Is that Plant Safe to Eat? The Edibility Test

chickweedIf you ever find yourself stranded or out in the wilderness with no food to speak of, you need to know what you can eat that you find growing in the wild. There are hundreds and hundreds of plants that are edible. It is extremely difficult to try and remember what every one of those plants are. If you are traveling, you will notice that the terrains vary and so do the plants that naturally grow in the various environments. It would be tough to memorize every edible plant in every terrain. You need to know how to test a plant to determine if it is safe to eat.

These quick steps will help you determine what is edible and what should be avoided.

1-When you have identified a plant that looks like something you could eat, separate it into three main parts. Put the flowers, stem and leaves in separate piles. You could also set the roots aside.

2-Rub the portion of the plant you are planning on eating on the inside of your arm. Wait 15 to 30 minutes to see if there is a negative reaction. Itchiness, redness or burning would all be negative reactions. If no reaction, go to step 3.weeds

3-Rub a portion from the same pile on your lips. Wait another 15 minutes to see if there are any signs you are having a bad reaction. If no reaction, go on to step 4.

4-Put a portion from the same pile under your tongue. If you notice any burning, bitter taste or swelling, spit it out and avoid the plant. If no reaction, go on to step 5.

5-Eat a portion of the plant and nothing else. Do not eat anything for at least 8 hours. Wait to see if you have a bad reaction. Vomiting, diarrhea or cramps are all signs you don’t want to eat the plant.

If you do not have any negative reactions, you can eat the plant in moderation. Do not test more than one plant in a 24 hour period.

5 Plants You Want for Survival Medicine

lavenderAfter a disaster strikes, doctors and modern medicine are going to be scarce. Your tummy ache or that incessant headache are not going to be important enough for a doctor to see you if you can find one. Hospitals and medical workers are going to be overwhelmed treating those who have been seriously injured. It doesn’t mean you have to suffer, though. You can take care of some of your minor aches and pains by growing a few plants or knowing what they look like so you can harvest them and use them to treat yourself.

Here are 5 plants that will come in handy after your life has been turned upside down.

1-Peppermint leaves can be chewed on or put into a tea to help ease a headache. The tea tea will also soothe an upset stomach and is safe for young children to drink. The refreshing taste is also known to be a mood enhancer.

2-Aloe vera is a common house plant, but it is also an excellent healing agent. Apply the juice squeezed from the plant to wounds to aid in healing. Burns, including sunburns, can also be soothed with the liquid from an aloe vera plant.garlic

3-Garlic isn’t just for spaghetti. Eating garlic when you are battling an ear infection or other mild infection can help your body win the battle against the infection. Garlic is a natural antibiotic. Eat it or make it into a tea.

4-Lavender fields are pretty easy to spot. Lavender can be made into a tea to help calm your nerves. When you are dealing with chaos, you may feel anxious and even suffer from anxiety attacks. A little lavender will help calm you. Smelling the lavender is effective as well.

5-Sage is nature’s gauze. It is super soft and contains antibacterial qualities. Wrap a wound with sage leaves to promote healing while protecting the injury from getting more dirt inside it.

There are many uses for herbs and plants found growing in the wild. Spend some time getting familiar with medicinal plants so you are ready to treat your aches and pains when there are no doctors.

How Will You Communicate Post Disaster?

phone-210972_640If you are busy stocking up on food and finding creative ways to store water in case of an emergency, you are doing awesome. You are being proactive and doing what you can to ensure your family has what they need to survive after disaster strikes. Now that you have the food and water basics down, it is time to think about how you will communicate with the outside world or track down loved ones. You may not think of communication as a necessity, but you need to be able to stay informed about what is happening in the world around you. If you were separated from your family or are worried about how your best friend fared, you are going to struggle to keep your head in the game. You will be wracked with worry. Because cell phones and standard phone service will likely be down, you need to have backups.

Out-of-Area Contact

If you are dealing with a minor disaster, land lines may still be functioning. Have each of your family members memorize the number of a friend or distant family member that lives out of state. After disaster strikes, do what you can to call the designated person and check in. Relay messages about where your other family members can meet up with you and let them know you are okay. You could also plan to have a satellite phone on hand, but it is unrealistic for each of your family members to carry one of these expensive gadgets around.

2-Way Radioswalky-talky-544979_640

Invest in a set of good quality radios that can be used no matter if you are several miles apart. If you are across town at work and your child is at school closer to your home, you want to have a radio that allows you to communicate. There is a lot of information to research about these radios. A standard walkie talkie will not work unless you plan on being in close proximity to your family at all times. Do your research before making a purchase. You can expect to pay upwards of a couple hundred dollars or more.

CB or HAM Radios

This is an excellent setup to have in your home or your retreat. A HAM radio setup will allow you to communicate with people all over the country. You will be able to learn what is going on and whether or not there is aid coming your way or a place to go when your supplies run low. Many people assume their survival situation will be temporary and everything will come back online within a few weeks or months. That may not be the case and you wouldn’t know if you had no means of communication.

After disaster strikes, you are going to have a lot of questions. Typically, we get our information from television, the radio and the internet. When all of those things are taken offline, the sheer lack of information can make you very nervous. Fear of the unknown can make your life very difficult and far more stressful than it needs to be. Start thinking about your communication methods today so you are ready for anything that comes your way.

Seek Out Survival Training

firefightersPreppers go to great lengths to stock up on supplies they will need to survive a disaster. A year’s worth of food, a couple months worth of water and some basic necessities are all going to help give a person a major advantage. However, it isn’t only about what you have that matters. It is learning and practicing some skills that will be helpful after disaster strikes. Reading about what to do when someone has suffered a deep cut and actually taking care of the wound are two entirely different things. Reading about personal safety, performing CPR and going on search and rescue missions all require training by skilled professionals.

Part of your prepping should include some courses that will teach you these skills. You will also want to actively practice your skills by volunteering or taking refresher courses on a regular basis.

Become a volunteer firefighter. You will be given access to some free training and will be able to gain a lot of hands on experience watching and learning from certified EMTs and firefighters.

Get involved in scout-type organizations. Adult volunteers are always welcomed and you will be given the chance to participate in some free training courses that will teach basic survival skills. Regular camp outs and expeditions will give you the chance to put your skills to the test.scouts

Volunteer to help out the Red Cross. This is a little trickier to be a part of and there is an application process, but if you can land a spot with your local chapter, you will be able to learn while helping others. You can also take classes through the Red Cross.

Talk with neighbors and see if there is enough interest to start a C.E.R.T chapter in your area. Community Emergency Response Teams are encouraged. These are groups of people in your neighborhood who are given basic first aid training as well as trained in search and rescue. When first responders cannot get to an area, it the CERT team who will take immediate action.

Check in with the YMCA or community center and sign up for self-defense classes. You may need to defend yourself against those who want what you have and will be willing to hurt you to get it.

Learning survival skills and emergency medicine can go a long way to aiding in your survival as well as your family’s survival. Your skills will be of value in the aftermath of a disaster and people will be willing to barter with you in exchange for you offering first aid or teaching them some of the skills you know.

Knowledge is power! Do what you can to learn and practice these valuable skills today. Get involved and search out learning opportunities.

Planning Your Prepper Garden

starting seedsWhile spring is still a couple of months away for most people, it is the time of year you need to start planning your prepper garden. Growing your own food is an essential part of the food pantry process. You will not only save money by growing your own food and preserving it, but you will also have an established food supply source if and when things do get crazy.

It is important you spend some time planning your garden so you can take advantage of every inch of space. This is especially important if you have limited space. Many gardeners make the mistake of picking up a bunch of seeds and planting them simply because it seems like the thing to do. Those gardeners usually end up with a bunch of food they won’t eat and either give it away or let it go to waste. You can’t afford to do that when your garden is what feeds your family.

You need to learn about companion planning. One common method that has been around for centuries is planting corn with pea plants in between stalks. The corn shades the peas (which like cooler temps) and provides the pea vines with a trellis. This is an excellent way to maximize your space. Another option is to plant a root crop with a shallow-rooted crop on top. Herbs are excellent for planting over a root crop. Both plants will get the sun they need and will not fight for nutrients. Read up on this because some herbs should not be planted near certain plants. Garlic for one is not a plant you want next to your peas.seeds

Another trick you will want to learn is succession planning. Depending on where you live and your growing season, you may be able to get several crops of potatoes, corn and other veggies. If you start early enough, you can typically get at least 2 crops of vegetables with short growing cycles.

Lastly, invest in heirloom seeds. These seeds produce fruit and vegetables with seeds that can be saved and used for the next season. This is absolutely essential to your prepper garden. You want to be self-sustainable. In a SHTF scenario, you won’t be able to run to the store and buy new seeds every year. You have to produce your own. In many areas, you will need to order your heirloom seeds. They are not usually readily available in most stores. Order now so they are in your hands when it is time to start your plants indoors in preparation for the spring.

10 Crucial First Steps to Prepping

healthy freeze dried foodIf you have just learned about the prepping movement and decided it is something you want to be a part of, there are some things you need to do first. Prepping in general is a big job. It isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes a lot of time, patience, dedication and investment. You don’t want to just jump in with both feet and randomly put things on your shelves. This is a job that takes careful planning.

The following are the first things you need to do to get your food storage off on the right foot.

1-Start saving your empty 2-liter pop bottles, water bottles and juice bottles to store water in. Water is a priority. You can also buy water containers, but you need to start somewhere and recycling used plastic containers is perfect. Don’t use old milk jugs. They are not durable enough.

2-Determine how much food you need for 30 days. Make an effort to get 30 days of food on hand and then build up from there.

3-Decide how much money you can put aside each month to building up your food supply. Cutting out a night of dining out, skipping a fancy coffee one day a week and other little things will help you find money in your budget to put towards your food storage.

4-Do some research and learn more about prepping and what things you should be stocking up on. There are plenty of eBooks, blogs and websites that have a ton of information for you to browse through.

5-Identify an area in your home where you will store the bulk of your supplies. Do what you need to make it an ideal food storage space, i.e. covering windows, adding shelves, clearing out clutter and so on.food pantry-1

6-Talk about what you are doing with your family. You need everybody on board. This is a job that is too big for you to take on alone. Get your family involved with storing water and putting food on the shelves.

7-Create a plan of action for when things do get crazy. You don’t want the family diving into your food storage and having a feast. Talk about what you will do when it is time to rely on your emergency food supply. Rationing will be necessary.

8-Add a few things from the attic, your garage or your storage to your emergency storage. You probably have extra blankets, winter gear and tarps lying around. Put those things into your emergency storage and you will already be on your way. It is a good way to see just what you have by keeping it in one place.

9-Plan a weekend or a day to head out into nature with some of the survival gear you have been picking up. Practice using your gear. This is absolutely crucial. You must know how to use the various tools that are going to save your life.

10-Come up with a backup plan or a bug out plan. If your home is compromised, you will need to leave it and retreat to a secondary location. If you have a secure secondary location, you will want to divide your preps. The old saying, “don’t put all your eggs into one basket” applies here. Don’t put all your preps into one spot—just in case you have to bug out!

Prepping Isn’t Just for Doomsdayers

Prepping has gotten a bit of a bad reputation. When certain people hear the term, they automatically think of country folk wearing tinfoil hats and running around hiding in underground bunkers waiting for the sky to fall. It is a stigma that true preppers have been stuck with for decades. Most don’t care, but it is only right that anybody who believes that silly story knows the truth. Prepping isn’t about preparing for outrageous events that can never happen. Prepping isn’t about dressing up in camo and hiding in the trees. It is about preparing to keep your family alive through any scenario—including every day life. Outrageous events happen all the time!thunderstorm-567678_640

For those who are convinced nothing bad ever happens, including war, natural disasters or just bad luck in general, it is them who should take a look in the mirror and adjust their tin foil hats. Bad stuff happens. It is a fact of life. It doesn’t matter if you are in the midwest, the northeast or the northwest. Things happen in life.

The following are some of the reasons people prep. You will notice foil hats have nothing to do with these scenarios.

*Natural disasters—it doesn’t matter where you live, Mother Nature is there and sometimes she gets a little testy and throws a heck of a storm just for fun. It could be torrential rains that cause flooding and leave people stuck in their homes for a day or two or it could be violent snowstorms, major tornadoes and hurricanes or even a wild thunderstorm. It doesn’t matter where you live. A storm can leave you cooped up in your house for days.

*Civil unrest or rioting. Yes, we have seen this happening more and more. Sure, you can take your chances and head on down to the 7-11 to buy that loaf of bread where angry folks are rioting or you can stay home and watch it all on the news while you enjoy your canned food and other munchies from your emergency supply.

*Act of war or terrorism—you never know. While this one is thankfully rare in places like the UK and the US, you never know. That is why people prep because it has happened and it is unpredictable.

emergency*Medical emergency leaves you unable to work. What if you or your spouse or your child gets extremely sick and you cannot work. Sure, you may be able to scrape by and pay the mortgage and utilities, but buying food and other supplies could be tough. Having a backup supply ensures you will be able to feed your family even when times are tough.

*The loss of a job. Nobody has guaranteed job security. Even if you find another one, there is going to be a few weeks without pay. A few weeks where money is going to be short. Having an emergency food supply provides you a cushion that allows you to fall back on it when things are tough.

If you are not convinced, know this; it is always better to have and not need than to need and not have.

Supplementing Your Food Supply After SHTF

dandelionYou have been busy stockpiling food and are probably pretty comfortable with what you have amassed thus far. Maybe you are one of those who has calculated your food stores right down to the serving and the amount of days you have on hand. Or you may be one of those who just kind of eyeballs your shelves and guesstimates how many days you have on hand. Both methods are really estimates because you never know who is going to be home when it hits the fan. What if you happen to have relatives visiting or a portion of your food supply is damaged? You need to have a backup plan to supplement your food supply after disaster strikes.
Foraging

Foraging is going to be your best option. You may envision yourself as the great white hunter, but hunting large game is not easy. It is time-consuming and zaps your energy. Energy is not something you can afford to waste when you are low on food. You need to learn what plants you can eat that will help sustain you while you set traps or go fishing for a bigger source of food. There are literally thousands of plants you can munch on. However, nearly every edible plant has a doppelganger that just happens to be poisonous or will cause some nasty side effects. You need to spend some time learning what is safe and what to avoid. It doesn’t hurt to have a manual with your food stores to use as a reference tool. Going through the testing process to determine what is safe to eat and what isn’t can take a full day. You don’t have that kind of time.

Trapping

You may be short on ammunition and unless you have spent time learning how to use a bow and arrow, you are going to have to rely on setting traps. Traps are best used for small game, but you can certainly attempt to trap deer, bear and wild hogs. Small game is easier and more prolific than the large beasts we are used to putting on our dinner tables. Every little bit helps. Along with your book about edible plants, download and print a few instructional guides about how to build various traps with the items you find in your surroundings.fishing

It doesn’t matter if you have enough food to last a year. You have to be prepared to supplement your existing food supply just in case things go wrong or the disaster completely turns the world upside down and you will be forced to survive on your wit and skills for longer than a year. Prepare and practice today to make your uncertain tomorrow a little easier.

Preventing Hypothermia

stuckWith temperatures plummeting and parts of the world dealing with unprecedented cold, it is is a good idea to brush up on your survival skills and what it takes to prevent hypothermia. Hypothermia is the condition you suffer when your core body temperature has lost a few degrees and is hovering around the 96 degrees and below mark. It may not seem like a lot, but your body is a fine-tuned machine that must maintain its pre-programmed body heat setting in order to be healthy. The slightest fluctuation can result in some pretty serious problems.

The Law of 3s is something many survivalists take to heart. One of the most important laws is the fact you only have about 3 hours to get your body temperature regulated. That means, if you rush out into a snowstorm, you only have a couple of hours to find shelter and hopefully start a fire to stay warm. Three hours is not a long time! You can’t put off finding a shelter, especially if it is raining or snowing—two things that will make you wet, which will zap your body heat faster than you can blink.blizzard-15850_150

You have to stay dry and as warm as possible. Snuggling up with somebody else is one way to take advantage of body heat. Hiding in a cave, a debris hut or any other shelter will help as well. The smaller the area the better. Your body heat will produce some heat and will warm your humble abode.

Cover your body with dried leaves, pine needles and other dry debris you find in your surroundings. Put a layer down on the ground to act as a barrier between your warm body and the cold ground. You would be amazed at how much heat your body will generate when it is trapped close to your body by the debris. You may not get toasty warm, but you will certainly have a better shot at maintaining your core body temperature which is the most important thing.

Hypothermia is a serious, life-threatening condition that you must avoid at all costs. It doesn’t take long for hypothermia to set in and zap you of all your energy. Plan accordingly before you ever head out into the weather, even if it is just to the store for a gallon of milk. You never know what could happen and you don’t want to get stranded on the side of your road in a snowstorm wearing nothing more than your pajamas and slippers. Dress accordingly!

Personal Safety in a Survival Situation

gunWhen you think about surviving a disaster, you probably have this image in your head of you and your family surviving off the land in the middle of a deserted forest or maybe you have been lucky enough to be able to hang out at home. The neighborhood is silent and it is just you and your family. Unfortunately, this is one of those fantasies we cook up because we have seen a lot of movies. In reality, it is very unlikely you will be the only survivors in your area. It is also very unlikely that every survivor was prepared to live through the aftermath of a catastrophe and that every survivor is an upstanding citizen who will leave you and yours alone.

Alas, we must talk about personal safety in a survival situation. It is more important than food, water or shelter. If you are not safe, you are not going to have a need for the other three things. How you stay safe and keep your family safe is totally up to you. The following are some options you have and the pros and cons to those options.

Knives—These are common weapons because of their multiple uses. You can use them to hunt, make shelters, cut wood and as a security device. They are lightweight and you won’t have to worry about a knife running out of bullets. However, if you are planning on using a knife as your security weapon, you need to consider the possibility of getting injured in hand-to-hand combat. To wield a knife, you will have to be within inches of your opponent, which is extremely risky.community

Guns—This is often the weapon of choice for preppers because it allows them to keep their distance from an attacker. The gun can also be used as a threat. Most people will stay away from anybody who is flashing a gun with the threat of using it. Unfortunately, guns are only effective if they have bullets. You will need a supply of ammunition and if you are on the run, boxes of ammo can be awful heavy. Guns are also loud and may draw attention when you don’t want it.

Tasers—Tasers are pretty effective and allow you to take down an attacker without getting close. However, you will need batteries to keep your taser operational. You also only get one shot to hit your target. You will need additional cartridges to fire another shot. In the grand scheme of things, tasers should be your last resort.

Other people—Animals already know this; there is safety in numbers. Take the time to research and find a group of people you trust that you can band together with in an emergency. This may be your neighbors, your family or people you have met through various survival interest groups. Take the time to get to know these people to see if you would feel comfortable putting your life in their hands. A ragtag group of bandits is less likely to attack a group of armed or unarmed people than they would a single family holed up in their house.

Personal safety is often the last thing people think of when they go about prepping for survival. It should be a top priority. You have to be able to protect all that food, water and the other supplies you are stockpiling and you certainly have to keep your family safe.