Monday Musings: 6/30/2014

Monday Musings 06302014This 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…

It’s been a busy summer for the Apt Prepper household so this is going to be a quick post.

Who won Prepper’s Long Term Survival Guide by Jim Cobb?  We held the drawing and the winner was Pierce, who commented:  My main concern for long term right now is ignorance. The wife and I live in an apartment right now, so the plan is to gather my mother and siblings, and then head to my in-laws. The in-laws are the only ones with a sturdy house and fenced in yard. Problem is that the family is refusing to listen to logic when it comes to preparedness, i.e. no one wants to stock up water or buy water filters. We will make due, but I worry that the ignorance and stubbornness of certain family members will make things way more difficult than they would be. I’m working on educating the family, but it’s frustrating when no one wants to plan further than “lock the doors, open a beer, and let it all blow over”.

We had lots of comments to this post – clearly surviving for the long term is a huge concern for many of our readers.  We will explore this issue further in our blog posts.

This week we are giving away Crafting with Paracord 50 Fun and Creative Projects Using the World’s Strongest Cord - don’t forget to submit your entry, you have until Friday, July 4th.

Now for the links…

Is the international monetary system nearing collapse?

Americans are getting into debt to afford food, gas

How to Use Ebay to Find the Most Affordable Silver

10 Tips For Getting Rid Of The Junk In Your Life

12 Survival Hacks Using Just Leaves

Facebook Manipulated 689,003 Users’ Emotions For Science

Take care and have a great week everyone!

© Apartment Prepper 2014

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Monday Musings: 6/16/2014

Monday Musings06162014This 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.

This is a quick one, as I am still catching up from being “unplugged” for a few days last week.  I’ll tell you about that in another post soon.

Since there are no blog updates, we’ll jump right into the links…

There’s still a chance to enter these giveaways…

Gaye over at Backdoor Survival is giving away a copy of my first book, The Prepper’s Pocket Guide: 101 Easy Things You Can Do to Ready Your Home for a Disaster Deadline is  at 6:00 PM Pacific Thursday 6/19.  Please visit Spring 2014 Book Festival: The Prepper’s Pocket Guide + Giveaway

We are giving away Survivor Max:  Too Smart to Die by Davi Barker  Just click on this link and comment for a chance to win!   Survivor Max – Book Review and Giveaway

Donna Freedman is giving away a copy of my new book, Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure:  A Prepper’s Book for Kids.  Please enter by tonight, 6/16 at 7 pm PDT by clicking on this link:  Prepping:  It’s not just for grownups anymore

Jake & Miller’s Big Adventure: A Prepper’s Book for Kids – See more at: http://donnafreedman.com/2014/06/12/prepping-its-not-just-for-grownups-anymore/#sthash.AZpfMbFB.dpuf
Jake & Miller’s Big Adventure: A Prepper’s Book for Kids – See more at: http://donnafreedman.com/2014/06/12/prepping-its-not-just-for-grownups-anymore/#sthash.AZpfMbFB.dpuf
Jake & Miller’s Big Adventure: A Prepper’s Book for Kids – See more at: http://donnafreedman.com/2014/06/12/prepping-its-not-just-for-grownups-anymore/#sthash.AZpfMbFB.dpuf
Prepping: It’s not just for grownups anymore

Create multiple streams of income  This makes so much sense in today’s economy:

The Austerity Diaries:  If You don’t have a Job, Make One Up

Helpful info about food storage Our friend Dan of The Daily Prep has a neat infographic about long term food storage.  Please visit Guide to Long Term Food Storage

Don’t forget these tips this summer  Camping Safety

Never thought much about this, but it’s important  What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades

Fun and useful projects  I hope to try them this summer.

Homemade Crunchy Apple Chips Recipe – No Dehydrator Needed!

LEGO Figures Make Perfect Cable Holders

Take care and have a great week everyone!

 

 

Show young kids that being prepared can be fun!

Jake and Miller's Big Adventure

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Survivor Max – Book Review and Giveaway

Survivor MaxI just finished reading Survivor Max:  Too Smart to Die by Davi Barker.  The story starts out when Max, an 11 year old boy, finds himself in a school lockdown.  He escapes and runs home, only to find that his father who was researching the disease, has already fallen victim to the “plague.”  His apartment complex is overrun with the infected who feed on humans, whom he calls “lamebrains.”  Max must use his wits to to survive, using his Porcupine Freedom Scouts training, knowledge of science and scavenged supplies.

The story is very fast paced, and once you start, is very hard to put down.  Max is a very capable and likeable character.   The story is fast paced and enjoyable to read.  Max does seem a lot older than his 11 years – he knew a lot more than your average middle school child, but this did not detract from the story.

I also liked that Max lived in an apartment complex and the book showed how quickly things can get much worse in a multi-family dwelling.  Max does a good job gathering his resources and rigging up contraptions to foil the “lamebrains” and escape.  The story imparts a great lesson that having skills and a preparedness mindset are essential to survival.  I think the book would be enjoyable for both younger (age 9 and up) and older readers.  I recommend Survivor Max as a fun summer read.

Now for the giveaway…

To enter, please answer the following question in the Comments below:

What is your favorite zombie book, show or movie, and why?

The winner* will be chosen at a random “Pick a Giveaway Winner” drawing on Friday,  June 20th 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.

 

© Apartment Prepper 2014

Show young kids that being prepared can be fun!

Jake and Miller's Big Adventure

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Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

 

11 Emergency Food Items That Can Last a Lifetime

11 Emergency Foods that can Last a LifetimeThis article originally appeared in Ready Nutrition

By Tess Pennington

Did you know that with proper storage techniques, you can have a lifetime supply of certain foods?  Certain foods can stand the test of time, and continue being a lifeline to the families that stored it.  Knowing which foods last indefinitely and how to store them are you keys to success.

The best way to store food for the long term is by using a multi-barrier system.  This system protects the food from natural elements such as moisture and sunlight, as well as from insect infestations.

Typically, those who store bulk foods look for inexpensive items that have multi-purposes and will last long term.  Listed below are 11 food items that are not only multi-purpose preps, but they can last a lifetime!

Honey

Honey never really goes bad.  In a tomb in Egypt 3,000 years ago, honey was found and was still edible.  If there are temperature fluctuations and sunlight, then the consistency and color can change.  Many honey harvesters say that when honey crystallizes, then it can be re-heated and used just like fresh honey.  Because of honey’s low water content, microorganisms do not like the environment.

Uses: curing, baking, medicinal, wine (mead)

Salt

Although salt is prone to absorbing moisture, it’s shelf life is indefinite.  This indispensable mineral will be a valuable commodity in a long term disaster and will be a essential bartering item.

Uses: curing, preservative, cooking, cleaning, medicinal, tanning hides

Sugar

Life would be so boring without sugar.  Much like salt, sugar is also prone to absorbing moisture, but this problem can be eradicated by adding some rice granules into the storage container.

Uses: sweetener for beverages, breads, cakes, preservative, curing, gardening, insecticide (equal parts of sugar and baking powder will kill cockroaches).

Wheat

Wheat is a major part of the diet for over 1/3 of the world.  This popular staple supplies 20% of daily calories to a majority of the world population.  Besides being a high carbohydrate food, wheat contains valuable protein, minerals, and vita­mins. Wheat protein, when balanced by other foods that supply certain amino acids such as lysine, is an efficient source of protein.

Uses: baking, making alcohol, livestock feed, leavening agent

Dried corn

Essentially, dried corn can be substituted for any recipe that calls for fresh corn.  Our ancestors began drying corn because of it’s short lived season.  To extend the shelf life of corn, it has to be preserved by drying it out so it can be used later in the year.

Uses: soups, cornmeal, livestock feed, hominy and grits, heating source (do a search for corn burning fireplaces).

Baking soda

This multi-purpose prep is a must have for long term storage.

Uses: teeth cleaner, household cleaner, dish cleaner, laundry detergent booster, leavening agent for baked goods, tarnish remover

Instant coffee, tea, and cocoa

Adding these to your long term storage will not only add a variety to just drinking water, but will also lift morale.  Instant coffee is high vacuum freeze dried.  So, as long as it is not introduced to moisture, then it will last.  Storage life for all teas and cocoas can be extended by using desiccant packets or oxygen absorbing packets, and by repackaging the items with a vacuum sealing.

Uses: beverages, flavor additions to baked goods

Non-carbonated soft drinks

Although many of us prefer carbonated beverages, over time the sugars break down and the drink flavor is altered.  Non-carbonated beverages stand a longer test of time.  And, as long as the bottles are stored in optimum conditions, they will last.  Non-carbonated beverages include: vitamin water, Gatorade, juices, bottled water.

Uses: beverages, flavor additions to baked goods

White rice

White rice is a major staple item that preppers like to put away because it’s a great source for calories, cheap and has a long shelf life.  If properly stored this popular food staple can last 30 years or more.

Uses: breakfast meal, addition to soups, side dishes, alternative to wheat flour

Bouillon products

Because bouillon products contain large amounts of salt, the product is preserved.  However, over time, the taste of the bouillon could be altered.  If storing bouillon cubes, it would be best repackage them using a food sealer or sealed in mylar bags.

Uses: flavoring dishes

Powdered milk – in nitrogen packed cans

Powdered milk can last indefinitely, however, it is advised to prolong it’s shelf life by either repackaging it for longer term storage, or placing it in the freezer.  If the powdered milk developes an odor or has turned a yellowish tint, it’s time to discard.

Uses: beverage, dessert, ingredient for certain breads, addition to soup and baked goods.

Prepper's CookbookAbout this author

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But if you follow this book’s plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months or even years. Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com.

 

 

Monday Musings: 6/9/2014

Monday Musings 06092014This 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…

Fun giveaway planned  We will be having a new giveaway this Friday – this is a fun one so please check back.

Taking a few days off  I’ve been feeling exhausted lately, with the schedule it take to work a full-time job and write this blog.  I wouldn’t choose any other way – but just need to take a breather.  Staying in town, but just keeping a more relaxed schedule.  I’ll still have some posts planned; I may not be responding to comments and emails as much.

Now for the links…

The hot topic of net neutrality   There’s still time to share your views = FCC link is within the video.

John Oliver’s net neutrality rant may have caused FCC site crash

If you worry about privacy   Some people don’t even care anymore, they just post everything, but if you do, here’s one more to think about.

N.S.A. Collecting Millions of Faces From Web Images

Good reminder on what else could go wrong  Even if you’re one of the helpful ones, you could still do the wrong thing.

Survival Imperative: Blend In… People will Hate You Even If You Help Them

This would be fun to try out  

Petomato repurposes plastic water bottles as micro hydroponic gardens

Why you need more apple cider vinegar  It’s amazing how much it can do.

18 uses for apple cider vinegar that will surprise you

Summer on the brain  No doubt about it, summer is here, so enjoy yourself.

Creamy, Decadent Homemade Fudgesicles

Getting a frugal start on summer

Take care and have a great week everyone!

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Father’s Day is next week! Get Dad something that will help him be a bit more prepared.

 

10 Biggest Bug Out Bag Mistakes

10 Biggest Bug Out Bag MistakesThis post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

When I started being interested in preparedness, I read everything I could in books and blogs to find out what I need to do.  For the purpose of this article, the bug out bag is the one you will take with you to get out of your home in a disaster, not knowing if you are coming back anytime soon.

I had the strong desire to prepare all at once, and as soon as possible.   Every survival site I read stressed the importance of having a bug out bag, or “get out of dodge” (good) bag.  So I jumped in right away.  Looking back, I probably should have spent a bit more time researching instead of rushing.

Here are some of the most common mistakes with bug out bags.

1.  Buying a pack without trying it out thoroughly.   I saw this pack that were highly recommended by another website, and it looked like it had a lot of room.  The guy who reviewed it said it was a similar style to something the military used, so I figured, they go outdoors a lot so it must be good.  And it looked cool.

When the bag came in I was fascinated with all the compartments.  Then I tried to carry it.  The bag weighs about 5 lbs by itself!  When you add all the contents it got so huge, and not at all suitable to my small frame.

Fortunately, my nephew needed a backpack when he came to visit us.  He is 6’2 and built like a football player.  The pack fit him just fine so I gave it to him.

Lessons for this mistake:   Try out a backpack thoroughly before you buy it.

  • Visit a sporting goods store like REI or Academy.  Have a salesperson fit you with the right size and shape.  Not all bags are built for your stature, and carrying a pack that does not fit will eventually start bothering you.
  • Place weights inside and walk around.  These stores actually have bean bags of various weights that they fit in your pack to simulate carrying a full backpack.
  • Walk around the store for 10-15 minutes and see how it feels.  I actually got a little sore around the shoulders and legs after trying out so many but eventually I found the right one.

2.  Choosing a bag that is attention grabbing.

In my opinion, the bag should be low-key, in muted colors so it does not attract a lot of attention.  If you are trying to evacuate, you don’t want to garner attention from the wrong crowd, who may assume your are someone who has lots of supplies and an easy target.  Choose plain brown, black, navy or grey in a nondescript design.

Don’t pack items outside that bag that jingle or chime, which also attract attention.

3.  Not carrying enough water

Water is one of the top needs for survival and so you need to pack enough of it.  You may even have a water purifier or iodine tables but if there is no water source, you are in big trouble.

4.  Packing too much stuff

Although the rule of thumb with packing the bag is that it should be a maximum of 1/3 or your weight, that does not mean you will be comfortable carrying your bag.   People tend to overpack.    For a free tool that will help you plan your bug out bag contents, check out The Bug Out Bag website’s Plan Your Bug Out Bag Contents with our Free Tool.   Imagine if you were packing to walk out of the city in dangerous conditions.  You don’t want to be over-encumbered at a time like this.  Choose your items carefully and reduce weight before anything happens.

5.  Not having a bug out bag for the kids.

Even though you will end up carrying most of your kids’ supplies, they can still use a small bag where they can store their snacks, small toys or stuffed animal that will give them comfort in an emergency.

6.  Not getting into shape

A couple of weeks ago, I was driving in a busy street when I noticed a guy walking along the sidewalk with a full backpack..  It was early in the morning, but the temperature was already climbing, and the heavy humidity was making it hard to breath.  The guy, appeared to be in his 40s-50s, was dressed in a t-shirt, walking shorts and hiking boots.  He was walking briskly, but he did not look like a hitch-hiker or traveller.  I figured he had to be getting in shape, either for a backpacking trip, or for a walk out of the city, in case of disaster.  I concluded this guy has the right idea, getting in shape before an actual emergency forced him to walk out.

Even though getting in shape is not technically having to do with the bag, being able to carry it comfortably is crucial.

7.  Not having anything to repair the bag

You should carry a small sewing kit in your bag so you can repair it if a strap breaks or a tear develops.  A heavy duty sewing awl would be ideal, but a small sewing kit with enough needles of various sizes will suffice.

8.  Being unfamiliar with the contents and compartments of the bag

Make it a point to check the contents of your bag at least every season.  Change the clothing to the appropriate season and weed out old items that may have leaked, dried up or expired.

Be familiar with all the compartments of your bag and organize it.  That way when you need a specific item, you know exactly where to find it.  You’ll avoid having to look in each pocket and having to pull out contents.

9.  Packing sharp objects without proper covering.

Axes, knives and machetes are often included in bug out bags, either inside or outside.  Make sure they are sheathed or at least have the edges wrapped to avoid injuring someone or tearing up the the bag.

10.  Waiting until SHTF to pack

Don’t wait until an emergency or disaster to pack.  If you do not want to have a packed bag, make a list of everything you need while you are thinking straight and keep the list in the bag.  At the very least have all your items inventoried so you know where everything is.

Hopefully, you will never need to utilized a bug-out bag, but if you do, you’ll be glad you put some thought into packing your bag properly.

© Apartment Prepper 2014

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Hurricane Season is Here: Are you Ready?

Hurricane Season is HereThis post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

Hurricane season began June 1st, and lasts until November 30th, with the peak between August and October.

As long time readers know, I started this blog soon after I experienced Hurricane Ike, when I got caught up in long lines at the grocery and gas station, the day before the hurricane hit.  I never want to experience that craziness again, with wall to wall people racing against each other to grab the last case of bottled water or toilet paper.

Now is the time to get your home ready, before the first hurricane watch is issued.

Hurricane Watch vs Hurricane Warning

With a hurricane watch, you have a bit more time to prepare- a watch is issued when the storm is predicted to arrive within 36 hours.  By the time the hurricane warning is issued, you will be fighting for supplies:  hurricane warnings are issued within 24 hours of a the storm’s arrival.

Easy Steps to Prepare

Emergency Kit

Most people already have a number of supplies lying around their house.  The key is to gather them up and make your kit.  Include at least a week’s day supply of the following:

  1. water (one gallon per person per day)  and a way to purify water
  2. food – Include food that is easy to prepare in case you lose power.  Don’t forget comfort food such as chocolate, chips, tea and coffee; special needs foods such as baby formula and food
  3. disposable eating utensils so you don’t need to wash dishes
  4. lighting – plenty of flashlights, batteries, lanterns
  5. cooking backup such as a propane stove
  6. battery powered or crank radio
  7. cash in case debit or credit cards are not working
  8. clean clothes (Wash clothes before the storm hits)
  9. hygiene and personal care items, toilet paper
  10. trash bags
  11. first aid, including prescriptions
  12. pet food and supplies
  13. entertainment that does not require electricity
  14. basic tools in case of fallen branches or minor repairs:  ax, saw, duct tape, rope, plastic tarp

If you are planning to buy a generator, set it up now, or hire an electrician to do it as it takes time to get it ready to use.

Emergency Plans

  • If you have leaky windows or any other maintenance issues, have them fixed or file a maintenance request with your landlord, before the problem gets worse.
  • Get rid of any overgrown trees or branches that could fall on your home in case of high winds.  After a hurricane, tree trimming services charge a lot more than usual rates.
  • Decide ahead of time what you will do in case you have to evacuate.
  • Plan your route out of the city.
  • Create your emergency texting tree and designate your out of state emergency contacts.
  • Make sure your cell phone is charged
  • Create your important documents binder
  • Fill up your gas tank or at least keep it half full

Financial Issues

  • Read your homeowner’s insurance so you know what’s covered.  If you rent, make sure you have renter’s insurance
  • If you own your home and live in a flood plain, consider flood insurance
  • Make a home inventory, including photos or videotape of your possessions
  • Have extra cash in case you need to stay in a hotel

Getting ready before that first hurricane watch comes will alleviate a lot of worries and last minute rushing around.  Do yourself and your family a favor and get ready now.

© Apartment Prepper 2014

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Monday Musings: 6/2/2014

MondayMusings622014Welcome to another Monday Musings were we share blog updates and interesting links.  Can you believe half the year is over?

First the blog updates…

What’s it like having no cable?  It’s been a couple of weeks since we got rid of cable and so far, the family and I don’t miss much.  I’ve watched some new shows straight from the networks’ websites on my computer; the rest of the shows are from Hulu and Netflix at a fraction of what we were paying for cable.  All in all, it’s been a positive change.

Enter for a chance to win    Jake and Miller Book Review + Giveaway at Lil Suburban Homestead blog http://www.lilsuburbanhomestead.com/2014/05/27/book-review-jake-millers-big-adventure/  Today is the last day to enter.

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Now for the links…

It’s still the economy.

US Economy Set for Rebound After Q1 Contraction

Has The Next Recession Already Begun For America’s Middle Class?

Where would you go? This post brings up good points to consider for either choice.

If SHTF, should you head for the city or country?

Good money saving tip   When I was a kid, my Dad used to cut our hair.  I haven’t been brave enough to try this, but hair cutting is a good skill to have so I may try it.

How to Save your family over $100 a year by cutting your child’s hair at home!

Better than plain water   I’ve tried the vinegar method but will be trying the hydrogen peroxide wash next.

A Handy Guide for Washing Produce

I no longer throw them away  

15 Creative Uses for Coffee Grounds

Take care and have a great week everyone!

 

My new book is out!

Jake and Miller's Big Adventure

 

Emergency Food: How to Make Corn Tortillas

Howtomakecorntortillas_titleMr. Apt Prepper and I were talking out our emergency food supply which contains a lot of beans and rice.  For variety, we thought we should try making homemade tortillas.

Howtomakecorntortillas_ingredientsThe instructions came from the corn masa flour package.  To make 8 tortillas:

1 cup corn masa flour

2/3 cup water

1/8 tsp salt

Other equipment used:

  • Large bowl
  • Zip-lock freezer bag
  • Tortilla press (you can make them without one, this just makes it easier)
  • Flat cast iron skillet – coat with oil or butter

1.  In a large bowl, add water to the corn masa flour.  Mix for two minutes until you can shape a ball.  Add water by the tablespoon if the mixture feels too dry.  I ended up adding about three tablespoons as I kept kneading the dough.

Howtomakecorntortillas_dough2.  Once you can make a smooth ball out of the dough, you can start shaping your tortillas.  Separate the dough into eight small balls.

Howtomakecorntortillas_separated

3.  Lay a piece of plastic such as a cut up Zip-lock freezer bag against both sides of the tortilla press.  The plastic will keep the dough from sticking to the press.

Howtomakecorntortillas_ball

4.  Place the dough ball on one side of the plastic and flatten the press.   Heat the cast iron skillet on medium heat.

Howtomakecorntortillas_flattendough

5.  Carefully pry the dough off and place on the hot skillet.  Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side.  You will notice the dough start to brown and puff slightly.  If you undercook it, the tortilla will taste like raw dough.  I should know, I tried one too soon.

Howtomakecorntortillas_cooking

6.  Keep cooking until all the tortillas are done.  Serve warm.

Result:

These tortillas came out way too small to make tacos but were tasty by themselves.  They are more flavorful and more filling than store bought tortillas.

Next time I will double or triple the recipe to make bigger tortillas.

I decided to see if I could make tortilla chips out of these, since they were too small for tacos.  I cut up the tortillas into four and fried them in hot oil.  I fried them for about three to four minutes until slightly brown, then added salt to taste.  Drain on paper towels to remove excess oil.

Howtomakecorntortillas_chipsThe chips made from homemade tortilla chips were very tasty and filling.

It was a bit time-consuming to make corn tortillas yourself, but I like knowing I can make them in case I run out and don’t want to run to the store.   This skill will also help to add variety to survival foods.

 

My new book is out!

Jake and Miller's Big Adventure

Even your TV can Spy on You

Even your TV can Spy on You2It’s bad enough that our smart phone can track us, but I found out something even more creepy than that:  your TV can actually spy on you.  The TV is so common and unnoticed, it is present in most homes, with some households having them in nearly every room.

First, a quick story…  I was loading an exercise DVD into the DVD player and I turned on the TV.  As soon as I turned it on, a message popped up on top of the TV screen that said “software update installing”  I wondered about it as this was completely unrelated to what I was doing.  I told Mr. Apt Prepper about it (he’s more tech oriented) and he said it’s because we have a “smart TV.” and it has software updates, just like a computer.

They are called “smart TVs” because they can connect to the internet, allowing you to browse and stream for shows as well as visit such sites as Twitter, Facebook, Skype, YouTube etc.

Although I have not used the TV to access websites, this got me thinking about the implications.  If your computer activities can be tracked, then it follows that the same thing would apply to the TV – I started reading up on the subject and what I found out confirmed my fears.

What is being tracked?

At the most basic level, your browsing and viewing habits can be tracked, allowing advertisers to know your preferences, and thus tailor the ads to you.

However, because of this feature, EVERYTHING that is viewed on that very same TV can also be tracked and transmitted elsewhere – such as your personal family photos, videos of your birthday celebrations etc.  Even if the source of the material viewed is an outside source such as a flash drive, the information will be collected and tracked.

Even worse, a hacker can add just a few lines of code, and turn the camera toward you, watching your every move.

And you can’t just cover the camera with a piece of duct tape because it is within the TV itself.  I know…  I looked for it.  If the TV can be used to Skype, then it does have a camera somewhere.

From what I have read, there is no “off switch”  Even if you opt out, the tracking can still be done, although LG, the company that was discovered doing this says they will disable the feature.

Here are a couple of articles for more information:

Is your TV Spying on You?

Samsung Smart TV a Spy in the Living Room as Webcam Hack Revealed

LG Admits Its Smart TVs Collected Info, Promises Fix So Customers Can Actually Opt Out

What are the options to prevent data from being collected?

  • Look through all your TV’s options and read the Privacy and Terms of Service.
  • Opt out of anything having to do with collection of viewing information.  Every TV is different so the menu options will be different.
  • Don’t connect the TV to the internet.
  • Don’t buy a smart TV.

Just as the smart phone offers a lot of advantages, so do the smart TVs, along with the tracking that comes with it.  More and more, these convenient features comes with a price:  our privacy.  Only you can decide if you are willing to pay the price.