of steel it is made out of.

I then put some oil on a rag and wiped all the tools down to prevent this from happening again.

Neat little trick, but hopefully I never have to do it again and can prevent this from happening with proper maintenance in the first place.

Further reading: How to maintain garden tools with a bucket of sand and oil

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See you later Alligator! – How to avoid and survive an attack

Cute little guy, but also slightly frightening…

I am hoping to visit Florida later this year but have been worried by seeing one too many news articles of people being attacked by alligators. After some research though (which I’m sharing below), I’ve come to the conclusion that attacks are rare and can be mostly avoided by taking a few steps. I’ve seen quite a few people on this forum from the southeast, so please share any additional experience you have.

Florida man killed in possible alligator attack while searching lake for Frisbees  –

Quick summary: Man was out late at night looking for frisbees along a lake and gets attacked by an alligator. Another person finds his body the next morning.

Lessons learned: Don’t walk around bodies of water at night when your visibility is limited and alligators are more active. If you NEED to go around water at night, wear a headlamp and look around for glowing eyes reflecting back at you.

This person also was known to frequent the park and disregard the posted “No Swimming” signs. So follow the rules.

An alligator killed a person near Myrtle Beach in South Carolina –

Quick summary: Not too many details here except that the person died near a retention pond.

Lessons learned: So even shallow and man made bodies of water can have alligators.

Woman killed by gator on Kiawah Island was ‘fascinated,’ took pictures before attack –

Quick summary: Lady sees a alligator in the pond of a friends house and goes out to take pictures of it. Her friend warns her that the alligator grabbed a deer from that spot the other day and the lady just ignores her and says “I don’t look like a deer.” The lady then goes in to touch the alligator and it grabs and pulls her into the water. The husband of the friend grabs a rope and throws it to her to try and pull her out but the alligator got her to waist deep water and rolled pulling her down and killing her.

Lessons learned: Pretty obvious here to most. Don’t get near alligators, don’t try and pet them. If you are trying to save someone who is being pulled in by one then do what these guys did and throw a rope and don’t go in yourself.

After SC’s 2nd fatal alligator attack in 2 years, incidents remain rare, authorities stress

Quick summary: Lady walks her dog near the water’s edge and the alligator lunges out to eat the dog but only grabs the leash. The lady is able to unhook the dog’s collar but the alligator then pulls her in.

Lessons learned: Again, stay away from the water’s edge in places where alligators might live.

Coroner ID’s mother, 2 young children killed after car hits alligator on I-95

Quick summary: Mother and two young children hit an alligator crossing the road and then crash their car and die.

Lessons learned: They can even get you on the highways. Drive slow, especially around blind corners and hills.

A Florida Girl Survived an Alligator’s Attack by Shoving Her Fingers Up Its Nostrils

Quick summary: Finally a good story. 10 year old girl sitting in some shallow water is bit by an alligator. She thumps it on the head and nothing happens. She then remembers a survival technique she learned when visiting Gatorland and stuck her fingers into it’s nostrils which caused the alligator to open it’s mouth.

Lessons learned: Pick a alligator’s nose if it bites you.

Here’s some comedic ways to deal with alligators/crocodiles. (not recommended):

Hit them over the head with a frying pan 

Get them into a trash can

How to avoid an attack:

These are the areas where the American alligator live

Above image source

From what I learned, there are some crocodiles in Florida, but they are rare and the main threat you are likely to encounter in the USA is the American Alligator. Still, tips on how to avoid them should be about the same.

From CNN article –

Spring to early summer is mating season and protective mothers watch over their eggs hatching in September and October. Winter is the safest season because it is cold and they aren’t doing a whole lot.

When temperatures start settling into the 80s (27 Celsius), gators become mostly nocturnal. So it’s best to avoid that refreshing night dip in unknown waters when it’s hot.

Don’t feed, bother, or provoke alligators. Feeding them is bad because it makes them associate humans with food.

Avoid heavy vegetation near the water’s edge where they might be nesting or waiting.

If you are attacked, try poking the eyes or sides of the mouth. If you are on land, avoid the myth of running in a zig-zag and just run in a straight line. If you are caught in the famous death roll, try and roll with it to reduce tearing of your limbs.

From –

Check for ripples in the water, look for backs, eyes, or snouts sticking above the surface. They are most likely to be near the shoreline, in shallow areas, and in weedy areas.

If you hear this sound near your area, avoid it.

Although, they most likely are going to be silent and stealthy when stalking their prey.

Fight back by punching, kicking, and poking it’s eyes. Try and stuff objects like a life jacket into it’s mouth and trigger its gag reflex.

If you are swimming in the water and see an alligator swimming by, remain calm and stay as still as possible to not draw attention to yourself.

The Legend himself

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Alligator smile

Season 9 of the Alone premieres this Thursday May 26, 2022. Get caught up on the items used by the winners of previous seasons.

Season 9 of the popular survival TV series Alone kicks off this Thursday May 26, 2022 on the History Channel. A quick summary of the show is that 10 participants are dropped off in the middle of no where and try and survive as long as possible with 10 items. Last man standing wins $500,000. Many survival TV shows are staged and may even fake some of the survival techniques shown on the show, but one thing that I like about Alone is that each participant runs their own camera gear, is truly out there on their own, and what they go through is real.

In this updated article, The Prepared breaks down down the 10 items chosen by each winner and runner up of the previous 8 seasons. Obvious spoilers in the article if you are planning on going back and watching previous seasons. What I like about this article is trying to imagine which items I would choose if placed on that show and how I would use them. 

Something special that I am looking forward to in this next season is that The Prepared community member Jessie Krebs is one of the 10 participants. She has contributed to projects such as the Water Essentials course and How to use a compass and map. I will be cheering for her and wishing her the best of luck on this next season! 

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