Essential Items for Your Black-Out Kit

One of the scenarios most likely to occur that has nothing to do with extreme, Doomsday scenarios is the black out. Power outages are on the rise (source) due to aging infrastructure as well as the rising demand from consumers. As we’re using more and more devices to make our lives easier, we’re pushing it thin. Besides this, there are a number of external risk factors, such as EMP attacks (natural or man-made) and hacker attacks.

Blackouts, EMPs, Brownouts, No Power, Off The Grid

What to do to prepare for Blackouts.

Prepping for a lights out situation isn’t just for preppers, it’s for anyone worried about small-scale emergencies. The idea is to have a box or a pouch where you keep a few inexpensive yet critical items to assist you in power outages. Some preppers use plastic boxes to keep them items but you can also have a pouch that you can take with you in case you have to bug out.

Flashlights

You can never have enough flashlights! Small or big, battery-powered or hand-crank, you should have at least a few of them inside your lights out kit. Surefire, Ultrafire and Maglite are all good brands that you can find on Amazon with a quick search. To make sure you pick something of quality, all you have to do is read the star reviews.

There’s also the debate between LED and incandescent light bulbs on flashlights. LEDs take less battery but incandescent shine brighter, very useful if you’re dealing with fog. But for bug in situations such as this one, that’s not important. Just keep in mind that LEDs are costlier to replace.

A Small AM/FM Emergency Radio

With the power gone, knowing what’s happening is going to be critical. What if things go from bad to worse and you need to bug out? A company named iRonsnow is selling such a radio for $20 on Amazon that’s hand-crank, has solar panels on it, has a built-in flashlight and even a cell-phone charger; it’s probably the best seller in the category.

A Lantern. Or Two

Lanterns are great because they light up the whole space around them, useful if you want to read a good book until the storm passes or play board games with your family.

You can find battery-powered lanterns online and some of them even have solar panels at the top, so you can recharge them during the day (if the power outage lasts for days or if you’re hiking or if you take them with you hiking or camping).

Candles…

…and a lighter or matches to light them. The only problem are, they’re a fire hazard. You’re not going to believe this but between 2009 and 2013, an average of 9,300 house fires per year were caused by candles. 86 people died and over 800 were injured (source). If you have small children or pets that live inside your home, you may want to keep the above statistics in mind.

Chemlights

They are brighter than you’d think, they don’t need a lighter or matches to be lit and, best of all, the fire hazard is zero. Chemlights glow through a process called chemiluminescence, which is, in essence, a chemical reaction. They’re a safe alternative to candles and the best part is, they work under windy as well as wet conditions.

A Battery Charger

No that you’ll be able to use it when your town or city descends into darkness but at least you’ll know where to find it when you need it.

Spare Batteries

The more flashlight you have, the more batteries you’ll need. Even if you don’t, you’ll still use them to power your emergency radio or your other electronic devices.

Anything Else?

You can add as much gear as you’d like but keep in mind the volume and the weight. Think about the scenarios you’re preparing for. You should stockpile things that will make your life easier during a power outage that won’t go directly into the kit. Things like:

  • a first aid kit
  • a water bladder (fill it with water from your sink before that runs out as well)
  • a whistle (since phone lines may be dead)
  • board games and a deck of cards
  • food and water
  • a Kindle
  • an MP3 player
  • a propane stove and a canister of fuel (for cooking purposes)
  • maybe even a DVD player
  • a first aid booklet
  • blankets to keep yourself warm

Final Word

Blackout kits are one way of preparing yourself and your family for this common small-scale disaster, which is why it’s easier to convince them to do it (if they’re not into prepping). Keep in mind that the supplies you’ll get won’t just be helpful during blackouts. They can assist you in any kind of disaster situation. Your money will be well spent.

However, if you want to do something today that won’t cost you anything, how about you do a little planning for these power outages? You can start with a list of items you will need for your kit or you can look for a convenient place to keep the box. You may even start reading on topics such as first aid, cooking on a propane stove or taking care of hygiene with minimal water.

Good luck!

Dan Sullivan


7 Must Have Items for Wilderness Survival

By Jack Neely 

Surviving in the wilderness, no matter the time of year or location, does not only depend on human will and wit, but also on the type of gear you have got in your pack. If you are injured or lost, the right type of gear can mean all the difference between a comfortable and easy night outdoors, and a grueling ordeal. In this article, we have compiled 7 must have items for wilderness survival.

Matches

A means to make fire is very essential when you are out in the vast wilderness. Your survival might completely depend on whether you have the ability to create a fire. For instance, you might want a fire when it is cold and snowing/raining, or after you have just waded across a river and now you are completely soaked, and at the verge of hypothermia.

Rubbing 2 sticks together in order to create fire is much more difficult than it seems in the movies. It is best to carry matches when going out into the wilderness, particularly the waterproof matches.

Fire is important to your survival.

Even for those who like starting fires the old fashioned way, carrying matches in case of emergency is the smart move. You should consider carrying the magnesium starter matches which have white phosphorus tip; you can strike almost anywhere for fire. These types of matches are advantageous when out in the wilderness since they don’t need the box striker in order to light up.

Stainless Steel Water Container

When going out into the wilderness, you should bring with you plenty of water, and the best way to carry it is in a stainless steel container. This type of container is not only durable and strong, but it can also be put over a fire to boil water. You should consider taking a stainless steel water container that’s big and sturdy enough to carry adequate water for the long treks.

Survival Knife

A knife is a rather essential item and has many uses not only in the wilderness, but also in everyday life. Look for a reliable knife which you can easily keep on your person when you’re out wandering in the vast wilderness.

You should consider bringing with you a fixed blade knife. It is durable, sturdy, resilient, and great for cutting all kinds of objects. This type of knife can also be used to perform various different tasks including, opening packages, clearing bushes, among many other things.

Cordage or Rope

Having a rope can be very useful, especially when in a survival situation. Some uses of rope can include, but not limited to; climbing, making a splint for a broken bone, building an emergency shelter, attaching your gear to your back, hoisting your food so as to keep it safely away from the wildlife, lashing poles, repairing the tent, and much more. You should consider carrying a 550 parachute cord which is light and strong.

A Map and Compass

A map and a compass are very essential survival items which you must have when out in the wilderness. This is particularly crucial, in case the location you are in has low cell coverage, or if you have damaged or lost your phone.

Even if you get lost, as long as you have a good working compass and an accurate map, you will eventually be able to find your way back to civilization. A compass will not only help guide your directions, but it will also help you find the various signs that are on the map, like road signs which might help you find the right routes. Pro tip: you also want to make sure you have a good flashlight with you to read the map in the dark, and also find your way around. You can read more about that here.

Duct Tape

Duct tape is another must have item which is often overlooked. Duct tape can actually save the day in a number of ways. For instance, if your sleeping bag, tent, or clothing happens to get torn or damaged, duct tape may be used to quickly patch it up. Duct tape can also be utilized to wrap up bandages, and can aid in various other medical situations.

First Aid Kit

It is very important to make sure that you’re well prepared for the situation you are putting yourself in. Whenever you are going out in the wilderness, make sure you carry a First Aid Kit. Carrying a First Aid Kit with the appropriate supplies greatly enhances your chances of survival when out in the wilderness.

You do not need to carry the entire first aid kit; you simply need to have the basic items like band aids, gloves, sterile gauze, burn cream, scissors, personal medication, bandages, and such other essentials. It’s wise to build your very own first aid kit instead of purchasing the pre-packaged kits. Building your very own First Aid Kit gives you knowledge of what’s in the kit, and even more importantly, exactly how to use what’s in it.

 

About the Author

Jack Neely is a fitness expert, survivalist, and world traveler. He’s been in several life or death situations, and he’s making an effort to spread his knowledge around the web to help others survive these situations as well. He’s also on the content team at The Tactical Guru.

12 Survival Hygiene Tips for when SHTF

How will you stay clean post-collapse? It’s an issue people don’t give much thought about, yet of crucial importance. Disease is one enemy that can take you down without realizing it, and no amount of tools, gear or survival skills can help.

The people who found refuge on the Louisiana Superdome during Katrina know very well what it’s like. Rotten food, lack of showers and functional toilets, no electricity was hard to endure for the thousands who were crammed into that open space. We need to be prepared, so let’s see some common sense hygiene tips…

#1. Water, water and more water.

Having the means to procure water is the cornerstone of any good hygiene plan. Not just for keeping you hydrated, but also for things like:

  • showering (or, at the very least, to use a damp cloth to wash your body if you don’t have enough of)
  • doing the dishes (though you could stockpile plastic plates and plastic eating utensils to save water)
  • washing clothes
  • cleaning wounds (yes, you could get hurt!)
  • and other things unrelated to hygiene such as watering your garden

Let’s face it, the moment we run out of water, our lives become 10 times more complicated. I’ll even go as far as to say that not having it is way worse than having no electricity.

Ways to ensure you’ve got plenty of water post-collapse:

  • get large, 55-gallon barrels and, if you have a back yard, large water tanks
  • install a rainwater harvesting system
  • have means to filter and purify water in your bug out bag as well as the trunk of your bug out vehicle
  • split your water stockpile between your home and your bug out location, because you never know where you’ll end up
  • keep extra room in the trunk of your bug out vehicle so you can carry extra water with you to your BOL (if there’s time to load it)
  • re-use water from the kitchen sink and shower to water your garden

#2. “If it’s yellow, let it mellow”.

You don’t have to flush the toilet every time. This may not be something you want to do right now but definitely something to keep in mind post-collapse. Follow the “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” rule.

#3. Keep contact with other people to a minimum.

This doesn’t mean you have to stop seeing other people, because you might need information or help. Just remember to avoid touching them, including shaking hands. It may not be polite but manners won’t be as important after the big one hits.

#4. Out of soap or shampoo? Use soapwort!

No, this isn’t some brand of organic soap I’m advertising. Soapwort (lat. saponaria oficinalis) is a perennial plant with beautiful pinkish-violet flowers that can make a great substitute for soap and shampoo. One thing to keep in mind is that it’s “mildly poisonous” if you eat it so only use it externally. There’re plenty of recipes on other sites and the list of ingredients is very short.

#5. Keep dirty clothes contained.

This is especially true if you’re camping somewhere in the woods or if you’re bugging out. All dirty clothes should be stored in plastic bags until you have a chance to wash and dry them.

#6. Show some skin.

The best way to avoid dirty clothes is to avoid wearing them! Now, I’m not sure if the temperature will allow it but if you can, go ahead and do it. One way of getting yourself used to wearing less clothing is to do what I started doing 6 months ago: I stopped wearing pajamas. If you’re older, you should check with your doctor before doing it, but I can tell you it’s working for me.

The benefits? Better immune system, less sweating, your body gets accustomed with lower temperatures (which you might have to face if you’re going to sleep outside) and, best of all, less laundry!

#7. Comb

Combing requires no shampoo and no water, you just have to you remember to add one to your bug out bag. Benefits of combing include removing dandruff, uric acid crystal deposits and other waste. There’s also a side benefit in that you stimulate the blood vessels to bring more blood to your hair, making it stronger and shinier.

#8. No toilet paper? No problem.

There’re plenty of other options that our ancestors used before TP was invented. Things like cloths, newspapers, the leaves of some plants and more.

#9. Remove facial hair.

Though this is an ongoing debate among preppers, you will be less likely to host parasites if you shave your beard and mustache and keep your hair short.

#10. Get a travel sports towel.

If you thought the only way to pack a towel is to sacrifice a good amount of space, I have the solution. There are so-called camp towels that are not only compact but also very absorbent. You can find them on Amazon for around 15 bucks a piece.

#11. Keep your fingernails and toenails neat.

This is very important, as all sorts of bacteria will gather underneath. All you need is nail clippers that you can throw in your bug out bag as part of your hygiene kit.

#12. Take care of your teeth.

Brushing, flossing and using mouthwash should be done DAILY, regardless of whether or not you’re in a disaster situation. Cavities are one of the last things you want to deal with when there’s chaos all around you.

#12. Keep your hands clean.

If you’re doing a lot of office work, you probably don’t feel the need to wash that often. But when you’re working the field and the garden all they, when you’re feeding the animals, fixing your home and doing your own cooking, you’re going to have to wash A LOT more often. You’re also going to need soap (or the means to produce it) and/or hand sanitizer. It’s always a good idea to keep some sanitizer in your BOB and BOV.

Final Word

The thing I hope for the most is that you act on the advice I’ve given you. The tips are easy to put into practice and, some of them should be done on a daily basis, anyway. Post-collapse, you need to be a little more rigorous, so why not start today?


How To Build Your Own Solar Thermal Panel From Recycled Trash

The guys at the Sietch have a great little idea here, making their own solar thermal collector with spare parts and trash readily available in any scrap yard  worldwide. This would be good if the SHTF and we had to live off the grid. Enjoy. Let us know if you build your own.

Materials needed:

Water
2 buckets
Drill (with both drill bits and screw bits)
Some scissors
A saw (a simple hand saw will do)
Some wood
A pane of glass.
The back of a small refrigerator.
12 feet of air pump hose used in fish tanks
Backing material (we used an old door mat)
A box of wood screws
Aluminum Foil
Role of duct tape
Angle Cutter (or hack saw)
Time:This project took about 3 hours of constructions time. It took a couple weeks to find all the parts.

Now onto the project. The first thing we did was collect all of the parts.

Our local dump has a coolant removal program that has refrigerators and dehumidifiers that they remove old freon from. With this in mind I found the perfect heat collector. The back of a fridge is basically a heat dispersal system, with a slight modification is can be used to collect large amounts of heat.

Make sure that the freon, or other coolant has been removed, and cut the grill off at the base, near the large coolant holder.

There was an old couch that had been run over by one of the large dump plows, the inside wood was the perfect size for the frame.

I found a pane of glass and an old rubber door mat that made the perfect backing and front.

The glass was a real find, and may be the only part of the panel that may need to be purchased. Make sure your glass is big enough to fit over your collector and have enough room to attach it to the frame.

The door mat was HUGE, so I had to cut it in half. Funny thing seems there was a lot of nasty black goo, and a metal sheet in the middle. Who knew. Remove the metal plate (or cut it in half as well) and leave the goo.

Once The backing was cut to size, it was time to start building the frame.

As you can see I sort of built the frame around the collector, leaving enough backing to hold it all together.

The frame is held on by building a similar frame on the back and driving large wood screws through the front frame, the backing and into the back frame.

I added some foil to the backing. The reason for this is that counter to what you would think, you do not want the backing to warm up. You only want the collector to absorb heat (it was so nice of the fridge company to paint it black for us). The foil will take any sun that was not absorbed by the collector on the first pass and bounce it back over the collector for another try at absorption. The glass cover will keep all the heat inside the panel for further absorption.

Light can pass through glass, but heat can not.

Notice how duct tape was used on the inside to seal all cracks, you could use caulk but I didn’t have any so I used the cheapest option. It worked well, and held the foil in place.

Next we cut some notches for the entry and return ports to the collector.

Note again the use of duct tape to seal cracks.

I got some air pump hose from the local fish store and attached them to the end of the entry and return ports.

The duct tape was applied to make sure it was a tight fit, it was later removed as it was not needed.

Next we attached the collector to the backing, using the mounting brackets that came on the fridge and some duct tape. If you wanted you could use some screws and wood, but I found the tape and the natural tension of the construction to be enough to hold it in place.

Lastly we attach the glass to the top. This serves to trap all the infrared radiation from the sun inside our panel where our collector will absorb it. Again light can pass through glass, but heat can not.

As you can see simple duct tape is enough to hold it on. I would recommend using some sort of mounting bracket however as after a couple days in the sun the tape started to droop allowing the glass to slide off. A few screws would solve this, but I am cheap so I just put new tape on.

Set your panel up at an angle so that it catches the most sun.

Here is the gross part, put one end of the hose into your bucket of cold water, and make sure it is at the bottom of the bucket, next grab the return hose and start sucking. That’s right, unfortunately you have to prime the panel by getting some water into it. This can be done without getting water in your mouth, but inevitably I sucked just a little too hard and ended up with a mouth full of nasty water. I would recommend having a friend do this part. 🙂

Set your cold water bucket (source) up higher than your warm water bucket (return) and the whole thing will gravity siphon. Due to the design of this collector (both ports return to the same location on the panel) it will not thermo siphon. For that to happen I would need to cut the long return pipe and have it exit at the top of the panel.

A word of warning, this panel works VERY WELL. We tested it on a very sunny day and within seconds the water coming out of the panel was hot enough TO SCALD. I burned my fingers. This very hot water is only formed when the water inside the panel is allowed to sit for about a minute without moving. If the water is moving (do to the gravity siphon) the water exiting the return pipe is about 110 degrees, and while hot, will not burn you.

The water does not flow through the panel very fast (as the pipes are very small) but that is sort of a good thing as it allows the water to heat up a lot on its journey through the collector. It does take a while to heat up a 5 gallon bucket of water, I ended up building an insulated return bucket that was all black and sealed on the top except for the port where the water tube enters. This kept the returned hot water hot long enough to be of use.

I let this guy run for a couple of hours one hot sunny day and heated up a five gallon bucket of cold water (measured at 70 degrees F) to over 110 degrees F. The temp that day was about 76 degrees F. If the water is allowed to sit in the panel for several minutes and then forced out (by blowing in one of the hoses) the water was measure at 170 degrees F. All in all we are much happier with the performance (and cost) of this panel. It performs much better than the previous one.

Our next modifications to this design will be to alter the return port so that it will thermo siphon, in this way the return hose can be fed into the source bucket and the water will continually circulate in the panel getting hotter and hotter. We have also talked about adding mirrors to the panel to concentrate more heat. Our goal is to boil water. This entire project cost less than five dollars, as I already had the screws, and the duct tape. The only thing I purchased was the air hose, which cost $3.76.

Enjoy the hot water.

 

[source]

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