Category Archives: Planning

SURVIVALKEY Product Review

Not often is there a one stop shop for survival and preparedness information that not only has all of the necessary information, but makes it easily accessible as well. Enter….a recent newcomer to the survival and preparedness arena by the name of The SURVIVALKEY, a revolutionary new searchable database that is LOADED with videos, plans, checklists, and articles that contain the knowledge vital to being properly prepared. Whether your concern is a natural disaster, societal collapse, or economic troubles, there is a plethora of information that is included with the SURVIVALKEY that can ensure you have the tools to survive any situation. From clean water to food storage and urban survival to bugging out, The SURVIVALKEY has got you covered. As an added bonus, this is a dowloadable resource that will be available with or without an internet connection.

One of the differentiating factors that makes this database stand out from similar products is the wide variety of subject matter that is covered. The SURVIVALKEY includes the following categories:

  • Disaster Planning
  • Water
  • Food Prep & Storage
  • Shelter & Evacuation
  • Medical & First Aid
  • Sanitation & Hygiene
  • Wilderness Survival
  • Farming & Gardening
  • Hunting & Fishing
  • Survival Weapons
  • Security & Protection
  • Data Security & Storage
  • Communications
  • Transportation
  • Frugal Living
  • Sustainable Living & Homesteading
  • Disaster Fitness & Wellness
  • Alternative Energy
  • Community Preparedness
  • Spiritual & Mental Health
  • Books, Manuals & Other

If that is not enough, the resources that are included can be added to a favorites folder for easy access later and most of the content can be downloaded for inclusion with a survival reference book, thumb drive, etc. One of the other things that I really like about this software is the inclusion of an ‘absolute essentials’ folder in each section that covers the bare minimum areas that should be addressed for each area of preparedness.

The SURVIVALKEY is not something that is just thrown together. The content is developed by industry professionals and people who are passionate about survival and what they do. There is over five years of research and development that went into putting this together. Not only is The SURVIVALKEY developed and maintained by professionals, it is endorsed by professionals. Lieutenant General William G. “Jerry” Boykin (Retired), former commander of elite U.S. Army unit SFOD-D (Special Forces Operational Detachment – Delta), commonly known as Delta Force, not only endorses SURVIVALKEY but he uses it himself. Here is what LTG Boykin has to say about it:

I started looking for ways to better understand what I would be up against and to know how to deal with it. The thing that I found that impressed me most, and that my family and I are using to prepare ourselves, is called SURVIVALKEY. It tells you everything you need to know about how to assess your current state of readiness and to prepare your family. It tells you what to get. It tells you how to train your family. It tells you a lot of things that are going to be critical to us in the coming days. Don’t wait, get SURVIVALKEY today.

If I haven’t listed enough reasons to check out The SURVIVALKEY yet, consider the fact that a good book on a single subject like bug out bags or urban survival can cost upwards of $20. The information that is contained in this product is worth hundreds of dollars at a minimum! The one time cost for The SURVIVALKEY is a huge savings over trying to piece the same information together from individual sources, not only in money but time as well.

Make sure to check out SURVIVALKEY. This is the LAST survival guide you will ever have to buy!

Long-Distance Business Travel and Crisis Preparedness

Long-Distance Business Travel and Crisis Preparedness

By Anonymous

Photo Credit: Mashable.com

I don’t know what the future holds. Nor, in reality, do the elite in Washington, Brussels or Beijing. Despite the hubris of the planners, the law of unintended consequences, as well as just “plain ol” human error and ineptitude, will never allow man to create utopia, any more than a man can pull on his own bootstraps and lift himself up to Heaven. We may be fortunate enough to see a renaissance in the West, much like what Reagan and Thatcher brought to light. However, there are other indicators that do not bode well: For example, you may wish to review Reinhart and Rogarth’s book This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly, on the utterly crushing nature of what out-of control debt can do to an economy and society that allowed it. Or perhaps google work by Dr. Lawrence Kotlikoff of Boston University, who has noted that if all unfunded liabilities in the U.S. were totaled, we are looking at not $16 trillion-ish reddish ink (now up to $17 trillion since I first began drafting this!), but actually $222 trillion. Do you really think this can be paid back?

Or perhaps you may wish to consider the latest figure for derivatives – the estimated numbers are too large for comprehension – what Warren Buffett famously called “weapons of financial mass destruction.” In another realm, most of us are aware of the encroachment of a state that has gone feral in many ways, such as the disgusting Agenda 21, or the establishment of an Orwellian “war is peace” approach to world politics by the current administration. The threat of EMP – man-made or natural – exists, whether we wish it weren’t so or not. In sum, the powers that be have far too many spinning plates in the air, and at one point it seems more than likely that at least some of them will come crashing down. Indeed, with 48 million people now on food stamps under Obama, and 100 million not working, I would contend many of those plates – and lives – already lie smashed on the ground.

Like me, many of you may not be able to move for a wide variety of reasons. You are stuck where you are, and with the destruction of the economy by Obama, you are also just glad to have the job you do, in fact, have. And your job requires travel. I needn’t bore you with further potential threats – you already know them, or you wouldn’t be reading this; and to that end, most of you have already engaged in some level of preparedness. I have done preparedness as well – but one thing I have seen very little commentary on is what to do when one is away from home more than a couple hundred miles for business. For example, I live in the Chicago area, and twice in the past month I had to travel 2,000 miles away to the People’s Socialist Republik of California (not that corrupt Illinois is much different). And in fact, as I compose this article, I am a thousand miles from my own home and family – this time in the other direction, on the East Coast. What would I do if, e.g., a Carrington level event were to occur, or another 9/11 attack? What if Yellowstone had a volcanic burp of geologic indigestion? You can fill in the blank as to the event – my concern is: what preparations and/or actions could one engage in to get home or at least ameliorate the plight of loved ones remaining at home.

Here are a few considerations:

A Communication Plan: There has been ample information written in many preparedness sites about family communication plans. Most I have seen are well done, but focus on someone who works, say, downtown, and needs to make it home to the suburbs. As this topic – getting home when one is relatively local - has been adequately dealt with, I will not deal with this issue here. Most of the information I have seen is well done, and by all means extrapolate as much of this as you can to your far away from home plans. However, for example, having a rallying point for the kids won’t help you, personally, much when you are across the country and cannot shepherd this. Of course, having pre-set plans and communication protocols with your wife or other family will be an advantage if you are near or very far away. However, this topic – as noted above – has been dealt with very ably at other preparedness sites, and needn’t be repeated here.

For the purposes of this article on business travel, I will assume one is within North America, ex-Hawaii or Alaska. I do this not to short-shrift people who travel to Europe or Asia, but simply restricting the scope of this article will comprise the vast majority of the business travelers. There will, of course, be much more profound logistical realities to attend to should one be overseas during a major crisis, which are also beyond the scope of this paper. So, with this in mind, here are some practical considerations.

Time Is Critical: After an event, it may be several days before the magnitude of the crisis sinks in psychologically; this is time that shouldn’t be wasted. For example, after 9/11, when all airlines were shut down, there still were cars to be rented for a very short window of time. The goal is to be responsive. Studies show that many people go into a slight catatonia during a crisis (think of those that refused to evacuate the Word Trade Center during 9/11; another example the story of the MV Estonia that sank in the 1990s, going between Estonia and Sweden, costing 852 lives. One of the few who lived recalled running past one passenger who had simply lit up a cigarette, and refused to budge when urged to do so. You must act in a situation that demands it, even if it seems forced and mechanical; at the same time, doing the wrong thing at the wrong time may make the situation worse. So, what is the answer to the twin horns of this dilemma? Having pre-thought out plans, insofar as you are able to analyze potential dangers.

Play “What if” Games: One problem with preparedness is that it can become an all-consuming obsession. You may have the time, money and/or mental CPU cycles to ruminate on issues and solutions. You may be a natural MacGyver. On the other hand, like many of you, I am not MacGyver, and I have precious few mental CPU cycles to spare. I also have a day job, which generally bleeds over into all kinds of weekend and evening hours, as do many of you. All I am advocating is a high level reflection on possible actions at your disposal as you have downtime in your travel or leisure time (what little you have!). For example, during my trip to LA, what might I have been able to do in, e.g., an EMP situation? If a worse case EMP scenario occurred, there may be no vehicular mobility at all. But what if an EMP left some vehicles running? Or in a 9/11 situation, what if private, small airplanes were left free to take off? As a matter of fact, back in my hitch-hiking days, more than one person I knew would go out to small airports, and simply hang around and ask for rides from pilots of single engine Piper Cubs or Cessnas. The same might apply to marinas – say going from Miami to Boston. A long shot? Of course. But the key here is not this specific solution, but rather the “outside the box” approach to solving the dilemma.

Determine Places To Avoid: If I were in Toronto, and needed to get to Chicago, I would not want to go through Detroit. Have a mental map in your mind of alternative routes you might take. If you are geographically challenged, this might involve nothing more than taking a 15 second glance at a Rand-McNally atlas. Can you risk going from LA to Denver through the Mojave if your travel arrangements are unreliable? Similarly, where possible, you may wish to familiarize yourself with parts of the city you are in that are questionable. Taxi drivers, concierges, co-workers – all can be sources of information here.

When You Simply Cannot Make It Home: The worst case scenario has taken place. You are in San Francisco, and an EMP has taken out ALL conveyances – trains, planes, automobiles – and everything else. To prepare for an eventuality like this, do you have neighbors  or family you can confidentially discuss your concerns with? Have you left your family with enough barterable items to see them through in your absence? You may not have enough money for all the preparations you would like, but have you done as much as you are able? For example, do you own “junk” silver (pre-1965) silver coins? As a matter of fact, recall in the early 1970′s that gas was in the low 30 cent range – and in fact it still  is today – if you pay in silver coins. Similarly, have you put simple cash away? Perhaps the crisis is just a Lehman-style meltdown, leading to a bank holiday, while you are away. Of course, readers of this article will be well aware that they should have a minimum of food and water on hand. Certainly, even if you are challenged, a few gallons of spring water, a number of cans of tuna and some bags of lentil are not expensive, and everyone should be able to afford a minimum expenditure for these.

Neighbors: Do you have neighbors you can trust to discuss the matter with? If this family also has a business traveler, can you work out some quid pro quo – if he is gone, you would pick up the slack in his absence, and vice-versa. There is risk here in that the counterparty might not be reliable, but this is a judgment only you can make. Alternatively, many will have family local, which may be even better.

Concentric Circles: For some time, I worked approximately 50 miles from home – a very long day’s hike. In this case, I planned to purchase a collapsible bicycle on Amazon. I would not have felt comfortable bringing it into the workplace, given the “government will take care of me” attitudes most exhibited there. For defense while in transit, pepper spray, or another spray of your choice – is in order, and certainly making sure that water and some food is available in transit is important. I would suggest panniers (small bags that attach to your bicycle), or at minimum a cheap backpack, to allow carrying of enough supplies to make it home.

I have also spent some time working in Lansing, MI, Pittsburg, PA and Columbus OH – between 300 and 400 miles from home. What would I do in a grid down (or similar) situation? In this situation, I was gone Mon.-Fri., renting a place during weekdays. Yes, driving, finding a ride if my car was inoperable, using a train, etc., are all obvious first choices. But what if those choices are gone? What if the major interstates are blocked? Again, my first choice would be having access to a bicycle, with ability to carry the rudiments for several days of trekking cross-country. What kind of shape are you in? A reasonably fit person should be able to do about 100 miles/day. In the case above, this would put me three to four days out from home, assuming no mishaps, delays, or the like. Should I attempt it? In a 9/11 situation, the risk of travelling would have been low (e.g., no civil disturbances en route), but the need to get home was also low – there was no serious risk to my family if I were absent. Whether you go or stay is a judgment call – but which criteria you need to make in the clear light of day ahead of a crisis – not during the  emergency, when the “fog of war” clouds judgment. In the situations above, if it were winter, I would not be able to go – I have bicycled on snow more than once, and one does not make much headway! Hypothermia would also quickly kill in winter – even if one was warm while riding, as soon as one stopped, the sweat would quickly chill, and be a serious threat to life. Of course, if one were adequately prepared, with polypropylene, breathable garments, there was no snow on the road, a good set of panniers on one’s bike, no sign of civil unrest on your selected route, etc., then it could possibly be advisable to set out. Again, some of this will necessarily be a judgment call, and the extent of preparations you make to take advantage of situations that may be low probability, but have high risk associated. This truly is not much different from the calculations you make to purchase life, fire or auto insurance – how much should you insure for? What do I stand to lose if I don’t insure against an admittedly low probability occurrence? Clearly, unless you are a wealthy Hollywood Learjet leftist, you don’t have the money to insure against everything; on the other hand, you do have some money to insure against certain risks.

The key issue here is not to lay out all possible scenarios here – you don’t want to read a hundred page paper on this, nor do I wish to write it! Rather, the goal is to lay out some possible problems, and get you, dear reader, to start reflecting your own personalized solutions that will be somewhat unique to your own, individual situation. This includes such disparate things as whether there are children at home – and how old; how safe a neighborhood one has; what type of neighbors one has relative to their own preparedness, and if you have had time to have a heart to heart with them about your – and their – travel schedules; the degree of involvement one’s wife has in preparedness, as well as how adaptable she is to emergency situations… and more.

Friends, Family, Acquaintances In Target Area: Who do you know in, or around, the area, you will be? Have you kept in touch – or do you need to re-connect? Do you have addresses and phone numbers? Do you have them written down, in case there were an event knocking out electronics? Of course, as with everything else noted here, you need to conduct your own analysis. If your analysis is that you think losing electronic information is virtually impossible, then (in this example) written addresses would not be part of your plan.

If you are working in a given location long-term, or regularly travel to a given city, could you make arrangements ahead of time with someone, perhaps for some kind of initial retainer? Of course, the critical issue would be judging if the person you trusted were worthy of that trust – but recall that this type of decision is one you have to make every day in business, as well! For me, the first place I would look to make an arrangement like that would be the church. Alternatively, some of the “prepper” sites allow exchange of information, and you might be able to negotiate some kind of quid pro quo with someone who understands the threats.

Gold And Silver Coins: I routinely bring one or two half ounce gold coins on my trips. I have never once had a problem leaving them in my computer case or briefcase. As you can imagine, they are never out of my sight. If you are concerned about the TSA spotting gold coins, leave a bit of loose change in with your case to throw them off the scent. Worst case, you can tell them you always bring it as your lucky charm. In the event that I am thousands of miles from home – say, LA, and need to get to Chicago – and there is limited transportation – a gold coin may just be the literal ticket home. Having two half ounce, or several quarter ounce coins, will provide greater flexibility, of course. Valcambi has recently come out with a gold wafer that will break into 1 gram sections, which is another option. And if there were no traffic on the road at all, the coins would still buy me food and perhaps some small roof over my head. Cash, you say? Mais oui! The problem with cash is that there always seems to come up situations that require “dipping in” to those reserves. If you can absolutely manage to not do this (I cannot!), that is a great solution. Otherwise, precious metals are a better option. As a side note, silver would not be valuable enough to be worth its weight when travelling, and platinum would not be as immediately recognizable to the common person. Stick with gold in half or quarter ounce size, and in a recognizable form (eagles, maple leafs, kruggerands or possibly several others).

Long Term Absence: Almost too horrible to contemplate, but what if I was in LA, and my home was in NY – and needed to get cross-country, in a total grid and transportation down situation? Assuming I have made preparation for my family, as noted above, striking out cross-country on a kamikaze mission would serve no one any good. Rather, for the time being, the goal would be to stay alive and bide one’s time, looking for an opportunity to return home. The key here is not only barterable items – and gold has been the very choice for this reason for thousands of years – but also to have barterable skills. Do you have one? Even a strong back might earn one’s keep in a serious societal crisis. Have you reviewed what you could do in a situation like this?

In conclusion, the goal of preparedness is not to obsess over potential catastrophes. Rather, if one has done one’s due diligence, then you should have greater peace of mind as you set out for your business trip. For those of us of the Christian faith, preparedness is also not to deny that a sovereign God will look after us. However, we have been given a brain and common sense for a reason, and we need to use it. We have been told to pay attention to the times and seasons – here, this passage is specifically in regards to the return of the Lord, but I believe we can extrapolate this call to all areas of life. The ultimate goal of preparedness is to be able to live a life not in fear, as one has done all that one was able to do in good conscience, and leave the rest in God’s capable hands.

What do you think? If this paper does nothing else, hopefully it will engender some responses as to other things that can be done relative to business travel. Please comment!

How to Prepare Your Household for a Power Outage

How to Prepare Your Household for a Power Outage

by Ben Thatcher

Everyone can remember the media outrage following Hurricane Katrina; New Orleans became a hotbed for violent criminal behavior long after the event. Catastrophes, natural and otherwise, that destroy our power sources and leave us in the dark elicit an ugly and familiar behavior in some: looting and theft. And while few natural disasters meet the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, any event that takes away our power can leave us instantly exposed. Even those of us prepared with a home alarm system lacking an alternative power source can be invaded the moment our power fails. Here are a few tips to prepare your home for safety the next time you experience a power outage at home.

1.    Have a plan ready with your family

Before a power outage happens, the best step you can take to make sure your family remains safe is to have a plan prepared. This includes:

  • plenty of unrefrigerated food
  • a water source/supply
  • an emergency kit including flashlights and medical supplies
  • reserve clothes and bedding
  • at least one alternative source of power

Your family should have a plan, including common routes and meeting locations. If anyone becomes lost, they should where to find everyone. Another important aspect to assess in your plan is how long your household can survive in case the power outage is for an extended period of time; there should be a predetermined day in which you leave when you pass that number of days. If you have a nearby neighbor you trust, make arrangements with them. In survival situations, there is always strength in numbers.

2.    Prepare different sources of light

For most criminals, a dark house equals an exposed house. It provides cover, allows easy access to your home, and indicates that any security measures you’ve equipped are likely now unplugged. Deter criminals and maintain your sanity by keeping plenty of alternative light sources somewhere specific that every member of your family is aware of, like a pantry or storage closet. Oil/battery operated lanterns, long-burning candles or fireplaces are potential ways to keep your home alight enough to deter crooks targeting a seemingly vacant defenseless home. Keeping motion sensing lights hooked to a generator at night for your lawn is an excellent precaution.

3.    Limit access to your home

To prevent criminals from invading your doors and windows, limit your access with some simple modifications. Install a screw on each window that limits how far they can be opened to a few inches. Make sure your doors are of a sturdy material, and equipped with secure locks and deadbolts. Preparing your property with a sufficiently tall fence (six feet minimum to deter people) and a locked gate will definitely benefit you in a power-outage. Last but not least, never leave equipment out on your lawn that could be used against you in an attempted break in, such as tools, blunt instruments, or ladders.

4.    Take caution with generators

While investing in generators for this kind of event is smart planning, make sure your use of the generator is equally smart. Using generators in-doors is extremely dangerous and can result in carbon monoxide poisoning. Likewise, you should keep generators far from windows or doors where the poisonous gas can seep in. It’s important to follow the directions provided with your unit to avoid possible electrocution or damage to your wiring, and never refrain from contacting a professional to lend you a hand if you’re unsure while installing or using a generator. Solar generators are an excellent long-term source for electricity during power outages, though should be used sparingly; focus on lighting and communications devices foremost. They can be expensive − unless, of course, you make one.

Keeping these tips in mind, your family will feel much safer during a power failure. Even if you’re fortunate in not needing all of your supplies or plans readied for the occasion, the peace of mind your family will have knowing what needs to be done in case the worst happens is a priceless boon.

Ben Thatcher is a DIY home security guy who writes tips and tutorials helping people defend their homes. He lives on a ranch in Idaho with his loving wife and enjoys spending his time watching college basketball and freelancing on the web. He currently writes for Protect America.

75 Reasons To Prepare

There are many reasons to make the effort to be prepared. The driving force behind many preppers is the hope that if something happens, they and their family/close friends will be better off than if they were not to make such efforts. With that being said, what event(s) should you focus on being prepared to survive? Below are 75 reasons that should be considered when you decide what your greatest risks are and what you should tailor your preparedness efforts towards. While this may not be every reason to prepare, it should at a minimum provide a good foundation to get started with. Note: They are numbered as a means of keeping track of the different reasons and not because they are in any order of significance or preference.

75 Reasons To Prepare

  1. Earthquake
  2. Flood
  3. Wildfire
  4. Power Outage
  5. Structure Fire
  6. Financial Collapse
  7. Societal Collapse
  8. Riots
  9. Tsunami
  10. Nuclear Reactor Meltdown
  11. EMP
  12. Acts Of Terror
  13. Acts Of War
  14. Flu Pandemic
  15. Plague
  16. Food Shortage
  17. Disruptions In Supply Chains
  18. Government Imposed Rationing
  19. Civil Unrest
  20. Coronal Mass Ejections/Solar Flares
  21. Government Imposed Furloughs
  22. Martial Law
  23. Tornado
  24. Hurricane
  25. Unemployment
  26. Permanent Disability
  27. Temporary Disability
  28. E. Coli
  29. Contaminated Water Sources
  30. Oil Spill
  31. Disease Outbreak
  32. Contaminated Medication Supplies
  33. Government Shut Downs
  34. Financial Depression
  35. Drought
  36. Heat Wave
  37. Currency Inflation/Devaluation
  38. Internet Crash/Outage
  39. Bank Run
  40. Taxation
  41. Blizzard/Snow Storm
  42. Population Spikes
  43. Medication Resistant Infection
  44. Modified Strains of Disease/Illness
  45. Industrial Accident
  46. Military Coup
  47. Sudden Changes In World Leaders
  48. Skyrocketing Commodity Prices
  49. Cyber Terrorism
  50. Terminal Illness
  51. Government Regulation
  52. Ammunition Shortages
  53. Pollution
  54. Loss Of A Loved One
  55. Elections
  56. Gas Leak
  57. Unavailability Of Emergency Services
  58. Meteor
  59. Lawsuit
  60. Genetically Modified Foods
  61. Volcano
  62. Avalanche
  63. Hail Storm
  64. Animal Disease Outbreak
  65. Crop Decimation
  66. Hazardous Material Incident
  67. Infrastructure Failure
  68. Labor Strikes/Disputes
  69. Lightning Storms
  70. Landslide
  71. Transportation Disaster
  72. Famine
  73. Ice Storm
  74. Save Money(Buy In Bulk/Buy Now=Savings on the future cost of goods.)
  75. Avoid being in a position of regret later, “It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.” ~Anonymous

What are you prepared to survive?

Please leave a comment if you have any others reasons that you prepare…

Purpose & Determination

2013 has arrived! Happy New Year everyone! It seems to reason that since the Mayan Apocalypse is behind us and the country has gone off the cliff that we can focus on what is ahead of us. I know that it is supposed to be the fiscal cliff, but it kinda seems like the country has just fallen off of the cliff all together. I also know that the fiscal cliff bill passed both the Senate and House but it has to be backdated so does that really count? If I did the same thing with my checkbook I would be arrested! With all that being said, what will be the focus for 2013?

I already outlined the set of skills that I would like to learn or significantly improve over the next 12 months so this post will not be about all that things that I am going to accomplish or the resolutions that I will make. I am not a resolution kind of guy. In fact, I associate the term resolution with a certain goal that is set in January that is likely to fail within 60 days or less. What I do want to place emphasis on is going about things with purpose and determination in 2013. That will be my focus.

Purpose: An action in course of execution.

Determination: a.The act of deciding definitely and firmly; also: the result of such an act of decision. b. Firm or fixed intention to achieve a desired end.

How do the pieces of the puzzle come together? The definitions above for purpose and determination both include key words, action and act. No more thinking about doing something and dragging my feet. 2013 will be a year of action with determination and purpose.

What will you focus on in 2013?

Planning An Evacuation

If you get the chance, there is a great article about planning an evacuation on Personal Liberty Digest. I will confess that I am a bit biased in that I am the one that wrote the article! Never the less, there is some decent information that should be considered in the event that you find yourself in the position that you must evacuate a threatened area. By the way, you should think about an evacuation now…far before you may ever need to evacuate. While you are over there, take a look at the other content that is available. There are some great articles on a variety of different subjects that can be helpful with getting prepared.

Prepping During Cold Weather

The winter months can require an adjustment in the way we approach our daily activities. Snow on the ground means the lawn doesn’t need to be mowed, but it also means that it is cold enough outside that the average person does not feel like spending much time outside. Colder temperatures could be an excuse to take time off from prepping all together because you “can’t work in the garden or spend any time at the range” but it can also be the catalyst to get some of the less exciting tasks completed at the same time.

Some of the prepping tasks that are ideally suited for cold weather months include:

  1. Rotate Food Storage – The food you put up for the future or for tough times should always be rotated and maintained. If it is consumed, it should be replaced. If it has an expiration date, eat it before it goes bad and then replace it! Even though some long-term storage food is good for 10 or even 25 years, it can still go bad far sooner if it is not properly kept. As a result of this fact, the winter months can serve as the perfect time to check over food stores and ensure that cans aren’t swollen, boxes aren’t stained or soaked with moisture, or that there are not “things” living in your food.
  2. Update Emergency Information – Curl up in the easy chair with your computer in front of the fire and make sure that the administrative side of emergency preparedness is together and organized. Things that can be updated include the evacuation routes that would be taken from home, work, etc., who to call if there were a tree that fell across your driveway, and ensure the accuracy of insurance information/coverage amounts.
  3. Plan Next Year’s Activities – What do you want to accomplish next year? Is the garden going to be bigger? Will you grow a different variety of a certain plant? This is also the perfect time to determine what your financial goals will be and how your projected income will fit into your prepping efforts.
  4. Learn New Skills or Brush Up On Old Skills – Some new skills can be acquired through reading, taking a class, or watching a video. If you are staying inside anyway, learn one of those new skills that you have been thinking about picking up! YouTube is a great resource for many survival, homesteading, emergency preparedness, etc. related videos and allow anyone with a computer and internet access to learn something new or brush up on a skill that lacks confidence. The local library usually offers a wide variety of books that can be useful in this same area. Many skills such as cooking or home brewing can have some level of mastery achieved in the course of one cold weather season.
  5. Perform Maintenance/Upgrades – Equipment needs to be maintained and upgraded. Maintenance and equipment upgrades can sometimes be put off and the downtime that winter affords can be the ideal time to perform some much-needed work. Firearms can be cleaned and oiled, knives can be sharpened, first aid kits can be upgraded, and the car can be taken to the shop to have the oil changed and the tires rotated.

Winter does not have to be down time for preppers. There is always something that can be done regardless of the weather. These are some of the ways that I could think of to stay prepping during the cold weather, how do you plan to stay with it this winter?

Do You Prep For All Scenarios?

Do you prep for what may happen today, tomorrow, or anytime? Are your preparations for only one possibility, a slew of minor disasters, or global catastrophe of any and all proportions? Are there key things you look for or events that trigger a specific response from you as a prepper? These are all considerations that should be kept in mind that will assist preppers in staying ahead of the sheeple.

One specific example of a key event that should trigger a reaction from a prepper is a cost increase in a certain food. Last year saw increases occur in a myriad of foods but sharp spikes of up to 40% occurred in the cost of peanut butter as a result of blighted crops and fewer crops being planted than what would meet the demand. This year corn crops in many parts of the country have seen drastically reduced outputs as a result of water shortages and heat waves. What does this mean for the prepper? Get your corn now! My wife recently found canned corn on sale at our local grocery store at the price of three cans for $1.00. Three or four months from now I would not be surprised to see a 15 ounce can of corn selling for somewhere north of the $1.50 price point.

There are many aspects of prepping that come to mind when I think of buying early to save later. In 2003 I purchased a Ruger 10/22 for less than $150. If I were to purchase the same firearm this year it would cost well over $200, an increase of over 33% in less than a decade. The same year that I bought my Ruger rifle I also purchased a Mossberg 12 Gauge shotgun for $189 that if I were to go out and buy it at my local sporting goods store today, it would run just under $300. That’s an increase in price of over 50% in less than 10 years. It seems like there is a trend here or something! We would see the trend continue if we looked at the cost of the ammunition for these same firearms.

Fuel prices are going up. The cost of a post-secondary education is more than a starter home. A used car that doesn’t even run can cost more than a brand-new Ford Mustang was in 1966. I can go on but this is starting to become depressing. My point is that prices for many items are going up. They have for years and they will continue to do so. But some of these costs can be avoided, at least temporarily. Avoiding these costs even only on the short-term can be a significant relief at a time when so many costs are rising and most paychecks are stagnant. That brings us to the other side of the coin. How many people are increasing their incomes right now? I will not even address that here today.

So how are these costs avoided or delayed? That is a good question. A question that I do not have a perfect answer to, nor do I know anyone who does. However, I do know that over the last year I saved over 50% on the cost of my family’s peanut butter costs and this coming year I will probably save about 60-80% on the cost of the corn that my family will eat just because I paid attention to what was happening. In the military we called this situational awareness or being aware of what was going on around us. When I saw that peanut butter was going to increase significantly we went to the store and stocked up on enough peanut butter to get us through 18-24 months. It is not like peanut butter is going to go bad over night. When I saw that corn crops were not doing well I knew that costs would be going up and it was time to stock up. When the opportunity presented itself to buy cans of corn at $0.33 each we jumped on it. Once again, canned corn is good for about two years or more so it is not a bad buy. The other thing to keep in mind is that with corn crop production being so low it will not just be corn itself that will increase in cost but corn containing products as well. If you regularly use products such as corn meal or corn bread mix there may be no time like the present to get a good supply of those items too.

Looking towards the future, there are some key indicators that could be causes for concern. One such reason for concern would be the re-election of the sitting POTUS (President of the United States). Were President Obama to get re-elected it is likely that some of the “real” agenda would come to light. Much of my concern is that some of the true agenda contains strict gun controls measures and new laws that would make certain types of ammunition illegal as well as the number of rounds that can be purchased at one time and where you can buy those same rounds. For example, I can see hollow-point ammunition being outlawed as well as purchasing more than 100 rounds at one time and online ammunition sales being made illegal. Is this possible? Yes. Is it probable? Who knows. The point here is that by being aware of how certain events impact the future, whether it is a permanent or temporary impact, you can avoid higher costs, difficulties, shortages, or even government bans. Keep both eyes open and think toward the future.

Nine Solid Investments For 2012

This year has proven to be an interesting year for a myriad of reasons. Unemployment remains high, the economy is stagnant, unprecedented gun control has been threatened, and government assistance appears to be the mainstream income of the future. This is a great concern and leads many to wonder what the solution may be. These concerns bleed over into finances and investments which is a definite concern of mine.

I once heard a saying that went something like, “In the event of a collapse, all things will be equal.” If you think about it, there is a lot of truth in that statement. If electronic wealth was lost, many of those who were wealthy or financially comfortable could potentially be put on a level playing field with impoverished citizens. A little planning on what you do with your money now, can make a big difference in the future if things were to go in a downward spiral. If nothing happens…then you still have valuable items that you would likely have purchased to use anyway.

The following areas are where I am actually investing some of my money or would invest my money if I had more of it. But first, a word from our sponsor.

***DISCLAIMER*** – The author is not a licensed, bonded, insured, certified, or otherwise professionally affiliated financial advisor. The ideas contained in this blog post are merely shared to invoke thought and inspire the reader to consider tangible goods as part of any investing strategy. Any investments made based on the content of this blog post are the sole responsibility of the investor. The Prepared Ninja take no responsibility for such actions.

Guns – Despite all of the things that any of you may have heard, a gun is a tool. A tool that can be used to put food on the table or to protect you and your loved ones. The powers that be are trying to limit Americans rights under the Second Amendment. This year is also an election year which has the potential to bring even scarier times for America. Now is the time to buy guns. The best case scenario is that the laws will not change but even then prices are likely to be going up. The worst case scenario is…well maybe it is best to not think about that. I see there at least being a run on the purchase of firearms as the upcoming Presidential election nears. Firearms are a sound place to spend you money as they are items that can last a lifetime, be passed on to future generations, and sold easily and quickly if the need arises for liquidation. Buy now and buy often!

Ammunition – You need a ton of it! Like Jack Spirko always says, “Without ammunition, a gun is just a really expensive club.” It is important to not only have ammunition for your guns, but also to have the right type. It is likely that this will result in at least two types of rounds for each gun that you own, a specialized type of round that could be for things such as defense or hunting and a practice or target type of round to use for training. In the event of certain weapon systems like shotguns, you may have different rounds for personal defense, several types of hunting, and training. Only each gun owner can evaluate their individual needs. With the current political and socio-economic climate that exists in the country, my recommendation would be to come up with the number of rounds that you think you need for each weapon you have and then double it. It is better to have it and not need it, then to need it and not have it, right?

Storable Food – Food is fuel for the body and also provides psychological comfort in stressful situations. There is also the part about how you can die if you don’t eat also. Long term storage food such as the food that can be purchased from Safe Castle allows for a store of food that does not require special handling. On top of fueling your body, food can be used in building goodwill and partnerships with other. Typical caloric requirements average 2,000 calories per person, per day but you should consider that periods of extra activity such as during a disaster may require additional calories as well. If additional food stores for goodwill, bartering, or relationship building is desired than obviously the amount on hand would need to be increased as well.

Stored Water – A lack of water can kill a person in a short period of time. This makes water vital for survival. The greatest single advantage about storing water is that it can be acquired at a very low-cost. In fact it is likely to cost more to obtain containers to hold water than it will be to get the water itself. General guidelines would dictate that the amount of water that should be stored should be equal to one gallon of water per person, per day for the time period that you specify. This facilitates not only water for drinking and minimal cooking but for basic hygiene as well. If your preparedness plans involve heavy use of water for cooking or something else, then adjustments will need to be made to the overall figures. It would also be advisable to explore the option of getting a means to filter water such as a Berkey Water Filter to use as a back-up system.

Back-Up Energy Systems – Solar systems, gas-powered generators, and windmill systems are all examples of back-up energy systems that can used for continued life support if the grid and other life support systems were unavailable. On top of allowing life to remain comfortable, back-up energy systems could also open the door to income producing opportunities such as charging batteries.

Farmable Land – If you are in the market for property, then farmable land is the place to be looking. Farm and timber land are the two types of land that can be continuously planted and harvested, allowing for a virtually endless source of food and/or income. To be clear, farmable land does not have to be hundreds of acres. A single acre lot is capable of producing more food than a single family is able to eat while there are plots of land that are thousands of acres are not able to easily produce any type of useful resource.

Skills Training – I believe that a return to the basics is in America’s future. Part of this will be in the form of widely practiced “lost” arts such as gardening, blacksmithing, trapping, and animal husbandry.  Many useful training opportunities are available for little to no cost for those that are willing to look for them. Potential places for such training could include the county extension office, local university, or farmer’s co-op. Other opportunities that could be more costly are available through specialty schools and training programs.

Tools – The ability to use your newly acquired skills will likely mean that you will need tools to complete certain tasks. In a disaster or collapse scenario it is unlikely that an abundance of options, if any, will be available to readily purchase much-needed tools. The obvious solution is to invest in tools now while they are easily and cheaply available. Evaluate what your potential tool needs are and ensure that you have at least one of everything and back ups for tools that may break easily or that have short life spans.

Barter Items – Items that can be stored easily, in large quantities, and always are in high demand make great barter items. The value in purchasing barter items as an alternate investment comes from the fact that they can be traded or bartered (duh!) for other items that you may want or need. In the event of a collapse or long-term disaster, barter items will likely be used as currency until stability is achieved again. Don’t be left without a way to get what you need! For a list of suggested barter items see the GreatDreams website, an exhaustive list of barter items and trade skills available from SHTF Plan, and the best barter items from Pakalert Press.

In addition to these ideas on tangible investments, the Alpha Strategy is a wealth of information about alternate investments and investing in tangible goods.

Don’t forget to make a comment or mention your favorite ideas for alternate investments for the year 2012.

Less Than 10 Months Until The Mayan Apocalypse!

Ok, just to be clear I do not really buy into the Mayan apocalypse thing but there is no shortage of reasons to be prepared for a disaster lately. From the terrible damage that was done by the tornadoes Tuesday night in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, and Kentucky all the way to the ever rising prices of gas, every day seems to bring at least one more reason to have a plan in place and supplies stored. The other thing that has become abundantly clear to me is that the government is not really gearing up to take of the people. Every time I drive anywhere I see a FEMA billboard that basically states to prepare myself because no one is coming to help me out if anything happens. This all serves as a great reminder that there is no time like the present to get your disaster preparedness supplies together and plans in place.

Basic preparedness guidelines dictate that you should at a minimum having the following 12 provisions in place:

1. DOCUMENTATION – Have a plan of what to do if there is an emergency and you have to stay where you are, are forced to go to a location of your choosing, or are forced to go to a shelter. It is also important to plan how you would get where you are going if you must leave your home (three routes to each location is the basic rule). As part of your plan you should also keep all of your points of contact for insurance, medical care, family, utilities, etc. All of this should be printed or written out and collected in one location like a three ring binder.

2. WATER – Water is essential to survival. The basic guideline is one gallon of water per person a day to cover consumption and personal hygiene. A simple formula is # of People X 7 Days = # of Gallons of Water to Store

3. FOOD – Food is also essential to survival. You should plan on having at least 2,000 calories of food per person a day. The simple formula here is # of People X 7 Days = # of Calories of Food to Store

4. SHELTER – Don’t get caught out in the weather. Make sure that you always have a plan of where you would go. If you do get stranded outside for some reason a simple shelter can be made out of a tarp or square of painter’s plastic, both items can be purchased at any hardware or general merchandise store. This square of plastic can simply be draped over a low hanging tree limb with the closed sides being secured to the ground using stones or logs. Obviously this is an item that is only needed as something that would be kept in the trunk of the car. If you were at home you would already have a more substantial shelter. While not exactly “shelter” items, a disposable poncho and emergency blanket from the sporting goods section of your local store will also come in handy when trying to stay warm and out of the weather. 

5. SECURITY – Times of disaster and emergency will bring out the best in people but it will also bring out the very worst making security a priority. Items for security could include firearms, knives, batons, pepper spray, or even a whistle to alert everyone in the local area that there is a problem. The point being that you should have some means of defending yourself. Whatever it is that you decide to have as your means of security make sure that it is legal in your area, that you are properly trained to use it, and you know the laws. It is also a good idea to have more than one means of security. Ideally you do not want to shoot someone if you can get by with just using pepper spray.

6. FIRST AID – There is no telling when an injury may occur. With an overloaded medical system or the potential for delayed access to medical care it is a must to have a basic emergency medical kit.

7. RADIO – A radio will facilitate staying current with events as they happen. Ideally the radio to have for emergency preparedness is an AM/FM radio with weather bands and a shortwave receiver. This covers regular radio plus you can receive weather information and what is being relayed by HAM operators in the area. As an added note, most city, county, state, and federal agencies have contingency plans that utilize HAM radios to communicate so having a shortwave radio receiver is a good idea.

8. LIGHT – In a disaster it is very common to lose access to electricity. This makes having a light source important. Some lights are better options than others for various reasons. Flashlights are probably the first and best choice but they are heavier and require batteries that have a limited useable life. Chemical lightsticks are lightweight and provide good light for about a 12 hour period but once that time is up so is your light. Candles can last for quite some time but they are not really portable when lit and will not stand up to weather. Pick the type of light that will work best for you but also consider the possibility of having more than once source of light in case one goes out.

9. HEAT – It’s important to maintain your body temperature. It’s as simple as that. Make sure that you have a plan to keep your shelter heated whether this is to keep a stock of wood for the fireplace or to use a kerosene heater. The key is to have a source for producing heat and plenty of fuel to run this source for a period of about a week. Ensure that you also have a few different means of igniting your heat source. Heat is also good for morale in a disaster situation.

10. TOOLS – Basic tools like a good multi-tool or basic home tool kit will go a long way in making sure that maintenance can be performed as well as simple tasks during a time when other help may not be readily available.

11. PERSONAL MAINTENANCE – What I mean by personal maintenance is not just the usual items that are needed for personal hygiene but also any prescription eyewear as well as prescription medication.

12. CASH – Cash is king! When the electricity is out or credit and debit cards are not being accepted for some reason then you will need cash if you wish to make any sort of transaction. Keep in mind that small bills will probably be the way to go because you may not be able to get any change back because of a lack of change available. The amount of cash that you keep on hand will be up to you obviously but try to think through what you might need in terms of food, fuel, lodging, etc. if you had to get out of dodge.

The government recommends having a three day supply of emergency items on hand but I think the minimum to shoot for is seven days. You should certainly do what you can afford to do but at the end of the day something is better than nothing. I think it is important to mention that this is not designed to be a comprehensive list but nearly a reminder of the need to have at least bare minumum supplies and a plan in place in the event of a disaster whether it is on a personal level or a global thermonuclear war.

Please feel free to comment and add your ideas on what some of the bare minimum preps should be for every house and family!

 

 

The Top 20 Ways To Deter A Home Invasion

 The FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program reported that in 2010 there were almost 1.6 million residential property burglaries in the United States. Of these residential burglaries there were 965,670 that involved forcible entry, over 100,550 involved an attempted forced entry, and the remaining burglaries were unlawful entries but were not forced. This is a staggering statistic! I have been fortunate in never having been put in the position of experiencing a home invasion or burglary but it is also important to me that I do everything that I can to avoid ever being in that situation. I think this concern is real for everyone and it made me create this list of the top ways that a home invasion can be deterred. 

  1. Lock doors and windows, constantly and consistently, when gone or even at home.
  2. Ensure that all exterior doors are solid, sturdy doors with at least two locks and a peephole.
  3. Keep valuables out of sight/locked in a safe.
  4. Install a monitored security system and display yard signs and window stickers advertising this fact.
  5. Have security laminate installed on windows.
  6. Every exterior door jamb should have a security kit installed.
  7. Implement adequate security lighting in/around the home.
  8. Use timers on indoor lighting when you will be away from home.
  9. Stop mail and newspaper delivery during times of extended absences.
  10. Make arrangements for yard maintenance, snow removal, etc. as well when you will not be home for long periods of time.
  11. Establish rapport with your neighbors. A strong relationship with the members of your community will mean that you know who belongs there and also ensure that when you are not around your neighbors can keep an eye on things for you. Make sure that you extend the same courtesy to your community as well.
  12. Develop a plan to consolidate in a safe room or leave the home during an invasion.
  13. Stash an appropriate home defense firearm in your safe room.
  14. Maintain emergency supplies (First Aid Kit, Cell Phone, Flashlights, Etc.) in your safe room.
  15. Reinforce sliding glass doors and windows with blocking sticks that prevent sliding doors or windows from being forced open.
  16. A closed circuit television system will greatly deter potential home invaders. Keep the hard drive or device where footage is recorded safely locked up and disguised in a spot where it cannot be found to be taken by the invaders.
  17. Be aware of what is normal for your neighborhood and notice discrepancies when they occur. Report these strange occurrences to the police so that they can be investigated.
  18. Safeguard private information. Don’t throw away items like ATM receipts that may show significant balances in bank accounts that may motivate a burglar to commit a crime against you. Using a shredder to dispose of this information will help prevent such leaks from occurring.
  19. Maintain the exterior of your residence. Keep trees, shrubs, and bushes trimmed back and away from the residence where they could provide concealment for a burglar while they attempt to break in.
  20. Lock up ladders and other items that are often left outside that could be used as tools to gain illegal access to your home. 

At the end of the day preventing a home invasion does not have to be rocket surgery brain science rocket science. Well you get the idea! It merely takes a dedicated commitment to practicing these few simple steps day after day and making sure that your family members also adhere to your family’s plan. Obviously some of these practices can be costly to implement but on the other hand some of these practices can be done for free. The key to remember is that a few simple habits can save you plenty of headaches and maybe some heartache. 

Make home security a priority and implement these practices today! 

If you have additional suggestions on how a home invasion can be avoided please chime in and make a comment below.

 

The Possibles Pouch

So today’s post is about the possibles pouch which is a concept I read about in an article written by Patrick Smith at Kifaru.  Esstentially the possibles pouch gives you a highly organized means of carrying your every day carry (EDC) gear.  The possibles pouch is kind of an emergency kit for every day carry but as explained in Mr. Smith’s article he also relies on it heavily as a wilderness survival kit when he is out camping, hunting, traveling, working, or whatever.  This is truly a great concept because it offers a ton of flexibility.  It can be used as part of a bigger kit or simply used as a standalone kit.  Either way it offers one more take on the possibilities that are out there on the various ways to configure your emergency preparedness gear.  The list of contents in the possibles pouch as described by the author along with some occasional discussion as to what the thought process is behind the particular items is as follows:

1. The Pouch Itself

2. Firestarter Kit

3. Water-Making

4. Let There Be Light

5. First Aid Kit

6. Toiletries

7. GPS and/or Compass

8. Cheap Drugstore Eyeglasses

9. Meat Baggie

10. Moss Tent Repair Kit

11. Two, Gallon-Size Ziploc Baggies

12. Space Blanket

13. Manzella Gloves and Turtle Fur Hat

14. Cordage

15. Ancient Megamid Stuff Sack

16. Accusite

17. Signal Mirror

18. Power Bar

19. Fog Cloth

20. Biodegradeable Soap

21. Duct Tape

22. Rubber Bands

23. Orange Flagging Tape

24. Foam Earplugs

25. Sewing Kit

26. Safety Pins and Paper Clips

27. Pocket Crock Stick Knife Sharpener

28. Super Glue

29. Heat Pack

30. Wire Saw

In addition to the items above in the possibles pouch, Smith also covers the list of items that he would have in his pockets as well as additional items that would be in his day pack.  Now most of you can look at this list and see that it may be tailored to a hunter but by all means if it does not apply then leave it out.  Not everyone is going to have the exact same gear.  Individualize your equipment to fit you for what is best for your individual situation as well as the circumstances that you might find yourself in.

One of my favorite parts of this article is the fact that everything on this list is something that has been proven over and over again through a period of years.  This is a huge advantage for the beginning prepper or someone that is unsure of what they have assmbled in their kit.  Check out Patrick’s article to read about the possibles pouch in its entirety and see how your kit compares or what you need to do to get your own kit together.  I hope it helps!

Being Prepared Is a Team Sport

FamilyBeing prepared for any level of disaster or emergency is definitely something that should be a family, group,or team effort. This point was driven home to me as I was sick over the Christmas holiday. I had nothing left in me and if something had happened I would have been worthless. It is safe to say that I was actually a liability in my state and would have taken away from any efforts instead of helping. So what does this mean from a preparedness perspective for you?

1. GET YOUR FAMILY, GROUP, OR TEAM ON BOARD

In my family I am the primary prepper and until recently my wife has not really been all that thrilled with much of the ideas and practices of prepping. In fact it would be fair to say that she is not entirely on board. She is more like a person that is being towed in a boat behind mine, but at least she is not frantically rowing in the opposite direction!  So how do you get others on board with preparedness planning?  There is certainly no one answer to this question but from my experience the best approach to take is to be open and honest and help those who are important to you see how preparedness matters so much to you, your family, and inner circle.  If you are truly important to your family, friends, and community members then they will seriously consider what you have to say.

If you are a lone wolf type then seriously consider finding some like-minded people who are in close proximity to you so that if there is an emergency or disaster situation you are not forced to go at it alone.

2. DETERMINE ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

Each person in the group should have a primary and secondary responsibility when possible. If your group is two people then the situation may dictate otherwise but in a normal family size unit of 2 adults and 2.5 children this should be feasible and if you are part of a larger group of families then this is definitely doable. In fact in these larger groups, once primary and secondary roles have been mastered then the group should work on cross training in each other’s roles as well as taking on the responsibility of learning new skills.

Examples of potential individual roles/responsibilities include:

-Security
-Power
-Water
-Food
-Medical
-Communications
-Maintenance

This is of course not an all-inclusive list.  It does cover some of the major areas and systems of support that are an area of concern.  What roles need to be assumed will of course depend on the capabilities and systems that are available to your group.

3. DISCUSS WHAT TO DO IF SOMETHING DOES GO WRONG

If my role within the group is to be in charge of the generator and emergency power systems and I am ill then what will the group do? These types of situations need to be discussed and alternate plans need to be made to address such problems. This is where secondary responsibilities and cross training come into play. The subject matter expert in each area will assist the group by taking on an apprentice to teach their craft to.  If the size of your family/group makes taking on every responsibility that may need to be taken on then this is where strategic partnerships and community building comes into play.  No one person can do everything and sometimes it is better to rely on a trustworthy member of your community or inner circle than to try to be the jack of all trades.  A prime example that I can think of is knowing how to cut down a tree with a chainsaw is a valuable skill to have but is not on the same level as trying to remove a tree that has fallen on top of your garage.  Taking on this task without the specialized skill necessary could easily wind up getting someone seriously injured or even killed.

4. DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT…

As roles are determined then update the group documentation.  This is a great way to get your survival documentation updated and not put the burden all on one person.  Each person takes a folder, binder, journal, or whatever and compiles all the information that they can about their responsibilities and how it fits into the group.  This binder should include manuals/operator guides for any pertinent equipment, standard operating procedures, decision points for bugging out or other key events, expansion plans and ways to deal with changes in group size or locations, etc. 

There is certainly much more that goes into making sure that your family or group is prepared to appropriately react to an emergency or disaster but hopefully this serves as grease to help get the wheels turning.  The team approach is a must in my opinion and certainly relieves the burden of preparing on the group leader or head of household.