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Thursday, September 19, 2019

A Potential Man-Made Disaster (part 1)

We live in interesting times. While most of those reading (and writing) this blog are trying to prepare for disasters and emergencies, there is a part of our audience who don't get much attention: they're preparing for a man-made disaster that is looking more possible every day.

When we started this blog and the Facebook group, one of our first rules was “No Politics”. Political discussion is by definition divisive, and we choose to avoid chasing away potential readers. We don't really care what your political views are; we're here to help you prepare for when bad things happen. There is, however, one subject that carries a lot of political potential and I have tried to avoid it, but things are getting close to becoming serious and I feel a need to address some of the causes and ways things could go wrong.

The subject I'm talking about is gun control.

Firearms are a common tool in most prepper circles. They are useful for hunting and self defense, and if properly maintained, a quality firearm will last more than a lifetime. The oldest in my small collection was made for WW1, so it's about 100 years old now and it still works. Firearms are old technology, not hard to make with modern tools and a little training, and they are still evolving.

The USA has a history of firearms ownership and the right to arms is protected by our Constitution. It will take an amendment to our Constitution for the gun control people to get their way, and that's not an easy task. Not many other countries have our level of firearms ownership, and even fewer have the right to them in their basic law. With more guns in the USA than there are people, I don't see them going away any time soon.


The proponents of gun control come in a few different flavors, with some falling into more than one category:

Those who have suffered a personal loss
I understand grief and loss. I understand wanting to prevent tragedy from happening again. These do not give you special status to proclaim that you're right and everyone else is wrong, nor do they override the rights of people who had nothing to do with your tragedy.

Those who don't understand guns
The amount of bad information and outright lies being spread about guns is appalling. Movies portray them in farcical ways, the blathering idiots on the news have no clue about the subject, and special interest groups tell blatant lies about their capabilities. Some of this is lack of education, but a lot of it is willful ignorance. Willingly and loudly denying facts, along with inventing your own “facts” is a common problem now. The only other subject I can think of that gets this kind of treatment is nuclear power.

Those who use gun control as a means to gain influence
Politicians want to get re-elected, so they say what you want to hear. Since there is a national election coming up, we're hearing all kinds of grand statements from candidates right now. Groups looking for donations will say what they need to in order to keep the money flowing (this happens on both sides of the subject). The second-tier political class of lobbyist and “experts” want to stay influential in order to keep their jobs. It's all about the money to them, and greed is a powerful motivator.

Those who want control over others
There are always going to be those who think that they are rulers. In their minds, they are the rightful leaders and should be in charge of everyone else. Dissent is seen as a personal attack on them and is usually met with anger and a defensive attitude. These people realize that it is hard to force an armed person to bend to their will and thus seek to disarm anyone “beneath” them. These people are the ones responsible for millions of deaths over the last hundred years. These are the people who created the first gun control laws after the slaves were freed in order to prevent them from being able to defend themselves. In recent decades they have chosen the incremental approach to gun control, nibbling away at our rights while always seeking complete control.


All four groups seek to punish people who have committed no crime for the actions of someone who has. The current ideas being thrown around vary from background checks (already in place) to confiscation of certain types of guns. They are being met with resistance from a few different types of opposition:

Vocal protest
There are some people willing to be the face of opposition, and they deserve some respect and support. I choose to ignore the lunatic fringes of both sides for the most part, but they are the ones who get the most news coverage. They have chosen to be the lightning rod for an increasingly violent discussion and the rules of political discourse have changed dramatically in recent years. Threats of violence and the public dissemination of personal data (doxxing) are now standard procedure. Deep searches of every public statement, and many private ones, has been simplified with the Internet and digital archives. Something said or done decades ago is now being used to silence anyone who doesn't fall in line with the “narrative”. There are signs that the pro-guns side is starting to use the same tactics, which is a sign of escalation.

Silent protest
There are a lot of people who are quietly buying as much ammunition and as many firearms as they can to be prepared for any eventual ban or restriction. Having sufficient stores of arms and ammunition to provide food and safety for your family is a good goal in my book. Some of those silent protesters are arming for what they see as a coming “Civil War 2.0”, where they will have to fight to recover rights that are being taken away. This is a scenario that will not end well for either side, and everyone caught in the middle will suffer the most.

Being ignored
Countries and states are passing stricter laws covering magazine capacity and sometimes types of firearms, byt hey are routinely being ignored by the average citizens. Canada's failed national registration, California and New York's “assault rifle” registration, New Jersey's failed magazine ban, and several others are all proof that passing a law doesn't mean everyone is going to obey it. The majority of criminals have been ignoring the laws for years, so passing more isn't going to affect them at all.



I'm not sure which way things are going to go in the near future. We could see more incremental erosion of our rights, or the current push for more laws may stall out. Any attempt at confiscation on a large scale would be enough to push a lot of gun rights supporters into becoming criminals and their opponents would label them terrorists or worse. I believe this would create a spiral into that “Civil War 2.0” that some are seeking, leading to a lot of grief and bloodshed.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Prudent Prepping: First Aid Kit Update

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

In a post on the Blue Collar Prepping Facebook page, Garry Hamilton (along with others) mentioned what many of first aid kits lack these days, starting with tweezers, a blade or knife, and scissors or some other way to cut clothing. I added one of the mentioned items to my work kit several months ago, but never wrote it up.

https://amzn.to/2LBSdrm











SZCO Supplies Magnifying Tweezers
I'm in a Big Box store of one type or another every day. I don't touch lumber for work, but there is always wood someplace close. Besides being around wood, I do handle sheet metal, nuts, bolts and screws, which sometimes have shavings in the boxes. I found these tweezers earlier this year and added then to my bigger kit. I moved them into my work kit soon afterwards when, as I mentioned in the first post, I got tired of digging out splinters with my knife.

From the Amazon page:
  • A powerful 3X magnifying glass and needle-tipped tweezers combine to make this one of the handiest items in the tool box or first aid kit
  • This product is easy to use easy to install and highly durable
  • Item is manufactured in Pakistan
  • 3.5 Inches in length
  • Magnifying glass
  • Stainless steel composition
I have used these and can recommend them to any and all readers.

I don't have scissors or a blade in my work first aid kit, but I do have both in my GHB. For work I always have at least one utility knife in my work gear, plus the Kershaw Leeks I always have in my pockets. I think what I have for work is sufficient.

Several posts mentioned more complex kits, up to including suturing supplies. My friend the Master Chief has a full-on Medic kit ("Don't ask where it came from") with everything he had available when he served, minus the actual drugs. I suspect he might be able to 'acquire' those also if he really wanted some. For me, I don't have the training to use something like that, but I appreciate those who do.

Earthquake Supplies Update
Surprise Gift!
After listing the things I was looking to buy to make myself feel safer in my new place, I received an Amazon package. This is what I found:

The Ready America 3333 Earthquake Survival Tool, Emergency Gas Shut Off Wrench.

This is the gas meter shut-off tool I mentioned last week. There was a note from our esteemed Editrix Erin wishing me a happy housewarming. I have a thoroughly undeserved reputation (in my opinion) as a grumpy old man who doesn't want or like gifts.

I very nicely said Thank You.

(Editrix's Note: He thoroughly deserves it.)





I don't know if that made an impression, so let me try this:

via GIPHY

Takeaway and Recap
  • Nothing was purchased this week but I did receive a Ready America 3333 Gas Shutoff Tool as a gift, available from Amazon for $3.98 with Prime
  • I do have the best friends possible.

                                                                   ***

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.

Monday, September 16, 2019

DIY Ash Sifting Bucket: Part 1


Winter is coming and our eggs need ash to  preserve them. Shipping pallets burn great, but they're full of nails and staples. What's a prepper to do?

Why, make a sifting bucket of course!



Godspeed to you all.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Why Sawyer?

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
As a follow-up to Chaplain Tim's excellent post about the performance of  most commercially-available water filters, I'm going to take a moment to explain why I will still carry a Sawyer Mini water filter in my bug-out and get-home bags.

Size
The Sawyer Mini is 5.5 inches long and 1.25 inches in diameter. Its nearest competitor, the LifeStraw, is nine inches long. Another competitor, the Renovo, has package dimensions of 12.5 x 6 x 2.2 inches.

This isn't to say you shouldn't get the Renovo. If viruses are a concern, by all means get it. Just keep in mind that it, the LifeStraw, and the Sawyer all have the the same rating for removing cysts and bacteria, and of the three the Sawyer takes up the least volume.

Price
Speaking of the Renovo, it costs sixty-three dollars. Compare that to the LifeStraw's $17.47 or the Sawyer's $19.95 price tag. Think of what you could do with $40 more to spend on preps.

Alternately, spend half as much and get an H2O Survival Water Filter Travel Straw and be happy with log 5 (99.999%) virus removal.

Efficiency
Finally we have the true heart of the matter: how many gallons will your filter be able to filter before it stops working?
  • The LifeStraw will filter up to 1,000 liters or 264 gallons. 
  • The Renovo has varying performance based on its three separate filters:
    • The first, a chemical filter, has a filter capacity 150 gallons.
    • The second, which filters bacteria, cysts, and particles, has a capacity of 100,000 gallons.
    • The third, a virus filter, has a filter capacity of 90 gallons.
    • Information source: http://renovowater.com/about-muv/
  • The H2O Travel Straw filters up to 18 gallons.  
The Sawyer Mini, however is rated up to 100,000 gallons so long as you backflush it regularly. According to the Discerning Shootist's math, if you use it to filter 1 gallon per day (which is the normal daily water ration for a human being for drinking, cooking, and bathing), that is 273 years worth of use. While you will likely filter more than one gallon per day with it, and the plastic will degrade well before 250 years, the fact remains that this kind of longevity and efficiency is amazing, and that alone makes the Sawyer Mini a worthwhile part of any prepper's kit. 

A Brief Note about Viruses
I understand that viral infection is a real concern for many people. However, I feel that this fear should be tempered by a good long look at facts. 
  1. Waterborne viral diseases are caused by contamination with human and/or animal urine and feces. In other words, a small pool of rainwater high on a rocky outcropping (for example) is highly unlikely to have viral contamination. 
  2. Viruses are vulnerable to ultraviolet light, so a shallow pond is more likely to be free of viruses than a flowing stream or a deeper body of water. Keep in mind that the clearer the body of water, the deeper UV light can penetrate. If you can see to the bottom, there are no dead animals in the water and it's a sunny day, there are likely no viruses there. 
  3. Viruses are destroyed by heat, so boil or pasteurize any water you suspect may be contaminated. 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Water Filter Testing Review

We've done a lot of reviews of different portable water filters over the years. I covered the basics of how to choose a filter a while back (although I can't find the article now) and lamented the fact that I had to use the claims of the manufacturers because I no longer have access to a water quality control lab. Well, someone with more money than I have has finally sent a batch of commercially available, common water filters to a testing lab and has published the results.

Widener's is an outdoors supply house that has been around for a while. I've bought a selection of reloading equipment and supplies from them over the years, but have no financial interest in the company. They decided to test some of the common water filters and compare the results to the claims made by the makers and the results were interesting but not surprising. The full article (and it's a long read) can be found here, but I'll recap the highlights:
  • They do a fine job of going over the reasons for wanting a water filter and the possible contaminants. 
  • They also did and excellent job of describing how filters work and the difference in the systems on the market. 
  • They go over the pros and cons of the various types of filters (straws, gravity, inline, pumped, etc) and then they start the testing of 17 filters. 
I highly recommend reading the preliminary sections if you have any questions about water and filters, as they really do a good job of covering the subject. The testing lab used normal tap water with a known amount of bacteria and viruses, and added microscopic plastic beads to mimic cysts like Giardia to determine how effective each filter was at removing each type of contaminant.

Most of the filters did poorly on removing viruses, but did a good job on bacteria and cysts; cysts and protozoa are a concern in remote areas where animals use the water supply you're looking at. The results were listed in “log” format; basically, the “log” number is a logarithmic representation of how close to 100% a result is; log 3= 99.9%, log 4=99.99%, log 5= 99.999% and so on.

Here are the filters and the results:

  • A “white label” filter made in China.
  • Log 6 removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, < 50% for viruses.
  • Inconsistent claims in their advertising about effectiveness, but it worked for bacteria and cysts.
  • Stainless steel reservoirs and black filter element. 
  • Sold as the Berkey Go kit that includes the Berkey bottle, below.
  • Log 6 removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, log 3 for viruses.
  • Virus removal was not quite as advertised, but still good.
  • Log 6 removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, < 50% for viruses.
  • Advertised as a “purifier”, but doesn't meet the criteria for that designation due to the lack of virus removal.
  • A “white label” filter made in China and sold under a variety of names.
  • Log 6 removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts (even though they don't advertise it as effective against cysts), and < 50% for viruses.
  • A bottle that you fill and then press the filter into to force the water through, like a french press for coffee.
  • Log 6 for removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, log 4 for viruses.
H2O Survival Travel Straw
  • The best straw they tested.
  • Log 6 removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, log 5 for viruses.
Katadyne Hiker
  • Log 6 removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, < 50% for viruses
  • Filter worked as advertised, no deceptive claims.
  • The most popular filter on the market.
  • Makes no claims or mention of viruses.
  • Log 6 removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, < 50% for viruses.
  • A camp or family filter, cannot be used "on the go."
  • Log 6 for removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, 100% for viruses.
  • The most expensive of all tested filters. 
  • A “white label” filter that you'll find with many names on the side.
  • Log 6 removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, < 50% for viruses.
  • No claim made for removing viruses.
  • Log 6 removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, < 50% for viruses.
  • Misleading advertising, claims to meet standards that don't apply since it doesn't remove viruses.
  • A “white label” filter sold under a variety of brand names.
  • Log 6 removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, < 50% for viruses.
  • Log 6 for removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, log 3 for viruses.
Renogy Pump filter
  • A “white label” Chinese filter sold by a solar power company.
  • Log 6 removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, < (less than) 50% for viruses.
  • Deceptive advertising that states it was “tested” for virus removal, but not that it actually removed any. 
  • Amazon “Choice” award, but not really worth buying.
  • A unique system of three filters that stack up to remove all three threats.
  • Log 6 removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, 100% of viruses.
  • Log 6 removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts. < 50% for viruses.
  • Sawyer states that their filter is not designed to remove viruses.
  • A bottle filter that is supposed to use the same filter media as its big brother.
  • Log 5 removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, < 38.3% for viruses.
  • The worst that they tested for viruses, and it didn't meet its other advertised claims.

As you can see, there are some well-known names on that list as well as a few generic filters. I didn't list prices because they change too rapidly. Check the Amazon links for current pricing if you're interested in one of these.

I carry the Sawyer Mini in my bags, but I may look closer at the Renovo system and the H2O Survival travel straws.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Prudent Prepping: Always Something There To Remind Me

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

The anniversary of the last big earthquake in my area slipped by me recently, lost in the hubbub of local activities and then real serious weather in the southeast. It was brought to mind this past weekend when I went through Napa taking an out-of-town friend shopping on a pleasant afternoon.

Really.

Okay, we hit a couple wineries.

I don't get up there too often as my work doesn't take me there any more, so it's usually a day trip showing friends the sights. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the last major building damaged in 2014(!) is back in shape and open to the public. It took until 2017 for the last contract to be signed for retro-fitting another building to current earthquake standards; I think that building had major internal damage and even though it looked good from the street, it was really bad inside. 

I was also reminded that there were some houses destroyed by fire because gas lines and a water main were damaged in the earthquake. I don't want to have that problem here, so I'm going shopping.

Want List
  • Gas meter wrench, to be tied to the meter of this unit, even though this is a four-plex. I don't see any reason not to have one available to whomever needs to turn off the gas. This wrench is the cheapest one I can find, even though I had a better one at the old house. I don't want to have something hung up in public view just to be stolen as a prank. 
  • More water jugs, because there are now four people that I have to look out for here, plus my folks. Those water jugs are also stocked at Walmart, and if those of you in Free States can hold your noses while shopping there after the latest news, you may find them as a seasonal close-out.
  • Another bucket of emergency food, because moving totes in an emergency can be hard. I really like Mountain House for their variety.

This is going to be posted on September 11, and I want to have everyone think back on how friends looked after friends, strangers helped folks get across the country, no matter who they were, where they came from or who they liked. I'm trying to be prepared to give the same type of help to my friends and neighbors if there is a local disaster. 
                                                    
                                                                    ***

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.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Friday, September 6, 2019

Hurricane Dorian AAR*

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
(*After Action Report)

As you probably know by now, Hurricane Dorian skipped Florida entirely. This was good news for me, as I made the decision not to evacuate based on its projected route -- I figured that, at worst, we'd get a glancing strike from a Category 1 which all houses in Florida are built to withstand -- and I'd have felt pretty dumb if it had changed course and/or intensity and hit us harder.

Still, I learned a lot from my first ever Hurricane Bug-In, even if nothing happened, because the mere act of readying my preps pointed out two things that they lacked.

A Wingnut Driver
I talked about hurricane shutters last week, and my house has the metal kind which attach via bolt and wingnut. "Fast installation" is a bit of a relative term, as it took me two hours to cover up 6 windows. Something that would have sped that up some is a wingnut driver for a drill; I had previously been using my hands to finger-tighten them, then using pliers to torque it down. A drill would not only screw the shutters down faster, but also more securely.

https://amzn.to/2UymnyB

I have since bought one at the local hardware store for around $10 (you can order one from Amazon for $11 plus Prime shipping)  and that will definitely make taking the shutters down much faster and easier. As an added bonus, if I ever need to drive in some eyebolts this will do that, too.


An Off-Grid Way to Recharge Batteries
As I was was topping off my rechargeable AA and AA batteries, I realized that I lacked a way to recharge them if the power stayed off for any amount of time. Fortunately for me, my friend the General Purpose Egghead (listen to his segments on the Assorted Calibers Podcast for good advice on batteries, flashlights and HAM radio!) sent me a "hurricane care package" which included a Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus battery charger!

https://amzn.to/2PSxGTC


The Guide 10 can charge both AA and AAA batteries via a mini-USB port. This gives me a variety of ways to charge them:
  • With a Nomad 7 solar panel (I bought an older model years ago on closeout prices)
  • With a hand crank, such as with the Lighthouse 400 lantern (bought on clearance at the same time)
  • With a conventional power outlet

What's more, the Guide 10 acts as a power bank, meaning that I can plug a USB cable into it and use the batteries* to power anything which takes a USB charger, like a cell phone or mp3 player. This gives me a great amount of versatility when it comes to charging what I need in a grid-down situation. Thanks Egghead!

* It can even technically do that with alkaline batteries, although that's discouraged since the higher voltages of the alkaline might damage the charger. 


There's a saying in the military that "No plan survives contact with the enemy." I'd say there's a corollary with prepping, in that "No preps are 100% ready for an emergency." A near-miss by a hurricane showed me some flaws, and I'm pleased to have discovered them now instead of when it was too late to do anything about them. Review your preps regularly to discover things you've overlooked!




Thursday, September 5, 2019

Canned Meat

Last year was a bit rough on my pantry. Two major surgeries and a few extra unplanned expenses meant I had to dig into the food storage, but that's part of why I prep; having food stored is normal for those of us who have lived through a disaster or two, or who have survived on noodles and peanut butter for more than a month.

I buy canned goods by the case and stack them in the basement pantry to ensure that I have something to put on the table when it's time to eat. Things are starting to get back to normal for my finances, so I'm starting to restock my shelves with things we eat on a regular basis as well as a few new things to test. The canned bread and pilot bread articles from a few weeks ago are part of the new things, and there will probably be more in the near future.

One of my go-to foods (a comfort food, if you will) is corned beef hash. It's a breakfast staple, and it used to be a lot more prevalent than it is now; truck stops and diners always had eggs and hash on the menu, but that's starting to die off for some reason. Easy to prepare and filling, it gets used in my home as a late-night meal or snack almost as often as a breakfast meat.

Corned beef is a salt-cured (preserved) meat, using large pieces of salt called “corns”. The practice of salting meat as a method of preserving it goes back centuries, and it's an effective way to keep meat on the menu without having to butcher an animal for every meal -- salt pulls the water out of meat, drying it to a point where bacteria can't grow and allowing you to store it. This does add a lot of sodium to the meat, so if your doctor has you on a low-sodium diet you may want to look into the lower-sodium versions that replace about a third of the salt with potassium chloride.

Spices are usually added to help the curing and add to the flavor, while sodium nitrite is added to modern forms to give it a pink color (rather than the brown-gray it would have naturally) while also killing off the bacteria that cause botulism.

Hash is just another way of saying “finely chopped”, and typical corned beef hash consists of beef, potatoes, water, spices, sugar, salt, and nitrates. Simple is good and I've not seen any mention of wheat or gluten in the brands I've bought, so they should be safe for the gluten-intolerant. Watch the labels on what you buy if that is one of your criteria for store-able foods.

I recently bought a case of 12 cans from Amazon's Prime Pantry for $28.32. That works out to $2.36 per 14 ounce can, which is a little cheaper than I can find the same brand in my local grocery store. Amazon also offers half-sized cans for individual servings as well as #10 cans for if you're feeding a large group, but I find the 14 oz cans convenient. Each can has two servings in it, and each serving provides the following:
  • 380 calories, 220 from fat: The calorie count is high, and the fact that most of those calories come from fat mean that it is a very slow release of energy. 
  • 970mg sodium: The sodium is higher than most people need, but absent other forms of processed foods and plenty of exercise it shouldn't be a problem. 
  • 23g carbohydrates, 1 as sugar: 23 carbs is a healthy chunk of a diabetic's intake per meal, but again it's slow-release energy for the rest of us.
  • 17g protein: a healthy amount of protein for a meal. 

I bought my case is July of 2019 and the “best by” dates were all May 2022, so a comfortable 3 year shelf-life that could probably be extended out to 5 years if kept in a cool, dry location. The cans are sturdy tinned-steel cans with a traditional rolled-lip lid, so you will need a can opener. (I've noticed a correlation between reduced shelf-life and pull-top cans, but that needs more research to confirm.) The contents are packed into the can with some pressure, so you will have to dig it out. Hash normally contains enough fat/grease to be able to fry without a need to grease the pan, but that also means you're going to have grease to clean out of your pan when you're done.

As a food storage idea, this works for me by several criteria:
  • 3 year shelf-life
  • I can afford it
  • I already eat it
  • Simple to prepare
  • Sturdy containers

I'll keep looking around for other things to add to my storage foods, I know the ubiquitous Spam and Dinty Moore beef stew are already on the shelf, but I need to find things to break the taste monotony and give me more options to work with.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Prudent Prepping: August Roundup

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

This week I have my usual assortment of slightly too-short or 'reminder' topics to use as stand-alone posts, so here goes!

Seasonal Prep Reminder
I'm still in Summer weather and will likely have warm and dry conditions until sometime in October. Many of you may remember that the past few Octobers here are when all the fires started. Luckily for me, I'm far enough away that I only smelled a little smoke and had ashes on my car two or three times. 

One thing that recently came on my local all-news radio station was a report on masks that many people bought and wore during the N. California wildfires, specifically the various brands of N95 masks. From my time as an employee of a tool and chemical company, I was trained on safe use of various masks and from that I know the N95 mask is rated for particle filtering ONLY.

https://amzn.to/2PDcfWd

  From the 3M site on the most widely sold N95 mask:
"3M™ Particulate Respirator 8210, N95 is a disposable particulate respirator that is designed to help provide reliable respiratory protection of at least 95 percent filtration efficiency against certain non-oil based particles. This respirator is designed for use for particles such as those from grinding, sanding, sweeping, sawing, bagging, or other dusty operations. This respirator can also help reduce inhalation exposures to certain airborne biological particles (examples: mold, Bacillus anthracis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis), but cannot eliminate the risk of contracting infection, illness, or disease. The respirator incorporates 3M’s proprietary technology with advanced electrostatically charged microfiber filter media designed for ease of breathing. This respirator is compatible with a variety of protective eyewear and hearing protection."  
Please look over the information on the linked page for the detailed recommendations for use! 

Now, this doesn't mean I'm not keeping masks in my car GHB; I'm just aware of their limitations and willing to work/live with the protection a 3M N95 mask provides.

Not A Mask
A surprise was on my doorstep today: a box from my friends and Blue Collar Prepping contributors Evelyn and D. R. Zinn! I wasn't sure what was in it, but I certainly liked what I saw when I opened the box -- three shemaghs! 

Several of the bloggers here have, use and recommend the use of shemaghs and as usual, I'm Tail End Charlie in the adoption of cool toys. I needed a quickie tutorial on the use and remembered Erin had a video but (once again) I couldn't find it in the Blue Collar Prepping archives. It was from her personal blog from several years ago, featuring Creek Stewart. I found it informative and pretty easy to follow, even for a Lefty! 



I need to practice wrapping it so I can do it quickly, but I sorta kinda got it done. Sorry, I won't be showing pictures or video until I can make myself semi-presentable!

Consumables
I've checked on the dates of the food in my GHB bag, since the temperatures in my trunk are at the upper limits of safe, long term storage. Since I check my food twice a year nothing is going to get 'old', but I still want to move things up and out. 

  • Canned goods were rotated into the pantry and will be used in a week or two. 
  • Summer clothes are still in the bag, along with a full case of bottled water. 
  • First aid kit was looked into and none of the critical things like triple antibiotic, pain reliever and such were even half way to the expiration dates but I'm still thinking of moving them out.


The Takeaway
  • Sometimes what 'everybody knows' isn't what everybody really needs to know. Always ask and look for more information.
  • The 'not a mask' will certainly do more things than a mask, just not as narrowly focused.
The Recap
  • Nothing was purchased this week, but 3M 8210 N95 masks can be purchased from Amazon for $15.27 with Prime.
  • Sorry, y'all are on your own for Shemaghs. I got the hook-up from my friends!
  • Editrix's note: I got mine from Amazon for $12 and free Prime shipping. 
                                                                       ***

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.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Hurricane Bug Out: A Short List


Hurricane season is in full swing. Sometimes you just have to evacuate, so here’s a short list of gear and advice for those who are bugging out.



Godspeed to you all. 

Friday, August 30, 2019

Hurricane Shutters

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
Florida has yet another hurricane bearing down on it, so now is the time for all smart Floridians to begin implementing their hurricane preps. (No, not "go shopping". Smart Floridians stock up in June or July because we know that there'll be a rush on stores and shelves depleted when it looks like there will be landfall.)

For me, that means looking at the weather forecast and deciding when I want to put up the hurricane shutters. I don't want to put them up too soon, because honestly they're a pain in the butt to do and it's hot, sweaty, get-eaten-by-bugs and get-scratched-by-thorns work, so if I put them up when I didn't have to, I'll be annoyed. There's also enough work involved with them that once they go up they stay up until the end of the season (which is officially the end of November but is effectively the end of September).

On the other hand, if I want too long, then I end up putting them up in the wind and the rain, which is also pretty miserable and also increases the chances for injury.

Let's talk about the three major types of storm shutters.

Plywood

Image found across the internet

If you live in a coastal area frequently assaulted by hurricanes, don't use these. Yes, they're cheap, but quality and durability is suspect because plywood isn't milled, but rather manufactured from cheap wooden wafers pressed and glued together. It isn't waterproof (unless you buy more expensive marine-grade plywood, in which case at a price of $70-$200 per sheet, why not just buy metal shutters?), and wood is far less durable when waterlogged than dry. Gosh, what do hurricanes bring with them? Lots of rain.

Plus, in order to install them you have to drill holes into your house, which looks ugly and if left untreated allow ways for termites and other vermin to get inside and damage the structure of your house. If you do this be sure to secure the sheets as tightly as you can, because they have a nasty tendency to get sheared off and go flying.

Please, for the love of all that's good and holy, don't use particle board. Just don't.

https://apps.floridadisaster.org/hrg/content/openings/diy_shutters.asp

Metal
https://youtu.be/2wkrr685enM

These are the kind of shutters that I have. They are metal (either steel or aluminum) and lock into metal fixtures with metal bolts and wignuts. So long as the fixtures are properly installed (you can find DIY instructions here, although there are companies who will install them for you quickly and professionally), you have a strong barrier that will protect your windows from storm debris.

Those are the good points. The bad points are:
  • They are expensive;
  • The edges are sharp and can result in injury if you are not wearing protective clothing; 
  • They are tiring to carry (each sheet is lightweight, but it can take between 4 and 7 sheets per window; multiplied by however many windows you have and whether or not you need to haul them up a ladder for second-story windows, they get exhausting quickly);
  • Over time, the brackets collect rust and debris and need cleaning, which delay installation;
  • Once installed they block out sunlight; 
  • Once installed, they make it impossible to escape through the window in case of emergency. 
They are very much a two-edged sword whose benefits only slightly outweigh their drawbacks. 

Motorized


This is the Cadillac of storm shutters: a miniature garage door that rolls down over doors and windows. They are the most expensive of all the options, and most of them require electricity to operate. However, some of them can be raised manually with a crank (demonstrated in the video below), and they can be wired to accept power from a backup battery as well... and honestly, if you're going to this expense, you might as well shell out for the battery too. 



Despite these significant drawbacks, the benefits are massive:
  • Your house is protected with the push of a button;
  • You can wait until the last minute to activate them;
  • You can use them against other disasters, such as tornadoes;
  • You can put them down before a vacation to protect against burglary (admittedly, at the risk of advertising you're out of town);
  • Some units can be hooked into a home wifi unit to engage them remotely if a severe storm strikes while you're at work. 
If you can afford this option, I recommend it. 

Other Options
There are other options which are less common and might not be available where you live, such as Bahama shades, Colonial shutters, and polycarbonate windows. I don't have experience with them but they may be worth investigating. 


Regardless of which option you choose, please protect your windows from hurricane damage by putting up your shutters. 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Two More for the Car Kit

While at work the other day, I realized how much duct tape we go through in a year. Granted, I work with a lot of outdated and poorly maintained machinery, but looking through the inventory logs I found that we use four times more than we sell.

Duct Tape
Duct tape is one of those "must have" items in a car kit. The uses are endless and it's easy enough to use that a child can figure it out. Be aware that the cheap dollar-store brands are a waste of money; the adhesive used is weak and not always waterproof, and the cloth backing is rarely attached to the tape well enough to withstand much weather. I prefer what is known as gaffer's tape, a type of duct tape made for the entertainment industry. (Gaffers are the "behind the scenes" people in music and movie production who spend a lot of time making sure everything goes right and that means a lot of quick repairs.) It's almost as good as the military-grade duct tape that I can't get any more (my supplier retired) and it will stick to almost anything except grease. Gaffer's tape should also be residue-free, meaning that the adhesive won't leave sticky residue behind, and most of it is a matte black color to avoid reflections.

A tip that I want to pass on about duct tape is that most brands come on a standardized cardboard tube. That tube just happens to be 3" in diameter, and is a perfect fit for dust caps or test caps for 3" PVC piping. Prices for test caps online is all over the place, and watch out for high shipping costs, but I have found them in a local DIY store for less than a buck apiece. Two of them will turn your roll of duct tape into a small storage box a bit bigger than an Altoids tin, which is a good use for wasted space and it might help you keep a few tools close to hand when you grab the tape. If you can't find test caps locally, keep an eye open in the mail room because the caps for 3" shipping tubes will work just as well.

Tie Wire
The second addition to a car kit should be some sort of tie wire. Being a farm-boy, I learned about baling wire a long time ago. Generally around 14 gauge (0.080 inch diameter), uncoated steel wire that a hay baler would use to secure small square bales of hay, the stuff was everywhere and used for every imaginable binding purpose -- I know of a lot of field gates that are still held closed by a length of baling wire. Farmers have moved to the large round bales in today's market, but you can still find small operations that use the little square bales for horses (they'll eat themselves to death if you give them a big bale) and straw for bedding.

Baling wire comes in 100 pound spools of over a mile of wire, so it's not practical for a car kit. If wire is too hard for you to cut or too stiff for the job, baling twine comes in similar spools and is jute, sisal, or polypropylene fiber. At ~8,000 feet per spool, two spools per package (the baling machines use them two at a time), this is best kept in a five-gallon bucket with a hole in the lid to feed the twine out of. It's handy to have sitting under a shelf in a garage or shop, but too big for an emergency kit.

This is what rebar tie wire was made for. It comes in smaller spools -- about 3.5 pounds, 330 feet long -- and slightly smaller wire (16 gauge/0.0625 inch diameter), but it's just as handy to have around. I've used partial rolls that I picked up out of construction site trash cans (they're already lighter) to patch up a lot of things long enough to get me home. For example, a friend hit a speed bump a little too fast and tore off his muffler, but a tie wire and a beverage can patched it up long enough to get back home. A rocking chair had to have the wooden joints re-glued and I don't have any clamps big enough, so washcloths for padding and tie wire did the trick. I don't think I can remember all of the times I've used some form of tie wire.

Both forms of tie wire feed from the center of the spool, which means the spool doesn't have to rotate as you pull the wire. A trick I learned from the construction workers is to wrap the outside of the rebar tie wire spool in a few layers of duct tape before use. This keeps the spool from getting caught on other things in a tool pouch, and prevents it from unspooling after you've cut the shipping ties.

If you live near the coast and plain steel wire will rust too fast for you, there is a more expensive option: stainless steel tie wire. I've seen this used for temporary binding of sheet metal and other things is damp or corrosive environments, and it's the same size and weight as the plain steel wire.


Holding things together until permanent repairs can be made is a key to field-expedient repairs. Make sure you have something a little stronger and more heat-resistant than zip-ties in your car kit.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Prudent Prepping: RTFD

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

I try to have a little fun with everything I write. Erin frequently pulls something out of my text that was intentionally inserted, but other times she will find nuggets on her own to use as the header for my posts. (Editrix's Note: This is true. David originally titled this "Food For Thought", which I felt wasn't a proper title for this post.)

That's what makes writing with this group so much fun! All the different views of common topics makes for interesting reading. I don't mean just the headlines, either; a friend and contributor to BCP, Garry Hamilton,  recently posted on his wall another hands-on test of his many knives. This reminded me to ask a question about maintaining a knife of my own.

Caring For Carbon Steel
I listened to Garry, Erin and several others talk up the various Morakniv models they own and how useful they are. I also have one, in my fishing gear stored at my parents house. It is very old and beaten up, and since it lives in a tackle box I'm not all that concerned about it's condition. 


https://amzn.to/2zqwg7D

It's several months old, but I haven't used it very much.

I decided to carry it in my lunch box/first aid kit/carry everything box. I don't use any blue ice blocks to keep lunch fixings cold, just the glass bowls I pack and the occasional soda can, which limits the amount of moisture or 'sweat' that might be collected on everything. Even with all these steps, though, there still is some moisture or humidity that collects inside, plus the accidentally spilled water that I've dumped when carrying my washed bowls home. 

Something I sorta knew, but didn't really understand, was exactly what kind of steel was used to make the blade. At it turns out, it wasn't stainless steel, but carbon steel. 

Here is info from its Amazon page:
  • Full tang carbon steel knife with MOLLE multi-mount system is powerful enough to handle harsh tasks without the risk of breaking
  • Top grade carbon steel blade features razor sharpness, high hardness, and exceptional toughness and corrosion resistance
  • Molle Compatible mount system securely fastens knife to vehicles, walls, clothing, or packs so that it’s instantly accessible in any situation
  • Square-edged ground spine blade can be used as a striker with fire steel (sold separately)
  • Total length 9.0 inches (229 mm); blade length 4.3 inches (109 mm); blade thickness 0.13 inches (3.2 mm); weight 9.6 oz. (272 g)

Please note Point #2 above. I've no problem with the first three features mentioned there but I do have a slight issue with the claim of "exceptional toughness and corrosion resistance." I discovered that it is in fact possible to develop some corrosion on the blade if the knife happens to get damp. 
  1. Admission #1: The way the knife got wet was completely my fault and definitely preventable. I didn't dry my dishes well and dripped water everywhere. I didn't think the knife got wet, but when I looked at it a week later, there was a small amount of rust on the edge of the blade and also on the end of the hilt. 
  2. Admission #2: None of my knives are the equivalent of a Safe Queen. They all get used, some of them harder than others, so I'm not heartbroken about what happened. What I do want to try is preventing this same thing happening in the future if and when I spill more water, which is guaranteed to happen.
I sent a message to Garry, asking what I might do to keep this from happening in the future. Garry said, "I'm thinking wax will be your best bet. If you don't use it for food, there's always Turtle Wax." That's right, the solution he recommends is a coat of wax. Plain old car wax! 

I went on to say that this is an emergency knife and if used on food, a little wax will be the least of my problems. 

I used a non-stick scrub pad and Dawn dish soap to clean the blade. After rinsing and drying everything thoroughly, I wiped the blade with a coat of car wax, letting it haze over and then buffing it with an old sock. This is how the blade looks now.

Slight pitting

I'm happy to be on top of maintaining this knife, and any others that I may be buying, in the future.

The Takeaway
  • If I'm buying something different than what I have now, it pays to Read The Freaking Directions/Description of what I buy.
  • It pays to have a wide circle of friends with many different skills, so I can get myself out of trouble cheaply and easily! Thank you again, Garry.

The Recap
* * *

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.

The Fine Print


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

Creative Commons License


Erin Palette is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.