Category Archives for API – Mod. 5

How to Prepare for a Cyber Attack

There is a lot of debate on whether Wednesday’s computer issues that shut down the New York Stock Exchange, the Wall Street Journal, and United Airlines were just a very strange coincidence (very strange) or a deliberate cyber attack.

This isn’t the first possible cyber attack on the United States this year. Heck, it’s not even the first one this summer. On June 5, Reuters reported a breach occurred that comprimised the personal information of millions of federal employees, both current and former. This breach was traced back to a “foreign entity or government.”

Regardless of the origin of the so-called computer”glitches” that shut down Wall Street and a major airline, the events of Wednesday gave us just a tiny glimpse at how serious a cyber attack could be.

What exactly is a cyber attack?

A cyber attack is more than just shutting down the computer systems of a specified entity. It is defined as “deliberate exploitation of computer systems, technology-dependent enterprises and networks. Cyberattacks use malicious code to alter computer code, logic or data, resulting in disruptive consequences that can compromise data and lead to cybercrimes, such as information and identity theft.”

Technopedia lists the following consequences of a cyber attack:

  • Identity theft, fraud, extortion
  • Malware, pharming, phishing, spamming, spoofing, spyware, Trojans and viruses
  • Stolen hardware, such as laptops or mobile devices
  • Denial-of-service and distributed denial-of-service attacks
  • Breach of access
  • Password sniffing
  • System infiltration
  • Website defacement
  • Private and public Web browser exploits
  • Instant messaging abuse
  • Intellectual property (IP) theft or unauthorized access

Cyber attacks happen far more frequently than you might think. Check out this real-time map for a look at the almost constant seige.

How does a cyber attack affect you?

You may think that if you don’t spend your day working online, that an attack on our computer infrastructure isn’t that big of a deal. You may feel like it wouldn’t affect you at all.

Unfortunately, there are very few people in the country that would remain completely unaffected in the event of a major cyber attack. Our economy, our utility grids, and our transportation systems are all heavily reliant upon computers. This makes us very vulnerable to such an attack.

And by vulnerable, I mean that if it was done on a big enough scale, it could essentially paralyze the entire country.

Here are some of the systems that are reliant on computers.

In the event of a widespread cyber attack, the following could be either completely inoperable or breached. Keep in mind that a domino effect could occur that effects systems beyond the original target.

  • Gas stations (most of the pumps are now digital and connect right to your bank)
  • Banks (all of the records are online) would not be able to process electronic transactions. ATM machines would not function to allow customers access to cash.
  • Utility systems (most power stations are run by computers)
  • Water treatment facilities (these are automated too)
  • Protection of personal information, including data about your finances, medical records, physical location, and academic records – everything a person would need to steal your identity
  • Government operations, including dangerous identifying information about federal employees or members of the military
  • Transportation systems (trains, subways, and planes are heavily reliant upon computers)
  • Traffic management systems like stoplights, crosswalks, etc.
  • Air traffic control
  • Everyday trade – most business have a computerized cash register that communicates directly with banks. Many business are also reliant on scanning bar codes for inventory control and pricing. Point-of-sale systems would be down and people would not be able to pay using credit or debit cards.
  • Telecommunications systems can be affected if cell towers are disabled or if the landline system were directly attacked. As more people rely on VOIP, taking down internet service would serve a dual purpose.
  • SMART systems could be shut down or manipulated. All of those gadgets that automate climate control, use of utilities, or appliances through SMART technology are vulnerable.

Here’s a video from NATO that explains a little bit more about the dangers of cyber attacks.

Prepping to survive a cyber attack

Prepping for a cyber attack is not that different from prepping for other types of disasters that affect the grid. You want to be able to operate independently of  public utilities, stores, or public transportation.

Click each item to learn more details.

  1. Have a supply of water stored in case municipal supplies are tainted or shut down
  2. Be prepared for an extended power outage.
  3. Have a food supply on hand, as well as a way to prepare your food without the grid.
  4. Keep cash in small denominations on hand in the event that credit cars, debit cards, and ATMs are inoperable.
  5. Keep vehicles above half way full of fuel, and store extra gasoline.
  6. Be prepared for off-grid sanitation needs.
  7. Invest in some communications devices like ham radio or one of these other options.
  8. Be ready to hunker down at home to avoid the chaos that could come in the aftermath of a massive cyber attack. Be prepared to defend your home if necessary.
  9. Remember that your prepper supplies and skills will see you through this disaster
    just like any other.
  10. Protect your identity with a service like LifeLock (which will alert you to suspicious activity once things return to normal). Use some of these tips to keep your information locked down.

What do you think?

So, let’s hear from the “hive mind” of the preparedness community. How likely do you think it is that we’ll be hit by a massive cyber attack? Was the event on Wednesday just a coincidence or some kind of test run? What other effects do you think a massive cyber attack might have? Do you have any additional preparedness tips for such an event? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Create a Collapse Supply List Based on the Things They Are Out of in Venezuela

Sometimes a cautionary tale is more motivating than any amount of positive reinforcement every could be, and the horrifying reports from Venezuela are a perfect example. If you’re paying attention to the things they’ve run out of, you can put together a collapse supply list to see you through the crisis in the event of a breakdown in our own country. The time to prepare is now, well before the situation devolves to one that is similar.

Every day, there is more dire news out of Venezuela.  It’s so bad there that even the mainstream news can no longer ignore that the country is in the midst of an economic collapse. Thousands have turned to looting in order to feed their families. Even their soldiers have been stealing food. Long lines, empty stores, and hospitals without electricity are the norm instead of an unusual occurrence.

It wasn’t always like that. Life before Venezuela devolved into socialism looked a whole lot like our lives do today. In fact, as recently as the 1970s, Venezuela was one of the top 20 richest countries in the world.

So, today, our financial situation certainly looks far brighter than that of Venezuela, but according to a lot of experts, that is a glossy veneer over a crumbling foundation.  Obama calls it “peddling fiction” but the outlook here is not good. Financial statistics are massaged and many of them hidden to keep us in the dark. Jobs are nearly impossible to find, and heaven help you if you lose one.  The price of living is going up, but financial solvency is going down as personal debt outstrips the ability to pay it. Pension funds that people rely on are going bankrupt, one after another.

It really isn’t a question of if, but when.

Economic collapse starts out as “going through hard times.” It isn’t mobs on the streets or regression to Third World status initially. Before it ever gets to that, you have time to prepare. So let’s get started.

Pay Attention to What They’re Out of in Venezuela

The best way to make your supply list is to figure out what they’ve run out of in Venezuela.  Below, you can find a list of the things they do not have, along with suggestions for stocking up or educating yourself.

If we never have a problem in the United States, you can rest assured that none of these supplies are crazy things you’ll never use. Most are the most basic of necessities and you’ll find it’s very convenient to be able to “shop in your pantry” whenever you need something. As well, learning to be more self-reliant is a great way to save money, live simpler, and often be healthier than those who depend on the store to meet all their needs.

Food

The first thing we saw as Venezuela began going down was that the government cracked down on the ability to stock up on food.  They instituted a fingerprint registry for buying food, made prepping illegal, and began to dole out supplies. The government took over most of the stores, then forced farmers to hand over the majority of their crops at the price the government chose to pay. These crops were then marked up extravagantly and sold to people who suddenly found they could no longer afford to eat. Eventually, the government announced that the country was out of food and that if people wanted to eat, they’d better grow their own.

Supplies mentioned in articles that people have stolen and waited all day in line for are milk, bread, chicken, rice, and flour.

Here’s a list of food and related supplies you should stock up on.

  • Long-term emergency food buckets: I never used to stockpile these because most of them have horrible ingredients. However, Preppers Market products are non-GMO, have few additives, and even have gluten free buckets. They’re packed in square containers for easy stacking at the back of your closet, and each container is a month of food for one person. You can build up quite a stockpile this way that doesn’t take up a lot of space. As well, it’s packaged to last for up to 30 years, so you can get it and forget it. (ORDER HERE)
  • Build a pantry: Purchase things on sale to build your first line of defense against food instability. The pantry you build today can help you weather difficult times in the future. Stock up on shelf-stable versions of the things you generally consume in your family. You want to create at least a couple of months’ supply where you can supplement what you get at the store with what you have in your kitchen cupboards. Check out my book The Pantry Primer: A Prepper’s Guide to Whole Food on a  Half Price Budget for details on building your short-term supply. Be sure to focus on pantry staples (here’s a list) so that you can combine ingredients for delicious, from scratch meals.
  • Gardening Supplies: Once everyone wants them, the price will skyrocket. Stock up now on seeds, tools, compost bins, soil amendments, and testing kits.These books can help for those who want to start a small-scale homestead:

Also, check out this article: The Self-Reliance Manifesto: More Than 300 Resources to Guide You on the Path to Radical Freedom

  • Ways to Garden in an Apartment: I frequently suggest that people take more steps toward self-reliance and there are always folks who say, “That’s fine for you – you live in the country. I can’t grow food in an apartment.”  Well, you’d better figure out how to grow food in an apartment, because I can tell you quite clearly, President Maduro’s suggestion that people grow food didn’t have the caveat of “if it’s convenient and you live in the country.”  I understand that you can’t raise all of your food in a tiny apartment with a postage stamp balcony. But you can raise something. Lettuce for salads, sprouts that can be used in many different ways, or if you’re really industrious you could try aquaponics and/or rabbits. Everything you do produce can help to supplement the meager rations you may be forced to live on. These books and supplies can help:
  • Milk: One of the first things people run out of is milk. If your family regularly drinks milk, or if you add it to your coffee, the lack of it is something that will be immediately evident and make them feel deprived in an already unsettling situation. You can freeze milk when it’s on sale, and you should also stock up on shelf-stable dry milk. That’s the best way to have it on hand for the long haul. (Order Hormone-free dry milk HERE)

Hygiene Items

It’s important to be able to remain clean if you want to stay healthy. Following are some of the supplies that have been in shortage in Venezuela for months now.

  • Soap
  • Laundry detergent
  • Toilet paper
  • Diapers
  • Feminine hygiene supplies

For some of these items, you can learn to make them yourself. For others, you can make or purchase reusable versions.

Public Utilities

The country is rationing electricity and has been for quite some time. Currently, there are mandatory rolling blackouts. This is affecting everyday life, in that food can’t be kept in freezers, they are dealing with the hot humid weather without air conditioning, and they must use alternative lighting.

Stock up now on ways to deal with those concerns. These articles, books, and supplies can help you make your plan.

Medicine and Medical Care

Your heart will break into a million pieces, but this article from the front page of the NY Times (hat tip to Mary) tells you the real nitty gritty of the situation in Venezuela. A hospital is just as likely to kill you as make you better now, due to terrible sanitation and a lack of supplies.

They’re out of antibiotics, cancer medicine, and equipment. They can’t do dialysis or other life-saving treatments. They have no running water so they’re doing operations on a table still covered with blood from the last patient. The rolling blackouts mean that every single days, babies and other patients dependent on respirators are dying. Doctors are making lists of supplies for the families of patients to go out and attempt to procure from the black market.

It is essential that you keep some supplies on hand and that you begin learning all you can about survival medicine.

The best book for that is Cat Ellis’s book, Prepper’s Natural Medicine. It isn’t dependent on expensive, difficult-to-find supplies, but on things you can find in your area. This book is something you absolutely must add to your stockpile. If you can treat most ailments at home and stay away from hospitals, you’re far more likely to survive in a scenario like the one described above. A trip to the hospital in that situation is probably more likely to result in your death than avoiding it altogether.

  • Stock up on over the counter medications for pain relief, allergies, colds, diarrhea, and inflammation.
  • Some people purchase veterinary antibiotics
  • Create a kit of wound treatment supplies to help prevent infection. (This fantastic article can help you decide what you need.)
  • I’m a huge fan of Vetricyn. We spray it on human wounds as well as animal ones.
  • Besides Cat’s book of natural medicine, look into adding other guides to your stash. I like the field manuals from the US military, which are available on Amazon.

Now is the time.

Be watching for a comprehensive 3-month program that is coming soon to help you get prepared with one-on-one help from some of the most popular preparedness authors around. More details are coming soon.

If you wait until a crisis is already occurring, you’ve waited too long, which is exactly what the people of Venezuela are learning. By preparing ahead of time and filling your collapse supply list, while you may still experience difficult times, your struggle will not be as extreme as the ones we’re seeing.

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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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Lessons from Ferguson: Prepping for Civil Unrest and Martial Law

Any prepared and informed person knows that the threat isn’t always the event itself, which could be anything from a natural disaster to a rioting spree after a sporting event to an economic collapse. It’s the chaos during the aftermath of the event.

If you ever had any doubts about that statement, you need look no further than Ferguson, Missouri, when Governor Jay Nixon called in the National Guard.

Martial law officially arrived in Ferguson.

Of course, this only makes it official. The previous week showed a militarized police force driving around in tanks, wearing body armor, and brutally responding to citizens. Martial law was already there and the Constitution was already suspended.  Nixon just made it official.

This is just the icing on the chaos cupcake, however. It all started a week ago when a white police officer shot a black suspect.  Suddenly, amidst  cries of “racism”  an absolute breakdown of society occurred within 24 hours of the shooting.  People no longer governed themselves according to laws and morals.  Store owners were forced to arm themselves to protect their businesses from a mob that looted with all of the joyful abandon of a lottery winner on a shopping spree.  Cops responded, but were vastly outnumbered. Whether these officers were originally vicious individuals or whether fear of the mob mentality made them brutal, their responses were harsh and ruthless.

This article isn’t a debate on right vs. wrong. It isn’t about whether Michael Brown deserved to be shot or whether he was an innocent victim. It isn’t about the race of the looters, the cops, or the residents of Ferguson. It isn’t even about the Constitutional rights that are being ground under the heels of boots. I’m not getting into any of that.

It’s about watching and learning from the events in Ferguson, because this type of chaos could be coming to a city near you. When society breaks down, it nearly always follows a distinct path.  The main variable is how quickly the situation devolves.

The violence began around 8 p.m. and largely dissipated within a couple hours, though the police presence in the St. Louis suburb remained at war-like levels into the wee hours of the morning.

Hundreds — perhaps thousands — of protesters roamed West Florissant Avenue.

Looters prowled several blocks of the main thoroughfare, damaging businesses and shattering glass in the few storefronts that had yet remained intact.

The list of businesses on West Florissant that were looted on Sunday night included a Domino’s Pizza, a Papa John’s Pizza, an O’Reilly’s Auto Parts and a Public Storage facility.

Just west, on Chambers Road, a large group of looters trashed a small store called Dellwood Market. The store ended up on fire, according to a Facebook page called Ferguson Scanner Updates.

“I know that people are upset, but is this the justice for Mike Brown?” the distraught owner asked, according to local CBS affiliate KMOV.

A handful of protesters suffered gunshot wounds and the crowds prevented an ambulance from arriving on the scene.

A large group of people had overrun a McDonald’s on the street. Employees of the McDonald’s were forced to lock themselves in a storage room until police arrived. (source)

Here’s a synopsis of the threats during such an event and what you can do to prepare for them.

Looting

In this case, there’s nothing like a good sports analogy. “The best defense is a good offense.”

When the looting began in Ferguson, nearly every store in town was ransacked. Two of them, however were not: St. Louis Ink Tattoo Studio and County Guns.

ferguson-defend

Mac Slavo of SHTFplan wrote:

It turns out that when violent looters come face to face with people prepared to kill to defend their property, the looters tend to choose a ‘safer’ target.

The take-home lesson here is this: If the situation has broken down to the point that looters are running around carrying TVs down the street, you’d better make it very clear that you are NOT a victim and that you WILL fight back.  There are plenty of people who have been brainwashed by the media to believe that guns are bad who will be far easier pickings for those who want to steal.  Looters will select the easiest targets – not those who are clearly determined to fight back.

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.

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.

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.

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

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 know how to use your weapon of choice.  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. 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.

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 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.

It’s very important to make a defense plan well before you need one.

Violence for the sake of violence

Not every criminal frolicking through a WROL zone is there to steal. Some people want to hurt people just for the rush of power it gives them.

There is no pacifist answer to an encounter like this. If someone wants to do harm because they find it enjoyable, or because they are swept up in a mob mentality, you have to meet force with greater force.

In these situations, firearms are the great equalizer.

I can’t repeat this enough: you must practice. Frequently. If you don’t know how to use a firearm, you shouldn’t have it.  When you handle your weapon awkwardly, it’s very obvious to a person who is trying to intimidate you. Likewise, if you are so comfortable with your weapon that it looks like a natural extension of your arm, that is also very clear. It sends a message that you mean business and that you know what you’re doing. No one wants to get shot. Most thugs will search for an easier target.

Of course, it’s better still to avoid these encounters.  When your city is under siege, it’s far safer to stay home.  Don’t go to work or send the kids to school. Wait until normalcy returns to go about your business.  It isn’t worth risking your life.

Destruction of property

Of enormous concern in these situations is the destruction of property.

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.

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.

Alternatively, in some situations, it won’t stop with the destruction of your property. You may have to defend your home. 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.

Running out of supplies

The most preventable issue in the event of civil unrest is running out of supplies.

If you have to “run out to the store” that makes it far more likely that you will become the victim of a crime. The best advice I can give in all of this is to STAY HOME.  But if you have no food and water, it’s difficult to do so.

Many residents of Ferguson are facing exactly this problem. They are “stuck” at home and have run out of groceries.

Keith Griffin II, publisher of DELUX Magazine, set up a table near gas pump 6 at the QuikTrip on West Florissant Avenue, where he is distributing free pizza, chips, fresh fruit and bottled water to protesters and area residents.

Griffin, 37, said he grew up in the area and he’s concerned about the welfare of local residents.

He’s also putting together care packages to people who are stuck because of the protests and curfew, he said. (source: St. Louis Times)

So, after only ONE WEEK, people are running out of food or discovering there is a necessity that they don’t have on hand.

ONE WEEK.

I can’t imagine not having enough supplies to withstand a siege of only a week.  The way this is snowballing, the situation could easily last for a lot longer than just a week.  Even if you think prepping is silly and paranoid, how could anyone watching this unfold not feel as though they need to be stocked up for at least a month?  Ferguson is not a bad neighborhood in New York City. It’s a little suburb of just over 20,000 people. If this can happen in Ferguson, Missouri, it can happen where you are, and it can happen without any warning at all.

Here is a general list of supplies to have on hand. Remember that sometimes power supplies are lost during situations like this. Occasionally officials do this to gain more control over the populace and sometimes it happens as a side-effect of the wholesale destruction by the rioters. Keep the potential for a down-grid situation in mind when preparing.

  • Water (1 gallon per person per day)
  • 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 have a Char-Broil Offset Smoker American Gourmet Grill, 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 and 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

Martial law

It seems that right now in Ferguson, the US Constitution has been suspended. The National Guard has been called in to help police restore order. Like I said above, this is not an article about the constitutionality (or lack thereof) of what is going on down there, nor is it about police brutality or racial tensions. This article focuses on surviving the situation should such an event occur in your town.

teargas ferguson

The reality is this:

While many of the officers involved most likely just want to resolve the situation and go home to their families, the methods being used are not methods most of us wish to encounter.

In a highly charged situation like this, police and military are trained to use the most efficient methods to speedily shut down a conflict. These methods can include tear gas, sound cannons, and outright physical assaults on citizens. It’s important to note that fear can be a powerful motivator when deciding how much force is appropriate when addressing a threat. Cops are just as subject to fear as the rest of us. 20 cops with shields and batons would be quite reasonable to fear an angry mob of hundreds of shouting people.

Your safety when interacting with officials during a martial law situation does not rely on the intentions of police officers and military. It really doesn’t matter if they are trying to crush your rights under a jack-booted heel, or whether they are trying to benevolently keep people safe and re-establish peace and harmony.

Here are some suggestions to help keep you safe when dealing with cops and soldiers.

Avoid crowds. If you are in the midst of a crowd, you’ll be considered part of the crowd and treated exactly like everyone else in that group. If they get tear-gassed, so will you. It’s guilt by association. If the crowd is violent, and you are part of the crowd, you will also be considered violent, and you’ll be dealt with accordingly. Legally, you are actually guilty if you are part of a group that is violent. GO HOME.

Be polite. If you have to interact with officers, be courteous. You won’t restore the Constitution by arguing with them or threatening them. It’s fine to assert your rights – you don’t have to allow them to search your house without cause, for example, but do so civilly. Belligerence will get you nothing but a beat-down.

You don’t get to explain. In a highly charged situation, the cops probably aren’t going to listen to you when you try to explain that you’re just taking that baseball bat in your hand over to your nephew’s house so he can hit some balls in the backyard. No matter how innocent your intentions are, if you’re walking like a duck, you’re going to be treated like a duck. Training will kick in, and perceived threats will be immediately neutralized by whatever means the cops find necessary.

Stay home. It really isn’t worth risking your physical safety to go see what’s going on.

Underneath the uniform, cops are human.  I’m not justifying the brutality, the methods they’re using, or the assaults on journalists. Cops are just as likely to be swept up in a herd mentality as thugs are during a high stress situation. By understanding this, you can be better prepared.

Just stay home.

I really can’t repeat that often enough. It’s the number one way to keep yourself safer from every single threat mentioned in this article. If you find yourself in an area under siege, the odds will be further on your side for every interaction in which you avoid taking part.

Every single time you leave the house, you increase your chances of an unpleasant encounter.  Nothing will be accomplished by going out during a chaotic situation.

And for the love of all that’s holy, don’t go to a protest and take your children, even if it’s supposed to be peaceful.

Residents, many with children in tow, had turned out for what began as a peaceful protest Sunday evening seeking justice for Michael Brown, the 18-year-old who was shot six times by a police officer who allegedly stopped Brown for blocking a residential street.

The protesters marched toward a police command center set up in a shopping mall parking lot when heavily armed law enforcement fired on the crowd using tear gas and rubber bullets. An MSNBC reporter witnessed children suffering the effects of the gas, including two young African-American girls – one dressed in a pink tank top coughing as she struggled to push the shirt up over her mouth and nose while a woman rushed her from the scene. (source)

I can’t even wrap my brain around thinking THAT was a good idea.

Stay.

Home.

Resources:

The Anatomy of a Breakdown

Contact! A Tactical Manual for Post Collapse Survival

Total Breakdown In Less Than 24 Hours: Images and Videos of Missouri Riots and Looting

Prepper’s Home Defense: Security Strategies to Protect Your Family by Any Means Necessary

Elite Large Fully Stocked GI Issue Medic First Aid Kit Bag

 

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Get Home On Your Own

 One of the most haunting emails I’ve received this year is from Mallory:
I recently started reading your blog (love it!). I have a couple more business trips planned for the rest of the year, and some are quite a distance from home. I wondered if you could give any advice at all on what I should prep for, gear-wise or even mentally?
The thought of an EMP happening when I am NOT at home, maybe not with my spouse and children, it scares me.  I just want to be as prepared as I can be, because who knows when something like this could happen — 2 minutes from now or 2 years from now?
Once you’re aware of a power grid failure due to an EMP, cyberterrorism, or a solar event, you can’t help but share Mallory’s worries, but actually, a disaster of any type that finds you miles from home is going to present a major challenge — how to get home on your own.
A natural disaster or extreme weather could block roads with snow, flood waters, and debris. Civil unrest could present you with the challenge of either waiting it out until the streets are clear and law and order are restored or trying to get around the chaos to a safer location.
In short, you’ll need planned routes, a well-equipped bag of essential supplies, shoes and clothes that are suitable for the season and climate, street smarts, and a good idea of when to stay and when to go. If possible, a form of communication, a cell phone or small ham radio, will be a life-saver.

Route planning

A super-easy first step in planning to get home on your own is simply planning multiple routes. If you do this throughout the normal course of the day or week, you’ll begin to automatically notice alternate routes to avoid unsafe parts of town, the possibility of following canals or other waterways. Bridges, alleyways, and other routes you hadn’t noticed before will suddenly click as either safe or areas to avoid.

Look out for potential targets for terrorists and civil unrest, such as airports, government buildings, courthouses, and universities. Industrial areas are often the sites of chemical spills, fires, and even explosions. If flooding has been an issue in your area, keep in mind where the lowest points are and plan to avoid those.

Since you have no idea what type of emergency will require you to get home on your own, possibly without your vehicle, it’s wise to consider different scenarios and plan accordingly.

In general, try to come up with four routes from each of your most common destinations. Those places might include:

  • Workplace
  • The homes of friends and family
  • Grocery store
  • The kids’ school(s)
  • Church

Actually drive, bike, or walk various routes to calculate the distances to your home and see, first hand, what you will likely encounter and if you’re able, physically, to make the trek.

Intermediate refuge locations

Getting to your own home quickly and safely may take a while. You might end up spending the night outdoors or in some other uncomfortable location. For this reason, you might want to keep a tarp, paracord, or some other expedient shelter-building supplies in your vehicle or bug out bag.

However, there is another option: multiple refuge locations.

Begin identifying places where you would be welcome and safe for an overnight stay or longer. On a map, mark these locations and, as you plan your routes home, try to include them, just in case.

Consider:

  • The homes of family and close friends
  • Commercial buildings you own, have permission to access, or are owned by friends/family
  • Churches
  • Extended family, even those you may not know well
  • Contacts through any organizations you belong to
  • Timeshares — If you have any banked weeks, these could come in handy.
  • Hotels
  • Campgrounds
  • Community buildings

If you aren’t able to get home by the time the first night falls, you’ll be grateful for any safe and welcoming refuge and of course, the concept of multiple safe refuges isn’t just for you. Your kids should also know where they could go for safety until you can either pick them up or they are able to continue on their own, depending on their ages.

Keep a list handy of all these possible “safe houses”, along with phone numbers. Discuss your plans with any individuals involved and offer your home as a refuge should they be the ones in need.

Worst case scenario homecoming

What if a worst case scenario finds you, not 10 or 20 miles from home, but many hundreds?

In the book, Lights Out by Ted Koppell, he details the get-home plan of Craig Kephart in the case of a power grid failure. Craig is an avid bicyclist and a prepper. He lives in an upscale area of St. Louis, and his business requires frequent business trips around the country. From the book:

Craig worries that he may be trapped out of town and that all conventional forms of travel could be shut down. He always carries enough cash so that, no matter which city he’s in, he would be able to buy a bicycle, biking shoes, and whatever other equipment he would need to take him back to St. Louis.
Craig assumes that he could ride 150 to 200 miles a day. He’s thought about this a lot. “Last place I want to be is in a major metropolitan area during a time of national crisis.”

Craig’s plan might be a very effective one for him, in the case of a cyberterrorist attack or another event that takes out the power grid. 

He has realized that getting home from hundreds of miles away when the world has erupted into chaos won’t be easy and he’s come up with a plan and is training for that possibility. If this should happen, there will be countless scenarios which he may not have anticipated, but at least he has a plan for getting home.

Your plan should include:

  1. Transportation. Planning on hoofing it home? Better start getting into super-shape now! Other options might be bicycles, motorcycles, or even a scooter or roller skates! Anything with wheels will speed up your journey.
  2. Water. Where you’re stranded, the terrain between you and home will determine if you will be able to find a plentiful supply of water on a regular basis. If you’re not sure you can, stay where you are or plan to travel in short segments. In a city, you will probably be able to find water from outdoor spigots, and if you learn how to locate a hose bib on the outside of commercial buildings, a sillcock key can help you access the water in the pipes.
  3. Food. Can you set traps? Hunt and fish using alternative methods? Can you identify edible and medicinal wild plants? Do you know which parts are edible and which are poisonous? Do you know how to start a small fire for cooking and purifying water, and, if so, what will you use for a cooking pot? These are just a few of the issues to consider.
  4. Shelter.  Putting up a lean-to is one thing, but surviving the elements within that shelter is quite another.
  5. Security. You may be surrounded by people more desperate than you. More fit, more strong than you. Can you survive on your wits alone? What self-defense skills do you have?
  6. Weather and terrain. Those will both change as you travel. Are you ready for all possibilities? Do you know of alternate routes that might be easier or would allow you to avoid populated areas?

Some of these considerations apply to much shorter distances. In fact, it could be easier getting home over 200 miles of straightaway, rarely traveled roads than through the urban center of a city like Houston.

5 Possible ways to survive when many miles separate you and your loved ones

In my view, being stranded from home following a worst case scenario would leave you with few options. Here are a few viable options in case the worst really does happen and you are dozens, if not hundreds, of miles from home.

  1. Head home regardless, carrying with you the basics for survival, or whatever you can acquire. Survival novels are full of tales of determined men, making their way home to their families over hundreds of miles. This option might work if you are in good physical shape, have no health issues, and are blessed with an enormous amount of luck. It wouldn’t hurt if the terrain between you and your family has multiple supplies of water. Forget it if you have more than just a few miles of desert to traverse.
  2. Stay put and lay low. If you have the skills and knowledge, set up a wilderness camp and use your ingenuity and Boy Scout skills to live off the land. You’ll end up dying a pretty quick death, most likely, but this is an option.
  3. Stay put and try to become an indispensable part of another household or group. If you have a bank of life-saving skills, such as knowing how to grow and preserve food, medical training, or can help guard your new group of fellow survivors. When the infrastructure begins to be rebuilt, you can then begin heading home.
  4. Stay put and start a new life. This option isn’t necessarily pessimistic. Given the circumstances, you may have no other choice.
  5. Do a little bit of both. Combine stints on the road, always heading homeward, with time spent staying with a community or with a family. They might be grateful for the additional help with physical labor and whatever practical skills you possess may help get them through a difficult time until you’re able to travel again.

Getting home when you’re NOT on your own

If you’re like me, you almost always have a kid, or maybe a grandkid, with you. If you’re stranded from home and you’re all alone, that’s one thing, but looking out for someone else, especially if they cannot walk or move quickly, presents a whole new set of challenges.

  • Will you likely have an infant with you? In that case, always have with you a stroller and a baby sling or some other carrier.
  • Young children will slow you down greatly in more ways than one. You’ll have to cope with their slower pace and emotions. A stroller or a wagon would save time and provide a small sleeping area for a toddler.
  • A loved one confined to a wheelchair cannot be left behind, so you’ll need to plan your routes and supplies accordingly. Shorter walking segments and sticking to sidewalks and paved roads will limit wear and tear on wheelchair tires as well as on your back, if you’re doing the pushing!
  • Motorized scooter users should always have at least one charged backup battery. If the battery dies and there is no way to charge it, getting home may become all but impossible.
  • Children ages 10 and up will be a big help with carrying bug out bags, looking for potential shelter and water sources, and helping with younger, or older, family members. This will likely be a high adventure for them, but keep an eye on their energy levels, since they may tire out more quickly than they realize. Keep them entertained with stories and “I Spy” type games.
  • Teens and adult members of the group can provide assistance in all areas, including security.

Every piece of the plan you put into place now for getting home following a disaster of some sort, will make that journey a little easier.

 

 

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6 Maps You Need For an Urban Evacuation

Let’s assume an urban disaster scenario, and you must leave quickly. How will you find your way? What maps do you need?

We’re talking about the printed, paper in hand type. Don’t plan to rely on a GPS. They are as reliable as their batteries, and constant use could mean the unit is soon powerless. Also, any electronic device can break or just quit working.

So before you worry about maps, get a good compass. I prefer one with a clear baseplate that is designed to work on maps. Invest in a good one with declination settings, and then learn how to use it. The smaller compasses that come with some survival kits are only useful as backups and for giving a general direction.

Here are the maps you need:

City map: Your evacuation will start with this map, so get one with the finest detail possible. This map can help you figure out alternative street evacuation routes if bridges and/or overpasses are closed. Also, gridlock on major highways and freeways is a given, so you might need to plot a course around them.

Topographical map: A topo map is a three-dimensional view of an area. Looking at it, you can get an idea of the terrain.

According to the Geospatial and Analysis Cooperative of Idaho State University: “The concept of a topographic map is, on the surface, fairly simple. Contour lines placed on the map represent lines of equal elevation above (or below) a reference datum.

“To visualize what a contour line represents, picture a mountain (or any other topographic feature) and imagine slicing through it with a perfectly flat, horizontal piece of glass. The intersection of the mountain with the glass is a line of constant elevation on the surface of the mountain and could be put on a map as a contour line for the elevation of the slice above a reference datum.”

I have the National Geographic mapping software for Oregon, so I create a custom topo map for every outing. I print them out on standard-sized letter or legal-sized paper. These sizes fold nicely in half and fit in a quart Ziploc plastic bag. This bag, in turn, rides in the thigh pocket of my BDU pants. The map is easy to pull out and check, which means it will be.

During an urban evacuation, you might need to go cross-country through a park or open space to avoid crowds or other potential dangers. The city map gives street details, but it may not show water obstacles or other physical barriers. With your topo and compass, you should be able to plot a course effectively.

State Highway map: This gives the big picture of your situation. It shows major highways and roads, and gives general directions. It could be useful for figuring out where to go once you get away from the urban scene.

Forest Service map: I carry this in my car in central Oregon. Commonly referred to as a fire road map, this is a large overview of the national forests and public lands. Most importantly, it shows fire and logging roads. The map doesn’t show if the roads are improved or not, so don’t depend on this map to tell you if you can drive on it. In some instances, the roads may have overgrown into trails. You may be able to hike or ATV them in the summer, or, in the winter, snowshoe or operate a snowmobile.

These maps help you figure alternative routes in wilderness areas. Assuming you make it to a wilderness area, a good compass, this map, and the appropriate topos will be worth their weight in gold.

These four maps should help you get out of town.

Here are some others that could also prove to be useful

History maps: I buy any historical map I come across. Some of them, such as the Oregon Trail or Lewis and Clark maps, show routes used by historical figures. While the trails may be obscure right now, that doesn’t mean they aren’t useful. Overland pioneer routes were established because wagons or pack trains could travel on them. Those trails might be a good thing to know at some point.

River charts: My fishing obsession and map nerd-ism combine again with these charts. Every navigable river in the United States has detailed charts showing river terrain, danger areas, and topography of the stream. These charts allow a traveler to plan a river evacuation or trip. I carried a set of Mississippi River charts on my end-to-end journey in 1980. It was easy to plan overnight stops, or decide where to pull out.

On smaller streams, the maps can show take-out points, landings, and water dangers.

Hunting maps: Put out by your state fish and wildlife departments, these are useful to anyone who goes into the wilderness areas. I carry one to see the boundaries of my hunting unit, road closures, and the terrain, to some extent.

None of these maps are of any value if you don’t know how to read and use them. A good training activity including some exercise could be to take your compass and maps, create a possible evacuation scenario and practice navigating somewhere using alternate routes, streets and cross country travel.

So check out these maps, practice with your compass, and give some thought to how you might get out of town if you had to.

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“Grid Jihad”: What If You Had a Week to Prep for the End of the World?

With September 11 fast approaching, so too does the risk of another terrorist attack on US soil.

They say this every year as the date approaches, but in 2014, it seems to carry a bit more weight than it has during other years.

I’m referring specifically to all of those beheadings and the crazy video threat that warned, “We will drown all of you in blood“.  I’d say that ISIS could either be behind a potential attack or be set up as the fear-flavor of the month and be blamed for such an attack.

As for the type of attack, security experts are warning that our vulnerable power grid is an extremely likely target. Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner wrote:

Former top government officials who have been warning Washington about the vulnerability of the nation’s largely unprotected electric grid are raising new fears that troops from the jihadist Islamic State are poised to attack the system, leading to a power crisis that could kill millions.

“Inadequate grid security, a porous U.S.-Mexico border, and fragile transmission systems make the electric grid a target for ISIS,” said Peter Pry, one of the nation’s leading experts on the grid.

Others joining Pry at a press conference later Wednesday to draw attention to the potential threat said that if just a handful of the nation’s high voltage transformers were knocked out, blackouts would occur across the country.

“By one estimate, should the power go out and stay out for over a year, nine out of 10 Americans would likely perish,” said Frank Gaffney, founder and president of the Center for Security Policy in Washington.

At the afternoon press conference, Gaffney dubbed the potential crisis the “grid jihad.” (source)

Anyone involved in the preparedness community is well aware of the disaster that would befall our country should our power-dependent populace no longer have light, climate control, and running water with the flip of a switch or turn of a handle. In his book, One Second After, William Forstchen wrote a fictional account of an EMP attack on our country and that book is the very thing that brought many of us over to the “prepped” side. His newest book, Day of Wrath, could be likewise prescient. It was written about a devastating ISIS terror attack on American soil.

In the press conference Wednesday, Peter Pry warned that Obama’s open border policy could be the weak point that allows the country to be infiltrated, with potentially devastating consequences.

Pry provided details of recent attacks on electricity systems and said that ISIS could easily team with Mexican drug cartels to ravage America.

He told Secrets, for example, that the Knights Templar drug gang blacked out the electric grid of the Mexican state of Michoacan in 2013 to provide cover for killing those fighting the drug trade.

“The Knights Templars and other criminal gangs in Mexico will do anything for money, and ISIS, the richest terrorist organization in history, has hundreds of millions of dollars at its disposal,” said Pry.

“ISIS could hire one of the Mexican cartels, or one of their criminal gangs already in the U.S., or activate jihadist terror cells already in the U.S., and inflict a multi-state blackout immediately, within days or weeks. Perhaps even a nationwide blackout,” Pry explained to Secrets.

“I am not saying it is likely they will do so. But given the capabilities and objectives of ISIS and our obvious vulnerabilities, it would be foolish to ignore the threat to the grid, to regard the threat as unlikely. Our planning should be based on imminent asymmetrical threats, and not assume that another 9/11 large-scale attack is years away,” he added.

The Texas Department of Public Safety recently said they believe there is evidence that ISIS plans an attack. (source)

Enough about the “maybes” and the “hows”. (You can go HERE for an in-depth article about EMP attacks.) Unless you happen to be a highly placed government official reading this article, there isn’t a lot that you could do to prevent it. All you can do is be prepared to survive the aftermath, so this article deals with the “what ifs” and the “are you readies”.

Are You Ready for Grid Failure?

This is a topic that I’ve written about frequently, because a power outage aids and abets the chaos caused by so many different disasters. It doesn’t honestly matter HOW the grid goes down. A long-term grid collapse will result in an extremely high death toll.  People will starve, freeze, perish of thirst, or die of sanitation related illnesses. Some will expire from medical causes that can’t be treated properly without power.  Others will die because life-saving medication is no longer available. Civil unrest will unleash the very worst in human nature. However, we can prepare for many of these hazards.

If you are already of the preparedness mindset, you’ll fare better than the average North American.  Here are the questions you need to contemplate:

  • How will you get food if the grocery stores are closed?
  • How will you cook food if you are able to acquire it?
  • What will happen to the perishable food in your refrigerator and freezer?
  • How will you heat or cool your home if you are in an area subject to extreme temperatures?
  • What will you use for light once the scented candle that sits on your coffee table is gone?
  • How will you transport yourself if a) your vehicle doesn’t run because the computers are fried or b) it runs but you can’t get gas because the pumps at the station run on electricity?
  • What will you drink and wash with if the municipal water facilities are no longer providing water or if the pump on your well runs on electricity?
  • How will you dispose of waste, human and other?

Find as many solutions as possible for the issues you would face if going for weeks (or longer) without power.  You must stay warm, eat, and drink.  Everything else is a bonus. You can live without the television, the video game console, the microwave in the kitchen, and the laptop.

I know that some of you are reading this with a fatalistic attitude.  You are mentally making lists of why you can’t resolve these issues.   Maybe you live in an apartment, you rent so you are limited to what you can do with your home, you have a limited budget, you live in the city or your mama’s basement.

Well, if that’s the way you’re thinking, then you’re probably right – you won’t survive. Survival demands a can-do attitude 0r, on occasion, the fluke of pure dumb luck. If you realize these things are necessary and you still refuse to find solutions for your particular situation, you are setting your family up to suffer, and possibly even die, when it could be avoided. When I first became involved in preparedness, I lived in an urban area with a population in the millions. I rented. And I prepared to the very best of my ability because I knew I couldn’t live with myself if my children suffered because I had failed to do what was necessary beforehand.

What if you knew  the world would end one week from today?

So here’s my question. If you absolutely knew that the world as we know it right now was coming to an end in a week…on September 11, 2014, what would you do?

Modify the following suggestions to adapt them to your particular home, family, and climate.

Water

Everyone knows that clean drinking water is something you can’t live without. In the event of a disaster, the water may not run from the taps, and if it does, it might not be safe to drink, depending on the situation.  If there is a boil order in place, remember that if the power is out, boiling your water may not be as easy as turning on your stove.

Each family should store a two week supply of water. The rule of thumb for drinking water is 1 gallon per day, per person.  Don’t forget to stock water for your pets, also. This does not include water for hygiene purposes. You’ll want to store additional water for that as well.

You can create your water supply very inexpensively.  Many people use clean 2 liter soda pop bottles to store tap water.  Others purchase the large 5 gallon water bottles and either a top-loading water dispenser or a manual pump for the top of the jug. Consider a gravity fed water filtration device and Water Purification Tablets as well.

Food and a Way to Prepare It

There are two schools of thought regarding food during a power outage.  One: you need a cooking method that does not require the grid to be functioning.  Two: you can store food that doesn’t require cooking.

If you opt for a secondary cooking method, be sure that you have enough fuel to last for a while.  Store foods that do not require long cooking times – for example, dried beans would use a great deal of fuel, but canned beans could be warmed up, or even eaten cold.  A rocket stove that can use many different types of fuel is an excellent and flexible choice.

The Volcano 3 is an excellent quality choice, and Swiss Army stove is an inexpensive choice for those on a tight budget.

Click HERE for a short term food storage list

Click HERE to find a list of foods that require no cooking.

Heat (Depending on Your Climate)

If your power outage takes place in the winter and you live in a colder climate, heat is another necessity.  During the first 24 hours after a power outage, you can stay fairly warm if you block off one room of the house for everyone to group together in.  Keep the door closed and keep a towel or blanket folded along the bottom of the door to conserve warmth.  You can safely burn a couple of candles also, and in the enclosed space, your body heat will keep it relatively warm.  As well, dress in layers and keep everything covered – wear a hat, gloves (fingerless ones allow you to still function), and a scarf.

Click HERE to learn how to stay warm with less heat.

However, after about 48 hours, that’s not going to be enough in very cold weather. You will require back-up heat at this point in certain climates.  If you are lucky enough to have a source of heat like a fireplace or woodstove, you’ll be just fine as long as you have a supply of wood.

Consider a portable indoor-safe propane heater (and propane) or an oil heater.  You have to be very careful what type of backup heat you plan on using, as many of them can cause carbon monoxide poisoning if used in a poorly ventilated area. Make sure to have CO monitors that will work without electrical power.

Learn more about off-grid heat options HERE.

Sanitation Needs

A common cause of illness, and even death, during a down-grid situation is lack of sanitation.  We’ve discussed the importance of clean drinking water, but you won’t want to use your drinking water to keep things clean or to flush the toilet.

To conserve precious water, reduce your need to wash things. Stock up on paper plates, paper towels, and disposable cups and flatware.  Keep some disinfecting cleaning wipes and sprays. I don’t recommend using antibacterial products on a regular basis, however in the event of an emergency they can help to keep you healthy. Use hand sanitizerafter using the bathroom and before handing food or beverages – there can be a lot more germs afoot in a disaster.

Look at your options for sanitation.  Does your toilet still flush when the electricity is out?  Many people discovered the hard way that the toilets didn’t work  when the sewage backed up in the highrises in New York City in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.  When we lived in our cabin in Ontario, the toilet wouldn’t flush without power because the pump is electric. If you are on a septic system, you can safely flush by pouring water into the tank. However, if you use city sanitation, you run the risk of sewage backing up into your home.

If flushing is not an option, another solution is to stock up on extremely heavy duty garbage bags (like the kind that contractors use at construction sites) and kitty litter.  Place a bag either in your drained toilet or in a bucket.  Sprinkle some kitty litter in the bottom of the bag.  Each time someone uses the bathroom, add another handful of litter. Be very careful that the bag doesn’t get too heavy for you to handle it.  Tie it up very securely and store it outside until services are restored. If services are not restored in a reasonable amount of time, make plans to bury or dispose of the waste safely.

Light

Lighting is absolutely vital, especially if there are children in the house.  Nothing is more frightening than being completely in the dark during a stressful situation. Fortunately, it’s one of the easiest things to plan for, as well as one of the least expensive.

Some lighting solutions are:

  • Garden stake solar lights
  • Candles
  • Kerosene lamps
  • Flashlights (don’t forget batteries)
  • Hand crank camping lantern (This one is bright and inexpensive)
  • Don’t forget matches or lighters

Tools and Supplies

Some basic items will make your life much easier during an emergency. Here are some things that are essential in the event of a power outage:

  • Lighter/waterproof matches
  • Batteries in various sizes
  • Manual can opener
  • Basic tools: Pliers, screwdriver, wrench, hammer
  • Duct tape
  • Crazy glue
  • Sewing supplies
  • Bungee cords
  • WD40 or other lubricant

If you’d like to expand on the basic supplies, a more detailed list of tools and hardware can be found HERE.

First Aid Kit

It’s important to have a basic first aid kit on hand at all times, but particularly in the event of an emergency.  Your kit should include basic wound care items like bandages, antibiotic ointments, and sprays.  As well, if you use them, keep on hand a supply of basic over-the-counter medications, like pain relief capsules, cold medicine, cough syrup, anti-nausea pills, and allergy medication. Particularly important if sanitation is a problem are anti-diarheal medications.

This first responder kit is a good, pre-packed kit for injuries. Medications would need to be purchased separately. If you want to put together a more advanced medical kit, you can find a list HERE.

Special Needs

This is something that will be unique to every family. Consider the things that are needed on a daily basis in your household. It might be prescription medications, diapers, or special foods.  If you have pets, you’ll need supplies for them too.  The best way to figure out what you need is to jot things down as you use them over the course of a couple of days or so.

Self-Defense

If you can’t protect it, it isn’t really yours. This adage is doubly true in the event of civil unrest. We only have to look back a few short weeks at the chaos in Ferguson, Missouri to confirm that the businesses that were not looted by rioters run amok were the ones in which the owners stood, armed and ready, prepared to defend their property.  The lessons we learned from Ferguson can easily be applied to a grid-down scenario, and we can multiply the desperation by about a thousand times, because it won’t merely be thugs romping through the streets and reveling in the chaos. It will be the parents of hungry children. It will be criminals who no longer fear being caught. It will be people who can no longer access psychiatric medications upon which they are dependent. It will be utter and complete lawlessness, driven by fear.

The best advice is to lay low, but if the fight comes to you, you absolutely must be prepared to defend your home and family by any means necessary. Read this article to learn more about prepping for civil unrest.

The Nuclear Threat

A dire concern that is often overlooked in discussions of EMP or grid-down preparedness is the threat of our nuclear power plants going full-out Fukushima on us. I guess part of the reason that I don’t write much about it is because there is honestly a limit to what we can do to be prepared for this. If all of our plants melted down simultaneously, the lack of refrigeration or firewood would be the least of our worries. We, the average folks, cannot control anything about these facilities, so our options are to control what we can – our personal environments.

Tess Pennington of Ready Nutrition shared the following very viable suggestions of what to do if you are exposed to nuclear radiation:

Radioactive ionic particles attach themselves to dust floating in the air. Therefore, it can be ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. If you are told to evacuate or bug in due to a nuclear disaster, keep the following points in mind:

  1. If you are driving, keep the car windows and vents closed, and use recirculating air.
  2. Due to the fear of panic and gridlock that will ensue from mass evacuations, most governments will delay mandatory evacuations until the last minute. This will only cause mass confusion and chaos at gas stations, grocery stores and on the streets. The best way to prevent this, is to stay ahead of the crowd and prepare ahead of time.
  3. If told to stay indoors, turn off the air conditioner and other air intakes and go to a basement. Seal basement windows and entrances to prevent fallout from getting inside. If you go outside, you will need to remove your outer clothing before coming inside the shelter.
  4. Likewise, creating a sealed area near the entrance of the shelter will prevent fallout dust from entering. Seal the entryway with blankets, bubble wrap or plastic sheeting to prevent the dust from coming in. Have water and baby shampoo near the entrance to wash and thoroughly rinse any exposed skin and hair. Exposure to fallout radiation does not make you radioactive, but you need to assure that you don’t bring any inside. Some experts suggest having a rain poncho to take on and off when you go outside.
  5. To go a step further, covering the windows wood, then sandbags followed by masonry bricks will create a multi-layered protection against you and radioactive particles.
  6. If you find yourself outdoors when a nuclear blast occurs, duck and cover for 2 minutes. You will first see a blinding light followed by tornado force winds and dangerous. When all danger is gone, seek shelter immediately. Remove your clothing at the door and place in a sealed plastic bag. You can remove 80% of the particles by removing your clothing. Showering immediately following exposure is another way to remove the remaining particles.
  7. If you have signs of radiation on skin soak in a tub of equal parts baking soda, apple cider vinegar and epsom salt. Skin brushing can be very beneficial, because the skin is a primary avenue for detoxification – scrub along with the lungs, kidneys, liver, and colon. An unused vegetable brush would be very helpful with this process.
  8. Getting caught out in the rain can also cause you to have more exposure to radioactive particles. If you do have to go out in the rain, completely cover yourself. Experts are suggesting that if your clothes get wet to take them off and seal them in a plastic bag, immediately shower and change clothing. (The detox bath solution and skin brushing would be good here. If radioactive materials get on your skin, burns and blistering can occur.Note: If you are exposed to radioactive particles, you will also need to get your urine tested for traces of cessium at your local medical center.
  9. When fallout is first anticipated, but has not yet arrived, anyone not already sheltered should begin using their N95 particulate respirator masks and hooded rain ponchos. Everyone should begin taking Potassium Iodide (KI) or Potassium Iodate (KIO3) tablets for thyroid protection against cancer causing radioactive iodine, a major product of nuclear weapons explosions. If no tablets are available, you can topically (on the skin) apply an iodine solution, such as a tincture of iodine or Betadine, for a similar protective effect. (WARNING: Iodine solutions are NEVER to be ingested or swallowed.) Absorption through the skin is not as reliable a dosing method as using the tablets, but tests show that it will still be very effective for most. Do not use if allergic to iodine. If at all possible, inquire of your doctor NOW if there is any reason why anybody in your household should not use KI or KIO3 tablets, or iodine solutions on their skin, in a future nuclear emergency, just to be sure.For adults, paint 8 ml of a 2 percent tincture of Iodine on the abdomen or forearm each day, ideally at least 2 hours prior to possible exposure.
  10. For children 3 to 18, but under 150 pounds, only half that amount painted on daily, or 4 ml. For children under 3 but older than a month, half again, or 2 ml.
  11. For newborns to 1 month old, half it again, or just 1 ml. (One measuring teaspoon is about 5 ml, if you don’t have a medicine dropper graduated in ml.) If your iodine is stronger than 2%, reduce the dosage accordingly.
  12. When you know that the time to take protective action is approaching, turn off all the utilities into the house, check that everything is sealed up and locked down, and head for the shelter. You should also have near your shelter fire extinguishers and additional tools, building supplies, sheet plastic, staple guns, etc. for sealing any holes from damage. Your basement should already be very well sealed against fallout drifting inside. Now, you’ll need to seal around the last door you use to enter with duct tape all around the edges, especially if it’s a direct to the outside door.
  13. Do not use the telephone unless absolutely necessary. Staying on the phone will congest phone lines making it impossible for others in your area to make or receive calls.

Read the rest of her very thorough article on the topic HERE.

Get Started Today

It may feel very overwhelming, the thought that the world as we know it could end in 7 days.  We all hope this “grid jihad” business is nothing more than a scare tactic, a way to prey upon our fears.  But what if it isn’t? How would you feel, having been warned, if you did nothing to prepare for it and it happened?

You can start right now – this very minute – all you have to do is grab a pad of paper and a pen.

  1. Begin by personalizing the suggestions above to fit your family’s needs and make a list of your requirements.
  2. Next, do a quick inventory – as I mentioned above, you may be surprised to see that you already have quite a few of the supplies that are recommended.
  3. Make a shopping list and acquire the rest of the items you need.  If you can’t afford everything right now, prioritize the most important things first.
  4. Organize your supplies so that they are easily accessible when you need them. It’s hard to find seldom-used items in the dark.

You can go far more in-depth on the topic with a good book. I strongly recommend Tess Pennington’s comprehensive guide, The Prepper’s Blueprint. It will be the best $24 you ever spent on your family’s survival.

If the lights go out next week due to a terrorist action, will you be prepared?

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How to Survive a Stock Market Crash

Has anyone noticed how the stock market has repeatedly plummeted over the past six months? And how nearly everyone is soothed when industry specialists scramble to prop up our failing economy? And it’s not only happening in America – the Chinese market is halfway down that slippery slope as well. The last time the system showed this much volatility, the crash of 2008 occurred.

I’m no financial expert, but there seems to be a collection of very, very bad signs. When markets slowly freefall and no one in the media is talking about it, that means it’s time to sit up, pay attention, and be prepared to take immediate actions.

It’s time to pay attention because this could go one of two ways.

This could just be a tremor before the Big One hits. The economic gurus at the Fed could find another way to kick the can a little bit further down the road, giving you more time to get your personal financial situaion under control.  Obviously, things just aren’t right, and you can consider this a warning bell.

Or.

This could be “it”. If there are no creative, fake-money-from-thin-air remedies left, the market will continue to fall when it opens on Monday. If the market is still dropping, it’s game on.

Take these immediate steps if the market continues to fall.

I hate predictions.

I really cringe when people try to make economic predictions or pinpoint specific dates for impending financial disaster. So please realize I’m not making a prediction when I say this.

Watch the market on Monday. Carefully. Like it’s your job.

If it continues to fall, we could be in big trouble.

If on Monday, the market is still plummeting, it’s time to take action immediately. None of these steps will have long-term consequences if things level out, but they could make your life a whole lot easier if things get worse. Here’s what you need to do immediately in the event of a stock market crash.

  • Take your money out of the bank ASAP.  If you still keep your money in the bank, go there and remove as much as you can while leaving in enough to pay your bills. Although it wasn’t a market collapse in Greece recently, the banks did close and limit ATM withdrawals.  People went for quite some time without being able to access their money, but were able to have a sense of normalcy by transferring money online to pay bills or using their debit cards to make purchases.  Get your cash out. You don’t want to be at the mercy of the banks.
  • Stock up on supplies.  Make sure you are prepped. If you’re behind on your preparedness efforts and need to do this quickly, you can order buckets of emergency food just to have some on hand. (Learn how to build an emergency food supply using freeze dried food HERE) Hit the grocery store or wholesale club and stock up there, too, on  your way home.
  • Load up on fuel.  Fill up your gas tank and fill your extra cans also. Quite often, fuel prices skyrocket in the wake of a market crash.
  • Be prepared for the potential of civil unrest. If the banks put a limit on withdrawals (or close like they did in Greece) you can look for some panic to occur. If the stores dramatically increase prices or close..more panic. Be armed and be prepared to stay safely at home. (Although this article was written during the Ferguson race riots, civil unrest follows a similar pattern regardless of the cause.)
  • Be prepared for the possibility of being unable to pay your bills. If things really go downhill, the middle class and those who are the working poor will be the most strongly affected, as they have been in Greece during that country’s ongoing financial crisis.  This article talks about surviving if you are unable to pay all of your bills.

After the crash, focus on information

Hopefully there’s no need to empty out your bank accounts, stock up on last minute supplies, or lock-and-load for home protection. However, if this is a crisis situation, an actual 1929/2008-style stock market crash, you need to take your preps to the next level.

Information is the key. It’s imperative that you learn everything you can so that you know what you need to add to your preps. Do these two things if it looks like the situation is more than a blip:

#1.  Bookmark these preparedness websites. (Free)

The internet is a wonderful place, and best of all, this knowledge can be found for FREE! The more you know about crisis situations, the more ready you will be to face them. Some sites are friendlier to beginners than others, so if you stumble upon a forum where people seem less than enthusiastic about helping people who are just starting out, don’t let it get you down. Move on and find a site that makes you feel comfortable. Following are some of my favorites, and the link will take you to a good starting point on these sites. In no particular order:

Following are some of my favorites, and the link will take you to a good starting point on these sites. (Actually, it’s wise to begin increasing your knowledge even if we get a reprieve.) In no particular order:

#2.  Build your library. (Small expense)

This is where some money could come into play. Most of the time, people in the preparedness world like to have hard copies of important information. This way, if the power goes out and you can’t access the internet or recharge your Kindle, you still have access to vital advice.

Some of these books are for just such an event, while others are guides to building your self-reliance skills.  Commit to picking up a good book each pay period until you have a library to reference during any type of scenario.

Be sure to check out used bookstores, libraries, and garage sales, too. Look for books that teach self-reliant skills like sewing, gardening, animal husbandry, carpentry, repair manuals, scratch cooking, and plant identification. You can often pick these up for pennies, and older books don’t rely on expensive new technology or tools for doing these tasks.

Collapse is inevitable

Hopefully this is a brief crash and the market recovers. That gives us more time to prepare, and nearly everyone could deal with a little more time.

However, it’s imperative that you be watchful. This might be the triggering event for our next Great Depression. Be prepared to take action.

This may just be a warning bell, but we all know that it’s only a matter of time until we’re all out of warnings.

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The Big Blackout: Why I’m Going Low-Tech to Prep for an EMP

This might be stating the obvious, but in the event of an EMP, things will not be the same, no matter how great your generator is.

Aaron Dykes of Truthstream Media wrote an excellent article about the extreme likelihood of a catastrophic event that could take out our power grid:

Billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer is warning investors – and more broadly, lawmakers and leaders – about the potential destructive power of an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, which could be triggered by solar events or artificially, via blasts in the atmosphere.

According to Singer, research shows that no other incident, including a nuclear bomb, has the potential for such wide-scale devastation, coupled with the relative likelihood of occurring. While a nuke would primarily impact on the location of a such (such a city), an EMP could occur globally or across large-scale regions, wreaking havoc on the entire electric grid and devices…

…Government agencies, such as NASA and Homeland Security, have taken some preliminary steps towards preparing for an EMP attack – regardless of the potential for natural of man made causes – but the public at large remains cripplingly unaware of the dangers present to modern life, and its reliance on all things electronic, digital and, thus, transient. (Check out the rest of this MUST-READ article HERE)

We’ve all read many articles about the likelihood of grid failure. We’ve been warned again and again that it isn’t a matter of if, but when, it happens.

Because of this, a lot of people are preparing for a very different future.  Folks are getting ready for the Big Blackout.  The thing is, I am not sure everyone is thinking this through.  Many people are spending buckets of money on preparations to try to keep their lives as similar as possible to how they are today. They’re investing in diesel generators and Faraday cages to protect their electronics. They are buying propane-fueled appliances.  They’re stashing away fuel to run these gadgets.

Generators are not a practical investment for EMP preparation.

The problem with that method of preparation is, the fuel-generated lifestyle will only last for as long as you have…well…fuel.

Very few of us have enough storage space or the proper facilities to store 5 years’ worth of fuel.  If the power grid goes down in a catastrophic way, it’s going to take at least 5 years to get things up and running again, and that’s assuming things ever get up and running again in the way they are now.

That means that people are spending thousands of dollars investing in items that will only sustain their lifestyles for a brief period of time.  Generators are not a long term solution unless you have renewable power. (More on that later). While a generator would be a blessing in a short-term emergency (think a week-long power outage due to a storm), for a permanent way of life they are completely impractical.

Furthermore, in the event of an EMP strike, if your generator is not protected, it may not work no matter how much fuel you have stored.

Maybe the fact that I’m not rolling in money is the reason I feel this way. Maybe people with lots of money to spare have ideas about how to keep their generators running forever. But for my personal situation, this is a preparation strategy that is completely impractical.

A low-tech lifestyle is the best way to prep for grid-down survival.

If money is an object in your preparedness endeavors, (and let’s face it, money is an object for most of us these days), then focus your dollars on preps that are sustainable without electrical power.  Instead of trying to live the exact same life you are living right now, only fueled by an individual generator, look for low-tech solutions instead.  This reminds me of people who stop eating gluten but still want to eat exactly like they have been eating their entire lives, only now with expensive gluten-free baked goods that cost 4 times the price of their wheat-filled counterparts.  When things change dramatically, accept the change and adapt to it, instead of trying to maintain the illusion that everything is the same.

Whether you can get power from an outlet in the wall or not, the necessities of day-to-day life will remain the same:

  • Water
  • Shelter and Warmth
  • Food
  • Sanitation and Hygiene
  • Light

The ultimate preparedness goal should be to provide those necessities without any help from the power grid, generators, or fossil fuel.

When my youngest daughter and I lived in the North Woods of Canada, we lost power frequently throughout the year. Lots of folks in the area had generators that they would fire up when the power went out, and that was a viable solution, since gas stations were available and fuel was pretty much unlimited as long as you could afford to go get it.  We were on a tight budget, however, and we adapted our situation to live without power during those outages.  After the first couple of outages, we had worked out most of the bugs and we even began to look forward to our time without power – it was like a little vacation from the regular workday.  As plugged in as our society is, power is not actually a necessity – it’s a luxury, and we can live without it as long as we are adaptable, creative, willing, and prepared.

Let’s look at some specific examples of low-tech ways to take care of our necessities.  These ideas are just food for thought, based on my own preparedness plan – they may not be the solutions that will work best for you, but the goal here is to brainstorm your own situation and figure out how to live your life low-tech if the need occurs.

Off-grid Water

If you haven’t located water sources near your home,  it’s time to break out the topographical maps of your area and find them!  A low-tech water plan might include some or all of the following:

  • A manual pump for your well
  • Buckets and wheelbarrows for hauling water from a nearby source
  • Rain barrels for water harvesting
  • A gravity-fed water filtration system
  • A water dispenser for convenient access to filtered water (Be sure to get one with the bottle on top so that it can be operated without electricity, and not one that uses an electric pump to pull the water up from the bottom)
  • Storage units for water such as cisterns or tanks
  • Portable water filter bottles for safe water when you are away from home

Off-grid Shelter and Warmth

Homes these days aren’t built to function without a connection to the power grid.  If you aren’t fortunate enough to live in an older home that was designed for off-grid living, look at some ways to take your home back a century or so. A secondary heating system is vital in most climates.

  • An antique oil heater can use lots of different oils and requires little effort for installation (THIS SITE is loaded with information about Perfection oil heaters)
  • Have a woodstove installed
  • Clean your chimney and get your fireplace working
  • Set up an outdoor fireplace with large rocks to bring inside for radiant heat (this won’t get you super warm but it’s better than nothing)
  • Have a good supply of blankets, warm clothes, and cold-rated sleeping bags
  • Learn techniques to stay warm with less heat

Off-grid Food

Not only do you need access to food, but you also need a way to cook it and a way to keep your refrigerated and frozen items from spoiling.

Off-grid Sanitation and Hygiene

How will you keep clean and deal with human waste in the event of a long-term emergency?

Off-grid Lighting

The world is a scary place when it’s dark, and most of us have forgotten how dark TRUE dark really is, due to light pollution and the proximity of neighbors. Here are some lighting solutions for an off grid world:

  • Solar garden lights – store them outside to be charged during the day and bring them in and put them in vases where they’re needed at night
  • Oil lamps – you can recycle used cooking oil or use rendered fat to power these – they give a brighter light and can be used for reading and close-work (Learn more HERE)
  • Candles – stock them and learn to make them
  • Solar powered flashlights

Renewable power is practical power.

One exception to my no-generators rule is renewable power. If you can afford a solar set up for your home, then very little would change about your day-to-day life, aside from you being one of the few people with power.  You don’t have to go totally solar to have power for a few important items.  Assuming you have electronics in working order, they can be powered with solar, wind, or water.

Most of us can’t afford an entire set up but these are some options to consider:

  • Build a DIY portable solar recharging station – learn how to make it HERE
  • Solar-powered systems for specific items – learn more HERE
  • Use wind power – learn more HERE
  • Use water power – learn more HERE

What will you do when the electrical power goes out?

Do you have plans in place for a long-term (or permanent) power outage?  Are you planning to use generators and maintain your current lifestyle, or are you planning to go low-tech? Share your opinions and some of your cost-effective ideas in the comments!

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