As preppers we all know the importance of keeping our firearms and electronics free from moisture when they are put away for storage. For this reason, before caching or storing items such as these for the long term its crucial you include some type of desiccant (or water absorber) in with your stored items.
Most preppers use silica gel, but what if you don’t have any on hand?
Well, here in the US, there is a huge supply of desiccant that you can readily use in a pinch if you can’t get a hold of silica gel.
What is it you ask? Well, it’s none other than drywall. Yup, common gypsum wallboard found in most homes throughout the US.
How to Make Homemade Desiccant
Similar to silica gel, if you want to activate drywall to become a anahydrate or desiccant you need to heat it up long enough to remove the moisture. Here’s the process:
|Step 1: Preheat your oven to 450F
|Step 2: Grab a 1/2 foot x 1/2 foot piece of drywall.
|Step 3: Remove the paper (it helps by wetting the paper first) and break it up in 1″ square pieces, then place those pieces on a cookie sheet and into the oven.
|Step 4: Let it heat for about an hour which will remove all the moisture.|
|Step 5: Remove from oven and while hot, immediately place in an air-tight container that won’t melt from heat (a mason jar is a perfect container for this).
How to Use your DIY Desiccant
To use your desiccant place a handful of it inside a sock and stash it in the storage container that is housing your electronics, firearms or other items you’re interested in keeping away from moisture.
Here are just a few examples of where to use your homemade desiccant:
- In the bottom of your gun safe
- In your survival cache tube (like a PVC pipe where you cache your firearms)
- Inside a sealed Mylar bag that contains your electronics
- In your gym bag to prevent mold, mildew, and odors
- With silver jewelry or silverware to slow tarnishing
- In your toolbox to prevent rusting
- Inside containers holding stored clothes and blankets to prevent mildew
- Inside of anything you store in the basement
- In a safe with important documents
- Inside of cases with seed packets to keep them from molding
- and much more..!
The following pictures give an example of how effective this is as a desiccant. I threw a handful of these desiccants in a mason jar that just came out of the dishwasher. After a few minutes the homemade desiccant had absorbed all the water in the jar.
A Quick Related Tip
As a quick side note (in case you missed the reference above), be sure to hang onto any silica gel packets you come across that are packaged in various products you’ve purchased. They can also be reused by heating them up in the oven and storing them as described above.
Hey guys, just wanted to quickly let you know about a document I found buried in the CDC website. It’s an older document (written in 1998) that provides an excellent resource for Ebola prevention in a time when modern medical facilities might not be available.
Originally written for healthcare workers fighting Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers (like Ebola) in austere conditions like West Africa, it deals with prevention, early diagnosis and response within a limited infrastructure (again, something we might face during an outbreak and associated civil collapse).
This would obviously be important knowledge to have and I wanted to make sure you guys have it.
Here’s some of the points it covers:
- How to set up isolation precautions in rural areas.
- How to use common, low-cost supplies to prevent transmission of Ebola
- Necessary safety precautions
- How to properly isolate (ie quarantine) potential and actual carriers of Ebola
- Proper procedures for putting on and taking off protective clothing
- Disinfection methods
- Proper Ebola-contaminated waste disposal
- Safe burial practices of deceased Ebola victims
- How to make protective clothing with low-cost items
- and much more…
This is a must have document that should be part of everyone’s Survival Library so be sure to download it here:
Most preppers get the idea that communication is an important capability to have during an emergency.
Despite this understanding though, few preppers have a solid communication plan in place beyond a few two-way walkie-talkie devices and the false hope that their cellphone will still function.
If that describes you (like it did me a few years ago), this article should hopefully open your eyes and inspire you to change that.
The Dangers of a Communication Blackout are Very Real
We take our ability to instantly communicate with others around the nation and the globe for granted. In reality though, the methods we depend on to communicate — internet and cellphone primarily — are extremely fragile.
One common theme you see in any widespread disaster (or even overcrowded sporting events) is that people are unable to make use of their cell phones for outgoing or incoming calls. We saw this with 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and Sandy, as well as the Boston terrorist bombings.
This is just a small glimpse into what might happen if there was a more widespread natural disaster or terrorist event – it would wreak havoc on our telecommunications
History has proven that when cell towers go down during an emergency, the whole network is at risk of being overloaded (or may fail entirely).
Can you imagine what a major emergency would cause?
What about Landlines?
Landlines aren’t much better. If things got so bad that our basic utilities were to shut down, landlines wouldn’t be far behind even though they run on their own power source.
GMRS/FRS radios (ie walkie-talkies), while great for certain scenarios, just don’t have the range if we plan on talking with anyone outside of a couple miles…let alone out of the state or in another country.
Satellite phones, while they can be very effective in an emergency, still have their drawbacks in that they’re very expensive to purchase and operate (~$30/mo for only 10 min of talking time) and they are still dependent on a 3rd party maintaining their satellites as well as keeping your account active (which may not be possible in an extended post-collapse scenario).
Also, they don’t work indoors or where there’s thick canopy (like in the jungle or thick woods). You need clear access to the sky where the satellites either pass over or are situated (depending on if the sat network has roving or stationary satellites).
What’s the Answer Then…?
That leads us to the only reliable emergency communication method that we have available to us when the SHTF. It’s a method that’s not dependent upon the grid and can be used for local, regional, and even global communication.
What is it?…
Amateur radio, or more commonly referred to as “ham radio”, is used by city, county, and federal emergency communications teams; by private relief organizations throughout the world; and by a large number of dedicated citizens who are active, knowledgeable, and have the skills and ability to respond and assist in emergencies.
And if you haven’t yet, it’s something that you definitely need to learn if you want to have an effective emergency communications plan in pace.
Now don’t misunderstand the word “amateur”. It has nothing to do with it requiring less skill or having less capabilites than a “professional” (if that exists) might use. Amateur in this case only means that it is not broadcast for purposes of making money (like much of FM radio is).
Pros and Cons of Amateur (Ham) Radio
The ultimate benefit of Ham radio is that there really isn’t any restriction to how far you can communicate. It can be used to communicate locally, regionally and worldwide.
In addition, it’s not dependent upon any public or private communications’ infrastructure and can be used on top of a mountain or in a crowded city, powered on the grid, or completely off by using a generator, a battery backup, or a solar setup.
The biggest downside (which can be a plus for us fellow hams) is that you need to be licensed and in addition, there is some ramp up time to get comfortable with communicating and using the equipment (it’s actually a skill that you will develop over a lifetime since there’s so much you can do with Amateur radio).
Why Should I Bother With A License Since It Won’t Matter When The SHTF Anyways?
This is a common question I get, and my answer is always the same: Since amateur radio isn’t something you can simply pick up and use without prior experience, you need to practice NOW before things go south; and you can’t properly practice without getting a license first.
There are a lot of things you need to learn such as antenna theory, skywave and NVIS propagation, which bands to use at what times and how solar activity and other environmental phenomenon can affect your transmissions.
And besides, there are still a lot of other emergencies (local and regional) that don’t involve the end of the world to be here to still warrant having EMCOMM abilities.
The Secret to Getting Your Ham License
I’m happy to tell you that it is much easier to get a Ham license than ever before.
Back in my Father’s Day, he needed to learn Morse code in order to get his ham operator license. I, on the other hand, was able to to not only get the entry-level “Technician” license but the “General” license (to operate on the HF frequencies that allow for regional and global communication) all in one day without needing to know a bit of Morse code.
Note: I’m not saying that Morse code is not a bad thing to learn (in fact it’s something that I am hoping to pick up soon) however the good news is since 2006 it’s not required anymore when getting your ham operator license.
Since most of the real learning you’ll do with ham-radio operating is through doing it, to get going with the “doing” part, all you need to do is pass the test. And passing the test for licensing only requires you to know what the right answers are.
Luckily, the entire pool of questions for each license type and their answers is available for study. Since the tests are multiple choice, you don’t even need to understand the theory behind the questions, just the right answers (this is more true for Technician than the others).
For example, when I first got my license, I studied for a total of 8 hours and was able to pass both the Technician and General tests in one sitting with over 90% each — just because I memorized the answers for the most part.
If you’d prefer to learn all the theory behind the questions before testing, that’s certainly your prerogative.
Here are a number of resources you can use to study the question pools and answers for each of the license exams:
- HamStudy.org – This was the resource I used to help me study and pass the Technician and General exams. For the Extra, I had to study a bit more in depth which I used the next resource for…
- hamRadioLicenseExam.com – This is my friend PI’s site (K1RV). He’s got a great resource that will actually tutor you so you really understand the theory and not just the answers.
Where Can I Take My Ham Radio Exam?
Most license exams are offered out of the many Amateur Radio clubs found throughout the US. Depending on where you live, you should be able to find one nearby at any week of the year.
Here are some resources to find and exam site near you:
- The ARRL: The ARRL has a nice search functionality that you just need to enter your zip code and it will spit out a number of tests given nearby along with their date and location.
- HamDepot.comhas a listing of most of the clubs throughout the US. Since most clubs are the ones giving the tests, you can contact a nearby one and find out when the next test is.
Is The Testing Expensive?
The test is only around $15 dollars to cover filing with the FCC and other handling fees.
Another great bonus is you can take all of the tests in one sitting if you so wish for the same price. You just need to be sure you pass each in order before going on to the next one.
Final Thoughts and Resources
Hopefully by now you see the benefits in adding Amateur Radio to your preps.
After all, when the grid goes down and cell phones and land lines no longer function, while everyone else is in the dark, all you’ll need is a wire, a battery, and a radio and you’ll be communicating with your loved ones and others around the world. That’s the ultimate benefit of ham radio.
For more info on getting started, here are a couple more links:
- Ham Radio For DummiesIf Ham Radio is brand new to you you’d have to be a dummy not to read this. It provides a great overview to get you started. You can even just go to the bookstore and sit down with a nice hot drink and get through it that way.
- Stealth Amateur Radio: Operate From Anywhere A great resource for communication OPSEC. For preppers looking to hide their radio station from nosy neighbors and other prying eyes, this book will teach you how.
For preppers, survivalists and others desiring to have other means of electricity when the grid goes down, solar has always been a valid means of off-grid power.
And in recent years, there’s been significant advances and interest in portable solar chargers that are capable of charging cellphones, tablets and other small electronics while in an emergency, on the go, bugging out, or any other reason that would require you to power and charge your devices when the grid is not available.
Well, I recently got my hands on a fantastic little portable solar-panel array that is perfect for small electronics like your Android, iPhone/iPad or anything else able to charge up from a USB port.
It’s called the SunJack and is marketed as “the most powerful solar charger in the world, capable of charging your phone as fast as a wall-outlet with plenty of power to spare.”
Does it live up to it’s claims? Let’s find out in this week’s product review…
Overall Size and Makeup
The 14 watt SunJack is a portable solar array made up of four solar panels organized in a black cloth foldable case. Overall it seems to be a very durable and well-made product.
When closed up, the unit measures around 6″ L x 9″ W x 1″ H (slightly smaller than the size of an iPad although a bit thicker):
It measures approximately 24″ long when fully opened:
The battery, charging cable, and USB ports are located in a mesh bag behind the charger.
The solar array has two USB ports which (when in full sun) will each produce an output of 2 amps. This allows you to easily charge a smartphone, an iPad, or other tablet requiring 2 amps to charge its internal battery directly from the sun.
It also comes with an external battery (that will connect to one of the USB ports on the array) to hold the energy harnessed by the sun — providing you with a source of power to charge your electronics when the sun is down.
In direct sunlight, it will fully charge the 8000mAh lithium polymer battery in around five hours with this 14 watt SunJack model (the manufacturer also sells a 20-watt version that comes with two batteries).
When the battery is at full capacity (again, after only 5 hours) it has enough power to charge an iPhone around 4-5 times.
Personal Testing Results
When I first received this, the battery was already around 1/2 full so I couldn’t test the 5 hour charge time stated by the manufacturer. But after putting it in the direct sun (it was slightly cloudy that day) it took just under 3 hours to bring it to a full charge. From just this initial test I’d say they’re probably pretty accurate.
How is it able to charge this fast? Here’s what SunJack’s representative had to say…
“We’ve found a way to optimize filling up the battery from sunlight – think of it as being able to get more water out of your faucet faster. The SunJack is able to get more electrons flowing into the battery faster than any solar charger available, which means you get wall-outlet charging speeds in an incredibly portable form-factor.”
Wall-Speed Charging Capabilities
There are other folding solar panel chargers similar to the SunJack on the market that I’ve seen on Amazon, but from reviews I’ve read they don’t have the “wall-speed” charging abilities. In other words, they take a long time to charge up your phone or worse, your tablet compared to charging it from a standard wall outlet — barely making a dent after hours of charging.
How does the SunJack fare? To test this, I timed how long it took to charge two of my devices (an iPad and an iPhone) directly from the fully charged battery.
Here are the results:
|Device||Starting %||Ending %||Battery Time||Wall Time|
|iPad||40%||80%||~90 min||~90 min|
|iPhone||60%||100%||~45 min||~45 min|
Basically for both tests of each device I started at 40% for the iPad and 60% charge for the iPhone and charged each of them 40% more — first on the SunJack battery and then in the wall (after discharging the iPad and iPhone to 40% and 60% respectively).
In both cases I did not see any significant difference between charging on the wall or from the SunJack battery.
So again, it lives up to its promises by delivering “wall-speed” charging time.
One other thing that I really liked was the durability of this device.
Think it’s not tough enough to stand up to the rigors of a survival or bug-out lifestyle? Well, think again. It can withstand large drops
onto its corners on concrete and even work after a car runs it over (over the panels, not the battery):
In addition to durability, the SunJack promises longevity.
According to the manufacturer, the monocrystalline solar cells will still produce 80% of their power even after 25 years of use and the the lithium-polymer battery holds roughly 80% of it’s capacity after 1,000 cycles.
Assuming this is true (I couldn’t test this for obvious reasons) this is great news for us preppers who want products that can last not only through abuse (see the durability section above) but through the duration of a long-term collapse situation. And keep in mind, if it’s as long-lasting as they say it is, the SunJack will probably outlast any device you plan to charge with it anyways.
Currently the SunJack 14 watt that I have goes for $150.00 on Amazon. They also have a 20 watt version that goes for $250.
For my uses, the 14 watt is plenty.
Some Nice to Haves
The one feature I would like to have seen in this is that it were weather/waterproof. I’m not necessarily saying it needs to be submersible, but more so that it would hold up in a decent rain.
SunJack’s manufacturer has fortunately come up with a decent (although not ideal) workaround. You can purchase a weatherproof sleeve:
Their weatherproof sleeve is specially designed to maximize sunlight pass-through while protecting against the elements.
All in all I really found the SunJack to be a solid product and one that I would definitely recommend as part of your preps and especially in your Bug-Out Bag. In fact, with it’s existing loops and a carabiner (I don’t recommend using their supplied carabiners since they’re worthless), you can easily attach the SunJack to your BOB to charge while on the move:
The SunJack is ideal for preppers who want to have portable power available for small gadgets such as smartphones and tablets. I’ve also been able to successfully charge some Ni-MH batteries with a AA USB charger I have which is what I need to keep a small 2-way HAM radio going that I have.
Back in 1995, Richard Preston wrote a #1 New York Time’s best-seller by the name of The Hot Zone which gave a startling view into the deadly seriousness and history of the Ebola Virus.
It’s a truly horrifying disease: bleeding from the ears, eyes, and anus; black vomit; liquefying organs and brain matter — death for 90% of those infected.
For years, the Ebola Virus has never been a huge issue because of the fast rate at which it kills its victims — allowing it to be contained and burn out relatively quickly within the small remote villages where it has primarily been found…up until now.
Unlike previous outbreaks, this latest outbreak is spreading beyond its borders.
Before 2014, the Ebola Virus never had topped more than around 400 victims (that was historically the worst outbreak which spread over a years time) and had been localized at most to a few neighboring villages before it had burned out.
Now, since March of 2014 (in just 5 months), there have been over 1000 reported cases (with over half of those infected already dead) in the ongoing outbreak across Guinea, northern Liberia, and now eastern Sierra Leone. The number of patients is constantly evolving due to the on-going investigation.
So far, it seems to be contained to those areas of Africa, but with the recent scare in the UK (which hopefully is not a cover up) with the ease of world travel, there is definite possibility of it spreading outside of Africa into Europe and beyond.
Is the Current Ebola Scare Really That Serious?
Although I’m heavily into prepping, unlike some outsiders may think, I’m far from a pessimist. And if you’ve been a reader for a while now, you’ve probably noticed I don’t tend to jump on the fear-mongering bandwagon that many others do — but at the same time, it’s important to have a healthy sense of caution.
Now, when you look at it in perspective to other global health issues (for example, malaria kills around 2000 PER DAY and typhoid fever claims 550 people EVERY DAY globally) it doesn’t appear to be that serious with only around 1000 cases with this latest outbreak.
However, unlike the illnesses listed above, there is no known treatment for Ebola in humans.
Doctors can offer supportive therapy, such as hydration, oxygen and treatment of complicating infections, but mortality rates are still very high.
(As a side note, there has been some promise with an experimental drug by the name of ZMapp which recently helped two US aid workers but it is not in mass production or approved by the FDA yet.)
On the positive side though, Ebola is not spread through airborne transmission (or more accurately “droplet transmission”) — in other words, there’s no evidence you can get it through sneezing like the flu. The way Ebola is spread is through direct contact with an Ebola patient’s blood or other bodily fluids like urine, saliva, and sweat — with the highest concentration of the virus being in blood, vomit and diarrhea.
My own opinion is that as long as this strain of Ebola doesn’t mutate so as to be spread through airborne or droplet transmission, I don’t feel we have too much to worry about here in the West.
But what if it does mutate where it can spread via airborne transmission? Will this be the next widespread pandemic similar to the Black Plague or worse? And how can you prepare your family or group for that event?
Well, read on…
How to Protect You and Your Loved Ones From a Pandemic
A friend of mine, Kevin Reeve (owner of the tactical training school OnPoint Tactical), uses a term called “Social Distancing” to illustrate the need to self-quarantine during viral outbreaks or pandemics.
Similar to what they do in the island of Samoa as well as Japan, when there is an viral outbreak outside of the island, they will completely isolate themselves (no one is allowed on to or to leave the island) until that outbreak has burned itself out.
In a similar manner, you must think of your home or retreat as an island where nothing from the outside is allowed to enter and no one is allowed to leave.
Since most any viral pandemic will burn out in 90 days, this should be the base time for which you and your family or group should prepare.
Let’s take a look at each of the Six Pillars of Survival and how it relates to this 90-day social distancing.
Personal Health and Security:
When it comes to being isolated for 90 days straight, it is important — especially if you were dependent upon medication or other medical needs — that you have sufficient supply for that three-month period.
Again, there cannot be any contact made with the outside — so medical supplies and other needs MUST BE accounted for beforehand.
Sanitation will also be a very important part of this 90-day isolation.
Since it is likely that utilities will stop at sometime, unless you are on a septic system and have enough water stored up for flushing you will need to have other places where you can dispose of human waste.
One of the best options is to use a simple 5-gallon bucket lined with a heavy duty contractor bag.
Simply lay a couple 2x4s across the bucket’s rim for a makeshift seat (or even take off an existing toilet seat and place it on top of the 5 gallon bucket) and do your business into the bag-lined bucket — a very effective makeshift toilet:
After each elimination it’s a good idea to pour in some sand or sand/lime mix to ensure that the smell is kept to a minimum.
Once the bag becomes somewhat full (or the smell becomes unbearable) simply tie off the bag, remove it from the bucket and leave it outside of the door in front of your home or shelter to be disposed by the “Outside Man” (which I explain below) or left outside until the 90 days is over.
Security is another very important aspect during a pandemic.
Especially during a deadly contagion, any direct contact with other humans outside of your family or group should be considered as a deadly threat.
As such, you need to take appropriate measures to prevent this type of contact happening.
As I go into detail in Prepper Academy, for proper home or retreat security you need to set up a layered defense around your home.
Among the most important of these layers is your perimeter. This is an imaginary or physical border (like a fence, wall, or natural boundary) that surrounds your home or property.
How far out this perimeter extends beyond the outside surface (or skin layer) of your home depends on your property, other’s property lines and whether you live in the boonies or a city.
The most important rule to remember with that perimeter during a deadly contagion is that NO ONE is allowed to breach the perimeter without some type of defensive/offensive action being taken. What that action is should be decided upon by your family or group before you get into that type of situation.
The Outside Man
This Outside Man lives in a separate shelter and has no direct contact (physical contact) with the inside group and is tasked with guarding the perimeter as well performing any external logistics like waste disposal or communication with outsiders.
To use the example of waste disposal, to ensure that no contact is made with the inside group, there will be a designated spot (essentially a virtual sally port) where the the group or family can leave a trash bag outside of the home and only after they are fully closed up again in the home, will the Outside Man retrieve and dispose of it.
The same holds true for meals (if the OM doesn’t have their own supply), drink or anything else the OM requires from inside. But again, THIS IS UNIDIRECTIONAL — in other words, supplies and other things only come from the inside and go out and nothing comes into the home (with one notable exception listed in the next section).
This now brings us to the next portion of this 90-day pandemic plan, which is how to set up your home or shelter.
I already explained the importance of a perimeter. I also explained the function of the Outside Man and his/her role.
In addition, you might want to consider having a separate shelter setup outside of the home to be used as a quarantine area (which could be as simple as a tent).
The purpose of the quarantine area is to be used in the case when a family member or friend of the group desires to come into the group to wait out the pandemic.
Basically, they would stay in this quarantine shelter for the period or duration of the incubation time of that contagion to ensure that no symptoms are shown. Once the incubation time for that contagion has passed and the person has not shown any of the symptoms their clothes are to be burned and after a complete scrub down they are allowed to enter the main shelter to be with the group.
Water will be one of the most important things to have during this 90- day period and will be something that many people will have trouble securing since you’ll require, at minimum, 90 gallons of water per person (in other words, 1 gallon per person per day for the entire duration).
It’s likely that utilities will still be functioning during the initial period of a pandemic, but as it becomes more widespread they will shut off because people will not be able to man them. It’s during that short window that you’ll want to fill up your bathtubs and any other containers available beyond what you’ve already stored.
There are many storage options that you can use (many of which I explained in detail again in my Prepper Academy course) but by doing a simple Google search you’ll find many different water storage methods that you can use.
Heat, Light and Energy
Having sufficient fuel (whether that’s wood, propane, gasoline or any other fuel type) for heating, cooking, lighting and other needs will be another important aspect during this 90-day isolation period.
You may also want to include sufficient batteries and or various solar setups that will power things like an iPad, laptop, ham radios and other electronics. These will come in real handy during that time (as I explain in the Tools section below).
A 90-day supply of food is obviously crucial since you will not be able to secure food from external sources like grocery stores or hunting.
You’ll want to store up many easy-to-prepare meals such as macaroni and cheese (using powdered milk), canned goods, ready-made foods and so on.
It’s not a bad idea to also include some laxatives since activity will be limited in such a small confined area where digestion for some might be a problem.
This brings us to another point:
Although popular among preppers and survivalists, MREs are probably not the best idea to have during this 90-day time period. These concentrated foods lacking in sufficient fiber are intended for short missions by our military personnel.
These are not ideal foods to be stored and used for a long term period such as three months given that they’ll likely become “Meals Refusing to Exit” instead of “Meals Ready to Eat”. Again, if that’s all you have it’s not a bad idea to store up a good supply of laxatives.
Our final category is Tools. Tools include all those things that aren’t exactly required for survival but greatly aid you in a survival event.
One example in this case is communication equipment. This includes radio equipment (such as ham radios or emergency radios) to be able to communicate with or get updates from the outside world. It’s also an important tool if you are employing the use of an Outside Man.
Another important “tool” is entertainment.
Most will become very stir crazy being in such tight confines for that long without being able to go outside, therefore it is of primary importance that you have plenty of books and different types of entertainment to keep you occupied and stimulated during that time period.
For those who are interested in more of a step-by-step approach I highly recommend you check out Prepper Academy.
It goes into a lot more detail than what I cover in this short article which I do not have the time or space to do. Prepper Academy is built upon four modules that each sequentially build upon each other (as shown in the following graphic):
And by just completing the first two modules, your family will be more than enough prepared for a 90-day isolation period required in a national or global-wide pandemic.
In addition, here are some other resources that might be of interest to you:
If you were in a SHTF situation, which one would you rather have – a bow or a firearm?
Before you gun nuts (me included) start saying there is no contest, I thought I’d use this article to maybe not so much change your mind but to expand your understanding of the capabilities and advantages of a bow that you may not have been aware.
So let’s take a look at some scenarios that you might face in a SHTF situation just to see how the bow stacks up:
The bow has been used as an effective hunting tool for thousands of years and continues to prove itself in this arena even in modern times. In fact, with improved technology, bow hunting has only gotten better.
For example, with the advent of compound bows, the improved performance along with their unique sighting systems makes accurate and effective shooting far easier to learn when compared to instinctive shooting methods required of recurve and long bows…
Crossbows further push the limits of performance by blending many of the advantages of rifle shooting (the use of a scope and shoulder stock) allowing a hunter to really spend time getting an accurate shot without needing to hold the bow in full draw:
The downside to the improved technology that comes with compound bows and crossbows is that with more mechanical features you have also a far greater chance of malfunction. This is where the old stick bow and recurve bow have the advantage.
In a bug out situation where you might be traveling longer than anticipated and ran out of supplies, a bow would be a handy tool to have for harvesting on route to your bug out location (yes, even cities have edible critters running around).
When it comes to being discreet, one of the greatest benefits a bow has over a firearm is that it is silent. Yes, I do understand that you can have silencers for your firearms, but have you ever really heard a silenced firearm? Other than with a subsonic .22 round they really aren’t that silent. Not compared to a bow releasing an arrow that is.
Also arrows, unlike bullets, are reusable. Even if you could find the bullet buried in the animal (or zombie) carcass, it would most likely be deformed. Then having to reload that bullet would require you to find the ejected case and have powder and a reloading press on hand – something not realistic in a bug out situation.
Finally, although it’s not as concealable as say a handgun, the newer take-down recurve bows can be taken apart and stored quite easily in (or strapped to the outside of) a bug out bag — so portability is really not a huge issue.
We’ve already discussed the silent advantage that bows have over firearms in a bug-out situation. This applies equally as well in a post-collapse situation.
In a situation where resupply is not possible, the ability to manufacture and maintain your own bow and arrows makes it an ideal post-collapse weapon.
I’ve successfully built both bows and arrows using materials found in nature as well as “urban” materials.
For example, using nothing but cedar for arrow shafts, glass bottle bottoms for arrow heads, and duct tape for fletchings, I’ve made very capable arrows that would do serious damage in both a hunting or self-defense situation.
For a bow stave, there are many things that you could use. In fact, people even make very powerful bows simply using PVC as you can see in the following video:
Using a Bow and Arrow in Combat
We all know that the bow and arrow has been an effective tool in ancient warfare for millennia. However, with the advent of the firearm it seems like the bow has played second fiddle.
When it comes to combat, most people think a bow wouldn’t be an effective weapon for modern times — especially when dealing with multiple threats. The thought is that “speed shooting”, as depicted by Legolas in The Lord of the Rings, isn’t possible.
You don’t either? Think again…
The reality is, not only is this possible but even faster speeds can be obtained. When it comes down to it, as we switched from bows to firearms, we lost a great deal of the combat abilities that were around during the ancient times with cultures like the Persians, Huns, and even our Native Americans. These ancient warriors were able to consistently shoot three arrows in under 1.5 seconds with deadly accuracy!
Still don’t believe me? Check out this video:
Another myth that people fall for is that arrows don’t have effective stopping ability. Having seen firsthand the damage a modern broadhead arrow tip can do to a deer, I’d much rather get shot by a .22 than one of those.
Finally, bows can be used to shoot arrows on top of structures or onto people hiding behind barricades. By taking advantage of its short parabolic flight by shooting an arrow at a steep upward angle, you can effectively hit the tops of structures and reach people behind barricades — something a firearm cannot do (at least the ones we have access to). Using flaming arrow tips to set roofs on fire are a perfect example of this.
Although I love shooting my recurve and compound bows, I am still very much a gun guy. And as such, I would prefer to have my guns with me in any of the situations above.
With that being said, I still do not disregard the extraordinary capabilities and effectiveness of archery in a SHTF situation and neither should you. Therefore I highly recommend you adding both firearms and archery to your SHTF plan.
Editor’s Note: In order to provide some inspiration and help others in their prepping journey, I like to include some personal experiences from my readers showing off some of their experiences and lessons-learned. Here’s the latest from Laurey in Vermont (one of my favorite states). If you have any experiences you’d like to share, feel free to send me an email via the contact form.
Hi everyone! My name is Laurey from simplyfarminvermont.com.
I have been gardening for over 24 years (that makes me feel old to say!!) However, with age comes experience, and experience brings wisdom!! Before I lived in the valleys of Addison County and started gardening, I lived in the mountains. On a logging road actually. And on the mountain is where I started learning about foraging. Slowly at first, and with just one or two edibles.
Blackberries were in abundance on logging trails, and as a child I loved going out and picking berries to add to my breakfast cereal and make pies with. That led to an interest in finding out what else was around me that I could eat.
Between gardening in the valley and the foraging in the mountains, I have had several years to learn about what is growing around me. I still love to garden, but I am a lot smarter about it now. And I have added chickens to my list of available foods as well.
Right now, I am living on a farm in the valley. I have four raised beds intensively planted with foods that do not grow wild around me. I considered the wild edibles when I decided what to plant in my garden, and determined what I could harvest from foraging instead of spending money, time, and space on planting a relative plant in the garden and caring for it.
I do not plant in rows, but rather blocks. This utilizes a lot of space that would otherwise be wasted. It is based somewhat on the book Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew.
The basic principal is to divide your beds into square feet, then from the packets of seeds determine what the final seed spacing is for each plant.
Instead of wasting seeds planting a bunch and then weeding them out later, you measure off the final spacing for each square foot and plant the seeds.
Example: there is 144 inches in each square foot. Radishes have a final spacing of one inch. So you can plant 144 seeds in one square foot. Lettuce has a final spacing of 12”-18”. I usually go with the 12” because I have good air circulation where my gardens are. So there would be one head of lettuce per square foot.
Since I do so much preserving, and need substantial amounts of fresh to eat and through the year, I usually plant one type of vegetable per 4′ bed. I didn’t have that option this year, but what I would have liked to do was one 4′ bed for garlic, one 4′ bed for onions, one 4′ bed for tomatoes, one 4′ bed for green beans, and so on.
So far in the garden I have butternut squash, cantaloupe, and buttercup squashes that are in full bloom and starting to set fruit. The currants that have been on the farm for years have been picked and jellied or dried, as has the rhubarb. My potatoes are growing like crazy in the lower field, and my tomatoes are in flower and setting fruit. The green beans have all but gone by, thanks to the help of a very cute chipmunk that took them off at the knee, so to speak. My kale, collards, broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, onions, and brussel sprouts are growing great.
I usually grow spinach in the garden, but had noticed lambs quarters grow wild. For those who don’t know, lambs quarters are a member of the spinach family. I saw no reason to spend money on seeds, and spend my time planting and caring for them, when I had free volunteers growing all around me. Three and a half ounces (weight) of lambs quarters have 43 calories, 7 from fat, no saturated fat or trans fat, no cholesterol, 43mg sodium, 7 g carbohydrates, 4g dietary fiber, and 4 g protein, 232 percent of vitamin A, 8 percent vitamin C, 31 percent calcium, and 7 percent iron. This is compared to Spinach’s 23 calories, 3 from fat, 0 saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol, 79mg sodium, 4g carbohydrate, 2g dietary fiber, 0 sugar, 3g protein, 188 percent vitamin A, 3 percent vitamin C, 10 percent calcium, and 15 percent iron. For no expense, not time commitment, and no maintenance cost, I chose the lambs quarters.
Also growing around me is wild spearmint, catnip, chamomile, ramps (wild onions), stinging nettles, burdock, carrots, parsnips, blackberries, blueberries, asparagus, dandelions, fiddlehead ferns, horseradish, red sumac, St. John’s Wort, plantain, oats, and clover.
I have dehydrated an abundance of all the above and more, and made some great dandelion wine for trading and bartering! I am currently working on strawberry rhubarb wine.
I have also added 42 chicks to my assortment of fresh foods.
The ones I bought are all layers, but there are several I chose specifically because they are of a size to make good dinners if they don’t make good layers.
I bought them as day old chicks in May, and they are now “teenagers”. I have turned them all out to forage for themselves, and they are growing fantastic.
I also had a surprise addition: one of my layers set on a nest and hatched out a baby too cute! Love watching them. The down side of where I live is the local fox, who got my last remaining rooster the day momma hatched out mini. I am glad to see I have at least one budding rooster in the new flock, and I’m hoping there are two more, but it is too soon to tell.
I would like to have my chickens do their replacement work themselves; I don’t have to buy replacements, and I don’t have to buy medicated food for babies. The mothers take care of everything. If I get too many extras, there is always the canning jars and dehydrator to solve the problem.
Either that or barter them off.
Although I have not raised them for food yet, rabbits are another fantastic back yard meat crop. Yes, I know, they are super cute! But they are also a very lean and prolific source of meat.
I had a friend who used to raise Rex’s for food, and it was fantastic. That and Rex rabbits give you great pelts! Bartering supply!
Like most people reading this, I am big into providing my own food. I garden, forage, grow, dehydrate, can, and occasionally freeze everything for year round use. I will say I am a little down on freezing, since my freezer broke down the end of the season last year and it took me three solid days to can up everything in the freezer.
I am much happier with my own homemade ready-to-eat soups, jams, pickles, and everything else sitting on a shelf at this point. And they are very easy to make. I usually just pull together seven canning jars, take what ever meat I have on hand, some fresh or dried vegetables, rice, beans, or whatever else I have on hand, and spices ( or a bullion cube) and put them in each jar. Add boiling water to half inch from the top, and put it through the pressure canner.
In sixty to ninety minutes I have seven pints or quarts of home made soup, ready for lunch, power outages, SHTF situations, or for giving to a sick neighbor. With three pressure canners, I can make 21 pints or quarts at a time.
I also use wild plants when possible to make my own salves, oils, and vinegars, and intend in the next few months to make soap. They are great for raising extra money for purchasing homesteading supplies, or for saving money by giving as gifts. I currently have a healing salve I am working on, one I have used for years for everything from diaper rash to sun burn, bug bites to cold sores. My daughter swears by the stuff! I’ll include the recipe with pictures in my posts on my web site, along with a download link for a document with pictures, nutritional information, where to find, how to harvest and how to cook other wild edibles. I will have it available in the next week or two.
Well, I guess that’s it for now!! I hope this gives everyone a place to start, or at least something to think about. Stay well!
As preppers we tend to accumulate stuff.
This, for obvious reasons, is a good thing, but on the other hand, our pantries, closets and other storage places tend to fill up. In many ways prepping and hoarding can be a fine line (except our stuff is much cooler ).
At any rate, to save space, it’s a good idea to store things that can serve multiple purposes. One of those things that is a great candidate for multi-purpose use is Baking Soda.
Not only does baking soda have an unlimited shelf life, but it kicks butt in the number and variety of uses that are great for preppers.
Here are [number] uses of baking soda specifically for preppers:
- Toothpaste and Tooth Whitener
As an alternative to commercial non-fluoride toothpastes, just dip your wet toothbrush into baking soda and brush. Not only does it do a fine job of cleaning, but it will freshen your mouth, neutralize odors (not just cover them up) and whiten your teeth. Try it for just a week and you’ll see…
- Oral Appliance Soak
For us older preppers (or those of us who didn’t take care of our teeth at a young age), baking soda is fantastic for soaking dentures and other mouth gear. Just add 2 teaspoons of baking soda to a small glass or bowl filled with warm water and drop your “appliance” in the solution. The baking soda solution loosens food particles and neutralizes odors.
- Facial Scrub and Body Exfoliant
By making a paste of 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water, you can have an effective facial scrub and body exfoliant. Rub in a gentle circular motion to exfoliate the skin. Rinse clean. This is gentle enough for daily use.
Baking soda dabbed under your pits makes a great deodorant and avoids some of the cancer causing ingredients found in traditional deodorants.
- Hair Wash
For you ladies (and some guys) that will be using hair styling products after the SHTF, baking soda when mixed with your shampoo does a great job at removing the residue that those products leave behind.
- Bath or Foot Soak
Tired after a long day of hunting or scavenging for supplies in the post-apocalyptic world? Just add 1/2 cup of baking soda to your bath which will neutralize the acids on your skin, wash away oil and perspiration, and leave your skin rejuvenated and soft.
- Handwash Dishes and Pots & Pans
Just add 2 heaping tablespoons of baking soda with your dish detergent to the dish water and it’ll help to cut loose all the caked on rabbit and pigeon parts.
- Clean Coffee and Tea Pots
Baking soda does a fine job at removing coffee and tea stains and getting rid of bitter off-tastes. Just wash your mugs and coffee makers in a solution of 1/4 cup baking soda in 1 quart of warm water. If the stains are still there, try soaking overnight in the baking soda solution and detergent or scrubbing with baking soda on a clean damp sponge.
- Cleaning Your Off-Grid Stoves and Solar Ovens
Got a rocket stove or solar oven that needs a good cleaning? Baking soda is non-toxic, gentle and environmentally safe. Sprinkle baking soda onto the bottom of the oven or all over the stove. Spray with water to dampen the baking soda. Let sit overnight. In the morning, scrub, scoop the baking soda and grime out with a sponge or rag, and rinse.
- Clean Floors
SHTF living can cause a lot of dirt and grime to build up on your floors. Just mix 1/2 cup baking soda in a bucket of warm water, mop and rinse clean for a sparkling floor. For scuff marks, use baking soda on a clean damp sponge, then rinse.
- Clean Furniture
Furniture can also be cleaned with the same solution as described above for floors.
- Strengthen Your Liquid Laundry Detergent
If the post-collapse lifestyle is really getting your clothes dirty, give your laundry a boost by adding 1/2 cup of baking soda to your laundry to make your liquid detergent work harder. Since the the pH balance is now better, the wash gets clothes cleaner, fresher and brighter.
- A Gentle Baby Clothes and Cloth Diaper Cleaner
Baby’s skin is quite a bit more sensitive than ours and requires the most gentle of cleansers. Baking soda is not only gentle but can help remove tough stains. Just add 1/2 cup of baking soda to a warm bucket of water with natural soap. Let the clothes or natural diapers soak overnight and wash as normal.
- Deodorize Trashcans
Sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of your trashcan to keep stinky trash smells at bay and the zombies away.
- Remove Odor From Carpets
Liberally sprinkle baking soda on the carpet. Let set overnight, or as long as possible (the longer it sets the better it works). Sweep up the larger amounts of baking soda, and vacuum up the rest (if you’ve still got power).
- Remove Oil and Grease Stains
Since you’ll be servicing a lot of your small engines when the SHTF, use baking soda to clean up light-duty oil and grease spills on your garage floor or in your driveway. Simply sprinkle baking soda on the spot and scrub with a wet brush.
- Keeping Battery Terminals Clean
Baking soda can be used to neutralize battery acid corrosion on cars, farm equipment, etc. because its a mild alkali. Make a paste of 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water, apply with a damp cloth to scrub corrosion from the battery terminal (be sure to disconnect the battery first). After cleaning and re-connecting the terminals, wipe them with petroleum jelly to prevent future corrosion.
- Clean Your Bug-Out Vehicles
Use baking soda to clean your bug-out vehicle lights, chrome, windows, tires, vinyl seats and floor mats without worrying about unwanted scratch marks (not that that really matters post-apocalypse). A simple solution is mixing 1/4 cup baking soda in 1 quart of warm water. Apply with a sponge or soft cloth to remove road grime, tree sap, zombie parts, bugs and tar. For stubborn stains, use baking soda sprinkled on a damp sponge or soft brush.
- Cold/Flu Preventative and Cure
Studies have shown that when taken internally, baking soda can help maintain the pH balance in your bloodstream. This is likely the basic premise behind its recommended uses against both colds and influenza symptoms. Recommended dosages from the Arm & Hammer Company for colds and influenza back in 1925 were:
- Day 1 Take six doses of ½ teaspoon of baking soda in glass of cool water, at about two-hour intervals
- Day 2 Take four doses of ½ teaspoon of baking soda in glass of cool water, at the same intervals
- Day 3 Take two doses of ½ teaspoon of baking soda in glass of cool water morning and evening, and thereafter ½ teaspoon in glass of cool water each morning until cold symptoms are gone.
- Ulcer Pain
I have personally recommended this to many including family members and have been surprised how remarkably effective it is. This would make sense, as the baking soda would immediately neutralize stomach acid. Dosing is typically 1-2 teaspoons in a full glass of water.
If you’ve ever read the baking soda boxes, you may have noticed that it can be substituted and used as an effective antacid for heartburn and acid indigestion. Just read the box for detailed instructions on how to use it in this way.
- Splinter removal
Add a tablespoon of baking soda to a small glass of water, then soak the affected area twice a day. Many splinters will come out on their own after a couple of days using this treatment.
- Minor burns and Sunburn remedy
Add ½ cup of baking soda to lukewarm bathwater, then soak in the tub for natural relief. When you get out, let your skin air dry, rather than toweling off the excess baking soda, for extra relief. You can also add a mixture of baking soda and water to a cool compress and apply it to the sunburn directly.
- Enhanced sports performance Distance runners have long engaged in a practice known as “soda doping” – or taking baking soda capsules before races to enhance performance,3 a measure that’s thought to work similarly to carbohydrate loading. While I don’t suggest you try this at home, it’s another example of baking soda benefits.
- Insect Bites & Poison Ivy Remedy
A paste made from water and baking soda makes for an effective salve onto itchy skin caused by insect bites or poison ivy (and other plant irritants).
Used internally and externally, baking soda has been a great help for those suffering with acne.
- Canker Sores
1 tsp of baking soda and 1 tsp of water and kept it in my mouth as long as possible. Repeat 3 times within 1 hour.
- Detox Bath
Baking soda and apple cider make a wonderful spa-like bath for soaking away aches and pains and detoxing. It also cleans the tub and the drain, as a bonus
- Cure for Cancer?
According to Dr. Mark Sircus (from Winning the War on Cancer), “Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is the time honored method to ‘speed up’ the return of the body’s bicarbonate levels to normal. Bicarbonate is inorganic, very alkaline and like other mineral type substances, supports an extensive list of biological functions. Sodium bicarbonate happens to be one of our most useful medicines because bicarbonate physiology is fundamental to life and health.”
- Clean and Freshen Your Hunting/Scavenging Gear
Use a baking soda solution (4 tablespoons baking soda in 1 quart warm water) to clean and deodorize smelly hunting/scavenging equipment. Sprinkle baking soda into your boots and other clothes to help them become scent free — very important when hunting scent-aware animals.
Also, take your hunting clothes and place them in a plastic tote with sprinkled soda layered between the clothes. Then place an open box of baking soda in the tote and seal it up. By storing your hunting clothes in this manner it makes for an effective scent control method without paying the crazy prices of commercial scent control.
- Scent Control for Hunting
By taking a “soda shower” (mix a few tablespoons with some liquid non-scent soap) prior to your hunt, you can effectively descent your body.
And while out in the field, carry around a tied up sock filled with baking soda and “dust” yourself over your clothes, body and in your hair for a very effective scent control method.
- Shine Up Your Silver Before Barter
Looking to barter some of your silver for supplies in a post-collapse society? Be sure it looks as attractive as possible by making your silver super shiny. Just take 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water and rub onto the silver with a clean cloth or sponge. Rinse thoroughly and dry.
- Extinguish Fires
Throwing baking soda (as opposed to water which will make it worse) on a minor grease or electrical kitchen fires is a very effective way of extinguishing it. Why? It gives off carbon dioxide, which helps to smother the flames.
- Post-Collapse Septic Care
Got a septic system? Regular use of baking soda in your drains can help keep your septic system flowing freely (much needed when the septic man is no longer available). One cup of baking soda per week will help maintain a favorable pH in your septic tank.
- Making Baking Powder
Have a sweet tooth post collapse? By adding 2 parts of cream of tartar (also has practically unlimited shelf life) with one part baking soda, you can make baking powder — a necessary ingredient in muffins and cakes. Baking powder (since it’s mixed already with cream of tartar) absorbs moisture and will expire long before baking soda or cream of tartar alone. For more info check out a recent article: How to Make Baking Powder
- Bug-Out Cure-all
Baking soda is not only fantastic for your in-home storage but it’s a must-have for bugging out. It’s a dish washer, pot scrubber, hand cleanser, deodorant, toothpaste, fire extinguisher, medical aid and many other uses listed here.
Sanitation and Cleaning
Miscellaneous Prepper Uses
Where to Get Large Amounts of Baking Soda
Instead of the small 1 lb boxes found in grocery stores, you can get larger 5 lb bags at Costco and Sam’s Club. Even better, check out Amazon for there 14 lb bags (click on the image to be redirected):
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What Is Happening
In recent years, especially in developing countries, national governments have been escalating their war on cash. Although the claim is for the safety and convenience of its citizens, it’s nothing less than “a despotic attack by the ruling elites on the personal privacy and liberties of their citizens.”
This drive towards a “cashless society” is being headed by the likes of the left leaning Ford Foundation who in 2012 with the cooperation of national governments and their central banks have created what they call “The Better Than Cash Alliance”.
What is it?
Here’s some commentary about it written by Joseph Salerno from the Mises economic blog:
Even more ludicrous and misleading than its name is the statement of purpose that appears on its website according to which it “ provides expertise in the transition to digital payments to achieve the goals of empowering people and growing emerging economies.”
That’s pretty comical.
Mr. Salerno continues:
In addition to the powerful Ford Foundation, the Alliance involves the following “partners”: the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and (surprise, surprise!) the failed and bailed -out Citi as well as credit card companies Mastercard and Visa. The United Nations is also involved, with the UN Capital Development Fund serving as the alliance’s secretariat. Among other UN agencies participating are the World Food Program and the United Nations Development Program. Other alliance members include several government agencies in developing countries and a number of private aid agencies such as Catholic Relief Services.
Here are some of the methods that alliances such as these and others are using to limit the use of cash in our society:
Method One: Limit Large Currency Denominations
One of the hidden ways that this is being done (especially in the US) is by limiting large denominations of currency to its citizens.
Unbeknownst to many, there was a time when US currency was issued in denominations running up to $10,000 (there were also $500, $1,000 and $5,000 notes). There was even a $100,000 note issued for transactions among Federal Reserve banks.
Nowadays, all of that currency has been taken out of circulation and the largest bill that we have is the $100 bill.
What makes it worse is our dollar has depreciated since 1969 by over 80% due to the inflationary monetary policies of the Fed. What this means is that our current $100 note is only worth $16.83 in 1969 dollars. That is less purchasing power than a $20 bill in 1969!
The Feds refusal to issue larger denomination notes makes it increasingly difficult for us to use cash in large transactions…which is exactly what they are hoping for:
Despite this enormous depreciation, the Federal Reserve has steadfastly refused to issue notes of larger denomination. This has made large cash transactions extremely inconvenient and has forced the American public to make much greater use than is optimal of electronic-payment methods. Of course, this is precisely the intent of the US government. The purpose of its ongoing breach of long-established laws regarding financial privacy is to make it easier to monitor the economic affairs and abrogate the financial privacy of its citizens, ostensibly to secure their safety from Colombian drug lords, Al Qaeda operatives, and tax cheats and other nefarious white-collar criminals.
Method Two: Limit the Amount of Cash Withdrawals
There have been two very recent accounts of large banks such as HSBC and Chase Bank limiting the amount of withdrawals that a customer can take out at one time.
You might not think dehydrated toothpaste blobs are such a novel idea but keep in mind, every little bit of weight savings helps in lightening the load of your bug out bag — making for easier travel when you need it most.
How to Make Dehydrated Single-Serving Toothpaste Dots
This process is so simple it’s definitely worth at least trying just so that you can see what I mean:
What You’ll Need
- aluminum foil
Making Dehydrated Toothpaste Dots Step-by-Step
|Step 1: Lay out some aluminum foil.
|Step 2: Squeeze individual toothpaste dots on to foil sheet. You should squeeze out the same amount of pasted you typically add to your toothbrush.
|Step 3: Let it dry outside in the sun for about a day or two.
Or use a dehydrator for around 6-8 hours on high…
|Step 4: Store them away in a Ziploc bag or other moisture resistant container and put them in your bug out bag. They should have the consistency and tacky feel of dried chewing gum. Also, if you’re worried about the dots sticking together, sprinkle a bit of baking soda in the bag or container and shake to sufficiently cover the dehydrated toothpaste dots. The baking soda is not harmful in any way but is in fact very healthy for your teeth.
|Step 5: To use, simply pop one in your mouth, mix it with your saliva and brush your teeth as normal. You could also add a little bit of water but I find my own saliva just as effective.|