20 Tips on Staying Safe During the Holiday Season

20 Tips on Staying Safe during the Holiday SeasonThis post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away and the Christmas season will soon be in full swing.  Theft and other crimes seem to increase when people are out and about shopping or partying and not paying much attention to anything else.

The other day the management company left a flyer on our door about a “Resident Meeting” regarding apartment safety. I was concerned enough that I attended the evening meeting after work. A couple of policemen and the building management were in attendance. The reason for the meeting was to discuss recent criminal activity in the area, and to warn residents about personal safety.

My neighborhood is in the middle of the city of Houston. If you ever visit the city, you will notice very quickly that the city does not have strict zoning laws. As a result,most areas include a mix of residential, commercial and industrial. One block could be a nice residential area, and across the street would be high rises or industrial parks, unless you live in a planned community in the suburbs. So you can live in a block with nice residences, but go two blocks and you can quickly find yourself in an unsavory looking area. Being careful and aware of your surroundings is very important. Not being critical or negative, that is just the way it is. While we carefully picked the apartment we live in, checked crime statistics and all that, crime in any area is inevitable.

Back to the meeting. Apparently, the management company decided to have a meeting due to a recent shooting that occurred in the complex. They wanted to reassure the residents that it was not a random event but a shooting between acquaintances, a “drug deal gone bad.” There were no fatalities, the shooter was arrested and the victim was shot in the leg. I was still unsettled by the incident – it is not very reassuring to hear that a resident was doing a drug deal. The resident has since been evicted; at least he is not around anymore. The cops also informed us there have been car break-ins and some theft.

Staying safe during the holiday season

  1. This meeting has just reinforced my feeling that there is no such thing as a “safe area.” We need to be on guard at all times, and always aware of our surroundings. Always find out about what’s going on around you. Surprisingly, for a complex this large, not a lot of tenants attended the meeting, considering it was about something important.
  2. Maintain an alert stance and scan the people around you.  Thieves avoid people whom they perceived is too alert and may have already noticed them
  3. If you start to have a bad feeling about your surroundings, stop and pay attention to these feelings, it is your intuition telling you not to proceed.
  4. Thieves try to target people whom they perceive as more vulnerable: the elderly, women alone or women and children.
  5. To avoid being targeted by thieves, think about what attracts these criminals: flashy jewelry, a large purse that looks stuffed with goodies, smart phones, shopping bags, etc.
  6. Carry only what’s necessary and leave the rest at home.
  7. When shopping, always lock your vehicle and do not leave your items in the car, lock them up in the trunk. The cop revealed that they patrol certain malls because thieves are known to “harvest” items that people leave in the cars while shopping.
  8. Consider a protection device such as mace, pepper spray or a concealed gun if you know how to use them and are licensed in your district.
  9. When in public, avoid being engrossed in your phone or tablet.  This sounds simple, but I have seen so many people with their heads buried in their cell phones even while crossing the street.
  10. When walking to your car, have your keys ready in your hand, no fishing around the parking lot for missing keys. Brief inattention to your surroundings can cost you your life. If leaving at night, try to walk with someone or have security escort you.
  11. Train the kids to only open the door to family or friends who know the “password” and never open the door to strangers.
  12. Keep your curtains or blinds closed. The more passersby see your appliances and items, the more likely a thief will get interested in you.
  13. Consider an alarm system or a dog if your building allows it.
  14. Make sure you always lock your doors and windows.
  15. Look around the area before you open your door or garage, as thieves have been know to follow people in as they get home.
  16. Be careful about announcing your activities and plans on social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook, this will give potential thieves a “heads up” that your house is available.
  17. Before walking or driving up to an ATM machine, make a note of who is in the area.  Is there a car just parked nearby?  Are there a lot of bushes where someone can hide and jump out at you?  If you are not sure, just bypass it and go somewhere else.  The most you will lose is time and possibly gas, but at least you’ll be safe.
  18. When in crowded shopping centers, be alert for pickpockets especially when someone bumps into yo
  19. If you are working late, walk out with a co-worker or call security and have them walk you to your car.
  20. If you feel you are being followed home, don’t pull into your driveway.  Instead, keep driving and go to a crowded area, police or fire station.

Sorry if this article sounds a bit paranoid, but these are the times we live in. A big part of survival mentality or preparedness is paying attention to your own personal and family security.

 

© Apartment Prepper 2014

 



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How to Keep Your Apartment Warm

Staying Warm in a Drafty ApartmentThis post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

This week, a cold front, AKA polar vortex is coming to town.  Indeed, it was much colder getting out of work this afternoon than it was early this morning.

Our apartment windows are very flimsy.  They are single paned aluminum windows that let in the frigid air.  You can really feel the cold air seeping in as you get closer to the windows.  We had to come up with ideas to keep the apartment warm without doing any major work.  These are the options we considered:

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.

In a pinch, you can try using clear plastic wrap- just stick it around your windows to keep the draft out.

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.

What are other ways to keep your apartment 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 wear 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.
  • Warm up your bed before getting in Use a blowdryer and warm up your bed right before getting in.  If you have a dog or a cat have them snuggle in the foot of your bed – they help keep you warm as well!
  • Hang old comforters or quilted blankets  Readers have suggested hanging comforters or quilted blankets as curtains.
  • Set up a warm room  If you have no power, it’s best to congregate in one room and make it the warmest one.  Set up tents and sleeping bags in the middle of the room.
  • 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.  Make a nice pot of soup.
  • Rice heating pad.   Just pour uncooked rice into an old sock, sew it closed.  Microwave it until hot and use it as a warmer.
  • Run electric appliances during the day.  Run the dishwasher, cook and bake during the day.  They all help warm up the house.

Caution:  Always make sure your room is well ventilated.  Always have a carbon monoxide detector.  Never turn on gas stoves for heat.

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 2014

 

Substitutes for Toilet Paper

Substitutes for Toilet Paper

I recently posted about being off-grid for 48 hours, and using a lot of baby wipes due to the lack of water during our adventure.  One thing that would run out quickly in a survival situation if you did not have a huge stockpile would be toilet paper.  Not having a lot of space we have about three months worth on hand right now, but that can run out quickly.  Also, a large stockpile of toilet paper is not portable in a bug-out situation, and in a shelter in place scenario, the TP supply is bound to run out.

Space saving tip:  Remove the cardboard insert and flatten the roll and you can fit more rolls in a small space.

What are some substitutes for toilet paper?

Back in ancient times, the Romans used a sea sponge on a stick.  They would clean themselves with it, rinse it in the running water (public bathrooms had them on the floor) and leave it soaking in salt water in between uses.

In colonial times, people used corncobs, and later, old newspapers and catalogs were used in outhouses.

Here are a few ideas:

1.  Wet wipes or baby wipes

These would work just like toilet paper, but again, a large stockpile would have to be accumulated.

2. Paper Substitutes

Newspaper may work, but the ink would turn everything black.   I read other people prefer The Yellow Pages but these days, a lot of people don’t keep phone books around.  Store catalogs may be more common, and flimsy pages instead of high end glossy paper would work best.  Just crumple up the sheet until it softens up, then wipe.

3.  Cloth

Cloth, such as wash cloths, terry cloth or  cloth diapers can be used as toilet paper substitutes.  You can even cut up old, soft t-shirts into squares.  If you want to make reusable cloth wipes, this article from Food Storage Moms has good instructions.  The method would be to wet the cloth, wipe, then launder the cloth.  Supporters of this idea feel that most people would have nothing against rewashing cloth diapers, therefore personal washcloths should be okay.  I would think it would be a good idea to throw the soiled wash clothes into a bucket of water with some bleach before washing.

4.  Plant material

Sage leaves are said to be soft and fragrant enough to use, some say banana leaves would work too..  You must have some knowledge about which plants are safe; you would not want to use something like poison ivy, poison oak or sumac by mistake!   Remember: Leaves of three – let it be!

5.  Water

Many countries already use a spray water fountain called a “bidet” as part of their bathroom facilities.  Since this is being considered in an emergency scenario, we would need an alternative to that too.  In many countries, use of the left hand in combination with pouring water in a pan or small bucket with the right hand is the way to clean up.

Possible water carriers:

Fill any of these containers with plain water, add a drop of essential oil for fragrance and wash up.  (Don’t use mint or and don’t overdo the quantity of drops, or you may irritate those sensitive areas.)  After washing, dry the area with a clean towel that can also be reused.

To avoid disease, one would have to wash the hands well with water or antibacterial gel right after.

I’m not ready to give up toilet paper but you gotta do what you gotta do to stay clean.   In an emergency, the water route seems like the most likely one to try.  I may try making those clothes one of these days.  We will keep stockpiling toilet paper for now, and store them efficiently by flattening them for maximum use of space.   Another idea would be to decrease the use of toilet paper by combining with the methods above, thereby extending the life of the stockpile.

Toilet paper shortages sounds unlikely, but it has happened:  a year or so ago, Venezuela faced a toilet paper shortage and the government had to take over a toilet paper factory.   Before I got interested in preparedness, I can recall snagging the last package of toilet paper and waiting in a long line right before a hurricane.  Toilet paper is one of the first items to disappear if a disaster disrupts supply deliveries.  It’s good to know some alternatives just in case.

 

Treats and Snacks in Your Food Storage

Treats and Snacks in Your Food StorageIn the movie Zombieland, one of the goals of Woody Harrelson’s character had was to find a store that had Twinkies.  He was obsessed with getting a hold of a Twinkie stash he wouldn’t let anything, including a bunch of zombies get in his way.  It might have been just some product placement but they still had a valid point – a disaster does not make you stop craving for treats.

At the worst of Hurricane Ike, which sent me on my path to preparedness, I really wanted cheese and crackers.  When the stores finally opened, there was no dairy to be found, including any kind of cheese whatsoever, even Cheez Weez was gone.  After that, I made sure I have cheese on hand, including cheese spread  – I know it’s fake, but it’ll do.  I admit I happen to like artificial cheese flavor – Doritos and Cheetos Cheese Puffs.

Adding snacks and treats to your food storage

What Snacks and Treats should you Include?

The answer really depends on you – the items you really crave, as well the amount of space you have.  Some ideas:

  • Chocolate   A lot of people crave chocolate; I do enjoy a good bar of plain Hershey’s on occasion, as well as my all time favorite, Heath Bars.  You can even rationalize that it is good for you, especially dark chocolate.  You do need to make sure you buy it well ahead of expiration dates, and the packaging must not be broken.  When I first started working, I had the misfortune of opening up a bar of Rocky Road Marshmallow Chocolate (these used to be my favorite) and it was full of maggots *shudder*  I bought it from a convenience store in my office building at the time and it must not have been stored properly.
  • Crackers and cookies   Cookies and crackers can be satisfying treats, and not just for the kids.  Again, pay attention to the packaging and dates.  You already know what you and your family like, just pick up a couple of boxes and save them.
  • Nuts and seeds   Nuts and seeds are both satisfying and healthy – pick up a few cans or jars of peanuts, cashews, macadamia, almonds etc.
  • Dried fruit   Again, they are both tasty and good for you.  Pick up raisins,  dehydrated strawberries, blueberries etc.  Or better yet, pick up a food dehydrator and dry them yourself.  (one of my “to-do’s”)
  • Chips   Okay, these are not so healthy but I like them.  Between salty and sweet, I am partial to salty snacks.  Go on, pick your favorites and have a few bags on hand, just in case.
  • Bacon   The only person I know who hates bacon is a vegetarian, everyone else loves it.  Bacon comes in a can, so you have options.
  • Soda   I am not a soda drinker, but I do like carbonated water.  Some people swear by 7-Up to relieve stomach aches so who am I to judge.  Keep a liter or two in your pantry, you can always use the plastic bottle for water storage.  Or, learn to make your own soda at home.

Tips:

  • Make sure the items you keep are shelf stable, that is, no refrigeration needed.
  • Buy items that have long expiration dates.
  • Pick up items while on sale and stock up.  Halloween is coming up in a few weeks – now is a good time to stock up on chocolate and candy.  You can even freeze them for later use and use them for making other desserts.
  • Follow the same tips to avoid food storage mistakes, as you do other foods.

As an added benefit, your non-prepping teen or spouse will feel a little more receptive to preparing if you include their wish list to your storage.  In an emergency, having favorite snacks would boost family morale.  And, if nothing happens, then you still have your favorite treats on hand for cravings.

 

 

 




Monday Musings 10/13/2014

Monday Musings 0132014This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com
Welcome to another Monday Musings, where we share interesting links about all things preparedness, as well as updates on the blog.

First the blog updates…

As I write this, we are hearing about a nurse who tested positive for ebola in Dallas.  The articles state she was wearing protective gear during the time she had contact with Mr. Duncan the first ebola patient who has died, however there was a breach in protocols.  Seeing a lot of searches on the blog about this; I urge you not to panic but stay informed and read all you can about it.  If you haven’t already, read previous articles I’ve written here and here.  I am sure we will be discussing this more in the coming weeks.

Lot’s of giveaways!  Don’t forget to enter the Cox’s Honey Giveaway that’s going on right now.

We’re doing two more this month, so please check back.  Today’s Monday Musings is likely to be the last one for October, as we will be announcing those giveaways the next two Mondays.  I’ll still be posting my regular articles as usual.

Good deal on non GMO seeds.  We also have the great discount offer from Seeds of the Month Club for Apartment Prepper readers – 25% off their regular price if you sign up through our Link below:

Seeds of the Month ClubBook Tour at Survivor Jane’s  Check out the Book Tour over at Survivor Jane’s site.  I’ve already done one review, and plan to do another one soon!

Now for the links…

How to be a Prepper…But Not One of Those Crazy Ones

Practically Free Egg Carton Dryer Lint Firestarters

Hands-Only CPR and When to Add the Breathing

5 Lessons on Self-Reliance at The Pathfinder School

I want Christmas to be debt-free

21 Survival Uses For Dental Floss

The boiling bag

Take care and have a great week everyone!

© Apartment Prepper 2014

Monday Musings: 9/29/2014

Monday Musings 09272014

This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com
Welcome to another Monday Musings, where we share interesting links about all things preparedness, as well as updates on the blog.

First the blog updates…

I haven’t had as much time to work on Apartment Prepper this past week due to a tight work schedule.  I hope this week will be much better.

Fall is here and I am so glad the weather is starting to cool off (not a let yet, but I am grateful)  I have some interesting projects coming up, one of them is how to make a heat retention cooker aka, a wonder oven, thanks to instructions from fellow blogger Megan who runs the My Food Storage Cookbook site.  As always, I will let you know how it turns out.

Now for the links…

One Awesome Article site launch

Todd of Prepper Website has a neat new site: www.oneawesomearticle.com. The idea is that guys will receive one AWESOME article in their inbox a day.  It is geared towards guys, but you ladies will want your guys to get this to make them a better…..guy.  The article will include a link to an awesome article on the web, special offers, book suggestions or cool products.  This great info will only come through the daily email, so make sure you sign up.  This is not a paid endorsement.  I just know that after visiting  Prepper Website for several years now, I can always count on Todd to point me to some great leads on the web.

oneawesomearticle.com

 

New NatGeo show

The new show is called Live Free or Die.  While not prepper focused, the series focuses on self-reliance and homesteading which is always of interest.

Ep105_006_LiveFreeOrDie

Live Free or Die photo, Courtesy of National Geographic, with permission

 

Live Free or Die examines one of America’s most remote subcultures, following five individuals living in the country’s backwoods and swamps with few of the trappings of modern society. Freed from the constraints of a technology-fueled existence, they are modern-day pioneers who rely only on skill and intuition to harness the natural environment. Here is a clip, courtesy of National Geographic.

Live Free or Die: Road Kill: It’s What’s For Dinner!

North Carolina homesteaders, Tony and Amelia, cook road kill given to them by Amelia’s Dad.

Link: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/live-free-or-die/videos/road-kill-its-whats-for-dinner/

Embed:

More links…

Chlorine Bleach For Sanitizing Raw Fruits And Vegetables

I’m Going To ???

An Open Letter to My Past Female Students Entering College

A Prepared Cook’s Guide To Creating An Ideal Kitchen Space

From Dehydrated to Dinner

17 Clever Food Storage Tricks

Castile Soap – Make Chemical Free Products for Your Family

Getting a Child and Yourself Ready for College

 

Take care and have a great week everyone!

 

© Apartment Prepper 2014

 

National Preparedness Month: Put Your Preps to the Test with 24 Hours Unplugged

 National Preparedness Month Put Your Preps to the TestWritten by Daisy Luther

This article first appear in The Organic Prepper

It’s National Preparedness Month, and the Professional Prepared Bloggers Association is celebrating by providing you with tons of information from some of the best writers in the niche in our 30 Days of Preparedness round-up!

It’s Day 28!!!! It’s time to take your game up a notch with 24 hours unplugged! No fair doing this on a day when you will be away from your normal activities anyway – you want to put your preps to the test!

A grid down scenario doesn’t have to be a massive EMP that detonates over the middle of the country, throwing us back to the 1800s.  It can be as simple (and likely) as a winter storm, a hurricane, or a computer issue at your local power station. While this is a fairly common occurrence, many people still seem taken completely by surprise when it happens. Without back-up heat, cooking methods, and lighting, the unprepared family could be in for a very unpleasant time until the lights come back on. Every family should be prepared for a minimum of two weeks without power.  Nearly 2000 families were still without power 94 days after Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast.

Here’s why you should test your preps.

A couple of years ago, my youngest daughter and I spent a year in the North Woods of Ontario.  It was a grand adventure, totally different from the city life we’d had previous to this.  Our small cabin was on the banks of a beautiful lake and the edge of hundreds of acres of forest wilderness.  It was heated only by wood, and although we had electricity, we were warned that it was sporadic, since we were fairly remote and regular maintenance was not always performed on the lines of the area.

As a prepared family we were pretty sure we’d be just fine when the power went out.

The first time it happened was on a mild early autumn morning. The power went out for no apparent reason, and we high-fived each other. Game on!

Since it was afternoon and the weather was nice, it really wasn’t much of a challenge. The power returned before daylight, we had some stuff in the fridge for sandwiches, and we basically just needed to entertain ourselves sans grid. No big deal – we are bookworms, so we spent the day curled up with some good reads.  We did make one unexpected discovery – our well was pumped by an electric component, so when the power went out, we also had no running water, including water to flush with.  Of course, we had stored drinking water, and we brought a couple of buckets of water up from the lake for flushing, so this was a minor inconvenience.

However, it did get me thinking about how we would flush if the weather was cold enough that the lake was frozen, but there wasn’t snow on the ground.  Hmmm…#1 Note to Self – store water for flushing too!

The next power outage occurred a couple of weeks later and it was a much bigger deal. The initial outage hit at about 7 o’clock on a chilly fall evening. It was dark and cold. We stoked up a fire in the woodstove, and began to search for our lighting solutions. Unfortunately, I hadn’t had the forethought to set up off-grid lighting in each room, so after digging for my candles in the dark closet, I had to carry one around to light candles in subsequent rooms.

#2 Note to Self: Keep candles, holders, and lighters in each room in a place which is easy to access in the dark.  After this, we placed candles in holders are part of the decor all around the house.

The wind roared around outside the cabin and our power did not return for 3 days.  We used the woodstove to heat up meals, but we couldn’t find all of the bits and pieces for a game we wanted to play. #3 Note to Self: Keep off-grid entertainment well-organized, especially if there are children in the house.

On the second day of the outage, we dragged our chest freezer out onto the deck to keep our food from going bad in the cozy cabin. #4 Note to Self:  Get something sturdy to store food in outdoorsthat won’t draw wild animals to your porch that also doesn’t require you to drag a 200+ pound appliance outside.

By the time the next power outage rolled around, we had learned many lessons. At the first sign of windy weather, we immediately filled the bathtub. A bucket right beside the tub served as a container to transfer water from the tub to the toilet so that we could flush. A sturdy Rubbermaid storage bench with a lock resided on our deck, waiting to be pressed into duty as an outdoor freezer.  Each room boasted of decorative candles.  Home canned meals in jars lined my kitchen shelves, and a beautiful cast iron Dutch oven sat at the ready to simmer a delicious stew or pot of beans on the woodstove. A couple of pretty baskets were filled with art supplies and games (with all of their pieces) and a couple of kerosene lamps that were bright enough for reading sat at either end of the sofa.  Since the fans that blew the heat into the bedrooms obviously did not work without power, we had a couple of air mattresses to set up in the living room on the coldest nights, so we could stay cozy by the fire.

The next time the power went out, we were excited because it meant a break in our day-to-day routine of work and school.  Power outages had become mini-vacations, and were no longer even a blip on the radar for us.

We don’t live in our little cabin in the woods any more, but the lessons we learned allow us to take power outages in stride in a way that most people don’t. Even though we don’t expect a shaky grid where we live now, our home is organized in the way that we learned up North. Lighting, extra water, sanitation, cold food solutions, and off-grid cooking tools are all close at hand should they be needed.

Are you ready to test your preps?

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to go for 24 hours without the grid. This means no electrical power, no central climate control, and no running water!  Some people will go hardcore and turn of the main water valve and flip all of the breakers. Others will just opt not to use those items.

 

  1. During your 24 hours off-grid, you’ll eat three meals, go to the bathroom, keep your family clean and at a comfortable temperature, and entertain yourselves. This a tall order in some locations!
  2. Plan ahead of time how you’ll overcome the challenges – you can learn a lot this way.
  3. But the real learning experience will come from the challenges you didn’t expect and plan for. This is how you will fill the holes that exist in your preps. It is far better to discover those gaps now, when back-up is as close as the breaker box in your basement, than it is to discover it when disaster strikes.
  4. Give every family member a notebook so they can jot down what works and what doesn’t.  Once your Grid-Down drill is over, compare notes.  You may be surprised at the observations your children have made.
  5. Make a shopping list based on the notes and fill those gaps!

 Testing…1,2,3…

Have you tried an off-grid drill before? What did you learn? If not, what’s stopping you? Share in the comments below.

Supplemental Reading:

One Second After

Alas, Babylon

The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Through Any Disaster

 

About the Author:
Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at daisy@theorganicprepper.ca

Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

What would You Do if Ebola Were to Spread in Your City?

What would you do if ebola were to spread in your city

This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is still very much in the news.  Most news articles keep stressing that it is unlikely to reach the U.S. and downplay any threats.  On the other hand, the CDC has released guidelines for hospitals should an infected person were to present himself.  New projections estimate that 500,000 may be infected by the end of January.  (Note:  Since the article was written, the estimates have now been revised to 1.4 million)

Earlier this week, Urban Survival had a good discussion about it:  When Will Ebola Infect the Markets?  Mr. Ure brought up a good point that if people got desperate enough, they would say anything or do anything to get out of their area and fly somewhere.  The problem would be if they were already infected and didn’t know it, then get on a plane, potentially exposing hundreds of people.

How people can get exposed in a hospital

Consider for a moment what could happen when a person who appears to have flu-like symptoms but has Ebola were to go the emergency room.

  1. The person signs in and sits down before getting called.  If they appear to be in urgent need, they may get seen quicker than others, but either way, they sit in a waiting room with people on either side, in front and behind them.  These people could potentially be exposed.  I should state that all reports say they virus is not airborne, yet a few healthcare workers who have suits on still seem to catch it somehow.  Let’s say just four people are exposed, being on the conservative side.  There would be more if the hospital is in a busy urban area.
  2. The patient then gets called to speak to a billing person who interviews him or her regarding insurance and payment.  That person could now be exposed.
  3. Finally, the patient is sent inside the emergency department.  While waiting for the doctor, a nurse or assistant takes their blood pressure, temperature, questions them about symptoms, etc.  None of these personnel were protective clothing.  Now we have seen five people exposed, from the minute the patient came in.
  4. Finally, the person is seen by a doctor, who then orders that the patient be admitted.  The doctor is now the 6th person who came in contact with the infected patient.

If the patient is not immediately identified as contagious, more workers will be taking x-rays, wheeling the patient around in elevators, etc.  By now, there could be at least 10 people exposed.

At a recent doctor’s appointment, I asked the doctor if he was at all concerned about the spread of Ebola in the U.S.  This was around the time the first patient was sent to Emory University Hospital.  My doctor indicated was not too worried, since he was very familiar with Emory and they have the best infection control policies and equipment.  However he said, “unless some grievous error were to happen,” in other words, a medical mistake, which can happen if there were more infected patients.  I’ve worked in hospitals in the past, and accidents do happen.  Even the most careful, rigorous protocols occasionally fail.  I don’t want anyone to panic by any means, but to consider the possibility and make a plan just in case.

A few things to think about:

  • Are you at risk for infection if the virus spread to your town or city?  Densely populated areas tend to have people living closer together, thus increasing the risk of exposure.  If you live in an apartment building that has common areas such as coffee rooms, reception areas, swimming pool, management office and elevators, you may need to away from these areas should there be a pandemic.
  • At what point would you keep everyone at home?  When would you skip work, have your partner stay home, and keep kids from school?
  • Would you stay in your apartment or home, or leave and go to a safer, less populated location?  Many city dwellers do not have a bug-out location, but do have family or friends outside of town who may be in a less crowded area.  Now is the time to think about this, before anything happens.
  • Are you prepared for a lockdown?  You’ll need enough food and supplies for a couple of weeks without having to shopping.  You won’t want to run out of toilet paper, prescriptions and other essentials if you are trying to avoid crowds and exposure.
  • If someone at home were to get sick, do you have supplies to get you through?  You would need sick room supplies such as protective clothing (gloves, protective goggles) lots of disinfectant such as bleach, antibacterial wipes, basic first aid supplies, etc.

I don’t have all the answers, but I hope this exercise gets you thinking and getting a few supplies just in case.  If nothing happens, then we can all be relieved and grateful.  Just like with any other disaster, if the dreaded event happens, it’s best to be prepared.  See What to Do If you are Worried about Ebola

When the CDC Tells Us to Prepare for the Ebola Pandemic, Things Are About to Get Real

Get updates from the CDC website

Apartment Prepper readers know I am not given to fear-mongering and I try to take a common sense approach to preparing for disasters.  I pray the troops who are sent to help with the outbreak stay safe and  hope that current measures are enough to contain the ebola outbreak and it will burn out soon.

© Apartment Prepper 2014

 

 

 Ebola Survival Handbook now available

Ebola Survival Handbook

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.