Monday Musings 9/15/2014: Preparedness Updates and Links

Monday Musings 09152014 Preparedness Updates and Links

This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

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

First the blog updates…

So many books… so little time…

Preppers History and the Cultural Phenomenon

We added another book to our reading list:  Preppers:  History and the Cultural Phenomenon by Lynda King.

More on Expiration Dates

One of the most controversial topics in preparedness involves expiration dates – invariably there are disagreements about this, even among bloggers.  Reader Pierce sent me this helpful guide on shelf life on food bank products.  It has some really applicable information.  Thanks Pierce!  See Shelf Life of Food Bank Products

National Preparedness Month Series

Don’t miss a great series in Prepared Bloggers for National Preparedness Month – there is something new everyday!

Mega Giveaway Next Week!

Next Monday, we will be announcing a huge giveaway, so please check back!

Now for the links…

America’s Poor, Deeper in Debt Than Ever

Obama: U.S. military to provide equipment, resources to battle Ebola epidemic in Africa

What We’re Afraid to Say About Ebola

Guide to Long Term Food Storage

Natural Asthma Treatment with Essential Oils

Elderberry Extract: Nature’s “Tamiflu”

Your Emergency Fund Is For More Than Emergencies – Believe It!

Take care and have a great week everyone!

© Apartment Prepper 2014

 

4 Tips for Small Space Gardening

4 Tips for Small Space Gardeners

Just because you lack large amounts of space does not mean that you cannot grow a lot of the fresh fruits vegetables and herbs you consume. As long as you have an area that receives at least 4 hours of sunlight daily, is easy for you to water, you should be good to go.  Here are a few tips to help you get great results with small space gardening:

GROW UP

One of the best tips for gardeners that lack space is to grow vertically. This is just as true in the fall as it is in the summer. In the summer months you can easily use a trellis to grow vining plants that yield plenty of fruits and veggies. In the fall, while there are not too many vining plants that grow in cooler temps, you can easily build a few levels of stairs (or purchase such a structure), and place your potted plants on them. Herbs grow great in this type of growing environment. Google “vertical planting wall” for some really cool ideas.

GO DWARF

Apartments, condos and smaller living spaces are great for dwarf fruiting trees. Many types of trees grow great in large containers and can be moved inside when the temps get too cold outside. There are columnar apple trees and dwarf lemon that fit this description. Most of these trees can be purchased for under $30.

WINDOW BOX GARDEN

Maybe you do not have a balcony. Consider a window box. A window box, is simply a box about 12 inches deep and the length of your window. You would attach it to your property just under the window by either screwing the box to the building itself, or using hangers so it hands from the window ledge. These are great because you can grow just about anything in them. Strawberries, lettuce, spinach and herbs all make for excellent choices for window box gardens.

UTILIZE RAILINGS

Does your balcony have railings? Then by all means attach some garden boxes to them also. They are unused space with plenty of airflow around them, and if you get plenty of sun, are perfect locations to grow a lot great tasting fruits and veggies.

Regardless of which option you choose, make sure you use a good potting soil that is equal parts peat/coir and perlite and double the amount of compost. Also be sure to feed your plants once a week with compost tea or a good organic fertilizer to make sure they are well fed and have the nutrients they need to grow and thrive in a confined space.

About the Author

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Mike Podlesny is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person as well as the creator of the Seeds of the Month Club where members receive non gmo, heirloom variety seeds every month. You can listen to Mike each week on the Vegetable Gardening Podcast where he interviews gardening industry experts.

Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

Emergency Essentials/BePrepared



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Infographic: National Preparedness Month

By Tess Pennington

(Editor’s note:  September is National Preparedness Month – we will post the basics about being prepared.  Today we are featuring an infographic that first appeared in Ready Nutrition)

Natural disasters seem to be more frequent and equally more violent these days. Yet the normalcy bias that has plagued our country continues. Many feel they are untouchable in terms of becoming a victim of a disaster. Little do they realize that disasters come in all shapes and sizes and typically do not make an announcement before entering your life.

Personally speaking, I have been through the aftermath of many disasters, both personal and natural. The aftermath does not take a few days for everything to get back to normal – it takes weeks if not longer to recover.

Anecdotes aside, this month marks a national 30 day endeavor to encourage citizens to be better prepared. I urge all of you to not fall into the percent of citizens who are not prepared. This infographic illustrates how massive these disasters can effect our personal lives, our jobs and our commerce. There are steps you can take to prepare yourself for your personal SHTF moment. It happens to all of us, better to be prepared than not prepared at all.

National Preparedness Month

Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

 

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

 

SunJack Solar Charger – Product Review

SunJack1 (5)I had the opportunity to test out the SunJack portable solar charger.  

What is the SunJack?

It is a portable solar charger by GigaWatt that can charge any USB device – phones, tablets, GPS, cameras, speakers, lights, and more.

Here is how it works:

The SunJack harnesses solar energy for direct charging or it can store power in a removable UltraSlim battery for use 24/7, rain or shine. After only 5 hours of direct sunlight, the 14 watt SunJack can power either 4 iPhones, 0.7 iPads or 8-9 hours of LED light using the SunJack USB CampLight. Unlike many other chargers, the SunJack kit includes a 1-2 batteries enabling you to simultaneously power 4 to 6 USB devices at a rate equal to on-grid charge speed (2 Amp).

Here is the SunJack right out of the box.

SunJack1 (2)

It comes with the four solar panels with USB charging unit, the battery pack, two carabiners and instructions for use.

I tried it out by leaving the SunJack outside on a small coffee table exposed to direct sunlight.

SunJack1 (3)You plug the battery to the charging unit and leave it alone in direct sunlight.

I left it out there for three hours

After three hours, I checked on the charge and found it was almost fully charged:

SunJack1 (1)There was only one more light indicator not lighting up at this point.    I asked my contact at SunJack about this and here is what he told me:

The last 20% charges a little slower to protect the battery and maximize the battery life. This is characteristic of Lithium batteries charge circuitry. Most likely if the battery is left in full sun for 5-6 hours the last led would also light up. 4 hours in full sun usually gets the battery 80% charged. Note this also occurs with iPhones as they charge to 80% really fast then charge speed slows down for last 20%.

It does make sense, as my own phone does the same thing.  After the final two hours, the fifth one lit up.

After the SunJack was fully charged, I charged up my phone and was pleased that the SunJack charged as quickly as am electric wall plug.  I’ve tested other solar chargers and the charging time is much slower than this one.  Granted, it was a smaller one with only three panels, but regardless, I was impressed at the fast charge of the SunJack.  Using the fully charged battery, I was able to charge my phone four times

The SunJack would be handy while camping to power up small devices – you can harness the power of the sun since you are outside already.  I think the SunJack is a great backup power source in the event of a power outage, or other emergencies.  As of this writing, it is available for $145 on Amazon and is currently on sale for $135 at LPC Survival.  The SunJack is well worth it.

 

Super Simple Tips to Trim Ounces from your Bug Out Bag

Super Simple Tips to Trim Ounces from your BugOut Bag

Written By Morry Banes

What’s the difference between a really smart prepper and an average one?

Let me get straight to the point, I believe that a really good preppers out there take things a step further. That one extra step is being prepared for the fact that a real life situation will probably prove that you can never be completely prepared.  Sounds complicated but it really comes down to making your bug out bag (BOB) more flexible.
Do not take what I just said the wrong way and start packing things for every scenario that you can think of, but think in terms of what you can do to include things in your BOB that can be used in more scenarios.  This will help you trim weight off your bug out bag, making it easier to carry.

Let’s take a step back here and look at the basic things that are most likely in your BOB right now and see if we can spot places where you could’ve done a better job.  So, it all comes down to walking straight down that yellow brick road that stands between having a BOB that’s versatile enough on one side and having one that will be bulky and heavy and only make things more difficult on the other.

1. Water – you would think that everything there is to say about water needs has already been said, but we are looking at things from a different angle here, trying to trim down some weight and bulk.
We can’t shrink down our 3-4 liters of water but we can:

  • Use a collapsible water bottle to save space
  • Extend the life of our water purification filters by adding coffee filters

2. Food – Think dense. When I say “dense” I mean calorie density.  I am all for simplicity here – to cover my food needs my 3 day BOB only includes: energy bars, 3 cans of anything protein (one for each day) and a light backpacking stove.  It’s so easy to overkill with bulky backpacking meals.

3. Clothes – boots, military style pants, a poncho, 2-3 pairs of socks, 1 pair on long underwear and one pair of thermo skin tight underwear suit, 2 short sleeve t-shirts.
Mentioning thermo skin tight underwear here might raise some eyebrows, but it packs so small and can make so much of a difference that it’s shame not to have it there.
Most of the preppers I know and talked to had significant space to peel in their BOBs just by cutting down on those 5 t-shirts and that second pair of pants. A skin suit a huge space-saver and much more versatile.  And yes, if you don’t have a bandana in your BOB, it’s back to the drawing board for you.

4. Shelter and sleep – again, simplicity is key to effective packing. Two tarps, a thin foam pad and a light sleeping bag adjusted to the temperatures you are expecting. I’ll never get onboard with the concept of a tent in a 3 day BOB.  A simple tarp is much more versatile.

As I said, when thinking about your BOB, don’t list endless scenarios in your head but think about items that can cover scenarios you’ll probably never think of.  You might want to read that sentence again.

5. First aid – one more thing that I’ll never get on board with is getting a factory made, pre-packed first aid kit. Building your own kit will not only save you space but the research alone will develop neurological pathways that will just deploy in the time of need.

6. Tools – this one is a biggie. First of all it’s essential to get it right because it’s the “outer wall” of everything we talked about and secondly, it’s the single point that can shave the most weight of your BOB.  If you are thinking screwdrivers, scissors, knives, bottle and can opener, let’s take a step back.

How about a multi tool?   I have to tiptoe in my wording here because many preppers might be offended if I talk about a multi tool like I came up with the idea.  But you would be surprised how many people aren’t really awake to the true value of a multi tool, and a lot of those who are don’t give that much thought to two basic questions:
1. multi tool pieces vs. standalone pieces
2. survival knife vs. a multi tool

Let’s get some clarity here:   If you play your cards right and choose wisely you’ll probably be able to replace a lot of standalone pieces of tools like pliers and wire cutters with a single tool.  No beating around the bush, my BOB includes a regular heavy-duty multi tool, a medical multi tool and a survival knife.

Allow me to give you my reasons here that also might give you some pointers for choosing your tool:

  • I stay away from glitter and shine and go for sheer usability in a multi tool (think Leatherman and Gerber).
  • Scissors in a regular multi tool will never be sturdy enough for your BOB. So, I’ll need standalone scissors. But instead of getting regular scissors I go for a medical multi tool that comes with sturdy heavy duty scissors. This covers the scissors issue but gives you so much more.
  • There’s no way around a proper survival knife for your BOB. None of the blades in the multitools are not even close to being as sturdy as that in standalone knife.

Getting things right here will probably cut the weight of the tools you carry in half.
I promised some clarity so let me share my choices:

Gerber 600 with a blunt nose
Leatherman Raptor
SOG Seal pup knife

Final thoughts

You can trim some serious “fat” from your 3 day BOB just by rethinking a few things using the pointers I offered in this article.  The end result – a lighter more flexible BOB free of fluff that you’ll probably never use and packed smartly with things you’ll really need and use.

Live smart and survive smarter,
Morry

About the author:
Morry Banes is an blogger in the field of multi tools, safety and preparedness. He runs a multi tool blog at bestmultitoolkit.com.

Morry is an ex multitool factory worker and today he owns a small hardware store in Tigard, Oregon, collects multitools and shares his passion by writing about them.

 

10 Easy Tips to Avoid Food Storage Problems

10 Easy Tips to Avoid Food Storage ProblemsThis post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

A lot of people are now considering storing food for emergencies but feel they have obstacles that prevent them from doing so.  Perhaps they feel they don’t have any free space, or become overwhelmed by the task.

Having limited space and living in a hot humid climate for at least 120 days out of the year, I am very familiar with storage problems.

Ideally, food should be stored at around 50-55 degrees, with no more that 15% humidity.   Does that mean you cannot store food if you do not have these ideal conditions?  Of course you can!  The conditions described are “in a perfect world” type scenario, and we all know it’s not perfect, otherwise we would not need to store food.

Summer temperatures in Texas reach over 100 degrees with 80% humidity.  To save electricity, we keep the air conditioning at around 78-80 degrees.  The A/C cuts down on humidity, but moisture still seeps in.  This is something we cannot ignore.  We just factor in that the food stored will not last as long as it would have at cooler, drier temperatures.

Here are some tips:

  • Clear out an area before getting started, or as you supply grows.  Clean out the junk closet and sell or donate items, leaving free space for food storage.  Try using underutilized spaces such as under the beds, inside empty suitcases or TV cabinet.
  • Avoid waste and store only foods that your family eats.  Resist the urge to stock up on sale or discontinued items just because of the low price.
  • Choose canned foods that have the longest expiration dates.  Do not buy cans that are dented or misshapen even if they are heavily discounted.  Although some studies have shown they can last a few years past their expiration dates, I prefer not to risk it, especially after a friend’s unfortunate experience.  Getting ill from eating spoiled food is not worth it.
  • Rotate your food constantly.  I mark the expiration date with a Sharpie marker on top of the canned food and on the sides to make sure I use them before those dates.  At least twice a year, go through your supplies and use anything close to expiration.
  • If you are storing bulk foods in mylar bags, observe the proper technique by using oxygen absorbers and letting all the air out.  Label your buckets with the contents and the date the food was stored.  Plan on using these stored foods within five years, instead of ten, if your storage conditions are not ideal.
  • Find out that pests got into your stored food such as rice or flour would be disastrous, not to mention expensive to replace.  Clean the area surrounding your food storage thoroughly.  Make sure the area is dry and pest free.  For additional protection from pests, keep stored foods in five gallon food grade buckets with tight lids.
  • For maximum shelf life, choose dehydrated or freeze-dried foods.  Mountain House, a provider of food for recreational and emergency purposes, just increased their stated shelf life from 10 years to 12 years on their pouches.
  • If you are storing water in containers for drinking, use and replace the water after a year.  Mark the date of storage on the container using a label or sharpie marker.  Mold or moss may develop after the container been sitting in a warm, humid area for a while.  If you do use water that has been stored for a long while, have a backup water purification system by running it through a filter, boiling etc.
  • Make sure your food and water storage is not close to gasoline or other chemicals that emit fumes that will contaminate your supplies.

This tips will help minimize mistakes,  and ensure your stored food and water will be available when you most need them.

© Apartment Prepper 2014

Don’t let those expiration dates get past you.  An inexpensive but helpful tool to keep track of supplies:

 For beginning preppers

Monday Musings: 8/25/2014

Monday Musings 8252014This 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 blog updates…

Thanks for taking the survey!  We had a great week at Apartment Prepper.  A good number of readers responded they like Monday Musings “as is” with both blog updates and link sharing.  We also got some great suggestions for future posts and I am working on those articles now.  Thank you everyone for responding to our first poll!

Who won Countdown to Preparedness?  Kathi won the random drawing.  She left the following comment:

When I travel, I drive and am pretty well prepared from most things. Walking home wouldn’t be fun though.

Hubby flies to his jobs and refuses to do much in that regard. He does carry his meds in his carry on and that is an improvement. Sometimes, if he is going to be gone a couple of weeks, he will put his pocket knife in his checked bag.

Don’t forget to enter the Potty Box giveaway.  It’s going on now, and ends Friday, 8/29.

Now for the links…

New site that gives free resources: TopSecretSurvival.com

20 All Purpose Remedies Using Essential Oils

EMP: What You Need To Know To SURVIVE

What to Watch on Food Labels

Smart Survival Strategies for Kids: Forbidden Items at School

Is It Really That Easy to Live Off of Your Garden?

Take care and have a great week everyone!

© Apartment Prepper 2014

The Potty Box – Review and Giveaway

The Potty Box Review and GiveawayToday we are reviewing the Potty Box – Complete Toilet Set.  I received a review sample from Emergency Zone  I agreed to review it because I wanted to see if it would deliver on the product features as named in the website:

  • Triple-wall heavy duty design
  • Light weight & compact storage
  • Easy to set up and reuseable
  • Biodegradable
  • Enough chemicals and liners for 10 uses
  • Each scoop of Blue Gel will treat up to 1 gallon of liquid waste
  • Designed to hold up to 250 lbs
  • Fits under your bed, in your trunk, or under your desk in your office

This is how the box looks like:

Pottybox1

You turn the box over and you can already see how it will be constructed.

Pottybox2

Here is a photo of the box with contents.

Pottybox3The potty itself comes with:

10 trash bags

1 red bag labeled “biohazard”

small roll of toilet paper

Blue Gel porta potty chemical

small bottle of hand sanitizer

Pottybox4The instructions on how to construct it are right on the side of the box.  The Potty Box is easy to assemble.  All you have to do is unfold the cardboard and insert the cardboard tabs into the grooves.   Then you take a trash bag and fit it over the opening and tuck it under the sides.  It is as simple as putting together one of those filing boxes at work.   I wondered whether this construction would be flimsy like the filing box.

Actually this box is much stronger and sturdier.

I had a few people in the family of varying builds and weights try it out (no one weighed over 200 lbs. in this test, so I cannot vouch for anything above 200).  The box shows it can support up to 250 lbs.

At first, I imagined the cardboard might cave in but actually, it held up pretty well.  Some of the ones who tried it said it was comfortable enough, and some felt it was tight.

The plastic bag cushions your tush somewhat against the edge of the box.

Another comment was “You can’t do #1 and #2 at the same time,” but that is just something that would have to be worked out individually.

The lid of the box also functions as a toilet lid.

What I liked about it was it was very compact and lightweight.  It is very easy to assemble.  I also has the basic supplies needed for hygiene purposes and it functions as described.

As far as emergency potties for an apartment, it is very space efficient, however there are other choices such as 5 gallon buckets if you wanted a multi-purpose item.  If you are someone who does not want to assemble a potty kit, and want something quick that you can store under the bed or furniture, then the Potty Box would be good to have.  I would advise storing lots more toilet paper than the one roll.  You’d also have to consider how many people would potentially be using it in an emergency and the number of times used – each box has enough supplies for 10 uses.

I think the Potty Box would be ideal for a car survival kit – I’d certainly be grateful to have one if I were stranded somewhere.  It would also make a great gift for a non-prepper who would otherwise not have any hygiene supplies for an emergency.

NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY…

Emergency Zone is giving away one Potty Box.   Please answer the following question for a chance to win

 What is your biggest concern about hygiene in a disaster?

The winner* will be chosen at a random “Pick a Giveaway Winner” drawing on Friday,  August 29 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.

Vote for Me at Top Prepper Websites

 

 

Monday Musings 8/18/2014 – Tell Me What you Think!

Monday Musings 8172014This 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 blog updates…

This week I am supplementing my hygiene supplies:  picked up a couple of bottles of bleach from the one of the dollar stores, and added a few extra packs of toilet paper, and garbage bags that were on sale at the market.  Unfortunately garbage bags from the dollar stores fall apart too quickly and at the worst possible moment… trust me-I know.

There’s still a chance to win Countdown to Preparedness   The drawing is on Friday,  August 22 at 8 pm Central.  Please visit the link here.

What would you like to see in our posts?

I’d like to see what’s working and what’s not for our readers.  I can tell somewhat from the daily blog traffic and comments what articles are popular, but I’d like to do a better job for y’all.  Would you mind taking a quick survey to let me know?  I promise it won’t take too much of your time.

Survey Link

Don’t worry, I won’t take it personally.   Thanks for taking the time to respond!

Now for the links…

Ebola outbreak vastly underestimated, WHO says

Hospitals in the U.S. Get Ready for Ebola

Warning: The Coming Pandemic and How You can Prepare Yourself

Job = Just Over Broke

It’s Time for a Prepper Reality Check

Add Photos to Your 72 Hour Kit: 10 min Preparedness Project

The SAD Way of Preparedness Websites – Possibly An Analogy of the Preparedness Life!

Take care and have a great week everyone!

© Apartment Prepper 2014

 

Vote for Me at Top Prepper Websites

How to Avoid Getting Hurt in a Riot

How to Avoid Getting Hurt in a Riot

If you live in a large city, the risk of a riot is always present.  Riots can be triggered by many reasons, from rowdy festival goers, the aftermath of a big game, , dissatisfaction with a verdict or official actions, and many others.   Even people who are lawfully congregating or holding a peaceful protest can unintentionally be swept up in a riot.

How do you avoid getting hurt in a riot?

There is no telling when a riot can happen.  Because of the unpredictability, it is not one of the risks that people really think about when preparing for a disaster.  But there may be ways to avoid getting yourself or your family hurt if one erupts in your vicinity.

Mental preparedness

  • Consider the possibility.  Never think for a minute that this won’t happen to you.  If you live in a city, it can happen.
  • Stay calm.  If you start seeing things escalate in a crowd, resist the urge to panic.

Always be aware of your surroundings.

  • Don’t be one of those people who are tethered to their phone and never look up.
  • Listen to the news and know what’s going on before you venture out.
  • Scope things out, even when things look normal.
  • Know all the exits wherever you are.

Avoid the area

  • Don’t be a lookie-loo.  A lot of people get curious about what’s going on, and instead of avoiding the area, they will be tempted to go check it out, drawing them closer to the line of fire.
  • Resist the urge to take pictures.
  • As soon as you become aware of something developing, start moving in a calm, orderly fashion.  You would not want to stumble and get trampled
  • Move in the same general direction of the flow of traffic, until you can veer off to a safer area.  Moving against traffic will be much harder, attract attention, or make you a target.

 Don’t attract attention

  • Keep your head down
  • Do not get involved.  You may agree with one side or other, but if you are trying to keep yourself or your family safe, now is not the time to get caught up.

Stay close to your companions

  • Kids can easily get separated from their parents in a riot.  If you have kids with you, keep a tight grip on them.  You may have to carry the smallest one.  In shopping malls, have seen parents doing a fast walk with kids struggling to keep up behind them.
  • If you are with others, try to stay close or within earshot of each other.

Items to have on hand

  • Have cash and change at all times so you can arrange for transportation if you can’t drive or get to your car.
  • Keep a pair of comfortable shoes in your car or in your office.
  • Many stores shut down if they are in the middle of an afflicted area.  Have a week to two weeks worth of food and water in your home, same as preparing for any disaster.

If you are driving

  • Know alternate routes home – it would best to avoid main roads and instead take side streets.
  • Lock your windows and doors.
  • Watch out for pedestrians – there may be a lot of people milling around or trying to stop traffic.
  • Always keeps your gas tank at least half full – you don’t want to have to stop for gas at the worst possible moment.
  • Have extra food and water in the car, along with a survival kit.
  • Leave as soon as you can or you may get caught in a traffic nightmare.

Sometimes, trouble can erupt around you.  The key to staying safe is being mentally prepared, and knowing what to do.

Stay safe!