Can You Start a Fire in Survival Mode?

mountain-man-205306_640One of the basics in survival is starting a fire. Most people have this image in their head that if they ever find themselves lost in the woods or stranded for whatever reason, the first thing they are going to do is start a fire. A fire will make everything better. Well, it probably will, but how do you plan on starting that fire? Have you ever practiced starting a fire in the wild without a stack of newspaper, lighter fluid or even a lighter? If you haven’t, you have some work to do.

A fire is one of the very basic tools of survival. It should be something you learn in the very beginning and practice often. Starting a fire is not as easy as you would think. If you remember that Tom Hanks movie, “Castaway,” you remember the sheer torture the man went through to get a fire and then the extreme joy he felt when he finally got a spark. You don’t want to rub your hands raw to the point they are bleeding. You are smart enough to prepare for anything and therefore, you are going to store several different fire starting methods so you don’t ever have to make a hand drill. While the hand drill, sometimes called a bow drill, will get a fire going, it is an absolutely brutal way to go about it. It is absolutely taxing and frustrating and you are more likely to give up before you ever see the tiniest little spark.

Prepare yourself to survive by carrying various fire starting tools with you in your car, in your locker, in your bug out bag and in your pocket if you are heading out for a walk into the woods. The following items are extremely handy for getting the first leg of the fire starting triangle—ignition. match-268526_640

Lighter
Matches—waterproof or matches in waterproof container are best
Ferro rod/Firesteel
Magnesium stick

Those are four things that are extremely inexpensive and lightweight. Buy a lot so you are never without! Before you go traipsing off into the forest, spend some time learning how to make the ferro rods or magnesium stick work. While the method is fairly basic, it does take some practice. The firesteel will come with a handy rod to slide down the steel to create a spark. However, you have to know how much pressure to apply, how fast to slide the rod and how close you need to hold it to your tinder bundle to catch the spark. The same applies to the magnesium stick.

Never assume you can start a fire in the wild unless you have practiced it. Practice gathering tinder bundle material in wet and dry conditions and then practice lighting the fire. This is a skill that is too valuable not to practice. Don’t forget to teach the rest of the family as well.

Home Food Preservation in Winter for Emergency Food Storage

dried_fruits (2)Food is expensive and it doesn’t appear to be getting any cheaper. You still need to do what you can to buy extra food to put in your emergency food storage, but how can you possibly manage when you are barely getting by? The key is to make use of every bit you have. Home preservation is one way you can store food without spending a lot of money.

There is some equipment you will need to buy up front, but once you make the initial investment, the rest of the equipment you need is very minor. The following is a list of things you will want to keep your eye out for. When you see the items go on sale, snatch them up. Don’t be afraid to buy used. You can get some pretty good deals in the off season. Typically winter and early spring are when canning and home preservation are in a bit of a lull. This is when you can look for the items at thrift stores and on clearance in big box stores.

What You Need

Dehydrator
Pressure canner
Smoker
Jars, bands, lids
Jar tongs
Funnels
Strainers
Sharp knives
Pectin (optional) check expiration dates
Pickling spices
Jerky spices
Wood chips for smoker

With the items listed above, you can make anything and everything you need to stock up your food storage. Your garden is probably not producing in the middle of winter, but there are still plenty of things you can preserve.

If you are a hunter, maybe you have taken a deer or other animal. Make jerky out of the meat in your smoker or dehydrator. You can also can some of the meat to make stews.
Did you make a big turkey for Thanksgiving? Don’t throw out the bones without making a delicious, flavorful stock. The stock can be canned and will make an excellent additive to stews and soups in a survival situation.

canning
Are your root crops from fall looking a little old and beginning to soften up. Act quickly and preserve the food before it rots. Dehydrate or can carrots and beets. Potatoes are very difficult and extremely risk to can, so your best bet is to either freeze them or dehydrate them. There are plenty of potato dishes you can make and pop in the freezer for a quick dinner option in the future.

Keep the idea of saving every bit top of mind and the next time you are looking at tossing extra food out, you will think twice. Get creative and you can surely come up with a way to combine a few leftovers to create a stew that can be canned. If canning isn’t an option, toss the leftovers in the freezer for a quick meal. Every penny you save by preserving leftovers can be put towards your emergency food storage goal.

What Food Should You be Stockpiling in Case of Emergency

food pantry-1If you have wandered into the grocery store and stood in the canned food aisle staring at all the different foods and contemplated what to put in your cart—you are doing it wrong. Stockpiling food is a must. Stockpiling food you don’t like, have never tried or have never heard of is a huge mistake. Preppers need to follow one rule of thumb;

Only store what you eat today!

Every prepper pantry is going to look a little different or at least it should. Mine won’t look like yours because we live in a house full of picky eaters. If you are a “go with the flow” kind of person, you can pretty much stock whatever you find on sale. You may love spinach and buy it buy the caseloads. That is great, but if you loathe spinach, don’t waste your money on it regardless of how cheap it is.

The key is to buy foods that are going to give you that homey feeling that will be taken away from you in a post-apocalyptic world. You want your comfort foods and the foods you are familiar with. How scary is it to open a can of split pea soup when you have never tried it before? That stuff does not look appealing. While many people love it, you may not be one of them and the looks alone may have you tossing it out before you even give it a try. You will have wasted precious storage space and money storing food you can’t bring yourself to eat. Sure, you may be able to gag it down if there was nothing else available, but that sure isn’t going to help you feel any better. Survival is as much mental as it is physical. Gagging down cold split pea soup could be pretty tough and will leave you in a foul mood with thoughts of giving up.

Here is a fairly generic list of items you should be storing. Pick and choose the things you and your family like. Don’t waste your money on wheat flour if your family has an allergy to wheat or you really don’t like it. Stock up on white flour instead. Don’t buy things simply because you read some prepper list that said this is what you should have.cans

• Canned fruit
• Canned vegetables
• Freeze-dried meals that actually like
• Baking ingredients, flour, baking soda, baking powder, cooking oil, shortening
• Rice
• Oats
• Cereals
• Crackers and various snacks
• Jerky
• Canned meat—only what you eat; if you hate sardines skip them
• Protein bars
• Peanut butter
• Soups
• Chili, ravioli, canned spaghetti and so on
• Mac and cheese
• Dehydrated fruits and veggies
• Dehydrated or freeze-dried dairy products i.e. milk, butter, cheese
• Spices, salt and pepper

This is a fairly basic, generic list. Take a look at your pantry right now. What do you see? Those are the things you eat every day. Those items are what you want to start stockpiling.

Preparing for a Severe Winter Storm

Winter has come roaring in and it is proving to be fierce and we have only just begun. Storms that have ravaged the east coast have proven why it is absolutely crucial people prepare for severe storms that will leave them trapped inside their home for days at a time. If you have ever lived through a severe storm like the one plaguing the eastern seaboard, you know power outages are inevitable. Without power and the ability to heat your home, your life is at risk.

snow WVDo yourself a favor and prepare for the next storm by getting these items in your home today. The time to prepare is now. Waiting until the snow starts to fall will be too late. There will be a rush on these items and you will be left without.

• Bottled water—enough for at least 3 days, just in case pipes freeze
• Canned food
• Freeze-dried food—store extra water for preparing the meals
• Flashlight and extra batteries
• Emergency candles and matches
• Extra personal hygiene items i.e. soap, feminine hygiene, toilet paper
• Solar charger for the cell phone in case power goes out
• Extra diapers, formula and baby wipes if there is a baby in the house
• Prescription meds should be filled with at least a week’s supply on hand at all times
• Winter gear i.e. coats, hats, gloves, scarves
• Alternative heat source—fireplace, woodstove and fuel to burn
• Space heaters in case furnace breaks
• Crank radio to hear current weather conditions
• Books, magazines and board games to keep you entertained
• Extra pet fooddog food

You can also help your home stay warm by winterizing it. Put on storm windows or put plastic over the windows to block the cold air from coming in. Hang heavy blankets or invest in heavy curtains to help block the cold drafts. Roll up towels and place under the doors to block the drafts that come in from underneath. Keep doors closed to rooms you don’t use to keep the heat in one area. If your heater has failed, gather the family in a single room, the smaller the better and huddle together to maximize body heat.

Do what you can to be prepared for the next winter storm. It is far too dangerous to try and leave your house just to get some toilet paper. Stay home and stay safe!

Top 5 Mistakes Preppers Make

food pantry-1With the prepping movement spreading across the country and the world, there are plenty of people getting into the world of preparing to survive anything. There is a lot of information out there and people are voraciously soaking it all up and putting it to work in their own prepping. But what if all of that information is leading you astray? Maybe you are not reading the fine print and you are making a huge mistake that could end up making all of your prepping for naught. Check out these top five mistakes and do what you can to avoid them.

1-Putting all of your eggs into one basket or in this case, putting all of your preps in one area is a mistake. What happens when your basement with every bit of your food, water and other emergency supplies is inaccessible or destroyed? You should have at the minimum, two places with supplies, just in case one is compromised.

2-Focusing all your energy on bugging out and creating the perfect bug out bag is dangerous as well. You may have to hunker down in your home for a few days while you wait for the smoke to clear so you can bug out.

3-Preparing to survive all by yourself and not including your family in your prepping is very risky. You cannot do it alone. You need to get your family on board and if you can, a few trusted friends and neighbors. Pooling resources is one of the best ways to plan to survive long term after a disaster.community

4-Not trying out and practicing how to use the survival gear you are storing. All the gear in the world isn’t going to do you a bit of good if you don’t know how to use it. This applies to that freeze-dried food you are stockpiling as well. Experiment and practice with your gear so you are not struggling to learn something new in an extremely stressful, life-threatening situation.

5-Buying a 3-month supply of food and considering yourself officially ready is a common mistake. You are never done prepping. You should always be adding to your supplies and tweaking what you have to make it better. It isn’t something you do on a Saturday afternoon. It is something you do every Saturday afternoon for at least a couple of hours.

Avoiding these common mistakes is important. Don’t get caught up in all of the hype of prepping. Do what you can that is right for you and your family.

Why People Prep

With the prepping movement picking up speed every time there is a new disaster or illness like we saw with ebola, people are reminded why prepping is so important. We just never know when the next catastrophe will strike. It will likely come without warning and we don’t want to get caught unprepared. The following reasons are why people prep. Maybe you have a different reason altogether, but these are some of the most common and plausible scenarios.

Natural Disaster

hurricane-67581_640Earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes can be devastating. They strike with little warning in most cases. With winter upon us, severe winter storms are a real possibility. We are already getting a little taste of what winter has in store for us and if we are not ready to ride out heavy storms, our families will suffer.

Financial Collapse

The entire world is standing on shaky legs as far as the economy goes. We are a breath away from sinking into financial ruin. Citizens are aware of the tenuous situation and are doing what is necessary to stock up on essentials that will help them ride out a global financial collapse of the economy.

Terrorist Attack-Foreign or Domestic

History tells us we are vulnerable for an attack whether it comes from outside or inside. These attacks may not strike near you, but they do cripple the nation as people come to terms with their fear of another attack happening. An attack may leave an area in dire straits until aid can come in. During that time, people will be forced to live on what they have stored in their homes.

Power Grid Failure

Our power grid is vulnerable. A natural disaster, act of war be it a bomb or physical attack on our transformers or a computer virus could thrust the country into the dark. Without power, there would be major upheaval in our world. We would struggle to function and commerce would grind to a halt.

Civil Unrestpolice-275875_640

People are getting antsy about the economy and other acts by law enforcement and the government. We have seen rioting pop up for various reasons. In most cases, the rioting is contained to a small area. What if people across the country decided to voice their irritation with the government by staging massive riots across the country? The country would be paralyzed while the law attempted to set things right.

These are just some scenarios that we have already seen at some point. Being prepared to live through them again just makes sense. We never know what may happen tomorrow, but we can do something to prepare for it today.

Is Bugging Out Best?

In the prepping world, you hear a lot about bugging out or getting out of dodge. Bug out bags are a very popular topic and preppers are constantly working to create the best bag possible. There is a bit of a misconception about prepping or survival training. It isn’t always about bugging out. In fact, your best option, if it is an option, is to stay put. Why would you want to leave the comfort of your home and head out into the open wilderness?tent and bike

Before you automatically assume you have to bug out and live off the land somewhere in a grass hut in the trees somewhere, consider your options carefully. When you choose to abandon your home, you are giving up all of those supplies you have hopefully been building up. You are going to be forced to survive on your wits and with whatever gear is in your bag. Technically, a bug out bag is only meant to sustain you for a few days while you walk or travel to your next rally point, which may be a bunker or some secret hideout.

Some preppers make the mistake of packing as much gear as they can into their bug out bag with the idea of living off the land for weeks or months with whatever they can carry on their back. This would only be necessary in extreme cases.

a stocked pantry is disaster insuranceInstead of assuming you have to bug out, consider this; can you make your home a fortress that will sustain you and your family? Putting up fencing, storing sheets of plywood to place over the windows and investing in a solar power system that can operate a security camera could make your home fairly safe for you to hunker down in. Bugging in is always a better option. Of course, this will depend a great deal on the disaster or event you are dealing with.

If you are convinced your home will be uninhabitable, do your best to scout out a second location that will sustain your family before a disaster situation happens. You don’t want to have to wonder around the forest, desert or prairie looking for a good place to set up camp. Decide early on and consider burying a few supplies for you to use. This will help lighten your load a bit while ensuring you have what you need to survive the great outdoors.

No matter if your plan A is to bug in, you should always have a bug out bag, just in case. Part of prepping is always having a contingency. If you have to leave your home and bug out, you want to be ready.

Top Bartering Items You Need to Store Today for Tomorrow

If there were to ever be a catastrophic event that turned our entire world upside down, things would be way different. Our way of life would be completely shaken up. Store shelves would sit empty. Those who do have a plethora of goods that they are willing to part with are not going to need cash. Cash will be meaningless in a society where there are no banks, no lines of credit or even a way to resupply the shelves. It will be all about bartering. You will use what you have on hand to trade with somebody else for something you need.

When you are prepping for survival, you need to store some things with the intent of using them for bartering. The following list includes some of the goods you will want to store in order to get the food, water or other supplies your family runs short on. You can also use your bartering items to pay for services like medical attention or help splitting wood.

chocolate1-Chocolate/candy-Chocolate can make the world a better place and when things go sideways, a little chocolate will help soothe the soul.

2-Alcohol-Stock up on the cheap stuff, when it is all that is left, people will be desperate to get their hands on it. It can also be used medicinally.

3-Tobacco-Yes, people should quit, but the cravings are strong enough people will be willing to part with their food to get a pack.

4-Sugar-Lots of people focus on freeze-dried foods and basics and forget all about the sugar. Borrowing a cup of sugar is going to take on a whole new meaning in a post-catastrophe world.

5-Heirloom seeds-Growing food is going to be the only way to replenish one’s food supply. For those who didn’t plan ahead, they are going to need seeds to get started.

6-Personal hygiene items-Toilet paper, toothpaste and spare toothbrushes are going to be in high demand. People who didn’t prepare are going to be willing to part with things in order to get what they need for personal hygiene. toilet-roll-220415_640

7-Spices, salt and pepper-These items are so incredibly inexpensive, it just makes sense to stockpile them to use for bartering. A lot of people, who stock up on food, forget about the little things like seasonings to make the food taste better.

Stocking up on these goods today, is better than hiding money under your mattress. Money won’t mean much in a world that has completely fallen apart. The wealthy will be those who have what it takes to survive and thrive. It doesn’t matter how much money a person has if there is nothing to spend it on!

Preparing for Power Outages

snowWith winter just around the corner, it is time to get ready to deal with the severe storms that are sure to plague us this year. There are plenty of dire predictions about the harshness of the coming winter. What it all boils down to is whether or not you are ready for it. You never know what Mother Nature has in store, but you can prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Power outages are pretty common when there is heavy snow or an ice storm. You also have to consider the possibility of an auto accident taking out a power pole.

What do you need to keep in your home to be ready for a power outage?

The standard 72-hour kit that the government recommends you have is great, but there are a few other things you will want to consider. You won’t have power, which means you won’t have a way to cook or even heat your food. Canned food is going to be your best friend. If you have a way to heat water via a woodstove or a campstove, freeze-dried meals are much more satisfying. You will need a gallon of water per day for each member of your family. A power outage will likely be rather short, so a few cases of bottled water will suffice. However, it doesn’t hurt to keep a little extra on hand. Those are items you can store in your pantry or basement.flashlight

You should also have a kit prepared to pull out when the power does go out. Don’t put your kit downstairs in the basement. You need it easily accessible so you are not stumbling around in the dark and risking a serious injury. A small rubber tote with a lid or a crate stored inside a hall closet is a good idea. Some things to put in your kit are as follows;

• LED flashlights with extra batteries
• Solar powered lantern
• Emergency candles and candleholders, matches or a lighter
• A solar charger for your cell phone
• A crank radio
• Handwarmer packs, hats and gloves to stay warm in the house

You can also save yourself a great deal of trouble by investing in a portable generator. This will keep your home supplied with some power to keep your refrigerator running. Don’t wait until the power goes out to go on the hunt for supplies. Do it today. It is almost a guarantee there will be nothing left in the hours after the power goes out. Don’t get caught with your shelves empty and not way to light up your home.

Preparing for a Quarantine—What to Buy Today

Are you prepared to live in your home without contact with the outside world for 21 days or more? If you or a member of your family is put under a mandatory quarantine, you will be asked to stay in your home without the luxury of running to the store to grab groceries, toilet paper or even the local drive thru to grab a burger. Many people are prepared to hole up in their home for three days, but that isn’t going to help when you have to live on the food stores you have for 21 days or more.teriyaki rice

Today is the time to buy the essentials you need to hunker down in your home until the threat of a pandemic passes. You need food, personal hygiene items and tools in case of a power outage. Although a pandemic wouldn’t cause a power outage, a storm or accident could take out a power pole and with limited linemen on hand to fix the problem, you could be sitting in the dark for days.

This is a list of things you will want to have on hand in case you need to stay at home for a few weeks.

• Food-Freeze dried and canned foods are best, just in case the power does go out. There are plenty of options in the freeze-dried food category that will keep your family well fed with a variety of tasty dishes. Don’t forget to stock up on some of your favorite snacks as well. If you have kids in the home, their typical daily snack will help keep them content.
• Personal hygiene-Toilet paper is a luxury you can never have too much of. Buy enough to keep your family happy for at least a couple of months. Other things you will need to make sure you have a supply of includes; toothpaste, feminine hygiene items, bath soap, laundry soap, dish soap and shampoo. If you have a baby in the house, make sure you have plenty of diapers and wipes on hand.

• Light-You will want to have flashlights and candles on hand in case there is a power outage. LED flashlights use less battery-power and will last longer. Make sure you have an extra set of batteries. Don’t forget matches and candleholders.

boardgames• Entertainment-Living in your home for 21 days will likely leave you climbing the walls. Keep some games, cards, puzzles and various crafts on hand to keep you and the family busy. If you have ever considered learning how to knit or paint, you have the perfect excuse for learning how to do so! Have you been dreaming about hours of scrapbooking? Wish granted!

• Communication-Keep your cell phone charged so you can communicate with friends and loved ones. You should also have a crank radio or battery-powered radio on hand just in case the power is out. You need to know when it is safe for you to go out as well as keep informed about what is happening in the world.

• Medicines-If you or somebody in your house takes prescription medicines, as your doctor to write a script for an extra month’s supply. This is nice to have around just in case anyways. As long as it is not a controlled substance, most doctors won’t have a problem writing out a larger prescription.

Take steps now to avoid the chaos that will ensue if a mandatory quarantine is issued for your family, neighborhood or city. You don’t want to be forced to rely on government services to provide you with what you need.