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.

Free Download: Food Storage Buyer’s Guide

The folks over at Legacy Food Storage were kind enough to share their Food Storage Buyer’s Guide with us here at The Prepared Ninja. It is rich with information about the different types of food storage options and some of their pros and cons as well as addressing some of the other concerns about food storage. Download this great resource for free today!

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Top 5 Summer Food Storage Tips – Guest Post

Top 5 Most Important Summer Food Storage Tips

By Lee Flynn

Whatever time of year it is, and whatever your situation in life, it is always important to keep a good supply of food for emergencies. What this entails, is creating a store of nonperishable food, enough for you and your family in case of any kind of emergency that might make you unable to leave your house or purchase food for whatever reason. Natural disasters are the most cited reason for needing food storage, but anything from a blackout to the loss of a job could make a person unable to buy food. And when it comes to the summer, there are certain factors that you should take into consideration. Here are five important food storage tips for the summer.

1. Store Food Properly

With the summer, there comes a swarm of unwanted visitors in the form of pests, insects, and rodents. Bacteria also grows faster when it is warmer. If you don’t store your food properly, you could quickly run into trouble with contaminated food and infestations of certain creatures. Make sure that your food is stored in tightly sealed containers. As it is the summer, it is also likely to be much warmer. This makes it equally important to choose a good location for you food storage somewhere that is cool and out of the sunlight, preferably insulated.

2. Check the Type of Food You Store

Sometimes the only space that you have is in a basement or attic, or somewhere else with little to no insulation. If this is the case, you will have to be incredibly careful with the type of food that you store. Don’t store anything that can easily melt or suffer other alteration because of extreme temperatures. In fact, even if you do have an insulated storage space, you will still need to only include non perishable items in your food storage, as they are the items that will last until you need them.

3. Store Other Necessities

In any emergency food supply, there needs to be a stock of other important items to prepare for any eventuality. Such items include a first aid kit, a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, and medication. But in the summer, there are also other circumstances to take into consideration. Sunblock and insect repellant are both things for which you will be grateful, should you be forced to leave your house at a moment’s notice. Hay-fever medicine should also come in handy.

4. Plenty of Water

Any emergency that could occur would, more likely than not, affect the availability of good, clean water. For this reason, it is recommended that we store a gallon of water for each person who lives in the household. In the summer, you may need more; let’s not forget that we need water for washing, cleaning, and cooking as well as drinking.

5. Store Food that You Like!

You don’t know how long you may be stuck eating the food that you store, so it only makes sense to store food that you like and that is sure to be different in the summer from how it is in the winter. So if you are going to create food storage, why not make the most of it, and have some fun!

Lee Flynn is a freelance writer interested in helping others develop self reliance through food storage.

Essential Body Armor Gear

Essential Body Armor Gear

From SafeGuard Armor

Body armor is a very important part of proper protection in many different areas. Body armor can be used by the military, law enforcement officers, security guards, and even regular civilians. There are different situations, needs, and requirements that should be met for the former two. Every situation heavily influences what body armor gear is essential for you.

If you are a civilian, you can’t just buy a complete military body armor gear with helmet, arm and leg pads, and whole bunch of other stuff and expect to just walk on the street. You will get a lot of looks from passersby and will definitely be stopped and questioned by the law enforcement representatives about the reasons you are wearing all this stuff on the street.

However, UK and USA civilians are allowed to own and wear body armor gear whenever and wherever they want and can be bought online and delivered directly to your door legally from trusted armor suppliers such as SafeGuard Clothing. It’s just that the police will consider there’s a threat – either in you or somewhere near – if you get out on the street, like it’s a war out there. Before you get a body armor set, it is better for you to take time and make the effort to research what you actually need.

First of all, define what type of body armor you need. There are bullet proof vests and stab/spike proof vests. There are also combined vests, but this is a separate topic. So, if you live in a dangerous neighborhood and are afraid that you may catch a stray bullet, you obviously need a covert bullet proof vest to minimize the threat. If you are a security guard at a mall, store, or any other type of premise, your body armor choice will depend on the object’s strategic importance. In this case, you will also have to take a deeper look into your work to decide whether you need covert or overt body armor. Covert body armor will provide less protection, but will provide more mobility, whereas overt armor will provide more protection and will hamper your movement. If you are a policeman or soldier, you should talk to your commander on this matter, in case you aren’t provided with body armor and must get your own.

Stealth Body Armor

Let’s narrow the choices. If you are a regular civilian, who just wants to be safe, while traveling to work and back, you don’t need any additional pads, except a stab proof or bullet proof vest, depending on the threat. If you are a military person, you will probably have to take a wider look at the body armor assortment and check out helmets and various armor pads. All of the gear should be bullet proof in this case. It doesn’t really matter, if you choose overt or covert body armor, but if your choice is overt gear, make sure it matches your camouflage in color.

Don’t forget about the US NIJ and UK HOSDB protection levels to get the most optimal protection. Bullet proof vests differ in the calibers they provide protection from. Stab proof vests have two types of ratings. Make sure you sort it all out before buying a set, because if you purchase body armor that doesn’t respond to your requirements, you can lose your life. And this is definitely the last thing you want to happen to you.

If All Else Fails, A Hillbilly Winch Prevails!

There was recently an episode of the TV show, Hillbilly Blood where the two men, Eugene and Spencer, featured on the show used a tree as a makeshift winch. The basic concept of the tree powered winch is that the weight of a falling tree can create enough energy to move a heavy or stuck item when a cable is attached towards the top of the falling tree and the item to be moved.

There are many potential situations where a makeshift solution can be the only option. If there were ever to be a catastrophic event such as an EMP, if a task needs to be accomplished without making an equipment purchase, or even if you do not have the equipment, the hillbilly tree winch could be your solution! The basic concept of the hillbilly winch can be seen in the illustration below:

Slide1

The video below shows a brief synopsis of Spencer and Eugene actually using the hillbilly winch to recover a Willys Jeep from a deep rut in the ground. Notice the use of cable as the line for the winch and the fact that an old tire is used as a connection buffer between the Jeep’s bumper and the winch line.

If you are interested in learning more about hillbilly know-how, check out Land Of The Sky Wilderness  School (Spencer Bolejack’s Website) or Trapper Jack Survival (Eugene Runkis’ YouTube Channel).

Hillbilly Blood airs every Saturday on Destination America at 10PM EST/9PM CST.

He Who Hesitates Is Lost…

I hope that everyone had a very Merry Christmas! Now that the holiday is over, the stores are filled
with all of the trinkets that did not sell as Christmas presents. With everything marked down anywhere from 50 to 90 percent off of retail, now is the perfect time to get that new wallet, flashlight or pair of Angry Birds boxer shorts that you have had your eye on. At least for those who act while there is still time! From a prepping perspective, there are many great items that can be added to your preps at minimal cost. If you head out to the store keep your eye out for great deals on:

  • Flashlights
  • LED Lanterns
  • Multi-Tools
  • Knives
  • Mechanics Tools
  • Bread Mixes
  • Seasonal Clothing Items
  • Winter Scented Soaps
  • Seasonal Ziploc Bags

This is also a great time to look for great deals on seasonal items like fishing, camping, and hunting gear.

What kind of prepping items have you seen being cleared out of your local stores lately?

What The Holzhaufen!?!?

If you don’t know, don’t worry. Until the other day I didn’t know what a holzhaufen was either. As it turns out, in German, holzhaufen means “woodpile.” But the term holzhaufen has been taken a little bit further and has been associated with a certain method of piling wood. From what I have found, a holzhaufen in its modern definition is a cylinder shape stack of split wood with a pyramid on the top (see picture below). I thought this was too cool to not share because it not only seems to offer an alternative to the traditional wood stack but it dries quickly with a built-in visual indicator of when your firewood is ready to burn.

Picture Credit: Farmshow.com

So how the heck do you build one of these things?

The rough guidelines to construct a holzhaufen include:

1. Wood must be cut in lengths between 12 inches and  24 inches.

2. Wood must be split. Split wood not only dries faster, but also interlocks which is a requirement for sturdy holzhaufen construction. (Have some kindling size pieces available for filling in the gaps when needed.)

3. Build your holzhaufen on a level piece of ground. (Dry ground is recommended.)

4. Decide how high your stack will be (anywhere from 4 to 10 feet high) and drive a stake in the ground to the height, centered in the location of your holzhaufen. FYI – Don’t build the stack higher than you can reach to the top!

5. Determine the diameter of your stack (4 feet to 6 feet across) and start stacking your wood aligned with the outer perimeter. This will leave a space in the center around the stake. As the stack grows around the outer perimeter, fill the empty space in with wood stacked vertically to fill in the gaps. (It does not have to be a real tight fit.) The key is to allow air to move up the stack like a chimney to allow the wood to dry quickly and effectively.

6. While stacking the wood keep an eye on how level the stack is. The idea is to maintain a slight inward lean after about the first third of the stack is built. This can be accomplished by setting the thinner end of the split wood on the inside of the stack. To avoid the stack getting out of balance, “cheater boards” (thinner pieces of split wood) can be placed perpendicular to the other boards on the inside or outside of the stack as needed to keep the stack from falling. (This can be seen in the picture below.)

7. Once you get to the top foot or two of your holzhaufen start the pyramid effect toward the center. When you do this, ensure that the wood used is placed bark side up to offer the highest level of protection to the wood stack below from the elements.

8. Now that you have a completed holzhaufen, sit back and wait for your wood to season. Once the stack has settled about 20 to 25 percent it should be good and ready for the fire. A simple way to know when the wood is ready would be to make an indicator mark at about the 25% point on the center pole when you are building your holzhaufen.

Advantages of the holzhaufen:

  • One holzhaufen can contain as much as two and a half cords.
  • Includes a visual indicator of approximately how dry the wood is.
  • A 6 foot diameter and 10 foot high holzhaufen can be constructed in just one hour.
  • Drying time is shortened compared to other stacking methods due to the chimney effect of the holzhaufen.
  • The small footprint of the holzhaufen compared to other wood stacking methods results in less wood rot and bug infestation because of less wood being in contact with the ground.

*Fancy Homesteader Trick – If you would like to offer even more protection to your holzhaufen from the elements, you can place a patio table umbrella down the middle of the stack to keep it dry. A few words of warning with this method…it might be a good idea to find a way to anchor the umbrella if you do this, you may end up with a smaller holzhaufen this way, and it is also unlikely that you will any longer be able to sit outside and enjoy lemonade under your patio table umbrella when there is a huge stack of wood underneath it!

Sources: Farmshow.com, Mother Earth News, The Morning Call

Crime After The Theft: How Burglars Turn Your Stuff Into Cash

By Kevin Raposo of SimpliSafe Home Security Systems

Ever wonder what happens to a home burglary victim’s valuables? We all know that burglars aren’t burglarizing homes to furnish their own home. They’re looking to cash in on their new found booty, but how are they turning your valuables into cold hard cash? We previously had the chance to sit down with a real-life burglar who gave us the lowdown on some inside trade secrets and how to ultimately improve your home security. We thought it would be a good idea to bring him back for another Inside The Mind of A Burglar series, and he’s agreed to give us some more information on what happens to your valuables after a burglary.

Hi, it’s Bob again, your local neighborhood burglar!

Sorry for the hiatus, the summer months are my busiest!. You wouldn’t believe the season I’ve had!

When SimpliSafe asked me back for information for this upcoming article, I thought to myself: “Sure, why not? My last article didn’t seem to be bad for business.” So here’s a little insight into what happens to your stuff after a burglar strikes!

Here’s what happens to your valuables after the burglary:

There is one simple reason I’m breaking into your home: to turn your valuables into cash. I mean, I’m not doing this for my health. This is my living and something needs to pay the bills.

So, you’re wondering where a burglar takes your stuff to convert it into cash. There are a couple of options out there, but we’ll start with the obvious:

The Pawn Shop

Usually one of my first stops after successfully breaking into someone’s home is the pawnshop. I will never go to a pawnshop in the same city of the home I broke into. The last thing I need is someone looking around their city’s pawnshops for the stuff I stole from their house.

Depending where I am, I have good connections with a few shop owners. They know the type of stuff I’m bringing in is not legit. Pawn shops are not the same as they used to be. Back in the day, you could walk into pawn shop, hawk your items, collect your money with no questions asked. Nowadays, you need an ID with every sale. Fortunately for me, I’ve found a way around this: a fake ID.

Some of the stolen items I take into a pawn shop are jewelry, electronics, collectibles, musical instruments, and tools.

Craigslist & Ebay

This can be a valuable resource for me at times. Sometimes, I run into items that I’m unable to sell at a pawn shop, so I take to the internet. There’s always a buyer in cyberspace. The best thing about this is that I never have to provide an ID, and the owner of the item never runs into it at a pawn shop. It’s essentially one of the safest and best options out there. It’s worked for me countless times!

Fencing Operation

This one is rarely known to regular folks like you. A fence is someone who knowingly buys stolen property to later resale. Some of the most common fencing operations you see out there are pawn dealers, mom-and-pop shops, and organized crime groups.

Here’s how it works: They give me a grocery list of items they need, I got out and burglarize homes until I have everything checked off their list. I go back with the items they have requested and they pay me. It’s as simple as that. They demand, I supply. The reason why I prefer dealing with a fencing operation is largely due to the fact that I know what items are hot and what I’ll get top dollar for. This eliminates me wasting my time driving around to pawn shops, or posting items online for sale. The fence does all middleman work for me.

Drug Dealers

There are some burglars out there who give us “professionals” a bad name. I’m talking about the thieves who steal to support their drug habit. These guys aren’t very good at what they do, but hey, they do get the job done, most of the time.

These guys have it somewhat easier or harder depending on how you look at it. The drug-seeking burglar is looking to convert your valuables into cash so they can score a high. Sometimes, they don’t even have to find a way to get cash out of an item. They’ll simply barter or trade with their drug dealer for the drugs they need. The dealer in turn uses his large organized crime network to turn the goods into cash.

Bob’s Final Thoughts

So there you have it, that’s what happens to your stuff if your home is ever burglarized. Tons of people are looking to profit from burglary, and that’s not even including me. A lot of people buy stolen goods without even know they are doing it, and many don’t even really try to find out, which just makes my job easier.

There is a wealth of information about home security that is available from Kevin and SimpliSafe Home Security. Make sure that you follow the link to SimpliSafe and get smart on solutions to keep you and your loved ones safe at home!

This article was reprinted with permission from SimpliSafe Home Security Systems.

How To Make A Book Safe

I saw this video from The Daily Prep on YouTube and thought that it would be something that would be valuable to pass along. It seems like a fairly straight forward project and an old hardback book can be acquired at a low cost or free from a friend, library sale, thrift store, university, or school. Besides a solid book, all you need is white glue and a razor knife and you will have an extra hiding place that will fit in almost anywhere. This is a great addition to a home security plan. Check out the video and if you like what Dan has to say make sure you leave a comment for him and subsribe to his YouTube channel.

What is the best homemade hiding place that you can think of or have created?

Friday Survival Scoop

It’s Friday again and here is another batch of some of the tasty tidbits of survival and preparedness that the web had to offer this week. Check out these articles on the state of global food reserves, the pros and cons of popular water storage containers, knife care and maintenance, and signaling considerations for your vehicle emergency kit.

Global Food Reserves Have Reached Their Lowest Level In Almost 40 Years by Michael Snyder on Alt-Market

This article expounds upon the increasing global food crisis and highlights the fact that food consumption throughout the world for six out of the last eleven years has exceeded production. The end state has been the lowest level of global food reserves in almost four decades. Forecasters are also saying that if the trend continues, the world’s food supply is only one event away from global disaster and chaos. There is also a great quote included from the world bank that is eye-opening.

Pros and Cons of Popular Water Storage Containers on Food Storage and Survival

After surveying readers on what storage containers they use for water, Food Storage and Survival compiled the results and now are discussing some of the pros and cons of the different containers. The water storage containers discussed include gallon jugs, water bottles, refilled PETE bottles like 2 liter soda bottles, 5 gallon hard plastic jugs, 30-55 gallon drum, waterbrick, water bladder, and even cover emergency water boxes and pouches. The author also mentions the fact that they live in a “super small” house and lists the combination of water storage containers that they use.

Knife Care and Maintenance by FerFAL on The Modern Survivalist

This is half article and half YouTube video from one of the best known proponents of modern survivalism, Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre. The title says it all though, knife care and maintenance. A knife is a tool. It is a tool that could save your life some day though so make sure to maintain your knife/knives. For those who are not familiar with FerFAL, he is a native Argentinian and lived through the economic collapse that occurred in 2001 in his home country. This makes him and all of his writings, interviews, videos, and other resources that he had created incredibly valuable because his is a voice of experience.

Signaling Considerations for Your Vehicle Emergency Kit by Bryan Black on ITS Tactical

This is a great piece on some of the different possibilities that are available for signaling in the event of a vehicle emergency. Bryan Black from ITS not only covers some of the options that you may want to keep in your vehicle emergency kit but also recounts some of the requirements that every driver should look at when considering these options. On a side note, if you are not familiar with the work of Bryan Black or ITS Tactical, take a few minutes to look around the site. I am sure that you will find at least a few more interesting and useful tidbits. One of my favorites is Skilcraft – Pen of the U.S. Government.

Did you spot another great preparedness related article this week on the web? Post a link in the comments section and share it with everyone else!

 

Five Essential Components to Winter Driving

October is here and that means a new fiscal year for the federal government. It also means that winter will be upon the vast majority of us sooner as opposed to later. With winter weather comes winter driving and with winter driving comes all the extra dangers that no one misses during the rest of the year. It made me think that it would be a good time to re-post the series that I did last year on winter driving that was inspired by a series of “errors in judgment” when it came to the winter drivers in my local area. 

*Disclaimer – I am in no means a mechanical or driving expert so use the knowledge shared here at your own risk.

The first thing that should be accomplished in preparation for winter driving is to ensure that your vehicle is in a good state of repair and ready for the additional challenges of the extreme temperatures and winter conditions.  If you would prefer to have your vehicle taken to a mechanic for a tune-up, which is not a bad option at all if you can afford it.  If your preference is to check your vehicle out yourself then that is great too.  The thing that matters is that someone takes a look at your vehicle to make sure that it is in good operating condition.

PREPARING YOUR VEHICLE FOR WINTER WEATHER CHECKLIST –

□ Check the brakes for rotor wear, screeching sounds, wobbling, or excessive play in the brake pedal.

□ Check under the hood for loose and/or worn wiring, hoses, and fan belts.

□ Check the high and low beams as well as turn signals for proper operation.

□ Inspect windshield wipers and consider specialty snow wiper blades as an alternative.

□ Check the air filter for cleanliness and/or any obstructions.

Check the battery for clean terminals and tight connections.

□ Inspect vehicle tires for proper air pressure, sidewall wear, and tread depth.

□ Check motor oil, antifreeze, and windshield washer fluid levels.  Also ensure that the fluids used in your vehicle are appropriate for the temperature range that you will be operating in.

□ Check the heating/defrosting system for proper operation.

□ If your vehicle is rear wheel drive then consider placing sand tubes or another form of additional weight in the rear of the vehicle to provide additional traction.

This is by no means an all-inclusive list and I would encourage you to look into the subject further.  What this should do is serve as a starting point and at least give everyone an idea (especially those that may be less mechanically inclined) of where to get started in preparing your vehicle for the winter driving season.

After you or your mechanic has closely inspected your vehicle and it has been deemed roadworthy, plan your trip before you set out.

WHAT TO DO BEFORE YOU GO OUT DRIVING IN WINTER CONDITIONS –

● AAA says it best.  Stay home.  If you really don’t have to go out, don’t.  Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can.  Don’t tempt fate: If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.

● If you must go out, try to hit the road only after the snow plows and salt or sand trucks have had the opportunity to clear and treat the roads.

● ALWAYS use your safety belt and make sure that all of your passengers are as well.

● Winter driving familiarization can be accomplished by taking your vehicle to an empty parking lot that is covered in icy and/or snowy and practicing winter driving maneuvers.  This will also give you a feel for how your particular vehicle will react to certain conditions.

● Program emergency contacts into your cell phone that includes roadside assistance and at least three other people who can be contacted for assistance if you need it.

● Use the internet, radio, TV, or your smart phone to check the weather conditions at your destination and along your route before you even leave your departure point.  Allow plenty of time to get to your destination based on the conditions and if there are potential changes forecast than allow additional time to compensate for these additional risks.  Keeping a GPS system as well as a map of the local areas where you are traveling in your vehicle will also mitigate the chances of getting lost.  As great as GPS systems can be, they are not fool-proof, especially when bad weather is present and a map is a great back-up.

● When planning your route during winter months eliminate risky areas such as hills, bridges, high traffic areas, or points where traffic merges and vehicles could slide into each other.

● Wear appropriate, comfortable clothing for your trip and remember to dress in layers.  You will not need as much clothing while you are in the vehicle but if you needed to get out you want those additional layers handy so that you are able to stay warm.

● Don’t get tired driving to your destination.  If you can, plan to have additional drivers on a long trip.  More than one driver allows for a rotation.  Regardless of the number of drivers that you have make sure that you get plenty of rest prior to driving in winter conditions and make periodic stops to stretch every two to three hours.  If you are making a long trip to avoid being tired leave during the day if possible instead of planning on putting in a full day and then leaving for your trip at night.  Driving during daylight hours also has the benefit of better visibility while also providing the advantage of being found easier if you do end up sliding off the road or getting stranded.

● Make sure that you keep your vehicle’s fuel tank full if possible so that if you do get stranded you have the means to run the vehicle periodically to keep warm.  Ensure that when periodically running the vehicle that the exhaust pipe is clear of obstructions.

● Clear all vehicle windows, mirrors, lights (headlights/brake lights/turn signals), and the roof of ice and snow.  Completely clear the windows.  Don’t just make the little square on the windshield that makes your car look like some sort of homemade hillbilly tank.

The vehicles good and the trip has been planned, now make sure that you know how to handle operating a vehicle in hazardous conditions and what to do if you get stranded.  This is another area where I will try to share what I know and could gather but I would again urge you to look for more information so that you feel the most comfortable with your own abilities.  Some, regardless of how much reading is done, may need to seek additional driving instruction.  This is ok.  What is important is that you realize the limit of your abilities and seek improvement if you need to.

OPERATING A VEHICLE IN POTENTIALLY HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS –

» Remember the basic rule. Law enforcement officers can cite you for driving dangerously even if you are traveling at the posted speed limit if the weather and road conditions dictate that vehicles should be operated at lesser speeds.

» Keep an eye out for other vehicles and attempt to anticipate the actions of the other vehicles driver. You will have less time to react on rain, snow, or ice so leave additional room between you and other vehicles.

» Make sure that you are always visible to other vehicles by driving with your lights on. Use low beams at all times. Using high beams during winter driving conditions is not more effective and can make driving more difficult because of impaired vision as a result of reflecting light.

» The slippery conditions created by ice and snow add additional time and distance to what you normally would need to stop. Allow for extra braking distance and time when ice and/or snow is/are on the roads. These same slippery conditions make it necessary to slow down the speed of your vehicle, make yours starts deliberate and smooth, and make turns slowly. When braking also remember to lightly apply the brakes and never “slam on” the brakes, doing so could cause the vehicle brakes to lock up or put the vehicle into a skid. Conventional brakes can be gently pumped while anti-lock brakes need to have gentle and steady pressure applied to properly brake in slippery conditions.

» If it is possible to avoid stopping all together, then do so. It is much easier to get moving again from a slow roll then from a dead stop. Don’t commit any traffic violations but slowly rolling up to an intersection while waiting for a light to change can make getting through the intersection a lot easier.

» If you start to go into a skid then handle it properly. Keep both of your hands on the wheel. Remember the face of the clock, the left hand goes at ten o’clock and the right hand goes at two o’clock. Steer the vehicle in the direction that you want it to go. It sounds simple because it is and oh yeah, it works.

» Some areas of the roadway such as bridges, overpasses, and seldom traveled roads will freeze before others. These same areas are also the prime areas for the formation of black ice. Look out for spots in the road that look black and shiny; this is possibly black ice which can cause sudden loss of control of your vehicle. If you identify what you think is black ice then slow down, keep your foot off of the brakes, and guide your vehicle through the area keeping both hands on the steering wheel.

» Avoid using cruise control when driving in winter conditions to maintain maximum control of your vehicle.

» Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill as slowly as possible. Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill. If additional traction is needed on hills consider shifting into a lower gear.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU GET STRANDED –

» The first thing that you should do if you get stranded in your vehicle is attempt to call for help. This can be hard sometimes because of poor cell phone reception. Always keep in mind that sometimes even with a poor cell signal that text messages are able to be sent even when a call can’t be made. This can be a potential work around if you get stranded and need to get help.

» If you are stranded, don’t leave your vehicle unless there is no other option. Every year people are killed because they wander out into winter storms after getting stranded in their cars. Often times their cars are found long before their bodies are. The best thing that you can do is let someone know that you are going somewhere, what the route you are taking is, and when you expect that you will arrive at your destination. This will give anyone that goes looking for you the best chances of finding you soon and alive.

» Keeping a window cracked open is a must. If your vehicle becomes covered in snow it can actually create a seal and ultimately lead to asphyxiation. The window being cracked is also necessary if you are going to use a candle or a canned heat product like Sterno to try to stay warm or prepare food in the vehicle while you are stranded. Maintaining body temperature is imperative to ensure survival if you get stranded in your vehicle in the middle of winter. Running the engine periodically is the best way to heat a vehicle in this scenario. The danger in running the engine is the risk of carbon monoxide leaking into the vehicle especially when a vehicle is stationary as well as potential engine damage caused by running for extended periods of time. To mitigate the chances of asphyxiation and engine damage, only run the vehicle for ten minutes or less per hour and remember to keep the window cracked.

The only thing missing now is a Winter Car Emergency Kit. The list below was designed to be as comprehensive as possible but of course no one person can do it all. If there is something that you see I missed please leave a comment and let me know. Remember that just because you can call for help does not mean that someone will be able to get to you immediately. Having an emergency kit in your vehicle will help ensure your survival as you wait for assistance to arrive.

WINTER CAR EMERGENCY KIT –

□ Properly Inflated Spare Tire (Full Size Spare If Possible), Tire Iron, and Tire Jack

□ Gas Can

□ Compact Shovel

□ Tire Chains (If Permitted by State & Local Laws)

□ Jumper Cables

□ Tow Strap

□ Rock Salt or Cat Litter (Assist w/ Traction)

□ Basic Tool Kit

            – Multi-Tool

            – Adjustable Wrench

            – Phillips Screwdriver

            – Flathead Screwdriver

            – Pliers

            – Needle Nose Pliers

            – Socket Set

            – Wire Brush

            – Razor Knife

            – Electrical Tape

            – Duct Tape

            – Bailing Wire

            – Shop Rags

□ Gas Line Antifreeze

□ Emergency Tire Sealant (Fix-A-Flat)

□ Tire Pressure Gauge

□ Fire Extinguisher

□ Spare Bulbs

□ Spare Fuses

□ Spare Engine Belts, Hoses, Hose Clamps, & Hardware (Screws, Nuts, Bolts, Etc.)

□ Extra Fluids As Needed (Engine Oil, Antifreeze, Power Steering, Windshield Washer, Etc.)

□ Swiss Army Knife

□ Flashlight with Extra Batteries

□ Reflective Triangles or Signal Flares

□ Brightly Colored Cloth (Antenna Signal)

□ Ice Scraper/Snow Brush

□ Compass

□ Road Maps/Atlas

□ Cell Phone Charger

□ Emergency Cash (Quarters & Small Bills, ~ $20)

□ Battery Powered Radio w/ Batteries (AM/FM/Weather)

□ First Aid Kit (Including Life Sustaining Prescription Medication If Needed)

Emergency Candles or Canned Heat

□ Nylon Cord or Rope – 50 Feet (Parachute Cord is Ideal)

□ Two Methods to Start Fire

            – Bic Style Lighter

            – Wood Matches

            – Magnifying Lens

            – BlastMatch (Flint Striker)

            – Magnesium Fire-Starter

□ Tarp or Painters Plastic

□ Extra Clothing

            – Hat

            – Coat

            – Gloves

            – Sweatshirt

            – Shirt

            – Pants

            – Long Underwear

            – Socks

            – Underwear

□ Extra Shoes (Boots Preferred)

□ Poncho

□ Blanket or Sleeping Bag

□ Emergency Blanket

□ Food (Non-Perishable & High-Energy)

            – Backpacking Type Meals

            – MRE’s

            – Energy Bars

            – Nuts

            – Granola

            – Beef Jerky

            – Dried Fruit

            – Canned Goods (Soup, Chili, Etc.)

            – Chocolate

            – Instant Coffee

            – Hot Chocolate Mix

            – Tea Bags

□ Bottled Water (Only about ¾ full to allow for expansion as a result of freezing.)

□ Manual Can Opener

□ Metal Hiker’s Cup (Use to Melt Snow for Water)

□ Water Purification Tablets

□ Toilet Paper

□ Hand Sanitizer

□ Feminine Hygiene Items

□ Toiletry & Hygiene Items (Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Deodorant, Etc.)

□ Pencil/Pen & Paper

□ Whistle (To Signal)

□ Book (Entertainment)

Thanks for taking the time to get smart about winter driving and don’t forget to drive safe!

Sources: National Traffic Safety Institute, American Automobile Association, The Weather Channel

Build A Barometer Workshop!

After yesterday’s post on how to predict the weather for yourself I was inspired to look at some other tools that could be useful in prognosticating future weather events if the end of meteorological forecasting AKA “weather guessing” were to occur. Something that could prove to be invaluable would be a barometer (an instrument used to measure barometric pressure). There are a couple of ways to accomplish this. The two basic methods are using air in a jar with a balloon over the top or the colored liquid in a jar with a plastic tube or straw method. I debated spelling out each method step by step, but then I got smart and found YouTube videos! In addition to showing how to make a barometer, the first video also gives some tips on how barometric pressure effects fishing.

What additions would you add to your weather prediction arsenal to ensure that you are ready to predict the weather after TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It)???

Rain Or Knee Pain? Predict The Weather!

A key driver of activity in life is weather. A baseball game, a military mission, the space shuttle launch, and school days throughout the country are all things that are impacted both negatively and positively every year by different weather factors. If there were to be a break down in communications from an EMP or some other catastrophic event that prevented weather forecasts from being disseminated to the general public, weather prediction skills will become invaluable. So what are some of the things to look for when trying to predict what the weather has in store? Clouds, geographical features, barometric pressure, animal behaviors, and folklore/traditional sayings can all be reliable guidelines to use to predict the weather in the absence of professional meteorological outlooks.

Clouds

Clouds can be a good indicator of what the weather may be doing. If you can learn to identify the different types of clouds, you may be able to accurately predict specific types of weather that may be rolling your way soon. Different categories of clouds include:

AGL = Above Ground Level

Low Clouds (Under 6,500 Feet of Altitude)

Cumulus – Meaning heap in Latin, these clouds are typically the easiest to identify and are usually associated with fair weather but cumulus clouds are known to produce precipitation if they are very tall. If these clouds get bunched and large, it can result in heavy showers particularly when the weather is warm.

Stratus – The Latin word for blanket or layer, stratus clouds are low hanging clouds that are known for covering the entire sky like a blanket. Stratus clouds often produce rain and drizzle. Usually if they lift quickly in the morning it indicates that a decent day of weather is ahead.

Nimbostratus – These clouds are classified by the dark sheets that blot out the sun and are usually followed by extended precipitation (several hours) within a couple of hours.

Stratocumulus – Clouds that may produce light precipitation but usually dissipate by the end of the day and are identified by the low, rolling mass of thin, lumpy white to grey clouds that may cover the entire sky. 

Middle Clouds (6,500 to 20,000 Feet of Altitude)

Altocumulus – These clouds are patterned white to grey clouds that often appear in waves or are rippled and are larger than cirrocumulus clouds. Altocumulus are considered to be fair weather clouds and usually occur after storms.

Altostratus – Formless grey to bluish clouds, they will form a thin veil over the sun and moon. If they gradually darken and blot out the sun or moon, it is a sign that precipitation is on the way.

High Clouds (Over 20,000 Feet of Altitude)

Cirrus – Meaning curl in Latin, cirrus clouds reside high in the atmosphere in the very cold air because these clouds are made of ice crystals. Cirrus clouds are usually associated with fair weather but occasionally may also be an indicator that storms may be on their way.

Cirrocumulus – Clouds that appear in layers that look like either fish scales or rippled sand. Sometimes cirrocumulus also appear to look like rippled surface water on a pond or lake. These clouds are considered a sign of good weather and often clear out to blue sky.

Cirrostratus – These clouds are composed of ice particles and form a halo around the sun. When a sky filled with cirrus clouds darkens and the clouds turn to cirrostratus it is likely a sign of rain or snow to come depending on the temperature.

Towering Clouds (Up To 60,000 Feet of Altitude)

Swelling Cumulus – These flat-bottomed clouds with growing, cauliflower-like towers often form in the middle of the day and precede cumulonimbus clouds.

Cumulonimbus – Towering storm clouds that produce hail, thunder, strong winds, sleet, rain, lightning, and tornadoes. These clouds are characterized by a top that is often shaped like an anvil. If these clouds form early in the day it can mean that there are greater chances of severe weather.

Geographical Impact on Weather

  • Coastal regions typically have more moderate temperatures that inland regions, meaning that they generally are warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
  • The air above urban areas is often warmer than in less developed/lower population dense areas. This can sometimes result in an artificial low pressure system.
  • Hilly regions generally have temperature shifts where warm air will move uphill during the day and downhill at night.
Barometric Pressure
  • The Nose Knows – The strength of scents often increase or decrease along with changes in barometric pressure. Plants will release their waste products in a low pressure atmosphere which generates a compost-like smell, indicating upcoming precipitation. Swamp gasses (marked by their unpleasant smells) are also released just before a storm as a result of low pressure in the atmosphere. The scents of some flowers are also very strong just before a rain.
  • The air bubbles in your coffee cup will ring to the outside of your cup when a low pressure system sets in. This is an indicator that rain is on the way.
  • Smoke from the campfire indicates approximate barometric pressure. If the smoke from the campfire hangs low to the ground (an indicator of low barometric pressure) than rain is likely to fall soon. If smoke from the campfire rises high (an indicator of high barometric pressure) then good weather is in the future.
  • While there is no scientific reasoning that I could find, it has been shown through various studies that people who suffer from joint and muscle pain can sense (usually through pain) when the barometric pressure is dropping. This is a sign of precipitation.
Animal Behaviors
  • Crickets can help you determine the temperature! Count the number of cricket chirps you hear in fourteen seconds and then add 40 to get the temperature in Fahrenheit. Example: 40 Chirps + 40 = 80 Degrees F / To determine the temperature in Celsius, count the number of chirps in 25 seconds, divide by three, then add four to get the temperature.
  • Many animals ears are sensitive to low pressure systems. Wolves and dogs will become nervous before a storm and emit whines or howl-like sounds.
  • Seagulls and geese won’t often fly just prior to a storm. The thinner air associated with low pressure systems makes it harder for these birds to get airborne. Seagulls also will not fly typically fly at the coast if a storm is coming.
  • Birds flying high in the sky indicate fair weather (high pressure system).
  • Cows tend to group together when poor weather is on the way and they will typically lie down before a thunderstorm.
  • Ants will steepen the sides of their hills just before it rains.
Folklore/Traditional Sayings
  • “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky at morn, sailor’s take warn.” – A red sky at night during sunset (when looking toward the West) indicates a high pressure system with dry air that has stirred dust particles into the air which causes the sky to appear red. Typically the jet stream and prevailing front movements go from West to East meaning that the dry weather is headed toward you. A red sky in the morning (in the East with the rising sun) means that the dry air has already moved past you and a low pressure system is behind it (moving your way) bringing moisture with it.
  • “Long notice, expect it to last. Short notice, expect it to pass.” – If clouds take several days to build, extended rain is likely in the cards. If a storm system builds quickly, it is likely to dissipate quickly as well.
  • “Clear moon, frost soon.” – If the night sky is clear enough to see the moon as a result of no cloud cover, heat will be allowed to escape and the temperature could drop enough for frost to form in the morning.
Other Indicators
  • Lightning strike distance can be estimated by counting the number of seconds between the sight of the lightning and the sound of the thunder and then divide this number by five. This will give you the distance in miles that you are from the lightning strike. To determine the distance in kilometers, the process is the same except you divide the number of seconds by three instead of five.
  • Check the grass at sunrise. Dry grass at sunrise indicates clouds and/or strong breezes which can mean rain. Dew on the grass means that it probably won’t rain that day. (If it rained the night before, this method will not be reliable.)
  • Cloud cover on a Winter night translates to warmer weather because the cloud cover prevents heat radiation that would ordinarily occur and lower the temperature on a clear night.
  • The low cloud cover that is typically present right before rainfall also results in louder and more vibrant sounds as they are reflected and amplified off of the low clouds.
  • Wind Direction – Winds blowing from the East indicate an approaching storm front where winds out of the West generally indicate good weather. Strong winds from any direction indicate high pressure difference which can mean a possible storm front approaching.
  • If the sharp points on a half-moon are not clear, rain may be on the way (haze/low clouds distort images).
  • Humidity is most often felt when it is high but indicators of high humidity include frizzy hair, curled leaves on oak and maple trees, swollen wood doors, and salt in the shaker that is clumped together.
*Most of the weather prediction methods in this post are only tested/known/suspected to be effective in North America.
If there is anything that I missed or if there is something that you would like to add, please leave a comment in the comments section.
Sources for this post include: The United States Search and Rescue Task Force, The Happy Camper by Kevin Callan, Camping’s Top Secrets (2nd Ed.) by Cliff Jacobsen, and the University of Hawaii

DISCLAIMER: Nothing contained here should be taken as a replacement for professional meteorological weather prediction and should be done at your own risk. Predicting the weather for yourself is not an exact science and should be done for entertainment and the end of the world purposes only. The Prepared Ninja, its writers, staff, and affiliates strictly deny any endorsement of use of the methods outlined above.

“Roughing It”…Overcoming Toilet Paper Shortages

Photo Credit: ColoredToiletPaper.net

A lesser focused on area of preparing for the end of the world/the apocalypse/zombie invasion often involve things that we as Americans take for granted such as having toilet paper to clean up after…ourselves. There are essentially two options, stock up on so much toilet paper that you never run out or come up with the best possible substitutes. This post will serve to highlight some of the best possible substitutes for T.P. that I was able to identify.

There is only one basic principle that applies (no pun intended) to toilet paper substitutes which is that you are essentially only limited to what you can stand to push up against your tush. Here are some ideas:

  1. Phonebooks (Cleaner backside from A to Z)
  2. Old Paperbacks – These can be found for free at yard sales, libraries, schools, universities, etc.
  3. Water – Take a squeezable water bottle and poke a few pin holes in the lid, fill with water, and squeeze. The light pressure will help wash away the mess.
  4. Cloth – Cloth scraps, rags, or ripped up old towels/clothing items are all great replacements for toilet paper and can be washed and reused. As a Soldier, when we were in the field we used to always joke around that you could always tell who wasn’t constipated because their shirts were always the shortest from tearing the bottoms off to clean up after themselves.
  5. Romans used to use a sponge attached to the end of a stick that they would soak in salt water to keep it clean. (My guess would be that it would only get to be “so” clean.)
  6. Natives in coastal areas and near bodies of water that contain mussels would used their shells to clean up “behind” them.
  7. The Cree’s weapon of choice was sphagnum moss to take care of business.

The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) recommends the following four options as the best alternatives to toilet paper:

  1. Pinecones
  2. Snow (Use in moderation. Environmental injury to the buttocks isn’t fun from what I have heard.)
  3. Sticks (Choose wisely, my son. I would avoid sticks with thorns myself.)
  4. Weathered Rocks (Emphasis on weathered here. If there are sharp edges there could be problems. Be especially careful in areas with lava flows/historic volcanic activity.)

While these four things are obviously found in the great outdoors, they are also items that can be found without too much difficulty in the suburban/urban environment should the need arise. The greatest difference being that in these environments, your available supply of second string T.P. in the suburban and urban environments will be far less than in the wilderness and rural areas.

Do You WD-40?

Image Credit: WD40.com

You learn something new every day and I am far from being the exception. I was astonished to learn today that WD-40  has over 2,000 uses. Of course, my wife knew that already and immediately put my manhood into question. Not much to be done about that though I guess. What I thought was a handy product, I now view as liquid miracle in a can. With so many uses, WD-40 can do just about everything but set a dislocated shoulder!

I also learned that WD stands for water displacement and the 40 in the name made its way there because it was the 40th attempt that finally got the formula right. So after 40 attempts to develop this secret recipe of lubricants, Water Displacement – 40th Formula (WD-40) was created. This multi-purpose lubricant is safe to use on metal, wood, rubber, and plastic and performs the five functions of lubrication, penetrating, protection of surfaces, removal of dirt and grime, and displacement of moisture.

So the variety of WD-40 uses span the following six major categories and include specific uses like:

Home/Garden

- Keeps blades on outdoor power equipment from rusting.

- Cleans and protects garden tools.

- Spray around the bottom of your garbage cans to prevent animals from getting into them.

Car/Truck

- Keeps vehicle battery terminals clean and rust free.

- Keeps winch cables clean and lubricated.

- Unfreezes car doors.

On The Job

- Cleans magazines for magazine-fed firearms.

- Spray on hands before using heavy adhesives to prevent sticking.

- Improves cutting time for drills.

Garage/Workshop

- Protects tools from corrosion.

- Drives out moisture from flashlights.

- Prevents corrosion on pulley systems.

Sports/Recreation

- Lubricates pump-action firearms.

- Keeps fishing reels rust free.

- Cleans knife blades.

Other

- Loosens tight propane tank handles.

- Spray locking rods of portable fire-proof safes to keep them operating properly.

- Keeps missile silo doors swinging freely.

It seems to me that after stumbling upon the list of 2,000+ uses for WD-40 that it might be a great item to have on hand and potentially even stockpile for barter use in the future. In addition to the over 2K uses for WD-40, it literally has an indefinite shelf life which makes it perfect for your survival stockpile. Don’t forget to print off a copy of the over 2,000 uses for WD-40 to keep in your prep library.

If you know of a great WD-40 use or a story about the uses of WD-40 please leave a comment!