Archive for the ‘Disaster Preparedness’ Category
I have been trying a lot of different freeze dried foods in the last couple years trying to find the best long term shelf life food for emergency and survival. What I have learned for one thing is that there is a lot of confusion out there about what is the best food and who has the best deal out there.
I have found that Valley Food Storage has natural food with no GMO ingredients, no preservatives, and no chemicals or fillers. They even use sea salt in their food instead of the cheap stuff. Their food has nothing but food in the packages. I am happy and impressed with this. I have always had a bad feeling about eating all the chemical filled junk out there that is packaged as shelf stable survival food.
One more thing I like about the company is that they have a monthly food plan. You select either $50 or $99 a month and each month they send you a package of shelf stable but natural food for you to put away for emergency. There is no thinking involved and you never forget to get your monthly rations. I am strongly considering going on the $50 monthly food plan myself in order to stock up on survival foods for the future.
Stocking up is like an insurance plan for your family. Most families have home owners insurance, car insurance, life insurance, health insurance and many other forms of insurance. But not many people consider protection for their family in case of loss of home, natural disaster or loss of income. Having lost my job a few times through the years, I am happy that I always had food put away for the hard times.
Going through a couple hurricanes and being snowed in during multiple blizzards each year also teaches one to be prepared for anything at any time. If you ever go through one of these situations, you will certainly consider stocking up for the future. Each time there is a blizzard, I enjoy getting out just to see the people swamping the stores and stripping the shelves bare just before the storm hits.
The meals from Valley Food Storage are not only healthy in comparison to most freeze dried shelf stable meals but they also taste good. I have been sampling their products for a while now in order to get a good idea about the quality of the food. I have to say that I also feel good about eating their food. I do not get that guilty feeling when eating one of their meals because there are no chemicals in them.
I will be fully reviewing their products in detail soon but I wanted to get the word out there for now. Winter is upon us and the blizzard season is here. Storms hit and disaster can strike. I hope to spread the word and see that people are stocking up on food and being prepared for emergency.
You can watch the video here: Insurance For Your Family ~ Healthy Long Term Food Storage
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We had a rare, warm and sunny day in December so I used the nice weather to work on my survival bug out Jeep. I plan to have this Jeep fully loaded and ready to hit the road in a hurry if I ever have to bug out one day. I put new tires and a luggage rack on the Jeep today.
Many people ask me what scenario I am planning and preparing for. The answer is not that simple. Many people have a bug out plan for a specific scenario. But my plan is more general because of my experiences.
I have seen two devastating hurricanes, multiple blizzards, loss of income, wild fire and much more. Many of these situations caused me to have to be prepared to leave my home at a moments notice. Due to these experiences I am a strong believer in having a bug out bag on hand at all times. Even better is to have a bug out vehicle ready and waiting.
A bug out vehicle is a shelter and transportation all in one. You can also carry a whole lot more gear with you. This means food, water, animals, guns and ammo, shelter and comfort items. When the SHTF, you have to be prepared to leave your home with only minutes or hours notice.
A hurricane, tornado, forest fire or any other natural disaster can leave you homeless in a hurry. War or riots can also cause you to leave your home in a hurry. Just this spring there was a wild fire nearby, five miles away, which caused an entire town to be evacuated. Most of those people did not have a bug out plan or anything packed beforehand. Many were left in hotels with just the clothes on their backs.
I was prepared to leave my home if needed. But I would have had my bug out bag and comfort items with me.
I started putting the newer tires on the Jeep and checking brakes and suspension while I was at it. The front tire went on with ease. The brakes are good but the sway bar bushings are shot and need to be replaced.
The back drivers side wheel gave me a problem though. The lug nut is broken off flush with the bolt. The tapered part of the nut is still in place but the part that fits into a socket is broken clean off. There is nothing to grip on to. I have to study online how to remove this wheel. So I just swapped out the front tires and left the back ones matching for now.
I put on my new luggage rack as well. I bought this on sale when I got the Jeep and never opened the box until now. It was a perfect day for the job.
I will most likely put a Reese hitch mount on the back of the Jeep as well to expand my storage options.
I hope to get a rear mount spare tire rack too one day.
The Jeep will be fully coated in, out and all around with truck bed coating and rubberized undercoating for protection from the elements. I plan to paint it OD Green with black trim.
Watch the full video of my work here: Survival Bug Out Jeep Maintenance ~ New Battery ~ Tires ~ Roof Rack
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Our second day in the mountains after bugging out. A friend and I went deep into the Catskill Mountains for a weekend bug out scenario. This was a training run to learn from our successes and mistakes. We did learn a lot during our stay.
Bugging out is often a necessity due to natural disaster, economic collapse or war. Having lived through two hurricanes within a 12 month period in New York I can attest to the importance of being prepared for any type of disaster. Hurricane Irene destroyed my antique shop and ruined the house I was living in. I lost literally everything, my source of income, home and even my furniture. The only thing I saved was my emergency bug out camper and truck. My preps were neatly and safely tucked away inside the survival truck camper where I slept during the hurricane.
This bug out training run was meant to teach us to be prepared to bug out at any time. And to learn what added survival items we may need for long term survival in the mountains. When you buy preps or stock up on food and leave it sitting in the attic or closet to collect dust and mildew you might be surprised when you grab it one day to head for the hills. Insects, rodents and mildew cause a lot of damage to your food and equipment.
With no practice or bug out training you may forget important equipment. Being prepared means not only to stock up but also to be trained, to practice.
I had some solar path lights with me that I wanted to try out on this bug out trip. These are standard solar LED garden lights. I got mine on sale for only $1.99 each. These lights are particularly interesting because they have a removable battery door inside so you can just flip a tab and remove the AA battery inside. This allows you to not only swap out the original batteries when the go bad but also to use these solar path lights as a simple stand alone solar battery charger. I now have a solar battery charger which can charge any standard AA rechargeable batteries.
These path lights can be used to help light up your campsite at night. You can use them in your tent or shelter for night reading or work. Simply remove the top light from the stand, leaving the stand in place outside in the ground and bring the light inside at night for LED lighting. In the morning take the light back outside and stick it back on the stand to recharge.
To charge a standard AA rechargeable battery just swap out the battery to be charged with the one inside the LED light and leave it out in the sun to charge. A solar battery charger costs about $20 on average. So this is a huge savings tip.
This day we went on a “scavenging” trip into town to find some wood. During a true grid down situation you will sometimes need to head out into supplies for your camp. Since this was a simulated survival trip so we had to purchase our wood. We picked up some boards to build the foundation for my friend’s new cabin in the woods. When we got back to camp the two of us started to build his dream cabin.
I learned another important lesson this day when we returned from our trip and I found my bed had shifted across the back of the truck and pulled out the two truck batteries I installed to power my lights and accessories. The wires had been ripped out and I had quite a mess on my hands. It had been nicely secured when I put it all together but I had not planned to drive all over the place without having the truck fully packed when I designed the truck camper. The bed was made to be removed in a hurry so it was not bolted down to the truck bed.
I am happy that I always take extra tools and repair equipment with me wherever I go. I was able to repair the damage and carry on with the day. In the future I will set up a board to wedge across the side of the truck bed in case I need to drive away in a hurry. This will keep everything in its place on the road.
We had some 2 x 8 x 10 boards so we finally decided to build a 10 x 10 cabin. I helped my friend Erick to frame the flooring in. Afterwards we set up some plywood boards on the frame and set up some chairs. We sat down to have a chat about our work. It felt good to sit there on the floor of our new “cabin” in the woods. We had no walls or roof but it felt good to finally have it started.
Lunch was cooked on the SilverFire Hunter biomass stove and consisted of some rice and an Indian dish. I love these Indian meals because they are 100% natural, are shelf stable and are packaged in a pouch just like and MRE. They make perfect camp meals.
I have a homemade kitchen sink with running water which slides into the truck bed for travel and can be slipped right out and used at camp. It uses a 12 volt car windshield washer pump to push water through the lines. I flip a switch and have water pouring out the faucet, just like at home. A small battery powers the water pump and a solar panel keeps the battery topped off. The sink is made so I can sit on a camp chair and wash dishes in comfort. I put this sink to good use during our trip.
Sadly we still live in the real world and our trip was cut short by an important phone call to Erick so we had to pack it all up and head home. This too was a good training exercise. I whipped up a nice meal on the biomass stove and then we packed up camp to leave. This situation was a good simulation of the need to move your camp quickly and bug out again in case you are about to be overrun. Within an hour we had the truck fully packed and left hardly a trace of our presence behind.
Watch the video of our trip:
Day one after bugging out into the mountains on our grid down survival training scenario we woke up after a surprisingly warm night inside our homemade truck camper. With a smaller space just the heat of our bodies kept it warm inside. It also helps to have a lot of gear inside to fill up the air space.
After we got up though and the sun started to rise it started getting quite cold and we both had to bundle up for a couple hours until it warmed up again. After heating up some coffee on the SilverFire Hunter biomass stove we had some dry cereal and coffee for breakfast. After the system goes down there will be no more milk and dairy products unless you have a goat or cow of your own or have a farm nearby. We also had not refrigerator and had no cold foods anyway.
I learned that the SilverFire Hunter stove needs to have the top opening fully covered in order to work properly so I inverted a frying pan over the top of it. My little aluminum camp cookware I have is all too small to cook directly over the stove. This reduces efficiency a bit but it got the job done.
I had my laptop out and was uploading the previous day’s video using my homemade solar power generator. It works very well. Both my friend and I kept our cell phones charged up and I was able to use the internet way out in the Catskills.
Depending on the reason for you to bug out, you may still have cell phone access as well. In this case we both are still living in the real world and needed contact with the outside during our stay. In a full grid down situation there will be no more use for a cell phone unless you use it for playing games, which may help reduce the stress of loosing most of what you are familiar with in the real world. People can live without modern technology but it you do not have to, then why should you?
In a full collapse scenario I will still use my computer to play movies or music or even games. It will help ease the transition into the dark ages.
After breakfast we had a look around our new “home”. We had set up camp in full darkness and we did a surprisingly good job. With just the Mr Beams LED lantern and my Larry Light we got a shelter put up and unpacked the whole truck.
We took a ride into town on a “scavenging” expedition to see if we could get some wood to build a cottage for a more permanent shelter. My friend Erick has owned this land for about 15 years and has never had anything on the property until now. We had no luck and returned to camp empty handed on this day. Erick decided to chop down trees and build a cabin with nothing but an ax and a hand saw so he got to work chopping on a tree. About an hour later a tree was down. It was a tough job because after cutting the tree through, it did not budge. It just hung there stuck on the upper branches of the surrounding trees.
Lesson learned – cut from the outside in. Never cut in the middle of the forest. The tree would not come down. We had to drag the base of the tree outwards until the top of the tree fell down. What a job. That was dumb. But we learned. That is the reason for this trip. Learn now so we do not have to later in a true shtf situation.
I have some items with me that I had wanted to test out and review. I was at Walmart a couple weeks before and found a Coleman waterproof match set in a plastic carrying case for only a dollar. I bought all three that they had on the shelf. Today I opened one of them up to have a look at it. It comes in an orange water resistant case with 25 waterproof matches inside. Rolled up inside the tube is a striker sealed in plastic to protect it from the elements. On the bottom of the container is a ferrocerium rod for emergency fire starting. This is a sort of man made flint which emits a huge bright spark when struck with a knife edge. I am impressed with the deal you get here for a dollar and will be getting more in the future if I find any.
The Coleman Waterproof Match Kit
Testing Some Emergency Fire Starting Material
I also have a couple dollar store zippo type cigarette lighters. I figured for a dollar I can try them out so I got two of them. They do work but do not burn correctly. The flame is large but burns out the side a bit. But in a survival situation it can save your life for sure. Even the flint is a nice deal for that low price. You can get a bunch of dollar store replacement flints to carry around and just use the lighter as a flint and steel for emergency fire starting if the fuel runs out.
I also have a small package of Duraflame fire starter. This is normally sold to be used in starting a wood stove fire but I had the idea of using it in my emergency survival gear as a survival fire starter. When wood is wet you have a harder time finding dry tinder to start a fire with. The Duraflame burns hot and long, giving you the ability to start a fire in just about any condition. It only takes a small pinch to get a nice fire going. This is definitely going to be a part of my survival gear. One for my car, one for the truck and a couple for my bug out gear. At only 88 cents it is worth its weight in gold in a survival situation.
This is a training scenario so I am learning a lot of important points out here. One is that you must keep your survival gear fresh and use it from time to time. My bug out bag has not been touched in over two years since my friend got married. I have not been hiking since. So my sleeping bag and military poncho liner stunk from mildew. I had to hang them out to air out for the day.
Another thing I learned that is very important is to keep your food not only rotated, but inspected for insect damage. Our dinner was to be some gnocchi with tomato sauce and couscous on the side. This sadly had to be changed because moths had eaten into the couscous package and left a horrible ruined mess of the food inside. You must ensure that your survival food rations are protected from the elements, rodents and insects. This was actually in my food pantry at home and was not even that old.
Dinner was cooked over the SilverFire Hunter biomass stove. This stove is quite amazing in that it can cook for a whole hour with just a handful of twigs. Even a rocket stove needs constant feeding of fuel in order to boil even a pot of water. With the SilverFire Hunter, all you have to do is get it going and then cook like you would on a normal stove top. You can even control the temperature a little by varying the air intake on the bottom of the stove as needed.
Trying Out The SilverFire Hunter Biomass Stove
A large pack of coyotes brought an early end to our evening. We only had a bow for protection. I even forgot my large survival knives although I did have them in my hands when packing the truck. I am not sure what happened to them on the way to being packed for the trip. Anyway, left nearly defenseless we jumped into the homemade truck camper and called it a night. We had oil lamps for warmth on this chilly night. Two oil lamps took the chill off enough for us to sit comfortable as we talked before bedtime.
Overall I would call this trip a success in that I am learning a lot of useful things for a true survival situation. You will never be perfectly prepared unless you train – train – train. Even I forgot some important points and items on this trip.
Watch the video:
My friend and I went up to the mountains of Upstate New York on a grid down training scenario where we had to grab everything we could within minutes of becoming overrun and bug out to a new location. The idea of the shtf training scenario is to become better prepared for a potential future need to bug out in a hurry.
I prepared for a few days ahead of time by building a truck camper in the bed of my truck with the help of some friends. I had an old camper top for the bed of my truck and some old camper parts from a camper I had gutted out years ago. Using old recycled parts I built myself a decent truck camper for bugging out.
Previously I have used my slide in survival truck camper for bug out training but with the rising gas prices I cannot afford to use the old truck camper anymore for training purposes. The camper weighs over 2,000 pounds fully loaded.
My new homemade truck camper has a removable bed, shelf, bench, folding table, composting toilet, a kitchen sink with running water, solar power and more. It has all the comforts of a standard camper except that its way smaller and weighs very little. This means it costs a lot less on gas. Another important advantage of the small homemade bug out camper is that since it weighs so much less and has a much lower profile I can take it places where I cannot take the full slide in truck camper.
The place we were headed is untouched woodlands near the top of a mountain. It is rough terrain and I needed to travel light.
I loaded all the gear I felt that two people could need for long term survival out in the mountains. Spare clothes, winter clothes, hand saws, food, cooking utensils, pots and pans, tools, emergency truck repair supplies and parts, oil lamps, alcohol burner, and more.
I also have a brand new Mr Beams LED lantern with a USB charging port on it to charge your cell phone in the field. For cooking I have a Silverfire Hunter biomass rocket stove to test out in the field. This was to be my only cooking source.
My friend finally arrived out of New York City around 4:30 pm. This would simulate a true bug out scenario where I had half a day to prepare while waiting for my friend to arrive from the city. It takes a long time to get out of the city when the grid is down. I know first hand. Once when it rained it took me 5 hours to get out of the city for a normal 1.5 hour drive.
Another point of this trip is to build a cottage for my friend. He has owned the property for 15 years and never started his dream cottage. We were finally going to start building it. That is another reason for not taking the huge truck camper. Yes you can remove it from the truck but in the soft soil and rough terrain of his property it is dangerous to remove the truck camper from the truck. With my homemade truck camper you can just remove the contents in five minutes and be on the road.
It took us about two and a half more hours to get to his property. It was pitch black by the time we got to the mountains. The roads are treacherous with steep inclines and very sharp turns around jutting rock walls. The rocks literally poke out over the road in places and you crawl around the turns at an idle.
We got to camp and unloaded the truck after dark. The Mr Beams LED lantern came in handy for this. We hung it on the side of a pine tree to provide light while we worked. We set up a huge tarp in the trees and used stakes and ropes to string it out as a canopy for our outdoor living area. All of our gear went under the tarp for the night.
The brand new Silverfire biomass stove was pulled out for the first time and used to brew up a pot of coffee to warm us up on the cold night. It only takes a handful of twigs and provides a very strong heat source for cooking.
After coffee we made our beds in the back of the truck for the night and settled in. I used my power station that I had built into the truck camper to answer some emails and messages with my computer. My cell phone provides internet. The cell phone was the only thing that would not really work in a true grid down scenario but I have my work to do and live goes on outside the training field with or without you.
The grid down bug out scenario continues…