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.

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.