If there is something to be learned from this last election it is you seek or swim politically as a team. The groups that are able to put differences aside for a common cause repeatedly achieve far greater goals than splinter factions alone. This has been a problem that has plagued the Patriot Movement where issues like ego, societal rejection, and hard headed “rugged individualism” have become chronic self-defeating diseases. This isn’t to say that we sacrifice our morals and ethics for the sake of unity, but it is important to understand what is critical and what isn’t when it comes to winning the long war of ideology. Collectively, if we can move closer to achieving our objectives we are better off rallying together. This isn’t without consequences and pitfalls though. As we have seen, our major political parties have been hijacked by elitist interests to the point that rallying to a false idol for “party unity” will do far more damage than good. We must once again remember what it means to be American and define our core values and principles. These moral underpinnings must be our guides and what we rally to instead of a hijacked political party or fallible individual. This is a far more enduring strategy. Without this solid foundation based in moral and ethical truth we will be continuously misled, divided, and ultimately fail. Read more
Archive for Survival Skills
One of the single biggest mistakes preppers make is that they buy into the myth that relocating to a small region in the North West corner of the United States is their “best” chance of survival. As you now know from my previous three articles in this series, this theory is inaccurate and is not based on any sound research. Further, it causes people to unnecessarily incur significant additional costs and difficulties when developing their preparedness plans. However, what you still may not know is that there is a large body of empirical evidence that repeatedly demonstrates people living in isolated, remote areas are often at the greatest risk during wide spread social chaos and collapse. Not coincidentally, these people also suffer some of the most hardships. Therefore, with respect to our contemporary situation in the United States, preppers relocating to Idaho with the explicit intent to escape an oppressive government and or are planning to escape widespread instability during a systemic collapse of the system might very well be signing their death warrants. Instead, contrary to contemporary prepping strategies, it would be better to be closer if not in the midst of a more densely populated area.
I understand what I just wrote probably sent many readers into anger and shock. Nonetheless, it is far better to get the right information now then to continue along a misguided path to destruction. No doubt, some readers will immediately discount what I am about to say because they are blinded by their own preconceived biases. I cannot help those people. Thankfully, the majority of my readers are intelligent thinking people that will quickly grasp the conclusions to be drawn from the evidence and modify their preparedness strategies accordingly. In fact, don’t take my word alone, I invite everyone to conduct their own independent research into our prepping assumptions and disseminate their findings.
My theories seem counterintuitive to the premise that the farther from people you are, the farther from harm you are. This is because the basic assumptions of this safety distance premise are flawed. As the theory goes, in the event of a collapse or major catastrophe, being located away from people in a remote, self-sufficient redoubt is your best chance. I have already discussed why the 300 mile rule is a useless metric and that the notion of a “Golden Horde” of refugees fleeing a city and destroying all in their wake is equally unfounded and completely untrue. The last pillar of this theory is that being isolated conveys additional survival benefits. To test it accurately, one must evaluate case studies from around the world and then correctly apply them to a realistic scenario domestically. Read more
Before I post Part IV, I want to pause and recap the huge amount of ground already covered in parts one and two of this series (See links below to read and catch up). Previously, I showed that the most common assumptions preppers base their relocation decisions on are completely false and actually counterproductive to outright dangerous. The research I presented is groundbreaking within our community because it completely overturned the very foundation of what many have spent a lifetime basing their preps around. Understandably, some people within the prepper community have received the new information as radical heresy and immediately took to the defense. When new information is presented to any community, this visceral reaction is to be expected. After all, it challenged their entire basis for their preps and in this case, proved that much of their foundational assumptions were based on bad information. Read more
Tomorrow, Friday July 15th has been announced as a “day of rage” to protest perceived social injustices across the nation. Most major metropolitan areas have been identified as areas targeted by possible protests. Now, just because a day of rage is called for online, it doesn’t mean anyone will turn out. However, based on past Black Lives Matter (BLM) events that turned violent, it would be wise to take precautions out of an abundance of caution. So what should you do if you happen to live, work, or pass through these named areas?
I have written many pieces over the years explaining how to prepare for the mobs rioting and burning our cities during times of social unrest. Per my piece in June, I detailed how to defend against fire, which may be your most pressing threat during a riot. (See: http://www.lastminutesurvival.com/2016/06/06/how-to-protect-your-home-from-rioting-mobs-using-fire-as-a-weapon/ ) I also have discussed in detail how to organize your community into a common defense since private citizens, NOT law enforcement have proven time and again to be your best defense for life and property against the mob. (See stories listed at: http://www.lastminutesurvival.com/?s=ferguson) For extremely bad situations, we have also put together the Civilian Response Force composed of volunteer citizens from across to the nation willing to help those located in high threat or disaster areas. (See: http://www.lastminutesurvival.com/2015/01/21/lms-civilian-response-team-ferguson-conundrum-solved-by-community-security/) All of these articles present a coherent comprehensive strategy for the defense of you and your community and should be reviewed in detail.
Specific to those needing to make “last minute” preparations for tomorrow’s planned “day of rage” touted as a “peaceful” event, I would recommend the following.
Family: Get any non-essential family members out of the danger area. If you can, have them stay with family or friends until you know it is safe to return. Before parting ways, make sure everyone knows your plan in the event you need to bug out and ensure that includes a “no-comms” plan.
Fire: Go to Costco or similar store and make a bulk purchase of fire extinguishers. Chemical extinguishers that work on gasoline/petroleum and electrical fires are optimum. Place these extinguishers in easy to access locations close to any windows and doors of your home and on all levels of your home. If you have any combustible material around your house, remove it. Be especially vigilant to get rid of gas cans and such in easily accessible locations like sheds and outbuildings that a rioting mob could easily access.
Preparations for Defense: Prep your kit for either bugging out or the defense. Weapons, ammunition, and any other associated items like body armor should be staged and ready if the situation deteriorates and dictates the need to defend your home and family. If the situation becomes hopeless (block is engulfed in fire, overrun, etc.) be prepared to bug out. Have a go bag staged and multiple evacuation routes and options ready for execution. Make sure you let at least one other trusted person know your whereabouts and plans should you need to execute a bug out.
Medical: Inventory, update, prep, and stage any medical equipment you have or intend to use in a casualty collection point. This should be somewhere safe in your home and could be a safe room, basement, or internal room with no windows and doors. The most critical items such as tourniquets should be staged and at the ready.
Vehicles: Any vehicles that you cannot store inside a locked garage should be driven and stored outside of the area of disorder. Vehicles left along streets are likely to be vandalized, stolen, or torched during riots. If you chose to keep a vehicle at your residence, make sure it is prepared to be used to bug out on short order. That means any tools, extraction equipment, and hardening should be complete. Any maintenance should be done. Make sure the vehicle is fully gassed. Also make sure your spare tire(s) are easily accessible and your tire change equipment is staged if you don’t use run flat tires.
Community: Now is a good time to coordinate your plans with likeminded individuals in your neighborhood. Optimally, there are at least a few other people on your block that will be prepared and ready to react if your area is targeted by the mob. Have a plan to communicate, react, and provide mutual support. If you are short on manpower, access your prepper network for friends from out of town willing to come into town and establish security at and around your home. Respective of the rest of the neighborhood, assume they are sympathetic to other causes and even possibly hostile to anyone bearing arms in defense of their homes and family so keep a low profile unless the situation dictates.
Travel/Business: If you do not live in said high threat area, but must travel through it or work in the immediate area, you must also take precautions. Make sure you have your bug out bag with you and your primary, alternative, and emergency evacuation plans are made and ready to execute. Monitor the radio for signs of trouble and have your cell phone with a backup battery ready. Make sure you dress appropriately and assume you may have to move miles on foot.
Be safe by being prepared.
By Guiles Hendrik
July 14, 2016
This week I read a piece by “Mac” MacWelch of Advanced Survival Training (http://www.advancedsurvivaltraining.com/). In it he argues that the lone wolf survivor is a myth. Unless preppers set aside small differences and organize your chances of surviving a true chaos event is small. I am glad to see his article and completely agree. I have been working for years to educate people on this exact subject and I am very happy to see attitudes and minds within the greater prepper community have finally begun to embrace this very basic, but very critical aspect of survival. I don’t want to understate the importance of this survival attitude gaining traction. Once “preppers” start to see themselves as a part of a greater community instead of independent and fearful of the community, we will make significant progress toward free, safe, and independent lives.
I want to reference my article from 2013 on the “Greatest Prepper Weakness.” (See: http://www.lastminutesurvival.com/2013/12/02/overcoming-the-greatest-prepper-weakness-the-individual-versus-the-community-and-a-plan-for-the-future/) The article garnered quite a bit of response from individuals across the US, but it was clear that it woke people up. I ask all of you to read it and ponder what is being proposed. Like Mac, I argue that preppers must erase the walk away and hide till it’s over mentality because it isn’t a viable survival strategy. This isn’t just my opinion. It is based on learned real life experience and what I practice. (See: http://www.lastminutesurvival.com/2015/01/27/when-the-shtf-you-can-come-to-my-placeseriously/) I have witnessed nations in all stages of chaos and in every single place the people that were doing the best were the ones that stuck together in big groups. Those of you that still feel that you can run to the mountains and lock yourself in your bunker I applaud your preparations, but ask you to reconsider your actual survival odds versus uniting with other like-minded people with diverse and useful skillsets. If you really feel your preps are sufficient, please write me and we can discuss hundreds of real world examples that prove beyond any doubt the strategy does not work beyond a very short term. The articles provide a plan of action and not just arguments about how best to prep. Only by uniting, putting aside petty differences, and working toward the greater good will we come out of this in good order. Feel free to contact me with questions, but for now, I wish you all the best of luck and hope to see you in my community someday.
By Guiles Hendrik
July 12, 2016
I get asked a lot about what my preferred techniques and tools are for starting a fire. Many items are on the market from old school flint and steel to lighters, matches, and magnesium fire steels that shower your tinder with hot sparks. So for “last minute survival,” what would be my best choice if I could only choose one? Further, why are there so many fire steel “sparker” devices? Are they really that good and should I have one? The good news is I have a definitive answer for you so read on.
My answer is that in a survival situation, your best fire starter is whatever gets the fire reliably started in the quickest and most energy efficient manner. What works is what I carry and that is a simple lighter. In fact, it is one of the three items I never go anywhere without and always have on my person. What I have witnessed in the real world over and over is that for the average person, a simple lighter is by far your best choice. Even when instructing experienced outdoorsman, the lighter is still the choice fire starter and the one that most people see the quickest and most consistent success when starting a fire. This isn’t an accident. The lighter is very convenient, works well, and most people are comfortable operating one even in complete darkness. Lighters are also very forgiving and can allow one to maintain the flame to light larger tinder items that spark type ignition methods are not capable of igniting. Lighters are small and light enough that a person can carry a small backup lighter in a waterproof container in their pack and still always have a primary on their person. Further, you can operate a lighter even when your dexterity is diminished such as during the mid to late stages of hypothermia when getting a fire started immediately is critical to survival. Lighters also can still operate after being wet if allowed to dry out and they can also provide some temporary light. They don’t get soggy and absorb moisture like matches. Finally, lighters are available all over the world and are one of the cheapest fire starting tools available. Read more
If you run an AR style weapon then you should be intimately familiar with the “tap, rack, bang” method of immediate action. When a stoppage occurs, both civilian and military shooters are taught to come off the forearm of the rifle with the non-firing hand and “tap” the magazine, then “rack” the slide, and then sight back in and attempt to fire. This method works great “if” you are right handed. However, if you happen to shoot left handed, not only is this method awkward and slow, but the shooter often fails to completely rack the charging handle to the rear and almost always wastes precious time trying to get back on the sites after completing immediate action. For left handers, there is a better way to conduct immediate action that is lightning fast and far more effective. I call it the Owen Left-handed Immediate Action Method© or Owen LIA Method© for short.
To conduct the Owen LIA Method© when a stoppage occurs, the left-handed shooter will Read more
Not so ironically, I was in the process of writing an entire piece on how Islamic terrorist cells were already operating inside the United States and then the events in California occurred. The Islamic terrorist attack pre-empted the article’s publishing and unfortunately proved the point I was making so I have since scrapped the article and instead decided to talk directly about preparing for and surviving an active shooter situation. The events in Paris, Colorado, and California are all examples of active shooter scenarios and mark a deadly change of tactics that now show a bias for soft targets in gun free zones. This knowledge alone will help you prepare yourself and your family to survive in the event you find yourself confronted and possibly trapped in the midst of an attack. To survive, consider these simple points.
Preparation is key to a successful outcome whether it be in war, a sports game, or a job interview. It is no different when it comes to self-preservation in the face of an active shooter. One must be mentally prepared to fight to the death. The first time you think about what you would do while at school or work or shopping when shots start ringing out should not be when it actually happens. Working through the problem sets in your head beforehand will enable you to act much more quickly and decisively under high stress, which is vital for survival. You should also constantly maintain a state of mild vigilance and never completely ignore your situational awareness. Take note of where exits are. Observe the people around you and their dispositions. Be aware enough to know if something doesn’t seem right or if it is out of place. If you get a gut feeling something isn’t right, exit immediately and leave the area. Read more
Recently, there has been so much going on politically it has been easy to overlook writing on core survival/prepper subjects. To make sure our prepper followers don’t think I have forgotten about them, I wanted to note five preps that I see overlooked quite often. These preps aren’t vital like water and food or something like antibiotics that have been discussed repeatedly. These are preps that are important, but easy to forget when preparing for a long term post-SHTF world. By no means is this list all inclusive, but it does touch on some key items we take for granted. The following items should be a part of your stocked supplies and are listed in no particular order. Read more
Continuing with our series of area specific bug out planning, we focus on Southern California (SoCal) where a host of unique challenges will face anyone attempting to bug out. First of all, Los Angeles (LA) and the surrounding region of SoCal contains over 22 million people densely packed at a density of over 5,000 people per square mile in many areas. This makes it one of the most populous regions of the United States. If you have to bug out of LA and its surrounding areas, you better be one step ahead of everyone else. Second, the most densely populated areas of SoCal are locked between the Pacific Ocean to the west and the towering Sierra Nevada mountains to the east creating a serious geographical bottleneck. To the north are more mountains, the Great Valley, and more densely populated areas. To the south is Mexico. If you choose to go east and got across the mountains, then you are faced with surviving in one of the hottest and driest locations in the US, Death Valley and the surrounding desert. If you go west, you need a boat fully sea worthy and supplied with everything you will need for a long duration voyage. Going north or south just runs you into more people fleeing disaster and won’t help your situation. Third, SoCal plays host to regular earthquakes and at any given time the “Big One” could hit. Further, being coastal, much of the SoCal coastline is vulnerable to the effects of a major tsunami. Finally, but by no means all inclusive, SoCal also has some very precarious infrastructure such as the leaking San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station that may be permanently shut down and Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, which straddles two active faults. Without doubt, the challenges of ‘getting out of town’ are mile high in this part of California, but with simple planning, you and your loved can safely and effectively bug and stay alive.
Optimally, you are using all of your resources to remain situational aware and bug out before the mob. However, events like major earthquakes, tsunamis, and grid collapses happen with little or no warning. As a typical SoCal citizen you drive 20+ miles per workday and use multiple high volume interstates and or state highways. As such, there is a high likelihood of being put into a position where your bug out begins during a commute. Do to this likely event; we begin our bug out discussion in rush hour traffic and discuss one of the more likely bug out scenarios, a major quake.
Your day begins as most in SoCal. It is sunny and warm and you are looking forward to getting home from work. You begin your commute as any other day and are quickly weaving through traffic when disaster strikes. A major earthquake strikes SoCal damaging nuclear reactors, severing communications, destroying infrastructure, and sparking massive fires as gas pipe lines are ruptured. You pull over and get out of your car until the major shaking has ceased. At this point, you know there has been a major quake, but you don’t know the extent. You get back into your car and try to continue to your home as the radio begins to broadcast a steady stream of damage reports. As you continue, traffic grinds to a halt on the major highways, which have sustained massive damage. You attempt to call your wife on your cell phone, but the few operable towers are overwhelmed and you have no service. Nonetheless, you immediately type out a text message with critical information and hit send hoping to slip the message out across some free bandwidth.
Now, having previously memorized alternative routes through various neighborhoods, you opt for the side streets as your only available option. These roads maze you through inner city neighborhoods, downtown areas, and residential zones. These locations can pose a threat just as dangerous as getting stuck on the 101. Specifically, you may come across many individuals on foot. The random man or woman crossing a street ahead of you may not be an issue, but that mob of 15+ men at an ad hoc roadblock with bats can certainly be a serious threat if you are forced from your vehicle. Keep the LA riots of the past in mind.
As you slowly make your way toward your home, it is clear the damage is getting more serious. Buildings have been turned to rubble, the road is impassible, fires are burning out of control, and people are in the streets. As you try to progress, your drivable routes are closed off. Now with no chance to back out of the gridlock and no way to go forward, you notice tempers flaring and panic setting into the public. Someone passes your vehicle and starts demanding a ride, you hear glass break to your rear, then suddenly you hear unnerving pops some distance ahead of you. You have no choice but to abandon your vehicle and continue on foot. Thankfully, even though your car’s GPS is no longer useful and can’t go with you, it isn’t a problem because you kept a good map in your vehicle bug out kit.
Grabbing your vehicle bug out kit, you make your way to your rendezvous point with your family, resupply, and assess your situation. The area is utterly destroyed, looting is already rampant, fires are raging unchecked, thousands are dead or injured, there is word one of the nuclear reactors may be leaking radiation, phones are not working, and all utilities are down. Seeing no good options for bugging in, you make the decision to bug out. Now let’s look at the challenges you will face and the preps you will need to make in order to be a Last Minute Survivor.
To begin, any plan to bug out of SoCal has to take into account your ever present enemy… CARRMAGEDON! Imagine the vehicle madness of the I-405 and US-101 intersection at a standstill. Then apply the same sea of gridlocked cars and trucks to all the major roadways between Santa Monica and Redlands. The end result is a highway system that is overloaded and frozen. In the panic following the event that initiated your bug out, there will be countless auto accidents, gridlock, and cars abandoned after running out of gas while idling in stalled traffic. These events will combine to turn SoCal into one giant multilane roadblock. If your plan includes the need to drive anywhere, be it home from work or to the marina, you must plan to be stuck in this sea of angry, afraid, and possibly violent drivers. So what’s the solution? It’s actually basic. You need to know of another way home and drive it enough to commit the route and neighborhoods to memory because you may need to hike it by foot. Keep in mind that your daytime commute will look drastically different if you travel it at night or vice versa. Further, make sure you have a good map of the area in the event GPS is not working. You may also opt for adding a mountain bike to your vehicle bug out bag, which would allow you to continue quickly along jammed highways. It is nice to have a small, fuel efficient car to zip around the city, but the ability of your vehicle to get over typical obstacles will be critical during a disaster. In the event of an earthquake, obstacles can range from fallen telephone poles and debris like bricks to buckled streets to curbs, medians, and other vehicles. Would your car be able to drive down the side slope of an intestate or highway or jump the median to do a U-turn? You might have to. A basic Jeep Wrangler can do this and get over the said obstacles, but your sedan with its low clearance and two wheel drive will get stuck. Getting stuck brings us to the next problem…If you have to abandon your vehicle, pull it well off the road and try to park it in a secure location that is less visible from the main road. Make sure nothing is visible that would draw the attention of a thief. Further, disable your car by disconnecting your battery cables at minimum. Critical to your vehicle bug out kit will be appropriate seasonal attire to include good shoes, water, a water purifier, and something to carry a minimum of two quarts of water per person in your car. For SoCal, in addition to our standard items we recommend in your bug out kit (See: http://www.lastminutesurvival.com/2014/10/13/location-specific-bug-out-bags-part-i/), you should also include the following items:
- Potassium Iodide tablets (http://www.bt.cdc.gov/radiation/ki.asp)
- Additional means of carrying water on the go such as a backpack with an integral hydration bladder
- Fire extinguisher (capable of extinguishing chemical fires)
- Climbing rope, harness/seat, carabiners, leather gloves, Figure 8 or other descender device
- Low profile body armor capable of stopping handgun rounds
- Fishing tackle
- Addition of anti-nausea medication to your first aid kit if you plan to escape via the Pacific Ocean
As you progress with your bug out, you will likely have to ditch your car and make your way by foot or other means, you may well be confronted by and angry mob. So, what to do about a violent mob ahead of you? Go the opposite way quickly and avoid them if at all possible. It is better to add time and distance to your route than to be beaten and robbed by a mob or gang. I caution against a gun fight unless it is a last resort. Mobs carry guns, maybe even many guns, so even with your superior shooting skills, you could be outgunned in a close gunfight. If you have to shoot it out, get as much distance as you can from your threat to maximize your marksmanship, get behind cover that will stop a bullet, and return well aimed fire at the most pressing threats first. Further, if you face multiple threats, try to maneuver them so they are “stacked” in a line, which allows you to take them on one at a time versus all at once. If you can’t carry or are unwilling to arm yourself then your best bet is a heavy duty can of pepper spray for bears, a good pair of running shoes, and a walking stick that doubles as a club.
If you can effectively avoid the mob, your next big challenge will not be what is missing from your bug out bag, but your physical condition. The military wouldn’t waste time to conduct daily physical training if it wasn’t essential, yet all too many preppers forego this most basic and essential of preps. Are you in decent enough shape to walk home with a moderate load on your back? Most Americans are not. That 20 mile/40 minute commute that you have to walk might as well be Mount Everest if you get tired after one block of walking. Stack the odds in your favor. Go for more walks, try short hikes with friends or family, and consider a lighter “Get Home Bag” for this situation. One thing I’ve taken from my hiking experience is an admiration for ‘ultra-light’ hikers. They buy lighter gear, carry less gear, and therefore have the option of covering more terrain with greater ease. You don’t have to be an ultra-marathon champion, but you should be able to cover at least 20 miles on foot with your gear and not die of a heart attack. Mentally and physically preparing yourself for this will put you one step ahead, no pun intended.
What is likely to go wrong after setting off on your long walk home? Although we have discussed this issue previously, it is worth repeating because it is so important. Don’t be in a position where you look down at your penny loafers or two inch heels and saying ‘oh crap.’ The solution is again simple. At minimum, put some running shoes or lightweight hiking boots in your car and leave them there. Beware of buying expensive combat boots or stiff hiking boots for this purpose. If you haven’t broken them in before that long walk it will cause painful blisters that could get infected and slow or stop your movement. Further, you will need boots that can handle steep mountains, keep out sand, protect your feet from thorns, and still let your feet breath. There are a variety of shoes and boots that can meet these requirements so find a pair that works for you and make sure you are wearing them or have them with you.
If things really go sour you will have less than a day to get home before we all start turning into metaphorical zombies and chasing you down the street. You don’t want to be the person caught on the street that starts attracting unwanted attention. Get to where you are going before people start to realize you have gear they need. The scenarios are endless and point to one main point. Get up, get moving, and don’t stop. Here’s why, American grocery stores operate on a system long ago borrowed from Japan called “Just in time.” This eliminates a grocer’s need to store large amounts of perishables that will expire and cause a financial loss if not sold. As such, stores don’t stock more than three days’ worth of food at any time. The semi-trucks we see are critical to that logistics supply chain. In the event of a crisis, we have witnessed over and over that once the trucks stop rolling, the three days of supplies disappear within about one to two hours. If the crisis persists and is wide spread, unprepared people we will grow hungry. That’s when mom says to dad, “little Joe is hungry and so am I.” Mom and pop will hold back from theft and other crimes for a while, but will eventually do what they must to stay alive. Situations like this happened when Katrina hit New Orleans, and it can happen anywhere. Your job is to get out before this happens.
As discussed, getting out of the SoCal area won’t be a walk in the park but can be done. From the beginning though, you need to have identified and prepped for where you will go. If you don’t have a destination then you are wandering and likely to become another statistic. Having a PRE-planned destination is vital, see the bug out of DC article for more details (http://www.lastminutesurvival.com/2014/10/17/bug-out-bags-part-ii-washington-dc/). The most difficult area to bug out of is the concrete and asphalt triangle covering all of the area within Santa Monica to Pasadena to Anaheim. Options out to the North are US-101 aka the “101” and I-5. Everyone and their brother will likely be on those roads so expect pain and misery. These two roads are literally the main entrances to the LA area and will be no easy task to navigate. Another option out towards the North is Highway-1 along the Malibu coast where your ocean views will be great, but the narrow road could easily become jammed, cutoff, or destroyed by rock/mudslides in the event of a quake. It would also be vulnerable to a tsunami and radiation from a damaged coastal reactor. Remember that bugging out doesn’t require a paved road. If you can make it to Burbank you can drive along the rail road at Burbank Town Center and follow it to Chatsworth, but don’t be stupid and get smacked by a train. From there you have easier access to Highway 118 and can easily reach Simi Valley, Moorpark, Santa Paula, and Ventura via back roads (if you have a map). Note, the railroad that gets you to Burbank also connects to Union Station in LA.
Getting out of town to the Northeast is similarly challenging. They are Highway-14 towards Palmdale, I-15 towards Barstow, and the “2” through Angeles National Forest if you are alright with ultra-winding roads and contending with Bigfoot and his keepers. Keep in mind that the ‘High Desert’ between the “14” and I-15 is not a friendly environment. It’s a desert…therefore, it is hot, it is dry, it gets cold at night, the plants stick you and the animals bite you. It is unforgiving and if you are not prepared for it, it is best to be avoided if you are on foot or could end up on foot. It’s also home to a relatively conservative population, an armed population. Criminals beware. Those of us amongst the liberal crowd would likely be better suited taking the 101 towards lovely Santa Barbara and San Francisco.
Other options to the Northeast and East can be considered but have many cons. The “18” towards Big Bear takes you into gorgeous countryside, but rumors indicate local residents plan on blockading inbound roads to keep the rest of us out. I don’t blame them. The same can be assumed of isolated communities throughout the region. The “38”east of Redlands is a good option into the San Bernardino National Forest if you need to go that way. I’ve personally hiked this area and know it contains various creeks to keep your water topped off. Interstate-10 is the main way out eastbound. Its extra lanes East of Banning would facilitate your exit, but take you into miserable terrain as does the I-15 into the Mojave Desert. Again, if you aren’t familiar with the desert, stay far away from the Mojave. If you must go into the desert, have plenty of water and make sure you have marked all the natural springs on your map and checked them out ahead of time. Some of them are hot springs, some are seasonal, and some have water not safe to drink due to mining contaminants like mercury. Further, if you are on foot, travel between the hours just before sunset to just after sun rise when temperatures are the coolest. During the day you should seek shade and shelter from the sun. Rock outcroppings are good for this, but also play host to a lot of venomous snakes so be cautious. Keep as cool as you can and never waste water or energy during the heat of the day. Getting above or below the ground will be where it stays the coolest. Wear loose fitting, light colored clothes, a wide brim hat, and sunglasses. Sunscreen is good for your face, neck, and ears, but covering up with clothing is far better. Remember, distances in the desert are very deceiving. What looks like only a short walk could be 20 or more miles.
If you plan to head east and tackle the mountains, you will also need to know what you are doing to survive. Any attempt to cross the Sierra’s will dictate a bug out plan by foot that has been well rehearsed. Just like the desert, the mountains are brutal and unforgiving. You must be prepared for extremely cold, wet, and windy weather if you plan on successfully crossing or holding out in the Sierras. Blizzard conditions even in the summer at altitude are not uncommon. Further, you have avalanches, rock slides, raging streams, cliffs, high altitude, lightening, ice fields and crevasses, cougars, and well-armed locals to contend with. If you are not in peak physical condition, properly trained, or in possession of the right equipment for the alpine environment, the mountains will prove insurmountable; especially, at high altitude. During the winter, crossing the mountains simply may not be an option due to the deep snow and brutal storms, even for experienced mountaineers. Winter storms above the treeline can drop temperatures below zero, pack hurricane force winds, and diminish visibility to zero. However, in the summer, the extremely rugged terrain gives the experienced climber and mountaineer the advantage of being able to go where the masses can’t or won’t. If you do select the mountains as your bug out location, you will have ample water, will not have to contend with as many people, and can find many hide spots suitable to overnight and longer term bugging out. Nonetheless, your kit will be heavier and must have the right equipment to include crampons, ice axe, climbing rope and gear, extreme cold weather gear, mountain rated sleeping bag and pad, mountaineering/4-season tent, tough hiking boots, backpacking stove (for areas of no vegetation above the treeline), maps and compass, and possibly snowshoes. If you read the specialized gear list and said, “What’s that?” and or haven’t been trained to use that gear, going into the alpine region could be lethal for you and should be avoided. In the interim, use your time to get familiar with the gear, take some classes, and become comfortable operating in the alpine region because you may just get forced into it.
I don’t recommend a southbound bug out because of the likely mass migration from Mexico during a grid-down all out national catastrophe. The current and common place violence just across the border is likely to spill over when the “troubles” begin. I wouldn’t expect our border guards to work for free and forsake their families at home; therefore, the border may end up “open” and precipitate a population surge along the border. Further, an area with a large population density isn’t in concert with my bug out philosophy. The saving grace for those of us in the San Diego and Oceanside is just East. The area between Palomar Mountain State Park and the Cleveland National Forest would make a great initial bug out retreat, which is in close proximity. Its various lakes, available game, and lower population density make it very bug out attractive. However, like the Poconos for New Yorkers, many people will also plan to head to this area so it is less attractive as a long term bug out site unless you have land and a developed, defendable retreat in that area.
Finally, there is the westerly option known as a boat. Certainly, this option isn’t available to many of us, but if your connections or finances allow for it, an escape by sea is one of your better options for SoCal. The Pacific Ocean can certainly become a refuge if you have a stocked boat that is accessible, sea worthy, and you are a capable captain. Even if you do not have a large ocean worthy boat, using a smaller boat and hugging the coastline will allow you to travel a significant distance from the immediate danger, insulate yourself from the chaos on land, and even bug out to another country if necessary. If the seas get to rough, you can bring your ship into a sheltered inlet or even dock it and continue by land from a preplanned rendezvous location. Make sure that you add anti-nausea medication to your kit if you plan to head out to sea. Even if you have never been motion sick before, presented with the right conditions, you could become incapacitated with nausea and vomiting during rough seas. The sea also provides you with ample food in the form of fish if you are prepared to catch them. Make sure you have fishing tackle to include nets if you head to sea and practice with it. A decent fisherman will be able to provide long term sustenance in a bug out by boat scenario. Also, with the right equipment, you can desalinate water to provide long term critical hydration. If your boat is capable of running under sail, you also have an indefinite range.
All considered SoCal doesn’t have a host of good options for bugging out. Your best bet is to be prepared and ready to act. This puts you ahead of the zombie masses and makes your chances of a successful bug out far higher. However, even if you are the first out of the immediate metropolitan areas, you still will be faced with some very technical survival environments that include rugged mountains, scorching hot deserts, or the vast ocean. As such, it is critical to plan, prepare, and rehearse your bug out ahead of time. For example, if you plan to head to the hills, spend your weekends hiking the trails, familiarizing yourself to the terrain, acquiring any necessary specialized gear, and learning the skills necessary to thrive in that environment. Success in SoCal demands you put in the time so start now and be a Last Minute Survivor.
By Guiles Hendrik and Sgt G.
December 1, 2014
Editor’s note: Sometimes things are already best said and all you can do is cut and paste. Thanks for the article Glen and for posting Mac.
“I’ll Come To Your Place When SHTF” – No You Won’t By Glen Tate | 299 Days
(This post is something you can send to your friends or print out and hand to them when SHTF.)
I love my friends, but I will shoot you if I have to. I’m serious. Here’s why.
I tried to persuade you to prepare for what’s coming and, in the process, revealed that to you that I’m preparing. You realized that I have food, guns, etc., and ended up saying, half kidding but half serious, “I’ll come to your place when SHTF.”
No you won’t. I will shoot you. If you threaten me and my family, I will use force to defend against any threat. And showing up at my place hungry and unprepared is a threat to me. You will eat my food and use up my medical supplies, generator, firewood, etc. That’s less of these life-saving things for me and my family. That’s a threat. Read more
For Part II in our series on bug out kits, I will look at some specifics for planning your kit if you happen to live in or around the nation’s capital. I chose to address DC first, because it is a city where the conditions that trigger bugging out are likely to occur and it offers some very specific challenges that are applicable to many urban centers across the US. Hopefully, you have had a chance to read my intro post on building your bug out kit. If not, first review thin information we posted at: http://www.lastminutesurvival.com/2014/10/13/location-specific-bug-out-bags-part-i/.
Why would you worry about having to bug out if you live in DC? Read more
I would estimate that at least once a week I get an email from someone asking me about what is the best bug-out bag. I have apparently, quite noticeably, avoided posting on this topic because there is a ton of commentary already out there on the subject and it honestly just “depends.” However, after looking through “images” of various bug out bags on the internet, I realized just how poorly prepared and informed most people are. From junk gear to ridiculous “essentials,” I reviewed over 100 images and did not see a single kit I would grade as sufficient (of course a smart person won’t post their kit online). As such, the critical need for good information appears as relevant now as it ever was. So, in an attempt to inform our readers and answer your questions I want to make this discussion relevant. To do so, I must get specific to the unique details of each situation. Therefore, I will speak to kits best suited for urban hubs as well as specialized travel situations like at an airport or taking a cruise, both domestically and abroad, where someone could find themselves trapped during a crisis and needing to escape to survive. Due to the specificity of this series of posts, I believe our readers will find this information to be some of the most valuable and relevant tips and advice out there on the net. Further, the kits and my methodology have been proven over and over across the globe not just in combat, but in real life crises and disasters of every sort. As an intro post on this subject, I will cover the general issues, I see most often, to lay a foundation for follow-on posts detailing location and situation specific kits.
“What is the best bug out bag?” is the first question I normally get. The answer is simple; it is the one you have with you at the time when you need it. In both combat and peacetime operations overseas, I repeatedly witnessed the lesson that if it isn’t on you when you need it, you might as well have trashed it before you left. For this reason, I don’t like to refer to a bug out “bag” because it implies this may be something you don’t have immediately on you and left behind. Instead, I prefer the term bug out kit. However, as we will discuss, I do believe in having various preparedness kits that include bags stowed where they are immediately available.
“What should I pack in my kit?” is the second question I normally get. For starters, always use the highest quality items you can acquire. All too often I review a kit of a client and find that they have used cheap, throwaway type items. Ask yourself, how much money is my life worth. This is the gear you will rely on for survival under the worst case conditions. Can you afford not to have the best possible gear? The second part of the answer is put nothing in it you haven’t first thoroughly tested and become proficient with. In this regard I often find brand new water purifiers, radios, and firearms that have never been used. When I ask the owner about how to operate the system, I usually get a blank stare and a scramble for the directions. This is an automatic failure. Know your gear, use it, and master it. I don’t care how sexy your gear is, if you don’t know how to properly operate it, it is a liability.
Perhaps ironically, the third question I usually get is something in regards to the viability of their bug out plan. This tells me immediately that their planning priorities are out of sync and most likely will be flawed. A deep analysis should be done of your bug out options long before a crisis ensues. This allows time for proper rehearsals, testing, and modification of said plan under controlled conditions. Note, in later posts, I will discuss in extremis escape bug out planning. Further, before you can properly prepare your bug out kit, it is essential to know what you are preparing to do. For example, if you have to go through subterranean tunnels, headlamps, batteries, and respirators are a must. However, if your plan takes you through waterways, you better have a way to waterproof your gear and cross bodies of moving water. Finally, your kit must be fully integrated to support your bug out plan. For example, if you staged your kit on the top floor of a downtown high rise building where your office is located, but you spend the majority of your day on the road making sales visits, it is probably not going to help you in an emergency. Nonetheless, in spite of the seemingly endless variables, there are still basic essentials that a prepared person should never leave home without.
This list of items is not prioritized since I consider all items as must have. A prepared person will not only tailor their wardrobe for functionality, but also in a way that allows them to have all of their essential kit with them at all times. Optimally, “one is none and two is one.” I can’t expect you to incur the added weight in many situations for redundant systems, but you should opt for overlap in your gear and planning as much as possible. To make these posts as useful as possible, I will often reference specific products and gear. I have personally used all of the items I recommend and know that when employed properly, the gear will work as advertised. You may read these specific references as product advertising, but I assure you, I have not received any financial gain and am only speaking from my own experience. These products stand on their own quality and I am simply validating the products work well for the purposes I describe based on my real life use and employment of them. Further, there are many other products that are equally suitable or perhaps, better for your specific needs. You need to test and choose what specific items fit “your” needs best. With this understanding, always have:
- A means of communication (cell phone/CB/SatPhone/etc.): If you use a cell, make sure you have important numbers memorized or written down because in the event your phone is lost or destroyed, you may still be able to find and use another. I find that with phones, I can slip a laminated list of emergency numbers inside the battery compartment or protective case. Make sure you harden your phone so that it is stored in a ruggedized, shock and weatherproof case. OtterBox and Pelican make a rugged line of cases that have performed well under tough environments. With all electronic items, you should have a backup power source or spare batteries. I have used both GOALZERO and Solio commercial products for this purpose successfully. Both are well engineered as lightweight, packable, ruggedized chargers that are suitable for bugging out.
- Water: You cannot last more than a few days without water in the best of conditions. Your plan must provide for redundant sources of potable water. Optimally, you will need one gallon of water per day. However, water is one of the heaviest things you carry so for anyone bugging out on foot, it is reasonable to plan to carry as little as two quarts at a time between water resupply points, but your resupply plan must be sound. Many people have transitioned to hydration packs such as those made by Camelbak, which are excellent for hydration on the move. However, I still carry a couple insulated water bottles/canteens. The wide mouth containers are excellent if you plan on traveling in temperatures that will drop below freezing where the water in the hydration bladder tubes will freeze solid. Wide mouth bottles are also much easier to clean and thanks to insulation, keep cold things cold and hot things hot. Finally, depending on the type of purifier you use, a bottle is far easier to use.
- Purifier: If you don’t carry all the water you need with you, you must have the means to purify it as you go. Failure to properly purify water even once could lead to becoming very ill or contracting crippling…even deadly diseases. In fact, clean water in most of the world is virtually unknown. Fortunately, today, there are a wide variety of purification technologies to choose from. However, it is important to get the right information. In particular, most water “filters” are great for purifying relatively clean water or water only likely to contain bacterial (or larger) contaminates, but do not kill or remove viruses. Chemical treatments have similar virus “or” bacteria drawbacks and are prone to only being effective in a narrow water temperature band. As such, I tailor purification equipment to the available water sources in a client’s bug out plan. Dangerously, some of the worst diseases like Hepatitis and Polio thrive in water polluted with human waste, which is quite common during a disaster or grid down situation and would not be neutralized by typical bacterial purifiers using just a filter such as water purifying straws. Thus, for most applications, I recommended a redundant system of a pot or cup to boil water when stationary and a SteriPen to use on the move to effectively kill the full spectrum of microorganisms (viruses, bacteria, protozoans). The application of a few drops of stabilized oxygen can also serve the same purpose. None of these methods add harmful chemicals or a foul taste to the water. Further, few other methods effectively deal with all microorganisms across a broad water temperature range. In special situations where high levels of industrial contaminants are found throughout the region’s water supplies, I will also recommend a water filter that incorporates a carbon filtration cartridge to pre-filter the water and reduce (not eliminate) chemical contaminates.
- Metal pot or cup and a spoon: Whether you are brewing a cup of coffee or boiling water to reconstitute your meal, you need some type of metal pot or cup and a metal spoon. Further, when all other means of water purification fail, boiling water is still your best method to kill the things in your water that will make you sick. When selecting a pot or cup, try to find one that will “nest” with other gear to save space. Often people will take a very lightweight backpacker’s stove and fuel cartridge and store it inside their pot or store their food in their pot. Remember, you will need to handle your cup or pot over a fire when its boiling hot so have some type of tool to grab the pot, a handle, or leather glove. Having a fitted lid will allow you to boil your water faster, keep out debris and bugs, and prevent spills. Finally, make sure you have a couple of sealable plastic bags with a scrub pad to clean your pot. As for the spoon, it is a do it all tool for cooking. Just make sure it is metal so it won’t melt or break. If you want to shave a couple ounces of weight you can purchase a titanium spoon and pot. Otherwise, I prefer to use stainless steel over aluminum even though it is heavier.
- Food: Depending on your bug out plan, you should plan for a minimum of three days of food without resupply. A good kit will have both quick trail foods you can keep in your pockets such as energy bars and more substantial meals such as a dinner entrees in your pack. I have used bars for as long as I can remember to “take the edge off.” Bars, peanut butter, and trail mix are high energy, easy to carry, and reasonably non-perishable foods that will be your first option if you must stay on the move. However, as soon as you get a chance to stop, you will need to eat a high calorie meal. Freeze dried backpacking meals are some of the lightest, most nutritious, and easiest to prepare (just add boiling water), but are also the most expensive. Meals-Ready-to-Eat (MREs) require no preparation, but are heavier because they already have water added. Both are palatable, but I would not class these meals as “good.” Both options also have long shelf lives, which combine to make them your optimum choices for pre-packed emergency food. However, which type of meal is best really depends on whether your plan allows for building a fire and boiling water or laying low and eating a cold meal from a bag.
- An emergency signaling device (whistle, mirror, high visibility panel, flare, etc.): Most people find a way to totally integrate this into their wardrobe. For example, attach a whistle to all of your jacket zippers and have an article of clothing that is brightly colored.
- Ziploc bags: Carry a few heavy duty freezer bags of various sizes to organize and waterproof your gear. Later, these can be used for many things such as carry water or gathering food.
- A weatherproofed fire starter (lighter, matches, fire steel) with some type of weatherproofed tinder (cotton balls dipped in Vaseline are excellent): This is not a time to prove your woodcraft skills. If you need a fire, you don’t want to mess around. Put one lighter in your pocket. Then have a secondary in a small waterproof case that includes tinder independently sealed. I have found small Pelican cases for water sports excellent in the regard. They are tough, float, and remain watertight. Fire starters are one time where redundancy is a must.
- A navigation aid (preferably a liquid filled compass): I have successfully used many different compasses. Suunto, Brunton, and Silva all make great compasses that can be acquired at a reasonable price. A lensatic model will be far more accurate for someone skilled in orienteering. However, don’t waste your money on super small (swallow size) survival compasses unless you plan on hiding it as a POW. They rarely work well and if it comes down to actually needing to navigate with it beyond finding cardinal directions, you will not be served well. A GPS and or electronic compass are also very nice, but remember they are never as robust; especially, in an EMP type event. Nonetheless, I still use a Casio Pathfinder watch with an electronic compass as a tool for acquiring a rapid and reasonably accurate direction and azimuth. If you have electronic devices, use them while they last because they are excellent navigation tools. However, they burn batteries quick. As with cell phones, you will have to plan on some type of recharger that converts renewable energy like solar or thermal to electricity. Also, be cognizant of the fact that in the wrong hands, your data stored on a GPS device could tip off others to your route and location. For example, if your GPS has a secret bug out location stored on it and you ditch it once the batteries die, but someone else later finds and charges it, expect visitors.
- A laminated map of any areas you will be or plan to travel to in an emergency: At minimum, you should have a road map of your local area obtainable at any gas station. As mentioned above, a stand-alone GPS or one on your phone is wonderful when working, but plan for a system failure during a crisis. Also, as with a GPS, be careful not to label your map in a manner that if it is obtained by others, would compromise your bug out plans. The easiest way to protect your information, if you must label the map, is to tape a piece of clear acetate paper over it and use either a wax pencil or alcohol pen to make your annotations. In the event of a possible compromise, you can separate the acetate paper from the map making the information useless.
- A pocket knife and/or multitool: One has a vast choice of knives and tools to choose from so pick what works for you. I found it best to carry both. For quick access and daily use, I carry a sturdy, lightweight, flip-out folder that can be operated with one hand and clipped inside my pocket for the most common tasks. The blades are between 3-4 inches so are still suitable for self-defense, but are better designed for making short work of packaging, game, and other daily chores like cutting bailing twine. Great knives in this category can be found for less than $60, but don’t buy a cheap knock off made in China. The blades are junk. I also have used multitools made by Leathermen, SOG, and Gerber. They are all great tools and each offer some special features and tools so evaluate each based on your unique needs. Further, if space and weight are at a premium, both Gerber and Leatherman have mini-tools that are well-built, very light, and can fit right in your pocket, but still perform most of the functions of their big brothers. I use them in all of my overseas blow out kits. Again, don’t buy junk. It really pays to get a brand name tool that is quality. I also see a lot of pretty massive bowie knives and exotic fighting knives. Generally speaking, leave them at home. For the weight and size, I can carry a pistol and keep it better concealed. Gil Hibben exotics (no offense Gil, I still love your works of art) normally aren’t truly functional tools. However, if your daily life demands or allows you to wear a sheaf knife strapped to your belt, then by all means opt for a fixed blade survival knife. They are tougher, safer, and generally more capable than any flip out folder. I really like the robustness and simplicity of ESEE, Swamp Rat, Gerber, and Cold Steel fixed blades, but for the price, Mora bushcraft knives from Sweden are exceptionally good survival knives for half what others cost. Mora knives are also extremely light and easy to pack so you can get away with one in your kit without the big weight penalty of others. One last note on knives, I often get asked about the old school Swiss Army Knife. They do many things, but none of them well. They are still great little tools and I still occasionally use them when I must be in a suit and tie or less “scary” knives are required, but they are not as user friendly as new flip out folders, not as capable or durable as modern multitools, and not suitable as a fighting knife.
- A flashlight: Flashlights, like fire starters, are an area where redundancy is key. I highly recommend all your lights use high intensity LEDs. LEDs use far less energy and are far more durable than mono-filament bulbs. For starters, I buy Photo LED keychain lights in bulk. I place them on all of my zippers and key rings and have them in various LED colors for signaling and illumination. An LED headlamp is something I always carry and find indispensable for hands free work at night. I also recommend you carry a pocket size, high intensity “tactical” light. These are designed to be waterproof and take enormous shock. Further, they are now very lightweight, put out over 100 lumens (bright), and double as hand held weapons. I have used Surefire lights for years, and still do on my firearms for their proven reliability, but find they eat batteries quickly and are pricey. More recently, I have switched to carrying a Fenix PD32 tactical light that is great. It puts out a blinding 340 lumens, is smaller than most cigars, and has a power adjustment button that allows me to use the brightness I need without burning extra battery life. For a tight budget, Olight does pretty well in this category too and shouldn’t be cast aside for the more popular brands.
- A warming layer: Even in the middle of the summer or in the desert, always have a warming layer to offset cool nights and rainy chills. Choose a garment made from wool or a poly synthetic material that will still insulate even when wet. Fleece tops with an outer weave that stops wind are excellent. If you can find a jacket style top with a hood, you will get even more thermal retention out of a small garment. Any of your major brands such as Marmot, REI, The North Face, and Mountain Hardware have excellent pullovers and jackets to choose from.
- A rain jacket and pants: The ability to stay dry is not only necessary for comfort, but for survival. Many people that die from hypothermia don’t die in the extreme cold, but rather, die in temperatures between 40-60 degrees Fahrenheit after becoming wet. To stay dry, you need both a top and bottom. It is easy to discount rain pants until you actually have to stay out in the pouring rain and walk some distance. With only a top, water will soon be running down your soaked pants and puddling in your boots leaving you chilled with badly blistered feet. Pants don’t take up much space, but are absolutely necessary. Further, when coupled with a warming layer, the rain gear makes an effective light weight coat and windproof pants that are enough to keep you alive in remarkably cold weather. Again, all of your major brands of outdoor apparel make affordable, lightweight, raingear that you can pack into a small corner of your pack.
- Medical kit: At minimum, your medical kit needs to be designed to sustain life at least until higher level treatment can be obtained and should include a few items to allow for disease isolation. If your kit is to sustain more than one person, you should increase the numbers of the items contained. To begin, you need to obtain higher level medical training so that you can correctly and safely use the various medical tools and equipment, which we provide at LMS. With the proper training, the items in this kit will allow you to treat survivable wounds up to and including gunshots and amputations. However, you will need to train any other persons involved in your bug out plan thoroughly to use the medical supplies because it should be obvious that if you are the injured person in need of higher level medical care, you will be in no condition to do it. For treating massive hemorrhaging, carry at least two readily accessible tourniquets, two packages of Celox Gauze, one H-Bandage, a roll of Coban style gauze, and two rolls of ACE wrap. I prefer the SOF-T design for my tourniquets, which is suitable for rapid, one-handed application. For splinting a host of breaks and sprains, carry two SAM Splints with two or three cravat bandages and safety pins. For treating penetrating injuries to the chest, include one HyFin chest seal and two ARS needles for chest decompression will be sufficient. Burns are hard to treat so carry at least one packet of burn gel and a roll of sterile dry gauze. Airways are can be very complex to maintain so carry at least one nasal pharyngeal airway, a sterile scalpel, and a roll of cloth medical tape. For minor cuts and abrasions, carry a tube of anti-microbial cream or ointment and a pack of various size Band-Aids. For blisters add a section of mole skin. You should also have a pair of EMT Shears and a set of tweezers. Make a trauma pill pack (includes powerful antibiotics and pain killers taken immediately after a serious injury) for everyone in your party and then additional medications for diarrhea and nausea, acetaminophen for pain and fever, oral rehydration salts, and ibuprofen for inflammation. For body substance isolation, carry at least one N95 mask and two sets of properly fitting nitrile exam gloves.
- Personal hygiene kit: To stay healthy, you need to keep yourself clean. Your kit should include a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, a small bar of soap, a small washcloth or handkerchief, hand sanitizer, anti-fungal foot powder, lip balm with sunscreen, Glide anti-chafe stick (if you walk a long way and rub the inside of your thighs raw, you will never question adding this again), and nail clippers (this may seem unnecessary too until you deal with an ingrown nail).
- Duct Tape: Don’t leave home without it.
- Cash: During a crisis, the power is often out and banks are closed. This means ATMs and credit card machines will not work. If any money is still being used for transactions, it will likely be cash. During long term power outages, it will only be the people with cash that will be able to buy gas, ice, and other needed supplies until they are sold out. Overseas, it is also cash that can buy your freedom or the emergency airfare out of a collapsing country where the currency has been frozen and is quickly becoming worthless.
- Bug repellent: Some would argue this isn’t essential until they are forced to spend the night outside without a good shelter and get eaten alive by mosquitos, biting flies, and ticks. Good sleep and comfort are essential for long term survival, but only discomforting in the short term. However, more and more mosquitos and ticks in North America are again carrying debilitating and potentially deadly diseases such as West Nile, Malaria, Dengue Fever, Lyme, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which could be devastating in a survival situation if contracted. To reduce your exposure and risk, carry a small bottle of repellent. I find that Eucalyptus Oil serves well as a non-carcinogenic, natural bug repellent. If you must use DEET, use a formula with a concentration of no more than 30 percent. Higher concentrations do not keep bugs away any better and are just more toxic. Be careful of applying DEET to any synthetic or plastic material because it can dissolve it. Further, do not put DEET directly on your skin or body. Apply it by holding the article of clothing away from your body and spraying it and then wash your hands if possible. Ultimately though, your best bet will be dressing appropriately and covering your body.
- Sunscreen: Like bug spray, many people would write this off as unnecessary. If you truly don’t burn or live in an area that gets no sun, then that is valid. However, for the rest of us, a bad burn is not just possible, but crippling if you suddenly find yourself outdoors all day. For most of us, we spend most of our time indoors and our skin is not prepared for the sudden exposure to the elements. Further, for pale skinned people, a very bad sunburn could occur in just 10-15 minutes so application of strong sunblock is critical before we even venture out on a sunny day. To pack your lotion, find a small travel size squeeze bottle to carry a high SPF, waterproof, sun screen.
- A hat: Prevention of problems is of the utmost importance during a crisis. A simple item such as a hat not only provides shade for your eyes and can prevent your face from becoming sunburned, but it also is critical for maintaining body heat during cold weather. It is also handy for protecting your identity in urban environments continuously monitored by surveillance cameras. For a summer bug out kit, one should always have some type of brimmed hat. For colder seasons, a knit or synthetic watch cap is essential for warmth.
- Gloves: Your hands are critical to your survival. Protect them like you protect the rest of your body. It is quite easy to injure your hands in a manner that they could quickly become dangerously infected so take proper precautions. For example, after a major earthquake, medics were constantly treating patients presenting with deep lacerations to their hands. The quake had shattered windows and left broken glass everywhere. Anytime you need to work with your hands you risk cuts, abrasions, bruises, sticks, and blisters. Blisters are very common if you have to use a shovel or axe for any length of time such as digging food or cutting wood. If working on a car engine or rapidly firing a weapon you can also badly burn your hands. Environmental injuries are also possible in the summer from burns and winter from frost bite if you don’t protect your hands. However, almost all of these injuries are preventable by packing a pair of gloves. If you live in hotter environments, you can get away with leather work gloves or Mechanix type gloves. However, for colder environments, you will need to have either mittens or insulated ski type gloves to properly protect your hands.
- Eye protection: Vision is your most important sense and must be protected. Something as simple as a speck of dust can cause immense pain and blindness. Invest in a good pair of glasses that provide ballistic wrap around protection for your eyes. Try to find a pair that provides interchangeable clear and tinted lenses such as Oakley’s SI series so you can adjust them for all lighting conditions.
- Good shoes: Most people don’t buy shoes thinking about what they would buy if this pair was the last pair they could buy. Further, they often don’t get dressed for work planning to have to walk for miles in their shoes across rough terrain. Bugging out in high heels or smooth soled dress shoes is not an option. You will need to either be wearing the shoes you will bug out in or have a pair with you that you can quickly change into. Fortunately, there are plenty of great options for shoes that are made tough, will carry you for miles, and still look sharp. The best options across the board for bugging out tend to be mid-weight hiking boots or heavier backpacking boots made by companies such as Asolo, Salomon, Merrell, Lowa, and Vasque to name just a few. If you are on a tight budget, you can also find a pair of lightly used combat boots, which today are far better than the combat boots issued just ten years ago. Go to your local outdoor store to try on and find the pair that fits you best.
- Clothing: If you go to work daily in a suit, you need to carry a change of clothes with you. Your high dollar, custom tailored, designer suit is virtually worthless beyond inconspicuously leaving your office building if you need to bug out. Find durable clothes that are comfortable enough to walk for miles in while not standing out. By standing out, I mean that unless your plan absolutely requires you to wear woodland camouflage and look like you robbed the local army surplus, stick with conservative clothes such as some cargo pants and a pullover. You can wear colors like khaki, brown, and green if you need to be low profile without drawing attention. Further, even bright colors will soon take on earth tones from dirt and grime if a grid down situation persists. Ultimately, your clothes just need to be functional and should be suitable for the environment you live in.
- Any medications or eye glasses: How many people carry their medications for more than a few days with them? In the event of a crisis forcing you to bug out, you may not be able to get home to gather your medications. If you have allergic reactions leading to anaphylaxis, you must have at least 2 doses of epinephrine and diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Further, how many people that wear contacts to work have their glasses with them? After just a day without cleaning your contacts, you run the risk of severe eye pain and infection if you are unable to clean them properly. To seriously prepare to bug out, carry at least three weeks’ worth of medications in your kit and if you wear contacts, have your glasses with you. Even better, if your glasses can double as ballistic protection, this is one less thing you need to put in your kit.
- Passport: If you don’t have one, get one. Preferably, get a second passport from another country. Put the passport(s) in a waterproof container and keep on your person.
- A shelter: No matter where you are going, you should have some means of providing shelter. At minimum, two Mylar space blankets and at least 30 feet of strong braided rope should be in any kit. I recommend two space blankets because they tend to rip at the worst times and are never big enough to cover a full grown man. Given the ability to carry more weight, keep the above and add a tarp. With a little practice and good site selection, a tarp is the lightest, most versatile shelter you can carry. However, if you live in an area with swarms of biting insects and/or lots of rain, it is worth a good night’s sleep and dry gear to carry the additional weight of an ultralight backpacking tent. REI’s Halfdome backpacking tent and Big Agnes entire line of lightweight tents are definitely great ultralight buys.
- An insulated sleep pad: If you are like many, your body is not as young and limber as it used to be. Having some type of sleep pad provides a significant improvement in comfort. Unlike others, I recommend carrying slightly more weight if the comfort factor justifies it; especially, in regards to sleep. When you don’t get good sleep, you feel bad, make bad decisions, are less likely to work well as a team, get sick easier, get chilled easier, and don’t heal as well. Sleep is all too often underrated by “experts” and critical during a crisis. As important as providing better sleep, a sleep pad insulates you from the ground. Even on “warm” nights, body heat conducted to the cooler ground can leave you freezing cold if you lay directly on the ground. On cold nights, it is essential to avoid freezing to death. The cheapest sleep pads are closed cell foam pads, which are durable and insulate well. Ridge Rest makes a proven line of refined closed cell sleep pads. For more money, you can buy a self-inflating, insulated sleep pad. Their major selling point is that they pack smaller and are generally more comfortable; however, they can be punctured and can weigh more than simple foam pads. Therma-a-Rest, Big Agnes, Nemo all make great self-inflating, insulated sleep pads.
- And a sleeping bag: Many experts would simply recommend sleeping in your clothes wrapped in a coat or space blanket. I have done this plenty of times and it sucks. You don’t sleep well and feel like you were beat with baseball bats. As noted above, sleep is vital. If you must travel with the absolute minimum of gear or are skilled at building an improvised camp, this is viable. For example, in urban areas you can layer cardboard for a sleep pad and find plenty of unoccupied structures to act as your ready built shelter. In the forest you can lay bows of pine under a rock ledge to act as your sleep pad and shelter. Otherwise, you can get away with a sleep pad and a light synthetic blanket like the classic military poncho liner. Anyone that has served in the infantry will be able to tell you about the many nights they spent wrapped in nothing more than their poncho and liner. I can attest that this arrangement can become very comfortable and works very well for summer nights in the dessert. However, try this in cold weather or during a rain storm and the fun wears off fast. Under these circumstances, you must modify your bug out kit. You will need a good shelter, a well-insulated sleep pad, and a good sleeping bag. Down bags are going to be your warmest for the weight and pack very well; however, they don’t insulate when wet. For wet environments, a synthetic bag is the better option even if bulkier and heavier. Both are going to add weight, but if your conditions require bugging out during cold and or wet weather, you are going to need the extra warmth. You can find a great bag at any good outfitter such as REI. I have found Marmot, REI, The North Face, Eddie Bauer First Ascent Series, and Mountain Hardware brand bags all to be outstanding.
- Binoculars: A set of small, high quality, ruggedized binoculars or other similar magnifying optic will be extremely valuable. This item is one that many forget or forego, but is vital to identifying problems and threats before they identify you. During a bug out situation, it may be necessary to cross areas that could be quite dangerous, gang infested, or otherwise unknown. Binoculars will allow you to safely observe the area in question from a covered and concealed position until you are confident it is safe to travel or can formulate and alternate movement plan.
- Additional items: Depending on your budget and ability to carry additional items you may decide to carry include a solar rechargeable multi-ban weather radio, hand warmers, night vision devices, a firearm, ammunition, and cleaning kit, bolt cutters, copies of vital personal documents, and gear specific to your bug out plan such as climbing equipment and rope, and river dry bags.
Now that you know what you need in a basic bug out kit, you can design your “bag” around it. Make sure you include in your size estimate any additional items you may need or want to carry. Find a bag that you can comfortably carry the items of your kit all day, but make sure the essential small items such as a cell phone, firestarter, pocket knife, flashlight, compass, cash, warming layer or jacket, food ration, and a water bottle are on your person. For all day carry, make sure your pack has a comfortable waist belt. The waist band is key because it is actually where most of the weight is carried. There is a host of military style or “tactical” bags that suit this purpose well, but I don’t recommend them. They tend to be heavy, uncomfortable, draw unnecessary attention, and instantly scream military. Unless that is the image you intend to present, it is best to buy a quality backpacking pack. Again, going to a store like REI and trying out various packs sized to carry the weight and volume of your gear is critical. A backpack is sized to the individual and outfitters specialize in finding you the best fit. These packs are designed to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail and are more than capable of supporting your bug out. REI, Kelty, Gregory, and Osprey are brands that make a variety of excellent packs that will more than suit your purposes.
Where you store your bug out kit is ultimately specific to you, but it must be close by and readily accessible at all times. Another option to constantly transitioning your kit from house to vehicle to place of work is to pack multiple mirrored bug out kits and pre-stage them in key areas. I practice this myself and keep identical bags packed in every vehicle, residence, and place of work I regularly use. This also allows me to move light, react quickly, and not draw a lot of attention. When I deviate from my normal patterns, I make sure I carry my “jump” bag with me so that I never have to remove my pre-staged bags. If you can build your preps to this level, you will be far better prepared in the event of a crisis situation.
Today’s post covered a lot of information. For the beginner, this can be overwhelming. For the seasoned prepper, this information should have helped them refine their plans and gear. If you are serious about preparing your bug out plan and ensuring your kit is ready for the worst, contact us at Last Minute Survival for expert and discrete consulting. We can walk you through building a resilient bug out plan or evaluate your current plan, custom tailor your kit, and teach you the hard survival skills you need to safely evacuate you and your family from any situation.
By Guiles Hendrick
October 12, 2014
If you are looking to update your medical kit with effective and proven products, consider adding hemostatic agents. Over the course of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan trauma medicine has markedly improved with hemostatic gauze being one major advance. These clotting agents have proven so effective; they are standard in every medic’s trauma kit on the battlefield. As such, it is worth comparing the two most popular brands sold under the names QuickClot®Combat Gauze and Celox.
First of all, one should understand that clotting agents have been around for some time and have undergone an evolution in both composition and the mechanisms by which they work. Both Combat Gauze and Celox are the current result of this evolution and are far safer and more effective than their earlier ancestors. For example, the original QuickClot® essentially cauterized a wound with heat from a chemical reaction, which caused serious burns and contraindications. As a result, it was removed from medical kits and replaced with newer and better hemostatic agents. Today’s products are impregnated with hemostatic agents that facilitate blood clotting by complimenting or enhancing the body’s natural clotting faculties to stop massive hemorrhaging. Both Combat Gauze and Celox do this well, but which is best? Both also are used broadly by military, law enforcement, and rescue units around the world. However, these products are not cheap so if one is to invest in only one product, I recommend Celox for your medical kit.
Hemostatic agents in Combat Gauze and Celox allow for the formation of much larger clots than normal, which are more stable and more difficult to dislodge. This is critical for effective stoppage of heavy bleeding, especially, when a patient will have to be moved and clots could be jarred loose such as on the battle field. Further, both require the gauze to be used with constant firm pressure to be effective and allow the clot to form. Both are essentially used in the same manner. The specific location of the massive hemorrhage is located in the wound (usually a severed artery or large vein), is quickly wiped clean so that the wound location is identifiable, and the gauze is placed firmly and directly upon the bleed. For penetrating wounds such as gunshots, the cavity is then packed tightly being careful to maintain constant pressure on the bleed location while completely filling the void with tightly packed gauze. The packing is then held in place with a compression dressing. The gauze should be so tightly packed that it forms a gauze golf ball in the wound channel. The critical aspect for effective application of both products relies on their correct placement on the bleeding vein or artery and the maintenance of constant pressure until the bleeding stops. It is also worth noting that plain sterile gauze packed in a wound in the same manner using direct pressure is also still highly effective for stopping hemorrhaging.
Even though both products essentially are used the same way, Celox has notable advantages. First, in tests and operational employment, the Celox simply worked better at stopping serious bleeds. When similar wounds were unpacked in a surgical setting, it was clear from the degree of blood saturation that far less blood was lost in a patient when Celox was used. Specifically, in like wounds that severed the femoral artery of patients, Combat Gauze was unpacked and laid out showing over 12 yards of blood saturation whereas Celox showed approximately 12 inches before the gauze was blood free. This large difference could mean the difference between decompensated shock induced by severe blood loss and then the death of a patient or the complete prevention of hemorrhagic shock and survival of the patient. Further, the thicker Z-Folded Celox was much easier to handle and pack into wounds than the old school style of rolled Combat Gauze. Nothing is worse than having an entire roll of sterile gauze unwind into the muck on the ground just as you are trying to pack the wound of a severely hemorrhaging patient.
Evaluations of wounds treated with Celox and Combat Gauze also revealed that the clots formed by Celox tended to be larger and more stable. This may be due to how Celox and Combat Gauze clot. With Celox, the clotting agents are inherent in the compound so that they react instantly when they come into contact with blood. However, Combat Gauze relies upon concentrating the body’s own clotting agents (platelets) as they contact, accumulate, and react with the gauze. This is problematic since often, as a body enters shock from blood loss; the body naturally shunts blood flow from the core preventing the critical clotting compounds from reaching the wound site and the gauze. Further, when intravenous fluids are given without the addition of platelets, it reduces the effectiveness of Combat Gauze’s clotting mechanism because the fluid dilutes the blood’s natural clotting compounds.
Celox and Combat Gauze both help blood to begin clotting, but Celox is designed to work across a much broader range of patients. Specifically, Combat Gauze is designed to work with the narrow body chemistry of healthy fighting age patients. Celox on the other hand is designed to be effective across a much greater range of patients to include geriatric, those taking medications, and those taking blood thinners. This alone makes Celox a better “civilian” choice where it is more likely the patient will not fit into the perfect physically fit specimen of a fighting age soldier. In short, Celox employs a hemostatic agent that applies to everyone, whereas Combat Gauze is only designed to be effective in healthy fighting age soldiers.
In the recent DoD comparative study, Celox Gauze had the least overall blood loss, the highest survival and the highest overall hemostasis of all products. This study corresponds to the empiric evidence that I have gathered over the years using a variety of these products operationally.
By Guiles Hendrik
July 8, 2014
All rights reserved.
In case you have been asleep for the last five years or somehow managed to not buy any groceries, you should know that the price of groceries has quadrupled over as many years. For the rest of us feeding our families, we are intimately aware of how much more we have had to pay for groceries in recent years. It has gotten so bad that many families that used to be able to purchase roughly a shopping cart of groceries for $100 now are paying upwards of $400 dollars for less food of less quality. Coupled with high prices of gas and energy, most of us have experienced a large net loss of our purchasing power as our disposable income has all but vanished. Of course this directly contradicts the Obama Whitehouse’s assertions that there has been little to no inflation and economically things are better. Ask yourself this, do you actually have more disposable income than you did just a few years ago? Has your quality of life improved? Sadly, the answer is more often than not a resounding “NO” as the numbers of individuals on government assistance programs like food stamps has exploded. This article will discuss the basics on how to weather the coming food price crisis.
You must understand that our current state of decay is just the beginning as things will get much worse in the United States. For starters, California is experiencing historic drought that is decimating its agricultural industry as we outlined in our previous article. Far worse is that our government is moving closer and closer to a totalitarian state run by left leaning Marxists heavily influenced by global bankers and corporate elites that care nothing for you and are only focused on increasing their power, wealth, and control over you. Add to this the fact the Federal Reserve continues to counterfeit over a trillion dollars a year and then bills you, the taxpayer, for the created debt even as you suffer from the very real devaluation of the dollar because of the Federal Reserve’s engineered inflationary measures. These few issues are by no means all inclusive, but illustrate some of the major drivers pushing costs higher and higher as your wages and real earnings are decimated. These government programs will only intensify as higher taxes, fees, and penalties are lumped on by local, state, and federal governments to offset their rising operating costs, which rob you of any remaining disposable income. Thus, it begs the question that many are asking…. “How will I be able to feed my family and still pay my bills?”
Fortunately, the answer is neither new nor complex. One must become self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency is the same solution our forefathers intuitively recognized and the maxim most farmers, pioneers, and Americans lived by up until the last half of the 20th Century. Many thought the time for small farms and garden plots was gone for good, but the crisis of increasing food prices has driven Americans back to rediscovering that the old ways were in fact better. So, if you have been saving your survival seeds for when things get bad, you should seriously consider planting them this year and procuring new seeds for future crops while you still can. Once things go beyond the tipping point to a full blown crisis, it will be too late to plant, grow, harvest, and use your seed stores. The garden will provided you affordable, healthy, great tasting, fresh food when no one else can afford or find it in grocery stores. Further, any excess can be sold or used to barter for other goods you may not have in surplus.
A healthy garden takes years to fully develop to its maximum potential so starting now allows you to experiment with crops, fail (yes, you will have failures), build a tool inventory, and begin building an inventory of food stores via dehydration (drying) and canning. You will learn what varieties of plants grow best where in your soil. You will also get to taste various vegetables and decide which are best suited to your family’s palate. Devising a pest control strategy that works will also be vital. All of this takes time, sweat, and practice. There are no real shortcuts to this so get started now.
To begin, select the best land you can for your crops. This may mean moving to a new location with better soil, water access, and sunlight or simply developing your backyard. For you folks still imprisoned in the cities, you may want to invest in hydroponic systems or rooftop gardens. Having the right tools will be critical. The best hand tools are not the ones made today, but old antique hand tools with solid steel implements. You can often find these cheaply online or at flea markets and yard sales. Make sure you have redundancy. You will also need an ample supply of good seeds. I recommend that you stick with quality heirloom seeds that have been optimized for your growing conditions. Make sure you get a wide variety of seeds so that you can experiment with different crops. For example, if one specific variety of tomatoes does poorly, you may find a different variety does very well saving you from a total crop loss for the season. You will also need to devise a method to protect your crop from pests such as animals, insects, and diseases. I have found solar powered electric fences are the best method for keeping out animals like deer that will wreck an entire garden in a single night. The solar powered electric fence is very easy to set up and affordable. Dusting crops like beans and potatoes with lime does well at keeping insects back while preventing nutritional diseases. I also found using a torch around plants to kill weeds is an effective organic solution to weed control. When it comes to fertilizers, bone meal and manure are two of the best organic solutions. Just make sure any manure you use is seasoned well so that you don’t introduce invasive weed species to your soil.
For those of you looking to grow gardens or enter into small farming operations, you may also want to employ low profile or clandestine methods. Many of our readers live in suburban neighborhoods with unconstitutional and oppressive home owners association (HOA) covenants that ridiculously forbid gardening. In these areas fencing in your yard may be your easiest option. If that isn’t possible, many people have turned their basements into mini greenhouses, but run the risk of drawing attention of local authorities that may mistakenly suspect illicit marijuana grow operations are afoot. In this case it may be best to actually let local law enforcement know what you are doing to prevent a mistaken and highly dangerous SWAT raid on your home. However, if the wrong people know you have food, they may target your residence to steal your crops so discrete is good. Those of us lucky enough to be in rural areas do not have oppressive HOAs and can grow large gardens, but could become subject to crop confiscation. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has steadily increased its efforts to identify all farming operations throughout the country and many suspect that in a time of crisis the government could use this information to confiscate crops to feed the masses. As protests in Kiev turn violent, an important, illustrative lesson from the Ukraine’s history comes to mind. During the period between 1932 and 1933 when the Ukraine fell under Soviet control, an estimated 12 million Ukrainians were intentionally starved to death as a result of resisting Stalin’s takeover of power and government mismanagement of agricultural policies. During this period, the communist government forced confiscation of all household foodstuffs and restricted the population movement to other areas all while shipping off, warehousing, destroying, or leaving unharvested millions of tons of grain that could have fed the Ukrainians. The urban populations suffered the worst and died by the millions of starvation and disease while the rural populations were demonized and blamed by the communists for the government’s actions. If you have any question as to why this genocide was carried out, Henry Kissinger succinctly explains it when he stated that if you want to control the population, control its food supply.
This Ukrainian lesson illustrates how a centralized government like ours that mismanages policies and is continuously seeking greater power could seize your crops during a crisis to effectively control our citizens. To avoid this, don’t report your crops to the government. Further, plant multiple gardens and crops in various areas throughout your property. One garden would be overt while the others would be hidden and made to “NOT” look like a standard garden. In fact, if your garden looks like a fallow field of weeds or just a part of the forest it will draw little to no attention. In addition, cultivate wild crops and livestock considered “weeds” and wild animals so that they go overlooked even by the most zealous commissar sent by the government to inspect, record, and confiscate your crops. This technique is highly successful and practical for preppers since even the most savvy of government bureaucrats are generally idiots in respect to anything that actually requires real work or true practical knowledge. The average USDA inspector couldn’t tell you the difference between spinach and burdock and certainly wouldn’t recognize chicory and dandelions as a staple food crop. Wild leeks (ramps) and asparagus also would be passed over by even many country folks. They also wouldn’t recognize your cover crops that feed a disproportionately large deer herd, but certainly would be able to tag, number, and seize every chicken and head of cattle you may possess. Fish ponds are also nice additions because unless the bureaucrat is ready to dig out and drain your pond or spend a lot of time learning to fish, any fish you have stocked will also go under reported. Fruit and nut trees interspersed with the forest also will most likely go unnoticed so look at planting stands of these trees in small clearings vice large orchard settings.
On the backside of raising your crops, you must secure your harvest. The very best way I have found to accomplish this is by building multiple low profile root cellars away from your house. A root cellar can be very simple (essentially a hole in the ground with an insulated cover) where root crops, fruits, and canned goods can be stored for long periods of time. These natural storage vessels can be constructed in a way as to be virtually invisible to all but the most astute observer. By utilizing outdoor food storage locations, you prevent your food supplies from being looted or confiscated in their totality while building a strong alibi respective of “having no food.” Anyone doubting you would certainly search your home and after finding only the minimum staples would be forced to conclude that you indeed have no food and thus, could not be growing additional food since it would have to be stored somewhere.
In summary, you have been warned of impending food price spikes even as your wages are diminished by our central economic planners. Your choices now are to either run the risk that all will be well and government that created these problems will suddenly fix them or implement your last minute survival food production plans. I am recommending to all of our readers to plant every inch of land they can this year since I have become convinced that our economy is teetering on the brink of its greatest economic collapse in history. Food will become scarcer and prices will rise with every coming month. This is a certainty. If you decide to plant the worst outcome would be to have an overabundance of food come the autumn harvest and critical practice and experience growing a garden for real. Although we preach last “minute” survival, “minute” is very relative in respect to gardens where a more apt description would be last season survival. Failure to plant your crops this spring will delay any chance of a food crop by not just a year, but a year and a half because of the lead-lag time between planting and harvesting. Time is wasting so get busy!
By Guiles Hendrik
February 18, 2014
All rights reserved.
Overcoming the Greatest Prepper Weakness: The Individual versus the Community and a Plan for the Future
One of the greatest assets to preppers is that they are self-reliant and able to independently operate. However, it is also their greatest vulnerability. No matter how tough, how well-trained, how well armed, or how well prepared an individual is, there is only so much one person can do. Numbers matter. As an individual, you must eventually sleep and can’t stand guard indefinitely. You can only be at one place at one time. A second set of hands on nearly any labor intensive task is better than one. If sick or injured it is very difficult or impossible to provide prolonged self-aid or surgery. If directly confronted by an organized and numerically superior force, the odds are decidedly against the individual. You can only accurately fire one weapon, at one target, at one time. Further, your best odds of survival if attacked by superior numbers would be to try and escape, but even then it is pretty easy for a larger number of pursuers to head you off and corner even the craftiest of evaders. As such, for any realistic, long term survival plan, one must build a prepared community. A community is the foundational bedrock of a society and a nation. The community is where the individual can truly make a difference and build a better life. Today’s article is my appeal to you to take action to improve your life, to create new and better communities, and to take back our nation. I will provide each of you with the template to not just resist, but triumph. Each one of us has the ability to change the status quo in the present day and no longer be at the mercy of the state, which at one time, represented us as citizens. Make no mistake, survival is a long term struggle against both nature and tyranny that comes with sacrifice, but we can overcome the odds best through collective action.
Man is neither designed nor equipped to be a solitary animal. Individually we are weak and vulnerable and would have long ago become easy prey and gone extinct if it wasn’t for banning together. Since the earliest prehistoric times, man has grouped together in bands and tribes to survive. Modern man is no exception as we live today more interconnected than ever. This interdependency has allowed us to specialize, to survive, and to even have leisure. Man was designed with neither the long claws and fangs of apex predators nor the acute hearing and swift speed of prey. We don’t come with fur to protect us from temperature extremes and have long since lost our immunities to many parasites commonly found in food and water. Man’s greatest asset, his mind, combined with strength in numbers has demonstrated that he can overcome nearly any extreme and challenge. This maxim is as crucial for survival today as it was ten thousand years ago when small bands of Ice Age hunters and gathers grouped together to fend off ferocious predators and take down massive game.
Communities and villages sprang to existence out of the mutual need for security and distribution of labor. Someone always needed to tend to the fire and be on the watch for predators so that others could safely sleep. While some hunted the others cooked and farmed. In modern times, these families became bands, then tribes, and then nations. As nations grew, man’s greatest threat ceased to be lions and tigers, but his fellow man. Nation state violence led to the need to collectively organize in even greater numbers or risk being numerically overwhelmed by a neighboring nation. Internally, the rise of nations led to the rise of brutal tyrants and the further need organize the masses in resistance in order to escape slavery and death at the hands of the king’s mercenaries.
Today, the modern prepper faces all of these challenges. At the most local level, the prepper must find a way to accomplish the daily tasks of a subsistence existence. The chores of simply acquiring and preparing food and water, staying warm or cool, maintaining shelter, and creating or fixing the means to accomplish the former are enough to rapidly overwhelm anyone. However, the prepper must also provide for his common security against potentially large bands of hostile people and what appears to be an increasingly hostile government. Individually, or at least as a family, it is certainly possible to scratch out a subsistence level of existence as long as you are never confronted by a hostile group. However, it is simply not realistic to believe that one could independently sustain for the long term when faced with hungry bands of violent, armed, thugs or a hostile, state sponsored tyranny.
As previously stated, I don’t care how prepared you “think” you are; if you are trying to subsist with just a handful of people, an organized group of basically trained thugs with a proclivity for violence will quickly overwhelm you and certainly seize whatever preps you have stored. This is not a situation of maybe, but an absolute. The preppers that fail to learn and internalize this are living in a fantasy world. Preppers that ardently stick to their small groups in remote and isolated areas only delay the inevitable. This paradigm may be best illustrated by how law enforcement represents a small percentage of the population, but effectively controls the masses by being able to quickly mass and achieve local (tactical) numerical superiority against any resistance. Individually, there have been literally millions of people arrested that were tough, prepared, and well-armed, but I can’t think of any in recent memory that have successfully fought off a determined attempt at seizure by the police. Sadly, government has never proven capable of leaving individuals alone and hungry mobs have never shown the proclivity to take the moral high road and starve when the option to loot for food existed. Eventually, preppers that failed to organize BEFORE a collapse or crisis and build communities will each be independently identified, targeted, and wiped out by thugs or hostile government forces.
The solution to this is not a new one. It is as old as mankind. Like minded individuals will once again need to band together to collectively survive. This is and will be an essential, critical, FACT that preppers must accept. Preppers need not build communes or cede their independence, but do need to build communities. These communities need to be aware, prepared, and organized in a manner that they are effectively self-sustaining and self-governing. It is equally essential to also build the population numbers in a concentrated manner that will change the voting demographic so that elected representatives will not only properly represent, but be of the same mindset of their constituents. We have seen some of these successes in Montana and Idaho, but are failing to coalesce in an organized manner nationwide. Only by achieving, at minimum, at first, tactical numerical superiority in targeted regions will free, independent, liberty minded individuals be able to live a life of freedom with liberty in something more than their imagination.
Communities built around self-sustainment are by their very nature resilient to natural disasters, grid failures, and crime. By locally producing food, water, and power a community can almost completely eliminate the major vulnerabilities of today’s societies. The society is healthier, happier, and more connected. By once again localizing industry, the community can build, fabricate, or repair nearly anything and have a vibrant localized economy. Further, by having a large pool of like-minded citizens, the community can fend off both political and physical attacks. One threat can be defeated through the ballot box and the other through tactical numerical “superiority.” To illustrate this point, 100 groups of eight preppers could disperse across the 50 states (two groups to a state). These small groups have zero political influence or protection and could be rounded up and wiped out in a single night by either hostile thugs or government forces operating in groups so small local law enforcement could field them. However, if you combined these groups in one area, you would have the local tactical strength of upwards of 800 people. This is a sufficient number to not just swing, but control elections in smaller districts, install a like-minded sheriff and deputies, and present a unified defense requiring at least a battalion of military regulars to engage with any chance of success. Imagine getting back to a time and place where instead of fearing police, the local police actually acted to “defend” the locals and keep the peace with the full weight of the people and the law behind it. Imagine a place where you could walk down the street and not be filmed, photographed, tracked, and fined for violating one of a seemingly infinite number of overbearing regulations. Now consider the literally millions of like-minded “preppers” that exist in the cities, towns, and the rural expanses of America. If the media is to be believed, tens of millions of these people are already organized under the nebulous title “Tea Party.” By concentrating these numbers we not only make being prepared and living free mainstream, but the lifestyle sells itself. Don’t waste your strength and try to fight the numbers in states like California, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York. Let those states wallow in their own filth, debt, and ever increasing taxes. Instead, take charge and opt out of them. Stop paying into those defunct systems and move away. Concentrate in places where we can control the elections, the schools, the local law enforcement, and ultimately empower our way of life. To use the cliché, “if we build it, people will come” is justified. As we set ourselves apart and demonstrate a workable better life, more and more people will turn away from their current unsustainable, rat race existences and seek something better for themselves and their families. People want this and are thirsty for leadership, but to date, few have stepped up. If we lead, the masses will follow.
The model outlined above is feasible, suitable, and something that could be quickly accomplished in the near term. Much debate surrounds the “optimum” prepper retreat location, but it is unnecessary because few states truly fit the bill. Further, most of the debate is academic because true survival will not come from hiding and hoping tyranny will overlook you. Instead, we must recognize “prepping” is not just an action but a way of life that must be protected and nurtured. To truly survive, we must come to terms with reality and engage in an effective course of action with a chance of long term success. We must change the debate and public perception of preppers. We need to show the public we are absolutely no threat, peaceful, and reframe ourselves as a persecuted minority requiring protection, much like the Amish or Mennonites. To effect this we must concentrate our numbers in specific localities. The best prepper locations to concentrate at first will be areas of low population density, but ample natural resources. Further, it is only reasonable to first target locations within states that predominately tend to support freedom, liberty, and independence or in short, support a prepared lifestyle and are not burdensome with respect to taxes and regulation. This means that an ideal state probably will not have a large, leftwing, urban center like New York City, Philadelphia, or San Francisco that disproportionately biases the elections. That immediately rules out states such as California, Massachusetts, Maryland, and New York. You would also want to avoid locations with staggering debt or other lingering problems that would be materially detrimental to building new communities. Out west, states such as Idaho, Montana, North and South Dakota, and Wyoming offer the best options to concentrate. Idaho has long been recognized as an ideal redoubt and is already demonstrating that this model works. Not only have local and state leaders been elected, but representatives at the federal level have been elected and are now insulating Idaho from many of the problems facing the rest of the nation. In fact, businesses are also moving to Idaho. Gun and ammunition manufacturers in particular have found Idaho a great place to set up business.
In the east, West Virginia may well be on its way to becoming the prepper redoubt of choice. West Virginia’s topography is well suited to the defense and has a very low population density. There are entire areas of West Virginia that have zero electronic emissions. The federal government has also recognized West Virginia’s suitability for surviving an apocalypse and has built various “hollow mountains” throughout the state. Unlike many other potential redoubts, West Virginia is a realistic location to bug out to from most areas along the East Coast and is not prone to natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, or large earthquakes. It is also well protected from potential nuclear blasts and is not seen as a high value target for terrorists. Further, West Virginia really doesn’t have any major metropolitan areas that will spill millions of refugees into the surrounding hinterlands. The climate is very suitable for growing a variety of crops and the state is rich in natural resources that range from salt and coal to timber and natural gas. West Virginia tends to not be heavy on regulation and the people are generally conservative minded and live already as semi-preppers. West Virginia also has the potential to be a leader in alternate energy. It has endless ridgelines for wind and solar power as well as many streams and rivers suitable for various scale hydroelectric systems. West Virginia is an outdoorsman’s paradise, yet is still located close enough to eastern population centers that it will have increasing influence. Given the low population density and the affordability of homes and property in West Virginia, it would be relatively easy for preppers in the mid-Atlantic to relocate and take up residence in a few targeted counties such as Hampshire, Hardy, Mineral, and Grant counties in the eastern panhandle. By concentrating in these counties and gaining a strong percentage of the voting block, like minded preppers could essentially establish a food hold in the heart of the mid-Atlantic and establish their own model community. Note that it is not necessary to even gain a voting “majority” in these counties because the influence of a well-organized and active electorate will be more than sufficient to sway, skew, and control any local election. Further, voter turnout; especially at the local level and during primaries, tends to be extremely low so it would be possible to not only oust incumbents on tickets, but stack the local and state governments with our candidates. From those initial gains, we could fundamentally change how local and then state governments operate in the near term and demonstrate a better way of living to the nation. Ultimately, we will fundamentally change the thinking nationwide and to this end, achieve our goals of independence, liberty, and sustainable living.
I challenge each of you today to disseminate this message as widely as possible, to as many people as possible. Sow the seeds of liberty and freedom again in people’s minds. Let them know that they don’t have to accept the status quo and can change their situation now. There are no longer empty frontiers to escape to and waiting till the SHTF will be too late. We must pick our ground wisely now so that we can stand our ground later. By doing something as simple as moving your state of residence (even if that doesn’t mean you physically move) so that you can (and must) vote in Idaho or West Virginia, we absolutely can improve our lives and the lives of others. Follow my lead and begin the process of stacking the deck in these two states where as little as a hundred votes can control the officials elected at the local and state level. Idaho and West Virginia are not the end, but the beginning. From these two localities we can expand our communities to the surrounding regions and states, but we have to begin somewhere and we have to begin now.
By Guiles Hendrik
November 3, 2013
All rights reserved.
Machetes come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, which adapt the tool for a variety of chopping and cutting tasks. In particular, machetes are so well adapted for tropical environments that they are considered a necessary tool for basic survival. Being that machetes are used worldwide, I thought I would try out a modern design in the woodlands of North America while hunting in the mountains.
I first had to select a machete. I was able to quickly find a host of different machetes for sale ranging from the very basic to the exotic at a local outdoors store. At the most basic, there were plain steel blades with wood handles. At the other extreme, there were machetes targeting what appeared to be the zombie apocalypse crowd, which sported a rubber neon green handle and radical blade angles. I chose a model that seemed to follow the traditional machete design with an 18” blade, but incorporated modern technologies like a black powder coated steel blade, saw teeth along the top edge, a ballistic nylon sheath, and an ergonomic Kraton handle. The brand I purchased was a SOGFARI 18” Machete. SOG’s website lists this machete for $33.00, which seemed reasonable for what the tool appeared to offer.
The tool felt comfortable in my hand and came with a nice edge so I had high expectations for it going into the wilderness. Once afield, I first ran it through some tests on tasks considered standard for any machete. I used it to cut back dense undergrowth along a river bank to open a path and then to attack high grass obstructing a 100 yard rifle range used to check zeros on our hunting rifles. I found that for the task of clearing brush it performed as one would expect. I was able to get into tight areas and still swing with enough force to completely cleave most brush up to about an inch in diameter. It handled thicker green brush with a few axe like chops. However, when paired against dead, woody brush, the machete seemed to almost bounce or stick, but not chop cleanly. Its performance on high grass was at best par. It was too short to cut the grass without being perpetually bent over and it tended to push the grass (even with a factory sharp edge) rather than cut it. A handheld weed-whacker would be a far superior tool for this task. On a positive note, I did find the handle to provide a comfortable and secure grip when swinging the tool. Nonetheless, I would always recommend wearing gloves when using a machete. The SOGFARI’s performance overall on standard machete tasks such as cutting through green brush, vines, and foliage appears to be par. I certainly wasn’t overwhelmed, but it managed the basic cutting chores.
After the initial machete specific field trials, I decided to test the machete against the forests of North America. Although the machete is essential in the tropics, I was curious to see if that usefulness was as applicable for general tasks confronted by most Americans. As one might have expected, it was of limited use. I was able to cut kindling for a fire, but found it of next to no use trying to chop any dry, dead wood thicker than a couple inches. The blade was simply too thin and light even at 18 inches.
A machete made from thicker steel with a heavier belly may have proved more useful, but would still be far inferior to a good axe for these type chores. I also used it to try and cut some roots and dig out a small fire pit. The rocks in the ground were brutal on the blade even though it performed okay against green roots. For prying tasks it was near useless and too weak. The softer steel bent far too easily. I found that there were at best very few realistic tasks for the saw along the spine of the blade and its cutting performance was subpar. If anything, the saw proved to be a liability because it was all but destroyed if you attempted to hammer the machete’s blade through a log to split the wood and the teeth tended to snag on any piece of fabric within a foot of it. However, I did find that it was suitable for rapid construction of a lean-two shelter in a pine forest. I was able to cut green pine boughs rapidly from larger limbs to use as bedding and thatching for a roof with relative ease. Overall though, the machete was not suited for woodsmen tasks in the North. When weight matters, it was not a tool worth carrying.
The final battery of tests I performed was on actual animal flesh and bone. I wanted to see if it was viable to gut, skin, and butcher large game with a sharp machete. Consequently, it was also a good test of the machete’s potential as a close combat weapon. After making a few attempts to field dress a deer with the machete, I gave up and just used my hunting knife. Although I had low expectations for this and would say it is “possible,” a machete is just too big, dull, and unwieldy to make fine cuts through hide while not nicking the intestines or the stomach and causing a huge mess and potentially ruining good meat. For skinning, I attempted to use the belly of the machete and found that it would be viable in a pinch, but again, definitely not the preferred tool. The machete is simply too long and unwieldy to follow the angles of the meat. In fact, using the machete was only slightly more helpful than simply pulling the hide off by hand. My deep bellied hunting knife performed far better on this task. Next, I used it to quarter the deer. The blade did slice through the large muscle reasonably well, but failed to cut through the bones. When I attempted to chop through the leg, the steel in the blade proved sub-standard. The chop actually bent a quarter size divot into the blade perfectly around the deer’s femur as if the blade was made of clay. The manufacturer claims to have used high quality 3Cr13 steel in the blade, but the facts on the ground suggest weak, recycled, bumper steel. The final test for butchering was to attempt to remove the head from the deer carcass. The machete was able to sever the head nearly completely in one strong chop. In this regard, it would definitely prove to be a vicious weapon against any attacker, but could only be used to slash and chop. The machete offers little to no stabbing qualities.
Overall, unless one is intending to use the machete as a defensive weapon or for cutting some small, green vegetation in tight quarters, I would not include it in my kit. The SOGFARI looked good in its packaging, but proved to be subpar in nearly every task I would conceivably use it for in the woodlands of North America. I also found it subpar in respect to other machetes I have used in the past. To date, the best machetes that I have used were of good quality carbon steel with a thicker spine and deep belly, which shifts the weight and balance of the blade toward the end. For North America, the SOGFARI is just above useless and the steel is junk. I was disappointed in SOG after testing this tool and lost plenty of respect for what used to be a company that produced very high end edged implements. In response to those who would argue that I didn’t use a machete for what it’s intended, I would agree. I did not test it in a tropical jungle. Instead, I tested what has proved to be a very useful tropical tool in an environment I am likely to operate in against tasks I routinely need to accomplish. In this regard, the traditional tools of woodsman such as an axe and deep bellied hunting knife proved far superior to the range of tasks “I” needed to accomplish. The “essential” tool of the jungle is neither designed for, nor adequate for the heavier chopping tasks one routinely faces in northern woodlands.
Manufacturer’s website: http://www.sogknives.com/sogfari-machete-18-black-powder-coated-straight-and-saw-back.html
By Guiles Hendrik
November 2, 2013
All rights reserved.
America fell apart after the October 2013 Debt Ceiling/Obamacare fiasco. The politicos ‘running’ the country agreed-to-disagree and inevitably kicked off the national default. The pain of endless magical government money disappearing had no ripple effect, it was more like all the dominoes falling down at the same time. Thousands of honorably disabled military veterans, some just home from Afghanistan, took the hit straight to the gut when the VA ran out of money. Many of these vets depended on these hard earned monthly checks from the VA to keep up with bills and keep themselves and family fed. Poverty quickly moved their way. Thousands of vets using the GI Bill to pay for college also got the ‘sorry but…’ letter from the VA as they too became victims of their government’s inability to do anything efficiently, responsibly, and honestly. Welfare recipients were not exempt from the economic crash. Honest blue collar workers down on their luck and barely making ends meet lost the financial aid, they knew nothing more than to take it on the chin and keep pressing on. The equivalent of career politicians in the welfare receipt world suffered the most from the demise of welfare. These individuals, able bodied masters of ripping off state and federal governments, depended on welfare for every aspect of their lives. Food stamps, free medical coverage, etc., they had it all but lied to get it. Ms. Karma struck with a vengeance as they would soon become very hungry able bodied individuals with no free rides to keep them alive.
Our imaginary friend Kenny was around for all this drama. He was smarter than the average bear and relatively prepared for a short term nationwide crash. Days spent on YouTube guided his emergency preparedness buys like food and water storage, ammunition and firearms, and barter items. Unfortunately, he was never able to buy common sense and sound judgment, especially when it came to using his ‘Prepper/SHTF’ toys. Kenny saw the news coverage of big city riots where hungry maddened people took to the streets in a Rodney King-esque fashion. He understood their looting of grocery stores as they were not OK with starving. Eventually the looting grew to include murder and rape on a grand scale. The bloody snowball was going wild and rolling out of big cities into not so big cities. Martial law by way of the military became the norm but fell apart when troops could not be paid and decided to head home to care for their families. Organized banditry was the new threat to be fought and Kenny was part of fighting the good fight. Refugee camps sprang up along the US-101 north of LA (aka: Hell-A) as the thuggery got worse in the city. The better organized gangs occasionally raided these camps a la Viking with typical raping, pillaging, and burning. Although a citizens defense force was forming to keep the criminals at bay, Kenny preferred to play the lone-wolf card. Bad idea.
So there goes our dumb friend Kenny into the beautiful rolling hills of southern California in search of ‘bad guys’. Along the way he befriends a fellow lone-wolfette, Ms. Stone of the ‘Green Hill Rangers’. Stone eventually dropped out of the operation due to unseen ‘blisters’ on her feet, “I just know they are there” she said. Her exodus had nothing to do with his creepy stares and insistence on walking behind her while they hiked uphill. As a parting gift, Stone gave our idiot hero Kenny a scoped SR-25 rifle, magazine inserted and ready to rock and roll. Now he would really ‘bring it’ to the marauding scum that prowled what he called the “Central Southern Highlands.” The next morning Kenny rolled out of his 13 pound modular sleeping system and got ready for breakfast. From his half-ton Alice pack he produced a bag of powdered eggs, some pancake mix, a bottle of maple syrup, a cigar, a cast iron skillet, and a propane stove. This guy traveled in style. His stove didn’t work so he fired up some twigs and branches to get his breakfast cooked, bad idea. Hours later he got back to work and found what he was looking for, one platoon sized unit of motorized thugs stretching their legs just off the US-101. From behind absolutely no cover and concealment, Kenny flipped the SR-25 to fire and pulled the trigger on his nearest target. He heard a quick ‘pfffft‘ sound and saw no effects on target. He thought, “Ms. Stone said nothing of an internal silencer?”. He sat up for a second shot at his 500 m target and was annoyed at the wind pushing dust into his side and rustling leaves. ‘Pfft‘ again, then the lack of recoil woke him up. He removed the magazine and saw a white pellet near the top. He cried, “DAMN YOU GREEN HILL AIRSOFTERS!” His loud objection drew the attention and incoming fire from his would be targets. Kenny had one good thing going for him, a Colt 6920 Carbine. The 5.56mm firearm was nearly stretched to its limits at 500 m but more than capable of accurately engaging his targets. Kenny chambered a green tip round, set his rear sight elevation to 5, and began engaging his targets. He had no idea that his centered rear windage was allowing the wind to move his rounds almost one foot to the left of his targets. Three magazines worth of zero hits later and Kenny was toast. The thugs had common sense and bounded towards him at a steady pace. He was eventually suppressed by their fire and one well aimed AK did him in.
Slowly, Kenny’s soul drifted up from his cooling lifeless body. He noted the following:
“Why was I carrying so much unnecessary gear?”
“Why don’t my clothes match the terrain?”
“Why did I shoot from an unconcealed/uncovered position?”
“Why did that cute girl give me an airsoft gun?!”
“Why did I miss?”
Kenny’s last drifting soul question is what we will cover in our next post. One reason why Kenny missed was due to his lack of a wind call. An accurate wind call is one of the factors that separate hits from misses. Our dearest Kenny would have had a fighting chance if he applied the fundamentals of marksmanship. Don’t be fooled by anyone that tells you wind can’t be beat. If a platoon of Marine recruits can punch holes in a man sized target at 500 meters against wind, so can you! Put yourself in Kenny’s shoes. What you have done about your surprise SR-25 airsoft rifle? Best comment gets a t-shirt courtesy of Guiles Hendrick.
Sgt. G, LMS Contributor
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