Tuesday, August 27, 2013

List of Lists - Documents

For the next category on the list of lists we will talk about documents. Even post SHTF, keeping track of your personal documents is important. Having your lease handy may convince authorities to allow you to continue past a checkpoint toward your home when most others are being turned away. Your social security card will provide proof that you are an American citizen, which is obviously useful during a nationwide disaster. Your marriage license may prevent you from being forcefully separated from your spouse during martial law. It's important to keep these documents and extra copies of them (in appropriate cases) protected and easily accessible. A fireproof lockbox and waterproof case is advisable. Some documents to keep safe and secure are:

- Marriage license
- Power of Attorney
- Insurance forms
- Car titles and registration
- Last Will and Testament
- DD 214
- 401(k) forms
- List of usernames, account numbers, passwords, lock combinations, PINs and ID numbers
- Birth certificates
- Social Security cards
- Debit and credit cards
- Proof of residency, lease agreement
- Other IDs and licenses
- Membership cards
- Pet tags
- Military dog tags

Some people will not have some of these documents. Only former military will have a DD 214, for instance.

It is up to you to make judgments on what documents to keep within easy reach. Just because a document isn't on this list, doesn't mean it isn't important. Take this document list and tailor it to your needs. Do you have a persistent medical condition? Maybe your medical records would be useful to keep around. Have a rare blood type? A blood type card in your wallet may assist medical professionals during your care. Look at your unique situation and make your own judgments regarding important documentation.

Friday, August 23, 2013

List of Lists - Communication

Work has been very hectic lately for me and getting home exhausted at the end of the day has me posting less often. I am hoping to pick up again with more frequent posts.

So now we continue on our list of lists to talk about the subject of communication. Communication is a more complex subject the deeper you try to go into it. Some people will see communication during TEOTWAWKI as little more than a couple of walkie talkies for family members to use when walking around. For others, communication might mean something like a ham radio setup. Obviously, your budget, available space, desires, needs and abilities will dictate what kind of communications setup you have.

In an ideal SHTF situation (is there such a thing?) cell phone networks would still be at least somewhat functional. But you have to expect that the conventional lines of communication will be down for an extended period of time while still remembering that a recovery will mean their restoration. This means we have to be able to communicate without cell phones but still have those phones charged and ready for when they do become useful again.

A good communications list should at least contain these assets:

- Ham Radio setup
- CB Radio setup
- Two way radios
- Police Scanner
- Cell phones
- Cell phone chargers, hand-crank preferred

Ham radio (also called amateur radio) is represented and coordinated by the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU). Amateur radio is divided into three regions. IARU region one includes Europe, West Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Region two includes North, South and Central America. IARU region 3 includes South Asia, East Asia and the Pacific Islands. Amateur radio allows you to communicate with people all over the world. Amateur radio requires licensing, so it's a good idea to research and begin the process of licensing as soon as you are able. Purchasing used equipment, you can have a basic, effective ham setup for as little as $300 for a radio, $100 for an antenna and $100 for peripherals.

CB (Citizen's Band) radio is a shorter distance radio communications setup. There are 40 channels available on CB. CB is a great way to communicate quickly and easily with other CB users near you.

Two ways radios are extremely valuable after the SHTF. Anytime a member of your group puts any distance between them and the rest of the group, you should maintain radio communication. The reasons for this are obvious. You never know what type of situation could arise.

A police scanner will be extremely helpful if the rile law is maintained in any way post-SHTF. Any type of local law enforcement will know that communication with officers or deputies is a priority. Having a scanner can help you avoid trouble spots, or even help you avoid the law enforcement officers themselves if the local police is not acting in the best interests of the citizenry.

Even if the power grid goes down, you should try to keep cell phones charged and ready for use. As soon as cell phone communications are restored, cell phones will likely immediately become your primary means of communication with the outside world. One way of keeping cell phones charged and ready is with a hand-crank cell phone charger. Needless to say, you won't be able to charge your phone on a wall outlet if the power grid goes down. Keep those traditional cell phone chargers around, but go out and pick up a couple of hand-crank ones as well.

In a long term grid-down scenario, some kind of courier mail system may come about. Don't forget the communication methods of the old days. There is a reason the old Pony Express is still famous today.

Communications in a post-SHTF world is something that shouldn't be overlooked. Once something goes down, one of the first thoughts in most people's minds will be to wonder if family and friends are safe. This stress can be alleviated with an adequate communications plan.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Everyday carry items.

Everyday carry (EDC) is a tenet that runs throughout the survivalism community. EDC is a term that describes the items that you carry on your person on a daily basis, especially when you're out of your house. The average American male will EDC a wallet, a cell phone and car keys. The average American female will EDC several additional items inside a purse. A cell phone, wallet or change purse, car keys, small hygiene items and a few bits of makeup are about all. This is generally the extent of EDC for the average person.

The survivalist is likely to have a unique EDC set at all times. This is the entire point of being a survivalist, being ready to make it through any situation that arises. EDC is not, however, a full get out of dodge kit (G.O.O.D.) or bug out bag (BOB). EDC is simply items that can be comfortable and discreetly carried at all times in pockets, on a belt or even on a string around the neck. Some common and advisable EDC items include:

- Concealed carry weapon (CCW) and ammo magazine(s) in accordance with local, state and federal laws
- Survival knife in accordance with local, state and federal laws
- Multi-tool
- Wallet with $20-$50 cash, identification, driver license, blood type card and required permits for CCW
- Car keys
- Flashlight
- 550 paracord bracelet

This might sound like a bit much to carry around, but with some research and practice, you can make it easy and comfortable.

Choose a compact firearm for EDC. Even a compact .45ACP handgun can be easily concealed. Try not to carry any caliber weapon smaller than a 9mm if possible. Use an in-the-waistband (IWB) holster to make your CCW less conspicuous when you're wearing Summer clothes. An outside-the-waistband (OWB) holster is a bit more comfortable and is sufficient to use with loose or layered clothing. Make sure you learn the laws in your state to ensure that you avoid trouble with local law enforcement.

A knife is something that can be easily carried in a pocket or on a belt clip. A multi-tool has a knife blade on it and can also be easily carried on a belt clip. Most people who carry a multi-tool will not also carry a knife, since the multi-tool has a knife blade.

A 550 paracord bracelet should contain approximately 10 feet of cordage.

A small flashlight, like a "Mini-Maglite", fits easily on a keychain.

Another idea is to take a small plastic card and wrap several feet of duct tape around it. This gives you an easy way to carry a little bit of duct tape with you in your wallet or in a pocket without even feeling it. The uses for duct tape are endless.

EDC is just "level one" readiness, if you will. The next level would consist of a BOB to get you from your current location to a bug out location (BOL). The BOB is made to get you through a 72 hour move to you BOL. The next level of readiness would be a deep larder and stored supplies at a BOL. With all that in mind, readiness starts with the items you carry with you on a day to day basis.

Four basic survival needs.

Many people talk about the basic needs of survival. In a survival situation, it's important to remember the four essentials. These are water, food, shelter and security.

WATER - It's generally accepted that a person can live for three or four days without water. When you factor in the kinds of things you'll have in a survival situation such as adverse weather or terrain, you begin to shorten that period of time. In arid environments, you sweat out a lot of water. In a cold environment, you might sweat less, but you'll sweat without even knowing or feeling it. This can be equally as dangerous as sweating profusely in a hot location. Look for low lying areas and green vegetation. Upon finding water, observe for signs of use by local wildlife. Needless to say, mosquito larvae or animal carcasses in or beside the water are signs that the water may not be safe for drinking. Animal tracks can be an indication of use, signaling that the water is at least useable. Boiling is still needed. Be observant of any tracks as they can clue you in on what wildlife is nearby, be it predators or prey. Digging several feet into the soil can also yield amounts of drinking water, though it will need to be filtered if possible before the usual boiling.

Many people believe that you must allow water to boil for a bit of time to be safe. This is not necessary. Once the water begins to form bubbles from the heat, it has already passed the point of killing all bacteria present. Another thing to remember is that it is possible to boil water in a plastic bottle, as long as the bottle has enough water in it to absorb the heat. Otherwise, the bottle will melt.

Water from plants is generally safe to be used for drinking. Some thick vines can hold large amounts of water. Beware of any milky discharge. This means the plant is not producing safe water to drink. Coconuts can be a valuable source of fluids. The younger the coconut, the more water it will have before it turns into "coconut milk". That milk is still good for drinking and it contains electrolytes and sugar for energy. The meat is good for food as well. If you crack the coconut carefully, it can be used as a bowl for catching rainwater.

FOOD - Food can sometimes be harder to find than water. It can be difficult to know which plants can be eaten. A good way to test if a plant is edible is to take a part of the plant and chew a tiny bit once or twice, making sure to get it on the tongue. An itchy, extremely bitter or slight burning sensation means that the plant is not safe to eat.

Local wildlife is another source of food. However, it is often advisable to use more energy to escape to civilization than to hunt for food that you have to chase or kill. If you can manage to catch prey, ensure that you do not rupture the intestines during the skinning process. This will contaminate the meat of the catch and make it unsafe to eat. Cut into the skin along the front mid-line of the body with a knife or a sharp edge of a chipped rock. Peel the fur or skin back. You should be left with a thin membrane holding the guts in. Carefully slice through this without rupturing the intestines.

Fishing can be a low energy method of finding food. Finding a small stream allows you to block it off with sticks or a makeshift net. Fish are easy to clean and relatively fast to cook. Be aware of other abundant sources of food native to the area you're in. If you find yourself in a Louisiana swamp, boil crawfish over a fire. If you find yourself near a rocky shore, look for crabs, clams and small fish.

SHELTER - Building a shelter is often overlooked. The problem with this thinking is that the weather can turn on you at anytime, and if you aren't protected at all from the elements, all the food and water in the world may not save you. Rain and wind can give you hypothermia, even in the Summer. The ambient air temperature can rise rapidly even when there is snow on the ground, causing you to sweat without even knowing it. Shelter can lift the spirits of those in a survival situation and provide additional comfort and protection from dangerous wildlife. When on the move, leave you nightly shelters intact as a sign that you have been there. Rescuers have found lost hikers after coming across their abandoned stick shelters.

A simple and effective shelter can built between two thin trees using nothing more than three long sticks and some large leaves. Don't have large leaves? Gather some extra sticks for "cross beams" and pile some grass or pine needles on for a roof. Keeping yourself out of the sun, rain and wind is important. Don't overlook it. Beware of creatures that live in caves when choosing one for a shelter. They make great shelters, but be careful. Caves can quickly flood even in light rain. Fallen trees can provide quick protection from weather as well.

If possible, gather some strong sticks with a split at one end, stick them strongly into the ground and place cross branches over them to make a bed that keeps you off the ground. Use leaves, pine needless or grass to soften it. This will keep the ground from sapping your body heat and keep you away from bugs and snakes.

SECURITY - This is probably the most overlooked essential. Local wildlife has a food chain system, and in many places, you drop several spots on that chain when you find yourself in a survival situation. A long, heavy ended stick can be used as a basic club. Sharpen the end on a rock for a spear type of weapon. Using a knife to whittle a sharp point is even better. A firearm, when in trained hands, is an ideal security tool. If I had to choose one of my personal weapons to take into a survival situation, I'd choose my Ruger 10/22 carbine rifle. .22LR is an ideal survival caliber. A survival knife has a million uses and self defense against predators is certainly one. Be aware of the predators in your area. In Florida, you'll need to watch for alligators. In Montana, cougars pose a threat. In Texas, the Javelina (a type of wild boar) can seriously injure a grown man. Every region of the world has different threats. It would behoove you (If I can use an Army term) to be educated on the local threats.

It is worth mentioning that in some parts of the world, guerrillas, pirates, criminals, armed rebels or terrorists pose as big of a threat as any wildlife out there. If you must find yourself in these areas, be knowledgeable, well armed and always have an escape plan from any location you go to. Even when staying in a big city hotel, there are factors to keep in mind. Staying on the first or second floors makes you one of the first targets in a terrorist attack or room break-in, but staying above the third or fourth floors makes escape from the building for any reason (Fire, for example) problematic.

I don't mention fire as one of these essentials because it is a major part of every one of the four "must haves" I just went over. Fire is required for boiling water, cooking food, warming your shelter and keeping predators away from your camp. It goes without saying that fire is a necessity, and it is such a necessity that it deserves a separate discussion altogether. I'll talk about fire soon.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

List of Lists - General Clothing

The next category on the list of lists is the general clothing category. The importance of this particular category is obvious. This category also has the potential to be the most customized category because people live in such diverse areas and find many different types of clothing to fit their needs. Due to this category being subject to such a high degree of customization, it's a very generalized list. Rather than seeing items listed such as "4 pairs of earth-tone, tactical cargo pants in differing colors", you're more likely to see it listed simply as "cargo pants". I'll leave it up to you to decide what's best for you.

Some of the items that should be included on the general clothing list are:

- Undergarments
- Regular socks
- Wool socks (Breathes, dries quickly, wicks away sweat and retains warmth even when wet or dirty)
- Short sleeve tee-shirts
- Long sleeve tee-shirts (Sun protection, but stays cool)
- Cold weather coats and jackets
- Shorts
- Long pants (A mix of cargo pants and jeans will be my personal choice)
- Sturdy tennis shoes
- Hiking boots
- Hats
- Sunglasses

I know that some might be thinking "I live in Southern Arizona!" I don't have any need for any cold weather clothing!". Others might be thinking "I live in Alaska. I can do without putting shorts on the list."

The truth is, you never know what kind of weather will be thrown at you. People have gotten heat stroke in snowy weather. People have gotten hypothermia in the desert. This is a "general clothing" list because it includes a good general supply of clothing to keep you ready for any type of weather.

Another thought many people may have is about wearing fatigues when the SHTF. Fatigues certainly have their place on a list, but the general clothing list is not the one. The clothing on this list will help you to blend in with other people. This is the "gray man" method. It's a good idea to look like you're not well prepared, well armed survivalist. That makes you a target of looters and a person of interest to everyone from your neighbors to the police to government agents when a crisis occurs.

More specialized items of clothing such as prescription glasses or fatigues are covered by other categories.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Be vigilant...

Americans today need to be more and more vigilant of the overreach by the federal government in our daily lives. The fed continues to seek out new ways to be intrusive and gain increasing levels control. One of the ways they seek control, possibly the most dangerous way, is through gun control. Whatever they choose to call it, be it "common sense gun safety legislation" or "gun violence prevention measures", it is not about safety or reducing violence. Gun violence has been steadily decreasing since 1984, according to FBI statistics. The real focus of these measures is gaining another degree of control over the American populace.

The gun control debate should be a very simple discussion, open and closed. However, the goal of the "anti-gunners" is to muddy the debate and make it as complex and confusing as possible. Looking at only a few things can show that when law abiding gun owners are empowered to maintain arms and defend themselves, the result is a positive one.

One thing to look at is violent crime rates in places where gun ownership is rare or non-existent. For instance, in Great Britain the violent crime rate is significantly higher than the violent crime rate in the US. The US in 2010 reported 403 violent crimes per 100,000 people. In Great Britain, the rate was over 2,000 violent crimes committed per 100,000 people. In Australia, an almost total ban on gun ownership has resulted in almost no change in violent crime or even firearm related crime.

Another thing to pay attention to is the violent crime rate in the so called "gun control Meccas" in the US. President Obama once stated that Chicago is a model for America on the gun control issue. Today, Chicago is among the most dangerous cities in America due to their high rate of firearm related crime, gang related crime and overall violent crime. Other cities with strict gun control coupled with high crime rates are Detroit, Michigan, St. Louis, Missouri, New Orleans, Louisiana, Washington D.C., Stockton, California and Los Angeles, California.

The issue of mass shootings needs to be touched on. Every time there is a mass shooting, the gun control advocates seize on it to push their agenda. Chicago governor Rahm Emanuel, one of America's biggest gun control advocates, spelled it out for us when he said "never let a crisis go to waste". These advocates ignore the fact that mass shootings actually occur less frequently than in past decades. They also ignore that when a mass shooting does occur, almost every single one occurs in a location where law abiding citizens are prohibited from legally carrying a firearm, the shooter rarely uses a so called "high powered, military style assault weapon" and the shooter rarely carries "high capacity magazine clips".

The last point I want to make on the issue of gun control, or "common sense gun violence prevention legislation" as the fed wants to call it, is that the people who are being demonized the most are not the ones who are committing the crimes. The ones who are committing the vast majority of firearm related crimes are criminal to begin with who are already supposed to be prohibited from possessing a gun. The fed already does not properly enforce laws we have on the books. Instead, they seek to enact new strict laws that will only affect people who are not committing crimes. NRA members are not robbing banks or conducting drive by shootings in Chicago. The nearly insignificant number of guns purchased without background checks at gun shows are not being used against police in Detroit. The Ruger 10/22 given to a boy by his dad for Christmas is not ending up in the hands of the Mexican drug cartels. Therefore, there is no reason to enact to laws that will infringe on the 2nd Amendment rights of law abiding Americans.

Unless of course, the real goal isn't about reducing crime, but rather increasing the control the fed has over the American people...

Podcast appearance on 02 August, 2013.

I was recently invited to do an interview on a libertarian-based podcast. It went well and we discussed a broad range of topics. Here is the interview. I really enjoyed the discussion and hope to make more appearances in the future.


List of Lists - Chemical, Biological, Radiological & Nuclear (CBRN)

Sorry for the slow posting, life has been busier lately and I've thought about what I was going to do for the next post in the "List of Lists" subject. I've decided to skip the bug out bag and book lists for now. The bug out bag concept certainly deserves a post completely separate from these other subjects. You'll see why later, as a bug out bag is a highly personalized and detailed animal. The subject of books is being skipped for right now simply because I need to do more research on the matter. The book list has the potential to be the longest part of your list of lists because while you can always be stocked on beans, bullets and Band-Aids, you can never be stocked well enough on knowledge and skills. So I will discuss bug out bags and books at a later time.

Therefore, the next subject on the list is the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) preparation list.

History has seen the use of biological warfare dating back as far as the dark ages. In WWI, chemical warfare was conducted with mustard gas. In WWII, the atomic bomb was the first use of nuclear warfare. While many people view a CBRN type of event as one of the less likely events to bring on TEOTWAWKI, one should be prepared for such an event. The alternative can be painful.

True, in the worst case scenario there may be no way to survive a CBRN event. If such an event occurs right where you're located, it may be the end for you. But in other circumstances, there are some things you can do to maximize your odds of survival. Some of the items that should be included on the CBRN list are:

- Gas mask and filters
- Heavy rubber gloves
- Heavy rubber boots
- Visqueen 10 mil sheet plastic
- Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) suit

The uses of these items are obvious. There are also resources for obtaining the full MOPP suit from military surplus stores and online surplus stores. Ensure that all items you receive are sealed in the original protective packaging.

Duct tape is an obviously beneficial item for securing the sheet plastic over doors and windows, but since it has so many other uses, I'll have it listed in a separate section of the list of lists.

The CBRN threat is admittedly one of the less likely events to happen. However, the entire point of preparing for TEOTWAWKI is to be ready for events that we don't foresee.