Winter Bug Out Tips

While we would all like to think a disaster can only strike when it is early in the day and a perfect 72 degrees, that is highly unlikely. Sadly, most bug out situations are going to happen when things are less than perfect for a picnic outdoors. You may have to bug out because of a horrible storm or in the middle of the night to avoid detection.

You may also have to bug out when it is cold or even freezing out. It is important you are ready to head for the hills all year round. Adding a few extra preps to your bug out supplies during the winter months can give you better odds of survival.

1. Don’t leave the house without proper footwear. You need boots. Tennis shoes are not going to work. Preferably a pair of lined boots that offer some waterproof action. You can add an additional layer of water protection to make it just a little better.
2. Wool socks are a must. Even if your boots are lined and dry, your feet will still get cold. Wool socks will keep your feet warm and they do not hold moisture like a pair of cotton socks would do.
3. Gloves are another must. Gloves allow you to use your fingers to hold a flashlight, chop wood or dig around in your bag. Make sure the gloves are cold weather gloves and not some flimsy knit gloves that will do nothing to protect your fingers from frostbite.
4. A warm, wool beanie is a must. Your body heat escapes through your head. You want to trap the heat by covering your head. A face mask is also a good option. Put a hat on over the mask. If temperatures are frigid, you have to protect your nose from the cold.
5. Chapstick may seem inconsequential, but it is an absolute must. The cold can crack your lips very fast. Cracked, dry lips will bleed and life will be miserable in general. Make sure you put on a good layer of chapstick before you head out the door and keep applying as needed.

Cold weather survival is a not for the faint of heart. Be prepared by adding these items to your stockpile. Don’t forget coats, thermal underwear, snow shoes and anything else that will give you an advantage.

4 Tips to Choosing the Right Pack for Your Bug Out Bag

We all have a bug out bag. If you don’t, you need to get one. Not all backpacks are created equal and not all backpacks will make good bug out bags. Buying the cheapest backpack at Wal-Mart is not a good use of your money. You can certainly buy used, but you need a quality pack that is going to hold up. Quality counts.

There are some key traits your bug out bag should have.

*Durable. You don’t want flimsy material that will shred with the first snag of a tree limb. While many backpacks are made with some kind of nylon material. Check reviews online to see what others have said about the pack—believe them and not the sales copy.

*Affordable—more expensive does not always mean better. Decide what you can afford and then start looking for packs that fit into your price range. You can buy a used pack for half the price and it will still have plenty of life left.

*Size matters. Decide what you will be carrying. Are you going to be carrying enough gear for the whole family or just yourself? Are you planning on using the bag to live out of for a day or a week? If you need to pack a lot of gear, consider getting an internal frame pack.

*Comfort—if possible, try the packs on before buying. You want it to sit comfortably on your hips and not rest in the small of your back. Spring for the hip belts and extra padding in the shoulders. A breathable material on the back side is another perk that can make warm weather bug outs a little more comfortable.

No matter what you decide, make sure the pack suits you and your needs. Everyone has their own idea about what they need to carry. If you are someone who wants lots of pockets, make sure that is a quality you keep in mind when shopping around. The pack is for you and it is all about what you like and what you don’t.

Winter Weather Tips by Those that Know

There are plenty of areas that are getting hit with snowstorms that are breaking records. Anytime you have records being broken when it comes to the weather, people are going to have a tough time adjusting. Sometimes, you can’t just ride it out. You have to be prepared to be stuck at home for days on end, with the kids stuck home from school.

Areas that are not used to or prepared for snow are going to suffer the worst. Learn from the folks who live in areas that get plenty of snow. Those are the people who know how to ride out a storm in relative comfort without any major damage to their home.

Here are some tips from those that have been there, done that.

Roof Rakes

If your home is in an area that isn’t accustom to heavy snowfall, you are going to need this. Snow is heavy. You need to pull it off the roof before it causes major structural damage or collapses altogether. If you missed the boat and didn’t get one before they all sold out (which they will) a metal leaf rake will work. Scrape the snow as soon as you can.

Snow Shovel

Again, these are going to go fast. Shovels that are metal are going to be a little more durable. If you are dealing with heavy, wet snow, a metal shovel is best. Keep your walkways clear—stay on top of this. Once things start to melt, the slush hits and then it freezes and then you have a big, dangerous mess.

Supplies

Keep supplies like flashlights, candles and portable cell phone chargers on hand. Heavy snow can knock down powerlines or cause tree limbs to fall, taking down a line. You will also need to keep some non-perishable food on hand. Don’t break into the non-perishables first. Eat the leftovers out of the fridge first.

Heat

If you don’t have a second source of heat, you need to get one. A space heater can keep one room warm should your furnace break down. You are not going to be the only one having furnace trouble. You could end up on a waiting list for days. During that time, you need to be able to stay warm. If you are dealing with a power outage, a space heater isn’t going to help. A woodstove is ideal, but if it isn’t possible, know how to keep warm without power.

Time

Give yourself plenty of time if you have to drive in the snow. You can’t expect to jump on the freeway and do the posted speed limit. Take it easy. Have supplies in your vehicle, just in case you get stranded or find yourself stuck in traffic because of an accident. Take along things like kitty litter and a snow shovel. If you do slide off the road, kitty litter thrown under the tires can give you some traction. If you have went into a snowbank, you will need the shovel.

Dress for the Weather

Even if you are just running to the store or dropping the kids off at school, dress like you will be walking through the snow. Wear boots and take along a coat, hat and gloves. If you do happen to get stranded, you don’t want to be walking for help wearing your tennis shoes and without a coat.

Snowy weather can be fun and it will provide plenty of entertainment for the kids. Be ready to hang out and enjoy the time together. It is only temporary.

Practice Makes Almost Perfect Survival Skills

mountain-man-205306_640The old adage, “practice makes perfect” is rarely accurate in the true sense of the word, but it can make any skill pretty close to perfect. Survival skills deserve the same kind of attention you would give to a professional sport. Athletes practice quite a bit to be the best they can be at whatever it is they do, as do hobbyists. The more you practice, the better you get. Don’t you want to be the best you can be at starting a fire, building a shelter or hunting when your life depends on it?

Schedule some time to get outside doing the things you will likely have to do in a true survival situation. Don’t just get out when the weather is nice and warm. Get out when there is three feet of snow on the ground. Get out when the wind is howling and the rain is pouring. This is the only way you are going to prepare yourself for real life situations that are more likely to occur. When you think about it, what are the chances of you being forced to flee for the wilderness when it is a nice 70 degrees out? Not likely. In fact, not probable at all considering a natural disaster is what very well may send you running.camping food

Get the feel for what it is like to feel the rain on your face or what it feels like when you have to walk a mile in deep snow. Every discomfort you feel or problem you face is an opportunity to learn. Learn from those problems and grow your skills. This is how you get better, just like a star football player practices twice a day for years.

Block out some time this month and go for a hike. Go in the backyard and practice making tinder bundles. Practice using your flint to spark a fire. Do some studying about edible plants in your area. Sign up for classes and learn from experts. The more practice you do, you will get pretty close to perfect.

Are You Ready for Hunting?

sniper-1194303_1280Tis the season hunters all across the country are gearing up and heading off into the forest or wilderness to do a little hunting. Hunting for ducks, elk, deer and so on is a family tradition for many. It is a way to bond with friends and family as you skulk through the woods, looking for an animal to take. In today’s world, you need a license and a tag to take your catch home. You spend a lot of money gearing up for your hunting expedition. You only have a small window and it is important you take advantage of the fancy gear and equipment to make sure you don’t go home empty handed.

Hunting in today’s world is cushy compared to what it will be like when hunting is how you put food on the table. When there are no grocery stores to pick up the slack, you have to be prepared to take an animal every time. You will be hunting more than once a year and while it may still be a sport, it is going to be very serious business.

You need to have supplies tucked away for hunting. Sure, you can rough it and you can hunt without a lot of the little luxuries that are available today, but why should you have to if you don’t need to? Plus, if you have never hunted the old-fashioned way, you are going to struggle without your gadgets.hunter-67002_1280

Some things you can add to your stockpile that will make hunting a little easier and possibly successful (depending on who you ask).

*Camouflage—waterproof is best

*Hunting knife

*Bone saw for processing what you harvest

*Dragging gear—makes it a lot easier to get large animals back to camp

*Hunting pack

*Gun with plenty of ammunitionrifles tend to be the weapon of choice

*Bow and arrows

*Calls—duck, deer or whatever you are hunting

You may be a hunter that really depends on the scents used to lure in animals or the descenting products that are meant to mask your smell. If you use these things and have had success, it would be a good idea to add some to your stockpile. Hunting is a lot like cooking. Everyone has their own style and personal preferences. It doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do. All that matters is that you are successful. Don’t worry about other hunters shaming you for using various tools. If they work, that is what counts and your family will be fed.

Why Cover Crops are Important for Homesteaders

agriculture-87581_1280Preparing to live in a world that has been devastated by a natural disaster, war or an economic collapse means you need to be self-sustainable. Right now, you may have a good size survival garden and some livestock. You are probably feeling pretty good about your situation—and you should. You are almost there. If you have acres and acres of land available for your livestock to graze on, you probably aren’t too worried about feeding them when you can’t run to the feed store or to Farmer Joe down the road to buy hay. For those, who have limited land available, you need to grow food for your animals as well as your family.

One way you can keep food growing all year is by planting cover crops. Cover crops are a common practice for large farming operations because they help build up the soil. The roots are putting nutrients into the soil. This is an excellent way to help soil that isn’t quite ready for planting a full garden. Growing things alfalfa and clover will feed your livestock while preparing your soil for the following year’s garden. It is often referred to as green manure.clover-828698_1280

You will also help minimize weed growth over the fall and winter. This will save you a lot of time and trouble in the spring when you need to prepare your fields for planting. The soil will also be protected from hardening over the winter. Again, less work when it comes to spring planting.

What you grow is up to you. You will need to pick things that will survive the winter. If your goal is to feed livestock, stick with clover, which is very hardy. Throw out clover and alfalfa seeds in areas you will have your animals graze on as well. This will provide them with plenty of food the following year. Make sure you save seeds so you can start the process all over next fall.

An Emergency Blanket is More than Just a Blanket

wilderness survival kitEvery bug out checklist you find or stockpile checklist you come across will have a survival blanket or what are sometimes referred to as emergency blankets or Mylar blankets on the list. If you have ever gotten your hands on one of these and opened up the tiny, wallet-size packages, you may be wondering what all the fuss is. Like, how is that thin, fragile piece of shiny material going to save your life.

It really can. Despite it’s relatively fragile condition, it is extremely useful and effective at keeping you warm. Keep in mind; not all emergency blankets are created equal. There are some that are incredibly thin and they will shred with just the slightest tug. Because these are such a vital part of your bug out bag and survival, it is worth it to spend a couple extra bucks and buy the good ones rather than to go cheap. Have at least one quality blanket in your bag and a few of the lesser-quality ones to use for purposes other than covering your body.

What other purposes? Well, there are many, many ways you can use those blankets in a survival situation.bug out bag

1. Place a blanket behind a fire so the heat reflects back on you or into your shelter.
2. Use a blanket to signal for help.
3. Use the blanket to make a lean-to.
4. Use a blanket to put over the top of your A-frame shelter.
5. As a poncho to help keep you dry.
6. Make a sling for an injured arm.
7. Cover a window with a blanket to stop drafts.
8. Use a blanket as a barrier between you and the cold ground.
9. Braid strips of a blanket together to form cordage.
10. Tear shreds of a blanket to mark trails if you have to go out hunting or foraging.

There are plenty of more uses for the blankets. You may not even know you can use it for something until you are in the moment. Buy the blankets in bulk. Once you have opened them, you are never going to get them back down to the size of a credit card. They are flimsy and they will tear. Have several in your pack just to be on the safe side.

Preparing to Fight Your Own Fires After a Disaster

fire-175966_1280One thing many of us takes for granted today is the ability to call 9-1-1 and get help with whatever serious problem we are dealing with. One of the services we rarely think about is the fire department. Hopefully, you haven’t had to call them at any point, but if you have, you are probably very grateful for their quick response in saving your home or putting out a fire that threatens your property or life.

Now, think about what would happen after a major disaster. If the fire department is still functioning, they are going to be stretched thin. You may call for help, but they may simply not have the resources to get there. They have to decide what is more important; your home or whatever it is they are focusing their efforts on at the moment. You are on your own.

As with anything, the best defense is a good offense, especially in fire fighting. Do what you can to eliminate fire hazards around your home. Make sure you have plenty of working smoke detectors that will give you early warning of a fire. A fire that has spread to several rooms or even consumed a single room is going to be a huge problem and very difficult to stop with your limited means.fire-717504_1280

If you are in a rural area, create defensible space around your home, just in case of a wildfire. Cut back tree limbs and keep the area directly around your home green or make it rocks. If you are surrounded by fields, it will be especially important you have defensible space. Having a metal roof will certainly improve the odds of you saving your home in a wildfire if it is embers that are the issue.

Have plenty of fire extinguishers at the ready and know how to use them. Have them in the house, the garage, the car and in your barn. You won’t have time to run here or there to track down a fire extinguishers. It is also a good idea to have a manual hand pump for your well, just in case the power is out and your well pump is out.

Learn how to extinguish small grease fires in the kitchen before they become raging infernos. Keep flour on hand in the kitchen or near your outdoor grill to quickly put out a grease fire. Make sure everyone in the house knows your evacuation plan in case of a fire.

Remember, nothing in your home is more valuable than your life, not even your stockpile. Get out if you can’t put the fire out. Don’t try to tackle a fire that is already roaring. Be vigilant and do what you can to prevent fires in the first place.

Getting Ready for Winter in the Middle of Summer

firewoodIf you live in mountain country or an area where wood heat is a staple, you have probably already started collecting the wood you will burn through winter. Relying on a woodstove to heat a home is a common practice for many in cold areas because it tends to be cheaper and more reliable. A winter storm that knocks out the power can leave those who rely on a furnace for heat in the cold. No power and no heat can be life-threatening. As a prepper, you need to have a backup heat source, like a woodstove or a fireplace. It is common sense and often one of the first things on the list for a prepper.

The investment into a woodstove will run you anywhere from $500 to $2000 depending on the size of the stove and how much work needs to be done to install a chimney. If you can swing it, this is the summer to get it done. Buying a woodstove out of season is going to get you the best deals. You can get the clearance models that need to go before the new stock comes in for the upcoming winter.snow WV

Once you get your fireplace or woodstove in, it is time to start stockpiling wood. Depending on the size of your house and the average winter temperature, you could burn anywhere from 2 to 10 cords of wood. You have a couple of options for getting wood.

You can have it delivered already cut and ready to be stacked in a shed or somewhere you can keep it relatively out of the weather. You can save a little money by having rounds delivered, but you better be ready to do a lot of work. You will need to split the giant rounds in order to get the right size logs for your stove.

Another option is going to cut the wood yourself. You can buy a permit from the forest service that allows you a certain amount of wood. You will only want to take downed trees. In many cases, you will need a chain or some way to drag the log down a hillside. From there, you will need to use a chainsaw to cut the wood small enough to load into your truck or trailer. Once you get home, it is more cutting, splitting and stacking.

If you have your own property, you can use downed trees as a source of wood. You are also free to chop down any trees on your property and use those for wood. You will of course want them to dry out for several months to a year before you try burning.

Now is the time to think about winter readiness. You never know when the first winter blast is going to hit and getting caught unprepared could be disastrous.

Skills Matter—Knowledge is Only Half the Survival Battle

startup-594127__340There are two kinds of preppers. The kind that read and study and are endless resources of information and then there are those who do. The doers are learning by trial and error through actual experience. While neither way is technically the right way, it is pretty safe to say the doers are probably going to fare better in a true post SHTF situation.

Knowledge is power, but reading about starting a fire with a spark from a magnesium stick and actually knowing exactly how to hold the stick and how close to the tinder bundle it needs to be are two different things. Armchair preppers need to get out from behind the computer and get out into the wild from time to time. These knowledgeable armchair preppers do have their place in a post-apocalypse world. They will be a fountain of information and they can certainly direct others on what they should do, but if this kind of prepper is all alone, talking to the air isn’t going to help.scouts

There are a ton of skills that go along with survival; prepping, homesteading, growing food, raising animals and so on. Reading how to make cheese and actually making cheese are very different. Reading about butchering livestock and getting your hands bloody doing it will definitely be a shock to the system. Survival is messy business and if you aren’t used to or expecting the ick, you are going to have a tough time coping.

Get up, get out and get doing. Put your knowledge to the test and use the information you have gathered through research to really test your skills. Don’t wait until you actually need the skills to give them a trial run.