Why You Should Keep Tarp in Your Survival Kit

Why You Should Keep Tarp in Your Survival Kit A few weeks ago, we took a day trip to a wilderness area for a picnic.  There was no rain in the forecast that day, and there were no clouds in the sky when we set out.  After an hour’s drive, we arrived and scoped out a spot by some trees.  A couple of hours later, the clouds started coming in.  Pretty soon the sky was dark and you could just feel a slight cool down in the temperature, which signifies rain.  The wind came in and we knew we were about to have a downpour.  We didn’t want to leave just yet, so Mr. Apt Prepper rigged up a tarp into a makeshift shelter.  Paracord came in handy for tie-ups.

It was not a very attractive set-up but it kept us from getting drenched.  The rain lasted for about 45 minutes then the sun came out.

I was glad we had the tarp and paracord to build a makeshift shelter.  I have written about paracord before, but not about tarp.

Mutiple uses for tarp:

  • Barrier under a tent floor to protect you from sharp rocks or critters
  • Blanket to keep warm
  • Picnic blanket
  • Use as a hammock
  • Improvise a stretcher to carry an injured person
  • Use as a surface to field dress game
  • Make a shelter to protect from rain or to get some shade
  • Protect your car’s seats from messes
  • As a wrapping for stuff
  • Assemble into a backpack with paracord straps
  • As a covering for items carried on top of your car or truck
  • For camouflage if it is has the right colors
  • Make a sail
  • Catch rainwater:  dig a hole in the ground, line it with tarp and collect water.  It can also be used to direct the flow of water into a container
  • Protect your floor while doing a paint job
  • Use as a way to signal – if you are lost somewhere, find an area to spread out the tarp so it can be seen from above.
  • Makeshift shower curtain
  • Privacy screen for an outdoor toilet
  • Make an indoor fort for kids to entertain themselves during a power outage
  • Covering for windows

Keep some tarp, along with paracord and some duct tape in your car survival kit.  While you’re at it, might as well keep one at home and in your bug out bag.

 

 

What to Do If Your Partner Thinks Prepared = Paranoid

What to do if you partner think prepared equals paranoidThis post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

On a beautiful day such as the one pictured above, it’s hard to even imagine a natural or even a man-made disaster disrupting things.  If you even mention something about being prepared, your relatives or friends will say “you are just being paranoid.”  I have heard this so often among people who want to prepare; even one of our readers has brought it up in a comment.

Should you forget about being prepared because your partner and your family do not support you?  No!  I think there are a ways to get around this issue.

Understand the other point of view

We have to accept that the majority of the population is not concerned about preparedness.  Even when faced with facts and news about what happened to other people who had been in disasters, they refuse to do anything to prepare.  There are a lot of reasons for this:

  • Ignorance:  Many people are not aware of the threats to infrastructure, and what would happen if trucks stop delivering goods.
  • Fear:  Afraid to admit a lot of things can go wrong.  People do not want to feel threatened and may get turned off the idea
  • Consumerism:  Would rather spend money on shopping for clothes, gadgets, expensive vacations
  • Someone will save us:  Belief that someone (government, family) will be always around to help
  • Normalcy bias:  Belief that things will always be as they were before; refusal to admit something could go wrong even in the face of facts.

Once you understand the reasoning for their resistance, you can start working on your approach.

What NOT to do

Do not try to get preachy or argumentative.  If they are already resistant to the idea, getting into an argument isn’t going to change their mind.

If you get confrontational about it, the person may just “dig their heels” even more or become hostile about the idea.

Start slow

If you sense that your family has objections, you will need to start slowly, with baby steps to get them used to the idea.  Introduce the idea during appropriate times, such as while watching a zombie movie, TV show or hearing about a disaster in another state (that could happen in your location).

Approach the idea in a way that is not threatening but as a conversation piece “What would we do if that were to happen?”  The type of responses you get will determine your next move.

Regional disasters

The easiest things to prepare for are regional perils that your family may face.  It is easier to justify your efforts because of probable threats.

If it’s hurricane season and you are in a hurricane area, you have a good reason to gather supplies and set it aside “just in case.”  Then you can slowly build your stockpile.

Compromise

If your wife or husband loves to shop for the latest and greatest, but you’d rather spend money on emergency supplies, come to an agreement on spending.  Some couples agree on a certain amount of “fun money” per pay period that each one is free to spend without judging from the other.  He or she may want to spend “fun money” at the mall, but you spend yours on supplies.

Other non-threatening approaches

  • Convenience:  If you have supplies, you do not have to be constantly running to the store to restock.  Every new parent knows panic when their baby runs out of formula late at night and they have not gone to the store.  That is something to avoid.  Even running out of everyday items such as sugar or toilet paper is a big pain if you have to drop everything and go to the grocery store for one item because you left it out of your list one day.
  • What matters most   Everyone has things that he or she feels strongly about – , things they would not want to run out or lose access.  The wife or husband who feels you are just being paranoid won’t be so critical if you show you are “doing it for the kids.”  No one would want their kids to suffer in the event of an emergency.  Teens may be concerned about losing power on their smart phones – get them a solar charger.  If your teen daughter is concerned about never running out of tampons, then by all means, stock up on those items.
  • Cost-Cutting:  You can start your stockpile without raising a lot of eyebrows by using frugal techniques that help your household save money.  Start using coupons and taking advantage of “buy one get one free” offers.  When questioned about buying multiples of one item such as canned fruit or granola bars, emphasize what a great deal you got so you stocked up.
  • Hobbies and skills:   You can learn survival and self sufficiency skills like bread making, canning or wood-working without making someone feel insecure by labeling these activities as hobbies.   I once had a long conversation with a mom at church.  She was describing all her husband’s hobbies- gardening, archery, hunting, fishing, and even metal working.  The family, who lives in a nice neighborhood, even has a mini foundry in their garage where her husband crafts swords!  These sound like great survival skills to me, but no one had a problem with it in the neighborhood.  These activities are all considered “hobbies.”

If you feel strongly about becoming prepared and getting some degree of security for your family, it is important that you get started.  Don’t alienate your significant other in the process; instead, frame your activities in a common sense, practical light.

© Apartment Prepper 2014

 

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10 Prepping Tips for New Parents

10 Prepping Tips for New Parents

This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

On one of of the blog comments, a new mom expressed her concern for the safety of her young child in the event of a disaster.  It is bad enough worrying about yourself in an emergency; it is only natural for a new Mom or Dad to have extra concerns about protecting their young children.

If you are a parent of young children, here is a quick list of actionable steps that will help you be more prepared AND ease your mind:

  1. Make a list of all the essential baby items you use on a daily basis from the minute the baby wakes up until you put him or her to bed.  You would be surprised at all the items you use.  Once you know what you need go to the next step.
  2. Build a three month supply of these commonly used items.  Of course you will want to stock up on baby formula, diapers, wipes etc.  Buy the next sizes that you can foresee using in three months.  Don’t forget to rotate your stock so nothing goes to waste.
  3. Stock up on extra water for yourself and your children.  Don’t forget you will need water for washing and cooking.
  4. Always keep a flashlight next to your bed:  in case of an emergency in the middle of the night, and you lose power, you can get up quickly and run to your child’s bedroom.
  5. Children outgrow clothes very quickly so you will need a stockpile of clothes in varying sizes.  To save on cost, visit consignment stores or thrift stores and buy the next sizes above what your child is using now.
  6. Always carry a well-supplied baby bag in the trunk of the car.  Include extra clothes, diapers, wipes, snacks, a toy or two for each child.  This will come in handy for any minor emergencies, such as a child throwing up in the car, getting stuck in traffic or the child getting fussy.  It’s not a bad idea to have a small suitcase that contains extra clothes for each member of the family in the car, to be changed seasonally.  This is in addition to the emergency survival kit that every car should have.
  7. Consider lower cost or home made alternatives to the store bought supplies you are currently using:  cloth diapers, homemade baby food, wipes etc.  The savings can be substantial.  After I discovered how easy it was to make baby food from normal recipes such as spaghetti, chicken and rice soup etc, I cut down on using bottled baby food.
  8. Don’t forget to include baby supplies in your go-bag, in case you have to leave your home in an emergency.  Include the baby sling and stroller on your way out in case you have to walk out of the city.
  9. Keep a list of emergency contacts not only in your cell phone, but also a hard copy, in case your cell phone isn’t working.  Build a texting tree in case of emergency.
  10. Become familiar with the emergency procedures at your day care center or pre-school.  Leave an extra set of clothes, food and prescription medicine at the care giver in case of emergency.  Learn alternate routes to your child’s pre-school, back to your home from the office.

New parents have their hands full, and realizing the fragile state of the system does not make it any easier.  Taking concrete steps to become more prepared will make you feel more in control of your situation, and you will feel more confident you can handle both small and large emergencies.

© Apartment Prepper 2014

 

Jake and Miller's Big AdventureI’m excited to announce that my new book, Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure:  A Prepper’s Book for Kids has been released!  It is now available on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

 

Will You be Stuck in a Traffic Nightmare?

Traffic Nightmare

 

This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

We all heard about the gigantic traffic jam in Atlanta a few weeks ago that resulted from the unexpected snow storm.   You can’t really point a finger at one specific cause.  A number of factors contributed to the snafu, including lack of planning on the part of city officials, freakish weather, and some articles even blamed the problem on high dependence on automobiles.  Whatever it was, I felt bad for the residents that were stuck in unending traffic, cars running out of gas on the road, and kids having to spend the night at schools.

This is a nightmare that can easily happen anywhere.  It actually did happen in Houston, when residents tried to flee the city at the same time in the wake of Hurricane Rita.  Travel times to neighboring cities such as Austin that normally takes four hours, took 12-18 hours, and people did run out of food, water and gas in their vehicles.

And it can happen again.  It only takes one emergency that causes people to try and leave the city at the same time.  As long as you live in a metropolitan area that is heavily dependent on cars to get anywhere you need to think about the possibility.

Is there anything you can do to avoid it?

On a personal level, there are a few things you need to consider:

1. Start paying attention to your commute   Many people drive to and from work on auto-pilot, lost in thought and not paying attention to what’s around them.  I’ve done my share of long commutes, and sometimes you just keep driving without realizing you’ve passed certain landmarks and you are really close to home.  Start paying attention, I mean really paying attention while driving.  Know what different exits to take, rush hour times, bad neighborhoods to avoid, traffic choke points and other obstacles that you can foresee will keep you from getting home

2.  Listen to the news  A lot of people I know don’t care about the news and don’t even check the weather.  You have to be aware of what’s going on so you can have a plan for the day.  Have alternate ways to get news even in an emergency.

3.  Avoid the situation  If you hear there is a storm coming, decide quickly on whether you and your kids will try and venture out.   I know there is a price for missing work or school – lost wages, having to call your boss, missed lessons, but they may be overridden by safety issues.  Sometimes, the best thing to do is just stay home.

4.  Carry a car emergency kit     I wrote about building a survival kit for your car in case you get stranded.

5.  Know your kids’ school emergency plan  Many schools go on lockdown in the event of an emergency.  Know the procedures, how and where to pick up your child.   Make sure the school has a backup emergency contact in the event you are unable to get there.

6.  Map out several routes you can take to get home or out of the city   Most people will rush to the same route they take to and from work.  Plan your alternate routes before anything happens.

If you do get stuck, there are things you can do to help yourself, as long as you plan ahead.

  • Carry a car emergency kit     I wrote about building a survival kit for your car in case you get stranded. 
  • Keep your gas tank half full at all times  This will keep you from running out of gas in a traffic jam.
  • Always have comfortable clothes and weather appropriate clothes in the car  If you do have to walk at least you can be comfortably dressed and not have your feet covered with blisters by the time you get home.

Sometimes you can do all the right things and still get stuck anyway.  But planning ahead may help you alleviate or avoid a difficult situation altogether.

 

© Apartment Prepper 2014

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How to Get Your Teen to Appreciate Prepping

I’ve talked to a few preppers who feel they are all alone in their efforts and are having a tough time getting their family involved.  We’ve focused on partners not wanting to prep, younger children; today we’ll look at the teens in your life.

Anyone who has dealt with teens know they are a tough bunch.  It is hard enough to get them to make their beds, much less get them interested in prepping so good luck with that.  But wait a second, it’s not impossible!  It just takes a little patience and understanding, plus a bit of sneakiness.. err.. persuasiveness.

The first question you need to address:  What’s in it for them?

The first step in trying to get a teen interested in anything:  figure out the aspects that would appeal to their interest, something that they care about.  Have them consider what it might be like if they were to run out of ___ (fill in what they like) during an emergency.  Of course they would be upset.   Then show how how stocking up on such supplies/ emergency items will avoid them having to go without.  For example, if your teen girl is interested in hair products, make it a point of including to include their favorite shampoo in the emergency buckets.  In no time, the teen would be making suggestions on what else they would not like to do without.

Include your teen's favorite comfort foods in your storage

Include your teen’s favorite comfort foods in your storage

Food

Food is a great teen motivator.  I don’t know of any teen who is not interested in some kind of food.

Include their favorite comfort foods such as chips, chocolates, cookies, peanut butter, etc in your emergency food storage.  Just make sure you keep rotating, but I am sure using these up will not be a problem.

Survival shows and movies

Watching a thrilling show with them such as as The Walking Dead usually will spark a discussion about a TEOTWAWKI situation and what one would do if faced with it.  If the teen is more interested in video games, then a similar video game, such as The Walking Dead video game, will have the same effect.

Fans of The Hunger Games books and movie I am sure might enjoy Creek Stewart’s book The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide.  They’ll be able to relate to the story tie-in, and learn some good survival skills as well.

Camping and Hiking

If you start camping and hiking activities while they are young, kids will continue to enjoy them as they get older.  However, if you’ve never had a chance, it’s not too late, you can still get them interested in the fitness aspect.  As an added attraction, allow a good friend or close relative to come along and they can bond on the trail.

Learn a Skill Together

Firestarting

One skill that teens find irresistible is firestarting.   We have both preteens and teens in the family and every time we have fireworks they are the first in line to try it out.  Why not do a firestarting exercise, and later have a friendly competition about it (hat tip to reader countrygirl who has tried the supervised firestarting contest with great success)

Target Shooting

Teens will also take an interest in target shooting.  First you’ll need to make sure they are thoroughly trained in gun safety and proper use.   A few hours at the range or even a simulated one would be a worthwhile activity.

Paracord bracelet

Making paracord bracelets is an engaging activity.

Paracord Bracelets

Making paracord bracelets is fun and both boys and girls would enjoy it.  Let them choose their paracord bracelet color and create one together.

Survival Themed Gifts

Of course teens would be interested in gear.  Find something they can use such as  Swiss Army knife, solar charger, sport bottle purifier and give it to them on Christmas or birthdays.

It’s not easy but trying out a combination of the above just might work.  You may not be able to accomplish this all at once, but little by little, you just might get them into a preparedness mindset as they start to see the value of being prepared in their own life.  It is worth a try.

© Apartment Prepper 2014

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Monday Musings 10/23/2013

Monday Musings 12232013Welcome to another Monday Musings, where we share interesting links as well as updates on the blog and preps.

First the blog updates…

This is the last edition of Monday Musings for this year, as Apartment Prepper is taking a small break for the next few days.  I’ll still post regularly and read all comments but responses may be sporadic.  I’ll be doing some blog maintenance and planning the next couple of months’ posts and projects.

Who won the The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage by Gaye Levy?  Tim won the drawing and has been notified.

Now for the links…

First it was Called a Mystery Illness   Now it’s been identified as H1N1, formerly known as swine flu.

H1N1 kills 6 people, leaves 14 critically ill in Greater Houston area

Soon They won’t have a Choice   If finalized the flu vaccine would be required for New York City children who go to day care or pre-school as of December 31, 2014.

New York City Board of Health approves mandatory flu shots for kids

If Your Life will Depend on it, Choose Quality  This article can be applied when choosing prepping gear.  For items you really depend on for survival, such as water filters, knives sleeping bags, tents etc, choose wisely – not necessarily the most expensive, but the best quality you can afford.

When to Skimp and When to Spend More for Quality

Watch your Webcam – it can Spy on You  I actually saw this story in a science fiction show:  stalker watches the victim’s every move through her computer’s webcam that he activated without her knowledge.  The next link shows it’s not science fiction but can actually happen.  Now it’s another way to lose your privacy.  See

Research shows how MacBook Webcams can spy on their users without warning

Good Reminders for Everyone   Your state of mind greatly affects survival…

Life is What We Make of It

So Simple to Make  Another one for the project list:

Homemade Gift Idea: Make a Paracord Lantern

We all have Them.   See these practical and funny uses:

22 Uses for Dead Gift Cards

 Take care and have a great week everyone!

Looking for a last minute gift?   Consider The Prepper’s Pocket Guide!  Great for beginners, and lots of great tips for everyone:

Bernie’s Book is Available in Amazon


Staying Warm in a Drafty Apartment

Bubble wrapped apartment windowAs I write this, it is 35 degrees outside, and temperatures are expected to fall even more later.  There are even signs at the entrance to our building to keep faucets at a trickle at night, to keep pipes from freezing.  For Houston, several days of 35 degrees or below is cold; not much compared to snow bound states, but cold for us, who are used to higher temperatures.

Our apartment windows are not the most protective windows around.  They are single paned aluminum windows that let in the frigid air.  You can really feel the cold blast as you get closer to the windows.  Upon hearing that freezing weather was coming, we decided we had to figure out a way to prepare for the event.   Being in an apartment, there is not a lot of improvement you can really do.  And we really did not want to keep raising the heat inside the apartment to avoid a huge electric bill.  So we did some research on ways to improve our window insulation without doing major installation.  We also wanted something inexpensive, quick to install and easy to remove after the weather improves.

Option 1:  Install window films.

Because we rent, we cannot do anything that involves major alterations, and we want to make sure we get our security deposit back if we move.  Window films are hard to remove, and after pricing them out, we found that window films were also far above the budget.

Option 2:  Plastic Trash Bags

On the opposite side of expensive, some people use plastic trash bags to line the cracks and the windows.  Sounds like it can work, but that would be too unsightly.  It is our windows after all, and I don’t think I want to look at plastic trash bags for several days.

Option 3:  Bubble Wrap

We opted for the middle ground:  bubble wrap insulation.  It is temporary but not so ugly.  Please keep in mind this works because there’s trapped air between the bubble wrap and the window.  If the window is leaking around the frame, this will not work and the window would need caulking instead.

If you are planning to do a project like this, please research the various options carefully.  I am not an expert in insulation or window reinforcements, so your results may vary.  You may find something else that works better in your situation.  Just sharing what worked for us.

Here is how we did it:

We went to the home improvement store and bought several rolls of bubble wrap.  We spent about $28 total for 2 large rolls of bubble wrap and a couple more dollars for painters tape.  Upon returning home, we raised the blinds and started lining the windows with bubble wrap.  We then taped the bubble wrap to the window sill with the painters tape.  We lined each window of the bedrooms with the bubble wrap, making sure the drafty crack between the windows and window sills were covered.

The result was great!  You can really tell the difference in the room temperature.  The cold air stays out, and you can no longer feel the temperature drop and you approach the windows.  From the outside, the bubble wrap does not look obvious so the apartment management won’t notice anything odd.  As you can see from the photo above, the downside is, you can’t see the outside too clearly.   This is only temporary though.  In a few weeks, normal warm temperatures should come back, and the bubble wrap insulation will come off.  Then I can recycle the bubble wrap as packing material.

Here are a few other tips for staying warm:

  • Space heater.  A small space heater may help, if you set it up in the room you are in.  If you are worried about heating when there is no power, a good possible choice is a propane heater such as Mr. Heater.  However there are precautions that need to be taken when setting it up.  I have not tried it personally, so I can’t tell you how well it works, but see this review from TacticalIntelligence.net.
  • Dress in layers.  When it’s this cold, and I have to go outside, I were a tank top, a T-shirt, a turtleneck and a jacket.  Am I bulky?  You betcha!  But it works and I don’t like to be cold so I put up with it.
  • Rearrange your sheets.    Cotton sheets are meant to keep you cool, but that is not what you need in a cold snap.  Place the fleece or micro fiber blanket closest to you.  It really works.  Flannel sheets work just as well.
  • Layer on the blankets.  We place several blankets in addition to the comforter on all the beds in the house.
  • Drink warm liquids.   Sip some herb tea and warm up.
  • Rice heating pad.   See The Frugal Heating Pad over at Surviving and Thriving If I make one of these I will post about it.
  • Run electric appliances during the day.  Run the dishwasher, cook and bake during the day.  They all help warm up the house.

Each winter, I receive emails from apartment dwellers asking for ideas on warming up their space during a cold snap.  Hopefully the tips above help out.  Stay warm!

© Apartment Prepper 2013
Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

Hiding your Emergency Supplies from Strangers

Supplies covered under deskLiving in an apartment, you frequently have strangers coming to your space:  the “once a year” inspection, fire and smoke alarm inspection, pest control and let’s not forget the maintenance guy coming in to change vent filters and what not.  Apartment dwellers are not the only ones who have visitors, anyone can have pizza delivery, cable installer, plumber and other repair technicians may enter your house.

Emergency supplies are your own business, and you don’t need anyone else checking them out and wondering what’s all that stuff.  People will form conclusions about you such as:

- You’re a nut.

- You’re loaded and have lots of “goodies” all over

I’m not saying anyone is out to get you, but all it takes is a word or two said to someone else in a friendly conversation and before you know it, word has spread.   At the very least, you’ll want to avoid any questions like “What’s all this?”

What do you do if you have an apartment inspection or other strangers coming to your house?

  • Know your rights.  When you are informed of an apartment inspection, reread the terms of your lease, your rights as well as what the manager can do and cannot do
  • If you object to an inspection be very nice about it and you just may get what you want.
  • If possible, try to be at home during the inspection.  Follow the inspector around so you know what he or she is looking at.  We once had a guy looking in one of our closets.  I was right behind him so I asked him, “What are you looking for?” He said “The smoke alarm.”  But I knew there never was any smoke alarm in the closet.
  • Hide your supplies in places that are not obvious:  under the dining table covered by a long table cloth, under the bed, in an unused closet, in a laundry hamper etc.
  • Spread out your stash, so it does not look noticeable.
  • Use your closet wisely:  store some long dresses in front of your five gallon buckets, collect empty shoe boxes and use them for smaller supplies such as flashlights and batteries, first aid kits, etc.
  • If you know you’ll be having a lot of foot traffic in your home, say you are selling your home and have an open house planned, consider moving some of your gear to a trusted friend or relative’s home, or storage facility.  I know of a couple who had lost valuable items during an open house, as thieves were able to roam freely among the lookie-loos.
  • If you were to consider a storage facility to keep your supplies, make sure it has 24 hour on site management, is climate controlled, and most of all, easily accessible to you.  Preps won’t do any good if you can’t get to them when the need arises.

Finally, if your supplies are noticed and commented upon, be matter of fact about them and just say you were cleaning out a closet or going through your hurricane (or other risks in your area) emergency supplies.  No need to elaborate nor give additional details.

 

 

 

 

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Bushnell BackTrack D-Tour Personal GPS

I had an opportunity to test out a personal locator, the Bushnell Back Track D-Tour GPS thanks to Johnson over at Optics Planet Inc.

I wanted to see if this device can help you find your way home in case of emergency or when out in the country.

Set Up

Mr. Apt Prepper and I did the test and followed the Quick Start Guide to set it up.  Here’s what we did:

  1. Loaded three AAA batteries into the back of the unit.
  2. Went outside, pressed the POWER button, and waited for the satellite signal to come up.  It took a few minutes to find the satellite, just like any regular GPS unit.
  3. Selected an icon for our Location.  It has Home, Car, Star,
    Flag or Target to choose from.  We chose Home for this test.
  4. We drove out for a distance to a wooded area and parked the car.

GPS in Wooded AreaAs we walked, we looked at what types of information is given by the device:  digital compass, latitude and longitude coordinates, distances in yards/miles or meters/kilometers, time, temperature and altitude.  As we went further away from the “home” starting point, it tells how far you’ve gone, and how fast you’re going.  Mr. Apt Prepper and I were walking a normal pace of about three miles per hour.  So we figured if we were 20 miles away from home it would take us approximately seven hours to get home on foot.

After a while we decided to head back to where we started.  To return to a location, just select the icon and the Bushnell points to the direction and shows the distance back to the location.

Neighborhood view

Uses

Non-emergency

- Help you find your car in a crowded parking lot like an airport or stadium.

- Find your way back to base camp while hiking or camping

- Keep a record of trails taken for biking or hiking.  The device comes with a USB attachment and can be connected to your computer to launch the D-Tour app.  The app  is an optional feature that allows you to store your trips, view maps, however you do need to log in with a password.

- Return to your hotel if you are traveling in a strange city

Emergency

-  Find your way home in an emergency

-  Locate hidden caches that you’ve pre-programmed.

-  Store locations of your emergency meeting places or pre-planned safehouse

-  Mark good areas for hunting or fishing

Impressions

The Bushnell Back Track D-Tour GPS  has a sturdy and durable construction.  The screen has a nice size and I liked that you can see it clearly in bright sunlight.  The buttons, which are located along the sides, can be a bit clunky as you are trying to grip the device at the same time.  I should mention that the device should be kept at a horizontal position during use to ensure accuracy.

Screen View in SunlightYou can program up to five locations.  According to the product description, battery life can last 16-20 hours, which will outlast a smart phone, and up to 48 hours of trip data can be stored.

Because if its rugged construction, you can use it in places where you don’t want to risk using your expensive smart phone, such as in biking or running trails, or while camping or hiking.

This device would be ideal for anyone who needs a little help finding directions or who get turned around easily.  It would also be ideal for an older child or teen to carry around for emergencies in case they have to find their way back to a meeting place in times of emergency, or for a college student who is away at school.   It would also be a helpful addition to a bug-out bag.  (make sure you have backup batteries)  Before an emergency happens, you’ll need to head to your various locations to pre-program it.

It would make a good gift for both prepper and non-preppers in your gift list.  The regular price is $71.99 but for a limited time, Optics Planet is offering the following discount for Apartment Prepper readers:

10% off expires 12/5/2013
Coupon code: apartprep

Check it out!

 Article update 11/23/2013:    Reader Bob S inquired whether the stored locations will reset if you replace the batteries.  I finally got a chance to try it out:  removed the batteries and replaced them, rode out to a new location and checked to see if it would point back to a previously stored location.  The good news is, it actually did not lose the saved areas.  When I turned it back on, and set it to “Home” (not my real home, just the place I had set it to) -  as soon as it found the satellite, it pointed to the correct direction.   Bob – Thanks for bringing this up!

 

Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

Entertainment for an Emergency

Emergency Entertainment Shelf

Emergency Entertainment Shelf

One of the things I remember during the last hurricane when we lost power for an extended time was being bored from having nothing to do.  We listened to the radio a lot for news about what was happening in the area, did a bit of reading, while there was enough light, but what about when it gets dark?  Kids get bored very quickly, especially being unable to go outside and with no TV or electronics; pretty soon you will start getting antsy as well.  In an emergency, you’ll want everyone to stay as calm as possible and having a few activities to pass the time will soothe frayed nerves and lift morale.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Board Games – Start with the traditional board games:  Monopoly, Clue, Battleship, Risk, Jenga, Chutes and Ladders for the little ones, a deck of cards.  Uno is a family favorite; we also recently added Zombie Flux and Apples to Apples.
  • Puzzles – keep a few sets of unopened puzzles
  • Small toys – Legos provides hours of entertainment especially if you keep a new set just for an emergency
  • Arts & crafts – markers, watercolor, colored pencils, paper, scrap-booking supplies and other age-appropriate projects
  • Books – Tastes in books vary widely so keep a few unread books for each member of the family.  If you use an e-reader make sure you have a backup way to charge the device
  • Music – as with books, have a back up power source for the music player, and a wide selection of favorites.  Playing musical instruments if so inclined is also a great way to pass the time and entertain each other.
  • Writing – Keep a few blank notebooks and pens and anyone can start a journal or keep a record of events.

You don’t need a large budget to stockpile these entertainment items – they can often be picked up at garage sales and thrift stores.  I’ve seen games that are still factory sealed that people have discarded.

Keep your entertainment items in one place, so you can easily find them in a power outage.  We keep ours in a high shelf that is out of the way, but easily located.  You can also designate an entertainment box or bucket that can be kept in the garage.