xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' 2013 ~ The Prepared Guy

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Prepper is...

I assume that many of us Preppers grew up as Boy Scouts.  Maybe that assumption is not true for many of you but for me and many other preppers it is.  If you were not a Boy Scout then you likely spent time in the mountains with a parent or other influential person and have grown to appreciate nature and the outdoors.  Growing up in with these influences and spending time in the wild naturally engenders certain traits, skills and qualities in a person.

The oath, motto and law of the BS of A express these qualities quite well.  These proclamations are an appropriate way to describe what I believe to be true qualities of a prepper. 

The Scout Law: A scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent.

After many years these phrases are still engrained in my mind. They continue to influence most of my daily choices.  I believe the reason they make such an impact on me is because these are not just simple traits instilled by the Boy Scout program, but they are truths, plain and desirable qualities in any youth or adult.  They are also easily applied to those who consider themselves to be preppers as well.      

A prepper is Trustworthy.  When it comes to keeping the confidence of a friend no one does it better than a prepper.  We understand this better than most, I suspect.  We need and even require confidence in and from others.  The significance of having a unique bond with another that is created through trust is indispensable, especially in a survival situation. 

A prepper is Loyal.  Actually, this is an understatement; fiercely loyal would be more accurate.  Loyalty to family, friends, and other important people in our lives is the primary motivation and reasons why we do what we do.  We feel an intense responsibility to keep them safe and to provide for their needs, even more so than for our own.  We neglect our own needs until only after those we love are taken care of first.  We follow our intuition and instinct then do our best to share that knowledge appropriately.    
  
A prepper is Helpful.  If someone is in need of a helping hand, whether in our own neighborhoods or on the side of the road, I would confidently bet that the first one to respond is a prepper.  We have learned though our own personal experience that providing help to others is both gratifying and meaningful.       

A prepper is Friendly.  We are a friendly bunch, really, I promise.   It can be somewhat difficult to spread the word of preparedness without this trait.  Many of us keep to ourselves but that does not mean we don’t fit into this category.  Our desire to be helpful is our cause to reach out and be friendly, but you do still have to earn our trust and loyalty.  Many of us may appear to be rough around the edges but in many cases appearances are deceiving.  A prepper would be willing to give you the shirt off their back, because they have a dozen others to replace it with.      
A prepper is Courteous.  The abovementioned traits naturally and almost always automatically cause each of us preppers to be constantly looking out for others.   Other similar words that describe preppers are; polite, well-mannered, considerate, civil and even gracious. 
A prepper is Kind.  Kindness is a quality of those who are courteous and shows genuine caring for another.  Preppers are never short on compassion for those who desire and are working toward becoming prepared.  We are sympathetic to those who are not prepared and desire for them to understand and prepare.

A prepper is Obedient.  Although some of the laws of the land may contradict ones beliefs about the natural laws of God a prepper is obedient in spite of them.  A prepper is even more specifically obedient to the laws of God and realizes that our country was founded by inspired men of God to accomplish his purposes of making men free to choose for themselves.   

A prepper is Cheerful.  “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear”.  Being cheerful takes a conscious effort.  Taking away the fear of uncertainty by being prepared allows us to be happy even in uncertain times.

A prepper is Thrifty.  You’re darn right we’re thrifty!  Prepping is not easy and it’s not cheap.  We have to stretch our budgets paper thin to be able to reach our goals of being prepared.   We buy quality because we need it to last.  We buy US made products because we love our country and want to support our own economy and people.  We take care of what we have because we realize how valuable our time and efforts are.   

A prepper is Brave.  Preppers have the spirit of courage.  We are bold and have the desire to do what is right.  These qualities will allow us to do extraordinary things that may seem dangerous or frightening to others.  The character of a prepper is one that shows strength and calmness when things get tough.

A prepper is Clean.  This meaning of clean applies to spirit, mind, and body.  The thoughts of a prepper are oriented toward others which help to keep their minds on the task at hand.  A prepper understands the importance of sanitation in order to stay healthy.  If you’re not healthy you will be the one in need of help, instead of being the one who is providing help.  Our belief in God is the reason we prep; because we understand the signs of the times and we believe what the scriptures say.  All of these aspects of being clean are a very important part of prepping.  Being spiritually prepared is just as important as making preparations for your temporal needs.  
        
A prepper is Reverent.  We are respectful to God, nature and our fellow men and acknowledge that only by giving respect do we gain respect.


The Scout Oath: On my honor, I will do my best To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

I wouldn’t be able, and thus have not attempted, to reword this oath any better than it is already.  I feel that this still applies to me just as much as a prepper as it did when I was a scout. 

What is our duty to God and country?  That is best left for you to determine and personalize for yourself.  I’m not gonna tell you what your duty it.  I hope that since you are preparing you already have a clear picture of what your duty is and are continually working over it in your mind.  However, to help other people at all times needs no interpretation.  If your neighbors whom you love and respect come asking for your help in their time of need would you turn them away?  My response is resounding: Of course not.      


The Scout Motto: Be Prepared. 

I guess I really took this one to heart.  It has been my lifestyle ever since I realized what it meant to be prepared when I was young.  Over the years I have had my share of experiences that stressed the meaning and the need. 


The Scout Slogan: Do a Good Turn Daily!
Do something deliberate every day to help better prepare your family. 



Hopefully I have reminded you of a few things that will help guide you in your preparations. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Build your own power station - Part Two

In one of my previous posts on how to build your own power station ( http://www.preparedguy.com/2013/06/build-your-own-power-station.html ) I showed you how to build a very basic small portable rechargeable system that will run small devices and appliances.  This system is much larger, robust and versatile and is also meant to be portable.  I built this for a small cabin that is occasionally threatened by and was once destroyed by wildfire thus portability was important.  It is re-chargeable/renewable via solar panels, wind turbine, water turbine, gas generator and grid power.  This would be a great system to build for your home as a back-up power source for larger appliances, lighting, etc. that is not built-in to your home.  A reason that you may not want to add a solar back-up power system to your home is that it would then not be portable.  This system will allow for you to take it with you to a bug-out location.




This Portable Renewable Power System (PRPS) was built inside a standard job site box which can be locked and secured.  It is weather tight and can be operated outdoors or indoors with some ventilation.   Different sizes of these boxes are available.  You could also use most any type of box or enclosure as long as it will accommodate the components you desire.  I like using these job boxes for this purpose as they are virtually indestructible and can easily be secured to a tree, vehicle or other secure object with a large chain.




Standard residential solar components were used which make this system expandable, upgrade-able and easily repaired as needed.  In this picture you see the inverter/charger, solar charge controller, battery disconnect and GFCI breaker. 




This is the solar combiner box which contains a disconnect, fuses and lightning arrestor and employs an extension cord of the proper wire size for connection from the solar array to an inlet on the power system box to help keep the system as portable as possible.


This is a 24 volt system but your system could be configured in 12v or 48 volts also.  These batteries are deep cycle, solar/renewable specific 6v batteries that should easily have a 20 year or longer life if maintained properly.  The other components in this type of system are designed and expected to have up to a 30 year or longer life span.  You could also use sealed batteries if your unit will be used indoors as the escaping gasses from the unsealed batteries can be dangerous.  Working with any battery of this type can be quite dangerous so before you handle them be sure you know what you are doing.



Outlets were installed on the outside of the box for easy access and weather tight use while the box is closed.


A battery meter was installed inside the box to monitor the battery status and provide other valuable information.  

If you would like more information on how to build this system please feel free to send me a message and I can help you out.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

There's still time

I have seen numerous posts and YouTube videos and have spoken with individuals who believe that either "There isn't much time left." or "We are out of time!".  Some of the more, what I consider, radical conspiracy theorists believe that by October 2013 it's all over.  This is in reference to being prepared before the SHTF.  Your interpretation of what SHTF means may be different than mine.  The dollar collapsing, WWIII, terrorists attacks, pandemics, EMP , nuclear war and an array of other possibilities are all on my list as I am sure, since you are reading this post, they are on yours.  So many things to prepare for and so little time.  It is true that the world we have created is extremely vulnerable.  Most if not all of the elements are already in place for 'the end' to come.  

Like many people I believe that these events could and someday will come to pass.  If you are a Christian then you believe what is written in the Bible as well as what has been said or prophesied by religious leaders throughout history that pertain to the second coming.  I believe that we do live in the 'last days' of the earth and that Jesus Christ will come again very soon.  I look forward to that event with great anticipation and I am determined to survive the coming difficulties so that I and my family can be a part of that great event.  

That being said I personally believe that we still have some time left to prepare.  Don't use this statement as an excuse to procrastinate any longer because there will soon come a time when it will no longer be possible to prepare.  My advice to you is to use every day to do something that will better prepare your family.  There are many skeptics out there that are in denial and believe that nothing bad could ever happen to us.  The history of the world proves otherwise.  Some of these 'unbelievers' are in my own family and I struggle to know how to best communicate this urgency with them.  Even thought I believe that we still have some time left there should still be an urgency in your preparations.  Every hour of every day is precious to me, that is why I am taking the time to let you know how I feel.

Despite of what is happening right now to us politically we still, and always will, live in a blessed land.  The blessings associated with living in this land, that was established by men of God, (I am talking about our founding fathers) extend only to those who are 'righteous', living the laws of God and not just the laws of the land.  There is no better place to live if you do what is right before God and there is no worse place to be if you do not.

First things first; get your food and water storage in order.  You should have a 3 months supply of food on your pantry shelves that you rotate and use daily.  You should have at least two weeks worth of water in storage which you change out annually.  In addition to this water storage you should have a plan on how to obtain and purify or filter water for an extended period of time.  After you have these basics you need to look toward longer term food storage.  This food storage should include both the dehydrated and/or freeze dried meals as something that can be easily and quickly prepared and should also include the basic needs to sustain life such as wheat, rice, oats and legumes in bulk containers including 5 gallon pails and #10 cans.  Aim for a one years supply for every member of your family.  In addition to food storage you should also have a good supply of the items that you use daily especially relating to sanitation and health.  Think of the items you use daily and then buy a few extra of them each time you go to the store.

While you are working on your food storage you should also consider many of the other topics that I have already posted, and will continue to post, to this blog; all of which are not only related to daily preparedness but also apply perfectly to emergency preparedness.

There is still time.  How much time I don't believe that anyone knows exactly.  Anyone that throws a date out there or refers to any time period is only speculating.  Keep your eyes open and your ears to the ground and do something everyday that will help you become more prepared even if that something is getting yourself more educated and more aware.        

Thursday, August 29, 2013

My choices of Fixed Blade Knives

There is no substitution for a good quality fixed blade knife.  If I were to own only one knife it would have to be a fixed blade knife.  The next questions would then be what size, style and type of steel would I choose?

I think that having to choose only one knife or only one gun is a ridiculous concept but I do comprehend the purpose behind the question.  Specific questions should get you seriously thinking about what features in a knife (or gun) are most important to you.  Fortunately, we live in a country, for now, that 'allows' us the freedom to own as many guns and knives as we want.  After asking yourself the right questions I bet that you will find there isn't any one single option that will work best in all situations.

Now, when it comes down to having to carry everything you need with you then your choices would truly be limited.  Let me be clear; there is no single gun or knife that will do everything you would need it to do whether in your everyday life or in a survival situation.

I have dedicated a lot of time, thought and research along with buying and trying out knives for me to come to my own conclusions about which knives are best for me, my situation and my environment.  I am sure that yours will differ.  That being said, here are three fixed blade knives that I have chosen for my needs and for the potential future situations that I could conceive.

Starting with the biggest...



This is the ESEE-5.  It is a 1/4" thick full tang, 1095 steel coated blade with a canvas micarta handle.  It also has a glass breaker at the butt and comes with a short lanyard.  The blade has a long flat section for chopping and cutting wood and the belly has a long gradual curve with a slight drop point that make it useful for defense as well a dressing a deer or another potential meal.  The blade measures 5 -1/4" long and with the kydex sheath it weighs over a pound.  This is one substantial knife!  This is meant to be my 'survival' knife.  As a 'survival' knife I wanted it to be able to take a lot of abuse from chopping branches to build a shelter, cut and split firewood and for it to be a good defensive weapon as well.  This knife also makes for a decent digging tool.  However, with the 1/4" thick blade it does not make for a good knife to clean a small fish such as a trout.

This next knife is a better choice for dressing deer and cleaning fish and is thus a better 'hunting' knife.  It is what I choose to take backpacking with me.



The TOPS Pathfinder School knife is also made from 1095 high carbon steel and the blade is also coated for resistance to corrosion as 1095 is not a stainless grade of steel.  This knife blade measures 4", is 3/16" thick and weighs well under a pound.  The slight curve of the handle makes this very comfortable and easy for me to hang onto.  The jimping on the spine also helps me to keep a solid grip on the knife.  This handle is also made from canvas mycarta and has an aggressive 'tread' as well.  The more aggressive drop point of the knife, which makes it a good choice for dressing animals, also makes it good as a defensive weapon.  A knife with a thinner blade would still be preferred for gutting a fish but would not be recommended to be used to chop branches to build a shelter or cut firewood.  This is one reason I like this knife so much.  The thick 3/16" 1095 steel is strong enough to do some heavier duty tasks even though the knife doesn't have as much weight to it as the ESEE-5.

My next fixed blade knife is one that I choose to carry concealed at times.  It's small enough to conceal yet large enough to be useful for a wide variety of tasks.



It is the TOPS FDX XL.  It has a 3" blade and is also 3/16" thick like the Pathfinder.  My intended use for this knife is both as a utility and a defensive tool in an urban environment.  The handle provides for a very positive grip for both holding it normally and in the reversed position.

An example that has stuck with me is one of a group of people that were stuck in an elevator in one of the World Trade center towers on 9/11.  One of these individuals had some tools with him including what I remember to be a masonry trowel.  They used that trowel to pry open the elevator doors and then cut through two layers of drywall for them to escape.  If I remember the account correctly they barely made it out of the building in time.

I have subsequently decided to use this example as a standard for my carry knife.  Most any pocket knife would be able to cut through two layers of drywall if you were careful and took your time.  Like these individuals stuck in the elevator you, or I, may have the need to escape from a room or building in a similar manner and may also not have the time to delicately cut your way out.  There may be more than just drywall between you and freedom which a standard pocket knife may not get through.  A sturdy tool like any of these knives is what I choose to rely on for my survival in any situation whether urban or wilderness.    

Here is a side by side comparison photo of these three knives.



Just like in my last post on how to choose a folding knife, the length of a fixed blade knife is an important decision.  You may choose to carry a larger knife like a machete because of the density of the woods you frequent.  You may choose to carry a Bowie style knife because you like the look or you've seen Crocodile Dundee a few too many times.  I love Bowie knives too and the movie is a lot of fun but just because it's cool may not always be the right reason to carry it.  

The knives that I have chosen are 1095 high carbon steel which provides excellent value and durability.  Because I live in a dry climate I am not concerned much about corrosion.  Survival knives also come in many of the different grades of stainless steel which may be more appropriate for your use.

One knife that recently came out from Benchmade, that I am excited to get my hands on, is the 162 Bushcraft.



This knife is made from S30V stainless steel, which is a very high grade of surgical steel.  The blade is a little thinner than the Pathfinder but they are both close to the same size.  This knife should make for an excellent option for an all purpose stainless steel fixed blade.  I would, however, be a little less inclined to be as tough on this blade as I would with the 1095 steel.  

There are many great quality knives out there to choose from.  Many that I would like to add to my collection.  As I have mentioned before don't be cheap when it comes to buying something as important as a this.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How to choose the right pocket/folding knife.

A knife is an important tool both in survival situations and in daily life.  I think of the scene from the movie "Cast Away" when Tom Hanks is handed the keys to his Jeep with the small Swiss army knife attached to it.  The expression on his face communicates that even such a small pocket knife would have made his existence on that small island more bearable.

I firmly believe that you should have the right tools before you need them.  When working on a vehicle and you need a shorty box wrench, but have to make due with a standard wrench, it can make the task much harder and more annoying.  Having just the right tool can make your work enjoyable or at least bearable.

I believe the same goes for knives.  Any knife will do in many situations, and many knives are good for many different jobs, but just like having the right tool when working on a vehicle, having just the right knife will make the job easier and even enjoyable.

For a daily carry pocket/folding knife the basic jobs that I need it to perform include opening boxes and other packaging, odd unknown tasks and for it to be adequate for self defense.  For quick and easy access to my knife it must be clipped to the inside of my right front pocket and be easy to open and close with one hand.  It would be nice for it to be lightweight as well.  Quality is very important to me in both durability and reliability as well as fit and finish.  The shape of the blade should be a consideration as well.  Although there are many, many different options the knife that I have chosen for this job is the Spiderco Manix 2.


This blade is just over 3" long and is made from a high quality steel.  The slight curve of the blade lends itself to many tasks including self defense as the tip of the knife is tapered to a fine point.  The large hole in the blade is used to open the knife with one hand and the locking mechanism on this knife also allows it to be easily unlocked and closed with one hand.  The handle is made from a lightweight but very strong fiberglass reinforced polymer and the scales on the sides work great to keep the knife from being slippery with wet or sweaty hands.  The shape of the handle is very comfortable and fits my hand well.  The spine and the choil (the choil is opposite the spine) both have fine gimping on them that grabs my thumb and fore finger well when 'choking up' on the knife...and I even like the color.  The best part about this knife is that it's made in the USA!   

The locking mechanism is important to consider.  There are several different types of locking systems.  Some are stronger than others.  The strength of the locking mechanism is not as critical a feature to me in a daily carry knife as are the ergonomics and functions of the knife.  Typically a knife with a liner lock or a lock back can not be easily closed with one hand but are typically a stronger way to lock open a knife.  

The length of the blade is an important consideration as well.  The straight forward answer from me for the best all around blade size for everyday use is between 3 and 4".  Again, having the right tool for the job is important, but when carrying a daily carry multipurpose knife bigger may not always be better.  Keep it to between 3 and 4" in length and you shouldn't want for more.  You'll need to know the laws of your particular area to know what the legal length of knife you can carry.  For example, in Chicago, the laws limit the length of the knife to 2" or under as I understand it.  So, in this case, I wouldn't recommend anything under 2" if that's all you can carry.      

The is my second choice for a daily carry knife.  



It is the Benchmade Onslaught.  This blade measures over 4" and is more than twice the weight of the Spiderco.  It is also more than twice the price of the Spiderco.  I carry this occasionally as I love the look and feel and the quality of the fit and finish are excellent.  The slight curve of the handle is very comfortable in my hand and it feels very natural.  The extra weight of this knife tells me that it is a quality piece of craftsmanship.  The blade shape is similar to that of the Spiderco above but has more of a 'clip-point' which lends itself to defensive uses.  Because of the larger size of this blade I have used it to carve the Thanksgiving turkey.  The locking mechanism is different but is employed in the same manner which makes this knife as easy to close with one hand as the Spiderco.  The hole in the blade on the Spiderco is larger than the hole on this Benchmade which makes the Spiderco slightly easier to open.

The difference between a 3" and 4" blade may not seem to be much but when you compare them side by side the overall difference in size can be significant.  With a longer blade the blade can often (not always) be both wider and thicker and the handle needs to be longer to properly cover the blade when closed.  A knife with a blade that is just an inch longer may appear to be much larger overall.  

One particular time I was carrying this Benchmade knife.  I pulled it out of my pocket to use it for something trivial.  A friend standing next to me commented; "I wasn't surprised that you had a knife in your pocket but I am startled by the size!"  I hadn't really thought that the knife was excessively large but I can see how others would possibly feel a little intimidated by it.  If intimidation is your goal then a larger knife may be the right choice for you; but you may also want to consider what effect it may have if you choose to deploy your knife in a public place.    

Heading the other direction in size is another knife that I regularly use.



This is the Cold Steel Tuff Lite.  This knife blade is 2.5" in length and has a straight blade edge.  The locking mechanism is the lock back style which Cold Steel touts as the strongest available.  This knife is a great choice for daily carry with utility in mind, and, because of the straight blade and strong construction, is very useful as a replacement, and a more durable substitution, of a razor knife.  This is not a great defensive blade in my opinion because of the drop point.  Because of it's smaller size and lock back locking mechanism it is difficult to operate with one hand.  When gripping the unfolded knife my hand covers the entire handle with my thumb extending onto the gimping (jimping) on the spine up onto the blade so there is truly only one way to properly hold this knife.   

Here are side-by-side comparison photos of these three knives. 




This post, nor this blog, are meant to be a medium for gear reviews.  I am referring to these specific examples in order to point out the details on a knife that are important considerations for me and may be for you as well.  There are many high quality, high value knives out there.  The brands that you see on this and other posts are brands that I have chosen to purchase.  They may not be your preferred brand of knife So I want to be clear that there is nothing wrong with that.  I am only attempting to point out features for you to consider that may help you to choose just the right knife.

Here is a knife that I carried for over 10 years.



This is a Victorinox Swiss Army Swiss Champ.  It has a little bit of everything but doesn't do anything very well.  It's a great Boy Scout knife, which I was at the time I purchased it.  I love this knife!  It was part of my daily life for many years and it was well used.  I'll keep it until the day I die and then it will be handed down to my Son.  The quality, fit and finish of the Victorinox brand is second to none.  Don't buy anything less!  This, or another version of the Victorinox Swiss Army brand knives should be the first knife you give to your children.  I received one when I was young and the first thing I did with it was cut myself.  It was a learning experience.  I remember being very nervous when I first started exploring its features.  I remember being scared that I was going to get cut, which I did, but there was only one way for me to learn how to use and handle a knife.

Now that my professional and adult life requires that I carry more than just a Boy Scout knife, in addition to my daily carry knife, I carry this:



This is the Victorinox Swiss Tool.  In my opinion this is the best quality Multi-tool available.  I am biased because of my previous experience with the Victorinox brand but my overall satisfaction with the quality, durability, reliability and warranty of the brand is uncompromised.  While any multi-tool does not replace a toolbox full of tools I find it invaluable to have an entire array of tools at my fingertips.         

As you may have noticed the knives pictured are plain satin blades.  There are no serrations on these blades and none of the blades are black.  Actually, the Swiss Tool has both a plain blade and a serrated blade just as I feel it should be.  When you need a plain edge blade serrations will just get in your way.  A blade with both serrations and a plain edge on the same edge may be a good choice for a tactical or defensive knife but is not a great choice for an all-purpose knife.  A double edged dagger style knife with serrations on one side and a plain edge on the other is a better choice but is also a more dangerous choice as you do not have a flat spine on one side to work with.  A plain edge will work fine where a serrated blade will but the inverse is not correct.  A serrated edge will not work well when a plain edge is needed.  Serrations are excellent for cutting straps and ropes and are good for defensive weapons as well.  A plain edge blade has far more uses.  The most useful place on a knife blade for a plain straight edge is closest to the choil/handle.  The further away from the handle the straight edge is located the more leverage you will need to apply.  My conclusion is that a plain edge is the best choice for an all-purpose daily carry knife.

As for the color of the blade a satin finish knife blade will show less wear and tear than a black coated blade.  Many knives are coated black to protect them from rust as they are made from a 1095 or other non-stainless type of steel.  Many survival and other fixed blade knives are made this way.  I'll expound more about that in my next post which will be about fixed blade knives.  I choose not to make a black coated blade my daily carry blade as it will show the wear and tear of daily use as the black coating wears off from use.  A satin or otherwise un-coated stainless grade steel blade will not show as much wear.  A coated blade will have it's advantages in a tactical application by reducing/eliminating reflections and glare from a shiny blade.  As I mentioned before, the appearance of my daily carry knife is an important consideration when I consider buying a knife.  Keeping it looking nice is something I take into consideration.    

The vast majority of folding/pocket knives are made from a version of stainless steel.  There are many different types of steel available.  Without getting into the details of all of the different types I will just say that you get what you pay for.  Unless you have a specific need to be met that only a certain type of steel will meet, as long as you don't buy a cheap knife, you will get a good or even great quality steel.  The different types of steel are rated for their corrosion resistance and edge retention, among other traits.  For a folding knife choose a steel that is 440C quality or higher, preferably higher.  

Here is Benchmades materials comparison chart:  http://www.benchmade.com/products/materials.aspx 

Here is Spiderco's materials chart: http://www.spyderco.com/edge-u-cation/index.php?item=3

What should I keep and what should I throw away?

We live in a disposable world.  This did not used to be so.  "Back in the day" things were made to last, to be repaired and reused.  In general this does not seem to be the case anymore.  So the question is; what is worth keeping and what should be thrown away?  Many, or even most, devices are not specifically made or designed to be repaired but rather disposed of and replaced with a new updated version.  This does not mean that they can not be repaired and at least made to work again temporarily.

If you can see a future purpose for something then don't throw it away.  Simple as that.  Well not really.  It may seem simple to me as well as to many of you but then again I may not see what you see and vice-versa.  When you are about to throw something away take a minute or two to think of some potential future use for it.

At the slight risk of becoming a hoarder I have been saving (not hording) a small list of things that I feel may be able to put to use in the near future; also taking into account the little and valuable space I have.

Here's a short list of some random examples of what I keep instead of tossing in the garbage:

1.  Unused cell phone chargers and other power supplies. - Good for certain small projects.  Keep an old cell phone and charger as it will always work to call 911 in an emergency.
2. Plastic Bread Bags - I don't keep all of the bags we use but I'll save a bunch and put them in storage.
3. Dryer Lint - I save some of this to use as fire starter.  There are other uses that you may collect it for.
4. Newspaper - Lot of uses including as a fire starter.
5. Glass Bottles - re-purposing is the name of the game.
6. Small Appliances - Have some fun and take them apart.  Save the parts that may have another purpose.  Recycle the rest.
7. Pallets and other wood - for use in making repairs and of course as firewood.
8. Plastic Containers - Durable food grade or otherwise that have a good solid lid.  This does not include plastic milk jugs.  Save used spray bottles including those used to dispense weed killer and bug spray.
9. Screws, nails and other miscellaneous fasteners -
10. Center-fire Ammo Brass - Even though you may not currently reload.
11. Cables and wire - Use for misc projects as well as lashing.
12. Clean used metal food cans -  Lots of uses.  Keep a small stash and recycle the rest.
13. Bricks, stones, concrete blocks - use as building materials, to build planter boxes and other projects.

Please leave a comment and add to this list as to what you have decided to keep around and re-purpose.

When the SHTF, as they say, you'll be glad that you have kept these items around.  You should realize now, that when the time comes, the list of things you have thrown out daily (whether in the trash or in the recycling bin) and not given a second thought to, will then have a purpose and value.  These items could include paper goods, soup cans, milk jugs and other plastic containers and cardboard items.

In addition to this list I recommend that you try to fix something that has broken that you would not regularly fix.  For example, here is a small blender/chopper.



It stopped working and I don't know why.  Instead of tossing it in the recycling bin I took it apart and was able to recover some parts that may be useful in the future.  I was able to determine that the electric motor was still working but that the method to switch the unit on and off had failed.  Rather than try to fix the switching mechanism I elected to recover some of the parts instead.  These parts included a small electric motor and cord, a few springs, rubber bushing/washers, container and cutting blades and the screws.



Although I am not sure as to what I would use these items for right now these are the parts that I would most likely be able to use to fix another device or for some other purpose.  Having skills, such as the ability to repair a small appliance, can be just as valuable as having supplies during a crisis.

Another lame example is this "Shark" brand rechargeable floor sweeper.  The majority of this device gets recycled and I decided to keep only a few parts including the small DC electric motor, a few springs, screws and washers, two electrical connectors and the aluminum handle parts.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Empty Trunks

People.  Could you please tell me why I see so many of the trunks of your cars and the backs of your SUV's and minivans completely empty?  Except for maybe a stroller and other paraphernalia?

No, I do not make it a habit to inspect vehicles randomly but I do take the opportunity while I am at the grocery store or in a parking lot, for whatever reason, to notice what people keep in their trunks.

Why do I bring this up you may ask yourself?  Well the answers should be obvious.  Because i'm The Prepared Guy.  If you don't have ANYTHING in the trunk of your car how can you be prepared for anything?  If there is a natural disaster, emergency or other crisis while you are away from your home what will you do?  What if the option to return home quickly is not actually an option?

Well, as you may, or may now know, my motto is to be prepared always and all ways.  Here is what I keep in the back of my SUV... for your consideration.

1.  Jump Kit (EMT First Aid Kit)
2.  Tow Straps, shackles, snatch block and tree strap (I also have a winch on my vehicle)
3.  Wool Blanket
4.  Bug-Home Bag (kinda like a bug-out bag)  Some of the stuff in my bug-home bag:
     a. Fire starting supplies
     b. Water filter
     c. First Aid Kit
     d. Flashlights and batteries
     e. Spare ammo
     f. Multi-tool
     g. Emergency Blanket
     h. Bandanna
     i. Gloves
     j. 100' of Paracord
     k. Energy Bars
     l. Notepad and pen
     m. Signal mirror
     n.  Fixed blade knife
     o.  Compass
     p.  TP
     q. And More...
5.  Tool Bag containing:
     a. Jumper Cables (used mostly to help other motorists)
     b. Folding Shovel
     c. Tire repair kit
     d. Folding Saw
     e. Small socket set
     f. Adjustable Wrench
     g. Screwdriver with interchangeable tips
     h. Mechanics Gloves
     i. Garbage Bags
6.  2 Liter Water Bottle or larger depending upon the season and the distance and location I am traveling.
7.  Empty 1 gallon gas can.
8.  CO2 tank and air hose.  (Works like an air compressor)
9.  Fire Extinguisher
10.  Inverter

Other items I carry in my rig are:
Emergency Cash
Energy bars
Candy
Spare glasses
Binoculars
Maps
Tire pressure gauge

If I had the need to abandon my vehicle I could carry what I needed with me which would help to ensure my comfort and survival as well as that of my passengers.  

I know that if most people need something they can easily stop by a store.  During an emergency or crisis that may not be an option.
  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fundamentals of Home Defense

It is important for anyone who is serious about defending their home and family to get both good and accurate information and training.  Rob Pincus and the PDN are my preferred source for personal defense knowledge and training.  

The link below is to one of Rob's many well done training videos about the fundamentals of home defense. 

These fundamentals include:

1. Evade
2. Barricade
3. Arm
4. Communicate
5. Respond

Having a plan that includes all of these points will help you to be prepared to defend your home and family.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Off Road Recovery / Driving Skills

I spent this last week in the mountains with my family at our favorite place.  It was wonderful!  One thing that I realized that I should share with you, as I was able to teach some people about this last week, is about how to properly pull someone out of the mud; how to extricate a vehicle with another vehicle after having gotten itself stuck on a muddy beach.  

I observed one vehicle which had driven quite close to the water on the sandy/muddy mountain lake beach.  I knew from former experience that many vehicles get stuck on this beach because they drive too close to the water where the soil is too soft to support the weight of narrow tires and heavy vehicles.  I figured that he was going to get stuck, which he did.  I then observed a truck attempt to pull this vehicle out.  As I watched the extrication effort I noticed that they weren't making any progress getting the stuck vehicle out.  

The vehicle that was stuck was a real wheel drive custom van which was stuck up to it's axle on the rear passenger tire.  When a tire loses traction on an open differential all of the power is automatically transferred to the tire that has the least traction, the least amount of friction on the ground.  The differential allows one wheel to spin at a different rate than the other on the same axle.  When a vehicle makes a turn around a corner the inside tire turns slower around the corner than the outside tire.  This is the purpose of a differential and its inherent weakness when driving off road.  Four wheel drive is obviously superior but it still only makes a vehicle truly just a two wheel drive (one tire in the front and one in the back), if you follow what i'm saying.  For these reasons locking differentials, posi-traction, limited-slip differentials, and traction control systems were invented.  These systems prevent wheel slip and move the power to the tire(s) with the most traction.  This helps avoid the excessive wheel spin which may get you stuck.  Although I won't elaborate more on wheel spin now sometimes when you are driving off road you do need to get your wheels spinning, like in deep mud or sand.  But as a general rule of thumb excessive wheel spin should be avoided, especially if you are a novice off-road driver.  Excessive wheel spin and too heavy of a foot on the gas pedal will more times get you in trouble than get you out of trouble.  In addition to getting you stuck, a heavy foot can break vehicle components and leave you even further stranded.  There is a saying though, that I sometimes have to try, but don't live by; "When in doubt, gas er' out!"  

When the driver of the van tried to drive off of the beach the drive tires (real wheels in this case) started to sink into the soft ground. The one tire with the least traction began to spin and then dug itself a hole until it couldn't dig any longer because the vehicle was then sitting on the ground on its rear axle.

The vehicle that was attempting to tow the heavy van out of its hole was a four wheel drive full size truck.  This is a great vehicle to use for this purpose, but he couldn't get the van unstuck from just a single tire being buried in the mud.  

I ran over to the vehicles fearing that the tow vehicle would get itself stuck too and to help explain why they couldn't pull the van out.  The tow strap that they were using was perfect; a 20' yellow 2" wide tow strap that was made just for this purpose.  They had the strap attached in the perfect places; around the tow hook of the full size truck and around the frame of the custom van (because it did not have factory installed hooks).  A 20' strap was a little short in my opinion for this particular case but since the full size truck did not get itself stuck in the mud then we'll ignore that for now.  The truck was pulling on the van in a straight line, which is correct, but the van wouldn't move.


My first advice to the driver of the truck was to give the van a yank.  These yellow tow straps are made to 'jerk' a vehicle out of being stuck.  These straps are meant to stretch thus lessening the impact to the vehicles and drivers.  This works similarly to a rock climbers dynamic climbing rope.  Although this rope is not 'elastic' it does stretch significantly because of the fibers that are used and the way the rope is constructed by braiding both the inner core and outer sheath of the rope.  When a climber falls the stretching of the rope greatly lessens the impact to the climber.  If a climber were to fall on a rope that does not stretch then the climber would most likely be injured just by the fall on the rope itself.

I instructed the driver to give a few feet of slack on the strap and then step on the gas and give the stuck vehicle a jerk.  He was a bit hesitant, as he had a nice truck and i'm sure that he didn't want to hurt it.  I told him that this is what these straps were made for and the reason why the truck manufacturer had installed large hooks onto the front of his vehicle and to give it a try.  I had him only put a few feet of slack in the strap at first so that he could gain some confidence in the process first.  Since the first yank didn't get the van out of it's hole I instructed the driver to give a few more feet of slack in the strap.  The second yank didn't pull the stuck vehicle out either.  The driver then allowed for a few more feet of slack in the strap and then stepped on the gas which yanked the van out of the hole it had dug for itself.        

After the van was successfully extricated I instructed the tow vehicle to continue to stay attached to the van and continue pulling until they were far enough up the beach that they were both on solid ground.  Not just a few feet out of trouble, but a good distance away from it.  

I wanted to illustrate this simple example to you because sometimes people have the right tools but just don't know how to use them properly.    

Do not try this technique with a chain or a tow strap that is inadequately large and strong enough.  Using a chain is dangerous as it could damage either vehicle if it breaks.  A chain does not stretch to absorb the shock of the load.  If a chain were to break during jerking, or even during a static pull, either end of the chain could become a projectile which would be very dangerous to either vehicle or anyone found nearby.  I day don't even keep a chain in your vehicle.  Get a good tow strap that is rated for your vehicle or the vehicle that you need to help get unstuck.

I have used this method in the past to get a full size semi truck and trailer unstuck from the snow using my Toyota 4Runner.  The semi was on flat ground and the hole it had dug was minimal but it was unable to move.  I was able to jerk the semi hard enough for it to get out of it's little hole and get moving again.  

A key element to this process is for the driver of the stuck rig to apply a little bit of throttle, just enough to get the wheels turning.

There are a few techniques you can use to avoid getting stuck.  The first and obvious one is to stay away from the shores edge where the ground is too soft, especially if you are not driving a four-wheel drive vehicle.  Second, when you sense wheel spin stop, get out and evaluate the situation.  You can place sticks, branches or other material under that tire to get more traction and possibly dig away dirt/mud in front of the tire that may now be holding the vehicle back.  Third, when you sense wheel spin put your vehicle in reverse and try backing out of that spot being careful to avoid too much wheel spin.  This may also give you some additional distance where you can again drive forward and build some momentum to get through.  This technique of 'rocking' the vehicle by switching from forward to reverse and back to forward again takes some practice but can occasionally get your vehicle out of a tough spot. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Important Prepper Skills

Here is a basic list of skills that will be important to have in an emergency situation.  Take some time every day to learn and practice these skills.  I believe that you'll find that they will come in useful in your everyday life as well, and not just during a crisis.

When physical resources are scarce the knowledge and skills that you have acquired will become invaluable and highly sought after.

1.  Starting a fire.  And I'm not just talking about starting a fire with matches or a lighter.  You should be prepared to use multiple methods including friction and firesteel/striker methods.  An important part of this is knowing how to find tinder and make a tinder bundle.
2.  First Aid.  Treating wounds and infections.  You may not always have a full jump kit with you during an emergency.  You should know what common 'household' items can be used to treat infections and bandage wounds.  Infections can become serious very quickly which can incapacitate and keep you out of the fight.
3.  Self Defense.  Fending off an attack.  Learning to become proficient with firearms and other self defense tactics and skills such as martial arts is an important part of your duties not just as a prepper but as anyone who has stewardship of others.
4.  Firearms.  Marksmanship.  Not only does this apply to self defense but it is also important to be able to teach others.  Being familiar with firearms and being a good shot also means that you'll be able to hunt if needed in a survival situation.
5.  Running and Sprinting.  In an emergency situation you may need to evacuate an area quickly.  Being able to sprint a short distance or even run a few miles to avoid a dangerous situation is a very important and possibly overlooked skill.
6.  Swimming.  It is possible that you may find yourself in a situation where being able to tread water or swim a short distance to safety is critical.
7.  Pull Ups and Push Ups.  Keeping your upper body strong, and your whole body in good shape, will not only allow you to be more helpful in an emergency but it may also help to keep you from becoming injured and being one in need of rescue.
8.  Balance.  An absolutely essential skill for many reasons.
9.  Finding your way.  Orienteering.  Knowing how to use a map and compass is vitally important when you are in the wilderness.  In an urban setting you should always know which way leads to safety.  If where you live, or where you find yourself, is void of landmarks which will help you to keep your bearings you should have the means for you to stay oriented.
10.  Handling a knife.  Yes, there are right and wrong ways to use a knife.  Having the right knife for the job is important too.
11.  Finding food.  Hunting.  Fishing.  Trapping. All take lots of knowledge and practice.  More than I could expound on here.
12.  Water sourcing and purification/filtration.  It takes experience to know where to look for water.  You should also take time to use the water filters and purification techniques you have decided to use so that you are already familiar with them when you need them most.
13.  Trade skills.  Mechanical, construction, maintenance, wood working, etc.  You should have various skills that you can use to barter with.  
14.  Rope skills, knots and rigging.  Do you know how to tie a bowline knot?  Do you know how to improvise a harness from rope or webbing?  Are you confident enough in your skills to rig a rope in order to rappel off a building or cliff well enough that you are not endangering your life?
15.  Situational awareness.  Be continually aware of your surroundings, potential dangers and escape routes wherever you are.
16.  Gardening.  It takes several seasons of preparing your garden and soils to get the knowledge and experience to produce good crops consistently.  You had better get started.
17.  Scrounging. You have to know where to look and what to look for.
18.  Be debt free.  A very important prep!
19.  Building/improvising a shelter.  One of the basic survival skills that you must have!
20.  Do with less now.  Put these skills into practice in your everyday life.

Practice these basics and then deepen your preparation.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Build your own Colloidal/Ionic Silver Generator

Hopefully you have heard of colloidal silver and hopefully you are using it in some way around your home.  Colloidal silver is proven to kill bacteria and viruses on contact.  I am not going to elaborate about colloidal silver but I will share a few links with you where you can learn more.


There is a difference between Colloidal and Ionic silver.  Most silver seems to be marketed as Colloidal even when it is actually Ionic.  Both have their benefits and advantages, many of which are the same.  You can very easily make ionic silver in your home with some very inexpensive components.  

Being able to make your own ionic silver has lots of advantages.  Colloidal/Ionic silver can be fairly expensive.  You can make it yourself for a fraction of the cost.

There are plenty of instruction online that will show you how to build a version of one of these.  Here is how I did it:

I started with a glass mason jar.
Found some plastic lids online that fit a mason jar.
Drilled three holes and installed rubber gaskets in the lid.  Two for the silver rods and one for the bubbler hose.
Ordered two .9999 silver wire/rods online.  I drilled two small holes through a small wood block to keep them separated.
Found an old phone charger in my stash of old unused electronic components.  It seems to me that the ideal voltage for this is a DC output of around 4 volts.
I purchased some insulated alligator clips from Radio Shack and crimped them onto the phone charger cord after I cut off the end.
Purchased a cheap fish tank bubbler from PetCo.  This agitates the water for better distribution of the silver.
Distilled Water.  (I'll show you how to build a water distiller in a future post.)

Hook it up, plug in the bubbler and phone charger and let it run for about 4 hours, depending upon the voltage.

Shine a laser through the water to view the suspended particles.  As you are able to see the laser reflect off of more and more particles you can see that the process is working.  You will need a PPM meter to determine exactly what the concentration of silver ions are in your finished product.  Typically 10 ppm can be used internally and higher concentrations like 30 ppm should be only used externally.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

If it is to be...

... it's up to me!  This is a motto that I live by.  What this statement means to me is that I am the only one responsible for my own success or failure.  There is no one other than myself to blame if I don't get things right and I don't look to anyone else to be accountable for what is mine.  This is not to say that I have not received assistance to get through tough times in the past.  The receiving of charity is just as important, although possibly more difficult, as giving.

Being prepared is about giving.  Receiving is about learning how to be better at being prepared to give.

More than a few times I have had people ask me why I carry a firearm.  First of all, I don't feel the need to justify my actions or decisions to anyone.  My answer, to those I choose to teach a little something about myself, is that I don't depend upon anyone else for my own personal protection or that of my family.  Relying solely on others, including local or federal resources, is foolish.  Why would you not help yourself and the others under your stewardship when you have the ability and means?  It takes the desire to make a decision and then the actions of moving forward with your preparations.

Part of my process to become a responsible father, husband, son, brother, friend and neighbor has been for me to take on things that have been unfamiliar to me.

When I first decided to carry a firearm concealed I did not know much of what I now know.  Just like any learning process in life the process of becoming prepared and to make tough decisions has been a fairly long process for me.  My first firearm selections were not the best ones.  I bought and sold a number of handguns that I thought were good choices at first but as I learned and practiced more I was able to make better decisions.  I hope you don't feel that mistakes are always bad.  Making mistakes allows you to learn, correct them, and then hopefully make fewer mistakes.

My point is that if we do not step up and make decisions and take actions for ourselves and our families, whether good or bad, whether right or wrong, we don't make much progress toward becoming prepared.  Being prepared lends to self-sufficiency which should be the ultimate goal of all of us 'peppers'.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Practical Home Security

Keeping my family safe in our own home is a top priority.  I believe that our home is our castle and should be a safe place where our children can feel both completely safe physically as well as spiritually.

Home break in's are becoming more common.  I'm going to keep this post simple and only discuss what I have done to make it as hard as possible for criminals to gain access to our home. Watch this short video clip and you'll see what I'm talking about.


You all need to know that most doors are as easy to kick as the door in this video.  When your exterior doors were installed it is likely that they were not reinforced properly for a variety of reasons.

Most criminals will gain access to your home through an open window or door first.  This happens in about 40% of cases so keep your windows and doors locked.  Next, 26% of all criminals gain access through breaking down one of your exterior doors.  Access through windows is next at around 18%

Here are the things that you can do to strengthen your exterior doors.

1.  Most of the screws installed in the hinges and deadbolt plates of your door are probably only short 1" long screws.  These short screws are only attached to the weak door frame.  You need to replace these short screws with 3" long (or longer) screws that will attach to the framing of the house instead of the weak door frame.  'Grabber" screws will do but I highly recommend the SPAX brand screws as they are rated at around 650 lbs each.  I am assuming that your exterior doors are standard steel doors.  If they are a weaker door then you should consider replacing them.  A solid wood door is an excellent choice.

2.  You should ensure that the two screws in the plate that receives your deadbolt (first of all you should have a deadbolt on your door.  Yes, I have seen more than a few front doors that do not have a deadbolt.) are heavy duty screws.  You can purchase a heavy duty striker plate that comes with long heavy duty screws at your local hardware store.  They look something like this.


3.  Install a viewer in your door.  Never open your door unless you know who it is first.


4.  Install a door blocker lock.  Actually, I have two of these installed on our door.  One is installed at about knee height (about the height where the door would be kicked) and one about a foot above the deadbolt.  I choose this particular lock for a few reasons.  It attaches only to the framework of the house and not to the door itself.  If you attach a lock to the door with screws it can not be strong enough to withstand multiple kicks.  It is easy to install.  It is rated to 8,000 lbs.  It is easy to operate and inexpensive.  As you can see, the lock blocks the door from being opened.  It also makes for a great child lock when placed high off the floor.  I also like these locks because they are small and not altogether unattractive.  You can get these at either Home Depot or Lowe's.  One draw back with using these locks is that they can not be unlocked from the outside.  This is why you need to have a good deadbolt installed correctly as well.   




A problem that I see with the front door in the video is that I see is that there is a lot of glass in the door that makes it vulnerable.  I recommend that if you want a window in your door to let in light that it be a window that is high off the ground like a 6 lite or fan lite door.

Here is a picture of a door that has been kicked in.  You can see what has happened to the deadbolt and the reason that I also use these door blocker locks.


I have also installed locking window well covers on all of our basement windows.  These locking covers are very easy to unlock from the inside.  We have practiced with our children to ensure that they can both open their windows, unlock the covers, move the covers out of the way and climb out in case of an emergency.  Ladders are installed in the deeper window wells.


  
Windows and sliding glass doors can be protected by installing security films over the glass on both the inside and outside.  Here's a video showing what security films can do.


All of these things may not make it impossible for someone to break into your home.  These measures will either deter or slow down a criminal breaking into your home giving you time to call the police and for you to retrieve your firearm.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Beyond the Basics - Power

Having a source of electrical power during an emergency may not an absolute necessity.  However, it will be a welcomed convenience, at least in our home.

First, ask yourself this question:  What are the minimum items that I need to power in an emergency?  My two most basic answers to this question are:

1.  Flashlights.  These are a basic staple of any emergency preparedness kit.  Flashlights are an everyday tool that you should always have with you.  Finding yourself in the dark can happen everyday.  

If you carry a concealed firearm you should always have a good quality, reliable light with you at all times.  If there's an intruder in your home when it's dark you had better be able to identify whether that person is a friend or foe before you pull the trigger.  

2.  Radios.  Any small radio will do but I recommend that you have an emergency radio with weather channels as well as short wave bands.  In a crisis the only form of communication that is almost always guaranteed to work is HAM radio.  This includes short and long wave radios.  If you truly want to be prepared get your HAM radio operators licence from the FCC and a HAM radio in either 2 meters and/or 440.  These are the most common bands and there are many people already actively monitoring and using these bands.  Two-Way FRS (family radio service) radios can also be effective tools during an emergency over short distances.  

Second, ask yourself these questions.  How am I going to power these tools in an emergency?  That's a simple question.  Batteries.  But, how will you power these devices in an extended crisis?  Can you store enough batteries?  If you have rechargeable batteries how are you going to charge them?  Powering these devices over a short period of time is easy, it's how to power them over an extended period of time that's the trick.    

The problem with power is that unless you change your lifestyle you will always need it.  In an emergency or crisis your lifestyle will change dramatically.  Unlike our day to day life, in an emergency there will be a stark difference between wants and needs.  

If you own a generator it can be a short term cure to many of your power needs.  You do, however, need to determine what your minimum power needs will be and choose the size of your generator appropriately.  You also need to determine how you will get that power to those critical appliances.  You should also understand the limitations of a gas powered generator.   You will either need to store fuel, which can be difficult and dangerous, or own a generator that is powered by natural gas or propane that can be connected directly to your natural gas line or propane tank.  Even these options may not be 100% reliable in an extended emergency situation.  You'll also need to know how to service your generator as a technician may not be available.  Another problem with a gas powered generator is that they are noisy.  Even the quiet Honda generators make a recognizable and distinct sound that tells everyone around that there's a generator running nearby.  Noise can be your enemy when you are trying to lay low.  Announcing to the world that you have resources in an extended emergency situation could cause you to become a target.

Part of your emergency plan could or should be to incorporate how to live with not having power by making other provisions for activities like washing clothes and cooking.  Is the expense of buying a natural gas generator and paying to have it connected to your home worth the expense?  Or would you be better served by using those funds to buy more food storage?  More on this topic in a future post.

Take a look at one of my previous posts about how to build a power station which is an answer to some of these questions.  http://www.preparedguy.com/2013/06/build-your-own-power-station.html  This power station can allow you to recharge your batteries with a standard battery charger along with powering other small electrical devices such as a television or lamps.

In addition to building a power station or having a gas generator there are several other options for generating electricity.  Below are a few links to some items that are both cost effective and and great ways to keep your flashlight and radio batteries charged.

The goal zero guide 10 plus is a very cool tool that allows you to charge batteries from one of their solar panels and than power anything that can plug into a USB port.  I have a few of these.
http://www.goalzero.com/shop/p/133/Guide-10-Plus-Battery-Pack/2:8/










This little USB light plugs into the guide 10 and makes for a very convenient standing light.
http://www.goalzero.com/shop/p/15/Luna-LED-Light/10:1/









This portable solar panel will charge the guide 10's 4 rechargeable AA batteries in 2-4 hours of direct sunlight.
http://www.goalzero.com/shop/p/12/Nomad-13-Solar-Panel/3:4/











This post is not meant as a gear review but rather to get you thinking about how you will be able to have some of the conveniences of power when you may not otherwise have it.  I have several children at home.  For them, simply having a source of light, especially in an emergency, will provide them some comfort and normalcy in an other wise potentially stressful situation.  Music is also an important part of our lives and keeps our spirits up.  Being able to recharge an iPod or other device to play some uplifting music, I know, in our home, will make a big difference.

My thoughts on generating your own power today are based around sheltering-in-place or bugging-in and on the most basic power needs.  The components I have shown above could also easily be included in your bug-out bag and taken with you almost anywhere.  

When it comes to power for your bug-out location or a more robust system for your bug-in location that is a topic for another post.  I have designed and installed solar and wind power systems in both urban and remote locations and will dedicate one (or more) of my future posts more specifically on this topic.  




Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Rainwater Collection

I purposefully left this out of my post on water as I wanted to share with you my little setup for collecting rainwater at our home. 

The purpose and the way I have set this collection system up is primarily for watering our garden. Utah water rights also extend to collecting rainwater from your rooftop. Rainwater collection on a large(r) scale needs to be registered with the state but a small collection system like I have built is exempt. Make sure to check with your local division of water rights to ensure that you are in compliance. Here are the guidelines for rainwater collection in Utah.


  • To collect, store, and place the captured precipitation to a beneficial use, a person must register the use with the Utah Division of Water Rights as detailed in 73-3-1.5.
  • A person may collect and store precipitation without registering in no more than two covered storage containers if neither covered container has a maximum storage capacity of greater than 100 gallons.
  • The total allowed storage capacity with registration is no more than 2,500 gallons. Collection and use are limited to the same parcel of land on which the water is captured and stored.
  • There is no charge for registration.
When I decide to expand our collection system I have the ability to do so simply by registering with the state.


As it says above, the collected water must be put to 'Beneficial Use'.  Beneficial uses include such uses as domestic use, irrigation, stock-watering, manufacturing, mining, hydropower, municipal use, aquaculture, recreation, fish and wildlife, among others.


I have found that even with a short light rain storm these two 55 gallon drums will fill to overflowing.  With our small garden I am able to water it two to three times depending upon how hot the weather is.  That really isn't much water and with how infrequently we get rain in Utah they don't stay full very long, but I believe that they could make a difference when it really counts.  



I have configured this set up so that I can easily add additional barrels.  As you can see in the pictures I have re-routed our down pipes and used a flexible pipe to make the connection to the barrels which I will easily be able to manually change over to a second barrel when the first fills.  


The barrels you see are food grade barrels with a lid that seals and clamps shut. Your system could be a simple as placing an open barrel under a down spout.  I have chosen to keep these barrels closed to keep debris and bugs out of the barrels.  I also have a metal screen in the rain gutter to keep out large debris.  The connection between the flexible pipe and the barrel is a 4" black PVC male coupler with a 4" rubber gasket over the threads on the inside of the tank to keep it in place.  The flexible pipe is simply seated in place and fits quite snug.  I have installed a standard 3/4" threaded hose bib with a 3/4" galvanized coupler, metal electrical washers and cut washers from 1/16" thick rubber packing at the lowest possible point on the barrel.  This allows me to easily connect a hose which makes watering the garden much more convenient.       

The purpose of this site is to provide you with information about what I have learned, my experience, and what my motivations are as a Prepared Guy. I have always felt driven to be ready for any situation by something powerful deep inside me. Being prepared has always served me well. I feel compelled to help others do the same.
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