Category Archives for API – Mod. 5

Get Prepped For a Quarantine

All too often, the world is shaken by a new flu bug or the resurgence of an old one. This article caught my eye, as it’s about a mutated version of avian flu H7N2 that was transmitted from a cat to a human, quite a rare occurrence. I also have a long enough memory to recall the Ebola panic just a couple of years ago and shaking my head at the incompetence and poor decision making by those in authority, including the CDC.

The history of Ebola, as detailed in this book, is helpful to know and understand how a deadly virus originates, mutates, and spreads.

With an eye on the future and knowing a little about how quickly certain viruses can spread, I have put into place a number of preps that would see my family through the duration of a widespread outbreak, similar to the ones described in Steve Konkoly’s The Jakarta Pandemic. I know Steve personally and the massive research he put into this book, although a novel, is spot on. Read it to learn even more strategies to keep your family safe.

So, if we can learn anything from past epidemics, we can fully expect to see many more viruses of every kind spread, to one degree or another. And, naturally, there will be even more cases of overwrought hysteria by the media and public officials. Another very concerning development where these viruses are concerned is the flood of immigrants from all parts of the earth whose health issues are unknown. Some carry highly contagious diseases, like tuberculosis, which have previously been very rare here in the U.S.

That said, imagine for just a moment that you and your family have been placed under an official quarantine lasting seven days, fourteen days, or even longer. No one goes to work, no one goes to school. You won’t be eating at restaurants, going to church, the bank, to the movies, or visiting friends. During a quarantine, you will be expected to be self-sufficient for everything except for your utilities.

How will you cope?

Prep now for a quarantine

Preparing for something like this is a good excuse to really get going with your prepping if you’ve slacked off or are pretty new to the idea. Basic prepping for anyone begins with food and water. If you haven’t yet started storing food, here’s a list of some basic foods to begin stocking up. One simple strategy is to begin buying extras of the groceries you use more often and do that each time you go grocery shopping.

If you’re the one who’s sick and possibly very contagious, you’ll need to have on hand a couple of week’s worth of things like canned soup, freeze dried meals, and other simple “open and serve” type meals. Make sure everyone in the family knows where this food is and how to prepare it.

Add essential non-edibles

In addition to food, you’ll need essential non-edibles that are a part of your daily life but also a few items more specific for dealing with a quarantine and pandemic. Those would include soap, laundry detergent, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, bleach, black trash bags (the really heavy duty contractors bags), rubber gloves, N-95 face masks, medical quality disinfecting wipes, and medical disinfectant spray.

An official looking quarantine warning sign would be a good idea. Keep in mind, in a true epidemic or pandemic, you will want to quarantine, even if no one in your household is sick. Hunker down at home and let the virus run its course, far from you and your loved ones. A quarantine sign will be a reminder to outsiders that you’re aware of the health scare and are taking necessary precautions within your 4 walls. At the same time, if any potential intruders are casing your home, that sign could possibly scare them away if they believe the virus is alive and well inside your house.

Now would also be a good time to make sure you have a working thermometer or two, extra bottles of pain reliever, at least one humidifier, diarrheal medicines, and electrolyte drinks or dry mix as detailed in this article. If the virus is affecting the upper respiratory system, the humidifier becomes even more important, along with decongestants, many boxes of tissues (be sure they are immediately disposed of in something like this), lots of water for rehydration, possibly natural remedies you have found helpful (we use Boswellia tablets for coughs). The CDC has a helpful article that details complications from the flu — good to review, take notes, and plan to have on hand supplies to deal with this type of common virus.

Once the quarantine is in place, you will probably not be able to go to a drugstore or pharamacy. In that case, you need to make sure you have an adquate supply of prescription drugs. I’m thinking, in particular, of asthma inhalers, since a number of flu viruses focus on the upper respiratory system. This could be particularly dangerous to an asthmatic.

Depending on how severe the illness, you may need contractor-grade bags to hold refuse, biohazard bags, barf buckets, even gauze (or maxipads) to absorb blood. (Remember pictures of people with tuberculosis coughing up blood in old movies?) In the case of Ebola, the virus was found in bodily secretions of all kinds. That’s where rubber gloves, goggles, disposable Tyvex suits (not as expensive as most people think) and a biohazard clean up kit should be added to your supplies.

Most people don’t give much thought to the pathogens that could be present in vomit, saliva, urine, and feces. They’ll probably grab some paper towels and maybe a bottle of Clorox spray, but an actual biohazard spill, or clean up, kit provides most everything you need to clean up and then dispose of potentially dangerous substances. Speaking of disposal, adding biohazard disposal bags provides you with a safer option for disposal of used medical supplies and even clothing worn by the sick person.

Clothing, towels, and sheets used by the sick person will have to be quarantined away from those used by everyone else. Launder them separately and once the patient has recovered, throw them away. This is true of everything else used by the patient: cups, plates, silverware, etc.

Lest you think it impossible to deal with a deadly virus like Ebola within your home, a young Liberian woman did just that by using low-tech supplies to keep family members alive during the worst of the outbreak:

Every day, several times a day for about two weeks, Fatu put trash bags over her socks and tied them in a knot over her calves. Then she put on a pair of rubber boots and then another set of trash bags over the boots.
She wrapped her hair in a pair of stockings and over that a trash bag. Next she donned a raincoat and four pairs of gloves on each hand, followed by a mask.
It was an arduous and time-consuming process, but Fatu was religious about it, never cutting corners.
You can read her entire story here. If a pandemic becomes so widespread that professional medical care is impossible to access, you can still do quite a lot with basic medical knowledge and the right supplies.

Maintaining sanity within your home

A quarantine will require that everyone stay home. If you have kids or grandkids, then you’ll want to make some plans now to keep them busy and entertained.

First, they should understand basic quarantine rules:

  1. Wash hands after every time they use the restroom.
  2. Immediately dispose of used tissues in a biohazard container.
  3. Stay away from the “sick room” without specific instructions from an adult.
  4. Know to wear protective clothing, including goggles and a face mask, around the sick person.

Very young children who tend to not always follow instructions may need to be kept behind a barricade, such as a kiddie gate.

Having the kids at home 24/7 may drive everyone batty, so it will be worth your while to tuck away a few books on CD, DVDs, books, and even school workbooks. Amazon carries the BrainQuest workbooks for various grades, and at over 300 pages each, surely they’ll keep kids busy for a long while. Also, have plenty of pencils and a good pencil sharpener handy. Puzzle books, board and card games, and indoor physical activity supplies (jump ropes, exercise videos, etc.) can help create a routine that, in turn, helps everyone stay sane. This article provides many more examples of how to set up a shelter-in-place routine.

Finally, if no one is working during the quarantine, it’s possible your income might suffer. Your mortgage company, landlord, and utilities must still be paid right on time, so do a little financial planning to be sure that money is set aside in case the worst does come to pass. As always, it pays to be prepared in more ways than one.

This 7 minute video from Dr. Bones gives more helpful tips for setting up a quarantined home:

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How to Survive if You’re Caught in a Riot

What happens if you are stuck in a large riotous crowd?  Now this can be the result of an evacuation or bug out situation, a protest, food riot or any other mob-ruled violence.

Now, back in the early 70s, I was working undercover and got caught in a couple of the anti-war riots that occurred during this period. Once, I even ended up on the wrong side of a police line, not the right place to be.

Last night I was watching a movie and they showed people traveling in a large, panicky crowd. Our heroes made several dumb moves. First, they tried to drive through a crowd having the only running vehicle. This does not work, unless you are willing to kill people and even then, you most likely won’t get out of the crowd alive.

If you are on the road during a bug out and there is a large and desperate crowd in front of you, reverse course. Find another route, even if it means abandoning your vehicle. This is why I recommend having a detailed map, like these, as well as a GPS. Remember, crowds are something to be feared. A panicky crowd will have no conscience.

Going back to our movie, our hero made a second mistake: he pulled a firearm. All this did was result in the loss of the firearm and him almost being killed. If you have a firearm in a crowd, try to keep it out of sight, and for sure, don’t pull it out and threaten someone.

The best solution is to avoid being caught in crowds, but sometimes you have no choice. You may be attending a large public event like a ball game or simply have to work in a bad area.

 So, here are some ideas to help you stay safe in a riot or panicky crowd

  1. If you see people start to mass, don’t get curious and wait to see what is happening. Leave now.
  2. Be familiar with your area. Even if you’re just visiting a location, you should still get to know your surroundings as much as possible. Study a map and have a good idea of where you are, directionally.
  3. Think about your possible escape routes and safe havens before anything actually happens.
  4. If you work in a volatile environment, make sure you know several routes for getting home so that you have a number of methods of escape in the event of a riot.
  5. Carry small amounts of cash with you in case you need to quickly arrange transportation, pay off looters, or address your basic needs.
  6. Remain calm. Riots bring intense emotions boiling to the surface, but if you want to survive one you’d be better off keeping your own emotions in check. Your adrenaline and survival instincts will kick in, but strive to think rationally and pursue safety methodically. The book, Left of Bang, delves into this and is a good read as well.
  7. Avoid confrontation by keeping your head down. Think “gray man”. How could you blend in and not attract attention?
  8. Walk at all times at a casual pace. If you run or move too quickly, you might attract unwanted attention.
  9. Keep your loved ones close. If you’re not alone, then the first thing you should do is grip the hands or lock elbows with all of the people who are with you. If you’re with a child, hold them in your arms so they aren’t trampled. Sticking together with your loved ones should be your first priority
  10. Don’t get involved or take sides.
  11. Try to get out of the crowd, don’t try to move against it, but try to work your way to the sides at an angle and find a way out.
  12. When you get to the side, either leave the area or find a safe spot in a building. Just by moving inside a sturdy and controlled building, you may find protection. The first thing you should do if you enter a building is look for an escape route or back door.  Hopefully this will let you out onto another side or alley that is free of the crowd. Don’t hide in upper stories.
  13. If you find safety in a building, don’t watch the riot from the windows, this may attract attention and will increase your chances of getting hurt.
  14. Look out for fire. If the angry mob turns toward the building, it can be a target. Try to have an escape route.
  15. The best thing to do is to get as far away from the crowd as possible. But as you are leaving, watch to make sure no predators are following you. If you have a firearm this is when it will be most useful.
  16. Depending on the circumstances, the police and authorities may or may not be your friend. Avoid them if necessary as they may assume you are one of the rioters. If they are in limited strength and under attack, stay away from them.

Hopefully you never get caught in this situation. Planning ahead and living and working in good areas, can help keep you and your family safe. Sometimes, that’s easier said than done!

 

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7 Ways to Survive a Nuclear Incident

Surviving a nuclear incident, for example a dirty bomb, nuclear reactor accident, or nuclear explosion, seems to many people to be impossible. They assume it’s impossible to survive such an event, so they decide they will just give up and die. I have had many people tell me that they would prefer to die in a nuclear war than survive. While any type of nuclear incident would be horrific, with a bit of knowledge it is possible to survive and go on with life.

The most important survival tool that you need is knowledge. The following points are information you should study and learn.

1. First, there are two types of radiation associated with a nuclear explosion that you should know about. The first is the initial nuclear radiation from the blast. If you are exposed to this, you are probably dead.

However, the second type of radiation, Residual Nuclear Radiation, is different. This radiation is mostly from the radioactive fallout. This radiation comes from the weapon debris, fission products, and, in the case of a ground burst, irradiated soil.  There are over 300 different fission products that may result from a fission reaction. Many of these are radioactive with widely differing half-lives.  Some are very short, i.e., fractions of a second, while a few are long enough that the materials can be a hazard for months or years.  Their principal mode of decay is by the emission of beta particles and gamma radiation. The bombs dropped on Japan were airbursts and caused very few deaths from radiation.  Cancer deaths that occurred much later are for another discussion.

2. A ground burst will produce much more fallout than an air burst.  In a nuclear war, most countries would use airbursts; they create damage over a larger area, but minimize radioactive fallout. Terrorists would probably use a ground burst because they would want to cause radiation damage and fallout.

Burns visible on a woman in Hiroshima during the blast. Darker colors of her kimono at the time of detonation correspond to clearly visible burns on the skin which touched parts of the garment exposed to thermal radiation. Since kimonos are not form-fitting attire, some parts not directly touching her skin are visible as breaks in the pattern, and the tighter-fitting areas approaching the waistline have a much more well-defined pattern.

3. Avoid looking at a distant nuclear blast. Flash blindness is caused by the initial brilliant flash of light. More light energy is received on the retina than can be tolerated, but less than is required for irreversible injury. This results in temporary damage to the visual pigments of the eye, and temporary blindness for up to 40 minutes.  If you have the fireball directly in your field of vision, it is possible to get a retina burn that can permanently damage your vision up to and including blindness.

4. This same flash that can damage your eyes can cause thermal burns. When thermal radiation strikes an object, part will be reflected, part transmitted, and the rest absorbed. The fraction that is absorbed depends on the nature and color of the material.  A thin material may transmit a lot. A light colored object may reflect much of the radiation and thus escape damage, like anti-flash white paint.  The absorbed thermal radiation raises the temperature of the surface and results in scorching, charring, and burning of wood, paper, fabrics, etc.  If the material is a poor thermal conductor, the heat is confined to the surface of the material. Depending on your distance from the blast, it is possible that the flash can ignite fires.

5. Duck and cover – This has been made fun of in the media on many occasions, but in reality it is a good idea. Depending on your distance from the blast, it can protect you from possible blast damage. It also protects you from flash burns and blindness.  This is something that can save your life.

6. Learn how to find cover and what shelter factors protect you from the effects of radiation. The book Nuclear Warfare Survival Skills is an excellent reference on this subject.  It teaches the 7:10 rule. Assume that a 1 megaton bomb blast occurs and you are sheltered or far enough away to survive the blast if fallout of 1000 Rads arrives at your location 1 hour after the blast.  A 450 Rad accumulative dose can kill you, so one-half hour of unsheltered exposure can be fatal.  If you have shelter and are using the 7:10 rule, you will know that after seven hours the outside rate will drop to 100 Rads per hour.  In another 7 times 7, or forty-nine hours, it will have decayed down to 10 Rads per hour. Then using the rule of seven times forty-nine hours which equals approximately two weeks it will be down to one Rad per hour. You need to stay sheltered until it drops to one-half Rad per hour, and that takes about twenty-five days total.

If you are lucky and the Rate is only 10 Rads per hour in your area, then seven hours after the blast it is down to one rad.  Forty-nine hours after the rate is down to one tenth of a Rad and you can leave the shelter.

7. You and dirty bombs.  As you know, there has been a lot of concern about terrorists getting their hands on nuclear materials and setting off a dirty bomb. Studies have shown that members of the public are more likely to be harmed by the impact of the conventional explosives than that of the radioactive materials.  A dirty bomb would spread radioactive materials, contaminating the local area and any individuals in the nearby vicinity.  However, this contamination would be mostly external in nature, and if the attack was promptly identified as being radioactive, decontamination of individuals would be a relatively straightforward process.  The exposure time of anyone affected would be limited and the negative health effects mitigated.  There would be no nuclear explosion and the radiation would only be scattered within the blast radius.

Hopefully this will provide you with some information that will help you understand some of the ways in which you can mitigate the effects of a nuclear incident.  Take the time to study this problem and Build a Nuclear Go Bag for Fallout or Radioactive Incidents.

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Speaker: A. American

Angery American is the prolific author of some of the most popular prepper fiction around. He lives in Florida with his family.

Books by A. American

Click on the title to learn more or to order:

A. American’s website

AngeryAmerican.net

Where to find A. American on Social Media

Facebook

Twitter

A. American’s Recommendations

Roses Have Thorns – YouTube

Forward Observer

US Concealed Carry Association – insurance

Coldsteel Special Forces shovel

Color Revolution article – Zero Hedge

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The TEOTWAWKI Last Minute To Do List

If you are watching the news and following events you know that the country could be in major crisis with very little notice. The average citizen in Venezuela had little time to prepare for the collapse of their economy, and the author of this book lived through Argentina’s multiple collapses and can give you tips for preparing and surviving.

An economic collapse, an EMP, war — these worst case scenarios are part of the reason we all prep, so that we can handle the unexpected. But suppose you have a few hours notice? What are the 10 last minute things that are most important?

Here’s a list of my suggestions:

1. Contact your friends and family and let them know what is happening. Get the kids out of school, get home from work. In other words, get your group together in one location.

2. If you are bugging out to a stocked retreat, load the car, fuel up, gather extra gas cans, and leave now. You can complete the rest of this list en route and when you arrive. Before you leave, make sure you have a destination. You do not want to become a refugee.

3. Make a last minute trip to the grocery store. Buy items that you are short of, but at the very least, grab useful items like batteries, candles, matches and all the canned meats you can carry. Grab any other other last minute supplies you need. Don’t forget extra fuel. Be sure to store it in proper containers for safety.

4. Check your prescriptions and go to the pharmacy and get any refills you can. While there, stock up on the over-the-counter medications your family typically needs.

5. Check your water supplies. Are all containers filled and in good condition? If you have a waterBOB, fill it now,and have 2 on hand if you have 2 bathtubs. If you don’t have a waterBOB, fill your bathtub and all extra containers that you have on hand. Locate your water filters and make sure they are ready to use.

6. If it appears the power will go out, get your generators or other sources of off-grid power ready. It should be done even if you will be using kerosene lanterns, a propane cooker, or anything else that doesn’t rely on generator power. You may need that generator in the middle of the night, so test it and have it ready to go at a moment’s notice.

7. If you have a freezer full of food, implement your plan to preserve it. If this is going to take some time, wrapping your freezer in blankets can help keep your food frozen for a longer period. If you own a Yeti cooler, as your freezer begins to warm up, keep as much meat as possible in the Yeti. This will buy you at least a couple of days before it must be cooked. A Yeti could also be used to keep life-saving medications chilled.

8. If the weather is cold and you will lose heat, get your blankets, sleeping bags and cold weather clothes ready. If it is hot, make sure that your group is dressed appropriately for the weather and has plenty of water to drink and battery-operated fans to help avoid heat-stroke.

9. Make sure that your first aid and medical supplies are easily accessible. This medical kit is especially well-equipped.

10. Implement your security plan.

These 10 last minute things can be accomplished in a short period of time if you do a bit of pre-planning. For instance, if you are familiar with the layout of your nearest grocery store and where the important items are, you may be able to gather things up quickly.

If you have more than one vehicle and multiple drivers, you’ll be able to simultaneously pick up the kids, get the cars gassed up, run by the grocery store, and be on the road quickly. Be prepared to act fast and without hesitation. If you are wrong and nothing happens, you won’t have lost much and you will have had a good drill.

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How to Pack a Nuclear Survival Bag

Are you one of millions of Americans who live near one of the many nuclear facilities that are scattered all over the country?  In reality, there are probably additional secret locations that we are unaware of. If you want to get up to speed with what you should know about nuclear events, you can read this article.

In the meantime, you may want to build yourself a nuclear survival bag. This is a bag that you would grab in addition to your bug out bag if you had to flee your home because of a dirty bomb, nuclear power plant accident, or some other nuclear incident. This bag should also contain most of the items you would need to survive if you have to shelter in place because of radiation. Keep in mind that location might be your home, but just as easily, your workplace, school, or vehicle.

These items are not listed in order of importance but should be in that bag:

  • A radiation detector – This can be something as simple as a homemade Kearny Fallout meter as shown in Nuclear Warfare Survival skills. You can also get personal radiation detectors such as the RADTriage, which is a U.S. Military-grade personal dosimeter. This detects radiation exposure in the event of a dirty bomb or a nuclear reactor accident, such as Fukushima and Chernobyl. This is a wallet size card that requires no batteries.  Personally, I have one of the Old Civil Defense Radiation Detectors sets that were made for the cold war. I was able to find it through connections with a volunteer fire department.
  • Potassium Iodide tablets to help protect your thyroid from radiation damage. This packet of 14 tablets covers the 130 mg recommended dosage. This will protect the thyroid for 24 hours, and usually, this is all that’s needed.
    • Dosage: (take as soon as radiation is detected or suspected)
      • Babies, newborn to 1 month                                 16 mg, one dose only
      • Babies between 1 month and 3years                      32 mg
      • Children between 3 and 18                                    65 mg
      • Children weighing more than 150 pounds              130 mg
      • Adults between 18-40                                          130 mg
      • Pregnant & breastfeeding women                         130 mg, one dose only

Adults over 40 should not take KI since they have the lowest chance of developing thyroid cancer and are more likely to have allergic reactions.If your radiation detector indicates continued exposure, children and adults should take an additional dose.

Do NOT give additional doses to newborns or pregnant and breastfeeding women.

  • A good quality gas mask with extra filters for every member of your family. Spend some time in researching these. You need masks that will prevent radioactive particles from entering your lungs. Some gas masks have filters that are only good for less than an hour, once activated. This might be fine for Israeli citizens rushing to a nearby bomb shelter, but for Americans, it probably wouldn’t be enough. Have one or two backup filters for each mask.
  • A good rain suit consisting of a waterproof hooded jacket, pants and boots plus gloves. This one is nothing fancy but would get the job done of protecting you. You need one for every member of you family.
  • A good size sheet of plastic to help you seal opening into a room in a building to help keep radioactive particles out. A roll of heavy duty black plastic will be much more effective than black trash bags. Get it at a Lowe’s or Home Depot.
  • Duct tape, lots of it, if for some reason you have to go outside in a fallout area, you can use it around the openings in your rain suite to help keep dust out. It can also be of use if you have to seal a room.
  • N95 particulate masks will help to keep you from inhaling fallout particles. Spend some time wearing a mask like this, just to get used to the sensation. Some people describe feeling suffocated if they aren’t used to wearing a face mask. Also, adjust the mask to fit your face.
  • Soap, sponges and/or a bristled brush (vegetable scrubbing brush) for decontaminating family members.
  • Knowledge – this may be the most important thing. The items that are listed above are no good if you don’t know what to do with them.  Here is a link you may want to read, Rules on Nuclear Fallout, but the best book is Nuclear War Survival Skills, put it in your bag
  • A good bag to store everything in.

Every item on this list, with the exception of the radiation detector and potassium iodide tablets, have multiple uses in many different scenarios, so the expense in putting this kit together is justifiable.

Take a bit of time and put this nuclear go bag together. If a nuclear emergency occurs, these items will help you whether you shelter in place or bug out.

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From Employed to Unemployed: Surviving a Personal Financial Disaster


It’s happened. You’ve just found out the main breadwinner in your family is now unemployed or maybe their hours have been cut. Either way, you’ve joined a growing club of Americans who are dealing with a loss of income, and all the hardships and stress that come with that membership. On one hand, you aren’t alone facing this financial disaster, but on the other, this isn’t a club that anyone wants to join!

Or, maybe in your case, it’s the discovery that health insurance premiums have tripled or, perhaps, an unexpected medical crisis has left you with a mountain of bills.

Whatever the cause, you’re facing a financial disaster.

Seeking solutions

Once the shock, tears, and other emotions have had their turn, it’s vital to search for solutions and put into place an action plan. Your family’s well-being and nothing less than its future depends on this.

If you find yourself in a panic mode, give my 16-Second Survival Breathing technique a try. If it works for the men and women in Special Ops, it can certainly work for you in a moment of panic!

It’s so important in this process to remain calm when the kids are around. I don’t recommend lying to them about your financial situation, but kids, especially young ones, cannot completely understand something as complicated as a family’s finances. They often take things literally and worry needlessly, like the time my kids found out that friends of ours had lost their house.

“How do you lose your house?” was a question I had to answer!

So, when the family is together, breathe your 16-second survival breath, if you must, but do your best to not give in to tears or a panic attack. You don’t want to add fearful children to your list of problems to solve, and at the end of the day, it’s solutions you need.

Income and out-go

I always feel better when I’ve taken some sort of action. It beats fretting and digging into a gallon of Blue Bell ice cream! If you’re dealing with a financial disaster, you, too, must take action, and developing a Family Financial Plan is part of that.

Check out this worksheet from my book, Survival Mom. It’s ready to download and print out.

A Family Financial Plan doesn’t have to be complicated, and you don’t necessarily need the assistance of a professional. You just need to take a look at the 2 main components of your situation: income and out-go.

How much money do you have coming in?

How much money is going out?

The first answer is likely the easiest one to answer. If you’ve lost a job, your income takes a dramatic plunge! However, there may still be severance pay and/or income from unemployment, disability, and other sources.

Write it all down, no matter how pathetic those numbers might appear. Somehow, when something is written down, it loses its power of intimidation.

The next step is to determine your family’s expenses, or, if you’re single, your own personal expenses. If you use a debit card for most of your purchases and for paying bills, this step is very easy with an online session at your bank’s website. Every single expense is listed there for easy categorization. If you haven’t gone through your monthly expenses in a while, you may very well be shocked at how quickly unnecessary expenses add up.

What if you don’t use a debit card but rely mostly on cash and checks? You aren’t off the hook, but it will take a little more effort to go through the checkbook and any receipts that you’ve kept.

If you use cash for expenses, keep track of those for at least a couple of weeks in order to get an idea of where that money is going.

If you haven’t guessed, the next step is to separate necessary expenses from those that are not truly necessary. This step takes a lot of guts because it may involve favorite activities, family traditions, and some of the small luxuries that so many of us take for granted.

Eliminating these expenses may be painful, but there’s also the possibility that the loss is temporary. I remember having to cancel my children’s music lessons because the extra money just wasn’t there, but the loss wasn’t forever. And, admit it, you’ve probably become accustomed to little luxuries that you won’t miss one bit once the initial pain has gone away.

Some folks call this, “living simply.”

Opening up streams of income

Believe it or not, even in the toughest of economic times, it’s still possible to earn a living, and sometimes, a very, very good one. The concept to begin applying is to look for multiple ways to earn money. I explain this in more detail here.

After you’ve cut every expense you possibly can and you’ve researched creative ways to prepare yet another meal of rice and beans, it’s time to consider how your family can bring in extra income, and it doesn’t involve a paper route!

The easiest way to bring in some extra cash is through selling anything of value that you don’t want or need any more. Ebay, Craigslist, and local yard sale websites are an easy tool to use. If you love yard sale-ing, you might consider looking for yard sale bargains and re-selling them online or add them to your own stash of yard sale items. If you’re a smart shopper, you might turn a very nice profit.

Direct sales companies are enticing, but be careful about signing on the dotted line unless the initial investment is very, very low and you have at least 10 friends who have committed to being your first home party hosts. I spent 18 years in the direct sales industry, know every trick in the book for booking parties, recruiting new sales people, and up-selling, and I can tell you, it’s not all that easy to maintain this type of business, much less getting started.

What about mystery shopping? Well, I’ve done that, too! Generally, there’s a lot of effort involved with highly detailed reports required within a very tight time frame. This is best left to those with lots of time on their hands, a reliable vehicle, and plenty of gas money. You’ll need all 3 to turn even a small amount of profit.

A part-time job can bring in enough extra cash every week for groceries, and if your kids are teenagers or older, they can earn money for their own expenses, including that cell phone service that just wasn’t a necessary expense in the Family Financial Plan! And, two part-time jobs isn’t a bad idea, either.

Behind all of these suggestions is the critical notion of constant movement. You may start out working part-time at Waffle House or washing windows on the weekend, but doing something is energizing. Sitting at home, watching TV and playing video games is a sure route to more of the same: countless hours watching TV and playing video games. Neither of those activities will ever result in the solutions you and your family desire.

Assess your own skills and knowledge

There’s one more strategy for bringing in extra income, and it involves the bank of skills and knowledge you’ve acquired.

There are a lot of people who want to learn how to can food, make jelly, speak another language, or learn CPR. If you have mastered just about any skill, you can teach it. If you can produce a quality product, you can sell it, and the internet makes this easier than ever.

If you’re a walking encyclopedia of herbal remedies, you can turn that into a side business by offering classes or writing articles for websites and magazines and ebooks. Learn how to quilt and you can not only sell your quilts but you can teach others to quilt. Start a quilting blog and earn money from advertisers and affiliate sales.

One woman in Phoenix has turned her lush suburban homestead into a very successful business, delivering organic vegetables, goat cheese, and fresh eggs to upscale customers who happily pay her prices.

Are you an expert hunter or fisherman? Have you considered advertising your skills as a hunting guide or fishing instructor?

All these skills and hundreds more can help add income to your budget when you teach them! Offer classes to a homeschool group. Call a community college or a community center to find out how to teach

There is no limit to where your skills and knowledge can take you. Here’s my master list of practical skills. See which ones you have mastered, or could become an expert in a short amount of time and consider how they could be turned into an income source.

Do accept help when it’s offered

If your child or grandchild suddenly collapsed in a busy mall, would you refuse help offered by a doctor or nurse who happened to be there that day?

Of course not! In a crisis, you need all the help you can get.

Well, a financial crisis is no different. I encourage you to accept all offers of help from unemployment payments to EBT cards, food banks, and anything else your community, church, and circle of friends has to offer. Most people who offer help see it as a privilege and a way to pass on a blessing.

If you’re uncomfortable with this, and most self-reliant minded people are, then look for ways that you can help others.

Attitude is everything

Everyone experiences a setback, sometimes many setbacks in their lives. If your attitude about this financial setback becomes one that brings your family together as a tighter unit, and you find yourself able to focus on the good things that life brings with it every day, you’re already on your way to recovery.

Attitude is everything, and a common refrain heard from those who lived through the Great Depression, “We didn’t even know we were poor,” illustrates the difference attitude make. Your attitude is contagious.

Saving money and cutting back on expenses can become a game, with everyone wanting to get involved. When I serve a home cooked meal, I tell my family, “There’s $40 we didn’t spend at a restaurant!, and we all cheer.

Our culture continually tells us the lie that we must constantly be acquiring in order to be happy and successful. Face that lie with the truth: it’s not STUFF that is most important in life.

What if the financial disaster hasn’t hit yet?

There are communities around the country where unemployment is relatively low and, perhaps, a bit of true economic recovery has occurred. If your family is still enjoying a stable income, it’s nevertheless wise to begin thinking, “What if…?”

Here are a few tips from my book, Survival Mom, that will help you prepare just in case there’s an income loss in your family’s future:

1. Cut back hard on unnecessary expenses now.

2. Begin living as though your income were cut by one-third.

3. Pay extra on your utilities each month. Try to get 3 or 4 months ahead. This is money in the bank should the worst happen.

4. Use coupons and store sales to stock up on several weeks’ worth of food, toiletry items, and cleaning supplies.

5. If your job is currently secure, put in extra effort to make yourself indispensable. Figure out how to make your boss look good!

6. If you have credit card debt, make minimal payments, for now, and stash whatever you can in a savings account.

7. Learn a new skill or brush up on old ones that might be useful to bring in another stream of income.

A financial disaster doesn’t have to mean the end of the world if you keep your wits about you and focus on what can be done to keep your family thriving.

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How to Prep Again When You’ve Lost Everything

I remember the night so clearly. It was the end of an emotionally exhausting day. My husband and I were lying in bed, holding hands, feeling like it was the only thing we had to hold on to. He sighed and said, “The life that I am living doesn’t seem like mine. Everything we are going through seems like something that happens to someone else, not us.” I could not argue with him, he was right. We were watching much of our life around us crumble and there was not much we could do to prevent it. We had to wait until the crumbling stopped and we could re-build.

Our family was experiencing hardships of almost every kind. We had to move from our home, close a business, and we had nowhere to live. The foster child we were in the process of adopting mentally went off the deep end. For the physical safety of our family, we immediately moved him out, and this caused more legal and emotional trauma than we could have imagined.

One of our cars died; it was not worth fixing. A friend loaned us an extra vehicle he had. We stayed at my sister’s home until we could find a place to rent. Moving to a new area where we didn’t know anyone was just another stress. Our other car was beginning to have problems. Our savings were low. We were living paycheck to paycheck and our food storage was almost depleted.

Some of the chaos was our fault. We did not prepare as much as we thought we had or think some decisions through completely. The other chaos was called life. We had no control over the economy, other people and their actions, nature, or health issues. Even thinking about that time brings back some of the overwhelming feelings we had. Our family was working on getting our footing first, then rebuilding our emergency supplies. We learned many difficult and painful lessons along the way, and we came out of it much smarter and stronger than we could have imagined. Life will always throw us curve balls, but we are more prepared to handle them now. As a family we have become the “better prepper”.

How to start prepping from scratch

1) You can never have too much money saved.

There will always be something unexpected come up, and it will come up at the worst time, always. We kept a mason jar around for loose change. I remember using it to buy $85 of groceries. As things got better, we worked our way up to a dollar jar. We were surprised to see how fast the jars filled up. Those jars were what helped us build up our emergency money. They are still in use and are a reminder to keep change and cash on hand. Not only in our home, but also in our bug out bags and cars.

To raise additional funds, we sold items we did not need. We started cleaning out what we had and decided what we could live without. At the time, it was difficult to see some things go. Knowing that we were doing everything we could eased some of the pain. It was a few years later that I heard Dave Ramsey on the radio. Being prepared means having a healthy savings account and we decided to try his baby steps plan. That was the beginning of the way we now handle our finances. Go over your finances and make certain you have enough to get you through an emergency.

Here are a few Survival Mom resources for you:

  • Check out my monthly series of past articles, “52 Weeks Savings”, with discounts, bargains, and deals for each month of the year. Here’s a sample month for June’s best bargains.
  • Learn more about the 52 Weeks Savings Challenge here and customize it to your own income and circumstances with these tips.
  • Print out my collection of tracking charts at this link.
  • Join Survival Mom’s 52 Weeks Savings Club on Facebook. We’re over 3600 members and going strong!
  • Dave Ramsey has solid advice for taking control of your finances. I recommend his basic book, The Total Money Makeover for an easy-to-follow plan and a quick, motivational read.

2) Have 3 months of food stored.

Money was tight and we ate our food storage. Our meals were inexpensive and home-cooked. Everything was used, nothing was thrown out. Soups were made with left over vegetables, meat was stretched by putting it in casseroles and salads. Knowing how to prepare nutritious meals from scratch was a skill I possessed, but had taken for granted.

To supplement our food storage, I took advantage of additional opportunities. Many communities have some type of food co-op program where food is exchanged for volunteering hours or food is deeply discounted. The local university offered in-season produce grown by the students at $90 a year. My husband put in a small garden of tomatoes, lettuce, squash and bell peppers. Our neighbor was more than happy to give us oranges and lemons from her trees. Lemons were prepped and kept in the freezer for future meals.

DON’T MISS THIS: Survival Mom’s guide, “Simple Food Storage Meals“.

As things improved and finances allowed, we purchased meat and canned goods that were on sale. Our 3 month food supply of food, water, and everyday living supplies was built up a few items at a time. Nothing causes you to evaluate your food storage than having to use it. Store food you are going to eat and enjoy. This includes cake mix!

3) Education: I attended the local adult education school.

After only a few months I was employed as a certified nursing assistant. A few months later I was a certified EKG technician. This experience slowly morphed into a small business. Being self-employed allowed me to make good money and go back to school for my BA. I knew I did not want to do this type of work as a career, but I do not regret the certifications.

Being a prepper, I understood that it was an education that could someday benefit my family and others. Always look for ways to increase your education and preparation. It could be an Amateur Radio license class, CERT classes, and local adult education or community classes. Adding other streams of income is the key.

4) If full time employment is not possible, look for a short term solution.

Something as simple as a dog-walking, house-sitting, substitute teaching, or other temporary jobs can get you through a rough patch. If you already have a full time job, look for other part time income streams. Is there a skill or hobby that you teach to others? What knowledge or experiences do you possess that can be turned into a small business?

5) Physical and Mental Health

Even though we did not go through a natural disaster or suffer extreme trauma, we still experienced a large amount of stress. Stress takes a great toll on your body. Glucose levels and blood pressure can increase. Our immune systems can take a hit, making you at risk for auto-immune and cardiac disorders. To off-set the negative impact of the stress, our family focused on cutting out processed foods and switched to a whole food diet. We spent time walking, swimming and hiking outdoors.

Mental health is sometimes overlooked in the prepper world. The pressure of trying to put life back together can be overwhelming. The effort used to get through or get by can push aside feelings of anxiety or depression. Sundays have always been used as a day to decompress for our family. When there were times of difficulty, we focused even more on keeping Sunday low-key. We attended church and did not obligate ourselves to anything else. We read books, watched uplifting movies, played games together and rested. This down time allowed us to face the next week with a renewed attitude.

Along with family time, my husband and I continued to have our weekly date night. Since there was not much money, we could often be found having a picnic at a park or attending free activities in town. Maintaining strong and healthy relationships is part of being prepared. Two people, or a family of more, can work together and get through trying times if their family has trust and communication between each other.

6) Faith

We are a religious family, it is part of who we are and it is our family culture’s main ingredient. During the good and bad times, we pray. This simple act has sustained us, and has given us the strength to get through difficult times. It has also given us hope that things will get better and that we are not alone in this journey. Prayer holds us accountable. When I pray for guidance, I am reminded that I need to be doing my part. Am I a wise steward with my money, time and resources? Prayer helps put things in their proper prospective and reminds us of the blessings we have been given.

For those who are not religious, it is important to take time meditate or connect with one’s self. There is much to be thankful for, even in trying times. Center yourself and be open to opportunities and possibilities. Great ideas and solutions can come when the world is quiet and we are alone. Write down any ideas, even if they sound a bit crazy. They can transform into brilliant ideas.

Life Always Happens

Through all of this, we were able rebuild our food storage, savings and emergency supplies. Our financial situation was good, and education and jobs were going well. Life was to be going great! And then another curve ball was thrown. My husband’s employer was replacing all management employees. We had a little bit of notice, but not as much as one would hope. After a brief moment of panic, we realized that we were going to be okay. Together we had been through such challenging times, this did not seem as difficult. Because of the experiences we had many years earlier, we were better prepared. During those four months of unemployment, we adopted a daughter, celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas, witnessed our son’s wedding, had a beautiful reception on a shoestring budget, and prepped two kids leaving for college. We were able to enjoy all of the happy family events because we were prepared.

 

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Would A Long-Term Blackout Mean Nuclear Meltdown?

According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, there are 61 active commercial nuclear plants spread across the United States. A question on the minds of many is, what would happen to those plants if the nation experienced a widespread, long-term blackout? Would there be a nuclear meltdown? Let me start by saying that there is a quite a bit of misinformation on the web about this subject, so my advice is to be careful about what you choose to believe.

Many of you may know that I have a background in science and engineering (Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering), so I believed that if I could talk with a knowledgeable person working in the nuclear power industry, I could get to the bottom of this question. To find answers, I consulted Jim Hopson, the Manager of Public Relations at the Tennessee Valley Authority. As readers may point out, it was in Mr. Hopson’s interest to assure me that nuclear plants are safe, but to be fair, I found him to be forthright about the industry’s safeguards and vulnerabilities.

How nuclear plants operate

Probably the best place to start is with a basic discussion of how a nuclear power plant operates. There are two types of reactors in the U.S., boiling water reactors (BWRs) and pressurized water reactors (PWRs). For purposes of our discussion, the differences in their operation aren’t terribly important. Nuclear reactors use an atomic process called fission to generate heat. The heat is then used to create steam that turns large turbines to generate electricity. The steam is later condensed and returned in a closed-loop process within the reactor system.

The nuclear reaction itself is beyond the scope of this brief write up (and my expertise), but the gist is that an energetic neutron is absorbed by a uranium-235 nucleus, briefly turning it into a uranium-236 nucleus. The uranium-236 then splits into lighter elements, releasing a large amount of energy. The physical system inside the reactor consists of tens of thousands of nuclear fuel rods placed into a water bath. The rods are essentially long metal tubes filled with ceramic nuclear pellets that are bundled together into larger assemblies.

Trivia bit: A nuclear fuel pellet is about the size of a pencil eraser but equivalent in energy to one ton of coal.

Preventing a nuclear meltdown

The risks of nuclear power are many, but two stand above the rest. The first is that the fuel assemblies in the reactor might overheat. That would only occur if the fission process became uncontrolled or if the cooling system failed.

Should overheating occur, the fuel rods’ zirconium cladding and nuclear materials could both melt, resulting in a nuclear sludge akin to molten lava. That slag would be so hot that it might melt through the bottom of the reinforced reactor. Eventually, it would cool enough to harden, but not before it had spewed nuclear contaminants into the air. Melting zirconium also releases hydrogen, which could lead to an explosion that might actually expel the nuclear material into the surrounding area—think Fukushima.

The good news is that nuclear fission can be stopped in under one second through the insertion of control rods. Those control rods are automatically inserted near the fuel rods either by a hydraulic system or through the use of an electromagnetic dead man switch that activates when power is removed. That means that when the electrical grid goes down or an emergency shutdown is initiated, fission would automatically stop one second later.

That’s a good thing, but it doesn’t make the reactor inherently safe. Even without fission, the fuel rod assemblies remain incredibly hot, perhaps a thousand degrees C. If they were not actively cooled, pressure and temperatures would build in the reactor until something breaks—not good. After three days of active cooling, however, the reactor would be thermally cool enough to open, should it be deemed necessary to remove the fuel rod assemblies.

The second major risk has to do with cooling of the spent fuel rod assemblies. Nuclear fuel rod assemblies have a usable life on the order of 54-72 months (depending on reactor type). Every 18-24 months, the reactor is brought down and serviced. While it is down, the fuel rod assemblies are removed, and 1/3 of them are replaced with fresh assemblies. Think of this like rotating cans of food in your emergency pantry.

In the U.S., fuel rods are not refurbished like in other countries. Instead, they are carefully stored in giant pools of water laced with boric acid—imagine a swimming pool at your local YMCA that is 75-feet deep. Those spent fuel rod assemblies are still incredibly radioactive, and they continue to generate heat. Water in the pool must therefore be circulated to keep them cool.

How long must the fuel rods be cooled? According to Mr. Hopson, the answer is 5-7 years. After that, the rods are cool enough to be removed and stored in reinforced concrete casks. Even then, the rods continue to be radioactive, but their heat output can be passively managed.

Emergency systems

Nuclear plants obviously require electricity to operate their cooling pumps, not to mention their control systems. That power is normally tapped off of the electricity that the reactor generates. If the plant is offline, the power is provided by the electrical grid. But what happens when the grid itself goes down? The short answer is that large on-site diesel generators automatically activate to provide electricity. And if those should fail, portable diesel generators, which are also on-site, can be connected. Recent standardization has also ensured that generators can be swapped between plants without the need to retrofit connectors.

There are also a couple of additional emergency systems that can be used specifically to cool the reactor. These include the turbine-driven-auxiliary-feedwater pump, which uses steam generated by the reactor to power a cooling turbine. The pump requires an operator, but it runs completely without electricity. This system, however, is meant only for emergency cooling of the reactor during those critical first few days when the fuel rod assemblies are being brought down in temperature, not for long-term cooling.

And finally, in the worst case, most plants have a method of bringing in river or ocean water to flood the reactor. This typically damages the cooling system, but again, it helps to cool and cover the reactor core should all else fail. Unlike in other countries, permission from the federal government is not required to flood the reactor.

Worst-case power-loss scenario

With backup systems to the backup systems, it would seem that there’s nothing to worry about, right? Under all but the direst of circumstances, I think that assessment is correct. However, one could imagine a scenario in which the grid was lost and the diesel generators ran out of fuel.

Speaking of fuel, how much is actually stored onsite? It depends on the plant, but at the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, for example, there is enough fuel to run the emergency diesel generators for at least 42 days. I say at least because it would depend on exactly what was being powered.

Once the reactor was cooled down, a much smaller system, known as the Residual Heat Removal System, would be all that was required to keep the fuel assemblies cool, both in the reactor and the spent fuel rods pool. The generators and onsite fuel supply could power that smaller cooling system for significantly longer than if they were powering the larger reactor cooling system. Even if we assumed a worst case of 42 days, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which that would not be enough time to bring in additional fuel either by land, water, or air. Nonetheless, let’s push the question a little further. What would happen in the unlikely event that the diesel fuel was exhausted?

Even with the reactor having been successfully cooled, the biggest risk would continue to be overheating of the fuel rod assemblies, both in the reactor and the spent fuel rods pool. Without circulation, the heat from the fuel rod assemblies could boil the surrounding water, resulting in steam. In turn, the water levels would drop, ultimately exposing the fuel rods to air. Once exposed to air, their temperatures would rise but not to the levels that would melt the zirconium cladding.

Thankfully, that means that meltdown would not occur. The steam might well carry radioactive contaminants into the air, but there would be no release of hydrogen and, thus, no subsequent explosions. The situation would certainly be dangerous to surrounding communities, but it wouldn’t be the nuclear Armageddon that many people worry about.

The bottom line

The bottom line is that in the event of a long-duration blackout, several things would need to occur for a nuclear meltdown.

First, fission would need to be halted by the insertion of control rods, a process that takes less than one second. Next, the reactor would need to be cooled for at least three days using the large diesel engines to provide electrical power. After that, the fuel rods would be cool enough that the reactor could be opened, and the plant’s Residual Heat Removal System could be used to provide cooling. That smaller system would need operate for 5-7 years to ensure that the fuel rod assemblies, both in the reactor and in the spent fuel rods pool, didn’t overheat. Only then could the fuel rod assemblies be moved to concrete casks for dry storage and final dispositioning.

During those 5-7 years, electricity in one form or another would be required. If it was not maintained, radioactive contamination could be released into the air, but the temperatures of the fuel rods would not be high enough to cause a complete meltdown or the dangerous release of hydrogen.

The point of this article wasn’t to convince anyone that nuclear power generation is safe or that a nuclear meltdown could never happen. I would argue that history has already proven that it comes with some very serious risks. Rather, it was to discuss the impact of a long-duration blackout. Specifically, it focused on the safeguards that are currently in place, and more importantly, discussed the magnitude of the catastrophe that might result if we allowed those safeguards to fail.

Guest post by Arthur T. Bradley, Ph.D.

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Civil Unrest and Riots: Why You MUST Be Armed to be Truly Prepared

If the scene in Baltimore, Maryland this week gives you a sense of deja vu, flashing back to the fall when Ferguson, Missouri was under siege, then this should be telling you something.

There’s a distinct pattern when society breaks down, and as our society becomes more desperate, poverty-stricken, and lacking of moral compass, this trend will become more obvious. Note that the “lacking of moral compass” part doesn’t just refer to the thugs rioting and looting, but also to the cops who think that their badges give them permission to behave like street thugs, too.

Here’s the pattern:

  • An outrage occurs.
  • Good people react and protest the outrage.
  • Those perpetrating the outrage try to quell the protest because they don’t think that the outrage was actually outrageous.  (And whether it was or not can fluctuate – in some cases, force is necessitated, but in more and more cases, it is flagrantly gratuitous.)
  • Others react to the quelling and join the protest.
  • A mob mentality erupts. Thugs say, “Hey, it’s a free for all. I’m gonna get some Doritos and while I’m at it, beat the crap out of some folks for fun.”
  • All hell breaks loose.
  • The military gets called in.
  • The city burns, and neighborhoods get destroyed, and no one in the area is safe.
  • Cops act preemptively, out of fear, and for a time, there is no rule of law.
  • If you happen to be stuck there, know this: you’re completely on your own.

Tess Pennington wrote about societal breakdowns in more detail – read her excellent article for more information on these predictable scenarios.

As people watch their precious freedom slip away, watch incidents of horrifying brutality from the people they were told as small children to trust, and watch their ability to earn a decent living disintegrate along with the national economy, you can expect this to happen more and more.  It doesn’t only happen in big cities like Baltimore, as we were shown when rioting hit Ferguson, a town of just over 20,000 people.

It’s important to remember that when something happens that may (or may not)  be worthy of protest, professional rabble-rousers and race-baiters like Al Sharpton will actually organize folks from other areas to go and “protest.”  So even if you live in a small town filled with mostly good neighbors, you could be overrun with angry mobs that were imported specifically to wreak havoc and get their leaders some free press on the evening news.

Some people are just waiting for the opportunity to behave in this fashion. They’d love to act like that every single day, but they don’t want to spend the rest of their lives in jail. But when a verdict gets rolled out, when a storm takes out the power, when a disaster strikes, they delight in the chance to rob, pillage, loot, and burn.  Who can forget the day before Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast, when thugs were coordinating looting rampages via Twitter?

I remember learning about “sublimation” in a high school psychology class.

Sublimation is a defense mechanism that allows us to act out unacceptable impulses by converting these behaviors into a more acceptable form. For example, a person experiencing extreme anger might take up kickboxing as a means of venting frustration. Freud believed that sublimation was a sign of maturity that allows people to function normally in socially acceptable ways. (source)

If you believe Freud’s theory, then it’s easy to see that many people look for an excuse to revert to their true natures.  In a situation where “everyone” is doing something, they are able to cast off their normal control of their impulses without much fear of reprisal. The number of looters and thugs far outstrips the number of arrests going on in Baltimore, so there’s a very good chance that someone swept up in that mentality can go burn somebody else’s home or business and completely get away with it.

Let me reiterate this: DURING CIVIL UNREST SITUATIONS, YOU ARE COMPLETELY ON YOUR OWN. Do you think the people in the video above respect your home, your fence, or the locks on your doors?

And while I’m at it, let me flash forward a bit to a hypothetical future.  These people aren’t even hungry.

What if the world as we know it ended? What if there wasn’t food in the grocery stores? What if there was no longer any such thing as EBT, for those who have made a career out of milking the system? What if the police and military finally threw their hands up in the air, gave up, and went home to protect their own families?  Who’s going to keep your family safe then?

You are.

You have to realize that at any point in time, you could find yourself on your own, without backup from 911.

Whether civil unrest is right outside your door.

Whether a group of thugs decides to invade your home to rob and/or terrorize you.

Whether the world we know goes down, via an EMP that takes out the grid,  civil war, economic collapse, or a breakdown in the national transportation network.

The only person you can rely on to protect your family is yourself.

You can stockpile until you have a decade of supplies put back, but if you can’t defend it, you don’t actually own it. You only have it because no one has bothered taking it away from you yet.  You have what you have based on the goodwill of others, who are stronger, greater in number, and better armed.

You have to look at the psychology of this. People can justify pretty much anything when they or their children are starving. And I can understand that to a large degree – who could stand to watch their babies suffering?  But if someone can devolve to the above degree just to because everyone else is doing it, the chaos we saw above is only a tiny sample of what could come if people were truly hungry.

Take a long hard look at the threats you face during civil unrest, and develop one. Wherever you live, whatever your situation, you need to plan as though 911 does not exist. Whether riots are occurring in the streets or not, in the seconds during which the lives of your family hang in the balance, you are completely on your own.

Following is a plan for dealing with an episode of civil unrest, taken from an article I wrote during the Ferguson riots.  This plan is also applicable for societal breakdowns that occur in the aftermath of a huge disaster.

Get home

In a perfect world, we’d all be home, watching the chaos erupt on TV from the safety of our living rooms.  However, reality says that some of us will be at work, at school, or in the car when unrest occurs.  You need to develop a “get-home” plan for all of the members of your family, based on the most likely places that they will be.

Devise an efficient route for picking up the kids from school.  Be sure that anyone who might be picking up the children already has permission to do so in the school office.

Discuss the plan with older kids – there have been rumors that children could be moved by the schools to a secondary location in the event of a crisis.  Some families have formulated plans for their older kids to leave the school grounds in such an instance and take a designated route home or to another meeting place.

Keep a get-home bag in the trunk of your car in case you have to set out on foot.  (Here’s what I keep in my vehicle.)

Stash some supplies in the bottom of your child’s backpackwater, a snack, any tools that might be useful, and a map.  Be sure your children understand the importance of OPSEC and don’t include items that will get them suspended or arrested because of the fear-culture in our schools.

Find multiple routes home – map out alternative backroad ways to get home as well as directions if you must go home on foot.

Find hiding places along the way.  If you work or go to school a substantial distance from your home, figure out some places to lay low now, before a crisis situation.  Sometimes staying out of sight is the best way to stay safe.

Avoid groups of people.  It seems that the mob mentality strikes when large groups of people get together.  Often folks who would never ordinarily riot in the streets get swept up by the mass of people who are doing so.

Keep in mind that in many civil disorder situations the authorities are to be avoided every bit as diligently as the angry mobs of looters. Who can forget the scenes of innocent people being pepper sprayed by uniformed thugs in body armor just because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Stay home

Once you make your way home or to your bug-out location …. STAY THERE.

By staying home, you are minimizing your risk of being caught in the midst of an angry mob or of sitting in stalled traffic while looters run amok.  In most scenarios, you will be far safer at home than you will be in any type of shelter or refuge situation. (Obviously if there is some type of chemical or natural threat in your immediate neighborhood, like a toxic leak, a flood, or a forest fire, the whole situation changes – you must use common sense before hunkering down.)

This is when your preparedness supplies will really pay off. If you are ready for minor medical emergencies and illnesses, a grid down scenario, and a no-comm situation, you will be able to stay safely at home with your family and ride out the crisis in moderate comfort.

Be sure you have a supply of the following:

  • Water
  • Necessary prescription medications
  • A well stocked pantry – you need at least a one-month supply of food for the entire family, including pets
  • An off grid cooking method (We also have an outdoor burner, and a woodstove inside)
  • Or food that requires no cooking
  • A tactical quality first aid kit
  • Lighting in the event of a power outage
  • Sanitation supplies (in the event that the municipal water system is unusable, this would include cleaning supplies and toilet supplies)
  • A way to stay warm in harsh winter weather
  • Over-the-counter medications and/or herbal remedies to treat illnesses at home
  • A diverse survival guide, a very thorough preparedness book, and a first aid manual (hard copies in case the internet and power grid are down)
  • Alternative communications devices (such as a hand-crank radio) so that you can get updates about the outside world
  • Off-grid entertainment:  arts and craft supplies, puzzles, games, books, crossword or word search puzzles, needlework, journals (here are some more ideas to keep the kids entertained.)

Be prepared to defend your home

Out of all of the ways to be prepared for unrest, this is the most important one.

Sometimes despite our best intentions, the fight comes to us.  Even though we stay home, something about our place draws the attention of an unsavory person or group.

Defense is two-fold.  You want to stay under the radar and not draw attention to yourself.  The extent to which you strive to do this should be based on the severity of the unrest in your area. Some of the following recommendations are not necessary during an everyday grid-down scenario, but could save your life in a more extreme civil unrest scenario or a situation that has gone long-term. It’s always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.

The best way to win a fight is to avoid getting into that fight in the first place. Secure your home and lay low, but be prepared if trouble comes to visit.

Here are some tips to make your home less of a target:

Keep all the doors and windows locked.  Secure sliding doors with a metal bar.  Consider installing decorative grid-work over a door with a large window so that it becomes difficult for someone to smash the glass and reach in to unlock the door. Install a door bar on your front and back doors.

Keep the curtains closed. There’s no need for people walking past to be able to see what you have or to do reconnaissance on how many people are present. If the power is out, put dark plastic over the windows. (Heavy duty garbage bags work well.)  If it’s safe to do so, go outside and check to see if any light escapes from the windows. If your home is the only one on the block that is well-lit, it is a beacon to others.

Keep cooking smells to a minimum, especially if there is a food shortage.  If everyone else in the neighborhood is hungry, the meat on your grill will draw people like moths to a flame.

Don’t answer the door.  Many home invasions start with an innocent-seeming knock at the door to gain access to your house.

Keep pets indoors. Sometimes criminals use an animal in distress to get a homeowner to open the door for them. Sometimes people are just mean and hurt animals for “fun”.  Either way, it’s safer for your furry friends to be inside with you.

Fire is of enormous concern in these types of scenarios.  Fire is a cowardly attack that doesn’t require any interaction on the part of the arsonist. It flushes out the family inside, leaving you vulnerable to physical assaults.

Be ready for the potential of fire.

Have fire extinguishers mounted throughout your home. You can buy them in 6 packs from Amazon

Be sure to test them frequently and maintain them properly. (Allstate has a page about fire extinguisher maintenance.)

Have fire escape ladders that can be attached to a windowsill in all upper story rooms.  Drill with them so that your kids know how to use them if necessary.

Have bug-out bags prepared that contain all of your important documents in them in case you have to grab and go.

If, despite your best efforts, your property draws the attention of people with ill intent, you must be ready to defend your family and your home.

For some, vandalizing and destroying property is the order of the day.  Often, times of civil unrest give people of a certain mentality the excuse they need to seek vengeance against those who have “more” than they do.  Tensions erupt between the “haves” and the “have-nots”.  When this occurs, often destruction of property is the way these people choose to show their “power”.

While this starts out as purely a property crime, the situation can quickly turn violent. If someone is outside bashing the headlights of your vehicle, it isn’t a far stretch to think that they’ll bash on you if you confront them.

How to respond to this is a very individual decision, and depends to a great extent on your personal skill levels and confidence. For example, I’m a single mom with daughters. As much as I like my Jeep, it’s unlikely that I’d confront an angry mob destroying it, because that just wouldn’t be sensible. Things can be replaced, but you and your family members cannot. If you are a person who is unaccustomed to physical confrontations, you may be better off staying inside and calling your insurance company after the fact. No possession is worth your life or the lives of your family.

Be armed.

Alternatively, in some situations, it won’t stop with the destruction of your property. You may have to defend your home. And for this, you MUST BE ARMED.

I’m sure I’ll receive another barrage of email wishing me and my children dead by our own guns. (It always amazes me how people who swear vehemently that they’re against violence can send me those letters that fervently hope for bloody and terrifying deaths for us.) Some people are so terrified of self-defense tools that the very idea of using one causes veritable spasms of cognitive dissonance and denial.

Those very same people will tell you that they’ve survived riots or unrest and never had to have a gun or shoot anyone. Chances are, you won’t have to unholster your weapon. But this is a plan based on pure luck, and survival favors the prepared. I do not base my preparations for my family on the hope for good luck.

Firearms are an equalizer. A small woman can defend herself from multiple large intruders with a firearm, if she’s had some training and knows how to use it properly. But put a kitchen knife in her hand against those same intruders, and her odds decrease exponentially.

If the situation does escalate and the lives of you and your loved ones are in danger, there is no substitute for meeting force with force. You may not wish to engage, but sometimes there’s no time to escape. Sometimes there’s no place to escape to. In these situations, you won’t be able to talk your way out of it, hide from it, or throw dishes at the intruders to fight them off.

Don’t rely on 911. If the disorder is widespread, don’t depend on a call to 911 to save you – you must be prepared to save yourself.  First responders may be tied up, and in some cases, the cops are not always your friends.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, some officers joined in the crime sprees, and others stomped all over the 2nd Amendment and confiscated people’s legal firearms at a time when they needed them the most.

Be armed and keep your firearm on your person.  When the door of your home is breached, you can be pretty sure the people coming in are not there to make friendly conversation over a nice cup of tea.  Make a plan to greet them with a deterring amount of force. Be sure to keep your firearm on your person during this type of situation, because there won’t be time to go get it from your gunsafe. Don’t even go to the kitchen to get a snack without it. Home invasions go down in seconds, and you have to be constantly ready.

Know how to use your firearm. Whatever your choice of weapon, practice, practice, practice. A weapon you don’t know how to use is more dangerous than having no weapon at all. Here’s some advice from someone who knows a lot more about weapons than I do.

Make sure your children are familiar with the rules of gun safety. Of course, it should go without saying that you will have pre-emptively taught your children the rules of gun safety so that no horrifying accidents occur. In fact, it’s my fervent hope that any child old enough to do so has been taught to safely and effectively use a firearm themselves. Knowledge is safety.

Have a safe room established for children or other vulnerable family members. If the worst happens and your home is breached, you need to have a room into which family members can escape.  This room needs to have a heavy exterior door instead of a regular hollow core interior door. There should be communications devices in the room so that the person can call for help, as well as a reliable weapon to be used in the unlikely event that the safe room is breached. The family members should be instructed not to come out of that room FOR ANY REASON until you give them the all clear or help has arrived. You can learn more about building a safe room HERE.  Focus the tips for creating a safe room in an apartment to put it together more quickly.

Plan an escape route.  If the odds are against you, devise a way to get your family to safety.  Your property is not worth your life. Be wise enough to know if you’re getting into a fight that you can’t win.

Civilization is just a veneer.

So many times, when interviewed after a disaster, people talk about being “shocked” at the behavior of others.  Their level of cognitive dissonance has lulled them into thinking that we’re safe and that we live in a civilized country.  They are unwilling to accept that civilization is only a glossy veneer, even when the evidence of that is right in front of them, aiming a gun at their faces, lighting their homes on fire, or raping their daughters.

They refuse to arm themselves and prepare for an uncivilized future.

Accept it now, and you’ll be a lot better off when the SHTF.

Look at the videos of what’s going on in Baltimore. Look at what happened during the Ferguson riots. Look at the behavior of the stampeding masses on any given Black Friday shopping extravaganza.

Then tell me how “civilized” our country is.

Resources:

 

The Anatomy of a Breakdown

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