Save Money! Make Soda at Home

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Make Soda at Home

This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

Although I like an occasional glass of Coke, I prefer a glass of sparkling water with a twist of lemon or lime.  La Croix Sparkling Water was a regular item on the grocery list. Until we spotted the Soda Stream and started to calculate whether it would save us money.  After adding up what we spend on sparkling water, we figured we’d recoup the cost of the Soda Stream in four months.   I won’t go into the calculation, as your mileage may vary depending on how much soda you buy in your household.  (This is not an ad for Soda Stream-we have no relationship or affiliation.)

For anyone who has wondered about this, here is how it works.  Soda Stream comes with a unit, proprietary C02 canister that fits within the unit, and bottle.  The starter pack also came with small flavoring samples.

Soda Stream and bottle

  1. Fill the bottle with plain water.  We like to chill the water before using.
  2. Remove the cap off the bottle and screw it on the Soda Stream unit.  The newer models no longer have to be screwed on, but we have the older model so that is what I will describe.
  3. Push the top button 4-5 times until you hear a buzz.  (The instructions say about 2-3 times but that did not make it fizzy enough.)

Adding CarbonationRemove the bottle and add your flavoring.  I like a squeeze of lime or lemon.  We tried out the sample flavors that came with it – I personally only liked the root beer flavor, but did not care for the cola or lemon lime.   We’ve also tried adding a bit of apple or orange juice and that worked well.

Advantages:

  • Less waste than buying soda or sparkling water weekly
  • You control how much sugar you are drinking.
  • Much cheaper than store bought soda
  • No need to run to the store!

Disadvantages:

  • The C02 canister refill runs about $15 if you return the old canister.   We’ve traded ours in at the Walmart Customer Service center.  We use the unit once a day, and one canister lasts us about 2-3 months.
  • You cannot carbonate anything besides water.  I’m fine with this, as I even like just plain fizzy water.

I know there are alternatives to the Soda Stream, but for the space that we have, and the rate of consumption, it suits us just fine for now.

But if you are interested in those alternatives, here are a couple:

Brew Better Soda at Home  I may try this one next.

How to Force Carbonate at Home  This sounds more cost effective, although it has a higher upfront cost, but I don’t have the space for a large unit like this yet.

© Apartment Prepper 2014

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Will You be Stuck in a Traffic Nightmare?

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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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AP Book Feature – The Prepper’s Complete Book of Disaster Readiness – Interview with Jim Cobb + Giveaway

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CompleteGuideToday we are featuring Jim Cobb’s latest book The Prepper’s Complete Book of Disaster Readiness.

Jim Cobb runs DisasterPrepConsultants.com, and SurvivalWeekly.com.  He is also the author of Prepper’s Home Defense.  Clearly, he knows and lives the prepping lifestyle so I thought it would be great to do an interview with Jim and find out his thoughts about urban prepping.

1.  New preppers get overwhelmed by all the possible threats facing our
world.  What do you think are the most likely disasters to prepare for
and why?

Most threats can be termed as either short-term or long-term, which refers
to the duration of the crisis.  The short-term threats are the ones most
likely to occur, whether you are in an urban or rural area.  These include
things like extended power outages and severe weather.  Disasters like
those happen every single day, all around the globe, and are the ones for
which many people need to prepare.  The long-term stuff, like EMP,
economic collapse, and the eruption of the Yellowstone caldera are all
*possible* but the odds of any of them happening at any given time are
somewhat remote.

That said, I like to suggest that if you are prepared for a total societal
collapse, you are certainly prepared for lesser emergencies.

2.  What would you advice city dwellers on improving their chances to
survive a disaster?

The primary risk factor facing urban preppers, as opposed to those who
live out in the sticks, is other people.  Therefore, that’s where to
concentrate efforts on improving the odds of survival.  Those who live in
the cities and who cannot or will not move to lesser populated areas
should develop something of a bunker mentality with their disaster
planning.  Stockpile supplies in sufficient quantities to negate the need
to go out looking for more, at least for a good period of time.  Food,
water, medical needs, all should be accounted for and on hand in the event
of a crisis.

On top of that, security measures should also be at the forefront.  Some
means of self-defense as well as methods of preventing intrusions are
important.

Finally, learn how to blend in to the area.  No, I don’t mean purchasing
or manufacturing some sort of disguise that makes you look like a brick
wall.  What I’m getting at is that urban preppers, perhaps more so than
their country cousins, need to learn how to develop a “gray man” approach.
Look for ways to hide their very presence within the community, or at
least do nothing to stand out from the crowd.

3.  How would you get around the extra challenges of space and close
proximity to others facing an apartment dweller?

Naturally, in any sort of apartment or condo, space is at a premium.
There are ways, though, to hide things in plain sight, so to speak.  For
example, a Rubbermaid tote can contain quite a bit of canned goods or
other supplies.  Drape a patterned bed sheet or tablecloth over it and it
can serve as an end table or coffee table, with few being the wiser.
Another option is to utilize the storage unit that is commonly provided in
the basement of apartment buildings.  Store your goodies in cardboard
boxes, but label them as being “old clothes” or “Grannie’s books.”

4.  Please tell us a bit about your background.

I’ve been a prepper for about thirty years, well before the term prepper
even came into being.  I’m an author, of course, as well as a licensed
private investigator.  Prior to that, I worked in corporate security and
also facilitated many diverse training programs on topics such as loss
prevention and preventing workplace violence.

When it comes to educating people about disaster readiness, I’ve always
tried to focus on practicality and common sense, avoiding things like
conspiracy theories and the like.  Personally, I don’t care so much about
*why* people prep, as long as they do it.

5.  Any plans for other books?

I have a couple of books coming out in 2014.  Prepper’s Long-Term Survival
Guide should be released around the middle of March.  Whereas my previous
books have concentrated mostly on the short-term sorts of disasters, this
book speaks to the extreme long-term crises and how to prepare for them.
In other words, The Prepper’s Complete Book of Disaster Readiness shows
readers how to prepare for extended power outages and Prepper’s Long-Term
Survival Guide shows them how to plan for a time when the lights might
never come back on.

Then, in May or thereabouts is coming Countdown to Preparedness.  This is
the book version of a project I ran on SurvivalWeekly.com back in 2012.
Essentially, it is a 52 week course in disaster readiness.  There is one
lesson to be completed each week, along with homework assignments.  If the
reader faithfully completes each lesson and assignment, at the end of the
course they will be fully prepared to deal with disasters that could last
upwards of several months.

Both of these will be published by Ulysses Press and are available now for
preorder through Amazon and other booksellers.

Our thanks to Jim Cobb participating in our Book Feature and for his thoughtful answers!

Now for the giveaway:

What aspect of disaster readiness are you most concerned about and why?

The winner* will be chosen at a random “Pick a Giveaway Winner” drawing on Saturday, February 22nd at 8 pm Central.*Winner will be notified via email.  Winner must reply to email notification within 48 hours or another winner will be drawn.
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

© Apartment Prepper 2014

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Monday Musings 2/17/2014

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HoustonThis post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

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

First, the updates…

Apartment Prepper (AP) Book and Product Features  I’ve been doing book and product reviews, interviews with giveaways for a few years now, but never called it an actual name, until now that is.  They are now known as AP Book (or Product) Feature.  After a two week break, we have another book feature coming up tomorrow, so please stop by and enter.

Sponsor news:

PrepareWise has a new meal replacement shake.  It’s called Mega One Meals.  I am told that customers who are concerned about healthful ingredients are very enthusiastic about this new product.  Here’s a bit of info:

Legacy Premium Foods has just added a new line of nutritional drinks that is sure to fit nicely into any preparedness plan.  Mega One Meals is the newest product to join Legacy’s already premium line of food storage products.

Mega One Meals are tasty, nutritious and balanced meal-replacement drinks that can last 10 years on the shelf. Unlike traditional protein powders or shakes, Mega One Meals are completely natural and have a full daily requirement of protein, vegetables, and fruits in each re-sealable Mylar pouch.

These meals would be great for an emergency back up, or as part of your everyday meal plan.

Convenient to store or carry in a pack, Mega One Meals satisfy hunger while providing quick energy and healthy calories simply, by adding water. They are an excellent source of nutrition and are available in three flavors: Chocolate, Vanilla, and Super Berry.

Each Mega One Meal drink is comprised of 28 raw “superfoods” for health and well being. They are naturally sweetened, high in fiber, and have live probiotics and enzymes.  Additionally, they meet Legacy’s high standards of being Non-GMO and soy, dairy and gluten free. Check out the impressive list of immunity boosting ingredients here:  www.preparewise.com

Casting call for Doomsday Preppers Season 4  I got an email from Miles who works at Nat Geo’s Doomsday Preppers.   Here is the what he said:

“We’re currently casting for our upcoming Season 4 episodes. This season we are looking to showcase a more educational approach to prepping and sustainability with a variety of takeaways for our viewers. We are planning to focus on individuals prepping for disasters like tornados, earthquakes, super storms, man-made disasters, and a variety of other extreme circumstances.

We’re currently seeking compelling and informative stories to be featured on our new season. I discovered your website in the course of my research, and I believe that we could greatly benefit from your help and the help of the Apartment Prepper community in finding some talented preppers. We were hoping that this may interest some of your site visitors and followers, and it would be great if you could help us promote the current casting call going on right now!  Interested applicants can email us at PREPPERSTV@GMAIL.COM.

This is not an endorsement nor a recommendation – just passing some info along.  If you’ve always dreamed of being on TV – this could be your opportunity.  Just be well informed and read the fine print!

Now for the links…

Do you really want chicken that was processed in China?  Make your feelings known!  There is a petition in the works and you still have time to participate.  Please visit these links.

Chinese Chicken Petition Passes 1/4 Million Mark

 Petition to Congress: KEEP CHINESE CHICKEN OUT OF OUR SCHOOLS AND SUPERMARKETS!

Glass half full  Lots of bad news all over, but let’s look at some good news for a change.

50 Reasons We’re Living Through the Greatest Period in World History

Money saving tips we can all use  Pick out one or more ideas and start doing them!

20 Things I do to Save Money

Take care and have a great week everyone!

© Apartment Prepper 2014

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Special Offer from Infidel Body Armor

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I received a sample plate carrier and plates from Infidel Body Armor.  Previously I had written about different types of body armor, but had never tried Level III steel plates.

First, we’ll go over the specifications of this particular set –  Details provided by Infidel Body Armor

  Plate carrier:   Bellator Plate Carrier – Multicam
Bellator Front

  • Water Resistant
  • MOLLE webbing on inside of cumberbund for attaching side plates (side utility pouch required)
  • NIR – Less visible to infrared and in low light environment
  • Berry Compliant (made from start to finish with American-made materials)
  • 92 weight thread (Mil spec)
  • Mil-spec 1000D cordura
  • Closed cell foam pads
  • Duragrip hook/loop
  • Shoulder pads have loops for equipment and/or hydration tube
  • Include plate carrier pad (not shown)
  • Made in USA

Plates:   Infidel Body Armor rifle plates 10″x12″

Stops:  M-855 Ball, 5.56, 7.62×39, 7.62×51, 30-06, .357 mag, .45 cal, 9mm, 12 Gauge Shotgun slugs, and more.  All of these rounds were fired from semi-auto AR-15s, AK-47s, MAK-90s, bolt action Rifles, Glocks, Revolvers, and pump shotguns.  This is a level III+ plate tested by a certified NIJ laboratory.

These 10×12″  plates are formed from 1/4″ Abrasion Resistant Brinell Hardness 500 steel (AR500), the same variety used by the military in armored vehicles.  Each piece is laser cut, with a 20 degree bend that conforms to the human torso.  After preparing the metal, a special  1/4″ polymer coating that serves to trap bullet fragments is added.

The standard 10×12 size fits most plate carriers.  We recommend purchasing a carrier from Infidel; but, if you already own a carrier, these plates will likely fit.

Each steel plate weighs 7.5 lb and the anti-spall coating adds an additional 1.5 lb.  These are a little heavier than ceramic or SAPI plates, but MUCH more durable.

Now for the photos…  Here is what the items look like right out of the box:

Infidel_boxInside the box are the steel plates:

Infidel_vest_and_platesHere is what the plate carrier looks like close up:

Infidel_vest_closeupI wanted to see how the plate carrier is adjusted to the wearer’s frame.  The adjustment is done via the ties that are tucked across the waist and the straps can also be adjusted to fit.

Armor1Here is what the plate carrier looks like- front and back:

Armor2Armor3The steel plates are inserted within the plate carrier.

Armor4Armor5

I was impressed with the quality and selection offered in their website.  The prices are also reasonable, and were comparable to body armor prices at a gun show.  They also carry other items such as pepper spray and a cool commuter backpack that can conceal either a hard armor plate or pistol insert.

Special Offer for Apartment Prepper readers who purchase from Infidel

Chad, the owner of Infidel Body Armor is offering Apartment Prepper readers a free T-shirt, free velcro patch, and free shipping on all purchases over $100.  Just click on the link below, or the link on the side bar.

http://infidelbodyarmor.com/index.php?main_page=page&id=22

 InfidelBodyArmorCheck them out!

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Survive Being Stranded: Build a Car Survival Kit

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Car Survival KitThis post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

Since many city dwellers spend a lot of time in their cars, it makes sense to keep a well stocked emergency kit.  Most of these items are easy to find:  you may already have many of these items around your house.  Just fill in what you’re missing.

Basic car kit

  • Fix-a-Flat” or some kind of tire sealant – this has helped me on a couple of occasions.  Replace it as soon as you use one.
  • roadside flares, reflexive tape or safety triangles
  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlight with extra batteries, light sticks

First aid kit

You can either buy a pre-assembled one or build one yourself.  Make sure you include pain relievers, allergy medicine, antacids, adhesive tape, antibacterial wipes, antiseptic cream, and other medications your family uses.

Food

Keep nonperishable food such as protein bars, granola bars or high calorie emergency food bars.  You will need to rotate your food stash – if you leave them in the car too long, they will deteriorate especially in the summer.

Water

Bring enough bottled water for the family.  Just remember to keep rotating the water bottles.

Cold weather supplies

You’ll need emergency blankets, hand warmers, windshield ice scraper, snow shovel, rock salt or cat litter to give you traction, tire chains

Other helpful items

  • Multi-tool or Swiss Army knife
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Gloves
  • Rags
  • Trash bags
  • Tow strap or tow rope
  • Paracord
  • Duct tape
  • Battery operated or hand-crank radio
  • portable stove
  • Matches and lighters
  • Seat-belt cutter/window breaker escape tool

Small amount of cash in assorted denominations and change for toll roads

Umbrella, rain ponchos

Paper maps, compass

Old cell phone (keep it charged at all times) – can still be used to call 911

For Kids:  extra clothes and socks, diapers, baby wipes, small toys

While you’re at it, check to make sure the owner’s manual, spare tire, and jack are still in the car.  These items are often taken for granted as being in the car, until one day you need them and find out they have been misplaced.  Don’t take any chances – get that car survival kit assembled now.  Hopefully, you’ll never need it, but if you ever get stuck, you’ll be glad you have it.

 

© Apartment Prepper 2014

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Free Credit Card Knife

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Survival Life

This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

Please welcome our new sponsor, Survival Life.  Yes, they are the folks who offer the Free Credit Card Knife, with just a small fee ($2.95) for shipping and handling.  This handy little tool fits in your pocket, wallet purse, bug-out bag; why not keep one in several places so you can easily reach for a knife when you need it.

Features

  • Ultra Slim – Folds to the size of a credit card, 2 mm THIN! (The same size as your standard credit card and 1/10th the thickness of your standard utility knife!)
  • Quick and Simple Conversion – In just seconds, this tool transforms from an unassuming card in your wallet into a fully functional knife.
  • Surgical Steel Blade – Stainless steel construction for durable, rust-free sharpness.
  • Protective Hand Guard – Helps you get a grip and prevents the blade from slipping.
  • Built-In Safety Sheath – This prevents any accidents caused by an open blade in your pocket or pack, and even prevents the blade from becoming blunted during everyday carry.
  • Snap-Open, Waterproof Locking Mechanism – Easier to open than ordinary penknives, and no metal hinges that rust.
  • UNADVERTISED BONUS - Complete Your Order for the
    “Credit Card Knife” Now and Get the “Ultimate Every Day
    Carry Kit
    ” Bonus Guide Absolutely FREE!

I think the credit card knife is a neat little tool, and the price is right.  I am ordering four myself.  Go check them out!

 Update on 2/13/2014:  Checked with Survival Knife to find out how long it normally takes to get an order, and how to contact them if there is an issue:  It takes 12-15 business days typically.   For any issues, you may contact the support team at support@survivallife.com or by phone 512-366-3332.

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Monday Musings: 2/10/2014

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Monday Musings 02102014

This article is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

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

First the updates…

Site cleanup  I’ve been doing some cleanup behind the scenes to improve the site’s loading times as well as general appearance.  I am condensing the links on the right sidebar – this is still a work in progress as I find ways to make it more streamlined.  You may notice the blog roll tab is missing – it is currently under evaluation.  I’d like to make sure the linked sites are active and fix any broken links.  I also added a new Sponsor page.

Emergency storage inventory  At the Apartment Prepper household, we’re also cleaning up our emergency storage – going through old stock, rotating stored items and evaluating what else we can fit in the space.  I am about to open up and use some old items – as always, I will take photos and let you know how they fared.

Now for the links…

Being debt free is a worthy goal  See what it takes to be one of the debt free.

10 Characteristics Of Debt-Free People

$1000 by summer  Start saving now with

14 Simple Ways to Save $1,000 by Summer

Save money and the environment  Whether you’re trying to be more self-sufficient, save money, or help eliminate trash, you can’t lose by at least trying some of these out.

10 Reusable Preps To Replace Disposables

Attack on the power grid  It took a while for this to appear on the news, but it has a lot of people wondering whether it was a random, isolated incident, or a trial run.  See

 Ex-federal official raises concerns over terror attack on power grid

Off grid living   It’s interesting to me how a family adjusts to living off-grid, without the utilities that many think we can’t live without.

Living Without Lights (or water, or electricity…)

Take care and have a great week everyone!

© Apartment Prepper 2014

 

 

Please click here to vote for me at Top Prepper Websites!

 

 

 

THIS E-book is about prepping on a small budget

Bernie’s New E-book is on Amazon

 

Also available for the Nook from Barnes and Noble

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Having Gear Does Not Guarantee Preparedness

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Solar ChargerThis article is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

 

One of the first things people do when they get interested in prepping is going out and buying gear.  It is great to have a list and just check off items you already just purchased.  Whew!  Got the stuff, now I’m prepared.  Well… sort of.  There is one critical step that is being missed.

Use it!

I’ve heard and read comments from people who, on one hand, have made the commitment to be prepared and are buying the items needed;  but on the other hand, when asked how the things worked, they say, “I don’t know, I haven’t opened the box yet-I’m saving it for an emergency..”  I am glad they are getting started, but not even opening the box to check it is a critical error.

Here’s why:

The item might not work.   When we first got started we bought some cheap stuff that ended up being junk.   Sure, it might be better than nothing, but why rely on something that will fail you when you most need it?  Being in the middle of a power outage would not be a good time to find out your flashlight does not work, or you did not have the correct size batteries for it.  Which brings me to the next point…

Know what you actually need to make the item work.   For example if you have a backpacking stove for a power outage, you will need fuel for that stove.  If you had never opened the box, you may not know this until the day you try to use it.

Some gear need maintenance  Knives, machetes and other items with edges need be sharpened or oiled, firearms need to be cleaned, even

Know how outside factors affect the use of some items  Until you actually practice with the gear, you won’t know how it will work in the “real world”  You may remember my bear spray experiment  where we found out how just how fast you need to use that spray when being attacked, and how a small change in wind direction will affect you.

Read the instructions!  Some things are self-explanatory, but some things are not.  For me, putting a tent together is NOT self-explanatory.   If you have a tent as part of your bug out gear, do yourself a favor and practice with it a few times.  Try assembling it in the day, as well as in the dark.  Putting a tent together at night is a whole experience in itself… especially with kids around.   I know it sounds tedious, but imagine if you were stranded somewhere, and you’re trying to build a tent you’ve never seen assembled, with parts that are still encased in plastic, in the dark, in a rainstorm.

Some items don’t last long   Check your supplies a couple of times a year, so you’ll  know what items have expired or deteriorated over time.  Then you’ll have a chance to repair or replace damaged goods.

Or they may not fit   Another reason to try things out are size changes.  Kids quickly outgrow clothes, backpacks and footwear; adults gain or lose weight so any items that no longer fit should be replaced.

There you have it, a cold, rainy day or a snow bound weekend when you are stuck at  home would be a great opportunity to check your emergency stuff and try things out.  Do it now, before you find yourself in a real emergency.

 © Apartment Prepper 2014

 

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Great tips on DebtProof Living

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Stolen Content

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I just found out several of my Apartment Prepper articles are being posted in a certain website without my permission.  They are also stealing photos and bandwidth, but reposted under some anonymous name.  I work hard day in day out to post original, current content, and these unscrupulous characters just take advantage of honest writers.  I’m still trying to track down the site owners so I can contact them directly but am getting a run around.  I bet their bots will even re-print this post.  If you run across one of these “content scraper” sites, please rush on by and just visit the real blogs.

Because of this I am limiting my RSS Feeds for now as this content scraper site seems to think being on RSS feed constitutes permission to rip off my content.

Sorry for this uncharacteristic rant, but I am just riled up about this.  I really appreciate our readers who stops by and visits Apartment Prepper.  Thanks for your support and for letting me get this off my chest.

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