July 23, 2014

Run, Hide, Fight

Run, Hide, Fight

Imagine if the rules in games like dodge ball changed so that when someone was going to throw at you, you had to stand still, or in tag, when you were being chased you had to stop and wait to be tagged; in football, when you caught the ball you had to wait to be tackled by the opposing team.

Any hunter will tell you it is easier to shoot at game that is standing still versus game that is flying or running. Any decent self-defense firearms instructor will tell you to “Get off the X” before you engage in combat.

These are all pretty easy to understand concepts, are they not? Then why is it that we have schools whose only plan for an active shooter is to lock down? This is the case at the schools my kids have attended. We always told them that if anyone started shooting to run, even if the teachers said no. We also gave them a place to run to. This way they didn’t have to try and figure out what to do at the most terrifying moment in their lives; they just needed to react.

I don’t think any single self-defense plan will fit every situation. If someone comes into my company and starts shooting, what I will do is going to depend on what is happening. If the shots are coming from the lobby, I am in no immediate danger, so the option of running makes the most sense. If the best escape route is cut off, then hiding and hoping an opportunity to run opens up might make more sense. No matter what happens, I’ll be gauging the necessity of fighting.

Here is a video that teaches a concept I really wish every school would implement. Not only should your kids know it, you should too!

Pretty simple concept and one I think every adult should incorporate into their personal protection plan. I also think parents should sit down and explain it to their kids. Some parents might be concerned that the conversation might scare their kids and this might keep them from talking to them about this. Yes, it could cause some momentary fear in them. As a parent, I would rather cause some momentary fear, and know that if, God forbid, shots are ever fired at their school, they won’t be hiding in their classroom unless they think that is the safest option. If you’re concerned that you might scare your kids, use the examples listed at the beginning of this article. Kids know that if they want to win at dodge ball, they need to, well, DODGE, and that if they want to win at tag they need to run and not be tagged. Explaining that if someone starts shooting they need to run as fast as they can, just like they would in any of those games. Also, give them a place to run to; we told our kids to run to a church parking lot that is out of harm’s way.

As a last resort, I also showed my kids how to fight…no, I taught them how to fight dirty. I also told them that they only use the things I showed them if someone is trying to kill them, not just if they’re mad and not if someone is trying to steal from them. I taught them that they should only use dirty fighting if their life is in danger. Most kids are not prone to violence. In fact, many are afraid of using it. So we need to explain to them that it is ok and even a good thing in certain situations.

Summary

I think every one of us should implement this in our personal protection plans and teach it to our kids. If a shooting happens near us, there is no one surefire plan. Most of the time running is preferable; hide only when running is not an option and be ready to fight viciously at any moment.

 
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Food and Money Preservation for the College Student

This article was written by Lee Flynn
 
Food and Money Preservation for the College Student

 
We typically associate the term “college student” with words like “poor” and “broke.” Students usually have to work part-time and go to school full-time, simultaneously juggling two different realities and still having to manage finding the amount of time needed to study for tests and having a social life. The life of a student shouldn’t be harder than necessary; finding a way to eat healthy and preserve food can drastically benefit a student’s overall health, performance and stamina during the school week!
 


Most college students deem properly storing food as a thing their parents do; however, learning how to master this art is crucially important to learning how to live independently. There are many things we can learn to live without, such as saying “no” to that new pair of shoes, limiting the amount of eating out we do each week and limiting the amount of junk food we inhale on a daily basis. When you’re a college student, however, learning to incorporate the things we should be living with is so important! Eating healthy while maintaining a budget is simpler than you might think – and a supply of food storage is essential to this practice!
 
Planning

 Forget all the images that might be running through your mind right now: food preservation doesn’t require storing giant bins of food for an end of the world scenario! Think of it more as ensuring that your limited financial resources receive the maximum amount of return for the trips you take to the grocery store. And if you’re the typical college kid and pizza is you main course on a daily basis, even that can be preserved. Each small amount of money that is wasted can easily add up – imaging how much more socializing you could do on the weekend if your money wasn’t being wasted weekly!
 

Think about the type of foods you love to eat and begin to plan on ways you can easily preserve leftovers. If you’re the type that needs assistance in planning food preservation there are a number of online sites that can help you determine factors such as budget and food preferences to create a custom storage plan for you! It will require very little time and effort!
 

Building
 

Building a supply of food can be a little intimidating at first, especially if you’re on a tight budget. Starting small is the best approach to building up your personal inventory. Begin purchasing food that you’re familiar with and would want to eat if necessary. Keep track of the typical types of foods you eat weekly and start by picking up just one or two of those items every time you go to the store. If you’re a macaroni and cheese junkie and notice a sale at the store take advantage of it and purchase a few extra boxes for your pantry!
 

Storing
 
In a temporary housing situation there is a limited amount of storage available and having roommates can complicate things even more! There’s always a solution, however! Purchase some bed raisers and begin to store your items underneath; use an extra dresser drawer for a couple items; utilize that hard-to-reach high shelf in your closet that you can never reach for extra storage. Remember that when there’s a will there’s always a way!
 
Here’s an easy way to begin the process:

  1. Week One – Begin to cut out eating out for just one day a week; set that money aside.
  2. Week Two – Use the extra money you saved last week to purchase two inexpensive items from the store to set aside in your pantry.
  3. Week Three – Begin to search for sale ads at the grocery store. If you don’t have the extra time to incorporate this habit simply glance at the store’s weekly flyer next time you shop! Purchase a few items for your pantry.
  4. Week Four – For items that can’t be preserved such as pizza, purchase a few storage containers and begin to save your leftovers. You’ll be amazed at how much money you save by simply doing this!

Redundancy and the Five Basic Human

I have covered the five basic human needs before, but today I’m going to take another approach. Before I go further, I need to say that every time I write about the five basic human needs, there is a comment or an email about Maslo’s hierarchy of needs. Maslo’s list is a bit touchy-feely for me. He lists things like self-actualization and self-esteem, which doesn’t really apply to survival. It might be great for a “How to Feel Complete in Life”, but I’m talking about the needs to keep you breathing and putting one foot in front of the other. I am also going to give some tips on adding redundancy on each of the needs.


What are the five basic human needs?

 
Water

Water is probably the most important of the five basic needs. That is until it’s not (more on that later). The rules of three say that the average human can last three days without water. This is a very general statement, and not very accurate. I don’t tolerate the heat very well…at all. When I was in the Navy, doing fairly hard labor, often in the direct sun on the Abraham Lincoln in the Persian Gulf, it was easily 115 degrees. I was drinking probably 2+ gallons of water a day, easily. We had a squadron wide meeting in a very hot room and I had not been able to get a drink beforehand. Half-way through the meeting, I passed out due to dehydration. I was sweating more than I was taking in. My point in this little story is that a gallon a day might be fine on a cooler day, with less intense labor going on. If the temperatures are warmer and there are moderate to high levels of activity, one gallon might not be enough.
 
Water Redundancy

A rule of thumb I have heard on water storage is that you should store one gallon of water per person per day. The average family of four who wanted to have enough water stored to last them one week would need to store 28 gallons of water. That is either one big drum or a lot of water bottles. That’s only for one week! That’s why I believe one of the more important preps is a good water filter and knowledge of nearby water sources; natural bodies of water, swimming pools, hot tubs, marshes, anything with cattails has some moisture to support it. This would be one of my last options, but it is there.

For even more redundancy, have multiple ways of filtering and purifying water; boiling, purification tablets, iodine, bleach, UV purifiers and on and on.

 
Food

The rule of three says we can go without eating for three weeks. We’re told Jesus went 40 days, but then we’re told that He was attended to by angels, so I’m not sure if He would recommend trying 40 days without food.

Most of us eat three meals a day with snacks in between. For now, let’s drop the snacks. The family of four consumes 84 meals in one week. That is a lot of planning and expense! I think that’s one of the reasons beans and rice are a popular staple in various prepper pantries.
 

Food Redundancy

By this I do not mean just how much food you have stored away. I also mean the types of food you have stocked. I think having a mix of commercially canned, home canned, frozen, dehydrated and freeze dried food is a good idea. Heck, even MRE’s have a place! You don’t know how things will unfold. Having a variety of ways to eat and cook food is a good idea.

I also mean the knowledge of how to grow it, raise it, hunt it, clean it and how to process and store it. What happens when your food stores are empty? Knowing how to replace them is a very good idea.
 

Shelter

This is an easy one! For most of us, this is our home. Sure, I think knowing how to make a primitive shelter is a good idea, but it seems much more practical to know how to secure your home inside and out. Have you thought about what you would do if a severe storm broke out many of your windows? What about if things really fall apart and you need to fortify your home against intruders? Have a means to defend it! More on this later.
 

Shelter Redundancy

The obvious redundancy plan is bugging out. For those newer to the site, I think that in 95% of situations, staying home and battening down is a far better plan than bugging out. However, that five percent could be very dangerous if you do not bug out. For that reason, have a bug out plan. I give some tips on building multiple bug out plans, even if you do not own a bug out location, in an article called Challenging Bug Out Myths.

Your shelter redundancy could mean a tent, an RV or a relative, etc. Just have a plan, or a few of them!
 

Energy

By “energy”, I not only mean electrical power, but any type of power source that provides us the energy to cook, warm or light our shelter.

 
Energy Redundancy

I think this is another aspect where we need to have as much redundancy as possible. If the grid went down, how many ways do you have to cook or boil water?

Redundancy can come in the form of a variety of fuel sources, including propane, gasoline, diesel fuel, wood, kerosene, flashlights, batteries, crank lights and radios.
 

Security

I usually put security on the bottom of this list because the other needs are fact. They WILL be necessary. You will need to drink. You will need to eat. You will need shelter from the weather. You will need a means to see and to cook. Earlier, I said that water is the most important of the needs, “until it’s not”. A violent or potentially violent encounter is, in that moment in time, the most important human need.

It is my firm belief that no one has the right to put their hands on you in a violent manner, or with the intent or threat of violence. When they do, they have lost their right to avoid a trip to the ER or worse.

I am not a violent man. I can count the number of violent altercations I’ve encountered on one hand and have fingers to spare. However, If Joe Dirtbag attempts to use violence, I will be a threat to my enemy and will use as much force as necessary to stop the threat. I hope you will do the same.
 

Redundancy in Security

I know people who only carry a gun for their self-defense and don’t see a need for anything else. Here is the fault with that logic; their solution to every possible encounter is to answer it with deadly force. For this reason, I have trained in martial arts, will frequently carry concealed and during those times, carry a knife and pepper spray as well. I have an asp (baton) that I carry sometimes as well.

Some might ask if I expecting confrontation and the answer to that is “no”. I’ll wager that, if asked, the vast majority of victims of violent crime would say “no” as well. Because there is always a chance that I could be the victim of violent crime and because all threats are not equal, I have redundancy in my self-defense plan.

Someone shooting in a public place is not the same threat as a large snarling dog is. An obviously drunk, 100 pound person, screaming angrily and making threats is not the same threat as an ex-boyfriend of a co-worker who comes to the office and starts beating her.

Could they all escalate to deadly force? Sure, but there is a very good chance that all but one could be stopped with pepper spray or some form of physical combative.
 

Closing

One of the prepper mottos is, “Two is one. One is none”. I think that applies to the basic human needs too. Meeting those needs on one front will see you prepared, but not nearly as much if you approach things from many fronts and add in redundancy as often as possible.

 
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Favorite Posts From Are We Crazy or What?

I’ll be honest, food storage isn’t one of my strong points. Sure, I know how to put up food in Mylar with O2 absorbers, but putting up fresh food is another thing. That’s why I like sites like Are We Crazy or What? Jennifer shares a wide variety of information, but some of my favorite posts of hers are on growing and preserving food.

These are skills I think every prepper should at least understand, and Jennifer has some great ideas. Here are some of them; posted with her permission.
 

How To Sprout Seeds: Storing Seeds To Sprout Means Fresh Food Is Only Days Away!

Sprouting seeds is one of the easiest and best things you can do for your health. Seeds that sprout are also some of the best food items to store for preparedness.

 

Food Storage: Storing Herbs and Spices for Long Term Storage

Herbs and spices are an important part of food storage. Many of the food items that store well in long term storage are a bit bland in taste. Although, beans, rice, and grains might be enough to sustain life they definitely need a little something to make them taste good. Considering a lot of preppers have picky eaters in their hoard, making food taste good can allow you to turn your attention to other aspects of survival. Picky eating is not such a big problem when there are a lot of choices but in a survival situation it can become a big problem really fast. I know there are those who are of the “if they’re hungry enough, they’ll eat it,” school of thought. But there are individuals who will compromise their health before eating something they don’t perceive as tasting good. Also consider your family: do you have kids and elderly you’d like to keep well feed because they are the ones who are at high risk of disease or other hunger related issues? Making your food taste as good as you possibly can is important for health as well as morale.

 

How To Dehydrate Garlic — Plus Making Garlic Powder

Dehydrating garlic is simple and completely straight forward. All you need to do is peel the garlic, chop it and then place it in the dehydrator. Let me show you how to dehydrate garlic step by step, give you a few tips and then show you how to make garlic powder, which is also super simple.

 

Dehydrating Potatoes – Plus a Secret Revealed!

Dehydrating potatoes is fun and easy! If you let the dehydrator run all night you wake up to the smell of potatoes in the morning. My husband says it reminds him of hash-browns cooking… I still prefer waking up to the smell of bread baking but the smell of dehydrating potatoes comes in a close second. The practical side of dehydrating potatoes is that you can almost make a meal out of potatoes so to have them on hand to cook up at a moments notice is super convenient. Dehydrated potatoes also make a great addition to your food storage as they will last for years if stored properly. We usually buy the huge bag of potatoes from our local big box store, eat half and dehydrate the other half.

 

Infidel Body Armor

Infidel Body Armor

I’m excited to introduce Infidel Body Armor, one of the newest Prepared Christian sponsors! Body armor is one of those preps that I think is a very good idea, but is something I have put on the back burner, until I came across Infidel Body Armor’s FAQ page and saw this:

“What does “Infidel” mean anyways?

• Over in the Middle East, our soldiers are called Infidels every day. The Koran says that Christians are infidels: Koran 5:17, “Infidels are those who declare God is the Christ, son of Mary.” Our company is Christian-owned and we wear that definition of “Infidel” with pride. We claim the privilege of worshiping God according to our conscious and allow others to believe as they would- just don’t try taking away our right to worship how we want to.”

Ok, their being vocal about their faith isn’t the only thing that sold me. I was also swayed by the quality of the product and its features. I’m not going to get into specs. I’ll save that for an upcoming review. I do want to take a minute to tell you about two very cool things happening at Infidel Body Armor!

First:
They are having a Memorial Day sale; 10% off with code: 1776

Second:
They are giving away an AR-15, a to be exact. All you have to do is follow that link and sign up for their newsletter! This will run until the end of June. This is what Infidel Body Armor had to say about the contest:

“I’m a smaller company and the there’s a much bigger chance of winning a gun with me than with some of the other bigger companies due to the number of people that enter the contest.”

Some of you might be thinking, “Why would I ever need body armor?” Do you carry a firearm for self-defense? If you do, then you must believe that you might need to use it against someone with a gun trying to kill you or a loved on. Now, do you believe that if society begins to crumble, if even for a short time, that we could see increased violence?

I answered yes to both questions. If things fall apart I will feel much more protected with body armor, than without.

Stay tuned for a review!

What to Do When You Have 50 Pounds of Potato Pearls That Expire This Year

Today’s article was guest written by Lee Flynn
 

What to Do When You Have 50 Pounds of Potato Pearls That Expire This Year

Knowing that you have emergency supplies on hand is reassuring. When faced with potentially long periods without adequate power or access to outside help, having a fully stocked pantry and ample water supplies, along with a power source, is calming. Whether you’re preparing for a prolonged winter power outage or economic breakdowns, emergency food storage is something you want to build up and maintain properly.

The drawback to having lots of stored food on hand is the eventual expiration date for everything. You will have to use up all that food before it goes to waste, and when you have something like 50 pounds of potato pearls sitting in a cabinet, the task can seem daunting. But over the course of a year, you can use up much of what you have and temporarily freeze the rest. Depending on the size of your family and the sizes of food servings that you eat, polishing off 50 pounds of mashed potatoes and other stored goods isn’t that difficult.

Get perspective, first. While 50 pounds seems like a lot of food, when you divide it up by serving size and number of people, it suddenly isn’t that insurmountable. 50 pounds of potato pearls, for example, equal over 1,030 half-cup servings. Assuming a family of four is eating these, that’s enough for almost 260 meals. If you and your family tend to eat a cup of mashed potatoes instead of 1/2 cup with a meal, that’s 130 meals you’re looking at. So depending on serving size, you’d have to eat mashed potatoes with dinner for about 10 to 21 days per month. 10 days a month is easy. 21 days is doable, but it could get a little boring after a while. Luckily, there are several options for you.

If you don’t already plan menus, start now, and include either mashed potatoes or something like shepherd’s pie, which has a mashed potato topping, with two or three meals each week. Mashed potato recipes can be plain or fancy, so your meals won’t lack flavoring. Also start setting aside baking time and making recipes like potato rolls and pasty or empanada dough, all of which can use mashed potatoes in place of part of the flour. In fact, research World War II rationing recipes, especially from Great Britain. Several recipes for pasties—not pastries, but pasties, which are like hand pies—use mashed potatoes in the dough. The recipes are easy to double. These can be frozen for future lunches. Potato rolls and potato bread can also be frozen, saving you some money on lunch bread and dinner rolls for the next few months.

While frozen food eventually has to be eaten, lest the quality start to go downhill because of freezer burn, the food will remain safe if you have it in temperatures close to zero Fahrenheit. So you will have to eat those rolls and pasties, but you can keep them for several months.

As you get closer to the end of the year, ramp up bread-product production and freeze. Remember that the potatoes won’t automatically expire at midnight on their last day if you have them frozen properly. Also start looking at recipes like potato candy and potato fudge. As strange as those sound, they can taste incredibly good. Online searches will reveal several recipes.

If you reach the end of the year and still have potato pearls or other food left over—a possibility if you haven’t had time to bake, or if you’re the only one trying to eat all this—separate what’s left into smaller bags and freeze the pearls. Or, schedule one or two specific days to go nuts with baking and use up the rest. You can use a similar strategy with almost any food that has an expiration date if you give yourself enough time.

 

 
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Are Knives More Dangerous Than Guns?

We recently heard about the horrific attack by a student who used a knife to wound twenty people. I heard some people say “at least he didn’t have a gun.” Knives being used as weapons in mass attacks is something that has been on my mind for some time. I believe that a knife in the hand of someone willing to use it as a weapon is just as dangerous, if not more so, than a gun. Warning; this article will be more graphic than my usual.

Here are some obvious facts about knives that you’re likely already aware of but which bear repeating. Every home has kitchen knives, but if someone wanted an easier-to-conceal folding knife, one can be purchased at any Walmart, Target or host of other locations, without any kind of permit. Many states have banned certain types of knives, such as switchblades. Some states have limitations on the length of the blade, but I don’t know if there are any states that ban the carrying of knives altogether. A small folding knife can be just as dangerous as tactical one.

Knives are incredibly easy to conceal, hidden until a sudden attack. I carry a Glock 19, which is considered a “compact” handgun. The only place I can carry it that does not print (show a visible bulge) is in the small of my back, which is hardly the most ideal place to carry for me. I can carry a very large folding knife and it is impossible to tell it’s in my waistline or in my pocket.

In Haganah we practiced knife and gun defenses and in close proximity (within an arm’s length away), guns were always easier to defend against. This is obviously over-simplifying it, but we were taught gun takeaways in close proximity that moved you out of the way of the barrel. If the barrel isn’t pointing at you, the gun cannot hurt you. Often the takeaways put your hands on the gun as you move from the line of the barrel, which allows you to strip the gun away from your attacker. Below is one such takeaway. The person talking is the creator of Haganah, who has many years of martial arts training. I had no previous martial arts training and learned this takeaway in one session. Some of the other takeaways are a bit more complex, but I felt very comfortable with them after a few classes. I believe this is because the attacker has the gun trained on you, no matter how they’re holding it. The attacker knows that if the barrel isn’t pointed at you, the gun can’t shoot you.
 


 
Knife disarms are another beast entirely. Some of the defenses require a block. If your arm is not at 90 degrees, the attackers’ momentum can deflect the attack into another part of your body. In the video, you’ll notice that you have to pay attention to the angle, because it determines where you move to, and how you trap the attackers arm. I’ll admit I am not the most coordinated person. After a year of Haganah, I still fumbled on knife defenses. Unlike gun attacks, knives are more dangerous when the knife is moving, which inherently makes it harder to defend against them.
 


 
In knife defense, you obviously never grab the knife. Even if you trap the attackers hand or arm, he can still grab it with his other hand and continue the attack.
 

Tueller Drill

The Tueller Drill is a self-defense exercise created by Utah Police Sargent Dennis Tueller. The drill is used to show how little time one has to defend against a knife attack. I have done this drill at the range, standing back to back with another instructor, with yet another instructor keeping time. When the time keeper said “go”, the other man drew and fired twice at the target. At that same time, I took off running. I easily covered 20+ feet by the time he finished his second shot. All of this took 2-3 seconds. This drill showed me that 20 feet is not nearly the large safety zone I once thought it was.

In this drill, the shooter is expecting a whistle or other command that tells them when to draw and fire, and it takes most people 2-5 seconds to draw. If I am Joe Dirtbag, intending to use a knife to threaten or attack you, I am not going to start advertising it 20 feet away. No, I will get as close as I can and give you as little warning as possible. Even if I’m high on PCP and start charging you with my knife and you manage to draw and shoot me, my momentum will most likely continue toward you, giving me the opportunity to attack.

 
The Following

There is currently a television show about an FBI agent chasing down a man who has a following of homicidal cultists. These people go into public places (restaurants, book stores, train stations, etc.) and randomly stab people. The show is violent and shocking. I am a bit surprised we haven’t seen more of these types of attacks. One such mass knife attack in China recently by ten men armed with knives saw twenty nine people killed and 130 injured.

When I saw the recent school knife attack headline, I immediately wondered if the student who committed the horrific attack had watched The Following.

Granted, the show is drawn from someone’s imagination, but I think the public’s response during the attack is very realistic. There is no sound from the weapon. Often times, the attackers stab multiple people before screams draw attention to them.

When I watch TV or movies, I always try to think about what I would do in that situation. This is one case where always having my back to a wall and situational awareness would be crucial.
 

Training

Anyone who has fired a gun knows it takes some practice or training to get good at it. For instance, if you want to recover from failures or draw and fire from movement, it takes even more training and practice. Granted, someone could take a gun and some ammo and teach themselves the basics.

However, there is no training needed to use a knife to slash or stab. Unlike a firearm, there are no malfunctions. Under stress, people frequently miss their targets with a firearm, even at close distance. With a knife, there is no distance and while the attacker could miss their first stab, as mentioned above, they are most dangerous when they keep slashing and stabbing.
This is not to say I think using a knife for self-defense is a good idea because it takes no training. On the contrary, I think an untrained person wielding a knife for self-defense is quite possibly giving an attacker a weapon. Hollywood has glamourized knife fighting somewhat, with people coming out unscathed. The first rule of knife fighting, is you’re gonna get cut.
 

Closing

I would like to know how many deaths each year are attributed to knives versus guns. With the ease of attaining a knife, no training being required and the ease of concealment, maybe you can understand why I said I am surprised we don’t see more mass knife attacks.

If you see someone brandish a knife, please take it just as seriously as you would a gun.

 
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Food Boredom

Food Boredom


The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” Numbers 11:4-6

Most of us have never experienced food boredom, at least not on the level mentioned above. Those of us in first world countries are so blessed to have just about anything to eat in close proximity. I experienced food boredom a time or two in the service, but it was always short lived. Image only having the same 2 or 3 meals available to eat for the next six months to a year. Do you think you would get bored? How about your family? I have read about some children who simply refused to eat due to food boredom.

I think there are two types of artists; one who can look at various paints and see the individual colors and another who looks at the same paints and sees a finished painting. I think the same can be said for people who cook. I think people who can look at their pantry and food storage and see meals have it much easier.

If you’re kind of person who sees the individual items, my only recommendation is to make sure you have an abundance of a variety of foods that your family actually eats. This way people won’t have to eat rice and beans, beans and rice, rice with a side of beans, you get the idea
 
Picky Eaters

I’m not nearly as picky as I was as a child, but having been a picky eater, I understand it. I have Asperger Syndrome and people with Asperger’s often suffer from sensory issues. There are some foods that either because of how they smell or taste, I just can’t handle.

If you have a picky eater at home, you need to consider that when building your food storage. Their eating habits aren’t going to change just because the stuff hits the fan. In fact, because of the stress of the situation, they’ll probably cling to them even more.
 

Treats

I made two “cruises” into the Persian Gulf on the Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier. Don’t get me wrong, we ate pretty well, but after a month or two of “boat food,” we really looked forward to pulling into the UAE and eating those small overpriced goat cheese pizza’s. My point is that having treats and comfort foods stored away can help break up the boredom.
 

Final Thoughts:

Rice and beans do make up a portion of my food storage but we won’t be eating them for every meal. We’ve also got an assortment of spices and herbs to alter the taste as well.

What other ideas do you have to help avoid food boredom?
 
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Protecting Your Neighborhood

Protecting Your Neighborhood

There were a couple of comments to a recent article about how to handle guard duty. This is something I have given some thought to, so I thought I would share it with you. There was some talk of how things have been handled in various prepper fiction books. I enjoy them and have gotten several ideas from them, but on this topic many of them are just that, fiction.

Let’s face it, if you’re reading this, you’re probably someone who is in tune with the fragility of the systems holding society together. This lends to you probably being apt to see things going sideways sooner than many, which probably means you’ll not find many people willing to help keep watch, at least in the beginning. Many of the prepper fiction books also have a force that repels Joe and his merry band of Dirtbags. You’ll also probably have few people who know how to stand watch, or who have the gear to do so.

These challenges don’t mean that we shouldn’t try. It just means we need to take an honest look at what is actually possible with where things are now and what the actual potential of our circumstances are.

 
Neighborhood Watch

Any neighborhood can start a neighborhood watch now. I think these are often made up of people who are open minded, knowing that bad things can happen near them. These are the people who will probably be the most willing to agree to stand watch or participate in guard duty when things go bad. There are several websites that can help you get started with a watch. Police departments are often willing to come and speak to your group as well.
 

Guard Duty or Standing Watch

I believe these are two different things. To me guard duty is someone armed to defend a position and watch duty is someone who keeps watch for danger and reports it. I think we would all like to have a mix of both but the truth is, the best we might be able to do is get a neighbor or two to join us in keeping watch and reporting anything hinky to the other families who’ve joined in keeping watch.

 
Guard Duty

A posted guard is a visible deterrent. In a short term situation, a guard post could be a car parked sideways blocking the flow of traffic. This gives the guard or guard’s concealment and a little cover behind the engine block. If a guard is posted to prevent passage of people into your neighborhood, they should only let people through who can have someone from inside the neighborhood come to the guard post and vouch for them.

I would have to place three of these types of positions in a “T” formation to limit traffic for a few blocks. As you can guess, this could limit the flow of traffic but would take between three and six vehicles, and people to guard each location. I would not just put this type of guard post up on my own. I would get a consensus with others in the neighborhood first.

In a prolonged situation, it might be a good idea to have a hardened location to offer more cover. This could be done by removing the tires from the vehicles, and filling the cars with dirt. The tires could then be used to build berms filled with dirt in other locations.
 
Standing Watch

As I said above, to me, a watch is just that; someone who watches. There are a few different types of watches. A posted watch is someone who is in a set location and reports activity. A roving watch is either someone who roams between posted watches, or just walks a set path.

It is very possible that in the beginning of a situation, there will not be much interest in having a neighborhood watch. It might just be you and your spouse taking turns in case the need to defend your home or bug out arises.

A person on watch generally doesn’t want to bring attention to their position. Therefore, keep sound and light discipline. Don’t have anything that smells different than what is expected. For instance if you are cold and drink a hot cup of cider, the smell can give you away. Light from a flashlight can help you see but is also a dead giveaway of your location. If you use a red lens or color a clear lens with a red marker, it doesn’t provide quite as much light, but is much harder to see at a distance. It also has the benefit of not taking away your natural night vision.

A roving watch can obviously be more visible. They can be used to keep an eye out for things going on between locations. They can also be relief for posted watches who need to take a break.

 
Reality

The reality is, your watch might just be you and your spouse or maybe another family or two. If it’s just you and your spouse, keep watches to 4 or so hours. If there are more families, rotate the watches to give people an uninterrupted night sleep as often as possible.

While we don’t want to be forced to flee, the goal of having a watch posted might be to give enough time for you to do so safely without engaging an armed force. Because of this, have a fallback plan in place, a designated place where people should meet if needed.

 
Ideally

I think the more time that passes by, or the worse things get, the more people will open their eyes and be willing to join in the watch. When this happens, consider using the buddy system. Each guard post has multiple people, as well as the roving watch.

A command center stocked with coffee or other caffeinated beverages to assist the sleepy and help those taking a break refresh is a good idea as well. This could be the garage of someone in a central location.

If you have this many people, there should be training on how to stand a watch and on firearms if they’ll be carrying them.

 
Communications

You’ve probably seen the FRS radios that advertise 30+ miles, which is only in a flat open area. The real range in the average suburban house is probably closer to a mile or two, and even then things can be static. A second option might be DB, which would be more than sufficient in these ranges, but is more expensive. Yet another option would be MURS radio. These also have motion sensors, which can trigger an alarm at the base of the radio. None of these options require a permit to operate.
One idea I’ve come up with is using air horns for alarms. If you have three guard posts, define them one, two and three. If a situation develops at a guard post, they could let one blast for post one, two for the second post and so on. This could let everyone know there is a situation and where.
 
Rules of Engagement

The rules of what to do in various situations should be clear. If it’s just your family, you might want the person on watch to simply wake everyone else. If you have a guard posted at an entrance into your neighborhood, it should be clearly defined what to do when people demand that you let them in, as well as what to do when someone brandishes a firearm or makes threats.
 

Gear

You’re just not going to have enough gear for everyone. You can buy some extra affordable items now. You’ll need to make a judgment call if you share your firearms with others who stand guard duty or a watch.

I recommend having some less than lethal options available. You can buy a large can of pepper spray that is meant to deal with crowds. I’ve seen paint balls adapted to shoot pepper spray as well.

 
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Shelf Life of Comfort Foods

Shelf Life of Comfort Foods

We’ve all got foods that can help lift our spirits or give us comfort when we’re having a bad day. So to me it just makes sense to have some of them stocked for a time when things have taken a turn for the worse. I realize that different people will find comfort in different kinds of food, so I tried to think of as many types of foods that could be considered “comfort foods” (and drinks) that have a decent shelf life.

Because manufacturers use “best by”, “sell by” and expiration dates to generate more business, grocery items do not actually go bad when they reach their expiration dates. Companies don’t cater to prepper’s who buy for long term storage. They have not put any money into figuring out how long their product can be stored. Because of this, the guidelines below are just that and should be looked at as a general rule of thumb and not something hard and fast.

How and where items are stored play a very large part in how long they will remain good. Keep in mind the enemies of food storage; air, moisture, pests, light and heat. Food should be kept at or below 70 degrees. Warmer temps will degrade food quicker. Keep food in a dry place. If you store food in an area with water pipes, I suggest keeping food in paper or cardboard in plastic totes. Keep food out of sunlight. One other enemy of food storage, which is more of a danger to comfort foods; a sweet tooth. To keep the “Not Me Ghost” out of your stock of comfort foods, you could label them as something less enticing.

Many of these products are sold in paper or cardboard materials, which are not air tight and not ideal for long term storage. You would most likely be able to extend the shelf life if you repackage them in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers.

Beverages

Dry Drink Mixes         Two years
These would be items such as Kool Aid, Gatorade, Lemon Aid, Tang, hot cocoa and so on.

Alcohol         Many years to indefinite
In the apocalypse, one might really need a stiff drink at the end of the day. Alcohol lasts for a very long time. If left unopened, in a cool dark place, it could have an indefinite shelf life.

Tea         Two Years
Loose tea, instant or tea bags, tea will remain fresh for roughly two years. It would be safe to drink after that, but might not taste as good.

Coffee         It really depends
I’m only going to cover unopened coffee.

Ground Coffee         3-6 months past expiration date in the pantry, 1-2 years in the freezer.
Whole Coffee Beans         6-9 months past expiration date, 2-3 years in the freezer.
Instant Coffee         I have seen from 2-20 years given in the pantry and indefinite in the freezer
Green Coffee Beans These are not yet roasted, and since the bean hasn’t been cracked the shelf life is extended. Camping Survival carries green coffee beans stored in a #10 and claims that because they are devoid of oxygen, that they have a 20 year shelf life.

Pop/soda         It depends
Regular pop/soda will last for a very long time. Diet pop/soda goes bad not long after the expiration date.

Food

Baked Goods         It Depends
Many comfort foods are baked, so here are some common baking ingredients. Many of these can attract bugs. I recommend you store them in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. This will keep them safe from all of the food storage enemies.

Whole Wheat Flour         Varies
Flour won’t keep long unless in the fridge or freezer. Shelf life in the fridge is 6-8 months and 1-2 years in the freezer.

All-Purpose Flour         Varies
All-purpose flour can be stored for 6-8 months in the pantry, 1 year in the fridge and 1-2 years in the freezer.

Wheat Berries         Very Long
Wheat berries are ground into flour. Because the husk has not been cracked, the storage life is greatly lengthened when stored in Mylar with oxygen absorbers.

Powdered Egg         5-10+
Powdered egg is often freeze dried and, like many freeze dried foods, the shelf life is very increased.

Powdered Milk         Depends
Powdered Milk will last a week or so once opened. If left sealed in the pantry 5-10 years is possible.

Cornstarch         Indefinite

Baking Soda         Indefinite

Sugar         Indefinite

Baking Powder         6-18 months
It is suggested to use it within 6-12 months after purchase. However, it may store for 18 months in a cool dry area.

Coco         1-2 years
Opened coco will last for a year or so, unopened 2 years.

Other types of foods

Nuts         1 Month to 2 years
The oil in nuts is what causes them to go rancid. Most nuts will be good for 2-9 months after the expiration date when stored in the pantry, 1 year if stored in the fridge and 2 years in the freezer.

Candy         It really depends
There are many types candy, so there is no set answer. If it contains nuts, it obviously has a shorter lifespan. If it is a gummy type of candy, it will probably harden, but should be safe for years. Hard candy has the longest shelf life. M&M’s will last 1-1.5 years due to the candy coating.

Chocolate         Months to years
Items that contain just chocolate, like chocolate chips, Hershey’s Kisses and candy bars only containing chocolate have a varying shelf life. The lighter the chocolate, the shorter that is. I found the following on the Hershey’s Product FAQ

Q. How should I store chocolate?

A. Solid chocolate products will maintain their quality if well wrapped and stored in a cool, dry place (55-60°F). While refrigerated chocolate is certainly safe to use, we don’t recommend it. Chocolate kept in the refrigerator may “sweat” when brought to room temperature and may not melt properly. Cocoa is considered a non-perishable item which should maintain quality if stored at room temperature in a tightly sealed container.

Chocolate may turn white. This is called “blooming”. The chocolate is still perfectly edible. Here is what Hershey’s has to say in the FAQ.

Q. My chocolate sometimes turns tan or white. What causes this?

A. Chocolate contains cocoa butter, a vegetable fat that is sensitive to heat and humidity. Temperatures above 75°F will cause chocolate to melt. The cocoa butter can rise to the surface and form a discoloration called “cocoa butter bloom.” Condensation on milk or semi-sweet chocolate may cause the sugar to dissolve and rise to the surface as “sugar bloom.” Chocolate that has “bloomed” is certainly safe to use, but flavor loss and texture changes may be noticed.

Powdered Jell-O         Nearly indefinite (Maybe)
Most of the info I could find is from sites that are not taking into consideration storing long term. But I believe as long as you’re storing the varieties that have sugar instead of artificial sweeteners, these should store for a very long time.

Powdered Pudding         Nearly indefinite (Maybe)
Most of the info I could find is from sites that are not considering storing long term. But I believe, as long as you’re storing the varieties that have sugar instead of artificial sweeteners, these should store for a very long time.

Honey         Indefinite
Honey can harden, but will turn to liquid when heated, and will last forever.

Various Syrups         Indefinitely
Maple Syrup and molasses can last a very, very long time and often do not require refrigeration.

Jams, Jelly         Depends
If they contain natural sugar, they will last a very long time. Just throw them if you see mold develop. If they have imitation sugars they need to be refrigerated. It’s probably not safe to consume them long after the expiration date, or if left unrefrigerated for an extended time.

Peanut Butter         Depends
Many sources I found say that because of the oil in the peanuts, peanut butter is only good for 2-3 months if opened, and 6 months past the expiration date if unopened. However, when the oils go rancid they taste bad, so if it looks ok, and tastes ok, it very well could be safe to eat. The nutritional value of it, of course, is going to degrade over time.

Nutella         Depends
The sources I have found say 3-4 weeks past the expiration. This is purely my speculating, but because Nutella also has nuts in it, it should be in the same boat as peanut butter. I, however, do not know if peanuts and hazelnuts have the same shelf life.

Dried Fruit         Depends
Dehydrated or otherwise dried fruit have a shelf life of roughly 6-12 months in the pantry, 1-2 years in the fridge and indefinitely in the freezer.

Freeze Dried Deserts         Very long time
Many freeze dried foods boast of a 20+ year shelf life. These often fall into the same time frame.

Dry Soup Mixes         Hard to Say
I have seen some sites claim 1-2 years past the expiration dates. Others say they’ll last almost indefinitely. My guess would be at least five years or so.

Pancake Mix         Depends
Pancake mix contains flour, so go by the same timespan as flour.

Soup Mixes         Depends
This is another area where the companies want you to eat the soup, not store it for a rainy day. The times they give are a year or two. However, the ingredients are often either dehydrated or freeze dried and they are stored in air tight containers. My guess would be that they would store for many years.

Jiffy Mixes         years
Jiffy says “For best results, we recommend using all “JIFFY” mixes by the “Best If Used by” date. Beyond this date, dependent upon local weather and storage conditions, the quality of the end product may be affected.” I would think, if kept in optimal conditions, they will store for 1-2 years. Many of them will contain flour, so go by the same timespan as flour.

Popcorn         Depends
Microwave popcorn or popcorn that has been flavored is probably as advertised. Popcorn that is just popcorn seed, like wheat, because the hull hasn’t been broken, will store indefinitely. It can be popped, or ground and used as cornmeal. Once ground into cornmeal, the shelf life is greatly decreased.

If you have an item that you would like to add, a correction or a comment, please post it in the comments section.
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