Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

5 Tools Every BOB Should Have

When it comes to survival kits, there are a number of items that could be put into a bug out bag but special consideration should be given to what is needed, practical, and capable of being comfortably carried. (As a side note – I should clarify that I use the term BOB or bug out bag, I use it universally and applies to a kit designed to get out of a situation whether it is leaving home, getting home, or even staying home.) If you find yourself running out the door and have only the items that are packed in your kit to survive with, make sure you have the right tools for the job.

Gerber Apocalypse Kit

These are the five tools that should be included in every well rounded Bug Out Bag or survival kit that is designed to foster survival in a variety of environments:

1. Fixed Blade Knife – A good fixed blade knife is essential to keep in a bug out bag. It is a tool as well as a weapon if needed. Not only can this be used as a knife, it can be:

  • Fastened to a stick to be used as a spear to hunt fish and/or animals.
  • Used to start a fire.
  • Used to build a shelter.
  • Used to split firewood.
  • And just about anything else you can think of…

2. Multi-Tool – A logical choice to include is the multi-tool. It is like having half the contents of your tool box in your pocket without nearly the weight. When looking for a multi-tool, consider what you plan or anticipate having to use it for and then look for those features in a multi-tool. I am not much of a brand snob but when it comes to multi-tools, I prefer Leatherman.

3. Folding Knife – When it comes to survival, there is a saying that goes, “two is one, and one is none.” When it comes to having a backup and backups to your backups, knives are a good place to start. Having a secondary knife that is a folder is convenient because it is easy to stick in a pocket and ensure that you always have it with you. When selecting a folding knife, look for one that features a locking mechanism to ensure that it doesn’t fold up on your hand when you are working with it.

4. Survival Chain Saw – I am not a fan of the typical “survival” saw that you tend to see. The ones that are basically a wire with some sand glued onto it. At least is seems that way. These wire saws seem to break easily and a broken saw is worse than no saw in my opinion. At least if you don’t have a saw, then you don’t have the expectation to be able to cut something where if you have a saw and it breaks, you just end up aggravated and not able to cut anything. I prefer the chainsaw style of blade that is found on other models of pocket survival saws.

5. Hand Shovel – While a hand shovel may seem like an odd choice of tool to include in a BOB, there are a number of practical applications that one can be used for. Building shelter, digging out a place to go to the bathroom, extinguishing a fire, and harvesting wild edible plants are all things that can be done with a hand shovel. In addition to the fact that a hand shovel is small, there are now high strength plastic models that are lightweight and compact.

The ability to maintain these tools is almost as important as having the tools in the first place. This is especially vital if the time comes where bugging out becomes a necessity and you might be betting your life on the ability to use these tools. Some of the items to consider including in your kit to help maintain your tools include:

1. Cleaner Lubricant Protectant (aka CLP) – CLP is an item that is commonly thought of as something that is used to clean and maintain firearms but that is not the only use for CLP. Any metal tool can be subject to getting dirty, rusting, or just plain worn out when it is used and exposed to the elements. Even when being stored, it is important to protect them. CLP is available in small quantities (perfect for keeping in your kit), it is light weight, and it is inexpensive. Find it in the firearm maintenance section of your local sporting goods store. Don’t forget to keep it in a sealable bag so that it does not leak all over your gear!

2. Knife Sharpener – Plain and simple, it is pointless to have a knife if you don’t have the means to maintain a good working edge. There are a number of ways to sharpen a knife, find the one that works best for you and pack the appropriate equipment.

3. Small File – Tools like hatchets and saws do not require a razor sharp edge. This makes a small file a great tool to maintain them. A file is also a great means to help remove nicks and gouges from metal tools.

There are a number of tools that could be included in your survival kit and each person’s kit should be a reflection of them and their needs. With that being said, the five tools mentioned above are all tools that can be used for multiple uses, in multiple scenarios and come about as close to being universally useful as food and water. The next time you inventory your survival kit or when you go to put one together, think about what tools you may need and then ensure that you have them before you find yourself needing them.

Guest Post: Ninja-Like Home Security

Ninjas Can’t be Seen: Nor Can a Well Placed Home Security System

Home security often brings to mind a little sign in the front yard that says, “This Home is Protected by…” while stickers in the front windows offer the same warning. However, many of these homes have no security in place whatsoever. These homeowners think a mere sign will offer necessary deterrent for would-be burglars and home invaders. If I know many of these signs are bluffs, then you can guarantee that criminals know it too.

Good security for your home is composed of tangible elements, intangible elements, and the implementation of both. Often the best home security measures are ones that are only known by the homeowner. So lose the signs and use these ninja-like maneuvers to protect your most important investments: your home and your family.

The Tangibles

This division of home security should be easy to discern. It is the physical manifestation of steps taken to make your home impenetrable involving materials used and the placement of them. Here are some tips to get the ball rolling.

Home Security System- The technology is so good and prices so low that it’s hard to find reason not to invest in a wireless home security system. You can stream your cameras straight to mobile devices wherever you have service, get updates anytime doors are locked or unlocked and receive alerts of fire or gas leaks. These alarm systems will automatically contact authorities when the home is breached and even allow the user to control lights and the thermostat remotely.

Implementation Position cameras where they aren’t visible to intruders until they’re already in frame. Place the main hub in a place not visible through any windows. A great place for this would be inside a coat closet. Window alarms should also blend into the design of the home. Stealth is crucial to good home security because it doesn’t tip off the criminals they’ve been made or allow them to circumvent security measures.

Deadbolts and Door Codes- Door codes and deadbolts make it even harder for burglars to enter homes or buildings. Criminals are looking for the easy score. Make it more trouble than they’re willing to deal with.

Implementation All exterior doors should be dead bolted. With a little time and research this can be a great DIY project. Don’t buy a cheap deadbolt and don’t forget to make your exterior windows impenetrable too. They are often the most vulnerable points of entry. Window break alarms are a good supplement to your security system.

Flood Lights- Motion activated flood lights are great for alerting you if any action is going on. No burglar likes to be lit up in the middle of a break in. These are inexpensive investments that provide a great deterrent.

Implementation Try to cover as many points of entry as possible. Focus especially on exterior doors and limit shrubbery near your house so they have no room to hide.

The Intangibles

The intangibles of a well secured home are not always as apparent. They are steps you can take in addition to the physical security system that you have set up protecting your home. Some of the additional steps that you can take to make your house less attractive than others for an attempted break in include:

  • Get a dog- A dog that barks isn’t always a bad thing. Train him to bark at the right things.
  • Think like a burglar– Once you get into the mindset of someone who might violate your home, you can protect it better.
  • Keep a well-manicured lawn- Exterior upkeep and pride show a burglar that you probably take steps to keep your home safe as well.
  • Every house has its thorns- If you do like the look of shrubs next to your house then make sure the bushes by your windows are full of sharp thorns. Enough said.
  • Don’t show off- Keep your expensive car in the garage and don’t gold plate your driveway. Basically don’t give criminals motivation to crawl through that rose bush to get to your window.
  • Neighbors as home security- Sometimes your best resource is still your neighbors. Help each other out and look out for one another’s home.
  • Inform your family- You can install the best security system and still have it fail if you and your family members aren’t on the same page. Have home safety be an ongoing conversation.
  • Think of your unique situation- Every home is different. Use these tips as a starting point and don’t be afraid to improvise. You know what is best for your home so do whatever is necessary to protect your home as a ninja would: without looking like you’re trying.

How To Make An UNwelcome Mat

Security requires a constant effort that not only involves keeping a watchful eye on your property, but also maintaining practices that mitigate the risk of loss or damage. It usually helps to have good relationships with friends and neighbors too. There are many crimes that are prevented or cut short because of having a neighbor or passerby notice that something is out of place. An unwelcome mat is a door mat that consists of a mat with a grid of nails or screws with points upward as a deterrent. It is typically a passive measure that can be taken to not only protect your property from human intruders but curious wildlife as well. It is a suitable measure for an occupied property as well as a remote location such as a vacation home or bug out property.

Photo Credit: Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission

Step 1 – Decide what to use for the base of the unwelcome mat. This could be a piece of plywood or even a rubber mat like the ones used in gyms and horse stalls. Typically, the thicker the mat, the better.

Step 2 – Determine the size of mat that you would like to put together. The Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife recommends a 4 foot by 4 foot mat for a single doorway or a 4 foot by 8 foot mat for a double door entry.

Step 3 – Measure the thickness of the mat material to determine the length of nails or screws to use. The spikes extending through the mat should be about 3/4″-1″ above the top of the flat surface of the mat. An unwelcome mat will require approximately 25 nails or screws for each square foot of size.

Step 4 – Install the nails or screws in a grid pattern, approximately 2″ apart. It can be easier to put nails or screws into the mat if a pilot hole is drilled first.

Step 5 – Place the unwelcome mat in your decided location. Ensure that it cannot be moved easily or flipped over by securing it using nails or screws. If the unwelcome mat is going to be placed somewhere other than a porch, it can be secured using landscape spikes or tent stakes.

While this is not a standalone security system, an unwelcome mat can be a simple addition to a comprehensive system designed to deter both human and animal invaders. Along with being simple and easily made, an unwelcome mat can be placed almost anywhere making it very versatile.

Disclaimer: Make sure to check all applicable laws, regulations, and rules to verify that the use of unwelcome mats is legal. It is also likely that in an effort to avoid liability, a sign warning visitors of your unwelcome mat should be posted. Of course, if things go in a southern direction, it may not matter how legal it is.

11 Uses For A Survival Bracelet – Guest Post

We all have items that we won’t leave behind no matter where we go; cell phones, a watch, glasses, or even a piece of jewelry. If there is something that you are going to always have, it might as well be something that could be useful. Survival bracelets are amazing tools that will come in handy during life or death situations. The paracord strands that compose the bracelet can range from about eight to twenty feet long when unwound. This extremely long length lends itself to a wide variety of functions that could easily save a life.

Photo Credit: Flickr.com

Some of the functions  of a survival bracelet include:

1. Put Up A Shelter

One of the simplest ways of utilizing a survival bracelet is as rope for a shelter. When surviving in the wild, shelter from nature is a mandatory resource. The paracord can be unwound and used to tie together tree branches for a lean-to. Throw grass or a tarp over the structure for protection against rain. The strands can also be used to tie up a tarp for cover or even string up a hammock.

2. Catch Fish

Finding food is essential to survival in the wild. Unweave a strand of paracord and tie it to a hook in order to create a line to fish with. A bracelet could even be fashioned into a small net that can be used to trap fish.

3. Trap Dinner

While it may seem easier to catch fish in a net, the paracord may also be used as string for a snare trap. Snare traps act as a noose that can tie down small animals. Just like the fishing idea, a net can be created to trap small animals as well.

4. Start A Fire

Starting a fire with a survival bracelet requires patience. However, fire is an essential resource for cooking food, staying warm, creating a signal, and first aid. The internal strings of paracord make sufficient bowstrings for creating the friction needed to start a fire.

5. First Aid

A means of first aid is crucial to staying alive for everyone. Cuts or serious injuries can occur at any time. While nothing can replace a good first aid kit, having the survival bracelet handy can help stop bleeding as a last resort when used as a tourniquet. In an extreme set of circumstances, an inner strand from the cord of the survival bracelet could be used to suture a wound shut.

6. Leave Breadcrumbs On The Trail

Getting lost in the woods is the downfall of many hikers. Nothing would be worse than walking around days at a time, coming back to the same spot, and not knowing you have already been there. A strand of the cord can be tied around a tree trunk in order to leave a marked trail.

7. Gear Repair

The thin strings also work as sewing strings. When in the wild, sharp objects tend to penetrate the fabric material of items such as backpacks or tent covers. Unwind one of the thinnest strings and fix a rip. This same repair can be applied to clothing.

8. Pack A Knife

The bracelet does not always have to be used for the string. In some cases, the bracelet can be used to store items. Certain bracelets actually keep small knives woven into them. A small knife is a massive advantage in the wild.

9. Teeth Hygiene

The survival bracelet can also be used for dental hygiene. The smallest strings are about the same size as dental floss. Proper hygiene should not be ignored just because you are in the wilderness.

10. Shoe Repair

If walking around for weeks in the forest, you may need an extra shoelace. Furthermore, if a shoe sole begins to fall off, the bracelet cord can be used as tie to hold the entire thing together.

11. Home Security

Sometimes protecting your home is necessary. In the event of a break-in, the string could be used to tie a door shut in order to slow entry. However, you may wish to invest in a home security system that will scare away intruders. Finding a system is easy at a place such as Select Home Security.

These are some of the many uses of a survival bracelet. Like anything that is part of emergency or disaster preparedness, a survival bracelet is not a solution for many things alone but it can be a great stop gap and is an integral part of an overall plan.

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.