Posts Tagged ‘Health’

The bicycle has been around for about 200 years.  There is no denying its impact and importance the world over.  Just ask anyone who has ever been to Amsterdam or China.  Bikes are everywhere!  We are so car dependent in America that we often overlook the usefulness of our two wheeled friends.  I want to draw your attention back to these amazing machines.

It probably wasn’t long after the wheel was invented that someone got the idea to attach two together.  The earliest patented device was the Draisine.  It was invented in 1817 and patented a year later.  It was propelled by using your feet.  The English got a hold of it and called it a velocipede. Eventually someone decided to try make it mechanically propelled.  The details are a lot murkier.  Suffice it to say it was probably around 1839 and possibly (how is that for hedging?) invented by Kirkpatrick MacMillan, a Scotsman (my ancestors! Scots, not bicycle inventors…) And thats enough history… Now you feel smarter don’t you?  Regardless, they were invented a long time ago.  They were and are a major mode of transportation.

  • You should own a bicycle.
  • You should know how to ride a bicycle.
  • A bicycle should be part of your preps!

Why you ask?  A bicycle is a wonderful marvel of engineering.  I uses mechanical advantage (gears, wheels, chains, etc) to move you quickly and efficiently.  You can ride much faster than you can walk.  Secondly, (here is a little secret) it doesn’t use gasoline!  In a disaster, apocalypse, emergency, nuclear holocaust, etc… good luck getting gasoline.  You should make storing gasoline part of your preps.  I would recommened having four 5-gallon gas cans on hand with with an additive like Sta-Bil to help it store longer.  The stuff really doesn’t last long otherwise (it goes bad!  Who’d of thunk?)  Rotate your stores every 6-12 months.  The big but (nice pun) here is that you will eventually run out of gas.  That nice shiney Lexus is pretty worthless without gas.  That pimped out bug out vehicle isn’t going far on an empty tank.  How are you going to get around now?  On a bike!

Prepping aside, I love cycling.  I have been avidly involved for about 6 years, but have had a bike almost my entire life.  I ride for fun and exercise.  I even compete on occasion.  I have ridden 3 centuries (100 mile bike race).  This is another great perk of a bike.  You will get in shape!  Great shape!  I ride between 50 and 75 miles a week currently and this is minimal compared to real cycling enthusiasts.  Being in good shape is a huge part of prepping.  See this prior post.  This is another overlooked area that you should likely be spending more time on. Cycling is also great for the environment if you use it instead of driving your car.  Fitness, fun, prepping, environmental stewardship… I could go on, but what more do you want?!  Get a bike!

What kind of bike should you get?  At this point whatever is the most exciting and interesting to you.  I currently own three, all different for different tasks.  As usual you get what you pay for.  There are a lot of different types of bikes: road, mountain, hybrid, cyclocross, commuter, cruiser, etc.  You could roughly break them up into road and off-road aka mountain bikes.  This is a big generalization so don’t get too hung up here.  For simplicity I am going to focus on mountain and road bikes.

I think a mountain bike makes the most sense as a prepper bike as it is the most rugged and can be ridden over the most variable terrain.  It doesn’t excel on roads but it will work fine on them.  They have fat tires.  Airborne ( makes some great mountain bikes.  I believe they are the most bike you can get for the money.  They are direct to consumer so some assembly is required (they are 90% built out of the box).  You can always take it to a bike shop and have them put it together for a fee.  My biggest concern here is fit.  I would always recommend going to a bike shop and getting professionally fitted.  This will yield the best results, but may not be the cheapest option.  Good mountain bike companies are Trek, Cannondale, GT, Niner, Giant, Specialized, Kona, and many more.  For the money this is a pretty good bike from amazon, shipped to your door for under $500 Diamondback Overdrive.  I bought my wife the female version and have been impressed with it.  Diamondback women’s hardtail.  I would be careful of anything less than $500 new.  There is a robust used market out there so that is a great resource if you need to get the price down.  If you can afford $600 I would get the Airborne Guardian – this thing is a ton of bike for the money.

Road bikes are meant to go fast!  On roads!  They have skinny tires.  The rougher the road or terrain the more these tend to suffer (discomfort, flats, breakage, etc.)  I have had many different brands of bikes over the years.  Lately, I think Giant is the best value.  This is likely because they are the biggest bike maker in the world and make almost all of their own stuff (frames, parts, tires, wheels, etc) which keeps cost down.  After extensive shopping and comparison I bought a Giant Defy for my latest road bike.  This is what I would recommend for a first road bike.  It is a slightly more relaxed geometry (you sit more upright) than a true racing road bike and is therefore more comfortable.  Sometimes they call these endurance or sportive bikes.  It is a Bicycling Magazine editor’s choice (has been for 6 years in a row) so you don’t just have to take my word for it.  Giant Defy 3 – entry level, aluminum frame, great value.  You can drop down a level (Defy 5) and save a couple hundred dollars but I would try not to.  The Giant TCR is their pure road/racing bike for those who are only concerned about going fast, like Ricky Bobby.  If Ricky Bobby had road a bike it would be a TCR .

Giant has a kind of hybrid bike called the AnyRoad.  It has a sort of road frame with larger tires.  This would be better for rough roads, dirt, etc.  Most bike makers have many different models to various applications.  I am just using Giant as an example; and I think they are good bikes for a good price.  Trek, Cannondale, Specialized are also great and make all the same kinds of bikes.  Fuji is another lesser known brand that is a high value.

Quick aside… Most higher end bikes don’t come with pedals as.  Most cyclists have special pedals (clipless) that lock into special shoes.  This way your foot and shoe are attached to the pedal making it much more efficient.  You don’t have to do this but will likely want to if you get more into the sport.  You can get regular “platform” pedals that you can use with any shoes.


  • Pedals – see above.  I have Look Keo Easy clipless pedals on my roadbikes, Shimano combo clip/platform on my mountain bike.  I don’t usually clip in on my mountain bike.
  • Shoes – Shimano shoes – if you buy clipless pedals you need special shoes for them
  • Helmet – don’t even think about riding a bike without a helmet, doctor’s orders!
    • Giro Revel – this is my mountain bike helmet, great value
    • Giro Savant – this is what I would buy if I needed a new road bike helmet
  • Fenders – keep rain and mud off you in bad weather
  • Rack – Ibera PakRack – attach this and now you can haul things!  This would be very useful, practically essential for a prepper bike
  • Saddle bags – Panniers – once you have the above rack you can now add bags.  This really increases the versatility of your bike.  Groceries on the way home, school books?  No problem!  (I dont’ own the rack or bags, so I can’t vouch for their quality, just examples)
  • Water bottles and cages
  • Cycling shorts – padded shorts with a chamois (internal crotch pad thing, takes a bit of getting used to), these are pretty essential.  I like bibs over shorts. Too many to link.
  • Pump
  • Spare tubes and tires (remember 1 is none and 2 is one) – gotta have spares!
  • Saddle/seat bag – BV Seat Bag – attached this behind/under your seat and put the below in it for emergency breakdowns
  • Lights – you want to see what is in front of you and you want to be see from all sides.  I personally try not to ride at night, at all, ever
    • Headlight – Cateye Nano 
    • Tail light – Topeak Mega Red – it blinks, it flashes, its red, its bright, makes all sorts of visual racket, exactly what you want!


  • Get a bike, any bike!
    • Any bike is exponentially better than no bike.  Some variants and builds might be better for prepper applications than others.
  • Road Bike
    • Giant Defy
    • Giant TCR – Ricky Bobby approved
  • Mountain Bike
    • Airborne Guardian
    • Diamondback Overdrive
  • Check your local classifieds for used bikes
  • Get measured and fitted for a bike
  • Wear a helmet
  • Try clipless pedals to take your cycling to the next level
  • Carry a seat bag with a minor repair kit, and a hand pump
  • Add a rack and panniers to increase you ability to carry gear
  • Carry some ID and an emergency contact in case you are hurt
  • Carry your cell phone (charged)
  • Let someone know where you are going
  • Be visible – the more the better!
  • Get out there, spin those pedals, get in shape, have fun, be prepared!

Here are a couple of my sturdy steeds!

IMG_20150605_143847_787 IMG_20150725_094923_023


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.

First Aid

Posted: December 1, 2014 in Medicine
Tags: ,

flag_of_the_red_crossThis is a topic dear to my heart.  I have received a lot of requests for this one.  I guess that makes sense since I do have some expertise in this field.  I am a surgeon so hopefully I have something to offer.

First off, your level of training dictates the type of stuff you need in your first aid kit.  What I need and want would be different from you.  Remember KISS.  Don’t get too fancy.  Most off the shelf first aid kits are overpriced bags of band aids.  I don’t like most of them.  That being said something is better than nothing.  I recommend building your own kit and will offer some suggestions.  BUT if you don’t have the time or will to make your own kit buy one and add to it.  You need a good kit for home and a smaller one for your car.

The most important thing you can do is get some training.  Take a course, read a book, watch videos.  Get a good first aid reference for the travel kit and at home.  Learn as much as you can but have a good reference.  I still use books all the time in my specialty.  No one knows everything.  Where There is No Doctor is a good home reference.  Living Ready Pocket Manual is decent for a travel kit.  There are multiple small reference cards and pamphlets available.  You really want to be familiar with whatever reference you have.  At least look through it a few times to familiarize yourself with its contents and layout.  Better yet would be to read it fully.  The Army First Aid Field Manual is also very good, and cheap.

If you have no medical training you will be treating a limited spectrum of injuries.  Mostly you will be treating skin issues. Cuts, abrasions, lacerations, splinters, etc.  This is where the band aids come into play.  Clean the wound thoroughly with water, tap water is fine.  Clean water is important.  Sterilize it if need be (boiling, tablets, filter, etc).  Use a lot of water, say 1 liter for good measure.  Apply antibiotic ointment (not essential) and then apply the dressing.  I prefer bacitracin to triple antibiotic ointment (neosporin).  I rarely ever use triple antibiotics (they cause a lot of skin reactions and rashes.)  Use an appropriate sized bandaid.  Keep the wound clean and change the bandages if they get soiled or soaked.  Change them at least daily if they stay fairly clean.  Avoiding infection is the key here.  Increased redness, pain, swelling and pus are signs of infection.  Seek more advanced medical attention if this happens.

Contrary to popular belief wounds heal faster if kept moist.  Not wet, but moist.  A thin layer of vaseline (or bacitracin) with a dressing over it allows the epithelial (skin) cells to regrow faster.

For moderate sized wounds you can improvise a bandage with gauze and tape.  Maxi pads work well for larger wounds and heavier bleeding.  They are much cheaper than ABD pads and other medical dressings.  Just get some and throw a few in your first aid kit.

For bigger wounds clean as described above.  Do not clean inside the wound with alcohol or peroxide.  Just lots of water.  If the wound is very large you are better off leaving it open.  It will eventually heal.  Keep it clean and covered with clean dressings.  Using suture, staples or steri strips is probably too advanced with no medical training, but these are viable options for large wounds.  Larger wounds should not be closed after 24 hours due to risk of infection.

If you run into severe bleeding apply constant, direct pressure.  This one tip could save your life.  PRESSURE is the answer to everything… well bleeding at least.  Pressure, pressure, pressure.  Get the picture?  Almost all bleeding will stop with direct pressure.  Do it as long as it takes.  You’ll be amazed by how well this works.  If I injure a major vessel in surgery guess what I do?  Apply direct pressure!  This may be the most useful tip in this whole post.

Bug bites – Best to avoid these with bug spray, bug nets, etc.  If you get them avoid scratching or traumatizing the skin which can lead to infection.  Again keep clean.  Hydrocortisone cream is helpful for itching.

Diarrhea and dehydration – this is a major killer throughout the world.  Poor sanitation and contaminated water lead to diarrhea.  Diarrhea leads to dehydration and ultimately death.  Get generic imodium tablets (loperamide) and take as directed.  Electrolyte salts are great for dehydration.  Drink lots of water, gatorade, pedialyte, etc.  This combination (loperamide and electrolytes) will save lives.  Have this in your food storage plan.

Pain killers – have tylenol and ibuprofen in all of your kits.  Stock up for your food storage.  Do not take more than 3000mg of tylenol or 2400mg of ibuprofen in a day.  They cause liver and kidney toxicity respectively.  Both are actually very good pain killers.  Ibuprofen has an anti-inflammatory property at the 600-800mg dose.

Benadryl (diphenhydramine)- you can take 25-50mg (usually one to two pills).  This drug has many uses.  Great for an allergic reaction.  It is a great sleeping aid.  It is also a very good anti-nausea medication.  Drugs like bonine and dramamine are derived from benadryl.  It will make you drowsy – see sleeping aid!

A word about expiration dates.  They are completely made up numbers based on nothing at all.  The government has tested drugs they have stored for the army over 20 years later.  Guess what?  The vast majority of them are fine.  They might lose a little potency but don’t magically turn into poison.

first aid kitThis is a decent First Aid Kit that I keep in my wife’s car.  She has even used it!  I bought it for $30 dollars 1 year ago.  This was an okay price.  It is now $40 and really too expensive in my opinion.  I would add a good penlight or headlight, scissors, and tweezers immediately. I would also add the meds above.

If you are trained in CPR get a CPR shield, the above kit has one.  If you aren’t trained in CPR consider taking a course.  Get a few sets of gloves, nitrile work well.  Consider getting involved with your local CERT.  You will learn a lot and most of it is free or pretty cheap.

As usual, get something and make sure you have it around.  Be familiar with what is in it and how to use it.

First Aid Kit: Suggestions from today’s post

Reference book

Band Aids: assorted sizes

Gauze pads – 4×4

Maxi pads






Electrolyte salts







Hydrocortisone cream

Not discussed above but good to have:

Duct tape

Ace bandage

Bandana or triangle dressing

Burn gel

Safety pins

Anti-bacterial wipes

What would you guess are the two most important things you could do to prepare for anything?  Store food?  Store water?  Store guns and ammo?  Buy an old ballistic missile silo and convert it into a sweet bug out bunker?  All these things are useful but I would suggest something else entirely.

The two most important preps are…

1. Knowledge

2. Fitness


Let’s start with knowledge.  Knowledge weighs nothing.  You can take it anywhere.  It is always with you.  The more knowledge and skills you have the better prepared you will be to handle any obstacle.  Knowledge truly is power.  An extension of knowledge is skill.  This is the physical application of knowledge.  This often requires some sort of physical mastery.  I am a surgeon.  Initially I read all about surgery in books.  Then I watched surgery.  Then I assisted in surgery.  Finally I was able to perform the surgeries after years of practice.  I have spent well over ten thousand hours studying and practicing surgery.  I have both knowledge and skill.  Start by acquiring the knowledge.  BUT and this is a big BUT (no pun intended) you need to PRACTICE.  Amateurs practice until they get things right.  Professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.  If you read a book about rubbing sticks together to make fire don’t assume you can now do it.  Go try it!

How do you acquire the knowledge you need?  Well, this is a great start.  READ!  Find people that know more than you and learn from them.  I’ve added a books link at the top of the main page.  Look over some of those and start there.  Watch you tube videos.  Listen to a podcast on the way to work.  Two great references that I have relied heavily on are listed in the links section.  There is a youtube video channel by a guy named Nutnfancy.  He has thousands of videos.  Most of them are gear reviews about knives, guns, flashlights, tools and so on.  I rely heavily on his videos to make informed purchases.  A lot of my gear comes from his recommendations.  The survival podcast is a daily radio show with a wealth of knowledge.  Download the episodes and listen to them on the way to work.  I will continue to highlight sources of great information throughout this blog.  The internet is a great resource for prepping and survival.  Get learning!


Fitness?  Really?  Yes!  The better health you are in, the better you will be able to survive life’s challenges.  Just think about running from a hungry bear or angry mob.  If you are too out of shape to run a mile (or 100 yds?) things might end badly, quickly.  If the economy turns south and you need to chop wood daily for hours on end to heat your home, could you do it?  Most of use could drop a few pounds and this alone would dramatically improve our health.  Build strength as well as endurance.  Perform functional movements with weight that replicate actual things we do in life.  Lift and carry heavy objects.  Run, jump, bike.  I have been doing crossfit lately and it is just one example of a system that fits these kind of goals.  Do something active daily!

Health is huge.  Make it a goal to get healthier.  Eat better.  Eat more fruits and vegetables.  Are there chronic medicines you could get off of if you lost weight and ate better?  What if these medicines were not available or very expensive due to an economic depression or collapse?  What would you do?  This is another consideration of preparation and food storage.  Don’t forget to stock up on some extra meds.  More on this another time.

Obviously, there is no one size fits all approach to fitness.  Everyone has different circumstances.  Enlist the help of your physician.  I would say that there is at least something all of us could do to improve our health and make our lives better for it.

Let me make one quick plug about working out.  You need to perform some sort of weight training.  Building muscle is largely overlooked, especially by women.  This is a huge mistake.  Muscle burns calories passively throught the day.  The more muscle you have the more calories you burn.  You effectively increase your metabolic rate by increasing your muscle mass.  Now let me stop you right there.  I can already hear the women saying, “But I don’t want to bulk up!”  (it is like nails on a chalk board to me)  Stop it!  This is just utter non-sense.  Balderdash, garbage, insanity.  YOU WILL NEVER BULK UP!  I shouldn’t say never but for this purpose I am going to.  You would have to lift so much weight (huge weights), for hours a day, for a very long time to “bulk up”.  Just ask any skinny guy that has ever tried.  Start with body weight exercises (your own body is the weight!) like push ups, pull ups, etc.  Mark Lauren has a great book and app called “You are your own gym“.  It costs less than $9 and is delivered immediately to your tablet or phone via Kindle.

Wrap up

Make it a goal today to acquire more knowledge and get in better shape.  Your life will be that much better for it.  Reading this counts for the knowledge.  Now go do 15 push-ups, doctors orders!