Share your knowledge & learn from experts

Because prepping and community go hand in hand

Sump Pump Kit: Keeping your basement dry (and your neighbour’s too)

(image credit: Magnolia Field Flooding by Doc Searls. Licensed under Creative Commons CC-BY 2.0)

It’s 2 am. Your neighbour bangs on the door. Their house is flooding, and their sump pump just broke. The hardware store is closed. Can you help?


If you live somewhere with a basement and water, you may use a pump to keep your basement dry. This kit contains everything needed to get water out of your house.

This kit may seem expensive, because you are buying a pump. But it’s cheaper than an emergency call to a plumber. And it’s cheaper than an insurance claim and a flooded basement.

A sump pump is a perfect example of something worth preparing in advance. When you need it, you *really* need it. And chances are – everyone else may too. Better to have a kit ready than to be part of the crowd, rushing to the out-of-stock hardware store during a flood.

How To Use It

Usually you want to send the water one of two places: into the storm drain system (in a city) or out onto the lawn or road. The farther away from the house, the better – at least 20 feet.

Note it is illegal in many areas to permanently connect your sump pump to the _sewer_ system (it should connect to the _storm drain_ system), including a floor drain. But in an emergency, if choosing between a floor drain and a flooded house – put the water wherever it needs to go. You can point the hose at the floor drain and remove water, if the hose is not long enough to reach outside of the house.

How To Store It

You have several ways to store this:

One Bucket, stuff sticking out. If you use a standard hose kit, it is unlikely everything will fit into one bucket. If you’re not concerned about being neat and tidy, this is the cheapest, easiest way to do it. You could also measure the hose length to your floor drain and cut the hose to save space. Two Buckets, one for hose, one for pump. If you coil it nicely, 20 feet of 1-1/2″ hose will juuust fit inside a 5 gallon bucket. Put the pump and other items into a second bucket. This lets you put lids on top, to keep it all together. You must carry two buckets around. One Bucket, smaller hose. If you buy an adapter, you can use a marine hose (strong garden hose) instead of a regular hose. This lets you fit everything in one bucket. The marine hose may be longer, but have a smaller diameter, so it will move water more slowly.

Can I Really Use A Garden Hose?

You should *not* use a garden hose for a permanent setup. But in an emergency a hose will move water. It’s an option.

I spent twenty hours of research and one hour of testing creating this kit. I found a dozen people online and one person in my real-world prepping circle who have used (real life) or claimed to have used (online) a pump with an adapter and garden hose. I called three pump manufacturers and two plumbers to ask about pumps, PSI, and setup. All of them recommended *NOT* using a garden hose as your permanent pump setup.

A garden hose or marine hose has a smaller diameter, so it will move the water more slowly.
Your first bet should be the main discharge hose that is sized for your pump.
But if you want to buy a $15 adapter, you can.


Related Threads Read More
(image credit: Magnolia Field Flooding by Doc Searls. Licensed under Creative Commons CC-BY 2.0)

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.

Read More

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!

Read More

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.

Read More

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. 

Read More

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

Read More
Alligator smile

Drop, cover, and hold on? Maybe not— esp. if you’re in the PNW!

I almost never read an article about earthquakes and feel like I learned a substantial new thing that will change my approach to preparedness, but this one, sent to me by a geologist friend this afternoon, was an exception. Also cool because it vindicates the generally-useful-for-preppers idea of “situational awareness”. 

Citation: Goldfinger, G., 2022, Opinion: When the next Cascadia megaquake strikes, here’s what I’ll do, Temblor,

Chris Goldfinger is a professor at OSU and one of the leading authorities on the Cascadia Subduction Zone— he did some of the research that demonstrated that it has unleashed megaquakes in the past (and will do so in the future)— so I take his thoughts seriously!


The conventional wisdom on what to do when you feel ground shaking is “drop, cover, and hold on.” This makes sense in places that don’t have an earthquake early warning system, where earthquakes tend to be smaller (M5-7 instead of M8-9), and where most of the buildings are engineered to withstand that magnitude of quake. Given virtually no warning and low likelihood that the building you’re in will collapse, it’s smart to get under the nearest table, as fast as you can, and protect yourself from objects rocketing off walls and shelves. If you try to get outside, you’ll probably be thrown to the ground by the force of the quake or fall on the stairs, and if you do make it outside, then you’re exposed to falling bricks and signs, shattering glass, etc.

BUT in a big subduction zone earthquake, if you’re decently far away from the rupture (which you’ll likely be, because the rupture happens offshore), the faster but weaker P-waves will arrive significantly (i.e., maybe 45-60 seconds!) in advance of the stronger surface waves, which means you get a warning in the form of lighter shaking. Throw an early warning system (which the West Coast now has) on top of that and you might have 2-3 minutes of notice before the really violent shaking starts— enough to get out of the building you’re in, if you’re on one of the lower floors.

The article describes how, in some places— especially those with big earthquakes, buildings prone to collapse in them, and early warning systems, e.g., Mexico City— this understanding has been incorporated into earthquake preparedness for a long time, and in lieu of a simplistic “Drop cover and hold on” directive (which in the U.S. may be more of a cultural holdover from Cold War nuclear strike drills than anything else— to the extent that it’s efficacy in earthquakes is backed by data, they seem to be the wrong data!), preparedness advice is more contingent on the setting.

Goldfinger advocates a “situational awareness” approach, in which the messaging is more nuanced and reflective of the reality that the best thing to do depends on where you are. While this lacks the simplicity (and ease of recall) of DCHO, more and more entities, including the government of Israel and a school district in the Portland suburbs, seem to be moving away from one size fits all directives toward this model.

My thoughts:

“Situational awareness” seems like the best approach for organizations that are housed in one building: You still give your employees/attendees/students one directive, but it’s tailored to the structure. Downside is that saying, “In case of an earthquake, evacuate,” is essentially the same as saying, “This building is crap”— especially to a public that is used to hearing these differing directions and will increasingly understand why they differ. Without accompanying policy change (and it would have to be well-designed policy), we might see messaging that is more about preserving the users’ sense of safety in the building (and desire to return to it) than it is about informing people of hazards.

Situational awareness will also be much harder for individuals to implement than organizations. After all, we go in and out of buildings all the time without knowing their construction and retrofit history. Most people won’t pay attention or care, and those of us who do care will still be making educated guesses. That said, I’ve been making educated guesses about the seismic resilience of buildings for years— I just didn’t have anything to do with the information (unless you count being more or less nervous about going to this doctor’s appointment or that meeting as “doing something”). Now when I go into a building that I don’t like the look of, I can scan the exterior for fall hazards and pay attention to how long it takes me to get to where I’m going within the building from the entry, and have a sense of whether or not to run when the P-waves hit.

Hope others find it as interesting as I did!!

Read More

The basic model my family uses for planning to Shelter in place vs Bug out

I’ve been a prepper for a long time and developed my plans before finding The Prepared. It feels good knowing that the plans we developed on our own mirror much of the officially recommended plans on this site. I’m thankful for this community and thought it might be helpful to share my personal version of our plans.

Lately I’ve been sleeping (somewhat) better, because I’m using the pandemic as a driver to review and update Go-Bags for the three adults living in our home. In addition to straight “physical survival” I’m giving a nod to Maslow and building in some “psychological comfort” as I work my way through this exercise. Staying grounded and sane can be critical during an emergency, and also go a long way toward helping you recover after one.

During an emergency our “Primary Plan” is to shelter-in-place in our home. We’re well equipped and prepared to stay in place for weeks. But we know we can’t count on that option, and we might have to leave in a hurry. So we have an “Alternate Plan” and that’s where the Go-Bags are essential. (We also have “Contingency” and “Survival” plans, but that discussion is for another time.)

Planning for an emergency is a vital step in stocking a Go-Bag that will fit your personal needs. I’ve found it’s a big plus to think about “what might happen? what am I preparing for?” When you’re planning, think of the ASSUMPTIONS you’re making (“I’ll be able to drive my car 30 miles to get out of the city and reach my brother’s home”) and CONTINGENCIES (“I might have to spend the next 12 hours in my car because the highway is blocked”).

To help you develop your personal plan (and your Go-Bags), I talk about my family and the scenarios that we’re working to prepare for, with a focus on the “Alternate Plan.” For the most part, I’m NOT going to tell you what to put in your bag; solid info on that subject is available on this site. 

My goal in being prepared is to help reduce the impact of an emergency on my family, friends, and neighbors. What kind of emergency? Well, that’s where my “scenarios” help me out, and that’s the focus of this post. 

Another thing to keep in mind is your location: mine is the Pacific Northwest. We’ve had a few earthquakes (and a volcano eruption) since I moved here so I know “seismic shift” is a risk for us; if you live in the Midwest you may focus your prepping on tornadoes; if you live near water you may need to prep for floods; and if you live in the SE USA naturally you’ll think about hurricanes.

Here are the possible situations that I think about when I’m prepping. They’re in descending order from “most likely and simplest to prepare for.” I live in a house that I own; in an apartment or a condo you may need different solutions.

Scenario #1: Shelter in place (“minor crisis”)

Our family typically experience one or more of these scenarios every year.

There are significant challenges in your region: a weather event or minor earthquake causes a power-outage or conditions that threaten the supply chain. After evaluating the situation, you conclude your best option is to stay home. You will need food, water, heat, meds, and a plan for self-defense. You may want to draw on your Go Bags to sustain you – or you may choose to keep them intact in case you need to GO.

A generator & fuel, a well-stocked pantry, cash in smaller denomination bills, a back-up source of heat in cooler months, and accessible tools will directly make a difference on your level of comfort and safety. Plan for at least two weeks. Try to keep a low profile while you shelter in place; anticipate that people who did NOT plan ahead will be in your neighborhood.

Scenario #2: Short time away from home with indoor shelter available (“significant crisis”)

We’ve only had a few of these scenarios in 40 years.

You need to leave your home because a minor earthquake makes it uninhabitable, or a local environmental issue pushes you out, or you need to go the ER and can’t be sure when you’ll return. You might shelter with a member of your family, or in a public shelter, or in a hospital.

This is a situation where you expect to travel in your own vehicle or walk a short distance to get a ride, spend most of your time INDOORS, be SECURE from harm, and have support from others including water, food, blankets, and a place to sleep. This is NOT about extended travel by foot or for outdoor-living survival situations. Wear comfortable clothing: scrub pants, long sleeve top, a zip-up fleece hoodie, and a baseball hat (to shield eyes).

Important: If communication channels are not working, leave a written message in a previously-agreed-to onsite secure location that will tell family/friends where you plan to go.

Keep in mind that when you are in public spaces, like a shelter, anything you have may become lost, contaminated, or taken from you. Firearms might not be allowed either.

For this scenario, I make sure that our go-bags have copies of all important documents; for all three of my family-members I carry scans on a thumb-drive AND hard-copy: medical info, family and friends contact info, driver’s license, passport, veteran’s ID and VA ID, Medicare card, a list of passwords, bank & insurance info – you take it from here.

We each also have earbuds (connect to phone for music), “quiet headphones” (earmuffs) to screen out noisy surroundings, and eyeshades (to screen out light – some places may have lights on both day and night, and basic PPE: nitrile gloves, N95 masks, and goggles.

Scenario #3: Extended time away from home (“recoverable emergency”)

Only once so far: a major wildfire complex came within miles of our family home, and we were put into a “mandatory evacuation” classification.

You need to leave your home and circumstances suggest that the infrastructure will NOT recover in a reasonable amount of time – say, two weeks. Think: pandemic, major earthquake or environmental disaster, and/or the prospect of civil disorder; the grid is down or at-risk. Assume you decide to go early in the cycle, the roads are drivable, and your destination is more distant. You do not know when you will return.

Scenario #4: You may never return home (“major disaster”)

In my opinion this is both the “least likely” scenario, and the most critical. The current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic exposed us all to a hint of what might be on the horizon. If this hits, your family’s life may depend on how well you prepared.

This is worst-case: imagine news reports of major displacements like Chernobyl, or war-time chaos and refugees. Take everything you believe you need to survive: food, water, clothing, firearms, AND high-value items including all your cash. Take any/all Go Bags. Load up your vehicle but don’t overload it; secure your load and do your best to keep a low profile as you implement your plan. Use your situational awareness skills. Stay safe: use extra caution if entering your house/apartment after an earthquake or other natural disaster!

If you read this far – thank you! I hope you found something that will help you prepare for the adventures life brings your way. Stay Safe, Stay Sane.

Read More

Games that teach survival skills

What games have you found that teach survival skills in a fun way? I’ll include some of my favorites as comments and encourage others to do the same.

Read More

How to prepare with pets

I’m fairly new to prepping (I’d been thinking about it for a good while, but the pandemic combined with world events really kicked things into gear for me) and while I have a solid go bag and a plan in case I need to leave the city with my two kids – I’m at a complete loss with regards to how to prepare for travelling with my cat. I don’t drive, and even though my partner does, I don’t want to rely on that necessarily, so all of my plans are based on walking to my folks’ house in the country, a journey that could potentially take 2 days. Anyone in a similar situation? What do I need to keep my cat safe and warm in an emergency situation that could involve camping overnight?

Read More

Controlling cooking food odors whether SIP or Bug Out conditions

Controlling food odors would be an important consideration for anyone living in the city close to others or even in a rural area if hungry people are searching for food. I’m not sure, but it seems possible that very hungry people would have a heightened sense of smell. 

I ran a test on how much and how far food odors wafted from my home some years ago as part of scenario prepping.

There was no exhaust fan used to blow the odor outside. The item I cooked on top of the stove was dried red kidney beans. There was nothing added to the beans and water. It was to cook them only before making chili later.

While the beans simmered, I took a walk outdoors and was shocked by the smell outside my house. I never thought that plain, unseasoned beans would give off that much smell. More shocking was how far the smell travelled on a day with low wind conditions.

I wondered what the result would have been had I used an exhaust fan and blew more of the smell outside.

This led me to think that smell has to be considered in prepping. I am still trying to figure out how to control odors while cooking. Food can be eaten cold out of the can, but in an emergency of long duration, it will be necessary to cook food. Even bugged out, food odors from an outdoor meal could be a problem.

One last part, I have also considered food odors on my hands from preparing food. In times of scarcity, looking well fed and smelling of garlic might tip off people that you have preps. Lemon juice can neutralize the garlic and baggy clothes can hide a lack of weight loss, but I am still trying to find a solution to reducing or eliminating food odors.

Has anyone considered this and if so, any thoughts on how to deal with this issue?

Thanks in advance

Read More

Let’s make the ultimate emergency reference guide for a bug out bag

In a previous forum thread talking about light weight gear, I recommended that people ditch the heavy and bulky survival manual in their bug out bag, store most of that info in your noggin, and maybe have a laminated 1/2 sheet sized reference guide as a reminder or for those hard things to remember.

Another member asked if I or anyone else has a 1/2 sheet reference guide like this, and to be honest, I don’t. But let us change that and come together and come up with some things to add.

What do you all think of the following list? What do you like, dislike, or want to add? I’ll do all the work and compile it into a document, but I need ideas of important things you would find helpful on a 1/2 sheet size reference guide.

Here are some of my ideas:

Contact info for someone out of town, for your child’s school, spouse’s workplace, and other important numbers like doctor, insurance company, or utility company. Emergency meeting place location and instructions Diagrams of how to navigate using a wrist watch Diagram of how to set a snare Diagram of knots Escape routes Important radio frequencies Read More

What to do if your elevator gets stuck

You are running late for an important interview and rush into the elevator and push your desired floor button. While catching your breath and adjusting your shirt that just became untucked, you feel a lurch and a squeal. The elevator has stopped but the doors are not opening. GREAT! Just what you needed right!?

In New York City in 2015, 51 people were injured and 5 people died from elevator accidents.

Here’s what to do if you find yourself in this situation:

Push red emergency call button which is connected to a phone line and it should patch you through to an elevator maintenance representative. If this is not working, hopefully your cellphone has enough battery and service to call the building you are located in or the local fire department.

You don’t want to climb out of the top air vent of the elevator car because once you get up there, now what? You would be in serious danger if the car started to move, and you can’t climb up the elevator cables like in the movies because unlike what the movies show, these are coated with a thick layer of grease.

Don’t try and pry open the doors, they might suddenly close on your fingers and even if you were to open them and see that you were not against a solid wall and you were stuck between floors, it’s not smart to crawl out. If the elevator starts working suddenly you will be caught in between and get sliced in half.

There are many safety measures in place for modern elevators that you aren’t just going to fall randomly, you are safe if you just wait.

But… if you are stuck in there for a long time, you might have to establish a pee corner.

To avoid your chances of being stuck in an elevator, don’t enter overly crowded ones that might be reaching their weight limit. If you are already on one and a bunch of people come on, don’t be that guy that say “too full, take the next one”, just pretend that it is your floor and get off and wait till the next one.

If the elevator looks sketchy, overly old, or not maintained well, take the stairs. It’s healthier and safer anyways. If they building you work or live in has an elevator that seems to be out of order frequently or has issues, check with the building manager on when it was serviced last or check with the state and make sure it is kept up to code.

Have any of you ever been stuck on an elevator?

Read More

When to offer aid to the unprepared

Not everyone has prepping as a hobby or a way of life. Not many have gone through a major disaster or trial in their lifetime that would encourage them to be prepared. But those disasters do happen, and if it does, what is your thought process behind offering aid, help, and assistance to others?

It will greatly depend on the situation, where your preps are at the time, and many other contributing factors, but lets have a discussion of some possible scenarios.

Here are some arguments for giving aid: I believe that most people would like to offer assistance to others and help when they can. This can help grow and strengthen your prepping community and many hands makes light work.

Here are some arguments against giving aid: Your house gets to be known as the new hand-out place. Once you give help to one person, they tell others and you have many people on your doorstep. You become a target because you have supplies and resources when others do not.

Another user on here, Matt Black, made a really great forum post about making Mercy Bags for the unprepared. I think this is a great idea and my family is going to make some to help out others.

Read More

My main worries to end the week (Prices/CPI and other stuff)

My main worries to end the week are:

The economic models the Fed was using in December for predicting inflation don’t seem like they’re suited for the current economic situation. The Fed needs to seriously investigate why these models are wrong and make sure unwarranted assumptions are not sticking around or leading the Fed to be less aggressive than it has to be. We really don’t need the Fed to be too optimistic about inflation right now. Interest rates impact the price at which investors are willing to buy stocks (the other main consideration being company profitability or expected profitability), which is part of why raising interest rates slows the economy and inflation. If food and fuel costs/shortages get much more serious (or “go parabolic”), the Fed can’t do much about that but might feel pressured to raise rates more aggressively than it has to and cause a recession (or a worse recession) without a good reason. Interest rate hikes will not magically produce more fuel and food. There are counter-arguments to media reports like this (I hope those counter-arguments are wrong). If an income bracket literally can’t afford food or food is simply not available somewhere, niceties (and more) go out the window. Yes, we produce food domestically but fewer imported products = more people buy a lower supply of domestic products. (Mods: remove if this is too political, I’m trying to keep left vs. right ideology out of it and focus on the correlation between job approval ratings and crises). Biden’s job approval rating is historically low for a president, and lower approval ratings typically go along with recessions or crises like inflation in the 1970s or the 2008 Financial Crisis. Yes, Trump’s job approval rating was also pretty low throughout his presidency but (not to get too political or get into left vs. right) many people, right or wrong, found him offensive, thought he was too ignorant to do his job, thought he was an agent of a foreign power, or thought he did not respect the US Constitution or separation of powers. Therefore, it makes sense to assume that many people perceive current federal-level leadership as weak. Yes, you should be worried about what people are willing to vote for if they decide the government or economic/social/political system can’t fix their problems and those problems get too bad. Political extremists on the far left, far right, and elsewhere often spend their time sitting around and waiting for a crisis.

Suggested preps:

Food (at least 2 weeks, more if possible, like a few months or a year). Assume that food prices could double within the next year, though my baseline assumption is that we will face acute rather than chronic food shortages if there are availability issues. Get your finances in order (or try your best). Prepare for possible civil unrest. Humans adapted over hundreds of thousands of years to survive. Something in the news might shock you, but remember that you will not always feel the same way. The world could turn into a place that you don’t think is worth living in, but there’s a lot that has to happen before you know that for certain. Read More

How to survive an active shooter

A few months ago I shared what I learned about how to survive a nuclear attack after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I want to be prepared and know what to do when disaster strikes. The horrible Uvalde, Texas elementary school shooting on 5/25/22 is the 30th K-12 school shooting just this year alone and many more shootings will probably occur. So to be prepared, I wanted to learn more about them and what I can do. This isn’t the ultimate guide, but just what I learned after a few hours of research. Please correct or add to what I have.

The motive of an active shooter is to kill and maim as many people as possible to draw attention to their cause. They often target theaters, shopping malls, supermarkets, and schools because they are considered soft targets, which means they have low security and can include mass casualties of unarmed citizens including women and children. When attending these locations, be on extra alert of any suspicious activity.

Shootings can just be a spur of the moment heated argument that is unplanned or can be a coordinated attack that has been months in the making. In a worst case scenario, multiple gunmen might chain off exits to trap their victims and increase the casualty count, may deploy explosive devices for more damage, smoke bombs to create confusion, wear body armor to increase the time they have to hurt others before they are stopped, and may use modified and automatic high power rifles and other weapons to cause as much death as quickly as possible.

As soon as you hear gunfire, get down low and seek cover. Hesitation will get you killed. The three natural responses to immense stress like this are fight, flight, or freeze. Freezing is the worst, fighting is the next best option if fleeing is not. To avoid the tendency to freeze, play out scenarios in your mind and what you may do if something were to happen, know what gun fire sounds like and maybe even go to a gun range and just listen to what a gun sounds like in person when you don’t have hearing protection on. If you see people freezing and you wish to be the hero, use basic commands, hand signals, commanding voice, or even physically grab and move them to snap them out of the mental roadblock they are stuck on. If they put up a fight or resist, move on and don’t risk your life.

This may sound a little silly, but playing shooter video games and paintball can be valuable learning experiences against an active shooter situation. In these games you will learn how to hide behind cover and move from location to location without getting shot. The times I have played paintball really did feel like a war zone where you don’t know where the bullets are flying from, you have to constantly be moving, and it even teaches you a little on how to fight back. The adrenaline and pain you will experience by getting hit by a paintball is not lethal but will be a strong reminder that you might have just lost your life if this was real.

Avoid piling up with multiple people (like is commonly taught in schools). This just creates an appealing and larger target for the gunman to fire into. A single bullet can also pierce through multiple bodies. Spread out and be a smaller and harder target. Do not “play dead”, there are so many bullets flying around that you can easily get hit. Get out of there as soon as possible.

When entering a building, familiarize yourself with the layout. Know where are the entrances, exits, and places of cover and concealment. Cover is something that can stop bullets like a brick wall or vehicle. Concealment still hides you from being visible but will not stop a bullet, like a curtain or bush. Move from cover to cover until you are able to exit the building. If you do have to move from one cover to another cover and will be exposed in the open for a while, wait until there is a lull in the firing while they are reloading. When traveling down a hallway or open area, stay at least a foot away from the walls. If there is any shooting in your general direction and the bullets graze off the walls, you won’t get clipped by a ricochet.

Don’t get caught out in the open or huddled down behind something. The shooters will take out as many people as possible within the first few seconds and then sweep the building looking for those who are hiding. You need to get out and away from the building.

If you are in a supermarket or shopping mall, you may want to avoid running out the way that you came in. The gunmen will know that is where everyone will be fleeing and that is everyone’s natural instinct because that is the only way they know. Every store is required by law to have a back door, even the small shops in the mall have a back door leading to a network of fire escape hallways. The gunmen might not know about these or may not be in those areas because they think that no one would go there.

Be aware of some of the warning signs of individuals who may have active shooter tendencies and report them immediately. Each person who has ever become a killer has family and friends who if they were aware and close to the person, might have been able to intervene and prevent the situation from happening. Be brave and report that classmate, co-worker, or even spouse if you feel they may be a danger to themselves or others.

If you are a parent, talk to your kid’s school board or even teacher and know what their policy is. Recommend items such as a door brace that can be quickly deployed and add additional resistance to people entering your child’s classroom. The Desperate Hour is a recent show I watched where a mom hears of an active shooter situation going on in her child’s school as does everything she can to save him. Not the best movie (filmed during covid and social distancing), but definitely makes you think about what you would do in her situation.

Carry a tourniquet, and IFAK. Have your workplace upgrade their $20 first aid kit to one that can handle an actual emergency.

If you carry a concealed weapon, do not go hunting after the gunman. Get out and use that weapon only if the bad guy is between you and the exit. Be ready to drop the gun instantly when you get out so the police don’t think you are the shooter.

Read More

Outdoor target shooting can lead to wildfires

Target shooting outdoors can be a fun hobby, family activity, sport, and prep. It is important to get out and be comfortable with your weapons and test the reliability of your gear. But shooting a small piece of metal thousands of feet per second can not only be dangerous if it hits someone by accident (another forum post for another day), but can also cause a wildfire.

It may seem very unlikely, but it does happen and you don’t want to be shooting, cause a fire, not know how to handle it, and cause millions of dollars in damages and have people lose their homes because you were unprepared.

With the climate changing, wildfire numbers are increasing. 58,985 wildfires occurred in 2021, 90% were human-caused, burning 7.1 million acres. No bueno…

Here are some tips:

Avoid shooting when the fire danger risk is high. When traveling to the area, you may see charts on the side of the road informing people of the fire danger risk that day. If you see that there is a fire ban in place, the risk is high, it is a hot and windy day, or there hasn’t been rain in a while, go somewhere else. Bullet shards are hot and you can’t control where they land.

Don’t shoot into the weeds. Place targets on dirt or gravel and away from vegetation. Just like when you build a fire pit at the camp site and clear stuff around you, do the same for where the bullets will be going.

Shoot paper targets, steel targets or hitting rocks can throw sparks. Exploding or flammable targets are cool, or you may have an old printer you want to shoot, but these all can cause fires. 

Stick with lead core bullets, they are less likely to cause fires than steel core or solid copper ammo. Also avoid shooting tracer or incendiary rounds where they could ignite nearby brush.

Always bring a shovel and fire extinguisher with you to quickly put out any fire that may start. Without these tools, you will be just kicking dirt onto a growing fire and that won’t do much.

Call 911 immediately if a fire starts. Sure you will probably get in trouble, get a fine, and may have criminal charges put on you, but it’s a small price to pay to own up to your mistake and quickly get the help out to the scene as soon as possible to stop as much destruction as possible. Again, you will feel pretty bad about yourself if you see families displaced on the news because of your negligence. Many of the locations where you will be shooting will not have reception to call emergency services, so be aware on the way to the shooting range where you lose service and where you will need to drive back to to get it again. When calling 911, report where it started, what type of material is burning, how fast is it moving, how tall the flames are, and what is in the path of the fire.

Park your vehicle in a safe place. Hot exhausts systems parked over some dried material can ignite and start a fire before you even start shooting.

When cleaning up after a fun day of shooting (yes, you need to do this and don’t just leave all your junk out there because the 50 people before you did as well), look closely for any smoke, embers, or signs of fire. Do a final sweep of the location and leave it better than when you got there.

This topic just came to mind and I’ve been thinking about it for a while.  I have been guilty of violating many of the above rules in the past, but I want to move forward and improve myself and decrease my likelihood of causing a fire.

Read More

How to make a “well bucket” in case electricity goes down and you’re on well water

I have a 500 foot deep well. The pump is normally powered by solar, and if needed, a generator. But in case those power methods fail or SHTF and we run out of fuel, how would I get water?

I made this manual “well bucket” backup out of scrap pieces of PVC pipe, wood, cordage, a pulley and crank, some nuts and bolts, and a foot valve. It’s all available from a local hardware store or Amazon. I only needed simple hand tools and a power drill. Depending on how you put it together, it might be $25-$100.

It’s essentially like any bucket you’d drop into well for water, but this one is designed for modern, narrow, and deep wells. (This picture shows everything except for the foot valve on the bottom of the bucket/pipe:)

Although you can piece this together with random stuff, here’s a kit of essentially what I used and prices:

Step 1: Build a tripod or similar foundation that can hold a pulley directly over the wellhead. There’s no magic to the design, it just needs to be strong enough to handle 50-100 pounds of hanging force. In my case, the tripod is about 9 feet high and I can fold in the legs to make it easier to store.

But that might be overkill for your needs. If you’re really tight on storage space, you technically could skip the tripod and pulley/crank parts altogether and just have the PVC bucket and line.

Step 2: Attach a simple pulley wheel so it hangs down in the center.

Step 3: You can attach a hand crank to make drawing the bucket up easier. Or you can decide to skip this and just use your hands to pull the rope up. Keep in mind, though, that you might be pulling 20+ pounds up over hundreds of feet. It’s also possible to use an ATV, vehicle, or animal to pull the load up.

If you don’t attach the loose / non-bucket end of your line to a crank, as added safety against the whole thing dropping into your well, you can tie a big knot, attach some random nuts and washers, or some other idea to the end of the line. Whatever works so that if, while raising water by hand you accidentally let go, the whole thing won’t go down and you can’t reach the line anymore.

Step 4: Build the PVC bucket body. You need to know what the diameter of your well pipe is so that you can buy/use a PVC pipe that will fit inside but isn’t too narrow to require lots of round trips. It’s okay to leave a little bit of wiggle room between the PVC bucket and the well wall.

In my case, I used a 4 inch wide pipe that’s 4 feet long. If I did my math right, that pipe/bucket will carry about 2.5 gallons of water.

Step 5: Create the attachment point between the top of the bucket and your pulley line. The simplest way is to drill two holes directly across from each other, 1-2 inches below the top of the pipe, and then just thread your line through.

You can see how I used metal hardware in the picture above to create more of a pivot point that will let the bucket move and spare abrasion on the line. You could do something in between where you run one bolt through the two drilled holes, put a nut on one end to keep the bolt in place, and tie the line to the cross bolt.

Step 6: Making the bottom of the bucket. You have multiple options here, but in any case, you’ll need to put a PVC end cap on the bottom of the main bucket pipe to create the “floor” of the bucket. The end cap will be in the hardware store next to the PVC pipes, as will the glue you might need to secure it to the main body (remember, this bottom cap will hold all of the water weight). Just ask for help.

The simplest version is just a plain ‘ol bucket – the PVC pipe is the body, the bottom end cap is the floor, and there’s no top cap. So you dip the bucket fully underwater until it fills from the top, then pull it up.

There’s a potential problem with filling the bucket from the top, though. Your well might not have enough water in it for the whole bucket to submerge to the point water fills from the top. Or the bucket might be too light to naturally sink below the water line. If that happens, add some weight to the bottom of the bucket to help it sink.

I took an extra step to avoid those problems and have the water fill the bucket from the bottom, using a special (but only ~$20) device called a foot valve. The foot valve lets water come in from the bottom, but not back out as you pull up the bucket.

The white is the bottom PVC end cap. I drilled a hole in the center of that cap to match the foot valve and threaded it together. How you attach the foot valve (such as using washers/gaskets and a threaded nut) will depend on the foot valve, but again, your hardware store can help.

Another option is to buy or build a “check valve.” Some of the links below show this.

Practice: You’ll need to know how to remove the daily-life cap from your wellhead, or whatever else you’ll need to do in case power goes out and you need to swap in this manual method. Don’t wait until you actually need water to try this out!

Additional resources: Read More

My second hand experience with the Ontario / Quebec Derecho storm on May 21, 2022

Hello everybody, I wanted to share my (second hand) experience with what happened on Saturday afternoon in my part of the world.

For context here is a news article about it, as well as a video from Ottawa

It’s a little bit passed Hurricane week for our friends in the States, but this sort of event is new for me. There are sometimes tornado.s about an hour north of Toronto, but that’s like 6.5 hours from Montreal, an island, which ends up having much different weather patterns.

I was home in Montreal, my partner was at a LARP game in a campground in eastern Ontario (1.5 hours away). They play in an unused area of the campground which is forested. The parking lot is on a road cut through the forest for power lines to pass through.

This is her story.

They got a Weather Alert on their phones that a storm was coming, and to seek shelter. So they did, mostly in their tents, or somewhat sturdier car canopies. It was less than a minute before trees started falling and they ran out to the road (a highway) and hid on a side of a truck to block some of the wind. The rain started after the dust. The person across the street allowed them into their garage to take shelter.

No one got really hurt, there were a few cuts and bruises, but no concussions. But people had dirt all over their faces and clothes and in their mouth. My partner said, it didn’t really rain, it felt like dust and dirt was going through the air before the hail came. She’s glad she wears glasses and many people complained of having stuff in their eyes after.

The aftermath was that trees had been totally uprooted, branches flew around. Tents were destroyed, cars totalled, branches were sticking out of the ground from having been propelled so hard into it. Trees fell on the road and took down the powerlines, which created a fire where they touched the ground. My partner couldn’t leave as the road was blocked, and couldn’t get to the car because of the live wires near by. She only made it back on Sunday night (more than 24 hours after the event) once the road was cleared by the work crews, and the electrical wired were moved.

I also got a weather warning on my phone later in the evening, but in the end I saw and heard nothing, even if I could be considered to be in a windy street.

81 panicked LARPers 12 tents damaged (flipped / crushed) 4 people hit by trees 3 electrical fires 2 sprained ankles 1 totalled car (other cars got minor damage)

They were lucky to have been a big group. They had plenty of water, and kept a fire going. They have generators, and someone had a fire extinguisher and chainsaw is his truck, which helped to put out the fires and clear some paths. In the end my partner was lucky. Our car is unscathed, our tent is unscathed, and she remained in good spirits throughout.

Here’s some pictures.

You can see the wires touching the ground here and it’s the cross pole that’s on the ground.

What I learned. * Put a fire Extinguisher in the car * Put a saw of some sort in the car * Have something to wash yourself with in the car.

I’m adding Derecho to my risk assessment. It’s the first one I or someone close to me has lived through but with climate change, maybe there will be more.

Read More

Recognizing when it’s time to change how you prep

Yesterday, my prepping evolved. I made a hard choice and packed up all my canning gear for donation.

Over fifteen years ago, I purchased all of it when I ramped up my preps. It was a natural choice to return to the lifestyle I knew so well. Canning was part of self-sufficiency.

The problem was I never used any of it. The canning gear sat in unopened boxes for the someday promise of a garden.

The canning supplies also sat in boxes because there was no room on my prep shelves for any of those lovely unfilled jars. That was because I had already stocked my shelves with store bought cans, regularly rotated and neatly stamped with expiry dates.

There was no way to carve out more room in my prep storage. The space just wasn’t there and yesterday, I finally accepted that fact.

I also accepted that jarred foods as preps don’t make sense for me anymore. My husband and I avoid high sugar foods and rarely eat jam. 

Arthritic hands mean an unpredictable grip. If I drop a jar, it breaks. If I drop a can, it dents.

If we ever had to bug out or set up an alternate location for bug out, it will be easier to load tin cans than glass jars.

I was also concerned about the sustain ability of long term canning without replenishment of canning supplies, like lids or even fuel to properly sterilize jars and keep the process clean under what might be adverse conditions.

The risk of a bad batch of canning had always bothered me in the back of my mind. My Mom was an expert canner, and yet, I remember a time when she culled a batch of canned beans because she didn’t like the look of them that winter.

A friend made us lunch one day and proudly brought out her jar of jam. There was mould under the paraffin seal. I expressed regret that her jam was spoiled. She didn’t believe that it was “spoiled” and scooped the upper layer of jam out of the jar. I refused to eat any of it. Mould on the surface is also below the surface and should never be consumed.

No matter how careful a person is, home canning does carry the risk of botulism. A pressure canner is safest for low acidic foods, but it always goes back to operator error as a possible source of food borne illness.

Food borne illness is not something anyone wants to encounter in the best of times and definitely not during a crisis where medical care may be unavailable. Spoiled and inedible food is not a prep.

The last factor in my choice to relinquish my canning gear and preserve food using different methods was because of what happened last summer.

My someday promise of a garden finally arrived. I promptly blanched and froze everything that I grew. The thought of canning in that heat never crossed my mind. Not once.

I realized that it was time to evolve again. 

The word evolution comes from the Latin “evolvere” meaning “unrolling.” One of it’s meanings is “gradual development” and that is exactly what prepping has been for me.

Prepping is not a static, “do it this way forever” practice. It is a part of a life that undergoes growth, change, and gradual development.

If anything prepping has taught me to face reality and find solutions.

So, it is out with the canning and hello freeze drying. I have my home sized freeze dryer picked out. Until the budget allows it, I will be deep freezing my produce instead. What I grow this year will also be harvest as part of daily meals and if there is surplus, it will go for donation to the food bank.

I believe the freeze dryer will be a good prepping investment. Freeze dried foods have a longer shelf life than dehydrated foods. I can seal the freeze dried food into mylar bags and put them into pails for storage. The pails work well on my storage shelves and I don’t have to worry about breakage.

These are the moments in prepping when we can practice courage by letting go of an idea of how to prep that no longer works for us.

I was holding onto the tradition of canning and the memories it held for me. Now, I am forging new methods that hold the promise of new lessons and more to learn.

I think sometimes in prepping, there is a tendency for people to embrace ideas or methods of survival, because that is what everyone else is doing. However, that doesn’t always make it right for you. No matter how you prep, do what works for you. Don’t be afraid to evolve.

Read More

Cook your food in water instead of over a fire during a survival situation for the most nutrition

When you need to cook something you have caught, hunted, or foraged, cooking it as a soup in a pot of boiling water is much more nutritionally efficient versus grilling it over an open flame.

By containing the food in the pot, all of the nutrients are infused into the surrounding water which can later be drank as broth. That’s why chicken noodle soup was a common “cure” to being sick, because back in the day the whole chicken was cooked into the soup and the bones, joints, and skin would be broken down into a very nutritionally dense broth. The can of Campbells chicken noodle soup from the store in 2022 does not provide the same benefit.

It’s also easier to make sure that the food is cooked thoroughly if it has been boiling in a pot of water for some time. You can’t burn and char it in water but that can happen over an open flame.

A grilled piece of meat will always taste so much better, but in a survival situation you want the most nutrition as possible in soup form.

Read More

The dangers of leaving people and pets in hot cars

The above graph is from San Jose State University and shows the amount of children who die each year from being in a hot car. See the dip in 2020-2021 during the pandemic and when people were not driving as much? 

Newborns, children, those with disabilities, the elderly, those with a chronic illness, or pregnant women are especially vulnerable and sensitive to extreme heat. To be safe, don’t leave anyone in a hot car.

Animals can die of heatstroke within 15 minutes in a hot car. Cracking the window does not help. Plan your trips and know where you are going  during the day. If you are going somewhere that involves leaving your pet or child in the car at any time, leave them at home with a care giver.

If you ever see a pet or child left unattended in a vehicle, call 911 immediately and do not leave their side until the issue has been resolved. Signal for someone else to note the license plate number and go into nearby stores to try and locate the owner of the vehicle. Talk to dispatch and monitor the trapped victim’s status. If they get worse or even faint, then break in and save them. What are your thoughts on smashing out a window to save a pet in a car?

Some additional facts: 

The temperature inside a car can get 50 degrees hotter than on the outside. After 10 minutes, and car will reach 94 degrees inside when the outside temp is 75. Heatstroke can occur when outside temps are as low as 57 degrees. A child’s body heats up 3-5 times faster than an adult, so you may be fine inside the hot car but your child may be in the back seat really struggling. Keep an eye on them even if you are there with them. Lock you vehicle at home not only to prevent theft, but to keep children from playing in them and accidentally being locked in. Only 21 states have laws addressing leaving a child in an unattended vehicle. But even if you are in a state that doesn’t have a specific law, you can still be charged with child endangerment or even manslaughter.

What are your thoughts about leaving a kid or pet in a car with the AC on full blast while you run into the post office?

Leaving children or pets in a hot car might not even be intentional and could just be a result of being distracted and on “auto-pilot mode”. Avoid being rushed or on your phone that can leave you more frazzled and absent minded,. Build up the habit of “Look Before You Lock“. Even if you don’t have children, get in the habit for when you may help transport a neighbor’s kid, niece/nephew, or grandchild. An additional benefit of this habit is that while doing the sweep of the vehicle, you can be aware of any objects left in plain view that might be attractive to thieves. 

Don’t assume that every family member or care giver you place in trust of your loved ones knows as much as you do about hot vehicles Educate them. Here is a 10 minute free online interactive course about leaving children in hot cars. 

Read More

The Gottman Island Survival Game

While reading a marriage book, I came across an exercise about communication and being able to influence your spouse. Thought it would be interesting for people here to think about and maybe do with each other here or privately with their own spouse.

The Gottman Island Survival Game

Imagine yourself shipwrecked with your partner/the members of this forum on a tropical desert island. Gilligan and Ginger are nowhere in sight – the two of you/the members of this forum are the only survivors. You have no idea where you are. A storm appears to be on the way. You decide that you need to prepare to survive on this island for some time, and to find some way to ensure you can be spotted by a rescue party. There are a lot of items from the ship on the beach that could help you, but you can only carry ten items.

Step 1: Each of you writes down on a separate piece of paper what you consider to be the ten most important items to keep from the inventory list below. Then rank-order these items based on their importance to you. Give the most crucial item a 1, the next most important item a 2, and so on.

Ship’s Inventory:

Two changes of clothing AM-FM and short-wave radio receiver Ten gallons of water Pots and pans Matches Shovel Backpack Toilet paper Two tents Two sleeping bags Knife Small life raft, with sail Sunblock lotion Cookstove and lantern Long rope Two walkie-talkie sender-receiver units Freeze-dried food for seven days One change of clothing Bottle of whiskey Flares Compass Regional aerial maps Gun with six bullets Fifty packages of condoms First-aid kit with penicillin Oxygen tanks

Step 2: Share your list with your partner/people here on the forum. Together come up with a consensus list of ten items. This means talking it over and working as a team to solve the problem. Both of you need to be influential in discussing your viewpoint and in making the final decisions.

Let’s all do this exercise. Pick your 10 items, list them down in the comments, and then discuss/convince/argue on why we should pick the various items. Let’s see if we can get down and agree with at least 7/10 items as a community if we all were together in this situation of being stuck on an island together.

(Ignore Step 3 if doing it here on the forum, but I’m leaving it in case you want to work with your spouse on your communication)

Step 3: Once you have compromised on a third list, it’s time to evaluate how the game went. Think about how effective you were at influencing your partner and how effective they were at influencing you. Did either of you try to dominate? Were you competitive? Ask yourself if you had fun. Did both of you work well as a team and feel included, or did you sulk, withdraw, express irritability/anger?

Read More

Hurricane Preparedness Week May 1-7, 2022

Hurricanes are powerful and very destructive forces of nature that affect millions of people each year. Luckily they are not spur of the moment disasters like a car accident or earthquake and some warning and preparation can be made beforehand to either ride out and withstand the devastation or get to a safer location in time. 

NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) will be releasing a daily tip on social media platforms this next week with advice on how to be better prepared for the upcoming hurricane season. The Prepared will be sharing those tips on our Facebook and Twitter pages as well, along with some additional guidance.

For additional preparation, check out: How to prepare for and survive hurricanes

Feel free to also share your hurricane preparedness tips, stories, and experiences down below.

Read More