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Mass shooting NYC Subway. Bombs found

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10711479/NYPD-searching-man-gas-mask-rush-hour-explosion-shooting.html

No matter if its a criminal or a terrorist or a nut job, theres no way on earth I’m letting my wife fly to NYC for a shopping trip in July.   Be it US, UK or EU cities are fast becoming no go areas.

gunman wearing a gas mask and orange construction vest is on the run in Brooklyn after shooting at least 13  people on a packed subway station platform in Sunset Park during rush hour on Tuesday.  

At least five people are believed to be injured, with four said to be either shot or hit by shrapnel and another shot on the R train at the 36th Street station in Sunset Park. 

At around the same time, there were reports of an explosion nearby. It’s unclear where the gunman is now but NYPD units are hunting for him. 

An NYPD spokesman could only confirm that a shooting had taken place and that no one was in custody. 

Multiple undetonated devices have been found at the scene that the FDNY is now working to remove safely. 

‘Originally, the call came in as smoke in the subway station. Upon arrival, officers found multiple people shot and undetonated devices.  

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Free DIY: How to make small waterproof containers using plastic trash

It’s great to store smaller bug out bag items in waterproof containers, like medication, tinder, or water purification tablets. In this post, I show how to DIY a free and quick method that recycles/upcycles the plastic bottles you’ll be throwing out anyway. 

When deciding what containers to upcycle, favor sturdier plastic with quality caps, like the too-expensive disposable water bottles.

–A 16oz water bottle or old apple sauce container provides a large capacity inside the lid and a definable lip that can be cut across.–

Next take a hacksaw or sharp kitchen knife and cut below the lid. If you need a slightly larger container, leaving a portion of the neck of the bottle will give some extra capacity. After that, sand down the rough plastic to create an even and smooth surface. You can even just rub it against some concrete. The nice thing about this project is that it does not need to be exact or perfect and further steps will make up for any imperfections.

–Before and after sanding–

Taking another piece of thin plastic that would have ended up in a landfill for the next 500 years, trace around the lid and cut out the little circle, this will form the base of the container.

–-I cut out clear plastic circles (which is why they are hard to see in the picture) so I could see inside of the container, but you can go with colored plastic if you want.–

Run a thick bead of hot glue or super glue around the rim of the lid and press on the plastic circle. Hot glue is nice because the thickness of the glue fills any imperfections between the sanded portion of the container and the plastic circle base. Any excess that comes out of the side can be wiped or scraped off.

Possible uses:

The container made out of the large apple sauce bottle can store three large cotton balls that can be coated in vaseline for an excellent tinder source.

Learn more about how to make these by reading this post by forum member Jay Valencia.

Using one of those slim and more eco-friendly water bottle lids, I created a small container that can hold red pepper flakes for spicing up food. On the right is a container made from a full sized lid that is able to hold four ibuprofen liquid gel capsules, perfect for throwing in a pocket or purse.

By combining two wide mouth Gatorade bottle lids, a larger container can be made. Or you can place one of those plastic circles in between the two halves and make a container on either end. Perhaps one side is your medicine in the morning and the other end is for the evening.

By screwing a waterproof container on the end of a Sawyer Mini or Hydroblu Versa, top rated in the Best portable survival water filters article, you will protect the protruding tubes on either end that can be damaged if dropped and also stop any leaking of the filter inside your bag after use.

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Inflation preparedness

Alternatives to the US dollar (eg gold, bitcoin) are frequently discussed as insurance against inflation. But are there other steps one should be taking to prepare? Should a renter try to become a homeowner? What storable goods are likely to become expensive? What storable (yet necessary) goods are likely to become scarce?

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Do I need more than a whole house generator?

I have a natural gas line into my home and a 22kw whole house generator that automatically kicks on when the electricity goes out. It can easily power everything in my home, including my gas furnace (necessity) and my whole house a/c (a nice luxury during a summer outage).  The primary worries in my area are winter storms and high-wind storms (including tornados, although I don’t live in “tornado alley.”) My question: “redundancy” seems to be a key concept in prepping, and I’m beginning to wonder if over-reliance on my generator for heat and electricity is wise. Thoughts?

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Sunflower oil: UK bottler has a few weeks’ supply left

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-60941091

The biggest cooking oil bottler for UK shops has said it only has a few weeks’ supply of sunflower oil left.Ukraine and Russia produce most of the world’s sunflower oil and the war is disrupting exports, said Edible Oils.The company, which packages oil for 75% of the UK retail market, is ramping up supplies of other oils for shoppers.Meanwhile, manufacturers of foods that contain sunflower oil, like crisps, oven chips and cereal bars, are reworking their recipes.The Food Standards Agency has advised people with allergies to look out for extra information from shops and food makers.Kim Matthews, commercial director at Edible Oils said 80% of the global supply of sunflower oil comes out of Russia and Ukraine.”So obviously, with everything going on out there, we physically can’t get sunflower to be coming out of the country,” he said.

If you buy any cooking oil on the supermarket shelves, chances are it has come from the Edible Oils plant in Erith, on the outskirts of south-east London. It bottles oil for brands and retailers own label products.”From a UK consumer perspective, sunflower oil is the biggest oil. It’s used more than anything else,” said Mr Matthews.”It’s a fast moving situation. We’re still trying to see if we can get some more but it’s looking very tight.”Edible Oils Ltd has upped production to 24/7 to try to make sure it has plenty of rapeseed and other oils to put on the shelves when the sunflower oil goes.”Sunflower is great because you can cook at high temperatures. Rapeseed is very similar. You can do exactly the same with it,” he said.But it was far from clear when sunflower oil supplies will be back to normal, he said.”At the moment, Ukrainian farmers should be sowing the seeds now for the harvest in October and November.”Clearly that’s not going to happen… we’re probably going to miss the season so we could be impacted for 12-18 months.”

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You can never stock too much _________

What are some things you can never have too much of?

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The Guardian profiles international go-bags

“Your life is under threat. You might have to run any second. What do you take?” – The Guardian

I thought folks here might find this to be of interest. The piece highlights the diverse and rational needs for personal preparedness that are not at all the apocalyptic or paranoid variety.

While only a few of these kits would be The Prepared-approved for their thoroughness, most of the bags reflect some preparedness staples: important documents, communications, medicine, hygiene, and family care. I think it shows some interesting perspectives and that a go-bag is not a one-size-all solution: people do have distinctly different needs, priorities, and scenarios depending on their circumstances and personal values. A complete 30-50lb kit is not going to be achievable or useful in a lot of circumstances, especially for those living in high density urban environments for whom mobility is most important.

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Using a vintage hot water bottle to stay warm and lower your energy bill

I’ve seen many news articles and posts on the forum here about rising energy costs and rightfully so, it is discouraging.

Following the example of brownfox-ff from the weekly news roundups, I would like to share an idea to help. Take action rather then be reacted upon. I don’t thank brownfox-ff enough but I do read their weekly uplifting support and try and work on one or two that week.

The past few months have been cold, especially at night. Instead of turning to the thermostat and clicking it up a few degrees to solve the issue I have been thinking of ways I can overcome my trial in a different way.

Tip #1 One of the big solutions that has helped is to move my couch and computer desk in front of windows so that when I am just sitting there, the warmth of the sun heats me up.

Tip #2 I’ve been wearing more clothing lately. It involves putting on another shirt or a jacket when just around the house during the day. At night I put on a hoodie, a beanie, and an extra blanket on top of my pajamas to keep the warmth in more.

Tip #3 When I just can’t seem to get warm from the above steps, I go to my secret top tip of using a hot water bottle to snuggle up to. These have been around for years and years but I’ve seen them fall out of fashion. Here’s a classic red one on Amazon for $6. The one I have is blue and has a comfortable outer sleeve to reduce the heat against bare skin.

If you don’t have one with a sleeve you can sew one up yourself or just wrap a dish towel around it. All this costs me is the energy that it takes to boil two electric kettles of water and then I have hot water for the entire 9 hours I sleep. I wake up and the bottle is still warm!

I bought this as a way to stay warm without having to rely on a fireplace or furnace and couldn’t be happier. It’s a nice little preparedness item that you should consider. Even if all the stuff hits the fan, we can probably boil some water over a fire.

Thank you all for reading.

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Battery best practices

One of the main recommendations we make in our guide to rechargeable batteries, is that people should quit using alkalines and transition entirely to rechargeables. We have a couple good reasons for this that I wont’ get into, here (read the guide!) 

But here’s the thing: I’m not actually doing this, and I’m the one who wrote the recommendations. 

The reason I find myself unable to do this, is that the rechargeables are expensive, so I don’t want them to go into random kid toys and the like where they’re liable to get lost or thrown away. I hoard those things like the costly little gadgets they are. This means I end up buying alkaline batteries for kid toys and throwaway stuff, and since I have those on-hand I just use them for everything else, too.

So my stash of NiMH batteries sits mostly in special box with my chargers and other battery-related equipment.

I suspect I’m not alone in this approach, and that very few preppers are actually moving to NiMH in all daily-life use — despite the theoretical reasons why it’s a good idea. On this basis, then, I’m thinking of changing the battery guide language to reflect reality.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Have others made the jump to all-rechargeables? Or should I go ahead and concede that people will stick with alkaline, and then focus on storing the NiMH for emergencies?

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Book Review: Emotional First Aid

(image credit: Nick Fewings on Unsplash)

“Emotional First Aid” by Guy Winch is a handbook of practical exercises for healing and recovering from mental and emotional injuries, and building better emotional resilience.

Winch is a clinical psychologist who has spent decades distilling the latest research into practical steps and exercises for his patients. He found himself repeating the same advice over and over. So he compiled it into a book.

The book covers seven of the most common emotional injuries that people experience in everyday life: rejection, loneliness, loss, guilt, rumination, failure, and low self esteem. Winch describes the issues, how they can affect us, and also provides a plan with steps to tackle each type of injury.

Each chapter is split into two parts: first describing the psychological wounds that each type of injury inflicts, especially symptoms or behaviour that may be hard to recognize. Then the second part outlines treatments and steps you can use to work at healing. Winch provides multiple different options and “dosage” guidelines – of various types and intensity – so it’s easy to use the techniques that work for you. He also provides advice on when to seek professional help.

Part of Winch’s motivation for writing this book was to raise awareness of emotional health, and give people a better “first line of defense” for handling and healing emotional injuries. His analogy is right in the title – just as we have a medicine cabinet and first aid kit for first-line dealing with physical injuries, we can also benefit from creating a basic toolkit for dealing with psychological or emotional injuries. “Many of the diagnosable psychological conditions where we would seek professional help could be prevented or healed if we applied ‘emotional first aid’ to our wounds when we first sustained them”.

Winch notes that it is often easier to recognize when a physical wound needs more treatment – e.g. recognizing a minor cut vs a wound that needs stitches. It is more difficult to recognize emotional wounds, so we are more likely to neglect them until they get more serious. “We would never leave a cut on our knee unattended until it compromised our ability to walk. But we leave psychological wounds unattended all the time, even until they literally prevent us from moving forward in life”.

To help with framing and recognizing the different types of emotional wound, Winch compares each of them to a corresponding physical injury. For example:  rejection is compared to “the emotional cuts and scrapes of everyday life”; while loss and trauma are like “walking on broken bones” and guilt is “poison in our system”. This helps to frame the treatments by keeping the physical analogy in mind.

The steps in each chapter are practical and approachable. For example, to fight back against self criticism and build self-esteem, he advises exercises like:

List or write out negative or self critical thoughts that you have Then build counterarguments to each of the criticisms Refer back to the counter arguments whenever you feel overwhelmed

The book is littered with examples from (anonymized) patients and their steps to improvement, to show that it really can work. And it is all backed with references to more than 250 peer-reviewed scientific studies.

“Emotional First Aid” feels useful to have as a reference, especially in a remote or austere environment. Winch directly notes that his book should not be a replacement for professional help for serious emotional or psychological injuries. However, he also notes that seeking professional help may not always be practical or possible. “Emotional First Aid” is quite accessible and clearly written; it should be usable by anyone.

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1 gal water containers for storage

I’m new to prepping, and I’m working on water storage. My sister and I live alone together, and we aren’t particularly strong, so we want to store a portion of the water in 1 gal containers. Those will be easier for us to carry and use, especially for short-term emergencies when we might not even need to break into our 5 gal containers.

From reading The Prepared, I understand that we shouldn’t use cheap plastic containers like milk cartons or soda bottles. Would a beverage cooler like this one be appropriate? https://www.walmart.com/ip/Coleman-1-Gallon-Beverage-Cooler-Jug-Blue/23787717? My concern is that it might not seal securely enough for long term storage.

If this won’t work, can anyone suggest an alternative 1 gal container? Thanks in advance!

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Including Naloxone in EDC or IFAK

Naloxone is new to me but has been featured in several TV news clips in my area over the past month.  Basically, its a drug that by-standers can administer to somebody overdosing on opioids which will potentially save the person’s life.

https://www.cdc.gov/stopoverdose/naloxone/index.html

Wondering if others living and working in busy urban areas keep this on hand as part of their EDC preps.

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Some very interesting assorted YT vids closely associated with Prepping

https://www.youtube.com/c/PracticalpreppersLLC

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Coleman kerosene pressure lanterns available again!

Coleman kerosene lanterns are available again.  They only make these sporadically and haven’t been available for quite a while.  Buy from Coleman direct for $119 and free shipping.  I highly recommend these lanterns.  They are among the brightest lanterns Coleman ever made.   Coleman bumped the price to $129 since I first posted this.  Still a good deal.

https://www.coleman.com/lighting/lanterns/kerosene-lantern/SAP_3000004258.html

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Storing 1 lb. propane cylinders

Over the summer, I bought a camp stove and a couple of 1 lb. propane cylinders. I also bought a couple of the small propane/butane backpacking stove containers. I’m trying to figure out where to store them over the winter. From a quick Internet search, it looks like they should be stored outdoors year round, and I don’t have to worry about them freezing in my cold climate. 

I live in a condo with no garage. There is an uninsulated storage shed attached to the condo. While it’s not detached from the living space, it seems like this would be my best option. Do you agree? Maybe store the cylinders upright inside a storage cooler (the kind for storing food during a camping trip)? Or? Thank you.

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Looking for ideas for nut-free snacks for my backpack

Since long before I got actively interested in preparedness, I’ve been in the habit of carrying around a well-stocked backpack with all sorts of stuff I might need (extra layers of clothing, ibuprofen, bandaids, mylar emergency blanket, zip-seal bags, etc.)

One thing that, for some reason, I’ve never gotten into the habit of carrying, but now think I should, is some sort of food that I could eat either if I’m just out and about and get hungry, or if I get stuck somewhere with just my backpack for some reason.

I have the impression that a lot of people carry protein bars for this purpose. Protein bars generally contain nuts, though, and I have a severe nut allergy (which is all the more reason it would be wise for me to carry food around, since it’s harder for me to find safe food while out and about than it is for most people).

When I do buy snacks, they tend to be things that aren’t really suitable for just keeping stored in my backpack, such as potato chips.

What are some suggestions for snacks I could carry that wouldn’t take up too much space in my everyday backpack?

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Surging energy prices leave British glasshouses empty

This may sound trivial on the face of it, however, it shows how difficult life could get very soon. The crisis in the Ukraine has the potential to affect much larger swathes in life. With energy price rises affecting us directly through heating and fuel costs, it’s also coming indirectly through food and transport. 

I’ve cherry picked a few points from the article.

High Energy Costs Means Crops Not Planted.

ROYDON, England, March 31 (Reuters) – In a small corner of south-east England, vast glasshouses stand empty, the soaring cost of energy preventing their owner from using heat to grow cucumbers for the British market.

Elsewhere in the country growers have also failed to plant peppers, aubergines and tomatoes after a surge in natural gas prices late last year was exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, making the crops economically unviable.

 The hit to UK farms, which need gas to counter the country’s inclement weather, is one of the myriad ways the energy crisis and invasion have hit food supplies around the world, with global grain production and edible oils also under threat.”

Montalbano, whose grandfather emigrated from Sicily in 1968 and started a nursery to provide local stores with fresh cucumbers, decided not to plant the first of the year’s three cycles in January.

SOARING COSTS

Last year he paid 40-50 pence a therm for natural gas. Last week it was 2.25 pounds a therm, having briefly hit a record 8 pounds in the wake of Russia’s invasion.

Fertiliser prices have tripled versus last year, while the cost of carbon dioxide – used both to aid growing and in packaging – and hard-to-attain labour have also shot up.

“We are now in an unprecedented situation where the cost increases have far outstripped a grower’s ability to do anything about them,” said Jack Ward, head of British Growers.

It means a massive contraction for the industry, threatening Britain’s future food security, and further price rises for UK consumers already facing a bigger inflation hit than other countries in Europe following Brexit.

UK inflation hit a 30-year high of 6.2% in February and is forecast to approach 9% in late 2022, contributing to the biggest fall in living standards since at least the 1950s.

Bill mentioned in another thread that there could well be a petrol/diesel shortage further down the line as fuel is diverted to the expeditionary forces lining up at the Russian borders. I’m not feeling very optimistic at the moment. 🙁

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Results after I tested four wireless outdoor security cameras

I wanted to chip in to the best security cameras review, so for this post I selected and bought four cameras that advertised useful features for a basic or introductory outdoor home security camera. These are my notes from personally testing the Wyze Outdoor Kit, Reolink RLC-410W, Ring Stick Up Cam Battery, and LaView Outdoor.

The main distinguishing features were a combination of battery vs wall power and devices that claimed internet-free functionality for use in emergencies or off-grid applications. By comparing devices from different vendors I learned a lot about what to look for and what to avoid when picking out a camera that I’ll share at the end. Head to head comparisons between the cameras also reveal a number of interesting features and unexpected considerations.

Features Comparison

All cameras tested had the advertised the following features:

Remote live monitoring Optional notifications for motion detection Laview notifications didn’t seem to work Automatic IR Night vision mode Wireless data transmission Mounting hardware Optional extra features, such as paid cloud storage

I put together this table:

“Personal Favorite” – Wyze

Wyze Outdoor Kit – $60

The Wyze Outdoor Camera is an easy choice for a balanced range of features and is a good option for a first-time security camera user. While there are some limitations, the combination of price, features, and ease of use make this a “sane prepping” choice for many introductory applications.

Pros:

The small, battery powered wireless device is easy to place and largely unobtrusive. The camera offers all the basic features you’d expect such as motion alerts, live view, night vision, and audio options. (Motion alert push notifications require an internet connection) Additional cameras are fairly inexpensive and the base station is advertised as supporting up to four cameras each. Extra features add some resilience An optional micro SD card slot allows for time lapse and scheduled recordings. Micro SD cards can be put in both camera and base station. Once set up the system is at least partially usable when the internet goes out. The device advertises a travel mode that is designed to be internet free and connect directly to your phone/tablet/laptop when it acts as a wifi access point or with the base station (if you can power it). The camera can be recharged during active use via a usb interface (should be compatible with mobile solar chargers or battery backups)

Cons:

The app can take some getting used to with some less intuitive user interface options. The app isn’t poorly designed, just not as intuitive as other options. The app occasionally glitches, in particular manual video recording sometimes fails. Resteating micro SD card helped with this issue The camera uses a magnet to attach to its base stand. This magnet is strong enough to support the camera however a stranger could easily steal the camera body. The camera is best suited to near-in applications like covering entryways or close by points of interest. The “motion zone” is not customizable and limited to the bottom two thirds of the image frame. Raindrops that fall directly on the lens may distort the image. Some advertised features are less useful, such as two way talk (this seems less applicable to most prepping scenarios though), users of indoor/wall powered Wyze products might be disappointed by comparison, but for the price/power constraints this is not a bad value product. “No Internet” options are limited to travel mode and live view, can’t access stored motion event recordings without internet.

Wyze Off Grid Mobile Use

Wyze advertises a mode of use where you can operate free from the internet using your phone or another mobile device. Such a use case could appeal to some prepping scenarios while on the move though the features available are somewhat limited compared to the internet-enabled option. This feature is called “travel mode” and can work with either a single camera (without base station) and presumably could work with a base station and multiple cameras, though power for the base station must be provided.

Pairing to a single camera is straightforward and allows basic functionality such as live view, and (with the addition of a micro SD card) scheduled recording events or interactive still and video recording. Push notifications do not appear to work in travel mode. While not exclusively tested, I suspect travel mode may have battery implications (either increased demand due to acting as wifi connection, decreased demand due to motion based recording being inactive, or some combination of both). While not considered during the initial purchase, this seems to be a useful and relevant ‘added value’ feature.

Off Grid and Technology Enthusiasts – Reolink

Reolink RLC-410W – $60

The Reolink camera requires wall power but uses wifi to transmit data offering a combination of flexibility and constraints on where it is placed. Enabled by the wall power this camera has superior image quality and additional features not provided by most battery powered options. The main appeal of this Reolink is that it allows for continuous 24/7 internet-free recording, integration with third party software/hardware, and a very durable camera body and mounting base.

This camera wouldn’t be my first suggestion for many but if you’re comfortable with modest hardware/software configuration and have long distance views on your property with available power outlets (or have limited internet connectivity) this camera has a number of features you may value.

Pros:

The camera offers all the basic features you’d expect such as motion alerts, live view, night vision, and audio options.(Motion alert push notifications require an internet connection) The Internet is not required for basic usage, data can be transmitted through a wifi network that is disconnected from the internet. This camera makes use the Real Time Steaming Protocol (RTSP) allowing for third party software and hardware integration and expanded local storage options. Unlike battery powered options, this allows for continuous 24/7 recording. Micro SD slot allows easy local event recording through the app.

Cons:

While the app and camera are largely plug and play an ethernet connection to input wifi network credentials is needed for initial setup. Internet access is advised for updates, software downloads, and possible app limitations (initial setup was conducted with internet access, though it might be possible through a disconnected wifi network, push notifications for motion alerts seem to require the internet) A small hex wrench was not provided for adjusting a set screw and the provided mounting philips head screws stripped but are easily replaced with higher quality wood screws The included power supply does not look rugged or weather proof and should be sheltered from rain. A power extension cord and the cord connected to the camera body are higher quality, though some extra weatherproofing with electrical/duct tape is suggested for some of the connections. Third party software and local storage may require a degree of computer/network skills and internet research but is not too difficult. Motion detection is very sensitive by default and may require some tuning/experimentation to avoid false positive alerts without missing more meaningful events. For example IR illuminated rain drops activated motion alerts even with adjustments to default settings. Custom detection zones and sensitivity can be changed. Higher end cameras from Reolink advertise more nuanced motion detection (person/car), though I’m unclear if these are local or cloud services. It might be possible to fix night-rain detection issues by choosing an overhang or other covered area to mount this camera (to avoid having illuminate rain drops directly in front of the camera lens)

“DIY Security System” – Ring

Ring Stick Up Cam Battery – $100

The Ring Stickup Cam Outdoors is an upgrade pick most appropriate for those looking to slowly build up a full security system, are willing to pay for a monthly plan, and aren’t worried about losing internet connectivity. This device unequivocally requires an active internet connection to function. Local storage options are limited to manually downloading clips from a cloud account (though it seems like a limited amount of cloud storage is provided for free, this is limited to a free 30 day trial period as it is advertised as requiring a monthly plan for download to local storage).

While not advertised it seems possible to use your phone as a mobile hotspot which would make this a mobile option so long as you have cellular internet coverage and a data allowance to spare. Due to the combination of a monthly plan (that is not well advertised and initially hidden by a free trial period) it’s hard to recommend this camera unless you plan to build a full security system around the Ring ecosystem. That being said, the quality of the features provided are fairly high. Image quality, and especially audio, are handled well. The alerts are accurate, relevant, and don’t require much change from the default settings.

Pros:

Default motion alert settings are most accurate for relevant motion events Easy to mount Clear audio filters out background noise (wind and distant road noise) Community alerts are useful for situational awareness if other Ring users are nearby

Cons:

Monthly service fee required for upgrade and storage options No free local long term storage options Mounting hardware is not rugged Internet is required for all functional usage 30 “free trial” masks limitations of app usage without a subscription

Not Worth the Time/Money

LaView Security Camera Outdoor – $50

There is a lot not to like about this Laview camera. Initial setup is not intuitive, online documentation is very poor, the app is very limited and designed exclusively for use on a phone. The app requests access to more privacy features than is reasonably required (bluetooth, location, microphone). The camera requires an internet connection for basic usage without providing any compelling cloud features that add value. The camera frame is made of cheap-feeling plastic and poorly designed, requiring a phillips-head driver-bit in a socket wrench or flexible driver to install properly. The pan/tilt functionality is nice, but not unique to this product family. The sound quality is no better, and often worse, than battery powered options. Image quality is not bad when exporting images however the phone-app size limits the utility of the camera in most use cases. Wall-power is provided through a USB cord which makes no sense.

Pros:

Pan/Tilt remote control Automatic object tracking option for pan/tilt

Cons:

Internet required for all relevant feature usage Poor app design and quality Counter-intuitive setup process Features are unreliable, difficult to enable, or non-existent

Image Quality Comparison

Wyze Image quality is not the highest in terms of resolution or contrast.  The ‘washed out’ effect on some types of features in the night vision is not ideal.  Regardless, the overall features and ease of use still make this a worthy pick for many use cases.

Reolink has the best image quality and lowest lense distortion of all cameras tested.  The lack of ‘fish eye’ type lens distortions improves image quality but does restrict view.  As a result this camera option is better suited to long views such as a long driveway.  Note the superior image contrast and detail for both day and night images.

The Ring camera suffers from a lack of native app support for export.  As a result the images above were captured as “screen captures” from an iPad in a landscape layout.   Resolution and detail artifacts may be partially a result of this capture method however they are representative of the detail visible in the app window. Lens distortion is highest for this camera which improves peripheral view at the expense of image accuracy.

While the Laview day image has crisper detail and contrast, the night vision image is very washed out by comparison.  While the app supports saving images at higher detail than other options the app is also forced into a phone-format window making active monitoring more difficult.  

Notes on Wifi Data Range

Three of the four cameras tested relied exclusively on 2.4 Ghz wifi, while Wyze uses an ethernet cord to connect a base station with its own radio for data.  Effective range of radio/wifi signals for data is limited by a number of factors including the design/type of antenna on the camera/base station and router as well as obstacles and their material (metal blocks radio frequencies more effectively than wood or brick).

Data range was not tested for the wall powered cameras as my exterior power options are limited so instead I used the battery powered cameras and a cell phone with cellular data turned off to estimate the effective range for my setup.  Router placement also matters, as line of sight improves signal strength.

All cameras were able to transmit data from the second floor to the basement without issue (the main obstacles being wood and drywall).  Similarly all cameras functioned without issue in the common testing placement approximately 20 feet from the wifi router with a single brick wall as an obstruction.  With a single brick wall as obstruction, the Wyze camera functioned without noticeable dropped frames up to approximately 60 feet with performance rapidly falling off within ten additional feet.  Ring performed somewhat better with acceptable performance through a single brick wall up to about 80 feet.

I tested the range on the other side of my house, which introduced additional interior walls and a single brick wall as obstructions.  Of note, both battery powered cameras suffered in the immediate vicinity of my front (metal) door.  Further out on this side of the house the range for both cameras suffered noticeable and were completely unusable at a distance of about 40-50 feet from the router.  The additional obstructions, including partial blockage from a metal door likely contributed to poor performance on this side of the house.

Theoretically, range could be improved by using wifi repeaters or moving the wifi router closer to the desired coverage area.  As a point of reference, my iPhone 8, with cellular data turned off relying solely on wifi, achieved similar performance which leads me to assume this has more to do with limits on wifi data transmission than hardware differences of the devices.

Battery Life

Battery life will depend on usage/activity, and the sensitivity of motion detection areas.  The Ring camera has a physically larger battery and lost a smaller percentage of its total battery life over the course of testing.  Both battery powered devices experienced nearly identical motion exposure, though their activation thresholds were slightly different with Ring also being more likely to register a relevant motion event.  Both cameras were used in a low activity area for several weeks of testing which likely improved their battery endurance.  Testing occurred for approximately 7 weeks starting with full charges.  Wyze battery life went down to 55% compared to 88% for Ring.  Both performed largely as expected in terms of battery life.

A Word of Caution:

When selecting a modern security camera you are picking not only the hardware but also its related software and services, both paid and unpaid (if an internet connection is required then the odds are high that a remote server is also being used/maintained, even if you aren’t paying for it directly).  

Like any other programmable device, software and standards can change.  Ideally these will change for the better but updates can also result in reduced functionality.  This is in part why devices that do not depend on the internet have an intrinsic appeal for some, if you isolate a device it will remain static and should work short of a hardware failure or existing software defect.  If a program defect is found you can weigh the options of updating the software on your own terms.  

The same can not be said of service/internet dependent devices. Internet/service dependent devices often require you to periodically perform an update to continue using the device. There is also a phenomenon with “smart” appliances where once support by the parent company is withdrawn the devices are either useless or severely degraded, regardless relying on a company to keep its servers running adds yet another layer that can cause a failure.  

What to look for in a Security Camera Company/Product

When researching a security camera for purchase I learned some information that might help you in researching alternatives that suit your needs better.

Look for reliable companies:

Read the worst reviews first.  Every product will suffer some amount of negative feedback from a customer who doesn’t like something, but well written negative reviews can point you towards pitfalls quickly.  Unfortunately sometimes the reviews come in late, one informative negative review for the Laview camera was written after the purchase was initiated.  Keep in mind, some negative reviews might be from user error or a low frequency defect. Can you download user manuals and software from the company website? Try to read the fine print first.  Don’t settle for vague or ambiguous documentation, you should see matching model numbers and ideally either publishing or copyright dates somewhere.  For example, I found a Laview user manual for a “wifi camera” that seemed to have the features I was after but this was a generic manual that did not apply to the model I selected.  Worse still, I couldn’t actually find a user manual online for the model I selected, I had to see the paper copy to realize it wasn’t available online.  Had I known to look closer this would have been a huge red flag. Look for active user forums with responses from the company.  During my research I encountered informative threads from both Wyze and Reolink forums that addressed features I was curious about.  The forum activity and the company responses helped me set expectations.  Even if the responses aren’t satisfactory, an active forum with even vague responses can give you insight into how transparent the company is.

Look for key features:

Learn the keywords to search for.  Before I made any selection I kept using search terms like “no internet” or “internet free” or “offline use.”  This did turn up a few promising leads but for network cameras “RTSP” or Real Time Streaming Protocol is a lot more specific as a search term. Once I learned about this term it helped me find new candidates that escaped my first round of research.  Unfortunately I had to acquire a camera with this particular standard before I learned of its existence so there is a “chicken and the egg” problem with this method of research. Download the apps and see how far you can get before buying the hardware.  Privacy notices and feature limitations might sway your opinion. Look for third party or add-on features.  Third party interoperability will require some degree of openness that will hint at how flexible the product is. Read More
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Red Glow is feature, not bug 2

What our BOBs have evolved into, and are now becoming through NEED.

Most of us plan on bugging in or out or BOTH depending on the likely scenario,  Originally (1970s) it was a luggage system to allow people to be partially self sufficient for a few days during a crisis or conflict.

These Bags / Rucksacks quickly became more comprehensive and extensive as the original “survivalists” wanted to BUG OUT for ever longer periods of time, usually to remote rural areas.

This led to BOBs quickly being supplemented with VEHICLE KITS and  EDC gear, to allow survivalists / preppers to be self sustaining for ever longer periods. Originally most were 3 day kits, but as time passed and experience was gain many preppers were planning on bugging out in terms of WEEKS and some hardy souls for MONTHS.

That was the pinnacle of the BUG OUT BAG

Pretty soon things began to change as individual survivalist/prepper and families NEEDS began to change.

INCH, GOOD etc

For example some people felt very strongly that the threat/risk/hazard they feared the most meant they needed to plan for the eventuality of have to leave home permanently. This led to INCH bags (I’m Not Coming Home) and GOOD Bags / kits (Get Out Of Dodge) bags which were large and much more comprehensive (AND HEAVY) and adaptations / upgrades to their lifestyles also happened ( People got rid of family cars for large SUVs, 4x4s, Camper Vans and RVS. They stopped going on vacation to Disney land and started renting / buying or building lodges and cabins way out of town.

However as time passed, society changed and urban conurbations grew many people started to realise that Bugging out looked to be getting ever harder, more complicated, more risky and for some almost bloody impossible to achieve.

These preppers had to change both their preps and lifestyles drastically to improve their chances of surviving the threats they were most concerned with.

They began to plan on BUGGING IN.

Realising the futility of their plans to flee in the face of a disaster that saw the roads, bridges, tunnels, causeways , trails, tracks etc become impassible BEFORE they could escape. They decided to turn their HOMES into their retreats / safe places, homesteads etc .

For those who could chose to relocate their families to new homes better suited to prepping further and further away from large urban areas. Flight to the Burbs and Boonies was common.

Some courageous families up sticks and moved to other states or regions entirely to make their lives in safety..

So for those who turned their homes into their safe places their BAGS & PACKs also evolved. They basically became kits to help them GET HOME from the Office/ Factory/ School/ College.

They lean more towards aiding safe movement from work or school to getting home than sustaining the prepper survive away from home for days or weeks.  Better maps, alternative routes, noted danger / high risk areas etc.  GHBs are more akin to military patrol kits that aids swift safe movement through possible dangerous areas.

Now people are looking at the news coming from Ukraine much closer as families flee the war.

BUT very often the menfolk are having to remain in situ to fight the invaders,  thus dividing families. People are now starting to discus EVAC Kits AND PLANS  to help vulnerable women and children reach safety WITHOUT the male member of the family.

1 PERSONAL SECURITY features VERY HIGHLY training the women and kids to be equipped and ABLE to protect themselves.

2 HAVING A DESTINATION, MILLIONS of Ukrainian women and kids are now found wandering around Europe looking for a safe place to stay AND LIVE.

The media reports on PEOPLE SMUGGLERS, PIMPS, CHILD ABDUCTORS and RAPISTS preying on the Ukranian refugees.

Arrests are being made DAILY in Poland, Romania etc as police target and stop criminals abducting vulnerable women, girls and children

So preppers are now starting to look at WHERE CAN YOU SEND THE WIFE AND KIDS to safety ON THEIR OWN ?  and developing suitable packs, supplies, ROUTES and DESTINATIONS.

Never say it wont happen where you live, 21 days ago Ukraine was a safe modern democratic European nation. Please at least have a conversation on ensuring the vulnerable members of your family have the best chance of survival if they have to be sent away ON THEIR OWN.

I mean no disrespect to single parent families or singles in this article. I think its vital that as a community we need to be discussing improving SAFETY and MOBILITY for women and children.

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Filling 5 Gallon Water Jugs – From the Tap or Filtered?

Hey all. I just bought a bunch of 5 gallon Scepter water jugs. I feel silly asking this question, but here goes… What is the best way to fill them? 

I’ve been searching around and found lots of info about cleaning them. I plan to use baking soda. I’ve seen people recommend bleach which freaks me out: bleach in drinking water?? What am I missing? 

Do most people fill these from the bath tub? That thought doesn’t bother me, but my wife is a bit crazy about tap water, is convinced is really bad to drink tap water unfiltered. I explained to her that if we ever need this emergency water, that’s likely to be the least of our concerns. But she was asking if maybe a couple of them could/should be filled with filtered water. How would you all think about that? 

Thanks in advance for any suggestions. 

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Using a bushcraft auger to build things during a bug out or electricity-free disaster

Just came across a thing called a bushcraft auger. It’s like a giant drill bit that can be turned by using a stick.

Originally I thought that must be pretty hard to drill through something by hand, but then remembering my physics class, you can make it as easy as you want by inserting a longer stick longer and getting more leverage.

“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” – Archimedes.

From a preparedness perspective, it would be good to have a way to drill holes without the need for complex machines that run off of electricity. 

On Amazon you can buy a variety of sizes – 

You could even make your own by welding a normal drill bit onto a piece of pipe. It seems to be what this person did- 

The most common projects I’ve seen the bushcrafter crowd make are stools, ladders, and swedish rocket stove fires.

Sorry I got a bit carried away there with multiple pictures, hopefully there isn’t a forum limit and they all come through. Has anyone heard of or used one of these before? What are your thoughts on it being a practical prep vs. just being a cool tool for bushcraft projects?

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Screenshot from 2022-03-28 12-27-19

Finland and national preparedness (Financial Times)

In light of the Ukrainian invasion, FT has posted a story describing Finland’s national preparedness strategy/culture that I thought some here might find interesting.

“But what Finland calls its strategy of ‘comprehensive security’ offers an example of how countries can create rigorous, society-wide systems to protect themselves ahead of time — planning not just for a potential invasion, but also for natural disasters or cyber attacks or a pandemic. 

This is not only about military readiness. It also extends to what Charly Salonius-Pasternak, a security expert at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, describes as the ‘boring, unsexy work’ of ensuring that laws and rules work in times of crisis.”

I think it’s well known that some European states, like Finland and Switzerland, have very deeply engrained military or civil defense infrastructure, but there’s some thoughts here about working with the private sector, etc. that might be of interest. While it’s not a perfect system, there are some things here that other countries should consider, such as dual use infrastructure in case of emergency, etc. From a North American perspective, it would be prudent if Canada and the US investigated some of these measures, given that extreme weather, wildfire risk, etc., etc. is only going to increase.

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Knowing who has what skills

So this is a new forum, and it could be a lot of different things, depending on what we make of it.

One thing that I think might be very useful is to have an idea of what the assembled skills and expertise of the members are. If I have a general idea of who knows/is good at what, I know who I can ask for advice on various topics, or ask to weigh in on a thread, etc.

I’m not even sure a thread is the right format for this in the long-term (it might get unwieldy to sift through with size/age), but just as a proof-of-concept, I thought I’d start it in this format. I’ll make an example post under this one.

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