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.

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.

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.