Category Archives: Education

Book Review: Staying Home by Alex Smith

Alex Smith has a new book out titled, Staying Home: Protecting Your Home After Disaster Strikes. I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of Staying Home to read and I immediately knew it was a great companion guide to his previous release, Getting Home: Making It Back To Your Family After Disaster Strikes.

It is important to note that this book is written with the novice to moderate skill leveled prepper in mind. If your interpretation of your survival skills is the equivalent of a hybrid Jason Bourne, Chuck Norris, Jack Bauer, and Rambo…this book may not be for you. However, I feel confident that almost anyone could benefit from reading Staying Home.

There are some key points to be considered when making the decision to “bug in” during a disaster and Alex does a great job of covering these points. Staying Home reviews:

  • Selecting A Location – General Considerations
  • Selecting A Location – Property Characteristics
  • Sustainability
  • Hardening A Property
  • Hardening A Home
  • Home Preparations
  • Skills For Hard Times
  • Community
  • Surviving A Disaster

It is not just these key points that create value for the reader of Staying Home. Some important reminders that Alex includes; the fact that making your home a “hard” target will make it less likely to be bothered with in comparison to “softer” targets as well as the fact that the tools are not enough, you must be trained to properly use them, add even more value to this great read.

There is entirely too much information that is included in the book to outline here but it is abundantly clear to me that Alex Smith has hit another home run. Staying Home has something for everyone and at the Kindle price of $3.99 and print price of $12.99 it is worth every penny.

Buy it here before it is too late to benefit from the information!

Book Review – Getting Home by Alex Smith

Getting HomeIf disaster strikes, will you be home? Will you be at work, school, or at the store? Is it possible that you or someone you care for will face the daunting task of trying to get home during the most perilous times possible? How would you get home and what would you take with you?

The new book Getting Home by Alex Smith is a great guide for the person seeking to learn more about traveling after a disaster/during times of chaos or someone trying to refresh their knowledge. It is not marketed as a guide for the experienced prepper, but I would go so far as saying that there might be some longtime prepper’s that have a solid grasp in many areas but could benefit from this book. While Getting Home is not only straightforward and easy to read, it is 136 pages of preparedness knowledge about:

  1. Every-Day Carry (EDC)The items on you…all day, every day.
  2. the Purse/Man-Purse/Daypack (DP)The next step after your EDC items.
  3. In Your OfficeItems to keep on hand in the workplace.
  4. In Your VehicleGear to keep in the car to assist in getting home.
  5. the Get Home Bag (GHB)A bag full of goodies to help you stay alive when it all goes south!
  6. CachesExtend your capabilities by stashing additional supplies along your route.
  7. Getting HomeTips and tricks for different environments and situations.

This collection of preparedness knowledge cannot possibly be summarized into the seven categories above though. There are numerous pieces of information spread throughout the pages of Coming Home that not only demonstrate the knowledge and equipment necessary to get home alive and safe, but also will assist the reader in achieving peak performance for survival. A sample of Alex’s writing in Coming Home is below:

The following excerpt is from Getting Home by Alex Smith,

Chapter 6:  the Get Home Bag (GHB)

* Selecting a GHB *

Much like your DP, your GHB should stand out as little as possible, but let’s face it – you are going to stand out with a ruck on your back.  However, try to minimize your visibility as much as possible by:

  • Avoid tactical bags (MOLLE, military surplus, etc.).
  • Avoid camouflage patterns.
  • No military/survival/firearms patches on your GHB.

Instead, opt for a pack that a hiker might wear.  Select from quality, brand-name bags with earth tones.  Remember it must be relatively comfortable when loaded, and you must be capable of carrying the load.

Before you choose your GHB, consider the following:

  • How long will it take you to get home?  How many miles are you from home?  How many miles can you hike (because you will basically be hiking with a pack) in a day?  Remember, walking is not hiking; hiking (walking with a loaded pack) works different muscles and will exhaust you much quicker.  Your physical condition will dictate how far you can hike; some may be able to only hike 5 miles, while others might be able to hike 30.  Terrain will affect your progress as well.  Divide your miles/day into the total distance from home and you will know approximately how long it may take you to get home.  The following is a very rough guideline with regards to pack capacity (Note – CI = Cubic Inches / L = Liters):
    • Trip Length = < 2 Days:  Pack Capacity = < 3,000 CI (50 L)
    • Trip Length = 3 Days:  Pack Capacity = < 3,600 CI (60 L)
    • Trip Length = 4 – 5 Days:  Pack Capacity = < 4,900 CI (80 L)
    • Trip Length = > 5 Days:  Pack Capacity = > 4,900 CI (80 L)
  • Will you pack light or pack heavy?  Does your physical condition and preferred level of preparedness require you carry a lot or very little?  What use is a large pack if you are unable to carry more than what a small pack can carry?  Opt for the smaller pack and save several pounds in pack weight.
  • What is your body type?  By body type, we mean torso height, since that is what the GHB will interface with.  Measure your torso and determine what pack size will be most comfortable for you (requires help):
    • Locate your C7 vertebra (the bony protrusion at the top of your back when you lean your head forward).
    • Locate your iliac crest (the pelvic “shelf”):  Have your friend run their hands down your side until they feel your hip bone.
    •  Have them place their hands on top of the hip bone with thumbs pointing inward.
    • Measure from C7 to the point that your friend’s thumbs “point” to.

Now that you know your torso length, the following are some guidelines for your body type:

  • Torso Length < 15.5”:  Extra Small Pack
  • Torso Length 16” – 17.5”:  Small Pack
  • Torso Length 18” – 19.5”:  Medium Pack
  • Torso Length > 19.5”:  Large Pack
  • Gender?  Take a long look in the mirror and determine what gender you are.  Many brands offer packs that are designed specifically to fit the contours of the female body.
  • Climate:  The colder your climate, the larger the pack you will need.  Cold weather sleeping gear and clothing take up much more space.

Now that you have an idea of what to look for in pack size, let’s examine several options you have to improve fit and make the pack more comfortable:

  • Load-lifter Straps:  Found at the top of the shoulder straps, load-lifter straps prevent the pack from pulling away from your body, disrupting your balance.  When pulled snug, they should form a 45 degree angle with your shoulder straps and the pack itself.  The heavier your load, the more important load-lifter straps are.
  • Sternum Straps:  The strap across your chest.  Improves stability and balance.
  • Hip Belt:  The strap across your hips.  Improves stability and balance.
  • Pack Frames:  Internal (usually lacks ventilation), External (often heavier) and Perimeter (a hybrid that strives to combine the benefits of internal and external) Frames are all designed to direct pack weight towards your hips – one of the body’s largest bone structures supported by some of the body’s largest muscle groups (the upper legs).  Hikers and adventurers have debated which frame system is superior, but there is no clear winner.  Choose based on what “feels” better to you.  The heavier your pack, the more important it is to have a frame.
  • Pockets/Panels/Compartments/Attachment Points:  To easily access your gear, you will need a pack with a variety of storage compartments and attachment options.  Imagine choosing an old military-style duffel bag as your GHB and needing a pair of socks located in the bottom.  You will have to remove everything from your GHB to get those socks.
  • Ventilation:  Very important in hot humid climates, especially if an internal-frame pack is chosen.  In such a scenario, your GHB needs a ventilation system to prevent your back from getting drenched in sweat.
  • Hydration:  Most packs allow you the option of inserting a reservoir (such as a Camelbak).  Water is very heavy, but if you live in an arid climate with little access to surface water, you may be forced to carry much of the water you will need for your trip.
  • Padding:  Padding is important, especially if your pack is heavy.  Ensure the padding on your hip belt and lumbar pad is sufficient for your needs.
  • Durability:  Your pack could be the most important component of your GHB; buy a quality pack from a respected brand.  Be careful if you decide to purchase an ultralight pack.  Ultralight packs utilize lighter materials that are often not as durable.  Some brands to consider include:  Osprey, the North Face, Black Diamond, Kelty and Gregory.

Now that you have an idea of what to look for in a pack, let’s transform that pack into a GHB.

Armed with this introduction, would you consider the basic knowledge to get back home safely after a disaster worth $1.00? I would! Alex let me know that the current price of $0.99 will be good for the rest of the week and then next week the price will likely go up to $5! If e-readers or technology are not your preferred reading method, Alex also let me know that a paperback should be released within a few days. I would emphatically recommend this book to anyone that believes that it is possible that there will be any natural or other disasters in the future of the world.

Don’t let a dollar stand between you and the safety you will find at home…get your copy of Getting Home (making it back to your family after disaster strikes) now!

Wood U Believe Ah Union Teacher Teached Me?

Nothing teaches a child anything better than teaching them nothing at all, right? That seems to be the latest development out of The Windy City. I just want to make sure that I have a somewhat clear idea of what is going on in Chicago today…based on concerns that many teachers are not getting “fair” treatment, they have gone on strike. This has left over 400,000 students in Chicago to do whatever they feel like while their teachers wander the streets wearing red shirts, holding signs and chanting like the largest group of cheerleaders ever assembled. Someone better call the Guinness Book of World Records!

There is very little to worry about though, the city did activate their school contingency operations plan which opened 144 schools from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm and provided a free breakfast and lunch to the kids that were present at these schools. The contingency plan only provided a place for the students to come and eat and play games and recreate though as no instruction or teaching was allowed as a result of the ongoing strike. In a city that suffers so many violent shootings even though they have some of the strictest gun laws in the entire country, the school districts are now telling those on the fence of dropping out to follow the gang life or a lifestyle of crime that they will make the decision for them by closing the schools.

There were earlier attempts to come to a resolution but the teachers were not willing to agree to the measly 16% pay increase over the next four years. There are people who would commit unspeakable crimes in the current economy to keep their current job, even if it meant taking a pay cut! For being qualified AKA “smart enough” to be teachers, you would think that individuals would realize that the fact that they have jobs is a great thing. I would also be willing to bet that many of them have reached a point in their careers where they are tenured, which in easy to understand terms means that as long as they do not commit too many murders in the commission of a felony, you cannot lose your job.

It makes me all warm and fuzzy inside knowing that some of our nation’s educators, those responsible for teaching our youth, are setting the example that when you don’t think something is fair that you just walk off the job and protest until you get your way. That is exactly what today’s youth need to be learning! This is not just a Chicago problem either. My mother was a teacher in the public school systems across the country for over four decades and always complained that no matter where she went she was forced to join the union and pay union dues. She did not have any option. It was a requirement.

I find it so sad that we have let unions creep in and take over the operations of our government. Will we let it get to the point where the fire department will have the option to extinguish the fire that is engulfing your home based on what their future pay and benefit increases may or may not be? Or perhaps the military will be able to choose which states will be defended in the event of a foreign invasion based on greatest federal tax revenues from the individual states? My point is that union activity should not dictate government activity and operations. The government is already too big as it stands, the last thing that is needed is additional help from unions.

The best resolution that I have heard so far is to borrow a page out of the Ronald Reagan playbook and give every teacher in Chicago 48 hours to report back to work or forfeit their job. It is not unreasonable to expect them to teach kids and it is not unreasonable for them to expect anything other than getting fired if they do not do their job! You can’t tell me there are not hundreds of people out there that are qualified to teach that wouldn’t be willing to step up and take those jobs.

At the end of the day it really comes down to the fact that teachers in Chicago don’t want to be held accountable for what they do on their evaluations. Plan and simple. End of story. Everything else is a smokescreen. All the other reasons that have been given are an excuse. Except maybe getting more pay and benefits for less time at work. That is why over 400,000 students in Chicago, Illinois are on fall vacation for the foreseeable future. We will see how many decide to actually go back to school once the union gets things ironed out to make it “fair” for the teachers. I am sure that some students will decide that the $1,000 a day that they now make selling methamphetamine is better than sitting in a classroom with their pissed off teachers.

Rest easy Chicago. With no school tomorrow, there will be plenty of kids out bustin’ caps late into the night!

Is The POTUS A Racist?

It would seem to many that the title alone is a heavy accusation, but what I am about to bring to your attention I ask that you evaluate with an objective state of mind. I recently stumbled upon an Executive Order signed by our current President, Barack Hussein Obama, that is titled the ‘White House Initiative on Educational Excellence from African Americans’ or Executive Order 13621. So what is the big deal? How about the fact that the President is only concerned about the educational excellence of African Americans! Why not promote the educational excellence of ALL Americans?

It would seem to me that if any American should be without bias that it would be the POTUS. Shouldn’t the leader of the “free world” have everyone’s interests in mind? It just seems like BHO is only interested in taking care of his own, whether it be liberals, African Americans, socialists, Marxists, or whatever. So this Executive Order 13621 really got me going because of the fact that it is NOT American, it is African American. Now before anyone starts throwing around accusations that I am a racist, I am not against African Americans receiving a good education…my mind is stuck on the idea that every American should get an equal education. It shouldn’t matter whether you are Italian American, African American, Latin American, or Alien American!

The language in the executive order just adds to what the title says:

 To reach the ambitious education goals we have set for our Nation, as well as to ensure equality of access and opportunity for all, we must provide the support that will enable African American students to improve their level of educational achievement through rigorous and well-rounded academic and support services that will prepare them for college, a career, and a lifetime of learning.

You said it right there Mr. President, ensure equality of access and opportunity for ALL! If the concern is true equality, there would be no mention of race in this EO.

(3) To help expand educational opportunities, improve educational outcomes, and deliver a complete and competitive education for all African Americans, the Initiative shall, consistent with applicable law, promote, encourage, and undertake efforts designed to meet the following objectives:

(v) ensuring that all African American students have comparable access to the resources necessary to obtain a high-quality education, including effective teachers and school leaders, in part by supporting efforts to improve the recruitment, preparation, development, and retention of successful African American teachers and school leaders and other effective teachers and school leaders responsible for the education of African American students;

Maybe I am ignorant but shouldn’t any teacher be held responsible for educating their students, regardless of the student or teachers race?

(viii) enhancing the educational and life opportunities of African Americans by fostering positive family and community engagement in education; reducing racial isolation and resegregation of elementary and secondary schools to promote understanding and tolerance among all Americans; improving the quality of, and expanding access to, adult education, literacy, and career and technical education; and increasing opportunities for education and career advancement in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Once again, I might be ignorant but are there really school that are segregating again? I am confident that the NAACP would not let this happen!

The POTUS even goes so far as to tie in his previous Executive Order 13532 (Promoting Excellence, Innovation, and Sustainability at Historically Black Colleges and Universities) to this EO which just compounds my point about the racism. In all fairness, this is not the only executive order that our 44th President has signed. Mr. Obama has also signed an executive order supporting the educational opportunities of American Indians and Alaska Natives, Hispanics, and even principles of excellence for educational institutions serving service members, veterans, spouses, and other family members. There are plenty of Americans that are included in these groups but not all of our citizens are represented which I believe to be a huge oversight.

Perhaps, even look at this executive order as if a prior President had signed into law (without any debate by the representatives of the people mind you) an initiative for the educational excellence for whites in America. Would there not be outrage?!?! I could go on, covering this order line by line but I am attempting to keep my blood pressure on the lower side. The bottom line is that the President of the United States of America does not have the interest of all Americans in mind. It is actually quite to the contrary. If you do not fall into the President’s special interests, don’t expect any help.

Please weigh in and let me know where you are on the issue of the POTUS showing favor to certain demographics.

Sutures, The Megan Fox Of Medical Skills

The ability to suture or “stitch” a wound is considered by many to be one of the “sexiest” skills in the arena of medicine. Using that thought process, we can say that sutures are to medicine as Megan Fox is to actresses. While the skills associated with being able to close a wound can be extremely helpful, what many people don’t realize is that suturing a wound can be deadly in some circumstances. A wound that is closed and leaves a pocket on the inside can essentially just seal infection in the body and ultimately lead to death if not treated properly and quickly. If learning to suture is on your wish list of survival training to acquire, it is imperative that you also know the proper circumstances to not only suture a wound, but when not to suture a wound, what materials to use, and the appropriate technique to use. Now the million dollar question…how do you get all this high tech knowledge?

I recently found the mother of all suturing resources, the Ethicon Wound Closure Manual. For those that are not familiar with the name Ethicon, they are a division of Johnson & Johnson and just happen to manufacture sutures. In my opinion, (for whatever that is worth) that adds a lot of weight to the content of this manual and makes it a must add to your survival library. The information will clarify the myriad of questions that undoubtedly accompany a subject like sutures and suturing. I know that in my case, I have received several hours of formal training on how to suture, when to suture, and what materials to use and this manual still introduced several new key pieces of knowledge to my survival skill set.

Some of the contents of this manual include:

Wound Healing & Management – The Wound, Classifications of Wounds, and Types of Wound Healing

The Suture – What is a Suture?, Personal Suture Preference, Suture Characteristics, Specific Suturing Materials, Common Suturing Techniques, Knot Tying, Suture Removal, Suture Handling Tips, and Suture Selection Procedure

The Surgical Needle – Elements of Needle Design, Principles of Choosing a Surgical Needle, Anatomy of a Needle, Types of Needles, Needleholders, and Needle Handling Tips

Packaging & Topical Skin Adhesives – Suture Preparation, Suture Handling Technique, and Dermabond Skin Adhesive

Other Surgical Products – Adhesive Tapes, Surgical Staples, Looped Suture, and Suture Retention Devices

I think the Wound Closure Manual is just awesome and not just because it covers the art of suturing but because it goes into the science behind when and why sutures are used, the construction of sutures, and how sutures interact with different types of tissue. It seems reasonable to me that even a healthcare professional has the potential to obtain new knowledge through the use of this manual.

The bottom line – use it if you find it useful, pass it along, and don’t forget to save a copy and print it our for your survival library.

Don’t be hesitant to leave a comment or share a story that you have, good, bad, or otherwise about sutures and the importance of having the ability to suture in the event that things go south.

DISCLAIMER: The reader/end user of this information is completely and solely responsible for ensuring they are properly trained to perform these procedures and are also legally able to do so. The Prepared Ninja and its affiliates are not responsible for illegal/improper performance or misuse of the skills covered and/or implied in this blog post.