AP Book Feature – Prepper Pete Prepares: Interview with Kermit Jones + Giveaway

Prepper Pete PreparesToday we are looking at something different:  Prepper Pete Prepares, by Kermit Jones,  a children’s picture book about prepping.

Upon reading the book, I thought it would be a great addition to our AP Book Feature.  I must say even adults who are “in denial” about the need for prepping would benefit from reading this book.  I sent Kermit a few questions related to kids and prepping and he graciously sent us the following responses:

1.   When do you feel it is appropriate to start getting kids involved in prepping? Is there a specific age or maturity level?

Starting with your second question, I firmly believe it is the latter of the two. That is, parents should know the maturity level of each of their children and make their own decision. It is vital to not simply equate age with maturity (they are not synonymous), but with that caveat aside, I generally propose that the younger, the better. Many parents mistakenly assume that when something happens, their kids will simply fall in line, but that’s only going to happen if they’ve been consistent in their expectations until that point.  Whereas age appropriateness is key, more discussion will generally lead to more understanding.

It also happens to be the point of “Prepper Pete Prepares” in that it provides a launching point for discussion that isn’t designed to scare kids. Instead, it prompts the opportunity to see where each child is in the process, and engage them from that point forward. The depth of discussion should be tailored to each child in question, though I readily admit that parents often don’t give their kids enough credit for what they are able to understand (assuming the information is presented properly).

The primary warning would be that parents should keep in the back of their mind that kids sometimes can’t easily distinguish between possibility and reality – they should be clear that there is no immediate danger or reason to be afraid.  I think Prepper Pete’s signature quote really hits home: “Some people prepare because they are afraid. Our family doesn’t have to be afraid… because we are prepared.”

2.   A number of people generally get worried about getting kids involved in certain prepping activities, while some get them involved at a young age for things like fishing, hunting etc.  What activities do you recommend parents involve their kids?

That is a great point. Skills like hunting and fishing can serve a dual purpose of both hobby and Prepping. Many people who don’t consider themselves Preppers engage in those activities, and they can be useful in both everyday life and a TEOTWAKI scenario.  I recommend that parents realize that the best prepping skill they can teach their kids is critical thinking… and that will serve them well throughout their life, regardless of circumstances.

That means recognizing and understanding that Prepping skills can be both generic and useful in a variety of situations in addition to Prepping.  The biggest advantage, however, is that it helps prevent kids from freezing due to fear.  They gain confidence in themselves so that they can, in fact, act.  And simply acting is often what saves lives.  The old adage applies – you can’t steer a parked car.
I also recommend teaching kids other skills such as how to build a fire, garden, can veggies, use weapons, defend themselves, and much, much more.  Reading books that engage critical thinking skills and imagination are great Prepping activities, even if they aren’t obvious on the surface.  And for the record, anything that encourages responsibility (such as assigned chores, etc.) should all be considered part of “Prepping.”

My philosophy is that Prepping should be a lifestyle – not an event. Parents shouldn’t let learning opportunities pass them by.  They can even teach fun skills independent of “Prepping” and link it back at a later time.  For instance, they can teach their kids how to build a fire without matches for the purpose of making s’mores.  Obviously, it could later save a life in the cold.

3.  Preppers generally like to keep their prepping as private as possible; however, kids may not understand the importance of “loose lips sink ships.”  What is the best way to explain secrecy/privacy to young kids without scaring them?

Operational security, or OPSEC, is definitely a concern.  Unfortunately, parents often explain “what” their kids should or should not be doing, but they fail to explain the “why” of it.  Kids (and adults, for that matter!) need to be able to connect actions with motivations.  Again, parents should be age appropriate about this, but I think many parents simply fail to sit down with their kids and have a conversation on the topic.  They should talk about it with their kids – and talk about it often.  Taking time to ask kids questions and see what they think will often clue parents in on the approach they should take.

If someone has multiple kids, the older ones can really help get the point across to the younger ones, as well.  When my ten year old daughter tells my four year old something about the importance of “keeping a secret,” it carries a different (and in this case, positive) weight than when it is just mom or dad saying it.  It becomes important from a “peer perspective” with an attitude that, “if it’s important enough for them, it must be important enough for me, as well.”  It also engages the older kids appropriately and gives them a sense of responsibility towards keeping the family secrets.  Parents can’t do this, however, if they don’t talk, question, and know where their kids stand.  They just need to be sure it’s a conversation – not an interrogation!

Also, it’s important to let kids know what they CAN say, and who they can say it to.  If they can tell something to a close relative or friend, then it can act as a “relief valve” of sorts.  Parents will also be able to observe the filters and perceptions their kids have in place.

Finally, it’s important to have graduating levels (age/maturity appropriate) of responsibility.  On the one hand, parents shouldn’t mistakenly assume their kids know nothing (they always know something). On the other, they don’t have to provide them with every last detail.  Perhaps only a portion of information is needed, and it may be enough to convey their purposes.

4.  Please tell us a bit about your background.

I’m a husband of one, father of four, and a Chaplain in the Navy Reserves. After graduating from the Naval Academy, I spent a few years as a Surface Warfare Officer before transitioning into ministry.  I’ve been fortunate to live in Japan for four years and several places in the U.S.  I was trying to figure out how to explain the world of Prepping to my own daughters and couldn’t really find much information out there on the topic.  So I started by writing “Prepper Pete Prepares” and it’s taken on a life of its own, growing into two magazine columns, a few website article and several podcasts.

5.  Any plans for other books?

Definitely!  Prepper Pete’s “Gun of a Son” is a gun safety book for kids and should be on the market in late February.  March should see Prepper Pete’s “Be Prepared!” which covers steps every parent should take to help prepare their kids for a wide range of emergency situations.  “Survivalist Sam Stocks Up” (the Four B’s of Prepping) and “Prepper Pete Gets Out of Dodge” (Bugging out and OPSEC) are coming later this year.

Additionally, I’m launching a new chapter book series called “The Survival Kids” which I hope to be a mix of Boxcar Children, Magic Treehouse, McGyver, and James Wesley Rawles.  Two of my kids are a bit older and I want to provide something for that age range, so I expect it will be out by mid-year.  For those who want to keep track, I invite them to like our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/PrepperPeteAndFriends) – where we’ll be giving out a free book at the 500 Likes mark.

Our thanks to Kermit Jones for participating in our Book Feature and for addressing our questions thoroughly!

Now for the giveaway:

One copy of Prepper Pete Prepares, by Kermit Jones is reserved for the winner.  Please post your answer to the following questions in the Comments.

How much involvement should children have in prepping, and why?

The winner* will be chosen at a random “Pick a Giveaway Winner” drawing on Saturday, March 1st 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 HAS ENDED.

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Going Home by A. American: Book Review and Giveaway

Going-Home-199x300If the power grid were to collapse while you are far from home on a road trip, how would you handle it?  That is the premise of Going Home:  A Novel of Survival by A. AmericanGoing Home is the first book of the series, followed by Surviving Home and Escaping Home.

Going Home has a very believable story.  Morgan Carter, the main character, thought he was going on a quick business trip and was on his way home when all electronics just stop.  His car stalls, his cell phone dies and all transactions become “cash only” as stores are unable to process electronic transactions.  His trip quickly turns into a struggle to survive as he tries to get home from 250 miles away.  The scenario is actually one of my fears as a prepper:  being far from home and family when a disaster happens.

Morgan is a regular guy, an everyday prepper.  He is prepared, in terms of a “get home” bag, but he is not a super hero nor has any extraordinary training.  In short, many readers can easily relate to him.  The environment and political climate described in the book are also very plausible, and close to reality.

The events in the book move along at a constant pace and keeps you riveted in what happens.

I think if we had to choose what we didn’t like about it, it would be that some of the characters were a bit too trusting and friendships were struck too quickly.  I believe people would be more reserved in real life, but that is just me.  Except for this minor issue, I have no misgivings about the book and highly recommend it to everyone.

Mr. Apt Prepper actually read this book before I did, and told me his opinion about the book:  he could not put it down.  He thorough enjoyed the story and also appreciated the survival skills described, as well as details about the equipment contained in the bug-out bag.  He has finished all three books in a matter of days.

Now for the giveaway…

One winner will be chosen to win all three books:

Going Home

Surviving Home

Escaping Home

 

Just add your comment below on either one or both of these items:

What are your best bug out bag tips? 

OR

What items have come in handy in your bug out bag or emergency kit?

The winner* will be chosen at a random “Pick a Giveaway Winner” drawing on Saturday, December 7th 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.

The Prepper’s Pantry

The Prepper’s Pantry

 

 

 

How to Prepare for Job Loss

Being prepared is not just for natural emergencies or disasters.  A job lay-off, while not usually considered an earth shaking event by most of the population, could be an “end of the world as we know it” for the person who is losing his or her job.  There are “mass casualties” even though it does not involve physical pain, does involve mental and emotional anguish for those that are affected.  Because it can be devastating and can significantly affect your lifestyle, it should be included in the list of events worth preparing for.

I have been laid off from work a few times in my career, a couple of those times happened within a year of each other.  Because of that unfortunate string of events, I have learned never to feel permanent in any job, even though I like to stay at my jobs for several years.  My co-workers wonder why I do not post personal photos or keep plants and knick-knacks on my desk, and that is because I never want to grow roots and feel complacent.   I learned to be observant and aware of the signs that things are not so stable.

Pay attention to job-related economic news, and keep your eyes open.  By the time you hear the word “reorganization” it may be too late.

Know the Signs

Many people who lost their jobs feel blind-sided, and say comments like, “It came out of nowhere.”  “I thought my job was safe.”  Yet there are always clues.  Knowing the signs to watch for can help you prepare accordingly.  Here are a few tell-tale signs:

  1. Your company is cutting back on expenses, and your boss has announced “no more ordering new supplies.”  This is one of the early signs; it might mean the company is losing money, but it could also be more serious than that.
  2. Managers are constantly getting called to mysterious closed door meetings and are gone for long periods of the day, and they come back subdued.
  3. Many senior leaders have quietly left the company, with no retirement parties or goodbyes.
  4. Business travel plans, even those that were scheduled months ago, are being cancelled.  Perks, even for salespeople are being cut out.
  5. You have been asked to submit a description of your job duties.  Even worse, you are suddenly being asked to train another employee to do your functions.
  6. It is nearing the end of the fiscal year or end of the calendar year.  I observed that lay-offs at least in many industry are common during these periods.
  7. Projects that were top priority are now placed in the back burner, or, projects that were your responsibility are being shifted to others.
  8. You are being left out of important meetings.
  9. Your boss, who used to be friendly and caring, starts avoiding you.
  10. Annual reviews that used to happen the same time every year, have been postponed indefinitely.

If you suspect cut-backs may be happening soon, now is the time to take steps to prepare yourself and your family:

Steps You can Take

  1. Obtain a copy of your position description from your boss or Human Resources.  This is something that can be done at any time, but it may be too late to obtain once you are already being called to the boss’s office and told to clean out your desk.
  2. Update your resume.  This may be a “no brainer” for many experienced career oriented folks, but I have talked to many newer employees who do not maintain their resumes at all.
  3. Review your LinkedIn profile and keep it maintained.
  4. While you are still in contact with respected and trusted colleagues, line up references.  But be discreet about this.  If word gets out to the boss you are taking steps, you may be called out for spreading rumors and being a disgruntled employee which may hasten your departure.
  5. Start networking with contacts within your industry, but outside your own company.
  6. Use your health insurance benefits:  get your doctors’ and dentist appointments done, fill prescriptions for eyeglasses and medicines.
  7. Postpone major purchases such as home, car, and avoid incurring new debt.
  8. If you are a renter and your lease is up, search for a cheaper place, if possible.
  9. Pay off debt.
  10. Lower your living expenses:  cut back now now and get used to living on less.  Save the money that you would have spent.
  11. Review your bills and see if you can negotiate a lower rate.
  12. Save as much money as you can.
  13. Find ways to supplement your income by starting a micro-business.
  14. Prep!  Boost your preparedness level by stocking up on food and everyday supplies.  Your stockpile will see you through a period of unemployment.
  15. Come up with your own worse case scenario personal economic disaster plan.
  16. Acquire self-sufficiency skills now; skills that allow you to repair things or make things yourself will save you money even if you don’t lose your job.
  17. With the holidays coming, start thinking about lowering expectations for gift giving, and start making homemade gifts now.

Stay vigilant but keep a positive attitude.  Taking a pro-active attitude can only benefit you.  If you are fortunate and nothing happens, be grateful that you have been blessed.

 

Monday Musings 9/23/2013

Welcome to another Monday Musings where we share blog updates and interesting links.

First the updates…

Who won the Own the Night DVD Giveaway?  Reader Bob won the giveaway.  He posted the following comment:

Scan through the pages of history books and see what happened to peaceful, non-violent communities/societies or what we think happened to them based on the ruins and bones left behind.

Yes, I think defense is a vital part of prepping. For me, it started with the realization that life insurance wasn’t enough; sure I would leave my family financially okay but how about emotionally, morally, spiritually?  Being there is a huge part of being a father; for me that realization meant I should do what is legally and ethically acceptable to come home every day.

And given that; isn’t being able to defend myself when the police aren’t there to respond even more important?

What I’m doing to defend myself?
First, increasing situational awareness; working to avoid the problems if I can.
Second, working to get to know my neighbors; building a community that hopefully will work together instead of attacking each other.
Third, having sufficient firearms and ammunition in case the first two don’t work.

Final giveaway of the month coming up   There will be two winners for this one.  The details for the next giveaway follows this posting, so please read on.

Now for the links…

A Handy New Book with Tons of Helpful Cures

Alex Smith, author of Getting Home and Staying Home just released his latest book, Home Remedies.  It covers the basics of making infusions, salves, etc., contains nearly 500 remedies and more.  It is meant to be a primer for the individual with limited to intermediate knowledge in this area.  Currently the Kindle Version is priced at  99 cents, but it will go up to $4 in a few days.

To celebrate he has also dropped the price on his other 2 books, Getting Home and Staying Home to 99 cents as well, for a short while.  Don’t miss this price drop, it won’t last long.

Finance news, not so great  

Stocks are about to plunge, Wells Fargo warns

Americans Sacrificing Freedom to Avoid Another Meltdown

All the better to see you my dear   Read Facebook wants to use artificial intelligence for analysis and predictions

Do you know what “slurry” means?  Here’s a clue:  it’s found in food and it’s not pretty.  See

Two Things You’d Rather Not Know About Chicken Nuggets

How to tell if a can has gone bad  Avoid a food storage mishap:  Check your canned goods periodically and see if any of them have gone bad.  Good rules to know:  4 Ways to Tell if a Dented Can is Safe 

Learning how to fix stuff    Read The “Don’t Own Stuff You Can’t Fix” Plan for Life

 

Stay safe and have a great week everyone!

The Prepper’s Pantry

The Prepper’s Pantry

How People May React

This morning I was pulling into a gas station pump when I witnessed an occurrence that was disturbing after I thought about it.  The gas station was crowded, with every row filled with a customer.  The station also had parking spots facing the convenience store.  A woman, driving this huge Suburban (let’s call her (“Suburban Driver”) with kids in the back seat, was backing out of one of the convenience store spots got very close to hitting the minivan at the pump next to me.  The driver of the miniwan,(we’ll call her “Minivan Lady”) honked her horn as she was afraid the Suburban will surely hit her car.  It got close, but nothing was hit.  I expected Suburban Driver to just shrug and keep going, but instead, she got very furious that she got honked at.  Her face contorted into an angry mask, and instead of just driving away, she actually got out of her Suburban and started yelling and gesticulating that Minivan Lady should relax.  “CALM DOWN I WAS NOT ABOUT TO HIT YOU – YOU f—*** b–*** !!!,” which seemed really ironic given she was the one losing her temper.  Suburban Driver got really aggressive and went up to the window of Minivan Lady who just locked her doors and looked aghast.  Suburban Driver finally went back to her car and sped off, driving aggressively.  Minivan Lady was quite shaken.

After witnessing this encounter, I was perturbed that someone would get so aggressive and exhibit violence over something as trivial as getting honked at, and in front of kids.  I really shouldn’t be shocked–we’ve heard of fights breaking out over parking spots and people coming to blows at Christmas sales.  But actually seeing how people react and get ugly made it more glaring.  Who can say what frame of mind she had to begin with?  She may have been stressed but that is no excuse.  If someone could potentially get violent over a trivial incident, can you imagine how people would react when there is a disaster?

Last week I wrote about obstacles that could keep you from getting home in an emergency.  Witnessing the incident this morning, I realized road rage can become an obstacle when:

  • People are stuck in unending traffic jams and unable to get home
  • Store shelves become empty and people can’t get food and water for their families
  • Depressed or mentally ill patients will no longer have access to mood altering medication
  • Jobs become scarce and livelihoods are threatened
  • Homes are foreclosed or lost

What can you do?

  • Realize and accept that people will not be acting at their best
  • If you are the one starting to feel stressed and agitated, take a step back and take a deep breath.  The cliche about counting to 10 works.
  • Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and empathize with what they may be going through.
  • If you are the target, do not let the matter escalate – you always have a choice to walk away.  Pride and “being in the right” won’t matter much to your family if you get hurt or killed.
  • Pray for patience and strength to overcome any difficulties.
  • Be prepared.

Even in everyday situations, being prepared can help you could avoid many irritants and inconveniences:

  • Leaving early instead of late will avoid the stress of being rushed.
  • Saving money for a rainy day helps you deal with unexpected financial emergencies
  • Preparing your kids’ clean clothes, lunches, paperwork the night before avoids the morning rush
  • Keeping at least a quarter to half a tank of gas at all times avoids having to stop at a gas station when it’s inconvenient.
  • Getting out of debt means less worries.
  • Having food stored at home means not having to run to the store.

Being prepared goes a long way toward giving you peace of mind, whether a disaster happens or not.

 

Mother Earth Food Storage

Mother Earth Products

For beginning preppers

DebtProof Living

Don’t Become a Boiled Frog – The Need to Respond Appropriately to Problems

 

Boiling water

   It is said that if you slowly increase the water temperature, a frog won’t notice and will eventually and passively die in the pot.

 

The following is a guest post from David Spero at Code Green Prep.

Yesterday, Bernie wrote about Five Reasons Why You May Have to Bug Out Even Though You Don’t Want To.  It is very important to realize that sometimes we need to bug out, but our inertia, our fear of change, and our positive hope that problems will quickly abate – all these things prevent us from responding as quickly as we should.

Much of what we think about and prepare for involves a sudden massive disaster that occurs with little or no warning.  We consider the effects of a sudden EMP or power grid failure that almost literally switches our lives and lifestyles from normal to nothing as quickly as flicking a light switch.  Not only is the event sudden, but it is also ‘in your face’ obvious, and we know we have to respond urgently quickly.

But we sometimes overlook the slower sorts of disasters that might also overwhelm society as we know it, and end up, not immediately, but gradually over time, with a Level 2 or 3 scenario [ed: see David's definitions of Level 1/2/3 scenarios here] just as seriously as a sudden unexpected disaster.

The real danger of the slower unfolding disasters is that by the time we even realize they are enveloping us, we might find our options have become constrained and reduced.  This is akin to the story of how to kill and cook a frog – you place it in warm water, then very slowly increase the temperature.  The frog won’t even realize it is being cooked, and by the time the water has reached boiling point, the frog has succumbed.

Examples of Boiled Frogs

Although there is some debate as to the truth of being able to truly boil a frog this way, there is no debate that society as a whole has experienced some amazing 180 degree turns on issues.  Activists seeking to bring social change have learned that the best way to make a major change is not to attempt a sudden revolution in public thought, but rather to make a series of gradual changes.  There are many examples of this.  To offer up several – and without expressing any moral judgment, but merely observing the huge change in social values that have occurred, we point to :

(a)  Drunk driving.  Two or three decades ago it was normal and acceptable for people to drink as much as they wished and then to drive home, somehow.  People would boast about their crazy/dangerous driving the next day; and if they were pulled over, they’d usually be let off with little more than a warning.  As you surely know, today people are ashamed to admit to driving drunk; the fines and penalties (including imprisonment and alcoholism treatments) have gone up and up, and the permissible levels of blood/alcohol have gone down and down.

(b)  Gay marriage.  It is not all that long ago that people could be sent to prison in some western nations if they admitted being homosexual, and it was widely ridiculed and decried by most people in general.  Now the opposite applies – people can be sent to prison for ‘hate crimes’ if they express a dislike for gay people, and society is inexorably tilting towards allowing not just gay relationships but also passing to such people all the rights and privileges of marriage and allowing gay people to be married.  One advocacy method used by gay rights advocates is to ‘name and shame’ people who oppose them – people are now embarrassed and ashamed to admit they dislike the thought of gay sex.

(c)  Guns.  A couple of generations ago, gun ranges were to be found in the basements of many schools.  Guns were common in schools and in society as a whole.  Nowadays, if a child even draws a picture of a gun in a schoolroom, they are liable to be expelled under a ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards guns in schools, and anyone bringing guns into a school is likely committing both a federal and state crime.

Okay, enough on that – point well taken, we hope.  In all these cases, the changes did not occur overnight, but have instead evolved, little by little, over years and even decades and common social custom now is pretty much the complete opposite of what it was a generation or so back.

It can be the same thing with negative situations – they start off subtly and slowly, and at first seem temporary, but as time passes, what was temporary becomes permanent, what was a problem becomes the new normal, and so it goes.  By the time we realize we’re in a severe situation, our options and ability to respond positively have diminished.

We’re not saying that an EOTW disaster would happen quite that slowly (although it might), but we are pointing out that things have a habit of ‘catching us unawares’ if we’re not closely monitoring whatever the process is that is evolving and thinking through its implications.

Furthermore, the reality is that no matter how keen a prepper we are, few of us really want to activate our prepping plans, possibly prematurely, and there’s also a subconscious inertia and resistance to change that will unduly delay our responding to events that need a timely response.  We need to be alert to changes and ready/willing/able to respond to them at the appropriate point – a point which of course should be before rather than after the time at which it becomes too late!

Some Slow Disasters

Let’s now think about some types of slowly evolving ‘disasters’ that might occur.  These tend to be more economic in nature than anything else – the first two examples are country-wide in nature, the third is regional, and the last two are more personal.

Electricity cost/shortages

We have seen electricity shortages come and go over the years, particularly in California in 2000 – 2001.  With the continued restrictions on building just about any type of new power station these days, it is far from inconceivable that electricity may not become in short supply again – a situation initially masked by it simply becoming more and more expensive, and then perhaps becoming rationed.

The ugly flip-side of the moves towards ‘smart energy management’ is a shift away from our universal expectation that electricity should always be available to us, whenever we want it, and for whatever purpose we need it for.  As we know from our planning for ‘grid-down’ futures, at present electricity truly is one of society’s greatest blessings, and whether we pay 5c or 50c per kWhr, it is a great value.

At what point would you decide that electricity had become too expensive and too short in supply, and in effect respond by going ‘off-grid’ and ‘growing your own’?  For an apartment dweller, this is of course more difficult because you don’t have vast expanses of roof to line with solar cells, or much control over the energy efficiency of your dwelling.

Petrol cost/shortages

Some parts of the country have seen gas prices brush and even break through $5/gallon on occasion in the past, sometimes for months at a time.  How long will it be before gas prices reach $5/gallon, all the time, everywhere?  And then $6?  And $7?  Even $10 and $15?

If that sounds unlikely, think of this.  Less than 25 years ago, gas was under $1/gallon.  It has gone up in price almost five-fold in 25 years.  For decades, petrol and other oil products were steadily reducing in price each year (in real terms after adjusting for inflation), and then they sort of flattened out, and now they are increasing at rates greater than inflation.  Here’s a useful graph showing prices from 1896 forwards in the UK, and here’s a spreadsheet of prices in the US from 1949.

Proponents of the ‘peak oil’ theory predict that gas prices will skyrocket in the next decade or less.  At the same time, it will become in shorter and shorter supply.  The latest move towards shale recovery has bought us some more time, and some more oil, but the ‘greenies’ are objecting and fighting this as furiously as they can.  A large – and growing – sector in our society doesn’t wish us to have access to cheap oil products.  They wish us to become oil-poor, as a way of – they believe – ‘saving the planet’.  In any case, as we’ve seen, even our domestic oil is going up in price, simply to match the market increases in oil prices worldwide.

At what point, at what price, will you say ‘enough already’ and give up on your present gas-based lifestyle?  What will you have/use/do as an alternative?  If your apartment isn’t centrally located, or at least close to good public transport, how will you respond?

Water cost/shortages

One of the biggest constraints on growth in much of the country is the availability of fresh pure water.  It is hard to know which is the bigger blessing in our modern lives – abundant affordable electricity, or abundant affordable water.  Happily, we presently have both, with the worst form of water shortages typically being nothing more severe than some restrictions on washing our cars during some of the summer months.

But the cost of water is steadily increasing, while its availability is becoming more and more constrained.  Last year (2013) we saw some of the worst droughts in decades affect crop production in much of the mid-west; all that means to us as consumers currently is little more than increased prices for meat, wheat and corn based products.  But with a decent steak now costing $15/lb or more – three times what it cost a decade or so back – how much further will we allow the costs of the basic essentials of our diet rise?

Even if water (and sewage) costs are built in to the rent you pay, you know that if the landlord has to pay more, then your rent is going to go up too.  At what point do these costs (and possible use restrictions) cause you either to move to a new region, or to retreat from normal society and to set up an alternate lifestyle, independent of your increasingly problematic and expensive city water and sewer services?

Unemployment

Maybe you lose your job.  Maybe you don’t get another job.  Month after month, you see your savings dwindle, and also, month by month, as time passes you become less and less appealing to potential employers.  All employers prefer to hire someone who is already employed, and all employers feel uncomfortable and worried if they see a person who has been out of work for many months.

As each month passes, you have less and less remaining capital.  At what point do you switch gears and change objectives and either move to another city to find work there, or instead ‘bug out’ for economic reasons, and switch to building a self-sustainable low-cost life elsewhere?

Neighborhood Decay

This is an interesting one (it has happened to me).  What happens if the area you live in starts to suffer from evolving urban demographics and becomes increasingly down-market?  The good news is your rent might stay the same or drop.  The bad news though – the nice middle class people who used to be your neighbors are leaving, and are being replaced by people you’re less comfortable living alongside.  Crime rates start to increase, and so on and so on.

At what point do you bail out yourself?  Do you simply move across town, or to a different city entirely, or is that the point where you move to your retreat?

Faster Evolving Disasters Can Catch You Unawares Too

Although we’re talking primarily about how a slow change in something can catch you unawares, by gradually evolving from insignificant to significant without you realizing or anticipating it, similar affects can come from faster developing problems too.

For example, and as Bernie mentioned yesterday, a forest fire heading your way.  At what point do you respond to the potential of being trapped?  Sure, you could rely on waiting for the authorities to officially notify you and command you to evacuate, but you might then find yourself with too little time to do a well planned well prepared bug-out.

The Longer You Wait, the Fewer Your Choices

The longer you wait to respond to a negative event, the less well able you can do so.  As you burn through your cash, it becomes harder and harder for you to consider options that don’t immediately start to bring in a cash flow again; and as you get closer to certain doom, your alternative options become fewer in number and less desirable in nature.

Furthermore, when it comes to an actual bug out situation, there is a world of difference between getting out of Dodge a day before the hordes all start to mass-migrate, or being part of the throng of evacuees because you dithered and delayed.  The day before, you can drive out of town on relatively uncongested roads and with the rule of law still more or less in place.  The day after, the freeways will become parking lots, the mobs will be rioting, and the rule of law will be disintegrating.  Any successful bug-out plan must have, at its core, the ability to act quickly and before the main mass of people slowly sluggishly start to respond.

We’re not saying you should panic the first time things turn sour on you in any part of life and living.  But we are saying to be careful about slow creeping problems that take away your independence and freedom, little by little.

The biggest problem people face is knowing when to say ‘enough, already’ and to activate some sort of formal response to a problem that has been gradually worsening.  Let’s look at one more example before considering a solution.

Don’t Lose ‘The Auction of Life’

If you’ve ever attended an auction, or browsed eBay, you’ve probably ended up buying something you didn’t want to buy.  I’ve bought a ridiculous car that I could barely drive off the lot, and I’ve paid way more than I told myself I would for things that I didn’t need.

Even when not being foolish yourself, you’ve surely seen countless examples of other people getting caught with the ‘auction fever’ which is the reason why auctions can work so well (for the auction house and seller).  We get caught into the excitement of the event, and we are also influenced by the people around us.

How many times have you told yourself ‘I won’t bid on this because I have no interest in it, nowhere to put it, and no need for it’ and ended up leaving the auction with the item under your arm?  How many times have you told yourself ‘I’ll bid up to $xx and then stop’ and ended up bidding way over that amount?

We all know how and why this happens.  But somehow, that knowledge doesn’t stop it from continuing to happen into the future.  Now for the ‘Auction of Life’.  This is one auction you can’t afford to mishandle.

The real trap in the ‘Auction of Life’ is that we keep revising the ‘trigger events’ we set ourselves.  We run the risk of recalibrating them and pushing out further and further the scenario which triggers our response.  We keep ‘bidding’ more and more in the ‘Auction of Life’ long after we reached the point where we’d dispassionately and originally told ourselves we’d stop.

How can you prevent this from continuing into your future?  That brings us to :

The Need to Create Lines in the Sand

Enough of auctions.  Let’s look now not at an example of the problem, but an example of the solution.

If you’ve ever attended a good self-defense class, you’ve been taught about the need to create clear ‘lines in the sand’ – events that clearly signal that the person who you are concerned about has evil intent, and events which cause you to confidently respond appropriately.

For example, you don’t like the look of the people walking towards you, so you cross the road.  If they cross the road to intersect with your path, that’s a clear ‘line in the sand’ that has been crossed.  You then might choose to turn the corner or cross the road back again – if they cross the road again too or follow you around the corner, then you know, for sure, this is not random circumstance.  Two lines in the sand have been crossed.  You might then call out – ‘Stop, Back Off, Go Away’.  If they continue towards you, you then present your pistol and say ‘Stop or I shoot!  Back Off!  Go Away!’

If the person still moves towards you, you then know ‘Okay, so he crossed the road to follow me when I did, then he crossed the road back to keep following me when I did, he ignored my warning, and now, with my gun pointed at him, he is still ignoring me’ and that gives you the confidence to know that your next action – an extreme one, but now an essential one, is justified and appropriate.

The key thing is having the confidence to act decisively on a major life-changing event.  In the example above, if you don’t have the confidence to act decisively, you risk becoming a victim rather than a victor, and if you don’t have the clear decision making process in your mind, you’ll be dithering for too long and suffer the consequences.  If you keep ‘raising the stakes’ in this ‘Auction of Life’ you’ll find that you’ll be the loser.

It is the same with anything else.  You need to set lines in the sand so that when they are crossed, you are aware of the event and ready with an appropriate response.

For example, you might decide ‘If gas prices reach $x, I will get an ultra-fuel efficient car’ and you might further decide ‘if gas prices reach $(x+y) then I will move from my current suburban lifestyle in which I need a car to an alternate lifestyle where the essential things are either within walking distance or conveniently served by public transport, or reachable by bicycle’.

There are other things, too.  You might decide ‘When the taxes in this state exceed the taxes in (another state you’d like to live in) then I’m going to make the move’.  You might decide ‘If this state restricts firearms and my right to self-defense, then I’ll move to a state with a more enlightened social policy on such things’.

Summary

Don’t risk becoming a boiled frog.

Create ‘lines in the sand’ that will sound alarms in your life when events cross over them, so that you realize ‘Hey, this is very different to what it used to be and what I want it to be’ and to allow you the freedom and flexibility to respond to changes in your life and lifestyle and life standards before it becomes too late to do so.

In particular, monitor the changes in your local environment and compare/contrast them to the changes in possible bug-out locations.  Maybe things truly are better somewhere else in the US, and maybe you should act positively to respond to the chance of a life-style improvement in such a better location.

David Spero publishes the Code Green Prep website.  He has a masters degree in business, has lived and worked internationally, speaks several languages, is a nationally accredited firearms instructor, a licensed ham radio operator, and a respected voice in the Prepper community.

 

 

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Visit SafeCastle for your preparedness supplies:

Visit SafeCastle for your preparedness supplies
Good ideas for building a food storage plan can be found here:

 

How Preppers Help their Communities

Today as we celebrate Martin Luther King Day our thoughts turn to Dr. King’s life and legacy.   I wanted to focus on what  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Unlike other holidays, the King holiday is celebrated as a day of service.  Not just a day off from work to sleep late and go shopping, it is a time to remember King’s dream for all people and his life of service.

What’s this got to do with prepping?

Well, negative publicity and comments in the media have implied that preppers are selfish in only looking out for themselves and their own families.  This mistaken idea that prepared people don’t care about others is far from the truth.   Many preparedness and survival experts recommend setting aside some of one’s own supplies to give to others who may be in need.   You may do it without fanfare, and anonymously, but it is giving nonetheless.  Many preppers who have stockpiles choose to donate to to food banks and other charities and share the bounty.

Other preppers get involved in groups that help their communities be more prepared, or actually get involved in disaster relief efforts.

At the same time, many individuals choose to give of their time and knowledge by showing others how to be more self-sufficient and prepared for the next disaster.   Free information on how to prepare for disasters or acquire skills is freely given.  You don’t need to spend money to be charitable.  Just the simple act of showing someone who is willing to learn how to do things is helpful enough.

As we remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy, let’s consider using this day to do some something for others.  To all the preppers out there doing service to others, not just today, but everyday:  thank you and please keep up your great work.

Quick Update:

Promising new additions to Blog Links:

I was contacted by Dennis Evers about his new resource for “hands-on” preppers.  Below is a description of his new site:

Preppers are typically “hands-on” kind of people, and with that in mind, a new website; “Preparedness is Fundamental”, has just been launched that features articles and short how-to videos on prepping for anyone that doesn’t mind getting their hands dirty. One video shows you how you can secure as many perfectly good batteries as you want for free while another walks you through the easy construction of a super bright, rugged 12 Volt LED prepper light for around $6.00.

Other information includes how to build a solar generator, gardening, free prepper materials and discount codes, while upcoming videos and how-to articles deal with a serious homemade smoker for under ten bucks, LED security lighting, long term food storage, seed preservation and more.

To the first 50 visitors “Preparedness is Fundamental” is offering a free eBook; “How to Handle a Crisis” (a $4.99 value) which deals with all types of disasters, terrorism, CBRNE, medical crises and survival.

 To visit, go to http://proficientprepping.wordpress.com/

 

I’ve also added a link to Prepper Next Door, the blog companion to one of my favorite preparedness books:  The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning.

 

 

 

For beginning preppers

 

When TEOTWAWKI Worries Keep You Up at Night

Lately, it seems we have been inundated with so many disturbing news – the stalled economy, threats to world peace, bomb threats, droughts and natural disasters…  the list can be overwhelming.   Even a prepper who has done as much as he or she is able to, can’t help but worry if it’s enough.  These worries can lead to sleepless nights, filled with relentless, upsetting, doom-filled thoughts causing you toss and turn your way into the next morning.

A lot of people seem to be having this same problem:  some just live with it, others take prescription anxiety medicine, and some others take non prescription sleep aids.   Sleep is so important to health and well-being.  Lack of sleep was even found to contribute to weight gain.  To rule out any physical reasons for lack of sleep, see a doctor.  I had a recent checkup and the doctor said lack of sleep was a common complaint among all his patients.   He named stress as the main reason.  I decided to find out about non pharmaceutical methods to help get a good night’s sleep.  Here are a few ideas that seem to work:

1.  Get into a comforting routine close to bedtime.  Take a warm shower, sip some camomile tea, or read a mindless novel.  Try something soothing that will get you to slow down and relax.

2.  Go to sleep the same time every night.   By keeping to the same schedule on weekends and week nights, your body’s internal clock will adapt to sleeping and waking at a consistent time.

3.  Keep your room dark at night.  Living in an apartment in an urban area, we get a lot of light filtering in from neighboring buildings.  The apartment also keeps bright lights outside for safety reasons, which is a good thing, but too much light affects sleep.  We installed “blackout curtains” over the apartment blinds to keep the bright lights outside from affecting our sleep.

4.  Exercise daily.  I find that I sleep a lot better when I do some form of exercise daily.  Otherwise I wake up at 2 am and am unable to fall back to sleep until morning.

5.  Don’t eat too close to bedtime.  Going to bed with a full stomach is bad news for a good night’s sleep.  If you know you are going to eat a heavy meal, don’t eat late.

6.  Set your thermostat to a cooler setting.  A cool room seems to be more conducive to sleep.

7.  Limit your news gathering to the morning hours.  I find that if I watch too many news shows or read too much stuff on the internet right before going to bed, I will either dream about it or worry about something.  Best get your news fix in the morning.   The same advice applies to such shows as Nostradamus predictions, Mayan calendars or any other doomsday topics:  watch them early in the day!

8.  Limit caffeine.  I drink three cups of coffee but all before noon.  As much as I’d like it, I find that if I indulge in caffeinated drinks late in the day I tend to lose sleep.

9.  Face your fears.  What’s keeping you up at night?  Money problems?  Worried you haven’t prepared?  Whatever it is, come the next day, sit down and make a plan to deal with it.  Take the steps you’ve been putting off.

10.  Don’t forget your prayers.  Saying a prayer of thanks before sleeping always seems to help me.  Thinking of all the things for which you are grateful will give you calming thoughts that will help you settled down and rest.

There is so much turmoil in the world today, but so much of it is beyond our control.  You can only influence what’s around you.  If you have not done anything to prepare, start now.  If you have prepared, be confident you have done your best to be prepared for whatever happens.  Don’t lose sleep over it.  Your health shouldn’t suffer due to your worries.  I bid you peace!

 

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How to Avoid Getting Shot

It seems that a couple of mass shootings have appeared almost back to back:  the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado and now the shooting at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin.  We pray for the victims and their families.   The thought comes to mind on what someone ought to do if such a horrific situation were to occur.

Run, Hide or Fight

The City of Houston released a video on how to survive an attacker and can be viewed here.  It shows an attack on an office building and offers tips on what to do.  The tips to survive includes:

  • Run if you can find a safe path.
  • If there is no place to run, find someplace to hide.
  • When hiding, lock the door, turn off the lights and silence the ringer or vibration on your phone
  • As a last resort, whether alone or teamed up with others, aggressively fight the attacker with improvised weapons

Reactions to the video are varied, with some people feeling they would follow a different order.  On the other hand, it does get people thinking on what they would do, which is a good thing since this helps people become mentally prepared.

Concealment vs. Cover

I had previously speculated about whether walls would stop a bullet - and the answer is “No, they would not.”  You can only hope to get behind some “cover” that will slow or stop the bullet.

What’s the difference?  Concealment is anything you can hide behind, usually a large object such as a door, table, couch etc.  We’ve all seen those movies where the “good guy” jumps behind a couch in a gun fight and instantly finds protection.  Well, it doesn’t work that way.  The shooter may not see you right away with the couch hiding you, but it won’t protect you from getting shot.

Cover is what gives you protection and hide you at the same time.  Some examples would be reinforced concrete, a bookcase full of books, brick walls, thick mounds of dirt.

Keep this difference in mind if you ever have to find a good hiding spot.

Habits that May Keep You Safe

This article provides some good insights:  Surviving an ‘Active Shooter’: Navy SEAL Lessons from Aurora.

I’m no expert – we’re all just average people trying to go about our everyday lives.  Reading various articles has made me think about what can a person, who has no combat experience, try to do:

  1. Avoid crowds as much as possible.
  2. Always scope out the exits everywhere you go.
  3. Find a spot you can easily exit from.
  4. Be aware of your surroundings and prepare to react quickly.
  5. Listen to your gut – if something feels wrong to you then act accordingly.
  6. Reconsider your “everyday carry” items – include a tactical flashlight

Unfortunately, there is no way to predict or prevent these events; all we can do is adapt and stay mentally prepared.  Stay safe everyone!

 

 

 

Does Makeup Have a Place in your TEOTWAWKI Preps?

Makeup bag in a bug-out bagAs I got ready for work, putting on lipstick, I got to thinking whether makeup has a place in my preps.  I have some lip balm and lotion in the go-bag, but not much else in terms of adornment.   As it is, my makeup style is on the minimalist side, but I do have some basic items that I keep around:  lipstick, face powder and occasionally, pencil eye liner.  Ladies, you all know there are certain “MUST HAVES.”   Even small tools such as tweezers, razor should be considered, much like the old “What would you bring if you were getting stranded in a desert island?” question.  As for the guys, the women in your life will have their own ideas as well, and let’s face it, this is not something you’ll want to argue about when faced with a bug out situation.

On the other hand, there are so many more essential survival supplies, and with very limited room,  I initially considered doing without cosmetics.

Let’s consider for a moment, a large scale, total disaster type situation:

You don’t need makeup when you are bugging out

One of the first articles I read when I started prepping was on SurvivalBlog, and it talked about how in a widespread, total disaster, grid down situation, you will have to flee looking as inconspicuous as possible.  If you have long hair, you would have to cut it and wear drab and baggy clothes to hide your figure, thus avoiding unwanted attention.  I will admit the article made sense and left a strong impression on me.  At that time, I thought there is no point in keeping any makeup around, unless you want to get yourself killed or worse.

Things will settle down eventually

After reading a lot of survival stories, both fiction and non fiction, I started thinking about the aftermath.  You may be traveling to find a safe place for a while, but eventually, you will reach your destination.  After the period of upheaval, hopefully things will return to some kind of normalcy.  You may find a town to settle in.  At a certain point, women will feel the need to adorn themselves.  There will be social situations such as weddings and other events. Throughout history, during good times and bad, women have found materials to enhance their features:  berries, roots, ground up gems or even ground up bugs for dyes.

Having a small stash of makeup will have its benefits such as:

  • After living through a high stress event, feeling attractive, even for a short while may be a great morale booster.
  • If things return to a “new normal” these products may still be rare or unavailable for a long time, and you will be glad you have a small supply
  • Even if you don’t wear makeup, they will make good barter items.

What would Sarah Connor do?

I always admired the character of Sarah Connor, played by Linda Hamilton in the movie Terminator.  She was strong, resourceful and knew her way around weapons.  Even as she faced the end of her world as she knew it, Sarah Connor had a hint of color on her cheeks and a shine on her smile.  So I think I will at least keep some extra tubes of lipstick.  In addition to a bright smile, lipstick can also be used to add color to your cheeks, making it multipurpose.  And if all else fails, you can use it as fire starter.

 

An inexpensive but helpful tool to keep track of supplies (Iphone or Ipad users)

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