Advanced Bug Out Bag

Advanced Bug Out Bag

The Advanced Bugout Bag includes all items from the Basic Bugout Bag, Intermediate Bugout Bag as well as all of the items shown below. For simplicity reasons, all of these items are found on Amazon so that you can get them all in one place.

Compass – A well made quality compass is hard to come by these days. This compass comes with a magnification lense, sight, graduations in both degrees and mils. This compass has an waterproof aluminum frame and housing. Comes with a carrying pouch, lanyard, and a belt clip. The small survival kit in the basic bugout bag does include a basic compass, but this one makes a better primary
Military Land Navigation

Carabiner – If you need to carry some extra gear, you can easily attach one of these to your bugout bag to carry extra water bottles, medical bags, rope, and many others. They can also be used for rigging, hoisting, emergency repair etc.. The carabiner’s that I have listed here is not recommended for carrying a person per the manufacturer. However if you are looking for climbing gear, the proper gear can be found but can be a little pricey. These Truper Carabiner’s are made out of steel, have spring hooks and can hold up to 500 pounds.
Steel Truper Carabener Pack

Dry Storage Case – Keeping some items dry can be important at times. If you have an item that you don’t want getting smashed in a waterproof bag inside of your bugout bag, these waterproof cases are perfect for those situations. You can keep notes, electronics, maps, or anything you feel is important to not get wet or smashed. This Pelican Case comes with a carabiner and is water resistant, crushproof, as well as dustproof. Plus they come in all sorts of colors!
Pelicase 1050 Black Clear Micro Case with Clear lid and Carabiner

Duct Tape – Strong tape is a great tool for many uses. It can be used for repairing survival gear, building rafts, building shelters, making tools, making weapons, in just about any situation duct tape can be used. Also duct tape can be used for emergency medical situations like large bandaids, slings, and casts. If something needs to be held together in a survival situation, duct tape can probably do it. Adventure Medical makes great compact duct tape rolls for things like bugout bags if you don’t want to go with a large roll of duct tape.
Ductape 2 x 50-inch Rolls by Adventure Medical Kits

Zip Ties – These are wonderful to have around in any situation. They can be used for holding branches for a temporary shelter, if they are looser zipties they can be used for snare making as well. They are also great if your bag or clothing tears zip ties can be used for a quick temporary fix. Save your paracord (550 cord) and use zip ties where you can! The more you cut your paracord, the less uses you can get out of it! Sometimes zip ties are also reusable if careful.
Reusable Zip Ties by Monoprice

Waterproof Bags – These Aloksak bags are great for not only keeping items dry, but can also be inflated to make a pillow or seat cushion. You can use them for water storage, ice packs, or protect food as well. These are some of the best recloseable waterproof bags I have ever come across. Make sure and pick up a few of these, they won’t take up much space in your bugout bag.
ALoksack Water / Sand Proof Dry Bags (Multi 4 Pack – Small)

Snake Bite Kit – This can be a life saver. Don’t forget to include one of these in your bag. You will be glad you did if the time ever comes that you get bitten by a snake and are no where close to get help (which will most likely be the case when you are bugging out). These extractor pumps have been successfully used for over 30 years, and may not be bullet proof but it also may be your best chance. It is recommended to use an individual kit for each fang bite site. These Sawyer Extractor Pump Kits can also extract venom and poisons from snakes, bees, wasps, hornets, mosquitos, ticks, flies, scorpions and more. You must use the kit immediately after the bite or sting takes place. Using your mouth to suck out venom can be deadly, this is a MUCH safer option.
A valuable treatment of snakebite includes this Sawyer Extractor Pump Kit

Mini Towels – Staying clean is an important part of being a survivalist. Whether that be having clean hands to eat or keeping your hygiene well maintained. These Coleman Compressed Mini Towels are extremely compact and store well in your BOB. All you do is simply add a little bit of water to the compressed towel and it will expand into a more normal size towel. Keeping good hygiene is very import when you are out of your elements, it will help prevent you from sicknesses and from skin problems.
Coleman Company Travel Hiking Camping Compressed Mini Towels (Pack of 10)

Water Tablets – As an addition to the importance of water, water tablets are a good way to make clean water. Water tablets are not the best way to clean water (and not the tastiest) but as a last ditch effort if there is no other clean water around these can be a real life saver. I would recommend at least filtering the water through a handkerchief (or some sort of cloth) to get the floating particles out of it, then use the tablets as directed. These water tablets are very compact and light, so you definitely can’t go wrong in throwing them in your bugout bag. These portable Aqua Water tablets come with PA Plus to removes the iodine taste and color. They contain 50 tablets and treats up to 25 quarts.
Using these Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets with PA Plus puts iodine in water without having the nasty taste

Extra – Some other items you may want to consider would be pace count beads, hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.

Is there anything else you would add to your Advanced Bugout Bag? We would love to hear your ideas!

Intermediate Bug Out Bag

Intermediate Bug Out Bag

This intermediate bag includes everything from the Basic Bugout Bag, as well as the items shown below. For simplicity reasons, all of these items are found on Amazon so that you can get them all in one place.

Multitool – Leatherman’s Wave Multitool is one of the best on the market for the price. The Wave has 100% stainless steel blades and tools. It comes with needle nose pliers, standard pliers, wire snippers, hard-wire cut tool, 420HC blade, 420HC serrated edge, saw, scissors, wood/metal file, diamond-coated file, large bit driver, small bit driver, medium screwdriver, 10-inch ruler, several styles of openers, and a wire stripper. This one also comes with a nice Leather/Nylon combination sheath.
Leatherman 830039 New Wave Multitool with Leather/Nylon Combination Sheath
Paracord – Sometimes known as 550 Cord is a great all in one solution. Paracord is made up of 7 strands of white woven nylon string inside of a braided nylon outside sheath so it is extremely strong. Not only can you use the paracord as an extremely strong rope, but you can also take the strands out and use them for fishing, sewing, dental floss, nets, traps the possibilities are absolutely endless. Be careful though, some brands of paracord are poorly manufactured and can be missing strands making the rope weaker. Sometimes it can be made out of poor materials all together. I have had very good luck with SGT Knots products and plan to keep buying from them. Paracord is a wonderful addition to your survival pack.

SGT KNOTS ® Polyester Paracord 100 Feet – Black
Small Folding Knife – A small knife for smaller tasks is needed. Sometimes you don’t want to pull out your massive Ka-Bar to do a small job (even though we all love our Ka-Bar’s). This knife is made from CPM-S30V stainless steel and has a back lock for safety (back locks are MUCH safer in my opinion than side locks which sometimes malfunction and don’t hold). I will choose Spyderco over Ka-Bar folding knifes any day. They both have their place and Spyderco holds it’s own with folding knives.

Spyderco Native Lightweight Plain Edge Knife, Black
Knife Sharpener – This knife sharpener is a great tactical and compact solution for sharpening your survival knives. The sharpener is made out of Diamond/Carbide. If you are chopping, skinning, or carving it will be extremely hard to with with a dull knife!
Sharpen your knife with Lansky Sharpeners Diamond/Carbide Tactical Sharpening Rod, Black LCD02
Binoculars – These may not be quite as necessary as some other items listed here, however they definitely would be missed if they were not included in the bugout bag. Binoculars can be a wonderful protection tool. It is always nice to see what you may be walking into before you are already there. These binoculars are 100% waterproof and have a 10x magnification. It is hard to come by good waterproof binoculars, these are also a compact size to fit in your bag.
Bushnell H2O Waterproof Compact Roof Prism Binocular, Black, 10 x 25-mm
Rain Gear – Staying warm and dry is crucial to survival. When the rain comes and you absolutely have to go out in it or have not prepared a shelter a poncho will be well worth having. This poncho is a one size fits all and has a fully tapped paratex dry shell. It also is designed to cover personal equipment and backpack, keeping your gear dry is very important as everything may not be 100% waterproof. Can be used as an emergency bivvi by design. For staying dry this Snugpak poncho is a great solution.
Snugpak Poncho Black

Extra Clothes – Extra clothes are very important for a survivalist. Try to find clothes made with good wicking material (synthetic fibers such as teflon or plolyester) to help keep moisture out. Also keep them in a dry waterproof bag inside of your BOB in case your BOB gets wet unintentionally.

Is there anything else you would add to your intermediate bugout bag? We would love to hear your ideas!

Basic Bug Out Bag

Bugging In Guide

Bugging in
We all know that bugging out has its benefits. It also has some major drawbacks. While keeping the survivalist mentality bugging in can be a huge benefit if things were to go terribly wrong (there is a big difference in reading about how to survive and actually doing it). There is a good chance you will have to consider staying in your current dwelling as well as being prepared for it. Leaving your home or apartment may be a terrible thing to do in fact. If you were to leave you would have to watch your back 24/7 and would be in a very vulnerable state. This is why bugging in can be a great option for many. Don’t get me wrong there are times where you would potentially NEED to leave. In those cases you will need to be prepared and have your bug out bag ready to go at all times. Those situations would include hurricanes, tornadoes, fire, extreme weather of any sort, earthquakes, acts of terrorism and much more.
Benefits to bugging in

• Friendly neighbors – If you have friendly neighbors they could be a great bartering resource and extra protection.
• More storage space – For things like supplies long term food stores and water
• Shelter – Provides safety and protection from the elements
• Most people lack outdoor survival skills
• Much easier to defend your family (or friends)
• More hiding places in the instance someone were to break in
Downfalls to not bugging in for the non survivalist
• Weather can be very harsh – Extreme cold, heat, rain or snow
• Dangerous crossings with others – Humans are greedy and will take what they want however they can get it.
• Constantly moving shelter – This causes unknown surroundings each time
• If the land you are on is not yours it can be very dangerous
• Getting where you want to go will be a long hard road if you are not ready for it
• You can only carry a limited amount of water and finding water can be tough (especially clean water)
• Navigation can be very tough when out and about if you are not familiar with the area or are not good with a compass and map

Bugging in checklist

• Long term food stores – Preferably natural / organic food storage when possible.
• Water and good long lasting water filters – Good option for extra water is a bath tub water liner just be sure and fill asap if shtf and you’re bugging in.
• Protection – Weapons knives whatever protection you prefer.
• Bugout bag – This is still extremely important in the case that you need to leave in a hurry, never remove the contents of your bugout bag even when you are bugging in.
• Plenty of light sources and different forms of electricity – Flashlight, long burning candles, bulbs, solar lights, matches
• Multiple forms of electricity – Batteries, solar power, hand crank charger
• First aid – Any form of doctor will be limited so it is crucial to keep a nice first aid kit on hand.
• Entertainment – Cards board games or any other form of entertainment that doesn’t require power since it may be limited.
• Information on survival – A book like the Lofty Wiseman SAS Survival Handbook is always a great option for many survivalist situations.
• Time keeping – If your house or apartment is boarded up it can throw off your internal clock a good g schock watch or a good way of telling time can be important.
• Radio – For emergency situations this is good to have as well as keeping in contact with others or getting status updates on disaster situations. Just remember you may need a form of power for the radio unless it is a hand crank radio or solar powered.
• Something to pass time – If games are not enough to pacify you when you are bugging in you may want to consider finding a hobby. Something that can entertain you that doesn’t require much and doesn’t need electricity (there will probably be times where you will be bored out of your mind).
• Warmth – Heat is critical in the winter or cold months unless you live somewhere that is cold year round then it is always critical. Make sure you have plenty resources for a fire to ensure you do not get sick or end up with hypothermia (wood, gas, paper, charcoal etc). Just don’t burn anything that puts off a dangerous gas, oh and don’t burn your shelter down! Keep plenty of jackets, blankets, socks or anything else that can help provide heat when you need it.

Check out ready4itall‘s page for some more reasons you would have better luck bugging in as well. Some funny but accurate reasoning!

I hope you have received some helpful ideas for bugging in by reading this article. If I have left anything out or if there is something you would do differently please comment. I am always up for hearing new and different ideas!

Bug In or Bug Out

Bug Out Bag Checklist

Having all of the items you need in your bug out bag is absolutely crucial. Forgetting anything can cause major issues when come a time you need to use your bug out bag. This checklist breaks down all of the items that would be recommended to have in a bug out bag. We will start from the most important and go from there. If you would like some more information on reasons to have a bug out bag look at our extended description here.

High Importance Item Checklist

• Storage
◦ Bug out bag
• Food and Water
◦ Water & Canteen (enough for 72 hours +)
◦ Water Filtration
◦ Food (MRE’s, non perishable)
◦ Mess Kit (bowls, pots, pans etc..)
◦ Eating Utensils (spoon, fork, knife)
• Shelter
◦ Fold-able Shovel (E-tool)
◦ Tarp (durable, waterproof)
• Survival
◦ Knife (preferrably 12 inch or longer)
◦ Basic Survival Kit (the shown kit includes 26 different survival items)
◦ First Aid Kit
◦ Flashlight (don’t forget extra batteries!)
◦ Fire (matches, lighter, waterproof & windproof)
• Protection
◦ Weapon (handgun and/or rifle)
◦ Ammunition
• Knowledge
◦ Survival Handbook  (great guide to survive many situations)

Medium Importance Item Checklist

• Survival (added items)
◦ Binoculars (waterproof, shockproof)
◦ Paracord (550 cord)
◦ Multitool (leatherman)
◦ Knife Sharpener
• Clothing
◦ Rain Gear
◦ Extra Clothes

Low to Medium Importance Item Checklist

• Storage (added items)
◦ Dry Storage Case (keep important items dry)
◦ Waterproof Bags (zip bags or similar)
• Food and Water (added items)
◦ Water Tablets (cleaning water)
• Survival (extra items)
◦ Zip Ties
◦ Carabiner
◦ Snake Bite Kit
• Hygiene
◦ Water Activated Towelettes
◦ Soap & Disinfectant
◦ Toilet Paper
• Traveling
◦ Map
◦ Compass
◦ Hat
◦ Sunglasses
◦ Sunscreen
◦ Pace Count Beads (keep track of distance walked)

If your looking for great choices on finding these items checkout our bug out bag options!

Basic   Intermediate   Advanced

Have we left anything out in our Bug Out Bag Checklist? Would you change this list in any way? Let us know!!
Also If you are looking for an absolute minimal checklist check out our essentials printable PDF checklist! It will help you in getting started from the ground up from the basics.

Police, Fire, and EMT Personnel Should Be Preppers

Police, Fire, and EMT Personnel Should Be Preppers

I have nothing but great respect for police, firefighter, and emergency medical technician (EMT or paramedic) personnel, whether they are paid or local volunteers.   Equally, I am grateful for the people who staff the prisons and work for state and federal law enforcement agencies.  They stand on the front lines to deal with the most difficult situations our society faces on a daily basis.  They do the work that I’m not able to do, and I’m grateful to them.   We should all take a moment to extend our gratitude to police, fire and EMT people to serve our communities.  A simple moment of gratitude can provide the incentive and motivation these people need to feel like human beings in their difficult jobs.

I’ll propose in this article the notion that I believe every police, fire, and EMT person should be survival preppers.  And I’ll explain why throughout this article.  For benefit of this discussion, I’ll group the police, fire, and EMT into the single term of “Community Response” personnel.  Here is my rationale:

1. Community Response personnel see the worst that occurs in society.  They respond and address the worst circumstances that occur to people and property.  This requires that these people have strong mental capabilities to deal with trauma, violence, and death.  Mentally and physically, it is difficult to respond to an automobile accident with deaths and then go home to their families unaffected by the event.   Community Response personnel train to rush towards the danger when most of us would run away.  For this reason, I have nothing but the greatest response for Community Service personnel.  As a result, Community Response personnel have a front-line perspective on what harms and evil may befall a person.   They see real risks and real disasters come to life on a regular basis.   Since Community Response personnel recognize the risk that we all face, but deny unto ourselves, Community Response personnel know first-hand of the potential risks that they and their families’ should prepare for.   They know that WROL is possible because they see WROL on a small-scale throughout the normal course of their duties.  They see how crime, accidents, and disaster can destroy a family.   Because they know the risks, they know better than anyone else that they should prepare their families for emergencies and disasters.   They know the risks, see the risks, and live within the risks of disasters, emergencies, and survival — every day.

2. Community Response personnel are not highly paid, especially in proportion to the risks they encounter.   No one becomes rich as an honest police person.  No one enjoys a leisurely career, as a fireman.   No one deal with more pain and suffering, than an EMT responder.  These people have to do the hard, hard work that keeps our society together.  I have often said, Community Service personnel put the “civil” in civilization.   Because the pay scales are modest, as are many government-related jobs, it is absolutely necessary for Community Service personnel to live a frugal life, and spend every bit of money wisely.   Being a survival prepper has a basis of being frugal, self-reliant, and cost-efficient.   It makes total sense that the family of a police person has a garden.  It makes total sense that a fire response person has stored water and food, in case of a disaster situation.  It makes total sense that an EMT has its own backup storage of medical supplies and has its own self-defense weapons.   The traits fit perfectly with being a survival prepper.  It is especially important for the spouses of Community Response personnel to adopt frugal, self-reliant practices.  Every partner of a Community Response personnel should learn how to do home canning, buy food at the local farmers market, and use coupons for shopping.

3. As Community Service personnel must be ready as any moment to leave the comfort of their home and family to rush towards an emergency or disaster event, it is imperative that the people have properly situated their home and families to overcome the same disasters.   How can a fireman focus on responding to a large industrial explosion, if they are worried that their families are in danger from the same event?  How can a police person respond to a riot or shooting, if they are worried about the safety of their spouse and children?   How can an EMT respond to a mass outbreak of food poisoning or tainted water, if their family is exposed to the same risks?    It is wise for a Community Service personnel to prepare their family well ahead of time.   When their families are safe and comfortable, then Community Service personnel can better focus on their duties and help the people in need. Being a survival prepper better insures that Community Service personnel’s families are not the people in crisis during an emergency or disaster.

4. When an emergency or disaster occurs, Community Service personnel have no time to go shopping for needed supplies.   If a blizzard rolls into town, Community Service personnel are out on the roads to rescue people in distress.   They are called to duty at the earliest warning of some bad event.  They typically don’t have time to run to the grocery store to stock up on milk, diapers, and toilet paper.  They don’t have time to run to the drug stores to refill a prescription.  They don’t have time to run to the gas station to refill the family’s personal vehicles.  Rather, they are rushing toward the emergency.  Especially in smaller towns with smaller sized staffs of emergency response personnel, Community Service personnel can be called away out of the shift to join those team members currently on the active shift.  Therefore, Community Service personnel must have their homes well squared-away before the emergency, before the disaster.   The whole concept of being a survival prepper is preparing for the risks of the future so that disasters only become an inconvenience, rather than a life stopping, life-altering event.

5. As states and cities continue to have extreme budget challenges, Community Response personnel will disproportionately impact by budget cuts and layoffs.   Look at Detroit, which is about to declare bankruptcy.  One-third of Detroit’s police have been laid-off.  The remaining police likely have not seen a pay raise in years.   By being a survival prepper, Community Response personnel can better handle the impact of a lost job or less pay.  With one year of stored food at home, a Community Response person is not immediately put into a dire situation due to a layoff.

6. A primary concept of being a survival prepper is being self-reliant.  If there is an economic collapse, more cities go bankrupt, the currency gets valued, a bank holiday is declared, or an austerity program is implemented to save the United States budget, the folks that depend on a government entity for their pension will be sadly impacted.   If my pension was due to be provided by Illinois or California, I’d be scared witless at this point, since both of these states are near insolvency already.
General Advice for Community Service personnel:

1. Save some money outside of the government savings plan.  While you’ll not be anywhere close to replacing your pension with personal savings, having some personal savings will allow you to overcome a difficult transition.

2. Attempt to produce some of your own food.   This can be accomplished with a small garden, a hen-house, joining a local food co-op, home canning, and direct to farm food purchases.

3. Learn how to prepare and cook your own meals, rather than buy packaged food.   Home-cooked meals are less expensive and downright healthier.  When you must start eating from your stored foods, that is a time period where there will be no runs to a fast food joint.  If you pay for your own lunches (or break meals, depend on what shift you work), bring a bag lunch instead.  You can make a bag lunch for less money with better quality of food, then eating fast food.

4. Community Service personnel are very vulnerable to their histories.  For the criminal or insane person that a Community Service personnel took off the street, those bad people of society might come back for revenge.   While Community Service personnel are working their shift, their homes and families are as vulnerable as any other family, perhaps more.   Therefore the spouses of Community Service personnel should own, train, and carry a firearm   The spouses should obtain their concealed carry license, practice periodically with their firearms, and be very vigilant throughout the entire day.  Buy and store your own firearms, which are not the service-issued weapons.  In the event of a mass layoff or some strange new law, you may be forced to surrender your service weapons.  If your community requires that you buy your own firearms, buy a 2nd of each.  California now has a strange requirement that retired police must register or turn in their AR-15 carbines or rifles.  I find California’s requirements for retired police to be utterly stupid.  We trust our police for 30+ years during their career, then suddenly we don’t trust retired policemen (and policewomen)?   I’d want a retired policeman living next to me, more than any other kind of person.  My recommendation is that you buy the duplicate of your service weapons.  This eases the training learning curve and maintenance duties.   If you carry a Mini-14 as your service truck rifle, buy a spare Mini-14 as your personal rifle.   The same goes for sidearm and shotguns.  Own what you train with, and train with what you own.

5. EMT and Fire Fighters should personally own firearms.  And obtain your concealed carry license.  During a disaster, WROL events, criminals and utter idiots will take potshots at EMT and firefighters.  During Hurricane Katrina and the Rodney King LA riots, EMT and firefighters were forced away from rescuing people, because they were being shot at.   If a dire emergency or WROL situation, you will need your own firearms to protect your home and for traveling to/from your duties.   Perhaps your local police and city authorities will permit you to carry a firearm during an extreme disaster, like Hurricane Katrina.   Equally spouse/partners of EMT and firefighters should obtain their concealed carry license and own a firearm.   As you are away from home conducting your duties, your spouse/partner will need to protect themselves, your children, and your home.

6. It is very much recommended that Community Response personnel store their own quantities of ammunition.   Despite that the federal government is buying billions of rounds of ammunition, state and local police are struggling to find enough ammunition for training and practice.  The massive price increases and supply shortages of ammunition are impacted state and local police now and today.   I believe state and local government agencies should subsidize police with discounted ammunition.   In the event of without-rule-of-law (WROL) or riot or Katrina-like event, state and local police will quickly run out of ammunition.  During the Hurricane Katrina recovery, police had to take ammunition from sporting good stores and Wal-Mart, in part to prevent criminals from running amuck, but also due to shortages in police supplies of ammunition.   When ammo was cheap in the Summer of 2011 and 2012, I was able to store some 40S&W ammo.  My handguns take 9mm or 45ACP calibers and have no firearms that use 40S&W.  I store 40S&W pistol ammunition with the specific intent of providing this ammunition to my hometown police in an emergency/disaster event.   In an economic collapse scenario, ammunition is a store of value, and likely to be a form of currency.   If you are a Community Response person, store your own ammunition.  Whatever you are able to afford now is money saved later.

7. Recommend that every single (non-married) person have 6 months (or more) of stored food.  Every family should have at least one year of stored food.   And I advocate increasing your stored food up to 2 or 3 years of supplies.  When your in-laws show up at your door, 2 years of stored food become 1 year of stored food with a big household  Take a look at what happened during Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.  Take a look at what is happening today in Colorado with the wildfires.  Look at the police and EMT layoffs in Detroit.   Having a year’s store of food is your buffer to career transitions (i.e. layoffs) and for a disaster scenario.   Let’s suppose you are a police person, firefighter, or EMT in a New Jersey coastal town during Hurricane Sandy.   If you and your family did not have a store of food, how could you focus on the recovery efforts for your town?

8. Water is a key component of survival.  You can go three weeks without food, but not 3 days without water.   I recommend that every family store 3 weeks of drinking water, in the event of disasters.   That is one gallon per person per day for cooking and drinking.  Again, look at Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.  The public water sources were contaminated.   Having your water squared away ahead of time allows your to focus on your duties, and not worry about your family.

9. It is very important for Community Response personnel to live in the “good” side of town.   Often police will live in the same neighborhood, and this is a good thing.  As person is on duty, the off-duty team members can watch over the neighborhood.  It is also recommended that Community Response personnel connect and befriend their neighbors.   Police people tend to be a bit aloft, due needing to be objective in their duties.   I’d rather see a neighborhood rally around a police family, in a disaster/emergency situation, so that the police can focus on response and recovery efforts.   During a disaster, emergency, WROL scenario, it is my intent to create meals for Community Response personnel’s families.  It is the duty of good people to support the people who defend our communities.

10. Community Response personnel should make extra efforts to harden and protect their homes.   Live in strong, resilient structures with smoke detectors, security alarms, and secured entries.   Live in the quiet end of town.  Live away from the stream, rivers, or the ocean to avoid flooding risks.  Don’t live near industrial sites or power plants, which might be the source of a disaster itself.  When on-duty, it is difficult to return home to watch over your own home.   Since you are storing your own food, water, and ammunition, you need to be protected and perhaps hidden your supplies from thieves and looters.

11. Store extra fuel at your home.  In a disaster event, you will be driving a lot.  And gas stations can be not working, empty of fuel, or wrecked.  Storing extra fuel allows you to not be trapped.  If your duty has you traveling all day in a vehicle, I’d recommend that you store about 50 gallons at your home.  You need to rotate fuel.  Gasoline has a shelf-life of 2 years.  Diesel fuel has a shelf-life of 5 years.  And preserve the fuel with Sta-bil, PRI-D, or PRI-G.  Your fuel will last longer if preserved.   A key supply you should buy and store is empty fuel cans.   In a disaster/emergency event, fuel cans disappear from store shelves faster than toilet paper.

12. I’d recommend that you drive a vehicle that uses the same fuel as your service vehicle.  If you are a firefighter riding on a diesel fire fighting engine, then your personal vehicle should also use diesel fuel.   Same for EMT’s, since many ambulances utilize diesel fuel.   Police who drive a gasoline-powered engine while on duty should have their personal vehicle powered by gasoline as well.   But using the same fuel on-duty and off-duty, there is the opportunity of sharing both ways.   Many communities store emergency fuel for their service vehicles.  In the event of a disaster, emergency situation, the community might give you fuel to travel to and from home.  Or you might bring your stored fuel to your duty vehicle.

13. Carry a blow-out kit as part of your normal, everyday carry gear.  As a community responder, it is likely you will be first upon an accident or crime scene, even when not on duty.   Having a first aid kit with blood stoppers, battle bandage, and tourniquet allows you to immediately render aid.  Look at what happened after the Boston bombings.  Many lives were saved due to the quick administration of tourniquets.

14. Just as every survival prepper should do, have a bug-out bag ready always.  In a disaster/emergency event, you might need to send your family away, while you work to recover your town.   Your spouse/partner or children might be safer away from your hometown, while you conduct your duties.   For example, after Hurricane Katrina, every family needed to evacuate.  But those police who did show up for work were those that had their families squared away first.

15. Have a retreat plan for your family.  Plan and discuss ahead of time where your family will go, if a disaster strikes your hometown.  Again, by planning ahead, you can focus on the recovery of your home, instead of worrying about your family.

16. Have a set of code words that provide immediate directions to your spouse, partner, and children.   In your official role, you may not be able to tell your family everything that you know.  But having pre-discussed code words, you are able to communicate instruction to your family, without sharing official, secured information.  Examples:


A. “I’ll be late for dinner tonight” => Go immediately to your mother’s home and stay there until I call you.  It is not safe for you to be home now.  Grab the kids, the bug-out bag, and leave now.

B. “How much milk do we have?” => Run to the grocery store immediately and stock up on food, water, diapers, and toilet paper.  A disaster is about to occur in our town, and you need to get ready.  Also, fill up the vehicle with fuel and fill up a spare fuel can.

C. “Let’s plan for a fun weekend” => Go retrieve all the children from school or events, and hunker down at home until further notice.  There is a danger in the community that I can’t explain at this moment.

D. “Don’t wait up for me tonight” => I am worried about your security.  Have your firearm ready.  Don’t go to sleep until I am home.  Bad people are traveling throughout their hometown.

E. “It has been a long day. Looking forward to coming home soon.” => My duties are will keep me on the job pass my shift, due to an emergency.  Don’t worry about me.  I’ll call you once I know when I can come home.

F. “I love you.” => This is not a code word.  Just slipping in a different message.  The divorce rate for Community Responders is very high.  Due to stress, odd working hours, and being away from home for long periods of time, Community Responders are very vulnerable to distractions, temptations, and the accumulation of pent-up anger.  Marriage is good for health, good for survival, good for longevity.  Divorce is bad for health and longevity.  Take the extra time and make the extra effort to be sensitive to your partner.  Say “sorry” and “I love you” even when sometimes you don’t feel like saying it.  Give yourself a buffer time when you come off duty to decompress, and become a civilian before you come home.  Or make a plan with your partner to give you 30 minutes or an hour to decompress when you arrive home.  Make an extra effort to stay away from alcohol, which is nearly always damaging to relationships.  Don’t de-stress with alcohol.  Alcohol will only numb your feeling, not help you resolve the trauma and stress that naturally comes from your duties.  Spent the extra time on your mental help, so that your family health is also improved.   Don’t be ashamed to recognize that you are carrying stress, anger, or PTSD.  Let your family, church, community and workplace resources help you.

G. No doubt you will think of more codeword scenarios, which will allow you to alert and warn your family.  These code words can be communicated via phone, text message, email, Facebook posting, twitter message, etc.   Your instructions and warning can be communicated in a secure manner, without sharing your warnings to bad people.

Please don’t mistake the concept of being a survival prepper with being an extremist.  I consider myself to be a modestly skilled survival prepper.  And I am a patriot.  I love the United States.  I salute the flag, sing the national anthem, and say the pledge of allegiance.  I teach my children to appreciate and be grateful for living in the United States of America.   I am a strong supporter of local police and community policing.  I hate getting a speeding ticket as much as anyone else, but I respect the difficult work being conducted by police, firefighters, and EMT personnel.   I’ll be the first in line to share my survival supplies with my hometown emergency response personnel.    Anti-government, anarchist, and extremists might be a survival prepper.  But the vast majority of survival preppers support the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.   The vast majority support the rule of law.   The vast majority of survival preppers obey the law, vote, and pay their taxes.

While I consider myself to be a Minuteman, within the historical context, I am not a militia member.   In the event that my hometown breaks down into WROL, my plan is to join and support the local police to reestablish lawful order.  Recognize there are good and bad militias.   I’m against the militias that are anti-government.   This doesn’t mean I like everything about the United States.   I am frustrated with high taxes, government budget deficits, and welfare to able-bodied adults.  But I work within the laws.  The United States is the greatest force of freedom and liberty that the world has ever known.  Without the presence of the United States, Europe and Asia would be dominated and controlled by Fascism or Communism.   I love and support the United States because I love freedom and liberty.   And I admire and respect the people who sacrifice their careers and absorb the risks necessary to defend freedom, support liberty and enforce the rule of law.

This advice is relevant for federal law enforcement personnel, forest firefighters, prison guards, and border patrol agents.   If you carry a gun, nightstick, walkie-talkie, shovel, or medic bag for a local government, state government or federal agency, you would equally benefit from these concepts.
Police, fire, and EMT personnel are natural candidates to become survival preppers.  And I welcome them into the survival prepper culture and community.   You, your family, and your community will benefit from being a survival prepper.  And thank you again for the duties you provide to your community.  You are the best kind of people.

How Military Personnel Can Be Survival Preppers

How Military Personnel Can Be Survival Preppers

Those people who are part of military service, you have unique constraints and obstacles to being a survival prepper.   This includes Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, and perhaps even merchant marine personnel.   Due to the obligations of your duties, it is very difficult to prepare for disaster events, when compared to civilians.  Civilians are free to conduct their affairs within the limits of the law, any time and anywhere.   Military personnel are very much constrained from being a survival prepper.   This article is to provide advice as to how Military personnel can be survival preppers.

When you are part of a branch of the military (and Coast Guard), you and your family live a nomadic life.  The military can and will move you around the world, often with limited notice.   In many relocations, you are unable to move your personal goods.   A Marine doing Embassy duty in Russia is likely unable to absorb the costs of moving their personal vehicle to Moscow.  Since military families move often, military families tend not to accumulate a lot of household stuff.

Cover the basics, provide lots of love, and have just a few toys for the children of the military.   As a result, military families are likely unable to store lots of disaster/survival supplies.   Having 20 super pails of rice and beans results in shipping these buckets around the country, around the world, as a military family relocates.    Also, being part of the military means not being rich.  No one gets rich by having a career in the military.  Military families live a modest middle-class life but always challenged in their personal finances.

Military families almost never have spare money at the end of the month for discretionary purchases.   Military families are often separated by the duties and tours of military personnel.  I have a family member who was in the US Navy aboard submarines.  That family member would leave, without notice, with no guidance provided upon the return date.   His family would need to conduct their daily affairs with the participation of the boomer.

Acknowledging the limitations placed upon military families against accumulating survival/disaster supplies, it must be recognized that military families are very vulnerable to disaster events.   Military families live near military bases.  Military bases are often located in isolated, remote locations.  Military bases may be targets for terrorists.   Military families are dependent upon the military supply chain.   Military supply chains can be interrupted no less than civilian supply chains.

Here are some recommendations for military families to obtain a measure of self-reliance and resiliency in a disaster, emergency situation.

1. Select a hometown to be your center point of your family’s planning.   Your designated hometown will be the place where you store much of your long-term supplies.  As you travel about the world, you’ll consider your designated hometown as the retreat location for your family.  How you select your designated hometown is a very personal decision.  You may select your hometown based on where you were raised, where your spouse was raised, where your parents or siblings live, where you have a lot of friends located, the place where you wish to retire, or any location that you simply love to be.

2. In your designated hometown, definitely obtain a rental storage unit.  This where you should store your long-term survival supplies.   Select a storage unit which is well-shaded from sunlight, so that your unit remains cool.  Even if you maintain a home or apartment while you are oversees, still maintain a rental storage unit, which is in walking distance from your permanent home.  Have the payment of your rental storage unit linked directly to your bank account, so that a payment is never missed.  Missing payments for a rental storage unit may result in you losing all the contents of your storage unit.   Security your rental storage unit with two circular, high-density locks.  These are very difficult to cut.  Example: Master Lock Round Padlock

3. Recommend that you keep a full camping kit in your survival supplies.  This includes a 4-season tent and outdoor quality sleeping bags for every family member.   If you are released from the military very suddenly due to an economic collapse, likely you will be drawing upon your survival supplies immediately.

4. During the Clinton Administration, there was a military draw-down.  Many folks, who thought they were about to have a long-term career in the military, suddenly found themselves without any job.   It is important during your military career to prepare for civilian employment.  Take advantage of very bit a possible training, including college courses, while you are in the military.  While you are away on duty, you’ll be able to take correspondent college courses (unless you are in an active combat zone).  Your military career will eventually end, one way or another.   Hopefully, you’ll be able to retire after your military career in good health.   In retirement, you likely have a lot of active years remaining, thus you would take up civilian employment.   Build your next career before you need your next career.

5. Take advantage of the Military Base PX to stock up on disaster and survival supplies.   Military PX are often highly subsidized.  Military personnel are not highly paid, so take advantage of the savings at the PX.

6. While Military families are not able to accumulate a year’s worth of stored food, due to likely relocation in the future, Military families should still try to accumulate at least 3 months of food.   Use the Military PX to stock up on canned and dried food, so that in the event of a disaster, military families are not immediately put at risk.   Military families are affected by hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and blizzards, no less than civilians.

7. It is very difficult for Military families to save money.  But try to bank some money.   Utilized the Military savings programs to bank away a small amount of pay every month.   You will need a buffer of money for emergencies and to transition out of the military.

8. If you are single (not married, without children), then live the true military life.  Eat in Military canteens, not fast food.  Not junk food.   I know, Military food is not the best.  But you are single and flexible, so don’t spend your money.  Live in Military barracks.  Don’t blow your money on cars, motorcycles, booze, bars, and illicit relationships.  A young man or woman entering the military at age 18 can save enough money by age 22 to attend college.  Four years in the military and then four years in college will prepare you very well for life.   If you blow all your money when young, you have nothing left when you are old.

9. If I could go back to age 18 and was going to join the military, I’d rent a bank safe box, buy gold and silver coins, and bank away the coins in the bank safe box.  For $50 each month you could buy two Silver Eagle one ounce coins.  By doing this for three years of the typical Army enlistment, you’d end your contract with nearly $1800 in silver coins.  That’s a nice little monetary survival cache.  Attach the payment for the bank safe box to your bank account, so that as you travel around the world, your coin cache of money is preserved.

10. Create caches of survival supplies.  As you create new friendship in your travels, store a small amount of supplies with them.   Or store some of your supplies with your parents, siblings, or in-laws.   Redundancy is a good thing with the location of your survival supplies.  Some of the key things to put into your cache are: boots, boot socks, MRE’s, camping equipment, tactical gear, ammunition, silver junk coins, and your personally owned firearms.

11. If you are allowed, buy and store your personally owned firearms.   Some branches of the military require you to register your personal firearms.   So perhaps your parents, siblings, or in-laws receive ownership of your personal firearms, while you are committed to military service.  Then your family can sell back your firearms to you after you leave the military.  Store at least 1000 rounds of ammunition for each of your firearms.   Recognize that each state has different laws about the ownership of firearms.   Even as a member of the military, you must be very careful about transporting and storing firearms.   Currently, it is very risk just to transport a 30-round magazine through the state of New York, even if you were just traversing from Maryland to Maine, and needed to pass through New York State.

12. As you select your designated hometown, you might consider selecting a state that loves liberty and freedom, such as New Hampshire, Texas, Arizona, Florida, and the Carolinas.   A lot military personnel are stationed in California.  California is nearly a separate communist state, due to its tendency to regulate every aspect of a person’s life.  If I was stationed in California, then I might rent a storage unit over the border in Arizona to store my supplies.

13. Since military personnel lives a nomadic life, I’d recommend that you store long-term food which is highly transportable.   MRE’s are heavy and bulky, so store just a limited amount.   Superpails and #10 cans are heavy and bulky.   Rather I suggest that you focus on dehydrated and freeze-dried food, such as Mountain House.  Freeze-dried and dehydrated foods are a more expensive form of food storage, but these are lighter and easier to transport.  You would do well by storing LRP rations, not MRE’s.   Then it is much easier to transport your food, as you relocate to new duty stations.

14. As you arrive at a new base, new duty station, assess the local circumstances at the base.  If you get based in a desert, dry region, store a lot more water.   If you get based in a cold-weather region, focus on storing warm clothing, warm footwear, and cold-weather sleeping bag.   As you conduct your local prepping throughout your travels, after a period of many years, you will have built up a depth of survival supplies.

15. Keep your mouth shut.   You don’t want to appear as some survivalist wacko by your commanders.   As you live within the law, live within regulations, no one needs to know that in your heart, you are a survival prepper.   Opsec is even more important for military personnel.

16. An excellent resource for military families is the local Pawn Shop.  Since military people are very transient, a lot of goods are sold cheaply to Pawn Shops near military bases by folks going overseas or relocating to a new base.  Pawn Shops are great places to accumulate supplies, especially guns, camping gear, household goods, kitchen items, etc.   Rather than paying top prices for new stuff, instead, look for gently used items at significantly cheaper prices.  Pawnshops are great places to buy gold and silver coins. Also as it happens, military families can get into a financial bind very quickly.  Perhaps the transmission blows out in the car.  Or run short on a budget at the end of the month.  To raise cash quickly, it is much better to use a pawn shop, rather than a payday loan.   With a pawn shop, you can bring jewelry, musical instruments, or even the weekend motorcycle in for quick cash.  You have the option to sell or obtain a loan secured by your item.  Payback your pawn loan, get your item back.   Payday loans, auto title loans, and any outfit in the bad parts of town that provide quick loans are to be avoided, which a trap to debt hell.

17. Another excellent resource for military families is the Goodwill store.  Don’t snicker.  I have a great job, but I will still occasionally visit a Goodwill store.   I keep my eye out for camping gear, sporting goods, and new overstock items that are donated from other stores.  If your military family has young children, the Goodwill store is an excellent place to get young children’s clothing on the cheap.  You’d be amazed at the high quality, name-brand children’s clothing at Goodwill.  When my children grow out of their clothing, we donate to Goodwill.  Young children typically don’t wear out their clothes, since they are growing so fast.   So I know good stuff is going to Goodwill.
I’d recommend that every military person ready this book.  Founders: A Novel of the Coming Collapse.  Once you read this book, you’ll understand the importance that military families being prepared for disasters.  Yes, this a work of fiction.  But the story represents how Military families would be hugely impacted by an economic collapse.

Military personnel can be survival preppers as well.   It is more difficult, but achievable.  You must already live a frugal life.  Being a survival prepper reinforces frugal concepts and self-sufficiency.  There will be life after the military.   By preparing now for your family and preparing for your post-military career now, you will have a better outlook and easier transitions in life.  Being dependent upon the military makes you very vulnerable to regular disasters — the same disaster that civilians get caught by.  By being a survival prepper, you start your lifelong journey towards self-sufficiency and reduce the risks of being dependent on a huge organization.
Thank you to all that serve in the military and coast guard.   I am grateful for your commitment and dedication to our country and our freedom.

Practice Emergency Drills With Your Family

Practice Emergency Drills With Your Family

It has been said by many and verified by experts, you will react to the extent of your training in a crisis.   With no training, people freeze or panic in an emergency.  Having a lot of training overcomes the reaction to freeze or panic.  For this reason, the military continually trains its soldiers.  EMS personnel refresh their skills and training frequently.  Firefighters are continually learning how to handle dangerous, toxic materials.   Airline pilots must re-certify every year.  And many white-collar professions, such as teaching and computer programmers, require lifelong learning.

Practice drills are a very good mechanism to prepare your family for a disaster, emergency, and disaster.  This article talks about the various practice drills that you can conduct with your family.   Regardless of the age of you and your family members, you should practice these drills on an annual basis.  Having a new-born baby or an infirmed family member does not excuse you from conducting an emergency practice drill.   In fact, conduct a drill at the most vulnerable times of your life is precisely when you should be doing the drills.

Your family can encounter an emergency situation at any time.   Having a bad flu will not prevent a home fire.   Healing from a broken leg can occur at the same time as the local chemical plant goes up in a fire.   A hurricane can sweep over your town, while grandpa is bedridden with Alzheimer’s.   Many people who die during a disaster are those unable to rescue themselves.  During Hurricane Katrina, a high proportion of deaths occur with elderly people who were not mobile.  The city and state shamefully did not use the city and school buses to remove elderly and bedridden people hospitals, adult care facilities, and retirement homes before Hurricane Katrina.  As I believe in all things, it is up to you to be self-reliant and self-rescue in an emergency/disaster event.  Waiting for help is waiting for help that may never come.
The following is a suggested list of practice drills you can conduct with your family.

Family Practice Drills

1. First Aid Drill – This is a drill to prepare for an injury or rapid illness.  This is very important if you have a family member who is at risk for sudden illness.  It is recommended that every one of age 12 and higher take a CPR and First Aid class.  And learn the Heimlich maneuver for a choking victim.  Every parent should learn the Heimlich maneuver, as many choking victims are young children.  First aid skills are perishable, as are many skills.  Practice occasionally to be ready always.  References:

A. American Red Cross Training and Certification in First Aid, CPR and AED
B. American Red Cross First Aid Drills
C. Choking
D. Heimlich maneuver

2. Fire Drill – Every family should conduct an annual fire drill.   No excuse not too.  Have a plan for each family member to escape a burning home.  Children should be taught to drop to the floor and crawl, if there is smoke in a room.  And everyone should touch a door to sense for heat, before opening.  If there is too much smoke, don’t try to make a run through the smoke.  One or two breaths of smoke will knock down anyone.  Smoke from home fires contains lots of toxic stuff.  Each family member might have a different escape route, depending on where their bedroom is located.  Most home fires start in the kitchen, but most deaths occur from home fires that occur at night.  Every bedroom and major room any home should have a smoke detector.  I prefer smoke detectors with battery backup power, in the event of a power outage.  There should be a fire extinguisher in every kitchen and garage.  For the bedrooms on the 2nd and 3rd floors of a home, consider having rope ladders or packaged escape ladders.

Here are three possibilities:

A. First Alert EL52-2 Two-Story 14-Foot Escape Ladder
B. Kidde KL-2S Two-Story Fire Escape Ladder with Anti-Slip Rungs, 13-Foot
C. ResQLadder FL25 Three-Story Portable Emergency Escape Ladder, 25 Foot

3. Home Invasion Drill – A home invasion drill is the exact opposite of a fire drill.  Unlike a home fire, where you are an attempt to escape from a burning home, in a home invasion, you are seeking protection and refugee within your home.  Practice what you would do, if someone attempted to break into your home.  Your plan and reaction will vary greatly by your home layout, your skills, and your resources.  For my family, my first reaction is to grab my gun from a secured, locked spot near my bed.  My night gun is a 9mm semi-automatic pistol with high-capacity magazines.  I keep 3 extra magazines with my night gun.  This gives me around 60 rounds of firepower.  My night gun has an attached light and laser to blind the attacker and help with the aim.  Having your night gun upgraded with tritium or fiber optic night sites is recommended.  I’ll expect that my hands will be shaking during such an event.  So I intended to supplement my aim with the laser on my gun.  After grabbing my gun, I grab my cell phone and sprint to my children’s rooms.  For this reason, always have your cell phone charged and next to your bed.  It is very possible that the intruders will cut the phone and electrical lines into the home.  If for some reason, I’m unable to reach 911, I’ll shoot a couple of rounds out of a window in a safe direction so that my neighbors will call the police.   If I feel I have time, I’ll also unlock my 12 gauge shotgun, which is devastation at short-range.  No one negotiates against a shotgun.  We’ll lock ourselves in the children’s bathroom, while we call the police.   We’ll wait until the police give us an all clear sign.  While the rule of law exists, it is not recommended that you confront an intruder alone.  The intruder may have several team members, inside and outside of the home.  If the intruder leaves on their own accord, don’t leave the safety of your locked room, until after the police have cleared your home.  Many home intruders are intoxicated with drugs and/or alcohol.  It is not unheard of an intruder settling down quieting into a home they have broken in.  Having a watchdog is very helpful.  Having a police dog clear your home finalizes the event.

4. Shelter-in-place / Weather Emergency Drill – When you are in a disaster event and the best course of action is to stay home, this is called “Shelter-in-place”.  A shelter-in-place or weather emergency drill is not much unlike a home invasion drill.  Except that you are preparing for an immediate weather event, such as a tornado, flash flood, tsunami, snow blizzard, ice storm, or severe thunderstorm.  Each of these events calls for a different reaction.    You’ll need to adjust to your local weather and climate situation.  If you live on the West Coast of the United States, you’ll want to conduct an earthquake drill.  Living in tornado alley calls for different drills.   For a shelter-in-place scenario, you’ll likely want to be in the lowest part of the home and away from windows.  If your local risk scenarios call for an evacuation, then you start to execute your bug-out drill.

5. Bug Out Drill – Most families don’t practice a bug-out, but should.   This week, the wildfires in Colorado have burned down 500 houses.  Many 1000′s more people needed to evacuate.  Any home, any town is vulnerable to some type of disaster, where you might need to evacuate for a short period of time, or even forever.   Hurricane Katrina was a long-term evacuation.  Hurricane Sandy was a short-term evacuation for many thousands and a long-term evacuation for several 100′s of families who lost their homes.  Sadly, many destroyed homes will never be rebuilt, due to lack of flood insurance or the shifts of water edges.  There are two types of bug-out drills.  The two types are: (1) rapid evacuation, and (2) long-term evacuation drill, where you have more time to pack.   Say, for example, a local chemical plant or nuclear power generation plant has an explosion, you need to immediately evacuate.  In this scenario, you have almost no time to pack.  For this reason, you should always have a bug-out bag ready.  The goal of a rapid evacuation is to be out the door and on the road within 30 minutes.  Often, you will not even have 30 minutes to evacuate.  Your bug-out bag should have sufficient supplies to provide three days of all needed things to survive.  I’ll not go into the details of what should be contained in a bug-out bag.  I’ll cover that in another article.  Your long-term evacuation bag is often called an INCH bag.  INCH stands for I’m Never Coming Home again.   An INCH bag is more of a process than one bag.  You’ll want a lot more clothing and to take irreplaceable valuables with the INCH bag.  The long-term bug-out should include your camping equipment, gold & silver coins, expensive jewelry, long gun, ammo, photo library, important papers, and irreplaceable art.   The practice of a bug-out drill should primarily be with the rapid bug scenario.  Give your family less than 30 minutes to pack clothing, medicines, food, water, etc.  Your important documents should already be organized with your bug-out kit.  Everyone should customize their bug-out plan according to their unique family situation, local climate, direction of travel, and density of their living area.   It is best to have at least three routes of travel to leave your town.  Best to have a printed map and pre-planned directions.  Consider that the internet and phone services will be down, unavailable.   If you don’t have your own vehicle, then you have special planning to do.  Work out a plan with a friend or family member who does have a vehicle.  Many city and county governments have a registration list of people to transport during a disaster.  If you are home-bound or infirmed, get on the government evacuation lists.  If you rely on public transportation or bicycle for your daily commute, then learn what plans your local government has for the evacuation of people without their own vehicles.  Know this information ahead of time.  Sadly, many people died in New Orleans due to inadequate evacuation planning.

6. Local Disaster Drills, Tests, and Alerts – If you live near a nuclear power plant, chemical plant, petroleum processing plant, oil refinery, or fuel storage hub, then there is likely a local disaster plan and alerting system.  Be aware of these plans, and incorporate into your bug-out plan or shelter-in-place plan.

7. Bank Holiday Drill – This is more of planning activity, rather than actual practice.  Preparing for a bank holiday is the recognition that economic collapses are sudden, without much notice.  Governments will do everything and anything to prevent a collapse of the currency or collapse of a government.  Governments will delay, defer, and hide the truth until the truth can no longer be maintained.  This was demonstrated in Argentina and Cyprus, who were saying, “All is well.  There is no problem” up until the point they closed the banks, froze accounts, and confiscated money from their own citizens.  Friday, the country was running normally.  Come Monday, all the banks were closed.   It can and will happen that suddenly.  For more information about this event, please see my previous article: In the event of a Bank Run (Bank Holiday) – Instructions for my Wife

8. Retrieve Grandma/Grandpa Drill – If you have elderly family members, you should be ready to retrieve them.  They might fall and have an injury, where they are no longer able to care for themselves.  There are scenarios where a retirement community goes bankrupt.  Or the retirement community is near a disaster or weather event and causes an evacuation order.  Thus it is prudent to discuss with your elderly family member how to react to a disaster.  Yes, grandma and grandpa need their own version of a bug-out kit.  A key part of planning for your elderly family members is to work with them to always have their affairs in order.  And for you to know their wishes and instructions, in the event that some bad happens to them.  There is also the possibility that both you and your elderly family members must bug-out at the same time.   If you live in the same town or local region as your elderly family members, then chances are you will both be subject to an evacuation order.

9. Retrieve Your Child From School – If you have school-age children, you should be ready at any moment to retrieve them from school.  This can be as a result of the child becoming sick or injured at school.  It could result from an evacuation order or early dismissal due to a weather event.  Or god forbid another mass shooting event.   Think about how you will get to your school if 100′s of other parents have the same idea.  Can you approach the school from a less used travel route or neighborhood side road?  Also take the time to understand your school’s disaster response plans.  Schools typically have disaster drills several times each year, including fire drill, lockdown drill, shelter-in-place drill, and/or bad weather drill.  In some parts of the country, there are specialized drills to prepare for local high risk events, such as earthquakes and tornadoes.  Some schools don’t want you to retrieve your child, and will bus the children away from a disaster scenario.   If your school has automated alerts, such as emails or text messages, sign up.  Likely each disaster scenario will be handled differently, so you need to be ready to adjust to whatever instructions the school issues.  Also, prepare your children for an emergency event.  Provide your children with instructions on where to go, if you are unable to meet them.   Having local friends as back-up and travel buddies is very helpful.  My wife has several friends who she can rely upon to pick up our children at school, in the event that she is unable and I’m away at work.

10. College Student Get-home Drill – If you have children away at college, discuss with them when and how they should evacuate their college living situation.  Will you come to get them, or will they attempt to travel home themselves.  If your college student lives away from home, they would be well served by having a “Get Home” bag.  There are two types of preparation in a “Get Home” scenario.  First is your college-age children drive home in their own vehicle or gets a ride with a friend heading in the same direction.  The second version is a walk-home.  Consider having your college child ready with a backpack, hiking shoes, food, water, and defensive weapons for a walk-home.  If you plan to drive to your child’s college to retrieve them yourself, then consider the possibility that you are unavailable due to a concurrent disaster evacuation.   This doesn’t need to be too crazy.  A backpack with a modest set of survival gear can be set aside at your child’s college living arrangements for disaster/emergency events.   I recommend that parents inspect the living arrangements for your child away at college.  Is there smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguisher?  If the residence in good physical condition?  The biggest thing you can do with your college-age child is to have already instilled a good sense of right and wrong, and how to avoid trouble.  All the lessons of drugs, alcohol, sex, firearms, personal finances, associating with bad people, and avoiding unsafe situations must be instilled before they go to college.
11. Abandon Ship Drill – If you have a fishing boat or water pleasure craft, you need to plan for an emergency while on board.  Don’t cut corners on maintenance.  Having good communications equipment with extra batteries.  Have signal flares.  Have emergency flotation devices.  Bring extra food and water.  If you go travel out to the ocean or gulf or bay or other deep water, having a lifeboat is advised.  I’ll not try to give any advice for this scenario since I have absolutely no expertise on this subject.  Rather I’ll refer you to:

A. US Coast Guard Boating Safety Resource Center
B. National Water Safety Congress Resources
C. MedicinePlus Water Recreation Safety

12. Mass Shooting/Active Shooter Drill – Consider your planning and reaction if encountering an active shooter.  God forbid, but hope I’m carrying my concealed pistol the day such a terrible event was encountered.  “Gun-free zones” are free-fire zones for mentally ill people, in my opinion.  Nearly every one of the mass shooters in the past couple of years has been by mentally ill people.  Shamefully, the United States as a whole does an awful, terrible job at caring for people with mental illnesses.  What has improved in the nation’s care of mental illness, since the Newtown, CT mass shootings?  The answer, nothing.  The liberal progressives want to take away my guns — from a law-abiding, honest, helpful citizen.  And yet have no plan to care for this country’s people with mental illness.   Glad I live in a state the recognizes that police, noble in all their efforts, cannot be everywhere.  And thus permits me to carry a concealed weapon.  Many active shooters are themselves cowards, and retreat at the first returned shot.  In my mind, at least I can give my family a chance to escape, while I take the focus of an active shooter.

13. Airplane Evacuation – If you travel by airlines, pay attention to the flight attendants’ instructions about evacuation.  I travel often for work and leisure by plane.  When I have the option, I away try to sit in an exit row, which is statistically the safest place on the plane.  If travel with children, I’ll try to sit in the row just ahead or just behind the exit row.  If there is a chance as evacuating a plane, the place to be is first out the door.  Know about the location of the floatation devices on the plane.  Most plane seats can act as a flotation device.  And there is a personal flotation device under the seat.  I’ll always carry some food and water onto the plane, in case we are delayed or rerouted.  Since I travel so much, I’ve been considering buying a smoke hood.  A smoke hood covers your head and filters the poison gases.  It is a bit bulky and not cheap, so I am currently wavering on this item.

14. Hotel Evacuation – When every you check-in to a hotel, motel, or resort, pay attention to the evacuation plan.  The evacuation plan is usually posted on the door of your room.  Read it once upon your arrival.  Know where the emergency exits are.  Having actually lived through a couple of real-life hotel evacuations, including a fire, I pay close attention to the emergency exit instructions.  Whenever I can, I prefer to stay on the 2nd or 3rd floor of a hotel.  By being on lower floors, this give me a better chance of escape.  Several years ago, I had to walk down 30 floors in my pajamas at 3 AM due to a hotel fire — not a fun night.

15. Cruise Disaster Drill – My family loves to take cruised for vacation. Cruises are affordable luxuries that the entire family can enjoy.  Our cruise vacations are one of the few things that unite all generations of our family for a vacation.  I like and greatly respect my brother-in-law.  He is a great guy and has a great family.  But he operations on a completely different tempo than myself and my wife.  With a cruise, we can all do our own things during the day, and unite at mealtime.  Great fun.   Every cruise has a muster drill, typically within a few hours of initial departure.   Several cruises the past year have had emergency events where the drills became reality.  Fortunately, my family’s cruises have been wonderful fun.

Here is some general advice to go along with all these drills:

1. Buy and set up an NOAA Weather Emergency Alert radio.  These radios will issue a very loud alert any time of the day, in the event of a disaster warning.  Sleeping through a flash flood or tornado is a bad day.

2. Subscribe to the disaster and weather alerts that can be sent to your mobile phone.  There are several mobile phone apps that can alert you to a forthcoming emergency.

3. Gather all your important documents ahead of time.  These include mortgages, rental agreements, insurance policies, birth certificate, marriage license, court orders, deeds, medical history, drug prescriptions, adoption papers, vehicle registration, concealed carry license, military discharge papers, passport, etc.  Scan all your important documents onto an encrypted memory stick with a required password.  Place paper copies and memory stick into your prepared bug-out bag.   Keep your original documents in a bank safe box or in a fire resistant safe at home.

4. Have recent physical photographs of all your family members, in case of an emergency.  If you are separated from your family, then you can give a physical picture to police and rescuers.

5. Have your photograph library well-organized and ready to travel.  Your photos are your life’s history and irreplaceable.   Every year, I make a new backup copy of my family’s photo library onto a portable hard drive, which is stored in a bank safe box.  Some might consider storing their digital pictures on a web service.  I prefer not to do that for privacy reasons.  The photo storage websites are a service you may wish to consider, so that you don’t lose your precious memory during a disaster.

6. You need to serious consider whether you want to keep a lot of valuable art, collectibles, and jewelry at your home.  Consider if you had to leave quickly and you might be able to take just a few items.  Art, jewelry, and collectibles must often be insured separately from regular homeowners/renters insurance.  Most home insurance has specific low limits on these items.

7. The same with firearms, you can only carry a few firearms in a bug-out situation.  Consider storing a few firearms and ammo in a rental storage unit, at your vacation/retreat home, and/or with a few trusted friends.

8. Consider storing some of your survival/emergency supplies in a rental storage unit, which is within walking distance of your home.  If you lose your home, a storage unit will protect from losing all your material goods.

9. Always keep your vehicle fueled to three-quarter filled.  Store a filled portable fuel container at your home.  In the event of an evacuation, the gas stations will be overwhelmed.  And when you evacuate, expect to sit for a long time in stalled traffic.  You need extra fuel in an evacuation scenario.

10. Have enough stored food and water for a bug-out or shelter-in-place.  Water is key, in that in an emergency situation, public water might be contaminated or not running.  Each person needs a gallon of water per day for drinking and cooking.  Generally I recommend as a minimum to have three weeks of stored drinking water.  If you live in a dry part of the country, such as the Southwestern United States, store even much more water.   I have a plastic tote bin devoted to holding food for a bug-out situation.  It contains dehydrated foods, MRE’s, canned food, snacks, and candies.  The tote bin has enough food to feed my family for two weeks.  This tote bin obviously get used in a shelter-in-place scenario.   My recommendation is each family should have a minimum of one year of stored food.   I’ve discussed in my other articles about why and how to store one year of food.

11. Cash is king in a disaster event.  Keep at least $200 on hand at all times for disasters and emergencies.  If the power goes out, or your want to buy supplies from another person, no one is carrying around a credit card machine.  Expect ATM machines to be emptied in a disaster situation.

12. Keep an emergency contact list with you at all time.  Keep a list of the home phone, mobile phone, work phone, school phone, and emails of all your family members and close friends.  Have this on a physical piece of paper, in the event of a power outage or losing charge on your cell phone.

13. Keep extra cell phone batteries with you at all times.  In the event of a disaster, everyone gets on the phone to call friends and family.  The phone carriers get jammed due to call volume.  Some cell phone towers might be damaged.  When a mobile phone is unable to connect to the network, it will repeatedly retry a connection, and use up the charge on the batteries even faster.   For this reason, I always carry extra batteries for my mobile phone.  I was up in New York City on the day that the earthquake struck Virginia in 2011.   The building that I was visiting was evacuated.  And a million New Yorkers all tried to make calls at the same time.  The result was nearly no one was able to connect.  And nearly everyone drained their cell phone batteries.  In my laptop bag, I carry an emergency radio which had a hand crank charger.  I am able to connect my mobile phone to this hand cranked radio to recharge the mobile phone.  With this capability, I have a layer of redundancy.

So you are reading this and you are thinking, this guy is paranoid, a nut case.  It just so happens that I have actual encountered many of these emergency/disaster events in my lifetime.  I have faced automobile accidents with deaths, personal injuries, bar fights, a riot, choking victims, heart attack victims, floods, hurricanes, an earthquake, building fires, industrial accident, regional power outage, local power outages, nuclear plant emergency, blizzards, wind damaging storms, airplane emergencies, countless weather delays and storm closings, and lesser emergencies — all during my lifetime.  And I’ve had several trips to the emergency room myself.  I haven’t experienced a tornado, wild fire, terrorist attack, or pandemic yet, and hopefully never.  Possibly I’m an unlucky person, but I’m alway prepared and have survived well.  As a former Boy Scout, I’ve followed their motto, “Always Be Prepared” into my lifetime.  It has served me well.
I hope you are enjoying a undramatic, disaster-free life.  When the disaster comes to your life, hope you are ready and prepared.  Conducting drills are great ways to teach your family and practice your skills.  Make mistakes during a drill, so that mistakes don’t occur during the real thing.

The Realities of Winter Living

Winter in the Canadian wilds is a complex subject, which cannot be covered in a book, let alone a single article. Due to the vast challenges that are unique to winter, being combined with the variety of climates Canada has to offer, it is very difficult to generalize it enough to make basic guidelines.

Due to this, this article will focus on winter in Ontario Boreal forest. In this scenario, it will be February, with a deep amount of snow (well over one meter deep) and has remained colder than negative fifteen degrees centigrade. Dangers at this time of year in such a region include but are not limited to; hypothermia, dehydration, frostbite and snow blindness.

With deep snow covering the majority of otherwise accessible supplies, the woods wanderer must learn to adapt to the frigid temperatures with intellect and proper equipment. The most immediate danger is hypothermia, which can set in as soon as three hours or less, depending on the situation. Proper clothing and layering is a must. Avoid cottons, simply because the moment the cotton material is wet, it loses over 90% of its’ insulative value. The moisture can come from falling into a creek, snow melting through the clothes, or simply perspiration (sweat). Wool is heavy, but its’ insulative value is second to none. It is breathable and capable of remaining extremely warm, even when soaked. Breathable is better than waterproof in the dead of winter, simply because of the dryness of the air. Remember, this is February in northern Ontario. The biggest danger of waterproof clothes in such a situation is that perspiration will remain in the clothes and near the body, making the woods wanderer colder than they would have been if dry. Take note that even with modern waterproof materials, many northern native peoples still prefer buckskins, woollens and even canvas. Why? Because these fabrics breathe. Cotton should still be avoided due to perspiration, but expensive modern waterproof breathable like Gore-tex are not necessary.

Several layers should be worn, between three and five layers. Five being optimum for extreme cold. The layer closest to the skin should be soft and light. Modern merino wools and polyester “micro-fleece” are incredible as this “Base Layer”. The next three layers should be exceedingly thicker. The final layer should have large pockets, a hood with fur trim (ideally from a wild canine, as their fur shed snow and ice-build up exceptionally well), and cuffs that can prevent snow from getting in. The classic winter parka is a perfect example.

At least three pairs of wool socks is almost mandatory in such an environment. Again, thinnest and softest sock closest to the foot, thickest one closest to the boot. There are several means of footwear for winter. One choice is the classic heavy duty winter boot with a felted wool liner that can be removed and replaced when wet. This can be made from rubber, plastics, or a vast catalogue of different materials, and personal choice is often difficult to render the “perfect” winter boot. Another option is to wear a regular boot inside what is called an “Overboot”. An overboot is simply a piece of footwear that protects the boot and foot from the extreme cold, and occasionally (depending on material its’ made from) from moisture. Such footwear coverings comes in a great variety. If money is strict, a good choice are cheap army surplus “Tent Boots” which are nothing more than a quilted nylon legging attached to a traction tread. These go good with a pair of knee-high moccasins. Another option if money is more loose are the Neo brand of overboots. Avoid steel toe boots, as steel conducts heat away from the body.

A woolen watch cap or skull cap, combined with a large thickly insulated hat. Cossack hats are a great choice for extreme cold, again, fur is very good as shedding snow and very insulative. A balaclava (also known as a ski mask) is extremely valuable for the colder days, when the face is exposed to frostbite situations. A thick, long scarf is warm, comfortable and helpful (used as a sling, a rope, a packstrap, etc). Finally -clothing wise- a pair of wool gloves inside a large pair of mittens is invaluable. Finger can lose feeling quickly in cold weather, especially if in tight fitting handwear. Due to that, wear comfortably fittinf thin wool gloves inside large roomy mittens. If one takes note of the mittens worn by northern peoples, there is usually a cord attached from one mitten to the other. This is often attributed to the fact that such large mitts can easily fall off. The cord helps prevent that. As well, with the gloves and mitten combination, one can slip their hands out of the mitts for more intricate tasks (tying, untying, cutting, etc) without having to put down their mittens anywhere.

Outside of clothing, fire and shelter are precious, but those can be described to better detail in other articles. Simply remember to find dry firewood, and that the shelter must be able to keep ones’ body warm as well as dry.

Travelling for firewood, food, supplies or other things in snow that is powder or loosely packed is difficult. The foot just seems to break right through. This can slowly but surely exhaust the woods wanderer and overtime saturate the feet with melted snow. Skis are often used in Europe and much of Northern North America by descendants of Europeans. However, the thick woods of the Boreal are often too dense to easily trek through wearing cross country skis. On the other hand, a well made pair of snowshoes are invaluable in the Ontario north. Snowshoe distribute the weight of the wearer, to lessen the depth of snow they have to walk through. After a few hours using snowshoes, new timers will often feel sore in the thighs, hips and knees. However after a few days on the trail, snowshoeing becomes as natural as a leisurely stroll.

For such a region, there are several designs that are better than others. The classic Beavertail snowshoe, though good, is not best. Bearpaw, Ottertrail, and Ojibwa snowshoe designs are far superior. The absolute best is the modified or “elongated” Bearpaw Snowshoe. This design is superior due to the length (allowing better strides and weight distribution) , the rounded heel and toe (making it maneuverable in the dense woods) and all-around lightness. The design is so well thought of, that the majority of “modern” snowshoes, made from carbon fiber, Kevlar, aluminum, titanium, and other contemporary materials use the Elongated Bearpaw snowshoe. Now, of course, this is mostly an opinion that can be argued by anyone who uses another type of snowshoe. However each snowshoe has been designed for a specific region, and the three mentioned (Bearpaw, Ottertrail, Ojibwa) are ones that suit the Ontario Boreal forest perfectly. Experimentation with different models is the key to perfecting the right snowshoe for the right climate and terrain.

There are some who argue that modern snowshoes are superior to the traditional wood and rawhide snowshoe, whilst others argue the reverse. The truth is that both have merit and both have drawbacks. The modern snowshoe is lighter, often stronger and some even fold up to fit inside a small rucksack. However, if they break in the woods, it is very difficult to repair them. On the other hand, a heavy, cumbersome pair of “Hickory’n’Hide” snowshoes can be repaired and even replaced by an individual well experienced with a knife and axe.

W. Ben Hunt describes in his book “The Complete How-to Book of Indiancraft: 68 projects for authentic Indian articles from Tepee to Tom-tom” how to make what he called the “Alaskan Eskimo Snowshoe”. This is, in fact, the Ojibwa Snowshoe, otherwise known as the Cree Snowshoe. Regardless of which first nation it is titled after, the book shows a good template on how to make these rugged, effective pair of snowshoes. If such a pair is unable to be made, he also shows how to make “Wooden Snowshoes”, which are boards of wood (basswood or ash preferably) that are shaped like elongated Bearpaw snowshoes, and the toe stem bent into an upward curve. This upward curve is needed in any snowshoe, to help it lift over the snow, rather than get dug into it.

In the woods, snowshoes can be made by simply lashing evergreen boughs to ones’ feet. Though these are not the best choice, if no other choice is capable than the evergreen boughs must suffice. The best are the wicker snowshoe. This requires two large piles of thin shrubby plants, such as dogwood, willow or even wild grapevine. Simply weave the materials into two large circles, making the hoops out of several sticks at a time (like wicker). Afterward make a base inside of these circles by pushing sticks through, making a crude, but very effective snowshoe. There are as many ways to make a pair of snowshoes as there are people wanting to make them. So researching and experimenting is paramount.

On such a large layer of white, like a winter field or forest, the surface is able to reflect a great deal of sunlight. Over between a few minutes and a few hours of exposure to so much bright light, the eyes can begin to feel like sand is being poured over them. This painful sensation can continue for days, even after tears and cold compress. What caused it? The Ultraviolet light reflecting off the snow slowly caused photokeratitis, which is basically a sunburn to the retinas. It is said that fresh snow reflects eighty percent of UV rays, compared to sand or ocean water (both reflect under thirty percent). Commonly called “Snow Blindness” it can be detrimental and must be prevented at all costs.

The Inuit people carved (and still do carve) antler, bone and ivory goggles to combat. These are made by shaping the material to the shape of the head, to fit comfortably over the eyes. Narrow slits are cut horizontally where the eyes are, and the insides are either painted or charred black. This cuts down on a great deal of UV light, the snow goggles acting like squinted eyelids, and the blackened insides absorbing the light rather than allowing it to remain bright. A pair can be made in under two hours with a light piece of wood such as cedar, poplar or basswood. The Inuit snow goggle must fit snugly to the face if they are to work properly. Therefore it is best to make them rather than buy them, to make sure they fit perfectly.

Ski goggles or smoke-tinted lenses on sunglasses are modern alternatives. However, it has been noted by many outdoors experts that such goggles or sunglasses either let the ultraviolet light in from the sides, or fog up, and many suggest the traditional wear of the Inuit people.

If prevention against snow blindness does not prevail, seek medical aid. If that is not possible, bed rest with cold compresses and “artificial tears” to help hydrate the eyes is the best means of recovery.

Protecting the skin from windburn and frostbite is crucial. Frostbite is the freezing and damaging of the dermal layers (skin). This can lead to severe pain, and if not treated by doctors, can lead to nasty infections. Again, prevention is heavily important. Many native peoples and northern explorers have used grease, rendered from animals. Covering the skin with these processed oils helps cut down on wind-chill and even protects against frostbite. Pilots in the First World War often used petroleum jelly for similar reasons. Wearing a face mask such as a balaclava is a good tip as well.

Facial hair catches moisture from breathing and freezes. This leads to a lot of frostbite cases on the face. Regular shaving helps cut down on this danger. Facial hair does not provide a great deal of insulation in the first place, so do not feel bad about cutting off. Some anthropologists believe this is why Native peoples did not often grow facial hair, same with many other northern peoples. Exposure to such a frigid environment could perfectly well make the bodies adapt to not grow hair around the mouth and nose, just as well as it adapted the typical Inuit to their frigid environment (barrel chest with large nasal cavities to heat the arctic air).

In high stress, the human body produces greater amounts of Urea. This toxic compound is removed from the body via urinating. In frigid weather, the body is definitely being stressed, and due to this a greater amount of water must be consumed, to help prevent dehydration or urea-poisoning. Fresh snow is usually only 10% water, the rest of it being air. Due to this, eating snow will make the woods wanderer often thirstier. Melt the snow by any means possible, whether it be by melting over a fire, near a fire, or inside the shelter. Drink it warm, and if possible make it into a tea to assist in acquiring vitamins and electrolytes. Scurvy is a common plight in the north during winter. To prevent this, a constant intake of vitamin C is required. This can be done by making tea out of pine needles, cedar needles or any other edible evergreen. The Labrador tea plant is another option, being an evergreen marsh plant that is very common in the north woods that is rich with vitamin C.

A great deal of preparation, practice, and prevention is involved in a safe time in the winter woodlands. However, when one takes into consideration how much more time would be involved trying to fix the problem versus simply preventing it, one can see how simple of a life it really is, even in the wintertime. Living in the wilderness when the snow is on the ground, the lakes are frozen and the woods are silent is a peaceful, beautiful experience very few ever witness. To simply snowshoe out with a toboggan loaded with the right gear and the right food (high calories with a great emphasis on fats, carbs, and proteins) is an amazing adventure that more of us should try this coming winter.

Basic Rules For Survaval

Here are some basic rules for survival that could help you on your next outing!

This is one of the most important rules for me, Were “Two Is One And One Is None” This is a rule I got from a buddy in the military, and has become one I use in all aspects of my life! What it means is, if you carry one and it breaks, you have nothing! But if you carry two and one breaks, you still have one to use! Also, you have the broken one for spare parts”

if they’re both the same”! It’s a simple rule, but I’ve used it for many years and it’s never failed me and even helped me out of some big problems as I’m sure it will for you as well! Just as a side note you will notice in the kits I put together and things I do, that more offend then not there is more than one form of an item, it may not be the same but it does the same purpose” such as water filters or shelters” and this can save you when you’re far from help or a store to get a replacement! After all if you’re on a trip which you spent thousands of dollars on, and hiked many miles back to a sweet fishing spot, only to find your fishing rod is broken, your whole trip is wasted, but if you had a spare all that you have put into the trip is not lost!

I have added this part to the Rules Of Survival for the fact that many have asked about thing of this nature and about Bear Gryls, Now this is all about RISK people see Bear Gryls on TV taking chances to make TV entertaining, but I have to say one of the rules and probably the most important one of all, is not to take RISKS. Take your time and don’t cut corners or take chances like jumping off cliffs into water, if you break your leg or do something like that you will end up making your Nightmare even worse instead of better slow and steady wins the race!

“Panic & disorientation” One of many things I’ve learned over the years, which may save your life is not to panic. One of the most frequent things people do when they’re lost is trying to get out as fast as they can, sometimes darkness is coming and they are running through the woods trying to find any way out. This is probably one of the worse things you can do, if you do this there’s a 100% percent that you will get more lost because you’re not paying attention to landmarks and points around you. So if you’re lost you should take stock in where you are and what you are doing at all times and think. Taking the time to think may keep you from going in circles.

“Fire” is a thing that some people will think they can do without, but that isn’t the case. Without fire, animals will come around and even though it may be summers you can get Hypothermia and die at night when the temperature drops. It can get quite cold in the summer and without fire or some form of keeping yourself warm, your body will shut down and you will be in a world of hurt. There are many ways to still stay warm, by moving around and getting a shelter ready gathering wood, hunting around for something to eat. Any one of these ways can save your life but don’t sweet, this can have the opposite reaction by cooling down your body and making you wet and colder than you were when you started.

“Food” depending on how big you are! You can survival quite a while without food, providing you have way more body fat to keep your body running. Most people can last three weeks without food, but you will get sick very sick so in a survival situation you should try to eat anything food that becomes available.



“Shelter” You should acquire a shelter A.S.A.P, shelter is one of the must-have things to survive! It can keep you out of the wind and rain and can be a good task to keep your temp up when it gets cold. You can use just about anything for shelter, from a poncho to a large fur tree. You should keep in mind the better the shelter you have the warmer and longer you can stay there, and the better you will feel about your very bad situation! And staying put can get you found much faster.

“Stay in one place” As your mother may have told you when you were little, “stay in one place so I can find you”! Well it applies here too, when searchers look for people they work on a grid. If you keep moving, you may move into a grid were they had searched the day before and that will make it very hard to find you. But if you stay in the one grid, when they search your grid you will be found by processes of elimination!


“Water” is your body’s largest chemical component; the average human body is over 70% water. Water is a must if you plan to survival in the summer, you can lose quite a bit just sitting still on a hot day, your body will need approximately 3 liters to maintain. But if you are lost in the woods you will use allot more! The best thing to do is try to stay calm as much as possible, which I know can be very hard when your mind is running a 100 miles a minute and you’re feeling that you will never get out. Its best to sit down and think it out, this saves water, calories and your sanity!

How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse

Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide

Before All Else Fails, Run! Strategies from a Flight-First Perspective

What is the primary skill needed to survive a zombie invasion? An individual may practice superior marksmanship, wear the most fantastic home-built armor, and possess the best maps and equipment. However, if one can’t run at least six miles without stopping, one is in a brief, flesh-rending world of hurt. This article will expose some of the disadvantages of dependency on armor, armaments, mechanical transport, and excess gear in general while illustrating the advantages of using one’s ability to assess danger, combined with natural speed and agility to evacuate before the full onslaught of zombies.

This article uses The Key Emergency Principle and applies it to a zombie attack.

Wikipedia wrote:

“The key principle taught in almost all systems is that the individual, be they a layperson or a professional, should assess the situation for Danger. If the situation is too dangerous, the individual must consider whether to approach the scene or leave the area if appropriate.”

Some may question the prioritization of agile retreat over the sturdy defense. However, this joke speaks to the advantages of a flight-first strategy:

A bear is about to attack two people on a trail. One man begins tying up the laces on his running shoes. The other asks, “What are you doing? You can’t outrun a bear!” The man in the running shoes replies, “You’re right. I can’t outrun a bear. But I can outrun you.”

One individual stays to fight, risking death. The other leaves, not risking death, and leaves the bear with someone else to attack.

Prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse

The Disadvantages

Stand And Fight: Death by Encumbrance

Encumbrance is an evil almost as great as ignorance in the struggle against zombies. A human carrying extra weight with limited mobility creates the ideal opportunity for a zombie: slower prey. They appear to have nearly limitless endurance and an unquenchable desire for living human flesh. Even if one assumes zombies are slow, shambling, and uncoordinated, the encumbered human then subtracts any advantages of speed and agility (and reduces the possibility of hiding). Therefore, the heavily armed and armored individual is ultimately a can of Spam waiting to be peeled open by the zombie foe. Guns, bullets, and armor are heavy. Ammunition will eventually be expended and then begins a forced retreat, much slower than that of an unencumbered peer.

Armor will not only sap energy and coordination, but it also greatly increases the possibility that the individual wearing it will hook him- or herself on fencing, windowsills, doorknobs, or any other snag. Every additional object strapped, hooked, or tied down on an individual’s body increases the possibility of tripping or losing one’s balance. Sadly, once a human has fallen, the advantage swings fully to the zombies.

Encumbrance also limits escape options and reduces noise discipline. The more armor one wears, the less exits are available. Small windows and gaps, for instance, become impassible. Furthermore, silence is sacrificed because the encumbered individual has so many attachments (such as extra clips, grenades, and armor pieces) that could strike against each other.

The Zombies Are Here, Where Is The Gear?

Gear dependency is another grave illusion to which a survivor may fall prey. All the gear necessary to survive a zombie attack cannot be worn continuously unless one is willing to risk ridicule, ostracism and/or incarceration. Unless one is on the S.W.A.T. team, public display of armor and firearms is frowned upon. In more rural regions an individual may be able to have gear more at the ready, however, most of the American population lives in highly urbanized areas. They do not have constant, ready access to necessary survival equipment. For example, residents of Los Angeles who are not cops or gang-members have little to no consistent access to firearms. The hot climate also discourages even the most creative survivalist from wearing armor constantly. Even if one has prepared a bug-out bag, there is no guarantee that the individual will always have it within reach. There are just too many occasions (church, a date, work) where the wearing of firearms and riot gear is unrealistic. One cannot depend only on the proverbial sword and shield.

Driving Away: You’re on Empty

Another assumption is that the survivor will find a car, bike, or, god-willing, a motorcycle readily available when the zombie outbreak occurs. Surprisingly those in rural areas will have a better chance of finding and effectively using motorized escape. For those living in densely populated areas, motorized evacuation will be a very uncertain scenario.

Once again, using Los Angeles as an example: L.A. has the highest car density in the United States, but, even without a mass panic, the city’s freeways and streets already suffer from gridlock. It will be so much worse if zombies strike. Those few who do have a vehicle and a clear exit will be willing to fight to keep their advantage. Fighting with other survivors over a car would be extremely costly in time and potential injury.

One might own a motorcycle. However, the risks of dying in a traffic accident go up exponentially when on a motorcycle. One may not even be alive to be running away from the undead in the first place. Additionally, there is still the issue of fuel and/or repairs for cars and motorbikes — at some point they run out of gas and fuel may not be readily available.

Bicycles are a great idea. In practice, most American cities are designed in favor of cars over bicycles. Few people use bikes as a primary mode of transportation because of the inherent difficulty and danger (few bike lanes, fast traffic). One is much more likely to be caught commuting in a car when a zombie arrives. If one is fortunate enough to have a bike, repair issues and impassible areas are still a concern. For example, bikes do not run well over broken glass or even loose sand and gravel. Finally, it is also difficult to ascend a stairwell or jump through window riding a bike.

That being said, one would be foolish not to use a mechanical advantage: car, bike or otherwise. No matter what mechanical advantage, the point remains the same: an individual can only consistently depend on two things:

  • One’s knowledge of impending zombie doom.
  • One’s healthy, uninfected legs.

Flight-First Solutions

Why Running A 5K Matters: Tag, You’re Dead

The first 30-60 minutes in a zombie-overrun area will be akin to a game of tag. It will be the most important game of tag one has ever played. The rules will be difficult because all zombies will be “it” and the only goal is to avoid their grasp. Killing zombies doesn’t matter in these opening moments. Escape is the only priority.

One’s initial assumption will be to run as fast as possible. That assumption is flawed. Sprinting can kill. The individual will run out of breath quickly and will be at greater risk of zombie attack. Zombie endurance appears limitless, while human endurance is finite — it must be used wisely.

The individual using a Flight-First strategy does not need to be a sprinter. One must be able to run when zombies are present; and jog when they are not. The individual just needs to stay ahead—and avoid being surrounded. These training suggestions below will help prepare one’s mind and body for this method of retreat.


  • Indian File: A group of runners runs in single file. The person in back has to run to the front, forcing an increase in the pace.
  • Fartlek: Loosely defined as “Running Play.” An individual or group runs a distance at varied and random paces. At any time one runner can pick up the pace, forcing the others to catch up.
  • Pyramids: Often done on a track. The runner sprints 200 m; walks 200 m.; sprints 400 m; walks 400 m; and so on.
  • Tag/Two-hand Touch Football: Any of these family-friendly sports is an effective training aid that encourages players to dodge and avoid contact.


  • Trail Running: This increases endurance; and can include many obstacles to increase one’s running dexterity.
  • Scrambling/Bouldering: This is another increase in dexterity for both legs and arms. One can scramble down hill or up and over boulders and rocks.
  • Paintball: This is an excellent sport that will encourage use of cover and concealment, and team movement. The Human side must be poorly armed. The Zombie side, however, should only be allowed to shoot opponents within six feet.
  • Local Running Events: Any 5k fun run is an excellent source of practice. A finishing time of 33 minutes means one has a decent chance of being an initial survivor. Walking speed is about 13 minutes. The 33 min. finisher has run about an 11 min. pace. Furthermore, the individual has learned to run in a crowd–very important during a zombie outbreak.


  • Parkour/free running: Seen in many recent action films including Casino Royale, Parkour is a sport or form of martial arts that emphasizes flight over fight using direct, efficient movement through extremely challenging urban environments. A Parkour practitioner can jump through windows, climb vertical walls, and jump from heights that should be fatal. Unless one has trained for years in this sport, this would be an ill-advised strategy against zombies. The risk of injury is too great.
  • Half/Full Marathons: While Parkour is very useful in initial encounters, one can train more easily for distance running; and therefore more likely accomplish the needed endurance goals.
  • Night Running: This is an extremely risky proposition, but a zombie is not going to play fair. One may have to run at unfavorable hours under unfavorable conditions. Practice with caution in familiar areas.

Why Marathoning Matters: I’m Outta’ Here

Running a marathon to escape a zombie might seem ridiculous, but if one has the endurance to jog out of the infected area, that individual has a significant advantage over much of the population. The goal is to get off the zombie dinner plate (i.e. crowded city areas) — go somewhere, anywhere that a zombie isn’t. Putting 10, 20, even 30 miles of distance you and the outbreak is one of the best survival strategies.

Human beings have a long tradition of distance running that can be resurrected. The mileage covered by members of traditional cultures often sounds astounding. For example, according to, an adult Apache could travel 50-75 miles per day over rough terrain! However, according to the site, the ability to cover extreme distances was not due to a genetic advantage, rather to life-long conditioning. There are numerous training regimens (more than can possibly be covered here) which can prepare an individual for a marathon (26.2 miles) in five months! The regimens vary widely and are appropriate to different levels of age, experience, and fitness. With careful research one can train to this level without injury.

Sadly America, among many Western nations, has fallen victim to the silent plague of poor diet and inactivity. That means that much of the living will be hampered by excess body mass, and low endurance. On a more selfish level, these less fit victims act as bait, expediting the more fit individual’s withdrawal. This is a double-edged sword, however, as this might cause the initial outbreak to go exponentially faster than previously theorized because of slow human retreat. Those that turn into a zombie will no longer lack endurance and will be able to prey on those who haven’t turned with devastating effect. It will be all the more important to escape quickly before one is surrounded.

Speed and agility will keep the individual alive for the first Tag You’re Dead encounters. But one’s endurance is the likely determinant of initial survival. Then the individual will have time to be concerned about food supply, fuel, water purification, etc. One must keep in mind that into a zombie does not appear to prefer particular individuals. If contact can be broken, a zombie will likely go after easier prey. And, unfortunately, easy prey will be readily available.


If I Only Had Three Things And 90 Seconds: Gear to Get You in the Clear

  • Shoes–Always have a pair of trail-running shoes handy. They should have sturdy soles (for example,, reinforced toes, and sturdy laces. Regular running shoes won’t cut it. One is likely to put a nail or broken glass through the bottom of the sole. There are a few types of light hiking boots that would be appropriate. One must test them for lateral mobility.
  • Water Bottle—Preferably this bottle should be made of unbreakable plastic, be easy to grip, and have a simple filter. One can run without food for a long time. Dehydration, however, is a constant risk.
  • Cash—(Not an ATM or credit card) Cash can mean salvation on the first day–maybe even first week. The reason is one will be running from an outbreak to a (hopefully) uninfected area. The individual may be sweaty, breathless, kind of wide-eyed and scary-looking to the local merchant. But when the money is presented, the merchant will almost certainly provide a plethora of Gatorade and Slim Jims. Cash can buy that gun, medicine, and/or bus ticket out of town. Cash is the lightest and most valuable tool during the initial outbreak. Past that point it’s toilet paper.

Five Minute Head Start: Five More Items

The Flight-First individual has shoes, water, cash and a lead. Here are some more items to have in ready reach.

  • Cell Phone– Again, like cash, this will only serve well in the initial outbreak. Find the location of friends and allies. Are the escape routes clear? It’d be even better if one has a hands-free device. Then jogging and running will be easier.
  • Runner’s fanny pack (or some spiffy SWAT belt)– This item will serve well throughout the zombie infestation. Better ones hold two water bottles, and have a pouch that can hold a pound or two of food or supplies (or a hand gun for that matter).
  • Nutrition Bars—Avoid the cutesy low calorie, organic soy stuff. The survivor wants as much fat and protein as the stomach can tolerate, with a lot of preservatives. Look into Pemican brand, or military rations. When running, don’t snarf down the whole thing; take small bites with water. That will help to prevent cramping.
  • Multitool/knife—At some point during the escape it will be a necessity.
  • Flash light: Ideally this would be mounted on a pistol!

Weapons from a Flight-First Perspective

Run-N-Gun: Notes on a Fighting Retreat

Even the most strident Flight-First strategist will pick up Something to keep zombies out of grabbing reach. There are three categories of weapons to consider, based on encumbrance, availability, and effectiveness.

  • The ideal weapon would be a semi-automatic handgun with a 14 round clip; at least 40-45 caliber (with 2-3 more clips). The weapon is light and can be stowed at the waist or small of the back for effective running. Remember, the primary strategy is retreat. Making a moving headshot at a moving target (even a slow zombie) is problematic. The target area (brainpan) is less than 9 square inches. Only shoot at a zombie if it blocks an avenue of retreat. If a headshot is unlikely, shoot at the center mass (with a high caliber/hollow point bullet) of the zombie. Hopefully, the removal of several pounds of flesh will unbalance the zombie in such a way that it slows, stumbles, or falls – or is even incapacitated if enough supporting structure is wrecked. These techniques have not endured rigorous scientific evaluation. A shot to the brain is the only certain means of destroying a suspected zombie. One must balance the risk of missing that difficult shot against the reduced effect of a strike to center mass. Use the gun to help a retreat, not to get a high score.
    Other guns are valuable. Use them as long as they don’t impede retreat. But, when the ammunition is expended, is that shotgun worth carrying anymore? The handgun is by far the most valuable weapon in a Flight-First scenario. It works; and it is light enough to keep when the ammo runs out.


  • Now, for those individuals who don’t have a concealed carry permit, the best choice is a good hammer. One could have a hammer in one’s desk at work; and, compared to an axe, not risk a tense discussion with someone in the human resources department. It stores well in a car or on a motorcycle (i.e. the police don’t consider it a weapon). Running with a hammer is possible. It can be stowed (with some forethought; extra Velcro) at the waist, or small of one’s back.
    Go for as big of a hammer as can be carried; something forged in one piece, with a sturdy grip. An Eastwing 22. oz framing hammer (see would probably be the largest useable size at 15 inches. Again, this weapon is not for the holy grail of head-shots. It is meant for smacking hands and arms away (also good for breaking through windows, and breaking off doorknobs).
    Other small bludgeoning/hacking devices (such as a hammer/axe) are also plausible. The weapon should not be longer than one’s forearm because, in order to run efficiently one must be able to stow it on the body—without impeding arm or leg movement.



  • Bats, hockey sticks, golf clubs, swords, etc. are all problematic because of encumbrance (also most can’t bring a sword to work–golf clubs, maybe). They may have the advantage of keeping zombies a little farther away from the individual. But the two-handed stick is subtracting the individual’s initial advantages: speed and agility. Unless one is a ninja master, hauling the extra weight, and/or clumsily moving with the weapon attached to one’s body will quickly become tiring—and dangerous.


Armor from a Flight-First Perspective

Ten Minutes to Spare: “Shop Smart. Shop S-Mart”

When it comes to armor, the individual is one of two categories.

  • Very lucky. The individual and S.W.A.T. gear is in the same room/car/house. Put on the lightweight anti-riot gear and the boots in which one can run a marathon (this gear is available). Get dressed and go!
  • Not so lucky. The individual and S.W.A.T. gear is Not in the same room/car/house. One should make a beeline for the nearest mall/sporting goods store and grab/buy:
    Sporting Equipment from contact/running sports. It’s that simple. They’re light, aerodynamic, and designed to protect you from strikes (you will have to make some adjustments regarding bites).

Why choose sporting goods stores? The odds of an individual running across some major sporting goods outlet in a populated area are far higher than running across an armory or Army surplus/gun store (except maybe in Texas). Target, Walmart, K-mart, REI, SportsChalet, Big 5, Chicks, etcetera are all examples of store chains that proliferate in the Los Angeles area. Furthermore, one is less likely to be shot at while running willy-nilly into these stores. (See the L.A. Riots. The gun store owners were Very adept at defending their property. Walmart was far less defended).

Choose from: Baseball, Hockey, Football, Soccer, Skateboarding, Lacrosse, Paint-Balling, and others. All have some pieces of equipment that could be used as a defense against a zombie attack. Before selecting from this cornucopia of gear, one must ask two questions:

  • Is it light enough to run in for long periods?
  • Does it provide any practical coverage?

For example: Although a football helmet provides plenty of coverage, one can’t expect to wear it for miles. A better example: Shin guards from soccer or skateboarding. They’re reasonably light and will provide some protection from scratching and biting–and the potential injuries of scrambling through broken windows.

Keep in mind a scratch from a zombie is almost as bad as a bite. One may not turn zombie, but the likely infection could be a killer. Furthermore, if other survivors see bloody scratches all over the individual, they are much more likely to shoot for the sake of precaution.

The ideal, and reasonably available, anti-zombie wear comes from paintballing. The gear is made for simulated combat, is designed to be light, and is resistant enough against bites and clawing. The face mask, elbow/shin/knee guards would all pair excellently with the ad hoc hockey/baseball/skateboarding helmet. Paintball masks also afford reasonable protection for the eyes, nose, and mouth. These areas are crucial.

Covering orifices is almost as important as scratch/bite protection since zombie infection appears to be passed through bites and contact with infected fluids. So, for example, while one may have pulled off the best headshot ever, where did that brain matter go? If it was into the individual’s eye; there better be one bullet left.

Face masks, goggles, even sunglasses are a must–anything to cover the eyes. One’s nose, mouth, and ears should also be lightly covered (i.e. be able to breathe and hear, but avoid blood pathogens). It’s a difficult compromise. No one runs well with a lot of weight/obstructions on the head and face. But something is needed if a zombie is close.

Prioritize limb/hand/foot/face protection over the torso. If a zombie is close enough to be biting at one’s stomach, then it’s already over. Again gaiters/shin/knee guards are needed to get through broken glass windows–and of course to kick a zombie away if necessary. The same goes for arms and hands. One needs gloves (No open fingers!) that provide enough dexterity to fire a weapon. Finally guards up to the elbows are needed to reduce the chance of zombie bites.

Armoring from a Flight-First perspective is a difficult balance. Even the smallest amount of additional weight is tiring after a few miles. Armor is a fallback. The individual must be able to run first.

A Note On Bug-Out Bags; Make Light of Them

One should have in a Bug-Out Bag.
The caveats are:

  • It must be in a tactical backpack (i.e. something that straps tightly to the hips, shoulders, and chest).
  • It must be light enough to jog with for long periods.

Otherwise, it’s just an encumbrance. And encumbrance equals death. One’s extra roll of bandages will do little good while the zombie chews off a leg.

In conclusion, to prepare from a Flight-First perspective, follow the Key Emergency Principle. If you are in danger, leave the area!

Shotguns: The Ultimate Survival Gun

Everything you probably need to know about Shotguns.

“Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far” Teddy Roosevelt (excerpt of a West African proverb)


Get ready for a wall of text unlike any this site has ever seen. Below is a all encompassing introduction to shotguns, their parts and use. This article is to help anyone interested in shotguns whether novice or expert. I hope in writing this article it will help entertain and educate the members on shotguns and raise the bar on informational articles.

Shotguns come in all shapes, sizes, and types. Shotgun use is broad; from sport to hunting, law enforcement, home defense or even the military. In the tactical world a person who specializes in shotguns is often called a Pepper, PP (point pepper), Scattergun or Doorman. Shotguns are by far the easiest survival firearm to obtain, use and maintain. They are inexpensive and extremely reliable. Smooth bore shoguns can fire any appropriate gauge of ammunition except for sabot rounds.


Here is a brief description and break down of a shotgun’s main functioning parts.

The “receiver” is where we will start, since it is the main body of the firearm. It is the housing that all other parts of the gun are in or connected to. Inside the receiver is the “action”, or method used to slide the chamber open, which connects to “the bolt”, the part that holds the bullet in the “firing chamber”, usually located in the first 3” of the barrel. The bolt has an “ejector” and “feeder” attached to it. The ejector pulls the shell out of the firing chamber and ejects it from the gun, while the feeder takes a new shell from the “magazine” and places it in the firing chamber.

The magazine is a spring loaded device that holds ammunition that will cycle into the chamber. Internal magazines can not be detached to add more ammunition, where as removable magazines plug into the receiver and can be changed to add more ammunition. Internal magazines are usually a long tub with a spring on that pushes the shells to the loading ramp. The spring can be removed for cleaning via the “barrel screw cap”. Shotgun internal magazines often have different spring settings or caps and spacers for laws limiting capacity in certain states or countries.

The feeder, ejector, bolt and action work in a single mechanical motion to pull the old shell out of the magazine, cycle a new shell into the chamber and reset the “hammer” making the gun ready to fire again. The hammer, usually seated behind the bolt, is connected to the “trigger assembly”. When the trigger is pulled the hammer is released and it strikes the “firing pin”, which usually runs through the middle of the bolt. The firing pin strikes the primer on the shell, igniting the round. The “armature” the object or objects being fired travel out of the firing chamber through the “barrel”. At the end of the barrel, if the shotgun is equipped with a “choke tube”, the armature is guided into a smaller concentrated spray. Choke tubes are usually adjustable or removable.

The “recoil”, or rearward force of a fired round travels through the receiver and into the “stock”. The stock and/or handle, also known as a “pistol grip stock”, pushes back into wherever it was placed for the shot. If the stock is not “seated” against your body, it will make a hard impact that will probably hurt quite a bit. Once the stock is seated on your shoulder, as you look down across the top of the receiver, you will see the “sight” and will be able to aim the shotgun by lining it up with a target.

The only two parts left are the “safety”, which keeps the trigger from activating the firing pin, and the “slide lock”, also known as the “action release lever”, that locks the bolt closed. This is a basic description that applies to the majority of shotguns. In some models or descriptions the parts may have different names, but the purpose is the same.


pump action shotgun
Pump action shotgun is the most common type of shotgun in the world. It has a internal magazine tube under the barrel and a slide handle that fits around the magazine. The pump action is simple and reliable. They come in a wide variety of styles to suit the shooter and purpose from tactical military to casual bird hunter. If you are thinking about buying a shotgun this is the best place to start.

breach loading shotgun

Breach Loading shotguns are a one or two-barrel single-shot variety. The gun “breaks” at the action and the two halves of the gun fold into an “L” shape exposing the receiver. The shells are loaded directly into the barrels and the breach is snapped closed when straightened back to normal. Typically breach or break shotguns have 2 barrels configured in either a side-by-side or an over-under configuration. These guns are primarily used for sport shooting or hunting and can handle ammunition fired at a lot higher pressure than most other shotguns.

lever lock shotgun

Lever Lock shotguns were typical in the old west. Rarely used or made anymore, they are prized by wild west enthusiasts and collectors alike. A lever lock has a lever that creates a trigger guard when closed. When opened it cycles the next round into the chamber from the internal magazine tube. The spent round is ejected from the top. This type of gun usually comes in smaller gauges like 36 and 48, because it was meant to be used mainly while mounted on a horse.

Bolt Action shotguns are meant to be accurate above all else. They are used exclusively for hunting and can chamber extremely high pressure rounds. Often, Bolt Action shotguns are used with single projectile ammunition like slugs or sabot rounds. More often they are rifled barrels, not smoothbore. This helps with long-range accuracy.

semi-auto shotgun

Semi-auto shotguns fire whenever the trigger is pulled and a round is in the chamber. A growing number of external magazine varieties are becoming available. The most common type of semi-automatic shotguns are made for duck, goose and turkey hunting. They typically have an internal magazine tube and hold 3 + 1 rounds.

tactical shotgun

Tactical shotguns also come in a wide variety of types and loading types. These shotguns have been designed or redesigned specifically for close to medium range (10-75 yards) against humans. They are much lighter than sport or hunting variants and are a lot more resistant to jamming and weathering issues.

full auto shotgun

Fully Automatic shotguns continue to fire once the trigger is pulled until the trigger is released. There are few designs of Full-auto shotguns as they are only allowed to be used by the military, and are classified as destructive devices instead of firearms.


The shotgun’s most versatile part is the ammunition. I’m going to list a few and give a brief description, from least to most dangerous.

  • Less-than-lethal rounds are a rather large group of rounds designed to hurt or stun but cause no long-term damage.

Bag Shot
Shoots a lead powder-filled bean bag with a smaller charge. Once the bag hits the energy dissipates over a large surface area to cause a generalized blunt force trauma. It is exclusively used against the torso of humans to cause sudden pressure to the liver or the lungs. Ballistic armor does not help reduce the impact much and has the same results as an unarmored opponent. Bag shot is only used over 15 yards, but under 25 as to make sure the momentum is sufficient to cause the desired effect without causing severe internal damage. Major trauma or death could be caused under 15 yards.

Rubber Shot
Also know as riot shot, is a less than lethal round over 15 yards. Much like the Bag shot it has less powder behind it and it disperses 00 rubber buck shot. It has been used to stop rioters near police lines all over the world. It is often employed after a chemical dispersant has already been used, because the rubber balls can break bones and cause massive potentially life threatening internal hemorrhaging.

Baton Shot
A less than lethal round used for taking down singular agitators in riot scenarios. It fires a dense foam baton about 2″ in length from a 3″ magnum shell. The Baton breaks upon impact but releases large amounts of kinetic energy into a small surface area. Used properly it should knock a person to the ground with a center-mass hit.

  • Home-Defense Shot encompasses a wide variety of usually self-loaded or specialty-loaded rounds.

Pepper Shot
Rarely seen in today’s gun stores, but was widely used in the 1920-1950’s as a means of home protection that has little collateral damage. The round is packed with different grounds of black pepper as well as with dried pepper corns. The idea of this round is once fired at a person and the pepper blinds the attacker. Even with a center mass shot. The corns create bruising and let the attacker know that they have been shot with something. Without sight the attacker cannot tell what the actual damage to his body actually is.

Salt Shot is illegal in most states in the US, because the rock salt is meant to be embedded in the eyes and skin surface causing permanent blindness and severe scarring.

Sand Shot
Used in close range to cause large amounts of surface bleeding with little actual life-threatening damage.

2 Inch Shot
A form of usually 00 buck shot in a smaller shell with less powder. The effective range of 2″ is only a maximum of 50 yards. It is often used in enclosed tactical situations and for self defense.

  • Foul Hunting Shot – Range in pellet groupings from FF-9, with 9 containing the most pellets and FF containing the biggest pellets.

Rat Shot
A size 9 shot which is similar in size to sand. It is used mainly in house defense, hiker shot for snakes and wild animal deterrent, and for hunting rodents. The shot does not have deep penetration but creates a large surface wound and quickly leads to heavy metal poisoning.

Grounding Bird Shot
Size 4-8 is mainly used on quail, pheasants and grouse, birds that are ground-dwelling and take to flight at close range to the shooter. The shot is not deep penetrating. It is used more to break the fragile bones and have the bird fall out of the sky.

Varmint Shot
Size 5-9 is used mainly for deterring small animals like dogs and wolves or for hunting rabbit or squirrel. It is not deep penetrating and requires a shot usually under 30 yards for a kill.

Water Foul Shot
Has a wide range from BB-6. This shot is used mainly for deeper penetration on larger birds like duck and geese. The range is longer due to fewer shots at larger weights. The effective range is usually under 50 yards.

  • Large Game Hunting Shot – Range in number just like bird shot from triball-4.

Buck Shot
Usually ranges from 4-00. 00 buck shot is the most common hunting round in the entire world. It’s mainly used in hunting deer and elk. It is widely used by the police and military in most countries.

Boar Shot
Also called “Tri-ball” or “3-ball”, has 3 large pellets used to make a deep penetration and instant kill. The round is often used in close proximity to the target. Boar hunting requires an instant kill as a missed or non
lethal shot means the boar will charge you.

Bison Shot
00-0000 has deep penetration, often passing through most targets. Bison shot usually has a higher powder charge.

  • Long range shot is usually a slug variant and are effective from 50-150 yards maximum.

Slug shot
Fires a single large lead slug that has rifling on the bullet itself to impart some stabilizing rotation. It is typically used for large game like deer, elk, bison, moose and bear. It has deep penetrating power and isusually fired at 50-75 yards.

Sabot rounds
Uses a rifled barrel and are also used in hunting large game, but in more open,longer
range situations. The effective range is 100-150 yards maximum.

Magnum Shells
Typically used for longer-range flying targets and sport shooting (Trap and Skeet) are packed with 2 to 2 1/4 ounces of shot and are usually 3″ in length. Choke tubes are required to have the shot narrowed to a small spray at longer distances.

  • Military rounds (most are illegal in every country, or highly restricted)

Breaching Shot
Also know as a “Hatton Round”, it is a 12 gauge round of metal powder and wax or plastic. The round fragments and disintegrates after leaving the barrel. The effective range is under 1 foot. If fired at an individual it can have lethal results under 10 yards.

Ferret Round
A type of breaching round that disperses gas or powder when the armament breaks through a window or door. Often used to disperse pepper gas inside vehicles and homes for tactical entry.

Tazer Round
Shoots a battery-charged round that deploys stabilizing fins. When the fins lock in place 4 barbs are pushed out of the front of the projectile. When the barbs penetrate clothing or flesh they send an electrical shock through the target, immobilizing them.

Flechette Round
Contains about 20 steel feathered bolts that are loosely welded to a wire strip, much like nail gun strips. Soft armor is completely useless against flechette and it was internationally banned for war in the Geneva Convention as cruel and unusual armament.

Dragon Slug
Shoots a payload of magnesium powder that ignites and disperses on impact. The maximum effective range is only 25 yards before the fuse burns out.

Dragon’s Breath
A 9 sized pellet of magnesium mixed with a small amount of Thermite to create an extremely hot spray of inflamed metal and gas. Again, the maximum effective range is under 25 yards.

Armor Piercing Shot
Typically 1-6 tungsten or steel darts that are backed by a large powder pack. There are AP rounds that can penetrate 3a with a 1/4 steel trauma plate. They are sometimes carried by anti-terrorist teams, but they are illegal for police to carry.

Buck and Ball Round
Often marketed as the optimal defense or war wound. It contains both a singular fragmenting slug round and 4-8 00 buck shot. This is one of the few rounds that can literally knock a 200lb person off his feet, because of the timing and grouping of the impacting rounds.

Strung Round
Fires a set of .50 lead shot connected by a steel wire. The balls penetrate the flesh and drag the wire between them causing massive internal wounds and a huge exit wound.

Rocket Dart
Also known as the “Momentum Sabot”, is a small hollow steel bolt that is fired out of the barrel with a small charge. Once the armature is ignited by the initial blast it propels itself towards the target and stabilizing fins pop out. The armature is less-than-lethal under 10 yards, as it requires distance to gain maximum force at 150 yards.

Frag 12
Comes in 3 variants; High Explosive, Fragmenting Explosive and High Explosive Anti-Personnel, A.K.A. Claymore grenades. It is a 12 gauge grenade round that releases stabilizing fins. Unlike 40MM rounds Frag 12 is meant to be shot at a straight trajectory and is meant for tactical strikes more over than suppression fire.


shotgun cleaning kit

Why are shotguns so versatile? Because some pump actions and breach loaders never HAVE to be cleaned. A firearm should always be treated well, by cleaning and/or regular maintenance, but a few types of shotguns just don’t require it to function.
For those of you who do not have a shotgun that you would risk never cleaning or oiling, first consult your owner’s manual. In your owner’s manual it will specifically tell you what you can and can’t oil. It is not intuitive what should be oiled on a lot of different types of shotguns. In shotguns specifically over oiling will gunk up a gun and make it non-functional.

Basic cleaning and inspection should be done on all guns after they cycle 100 rounds or more, or are going to be stored for a long period of time between uses. A service gun should be cleaned after every use, allowing it to be at peak performance at any moment.

Step one – Always make sure the gun is disarmed and unloaded. Cycle the chamber a few times to make sure, and open the bolt to look inside the firing chamber to visually see that no round is in the chamber. Place a finger into the firing chamber to make absolutely positive no rounds are in the chamber or can be cycled into the chamber. Once the gun is fully disarmed close the breach and pull the trigger to make sure it is functioning properly, then open the chamber again and leave it open.

Step two – Bore cleaning and inspection are the second part to a good cleaning cycle. Get a shotgun bore solvent and place it on a bore mop or wad of cloth. Stroke the bore solvent down the inside of the barrel into the open breach. Make sure to get the entire bore coated and inspect with a flashlight in the open breach and physically look down the barrel. Let the solvent soak for about 15 mins and while it’s soaking in, pull out your tooth brush. Using a light bit of solvent on a rag coat the inside of the receiver, and brush with the toothbrush getting the wall, ejector, loading ramp and firing pin area. Once the breach is cleaned and the bore has had time to soak, use a wire brush to scrub the barrel, removing any residue stuck to the sides. Once the barrel is well scrubbed, add solvent neutralizer to the end of a bore snake. Pull the bore snake through the barrel of the gun, cleaning out the rest of the residue and solvent. At this point the barrel should be relatively clean. Finish the job by adding neutralizing agent to a clean cloth and wiping off all the muck left in the breach.

Step three – Oil it. Put a tiny pit of gun oil on a mop or cloth and push it through the bore. It will put a tiny layer of protection inside the bore that will keep it from corroding. Open the breach and lightly oil the bolt rail and/or chamber. Lightly oil the ejector and the join connection, the action, slide, and the loader. Do not lube the firing pin, as it can guck up with dirt and unspent gunpowder.

Step four – Buff up the outside with a silicone infused cloth. Wipe off any excess oil and cycle the gun a few times to make sure the action is sliding smoothly. Inspect all the junctions where moving parts meet. Look for wear and tear and corrosion. Check the safety and trigger functions. Load the gun and cycle a full magazine out to double check that it is clean and working smooth. Congratulations, the gun is clean. Time to stow it away.

Field Strip will require you to read your manual and follow the recommended field-stripping protocol. You should strip your gun down to its major parts for a fine cleaning and inspection every 1000-2000 rounds. Follow the procedure in your manual to disconnect the slide, magazine, receiver, barrel, and trigger assembly. Check for any wear or corrosion on all moving parts. You should never take apart the trigger assembly. With the gun broken down it is easier to oil all the parts of the gun that require it. Make sure to check and clean the firing pin assembly.
Once you have finished the cleaning, inspection, and oiling, replace any broken or worn parts. Do not put a broken gun back together unless you absolutely have to. After the gun is put back together follow the previously mentioned step 4.

Full strips should only be done by certified gunsmiths. Usually full strips are only done in the event of a 10k shot tune up, where pins and other parts are swapped out for new ones. Or during major repairs where many internal parts might have been damaged.


shotgun for hunting
Tactics for hunting, much like armed tactics, have entire books written on them, so I will touch on these topics and give you a general idea of how to set up for certain game. The majority of game on earth can be and usually is hunted with a shotgun. Rifle seasons are becoming smaller or non-existent in some states and countries. It is always best to go hunting with knowledgeable and responsible hunters who will teach you the proper etiquette and techniques.

Sweeping a field is mostly used for hunting small birds or grounding birds like pheasants and quail. The hunters will form a line across a field with tall grass. They will slowly walk across the field with either dog or beaters slightly in front of them. The the bird will take flight when threatened and the hunter calls out location and direction if it takes off in his square so the hunter next in line can take aim and fire.

Stalking or tracking is by far the most rare form of hunting as it is difficult and time consuming. Basically, when fresh tracks, droppings or an animal is spotted, the hunter begins to follow it to find its general behavior and direction of travel. The hunter then tries to circumnavigate the prey to get into a shooting position while the prey freezes or becomes distracted. Only the most skilled hunters employ these tactics as masking scent, wind direction, body control and noise control are all huge factors. In general, this type of hunting is more trouble than it is worth.

Tree stand or elevated platform hunting is common for big game like deer, elk, and bear. The hunter looks for signs of high animal activity through the woods and finds a location where it is likely that the desired animal will wander by under normal activities. They either erect a platform or tree stand about 15-25 feet high, allowing them to stay hidden and masked from the prey. The prey wanders by or is called to the area with mating calls. There is usually a lure or sent lure in the prime shooting location. When the prey gets to a desired location and the shot is taken, the hunters must track the injured prey.

Hunting from a blind is most often employed for large water fowl. A blind is open on the top or has a flip mesh top and conceals your location, sound and scent. The blind usually has peep windows so that you can see the prey. Calls and lures are used to get more prey to the location surrounding the blind. When the first birds take flight, usually because a dog is released, the hunters jump up out of the top of the blind and begin a salvo into the flock that recently took off. The dogs retrieve the downed birds.


combat shotguns
The shotgun has many uses in tactical encounters, from high collateral damage to acute non lethal action. The most important place to start is close counters, because in general most shotgun action will be 5-40ft according to the IDPR (Illinois Department of Professional Regulations).

How to Practice
Most important to tactical shotgun practice is multi-firearm shooting. You need to learn to use at least a shotgun and a handgun. In body guarding, armed escorts, tactical entry and tactical team dynamics it is of utmost importance to know when and why to switch between weapon platforms. This practice is to make sure to you reduce the chance of friendly fire. If you are in front or on point, use shotgun. If anyone on your team might be in the line of fire in any way switch to handgun. The transition has to be smooth and without thought. In tactical competition shooting you must recognize if there are non-combatants at the station and act accordingly. If there are non-combatants then you must use a handgun to neutralize the threats and switch back to shotgun when going to the next station. There are competitors who are so exact with shotguns that they can hit a threat without hitting the non-combatant, but it can still hurt your overall score. Since a shotgun user is usually on point, it is important to practice obstructed-view shooting. This means practice moving around corners while maintaining a shot profile (an idea of what you are aiming at). You should never pop around a corner to shoot. You should always have your gun pointed forward and ready to aim. My last tip is always have 2 rounds in hand. Get used to loading on the fly. When you load 2 pull out 2 more. Try practicing the fire 2 reload 2 pull 2 as fast as you can. It is not easy, but just like handgun grandmasters, shotgun grandmasters reloading is as impressive and important a feat as firing. Ambidexterity in shooting is a must. Practice both sides, and allow for a sling or harness that won’t inhibit switching grips.

Entry team and door breaching
In the world of forced entry the front man is always the Pepper. A relatively new use for shotguns is door breaching, a.k.a. opening a locked door quickly. Usually a door breaching team consists of a Shield (1/3” steel plate backed by a hardened Kevlar), Pepper, and Ram or sledge hammer. They sneak close to the entry point and the Pepper will hide behind the Shield on one side of the entry and the Ram will wait on the other side. At this point the Pepper manually loads a “breaching round” and lines up to hit the door handle/lock mechanism down and toward the door frame. A distraction, usually flash grenades or 37mm smoke/TS rounds, are sent through the windows. Almost immediate to the distraction, the Pepper fires at the entry lock and drops behind the Shield to chamber a lethal round. The Ram hits the door dead center or towards the damaged end to knock the door open and the Shield opens his shield and body to cover a portion of the door to cover the approaching entry team. After a clear is given by the Shield the Pepper takes point and covers the main entry point from the inside as the rest of the team enters the residence. At this point the Pepper usually switches to handgun to follow the allotted team in clearing the building.

Clearing a house (solo or with a team)
When clearing a house work 1 room at a time and try to make it impossible for anyone other than your team or loved ones to get behind you without notice. In a team dynamic, 2-7 members, the point and rear are a constant. A 2-person team is not 1 guy in front, one guy aiming over his shoulder. There should always be a point or forward and a guard or rear. Point, usually a shot-gunner, makes sure the area to the front is clear of threats and reacts to threats as encountered. The guard makes sure that the immediate area cleared remains neutral. Imagine for a second that there is a hallway with a room at each end. The point is at one end of the hall and the guard is at the other end . The point’s job is to watch a 45-degree region to the front and nowhere else. The guard’s job is to cover 270 degrees from the back of the forward to the entire room previously cleared.
As a point you always keep an area of 45 degrees in front of you while you move. If a member needs to relay information to you they usually use hand signals by reaching around your shoulder so you can see it in your peripheral if auditory transmission is not possible. The point absolutely should never look backwards or stop observing the forward profile. When rounding corners you find a position in which you can see around the corner but do not give away a position. The shotgun should be pointed in the middle of the 45 degree visible space, not to the angle that will be soon revealed. As you slowly move from the wall into the cone of death (the area where you are in danger of being shot at) you move away from the wall in a backward 45-degree foot pattern. Sometimes this is called slicing the pie or the Z-pattern. The Z-pattern is like it sounds: you clear the inner angle walking to the door, fall back as you scan the inner room, and come forward to reveal the last angle from the opposite side of the entrance. Once the inner room is clear there are still 2 blind spots to check: the walls closest to you on either side of the entrance. This is problematic if the room is large enough or the door is in the middle of a room. When there is only one blind spot from the tip of the z-pattern you aim in the direction of the blind spot and rapidly pan at a rear-diagonal angle through the door and keep moving. If resistance is met you have the advantage of already being aimed at a fixed target and you are moving in a fashion that is not instinctual to track by a shooter.
If there is a closed door stand to the side of the door with the handle on it and turn the handle until it is ajar. Then get back into shooting position while the door is still mostly closed. If no observable actions have taken place move to the opposite wall by the door hinges. Use your foot; open the door slowly, no more than half way. Once the area is clear to the half of the room visible move into the room alongside the wall that was already cleared. Move around the outside of the room with the gun pointed towards the center. Clear the area that was not observable behind the door. When a room with a door is cleared, lock the door if possible and close it behind you. If it’s not possible put an item on the closed door that will not be able to be put back into position from inside the room, thus ensuring the area remains cleared. If rounds are used in the act of clearing a room reload before you move on. Always keep a full firearm so you don’t have to stop and reload when you run out. After a hallway or entrance is clear drag a piece of furniture across it and prop it so if its run into it falls over. The idea is that a person can not rush you and catch you by surprise. In moving around a house you will give away your position constantly. Just make sure that someone will have to do the same thing if they are trying to come after you.

Open warfare
I’m going to start by saying good luck. A shotgun’s effective range is 10ft-200yards max. If you are shooting 12ga 00 buck, which is used in most militaries, then your effective range will be more like 75-100 yards maximum. In open warfare you will be put on point only when the perceived shooting range is under 25 yards, like in jungles or urban regions, or whenever there is a choke point and no observable long,range vantage points. In warfare the Point relates to a fan formation or triangle. The point is the tip of the triangle that moves ahead of everyone else to clear or scout for the group. Its called the fan formation, because much like a Chinese fan the 2 wings can move in and out making a steeper angle but leaves a single point at the center. Other then specialty scenarios, a shotgun has limited use in open warfare. It is a close-range weapon compared to a rifle and is over-powered by alternatives such as full-auto suppression fire, grenades or 40mm grenade rounds. The shotgun’s use has sharply declined in military service since Vietnam, and today it is limited to special forces and rare situational use.

Civil Unrest Pacification (Law enforcement applications)
From a lone gunman, to a road block, or riot, the tactic is always the same: get behind cover and aim center mass. It is the policy of US law enforcement agencies that lethal force is to be expected when a firearm is pointed at any person. As such non-lethal ammunition is only ever loaded after a call is made to attempt to use non-lethal force. Other than cover and aim there is only 1 place where police tactic change: a riot. In a riot defensive line, the shield wall is backed by a row of officers with long batons called a Tanjo. Behind them are a row of shot-gunners. Behind them are grenadiers and another row of shields, then usually some cars or firetrucks with water cannons. When orders come for the shotguns to move in,usually because the pepper spray/ tear gas and water cannons haven’t done enough to disperse the rioters. The shot-gunners load non lethal rounds as appointed by the department. They move forward to the shield wall and aim through the clear shields. When the officer in the shield wall drops the shield low, the already aimed shotgun fires and the the shield comes back up. Rubber ball ammo is used most often in US riot scenarios. These balls cause large welts and bruises. If an agitator is too close the trauma is usually enough to make them fall to the ground and incapacitating them for a few minutes. If the agitator is in range of the wall they will move forward to cover the officers behind them, so they can drag the person back to safety and arrest them. This technique was repeatedly used in LA and Seattle to apprehend armed and violent rioters with out killing them.

Team Dynamic
A person who specializes in shotgun usually specializes in multiple weapon platforms. The shotgun is a specialty tool that isn’t often the right tool for the job. When a shotgun is needed there is no better tool. In SWAT and similar teams the world round, shotgun specialists study the use of 37/40mm grenade launchers, handgun, SMG and compact rifles. They aren’t “shotgun specialists”; they are often the “weapons specialists”. As a sniper is to a rifle the shot-gunner is to its shotgun name-sake. A broad specialty with many weapons and ammunition, not an acute but finite use on a single weapon. So if you aren’t the best shot in the world, then learn to be a good shot in everything and you will have a use in any team dynamic.

Upgrades (warning highly opinionated)

shotgun upgrades
With all the “Tactical” and after-market parts out there, it is easy to get lost in what’s useful. A shotgun never “needs” optics. They don’t effectively shoot so far you can’t see and it takes away the ability to see the peripheral area. If you need to upgrade the aiming potential of the shotgun, try a night site ,iron sight, or bead sight. Other than that a shotgun is perfect as it is. Pistol grips by themselves are rather useless as you can no longer get a proper shot lined up. Folding stocks and adjustable stocks with a pistol grip are a good tactical pick, as the grip allows for more control of the weapon and when not in use the gun collapses for easier storage or carry. Slings are a very useful upgrade. Make sure you don’t over load a bandoleer sling full of rounds, or you won’t be able to lift or maneuver the gun. Make sure that the orientation of the sling allows you to use it to keep your shotgun shouldered, and allows for the slide and ejector to operate uninhibited. Gun lights or aiming lasers? If you are really into tactical shooting and competition or in the field of enforcement the light is a nice improvement. It can be set so that the light shows the general spray pattern of the shot you are using. It allows for reactionary shooting, without aiming. It also gives you a clear view of what you are about to shoot. Aiming lasers, not really useful honestly. If the light doesn’t work and you can’t aim a shotgun, then you have no business using one. Bayonet? Ha! If you ever would need one this would be the gun to put it on, but seriously would you ever really need a knife on a gun? Extra rounds mounted to your gun… Unless it is recessed into the stock seriously what is the point? It throws off the balance of the gun, they usually rattle and become loose. They snag on things easily and the rounds aren’t that easy to pull out and load into the gun. Get a nice shogun ammo pouch for your tactical belt and you will be better off.


Course notes and seminars
“Center Axis Re-lock” by Paul Castle is a course designed and taught by Paul Castle or Saber-tactical for Pistol, Shotguns and Rifles. The class cost about $1500 now, and as of yet there is no major literature produced by the creator.
Illinois Department of Professional Regulations- Shotgun qualification course notes.
Useful tactics for counter terrorism and personal protection Seminar notes.

Website articles
Mossberg 590 Owners Manual acticles; Mr. Smashy’s 8 part series on the Survival Shotgun…
Wikipedia articles for; Shotguns, actions, riot police, forced entry, Mossberg, Bennelli, Winchester, Remmington, hunting, large game, small game, water foul hunting, flechette, explosive rounds, gauge, and Hello Kitty ™

Books & Magazines
May 2011 issue of Guns and Weapons article LE Shot-shell Firepower and Combat-proven ammo tactics to keep your shotgun ready for the fight!
August 1999 issue of Guns Magazine article MMC Tactical Shotgun Sights -by Roy Huntington
The Tactical Shotgun: The Best Techniques And Tactics For Employing The Shotgun In Personal Combat by Gabriel Suarez
“Field and Stream” magazine, 2009,2010, January-March 2011

Personal interviews of experts in Shotguns and tactics
Personal interview with Chief Inspector David Hughes on close combat tactic in policing and private enforcement.
Personal interview with Jerry Herbeck, NRA member and avid sport hunter.

Picture Sources

How to make Snares and Traps

There are many methods of catching your wild food in the wilderness, but knowing how to make Snares and Traps, is one of the most essential survival skills you will need to learn before venturing out into the wild.

If you prefer to and can afford the gear, maybe a shotgun would be a more predictable way to get live game.

While it is more than possible for you to survive for several weeks without any food, it is not generally recommended you go out and try.

So, by knowing exactly how to go about catching your food, using the various trapping methods available, will ensure you always have a good supply of fresh food when you need it.

There are other methods of obtaining food – fishing, for example, can prove very good, and doesn’t need to be a time-consuming exercise either – see my article:  how to catch fish easily..

Snaring and Trapping is designed to kill an animal by either choking, crushing, hanging or entangle the animal until dead, thus making it safe for you to approach the animal.

As with all things survival – the most effective traps are usually the simplest – the key to good trapping is not so much using the latest, super high tec, trap. But knowing and understanding an animals habits in order to position your traps in the very best places where you have a higher chance of actually catching the animal.

Without doubt, good trapping comes down to location, location, location….

Firstly,  take a look at the basics::

Most snares and traps use a combination of the three basic methods shown below –


The Simple Snare

Dead Fall Traps

The spring Snare

survival skills showing deadfall trap

You can make any of these without any equipment at all, however, having a few essential survival tools will make the job so much easier.

To make life easier I always have the following survival equipment with me whenever going out into the wild:

  • Survival knife – an essential bit of equipment – see article: Choosing the Best Survival Knife
  • Wire Snares –  A set of Wire Snares – reasonable thickness, 3/32″ for small game
  • Paracord – everyone needs to carry  550lb. strain Paracord – apart from snares, paracord has many uses
  • Survival Axe – an essential bit of equipment – see article: Best survival Axe Guide


Starting a Fire in the Wild

Basic Survival – Starting a Fire in the Wild

 Basic Survival – Starting a Fire in the Wild

There are many different methods of Starting a Fire in the wild – all are possible if you have enough time and the materials, but you must have the basic survival knowledge and learn these skills before going out in the wilderness.

However, if you do ever find yourself in a situation where you are miles from home and need a fire urgently, your fire starting material must be readily available and your methods uncomplicated.

There have been cases where hikers, hunters, and others have been stranded out in the cold because the matches they had with them in their pockets were useless and would not light.

If you carry matches in pockets next to your body, they will absorb any moisture and perspiration, making them damp.

Any matches that are left in your backpack and exposed to humidity will also be useless as well.

How To Make a Fire in the Wild

As with everything, survival – preparation is the key to success – and starting a fire in the wild definitely needs preparation.

There are lots of ‘modern’ ways to fire starting, and, if you apply survival rule number two, you will never have any problems. That is, Keep It Simple.


It is essential that your basic survival skills include knowing how to start a fire in the wild by ensuring you actually carry a means to create a high-temperature spark, and have the tinder available to turn that spark into a good, workable flame.

There are many excellent survival knives that have a built-in fire starter, like the Survivor HK Fixed Blade with fire starter, that is perfect and work really well –  (shown here on the right)



But, as with all survival, always carry a spare. A simple Ferro Rod Fire Starter will slip into any small space and be a perfect emergency backup.

In fact, you can also get yourself some very nice outdoor fire starting kits like the Spark-Lite Military Edition Fire Starter kit – shown here on the left –

These kits have a Ferro rod and combustible tinder in a waterproof container.

Perfect as a backup fire starter.



But,  starting a fire without an ignition source is a whole different ballgame –

You will always be able to find Fire starting materials – they are everywhere – lint in your pocket, thread from your clothing and of course dry tinder made from wood.

However, you will still need to have an ignition source: 


The Bow Drill Method

A bow and drill is a method that has been used to produce a hot ash ember for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

It is simply based on friction to to create a fire.

This method of starting a fire can uses various designs and raw materials but the overall basic concept is always the same –

create enough friction that will cause heat and produce an ember.

You can use a shoelace, rope discarded by others or, if you wear a Paracord Bracelet, then that is ideal (hover over link – this one even has a fire starter built in.!)

How to Make a Fire in the Wilderness

The overall concept is to try and spin the main drill, using the bow, fast enough and long enough to create an ember in the fireboard. To make a hot ember good enough to start a fire will take a lot of effort AND practice.

Make sure you have dry tinder available close to the fireboard – once you have an ember you only have to move the fireboard a bit closer to combine the tinder and ember.

Some experts will tell you to catch the hot ember under the notch in the fireboard and, using a leaf or piece of bark, move it across to the tinder.

However, moving the ember can cause it to extinguish, you can drop it or the wind could blow it away.

Move the board away and bring the tinder to the ember.



The wood file.

A much less complicated method than the bow and drill above –  but will require more effort and both pieces of wood must be very dry for this procedure to work.

However, this method has been field-tested thousands of times and the wood file will definitely produce a hot ember, but you must practice patience and attention to detail.



Easy, additional source of ignition.  steel flint and striker fire starter

When you are in the wild, you tend to carry lots of odd things – alcohol wipes or hand sanitizers in particular. These will all contain some alcohol which, in itself, is ideal when used as an emergency fire starter.

Squeeze an alcohol wipe over some dry tinder or squeeze a drop of sanitizer on the tinder.

Use the steel and strike it against flint – this will create a spark, which in turn will ignite the alcohol and you have a flame to start your fire.

Just about any knife blade and flint or even a hard stone and steel can be used together to create a spark.  Natural forming flint is the best material to use with steel.


Even more alternative fire starter ignition methods

fire starter using glassesTake a piece of broken glass or you can even use a pair of glasses to magnify and focus a sunspot at some dry tinder – after a short while the tinder will ignite.

For the very best results, the sun should be directly overhead, but this method will generally work anytime the sun is shining, you simply have to position yourself correctly.



Another way to improvise is by using a soda can bottom as the reflective material –  simply magnify and direct the sunlight to create a fire in dry tinder. You will have to polish the soda can bottom to give a highly reflective finish.

Use any piece of soft cloth to buff the metal to a high shine.

Next, position your dry tinder on the ground and move the can about until sunlight is reflecting off the can onto the tinder.

This method will take a lot of patience and a steady hand but will definitely work.


battery starting fire with steel wool


Another very quick and efficient way to start a fire in the wild is using a torch battery.

If the positive and negative terminals of the battery are ‘shorted out’ they will produce a spark good enough to ignite your tinder into a flame.

If you have any steel wool – this makes the perfect conductor and will flame up instantly.

All these methods of starting a fire will work – some better than others and some quicker, with a lot less effort than others, but the overall principle is to not over complicate things – use the simplest and easiest methods where ever possible.

I’m sure if our ancestors had Ferro rods and survival knives with fire starters they would have used them too..!

Now you need some wild game to cook

How to Build a Survival Shelter

How to Build a Survival Shelter

How to Build a Survival or Emergency Shelter and Set Up Camp 


A good survival or emergency shelter is the absolute number one priority for survival in the wilderness – whether you are out in the wilderness for fun or been forced there by natural disasters.

If you find yourself lost or you’re stranded or even if you simply realize you don’t have enough time to get back home before dark, it then becomes very important to build a shelter

In any survival situation you can apply the survival rule of three to ensure success.

You will need to build a shelter within three hours, this may even be accelerated in cold conditions, especially if someone is suffering from hypothermia.snow shelter



However, you may well be lost in a cold climate, and if this is the case you must build a shelter almost immediately to prevent any hypothermia.

A shelter is your ‘home’ and defends against the elements, from potential predators, and even insects bite and stings.

It provides you with comfort and will physiologically boost your moral. Being able to ‘get away’ from the outside is essential for your well-being.

A survival shelter can be simply shelter constructed without using tools

A live tree is first used as the main center support. This can be a fork in the tree trunk or even cut down tree stump.

Find or cut a good solid branch that’s straight and place that firmly


into the ground and rest the other end into the fork in the main tree.

Use smaller branches to form the sides of the shelter – as many as you can get and as close together as possible.

Gather up as much vegetation as you can find and layer the outsides of the frame – layering from the ground up so the layers overlap the layer below to form a drip plate. The vegetation should be at least 2′ thick to ensure against any rain getting in.

Remember, an essential survival tool that will definitely help make the whole process quicker and easier is a woodland survival axe – in fact, some survivalist rate a good axe as a far more essential tool than a good quality Survival Knife



The shelter above forms the basis of most woodland shelters – but there are variations, like this lean-to woodland shelter.

Still based on the main support – this time between two main solid trees, then the branches are stacked up against the side and, again, covered with a thick layer of whatever vegetation is available.

If you think it will rain then the vegetation must be at least 2′ thick and layered down the side to help the water runoff, and must always have a good slope as well.


The snow cave survival shelter

This too can be constructed using snow, sticks and leaves, using the snow as the main building material – if you had to leave your home due to natural disasters in the winter, it would be very tough to survive – even surviving in the winter for ‘fun’ is a huge challenge.

snow shelter

Never burrow into deep snowdrifts – the soft snow can easily collapse.

Instead, it is much better to build a standalone shelter from the snow. In that way if the structure was to collapse you can get yourself out easily, otherwise, you may suffocate.

Make sure that the snow cave is built big enough to ensure that any part of your body is not touching the sides at any point.

If your body comes in contact with the very cold surface it will literally drain the heat from your body exposing you to the risk of hypothermia.


Always rake the snow off the ground inside the shelter and then put a layer of leaves or whatever vegetation is available on to the ground. This must be done to form insulation between you and the ground.

Additionally, put a thermal blanket on the ground if no vegetation is possible – something like a  Mylar Emergency Blanket is ideal for this.

Take advantage of your surroundings. 

Yet another snow survival shelter method is to dig out the snow from under a tree, down to the bare ground and then pile up all the snow along the sides.

Then use the tree itself as shelter and place pine boughs, or a tarp or poncho over the top to give you overhead cover.

You can even build your fire inside the snow shelter, but make sure to leave room for the smoke to escape.


As well as natural materials, you can use a wet weather poncho, various camping tarps and thermal blankets as survival shelter materials.

Once you realize you are in a more dangerous situation, you must always have your survival shelter constructed before dark. It is definitely recommended that your shelter is set up as soon as possible and you begin setting up camp immediately.

  • Always stop for a few minutes and take a little time to evaluate your situation and your surroundings to ensure you are making clear, correct decisions based on your survival.


Basic Shelter Materials – be prepared before you go out in the wild.


Ideally, and thinking ahead, you would have packed an emergency shelter into your rucksack – a Mylar survival tent like the Level One Emergency Tent shown here, is a must for survival and this one is very light and very compact, sleeps two people and is an essential bit of ‘emergency’ equipment to carry in your rucksack.



As well as a survival tent you should also carry basic survival equipment and materials such as:

  • 550 Paracord
  • a good quality Survival Knife
  • woodland survival axe
  • Survival Pocket Chain Saw.

Otherwise, you can use materials found in your environment and you can take advantage of natural features.


Building a survival shelter is the most important thing to do if you are lost or stranded in the wilderness – if you were forced out into the wild because of some unforeseen natural disasters, then knowing this skill is even more essential. Your shelter can make the difference between life and death and will help you overcome extremely harsh conditions.

If you get yourself protected from the elements, no matter how primitive that protection is, you will give yourself a huge increase of surviving.

5 Basic Survival Skills Everyone Should Know

Basic Survival Skills Everyone Should Know

You must learn Basic Survival Skills before going out in the wilderness.

Surviving without life’s normal luxuries will test most people – even a week without power would grind many people to a complete halt. If that were to happen to you how would you survive?basic survival skills


Would you know what to do to keep yourself and your family alive?

Natural disasters can be even worse and had the survival skills, knowledge and ability to live through these disasters needs to be learned and those skills need to be practiced way before anything actually happens.

 In any disaster situation, you can always apply the Top 5 Basic Survival Skills and know you are giving yourself a far better chance of staying alive and surviving.disaster survival tips

Without knowing these skills your survival chances are greatly reduced – you should never leave your survival to mere trial and error – especially after the event.

What are the Top 5 Basic Survival Skills

To completely understand basic survival skills, it is very important to know what are considered the greatest threats. These are the threats to your life and to your survival in the very first place.

 Importance Of Survival Skills

Understanding and knowing about these threats are one of your biggest weapons to help you maintain a clear head in any survival situation and then being able to overcome them. The top threats to your life – those that will halt you in your tracks, especially if you’re not prepared for them are –

  • Exposure
  • Dehydration
  • Starvation

And, in order that you are able to combat these 3 main threats, you must know the 4 immediate responses to them that will ensure your survival – these are:

  • Shelter
  • Fire
  • Water
  • Food

Remember these chilling facts –

  1. Extreme weather can kill you in a matter of just 3 minutes –
  2. A lack of water can kill you in 3 days –
  3. No food will kill you in only 3 weeks –blizzard

It really is that easy to be caught out. So now it all makes sense, just how important it is to know these top 5 basic survival skills.

These are the top 5 basic survival skills you must know

1. Know how to build a shelter and set up a camp

2. Know how to start a fire using foraged materials

3. Know how to find & filter water

4. Know how to Set Snares & Traps / Fishing / Hunting skills

5. Know how to butcher and prepare an animal / prepare fish


Most people who like to venture out into the wood and the wilderness will already have a basic knowledge of these skills. In fact, you really don’t have to venture to the great outdoors to learn how to do these skills – you could just go online – but without any practice, you will never really know if it works or not.

Absolutely nothing beats getting your gear together and actually experiencing the wilderness – going out and practicing these top 5 basic survival skills, is the only way to really learn what it’s like.

Basic survival skill #1 – Building a survival sheltersurvival shelter

* A Survival Shelter is any structure that will protect you from the elements – an overhanging cliff face, a cave, a fallen tree. It doesn’t have to be a palace, it need only be something quite simple as a few logs and twigs propped up against the branch of a tree, a few more branches and then some leaves thrown on top. Throw a few more leaves on the ground and you’re good to go. This will be enough shelter for you to keep the rain or wind or snow from settling on you.

Basic survival skill #2 – Start a fire

* Learn how to Start a fire – do this as soon as possible after you have built your shelter. A fire is like the Feng Shui of survival – you can get some very good Fire Starter or ferro rod that make it very easy to start a fire. Quite a few survival knives also come with a built-in fire starter that’s ideal for helping you to get a fire started. Find as much dry wood as you can and store under your new shelter – stock your fire up and you can sterilize water for drinking, dry clothes and cook your food starting



Basic survival skill #3 – Collect water

* Set out to collect some water – if you’re prepared for disaster, you would already have a decent water filter like the LIFESAVER Water Bottle at your disposal. At the very least a LifeStraw Personal Water Filter, that way you can always get a drink straight from any water source. If not prepared, then you must learn how to distill water using the sun and the other various survival methods.water purifying straw


Basic survival skill #4 – Hunting & Trapping for food

*You must know the basic principles of setting snares and traps and how to begin a campaign of hunting for your own food – ideally, carry a few automatic fishing reels to save time when out looking for food. Learn about tracking and how to set humane kill traps – ensure you have the knowledge to ensure you can catch your own food. Learn how to use a ‘low tech’ weapon designed more for silent killing – a good hunting slingshot will always work, but you must have used one and practiced your skills beforehand.slingshot



Basic survival skill #5 – Butchering & Preparing Food

* being able to just got out, with confidence, and get yourself some nice fresh food is only half the survival story – You must learn how to prepare and butcher your potential dinner. Learning the techniques required for successful skinning and gutting as well as the necessary bushcraft skills to enable you to preserve your own food, must be learned and practiced. Especially in a long term survival situation – Surviving in the wilderness can be as easy or as difficult as you decide to make it. Of course, it always comes down to being prepared – it is essential to learn these basic survival skills. Become a good survivor by learning the basic survival skills needed to survive the wilderness, and then go out and practice those skills – you can even practice some these in your garden!knife uses