Tag Archive for survival

Hatchet vs Knife

 

 

 

 

 

 

The popularity of knives is ageless.  Edged implements have been a critical tool for mankind from the earliest fossil records.  Knives in particular have found great popularity for their utility, portability, concealability, and lethality.  However, edged chopping instruments like hatchets and tomahawks still provide valuable, yet often overlooked advantages over knives to both the survivalist and outdoorsman.  The point of this article is not to suggest that one tool is superior, but rather to show the advantages inherit in edged chopping tools.

Looking at the earliest stone tools, we find both cutting and chopping tools side by side and for good reason.  Anyone planning to survive in the wild needed both.  Chopping tools allowed trees to be cut, wood to be split, shelter to be constructed, big game to be processed, and enemies and prey to be quie

tly killed with swift precision.  In fact, a single blow from a sharp axe, hatchet, or tomahawk could easily sever limbs, decapitate, crush bone, or shatter a rib cage and slice through vital organs making it even more lethal than a knife.  Further, many of these implements can be used at greater distance due to a long handle and the weighted head containing the cutting edge, which magnifies the force created in a swing.  Also, with practice, these implements lend themselves well to being thrown.  In fact, they are far easier to master than knives in respect to being thrown and can actually be finely tuned into an effective capability with minimal practice.

Today we also face prohibitions on weapons of all types whether carried concealed or in the open.  Knives in particular endure an unfair stigma by the general population as a weapon vice tool.  However, an axe or hatchet; albeit an incredibly effective weapon, tends to be seen as a tool vice a weapon.  As such, law enforcement also tends to look at knives more harshly than an axe or hatchet.  A person is able to carry “wood cutting” equipment in their vehicle and not draw unwanted scrutiny, which a person attempting to conceal a Bowie knife or even a small flip out folder in their pocket would generally receive.

Reliability is also a strong suite of chopping tools.  They are simple and have almost nothing to fail or break.  One only needs

to maintain the handle, which can be easily and repeatedly replaced with improvised materials even in austere conditions with the most basic of tools.  The most common problem is the head slipping off the handle, which can be easily remedied by driving a wedge into the handle or purchasing a synthetic handle.  These chopping implements also only require a utility edge, which is tough, easy to maintain, and easy to achieve unlike finely honed knife edges.  This edge can be achieved with a rough stone, file, or grinder and doesn’t require the use of high end sharpening equipment.  Nonetheless, many axes and tomahawks are sharpened to a fine edge on par with any knife.

Chopping tools also lend themselves well for breaching and hammering tasks.  Whether trapped inside or outside of a vehicle or structure, chopping tools are far superior to other tools.  We tested hatchets on windshields and sheet metal and found they easily penetrated.  We also found that they made short work of a variety of doors, drywall, and plywood.  Well-constructed all steel implements made by Estwing in particular were also very adaptable to prying tasks.  Finally, in a pinch, most of these tools could be used for a variety of hammering tasks depending on their design.  We were able to effectively drive nails, smash open nuts, and drive stakes.  None of these tasks were effectively performed by knives with the exception of windshields where some folding knives containing a “windshield punch” did an adequate job of spider webbing the window, but usually failed to completely

shatter and remove the coated glass (note that hatchets also provided superior protection to the user due to increased range from the glass shards).

We also were able to test out how well our tools penetrated armor and found them again to be far superior to knives.  In fact, the tactical tomahawks ripped through steel helmets with ease and when sharp were able to also penetrate soft body armor.  When tested against Kevlar helmets all implements delivered a strong enough strike to most likely knock the wearer unconscious and axes in particular proved to be an overmatch.  Knives proved completely ineffective against both steel and Kevlar helmets, but did penetrate soft body armor.  We also tested strike force against body armor containing both steel and ceramic plates and would not rate them as effective in penetrating the hard armor, but found the strike force of both axes and heavy hatchets enough to knock down and injure anyone wearing the armor.  It is also worth noting that all implements tested have the ability to bypass any armor worn and still easily deliver a lethal strike with a single blow.

Finally, good hatchets, axes, and tomahawks are also very affordable.  The demand for them does not command the prices that “tactical” folders and other “sexy” knives rate for price mark-ups.  A used axe or hatchet can be found for as little as a few dollars and brand new items rarely cost more than fifty dollars.

After testing various implements our staff has come to some basic conclusions when it comes to selection and purchasing of chopping tools.  First of all, it is best to buy items that don’t draw attention like neon green “zombie apocalypse” warhawks.  You can get the same items in neutral colors.  Second, synthetic handles proved superior to wooden handles for both chopping an

d throwing tasks.  Third, most steel in modern middle and low end axes and hatchets were of poor quality.  We recommend buying from a reputable dealer and brand or finding “antique” hatchets and axes, which have far better steel.  Finally, for throwing, double bla

ded implements are superior as they can stick on both the front and back spin.

When it comes to recommendations, we generally don’t support one brand over another, but will provide you the facts from our field tests.  We found that for fighting and throwing, SOG’s Tactical Tomahawk Black / F01TN-CP ( http://www.sogknives.com/tactical-tomahawk-black.html ) is a well-designed lethal implement that when sheathed draws little more attention than a standard hatchet or axe.  It is well balanced and a novice can stick this tomahawk at a broad range of rotation angles at about seven paces nearly every throw with a little practice.  We threw our Tactical Tomahawks for weeks on end and thousands of times into trees, stu

mps, logs, plywood, steel drums, and slabs of pigs and found the tool held up and could be brought back to a very sharp edge with little effort or skill.  However, the tomahawk is not well adapted for more mundane tasks such as chopping and splitting wood.  If you are searching for an actual axe or hatchet for chopping and splitting we were impressed with the edge, quality of steel, durability, and performance of both Fiskars and Estwing.  Fiskars provides tools with synthetic handles, which are lighter and still extremely rugged.  This allowed for faster manipulation and ease of use.  They also didn’t seem to transmit shock to the user.  Estwing provides  all steel tools that are virtually indestructible, but at a tradeoff of being very heavy and slow to manipulate.  Estwings will also wear you out if you use them all day due to the weight and shock translation through the handle.  Depending on your needs and uses, all of the above brands we found to perform at or above standard.

Essential Survival Equipment: Rocket Stoves

Basic Rocket Stove Schematic

Basic Rocket Stove Schematic

For anyone that has traveled extensively in the developing world, they are all too familiar with the fact over a billion people on this planet still prepare their meals over an open fire.  Most of these fires are inefficient, waste precious wood, release large amounts of Carbon Dioxide and smoke, and can be hazardous to health when used indoors.  To address these problems, many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and aid organizations such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have sponsored development of cheap, highly efficient, and brutally simple means of making cooking fires.  The result has been an explosion of what we popularly know as “rocket stoves.”

Rocket stoves are of particular interest to any outdoor enthusiast and survivor for the same reasons they appeal to many across the world.  For starters, they can be built cheaply from everyday materials widely available such as soda or soup cans, sand, and nails.  Further, they are highly efficient and when properly constructed, can boil water in less time than a typical backpacking stove with just a handful of readily available twigs and branches.  The fact just a few scraps of cardboard and a few sticks can be used to fuel the stove and cook a full dinner makes them infinitely more sustainable for use in a grid down situation when liquid fuel for camp stoves or propane may be unavailable or too expensive.  They also can be extremely light weight making them great for travel.  Even better is the fact that modern commercial versions take advantage of the heat generated to produce electricity.  This heat converted to electricity is then used to power small fans to improve burn efficiency and chargers for cell phones and laptops.  Finally, they emit very little smoke making their use very low signature for times when a large smoky fire may draw unwanted attention.

Rocket stoves work better than conventional three stone cooking fires or wood cooking stoves by taking advantage of a super-heated combustion chamber that draws more and more pre-heated air from below as the fire gets hotter and hotter.  This principle is the same in modern, highly efficient, high-dollar, sealed wood and pellet stoves.  It is also why they seem to be able to burn much longer on far less wood.  When maximum efficiency is reached, the fire will be so hot that it burns the fuel nearly completely leaving little smoke.  Respective of the smoke, it is drawn through the hot flame and effectively re-burned so that minimal emissions are released by the stove.  Many enjoy experimenting with various designs to try and get the optimum efficiency.  A simple Google search for “rocket stoves” will yield thousands of examples, pictures, plans, and videos.  Mastering the construction of improvised rocket stoves will yield both an excellent skill for your survival portfolio and a useful camp stove on the cheap.

See below images for examples of improvised and commercial rocket stoves.

Improvised Soup Can Rocket Stove

Improvised Soup Can Rocket Stove

 

Improvised Ammo Can Rocket Stove

Improvised Ammo Can Rocket Stove

Source:http://www.bearridgetradingpost.com/2011/07/ammo-can-rocket-stove/

Biolite Amp Rocket Stove

Biolite Amp Rocket Stove

Source: http://electrictreehouse.com/ultra-efficient-camper-stove/

Biolite Commerical Rocket Stove

Biolite Commerical Rocket Stove

Source: http://electrictreehouse.com/ultra-efficient-camper-stove/

 

By Guiles Hendrik

 

 

 

Native Survival Foods: The Pawpaw

Clump of Pawpaws Source: http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/438/438-105/438-105.html#L10

Clump of Pawpaws
Source: http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/438/438-105/438-105.html#L10

Today, it is hard to not hear of people talking about stockpiling food.  The media and markets are loaded with options for non-perishables and foods packaged so that they can be stored for years.  This is great and LMS fully supports those that commit to long-term storage and stockpiling of backup food supplies.  However, it is equally valuable to know what foods nature readily provides often right in your backyard.  This post looks at the little known, native, North American super-fruit known as the pawpaw.

The pawpaw is a native fruit that grows on smaller trees that are almost tropical in appearance.  The fruit weighing on average about 8 ounces looks similar to a mango from the outside with a green skin and large, dark, pumpkin like seeds on the inside.  The fruit has a custard like yellowish inside that has a taste reminiscent of a banana, mango, and pineapple and ripens between late August and early October.  The fruit is super rich in protein, anti-oxidants, and is reported to have cancer fighting qualities.  Further, the fruit produces its own insect repellent and in a concentrated form can be used to even treat resistant head lice effectively.  The tree is so well adapted, it doesn’t require the use of pesticides, herbicides, or insecticides to grow healthy unlike other non-native fruit trees such as various apple and orange trees.  However, the tree does play host to the beautiful Zebra swallowtail butterfly, whose larvae feed exclusively and harmlessly on the tree.  The trees are typically found along fertile, well-drained soil lining the banks of streams and rivers stretching from the mid-Atlantic to Michigan.

Pawpaw fruit has a rich history in America even though in recent years it has been nearly forgotten.  The pawpaws were so sought after, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are said to have grown and cultivated them on their farms.  Further, not only were they valued by Native Americans, but American history tells us that Lewis and Clark cheated starvation by surviving on the fruit during their return trip along the Missouri River to St. Louis.

By studying a bit online, one can quickly become familiar with the pawpaw and learn to identify it in the wild.  For those fortunate enough to have access to one of these bountiful fruit trees, just a few fruits in the late summer/early fall can yield a delightful and refreshing addition to your diet.  Further, they make excellent additions to fruit smoothies, yogurts, and ice cream.  The fruit puree can also be used to make a host of other items such as jams, wines, breads, and desserts.  Just remember, the pawpaw does not keep well once it ripens and must be used or frozen within three days of peak ripeness.

If you are not fortunate enough to have access to one of these trees, you can buy both the pawpaw fruit and the saplings online from a few boutique sources such as http://www.owennativefoods.com/ , which specialize in selling varieties of native super-foods such as the pawpaw in an organic and sustainable manner.  Note:  Sources such as Owen Native Foods sell the future season’s crop early (usually between December and March) so it is best to place orders far in advance of the harvest season.  Under the proper conditions, you can grow your own pawpaw trees and have a sustainable super-food industry right in your backyard.

Experimental Pawpaw Orchard Source: Blandy Experimental Farm

Experimental Pawpaw Orchard
Source: Blandy Experimental Farm

For additional information on this outstanding, but little known native fruit, visit the Virginia Cooperative Extension, which gives the following information about paw paws on its website: http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/438/438-105/438-105.html

The crop is well adapted to the Eastern U.S. climate and soil conditions. Pawpaw is adapted to humid temperate zone growing conditions.  It is hardy to the USDA growing zone 5 (-20°F or -29°C), and needs at least 400 hours in annual chilling requirements (time exposed to 35° to 45°F during winter months, depending on the cultivar).  This is a low chill requirement compared to other tree fruit species (apples 800 to 1,700 hours), and once met, the trees will begin to flower early in the spring.  A long, warm season is required to mature fruit (2,600 degree days; ~160 frost-free days).  From 30 to 35 inches of rainfall is needed annually, with the majority falling in the spring and summer.  Contrary to popular belief, pawpaw performs best in full-sun exposure.  However, sunlight protection is needed in the first year in the field, as young tree shoots are sensitive to sunlight.  In an orchard setting, this is accomplished by using commercially available tree shelters.

The pawpaw is a unique/unusual fruit crop with high nutritional value and potential for both fresh and processed market uses.  As a food source, pawpaw exceeds apple, peach, and grapes in vitamin, mineral, amino acid, and food energy values.  The current and primary market for fruit is as a fresh product in farmers markets and other direct sales outlets.  Though large-scale commercial processing markets do not yet exist, the fruit’s intense flavor and aroma have significant potential in blended fruit drinks, baby food, ice cream, and as a substitute for banana in various baking recipes.  In Kentucky, various entrepreneurs are utilizing pawpaw as a local cuisine item for restaurants and in frozen custard and ice cream products.

There are valuable natural compounds in the plant, which have both anti-carcinogenic and pesticidal properties.  Aromatic compounds in the fruit have potential for use in cosmetics and home products.  Research has shown that pawpaws have a diversity of natural compounds in fruit, leaves, bark, and twigs.  One class of compounds known as annoaceous acetogenins occurs in leaves and twigs and has reported anti-tumor properties.  Currently, Purdue University has patented an extraction procedure and the development of an herbal formulation is underway by a private company.  Commercial drug manufacturers, however, have shown limited interest in the compounds.  An alkaloid, asimicin, is found in the seeds, leaves, and bark of pawpaw and is reported to have pesticidal properties.  Pawpaws are resistant to insect and disease pressure.  This may be due to asimicin and other natural defense compounds.  With proper management, organic production of pawpaw is feasible.  Aromatic constituents isolated from fruit may hold potential for marketing as well.

By Guiles Hendrik

Safe Water in a Survival Situation

Frontier Filter by Aquamira

In LMS’ on-going review of products, today’s article focuses on the water filtration market.

Commercial water purifying units, based on filter technology, have proliferated in many forms primarily catering to the backpacker and world travel market.  There are dozens of popular units out there to choose from, but the buyer should understand the pro’s and con’s of these filters.  Ultra-light weight, handheld filters are designed for solo backpackers and outdoorsman.  These can be very rugged handheld systems, but do not have a high level output capable of providing a long term water solution to multiple people.  Nearly all handheld filters use some sort of force such as a hand pump or squeeze bag to force the water through the filter.  This can be quite physically taxing in some models.  The good thing is that they are readily available in outdoor stores making them feasible to obtain right up until a crisis develops.  After that, they will fly off the shelves and will become unobtainable like most other items.  You can find great models made under brand names such as MSR®, PUR®, Sawyer®, and Katadyn®, but there are numerous other excellent manufactures so shop around.  For now though, they are available and affordable.  Other, larger filter systems do not reach the industrial scale, but are well designed to provide safe, potable water for larger groups on a sustained basis.  These are much bulkier, more expensive, and also harder to obtain as only specialty stores will stock them.  Big Berkey® and ProPur® are two leading manufacturers of this type of big gravity fed filters.

As with all purification technologies, it is very important to understand what they will and will not do.  Filters do a good job of removing many of the larger microorganisms that will make you sick such as protozoans like Giardia and life threatening waterborne bacteria.  However, they do next to nothing at stopping viruses.  This major vulnerability in your filter is the result of an inherit conundrum with filter technology.  If you attempt to filter out particles as small as viruses, your filter will clog.  So in order to allow a reasonable throughput of filtered water, manufactures have opted for a larger membrane that doesn’t trap viruses.  As such, the happy medium has been struck where “most” harmful pathogens are filtered out.  Some filters offer an extra iodine or chemical cartridge to kill any pathogens the filter didn’t get, but this treatment adds a nasty taste and potential health side effects.  This chemical taste and potential for side effects defeat the inherit benefits of filtering water.  The benefits of filtered water are it tastes better and can be used indefinitely as a purifying mechanism or at least as long as the filter lasts.  If you are going to add chemicals to the water, you might as well just do that and skip filtering.  However, if there is any chance of viruses infecting your source water, it would be better to go ahead and chemically treat or boil the water.  It is not worth the risk of severe and possibly life threatening viral illnesses.  In urban areas where hygiene and sanitation can break down quickly, this will be a major concern and could mitigate the effectiveness of a filter device.  In non-tropical regions, most unpolluted (free of sewage contamination and animal waste) streams, rivers, and lakes would be good candidates for filtration systems since protozoans and bacteria are your primary threats.  Considering the above, if your plan is to rely heavily or solely on a water filter for purification during a crisis, choosing the right one will be a vital decision.  Durability, dependability, and a system’s proven track record are important factors to consider.  Consider whether you need a light portable device for bugging out or a device for producing larger quantities of water for a family.  Always practice with your filter to learn its operation, strengths, and weaknesses.  Pump type filters can be quite strenuous to use in some models making them unsuitable for physically weaker individuals.  Note that if a pump type filter becomes too difficult to pump, it may be a sign your filter is clogged and requires cleaning the filter element.  Filter elements usually can be cleaned many times before they wear out.  Even with what appears to be clear, clean water, a filter can quickly clog if there are algae or other contaminates.

You should also know how effective the filter is against pathogens.  Most will filter larger Giardia protozoans, but not all will filter bacteria, and none do a good job against viruses.  For example, the company Aquamira® sells an extremely lightweight, compact emergency filter that looks like a fat straw and is marketed under the name of the Frontier Filter.  It would make a great addition to a high end bug out kit designed to sustain someone for 72 hours while moving fast and light by foot.  Further, the Frontier Filter is an item included in high quality survival and evasion kits carried by elite US military forces and government agencies making it appear to be the ultimate filter.  However, its filtering capability is designed for limited, short-term use and will only reliable remove common, larger pathogens like Giardia and Cryptosporidium from about 20 gallons of water before it is no longer usable.  This is certainly a great emergency backup (and that is how it is correctly marketed), but is not something that can be relied upon as a long term or broad spectrum solution.  More information on the filter can be found on the manufacturer’s website http://aquamira.com/military and it can be bought from sites like http://preppertactical.com/index.php.

Understand that no filter will be 100 percent effective.  There is always some risk.  Finally, make sure you can obtain (do obtain) replacement elements and parts for your filter if it will be your long term solution.  Eventually, even the best systems will break, O-rings will wear out, and filter elements will need to be replaced.

Storm Survival: A Case Study of Mass Power Outages

Hurricane Sandy about to impact Mid-Atlantic

With plenty of warning on the approaching super storm Sandy, one known impact will be massive power outages stretching up and down the East Coast.  Sandy is unprecedented in its size, track, and confluence of fronts, tides, and moon phase.  All of this will combine for what will be a once in a lifetime, 100 year storm.  As such, we may not have a similar event to compare in modern times, but we do have a glimpse of how catastrophic even a short regional collapse of the power grid looks, which should serve as a lesson and warning.  The following two case studies illustrate the widespread effects of what should be considered relatively minor and focused events in comparison to Hurricane Sandy.

The August 2003 Cascade Failure of the North East

On a hot August day in 2003, a string of seemingly innocuous events led to an estimated 55 million people losing power across the Northeast and Canada.  On August 14th of 2003, the nation was experiencing usual high temperatures during the dog days of August, which increased the demand on the power grid.  This increase in demand coupled with some seemingly minor mistakes, software glitches, and oversights by the power company led to a major collapse of the grid.  This cascade of power outages began as power lines heating up from the increased current, sagged, and then came into contact with trees.  These lines went down causing power to be immediately switched to other lines, quickly overloading them, and causing them to also shut down.  This further triggered automatic shutdowns, redirection, and overloads of an ever increasing area of the grid.  Within two hours, multiple grids had separated and shutdown leaving most of New England and Ontario without power.  Immediately, TV and radio stations, cable, and the internet without reliable backup power were knocked offline.  Untold numbers were trapped in elevators, electric trains, and subways.  Temperatures in homes and business began to rise to dangerous levels for the elderly and frail as air conditioners lost power.  Traffic signals and street lights also went dark snarling traffic in cities like New York.  Soon big factories, refineries, and local businesses were shutdown causing immediate backlogs in supplies and fuel prices to spike.  Even Wall Street and the United Nations went dark.  Making the situation worse, gas stations were unable to pump and vehicles became stranded as they ran out of gas.  Looting began to break out in the dark streets of many cities by nightfall, but no one could dial 911 because the 911 service was also offline and both cellular and hard-wired phones were overloaded.  What responders were available were already over tasked dealing with everything from traffic control to freeing people trapped in elevators.  In short, no one was coming to help in the near future.  Soon backup generators began to fail and compound the crisis.  This lead to cellular networks going down, hospitals losing power to critical life support equipment, and municipal water systems failing.  Failing municipal water systems led to contamination of drinking water and massive amounts of raw sewage escaping into local waterways.  Water became non-potable without boiling, if you could even get it from your tap.  Restaurants and other food focused business were then forced to close even if they had backup power because of the health risks of untreated water to the public.  Even if they remained open, electronic registers, ATMs, and credit card services were rendered useless without power causing most other stores to also close.  Emergency services were simply overwhelmed.  A few simple acts…a tree falling, a power company operator not paying attention, and some ignored alarms and suddenly 55 million people are stranded in the dark, all within a couple hours.  This is illustrative of just how fragile our society is and how quickly things can deteriorate.  Communication, sanitation, emergency services, financial markets, and logistics and supply networks all broke down within 120 minutes bringing the world’s sole superpower to a grinding halt, but could it happen again?  Could it have been worse?  The answer is a definite yes.

July 4th Holiday Storm of 2012

Some may disagree that these ripple failures could occur again and think that the grid has improved.  Consider the unexpected severe outbreak of storms that ripped across the mid-Atlantic just before the July 4th holiday of 2012.  This band of storms had wind speeds that reached hurricane force on the leading edge of the front that shredded trees bringing down thousands of power lines from Ohio to D.C.  Immediately, tens of millions were again plunged into darkness during a record heat wave where daytime highs exceeded 100 degrees.  No air conditioning, no refrigeration, no lights.  For those with their own wells, water was also shut off.  Within hours store shelves were stripped bare of essentials like bottled water, ice, batteries, flashlights, and food.  Gas stations also shut down and anyone without cash relying on credit cards or ATMs was out of luck.  Vehicles ran out of fuel, AMTRAC trains were stranded, elevators stopped, and 911 services were disrupted just like in 2003.  Many cell towers and hard line phones were also knocked out by severe lightening.  Soon water services to city areas began to break down and mandatory boiling of drinking water rules were put into effect for those still with water pressure.  In parts of West Virginia, the state hardest hit, nearly every county was without power and the outage persisted for up to two weeks in many areas.  This was just one afternoon storm and proves that even after almost a decade since the massive 2003 blackout and billions of tax dollars being funneled into infrastructure improvements and repairs; the North American Power Grid is as vulnerable as ever.  Some may suggest this is the effects of “global warming,” but a closer examination reveals some much simpler truths.  In fact, graft, corruption, and bureaucracy seem to be the real culprits and have siphoned off most of those funds dedicated to updating the power grid.  Things may have actually gotten worse not better.  To this day, one can easily see this truth as trees grow over, around, and through power line right of ways that haven’t been maintained in years.  Remember, it is hard to have a tree knock down a power line if the tree is not hanging over it.  In both examples, it all happened in a matter of a few hours!  What one should take away from this is that things are trending worse and not better.  You can be sure that massive power outages and brownouts will not only become more frequent, but persist longer even while you pay higher and higher electric bills.

The case studies highlight what many people experienced during rapidly collapsing conditions post power failure.  Hurricane Sandy will dwarf the impacts of the above case studies.  The mandatory safety regulations governing the operation of nuclear reactors in the United States during storms will automatically force the shutdown of at least 12 nuclear reactors in the storm’s path.  This event alone will mean tens of millions will lose power for at least 48 hours even with grid rerouting.  Americans across the entire East Coast WILL experience sustained disruptions and should expect and prepare for the following:

  • No power for one to two weeks
  • Fuel shortages
  • Inability to use ATMs or credit/debit cards
  • Cellular communications to fail within 48-72 hours
  • Hard line phone disruptions
  • Water disruptions, contamination, and shutdowns
  • Civil disturbances in urban areas
  • Overwhelmed emergency services to include failure of 911 services
  • Runs on food, water, batteries, and fuel (store shelves stripped empty)
  • Financial market disruptions
  • Stranded travelers and vehicles running out of fuel
  • Mail and trucking disruptions (no supplies getting to affected areas)
  • Widespread low-lying flooding
  • Down trees, power lines, and roof damage
  • Blizzard conditions with up to three feet of snow in some areas

At minimum, everyone in the possible strike zone should immediately prepare respective of your location and specific circumstances.  Although you are now well within the “Last Minute,” here is what you can still do to prepare.  At minimum ensure you have done the following with the expectation of at least two weeks of self-sufficiency:

  • Have plenty of cash on hand
  • Fill your vehicle(s) and fuel containers
  • Charge and/or buy fresh batteries
  • Operationally check critical equipment (vehicles, generator, chain saw, flashlights, etc.)
  • Procure a generator, extension cords, work lights and bulbs if possible
  • Procure chainsaw, extra blades, fuel oil mix, safety glasses, gloves, and bar lube if possible
  • Stage all gear such as flashlights, candles, and lanterns so you can find them in the dark
  • Charge all cell phone and other portable electronic batteries
  • Contact family members, neighbors, and friends to coordinate a disaster plan
  • Ensure multiple people know your location, situation, and plans for storm
  • Consolidate family and those members least able to take care of themselves
  • Consolidate supplies with others if you are in the most dire circumstances
  • Prepare to evacuate low-lying areas and sand bag against high water
  • Move any important items to upper levels of home in low-lying areas
  • Stage duct tape, nylon rope, and tarps in the event of roof damage from heavy rain
  • Trim any branches or trees immediately threatening buildings or parked cars
  • Secure any loose items outdoors
  • Buy or store at least one gallon of water per person, per day (plan for 14 days)
  • Buy or store high calorie, non-perishable food stuffs to include staples like powdered milk
  • Make sure any issues such as bald tires are fixed and maintenance completed on vehicles
  • Security plan if you plan to evacuate or hold at your residence
  • Assemble, inspect, and stage medical kit(s) at home and in your vehicles
  • Have hard copies of maps in all vehicles (don’t rely on GPS)
  • Have extra supply of any essential medications
  • Do remember your pets and prepare for their welfare
  • Make sure you have a radio with batteries, preferably a weather radio
  • Do stay calm, make a plan, and execute
  • Do monitor local news and emergency reports

The safest place will likely be at your home so stay put if you don’t have to travel.  However, if you live in a coastal or low-lying area and need to evacuate, leave as soon as possible and try to stay with a friend or family before resorting to local shelters where conditions may be less than comfortable.

It is always better to prepare early and often, but it is never too late to improve your situation.  Follow Last Minute Survival for the latest breaking news, tips, and information related to disaster preparedness and survival.  Last Minute Survival will soon be releasing a new book on survival strategies tailored to our readers so be the first to request free advanced copies.  Please plan smart and stay safe!