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News for the Week 2023-08-21

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Preparing for home fires

Hi all! With the recent wildfires in Maui, I realized that I never made any plans to help preserve the originals of important documents at home from a fire. While they are backed up to the cloud, I think it’s still important to save the originals if possible. I purchased a small fireproof safe (the recommended choice from the NY Times Wirecutter site; the review link is below), but I’ve noticed this doesn’t seem to be a topic covered by many prepper sites.

Anyone else have suggestions or recommendations for this issue?

https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-fireproof-document-safe/

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News for the Week 2023-08-14

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Grain Mills: What’s your experience and recommendations?

Pretty self-explanatory. My food pantry includes whole grains because they naturally last a long time and with a little extra care, a really long time. But you need to keep them whole as the outer layer is the best packaging. Wheat berries can last 30 years based on studies done by the LDS church, but once you grind them into flour they go downhill fast.

I’ve owned a variety of mills, all but one of the antique variety. They were all small clamp-on type that eventually failed—or had failed before had even bought them LOL. I was scanning Craigslist etc every so often the last however many years looking for a better unit without any luck. Then came the pandemic and even the beer-brewer hobbyists machines and kitchen decoration items disappeared.

I want a $1,000 of course and had placed a pre-paid order for the new Green Power Mill from Lehmans that looks pretty cool. But it turns out that Lehmans has been sold and whether that, the JIT supply catastrophe or whatever, I had my money returned 6 months later when the mill still wasn’t in production. That was recently and prompted me to bite the bullet so I finally broke down and bought a modern version of the clamp on style, the Wonder Mill Junior.

It comes with both steel burrs and stone wheels and a second auger for nuts —and importantly— masa! But what is best are the drive options, it has available a power drill adapter, a large motor pulley, even a geared reduction pulley with drive gear. I opted for the bicycle sprocket attachment. I ordered one of those bicycle stands made to let you use your regular bike as an exercise cycle. I’ll get a chain locally. If I were ever needing to use this machine… and there was power of some type available, I’m confident I could rig up a motor. Most likely, in the event it is needed, the only power available will be me.

You can see in the listing that it has a square plate base rather than an integral clamp. The clamp device is mounted using machine screws. I expect to mount the mill, sans clamp, along with the bike stand on a piece of ply, probably using a hunk of 6-8″ steel plate as reinforcement under the mill. Several of my “clamp on” mills have failed at the neck due to metal fatigue, there is quite a bit of torque involved. And of course there is no way to mount a clamp style mill on most modern counters, let alone use with the bike rig I’m contemplating. Grinding more than a cup’s worth to rough flour consistently turns into work.

I’ve been dragging my feet on this purchase for a while, $400 all in for an item I’ll hopefully never use beyond simple experimenting is pretty high for my budget. The rational is, I probably have that much in stored grain and without a decent mill I’m limited to mush and sprouts.

So anyway, talk about your mills.

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(Official discussion) Best mobile apps

[See the full post at: Best survival apps for your phone] 

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Smoke hoods etc

I’ve got a few of the smoke hood type escape devices (I have one in my travel bag)

looking to change to these:

Home

have ordered one to see how bulky it is in comparison to

Smoke Hood and Fire Mask Products

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Pemmican

I’ve made a lot of hardtack, but never Pemmican. I plan to experiment in the next few weeks.  Has anyone tried making or eating it?  Thanks.  

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News for the Week 2023-08-07

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New Source For Bug-Out Bag Items – Career Fairs

Recently I’ve been going to a lot of career fairs in my area.  Little did I know that it was a BOB bag paradise!  Some of the items I’ve come across for free:

Collapsable water bottle with carabiner Drawstring backpack (good in case something happens to your regular backpack) Multi-connector charging cable Carabiner with two knives and scissors Collapsible frisbee Plastic utensils in storage tube Small hand sanitizer with carabiner Baseball cap Lanyard Lip baum Playing cards Packet of sunscreen Wipes Tide stick

I get it.  Do you want your life depending on some crappy promotional material you got for free?  No, but much of this stuff is not life-altering and the carabiner feels pretty solid.

Next time you want to stock you BOB, go to a job fair.  You can get some swag, and you just might get a new job.

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News for the week 2023-07-31

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A clearly-written dentistry article ideal for preppers

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/cavity-filling

Good morning,

The linked article is clear, concise and each section is short enought to absorb the material.

One timely section well worth exploring is “How to get a filling at a lower cost”. Note: “dental schools.

Admittedly, I didn’t know to avoid phytic acid.  Didn’t even know what it is – until reading the caption below the red kidney beans.

I’m not “inta” dentistry; just spent fortunes due to my poor quality dental hygiene … since corrected.

Depending on specifics, next to my IFAK/BOB (although bag is a vest)  is a field dental kit for hygiene.

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What habits have you developed related to prepping, and what habits do you wish you’d develop?

Being prepared for … whatever really is probably as much about small habits and routines as about gear and skills for dramatic situations. What habits have you developed that are somewhat prepping related, and which habits do you think would be good but you haven’t ingrained them so far? Did you develop habits that are somewhat harmful for you in the course of prepping?

I’ll start:

 * When grocery shopping, anything I buy with a long shelf life, it’s always a handful (cans, packages) more that what we need right now

 * I want to be better at this, but when riding public transport I check if and where fire extinguishers or first aid supplies are

Habits I want to develop:

 * being more organized around paperwork

 * routinely checking for emergency exits when inside buildings

 * better situational awareness in public spaces. I think I’m decent at spotting people with aggressive vibes, but beyond that …

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Fish Antibiotics for human use

Short version: Fish Antibiotics are currently on sale at fishmoxfishflex.com at 25% off with the code: DRBONES25 until 7/31.

Background: 
I’m a big, longtime fan of Doctor Bones and Nurse Amy (Joe Alton MD, and Amy NP). They wrote the book ‘The Survival Medicine Handbook’ (the essential guide for when help is NOT on the way) and the book ‘Antibiotics and Infections Diseases’.

Dr. Alton has long preached and advocated that preppers stock, and know how to use, fish antibiotics. They are the exact same medication as the human versions, literally produced in the same facilities. He’s wrote extensively about this and made many YouTube videos (in addition to his running podcast and blogs). 

I’m a former military medic and civilian paramedic and I find both of his books essential parts of our prepper medical library. We have many fish antibiotics already and we’re going to buy more. 

(I’m happy to provide links, I just didn’t want this to come across like some kid of add for them – lol.)

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News for the Week 2023-07-17

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Best home or neighborhood security system 2023

What are the best options to detect, deter, and prevent breakins in your home or neighborhood? My neighborhood had a nighttime burglary recently (involving a car, not the house) which has raised the issue of security in my neighborhood. I’m interested in recommendations for my own home’s security, especially detection/alerting, as well as neighborhood-wide options that I could present to the HOA.

Here are some relevant previous security articles and discussions, but I suspect some of the technology has advanced in the years since these were written.

https://theprepared.com/homestead/guides/home-hardening-basics/

https://theprepared.com/gear/reviews/alarm-systems/

Please share both ideas and experiences about how to setup home or neighborhood security systems.

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Documentary: A Refuge of Last Resort (about Hurricane Katrina)

Rewatched A Refuge of Last Resort and thought I would post it here. It’s a first hand account of some families that went through Hurricane Katrina at a hotel in downtown New Orleans. Having grown up in Louisiana, I’m well aware of what should be done, but not everyone has the means to accomplish this, so they take their chances. Many of these personal stories may make you think about how to prepare for these situations or how to handle them when they happen.One of the things that struck me is the hotel workers. They get paid next to nothing but they stay to endure the unknown: no power, upset guests, or worst.

Streaming on Amazon Prime, The Roku Channel (with Ads), and Tubi TV (with Ads) at the time of this posting.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0818515/

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Is this still an alternative to Discord?

Hi, folks. I’m back to prepping after a pretty long fallow period. Miss my ThePrepared peeps, but I’m having a pretty hard time with the switch to Discord for discussions. Maybe it’s a generational thing, but forums or email lists or even Facebook groups (not my first choice) work so much better for me. I can come back after a day or a week and the info hasn’t scrolled away. I can keep my discussions organized instead of all of them being in one long string. And I can come back to the useful information exchanged months or years later.

None of this seems to be an option with the TP Discord, so I’ve found myself just not going to the Discord chat very often and therefore not knowing how to plug into the community. (I do volunteer for a very busy organization that uses Slack a lot. But our Slack discussions are broken out into multiple channels and all the info in each channel stays indefinitely available. The TP Discord doesn’t seem organized like that.)

I’m glad to see that some people are still posting in this forum. So is this still an option, or are we just the remnant that’s failed to adapt to the Discord future?

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News for the Week 2023-07-03

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“The Mandibles” Novel on near-term economic upheaval

I came across an interesting novel the other day and thought it would be a great catalyst for discussion here. Called “The Mandibles”, by Lionel Shriver, it portrays an extended family dealing with the slow degradation of society after a consortium of nations band together to create a new standard currency to unseat the dollar, and the US defaults on its debt in retaliation/response. It’s not Nobel-level writing (and a mix of realism with a smattering of satire), but it’s well researched and, especially, quite plausible in the long downward spiral of events it portrays. There’s a review here that gives you a little more sense of the story:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/may/08/the-mandibles-lionel-shriver-review-biting-near-future-satire

I enjoyed reading it and found the projected not-so-far-off future quite plausible, as well as containing many details about possible outcomes that I’d not considered but certainly will now (more on that in comments later after I kick this thread off). It’s not about the death of civilization, but rather how people (and governments) continue to survive, though in some pretty miserable circumstances.

I think what the author proposes is probably more likely than the apocryphal scenarios some preppers focus on (though even she makes references to a hacker attack that took down the grid and internet prior to the story in this novel, and that sets up some of the societal and economic changes that exist as the novel begins; also one character is a a more recognizable type of prepper who, long before the events of the novel, bought land and pursued a self-sufficient life for reasons often discussed in these forums).

Anyway, great food for thought and for expanding thinking on what being prepared actually means, as well as on how sustainable those preps are in a longer-term societal shift.

Has anyone else here read this? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts, and encourage anyone else who is curious to check it out as well.

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Foraging Discovery: Apple Pectin

Hopefully the forum can tolerate a topic that may not exactly be “survival” oriented, but we do occasionally have more “homestead-y” posts, which this probably is.  In this case, the end product does actually have some health benefits that could be beneficial when the medicine kit lacks a few items.  I’m just so pleased with my results I had to share somewhere, hope you all don’t mind!

For years I have known that pectin for jelly and jam making could be produced from immature apples, but my old source of information didn’t include practical instructions for using it.  This year we have so many apples on our trees that they’re in danger of another catastrophic branch breakage event.  Thinning the the old giants should be a priority.  The subject of apple pectin from immature fruit came to mind, so I did a search and after writing down notes from six or so sources, I had a satisfactory amount of understanding to give it a try.

In order to keep this short, I’ll just say my first attempt at making strawberry jam with the home made pectin was a huge success! So now I’m in the process of putting up enough apple pectin to last for a season or two.  Sometimes the trees make such a heroic effort to overproduce fruit that they produce nothing for the next couple of years. My pectin is made from Yellow Transparent and Gravenstein apples – I’m sure immature wild and crab apples would be great.

Can’t say if the do-it-yourself pectin represents a cost savings over the $4/box Sure-Jell, as it requires water and power to make the product, ditto canning it, plus canning lids if using disposable ones.

Here is an article on the health benefits/side effects for using apple pectin for ailments such as diarrhea: https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-benefits-of-apple-pectin-89599

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Relying on the Red Cross

I’m involved in a little conversation on another forum about getting prepared to bug out in case of wildfire (we have livestock, so it’s a big deal).

Every time someone directs me to contact the Red Cross to “find the resources I need” I get a little fried. They’re just trying to be helpful, but (as if I never heard of the Red Cross) I can’t figure out why they default to throwing your fate into the hands of a government subsidized “organization” instead of “I can take care of my own”.

Somewhere around here I have an article (oh!  I just remembered where it is!) about what a bloated, bogged down, government funded “non-profit” the Red Cross is.

I want to yell “Ever heard of taking care of your SELF?”  I know emergency agencies care for millions, but that may be just the problem.  In our area, the PNW, if something like the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake ever happened, we’ve been told in no uncertain terms, that NO agency will send personnel into an area until that area is considered safe.  In case of “the Big One”, that could be months or years. And affect tens of thousands, if not millions.

That reads “You’re On Your Own” to me. First line of defense is personal preparedness.  I’m not that far along, but I can sure as heck bug out successfully in a wildfire scenario (at least I THINK I can!)

Just decompressing, so I don’t say something rude on that other forum.

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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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Alone-FU

Sample Excel Prep Sheet Formulae

Hey all,

Not sure if this would be helpful to anyone, but I didn’t see a similar post in the forum already, so I figured I’d post in anyway just in case it is. 

As lovely as The Prepared’s built-in kit builder is, I love the flexibility and computing power of Excel. You can automate calculations, color code, sort, annotate… really anything short of heavy statistics (and, fingers crossed, that might change someday). It’s a tool that’s as simple and as complex as you need it to be, really. Sadly, even a lot of graduates in STEM don’t know the basics of Excel. I’m far from a master of statistics, but even a few basic tricks in Excel can literally save you hours of manual formatting and calculating. 

Okay, on to the sheet! Here’s a screenshot of what your final table will look like: 

I like to start with a visual bc it helps me stay on track if I know what I’m working towards. I did try uploading the sheet itself, but it looks like that’s not supported on the forum (please correct me if I’m wrong). 

Your first row in your shit is your headers. Those are gonna stay untouched during any other modifications we make later. I have these headers (in order) for most of my sheets: Item, # of item, Priority, In Kit?, oz, Est. Cost, Tot. Cost, Link, Description, Kit Notes. If you want to format these to make them visually distinct from the rest of the sheet, what you want to do is highlight the first row (I like to click on the 1 on the side to highlight the whole row, but you can also drag a box over all your headers), click on the Home tab, click on the Cell Styles box, and then select your favorite header formatting. My headers are still in the standard formatting because I prefer that look. This is a cosmetic choice really, but anything that makes this more clear for you while reading is worthwhile. 

Next we’re going to look column by column. Your first column is your list of items by name. Your second column is the number you need (or have).

The third column is the priority. Priority is how I decide what I really need in limited space/on a limited budget. I break this into three ranks a la TP’s first aid kit, but you can use as many ranks as you want. You will notice this is broken into colors! Instead of manually highlighting each cell, what I do is I highlight the whole row, click the Home tab up top, and then click Conditional Formatting. From there, I go into Highlight Cell Rules, then Equal To. You should have a little pop-up box now. Under “format cells that are equal to”, type 1. In the drop down menu next to it, pick your favorite formatting OR hit the custom format at the bottom of the list (this is what I do). You can know pick your favorite color and/or pattern for the fill. I used the three middle values for the blue, but you can do whatever helps you visualize this. The same steps are used to highlight In Kit?, except you need to keep in mind that that is case sensitive (I believe) when using letters, so you need to stick with either N or n (or just enter two rules for N and n for formatting). 

In Kit? is just whether something is already in your kit or not. This is usually a Y/N value, but I include a third value S (for Some) in cases when I have an item that’s heterogenous. For example, my BOB sheet says clothes, which I have marked S because I have some clothes but not all the clothes I plan to include. Usually when I have a value marked S, I include a tab for specifically that value. E.g., I have my BOB tab, and I have a clothes tab that breaks down each piece of clothing into a Y/N. It’s just easier to read the BOB sheet without so much clutter. 

Oz is ounces of each item. I am lazy and have not bothered to actually weigh out my bag because it is small enough that it really can’t get to heavy for me, but eventually I’m going to fill this out. I know a lot of people here are more on top of weight for their packs, though! 

Est. cost is estimated cost per item. Total cost is the total cost of how much that row is. So, if you need 10 $1 items, Est. Cost is 1 and Total Cost is 10. But wait! What if you have your 10 items already? In that case, total cost is 0 no matter what. Here’s how we make that happen: =IF(D2=”N”,B2*F2,0)  Paste the formula directly below the header, hover your cursor over the bottom right corner until it looks like a black cross, and then drag the formula into every cell you want filled. Now you’ll see the true total cost per column. 

Link is just a hyperlink to a site if I know where I’ll be buying an item. If I’m getting it from the local grocery store, that just never gets filled in. Description is a description of the item in detail so I know which one to get if it’s a little vague, like maybe you want a specific kind of paracord, and kit notes is notes about what I have in my kit/ how I’m storing it/ really anything. You could probably make this one Notes column, but I like breaking it out into two. 

Okay, almost done. Now we head to the bottom of the sheet. We have two more things to fill in: total cost and total weight. These are the same formula, basically. Total cost is =SUM(G2:G4)  and total weight is =SUM(E2:E4)  (they just add up different columns). These don’t account for tax or rounding errors, but they should give you a good idea of the total investment for your kit. 

Finally, I like to sort my kit by priority rank. You can do it by alphabetical order or cost or weight or whatever works for you; the way you do it is the same. You highlight your whole table EXCEPT for your headers and for the total cost and total weight rows at the very bottom (but including the Total Cost column in the sheet). Then you head to the Data tab up top. Then you click the box that says sort. Now you have a pop up with three boxes. In your first box, pick the column you want to sort by. For me, that’s priorities. In your second box, you probably want to stick to cell values. In your third box, you select how you want those values ordered. For me, that’s smallest to largest. Now your sheet is ordered based on priority! 

Congrats! You now have an automated, color coded Excel prepping sheet. If anything was confusing, or if you have more Excel related questions, I would be super happy to clarify/explain! I’m a total nerd about this stuff (clearly). 

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sample excel prep sheet pic

Estate Planning – real life notes on why you should do it now

Hi everyone, I’ve posted about estate planning before because it is such an important thing that many people, even preppers, don’t do. Estate planning not only protects your assets and makes sure they go to the right people, it protects your family from dealing with a difficult, complicated mess at the worst possible time.  My husband just passed away and I wanted to share one takeaway from my experience. And that is: don’t put it off until you feel there’s a need. Estate planning can become more difficult to do, not less, as death approaches.

My husband was diagnosed with cancer over 5 years ago. At the time we were told it could be managed for a long time, but would eventually become resistant to treatment and terminal. (he never truly accepted that ) I had made him do a will and some basic estate planning before the diagnosis. A couple years I made him re-do everything (because it needed updating) and check beneficiaries on his accounts, etc.  We consulted a lawyer on medical debt and what would happen to it after he passed. He hated doing all of it, but he did it. 

This past year, the cancer became more and more resistant to treatment. He fought the whole time. He held out hope that something would work, even as that possibility became more and more unrealistic. In the last couple of months, I would have wanted to tie up loose ends – close a couple stray accounts that he had recently opened, transfer the ownership of a car (he was on the title but it was his son’s car). But I didn’t bring it up. He was facing mortality, and fighting every step of the way. It’s the most difficult thing anyone can face, and it wasn’t worth the pain and conflict it would cause to try to make him deal with small issues. So we have a couple random, small balance accounts that we are probably going to walk away from, and an uninsured car sitting in my driveway until we can all go to the DMV on the same day and deal with the paperwork. But I’m INCREDIBLY glad we dealt with the main issues years ago.

Anyway, that’s my takeaway – if you think it’s hard dealing with it now, it will only become harder later. Do it for yourself, and make your parents/spouse/etc do it as well. 

Here’s a good general article. The only thing I would suggest is do #4 first!! Check the beneficiaries on all your bank accounts, retirement accounts etc first. It’s quick, free, and easy to do.

https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/investing/estate-planning/estate-planning 

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News for the Week 2023-05-15

Make a top-level comment for a new story/topic. Discussions about the topic should be in the replies to the top-level comment. That way things stay organized and every main comment as you scroll down is a different piece of news.

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