Posts Tagged ‘Getting Started’

Tyler Durden in the movie Fight Club says:opsec

The #1 Rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about fight club.

The #2 Rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about fight club.

This is a common idea in prepping.  Some would say,

The #1 rule of prepping is: You do not talk about prepping.

Let’s examine this from both angles.  Why should you not talk about prepping?  Well if you had a handful of gold coins in your pocket and went around telling every person you met about it… How long until someone robbed you?  The point is you are asking for trouble.  This would be magnified in a WROL (without rule of law) scenario where people are desparate.

“I am starving! Do you remember Bob?”

“That kookie guy that was always “prepping” for Armageddon?”

“Ya, him.  Man, I sure am hungry…”

“We should go see if that guy has any food!”

You can see why it is risky to share information about your preparations.

OPSEC – the military uses this abbreviation for operational security.  The DoD describes OPSEC as

  • Operations Security, or OPSEC, is the process by which we protect unclassified information that can be used against us. OPSEC challenges us to look at ourselves through the eyes of an adversary (individuals, groups, countries, organizations).

Your operation is the survival and success of your family.  The security of that operation is paramount.  One way to improve your OPSEC is to limit the people that know about your preparations.  This does make sense.  The government uses the phrase “Need to know basis.”  The more people that know the details of an operation, the more you risk information leaking out.

In short, I would be cautious about showing or talking about your preparations.  Who needs to know?

On the flip side, why might you want to share about your preps?  The bottom line is that you are going to need help.  You will not survive alone.  Community and networks are essential.  If we just examine this idea from a skills standpoint you’ll see what I mean.  I am a doctor, a useful skill.  What if something happens to me and I am incapacitated?  I may need a doctor too.  What happens if my car breaks down?  I am going to need a mechanic.  There are a lot of really useful, even essential, skills out there.  You won’t have them all.  You may need to call a friend.  You’d better have some friends with skills that you can call (or walk over and talk to since cell phones won’t work anymore…) (Oh the horror, we are going to have to walk… and talk to people… this sounds terrible…)

This is where people get into forming prepping groups.  Some are very elaborate and selective about who they let in.  You can imagine why, see above.  You would have to trust these people with your OPSEC and likely your life.

One of my readers, Ryno asked “Are you a proponent of assembling a prepper “team” for protection/survival in an WROL situation? If so, how do you approach it’s assembly. How do you get the word out so to speak? It seems like you have to ride a fine line between making yourself safer/more prepared or making yourself a target to everyone that you share this with…”

I guess the simple answer is that I am a proponent of having a team.  I am also a proponent of good OPSEC and keeping the need to know list short.  Honestly, I had some serious inner conflict about starting this blog for this exact reason.  Ultimately, I came to this conclusion.  If I can help other people get more prepared that makes the whole system a little stronger.  If my friends, family and neighbors are stronger then I am stronger.

So how do you go about forming a team?  This is an ongoing project for me.  I don’t have a formal list of people who are “in”.  I started by looking at my family and close friends first.  This blog has actually been a great “coming out” resource for me personally.  We just started talking about preparedness.  We started with identifying what skills people have.  What do we need?  Can someone learn that skill?  We then assigned certain people to acquire new skills (and needed equipment).  For example my dad is newly in charge of ammunition reloading and supplies (we were lacking in this area).

Next we discussed plans for assembling after a disaster.  My parents live in large metro area (sketchy in the best of times…) and we decided to have them get to me.  Plan A is by car.  Car kits and BOBs need to be packed and ready.  They need at least 10 gallons of extra gas on hand.  That means they need fuel stabilizer to store the extra gas.  What is plan B?  Bicycles, backpacks, etc?  You can see how once the problems/questions come up the answers leave you with a lot to do!

My simple answer to Ryno about assembling a team was to start with people you already trust with your life.  Family and close friends for most of us.  Start with a skills assessment.  Assign people to acquire some needed skills.  I am working on gardening (mostly a lot of failing at gardening – Japanese Beetles can rot in the lowest levels of hell as far as I am concerned… and deer for that matter too – well I digress).  My wife is learning canning.  My mom is learning HAM radio.  My  dad is working on reloading.  Then look at what gear and supplies you need.  Make sure to have redundancy.  Two is one and one is none!  My food storage plan accounts for extra people like my parents.

Lastly, I think spreading the good word of prepping is important.  Help your neighbors!  Start by feeling them out a bit.  “How about that economy, Ron?  What a mess we are in!”  If he looks at you like you are crazy you might want to try a different approach.  (Or go to your other neighbors!)  If he responds, “ya man we live in a false economy.  Things are probably going to get pretty rough in the next few years!”  Your in!  I wouldn’t immediately take them into your secret underground bunker and show them your 3 year supply of food and water; but I might say “So true Ron, I have been trying to set aside a little extra food for emergencies (or similar).”

Remeber OPSEC and Need-to-know!  You do not talk about prepping to just anyone, but you should talk about it to someone!  Good luck.  You are welcome to show up on my door with the SHTF, but I will put your butt to work!  No freebies here!

(If you offend easily don’t look at the last picture and stop reading here.  It is just so perfect for this blog post!)

008-opsec-kitten

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Reader Q&A

Posted: January 26, 2015 in Food Storage, Philosophy
Tags: , , , ,

Since starting this blog I have received lots of questions via text, email, and the blog.  I figured if one person has a question other people may as well; so I will share them.  Keep sending questions and I’ll keep compiling them.

Question #1:  Can I use a regular garden hose to fill my water containers?  

No, you need to use food grade hoses for this task.  They are typically white and often found with RV supplies.  They specifically say they are safe for drinking water.  Regular old garden hoses are polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which uses lead as a stabilizer.  The lead can leak out of the hose and into the water.  According to consumer reports the lead concentrations can be 10-100 times higher than safe levels.  Lead is particularly dangerous to children and pregnant women.  California actually requires that the hoses be labeled as potentially causing birth defects and reproductive harm.  By extension this means that you should also avoid drinking from your garden hose while working in the yard.  I shudder to think how much water I have inbibed this way over a lifetime!

Question #2:  I have heard that it is unsafe to use 2L bottles to store water, is this true?

I can’t find any reliable resource that supports this.  To the contray I can find many resources that support my original claim that 2L bottles are great for water storage.  The LDS Church, a world-wide leader in food storage, recommends using PETE or PET plastic bottles (which 2L soda bottles are).  This PETE or PET mark is stamped on the bottle for recycling purposes.  Here are the LDS water guidelines.  They recommend rinsing the bottles with 1 tsp of bleach (unscented) in 1 liter of water first.  My guess is this question stems from putting water in gallon milk jugs.  This practice should be avoided.  Milk jugs have several disadvantages.  One is that they are designed to breakdown in landfills and will breakdown and leak in your storage; making a mess and allowing contamination.  They also don’t seal very well with the normal lids they come with.  They are also a more porous plastic and you can never get the milk particles out of the plastic which is a contamination hazard.  Bacteria like milk and may grow in your water.  You cannot clean/sterilzed them effectively like 2L soda bottles.

Question #3: What kind of sleeping bag would you recommend for a bug out bag?

Sleeping bags are a huge topic, but here are some basic recommendations.  Better sleeping bags are warmer for less weight.  Spend what you can afford.  A good sleeping bag can run you $300 easy.  $150 would be fairly “cheap”.  For women the Kelty Cosmic 20 runs about $150 for reference.  A good sleeping bag may be important in keeping you alive.  It will at least be important in keeping you warm and comfortable.  They basically come in down and synthetic fills.  Down is warmer for its weight.  Down is almost useless if wet.  Synthetic is better if wet but still limited.  I like down, but it is pricey.  For most people a good synthtic fill bag will work fine and “may” be more versatile.  Get a mummy bag because it is much more efficient in the warmth/weight ratio.  Mummy bags also have a hood that allows you to get your head inside and cinch a drawsting around your face = better heat retention.  Get a bag rated 10 degrees colder than your anticipated coldest temperatures.  A 20 degree bag is a good bet for most of North America.  If you live in a tropical climate that is warm most of the time you can go warmer, maybe 40 degrees.  The ratings tend to overrate the bags effectiveness.  You will most likely not be warm or comfortable at 20 degrees in a 20 degree bag but you will survive.  Make sure to buy the right size bag.  Women should get women’s bags because they are shorter (starting at 5’6” usually) and this saves weight.  You also have to consider some sort of sleeping pad.  A sleeping bag on the ground will not be very warm, the temp ratings factor in a sleeping pad.  Marmot, Mountain Hardware, Northface, Kelty, Sierra Designs, Feathered Friends, are just a few examples of good companies.

Question #4: Where do you buy your MREs?

I have purchased many different kinds from many different places.  I have purchased them from amazon.  They tended to be a bit pricey on amazon.  My last order was with MRE Star.  They have a good reputation and are made in America.  I was very happy with the price and quality. With the heaters they are $7.33 if you buy a box of 12.

Question #5: This stuff is very pricey, I can’t afford this!

I guess this is a statement and not a question.  I would argue that you cannot afford not to get prepared!  Some of this stuff is pricey.  I am a big value guy.  I don’t mind spending money for quality.  I try to find the sweet spot where you get the most bang for you buck.  That being said, a lot of this stuff is expensive.  Quality tends to be expensive.  I have learned from experience (sometimes painful) that it is cheaper to buy the right thing the first time.  Spend a bit more to buy once instead of buying cheap and then having to replace it or buy the right thing later.  That being said, I would encourage you to make your money stretch as far as possible so you can get more preps.  Be frugal, shop around, buy used, repurpose, etc.  The prepper community is full of people doing this on tight budgets, look around!  Be smart about how you prep.  Things like flour, salt, water, rice, beans, etc are very cheap.  Things like fancy knives and guns are expensive.  Are you spending money in the right places?  We all tend to get distracted by gadgets, gizmos, whiz-bangs, and shiney things.  Don’t get too distracted.

Question #6: I am new to guns, how do I get started?  How do I introduce my significant other to shooting?

If you are new to guns and shooting I would first find a mentor.  Safety first!  Learn about gun safety and safe shooting.  I realize this is not exactly what people mean by the above question, but I need to make that plug anyways.  The 22 long rifle cartrige is a great place to start.  It is very easy shooting and has almost no recoil.  This removes a lot of the “scariness” out of shooting a gun.  I was out drilling with my AR-15 the other day and pulled out my Ruger 10/22 for fun.  It brought a huge smile to my face to shoot this gun.  I felt like a kid again.  I had forgotten how much fun a 22 is to shoot.

I would consider myself fairly experienced shooter and I still have mentors that I look to for help.  I would highly recommend getting professional training.  Take a basic handgun or rifle course to build your skills.  Most of all… go shooting!  A lot of people recommend trying to get out once a month or so to brush of the rust.

Question #7: What is your current EDC?

Great question!  This changes a bit depending on what exactly I am doing but 90% of the time it is as follows.

EDC:

  • Ruger LCP in modified Uncle Mikes size pocket holster.  I modified it to allow me to insert an extra magazine.
  • Spyderco Delica
  • Foursevens Preon 1
  • Swiss Army Cadet
  • Keys on carabiner, clipped to D-ring on pants
  • 5.11 tac lite pro pants see above
  • Wallet – cash, credit cards, ID, concealed carry permit, etc
  • Chapstick
  • Cell phone – charged!
  • Alternatively, I carry a Keltec PF9 in a N82 Tactical IWB Professional holster.  Fantastic holster BTW.  Extra mag in another pocket.
  • For both guns I currently carry Hornady Critical Defense ammo

I love Glocks, love, love, love them!  But they are bricks!  They just are not well suited for concealed carry.  I anxiously await the day they come out with a single stack 9mm (like the Keltec PF9 above).  I will carry that Glock.  I really feel the Ruger LCP in .380 auto is underpowered, but it is better than nothing.  This gun is so easy to carry that I almost always have it.  It is a compromise… life is compromises.

Keep sending me your questions!

Preppermann

Previously, I have discussed food and water storage.  These are absolutely essential to your preparedness plan.  I would shoot for a 3 month supply of both before moving on to anything else.  Make this a priority.  I feel more comfortable having a year supply of food and water.  Once you have some food and water stored away there are a lot of other non-food items that are great to stock-up on.  Below is a list of some things to consider adding to your supplies.5019211728_24378d4e65_n

  • Aluminum foil – myriad of uses, least of which revolves around food and cooking.  Get the heavy-duty stuff.
  • Batteries – These have an amazing shelf life.  They are good for 10+ years.   After that they just don’t have the same charge as fresh but still have an appreciable amount of juice.  AA, AAA, C and D are great to have assuming you have electronics that use them.
  • Blankets – you may not have heat or be able to afford it
  • Paper plates
  • Plastic utensils
  • Paper/plastic cups
    • The above plastic/paper products may allow you to avoid doing dishes.  If water is scarce it is easier to just toss these and conserve water.
  • Medical supplies
    • Alcohol – can use as fuel as well as first aid
    • Peroxide – many great uses in addition to first aid
    • Gauze
    • Bandaids
    • OTC medications
    • Prescription medications
    • Anti-bacterial soap
    • Nitrile gloves
    • N95 Mask
  • Soap – bath, hand, dish, laundry, get it all!  Ivory and Dawn have a lot of great cleaning uses as they are quite mild (rugs, leather, delicates)
  • Hand sanitizer – hygiene is going to be important to avoid illness
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Tooth paste – dental hygiene cannot be overemphasized.  It may be hard to get dental care.
  • Tooth brushes
  • Deodorant – not essential but a nicety
  • Duct tape – you can’t ever have too much of this.  What can’t you do with duct tape?
  • Safety pins – assorted sizes
  • Sewing supplies
    • Needles
    • Thread
    • Cloth
    • Buttons
  • Tarp
  • Storage bins – the plastic Rubbermaid ones.  Great for storing and moving things around.  Offers good protection for food and supplies.  Great for water storage in a pinch if you know the water is going to get shut off.
  • Weapons
    • Knives
    • Guns
    • Bat
  • Candles – light, starting fire, and some warmth
  • Alternative energy
    • Solar
    • Battery bank – 12v DC deep cycle (marine)
    • Generator
  • Toilet paper – self-explanatory.  Never have too much.
  • Portable toilet – luggable loo
  • Paper towels
  • Fuel
    • Gas – add a stabilizer like Stabil or Pri-G to increase storage life.
    • Diesel – add stabilizer
    • Lamp oil
    • Alcohol
    • Propane – small canisters as well all large ones.  Great for cooking and heating.  The small ones will make great bartering items.
    • Gas cans
  • Tools
    • Hammer and nails
    • Screwdrivers and screws
    • Wrenches
    • Pliers
    • Axe
    • Hatchet
    • Handsaw
    • Chainsaw – extra chain, oil, fuel
    • Nails
    • Screws
    • Wood
  • Cordage – twine, 550 paracord, rope.  Very hard to improvise.
  • Can opener – manual.  Don’t find yourself without this.  Opening cans gets real tricky otherwise.  Have multiple.  I keep at least one dedicated opener sitting with my food storage.  Have 2 or 3.
  • Bleach – cleaning, sterilization, water purification
  • Vinegar – cleaning, cooking, making volcanoes
  • Garbage bags
  • Plastic sheeting – cover broken window, patch roof, make a quarantine room
  • Books – reference and entertainment
  • Deck of cards or other games
  • Bullets
  • Tubing – siphon
  • Canning supplies
    • Jars
    • Lids
  • Pens/pencils
  • Paper

This list is designed to get you thinking about other items you might like to have on hand during an emergency.  It is by no means exhaustive.  There are a lot of other greats things to stock up on.  What would you add?

There is a saying in medicine, “When you hear hoofbeats think horses, not zebras.”  In medicine we refer to odd, rare, horsesor interesting diseases as zebras.  They are exotic, rare and a bit funny looking.  We like to talk about these, but rarely actually see them.  This adage reminds us to think of common things first.  Preppers are also guilty of this and often like to prep for zebras.  Zombie Apocalypse anyone?  I mean seriously, that is what you are prepping for?  You would be better focusing on prepping for horses.  What are prepping horses?  Well let me tell you!

*Disclaimer: if the fear of the roving dead gets you jazzed for prepping then I am totally cool with that.  Prepared is prepared.  Its usefulness will translate regardless of the disaster.  I do however think it behooves you to consider the more common pitfalls.

Prepping Horses:

  1. Personal disaster: 
    1. Job loss – most everyone has been affected by this in some way.  This is one of the most likely disasters you will face.  The rule of thumb is it takes 1 month of searching per $10k of yearly salary.  So at $60k you are talking a 6 month job search.  Things could get really tight and difficult during this time.  Oh, that year’s supply of food you have stored away… it’ll come in really handy about now.  I know multiple people who have been in this exact situation.  My parents for one have lived through this scenario and benefited greatly from their food storage.  This is also a great reason to have an emergency fund.  3 months worth of expenses (mortgage, cars, food, utilities, etc) is a good goal.
    2. Death – any loss of a family member is going to have far-reaching implications.  It is going to be disruptive and likely have financial ramifications.  If the bread-winner dies it will morph into the above as well.
    3. Disability – A work related accident, car accident, bike crash, etc, can all lead to long-term disabilities.  Injuries to the back, brain, and limbs can have devastating repercussions.  What if you can’t work anymore?
    4. Health problems – this one can be really pernicious.  One day you may be fine and the next you may get a cancer diagnosis.  Diabetes, stroke, and heart attacks are all very common and have far-reaching effects.  Health problems can affect the young and old.  As you get older these tend to pile up a bit more.  This will affect us all at some point.  You may have to take in and care for an elderly family member or parent.  These things can be financially taxing.
    5. House fire – according to the U.S. Fire Admin there were almost 1.4 million house fires in 2011 with 3,000 deaths.  Fire safety, evacuation plans and drills are all prudent.  A bug out bag by the door is a great idea (obviously, don’t go back for anything!)  Having some food and water stored in other places would also avoid a complete loss of your preps.
  2. Natural disaster:  These are going to be somewhat specific to where you live.  If you live on the coast you will have different disasters to prepare for than if you live in Kansas.  Think critically about your unique situation and how you can prepare for and mitigate these disasters.  They are too broad to cover in detail here.  I have seen a few of these in my life.  Chances are you have too.  Have a plan, evacuation may be necessary.  Being ready to quicklyevacuate may save your life.  Again, a well thought out bug out bag by the door is a prudent idea.
    1. Tornado
    2. Hurricane
    3. Flood
    4. Tsunami
    5. Earthquake
    6. Wild fire
    7. Blizzard
    8. Drought
    9. Heat wave
    10. Thunderstorms/Lightning

The point of this post is to illustrate some of the more common disasters that you might face in your life.  Being prepared will mitigate the effects of these things.  Food/water storage, emergency funds, and bug out bags are all great ways to get prepared for these prepper horses!

As a side note check out the page links at the top of the homepage.  The Gear List and Books pages are full of great items for your consideration.  Also check out the links section to the left for other great websites with useful information.

In my introductory post on food storage I recommended getting extra of the foods you already eat.  If you are completely new to food storage I still recommend starting there.  Once you have a bit extra stored away it is time to go “beyond the basics.”  What do you do next?  Below is a list of tried and true prepper food storage staples.  Let’s make a run to Sam’s Club and load up a cart (imagine whatever warehouse store you want here if Sam’s offends you – it’s just and example…)sams club

  1. Peanut butter – packed with calories and protein.  Plus it tastes great.  Sam’s has 2 packs of large 40 oz Jif.  Grab a couple of these.  They have a 6 pound Peter Pan container as well.  Both are just under $10.  PB is shelf stable for years.  I like to try to rotate it as we use it.  You can also buy PB powder in #10 cans from companies like Emergency Essentials = much longer shelf life.
  2. Pancake mix – grab a 10 pound bag or two for $7.  Nothing beats just add water (this is a simplicity thing, you can obviously just make it as well).  Make sure to grab some syrup as well.  Syrup can also make other things more edible (like oatmeal) as well.  Just picture the movie Elf.
  3. Oats – speaking of oatmeal.  Get quick oats or regular oats, or both!  Good for cooking and breakfast.  Large bags or individual packets.  Both are good.
  4. Flour – grab a 25 pound bag of flour for about $7 as well.  Great for bread, biscuits, tortillas etc.
  5. Sugar – grab a 25 pound bag of sugar as well.  Sugar is nice because it is very shelf stable.  Just keep it from getting wet or absorbing water.  (FYI no oxygen absorbers for this or salt, more on this later)
  6. Salt – get 4 large boxes of food service salt, regular old iodinated stuff.  They are about a buck each so get more if you want.  Too much salt will never be an issue.  (Except in your current american diet, but I digress.)
  7. Baking soda – get the large orange bag, super cheap and already stored very nicely for you $7 for 14 pounds..  Essential for baking.  Good for cleaning as well.
  8. Baking powder – 60 oz for $6.  Essential for baking.
  9. Yeast – get a brick of the instant stuff and toss it in the freezer.  Essential for bread.
  10. Beans – get the biggest bags of whatever beans you like.  Get some variety.
  11. Rice – you want white rice.  Brown rice although more nutritious goes bad much more quickly.  25 pounds – $9.50.
  12. Canned meat – lots of options.  Get all of them.  Canned beef, chicken, tuna, Spam.  Don’t forget the spam!  It is just ham and a bit of pork shoulder all mashed up.  This will serve as your bacon in a pinch.  Drop the loaf of meat out (man that is so wrong…) and cut it real thin like.  Then fry it up until crispy.  We did this last weekend as a family test and guess what?  Everyone ate it!  Even my picky kids and wife.  Try it if you don’t believe me.  The canned meats are quite a bit more expensive than the above stuff but you will be glad you got them.
  13. Oil – the cheapest and easiest route is to get the huge jug of fry oil.  This is essential for baking.  35 pounds for $20.  It comes as a big jug in a box.  Set it aside in a dark corner of your basement.  I am not going to argue with you about how unhealthy this is!  We are talking about survival and starving to death!  You will love it and eat in that situation!  Survival is about calories not so much nutrition.  If you can’t bring yourself to get this then get peanut oil (for much more) or other oil that does not offend you so deeply.  Smaller jugs can be placed in the freezer.  This has the added perk of keeping your meats and stuff colder longer during a power outage (think of it is a cold battery, or block of ice, which it is…)
  14. Soup – nothing like just add heat right?  Or for that matter don’t add heat and pretend it is gazpacho.  Lots of options and varieties here.  Just get what you like and can afford.  Get variety.
  15. Spices – Sam’s is great for this stuff.  Get lots of different spices.  You’ll need this to make things edible and add variety.  Black pepper, red pepper, garlic, etc
  16. Canned fruit – you can get huge #10 cans but I would probably get the packs of smaller cans.  You may not want to eat 60 oz of peaches all in a few days.  Get what you like.  Get some variety.
  17. Canned vegetables – same as above.
  18. Drink mix – you will drink more water if it is flavored, this is science.  May also help get your kids to drink.  We also want the Vitamin C which may become scare (fresh fruit).  If you are working hard surviving the sugar is helpful as well.  Tang is good choice.
  19. Pasta – I prefer macaroni noodles but anything works.  1 pound x 6 packs for $4.
  20. Spaghetti sauce – need something to go on all of those noodles.  You can also get cans of cheese sauce.
  21. Honey – obvious uses.  Interestingly this is one of very few things that has an indefinite shelf life.  It never goes bad.  Makes sense to store it.  Expensive though.
  22. Powdered milk – can make milk or cook with it.  Lots of protein.  4.4 pounds for $15.
  23. Candy – M&Ms, hard candies, etc.  This stuff is very important as a moral booster.  Also good for kids.

Now run over to Home Depot or Lowes.  Get some 5 gallon food grade buckets.  NOT the orange Homer buckets, they are not food grade and can leach chemicals into your food = bad.  Ask if you are not sure.  They are usually labeled as food grade.  Get the appropriate lids.  While you are there grab a rubber mallet for securing the lids.  They also make these handy wrenches for prying the lids off the buckets.

Even better order these Gamma Lids.  They are worth their weight in gold.  They are wonderful for things you get into frequently.  I like to get different colored lids to easily identify the contents.  White for four, yellow for noodles, etc.

In a later post we will get into the specifics of how to store the food to make it last longer.  There are lots of fancy techniques like nitrogen flushing, freeze drying, dehydrating, vacuum sealing, canning, pickling, and oxygen absorbers.  For now I would put the flour, sugar, oats, rice, beans, salt into buckets with lids.  This protects the products from water and a bit from air.  Most of the other stuff is fine in the container it came in.  Next we will get into mylar bags and oxygen absorbers which will make this stuff last even longer.  Use the stuff in the buckets and refill them as needed.