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Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Freedom Award Finalist: "Building Better Bug-Out-Bags"

by Bison Forge, as originally posted to Survivalmonkey

The Bug-Out Bag is probably the first thing that you think of when you hear the word ‘preparedness’. Sometimes masquerading under different names such as a BOB, GOOD, NICE, INCH, or whatever else you want to call it, we are talking about the same thing here. A Bug Out Bag is usually designed to get you out of an emergency situation and allow you to survive self-contained for up to 3 days. A lot of people plan their Bug Out Bag to sustain them for much longer than that, but there is always a limit to what you can carry on your back and a 3 day target is a good place to start.

Some questions that are asked frequently run along the lines of: “How do I build an emergency kit, or BOB?” or “How do I know what to pack?” This article is going to help answer those questions.

The process of building a Bug Out Bag can be divided into five easy steps.

1) Determine what you want your BOB to do for you.
2) Research.
3) Select your gear.
4) Testing and Evaluation.
5) Adjust the setup

Step1: Determine what you want your BOB to do for You.
You need to figure out the POU, or Philosophy Of Use. My BOB is designed to support me for 3+ days in an emergency situation, in which I might face hiking over long distances, the need to purify water, procure food, and defend myself against predators both two legged and four legged.

Step 2: Research.
From this perspective you will first have to do some research in order to find items that can allow you to perform these tasks. Picking the tools that can provide you with food, water, shelter, and fire is a long process. You need to consider factors like price, weight, quality and function, and determine what tools serve multiple purposes in order to reduce the amount of tools you carry. I suggest that you try to check out equipment like clothing, tents, knives and other gear in a physical store before you purchase them, or check out what equipment friends, family or professionals that work in your area use.

Step 3: Select your gear
After you decide what items you want to get, you still have the process of finding the items and buying them. You might already have some of the equipment needed or you might have to buy the equipment. Make sure that you check with your family, friends, eBay, and your local flee market before you buy a piece of equipment. You can often save a lot of money by doing some research.

Looking at Maslow's listing of the priorities for life can help you determine what gear is really necessary. You can also use the Rule of Three’s, which is often taught in wilderness survival courses. This rule states that in extreme circumstances the human body can survive:

3 minutes without air/medical treatment
3 hours without protection (clothing/shelter/fire)
3 days without water (clean/pure)
3 weeks without food

Let's look at how we can address each of those needs.

Despite the fact that this is one of my favorite topics, I cannot afford the space to linger on it. Simply put, only carry what you know how to use. This is a very important topic, so be sure to get good training and a medical guide appropriate to your situation. I recommend that you get advice from people who know what they are doing, and if at all possible, move to their house post-collapse :-)

The concept of layering is very important here, but I don’t have the space to expound upon it (darned word count). A quick internet search will help you figure it out. As a rule I try not to use any natural fibers other than wool in my clothing choices, just to save on space and weight. I am always found wearing a hat of some kind, and in severe cold I will sleep with a watch or knit type cap on. My best advice on clothing, as in everything else is to be the “grey man”, and try to blend in with your surroundings.

Fire is very important to survival. With it, I can dry my clothes, keep myself at the critical temperature of 98.6F, boil water, cook my food, keep predatory animals at bay, and raise my morale. You get the point, it does a lot. I keep multiple disposable, adjustable flame lighters stashed throughout my gear.

Going hand in hand with fire is a source of artificial light. This part is both the easiest, and the most fun. Be sure to read lots of reviews on the light that you plan to buy. Go for high output LEDs, but keep in mind that flashlights are like computers, a better one is born every minute.

Your goal for water is to have 1 gallon per person per day. Water is heavy, so having a way to treat it instead of carrying all that you may need is important.
My water treatment plan is redundant like most of my other important items. This is an area in my kit that needs improvement, I will be upgrading to a MSR Hyperflow Microfilter soon. As a back up, I always carry Auqamira tabs. Coffee filters, or a bandana can go a long way to extending the life of your filter, and are multi use items.

Food/ Cooking Regarding food, simple, light weight, and filling are the only requirements that I have. The three big types of food that you are likely to find in mine, or any other persons BOB are MRE’s, Backpackers Meals, or Mainstay Rations.

Because my main ration is self contained in either MRE or Mainstay form, I do not have to do a lot of cooking. But when it comes time to do some cooking of supplementary food sources, the lightest weight solution that I have found is a roll of aluminum foil. Just wrap your food and pop it straight on the coals.

What are some other things that contribute to your survival besides those already mentioned? Let's take a look:

The challenge here is to balance how much you need verses how much you want to bring with you. A good target is to try to keep your number of tools at five or below. As we know, the three basic functions of a cutting implement are to chop, saw, and stab/slice, and we need to include all of these in our planning. These tools would fill the places of 1) a folding pocket knife, 2) a multi-tool, 3) a fixed blade knife, and 4) a muscle powered method to process wood. My suggestions:

Another consideration is weapons. Obviously a firearm of some sort is best for this, though not in all situations. I will not go into specifics about what type of gun you should bring because that is hotly debated and really a personal choice. Take what is comfortable for you.

While far from a survival priority, something that needs to be addressed is your pack. While it may not be a necessity, it sure is a nicety. Your options here are pretty much endless. There are an amazing number of resources out there that can help you determine what bag to get for your needs. I recommend your bag meet these criteria: comfortable and light weight, durable and big enough to carry all of your gear, and finally it has to blend with whatever environment you plan on being in. Please remember that while there are a huge variety of fantastic bags out there, you do not need to get too wrapped up over what bag you use as long as it works for you.

Step 4: Test the Bug Out Bag
After you have put everything together, you still have to test the kit so that you actually know if it performs as intended. Taking the bag for a longer hike in your local terrain can give you the chance to practice skills and see what items are really necessary.

Step 5: Adjust the Setup
After you have tested your Bug Out Bag, make adjustments to the setup as needed. After you have adjusted, take it out for another test run, and repeat the revision process as necessary untill you are happy with your final setup. Remember, the items contained within may be the only items that you have to survive with in the future.

This article is written to give you some ideas of what factors to consider when building a Bug Out Bag. The important thing is that your BOB reflects what you need and is designed for your particular situation. One size does not fit all; this is something that applies to all kinds of crisis preparedness and survival situations. Others can often provide good suggestions and feedback, but in the end you have to make the decisions for yourself.

Help us determine the best survival-related article of 2011 as written for Safecastle's 2011 Freedom Awards contest. See all the finalists in the article and video categories:

Freedom Award Finalist: "Preparedness for Young People"

by Maria S., as originally posted to Rural Revolution

“I’m fifteen years old and I’m worried about the future, but my parents don’t seem to notice how bad things are getting out there, and I can’t convince them.”

All over, young people are waking up to the precarious state of the world in which we live, yet are still living at home under their parents’ authority, and those parents do not agree that it’s important to be prepared. So I am writing this article to you, young people who want to prepare yourselves. What can you do to be prepared at this stage of your life?

I’ll start by telling you what preparedness means to me. Preparedness is being adaptable and resourceful, keeping oneself and those who are precious to one safe and happy.

I suggest to you that whatever your plans are, they should include your family. We need our families and they need us. So realistically speaking, your first option should not be to grab your bug-out bag and disappear, leaving your family behind to face whatever comes. Your family members can be your greatest assets, even though they may not look like it right now, and you can be theirs.

If you are hitting a brick wall when you talk with your parents about preparedness, it could be because they do not think “normal” people are prepared, that it’s only for weirdo extremists. If that’s the case, tell them the government wants them to be prepared! Show them the website It’s sponsored by the Federal government and explains why and how to prepare. It’s a nice, mainstream, non-weirdo-extremist source of information.

Take every opportunity to learn survival skills. Learn to light a fire, to pitch a tent, to hike through a valley without leaving any sign that you passed. Learn to break camp in silence. Learn archery. How do you find a teacher for skills like these if your parents are not interested? The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are wonderful programs for learning things that you can keep with you always, in your head. No scout troups in your area? Getting a little too old for that? - Get a Boy Scouts manual, it has the same instruction you’d get as an actual scout, though you’ll have to practice on your own. Then there are wonderful books out there to teach you more. Search “how to become an outdoorsman” on Google and you’ll find books, on-line courses, even college extension courses to teach you.

Make sure to involve your parents in this. They should know what you’re doing, and who you are doing it with. Set their minds at ease by being up front with them so that they don’t fear for your safety. It’s what we do, we parents; we fear for our kids’ safety. It’s hardwired into us. But if you tell us what’s going on and we don’t feel like you are sneaking around or tricking us, we feel much more at ease.

Once you have gained skills, see if your parents will allow you to teach them. Offer and see what they say. Your family’s financial resources are probably already committed somewhere, so try to suggest ideas that do not require a big outlay of funds, like a day spent hiking at a nearby park, with everybody carrying part of a picnic lunch, to start things off.

In the survivalist world, you will hear a lot about stockpiling food against future scarcity. It’s one of the easier ways to begin preparation and is where a lot of people start. But your funds are limited, and you do not have the right to insist that the family set aside a chunk of the family food budget OR the storage space in the home for food preps.

Here are some things you CAN do. First, change how you eat. If you are saying “This family really needs to eat more rice and beans because you can store them long term,” but you are consuming all the snack foods your parents can bring home, and you complain when nobody puts more soda pop in the fridge and you have to drink it warm, you are sending mixed messages. If you are asking for and eating fruits, vegetables, and, yes, rice and beans, then you are showing that you are willing to make changes.

Teaching people works much better if you show them how to do things and not just tell. So show that prep style food can taste good. Try making a meal of Spanish rice and refried beans. I’ll get you started: In a pan with a lid, mix 1 cup of rice, ½ cup of salsa and 1-1/2 cups of water. Put on the lid and turn on the heat to medium first, then down to low in a few minutes when the steam starts coming out. Meanwhile, in another pan, mix 2 cans of refried beans with a little bit of water and heat it up. Warm up some corn tortillas (or better yet, make some yourself, but that’s a lesson for another day). When the rice has cooked for about 10 minutes, take the lid off and give it a stir. If most of the liquid is gone, turn off the heat and put the lid back on for another 3 minutes or so. If there is still quite a bit of liquid, keep the heat on for another few minutes and check again. When it’s cooked, serve up the rice, beans and tortillas with some more salsa. This is a tasty, wholesome meal, and all of it can be made easily with foods that most preppers consider good storage foods. Next week, try another meal that you can make that’s delicious, healthy and prep friendly.

Once you have gained your family’s confidence, they may be more willing to allow you to make some choices on what food the family buys at the grocery. At that point, you can suggest buying larger quantities of foods to save money. Teach your parents to store the food properly (if it goes bad and is wasted, it was not a good deal in the first place).

Another area of preparation is your career. You have a lot of choice in what you do for a living as long as you keep your options wide open as a young person. There are not too many careers I can think of that will be completely useless after “the end of the world as we know it” - maybe politics! - but certainly some are going to be more needed than others. People will always need medical care, homes, food, and good water. They will always need to learn, and they will always need beauty to inspire them. Think in terms of what you can do that will improve other people’s lives as your career, and you will always be needed.

I’ll wrap this up with a five-part challenge for you. Each of these is a useful preparation tool. My challenge is for you to find:

  • One place you and your loved ones agree to meet if there is a crisis, in case your home is damaged or compromised
  • Two sources of clean water that do not depend on turning a tap
  • Three ways to start a fire using just what you have on your body at any time
  • Four kinds of food growing wild that you could obtain within an hour’s walking, gathering or hunting time
  • Five different routes to get home from your school or place of work
Sometimes the world looks like it could fall apart tomorrow. But chances are, it won’t; people have been thinking things can’t possibly get any worse for centuries, yet time continues on. In other words, be ready for the worst AND the best. You may be around to have a career and a home and a family. You may even be around to see your grandkids. So while you are thinking of how to be ready should the power grid fail, or for there to be no food available at the stores or for martial law to be declared or for pandemic or any other disaster you can imagine, keep doing what you need to do in case it holds off for a year or two or five or more. Learn all the skills you can, and practice them. Take the ACT or the SAT and apply for college. Get a summer job and save some money. Become an excellent driver. Be healthy. Exercise. Have fun. Keep yourself and your friends safe. Not one of these things will hurt you if society goes down the toilet - and each of them will help you if it doesn’t.

You will be 18 soon and then your choices will open up wider. Until then, do what you can within the bounds of what a young person can and should do within his or her family constraints. Learn. Your sharpest tool can be your mind.

Help us determine the best survival-related article of 2011 as written for Safecastle's 2011 Freedom Awards contest. See all the finalists in the article and video categories:

Freedom Award Finalist: "What is a Well-Stocked First Aid Kit?"

by K.M., as originally posted to Survivalblog

We've all heard the admonition: “You need to have a well-stocked first aid kit!” The first step to following that advice is an understanding exactly of what “well-stocked” means.

Recently, I read an article on SurvivalBlog about a man who treated his wife for a serious arm laceration during an ice storm. After running out of bandages, he was forced to drive to the store in dangerous weather conditions to get more supplies. I posted a response to the article that elicited an e-mail asking, “Well, what does a good first aid kit contain?”

Let me start with some background information. About six years ago, I started a company that supplies businesses with CPR training, first aid, and emergency products. This experience has taught me some valuable lessons. First, the number of bandages used in an average office is staggering. Either there must be a terrible problem with paper cuts and stapling accidents that I just didn't know about, or workers choose to use their office’s first aid kit instead of the one at home (if they even have a kit at home). Second, some items that should only be used on rare occasions are disappearing from office kits needlessly. For example, alcohol prep wipes should primarily be used for cleaning the skin before injections or for eliminating the sticky residue after bandage removal (If you have a laceration or abrasion and use an alcohol prep wipe to clean it, you must be a masochist!). Third, and more to the point, I was surprised to learn that there is no such thing as a “standard” first aid kit. Although there are a few organizations that make recommendations or list minimum requirements (OSHA, AMA, ANSI, US Coast Guard, Red Cross), they refrain from using the word “standard.”

So there are guidelines to help us, but we often want additional advice. Indeed, when I am teaching my CPR/First Aid classes, I am often asked. “What kind of first aid kit should I have?” As a general rule, your kit should match your training, plus a little extra. When I sell first aid kits, I always ask the prospective purchaser two things. First, I want to know what kind of training they have received (and how long ago). Then I ask the big question….
“If someone were severely injured and or bleeding, would you come to their aid?”

If the answer to this question is no, or if they haven't been trained in first-aid, then I sell them your basic over-the-counter 150-piece first aid kit. These kits are available anywhere and are little more than boo-boo kits, to fix life’s little cuts and scrapes. As an example of this type of kit is available from CVS Pharmacy and manufactured by Johnson and Johnson™; its self-described purpose is for the treatment of Cuts & scrapes; Minor burns; Pain & swelling; Itch.” This 170-piece kit has 138 Band-Aids™, a few ointments, pads, wipes, and little else. If you were counting on this kit to save someone's life in an emergency, then both you and the victim are in deep kimchee!

Preparedness and survival are our ultimate goals, so we need a larger variety of supplies that will actually be useful in a real life-or-death emergency. It is my hope that more people start investing in kits with more than just Band-Aids, and here's why. If you've taken a first aid course in the last five years (and if you haven't, shame on you), your instructor should have told you that after you've taken care of the victims’ primary needs (their ABCs - airway, breathing, and circulation), you need to look after their secondary needs (serious bleeding, shock, and spinal injuries). Your first aid instructor should have prepared you for the worst case scenario: when advanced emergency care is either delayed or unavailable, and you are the one who must provide extended care to the victim.

In addition to acknowledging what you know, consider where you live and what you do for recreational and vocational activities when gathering your supplies, a well stocked first aid kit should reflect your geographic region, activities, as well as, how many people you may need to treat. Of course there is a basic minimum for every occasion, but if it’s a kit you are building for a boat that sails off the coast of Florida, do you really need a “snake bite kit” or a “tick kit”? If you live in the desert southwest, do you really need vinegar for jellyfish stings? You wouldn’t take an eight pound “Mega Trauma” kit while backpacking, but you would certainly want a comprehensive kit at a survival retreat. A blister kit would be as out of place on a boat as an ice pack would be at the North Pole. Just as there is no single gun to fit all needs, so there is no one kit that will fill all medical necessities. But there is a place we can start. So let’s explore what an appropriate kit looks like.

I like to see these items in my ideal well-stocked first aid kit. Your kit may look different, but should generally include most of these items.

Note: With few exceptions, quantities are excluded because they will vary with the size of the kit, and people served. This list is not intended to be all inclusive, nor the only list should you consult.
  • A durable case – preferably with compartments for storage and ease of access.
  • A good First Aid reference manual – as a reminder of practices and protocols.
  • A card with emergency numbers (Poison Control, out-of-state contacts, etc.)
  • Gloves (latex or nitrile) – at least 2 pairs, to protect against contamination and pathogens.
  • CPR barrier – to protect against disease transmission.
  • Large absorbent dressings/AB pads (5”x9” or larger) – to stop or control bleeding.
  • Sterile gauze pads, various sizes – to stop bleeding and dress wounds.
  • Roll bandages, various sizes– to dress wounds.
  • Ace™-type roll compression bandage – for sprains and strains.
  • Self-adhesive bandages (Band-Aids™), various types and sizes – to dress minor wounds.
  • Steri-strips (butterfly bandages) – for closing wounds.
  • Adhesive tape – to dress wounds.
  • Non-adherent pads, various sizes – for burn wounds
  • Triangular bandages – for immobilization of dislocations and fractures.
  • Cotton-tipped swabs – for cleaning wounds, applying saves and ointments.
  • Bandage Sheers/EMT sheers – cutting bandages or victims' clothing.
  • Tongue depressors – for checking throat issues and as small splinting applications.
  • Tweezers – for splinter removal.
  • Needle – to assist in removing foreign material.
  • Penlight – for emergency lighting and for examination.
  • Oral thermometer (non-glass) – to check vital signs.
  • Syringe or squeeze bottle – for irrigation of wounds.
  • Splinting material – for dislocations and fractures.
  • Emergency blanket – for warmth and treatment of shock.
  • Instant cold pack – for treatment of hyperthermia, sprains, dislocations and fractures.
  • Instant hot pack – for treatment of hypothermia and some stings and muscle strains.
  • Bio bags – for disposal of gloves and medical waste.
  • Eye cup – for aid in removal of foreign matter in the eye.
  • Eye solution – for eye contamination and aid in removing foreign matter from the eye.
  • Antibacterial soap – for cleaning wounds and hands after treatment.
  • Antiseptic solution or wipes – to clean wounds.
  • Antibiotic ointment – for wound treatment.
  • Hydrocortisone cream – for stings and irritations.
  • Burn gels and ointments – for treating burns.
  • Burn pads – for treating larger burns.
  • Ibuprofen – to reduce swelling and for patient comfort.
  • Antihistamine tablets – for allergic reactions.
  • Blood stopper powder – for stopping severe bleeding.
  • Pen and index cards – for annotating victim’s vital signs.
  • Hand sanitizer – when you can’t wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Mole Skin – for treatment of blisters and abrasions.
In addition to the above items, there is a list of “add-ons” that could be added to your first aid kit. These can vary greatly depending on your needs, locations, and activities. Some of these may require additional cost, training, or certifications:
  • Separate complete Burn Kit – for treating multiple or very serious burns.
  • Snake bite kit – for treating snake bites.
  • Israeli Battle Dressings– one of the best on the market for serious trauma.
  • Stethoscope – for listening to breathing and heartbeats.
  • Cervical collar – to immobilize the neck from possible further harm.
  • Foldable stretcher – for carrying victims unable to walk on their own.
  • Blood pressure cuff – to determine victim’s blood pressure.
  • Sutures – to close serious wounds.
  • Hemostats/Forceps – for closing major bleeding vessels or aid in suturing.
  • Automated External Defibrillator (AED) – to help with sudden cardiac arrest.
  • Scalpel – for removing tissue, minor surgery.
  • Blood borne pathogen kit – to assist in cleaning up.
  • Surgical masks – to prevent disease contamination and blood borne pathogens.
  • Eye shields / goggles – for eye protection.
    There are also items / medications your victim may need (some of these may require a doctor’s prescription):
  • Asthma inhalers – for treatment of asthma.
  • Nitroglycerin – for the treatment of heart patients.
  • Aspirin – for treating heart patients.
  • Sugar pills – for diabetic stabilization.
  • Salt pills – for treatment of dehydration.
  • Imodium – for treatment of diarrhea.
  • TUMS – for gas and heartburn.
  • Epi Pen – for treatment of severe allergic reactions.
  • Eye drops – for tired or irritated eyes/contacts.
There are also non-medical items that can work well in a first aid kit:
  • Head lamp – for clearly seeing your work area.
  • Instant (Super) glue – to close wounds.
  • Tampons – for penetration or gunshots wounds and their primary function.
  • Glasses repair kit – to repair broken eye glasses.
  • Multi tool/Swiss Army knife– for multiple tasks.
  • Insect repellant wipes – to keep the bugs away.
  • Sun block – to prevent sunburn.
  • Lip balm – to prevent chapped lips.
  • Hand lotion – for dry and chapped hands and feet.
  • Talcum powder – for treatment of rashes and foot care.
  • Desitin™ ointment – for treatment of rashes and sore areas.
  • Hair comb – for removing items from victim’s hair and for hygiene.
  • Disposable razor – for cleaning treatment site or for personal hygiene.
  • Duct Tape – who couldn’t find a use for it?
  • Paracord 10’ – same as duct tape.
Now that we have everything and the kitchen sink, what items would I consider to be essential to any kit no matter what size?
  • Triangle bandage – has so many uses that it is a must have!
    • Sling, bandage wrap, splinting wrap, bandana, hat, baby diaper, water filter, sarong, halter top, face shield, shade covering, blindfold, dust mask, tourniquet, pressure bandage, ankle wrap, foot covering, gloves, handkerchief, washcloth, wet and use tie around neck, belt, tie up a pony tail, basket, cold compress…Why do you think every cowboy wore a bandana?
  • Self adhesive bandages (Band-Aids™) in multiple sizes – there really is no good substitute.
  • Antibiotic ointment – secondary infection of a wound can be fatal.
  • Sterile gauze pads (various sizes) – many things can be improvised to slow or stop bleeding, but to properly dress a wound, a sterile covering is vital.
Now that you have gathered every conceivable medical essential, you will need a place to put it all. Ironically, your choice of container is almost as important as what goes into the kit. The size of the kit will be determined by several factors. Is it stationary, or will it be carried? Where will it be going? Where will it be stored? How much room do you have for the kit? Will its environment be wet or hot, or will it be jostled about? Here is a list of possible “non-standard” containers for your first aid kit.
  • Fishing tackle box
  • Tool kit
  • School lunch box
  • Electronics box
  • Ziploc™ bag
  • River rafting “Dry Bag”
  • Pelican™ “type” waterproof container
  • Rubbermaid™ “type” Storage container
  • Plastic office drawers
  • Zippered Nylon pouch/bag
  • Army surplus bag
  • Ammo can (painted with a big white cross so you don’t take the wrong can to the range)
  • Tupperware™ type containers
  • Cigar Box
  • Fanny pack
  • Small nylon/canvas backpack
A few final thoughts: Rotate, rotate, rotate! Just like food on your shelf, some of your first aid kit supplies have a “limited” shelf life. With frequently changing and expanding information on expiration dates, I will not advise you when to discard your “out of date” ointments, creams, and medicines. But what I would like to address are those items that people don’t often realize have a limited life span. Gloves are notoriously short lived, especially in hot environments like a car, RV, or boat. Check them at least once a year and replace when necessary. It is very frustrating to be half way through putting on a glove when it tears, and if you’ve done this a couple of times, the cut on your victims arm may be the least of his worries! Another item with a frustratingly short life time is the self-adhesive bandage. As Band-Aids™ get older, heat and age tends to breakdown the adhesive and it loses its cohesive strength. If a self-adhesive bandage can't “stick,” it really serves no purpose.
Another consideration, your kit is as good as your training. If you haven't taken a CPR/first aid course in a while, seek out a reputable instructor and take a comprehensive CPR/First Aid course. Also, once you assemble your kit, make sure it goes where you go. Like so many other aspects of preparedness, I follow the general rule, “It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.” Now that you have a well-stocked first aid kit or two…or three, seek out opportunities to use it. If you show up to the company picnic or a family function carrying your first aid kit, there will be a few who ask sneeringly, “Hey are you expecting a disaster?” but when they need a bandage for a minor cut, or burn cream for a child’s finger, to whom do you think they will sheepishly turn to? They will turn to you, the nut that brought the first aid kit. And as you become more comfortable using your first aid kit in life’s little misadventures, you will be better suited to handle a big emergency if it is ever thrown at you.

Last, but certainly not least, is backing up your supplies. I keep large quantities on hand of most of the supplies I listed (Okay, well I sell first aid kits and supplies for a living, so I'd better have a few extra). If you have followed my advice and used your kits often, then you will occasionally need to re-stock. Having a larder somewhere to draw from makes the whole process easier. About once a year (more often if I’ve had a medium or large need), I will gather all of my kits into one place and do an inventory and re-stock my kits as needed. I gather them from my family's cars, the BOB, the 72-hour kit, the range bag, the RV, and anywhere else I have them, and re-inventory, re-stock, and rotate out long expired meds and non-sticky bandages.

Many people assume that in a panic they may forget what they have learned and not be able to rise to the occasion if an emergency occurs. One of the things that I teach each of my classes is the Emergency First Response (EFR) axiom: “Adequate care provided is better than perfect care withheld.” If that is a little too esoteric for you, then how about a quote attributed to General Patton: “A bad plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.” Or if that's still above your level of understanding, I like Larry the Cable Guy's “Git ‘Er Done!” Truer words have never been spoken.

Emergency First Response Corp. – Rancho Santa Margarita, CA
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) - Washington, DC
American National Standards Institute – Washington, DC
International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR)

Help us determine the best survival-related article of 2011 as written for Safecastle's 2011 Freedom Awards contest. See all the finalists in the article and video categories:

Freedom Award Finalist: "Threat Analysis: Bikers"

by D. Ritchey, as originally posted to Bison Survival Blog

A “biker” is a marauder on a motorcyle. A marauder is a plunderer, killer, slaver and rapist. So a “biker” in this text is one of the threats we should look for during anarchy. A biker will do what criminals do, and use the opportunities of anarchy to plunder. We should expect marauders from all angles, using every technology, appearing in many forms and strategies.

The biker is a powerful image in the American mind; we have a firm idea of what he is. The main image is the pack raider, made popular by films. The bisexual Marlon Brando wasn’t the true type to round up all the maidens and carry them off. But that’s what the American public is tuned to expect from bikers. The film “Easy Riders” is an exception to this genre; but it was meant to be political. You will note in these films, however, that the locals are always sheep. The few who step up are cut down. The bikers get what they want. Nobody can stop ‘em.

Which won’t be true. Those who decide to resist will find that bikers are easy to neutralize. We need to study the bikers more. Let me start by saying what they are, and not. They are exaggerated in several ways, hence over-rated. The ones we have to worry about are the 10 percenters; the five percent that have criminal minds, and the five percent who are sociopaths. Sociopaths aren’t necessarily criminals, but they will roll with criminals in order to carry out their destructions on society.

So that eliminates 90 percent of the bikers you see out there. The 90 percent are the wannabes and part timers. We might call them, unkindly, fantasists. They are misfits or carry grudges; they are weekend tourers, bar hoppers. Generally they are harmless because they don’t have criminal minds. In anarchy we can count on this 90 percent to melt away. For now, I focus on the 10 percent—the “white” gangs, the Harley-Davidson type. These will be primarily working class guys. They are very good with technics and machines, they are physical, many are military veterans; and they will be marginalized more than any other group. By marginalized I mean they will have been pushed to the edge of secure life by decades of economic streamlining and displacement by immigrants. They will hate the government and the upper middle class and rich. Some will be race killers, some anti-racist.

In conditions of anarchy our event horizons will shrink. Your subdivision, your frontage road, will be your world. Your ZIP will be way too big. If you arrange a defense force you will be prepared; you can drive marauders out. They will look for softer targets. They will thunder away.

Here I should ask, why would criminals choose bikes? It is the worst technology for crime in several ways. Bikes are unstable and they carry very little plunder. More on that later. But not all “bikers” will use a bike. Many will be sensible and use something practical—like a one ton van. On raids they might deploy bike outriders for security and recon. But of course some criminals will prefer to raid on their bikes. This will be the highest exercise of their ideal, the mounted outlaw. The frontier is strong in the American mind. It won’t go away; this is why gun control has been stalled for 20 years and will remain stalled. Gun culture is good for the prison and intelligence-military industries. Americans like outlaws and guns. Romantic as hell.

But we know that the serious criminals will drive four wheels, especially vans and trucks. On the other hand, the dick-cutters, not out for loot but pleasure, will ride bikes. There is a psycho-sexual connection with the “freedom” of the bike and the mounted raider fantasy. There always is in all-male outfits. But in criminal biker gangs there will be females, too, and some will be frightening psychopaths. Some will be under the influence of pornography.

On the positive side, bikes can outperform a police cruiser in a city environment. The biker who knows the alleys and shortcuts intimately, can lose pursuers, if he has a plan. A biker courier could bypass electronic surveillance, and move more easily and quickly than a car. Bikes are easier to hide, too. Bikes are incisive. But in open country, bikes lose. Street bikes don’t last long off-road.

From those lame-ass “biker” pictures we have a solid image: bikers rolling into town en masse and taking whatever they want, starting with your wife and daughter. Of course, the local population are always sheep. They don’t organize, they don’t shoot the bikers, who are easy targets. The image of the locals as sheep is lodged in the biker’s mind as well. Thus, both parties, in anarchy, are likely to act according to this model.

A “survivalist’s” response should be to act outside this meme. He will have built up a disgust for marauders and so be mentally prepared to terminate them. He will know when a gang is approaching. He will have put out videttes and a core defense force. He will have marked attack zones, and shoot the bikers down when they enter. A motorcylce is easily neutralized. If you are so foolish that you don’t have firearms, you could deploy caltrops, lubricants, balks, cables, burning oil, to stop them. You can throw rocks. Determined resistance will drive them off.

The birth-event of the biker is not well known: the 1948 Hollister “riot.” The media has exaggerated the affair. One text described them, “the pissed off bastards of Bloomington.” I don’t know where Bloomington is; California, I think. It doesn’t matter, because was a metaphor in the minds of those young men. What it meant to them, I don’t know. I am pretty sure that these veterans “rioted” against the consumerist cage that was being built around them. I suspect that a future as an economic widget horrified them. After all, they were just out of military slavery, for which they were rounded up and forced to fight in a cataclysmic war. They sensed what was coming.

Gelling this resistance, giving it details, inflating it, was Hunter Thompson’s book “Hell’s Angels” (1965). This is what implanted the “biker” meme that we hold now. Read it. And this is when the “altered state” phenomenon came into the culture. Alternative reality and the outlaw rider have combined into an escapist model. Can’t stand it any more? Ride away, take drugs to alter your perception. Get a gun. (This works for some people.) So you see that we are dealing with a complex issue. Bikers are criminals—but romantics, too. Should we expect they will have a code of ethics? Yes. Will it dispense mercy? I don’t want to test it.

In a prolonged anarchy (five plus days) the bikers will start amalgamating. This will be to access fresh territory (market); competition will quickly use up the local territory. The gangs will start killing each other off. Some will disintegrate and their survivors will join other gangs. There will be mergers and defections. The hybrids will be more efficient and some will endure. The process could take months. If LE reestablishes control, the hybrids might fight LE and defeat it; (I doubt it); else they will disband and desist, or go underground. At this point the biker marauders will no longer be a threat. So you see, the mounted raider will be the first sort of gang eliminated.

Help us determine the best survival-related article of 2011 as written for Safecastle's 2011 Freedom Awards contest. See all the finalists in the article and video categories:

Freedom Award Finalist: "A Survivalist Mindset Amongst Apathy"

by RobNPhx, as originally posted to

Apathy is described as a state of indifference, or the suppression of emotions such as concern, excitement, motivation, and passion. Over the course of these last couple of years I’ve found myself more inclined, empowered by a sense of urgency and righteousness in my beliefs, to speak with others, sometimes at great length, about my views concerning preparedness and the necessity of possessing a survivalist mindset. Often, my concerns seem to be better received outside of my most intimate inner circle of friends and family. Perhaps that same intimacy that brings about the emotional and physical bond we often share, is a detriment to my ability to convince those I most wish to convince: my truly apathetic loved ones, of the real perils that await the unprepared. Familiarity does, indeed, often breed dissent.

Casual strangers, or mere acquaintances, will usually indulge my opinions about the impending decline of our world as we know it–at least until they get that “glazed-over look” that tells me they have since tuned me out, and are concentrating their focus on something more important…like who the latest front-runners for American Idol might be; or what Snookie (Jersey Shore) said or did on their latest trashy episode. Now don’t get me wrong–I seldom, if ever, initiate any conversation regarding the virtues of preparation with anyone I don’t know well; I have simply found the task to be far too frustrating in most cases. It has become my conclusion that the uninformed prefer to stay that way, believing instead that all will turn out well in the end, and that our government won’t let them down when disaster once again strikes. Even pointing out the somewhat recent “Katrina/New Orleans” debacle does little if anything to deter their unwavering faith in the system. They simply see the general lack of preparedness by both the citizens of New Orleans and our federal government as an aberration, a glitch, a hiccup that will never happen again. I cannot help but wonder if the people of New Orleans–those that suffered through the storm and it’s terrible remnants, and choose to remain there to this very day–still have as much faith in their elected and appointed officials as they did pre-Katrina. Hmm…I wonder?

The informed and apathetic are, however, a different breed of cat. These people are generally educated and well informed of what goes on, globally as well as at the local level. They cannot, sadly enough, be classified or pigeon-holed into one neat little compartment of naysayers and denialists any more than Survivalists, Preppers, New World Order Theorists, and Neocons can be all categorized as End-of-The-World Kooks or Chicken Little Alarmists. They have the truth; the handwriting is on their wall just as it is on ours. The difference of opinions, I believe, can be boiled down to one basic and most fundamental tenet: since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and, most recently, the September 11, 2001 al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers of The World Trade Center, and The Pentagon, most Americans have never had their White Castle dreams of isolation and insulation–thus protection from the evils of the rest of the world–put to any real test. They have seen the tragedies and horrors of wars taking place thousands of miles away, in lands and cultures unrecognizable to their own. But those wars would NEVER happen here! We are the U.S. of A, for God’s sake!

Truth be told, I don’t even mind the skepticism and the mocking raised eyebrows of both the informed or uninformed. They have their choices, as do I. What really hurts are the comments from those whom I love the most, would give my very life for, and whom I intend on protecting, despite their lack of belief. When I hear my wife say to a friend or neighbor or fellow family member, when speaking of my passion for all things preparedness, “Oh, that’s just Rob doing his little hobby thing,” I want to scream out, “Wake up, honey! This isn’t my “little hobby.” This is me maybe saving our skins when the SHTF!”

I will continue with my preparations. I will persevere despite the majority of people thinking I’m the crazy one. I will invest as much as it takes to offer my family and loved ones as many opportunities to survive as I possibly can. And, if it never comes to that, then all the better for all of us. Better to be prepared and not need it, than to need it and not be prepared.

Help us determine the best survival-related article of 2011 as written for Safecastle's 2011 Freedom Awards contest. See all the finalists in the article and video categories:

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Maximum Mountain House Sale, w/ Member Rewards (& MREs are Available Again Too!)

Congratulations--you made it to 2012!

What's next? Who knows. It sure does NOT look to be a year of turnarounds and improvement ahead, does it?

Regardless, we're going to get you off and running in the most timely and prudent fashion, given all the uncertainties and concerns around the bend. This year, we are allotted just three Mountain House cans sales. Our first sale cranks up tonight at midnight, Eastern time, and runs thru January 15.

Food prices are skyrocketing. These MH list prices are still from early last year. My expectation: Mountain House can prices will go up significantly this year--I'm sure of it--just like every other quality food out there these days. Many wise folks today are viewing quality long-term food storage as just about the most certain tangible investment available. We fully agree. Think about it. Decide if this isn't maybe the last best opportunity you might have to get it all squared away.

This Two-Week MH Sale (Shop here)

From January 2-15 ... As always with our MH sales--we are offering the maximum allowed discount on all MH can varieties: 25%.

As always--it all ships free to the continental US.

As always, we are offering buyers club members special reward gift certificates for their
MH cans case purchases ($50 for every three cases).

And this time around, we are also offering an early-bird option to the rewards, while supplies last.

For those Royalty Reward details, see:


Many of you will be very pleased to see that we now have some quality
MRE cases to offer again. It's been years since we had access to good-quality MREs like this.

Have a blessed, safe, and secure new year.

Friday, December 30, 2011

This is what democracy looks like - from 300 feet in the air

Early this year, I added a Parrot AR Drone to my personal inventory of preparedness tools. Some folks ask, "What?--how is that about preparedness?"

In an acronym, it's ISR, baby:  Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance.

Here is a great example of how this can be useful ... as demonstrated in Poland in November when a civilian filmed riots and police action from above the fray.

Safecastle LLC is a leading crisis preparedness provider. Emergency storage food such as Mountain House freeze dried foods, Safecastle steel-plate shelters and saferooms, and other unique survival gear solutions are available at

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"Anonymous" plans for violent revolution

Hacking group that helped organize Occupy protests warns of "bloody mess," provides online survivor guide for citizens ...

Read more: 'Anonymous' plans for 'violent revolution'

Safecastle LLC is a leading crisis preparedness provider. Emergency storage food such as Mountain House freeze dried foods, Safecastle steel-plate shelters and saferooms, and other unique survival gear solutions are available at

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Very TSA Christmas: Grandma Got Indefinitely Detained

Safecastle LLC is a leading crisis preparedness provider. Emergency storage food such as Mountain House freeze dried foods, Safecastle steel-plate shelters and saferooms, and other unique survival gear solutions are available at

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Faber: Diversify ... Lucky Ones In 5 Years Will Have 50% of What They Now Have

Safecastle LLC is a leading crisis preparedness provider. Emergency storage food such as Mountain House freeze dried foods, Safecastle steel-plate shelters and saferooms, and other unique survival gear solutions are available at

Friday, December 16, 2011

Act Fast - While Supplies Last: 40% Off for Members on Select Items

We're moving product out as fast as we can at the end of the year at outstanding savings to you. The following linked products are 25% off for non buyers club members and 40% for club members when logged in and you iuse the coupon code below!!
Just be sure to use this coupon code when you checkout (enter it in the coupon field in the checkout; gift certificate codes can be used simultaneously if you have one--enter that in the gift certificate field).
This coupon code is good thru December while supplies last on these products below:

And don't forget our current Mountain House freeze dried food offer while supplies last.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Acute Butter Shortage in Norway has Butter Up to $465 per Pound!

Norway is one of the world's richest countries. But that has not prevented an acute butter shortage in that Scandinavian country. Store shelves are emptied of butter and prices for butter online have skyrocketed to 350 euros ($465). 

Supply is down due to a rainy summer, and demand is up by about 30% over last year.

For more, see:

Safecastle LLC is a leading crisis preparedness provider. Emergency storage food such as Mountain House freeze dried foods, Safecastle steel-plate shelters and saferooms, and other unique survival gear solutions are available at

Friday, December 09, 2011

Mountain House Freeze Dried Apples Now Available

Free Stuff w/ Qualifying Purchases - Inventory Blowout!
We're looking to move out inventory over the next few weeks and we have come up with some ways to get some of these great products free to you with qualifying purchases.

Our first couple of offers should come as no surprise to you--they involve our ever-popular Mountain House freeze-dried foods ...

1.  For many years, we were known for offering a three-case MH can package that included 18 different varieties. Today, we're making available a limited number of those 18-can kits again. But in these kits you are getting a free can of the new MH diced apples AND you are getting a free MH Best Sellers kit for your emergency bag or your car trunk. This is a rare and unique offer and I fear these available packages will go very quickly.

2.  I just mentioned the new MH diced apples. We made a special purchase to get them here--they are available only for a limited time. We now have them in stock and we want to get them into your hands. We are not limited on these apples by the standard MH dealer pricing rules, so we are going to give them to you for free. That's right--a free full case of MH diced apples OR a free case of diced apples with cinnamon (your choice) with any three--case purchase of MH canned foods listed in our store. (Only full, non-variety cases qualify for this offer.)

Some things to note--this time around, our available MH inventory is very limited. Anything listed today is available and ready to ship to you from our warehouse, including the free apples and the free MH Best Sellers kits. So make your choices promptly and you will get your best selection--while supplies last.

Safecastle LLC is a leading crisis preparedness provider. Emergency storage food such as Mountain House freeze dried foods, Safecastle steel-plate shelters and saferooms, and other unique survival gear solutions are available at

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Jim Rogers: The End of the World as We Know It

Get Ready Seriously ...

Submission Deadline Approaches for the 2011 Safecastle Freedom Awards – A New Media Survivalist Contest

Minneapolis, MN--The Safecastle Freedom Awards is a contest of skill, recognizing the best original, web-based content of the year that is related to survivalism and preparedness.

"We’re down to the last three weeks of the 2011 contest’s entry period." said Vic Rantala, president of Safecastle LLC, the crisis preparedness outfitter. "We aim to find and recognize the best, original, web-based content of the year, as submitted to several hand-selected websites in the genre."

Specifically, Safecastle's Freedom Awards program aims to reward logic, ethics, and knowledgeable insight demonstrated in a compelling way, in both non-fiction articles and in short online videos.

Said Rantala, "Increasingly people from all social circles are being drawn to the common sense appeal of reasonable, 'just in case' preparedness planning and activities. We've found that everyone is essentially looking for some measure of peace of mind in a world at risk. They are turning to the web for information on how to be better prepared for disaster and danger. There are some excellent resources and websites out there, and we want to encourage the continuation of the high-quality work that is appearing out there with regard to readiness planning."

Eligible entries will include new non-fiction articles written and originally posted online by Dec. 31, 2011, at a participating blog or forum. New short videos posted at the participating websites will also be eligible for Safecastle Freedom Award recognition. All finalists will be awarded an engraved, bronze-plated Safecastle Freedom Award. Top prizes will include such treasures as Katadyn Pocket water filters and Excalibur Dehydrators.

For more details on the contest, including links to the websites that are participating as sponsors, see "2011 Safecastle Freedom Awards."

Safecastle LLC is a leading crisis preparedness provider. Emergency storage food such as Mountain House freeze dried foods, Safecastle steel-plate shelters and saferooms, and other unique survival gear solutions are available at

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

UBS Advises Investing in "Precious Metals, Tinned Goods, and Small Calibre Weapons"

Excerpt of report by UBS analyst Larry Hatheway:

Simply put, linear thinking doesn’t work in a non-linear world. And break-up is likely to produce a very non-linear set of outcomes.

Which brings me, lastly, to the question I sometimes get about what is the ‘right’ asset allocation in the event of break-up.

I suppose there might be some assets worthy of consideration—precious metals, for example. But other metals would make wise investments, too. Among them tinned goods and small calibre weapons.

Break-up runs the risk of becoming one wretched scenario. Sadly, however, it can’t be ruled out, just as it would have been improper to rule out the horrors of the first half of the 20th century before they happened.
But it is very hard to see break-up as a solution. Let’s hope Europe’s politicians and policymakers agree and take action this week to fix what is broken before itall really breaks up.

Read the entire editorial at Zero Hedge.

Vic Rantala is owner of Safecastle LLC, crisis preparedness provider. Emergency storage food such as Mountain House freeze dried foods, Safecastle steel-plate shelters and saferooms, and other unique survival gear solutions are available at

Friday, December 02, 2011

Will You Run or Gut It Out?

There's a fundamental “either-or” decision that often has to be made in the face of impending crisis. That is, flight or fight ... bug out or dig in ... run or gut it out.

We all need to be prepared for either side of that equation. It's great to have stacks of stored food, tools, and supplies in the basement, because there are plenty of scenarios where all those resources will serve you well. But there are also a myriad of cases where the smart money picks up and gets out of Dodge. In that kind of situation, it's often going to need to be done on a moment's notice, so we need to have some resources packed and ready to go.

It's not easy making the right decision. Some folks have a hard time leaving their homes and possessions behind if there is a risk everything will be lost or destroyed. One memorable example was an old fellow named Harry Truman who, in 1980, refused to leave his lodge on Spirit Lake in the shadow of the building eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington. He had run the lodge since 1928, and his stubborn refusal to abide by evacuation orders was given much media attention at the time. Of course he and his beloved lodge were lost in the catastrophic eruption ... his body was never found.

Stubbornness, fear, or ignorance often prevent folks from recognizing the nature of impending risks and to fairly weigh their options. Or perhaps it is courage that differentiates one man’s action from another.
Clearly, paralysis is far easier to give in to than to overcome. How many folks lost their lives to Hurricane Katrina because they did not evacuate, in spite of the most urgent warnings given by authorities? Certainly thousands.

Sometimes, warnings leave no time for thought or doubt. Imminent dangers leave logical, instinctive survival responses to rule. For example, there in the last several years, there were two devastating tsunamis in Asia. Telltale natural clues and as well as last-minute urgent warnings from authorities allowed many to take immediate evasive actions that saved their lives. Wildfires or forest fires often provide some small window of opportunity for evacuation for those in their path. People who see an approaching tornado do not dally and over-think their options--they either get into their available shelters or they flee if none are available, depending upon their proximity to the funnel cloud.

A list of potential threats would be endless. Sometimes, we are given days to mull over our course of action. Other times only minutes or seconds.

Of course, there are plenty of events where no warning is given ... such as major earthquakes, industrial accidents, terror attacks, and on and on. In those events, survival can be affected by instantaneous reactions. Basic survival instinct can spell the difference between life or death.

The bottom line is, when we are given fair warning of impending disaster, we must be physically and mentally prepared to make the right moves.

Basic Choices and Pre-Positioning Your State of Mind

We can boil down our basic choices in an effort to apply them to most situations and to help you get yourself into a ready position for potential dangers.

Most important--you will ALWAYS be best served by keeping a clear head and calm demeanor in order to rapidly work through what must be done when you are faced with a potentially life-threatening situation. BEFOREHAND, do regular thought-pattern drills …think about the need for self-control and practice that at all times. Mull over basic emergency options in general terms periodically before you are actually presented with an emergency and you will be more apt to react wisely in the chaos of crisis.

Then, when the moment of truth arrives, you will be functional and capable of responding in logical fashion to the circumstances presented. Given your predilection to preparedness, you will also have adequate physical assets, tools, and resources available so that you do actually have a full range of options at your disposal.

In man-made or natural disasters, you will need to either …

1. “Dig-in.” If you are at home or work or on other familiar ground and you know your available resources will provide you with what you need, this is often the wisest choice to make (and the one we often spend the most time building up in our preparedness activities). If you have a hardened, storm-proof shelter with supplies in stock, and you do not face a flooding or fire risk, or there is not an air quality situation that makes staying put a losing proposition, then you may very well opt to "stay home." After all, if most others are having to evacuate the area, you could find yourself in a dangerous gridlock or panic situation out there secondary to the major risk, but just as dangerous. The other major advantage here is community support available that is lost when you hit the road. So, if you are well positioned to stay right where you are and the risk is appropriate to your preparations, then stay put.

2. Or “Bug-out.” If you have no decent shelter and supplies available where you are, or the threatening situation will overcome your position (as in fire, flood, toxic gas), then you must pick up and go. If you are adequately prepared for this kind of event, you will have some needed resources packed and ready to go--in your closet, under your desk, and/or in your vehicle. Commonly called a bug-out bag, you'll want to have at a minimum: some drinking water, food, a change of clothing, cash, credit card, ID, a contact list, flashlight, first aid kit, needed medications, a surgical mask to filter airborne particles, a multitool, and cell phone. This list can be greatly expanded depending on your situation. (In the north, smart folks have blizzard bags in their vehicles that include blankets, food, matches, hand warmers, etc., in case we are ever stranded in our cars in the cold.) Figure that everyone should have at least a 24-hour emergency bag with them wherever they are. Many have a few bags ready to go that provide care and sustenance for a week or more. The Hurricane Katrina aftermath was a good example of the wisdom in that approach.

In any case, “react well.” No-warning disasters or threats require some mental acuity more than anything else. If there are adequate physical preparations on hand, that can often be of great use as well. I am thinking here in terms of a violent assault, a home intrusion, or a sudden geophysical act of God. Other potential scenarios could include a major transportation or industrial accident that releases toxicity or radiation into your area ... or an act of war that would include a chemical, biological, or nuclear event. If you have previously trained or prepared or thought through your options, you will be ahead of the game. If you are surprised with a situation that you have no ability to deal with, good luck. Don't obsess, but give some thought to your potential risks and figure out now what you might be able to do.

Above all, stay calm and within your capabilities as you try to deal with a situation. A human's heart rate reaches a certain level usually seen in "panic situations" when normal brain activity is impossible. (Think mass crowd panic.) Understand that you will not always tend to think or react rationally. Preparation, mental and physical, can help and will often mean the difference between life and death.

Vic Rantala is owner of Safecastle LLC, crisis preparedness provider. Emergency storage food such as Mountain House freeze dried foods, Safecastle steel-plate shelters and saferooms, and other unique survival gear solutions are available at

Thursday, December 01, 2011

How to Persuade Others to Prepare Now, Avoiding Ruination

A majority of the U.S. population understands that a global depression is in process. Yet so many seem not to understand the practical basics of what it is they can do to enhance their ability to pull their household through and survive the chaos and despair that is on the horizon.

Fortunately, millions have seen the cautionary signposts for years. Really, none of what is happening economically, culturally, or geopolitically should be a shock to anyone. After all, so many have taken productive steps to prepare for this or a similar catastrophic event to ensure at least a chance at providing for the needs of loved ones through very difficult times.

If there has been a surprise registered among these observers, it is that the whole process of collapse has been such a gradual, plodding progression—not to be deterred. Many envisioned disaster that would come instantly, perhaps overnight--with a clearly recognizable sign from the heavens signaling it's time to pack up the moped, head for the hills, and never look back. The apocryphal all-out nuclear exchange that decimates the civilized world in minutes is what some doomers had in mind … or in the event of an economic collapse scenario, a financial implosion distinguishable by a hailstorm of stockbrokers leaping from tall towers and pitchfork-wielding peasants storming all the banks and convenience stores for their final entitlements.

But historians tell us that even in the Great Depression of 1929 (and beyond), folks didn't understand it for what it was until they were maybe midway through it. That is, years into the debacle ... one day perhaps realizing, “Hey, boiling up shoe-leather soup is not what we used to call normal dinner-table fare ... when did this happen?”

Fact is, it is a blessing that today’s slow-developing period of pre-ruination allows for so many more folks out there to urgently lay in supplies and gear for the long, cold nights ahead. The more of us prepared for mass shortages and suffering, the better off we all will be. So this is the hand we have been dealt—a last great opportunity to encourage those around us to prepare.

Oozing Persuasive Wisdom

Through the years, one almost-universal complaint I heard from fellow preparedness activists was that they were often unable to convince even those nearest and dearest to them that crisis readiness is important. After all, for many who sailed smoothly through the calm seas of the American Dream, there was the conventional perspective that only kooks and "racist survivalists" prepared for a disaster that would probably never come. It was a view that was cultivated in the public mind by the corporate-driven media for decades. So in spite of the obvious common sense inherent in a balanced approach to life and being prepared for rainy days, there was a wall that needed to be breeched for some folks to recognize the full breadth of reality’s highs and lows.

Indeed it was a tough sell. Discouragement in getting the message across to a spouse, siblings, buddies, or coworkers was a common woe. The spouse factor alone was seemingly insurmountable for some.

Those who were more successful in sharing the pursuit of preparedness were usually those who had the aura of satisfaction and confidence.

How-To Get “the Aura”

This won't work for everyone, but in my personal, extensive experience, this is your best bet. I've been involved in preparedness of various kinds, professionally as well as personally for decades, and with time, you learn that there IS a way to at least get folks to listen to what you have to say.

Anytime you are first bringing up the issue of preparedness with someone (and perhaps EVERY time you discuss it) ...

Lose the emotion. Fear, anger, paranoia ... those are the emotions and "danger signs" many people out there would be turned off by and probably alarmed about. Show it and the cause is already lost.

Be patient, wait for the right clue to bring it up … then take a calm, uncommitted, intelligent tack in which you almost casually relate the view that crisis preparedness is common sense. Be dispassionate, non-threatening ... that's how you need to bring the issue forward. If there is no sign of your companion being in the least bit receptive, drop it. Maybe the next opportunity that arises will be different. Just don't make it an obvious priority in your interactions with the person.

No target-lock on any one threat. This is a big problem for many. It's easy not only to inadvertently zero in on one big threat of the hour when talking about crisis preparedness, it's just as easy to allow it to become all-consuming in one's own actual approach to preparedness. When raising the issue of preparedness, be knowledgeable, but not necessarily "expert." Talk about crises in general if appropriate, unless your friend is needing to talk over an issue that is bothering them today (i.e., the economic collapse today is a likely topic).
Most important, talk more about solutions, not so much about difficulties. Trying to scare someone into seeing things your way never really hits the mark.

Don't play oracle, proclaiming THE END.
Want to be seen as a crank? Set a deadline and start telling folks that you know something ominous they don't. Throughout history, dates of doom have come and gone as have their promoters. Even if you see some risk ahead, keep it to yourself until it becomes painfully obvious to even the most obtuse.

Don't talk about TEOTWAWKI.
See #3. "The End Of The World As We Know It" became a common acronym circa the Y2K computer-scare era. Of course, it is also widely applied to post nuclear-war exchanges, and so on. What most people know in their heart is that life goes on. And that change is inevitable and continuous. To try to counter either of those axioms is to ask to be pigeon-holed into a niche where few can be taken seriously.

Eventually drop the mystery about your own preparedness efforts. Today, more and more people are openly into preparedness, particularly with others who are of like mind. The preparedness market niche in business is practically mainstream at this point. Of course this runs counter to the tendency many have to protect access to and knowledge of their preparedness resources. But to encourage someone else to embark upon a personal campaign toward greater readiness by being more open about your own efforts, is a powerful way to go about it. When it comes down to it, folks are more easily inspired by demonstrated actions over hollow words. Use common sense deciding when it might actually prove to be wise to take this path with someone and to what extent.
If more folks were forthcoming about their own preparedness efforts, then the public impression that normal people don't do this would be immediately laid to rest.

If you are trying to “build your case,” limit the reference points you share to sources in the "alternative media."
There are a lot of very enthusiastic parties out there focusing on specific, preparedness-related issues. They may be off the beaten path and all have their own adherents and do often contribute in their way to crisis readiness in the general population. However, before you refer fence-sitting preparedness prospects to a website or to a book of interest, etc., be sure you consider the kind of first impression they will likely have, given all aspects of that reference work and ALL the content and themes being projected there.
Vic Rantala is owner of Safecastle LLC, crisis preparedness provider.  Emergency storage food such as Mountain House freeze dried foods, Safecastle steel-plate shelters and saferooms, and other unique survival gear solutions are available at