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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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?

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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.

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Water purification priorities

There’s a few methods to purify water but I was wondering how they should be prioritized if you have all of them. Say you’ve been a good prepper and have the following…

– Water filtration (HydroBlu inline + backup LifeStraw)

– Water purification tablets (chlorine)

– A clear bottle for solar disinfection (SODIS)

– A hard canteen you can boil in, plus lighter/matches

– Bandana

The day is young, the sun is out, and you’re staring at a puddle. After you’ve scooped up as much as you can, what item or combo of items do you reach for first? And second, third, etc. Of course, you have no idea how long this emergency will last.

I’m writing a short guide for myself / my partner on how to prioritize gear use for safety and longevity. For instance, boiling requires fuel, so it wouldn’t be my first pick.

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Preps for people with physical disabilities and limitations or who aren’t in great physical shape

I’d like to start a thread where we can discuss how to best get prepared if you or a loved one is dealing with physical disabilities or limitations or isn’t in the best physical shape. I’m particularly interested in discussing scenarios where we have to bug out. I know it’s desirable that person be in good shape for physically strenuous activity in case of the need to evacuate, but let’s get real. Some people just aren’t. Life happens; age happens; disability happens. We all do our best. I see physical fitness as an important goal to have in mind for health and safety reasons, but not something we should feel bad about falling short of.

I have very personal reasons for starting this thread. I am in my 50s, not in great fitness shape, although not horrible. I have some repetitive usage disabilities and long standing foot problems and now some knee problems.  Nothing extreme, but I’m pretty keenly aware that hiking out of Dodge with 25 or 30 lbs on my back would wear me out pretty darned fast. Honestly, I don’t know if I’d even make it a mile on foot. I also have a mother who is much MORE disabled, living part time alone after having a stroke two years ago.

I want to be practical so am looking for ideas of what I can do at my current size and shape and fitness level to prepare.

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What shortages/price hikes are you all anticipating?

I feel like I’ve seen a lot of news about higher fuel prices and an expectation that wheat will be in short supply and higher in price, but I was reading this article and found that Russia is one of the leading exporters of fertilizer. Fertilizer shortages could ultimately really impact agricultural yields globally. What shortages/price hikes are you all anticipating and prepping for?

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What would a non-nuclear world war look like?

Hi all, 

I’ve seen a lot of us talking about nuclear war and MAD (which has been on my mind as well), but I’m also curious what you think would happen if we had a non-nuclear world war. WWII could serve as some template, but we now have stronger international communities and weaker local communities. 

It looks like higher food and gas prices are already happening. People are pulling together more, but hate crimes are also spiking. Globally, alliances are strengthening and being made for the first time. Several countries are also talking about localizing their supply chains more. 

Do you have any predictions for what it could look like both in terms of everyday life and in terms of global relations?

(Edit: does anyone know if you capitalize “in” in a title? It looked wrong both ways…)

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Creating a prepping team

No man is an island and no one can succeed in a disaster alone. Mad Max, The Omega Man, I Am Legend, even The Road had guys going it alone against the post-apocalyptic hordes. But that’s not realistic. A truly prepared individual will surround themselves with like-minded others who have diverse skill sets.

The question I have is how? How do we find these people? I’ve been looking. I’ve joined groups, I’ve been on other forums. I want to enlist the people in my community,  but do so without coming on like a desperate weirdo or paranoid gun nut.

Where do y’all go to find others?

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Nuclear power plant failure…options?

   So I was perusing the beginner prepper guide and was thinking about things I should start with to better prepare me and my family for emergency situations. I live in Kentucky and happened to see the map for nuclear power plants and wondered about the fallout should the ‘world go dark’ scenario – government collapse etc. So what I was wondering was…how far could you live in a place near a nuclear powerplant and not have to worry about things like fallout or radiation poisoning in the water and air? At least not enough to have to move…    I’ve included an image that shows the current location of nuclear power plants and the link (Global Map of Wind, Weather, and Ocean Conditions) to a website that shows the real-time wind/weather patterns (quite beautiful actually).   I obviously don’t know much about nuclear power or what their procedure is should they need to power down but I imagine it wouldn’t be pretty if they had to be shut-off permanently? I do know that in the event of a power failure they recommend everything outside of a 100mile radius to evacuate. Any references would be greatly appreciated as I really enjoy a good research rabbit hole but a starting point does help.   I guess I’m just not sure how much energy and resources should be spent in a place that would prove unlivable when nuclear power fails and starts affecting the environment.

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How would those who live in a city survive without trucks?

While taking a business trip to Southern California I looked out the window and saw nothing but buildings, roads, and urban yuck as far as the eye could see.

At any time, I was probably looking at a million or two people. The thought that crossed my mind is how are all these people supported? I didn’t see any farmland, no large bodies of water, and where was the power plants? It seems like the food, water, and even power was transported in. What if all that stopped? By looking at the pictures you can see a few small bodies of water or a few football fields or parks that could be turned into farmland. I still don’t see how the vast number of people I was looking at could have enough resources and survive though. It would require a mass exodus out of the city or a large portion of the population to die off.

If you live in a city, it is even more important to store water, food, and fuel. And have a way to protect those resources because the hundreds of people around you who are not prepared will get pretty desperate.

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Inflation preparedness

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

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Do I need more than a whole house generator?

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

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You can never stock too much _________

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Amazon you can buy a variety of sizes – 

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

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

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

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

How to escape 2nd floor bedroom in case of fire

Do y’all have an recommendations for gear or protocol for escaping a second story bedroom in case of a fire between the bedroom and the stairwell that leaves the house?

I searched the forums and didn’t find anything.

I’m thinking a window breaker and some sort of collapsible ladder. 

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One woman’s 18-point survival checklist for fleeing Ukraine as Russia invades : NPR

Found this on NPR two days ago.   Thought it was fascinating and wanted to share with y’all since there are several threads about Ukraine on the forum.

One woman’s survival checklist fleeing Ukraine

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Fiction book review: Blue Fire by John Gilstrap

Blue Fire by John Gilstrap. Published March 2022 from Kensington Books.

TL;DR: A well-written, apolitical post-apoc page turner that emphasizes group dynamics more than gear or gun play.  I would recommend borrowing from the library over buying.  The first book in the series is available on Kindle Unlimited.

Blue Fire, the second book in John Gilstrap’s Victoria Emerson series, begins with a gun fight. Yet unlike most post-apocalyptic thrillers, the fight is not the result of a prison escape or government totalitarianism but rather a failed negotiation. And the aftermath of the brief fight features less blood and guts and more politics. As such, it sets the tone for much of what is to follow.

The Victoria Emerson series begins in Crimson Phoenix. In the opening of that book, Victoria Emerson, a Congresswoman from West Virginia, and two of her sons are awoken by a pair of soldiers tasked with escorting them from Washington, DC to a secret government bunker in preparation for an American-supported strike by Israel on Iran. When she discovers that the bunker will not accommodate her children, she refuses to enter and leaves with her reluctant military escort. The Middle East tensions trigger a wider global conflagration, including nuclear attacks on the United States, which Victoria and company weather in western Virginia. Various adventures ensue.

Blue Fire begins where Crimson Phoenix leaves off, with Victoria and her party helping lead the small town of Ortho as it weathers the challenges of life without power, external resources, or the rule of law. Secondary story lines follow her oldest son, who was away at boarding school at the time of the attack, and the members of Congress in a government bunker, including the former Speaker of the House, now reluctantly turned President.

The books deviate pleasantly from much of prepper fiction, which tends to focus on the survival of individuals and small groups. Typical stories stress individualism and are rife with male, ex-military leads with either heroic powers or startlingly good luck. Blue Fire and its prequel cast all of that aside. At its heart are two contrasting efforts to create order: one by Victoria and her allies in Ortho and another by a National Guard leader who has devolved into a de facto warlord. The characters in the book who are in the most danger are actually those who are most isolated – Victoria’s eldest son Adam and his girlfriend.

All the characters in Blue Fire read like fairly normal people. Even the military members are quite ordinary. The lead officer, Major McCrea, is most needed for his planning and organizational skills. Sergeant Copley is valued as much for his carpentry hobby as his military training. Neither are superhuman fighters. Victoria herself is both skilled and flawed: she is smart, forceful, and driven to get things done, but even her own sons are unsure if she remains in Ortho because she really wants to help or because she cannot give up her love of being in authority.

The books also get points for being very intentionally apolitical. No political parties are ever referenced by name; there is only the majority and the opposition. While the Senators and Representatives described in the book are given home districts, they are always districts that could plausibly be blue or red. No clearly Democratic or Republican political position is ever ascribed to a character. The effect is a sharp departure from the partisan politics often found in prepper fiction. Instead, there is a clear message that the real cause of ineffective government is a thoughtless focus on holding power, posturing, and scoring cheap points. I am sure that many readers will agree.

Lastly, I appreciated the books’ focus on people and skills more than gear. Far too many prepper novels focus incessantly on the names of specific guns, knives, backpacks, and boots. The worst sound like the author is regurgitating parts of a gear catalogue. There is almost none of that here. Gilstrap clearly knows enough about firearms and outdoorsmanship to describe shooting, hiking, and camping accurately. But he also knows that it does not matter much where you bought your equipment, as long as you know how to use it.

In short, Blue Fire (and Crimson Phoenix) will be appealing to a wide audience, including many people who find typical prepper fiction off-putting. But what does the book teach about prepping? My objection to books like A. American’s Going Home is not just that the incessant gear descriptions make for tedious reading. It is that the book sends the message that slogging hundreds of miles with a 50+ pound backpack loaded down with three different cooking systems is the best way to ride out the apocalypse. Other books contain may similarly miseducate the reader, by implying that you cannot survive danger without a rural farm, prior service as an Army Ranger, or a stockpile of silver coins.

On the one hand, Blue Fire’s description of the disaster that befalls America is both vague and a bit unrealistic. Nuclear war is a possibility, and maybe one that feels more salient given the current tensions with Russia. However, Gilstrap, as he explains in an author’s note at the end of Crimson Phoenix, has put aside much of the science about the effects of a nuclear exchange in order to facilitate his storytelling. In particular, the characters do surprisingly little to deal with or avoid nuclear fallout. The story is also told from the points of view of characters with limited information, sparing the author the task of detailing exactly what happened. In short, this book (and its prequel) will not provide edutainment on nuclear disasters.

Where the book really shines is in its emphasis on community and human relations. While other books may prompt the reader to ask, ‘Where will I go in a disaster?’ this one prompts the reader to ask, ‘Who will I know when I get there?’ Or while a typical story may lead you to think, ‘Do I have supplies for my family?’ this one may prompt you to reflect on what you will do with families that do not have supplies. Ultimately, survival is not just a solo activity but a community one. The book gives few readymade answers on how communities can prepare, but it nudges the reader’s thinking in a useful direction.

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Bug Out: All you need to know

For who have paying attention to news, all of you certainly know about the war between Russia and Ukaraine, yesterday I saw some of the refuge fleeing from their home in news, some are carrying duffel bag, while some using travel case with wheel, I can only shake my head for this one, despite living in a country that has high chance for war to happen, they are not prepared for the Bug Out, so I guess I will share my knowledge here for those who need.

This article is not intended to replace this post: Emergency kit / bug out bag list , but as a supplement to it. Bug Out means to leave your home and go to some place for better survival rate.

1. To Bug In(Stay at your shelter) or Bug Out:

Now first and most important, know if you should bug out. For example:

When hurricane heading your home = bug out

When war started and you are in the city = bug out

When your house is on fire = bug out

Civil unrest = depending on your country, and where you live

Food price rising = bug in

Power outage = mostly bug in if you have supply in home, otherwise bug out

As you can see, bug out is the last resort to take, that means its either you have no supply at home or staying at home would make your life in danger, otherwise you should always bug in.

2. Vehicle

One of the most ignored and most important, when bug out, you will want to leave as fast as you could. Most people, despite prepared or not, will bug out when noticing danger is coming (hurricane, bombing, etc), and most will bug out in four wheeled vehicle, which make the traffic jam happen. So the best choice is to bug out with motorcycle or bicycle, or just with your foot.

3. Location

If you are bugging out, certainly you will want to go to a safer place. In most natural disaster, the bug out location is hotel, or your parent’s/grandparent’s home, but there are also chance where these place are not accessible and you need to settle in abandoned building woods (there will be more about this later)

4. Bug Out Bag Content

Now after all the important parts, its time about the things you want to carry when you are bugging out:

Water: Water is one of the most important things for our survival (beside air of course), you will only need three things, a stainless water bottle, water filter, and collapsible water bottle.

Stainless water bottle is important since you could boil water in it, which kill the virus and bacteria. (You can also do this in mineral water bottle in emergency, it might be bad for your health, but its better than dying in thirst)

Water filter could make dirty water able to drink without boiling (which is important if you can’t light a fire due to some reason), I always choose water filter that could filter out bacteria, chemical (heavy metal), and virus. If you stay in a city you might not be able to find water from stream to purify it, but if you happen to find a small water puddle, you can still use the filter to purify it, so don’t ditch the water filter even if you planned to stay in the city.

Collapsible water filter are used to collect dirty water so the filter could purify it, however most filter could work with normal soft drink bottle.

Tools/Entrance Tools: One of the most important things in the backpack, which include a knife, multitool, tungsten glass breaker, small axe/tomahawk/machete(big knife), folding saw.

Knife is important for a lot of things, a survival knife in your pack should be around 3-4inch, full tang and made with durable material.

Multitool is essential for a bug out bag, simply because it have so much function. One of it function is bolt cutter, which might be useful if you need to break enter an abandoned building.

Tungsten glass breaker, usually located on a tactical pen or as addon to a multitool, can be used to break glass, which might be useful if you need to break enter an abandoned building.

Small axe/tomahawk/machete(big knife), depending on your location, is important if you are bugging out into the woods/rain forest. In some country like US which could become very cold during winter, axe or tomahawk is very useful to produce firewood even if you are not bugging out into the woods. Machete(Big knife) is important for tropical environment since there are thick under bush in the rainforest.

Folding saw is very useful if you want to cut furniture into firewood, or simply want to cut hardwood, using saw for hardwood save much energy compare to axe or machete.

Shelter: Depending on where you want to stay, you will need different things. If you are bugging out to hotel or friend’s/parent’s house, you could skip this. If you have no choice, you could either stay in abandoned building, or just bugging out into the woods. Please keep in mind that you will not live happily forever in the woods like some preppers imagined, you only stay in abandoned building/woods until the disaster/war is over in your area. If you are staying in the woods, you will need a tarp to keep rain off your head. But tarping is not easily mastered without practice, especially if you are alone, so remember to try setting up tarp when going outdoor, or just at your backyard.

Food: While human can survive longer without food compared to water, food is also essential to provide energy for every day work. I only recommend ration block, while they are not that tasty, they last long, provide multiple day of energy, while being small and not so heavy.

Example: Datrex ration, which could last 3-7days, weight is between 700-800 grams

Clothing: There are 2 type in this category, normal clothing and extra clothing.

Normal clothing: What you currently wear and are comfortable to you, pack a pair of extra into the bug out bag.

Extra clothing:

Gloves: Important to prevent blister in heavy work suck as splitting wood, or just keep your hand warm.

Shoes: Assuming you have your shoes nearby, you won’t have to pack extra in the bug out bag. 

Rain gear: Being wet could cause cold which is deadly in disaster, you will need a rain gear to keep your self dry, Most people use Gore-Tex jacket these day, but I keep a tarp poncho in my bag which work to keep me dry while also work as shelter, just choose whatever work for you.

Winter/Cold Jacket: If your region is very cold during winter, remember to wear one if you are bugging out during winter, otherwise keep one in your backpack.

Medical: Medical supply is also important, but don’t just buy a medical kit, they are lots of useful article which tell you how to build an IFAK, while they are true, the most used item in a medical kit is normal pills for common illness, or some plaster and bandage, be sure to NOT overlook these simple content while building your IFAK.


Lighter: Your average BIC Lighter should do, just bring 2-3 of these.

Paracord: Any rope are just as useful as your knowledge, paracord is also useful for setting up tarp, just bring 50-100ft of this.

Light: Headlamp is better than torch since you don’t need to hold it in your hand, if your headlamp is aa/aaa battery powered, remember to bring extra battery.

Toilet paper: Mostly you will use water, but just incase if you couldn’t find water.

Sharpening stone: Keep your tools and knife sharp, I personally use Fallkniven DC4.

Toothbrush: Even without tooth paste, could brush off leftover from your teeth, wont make your mouth smell fresh but at lease you wont have cavity.

Spork: Utensil is important since you won’t have much water to wash your hand.

Nail clipper and ear spoon: Stay outdoor for 2 weeks and you will know how important these things are.

Duct Tape: Very useful when you need to fix or make something.

Pen and paper: Useful to write down your plan or leave note for others.

Battery: Depending on the situation, a 10000-20000 mAh power bank should do for your headlamp and phone, if your headlamp use aa/aaa battery, don’t forget to bring extra.

Mood booster: During hard times, its important to stay sane so you could make right decision, some people bring card or board game, some bring photo of their loved one, whatever you choose, keep it light and simple.

5. Weapons

In disaster, you will need a way to defend yourself, just remember you will need to practice with what you choose.

Guns: Pistol, shotgun, riffle, whatever you choose, make sure you know how and are prepared to use it.

Spear: Always choose gun if it is legal in your country, otherwise simple spear is the best as long as you have the space to wield it.

What not to choose:

Sword: Require so much practice only to be defeated by spear.

Knife: I stab you, you stab me, then we are both dead. While knife is a useful tool, it should not be used to fight unless you have no better option.

6. The bag itself:

The bag should be the last item you buy, so you could know how much space you need. Your bag should be very durable, so it would not fall apart when you need it the most. Keep it mind that your bug out bag should be able to keep on your back COMFORTABLY, that means no duffel or any wheeled case. Also don’t choose camo color as it would make you look like a military unit if you are in a war region.

My Golden standard: Cordura 500D (or Nylon 1000D) and above, YKK Zipper, good carrying system, good hip belt.

I personally use Tasmanian Tiger backpack because its simple and works, other brands like 5.11 and Mystery Ranch also meet my standard. Just choose what you like and are comfortable to you. Even you want something lighter (my backpack weight 2.1 Kilograms without anything), anything 400d nylon with YKK Zipper, good carrying system and good hip belt should do, but keep in mind you are sacrificing durability for weight. Don’t worry about the greyman tactics unless you choose camo color, you wont be much different than the bugging out crowd.

My backpack which carrying everything I need.

Feel free to give some suggestion and if you have any questions, just ask below.

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Volunteer fire departments

I was surprised to read that 92% of the 812 fire departments in my state are all volunteer or mostly volunteer. The number of volunteers is shrinking. This factors into where I want to live. I want to live where there are some paid professional fire fighters.

I think I’m turning into a proponent of living in a town big enough for some paid professional first responders (and hopefully a small hospital) yet a town small enough to avoid traffic congestion and sprawl. As I noted in a different thread, there are options besides big city and rural country in terms of places to live. At a minimum, know the robustness of your fire fighter pool.

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The story of surviving a cold and stormy night off of a candle

It is a cold and stormy night when your car goes off the side of the road and into a tree. “Guess you should have spent the extra money on some snow tires” you tell yourself after cursing a little for your stupidity. You look down at your cell and there is no service, great! The forecast had mentioned it getting into the negatives tonight so your car just won’t do as a shelter until morning. As you sit there pondering the real pickle you are in, you recall a small shack you passed about 1/4 mile back the way you came. You bundle up with all the clothing you have and face the blistering storm as you hike through the darkness.

Upon coming to the house, can it even be called that? It looks to be barely held together and like it was deserted for some time. As a big gust of snowy wind pushes you back you are quite through with being out here and push your way into the building. With the remaining 14% of your cell phone battery, you illuminate the small area looking for any signs of life, food, or communications devices. There is a broken chair, a busted window, empty cupboards, some empty soup cans, a matchbook, and a single candle. Your luck hasn’t changed much, but at least it is warmer than out in your car. 

As your phone’s battery drains to 12% you decide that you will light the candle to be your source of light through the night, and maybe offer a little bit of heat. Time passes and you notice how thirsty you are, but heck if you are about to eat some snow and cool yourself down even further! You notice one of the empty soup cans and wonder if you could melt the snow over the candle’s flickering flame. Working fast you run outside, scoop a can of snow, and run back in before you cool down even further out there. Making a quick contraption you improvise a little stove top and place your can of snow on top. 

Just for giggles you time how long it takes with your trusty Casio watch and are quite surprised that the snow is completely melted in 6 minutes and 40 seconds. And just over 15 minutes the water has come to a roaring boil! Not too bad. Letting it cool down slightly you drink the warm beverage and your soul is warmed along with your stomach.

More time passes and your candle is still holding strong, but your stomach starts to grumble. At that moment you hear a rustle near the top corner of the shack. Using some of your precious battery again you flip on the light to illuminate a small pigeon’s nest. Oh that would be some mighty fine eatin! As you creep up on the little fluff, it flutters away! But it happened to kick over it’s nest onto the floor, might as well burn that for some warmth right? Upon closer inspection of the nest you notice some eggs inside, hope is not lost!

Taking another can, you craft a hot plate and crack an egg over top.

Surprisingly it starts to sizzle instantly and you know the beast in your stomach will be calmed shortly. It’s not much but you form the egg into a little omelette and it isn’t too bad. With your stomach full, you drift off to sleep.

The night turns to day and are awoken to the sound of traffic going past the shack, guess it’s time to get up and be rescued. You blow out the candle that made this horrible night just a little bit more bearable. It provided you with warmth, light, clean water, and a warm meal. Before you step out into the day you look back at the shack and the memory you had there. “When I get home, I am going to work on being more prepared.” you say out loud before the door shuts.

The end…

Hope the story was a more interesting way to share my little experiment of cooking over a candle. Have a nice weekend everyone.

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UK media saying war by Wednesday

Many UK media sources believe its going to kick off this week between Ukraine, Russia and Nato, the Daily Mail is saying WAR on wednesday.   They report the costs of grain, animal feeds,natural gas, petrolium and diesel will go through the roof.

Internet may get jammed by military level hacking


GPS systems may be disrupted.

I would also redirect you to the thread about products made from oil and gas to see the likely impact on most of our daily essentials.

I’m filling all my fuel containers and treating it with Sta-bil,  increased food stocks to the tune of £300 worth, stocked up on firewood, medical supplies and stored water.

I’m an old dude so I can opinion on this but this reminds me of the darkest days of the Cold War.

If it goes off who knows how it could spiral.

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