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Friday, October 20, 2017

Bugging In: Fuels and Storage

If you're going to heat your house in the winter, you'll need fuel. And if you have fuel, you'll need to store it.

Here are the different ways I store my different fuels.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

eBook Review: “Water Storage for Survival”

I've been interested in what other prepper sources are publishing, so I decided to check a few of them out. I'm working long hours at the moment, but I do have time to read a bit here and there. The Kindle app on my phone tends to deplete the battery faster than any other app I have, but it's convenient to have a couple dozen books on hand.

I did a simple search for “prepper” and browsed through the results. Since we've written several articles about water, I picked one titled Water Storage for Survival by Ronald Williams. What I found was a mixed bag of common-sense information that is readily available on the internet on a dozen different sites. The chapters were broken down like this (with my commentary):

1) Why You Need to Store Water
He covers the basics of how your body uses water and the importance of avoiding dehydration. I did find it odd that he states, “...traveling back and forth between your home and a natural source of water is simply not practical.” Without a specific scenario, I fail to see how he can make such a blanket statement since people have been traveling to central wells for centuries and it seems to still be working. 

2) How Much Water Do You Need?
The basic “one gallon per person per day” formula. His example of a family of four, for a month, equaling 120 gallons (which he states is “simply not practical” to store) is a normal starting point. Erin covered a simple, cheap way to store 100 gallons of water here, so it's not that difficult to store water. One gallon jugs of drinking water come six to a case, so 20 cases would last a family of four a month and would fit along a wall quite easily. Stack them four wide and five high or fit them under a set of stairs, they don't take up that much room.

He also covers how to store water in this section instead of giving it a section of its own. Good, common-sense storage information.

3) Making a Rain Catchment System
This is how to modify your gutter system to catch rain water. Some of the steps aren't very clear, and he specifies food grade materials for some things but not all. We had a guest post that covered the process in detail with pictures back in 2014.

4) How to Purify Water
Boiling: He gets some things right and some wrong. Boiling water for 15 minutes is not needed, and simply boiling it will not necessarily render it safe to drink since it will concentrate any chemicals that aren't destroyed by the heat.

Bleach: A standard which I have covered in detail in several articles. His instructions are basic but workable.

Distilling: “Guaranteed to eliminate even the most deadly and resistant of chemicals, heavy metals, and microorganisms” according to Mr. Williams. Not always true; just ask anyone who has tried to distill alcohol.

As an afterthought, Williams covers filtration and purification tablets in a somewhat dismissive fashion. There is no mention of reverse osmosis, unless that's what he meant by “pump action water filters”.

5) Collecting Water From the Wilderness
These are simple methods of finding water, like going to the lowest point of the terrain to find the wettest area. Collecting dew on rags tied to your ankles may sound good, but unless you're living in a rain forest you're not going to gather much water.

6) Collecting Water From an Urban Environment
These are mostly sources of trapped water, something I covered in detail in my water purification series.

7) Myths About Storing Water
I'm not a fan of myths, so I'd never heard of most of these. 

Conclusion: Do Not Buy This eBook
Having read through the entire book, I must mention how much work our editrix does behind the scenes. This author needs to find someone to at least proof-read his work before he publishes it, just to point out the spelling and grammar errors. I read a lot and I expect a certain minimum level of competence from someone who want to trade me words for money.

All in all, this is pretty high on my list of the worst waste of $2.99 that I can think of. Since it was a digital book, I guess the best I can do is coin a new term for an e-book that's not worth buying: digital toilet paper.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Prudent Prepping: Protection For When Things Get Hot

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Follow along as I build a long term plan via Prudent Prepping. aaa   

Fire: Week Two
Depending on the direction of the winds blowing from the Napa and Sonoma County fires, the air quality in the San Francisco area has been anywhere from hazy to unbearable. It has caused every Home Improvement store (both chain and independent) in a 30 mile radius to run out of filter masks.

Why did they all sell out you ask? Here is the reason:

There is a mountain behind the smoke

This a view of Mt. Diablo from Highway 24, approaching Walnut Creek CA. Air quality is about what an average smoky day looks like and believe me, it's been worse.

Same view, different day

This picture is taken half a mile further back, and if you compare the two pictures, there is a gum drop tree in the top picture over the middle white car, which is the same gum drop tree over the white building on the left in this picture. The air quality shown here is a bad winter day, almost to the point the Air Quality Management district would call for a 'Spare The Air Day' and prohibit using your fireplace.

Seriously, you can be fined for having a fire here in CA.

3M Particulate Respirator 8511 N95
All filter masks in the stores I call on have either been sold out or loaded onto a transfer truck and sent to the fire zone stores. Unfortunately, this also includes  masks that are not effective against smoke.

The minimum rating for smoke and particulate filtering is an N95 rated mask, and 3M is one of the most recognized rated brands. There are several different N95 styles, and several more highly-rated masks and actual replaceable cartridge respirators, but those are not necessary for the conditions around me.
3M #8511

This mask has two bands (as opposed to only one band on the not-recommended masks) and a bendable/moldable metal over-the-nose piece to fit it to your face.

Information from the 3M website:
  • NIOSH approved for at least 95 percent filtration efficiency against certain non-oil based particles
  • 3M Cool Flow Exhalation Valve reduces heat build-up inside the respirator
  • Adjustable M-noseclip reduces potential for eyewear fogging
  • Braided headbands two-strap design with dual point attachment helps provide a secure seal
  • 3M Cool Flow Exhalation Valve reduces heat build-up inside the respirator
  • Spacious and durable
  • Designed to increase comfort and wearability
  • Advanced Electret Media is designed for ease of breathing

With the fires approaching 50% containment and the possibility of a very small amount of rain in the fire zone over the weekend, demand for masks has slowed somewhat. This has allowed me to buy a box at my stop today, and I will be buying another box soon and dividing them up into my Buckets of Holding. This will give me some shareable breathing protection to go along with the supplies in them.

The Recap
  • Keep your plans flexible, and be prepared to toss them out or modify parts as needed.
The Takeaway
  • One box of 3M 8511 Filter Masks: $16.98 if purchased from Amazon with Prime; mine were from Home Depot and I paid $20.97 for them. 

Just a reminder: if you plan on buying anything through Amazon, please consider using our referral link. When you do, a portion of the sale comes back here to help keep this site running!

If you have comments, suggestions or corrections, please post them so we all can learn. And remember, Some Is Always Better Than None!

NOTE: All items tested were purchased by me. No products have been loaned in exchange for a favorable review. Any items sent to me for T&E will be listed as such. Suck it Feds.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Prepper Vehicles From the Ground Up

We've gone over ultimate bug out rigs, and some things you can do to make your current rig more prepper-friendly, but buying a new (or new-to-you) car presents some unique opportunities and considerations for a prepper.

The time came a couple weeks ago to replace my wife's trusty little SUV. It was becoming a bit of a money and time sink, and we were outgrowing it. Being preppers is part of our nature, so that just naturally flows into how we shop for big-ticket items like cars.

Let's look at some of the considerations that apply to preppers looking for a daily driver, and I'll tell you why we picked what we did.

Cargo and Towing
Prepping involves a fair bit of gear and supplies, even at a minimalist level, so the ability to easily haul those supplies is a huge consideration. Those little subcompact cars are affordable and efficient, but they can't haul much more than a gallon of milk, and the ability to tow light loads is a bonus for our lifestyle and for some prepping tasks.

We've talked about financial prepping before, and the cost of big-ticket items can put a serious dent in your budget. As much as it's nice to have something shiny and fancy and new, it can put you into a major hole in a hurry.

I live in a place where deep, wet snow is a regular thing, and we live a lifestyle that frequently leaves the pavement, so 4 Wheel Drive is a necessity for us. (All-Wheel Drive works, but not nearly as well.) In warm, urban and suburban areas 2 Wheel Drive vehicles work just fine, while being simpler, more efficient, and far less expensive.

We spend a fair bit of time on the road, and stretching each gallon of gas is important to us. Better fuel economy is also handy if you do have to evacuate an area, allowing you to travel further from the chaos before you have to stop to refuel.

The "White Bread" Factor 
I'm a car guy. I have a childlike fascination with rides that are loud and flashy. However, there is a lot to be said for hiding in the noise: while something like a Pinzgauer can go anywhere and haul anything, it will catch eyeballs wherever it goes, while a popular model of minivan or midsize SUV will disappear on any city block.

When we laid out our requirements they pointed pretty heavily at a midsize SUV, and my wife picked out a Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid. Fuel efficiency is excellent, it has plenty of cargo room, and it can tow a decent amount. It cost more than I've ever spent on a vehicle before, but if past history is any indicator, we'll be driving it for a decade and we'll get our money out of it. It is also about as white bread as it gets, at least on the outside.

Embrace your prepper nature when you shop for the big stuff. It will help you seamlessly advance your life and your preps.


Monday, October 16, 2017

Preparing for Plumbing Disasters

The last few weeks have been fairly busy for me. Among other things, and as a reminder that not all disasters are major, my basement flooded.

This was no small small thing, involving over three inches of water in my basement and a fair amount of property damage, but thankfully it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

1) Scout the Territory
You don’t have to be a master plumber to find the water cutoff. It's typically located in the basement or lower floor, and it may be in a crawl space, but it controls the water inflow to the house or apartment. Locate this first, so that if all else fails, you can turn the water off from there to prevent flooding and damage.

Next, find out if you have access to the city water shutoff. In most apartments you will not, and only sometimes in houses, but if you do have access it works as an emergency backup cutoff if your cutoff valve is stuck.

I keep this one handy.
These cutoffs are usually valves like you find on a spigot for a hose, either a small wheel or brass bar. They turn just like a screw -- right to close the valve, left to open it up -- but in some cases, you may need to use a special tool to shut off the water flow.

Then look at every faucet and toilet in the house. There should be a small valve that will let you cut off the water to that specific outlet. (Depending on the building codes in your area, you may only have a hot water cut off.)

One you have located these items, take pictures of them with your phone, and email them to yourself, with a note on location. This will guarantee that you can find them again later and make it easier for others. If you can, also take a note of the brand and model of your plumbing fixtures. This will let you get spare parts easily.

2) Prepare Your Tools
Suggested tools for your Emergency Plumbing Kit:
(I don't recommend using the silicone tape or Fiberfix for the long term, but they can save a lot of grief until you can get a plumber over.)
  • Paper with location of the water shut off and any notes you feel that you may need
  • Pencil
  • Tool bag or box (to hold all this)
  • For advanced users: can of PB Blaster (for stuck valves)

3) Familiarize Yourself with What is Likely to Go Wrong
In my experience, the most likely problems to arise are:
  • Leaky faucet. Usually fixable by tightening something. 
  • Burst or leaky pipe.  You may not be able to fix this yourself, but it you should be able to band-aid it until a plumber gets there, which will prevent a lot of damage. 
  • Running toilet.  This is an entire sub-set of issues. Knowing how to shut off the water until you can get it fixed can save some nasty flooding.
  • Water heater issues. Once again, you may not be up to fixing this yourself, but knowing the basics can save some hassle.

I don’t have the space to go into how to fix all of these problems, but if you prepare yourself even this much, it can give you a way to prevent damage as well as time to look up how to fix many of these problems yourself, saving a mint in plumbing bills.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

GunBlog VarietyCast #165 - The Mega Anti-Gun Nuttery Show

Erin's hurt and everyone else is on vacation or assignment, so Sean and Weer'd talk about the Las Vegas shooting and how Hillary Clinton and Diane Feinstein rushed to the nearest camera to call for more gun control.

Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play Music!

Listen to the podcast here.
Read the show notes here.

Thanks to LuckyGunner and Remington for their sponsorship, and a special thanks to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Bugging In and Staying Warm

If you're bugging in up north, your first consideration is staying warm in the winter. In this video, I demonstrate my various options for efficient and low-cost home heating.

The Fine Print

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Creative Commons License

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